Never10
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Don’t want Windows 10 forced upon you?

Stop Windows 10 upgrade notificationsSo over the last few months, I’ve had Lot’s, and Lot’s and LOT’S of people have been contacting me about Windows 10 automatically being forced upon them without specifically initiating the upgrade.

Well in my opinion, the word “forced” isn’t quite accurate.

Somewhere along the line, the End User has “Reserved” their copy of the free Windows 10 upgrade, which has subsequently set them on a path that, along with ongoing Windows updates, lead to an apparently automated upgrade to Windows 10.

Now whilst it is true that you can “Roll Back” Windows 10, there may be some consequences. The first of which is the time taken whilst the upgrade takes place, and the second is the time taken to roll it back.

The other consequence is the possible loss of data.

I had one customer who claimed to have lost all his Favorites.

So what to do if you want to stop those Windows 10 upgrade notifications?

Well I have come across a free little utility called Never10.

When run, it will disable the Windows 10 upgrade notifications.

So if you have had enough of the persistent Windows 10 upgrade notifications, give it a try.

You can download it from https://www.grc.com/never10.htm

Windows 7 to be retired
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Only Windows 10 from the middle of next year

Windows 7 to be retiredThis will not please a lot of my customers, but it had to happen sooner or later.

Microsoft have given notice to its OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) partners that they must no longer sell PC’s or Laptops with an Operating System older than Windows 10 from the middle of next year.

According to Microsoft’s Windows Lifecycle Fact Sheet, Windows 8 sales must also end as of 1st July next year, and Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8.1 will no longer be allowed to be pre-installed on new PC’s and Laptops from 1st November 2016, .

The Home Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Windows 7 were retired by Microsoft on 1st November last year. 

Windows 7 launched in October 2009, and Microsoft has permitted it to continue to be sold substantially longer than Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 which both arrived in 2013.

So I guess the salient point here is that if you want a new PC or Laptop with Windows 7, you will need to purchase it within the next 7 or 8 months.

Windows 8.1 installation media
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Windows 8.1 Installation Media Creation Tool

Windows 8.1 installation mediaOK, so similar to our last Blog Post about a Microsoft Website that allows you to create a Windows 7 Install Disk, this Post is about another “Handy To Know About Web Page” from Microsoft.

This time however, instead of it being about the ability to create a Windows 7 Installation Disk, this website allows you to create a Windows 8.1 Disk.

So once again, if you have lost your original Installation Disk for Windows 8.1, or you never had one to begin with, or you need to make a bootable USB Drive, then you need to use the Windows Installation Media Creation Tool.

How to create your Windows 8.1 Media

When you click on the “Create Media” button, you will be prompted to download an executable file (which when “run”), will prompt you for your chosen Language, which Edition (ie. 8.1, 8.1 Pro etc), and what Architecture (ie. 32 bit or 64 bit). From here you will be asked whether you want to save to a USB Drive, or save as an ISO file. The file is quite large, so again be careful that you don’t exceed your plan data usage if you are on a Limited or Mobile Data Plan.

It is all very easy to follow, and the only issue I can see would be the End User’s ability to create a DVD from the ISO file.

So once again, as in our previous Blog Post, if you do not have the appropriate  software to burn a DVD from an ISO file, you can download the burning software from the Microsoft suggested website. Don’t forget that just as we mentioned in the last article, you will still need to download the Drivers from the manufacturers website for your specific hardware. If you have trouble doing this, or you are not sure how to go about it, Spotty Dog Computer Services can of course do this for you.

You may also be interested in how to Create a Windows 7 Installation Disk.

 

Windows 7 Recovery Medi
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Create a Windows 7 installation disk using the Microsoft Software Recovery website

Windows 7 Recovery MediWell here is a handy website to know about.

I don’t know how many times a customer has come to us, either wanting their Windows 7 PC or Laptop wiped and reinstalled, or it has needed repairing using Recovery Media, but they do not have their Recovery Media or a Windows 7 Disk.

Now this isn’t a particularly big problem for us because we have access to Windows OEM Disks, but for the End User, not having the Recovery Media is a huge problem that means they have no other choice but to pay someone to do it for them.

