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April 25th, 2017

Instead of an outright operating system update, Microsoft is now releasing named updates that come with enhancements and other features that individual users and businesses should get excited about. Its latest, Creators Update on Windows 10, includes new design touches and a handful of productivity features. Are the new features worth the updates?

Controlled updates

If you’ve been using Windows 10, you’re familiar with this scenario: While you’re on your computer, the system automatically reboots for automatic updates, interrupting your workflow. Although automatically having your system updated on time has advantages, it can also be a burden and a nuisance because it leaves you with no option to decline or delay an update -- which you might want to do especially when you’re in the middle of a critical task.

With the Creators Update, you can choose to pause updates for a week. It also lets you set Active Hours, an 18-hour window when Windows won’t install updates. It’s a minor enhancement that should be a welcome feature to users who like having better control over their system updates.

Improved privacy controls

When Windows 10 was launched, privacy was a big concern among users, mainly because of the amount and nature of data being collected. Users and certain regulatory bodies were alarmed that Microsoft, through Windows 10, didn’t have enough control over how it processes and collects data. Microsoft initially responded by announcing that setting up privacy protocols will be easier when it launches its new updates.

And now, Microsoft has taken steps to address these privacy issues. Creators Update introduces a Privacy Dashboard, which offers a more seamless and user-friendly way to control privacy settings, specifically in terms of location, speech recognition, diagnostics, tailored diagnostics data, and relevant ads.

Another privacy enhancement is in Windows Defender, which now features improved scanning options and better reporting of your PC’s performance and health.

Other small changes

Other interface enhancements and updates to the Windows 10 ecosystem also add a nice touch to the overall user experience. These updates include more vivid themes, a bluetooth-enabled lock function called Dynamic Lock, new display settings, videos and maps writing capabilities, and more.

Among the other new features, users might not immediately notice the upgraded storage settings. If you’re worried about all these new applications and programs taking up space in your PC, don’t fret. The new update also comes with a storage setting that auto-deletes unnecessary files when your storage space is about to run out.

All in all, businesses that use Windows 10 can expect better privacy, controlled updates, improved security, and a smoother user experience with the Creators Update. Microsoft is expected to introduce even more updates later this year, and if you want to know how you can make the most of these and other Microsoft features, we’re here to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
April 7th, 2017

170px_shutterstock_578419504As the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end.” Microsoft is saying goodbye to its 10-year-old operating system, Windows Vista. This means that from April 11th onwards, Windows Vista users won’t be receiving essential security and software updates. How much will this affect small- and medium-sized businesses?

Windows Vista Launched worldwide on January 30th, 2007, Windows Vista has been Microsoft’s operating system for home and business desktops, laptops, tablet PCs and even media center PCs. This version came with a bunch of new features such as Aero, an updated graphical user interface; Windows Search, a new search function; as well as Windows DVD Maker, a new multimedia tool. Vista aimed to increase communication between machines on a home network, with peer-to-peer technology that simplifies file sharing.

Windows Vista criticism Not too long after its release, the operating system came under fire from both the users and the press. Initially, Vista aimed to improve the state of security, the main criticism its predecessor -- Windows XP -- received. There were commonly exploited security vulnerabilities and overall susceptibility to malware, viruses, and buffer overflows. According to Net Applications, Windows Vista has less than 1 percent of global market share in terms of PC operating systems. Despite that, Windows 10 is doing extremely well, boasting over 400 million devices running on it.

Will computers still function properly? Essentially, yes, but they will be susceptible to viruses on account of Microsoft discontinuing security updates. On top of that, Internet Explorer 9 won’t be supported either, meaning surfing the web with this browser could possibly expose you to even more vulnerabilities. Microsoft also warned users that certain apps and devices would not work with Vista, as software and hardware manufacturers are optimizing services for newer versions of Windows.

What’s the next step for your business? We recommend that you upgrade to Microsoft’s latest operating system: Windows 10. But before doing so, check the software and hardware specifications of your PCs, since they might not be able to handle Windows 10. If that’s the case, users can opt for a Windows 7 upgrade as an alternative.

