Windows 7 to be retired
, , , ,

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
, ,

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 8 Reset and Refresh options
, ,

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:

[unordered_list style=”star”]

  • 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
, ,

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.

, ,

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.

, , , , ,

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!!

, , , ,

Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7

Internet-explorer-10-for-windows-7Microsoft has just officially released Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7.

Previously you needed Windows 8 to experience the new Browser.

The new version brings enormous changes to the Browser, and mostly for the better.

Internet Explorer 10 is not only faster and more stable than the current IE for Windows 7 (version 9), it’s also far more standards-compliant.

Internet Explorer 10 is 20 percent faster on Windows 7 than IE 9, and it supports HTML5 and CSS3.

Microsoft say it is 60 percent more standards-compliant than IE 9. For example, it now supports CSS Text Shadow,CSS 3D Transforms, CSS3 Transitions and Animations, CSS3 Gradient, SVG Filter Effects, HTML5 Forms, HTML5 Sandboxing, and there are many other improvements.

In short, modern HTML5 sites that run smoothly in IE 10 on Windows 8, or the latest browsers from Chrome and Firefox, will now work properly in Internet Explorer 10 on a Windows 7 PC.

Will it work on XP?

Unfortunately, older OS versions are not supported and it will only work on Windows Vista or above.  So if you still have Windows XP, you are out of luck.

Download Internet Explorer 10 by clicking the link.

Speed Tests: Windows 8 vs. Windows 7

With the last pre-release version of Windows 8 in hand, PCMag decided it was time to compare Microsoft’s next OS with its last.

Here is their summary of test results.

Article by Michael Muchmore

We’ve heard it before: The next version of Windows is going to start up way faster and run faster than the last. With Windows 7, we were told that we could expect 15 second boot times, but that sure hasn’t been my experience. With Windows 8, it looks like the claims are for real: In using the Windows 8 Developer, Consumer, and Release Previews, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in startup times. No longer do you have to wait for nearly a minute just to log into a typical PC.

And the company has stated that it’s working on reducing another big source of waiting time: Updates. If you don’t use a Windows 7 PC for a week or so, chances are that you’ll have to wait a few minutes for it to download and install updates, and you’ll probably have to go through a second reboot. This is less of a problem for PCs that are left on all the time (to the detriment of energy conservation), which is the case for most business PCs.

In addition to startup and shutdown times, I wanted to compare performance of Windows 8 with that of Windows 7 on some other measures. I used PCMark, Geekbench, and three browser benchmarks. I also timed how long it took to copy large files and encode a video project.
 
I first installed a fresh clean copy of Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit) on a Toshiba Portege R835-P88 laptop (a PCMag Editors’ Choice) with a 2.5GHz Core i5-2450M chip, 6GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and an Intel HD Graphics 3000 integrated graphics processor. I ran all the tests, and then installed a clean copy of Windows 8 (64 bit) on the same hardware. For each OS, I made sure all updates had been installed.
 
Startup and Shutdown Times

Few performance issues are more important than how long it takes your computer to start up and be ready to use. Windows 8 makes bigger advances in this yardstick than any operating system in memory. Of course, our tests involved clean OS installations, and startup time can be affected by apps you install that load code during startup, such as antivirus. But this, too, is more of a problem for Windows 7, since Windows 8 saves the system state and memory contents to a file on disk, and simply reloads it on reboot, rather than initiating everything all over again.

Another factor for the new OS is behavioral—it’s designed to encourage the user to “sleep” the machine rather than completely shutting it down when use finishes. And, maybe most importantly, with newer hardware that uses a UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) hardware boot process and SSD hard drives, you’ll see even more drastic startup speed boosts. But even without all this, my startup results showed that the upgrade reduced startup time to less than half that of Windows 7. Shutdown time was improved, but not by such a wide margin.