What to do if you don’t have Windows 7 Recovery Media

Help is at hand. By visiting the Microsoft Software Recovery website, the End User can download the ISO file required to burn their own Recovery Media disk. The size of the disk will be somewhere between 2GB and 3.5GB, so if you are on a limited Internet Plan or a Mobile Internet Plan, just be careful you do not exceed your download limit.

Microsoft even provide a link for software to burn a DVD from an ISO file if you don’t have suitable software installed to do that yourself. Once you have the software and a valid Product Key, you’re off and running.

The website also allows you to create a bootable USB drive with a copy of Windows 7 on it.

All-in-all, a very handy thing to know if you never had a disk, or you have damaged your disk. As we all know, it is impossible to reinstall or even undertake some really easy repairs without a Recovery Disk or Windows 7 Media.

Of course there will be some End Users that will still have difficulties installing Windows 7 even if they do have the disk. For example, you will still need to download the Windows Drivers from the appropriate hardware manufacturers websites. But if that is the case, Spotty Dog Computer Services can certainly do that for you 😉

Windows 8 Reset and Refresh options
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How to Refresh, Reset, or Restore your Windows 8 PC

Windows 8 Reset and Refresh options
Windows 8 has Enhanced System Restore capabilities.

Not only can you do the normal System Restore we’ve all come to know, love and use on many occasions, but you can also Reset and Refresh the PC.

 

Here is a brief explanation of each:

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  • Restore – Restore your PC (Windows System Restore) as in previous versions of Windows, undoing recent system changes you’ve made.
  • Refresh – Refresh your PC to reinstall Windows and keep your personal files, settings, and the Apps that came with your PC, along with Apps that you have installed from Windows Store.
  • Reset – Reset your PC will reinstall Windows, but will delete your files, settings, and Apps (except for the apps that came with your PC).

[/unordered_list]

The new Refresh feature in Windows 8 is intended as an improvement on the previous Window System Restore. On the other hand, the Reset feature is intended to reset your Windows 8 system back to a pristine out-of-the-box setup.

Microsoft have extensive information regarding each of these features and how to use them, so rather than me typing it all out again here, this is the link to the Microsoft Website.

Windows 8.1 update via the App Store
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Windows 8.1 Update

Why you need to update to Windows 8.1

For those of you out there that purchased a Laptop or PC with Windows 8, you may not realise that there is an update available that upgrades Windows 8 to Windows 8.1.

So what, you may ask?

Well it’s important because if you do not install the 8.1 upgrade before 10th June 2014, you will no longer receive any future updates from Microsoft.

Originally this was supposed to happen in May, but Microsoft has extended the deadline for consumer customers. Enterprise customers have until 12th August.

Here is a direct quote from Microsoft:

While we believe the majority of people have received the update, we recognize that not all have. Having our customers running their devices with the latest updates is super important to us. And we’re committed to helping ensure their safety. As a result, we’ve decided to extend the requirement for our consumer customers to update their devices to the Windows 8.1 Update in order to receive security updates another 30 days to June 10th.

There is no reason why you shouldn’t update to Windows 8.1.

There are many tweaks to the OS that people using a non-touchscreen will find helpful.

To update to Windows 8.1, go to the App Store and the first thing you will see is an option to do the free update.

Windows 8.1 update via the App StoreIt is EXTREMELY important that you update to Windows 8.1. You can view the Microsoft tutorial on how to upgrade here.

If you don’t, you will be in the same boat as Windows XP users and you will not receive any security updates and patches for your OS, leaving you vulnerable to exploits and hackers.

One of the key reasons users of PC’s get viruses is because they do not download and install Windows updates, so it is imperative that you do them.

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Is Windows 8 really that bad?

Windows 8Well the short answer to that question is No.

Those of you who have talked to me prior to the Windows 8 release would know that I used a pre-release version of Windows 8 and that I said that I absolutely hated it.

Well now I have had a change of heart, and I really think that it’s not a bad OS at all.

I will qualify this by saying that my opinion only changed after discovering two things.

The first was that I found an Open Source program called Classic Shell, which adds a familiar “Start Button” to the Desktop of Windows 8 and also allows Windows 8 to boot directly to the Desktop instead of to the new Metro Tile start screen.

And the second thing that changed my mind was, gaining some critical knowledge about Windows 8, which was how to bring up the Charms Bar by moving your Mouse Cursor to the Top Right Hand Corner of the screen, along with the knowledge of how to close and switch between Apps and the Desktop.

To close an App, you move your Mouse Cursor to the top of the App Screen until the cursor changes to a “Hand”, then Left Click, Hold, and Drag to the bottom of the screen.

To switch between Apps and the Desktop, you move your cursor to the Top Left Hand Corner of the screen, where you will see a Thumbnail or Thumbnails for currently open Apps.  Choose the one you wish to change to.

This YouTube Video demonstrates how to do this.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Ns2IpbYpqvM]

 

In addition, Windows 8 is pretty fast and seems to require fewer system resources than Windows 7.

So all in all, I think Windows 8 is quite useable, particularly with the addition of Classic Shell.

Once the first revision of Windows 8 arrives (Windows 8.1) there will be little or no need for Classic Shell as Microsoft has bowed to public pressure and will be reintroducing the Start Button.

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One year before XP’s forced retirement

windows-xp-deadDid you know that in less than a years time, Microsoft will cease to support Windows XP with Security Updates and patches?

Yep that’s right, on the 8th April 2014, if you are still using Windows XP, your PC will be at grave risk of malicious attacks and viral infections.

Mind you, that’s pretty much the case now as XP is not as secure as Windows 7 and 8 anyway.

In an effort to convince PC Users to migrate to Windows 8, Microsoft has today begun offering 15% off a Windows 8, Office 2013 combo package.

Microsoft has stated on a promotional website, that Small and Medium sized businesses that still operate with Windows XP and Office 2003 (Office 2003 will be also retired in 12 months), can purchase licences for Windows 8 Pro and Office 2013 Standard at a 15% discount.

However Caveats apply:

[unordered_list style=”tick”]

  • Customers must be running XP Professional
  • the Windows 8 Pro and Office 2013 Standard licences must be purchased as a package via Microsoft’s Open Licence program
  • and the deal is capped at 100 licences for each

[/unordered_list]

The discount is valid through to 30th June.

Microsoft has pointed customers to a list of partners (in US) who will offer the Open Licence discounts.

Microsoft (US) has quoted $188 for each Windows 8 Pro licence, and $373 for each Office 2013 Standard licence, for a total of $561. The 15% discount would lower each Windows-Office combo by $84 to $477.

So you have been warned, after the 8th April 2014, Microsoft will not supply security patches for Windows XP, placing all PCs still running it at risk from attack.

The only exception: Enterprises which have purchased custom support plans.

However, Microsoft has boosted prices of those plans, and some businesses have been quoted $1 million for the first year of after-retirement support for the estimated 5,000 XP systems still out there, $2 million for the second year and $5 million for the third!!!

Nice little earner Microsoft!!

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Free Vector Clocks for Windows 7

Are you bored with the default Clock Gadget in Windows 7?

If so, take a look at these free Vector Clock Gadgets!

Vector Clocks is a collection of clocks, all of them are unique and will jazz up your desktop.

There are heaps of changes you can make to these clocks, including the ability to change the transparency, you can rotate them, change the shadow colors, set alarms and lots of other modifications can be made.

Simply right click on the clocks and edit the settings.

You can download the clocks separately or all together as a single installer package.

PLEASE NOTE that the Installer Package may come with a PRE-CHECKED option to install bundled software. You should UN-CHECK that option.

I installed and tried out the Blue Rumba Clock on my Windows 7 desktop and it looked pretty cool!

Download page: Vector Clocks.

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Learn Windows 8 in 8 minutes

Fake_Windows_8_Start[1]A beginners guide to Microsoft’s soon to be released Operating System Windows 8.

In this video you will learn about the new interface and special features of Windows 8.

Windows 8 is designed specifically for use with Touch Screen and portable devices, so it will be interesting to see how this impacts on those using a conventional PC and monitor.

[iframe src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/bVY6ArpZ0GA” width=”100%”]