Keeping up with the latest technological innovations might be a tedious task, but it’s also an imperative one. To ensure the future of your small- or medium-sized business, you’ll be needing IT that works for you and not the other way round. For more information on Windows operating systems, feel free to get in touch with us today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
March 23rd, 2017

2017March23Windows_CDigital advertisements are ubiquitous across the internet. And just as users started to come to terms with that, Microsoft has taken ads one step further. The Windows File Explorer has begun to show ads for services like O365 and OneDrive, and if you’re wondering how to disable them, this article is for you.

Who is getting these ads?

Right now, we’re still unsure of how widespread Microsoft’s new advertising strategy goes. Not every Windows workstation has started displaying File Explorer banners, and based on some overwhelmingly negative reactions online, the campaign might get shut down before it even reaches your desktop.

However, even if you have yet to be targeted, you can quickly and easily disable these ads right now.

How do I turn them off?

At the moment, these pushy promotions show up only in Windows’ File Explorer window, so that’s where we’ll begin. After you’ve opened a new window, there are only five steps to boot them off your screen:
  1. Select View from the ribbon along the top of any File Explorer window.
  2. Click Options on the far righthand side.
  3. In the new window select the View tab.
  4. In the Advanced Settings window pane, scroll down and deselect ‘Show sync provider notifications’.
  5. Click Apply and close the Folder Options window.
That’s all it takes! Keep in mind that we highly recommend the services Microsoft chose to advertise with this move. Office 365, OneDrive, and others are all great cloud platforms for safely working and collaborating from any device in any location -- we just don’t want to see advertisements for them when we’re hunting down sales records.

When you’re in the market for the Windows tips and tricks, this is the best blog on the web. If you’re looking for something a little more robust however, our managed services are second to none. Get in touch with us today to learn more!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
March 7th, 2017

170px_shutterstock_435798757Like Apple’s Siri and Google’s Google Now, Cortana is an intelligent personal assistant that assists you with a variety of tasks such as making phone calls, setting reminders, as well as searching for files. All of this is possible, with the right commands of course. In order to fully utilize Cortana, we’ve created an unofficial list of things you can ask or say to Cortana on Windows 10 devices.

Hey, Cortana Before asking her to do anything, we need to get Cortana's attention by clicking or tapping the Cortana button on the taskbar. If you do not see Cortana on your taskbar, right-click the taskbar and go to Cortana > Show Cortana icon. To enable 'Hey, Cortana', simply say "Hey, Cortana," followed by your question. If you're using a Windows Phone, you can press and hold the search button to activate Cortana.

Basics tasks If you’re looking to launch a program or open a website, simply use the word ‘Launch’ or ‘Open’ followed by the website’s name. Make notes by uttering the words ‘take a note’ or ‘note it down’. As for making drafts, start with ‘Write an’ followed by email or text and end with the contact name and the message itself. Lastly, ‘Show me emails from [contact]’ will display all the texts or emails sent from the specified contact.

Scheduling/Reminders It’s important for small- and medium-sized business owners to stay on top of their schedules. Take a glance at your calendar events with commands such as ‘How’s my schedule looking?’ or ‘What do I have next week?’. Add or move appointments with ‘Add’ or ‘Move’ followed by the appointment and time. Reminders are easily scheduled by uttering the words ‘Remind me’ followed by whatever you need to be reminded about and when.

Search If you can’t locate the file you need, don’t worry. By asking Cortana to ‘Find’ a document, video, or picture on your device from a specific time frame, she will sift through everything quickly to find what you need. You can easily initiate search queries with ‘Can you find’ followed by whatever you are looking for. You can even look at basic search results without having to open a browser window: Simply ask whatever question you have and enjoy combing through the results.