Large file set move
One of the few improvements to the traditional Desktop interface that lurks beneath Windows 8’s newfangled Metro user interface is file moving and copying in Windows Explorer. It’s not just the cosmetics of the added ribbon atop the Explorer that’s been changed: Now, when you copy or move multiple files simultaneously, you’ll also see an information box showing each operation’s progress, with an optional throughput graph. To test file-move performance I used a USB 2.0 thumb drive loaded with 500MB of 81 large files of mixed types. I also tried a single large file of just under 1GB.

The newer OS also did a better job predicting how long the move operation would take. Though these tests didn’t show a speed improvement (presumably because it’s a hardware-constrained test), when I tried copying the same files to another folder, it was nearly instant, whereas in Windows 7 I had to wait the same time for the file to move again.

Geekbench 
Geekbench 2.3, from Primate Labs, runs a series of geeky tests like prime number, Mandelbrot, blowfish encryption, text compression, image sharpen and blur, and memory stream test. The subtests comprise both single- and multithreaded applications. The results are normalized so that a score of 1,000 is the score a Power Mac G5 1.6GHz, so a higher number is better.

I ran both the 32-bit and 64-bit tests in Geekbench three times and took the average for each OS. Mostly designed to test hardware, Geekbench didn’t show much change between OS versions. But it’s encouraging that this test version of Windows 8 was a tad faster, rather than slowing down the benchmark’s operations.

Video Rendering
For a real-world, task-based test, I timed video encoding in Windows Live Movie Maker on both operating systems. I used the same 2-minute movie content (made of three different format clips I created, complete with titles and transitions), and had the program convert it to 720p at a 12.26Mbps bandwidth. Windows 8 posted a slight but encouraging improvement on this test, reducing the time it took from 1 minute and 22 seconds to 1:11.

PCMark Vantage
The PCMark 7 benchmark runs 7 system tests, each designed to represent a certain type of PC usage, including hard disk access, 3D and graphics physics rendering, Web page rendering, file decryption, and multithreading with video, and image manipulation. The benchmark spits out a result in PCMarks, with a higher number equating to better performance. My Windows 8 system showed a significant performance improvement over Windows 7, upping the score by 388 points.

Browser Benchmarks
I tested browser performance in Windows’ native browser Internet Explorer. On Windows 8, that would be version 10, and on Windows 7 I used the latest version available for that OS, IE9. I ran two popular JavaScript benchmarks, SunSpider and Google’s V8 (v.7) as well as a Microsoft test of hardware acceleration, Psychedelic Browsing. I ran the tests in the Desktop version of Windows 8’s Internet Explorer 10 browser.

The improvement on Sunspider and V8 was remarkable: Microsoft has clearly done further optimization on IE10’s JavaScript engine, Chakra. And the Psychedelic Browsing test showed a marked improvement as well, meaning Microsoft has done further work on hardware acceleration in the browser.

Without further ado, my results are presented in the table that follows:

 Windows 7 Utimate
(64-bit)
Windows 8
(64-bit)
Startup
(seconds, lower is better)
3817
Shutdown
(seconds, lower is better)
12.29.9
500MB File Group Move
(seconds, lower is better)
25.229.2
Large Single File Move
(seconds, lower is better)
46.446.8
Video Rendering
(minutes:seconds, smaller is better)
1:221:11
Geekbench 2.3 64-bit tests
(higher is better)
80908187
Geekbench 2.3 32-bit tests
(higher is better)
59626122
PCMark 7
(higher is better)
23132701
Sunspider
(ms, lower is better)
180144
Google V8 (v.7)
(higher is better)
30796180
Psychedelic Browsing
(higher is better)
39975292

 

The key thing here is startup. Windows 7 still takes just too long to get usable, and Windows 8 finally remedies this drawback. Browser performance is also notably better, and it’s encouraging that Geekbench showed a little improvement and PCMark 7 a significant one. Yes, this is not even the RTM, or final release of Windows 8, but the early test results are encouraging. New hardware will, of course, make the new OS scream, particularly if you opt for SSD storage.

Article Source: PCMag.com

, ,

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%”]