Window’s voice-activated personal assistant, Cortana, helps you accomplish daily tasks with ease and efficiency -- but only if you use the right commands. If you have further questions or would like to know more Cortana commands, feel free to contact us. We’re ready to help!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
February 16th, 2017

Windows-170px-03SMB stands for small- and medium-sized businesses, not Sorry Microsoft none of your Business. To clear up this misunderstanding, Microsoft has decided to offer Windows 10 upgrades to SMBs that previously refused to update. If you’re still unsure about it all, you can decide after reading this.

They’re extending the free upgrade to this segment of customers to help them get to Windows 10,” said Wes Miller, an analyst at Direction on Microsoft, specializing in complex licensing rules and practices. Much like the 12-month upgrade deal that ended last August, this offer applies to personal computers running on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. The only difference is, the offer is exclusive for businesses that have subscribed to one of the Windows Enterprise plans.

According to Nic Fillingham, a small business product manager: "Customers subscribed to Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and E5 as well as Secure Productive Enterprise E3 and E5, can now upgrade their Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs and devices to Windows 10 without the need to purchase separate upgrade licenses."

The Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and E5 subscriptions are priced at $7 per user per month and $14 per user per month, or $84 and $168 per user annually. Unlike Microsoft's historical licensing -- which permanently licensed the operating system on a per-device basis -- the E3 and E5 subscriptions are per-user licenses, and payments must be maintained to run the OS. This was introduced to target customers that didn’t want to sign a long-term volume licensing agreement.

In order to qualify for a Windows 10 Enterprise E3 or E5 subscription -- which are delivered through a CSP (cloud service provider) -- devices must already be running on Windows 10 Pro. SMBs could upgrade their devices for free last year if those devices ran older Windows 10 versions, and SMBs can upgrade the devices they newly acquire this year if those devices are already equipped with Windows 10 Pro.

"When the CSP originated, the only qualifying OS was [Windows] 10 Pro Anniversary Update," said Miller. "You had to be on 10 Pro. So, if you missed the consumer upgrade window, you would have to buy the underlying 10 Pro license." It’s this license that Microsoft is giving away to customers subscribing to Windows 10 Enterprise E3 or E5. The acquired license is “perpetual” and will be tied to the specific device. “This means the license will not expire or be revoked if the customer chooses to end their Windows cloud subscription in the CSP program," added Fillingham.

Since the upgrade is considered a subscriber benefit, a PC upgrade might be needed -- from Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 Enterprise -- and if the user isn’t already covered by an E3 or E5 subscription, an additional $7 or $14 monthly is needed to run the system. Miller stated that the likeliest reason Microsoft brought back the free upgrade was to get more people onto the User Subscription License (SL). Providing upgrades from older editions makes more of a customer's PCs eligible for use under the SL model of E3 and E5 (which is licensed per user, not per device). Another motivation could be to promote a partner-centric CSP.

Microsoft has officially confirmed the Windows 7/8.1-to-Windows 10 Pro upgrade offer is a permanent addition to the benefits for subscribers to Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and E5, and not a time-limited pitch. If you’re still hesitating or would like to ask some more questions, feel free to give us a call anytime!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
January 31st, 2017

img-window7-170px-op3When you grow accustomed to something -- like a morning routine, a particular type of coffee, or in this case, an operating system -- attempts at change aren't always successful. Case in point, the struggle between Windows 7 and Windows 10. Users have until 2020 to make up their minds, and unless you don’t mind other businesses leaving you in the dust, it’s time to make a move.

Windows 7 was given extended support in 2015. And with that, Microsoft warned its users that this outdated version would drive up operating costs due to remediating software attacks that Windows 10 systems could otherwise avoid. The three-year countdown toward Windows 7’s twilight officially kicks off with a warning to enterprises that they could face hefty fines for sticking with the platform’s outdated security.

According to Markus Nitschke, head of Windows at Microsoft Germany: Windows 7 does not meet the requirements of modern technology, nor the high security requirements of IT departments. How would this make current Windows 7 users feel? Why are users choosing to remain faithful to the platform’s outdated security? Users can delay upgrades until January 13, 2020, after which extended support for the 2009 OS will end and it will no longer receive patches -- unless the customer is paying for a pricey Microsoft Custom Support Agreement.

Markus also added that “As early as in Windows XP, we saw that companies should take early steps to avoid future risks or costs." The message came as Microsoft published studies that showed Windows 10 Anniversary Update’s built-in security managed to neutralize zero-day exploits, even without patches needed to protect earlier versions of Windows.

Failing to upgrade to Windows 10 means that you and your networks will miss out on noteworthy security features such as the Windows Hello biometric login, the AppContainer sandboxing technology, and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, which will gain new features after upcoming Creators Update.

On top of missing out on all the security features that Windows 10 has to offer, enterprise organizations on Windows 7 soon won’t have the additional zero-day protection that EMET, or the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, offered since 2009. Last November, EMET’s expiration date was extended from January 2017 to July 31, 2018.

With the help of newer tools, migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is considerably easier when compared with migrations from XP. Microsoft is still urging corporate users to make the shift before Microsoft permanently terminates support for Windows 7, stating that their business could be looking at real trouble if they fail to comply.

Business owners always do their best to ensure the future of their organization. That includes knowing which tech resources to rely on and which ones to avoid. If you still have questions about Windows 7, feel free to give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
January 13th, 2017

img-windows10-170px-op3 Over the past year, Microsoft received major backlash for 'forcing' the Windows 10 update as well as future updates on PC users. Fortunately, the tech leader is taking steps to address customer complaints. This article takes a look at what changes we can expect from Microsoft this coming year.

A patch and a glitch away Users couldn’t escape the glitches in the frequent Windows 10 updates, which caused an array of problems such as frozen systems, broken webcams, and even PCs being unable to secure an Internet connection. In light of the patching dilemma, Microsoft is offering more options to defer updates. In fact, a leaked preview shows a new option to pause updates for up to 35 days via a switch in the Settings menu.

OneDrive placeholders Since the launch of Windows 10, many users have eagerly awaited Microsoft to re-introduce this beloved feature to the operating system’s built-in OneDrive cloud storage service. In Windows 8.1, placeholders (aka Smart files) allowed users to see all their OneDrive files, whether or not they were stored on the device. Making its return in Windows 10 File Explorer when using OneDrive, the feature shows user files stored locally as well as on the cloud.

Owning up to the update fiasco Not only is Microsoft addressing the various complaints it received, but it’s also owning up to some of them. Just before Christmas, Microsoft’s chief marketing officer, Chris Capossela, admitted that the company had gone too far when it tried to get Windows 7 and 8 users to upgrade to Windows 10. This referred to Microsoft’s decision in early 2016 to change the design for the user prompt for its Get Windows 10 app, the software responsible for scheduling upgrades. The user prompt was altered so that clicking X to close the window causes the user to unknowingly agree to a Windows 10 upgrade. This change puts Microsoft in direct violation of its own user experience guidelines for developers on dialog box design.

“Within a couple of hours of that hitting the world, we knew we had gone too far,” recalled Capossela. “Those two weeks were pretty painful and clearly a lowlight for us.” It was then that Microsoft reversed its decision on tweaking the pop-up, so clicking on X would dismiss the upgrade.

It seems that 2017 is the year that Microsoft will start listening more to its users and addressing their complaints. Maybe: Hopefully this renewed strategy will benefit users sooner rather than frustrate them later. Contact us and we’ll keep you up-to-date with the latest Microsoft updates.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
December 29th, 2016

2016december30_android_cRecently, changes to Microsoft Edge, the built-in web browser for all new Microsoft Windows systems, ended the browser's instantaneous compatibility with Adobe Flash. Many business owners and internet users alike are concerned and frustrated with these unprecedented changes and are wondering what they will mean for them going forward. If you are among those concerned business owners, get to know some of the reasons for these changes and the impact that they may have on you.

The primary purpose behind the recent changes made to Microsoft Edge is to make it more competitive with the popular Google Chrome web browser. Among efforts to do just that is the change to how Adobe Flash works on the Edge browser. Now, instead of Adobe Flash plugins playing and loading immediately when a person navigates a website, the application will be blocked.

An alert will come up near the address bar, letting users know that Adobe Flash has been blocked and will give the option to run the add-on or continue blocking it. For businesses that use Adobe Flash throughout their websites, this can be a frustrating change as visitors will need to take an extra step to access the full website.

However, there are numerous legitimate reasons for these changes to the Microsoft Edge browser. The most important of these issues is the fact that Adobe Flash is a security risk and is easily hackable, making it more likely for information and control to be lost to web users. Another issue is the fact that Adobe Flash is a big drain on battery life for computers and other devices.

The theory is that Adobe Flash is on its way out, and that newer, better systems are on their way in. As of now, Windows Insider users are the only ones with access to these updates, but soon the updates will go global and be made available to all users. In fact, Microsoft plans to eventually automatically load HTML5 web information first without loading Adobe Flash content at all.

Because so many sites use Adobe Flash, this can mean major renovations to existing web content. If you worry about the impact this will have on your business, contact us for immediate help and assistance in maximizing your website usability before these changes go live for all Microsoft Edge users.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
December 14th, 2016

2016december14_windows_cUpdating Microsoft's Windows 10 to the next major patch can be a time-consuming and computer-slowing endeavor. However, Microsoft has diligently worked to find a solution to this problem. Their latest efforts may just work to quicken the updating process and make all users of Windows 10 very happy.

What Microsoft is proposing to streamline for the Windows 10 update process is a system known as a UUP or a Unified Update Platform. A Unified Update Platform is essentially a large series of changes to Windows 10, all of which occur behind-the-scenes and will not affect overall user experience. These changes will work to reduce the amount of processing power required to update Windows as well as make the updates move faster for Windows 10 users who need to keep things moving along quickly.

This UUP ambition will be accomplished in a number of ways, including significantly shrinking the size of the update files for all devices, and especially, making the Windows phone update process much more streamlined than it currently is. One of the ways Microsoft proposes to streamline and speed up the update process is by sending updates that are device-specific rather than distributing a full bundle of updates together, some of which are not necessary for the device in question.

Currently, Windows 10 updates essentially overhaul the entire version of Windows 10 that users have on their device. This makes the update process easier on Microsoft, but not on users. Instead of this system, the UUP will eventually allow updates to occur only to the specific programs and systems that need updating, leaving the rest of the operating system untouched. Larger system-wide updates will also be much faster and more efficient with the UUP system in place.

Should you have further questions about what this new Windows 10 update process could mean for you and your business, contact us as soon as possible. We can help you with all your operating system needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
November 28th, 2016

2016november28_windows_cIn many years, Windows users have been stuck with the same old Paint software, wondering whether improvements would ever be made. The day for change and innovation has finally come, and Microsoft has recently announced a new version called Microsoft Paint 3D. If you regularly rely on Microsoft Paint for basic graphics and image work, learn more about Microsoft Paint 3D and it’s benefits below.

With the new Microsoft Paint 3D, users will have the opportunity to create both 2D and 3D graphics and images. It is just as easy as it always was to use pen and paintbrush features to draw a 2D image, but now these images can be converted into 3D. There is also a stamp feature that allows a user to add stickers to their 2D creations to make them 3D.

Additionally, just like in the world outside of the computer, the 3D objects in Microsoft Paint 3D can be written on with pencils, pens, or paintbrushes, adding 2D imagery to 3D creations. One of the additional benefits of Microsoft Paint 3D is that the creations that users make on the app can easily be shared on social media. This makes it easier than ever before to put Microsoft Paint creations to use.

With Microsoft Paint 3D, users are also able to take images from their smart phone and transform them to 3D images in Microsoft Paint 3D. Even further, if you have a 3D printer, you can actually bring the 3D creations from your app to life.

All these new innovations make Microsoft Paint 3D an exciting development in the Microsoft product offerings. This new version of Microsoft Paint will be made available with the latest updated version of Windows 10 Creator's Studio and should be released early in 2017. If you are ready to get started with this program or want more information about what else the Microsoft Creator’s update has in store for you, contact us as soon as possible.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows