Windows 10 Part 2

Windows 10 Part 2

What's new in Windows 10 - Windows Help

Monday, August 24, 2015

12:18 PM

Did we clip the website right? Yes No Suggestion

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How To: Configure Microsoft Edge to Open Multiple

Home Pages in Windows 10

Friday, July 31, 2015

3:09 PM

In Internet Explorer you can go into Internet Options and manually type in multiple Home pages to open whenever the browser opened. This feature still exists in Microsoft Edge for Windows 10 and configuring it is just a bit different.

To do this:

1. In Microsoft Edge, tap or click the ellipsis at the top right to display the dropdown menu, then navigate down to Settings.

2. Locate the Open With area and select the option for A specific page or pages option.

3. Tap or click the dropdown menu and choose Custom.

4. Add websites you want to store as "home pages" in the Enter a web address box provided and then tap or click the Plus (+) sign.

As you can see from my configuration, I chose MSN and Bing to open automatically in separate tabs every time Microsoft Edge is launched.

[Want to discuss this further? Hit me up on Twitter , on Google+ , or LinkedIn ]

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How To: Add the Home Button Back to Microsoft Edge

Friday, July 31, 2015

3:09 PM

Here's a good tip and an interesting personal story.

The home button in the web browser is pretty important to me. It's just something I've become accustomed to using and I know many of you do, too. I was contacted recently to join in the July 29 th

Windows 10 release celebration at an undisclosed location (I can share more later) to meet up with the engineer that took my Windows Insider feedback and included it as a feature in Microsoft Edge.

My feature request? A Home button for Microsoft's new Edge web browser.

So, yeah. That was me.

It seems Microsoft is taking the Windows Insider feedback to the extra level, and I'll have more to share about that later. I wonder now how many Windows 10 features wouldn't exist if Windows Insider's hadn't taken time to provide feedback. It also says a lot about how serious Microsoft has been about making Windows 10 a very personal experience for us all.

But, the Home button isn't turned on by default in Microsoft Edge – it's an option that is buried under a couple levels of settings. If you're like me and think a web browser is simply naked without a Home button, here's how to enable it…

1. With Microsoft Edge open, tap or click the More Settings (the ellipses) option at the top right.

2. Choose Settings, cursor down to Advanced Settings, and locate the Show the home button option.

3. Toggle the Show the home button switch to ON, enter the URL you want to open when the Home button is tapped or clicked, and tap or click the Save button.

That's it! You now have your own personal Home button for Microsoft Edge.

[Want to discuss this further? Hit me up on Twitter , on Google+ , or LinkedIn ]

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How To: Personalization Options in Windows 10 Settings

Friday, July 31, 2015

3:10 PM



Windows 10 can be customized to your preferences in many different ways.

This walk through of the Windows 10 Personalization settings will show you how to setup the Windows

10 background, colors, lock screen, themes and other options on the Start Menu.


These screenshots are from Windows 10 Build 10130. While we do not expect Microsoft to make significant feature related changes to the operating system at this point in its development it is possible slight differences may exist between these images and the final version of Windows 10.

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How to setup Quick Action Buttons in Windows 10

Friday, July 31, 2015

3:10 PM



The Windows Action Center is a great addition to the new operating system as it not only brings a history of your unseen notifications but it also places shortcut access to your favorite/most used settings on Windows 10.

The default top row of Action Center buttons can be configured in Settings>System>Notifications and

actions and this gallery will walk you through the steps to customize those items.

The number of options for Quick Actions depends on your system however, after you select your four defaults the remaining options will appear below that row of Quick Action buttons when you tap the

Expand option in Action Center.

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How To: Use Windows 10's Screen Recording Utility

Friday, July 31, 2015

3:10 PM

I use screen capture quite a bit. There are a number of pretty awesome screen capture applications available. My favorite, and the one I always go back to, is from TechSmith and is called Snagit . TechSmith makes a whole range of products related to video and screen capture with Camtasia being its full screen recording and video editing studio. For me, though, Snagit works just fine and is enough.

However, for those that want to do image and video capture on-the-cheap, Microsoft includes a screen recording utility in Windows 10's new Xbox app. As you can imagine, this is generally meant for recording Xbox games streamed to a Windows 10 PC, but what's especially interesting is that the recording utility also works for regular apps.

A couple caveats, though. The first is that is that the Xbox app has to be running for the recording utility to be available for use. The second is that the app only records video and images in the current window.

You can't switch apps and keep recording or capturing images. So, it is somewhat limited and provides only basic capabilities. However, if you only need a quick screen capture, it'll do the trick in a pinch.

Here's how to do it…

1. Locate and run the Xbox app

2. With the Xbox app running, jump to the app you want to record and press the 'Windows' key with the letter 'G' (Win + G) to open the Game Bar.

3. Tell the Xbox recording app that you want to open the Game Bar by telling it a small white lie that the app you want to record is, indeed, a game.

4. Once the Game Bar is loaded choose your action, either Screenshot (for a single image capture) or

Start Recording (for capturing video).

That's it.

While you're recording, a small, red recording notification bar will sit at the top of the screen. You can use this to reopen the Game Bar to stop recording. However, I've had this notification bar disappear on me a few times. If this happens, just hit Win + G again to bring the Game Bar back up and stop the recording.

Incidentally, and as shown in a previous screenshot, when the Game Bar is loaded it exposes some additional keystrokes for recording and screen capture. You can use these to quickly perform the Game

Bar Actions:

Win+Alt+PrtScn - Screen capture

Win+Alt+R - Screen recording

When recording it done, you can find the completed recording file in File Explorer, under This

PC\Videos\Captures\. Screen image captures are also saved in this same "Videos\Captures" folder.

But, the quickest way to locate them is in the Xbox app itself, in the Game DVR section.

[Want to discuss this further? Hit me up on Twitter , on Google+ , or LinkedIn ]

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How To: Turn the Desktop Background Image On and Off in Windows 10

Friday, July 31, 2015

3:11 PM

After installing Windows 10, you might be one of those hopeful to see the new desktop wallpaper image

Microsoft provided that was created with light, lasers, and projectors, but it's just not displaying for you.

Or, maybe you want to turn off the background image altogether because it's just too distracting.

The location for turning the background image on and off is located in the Ease of Access settings.

To get there:

1. Open the Notification Center in the Windows 10 System Tray and click or tap the All Settings tile.

2. When the Settings window (formerly called the Control Panel) displays, choose Ease of Access.

3. On the Ease of Access window, navigate down to Other Options and then locate the Show

Windows Background toggle switch.

[Want to discuss this further? Hit me up on Twitter , on Google+ , or LinkedIn ]

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How To: Secure Logon for a Windows 10 Tablet without a


Friday, July 31, 2015

4:02 PM

Windows 10 works very similar to previous versions of Windows. So much so, that Microsoft is promoting Windows 10 as a "familiar" experience. But, of course, there will be some minor differences, including how the UI works.

A good example is how previously you could tap Ctrl + Alt + Del on the PC keyboard to bring up the login screen. This is still possible for Windows 10, but it has to be enabled first. IT admins can use policies to enable it.

However, what if you're using a straight tablet? Something that doesn't have a keyboard and the Ctrl +

Alt + Del key sequence has been enabled?

For tablets without keyboards, the following command sequence will work just like a Ctrl + Alt + Del procedure:

Windows button + Power button

Obviously, this requires a tablet that has an actual Windows button designed into it. Some manufacturers don’t include one, so be careful turning on Secure Logon for those.

[Want to discuss this further? Hit me up on Twitter , on Google+ , or LinkedIn ]

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How To: Use Windows 10's Screen Recording Utility

Friday, July 31, 2015

4:02 PM

I use screen capture quite a bit. There are a number of pretty awesome screen capture applications available. My favorite, and the one I always go back to, is from TechSmith and is called Snagit . TechSmith makes a whole range of products related to video and screen capture with Camtasia being its full screen recording and video editing studio. For me, though, Snagit works just fine and is enough.

However, for those that want to do image and video capture on-the-cheap, Microsoft includes a screen recording utility in Windows 10's new Xbox app. As you can imagine, this is generally meant for recording Xbox games streamed to a Windows 10 PC, but what's especially interesting is that the recording utility also works for regular apps.

A couple caveats, though. The first is that is that the Xbox app has to be running for the recording utility to be available for use. The second is that the app only records video and images in the current window.

You can't switch apps and keep recording or capturing images. So, it is somewhat limited and provides only basic capabilities. However, if you only need a quick screen capture, it'll do the trick in a pinch.

Here's how to do it…

1. Locate and run the Xbox app

2. With the Xbox app running, jump to the app you want to record and press the 'Windows' key with the letter 'G' (Win + G) to open the Game Bar.

3. Tell the Xbox recording app that you want to open the Game Bar by telling it a small white lie that the app you want to record is, indeed, a game.

4. Once the Game Bar is loaded choose your action, either Screenshot (for a single image capture) or

Start Recording (for capturing video).

That's it.

While you're recording, a small, red recording notification bar will sit at the top of the screen. You can use this to reopen the Game Bar to stop recording. However, I've had this notification bar disappear on me a few times. If this happens, just hit Win + G again to bring the Game Bar back up and stop the recording.

Incidentally, and as shown in a previous screenshot, when the Game Bar is loaded it exposes some additional keystrokes for recording and screen capture. You can use these to quickly perform the Game

Bar Actions:

Win+Alt+PrtScn - Screen capture

Win+Alt+R - Screen recording

When recording it done, you can find the completed recording file in File Explorer, under This

PC\Videos\Captures\. Screen image captures are also saved in this same "Videos\Captures" folder.

But, the quickest way to locate them is in the Xbox app itself, in the Game DVR section.

[Want to discuss this further? Hit me up on Twitter , on Google+ , or LinkedIn ]

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How To: Turn the Desktop Background Image On and Off in Windows 10

Friday, July 31, 2015

4:03 PM

After installing Windows 10, you might be one of those hopeful to see the new desktop wallpaper image

Microsoft provided that was created with light, lasers, and projectors, but it's just not displaying for you.

Or, maybe you want to turn off the background image altogether because it's just too distracting.

The location for turning the background image on and off is located in the Ease of Access settings.

To get there:

1. Open the Notification Center in the Windows 10 System Tray and click or tap the All Settings tile.

2. When the Settings window (formerly called the Control Panel) displays, choose Ease of Access.

3. On the Ease of Access window, navigate down to Other Options and then locate the Show

Windows Background toggle switch.

[Want to discuss this further? Hit me up on Twitter , on Google+ , or LinkedIn ]

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How To: Use Quick Access in Windows 10's File Explorer

Friday, July 31, 2015

4:03 PM

File Explorer, of course, is still around in Windows 10. And, while it looks and acts somewhat the same as in previous version of Windows, there are some improvements.

One of those areas of improvement is a new Quick Access component. Quick Access gives you an area in

File Explorer to better organize your PC life, but also help you locate recently accessed files and folders.

As you use your PC, Windows 10 will continue to keep record of your file activities and automatically update the list.

But, who knows better than you what's most important? Quick Access is also customizable in that you can pin folders from anywhere in the Windows 10 file system to the Quick Access area. This enables you to create your own personal folder structure and have quick access to them without having to traipse through the ever-burgeoning number of files and folders.

To do it…

1. With File Explorer open, locate the folder you want to pin to Quick Access.

2. Tap or click the Home tab at the top of File Explorer and tap or click the Pin to Quick access option.

That's it. Quick and easy and the adjustment is immediate.

Windows 10 doesn't actually copy the entire folder to Quick Access, but rather simply inserts a placeholder.

Don't like how File Explorer opens every time to Quick Access? Windows 10 offers one other option.

How To: Change How Windows 10 File Explorer Opens

[Want to discuss this further? Hit me up on Twitter , on Google+ , or LinkedIn ]

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How To: Change How Windows 10 File Explorer Opens

Friday, July 31, 2015

4:04 PM

File Explorer, of course, is still around in Windows 10. And, while it looks and acts somewhat the same as in previous version of Windows, there are some improvements.

One of those areas of improvement is a new Quick Access feature. You can read all about that HERE .

Quick Access is a handy feature, allowing you to better organize your files and folders so as to have quick and easy access to them. File Explorer in Windows 10 opens to Quick Access each time by default.

But, what if you don't want File Explorer to do that? What if you want it to open to another location?

Windows 10 gives you only two options: Quick Access and This PC.

To change this…

1. With File Explorer open, tap or click the File option at the top of the window and choose Change

folder and search options.

2. Once the Folder Options window opens, tap or click the dropdown box for Open File Explorer to and make your choice.

3. Hit OK to save it. You'll need to close File Explorer and reopen it to actually see the change.

[Want to discuss this further? Hit me up on Twitter , on Google+ , or LinkedIn ]

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How To: Pinning Websites to the Windows 10 Start


Friday, July 31, 2015

4:04 PM

Remnants of the Windows 8 .1 Start Screen are still present in Windows 10, but provided in a much friendlier, more customizable, and familiar way. Essentially, Microsoft took the best of Windows 8.1,

Windows Phone 8 .1, and melded it with the familiar streamlined operations of Windows 7.

The new Start Screen hangs directly off the revamped Start button and is completely customizable. You can add new tiles, change how the tiles operate, and even resize them.

Microsoft Edge, of course, is Microsoft's new web browser – the eventual replacement for Internet

Explorer. Internet Explorer is still there, but buried deep so that Edge gets the biggest focus. Edge is a fantastic, extremely fast web browser that is already beating other browsers in speed tests.

Pulling this all together, you can customize the Start Screen to host links to your favorite web sites so they are easily accessible directly from Start.

How to do it…

1. With Microsoft Edge open and tuned to your favorite website, tap or click the More options (the ellipses) button at the top left and tap or click the Pin to Start option.

That's it!

The pinned website will show up immediately on the Start Screen where you can drag and drop the icon to where easiest for you to find.

[Want to discuss this further? Hit me up on Twitter , on Google+ , or LinkedIn ]

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How To: Install the Windows Insider Hub on Windows 10

Friday, July 31, 2015

4:05 PM

Microsoft's Gabe Aul noted recently that the Windows Insider Hub would no longer be a default app installed with newer Windows 10 Builds. And true to his word, with this release of Windows 10 Insider

Preview Build 10158 , that is in fact the case.

The Hub is still available, just has to be installed separately and manually. To install the Windows Insider

Hub do this:

1. Go to Settings then System and then Apps & Features.

2. Tap or click the Manage Optional Features.

3. Tap or click Add a Feature.

4. Navigate the list, locate Insider Hub, and click install.

Once the Windows 10 upgrade officially releases on July 29 to the general public, and you decide to continue in the Windows Insider program, the Insider Hub will be included in preview Builds again.

[Want to discuss this further? Hit me up on Twitter , on Google+ , or LinkedIn ]

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How to: Create an email account in the Windows 10 Mail


Friday, July 31, 2015

4:06 PM



When you upgrade to Windows 10 and select to log in with a Microsoft Account you will automatically have your linked email account created and available in the Mail app. The bonus is that any account in the Mail app on Windows 10 is also created in the separate Universal Windows Platform Calendar app.

If you choose to use a local account to log into Windows 10, which Microsoft does allow, you will then need to setup your email account in the Mail app which, as mentioned above, will also add that account to the Calendar app.

This process will also work for adding additional email accounts to the Mail and Calendar apps. Here's what to do.

Bonus history lesson: Windows 10's Universal Windows Platform Mail restores some features that will seem familiar to anyone who used Windows Live Mail in Windows 7.

The Windows Live Mail program, free on the system, was quite robust and allowed you to manage email easily. Unfortunately, the Modern/Store Mail app which superseded it in Windows 8 /8.1 was not quite as full-featured as Live Mail was. For example, users could not longer use rules to sort and store their email.

This Windows 10 iteration of the email program, the Universal Windows Platform Mail, gains back some of the robustness that was lost with the Windows 8/8.1 Mail app, and allows users greater control over how they store mail.

But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+ .

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Your crash course in Windows 10, from installation to personalization

Friday, July 31, 2015

4:06 PM

When you're trying to find that how-to, hands-on tutorial or FAQ, you don't want to have to scramble through a website's search results to get the information you need. Make your Windows 10 upgrade process and subsequent use smoother by keeping this page bookmarked; we'll be including all our

Windows 10-related help here.


Windows 10 Upgrades or New Hardware: The Fine Print

— What's the 411 from your favorite hardware manufacturers about both the upgrade and availability of new hardware with Windows 10 pre-installed?

We took some time to research some of the top brands that are pretty common purchases and those you regularly find in retail stores.

Windows 10 upgrade and installation FAQ: We figured out who pays and who doesn't

— If you're a

Windows 7 or Windows 8 .1 user and you're looking to upgrade to Windows 10, there's no shortage of

opportunities to be confused about whether or not you'll be paying for the upgrade, or when you have to start paying for upgrades. We're here to alleviate the confusion.

Windows 10 Clean Install using the Media Creation Tool

— One of the big questions over the last few months about the release of Windows 10 was clean installing onto a former Windows 7 or 8.1 system and retaining proper activation of the subsequent Windows 10 install. Here's how Richard Hay answered that question. This is a step-by-step guide with screengrabs.

Windows 10 - Create install media or download ISO from Microsoft

— If you understand the terms

USB, ISO and installation media then you can jump the reservation line and begin your Windows 10 installation right now. This is a step-by-step guide with screengrabs.

How to make sure your free copy of Windows 10 is activated

— We've got a four-step checklist that walks you through the process.

How To: Fix the 80240020 Windows 10 Installation Error

-- If you receive an 80240020 error, but it’s a notice that the Windows 10 download was either interrupted (unfinished) or corrupted. So here's how to fix your faulty download.

Enrolling in the Windows Insider Program post Windows 10 release

— Why would you want to?

Because Windows Insiders who have upgraded Windows 7 or 8.1 systems will have valid activated installations of Windows 10 with an option to enroll in the post release Insider program.

Top 5 areas to update and customize after your Windows 10 upgrade

— Once your upgrade to

Windows 10 is complete you will arrive in the new OS ready to go with your compatible apps, programs and all of your files waiting for you. Take these five steps to begin your own Windows 10 experience with a machine that works perfectly for you.

After the Windows 10 installation, the clean-up -- here's what to do ...

Once you have settled into your new Windows 10 installation and are satisfied with how everything works, you can do a simple maintenance task that will save you a significant amount of space on your device.


How To: Require Ctrl-Alt-Del Logon for Windows 10

Why would you need to do this? Windows used to require the 3-finger salute (Ctrl-Alt-Del) to logon, you can re-enable that in Windows 10 to add an extra level of logon security.

How To: Adjust Cortana's Settings in Windows 10

Why would you need to do this? Once you've enabled Cortana, you may want to adjust how she works.

How To: Import Internet Favorites into Windows 10's Microsoft Edge from Other Browsers

Why would you need to do this? Because you'll want to test out how Microsoft's new and radically improved web browser renders all your usual websites.

How To: Configure Microsoft Edge to Open Multiple Home Pages in Windows 10

Why would you need to do this? You've got a lot of websites to look at but limited screen real estate.

How To: Quickly Open Internet Explorer Pages in Microsoft Edge on Windows 10

Why would you need to do this? There will be instances where some Web pages will not show correctly in Edge. In this case, you might actually need to dust off Internet Explorer.

How To: Add the Home Button Back to Microsoft Edge

Why would you need to do this? Adding a Home button shortcut to the Edge browsers window makes it very easy to return to your browsers default home page.

How To: Customize the Personalization Options in Windows 10 Settings

Why would you need to do this? You want to know how to set up the Windows 10 background, colors, lock screen, themes and other options on the Start Menu.

How To: Setup Quick Action Buttons in Windows 10

Why would you need to do this? Because the Windows Action Center is where you can set up shortcut access to your favorite/most used settings on Windows 10.

How To: Secure Logon for a Windows 10 Tablet without a Keyboard

Why would you need to do this? Let's say you're using something that doesn't have a keyboard and you want to bring up the logon screen that used to pop up with Ctrl + Alt + Del.

How To: Use Windows 10's Screen Recording Utility

Why would you need to do this? For those that want to do image and video capture on-the-cheap,

Microsoft includes a screen recording utility in Windows 10's new Xbox app.

How To: Turn the Desktop Background Image On and Off in Windows 10

Why would you need to do this? Maybe you want to turn off the background image altogether because it's just too distracting.

How To: Use Quick Access in Windows 10's File Explorer

Why would you need to do this? To provide easy access to your most common locations for files without having to drill down through different disk drives and folders.

How To: Change How Windows 10 File Explorer Opens

Why would you need to do this? To open up to the This PC view of your system instead of the Quick

Access default.

How To: Pin Websites to the Windows 10 Start Screen

Why would you need to do this? To have quick and easy access to your most visited websites with one click from the Start Menu/Screen.

How To: Give Titles to Windows 10 Start Screen Tile Groups for Better Organization

Why would you need to do this? This helps you to quickly identify the common factor among the group of tiles.

How To: Install the Windows Insider Hub on Windows 10

Why would you need to do this? If you are a member of the Windows Insider Program after the release of Windows 10 this app is no longer installed by default. This explains how to install it on your Windows

10 system so you can get program alerts from the Windows Team at Microsoft.

How to: Create an email account in the Windows 10 Mail App

Why would you need to do this? Almost everyone has at least one and usually multiple email accounts.

This is how you add those extra ones to your system

How To: Change Email Sync Frequency in the Windows 10 Mail App

Why would you need to do this? Microsoft chose to make "Based on usage" the default for your notifications. Here's how to change your sync options.

How To: Upgrade Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro

Why would you need to do this? With Windows 10 Microsoft is introducing the Windows 10 Pro Pack.

The Pro Pack enables you to upgrade a Windows 10 Home system to Windows 10 Pro to take advantage of the increased features.

How To: Stop the Windows 10 Upgrade from downloading on your system

Why would you need to do this? There will be many people very excited about the prospect of upgrading to Windows 10 on the 29th of July. But if you're not one of them, you don't have to worry about Microsoft forcing the upgrade down your throat.

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How To: Change Email Sync Frequency in the Windows 10

Mail App

Friday, July 31, 2015

4:07 PM

I thought something was wrong. I'm used to getting notifications when new emails arrive (and, I do get a healthy amount), but I noticed during my first few hours of trying to use the Mail app in Windows 10 exclusively that I'd get email notifications on my Windows Phone long before they showed up in the

Mail app. I'd have to manually sync the Mail app to get the emails to show up there.

After some digging, it seems, for some reason, Microsoft chose to make "Based on usage" the default. Per the app, this means…

According to this email delivery will get better over time, based on my usage history, but I wanted it to work better now. Yes, I'm an impatient user who relies on heavily on email to do business.

You can change the sync option. Here's how…

1. Tap of click the Settings icon in the lower left of the Mail app.

2. Choose "Accounts" on the Settings panel.

3. Select Account you want to modify and then tap or click the Change mailbox sync settings option.

4. Tap or click the dropdown list for Sync Options and choose your preference.

I chose "as items arrive" which means the Mail app will be constantly checking – which will probably result in more network traffic and more battery consumption – but you can choose what works best for you.

But, wait...there's probably more...

Follow me on Twitter

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How To: Upgrade Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro

Friday, July 31, 2015

4:08 PM

We've already heard about Windows 10 pricing for those that either choose not to upgrade or want to build a brand new PC.

It goes as follows:

Windows 10 Home is $119.99

Windows 10 Pro is $199.99

But, what if you want to move from the Home version to the Pro version?

With Windows 10 Microsoft is introducing the Windows 10 Pro Pack. The Pro Pack enables you to upgrade a Windows 10 Home system to Windows 10 Pro to take advantage of the increased features.

Available as a retail purchase online or in stores, the Windows 10 Pro Pack will cost $99.99.

As we get closer to the Windows 10 official launch, we should know more about the specific feature differences between Home and Pro, but will be similarly designed as the differences between Windows

7 and 8 Home and Windows 7 and 8 Pro.

Windows 10 Home is designed for users running PCs, tablets, and 2-in-1's, while Windows 10 Pro is architected with features essential for businesses including BitLocker, Domain Join, Azure Active

Directory Join, Group Policy Management, and Windows Update for Business.

[Want to discuss this further? Hit me up on Twitter , on Google+ , or LinkedIn ]

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How to stop the Windows 10 Upgrade from downloading on your system

Friday, July 31, 2015

4:08 PM

There will be many people very excited about the prospect of upgrading to Windows 10 on the 29th of


At the same time there are other users on Windows 7 and 8.1 who do not want any part of the upgrade for a variety of reasons.

Microsoft has confirmed that the new OS , currently in its final stages of development, will be made available for download/install on eligible systems on 29 July 2015.

In preparation for that, back in April, Microsoft released an update ( KB3035583 ) for Windows 7

(Optional) and 8.1 (Recommended) that is called the Get Windows 10 app. It provides the prompt that started appearing on users systems (Windows 7 and 8.1) yesterday and gives you the option to reserve your copy of Windows 10.

But what if you are one of those users with zero interest in the Windows 10 upgrade?

Since KB3035583 was released as an Optional or Recommended update based on your OS it might not be installed if you avoid those types of updates. If that is the case then you have no further action to take.

If however, you did install that update then it can be uninstalled through Windows Update.

Open up Windows Update and click on View update history.

Click on Installed Updates.

In the search box in the upper right corner type in kb3035583. If the update is on your system it will show up in the results.

Click on the KB3035583 entry in the search results and you will be asked if you are sure you want to uninstall it. Click Yes to remove it.

The system may need to be restarted to complete the removal.

If you do not want to see the update any more be sure to hide it by right clicking on the KB3035583 listing in Windows Update and selecting Hide this update.

H/T to @EdBott who clarified the updates status between Windows 7 and 8.1 for me.

But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter

and Google+ .

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After the Windows 10 installation, the clean-up -- here's what to do

Friday, July 31, 2015

4:10 PM

Yesterday I shared with you my recommendations for the first five things you should update and customize after installing your upgrade to Windows 10 after tomorrow’s general release.

Once you have settled into your new Windows 10 installation and are satisfied with how everything works, you can do a simple maintenance task that will save you a significant amount of space on your device.

This is not so much of an issue if you are on a desktop or laptop with a large hard drive however, on systems with small storage devices it can recover a few gigabytes of space which can be helpful.

When your Windows 7 or 8.1 machine is upgraded to Windows 10 your Windows folder from the previous OS is stored on your hard drive in a folder named Windows.old. The files in this folder are used to revert back to your old OS if there is any issue in Windows 10 during the upgrade.

If the upgrade goes well the Windows.old folder it is maintained so that you can revert back during the first 30 days after upgrading to Windows 10. I suspect that after the 30 day period this folder will be removed automatically or you could possibly be prompted to delete it. One thing is for sure – there is only a 30 day window to revert back to your previous OS. After that reverting back means reinstallation of your former version of Windows.

So with all that known – once you have decided that your install of Windows 10 is good to go and you are satisfied then you can carry out this clean up task.

The Windows.old folder cannot be manually deleted as it will result in an error since it is a system level folder. In order to remove it you must use the Disk Cleanup program on Windows 10.

To do this click on the Search icon in the taskbar or tap the Windows key to open the Start Menu and just start typing Disk cleanup (1). You should see the Disk Cleanup program entry at the top of the search results (2). Click or tap the program name to start it.

When the program window opens it defaults to the hard drive where your Windows installation is located. Click OK to begin the initial scan.

After the initial scan is done you must then select the option to Clean up system files (1) and then begin the scan again by clicking OK.

Once the scan is completed there are two main entries to look for. One you can delete the other you should retain.

Let me explain.

In these two screenshots, thanks to @LocalJoost & @jussipalo for the images, you can see an entry labelled Previous Windows installation(s). They are varying sizes because everyone’s install will be different based on software installed and your files.

This is tied to the Windows.old folder I talked about earlier and you can click the box to the left of this entry and then click OK to remove Windows.old and free up all of that disk space.

You will be prompted and warned that there is no turning back but you are ready to commit to Windows

10 anyway so click to confirm that. The system will go through the cleanup process and you will regain that disk space.

The second entry in this list of space consuming files is the Temporary Internet Files. This can also take up varying sizes of disk space depending on the size of your Internet cache.

Something else that is stored under the Temporary Internet Files area are any updates and new builds for Windows 10 that have been downloaded. They are stored there so that you can take advantage of the new Peer to Peer distribution of Windows Updates.

As long as you keep the Temporary Internet Files on your machine those previously downloaded files will be shared amongst the computers on your network instead of each machine downloading them separately.

This should save you a lot of bandwidth in the long run so do not remove these files using the Disk

Cleanup tool. If you want to empty your browsers cache then use the tools in your web browser to delete those files and it will not impact the stored update files.

What areas do you cleanup after installing a new operating system?

But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter

and Google+ .

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Firefox for Windows 10: How to Restore or Choose Firefox as Your Default Browser | Future Releases

Sunday, August 2, 2015

2:58 PM

We’re excited to bring all that you love about Firefox to Windows 10. When you upgrade to Windows 10 or get a device that already has it installed, you may be surprised to find that your default browser is set to Microsoft Edge by Windows. Microsoft has changed how to set default applications in Windows 10 and to help with the process, we have illustrated below all the steps you need to set or change your default back to your intended choice.

1. When you open Firefox for the first time, you will be asked if you’d like to make it your default browser. To do so, click the “Use Firefox as my default browser” button.

2. The Windows Settings app will open with the Choose default apps screen. Scroll down and click the entry under Web browser. The Web browser icon will say either “Microsoft Edge” or “Choose your default browser”. It may not be intuitive, but you need to click on the Microsoft Edge logo to open the window that will let you choose another Web browser as your default.

3. This will open the Choose an app screen. Click Firefox in the list to set it as the default browser.

4. Firefox is now listed as your default browser. Close the window to save your changes.

Here’s a video walkthrough of this process.

If you need more help, please go to our support page.

Help Test Firefox Beta on Windows 10

We wanted to make sure that Firefox showed up on Windows 10 as a first-class experience, so we’ve made a lot of subtle tweaks to the look and feel that both sit well in the Windows 10 context and are

definitively Firefox. We’re taking visual cues from style changes appearing in Windows 10 and we’re also reducing the overall browser UI footprint to increase space for viewing the Web. Download Firefox Beta now to help test out these updates or watch out for them coming soon in the general release of Firefox!

More information:

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Windows 10 - CNET

Sunday, August 2, 2015

2:59 PM

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10 things you didn't know about Windows 10

Sunday, August 2, 2015

3:00 PM

Microsoft (MSFT) announced its new Windows 10 operating system is running on more than 14 million devices in just a couple days after it was released via a free download. In a blog post, Microsoft said it has seen unprecedented demand for Windows 10 Newslook

Screenshot of Windows 10(Photo: 2015 Microsoft)

In case you've missed this week's fanfare, Windows 10 is officially here.

Microsoft's latest operating system (OS) is available as a free upgrade for home users of Windows 7 and newer – so long as you download it within its first year. You've also got one month to revert back to your previous OS if you're not a fan.

Which, chances are you will be – if my three months with Windows 10 is any indication.

You've probably heard about some of its key features, such as the return of the Start button, better built-in security and a new web browser. But there's a lot you likely don't know about Windows 10. The following is a look at ten such features:

Cortana by your side

Mice, keyboards, stylus pens and touchscreens are all well and good, but voice interaction is one of the more exciting features in Windows 10. Not unlike Siri for iOS and Google Now for Android, consider

"Cortana" your own voice-activated personal digital assistant. Named after you're A.I. (artificial intelligence) companion in the Halo video game series, Cortana is at your beck and call, whether you ask

"her" to pull up a recent sales report, set an alarm, call a friend, add an event to your calendar, take a note, or display photos from a recent birthday bash. You can also ask "What's up?" and Cortana will tell you interesting facts or what happened on this day in history.

Annotate web sites

A new integrated web browser called Microsoft Edge -- previously code-named Project Spartan (another

Halo reference) – is lean, fast and secure, and includes advanced features such as writing or typing notes on websites (touch screens required for writing); simplified sharing of content with others; a distractionfree reading mode (online and offline support); support for extensions (unlike Internet Explorer); and integration of Cortana for finding and doing things faster and more intuitively. Be aware Bing is your default search engine, but you can change it to another, such as Google.

No more passwords?

Built into Windows 10 is Windows Hello, a biometrics-based password option – meaning it uses a unique part of your body to identify you – so you'll never have to remember login information again.

Specifically, Windows Hello will authenticate you based on your face, iris or fingerprint, so it be easier and faster to log into your devices and web accounts – without sacrificing security and privacy, says

Microsoft. On a related note, the Windows Passport feature remembers and stores passwords for you.

Consistent experience

Windows 10 was designed to adapt to multiple devices – and not just laptops and desktops. From smartwatches, phones and tablets to personal computers to servers in datacenters, you'll have a consistent, familiar experience across many different kinds of hardware. Windows 10 can also power tiny sensors (as part of the "Internet of Things" revolution), TVs (via Xbox One), 80-inch interactive whiteboards (Surface Hub) and even hologram-generating augmented reality goggles (check out the

HoloLens demo video online).

Tying it all together

Windows 10 includes Continuum, a feature that makes it easy to move between keyboard and mouse and touch and tablet, as it automatically detects the transition and switches to the new mode for you.

For example, in Microsoft's own Surface tablets, Windows 10 can switch from a classic desktop when the magnetic keyboard is attached to the full touchscreen experience when the keyboard is removed.

You can also connect a Windows Phone or tablet to a monitor and use a mouse and keyboard like a PC, or use two devices as dual screens.

Screenshot of Windows 10 (Photo: 2015 Microsoft)

Custom desktops, multiple windows

Now that many of us are using larger monitors for work – I'm currently typing this article on a 27-inch all-in-one desktop – Windows 10 lets you better take advantage of that extra real estate. You can now have four apps "snapped" on the same screen, thanks to a new quadrant layout, plus Windows 10 also shows other apps running for additional snapping. Also new is support for multiple "virtual" desktops: create unique desktops for different projects (or segregate your 9 to 5 life from your 5 to 9 world) and easily toggle between these desktops by tapping or clicking on the Task View button on the taskbar (to the right of the search window).

Gestures aplenty

A few of the time-saving gestures you can discover in Windows 10: On your laptop touchpad, swipe three fingers up for Task View; down for Desktop; left or right to cycle through previous apps; and threefinger tap for Search. To create a new virtual desktop (per above), hold the CTRL and Windows key down and tap D, while to switch between virtual desktops you'll press CTRL and Windows key plus Left and

Right arrows. Easily capture on-screen videos with a few shortcuts: Windows key and G to open up

Game DVR; once opened, tap Windows + ALT + G to start recording and WIN + ALT+ R to stop.

Action Jackson

While it was half-baked in Windows 8, a new Action Center in Windows 10 shows you what you need to know, when you need to know it. Notifications slide into view – such as an email, calendar entry or sports score you wanted to know about – and then slide back out of sight. At any time, however, you can tap the Action Center icon on the lower right-hand side of your screen (or tap Windows key and A)

and you'll see all notifications archived here. The Action Center also provides quick-action tabs for common functions, like enabling Bluetooth, connecting to a VPN (Virtual Private Network), adjusting brightness, battery tweaks, and more.

Windows 10 is fun, too

While Windows 10 might be billed as a productivity-centric OS, a number of games are already preinstalled, including King's Candy Crush Saga, along with classics like Solitaire, Minesweeper and

Hearts. If you're more into creating your own gaming experiences and sharing them with up to seven friends, Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta is a free download from the Windows Store for the 20-odd million players who already have the PC edition of Minecraft (otherwise, it's $10). Among other features, this Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta supports multiple control schemes (controller, touch and keyboard) and the ability to record and share gameplay highlights with a built-in DVR feature.

Console gaming, too

While not tested yet, Windows 10 lets you stream games directly from your Xbox One to your Windows

10 devices over Wi-Fi, therefore you can play games on multiple devices (including online games against friends via Xbox Live); capture, edit and share your greatest gaming moments with those who matter; and on select games, enjoy console-grade graphics and speed thanks to Windows 10's new DirectX 12 application programming interface (API). In other words, you can play your Xbox One games on a desktop, laptop, or tablet in your home on your local Wi-Fi.

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman

. E-mail him at [email protected]


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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

1:23 PM

Windows Key-Tab (Task View)

Windows Key-Right-Up (Moves app to top right quadrant)

Windows Key-Ctrl-Left or Right (virtual desktop)

Windows Key-Ctrl-D (new virtual desktop)

Windows Key-Ctrl-C (Cortana listening)

Windows Key-S (Daily Glance for weather, news, sports)

Windows Key-Ctrl-F4 (closes virtual desktop)

Windows Key-Up and Down (snap apps to top or bottom of screen or maximizes)

Windows Key-A (Action Center)

Windows Key-L (Lock the screen)

Windows Key-E (Explorer)

Windows Key-P (Projector)

Windows Key-S, C or Q (Cortana or Search)

Windows Key-I (Settings)

Windows Key-U (Ease of Use)

Windows Key-D (Show Desktop)

Windows Key-H (Share)

Windows Key-K (Connect)

Windows Key-X (Power Menu)

Windows Key-M (Minimize all windows)

Windows Key-Tab (Task View)

Tue-8-4-2015 1:23 PM - Screen Clipping

Confirmed: Windows 10 To Include Native Print As PDF


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

1:52 PM

Another important feature in Windows 10 just got revealed from Windows 10 Build 10036. Windows 10 will have native PDF support and it will allow users to print any content as PDF. Yes, there is a new option called ‘Print as a PDF’ in the Print dialog in addition to XPS format support. This is a great news for end users. And this feature can be controlled by the admin as it is marked as a separate Windows feature.

Source: ROMAN

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Windows 10: Good, but is it good enough?

Monday, August 10, 2015

8:48 AM

Windows Secrets Newsletter • Issue 492 • 2015-08-05 • Circulation: over 400,000

When your PC starts running out of disk space, you have two choices: start deleting files at random or delete useless duplicate files. Easy Duplicate Finder is the fastest software to find, manage and delete duplicate files. Just add some folders, run a scan, and let Easy Duplicate Finder do the rest.

Download Easy Duplicate Finder to Delete Duplicates Quickly & Easily

Web Minds

Table of contents

Top Story: Windows 10: Good, but is it good enough?

Field Notes: Getting started with the new Windows

Lounge Life: Quick and flawless upgrade or a different kind?

Wacky Web Week: Hills are alive with the sound of airplanes

LangaList Plus: Surprising results from early Win10 benchmarks

Briefing Session: A trip around the Windows 10 Start menu

On Security: Making Windows 10 a bit more private and secure

Top Story

By Woody Leonhard on August 5, 2015 in Top Story

As even cave-dwelling monks probably know by now, Windows 10 is out for all the world to see — and it appears to be a qualified success.

Is downloading and installing the new OS a no-brainer? If you use Win8, the answer is almost assuredly yes; but if you’re a Win7 fan, some serious considerations await.

Build 10240: The first-final Windows 10

More than with any previous version of Windows, it’s difficult to talk about a “final” version of the OS.

Build 10240 is the official July 29 release, but it’s hardly final; it’ll undoubtedly evolve over time.

When I talked about Win10 build 10122 in the May 28 Top Story , almost all “final” features were intact.

They have, however, been tweaked a bit in the official Win10 release — and some will get further adjustments.

For example, we now know that the Universal (formerly “Metro”) Skype app doesn’t work worth beans.

So Microsoft cut it loose, offering instead a link on the initial start menu to install the old desktop version of Skype. Even at that, desktop Skype is underwhelming, and there are many rumors at this point that Microsoft will finally come up with something simpler for texting, calling, and videoharanguing.

In a similar vein, Microsoft cut the Universal OneDrive app. Microsoft’s reworking it to bring back “smart files,” the ability to show thumbnails of files in Explorer on your machine while keeping the entire file in the cloud. The result is quite a mess. Win10 setup steps you through the task of specifying which files get stored locally and which are kept in the cloud.

Those files stored on your machine work just as you’d expect. Unfortunately, at this time, File Explorer isn’t smart enough to show you anything that’s cloud-only — you have to go into the browser to see everything.

As you’ll see below, there are many other Win10 features — many new to the OS — that are not completely baked.

It all starts with the return of Start

Through the various Win Preview builds, the start menu has had various incarnations. The final version, shown in Figure 1, is nearly identical to the one in build 10122, with text links on the left and live tiles on the right. But there are some worthwhile tweaks.

Figure 1. The final start menu combines a Win7-like list with Win8-like smart tiles; it also includes a few surprises.

The entries at the bottom-left of the start menu can be changed a bit, but everything else on the left is pretty much set in stone — unlike Windows 7, which gave you numerous display options. Still, something is better than nothing — as we had in Windows 8.

Right-clicking apps listed in the left column gives you many of the same choices found in Win7 — plus the option to uninstall the app.

The exhaustive All apps list (Figure 2) shows every program/app that’s installed on your computer. But here, too, you can’t do much to manage the way the list is displayed; for example, entries can’t be grouped or renamed. (Fortunately, you can still pin favorite apps to the taskbar.) Even the placement of the All apps icon seems a bit odd. If feels as if it should lead or follow the left column’s list of used or added apps, not be stuck below the Power icon.

Figure 2. The All apps list lacks any organizational options.

Happily, entering the Windows key + X still pops up the handy power-users’ menu. On the other hand, the Power icon seems to have lost some of its smarts. For example, it no longer lets you assign “Lock” to the button itself and use a drop-down menu for other options. (If enabled, Lock shows up when you click your picture icon at the top of the start menu.)

As with Win10 Preview, the right side of the start menu holds live tiles. I think of them as Win7 gadgets that have finally become truly useful. But if they bug you, just right-click the offensive ones and choose

Unpin from Start.

You can add or remove a tile for any installed application — not just Universal apps. You also have some control over height and width of the start menu. For example, simply drag the right edge of the start menu to make it wider or narrower. When you make the menu narrower, tiles on the right edge move automatically beneath those to the left.

Edge: The successor to Internet Explorer

The default browser for Windows 10 is the new Edge browser. You can still find IE, but you’ll have to dig for it. Given that Edge is completely new, it’s surprising that it still lags well behind Chrome and Firefox for both features and usability. For example, Edge doesn’t have any plugins; you’re stuck without, oh,

AdBlocker or (crucial for me) LastPass. On the plus side, Microsoft has promised that Edge will run

Chrome extensions with little or no modification — quite a trick, if Microsoft can pull it off.

You can have Edge open to a specific set of pages, but to do so you need to open settings and enter the

URL for each page manually. The offline reader — Reading view — garbles too many pages. Dragging tabs doesn’t work right: as with other browsers, dragging a tab onto a blank part of the desktop will create a separate browser window. However, if you drag that new tab back to the original window, the tab will meld back in but the second window is left open to a generic page. You also can’t swipe to move back and forth between pages.

Changing or adding search engines is also not especially easy. You have to navigate to the search engine’s home page, then open Edge’s advanced setting. Next, in the Search section, click the down arrow in the box listing Bing as the default. You then get the options shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Edge makes changing search engines somewhat convoluted.

Edge has some hooks into Cortana; you can right-click a selected phrase on a webpage and let Cortana have at it. Edge comes with a PDF reader and Flash built-in, and you can turn Flash off by simply flipping a switch in settings. Edge also lets you turn a webpage into a OneNote page and annotate it — something that looks good in demos, but I’m not sure how I’ll use it.

Cortana: The digital assistant on the desktop

Microsoft’s transplanted phone AI continues to improve, but seemingly in fits and starts. The biggest problem I’ve had, time and again, is getting Cortana to understand me. For example, “How cold is it in

Antarctica?” typically turns into “How cold is it in America?” Yes, I’m using a good mike — a Blue

Snowball — but Cortana isn’t impressed.

Far too often, my simple, factual questions just get tossed out to a Bing search in Edge. And yes, Cortana always uses Bing, not your default search engine. When you type something into Cortana’s search bar

(next to the start button), the AI first searches your computer and then searches Bing. If you activate voice recognition, everything you ask about (using “Hey, Cortana!”) goes through Bing. In other words,

Edge might let you use a different search engine, but everything else is Bing, Bing, Bing.

No wonder Microsoft’s predicting a 10 to 15 percent increase in Bing use by September. See this cached copy of an announcement from Bing GM of MS Search Advertising David Pann. (The original post doesn’t appear to be on Microsoft’s servers anymore.)

I’ve talked about Cortana and her data-gathering ways before. Suffice it to say that Cortana controls the gates to search on your computer and — unless you explicitly turn it off (inside Cortana, click the

Notebook icon, then Settings, then the link “Manage what Cortana knows about me in the cloud”) —

Cortana funnels a whole lotta stuff into Microsoft’s bit bucket.

To be fair, you have to agree to be snooped upon (the default in Win10’s express setup), and Cortana really does need that info to do her job. The fact that the data can be used to target ads shouldn’t upset you any more (or less!) than, say, using Google search and free Gmail, which are both milked for the purpose of serving up ads.

To keep on top of your privacy profile, see the Microsoft privacy choices site (sign-in required).

Other half-baked pieces that might trip you up

The new Mail app still has some gaping holes. You can’t combine inboxes, for example, to get all of your mail delivered in one place. Moreover, you can see messages only in conversation view, not chronologically. I’m seeing lots of reports of Mail crashing, particularly when it encounters complex messages with extensive formatting and multiple images.

Mail has much better editing capabilities than the 8.1-era Metro Mail app, but new-mail notifications rarely pop up in the Action area.

On the other hand, the new Windows Universal Calendar app continues to sync properly with my Gmail calendar. And the multiple desktop/task view capability works well, though it’s strangely hampered by two simple shortcomings: all desktops must have the same background, and there’s no way to easily tag or identify individual desktops — all you get is 1, 2, 3 for labels.

Many other native apps hardly work at all. Photos has rudimentary editing capabilities but no tagging or retrieval features; People looks as if it were thrown together by two interns over a weekend.

I’ve never liked Microsoft Music or Xbox Music, and now I like Win10’s Groove Music even less. It has cumbersome playlist handling, no tagging to speak of — basically nothing that would make it a musicmanagement app. It’s good only as a player and as a funnel to buy more music from Microsoft. With

Movies & TV, you have to go through the Windows Store to buy or rent a movie.

Windows Store is one of the low points of the Win10 experience. It’s not terribly stable and, even when you can keep it running, the junk in there is still appalling. Content’s been vetted a little bit, but on a scale from 1 to 10, the typical Windows Store app might rate a 2 — if I’m feeling charitable.

Microsoft has generally had a hard time getting its Universal apps in order for this release. We have robust — if stunted — Universal apps for the four core Office apps. But programming for the new WinRT

API-based Universal platform is apparently so hard that Microsoft couldn’t get us new apps for such key tools as OneDrive or Skype. That speaks volumes.

Whether third-party developers will be lured to the tiled Windows side still remains a big point of conjecture. Once upon a time, Microsoft could dangle Windows Phone as a carrot for developers, as

Universal apps are supposed to run equally well on Windows 10 and Win10 Mobile. But with the

Windows Phone market still failing to gain much traction, Windows Phone isn’t much of a draw.

In other words, developers looking to write for the Win10 platform might just opt to stick with the older

“classic” desktop and eschew the tiled side completely. It’ll be interesting to see whether Microsoft can lure any major app over to the Universal format.

Patching: The Windows 10 Achilles’ heel

By now, you probably know that Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro machines will get all updates from Microsoft, automatically — whether you want them or not. (Pro machines connected to an update server apparently won’t get force-fed updates quite so quickly.) Four months ago that fact would’ve

(and did!) send me on an apoplectic bender. Now, though, the situation’s not quite so dire. At least, not yet.

Microsoft has quietly released a tool — KB 307930 — that makes it possible to turn off certain updates.

But it works only if the update has already been applied and uninstalled, and it isn’t clear how long you’ll be able to hold off on the updates. Moreover, I’ve had problems getting it to work. (For more on this option, see my July 22 InfoWorld post .)

The availability of that tool, combined with the remarkable fact that Microsoft has had very few botched patches in the past four months, makes me want to give the Softies the benefit of the doubt. They might just be able to keep Windows 10 updated in a way that’s less disruptive than what we’ve seen over the past dozen years.

Or maybe not.

The decision: Whether and when to get Windows 10

Everybody wants to know whether I recommend upgrading to Windows 10. (Yes, even my barber and my son’s teachers have asked me that question this past week.) The answer is not simple; here’s the three-minute yes/no flow chart.

First, if you haven’t yet signed up for the queue, Microsoft has detailed instructions for how to do so.

If you haven’t received notification from Microsoft that your copy of the Windows 10 download is ready, cool your heels until it arrives — there’s a reason for the delay. Keep in mind that Microsoft is also fixing all sorts of things in record time. The company has started with simple configurations and is holding back on upgrades for configurations that have caused problems. Have patience.

That said, my general advice for Windows 8/8.1 users is to go ahead and install Win10. There are exceptions: If you’re a touch-first or touch-only Windows 8.1 user, you might have difficulty adapting to the new Tablet Mode. Charms is gone (yay!), but you have to cope with a taskbar that won’t go away and swiping doesn’t work the same. If you’re happy with Windows 8.1 in touch mode, get yourself to a retailer and try Windows 10 in Tablet Mode before you jump ship.

Also, if you use Windows 8.1 and you rely on OneDrive’s thumbnail approach to keeping your files sorted out, you’ll have to change your ways with Windows 10. (That feature doesn’t appear in Win7 or

Win8, only in Win8.1.)

For Windows 7 users, the recommendation isn’t so clear-cut. While Windows 10 has a lot of fun, interesting, useful stuff (despite the shortcomings I’ve noted above), I can’t point to one killer feature that makes the upgrade a no-brainer — especially if you’re already using Chrome or Firefox for browsing. Windows 10’s going to get a lot of improvement and support in the near term, and Win7 is effectively a dead duck — it’ll get fixes in the future but few, if any, enhancements.

Win10 is undeniably more secure, and it’s faster on reboot. But then, how often do you reboot? For gamers, Win10’s DirectX 12 will make fancy games run much faster. Touch input’s nice but hardly a game changer, and it takes extra hardware.

All that said, the upgrade’s free for legitimate consumer systems — you don’t have to make up your mind until July 29, 2016. Those rumors about charging you a monthly fee sometime down the line are pure fantasy.

There are really no significant downsides for most Win7 users. Issues with some applications and drivers for older devices are probably your main concerns. You can take a fully updated Win7 or Win8.1 machine and upgrade it directly to Windows 10 without needing to install your apps or data (although you might want to consider starting with a clean installation of the OS). After it’s installed, Win10 will run much like Win7.

Keep in mind that if you upgrade (i.e., you don’t do a “clean” install), you can roll back to your previous version of Windows within 30 days. From what I’ve seen, the rollback works fine; your programs, settings, and data remain intact.

Typically, I tell Win7 users to wait a while. Let’s see what Microsoft brings out for the “TH2″ update reportedly scheduled for October or the “Redstone” update(s) due out next year. At least, many of the current holes will be plugged, and no doubt a big crop of bugs will get cut down as well.

That’s what I tell people whose job isn’t to review technology. I do cover tech, so I upgraded my

Windows 8.1 production machine this past weekend. I received the offer to upgrade in my system tray, and I’m glad I did — the upgrade went flawlessly. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wants us to all love

Win10. I won’t go there, but I feel a heck of a lot better about using Windows — now that the 8.1 noose is off.

The old saying goes that “Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances.” In this case, the “chances” are minimal for common Windows systems — and the money stays yours.

Windows 10: Good, but is it good enough?

Feedback welcome: Have a question or comment about this story? Post your thoughts, praise, or constructive criticisms in the WS Columns forum .

Field Notes

Getting started with the new Windows

By Tracey Capen on August 6, 2015 in Field Notes

Venturing into the new/old world of Windows 10 proves an interesting journey — but certainly not a pain-free one.

Here are some highlights and lessons from the first two days with the new operating system.

A morning spent looking for the ignition switch

I have two PCs in my office: one is a domain-connected Win7 system I use to produce the newsletter, the other I use to test applications and methods. The just-released version of Win10 isn’t designed for corporate systems, nor would I want to put the new OS on a production system just yet. On the other hand, the Win8.1 test system had been fully prepped for upgrading — all optional updates added and the “Get Windows 10″ reservation system activated.

Thus, on the day Microsoft released Win10, it was annoying to find that the “Get Windows 10″ icon had disappeared from the taskbar — nor was there an upgrade notification in Windows Update. (To be fair,

I’d made some changes to the Registry that might have upset the upgrade process.) After fussing around with system restores and update reinstalls, I decided that my best path forward was to do an upgrade from the Win10 ISO installer file.

In past versions of Windows, this process would typically require downloading the proper file and burning it to a DVD. But Win10 makes this task significantly easier, via Media Creation Tool ( site ).

Once downloaded and launched, MCT has some pleasant surprises. As expected, I could create a Win10 installation DVD or flash drive. But the tool also lets you run a direct upgrade (see Figure 1). Moreover, you have the choice of either keeping your applications and data or doing a “clean” installation.

Figure 1. Microsoft's free, downloadable Media Creation Tool not only lets you create installation media, you can use it to directly upgrade to Win10.

Almost everything works after the upgrade

After migrating the two systems to Win10, my first impression was: What changed? Fundamentally, the

PCs have the same icons, background, and overall appearance as their original configurations. The start menu looks somewhat different — but it is a fully functional start menu. (My Win8.1 system had Start

Menu 8 installed — which disappeared after the upgrade to Win10 — so it already had a traditional start menu.)

Unfortunately, on the formerly Win7 system, Windows 10 didn’t like my Logitech Bluetooth keyboard drivers. It took a bit of time to fix that issue; I had to download the latest SetPoint app and drivers from

Logitech and restart the system. The keyboard is now functional. (Win10 had no problem with my

Wacom pen tablet.)

On the formerly Win8.1 test system, the only app (aside from Start Menu 8) that failed was iTunes. That, too, was fixed by downloading the latest version and rebooting the system. (First rule of computer service: when in doubt, reboot.)

Initially, I also had a problem with Mouse Without Borders. See below for more on that. I’ve not run through all the dozens of applications I keep on my systems, so there might be other failures yet to be found. But so far, so good.

Resurrecting the vital Mouse Without Borders

As mentioned, I have two PCs at my work desk. To save desk space, I use Microsoft’s free utility, Mouse

Without Borders, to control the two systems with a single keyboard and mouse. (Occasionally, MWB fails or one of the systems is shut down, so I also have a physical KVM switch.)

When I upgraded the test machine from Win8.1 to Win10, MWB disappeared. Since I’m constantly switching between the two systems, getting the app working again was imperative. And that meant another download and fresh install of MWB.

I was surprised to find MWB in the Windows Store — though I wish I hadn’t. To put it bluntly, the universal (native) version sucks. I must have wasted a half-hour trying to get it to work. The app has no obviously accessible settings or configuration wizard, and the error messages were worse than useless

— and this is a Microsoft product. Obviously, some programmer took 10 minutes to port it into a universal format and then dumped it into the Store.

This brought to mind what I believe is Microsoft’s most egregious failure (after Windows 8, of course).

The Store was, and apparently still is, full of poorly built offerings. Microsoft needs to dump the junk and stop playing a numbers game — i.e., it really should focus on quality over quantity.

I did get Mouse Without Borders working again across systems. I downloaded it from the original

Microsoft Garage site . (I recommend visiting The Garage from time to time to see what “unofficial” projects Microsoft programmers have cooked up in their spare time.)

Groove Music not so groovy, but it’s functional

With iTunes temporarily down, I took a look at Microsoft’s answer to Windows Media Center — the

Groove Music app. It had no difficultly importing the music in my iTunes folder, but it also had one more clever trick: it can import iTunes playlists.

Figure 2. Win10's basic, native music player — Groove Music — imports both local music files and iTunes playlists.

That’s all well and good, but Groove Music is little more than a simple playback app. It’s not something you’re likely to use to manage your music library. Fortunately, there are many third-party applications that can easily manage that task.

Overall, a relatively painless migration

Obviously, there’s much more to know about the new Windows. For example, the start menu is back, but it’s not the same as what we’re used to. (Lincoln Spector discusses the start-menu changes in his

Briefing Session story, in the paid section of the newsletter.) And, of course, we’re still trying to understand future updates to the OS.

I also strongly recommend reading Susan Bradley’s On Security column for tips on making Win10 a bit more secure. You might also want to check out Lincoln Spector’s ongoing Win10 diary in the In Brief section of the Windows Secrets site. We’ll post other short bits of Win10 information there, as we can.

Windows 10 is a step forward — not a big step, which is probably for the best. But it will be fun getting to know it.

UPDATE: Yesterday, Aug. 5, Microsoft released its first cumulative patch for Windows 10, in the form of

KB 3081424 — undoubtedly the first of many more to come. There’s little information on the update, other than it contains “improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10.”

Editor in chief Tracey Capen was the executive editor of reviews at PC World magazine for 10 years, from 1995 to 2005. He was InfoWorld's managing editor of reviews from 1993 to 1995 and worked in the magazine's test center and as networking editor from 1989 to 1992. Between his stints at InfoWorld, he was senior labs editor at Corporate Computing magazine.

Wacky Web Week

Hills are alive with the sound of airplanes

Boats, planes, and bicycles are arguably Seattle’s favorite machines — although we have an impressive number of Subaru and Volvo cars also traversing the region.

During Seafair, however, boats and planes take over the city. Bridges over Lake

Washington close on workdays so that the Blue Angels can practice; conversations halt while jets roar over the city and hydrofoils charge up and down our big in-town mountain lake, Lake Washington.

Attitudes among human residents range from “partying all week!” to “leaving for

Montana NOW!” Most of the city’s other animals, domestic or wild, go into hiding until the noise stops. This video gives you a glimpse of the visual thrills without the signature sound; you get to hear music, instead. Click below or go to the original YouTube video .

Post your thoughts about this story in the WS Columns forum .

LangaList Plus

Surprising results from early Win10 benchmarks

By Fred Langa on August 6, 2015 in LangaList Plus

Windows 10 might be the first Windows upgrade ever that doesn’t exact a performance penalty. In fact, based on these preliminary benchmark tests, Win10 actually makes some systems run slightly faster than they did under Win7 or Win8!

Plus: A reader argues that it’s better to stick with Win7 or 8 than to upgrade to 10.

Preliminary speed results for Win10 installs

Microsoft has stated repeatedly that — unlike many past Windows upgrades — Win10 is designed not to require major hardware upgrades.

In fact, Win10’s minimum hardware requirements are decidedly modest:

CPU: 1 GHz or faster

RAM: 1GB for 32-bit Win10; 2GB for 64-bit

Hard-disk space: 16GB for 32-bit Win10; 20GB for 64-bit

Graphics: DirectX 9 with Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 1.0

Display: 800 by 600

Note that these are the requirements to run Win10 — but not necessarily to run it well.

So, to see how Win10 performs on hardware in real life, I upgraded six PCs — a mix of Win7 and Win8.1 systems.

On two of the systems — one Win7, one Win8.1 — I ran formal performance tests using the wellregarded, synthetic benchmarking tools PCMark 7 1.4.0 ( site ), NovaBench 3.0.4 ( site ), and SiSoftware

Sandra Lite 21.42 ( site ).

For the other four machines, I used a more subjective test: the overall feel of upgraded systems.

After running the initial “baseline” tests, I upgraded each PC using the Win10 Media Creation tool available on the “Download Windows 10″ page . For the two formal test machines, I then ran all three benchmark suites again to measure the effects of the Win10 upgrade.

I also performed clean Win10 installs on those two systems, again using the Win10 Media Creation tool.

(To get a clean install, I selected the “keep nothing” option during the Win10 setup. This completely replaces the existing OS with a virgin copy of Win10 — no active files, settings, drivers, etc. are carried over from a previous version.)

Then I again ran the full suite of benchmarks, measuring the effects of a Win10 clean install.

Picking older and newer PCs for real-life tests

In this case, “real-life” doesn’t mean pristine, laboratory-perfect systems. Rather, I picked two machines

I use routinely for work.

PC 1 is a modest, high-mileage system that started life running Vista! It was subsequently upgraded to

Win7 — and now to Win10. I use it as a live backup, essentially a data lifeboat I can switch to in short order, should my main system fail.

PC 1 specs:

OS: Win7 SP1 x32


Hard drive: 232GB (mechanical)

CPU: Intel Pentium, 2-core/1GHz

PC 2 is my “daily driver” — in fact, I’m using it to write this article. It’s a fairly average, two-year-old system that originally came with Win8.0 and was subsequently upgraded to 8.1. It’s now running Win10.

(I keep solid backups, so I was ready to quickly roll back to Win8.1 if needed.)

PC 2 specs:

OS: Win8.1 x64


Hard drive:476GB (solid-state)

CPU: Intel Core i7, 3.2 GHz

Both systems have been well maintained using the techniques and tools documented in several

Windows Secrets articles, including the July 2 LangaList Plus , “Prepping a Win7 PC for the Win10 upgrade”; the Jan. 16, 2014, Top Story , “Keep a healthy PC: A routine-maintenance guide”; and the Jan.

10, 2013, Top Story , “Let your PC start the new year right!”

Note that these are exactly the same tools and techniques available to all PC users; I used no “secret sauce” or undocumented maintenance techniques to get these systems ready for the upgrade.

The usual caution: Your mileage will vary

Though there’s nothing weird or unusual about my test systems, my prep work, or the upgrade procedures, it must be said that my test results are not indicative of all systems. Your setup could have very different test results.

Let me briefly explain.

Benchmarks can offer a guide to performance changes, but they truly apply only to the machines tested.

The more your PC, your maintenance techniques, and your upgrade procedures differ from mine, the more likely you’ll get different results.

Running your own tests, on your own PCs, is the only way to know exactly how Win10 will affect your specific combination of software and hardware.

With that said, here are the benchmark results I got.

Some surprises in the benchmark results

The following figures show the benchmark results for the original baseline Win7 and 8 setups, for those same systems after an upgrade to Win10, and after a clean install of Win10.

Figures 1 and 3 show the raw scores in whatever units each benchmark tool uses. But in all cases, a higher score means better performance. Figures 2 and 4 show the results as percentage changes, where the baseline scores are assigned a value of 100 percent.

Figure 1 shows the raw benchmark scores for the Win7 PC — and they surprised me.

Figure 1: Upgrading my aging Win7 PC to Win10 changed system performance insignificantly.

I expected Win10 to significantly decrease the performance of the older Win7 system. But instead, the upgrade had almost no effect at all. Before and after the upgrade, the results were either the same or showed very small increases or decreases — in the range of 1 percent to 5 percent. Those differences are beneath the level of most human detection. Confirming those results, my Win7 system felt the same after the upgrade.

Figure 2 graphically shows the same results expressed as percentage change, where the original system’s score is set to 100 percent. Despite jumping two full OS levels, the older machine performed essentially the same after being upgraded to Win10 — an impressive result!

Figure 2: This graph clearly shows the minor performance changes after upgrading my older PC to


The Win8 results were even more surprising. As Figure 3 shows, the Win8 PC gained a smidgen of speed, both upgrading the existing configuration and creating a clean install. However, as with the Win7 system, the changes were small — not anything that would be obvious in real-life use. Still, that’s an achievement for a new OS.

Figure 3: Upgraded to Win10, the Win8.1 PC gained a smidgen of speed in two out of the three benchmark tests.

Figure 4 graphically shows benchmark results for the Win8.1 to Win10 upgrade.

Figure 4. This graph shows that upgrading my newer system from Win8.1 resulted mostly in speed improvements — though, again, the changes were very small.

In 30 years of covering Windows, I have never seen results like these. Previously, it was axiomatic that installing a new Windows version on an older PC always meant a significant and noticeable decrease in performance.

In fact, it was almost a rule of thumb that a new version required a hardware upgrade to maintain good performance.

But Windows 10 appears to break that mold. On the systems I formally benchmarked (above), and on all the other PCs I gauged subjectively, Win10 felt about as fast as Win7 or Win8 — or even a skosh faster.

It is, of course, early days: Win10 is brand new, and we’re just starting to explore all its nooks and crannies.

But so far, at least in terms of raw performance, it’s looking like Win10 could be the best Windows upgrade ever.

A user’s dissent: Win10 is the end of the line

Reader Rvitalis is very unhappy with Microsoft — and with Windows 10.

“With Windows 10, and all the hype that comes with a (new?) operating system, I feel the need to ask you to have a sober look at this latest and final saga called Microsoft!

“Make no mistake, this really is the end of Windows.

“As I understand, you buy all your applications from the Windows Store! Also, there’s no more

.NET, which is needed for Media Player and Media Center!

“In fact, there’s no Windows Media Center and no Outlook.

“I cannot accept that everyone is so gullible as to believe that this “free upgrade” is really free.

“I’m a supporter of Windows Secrets, I have a dual-boot system with Windows 7 Pro Media Center and Windows 8.1 Pro.

“But take away NET 1.1, and Media Player and Media Center are gone!

“Windows 10 will take everything away from me!”

I think you might have gotten some bad information.

First, you don’t have to buy all your applications from the Windows Store. Win10 runs third-party apps just fine. In fact, I have never purchased any apps — not a single one — from the Windows store for any of my Win8 or Win10 PCs.

As for third-party add-ons, there are tons of options available, many free or ad-supported. For example, if Win10’s native support for media playback isn’t sufficient for you, a quick peek at shows there are currently 565 third-party media players available for Windows — and that’s just one software library! Surely one of the many hundreds of available apps will meet your needs.

You are right about Media Center: it’s being phased out. It’s also going through some changes in the short term, as noted in a SuperSite for Windows article .

There’s a good reason for Microsoft to drop Media Center. It was innovative in its day — way back in

2002 — but that day is done.

Today, almost all cable/satellite boxes come with their own DVRs. Moreover, almost all TVs allow live streaming audio/video via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. It might be built-in or use an add-on device to support services such as Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV Stick, and so forth. With dedicated options such as these, there’s really no need to use a PC as the hub of a media center anymore. In fact, it’s kind of clumsy to do so.

But if you really want to, there are plenty of third-party media-center replacements available. Here’s more information:

“5 Alternatives to Windows Media Center on Windows 8 or 10″ – How-To Geek article

“Windows Media Center is dead — here are the best alternatives” – ExtremeTech

“Alternatives to Windows Media Center (Make your own home theater PC)” – Liliputing article article

As for .Net, Microsoft is killing it for good reasons. Also dating back to 2002, it’s now hopelessly outmoded — a clunky, hard-to-maintain, teetering structure of patches upon updates upon still more patches.

To me, it’s just not reasonable to expect that old technology will be supported forever, especially when so many more-current and equally capable (or even superior) alternatives exist.

But maybe your interests and needs lie elsewhere. In which case, Win10 might well not be suitable for you. That’s perfectly fine; for now, you can stick with Win7 — a truly great OS — and Win8.1, which is modern and capable. No one is forcing you to change.

Both operating systems have years of life left; Win7 will continue to be supported until 2020 and Win8.1 until 2023.

But Win10 looks good to me — it’s fully modern, carries no performance penalty, and is free. Try it; you just might like it!

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006.

Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media

(1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.

Briefing Session

A trip around the Windows 10 Start menu

By Lincoln Spector on August 6, 2015 in Briefing Session

Yes! After massive howls of complaint from Windows 8 users, Microsoft put the familiar start menu back in Windows 10.

Familiar, but not identical to the start menu we learned to love in Win7 (and as far back as Windows 95).

It’s going to take some time to learn how to use the new menu — and how to configure it to your tastes and habits.

To create the Win10 start menu, Microsoft took something from Win7 and combined it with the essence of Win8 (see Figure 1). The left side of the menu lists frequently used programs, some with jump lists.

That should make Win7 users feel right at home. The right side looks like a scaled-down version of the infamous Win8 Home screen, with tiles you can resize, rearrange, and group.

Figure 1. With app lists and live tiles, the new Windows 10 start menu has elements of Win7 and Win8.

It takes a bit of experimenting and practice to learn how to use these pieces together — but not much.

Once you get used to it, Windows 10 has a remarkably friendly interface. Here’s help for getting over the learning curve’s hump.

How you point in Win10: Mousing vs. touching

Every Windows version through 7 was designed primarily to be controlled by a mouse or similar pointing device. Windows 8 was designed largely for touchscreens, but with mouse support. Switching between the two methods was a bit tricky to master because mice and fingers behave very differently.

Win8 users will already know how Microsoft handles mousing and touch-and-swipe. But Windows 7 users might need a quick tutorial:

First, tapping with your finger is the same as clicking with the mouse. Moving your finger across the screen is the same as dragging the mouse. That’s pretty obvious.

What isn’t so obvious is the touch equivalent to right-clicking. You can’t “right-click” by using a different finger; the screen can’t differentiate. So how do you right-click on a touch screen? You touch and hold for a second, then remove your finger.

For the rest of this article, I’ll keep it simple and stick with mouse-friendly terms. So if you’re using a touchscreen, when I say click, you’ll tap; when I say right-click, you’ll tap, hold, and release.

The left start-menu pane: Not quite Win7

Clicking the Win10 start button will pop up the menu, where you’ll find a familiar list in the left pane. It’s not an exact replica of Win7’s, but it’s close enough.

Let’s look at it from the top down.

You’ll find yourself at the very top of this pane — not in a spiritual sense, but in the digital sense: you’ll see your sign-in name and avatar photo. (I really do need to get rid of that silly photo of me in the Viking helmet.) Click or right-click, and you’ll get a modest menu (Figure 2) with options to change your account settings, lock the PC, or sign out.

Figure 2. The system Lock option is now accessed by right-clicking your username in the start menu.

Next down, you’ll find the Most used section (see Figure 1) — the largest section in this pane, and the one that looks most like Win7’s start menu. Here you’ll find icons for programs you’ve been using a lot lately. As with Windows 7, some of them have arrows that, when clicked, bring up a jump list of recently used files (Figure 3).

Figure 3. If an app has an attached right-arrow, you can pop up a list of recently used files.

Right-click one of these icons, and you’ll find some interesting options on the resulting menu. I’ll discuss

Pin to Start below. The others are self-explanatory.

But isn’t that Uninstall option a great idea?

Below Most used, you might have a section called Recently added. It all depends on when you last installed a program. And sometimes, the new program doesn’t turn up at all. (Hopefully, that’ll be fixed.)

The unnamed bottom section of the left pane contains various commonly used tools. For example, you’ve got a quick link to File Explorer that includes a jump list. Settings takes you to a Modern Interface version of Control Panel. (Some things still require the old one.) Power lets you shut down, sleep, or reboot the PC. Missing are Lock and Sign out; Win7 users will have to get used to selecting those by right-clicking their user name at the top.

Finally, All apps changes the pane to list all installed programs — both classic “desktop” and new

“Universal” — in alphabetical order (Figure 4). Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any option for grouping apps within this list.

Figure 4. Clicking All apps near the bottom of the start menu brings up a list of all installed applications.

The right pane: Windows 8 Start in a window

The start menu’s right pane is considerably larger than the left one, as shown in Figure 1. So much so, in fact, that I’m tempted to call it the Big Pane — but that really isn’t fair.

Like Win8, this pane has tiles — large shortcuts to programs and folders. Unlike the list of apps in the start menu’s left pane, some of these tiles are “live” — they display new information in real time.

Moving a tile is easy: just drag and drop it, and the other tiles will get out of the way.

The main point of the tiles is to provide quick, touch-friendly access to your favorite programs. Since you don’t want Microsoft deciding what apps are your favorites, you have to pin your favorites to this pane.

If a frequently used program is already listed in Most used or Recently added, you can simply drag it onto the right pane — or you can right-click it and select Pin to Start. If it’s not on either of those lists, click All apps; you’ll find it there.

To pin a folder, find it in File Explorer, right-click it, and select Pin to Start.

You’ll also probably want to remove some of the tiles Microsoft thought you’d like. Right-click the tile and select Unpin from Start (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Right-clicking a tile pops up a box of options — including unpinning the tile.

Note the other options when you right-click a tile. They vary a bit with the program, but all of them offer

Resize, which provides a submenu of tile sizes.

When it comes to handling tiles on a touchscreen, tap-hold-release doesn’t behave exactly like a rightclick. Instead, it brings up two little icons: a thumbtack and an ellipsis (three dots). Tap the thumbtack, and you unpin the tile; tap the ellipsis, and you’ll get a pop-up menu.

But it’s not the same menu you’d get with a mouse. Basically, it’s the Size submenu — and maybe an option to turn the live tile on or off. There’s also a More options selection, which will bring up the other items on the right-click-with-the-mouse menu.

You can easily organize your tiles into groups. To create a new group, drag a tile down to the very bottom of the pane — and then drag it down some more. A bar will appear separating that tile from the others.

That bar is the group header. Click it and then type in the name for the group (Figure 6). You can also drag and drop other tiles into the group.

Figure 6. Win10 makes it easy to group tiles under a custom name.

You can also move the group up or down. Simply drag the group’s title bar up or down, rearranging the order of the groups.

Giving the start menu the look you want

Now that you understand start-menu organization, let’s configure it for your convenience and esthetics.

Start by clicking Start/Settings/Personalization, and then select the Start section. It contains only four yes/no options (Figure 7), and they should probably be left in their default settings. But feel free to experiment.

Figure 7. The start-menu settings lets you control the menus' contents and look.

Do click the “Choose which folders appear on Start” link. Here you can tag important folders —

Documents, Homegroup, and so forth — that should appear on the left pane above the File Explorer icon.

While you’re in Personalization, click the Colors section. Turning on Automatically pick an accent color

from my background makes Windows automatically pick a color for the taskbar and start menu that works well with your wallpaper image. With that option off, you’ll be able to pick your own colors.

If you liked Aero in Win7, turn on Make Start, taskbar, and action center transparent.

Once you have all the tiles up you wish to use, you can resize the start menu — not through Settings, but via the menu itself. Simply drag the top or right edge of the menu.

Searching for the Win10 search field

Win7 users are used to clicking start for the search field. Win8 users had to adapt to the Search charm, launched with a swiping gesture or just typing when at the Start Screen. Win10 has a search field built into the taskbar.

That’s really convenient — if you have plenty of spare room on your taskbar. If you don’t, you can hide that Search field and still bring it up quickly.

Right-click the taskbar, select Search, and pick one of these options:

Hidden: No search field is visible, but bring up the start menu and start typing; the search field will appear.

Show search icon: Again, there’s no search field on the taskbar, but now there’s a magnifyingglass icon. You can guess what happens when you click it.

Show search box: This is the default, with the big search field taking up room.

Note that, by default, the search tool searches both your computer and the Internet. If you feel, as I do, that a local search and an Internet search are entirely different things, once the search results are up, click My stuff near the bottom of the results box to ignore the Internet search.

If you search for a program, you might get a long list of results. But the highlighted item near the top of search is almost certainly what you’re looking for.

So what’s missing from the Win10 start menu?

Windows 10 has an excellent user interface, bridging the gap between mouse and touch better than any other OS I’ve seen. But it’s not perfect. Here are three features, all found elsewhere, that the new

Windows sorely lacks:

A configurable All apps: In Win8.1’s Apps screen, you can sort by name, date installed, most used, and type of program (category). In Win10, All apps sorts only by name.

Pin to Start with jump lists: In Win7, you can pin a program to the start menu’s left pane. Not so in

Windows 10.

One can reasonably argue that that’s redundant, since Win10 lets you pin programs to the right pane as tiles. But applications in the left pane, in both Win7 and Win10, often have jump lists that give you quick access to recently used and pinned files. The tiles don’t.

Microsoft could fix this in one of two ways: it could let you pin programs to the left pane, or it could add jump lists to the tiles’ pop-up menus.

Collapse groups to make more room on the right pane: In both Apple’s iOS and Android, you can group apps into folders on the home screen. This not only allows better organization, it lets you put far more icons on the home screen, with easier access.

With Win10’s start menu, groups give you the organization. However, every tile is always visible, which wastes space. If you could collapse a group and display only the header, the right pane would be easier to work in.

The final analysis: Compared to Windows 8, Windows 10 provides a vastly improved start menu and user interface. But it’s not significantly better than Windows 7’s start menu — especially if you don’t have a touchscreen.

If you haven’t already upgraded to Win10 from Win8.1, I recommend waiting a few months. That way, you’ll avoid the inevitable bugs and incompatibilities in the new OS and Microsoft will have had a chance to fix them. If you’re using Windows 7 … well, you’ll have to consider whether you really want to live with the new interface. Your choice!

Lincoln Spector writes about computers, home theater, and film and maintains two blogs: Answer Line at and His articles have appeared in CNET, InfoWorld, The New York Times,

The Washington Post, and other publications.

On Security

Making Windows 10 a bit more private and secure

By Susan Bradley on August 6, 2015 in On Security

During and after Windows 10 installation, there are security settings you’ll want to review to help protect your personal information.

If you used the Express settings option during Win10 setup, you’ll want to go back and review some of the default configurations.

Deciding whether to upgrade to the next Windows

Choosing whether and when to upgrade to Windows 10 depends, of course, on many factors, but the general consensus is: Many, if not most, Win7 users will be happy to stick with their current OS until it reaches its official end of life in 2020 — or when they’re forced to purchase a new PC.

On the other hand, arguments for upgrading from Win8 to Win10 are a bit more compelling. Microsoft bowed to public opinion and removed the tiled UI and the charms bar. With Win10, Microsoft restored the start menu, added virtual desktops, and ported its AI assistant — Cortana — to the desktop platform. Win10 also has better integration between desktop and mobile devices.

On the other hand, the new Windows Store is both a bit of a curse and a blessing, depending on whether you’re looking for cool apps or you want to sync your custom settings between desktop and mobile devices. In the same vein, the new browser — Edge — is certainly an improvement over Internet

Explorer, but it still lags behind Chrome, Firefox, and other third-party browsers.

But perhaps the most significant benefit/curse is Windows 10 updating. Consumer systems will no longer be able to defer or block selected feature and security updates. These systems will get updated on Microsoft’s schedule. (Business systems can put off feature updates — more on that in a moment.)

This new updating process won’t affect the many personal PCs that have automatic updating turned on, but it could be annoying for users who like to have more control over what’s put on their systems and when. Ultimately, the success of this change will depend on the number of botched updates Microsoft releases in the future.

Microsoft has clearly stated its intent to focus on a mobile-first strategy. That’s evident in some of the default settings included in Windows 10; they don’t make much sense on the desktop but appear to be more suited for use on phones or tablets.

Tweaking Windows 10 for better security

Once you have the new OS installed, here are three recommended changes you’ll want to make soon.

Enable System Restore:

In the search box, enter “system protection” and then click Create a restore point when it appears.

In the Systems Properties dialog box, click the Configure button to enable system recovery on the

C: drive.

Figure 1. By default, System Restore is disabled in Windows 10.

Select Turn on system protection and click OK.

Sync user profile information: Many Windows users have a love/hate relationship with their Microsoft account. We wonder how much information Microsoft collects while we’re signed in. As with Windows

8, Microsoft would prefer we use an MS account to sign in to Windows 10, but we’re not required to.

That said, there are advantages to connecting to the Microsoft cloud. It can provide password recovery, allow synching of your custom Windows settings, and store data in the cloud.

But signing in to an MS account has some drawbacks. If you use the express-configuration option when installing Win10, automatic account settings–synching is enabled by default. Synching personal settings could be convenient, but some of us don’t want the same settings on all of our various Windows devices. There’s also the remote possibility of data leakage.

You can control synching with the following steps:

Click start menu/Settings/Accounts/Sync your settings.

Turn off Sync settings to disable all synching.

Alternatively, review the Individual sync settings section and selectively disable options such as

Theme, Web browser settings, Passwords, and others.

Figure 2. By default, Win10 synch your custom settings between your various devices. For various reasons, you might prefer to limit synching or turn it off altogether.

Control Wi-Fi-credentials sharing: A new Win10 feature — Wi-Fi Sense (online FAQ ) — has generated more than its share of controversy. It’s my guess that it was inserted by the Windows Phone team.

There’s been much discussion online about whether Wi-Fi-credentials sharing is a significant security threat. Security reporter Brian Krebs believes it is, as noted in a recent column .

Win10 inherited this feature from Windows 8 phone. In short, it allows people on your Facebook friends list or Outlook and Skype contact lists to automatically sign in to your Wi-Fi router when they’re within range. The process uses an encrypted-and-shared version of your password — you don’t have to give them your plain-text password. (Your network credentials aren’t shared, by default.)

If you accepted the Express settings when installing Win10, this Wi-Fi–sharing feature was automatically enabled. You can turn it off (or on) with the following steps (see a Howtoconnect post for more details).

Open Settings/Network & Internet/Wi-Fi.

Scroll past your wireless networks and click Manage Wi-Fi settings.

Turn off both Connect to suggested open hotspots and Connect to networks shared by my


Cortana and I are not the best of friends

Best friends and sisters know a lot about a girl. Your computer should be a bit more restrained. Yet both

Microsoft and Apple (who effectively started AI-help on personal computers with Siri) would sure like to know a lot more about us. The End User License Agreement (EULA) for Windows 10 clearly states that

Cortana has the ability to collect and use various types of personal information, including your location, calendar data, and apps you use (Figure 3). Cortana collects information about your choice of music, alarm settings, what you view and purchase online, your Bing search history, your use of other Microsoft services, and more.

Figure 3. Cortana collects a variety of personal information, as noted on first setup.

If that level of data collection truly worries you, you probably want to stick with Win7 or even Win8.1.

On the other hand, happy Cortana users probably assume 1) the information is securely stored in the cloud, and 2) there’s so much data collected online that it will be difficult for hackers to tie parsed data to a specific individual.

If your level of trust falls somewhere in between, you can disable Cortana. Simply enter “cortana” into the search box, click Cortana & Search settings, and then review/disable the Cortana settings (Figure 4), both locally and online. You might also want to disable Cortana in the Edge browser by opening the browser’s advanced settings and scrolling down to Privacy and services.

Figure 4. Cortana can be disabled via its settings box.

Ad-free games require a paid subscription

Another setting is getting a lot of attention. Ever since Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would be free, folks have been waiting for the catch. Surprisingly, it came with the ubiquitous game of Solitaire.

This popular app is included with the new OS, but it includes advertising. To remove the ads, you have to pay a monthly subscription, as reported in a Business Insider story . I know of no hack to get around this.

Using OneDrive to store encryption keys

The first time I ran a system recovery on a Surface RT device, it walked me through recovering my

BitLocker encryption key. I didn’t even know the device had a key, but I was glad I’d tied the tablet to a

Microsoft account.

If Win10 encryption is turned on, it uploads the encryption key to OneDrive. That’s not necessarily a security threat; just be aware of how key storage works and that using an MS account will ensure an easy recovery or reset.

Pulling out security tidbits from the fine print

Cloud services commonly have a lot of legal wording about your online data storage. Microsoft has revamped its privacy document , along with the release of Windows 10.

Buried in this document is a notification that each Win10 device generates a unique advertising ID that can be used to target you with specific ads. This “feature” can be turned off in settings (Figure 5). Click

Settings/Privacy; then switch off Let apps use my advertising ID ….

Figure 5. A setting in the Privacy section lets you disable the use of unique advertising IDs.

You can also go online and opt out of personalized advertising. Go to the website

and set how you want the Edge browser to behave.

Windows updating: Peer-to-peer patching

Along with forced updates, Win10 also includes — again, on by default — the option to share patches with other computers on your local network or the Internet. No, this isn’t as unsecure as BitTorrent, but you still might want to disable update sharing. There are concerns that attackers might find a way to inject malicious code into the process.

Fortunately, that shouldn’t be easy, based on past experiences. For example, the Flame malware exploit was used to inject malicious updates into targeted systems. But the attackers had to have physical access to the network, and they had to have access to Microsoft’s code-signing certificates. The exploits worked because of a fluke: code-signing certs could be generated by an MS Terminal Server bug that has since been removed.

Following those attacks, Microsoft replaced its Windows Update certificates. You now obtain patch files directly from the Microsoft servers. The patches are then put back together on your PC and compared against a hash value. If the hash value matches the master record from Microsoft, the updates are deemed secure and are installed.

Even though I’d never say a malicious man-in-the-middle attack is impossible, it’s highly unlikely, given the security now built into the updating process.

To disable peer-to-peer updating and to obtain patches only directly from Microsoft, open

Settings/Update & security and click Windows Update. (Note that you’ll no longer find Windows Update in the Control Panel.) Select Advanced options and then click the link Choose how updates are

delivered. In the next window (Figure 6), turn off or limit update sharing.

Figure 6. Win10 lets you share updates among multiple systems, both locally and on the Internet.

Buy more control over Win10 updates and settings

Obviously, the ultimate way to exert control over Windows 10 is not to install it. Barring that, your next best bet is to purchase the Enterprise edition. Doing so isn’t easy for individuals, but neither is it impossible — you merely have to play the volume-license game.

This game requires purchasing the one thing you want plus four of the cheapest things Microsoft offers.

As long as the total is five items, you technically qualify for a volume-license contract.

I’d recommend working through a vendor such as CDW or SoftwareONE to assist in this process. You’ll need to purchase Windows 8.1 with Windows Software Assurance (yes, I know, that seems backwards), but that will give you rights to Windows 10 Enterprise or Enterprise 2015 LTSB.

(The LTSB — or Long-Term Servicing Branch — version is meant to be placed on dedicated devices such as ATMs and industrial equipment. The OS is locked down and rarely updated. I use earlier embedded operating systems for my office’s thin clients that connect remotely into the computer that’s actually doing the work.)

Using Group Policy: You can go even further and block a system’s ability to send data-collection and telemetry information back to Microsoft. To set this up, you need the standard Win10 Enterprise edition, which includes Group Policy control. (Note: Home editions don’t have this advanced tool, and the Pro edition’s GP doesn’t have the ability to disable telemetry.) The steps for blocking data-logging are detailed in a Reddit post.

Windows 10 makes a lot of changes to our computer systems, some of which are controversial. But for every convenience, there is inevitably a drawback. Take some time to configure your preferred security before putting Win10 into heavy use.

Susan Bradley is a Small Business Server and Security MVP , a title awarded by Microsoft to independent experts who do not work for the company. She's also a partner in a California CPA firm.

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Quickly remove USB devices without using Safe Removal -


Monday, August 10, 2015

2:33 PM

Did we clip the website right? Yes No Suggestion

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Win+X Menu Editor for Windows 8

This works on Win 10 also.

Monday, August 10, 2015

2:51 PM

One of the new features of upcoming Windows 8 is Win+X "Start" menu. It is non-customizable part of

Windows 8. Win+X Menu Editor is my latest work and it serves to provide you a simple and useful way to edit Win+X menu without system files modification. It keeps your system integrity untouched.

Latest version is, it supports Windows 8 RTM and Windows 8 Release preview.

Read the rest to learn more and see change log and the demo video

Change log

New feature - "Add an Administrative Tools item" allows you to add any Administrative Tools item

quickly and easy.

Workaround with Program Files(x86) folder. Now shortcuts to that folder will be displayed properly in

Win+X menu.

Bug fixed: if you try to add a shortcut which is already in Win+X menu folder, then application will

show you .NET framework error.

New feature - "Add a Control Panel item" allows you to add any control panel applet including hidden like "Network Connections" or "All Tasks(God Mode)".

Improved icons resolving for Win+X menu items

"Add a program" now not a button but drop-down menu.

Some very minor non-critical bugs are fixed

Fixed a bug with built-in items renaming


 hashlnk is not required anymore, all its functions are ported into the Win+X Menu Editor source code

Numerous bugs are fixed, such as sorting bug or crash on empty Win+X menu

Improved "add a program" feature

New clean and useful UI with hotkeys, new icons

The ability to move shortcuts between groups

New feature - "Presets", which allows you to add various commands in Win+X menu, such as shutdown options, calculator and so on.

Fixed a bug with Windows 8 RTM.

Improved *.lnk file handling. You need no rename Win+X menu items anymore, it uses file display

name instead of lnk target.

Added support to Windows 8 Release Preview


Initial release

Here is the demo video of Win+X Menu Editor

With Win+X Menu Editor you are able:

 to add new items. to remove any item of Win+X menu. to change display name of any item of Win+X menu.

 to reorder Win+X menu items.

An addition information

Win+X Menu Editor is based on the hashlink source code by Rafael Rivera. Please respect and love him.

Main icon is daKirby309's " Desktop " icon + mspaint.exe

The Win+X Menu Editor is available in two editions - x86 and x64. Don't use x86 version on Windows x64.

Download: Win+X Menu Editor for Windows 8

Sergey Tkachenko

Donate options for satisfied users:

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Screen Resolution of Display - Change in Windows 10 -

Windows 10 Forums

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

8:54 AM

How to Change Screen Resolution of Displays in Windows 10


The screen resolution of a display determines how much information is displayed on the screen. It is measured horizontally and vertically in pixels. At lower screen resolutions, such as 640 x 480, fewer items will fit on the screen, but they will appear larger. At higher resolutions, such as 1900 x 1080, more items will fit on the screen but they will appear smaller. The resolution modes will vary with each display based on the video card device, monitor size, video driver, and monitor driver.

Windows 10 includes support for 4K and 8K displays.

By default, Windows chooses the best display settings for your PC based on your monitor. If you like, you can manually change the screen resolution of each display on your PC separately to what you want.

This tutorial will show you how to change the screen resolution of each separate display connected to the PC for all users in Windows 10.


Changing the screen resolution of a display will be applied to all users no matter which user changed it.

Monitors can support resolutions that are lower than their native resolutions, but text won't look as sharp and the display might be small, centered on the screen, edged with black, or stretched. It is recommended to set the screen resolution of the display to the (Recommended) native resolution to get the best display on your monitor.

To access the Windows Store and to download and run apps, you need an Internet connection, a screen resolution of at least 1024x768, and a Microsoft account.

Your screen resolution needs to be at least 1024x768 to have multiple windows and apps on your screen at the same time.


Option One:

To Change Screen Resolution of Display in Control Panel

Option Two:

To Change Screen Resolution of Display in Settings app


To Change Screen Resolution of Display in Control Panel


To Change Screen Resolution of Display in Settings app

That's it,


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Windows 10: Jump Lists make a return to the Start Menu

Thursday, August 13, 2015

6:18 PM

When Microsoft announced Windows 10 back in 2014, it came with a fantastic, powerful Start Menu which everybody enjoyed. That Start Menu was built using DirectUI, but that changed with the launch of the Windows 10 Technical Preview 2. In January, Microsoft unveiled a new Start Menu, rebuilt from the ground up using XAML, and since it was announced so early in development Insiders got their hands on it and immediately began complaining at the fact it was missing pretty much everything that made the older Start Menu great.

Microsoft has said countless times that features such as being able to resize the Start Menu, drag and drop programs, and use Jump Lists would make a return eventually. The ability to drag and drop programs is now back in build 10041, however there's still no sign of Jump Lists or resizing. Well, sort of.

You can enable early code for the new Jump Lists feature in build 10041, and it works much like you'd expect.

It works for all programs which support Jump Lists in Windows 8.x and Windows 7, so developers don't need to rewrite their software to implement Jump List functionality. Furthermore, the Jump Lists work with Modern UI apps too such as the Xbox Music and Video apps which is pretty nice. Considering this is early code, the UI is far from finished. Also, since this feature isn't enabled by default it's fair to say that there's reason for that, the feature does appear to be quite unstable right now.

For those who want to try out Jump Lists with the new Start Menu, just follow the steps below.

1. Open regedit.exe (Win+R)

2. Navigate to:


3. Create a new "Dword (32-bit) value"

4. Name it "EnableXamlJumpView"

5. Set its value to 1

6. Restart PC

Another way is as follows:

Press “Windows key + I” to get the Settings screen. Click on “personalization” and click on “start” on the left panel. You will find the option “Show recently opened items in the Jumplist”.

And there you have it. Now the next time you wish to use Jump Lists on a program which supports it, you should have the option to do so.

Thanks for the tip, anonymous!

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How to Change Desktop Icons in Windows 10

Sunday, August 16, 2015

1:31 PM

After adding desktop icons (see the picture below) on your Windows 10 computer, you can go to change the icons if you dislike the default one. For your better reference, this article particularly introduces how to change the icon of This PC.

Video guide on how to change desktop icons in Windows 10:

Steps to change desktop icon in Windows 10:

Step 1: Press Windows+I to open Settings panel, and click Personalization to access Personalization settings.

Step 2: Tap Change desktop icons on the top left in the Personalization window.

Step 3: In the Desktop Icon Settings window, select the icon of This PC and click Change Icon.

Step 4: Choose a new icon from the list, and tap OK.

Tip: You can incidentally change the icons of Network, User’s Files and Recycle Bin by repeating the third step and the fourth step.

Step 5: Click OK to confirm the change.

As the following screen shot shows, the icon of This PC has been changed.

In one word, referring to the steps above, you can independently go to change desktop icons including

Network, This PC, User's Files and Recycle Bin.

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Features missing in Windows 10

Sunday, August 23, 2015

4:08 PM

It turns out Windows 10 is actually going to remove some features that exist in current versions of

Windows. Before you go ahead with the upgrade, you should know what these are so you don't suddenly lose something important.

Let's take a look at Microsoft's list and I'll tell you how to find replacements for these features.

According to Microsoft's Windows 10 website under the "Feature deprecation section," it says:

• If you have Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8

Pro with Media Center, or Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center and you install Windows 10,

Windows Media Center will be removed.

• Watching DVDs requires separate playback software.

• Windows 7 desktop gadgets will be removed as part of installing Windows 10.

• Windows 10 Home users will have updates from Windows Update automatically available.

Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise users will have the ability to defer updates.

• Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts games that come pre-installed on Windows 7 will be removed as part of installing the Windows 10 upgrade. Microsoft has released our version of Solitaire and

Minesweeper called the "Microsoft Solitaire Collection" and "Microsoft Minesweeper."

• If you have a USB floppy drive, you will need to download the latest driver from Windows Update or from the manufacturer's website.

• If you have Windows Live Essentials installed on your system, the OneDrive application is removed and replaced with the inbox version of OneDrive.

Configure Jumplists

Saturday, August 29, 2015

10:31 AM

Press “Windows key + I” to get the Settings screen. Click on “personalization” and click on “start” on the left panel. You will find the option “Show recently opened items in the Jumplist”.

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816d-9ca3aa8e97d0?auth=1 >

How to Uninstall and Block Updates and Drivers on

Windows 10

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

10:37 AM

Windows 10 automatically downloads and installs all updates . This includes security updates, feature updates, and driver updates provided through Windows Update. If a driver or update causes problems, you can uninstall it and block Windows from downloading it again.

Microsoft doesn’t provide a way to block updates from within Windows 10, but it does provide a downloadable tool to do this. This effectively allows you to “hide” updates like you could on Windows 7.

View Recently Installed Drivers and Updates


What You Need to Know About Windows Update on Windows 10

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Not sure which device driver or update Windows just installed that might be causing you problems? Open the Settings app and select “Update & security.” Under Windows Update, scroll down and select “Advanced options,” and then select “View your update history.” You’ll see a list of updates installed and the dates they were installed here.

Uninstall a Driver

Drivers can be particularly problematic. If you roll back a driver or install a different one yourself,

Windows Update will continue downloading and installing that specific driver over and over, overwriting your preferred driver.

You can, however, roll back an installed driver. You’ll need to block the driver update from being installed via Windows Update after you do this. If you just roll back the installed driver, Windows Update will automatically install that driver again when it checks for updates.

Right-click the Start button at the bottom-left corner of your screen or press Windows Key + X and select

Device Manager to launch the Device Manager. Locate the device whose driver you want to uninstall, right-click it, and select Uninstall. Check the “Delete the driver software for this device” option and click

OK. Windows will uninstall the device and delete the driver software downloaded from Windows

Update. You can install fresh drivers software afterwards.

Uninstall an Update

The option to uninstall Windows Updates (not driver updates) is buried in the Settings app. Open

Settings and navigate to Update & security > Windows Update > Advanced options > View your update history. You’ll see a link reading “Uninstall updates” at the top of the update history list.

(In the Windows Insider Preview, there was also a link here for uninstalling the latest build. If Microsoft rolls out a big update to Windows 10 as a “build” again, you might see a link right under “Uninstall updates” for rolling back to an earlier build.)

This link takes you to the “Uninstall an update” dialog, where you can uninstall an individual Windows

Update if it’s causing problems on your system.

Disable Automatic Download of Drivers from Windows Update

There’s still a “ Never install driver software from Windows Update ” option in the final version of

Windows 10, buried in the old Control Panel.

Different people report different luck with this option. Some people report that it prevents Windows from overwriting their custom-installed drivers, while others report that Windows continues downloading drivers even after this option is selected. If Windows keeps replacing your own drivers with its own, be sure to try this option.

Depending on how the driver is being installed, it may arrive as an update from Windows Update afterwards. Use the tool below to disable the driver update if this doesn’t help.

To access this option, open the Control Panel by right-clicking the Start button and selecting Control

Panel. Navigate to System and Security > System > Advanced system settings. Click the Hardware tab, click Device Installation Settings, and select the “No, let me choose what to do option. Select “Never install driver software from Windows Update.”

Prevent a Driver or Update From Being Installed from Windows Update

Just uninstalling drivers or updates won’t prevent them from being installed again. There’s no way to

“hide” an update or block updates from within Windows itself, but Microsoft provides a downloadable tool to do this. It’s intended for temporarily hiding buggy or otherwise problematic while they don’t work properly on your system.

Download and run the “Show or hide updates” troubleshooter for Windows 10 from Microsoft.

When you run this troubleshooter, it will search for available updates and allow you to “hide” them, preventing Windows from automatically installing them. In the future, you can run this troubleshooter again and unhide the updates when you want to install them.

If you want to temporarily prevent Windows from automatically downloading and installing any updates, you can do it without using the above tool to block updates. Just set your current Internet connection as “metered” and Windows won’t download updates while connected to it — at least until you tell Windows the connection isn’t metered anymore.

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Should You Use the Hardware Drivers Windows Provides, or Download Your Manufacturer’s Drivers?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

10:38 AM

Hardware drivers are the software that allow your operating system to communicate with your hardware. Windows includes built-in drivers and automatically downloads new ones to make setup easier, but device manufacturers also provide their own driver packages.

The default drivers Microsoft provides are stripped down and a bit older, but they’re written by your device manufacturer — not Microsoft themselves. They’re often good enough, but sometimes you’ll want the complete package or a driver Windows can’t provide.

Drivers 101

Manufacturers write drivers for their hardware and provide them directly to you. If you buy a complete

PC or laptop, it will come with the manufacturer’s drivers integrated. You may even get a driver CD containing drivers you can install on your computer. The latest versions of these drivers are also available or download from the manufacturer’s website. For example, if you have a laptop, all the drivers for your laptop’s hardware will be available on the manufacturer’s website — find the downloads page for your specific product model. If you build your own desktop PC, you’ll find hardware drivers for each component on each manufacturer’s website.

To ensure hardware works as well as possible, Microsoft doesn’t force you to install drivers from your manufacturer before hardware will work. Windows itself includes drivers, and new drivers can be automatically downloaded from Windows Update. Some components also have standard, “generic” drivers. For example, when you connect a USB drive to your PC, Windows uses standard USB mass storage device drivers. Manufacturers don’t have to create their own drivers for USB devices, mice, keyboards, computer monitors, and certain other types of peripherals.

How Microsoft Provides Drivers

Drivers are integrated into Windows itself, which is why the latest versions of Windows will provide the best out-of-the-box hardware support on newer hardware. For example, if you installed Windows 7 on your PC and a piece of hardware didn’t work immediately, you might have to download drivers for that hardware component from its manufacturer’s website and install them manually. If you installed

Windows 8.1

on that same PC, everything might work out of the box because Windows 8.1 come with more modern drivers.

When you connect a device to your PC, Windows attempts to automatically configure it and install the appropriate driver. By default, Windows will check Windows Update for a driver is no drivers exist on the PC. Microsoft also distributes updated drivers via Windows Update, so you can get any necessary driver updates from there instead of hunting them down.

How Manufacturer-Provided Drivers Are Different


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The driver packages Windows automatically installs are different from the ones your device manufacturers provide. The core drivers are created by your device manufacturer and provided by

Microsoft after they go through Microsoft’s WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Labs) testing to ensure they’re stable.

However, Microsoft provides these drivers in stripped-down form. For example, when you get drivers for NVIDIA or AMD graphics cards from Windows Update, you’re getting a driver package without the

NVIDIA Control Panel or the AMD Catalyst control panel. Connect a printer and the automatically

provided drives won’t include the printer’s control panel. Plug in a wireless mouse and it will work immediately, but you’ll need the manufacturer’s control panel if you want to view the mouse’s battery level or customize what the buttons do. However, you may not always want these hardware utilities.

The versions of the drivers Microsoft provides are also a bit older. Microsoft doesn’t update these drivers as frequently, so your device manufacturer may have newer versions on their website. However, using older drivers often isn’t a problem. We don’t recommend updating hardware drivers — this can introduce problems. The one exception is graphics drivers, where you do want the latest versions of your graphics drivers if you play PC games.

Our Recommendation


How to Update Your Graphics Drivers for Maximum Gaming Performance

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If you install Windows on your PC or insert a new hardware device and it works out of the box — great! If everything is working properly, you probably don’t need to install hardware drivers. Some device manufacturers may even recommend against installing their hardware driver packages on modern versions of Windows like Windows 8, as Windows already includes the necessary drivers.

However, there are some cases where you will want to get drivers from your manufacturer:

If You Play PC Games: Install the latest graphics drivers directly from NVIDIA or AMD if you play PC games. Not only do these packages include tools that will help you configure your graphical settings; newer versions will also improve performance.

When You Need a Hardware Utility: Install manufacturer-provided drier packages when you need some kind of included hardware utility. For example, you may want to know how much ink is left in your printer. If this isn’t displayed on the printer itself, you may need the printer manufacturer’s control panel to see this information.

When You Need the Latest Version: You probably don’t need the latest version of a driver. In some rare cases, a bug may be fixed in the latest version and you’ll need to install it from your manufacturer’s website.

If Hardware Doesn’t Work: Download hardware drivers from a device’s manufacturer if Windows can’t automatically detect and install the hardware. Windows isn’t perfect and can’t automatically configure every piece of hardware.

If You Have an Issue: Install the driver package from your manufacturer if a hardware device seems to not be working properly. It may seem buggy or just slow.

This will probably be controversial advice. Many geeks swear by installing all the manufacturer-provided drivers after they install Windows on their PC — motherboard chipset, network, CPU, USB, graphics, and everything else. But we’re not using Windows XP anymore — modern versions of Windows have improved.

Installing your manufacturer’s drivers often won’t be necessary. Your computer won’t be faster just because you regularly update your hardware drivers, and it also won’t be slower just because you’re using drivers that are a few versions old. (Graphics drivers are the one big exception here.)

Image Credit: juliendorra on Flickr

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Windows 10 is Great, Except for the Parts That Are


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

10:39 AM

Windows 10 is a great upgrade . Microsoft paid a lot of attention to the feedback they ignored while developing Windows 8, and it shows. Unfortunately, some parts of Windows 10 are inexplicably bad and hostile to users.

While Windows 10 as a whole shows Microsoft listening to feedback, parts of it show the same old

Microsoft that dug its feet in and announced products like the original Xbox One and Windows 8 without appearing to care about many users.

It Uses Your Upload Bandwidth Without Even Telling You


How to Stop Windows 10 From Uploading Updates to Other PCs Over the Internet

Windows 10 includes a new peer-to-peer download feature for updates and Windows Store apps. By default, Windows will automatically use your...

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By default, Windows 10 automatically uploads Windows updates and apps from the Windows Store to other PCs over the Internet. This is a great feature when restricted to the local network, but Microsoft opts everyone into the Internet part of it by default, using your upload bandwidth for something that doesn’t help you.

Worse yet, there’s no indication this is happening unless you read about it online, find your Internet connection slow, or get contacted by your Internet service provider because you’re using up your limited upload bandwidth.

It could appear as an option in the custom setup process or a note about it could appear somewhere, but it doesn’t — it just works in the background. You have to find a special option hidden five clicks deep in the operating system to disable it.

This potentially helps everyone download updates faster — it’s basically like BitTorrent for Windows updates. But many people, especially outside the USA, have connections with upload data caps.

Microsoft is saving some money on bandwidth bills by using customers’ Internet connections, without telling them.

Few Options for Automatic Updates Hurt People on Limited Internet Connections


How to Prevent Windows 10 From Automatically Downloading Updates

Windows 10 PCs automatically check for updates and install any updates they find. You can take some control over this...

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Windows 10 forces all home PCs to automatically download and install updates. That’s good in one way, as it keeps home Windows systems secure.

But there’s a big problem with this: It’s not implemented in a respectful way. You can only configure the time Windows reboots — not when it downloads updates.

Many people — again, especially outside the USA, but also in more remote or rural areas in the US — have Internet connections with bandwidth caps. They can’t necessarily download hundreds of megabytes of updates every single week. Some people have unlimited bandwidth during certain hours only — perhaps during the middle of the night. Windows 10 provides no way to tell Windows to only download updates during these uncapped hours.

The one solution to this for home users is setting a connection as “metered.” Microsoft says you should set every connection with a data cap as a metered connection. This will give you control over when you download updates.

There’s just one big problem: Microsoft doesn’t let you set a wired Ethernet connection as a metered connection. If your home Internet service provider has data caps and you’re hooked up via a normal

Ethernet connection, there’s no way to restrict those Windows Updates without shelling out $100 for the Professional edition of Windows 10.

This is reminiscent of the original Xbox One, which demanded a nearly always-on Internet connection.

Microsoft just assumes all its users have broadband Internet connections without any data caps and doesn’t seem to understand the connections many people have to deal with.

People Are Upset About Privacy, and Microsoft Isn’t Communicating Well


30 Ways Your Windows 10 Computer Phones Home to Microsoft

Windows 10 phones home more than any other version of Windows before it. Along with Windows 10,

Microsoft released a...

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Windows 10 is currently under a firestorm of controversy — even now being discussed in the mainstream media — over privacy concerns. Windows 10 is a big shift from Windows 7 and includes many more features that phone home to the mothership. Some of these can’t even be disabled. For example, the telemetry feature can only be disabled entirely on Enterprise versions of Windows.

Microsoft should be explaining this a lot better and making it simpler to understand. We categorized 30 different privacy settings located all across Windows 10’s interface and the web, some of which offered confusingly vague explanations. Had Microsoft arranged these options in a better way with more explanation, they at least could have dulled some of the criticism. We feel a lot of the criticism is overblown, but Microsoft isn’t helping itself by remaining silent.

Worse yet, Microsoft is charging onwards despite criticism. Updates to Windows 7 and 8.1 add the telemetry service from Windows 10 , making Windows users sticking with older versions of Windows for privacy reasons upset.

“By applying this service, you can add benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded,” says Microsoft’s patch note. That’s just a ridiculous explanation — Microsoft may be getting some benefit out of collecting telemetry data, but the average Windows 7 or 8 user isn’t getting a “benefit from the latest version of Windows” after the telemetry service is installed.

Microsoft Won’t Give You Patch Notes; Deal With It

Microsoft is charging ahead with their vision of Windows as a service, planning to constantly update

Windows 10 with new features going forward. Faced with all these constant updates, you — or businesses concerned about change — might want to see what these updates actually do.

But Microsoft has no plans to actually provide any patch notes so you can figure out what they’re changing. Microsoft might occasionally provide information about big changes if they feel like it, but that’s it. There are now reports that Microsoft may provide some patch notes to enterprises, but that would be it.

Microsoft is planning on updating Windows 10 on a continual basis with more than just security and bugfixes — with new features, changes, low-level modifications, and more. But Microsoft isn’t willing to actually inform their customers what’s changing.

The Start Menu is Flashy and Missing Basic Functionality


The Start Menu Should Be Sacred (But It’s Still a Disaster in Windows 10)

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After years of using Windows 8 and then 8.1, any Start menu at all seems like a huge upgrade. But

Windows 10’s Start menu actually isn’t all that great when you compare it to Windows 7’s . Microsoft added flashy live tiles and removed useful features. It may not work as well as it used to, but it does bombard you with information about hamburgers and Lady Gaga and football when you open it.

There’s no way to pin apps you regularly use to the left side of the Start menu, for example. Worse yet, the Start menu now works in an entirely different way. It only supports 500 entries and will break after you add more than 500 shortcuts , just not displaying shortcuts to applications you’ve installed. They won’t be accessible via the Start menu’s search feature, either. That’s just sloppy and shows Microsoft is more worried about making a flashy live tile Start menu than a tool that will actually be robust in the real world for the PC users who need it most.

Metro Apps Are Still Practically Unusable

Thom Holwerda from OSNews writes that Windows 10 is only well reviewed because it’s free and because reviewers haven’t forced themselves to use only those Metro apps, now called universal apps.

You’ll still be mostly using desktop apps if you want a good experience on Windows 10. Even Microsoft themselves don’t seem confident about universal apps. Microsoft unceremoniously killed the universal version of Skype a month before Windows 10 was out — they want you to use the desktop Skype app instead. The Metro versions of Office 2016 are all called “Mobile” versions to encourage you to not use them and get the traditional desktop apps instead.

Even apps that are seeing a lot of development aren’t quite there yet. Microsoft Edge has a lot of issues, even when doing something as simple as dragging a tab out of a window.

Remember, Windows 8 came out in 2012. It’s been three years, and those Metro/universal apps still aren’t compelling. Really, Microsoft was working on the Metro platform for years before Windows 8 was released, so Microsoft’s best and brightest have had 5-6 years to release some awesome apps and show everyone how it’s done. Instead, we have the Skype team going back to the desktop app and the Office team telling people not to use the universal apps on PCs. Those universal apps are just meant for smartphones and small tablets — that’s what the Office team at Microsoft is telling us.

Maybe they’ll be more successful once developers can simply port their iPad apps to the Windows

Store. Unfortunately for Microsoft, most PC users probably won’t want to use iPad apps on their desktop.

Windows 10 includes “Get Skype” and “Get Office” apps, which are literally just universal apps that just tell you to download the desktop apps. Microsoft is also using these ads to spam Windows 10 users with ads , so they do have another function.

Mandatory Driver Updates Can Break Some Systems


How to Uninstall and Block Updates and Drivers on Windows 10

Windows 10 automatically downloads and installs all updates. This includes security updates, feature updates, and driver updates provided through Windows...

[Read Article]

Mandatory driver updates are another issue — rather than just pushing MIcrosoft’s own Windows updates to everyone, Microsoft is forcing you to install the latest drivers it thinks will work on your computer. There’s no way to opt out of these drivers if they don’t work for your hardware. Install your own custom drivers and Windows Update will repeatedly install its own drivers over your own custom ones.

There’s still a “Do you want Windows to download driver software” setting buried in Windows that claims it will stop Windows Update from installing drivers, but it doesn’t actually work. Microsoft didn’t bother removing it, though, which just confuses everyone.

The only way to get around this is by blocking individual driver updates with a special tool you have to download from Microsoft’s website . But you’ll get new drivers when a newer version appears in

Windows Update.

Mandatory security updates are one thing, but Microsoft should allow PC users to have control over their specific hardware drivers if they need it — even if this is just a hidden option you have to enable.

These are just a few of the ways Windows 10 falls flat on its face. There are certainly others. The continued separation between the Settings and Control Panel apps is silly. The white titlebars are ugly to many people and a sad step back from the colorful Windows 8, although Microsoft seems to be realizing their mistake and adding color choice back in.

And people who depended on the unique placeholder files functionality in Microsoft OneDrive on

Windows 8.1 will be disappointed to find it’s been completely removed in Windows 10 .

Image Credit: TechStage on Flickr

Clipped from:

How to clean-install a Windows 10 upgrade | Series |

Windows Secrets

Thursday, September 10, 2015

7:04 AM

Windows Secrets Newsletter • Issue 497 • 2015-09-09 • Circulation: over 400,000


The Online Security Collection

The Internet can be a dangerous place especially in light of the recent incidents which involved a series of celebrity photo hacks. We think these security guides, based on stories from the Windows Secrets archives, can help you make it significantly safer. This bundle includes top information on online security poured in 3 successful guides: The PC Security Guide and the Data and Internet Security Guides volumes

1 and 2.

The Online Security Collection

Table of contents

Top Story: How to clean-install a Windows 10 upgrade

Lounge Life: Learning new-to-us facts by accident

Wacky Web Week:

LangaList Plus:

Patch Watch:

The fine art of carrying on at Burning Man

Working through Win10’s many privacy settings

Only one season for Windows and Office patching

Top Story

By Fred Langa on September 9, 2015 in Top Story

The current, free, Win10 upgrade is meant to convert an existing Win7 or Win8 setup to Win10, while retaining the user files and as much of the existing settings, software, and customizations as possible.

But if you know how, you also can use the upgrade to give your PC a totally fresh, from-scratch start; you’ll get a clean install that can’t carry over any potential problems from your current setup — no errors, no misconfigurations, and no junk.

A clean install ensures that your new Win10 setup is 100 percent pristine — and as lean and clean as possible.

One of the clean-install methods described below lets you place all Win10 setup files on a selfcontained, bootable DVD or flash drive. You can then tuck this setup medium away for safekeeping to use in the future, should your Win10 system ever need major repair, recovery, or reinstallation.

Note that while a clean Win10 install isn’t hard, it must be done correctly in order to preserve your system’s qualification for permanent, ongoing, free use of Win10.

This article will show you several different ways to use the free Win10 upgrade to perform a safe, completely legitimate, clean install — including via bootable DVD or flash drive.

Two steps to a completely clean Win10 setup

There are numerous details to a clean Win10 install, but the process has only two major parts.

First, you must — at least temporarily — upgrade your current Win7/8 system to Win10, the standard way. During this initial upgrade, Microsoft’s activation servers create and store a unique and permanent machine ID that’s based on your old Windows key plus the system’s hardware.

During the upgrade, Microsoft will also automatically issue you a new, generic Win10 product key. But it works only after your PC has been successfully upgraded to Win10 and activated. (This is how Microsoft intends to prevent piracy of the free Win10 upgrade.)

After your system has successfully completed an initial upgrade to Win10 and it has been registered with Microsoft’s activation servers, you then can wipe out the Win10 upgrade setup and perform a thorough, from-scratch, clean install.

At the end of that process, your PC will again check in with Microsoft. But because your system was previously whitelisted on the MS activation servers, your new clean-install setup will pass muster — recognized as 100 percent legitimate.

Again, the essential first step in using the free Win10 upgrade for a clean-install is to perform a normal upgrade of your current Win7/8 PC to Win10. I’ll cover that in the next section.

If you’ve already successfully upgraded to Win10 and you’re now ready to begin your clean install, skip to the section below, “The two major types of clean-install.”

In brief: The essential, initial upgrade

Because this article is mainly about clean installs — not upgrades— I’ll go fast here.

If your intent is to do a clean install of Windows 10, you waste time making your current Win7/8 system lean and clean: it’s all going to go away later, during the clean install.

For now, just make sure your current system is fully upgraded and working at least well enough to survive the upgrade to Win10. For some maintenance suggestions, see the Jan. 16, 2014 Top Story ,

“Keep a healthy PC: A routine-maintenance guide.”

And, of course, make a full, complete backup (preferably an image backup) of your system, so you can roll back to Win7/8 if anything goes wrong with the initial upgrade.

The upgrade process itself is very easy: you can use the Windows Update method or the option described on Microsoft’s “Upgrade to Windows 10 for free” page ). You can also download and run the free Windows Media Creation Tool ( site ), selecting the “Upgrade this PC now” option shown in Figure 1

(more on this, below).

Figure 1. A clean Win10 install using the Windows Media Creation Tool starts with selecting Upgrade this

PC now.

Any of these Win10 upgrade methods will produce the same result.

When the upgrade’s done, check that Win10 is activated. Open the Win10 Start menu and select

Settings/Update & security/Activation. If the window displays Windows is activated, you’re good to go

— your system is ready for a clean installation.

If your Win10 upgrade isn’t activated, jump down to the “Last setup steps and activation troubleshooting” section for suggested remedies.

The two major types of clean-install

You have two main options for performing a Win10 clean install:

The Reset this PC option is built right in to Win10. (It’s also in Win8.) This method takes just a few clicks; it restores the operating system files to their original condition and removes all apps, files, and settings.

This type of clean install is extremely reliable, in part because it takes place on a setup that’s already working and activated.

The Reset method’s major downside is that it’s not quite as thorough as the bare-metal reinstall method, below. Depending on how you do the Reset, some of the initial Win10 upgrade files may be reused, and you won’t have the option of reformatting drives or partitions.

The bare-metal reinstall method is 100 percent complete — nothing at all is carried over from the initial

Win10 upgrade setup. You can even reformat your hard drive prior to installation if you want or need to; or use this method to set up Win10 on a brand-new, empty hard drive. Plus, you’ll end up with a complete Win10 setup DVD or flash drive you can later use, if you need to, for system repairs, recovery, or reinstalls.

The principal drawback to the bare-metal method is that it requires a bit more effort to accomplish.

There also is a slightly higher risk of running into problems with system drivers or with activation.

You can use either clean-install method. In fact, you can even use them together. For example, you can use the easy, sure, Reset method to produce a clean install and then use the bare-metal method to generate a bootable DVD or flash drive. Use either method, or both; it’s your choice.

But in either case, before you do any sort of clean install, make a new, fresh backup or system image of your original Win10 upgrade setup, so you can roll back to this initial point in case something goes wrong with the clean install.

For your later convenience, you might also wish to make a separate copy of your user files (e.g.

Documents, Music, etc.) in a safe location such as an external drive. This precaution will make it quick and easy to restore these files to your new setup after the clean install.

It’s also wise to ensure you have any required installation codes or keys you’ll need to restore the apps you intend to use after the clean install.

The fast, easy, Reset clean-install method

Both Windows 10 and Windows 8 have a built-in operating-system Reset option. The tool lets you keep your files but remove apps and settings — or remove everything for a completely fresh Windows installation. (Note: Neither option lets you reformat drives or partitions.) Here’s how to set up a clean install:

From the Win10 desktop, open the Start menu and click Settings/Update & Security/Recovery.

Next, click the Get started button under “Reset this PC.” In the next screen, select Remove

everything (see Figure 2). Follow the on-screen prompts.

Figure 2. As described, the Remove everything option removes everything but the base OS.

Alternatively, you can use the Windows Media Creation Tool (WMCT; free; site ). Download and run the version of the tool that matches the bittedness (32 or 64) of your Win10 system. When offered, select Upgrade this PC now (shown above in Figure 1) and then follow the on-screen prompts.

When the Media Creation Tool shows the Ready to install window, click the Change what to keep option (Figure 3).

Figure 3. For a clean install using WMCT, you must click the Change what to keep option.

In the next window, select Nothing (Figure 4) to remove all previous files, apps, and settings.

Figure 4. WMCT's choose nothing option

Whether you used Win10’s built-in Reset option or the Windows Media Creation Tool, run through the remaining on-screen prompts to reset Windows 10 to a clean, unmodified state.

For more information, skip down to the section labeled “Last steps: Activation and troubleshooting.”

A bare-metal install, Step 1: create setup media

This method ensures that nothing — absolutely nothing — gets carried over from any previous setup.

It’s a full, fresh start that deletes your previous Windows installation in its entirety.

It’s not hard to do but is more complicated than the Reset method described above. It starts with creating Win10 installation media. Here are the steps:

For safety’s sake, first make note of your Win10 product key. It’s easy to find using free tools such as NirSoft’s Produkey ( site ) or the hideously named Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder ( site ).

Warning: As with all “free” apps, select Custom Installation when the setup program offers it; then deselect any unrelated or tag-along software or toolbars that you don’t want installed.

Next, download Windows Media Creation Tool (WMCT; free download ), choosing either the 32- or

64-bit version that matches the bittedness of the system receiving the clean install.

Run WMCT and select Create installation media for another PC when offered (Figure 5). Click


Figure 5. WMCT can make a bootable DVD or flash drive that contains all Win10 setup files.

In the next window, select the language, edition, and architecture that match your original Win10 upgrade — for example, “English (United States),” “Windows 10 Pro,” and “64-bit (x64),” as shown in Figure 6. When you’re finished, click Next.

Figure 6. Select the system settings that that match your original Win10 upgrade.

Next, you’ll see the Choose what media to use window. You have two choices for creating bootable setup media — flash drive or DVD (Figure 7). I’ll start with the USB flash-drive option.

Figure 7. WMCT lets you create self-booting, Win10-setup media on either a flash drive or a DVD.

Creating flash-drive media: Plug a 3GB or larger flash drive into an available USB port. (Warning:

All files on the drive will be erased.)

In WMCT’s Select a USB flash drive prompt, select the drive letter for the flash drive you just plugged in (Figure 8). Click Next.

Figure 8. Be sure to select the correct removable-media drive (H:, in this example).

WMCT will download and verify the Win10 installation files, burn them to the flash drive, and then make the flash drive bootable. This process will take some time, but you can continue to use your

PC in the meantime.

At the end of the process, WMCT will display Your USB flash drive is ready (Figure 9). Click Finish.

Figure 9: WMCT's flash drive-ready notification

Creating DVD-based installation media: Assuming your PC has a DVD burner (not a given, anymore), select ISO file under WMCT’s “Choose what media to use” prompt (Figure 10) — then click Next.

Figure 10. Select ISO file if you prefer to use a bootable installation DVD.

You’ll be asked where to place the downloaded setup file and what to call it. By default, the file is called Windows.iso, and it’s stored in your Documents folder. But you can give it a clearer name

(for example, Win10Pro64.iso) and place the file wherever you wish.

WMCT will then download and verify the Win10 installation files and prepare them for burning to a blank DVD. This process will take a few minutes, but you can continue to use your PC in the meantime.

When the file is ready, you’ll see the “Burn the ISO file to a DVD” window. Insert a blank disc into your DVD drive and then click Open DVD burner (Figure 11).

Figure 11. The burn-an-ISO prompt

When “Windows Disc Image Burner” opens, click Burn to begin creating the bootable DVD.

(Recommended option: Tick the Verify disc after burning box shown in Figure 12 to ensure the integrity of the files after they’re burned to the disc.)

Figure 12. Win10's built-in Disc Image Burner will convert the .iso setup file to a live, bootable


A bare-metal install, Step 2: Setting up Win10

Your new, bootable flash drive or DVD contains everything you need to set up a standard Windows 10 installation. To clean-install Win10, you simply boot from either medium and follow the normal

Windows setup routines. (You’ll see the details in a moment.)

First, however, a potential stumbling block is the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) commonly used by newer PCs — especially PCs that came with Win8 preinstalled. UEFI might prevent easy booting from external devices such as flash drives or DVDs.

If you have trouble booting from your Win10 setup medium, the following articles should help:

“How to solve UEFI boot and startup problems” – Dec. 11, 2014,

“Emergency repair disks for Windows: Part 2″ – April 17, 2014,

Top Story

Top Story

When you successfully boot to the Win10 flash drive or DVD, the setup program should automatically launch. The followings steps will complete the setup process.

On the first screen, select your preferred language, time and currency format, and keyboard layout. On the second screen, select Install now.

You’ll be asked to enter your Win10 product key, which you should have copied earlier. Either enter it now or click Skip to defer the activation check. (I recommend clicking Skip and deferring the check, especially on newer, UEFI PCs. In many cases, the Win10 setup program will extract the original hardware key from the UEFI firmware and self-Activate Win10 for you. This procedure can avoid problems with mistyping the 25-character key.)

Next, you’ll be asked to accept the standard Windows License; do so.

When you get to the prompt “Which type of installation do you want,” click Custom to begin the clean-install process (Figure 13).

Figure 13. Select the Custom install option.

In the Where do you want to install Windows dialog box, delete the partition(s) that contained your previous Windows installation — they’ll then be converted to “Unallocated Space” (Figure

14). Click Next to continue the setup process.

Figure 14. Deleted Win10 partitions are returned to a drive's empty, unallocated space.

Win10 setup will then automatically partition and format the unallocated space as needed. It will then begin copying and installing files from the flash drive or DVD to the newly formatted disk space.

When the initial setup is done, if you didn’t previously enter the product key, you’ll see the nag screen It’s time to enter the product key. You can enter the key now or — as before — defer activation by clicking the offered Do this later link. (Again, I recommend deferral.)

Last setup steps and activation troubleshooting

The normal Win10 setup then continues — and the normal caveats apply.

For example, on the Get going fast prompt, I recommend you not elect to Use Express settings, but choose instead the Customize settings option, which lets you adjust Win10’s privacy-related features and functions to your liking. (For more information on controlling Win10’s privacy settings, see the

LangaList Plus column in this issue.)

When the setup’s finally done, check that your new Win10 clean-install is properly activated. Open the start menu and select Settings/Update & security/Activation. If the window displays Windows is

Activated, you’re all set. If not, click the Activate Windows button.

If Win10 won’t activate, don’t panic: there are a number of utterly mundane reasons why Win10 might not complete activation right away, as explained on Microsoft’s “Get help with Windows 10 activation errors” page . For example, one of the reasons for a failure is simply that “the activation servers were busy.”

But if you followed the steps outlined here — such as successfully upgrading your Win7/8 PC to Win10

before attempting a clean install — the activation should take place in short order.

If you don’t want to wait, some users report that they’ve successfully hastened automatic activation by rebooting several times — or by using SLMGR, the software-licensing management tool. To use SLMGR, open an admin-level command prompt (right-click the start flag and select Command Prompt (Admin)) and enter slmgr.vbs /ato at the command prompt; a dialog box will open, displaying the results of the activation attempt ( more info via TechNet).

If you need additional help, see the Microsoft Answers page , “How to activate and resolve common product-key issues in Windows 10.”

If none of the above works, Microsoft lists still more options on the “Why can’t I Activate Windows 10?” page , including information on the extremely helpful Activate by phone service. Although I haven’t had to use it for Win10, I’ve used that service in other circumstances in which a legitimate copy of Windows simply would not activate correctly via the Internet. Activate by phone was easy to use and always worked when I needed it.

If you tried a bare-metal reinstall and ran into insurmountable activation problems — or if you ran into device-driver issues — restore the backup you made at the start of this process and then use the Reset

this PC clean-install option described above. That method is more forgiving and usually avoids activation and driver issues.

When your from-bare-metal installation is finished, Win10 should be ready for business. You can now set up whatever apps you wish and copy your user files from whatever backup location you stored them.

Enjoy your brand-new, clean-as-a-whistle, Win10 setup!

How to clean-install a Windows 10 upgrade

Feedback welcome: Have a question or comment about this story? Post your thoughts, praise, or constructive criticisms in the WS Columns forum .

Wacky Web Week

The fine art of carrying on at Burning Man

Burning Man, the annual arts festival in the Nevada desert, has a big reputation to go with its radical reality.

Like all outsized ideas, Burning Man is subject to adjustment. This video illustrates a few interesting truths that have emerged from years of Black Rock City’s sudden end-ofsummer appearances and vanishing acts. Click below or go to the original YouTube video .

Post your thoughts about this story in the WS Columns forum .

LangaList Plus

Working through Win10’s many privacy settings

By Fred Langa on September 9, 2015 in LangaList Plus

Despite what you might’ve heard, Windows 10 lets you control numerous privacy settings, spread across

13 different categories. Here’s how find and adjust them.

Plus: File-permissions problems after an upgrade, Win7 PCs suddenly refuse to install new apps, and proof that an abused lithium-ion battery really can act like a little bomb.

Stories about Win10’s user privacy spark concern

After reading reports online, reader JC Warren is concerned about the kinds of data Microsoft collects from Win10 users.

“I read an article regarding Windows 10 privacy settings. It states that Microsoft is logging users’ keystrokes and monitoring everything they do.

“I haven’t installed Win10 yet — and I might not, if this is true. It seems pretty creepy.

“I’d be interested in your thoughts.”

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about Win10 privacy.

Windows 10 Technical Preview — which was basically beta software — collected lots of system information so that Microsoft could see how people were using the OS and where things went wrong.

After all, that’s the whole point of a beta test.

That said, the current shipping version of Win10 doesn’t contain secret keyloggers or other nefarious add-ins. Moreover, most of Win10’s privacy settings are accessible to users and adjustable — and most are a simple on/off option.

For example, my Win10 system has more than 60 user-selectable privacy settings. (The exact number of available settings varies from system to system, depending on which apps and hardware you have installed.)

I’ll tell you how to access and adjust these settings in a moment. But first you should know that

Microsoft’s data-collection practices are generally in line with those of other major tech companies.

Win10 collects the same types of data commonly collected by operating systems and apps from Apple,

Google, Samsung, Yahoo, and others.

Take, for example, tasks such as search, typing, swiping, spell-checking, handwriting translation, and predictive text entry. The enabling apps from all the companies I just listed periodically communicate your actions back to their respective motherships. There, servers pool your data with everyone else’s to develop statistical profiles. The benefit for users is better applications.

All voice-control applications such as Cortana, Siri, OK Google, and Hey Galaxy must send your requests back to online servers to provide correct answers. To work efficiently, these apps continuously listen for their trigger phrases; they might send everything they hear back to their online servers to help improve natural-language parsing.

And, of course, the URLs and search terms you enter into a browser are sent to Apple, Google,

Microsoft, Yahoo, or whomever for processing. They all use some of that information for analysis and/or targeted advertising. That’s how Web-based searches work.

So data collection has been common for years, primarily on mobile devices. What’s changed with Win10 is that all this Web-dependent technology is now showing up in force on a desktop system.

In my opinion, we’re seeing a double standard at play. When Apple, Google, and others collect your data, everyone pronounces it “magical.” When Microsoft does the same thing (with Bing and Cortana), it’s reported as evil and intrusive.

If you want to know what Microsoft says it collects, you can review the “Windows 10 and privacy” FAQ and the official Microsoft Privacy Statement page online.

If you’d like help parsing the legalese of the Privacy Statement, The Verge offers what seems to me to be a plain-English, hysteria-free, and reasonably accurate interpretation of the Microsoft Privacy Statement here.

Adjusting Win10’s privacy settings: With all that in mind, you can make your own decisions about what

Win10 sends back to Microsoft. Here’s how.

If you’re installing Win10, the best, first step is to not accept “Express settings.” Instead, click

“Customize settings” and step through the options for fine-tuning the types and quantities of information you’ll allow Microsoft to collect.

Even if you use “Express settings,” you can always access the full range of Win10 privacy settings. Simply open the Start menu and then select Settings/Privacy. You’ll see a list (see Figure 1) of 13 general privacy categories, each of which offers a panel of controls and options.

Figure 1. Windows 10's Privacy page lets you quickly adjust dozens of settings.

After you’ve read the aforementioned FAQ and Privacy Statement and you’ve reviewed the available privacy settings on your system, you’ll have the information you need to decide whether your privacy requirements can be accommodated by the new OS.

It’s fair to say we don’t know exactly what Microsoft actually collects and what it does with that data.

But in my opinion, the company isn’t doing anything nefarious — or even unusual. In fact, Win10 gives you more control over privacy than any other OS I’ve seen.

File-permissions problems after Win10 upgrade

Windows’ file and folder attributes are incredibly complex. So it should be no surprise that they sometimes get mangled.

In addition to the seven basic attributes (Archive, Hidden, System, Read-only, Compressed, Encrypted, and Indexed) about which most experienced Windows users know, the OS also supports 18 or more additional security attributes, including “Read,” “Write,” “Read & Execute,” “List Folder Contents,”

“Modify,” “Full Control,” and other variations.

I’ve run afoul of permissions problems myself: I once had trouble accessing my files on external USB drives because Windows decided I was no longer authorized to do so.

Reader Don Mau’s problem is more limited — but probably no less frustrating. I’ll cover his issue, but I’ll also point out solutions for other, more complex permissions problems.

“I can’t use my files after updating. How do I get rid of the read-only attribute in my Documents and Download folders?”

Removing read-only attributes is usually a snap, and should take only a minute or two. Here’s how:

In an admin-level account, right-click the read-only files or folders and select Properties. Under the

General tab, untick the box for Read-only and then click OK. After a few seconds (depending on number of affected files and folders) all the selected files/folders should no longer be read-only.

If that doesn’t work — or if you encounter other issues relating to access permissions — you’ll have to dig a little deeper.

For complete details, click the May 21 LangaList Plus , “Windows 8 upgrade error locks user’s files.” Skip down to the paragraph that begins, “Whether or not these workarounds let you copy your files, you’ll eventually want to permanently resolve the permissions problems.”

The instructions there walk you through how to regain control of all your files, no matter which attribute is screwed up.

Win7 PCs suddenly refuse to run new apps

Several of the PCs that C. R. Taliaferro maintains have suddenly balked at running new programs.

“Hi Fred.

“One PC I manage is running 64-bit Win 7 SP1. It’s generally well updated, and Windows Update works fine. Recently, however, we’ve been unable to download and install CCleaner, Adobe Flash,

Skype, Chrome, and other apps. The apps download successfully, but when we click ‘run,’ we get a crash. It happens whether the app was downloaded with Mozilla, IE, or Chrome.

“If I try to transfer the same programs to a different machine with a flash drive, they’ll not install there either. I feel this is probably a Windows problem. Also, I’m running WinPatrol, Avast, and other blockers.

“What’s going on?”

If this were a general problem with Windows 7, message boards all over the world would be lit up, with millions of users screaming about suddenly being unable to install new software.

Since that’s not happening, I can only assume that the problem is with something in your specific setup.

A variety of issues could be at play — such as trying to install 64-bit software on a 32-bit PC.

In your case, the culprit is more likely the software you’ve installed — specifically, the blockers you mention. The freshly downloaded files are blocked, locked, or otherwise neutered (i.e., rendered not runnable).

Furthermore, I’ll bet you’re running the same blockers on all the systems you maintain. That’s likely why you can’t get the software installed on any of your machines.

I would start by disabling all blocker software. Then download and install the software you wish, using the Run as administrator option.

With nothing in the way, I bet your downloads — and the rest of Win7 — will resume normal operation.

Yes, a Li-ion battery really can be dangerous

In “How to make lithium-ion batteries last for years” (Aug. 13 Top Story ), I described how I accidentally abused my smartphone’s lithium-ion battery, causing it to deform and swell due to internal gas pressure. Figure 2 shows an end-on view of the battery’s bulge.

Figure 2. Instead of lying flat, one side of this damaged battery bulges out — enough to deform my phone's body.

Some of you might have thought I was exaggerating when I wrote: “The battery’s case had done its job

— it had contained the gases — but the battery was now potentially a tiny, pressure-cooker bomb, just waiting for something to set it off.”

I wasn’t. Figure 3 — a screenshot of a video from a U.K. science blogger — shows dramatically what can happen to a damaged battery.

Figure 3. When punctured, a damaged Li-ion battery can release a torrent of flames and gasses.

The still image doesn’t do justice to the full violence of the event. Check out the full 15-second Vine clip .

Once you see it, you’ll know why I was so alarmed by my phone’s bulging battery — and why proper charging of Li-ion devices is so important.

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006.

Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media

(1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.

Patch Watch

Only one season for Windows and Office patching

By Susan Bradley on September 9, 2015 in Patch Watch

September is the start of another school year for many children, but Windows patching is a neverending lesson in new vulnerabilities.

This month is fairly typical for the number and variety of updates. But an Edge patch proves that no software is perfect.

As I write this article, I’m cruising at 33,000 feet, on my way to a technology conference. It’s a good thing that Patch Tuesday doesn’t apply to airplanes, or we’d all be staying out of the air for a few days each month.

Now if I can only convince my editor to reimburse me for the cost of the onboard Wi-Fi. The United 737 has free power in the seats (well, slightly under the seat — you have to be a bit of a contortionist to get to it) and Wi-Fi for a fee.

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by the reasonable Internet speed (see Figure 1) — and that I could remote-access my office computer. (Even more pronounced on the plane than at home, Internet uploads are much slower than downloads.) Not surprisingly, I could use more elbow room while working on my laptop, but there’s sufficient space to type up this week’s Patch Watch and keep an eye out for patching issues.

Figure 1. Wi-Fi/Internet speeds at 33,000 feet


Security fix for Windows graphics breaks games

If you’re fond of computer gaming, you’ll want to consider whether to install the patches in MS15-097, which fix several vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Graphics Component. The patch fixes three elevatedprivilege exploits via font drivers and the Win32k driver. Another vulnerability could allow an attacker to bypass the Kernel Address Space Layout Randomization (KASLR) security system.

Unfortunately, these patches have a potentially nasty side effect: after installation, some games may no longer run — primarily those that require the Macrovision SafeDisk driver (secdrv.sys), used by many game developers to protect their systems from piracy.

The secdrv.sys driver is now vulnerable to attack, so Microsoft is using this update to turn the service off. According to the update’s description :

“After you install this security update, some programs may not run. (For example, some video games may not run.) To work around this issue, you can temporarily turn on the service for the secdrv.sys driver by running certain commands or by editing the registry.”

In truth, the process of enabling and disabling the service is not user friendly. But the aforementioned description does tell you how to do it.

Windows 7 and 8 users will see KB 3087039, which is rated important. Vista and Windows Server 2008 users will also see KB 3087135, rated critical. On Windows 10, the update is included in cumulative patch KB 3081455. You might also see related critical updates for Office 2007/2010 (KB 3085529 and

3085546) and Microsoft Lync 2013 (KB 3085500).

What to do: Vista users should install update MS15-097 (KBs 3087039 and 3087135) — and be ready to roll the update back if it causes problems with games. All other Windows users can wait a week or two before installing KB 3087039.

MS15-094 (3087038)

Time for the monthly browser security review

Rated critical, KB 3087038, September’s cumulative Internet Explorer update, patches 17 vulnerabilities.

Without the fixes, merely viewing a malicious webpage could give an attacker access to your system.

As usual, now’s a good time to ensure that all your other browsers are fully up to date. That also goes for Adobe Flash Player and other browser helpers.

What to do: Install KB 3087038 (MS15-094) as soon as possible.

MS15-095 (3081455)

Windows 10 Edge is not bulletproof

It was hoped that Microsoft’s new Edge browser would be highly resistant to attack. But it’s already getting critical fixes for four memory-corruption vulnerabilities. Viewing malicious Web content or opening a bogus attachment could let an attacker take remote control of a Win10 system. (Doesn’t that sound all too familiar?)

Note that this patch is included in Win10 cumulative update — KB 3081455 — which includes both security and nonsecurity fixes.

Microsoft is also testing the next “branch” release of Win10, reportedly due out in October. Anyone participating in the Windows Insider Program ( site ) might see it a bit earlier.

What to do: KB 3081455 will show up in Windows 10 automatically. Your only choice is when you allow a system reboot.

MS15-098 (3069114)

Opening a journal file can be perilous

Possibly the least-used app in Windows is the Windows Journal ( more info ), designed for simple note taking. But five vulnerabilities in the software could lead to remote attacks or a denial of service, via malicious Journal files.

Rated critical, the patch applies to all supported versions of Windows.

What to do: I expect that hackers will try this exploit soon. Vista through Win8 users should install KB

3069114 (MS15-098) as soon as possible. Win10 users will get the patch in cumulative-update KB


MS15-099 (3089664)

A passel of MS Office security patches

The Office security patches in MS15-099 fix several vulnerabilities that could allow attacks via malicious

Office files. These days, any update to Office typically includes something for MS SharePoint as well.

September is no exception. Along with various patches for all supported versions of Office, server admins should see several updates for SharePoint Server 2013.

Admins should remember that installing SharePoint updates is not enough — you typically need to also run psconfig to complete the patch installation.

For desktop systems, these security patches include:

3054932 – Office 2013 SP1

3054965 – Office 2010 SP2

3054987 – Office 2007

3054993 – Office Compatibility Pack SP3

3054995 – Excel Viewer

3085502 – Excel 2013

3085526 – Excel 2010

3085543 – Excel 2007

3088501 – Excel for Mac 2011

(During the flight, I’m sitting next to a gentleman with a MacBook Pro. I wonder whether I should point out that he’ll be patching his machine when he gets to his destination.

What to do: Some of these patches are rated critical; install any of the above when offered. For more information, see MS Security Bulletin MS15-099 .

MS15-100 (3087918)

Keeping WMC safe from bogus link files

Windows Media Center was dumped from Windows 10, but it still represents a potential threat on all other Windows platforms. Rated important, KB 3087918 fixes a vulnerability that could allow remote attacks via malicious Media Center link (.mcl) files. (MCL files are used to link Media Center to thirdparty apps.)

As with many of the remote-execution vulnerabilities mentioned above, the level of threat from this

WMC flaw depends on the user’s current rights. It’s a reminder that we should be doing most of our computing tasks in a non-admin account.

What to do: Install KB 3087918 (MS15-100) if you have Windows Media Center on your system.

MS15-101 (3089662)

Install .NET Framework all by itself

Given the number of September updates, it’s likely that one or two will fail to install. But fear not: typically, if a patch fails the first time, it’ll succeed when you try it again. .NET Framework updates have a long history of being problematic. So I recommend cutting to the chase and installing the .NET updates in MS15-101 separately. That should reduce the potential for failure.

Rated important, the patches fix yet another elevation-of-privileges threat. But exploits for the vulnerabilities are already in the wild, so you should install this update as soon as possible.

You might see the following updates offered:

KB 3074229 – .NET 4.5/4.5.1/4.5.2

KB 3074541 – .NET 2.0 SP2

KB 3074543 – .NET 3.5.1

KB 3074544 – .NET 3.5

KB 3074545 – .NET 3.5

KB 3074547 – .NET 4

KB 3074548 – .NET 4.5.1/4.5.2

KB 3074550 – .NET 4.5/4.5.1/4.5.2

KB 3074552 – .NET 4.6

KB 3074553 – .NET 4.6

KB 3074554 – .NET 4.6

What to do: Install any of the .NET updates in MS15-101 when offered.

MS15-102 (3082089, 3084135)

Fixing flaws in Windows Task Management system

Most experienced Windows users are familiar with the Task Scheduler. It’s handy for starting and scheduling applications and events. But three recently revealed flaws in the Task Management system could allow elevation-of-privilege attacks. For a successful exploit, the hacker needs to trick a user into running a malicious application. So the patches are rated merely important.

What to do: Install KBs 3084135 and 3082089 ( MS15-102 ) if offered.

MS15-096, MS15-103, MS15-104, MS15-105

Mail and network updates for server admins

KB 3072595 (MS15-096) fixes and Active Directory service flaw that could allow denial-of-service attacks. The update is rated just important because attacker must be signed in to a network in order to launch an attack.

KB 3087126 (MS15-103), rated important, affects MS Exchange Server 2013, Microsoft’s newest email platform. Two vulnerabilities might allow spoofing; a third could result in data disclosure if Outlook Web

Access (OWA) fails to properly handle Web requests.

Apparently, good and bad things come in threes. Skype for Business 2015 and Lync 2013 servers will need KB 3061064 or KB 3080353 ( MS15-104 ) respectively to fix a trio of elevation-of-privilege and datadisclosure vulnerabilities. Be sure that the latest cumulative updates for the servers are installed first.

Finally, KB 3087088 (MS15-105) patches a flaw in Hyper-V for Win8.1 and Win10 systems. Running a malicious application, a hacker could cause Hyper-V to incorrectly apply Access Control List configuration settings.

What to do: Install these updates after testing.

Septembers list of nonsecurity updates

This Patch Tuesday, Microsoft gave us a respite from new Windows nonsecurity updates. It released only a couple of hotfixes, such as one for slow sign-ins, caused by August’s security updates. However, you might also see updates from previous months; Microsoft has changed their status to prechecked in

Windows Update.

Office, of course, had a long list of new fixes. As usual, I recommend leaving them for the end of the month.

Windows 8 and 8.1

3092627 – Fix for slow sign-ins

Windows 10

3081454 – Upgrading compatibility

Office 2007/2010

3085513 – PowerPoint 2010; IRM presentation errors, “Update Links” issues

3085518 – Word 2010; various fixes

3085525 – Outlook 2010 junk-mail filter

3055042 – Office 2010; English proofing, worksheet printing format errors

3055047 – Excel 2010; formatting issues when saving sheet as PDF

3085516 – Office 2010; various fixes

3085522 – Outlook 2010; permissions warning, “public group” errors

3085531 – Project 2010; “Units” value error in Resources tab

3085547 – Outlook 2007 junk-mail filter

Office 2013

3023050 – Publisher; enables SSO, active accounts can’t open files

3039739 – Excel; Power Query failures

3039766 – Word; crashes after using People Picker

3054923 – Office; additions to PowerPoint object model, formatting issues on save

3055010 – Office; Kazakh translations

3055011 – Office; English proofing

3085478 – PowerPoint; additions to object model, enables SSO, open-file issues

3085479 – Office; enables SSO, active accounts can’t open files

3085480 – Office; various fixes and enhancements

3085490 – Update for Microsoft Word 2013

3085491 – OneNote; enables SSO; Rich Text docs imported as images

3085493 – Office; enables SSO, active accounts can’t open files

3085495 – Outlook; numerous fixes and enhancements

3085499 – Office; junk-mail filter

3085503 – Access; enables SSO for ADAL, formatting issues with DBSC text

3085504 – Office; SSL 3.0, TLS 1.1, and TLS 1.2 support, OneDrive file-merge errors

3085506 – Excel; formatting issues when saving sheet as PDF

Other updates

3054870 – SharePoint Server 2013; spell-check stalls and error messages

3054967 – SharePoint Server 2010 Excel Web App; menus missing after IE 11 update

3054998 – SharePoint Server 2013; English proofing

3055032 – SharePoint Server 2010; English proofing



– SharePoint Server 2010; menu items missing after IE 11 update

3055043 – SharePoint Server 2010 Office Web Apps; English proofing

3085481 – SharePoint Server 2013; various fixes

3085484 – Visio 2013; enables SSO and other fixes

3085505 – Project Server 2013; various fixes

3085510 – Project Server 2013; various fixes

3085524 – SharePoint Server 2010; “User not found” errors

3085527 – Project Server 2010; status updating failure

– SharePoint Foundation 2010; menu items missing after IE 11 update

What to do: Put these nonsecurity updates on hold until after the next September Patch Watch column.

Regularly updated problem-patch chart

This table provides the status of recent Windows and Microsoft application security updates. Patches listed below as safe to install will typically be removed from the table about a month after they appear.

Status changes are highlighted in bold.

For Microsoft’s list of recently released patches, go to the MS Security TechCenter page .












MS Graphics Component; see MS15-097 for full list

Command-parameter passing; also KB 3079757, 3081436


Windows Object Manager

Windows Mount Manager; also KB 3081436 (Win10)


















































Windows UDDI Services (Server 2008)

Server Message Block (Vista and Win Server 2008)



System Center Ops Mgr; KBs 3064919, 3071088, 3071089 Install

Remote Desktop Protocol; also KBs 3075221, 3075222, 3075226 Install

XML Core Services (Windows and Office) Install

Windows/WebDAB servers

Internet Explorer cumulative update



MS Graphic Component; see MS15-080 for complete patch list Install

MS Office; see MS15-081 for complete patch list

Cumulative Windows 10 update

.NET Framework; also KBs 3083185 & 3083186

Skype for Business Server/Lync Server; also KB 3080353

Windows Journal; KB 3081455 for Win10

Active Directory Service (servers, only)







Edge cumulative update

Windows Task Management; also KB 3082089

IE cumulative update; KB 3081455 for Win10

Windows Hyper-V; KB 3081455 for Win10

MS Exchange Server 2013

Windows Media Center

.NET Framework; see MS15-101 for ful list, install separately

Office; see MS15-099 for complete list









Status recommendations: Skip — patch not needed; Hold — do not install until its problems are resolved; Wait — hold off temporarily while the patch is tested; Optional — not critical, use if wanted;

Install — OK to apply.

Susan Bradley is a Small Business Server and Security MVP , a title awarded by Microsoft to independent experts who do not work for the company. She's also a partner in a California CPA firm.


The Windows Secrets Newsletter is published weekly on the 1st through 4th Thursdays of each month, plus occasional news updates. We skip an issue on the 5th Thursday of any month, the week of

Thanksgiving, and the last week of December. Windows Secrets is a continuation of four merged publications: Brian's Buzz on Windows and Woody's Windows Watch in 2004, the LangaList in 2006, and the Support Alert Newsletter in 2008.

Publisher:, 9100 West Chester Towne Centre Rd., Suite 200, West Chester, OH

45069 USA. Vendors, please send no unsolicited packages to this address (readers' letters are fine).

Editor in chief: Tracey Capen. Senior editor: Fred Langa. Associate editor: Kathleen Atkins. Contributors:

Susan Bradley, Michael Lasky, Patrick Marshall, Katherine Murray, David Robinson, Nathan Segal, Lincoln

Spector, Doug Spindler.

Trademarks: Microsoft and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. The Windows

Secrets series of books is published by Wiley Publishing Inc . The Windows Secrets Newsletter,, Support Alert, LangaList, LangaList Plus, WinFind, Security Baseline, Patch Watch,

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Table of contents

Clipped from:

How to rollback Windows 10 after 30 days limit

Saturday, September 19, 2015

1:53 PM

If you upgraded to Windows 10, from Windows 8.1 or Windows 7, the new operating system allows you to rollback Windows 10 to your previous version, provided you carry out the rollback operation within

30 days. But if you use this trick, you should be able to roll back Windows 10 to your previous version, even after the 30 day limit. Let us see how.

After you upgrade to Windows 10 you may notice two folders on your System or C Drive named

$Windows.~BT and $Windows.~WS. These folders are hidden and are created by Windows, during the upgrade process. To see them, open Folder Options, and set Windows to show hidden and operating system files and folders. You will then be able to see them.

These $Windows.~BT, $Windows.~WS and Windows.old

folders are required by the system to perform the rollback operation. After 30 days, Windows 10 automatically deletes these folders during Automatic

Maintenance. After 30 days, you may not see the option to Rollback in the Settings app or you may receive a message We’re sorry, but you can’t go back .

Rollback Windows 10 after 30 days

What you can do is rename these folders, as soon as you upgrade, and definitely before the 30 day period.

Rename $Windows.~BT to say Bak-$Windows.~BT, $Windows.~WS to Bak-$Windows.~WS and

Windows.old folder to Bak- Windows.old.

When you do this, Windows 10 will not be able to delete these folders as you will have changed their names.

If you decide to rollback after 30 days, rename these folders back to their original names and visit

Settings > Update & Security > Recovery to Go back to Windows 8.1 or Windows 7.

If you wish, you may also back up these 3 folders to an external drive with their original names.

If you do feel the need, you should now be able to rollback even after 30 days. But then you will have to backup your latest data before you carry out the rollback operation.

This should work – but I cannot guarantee that it will, since I have not tried it! Let us know if this works

for you or not.

Clipped from:

Learn to use the Windows 10 Recovery Drive | Series |

Windows Secrets

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

10:51 AM

Windows Secrets Newsletter • Issue 498 • 2015-09-17 • Circulation: over 400,000


The Online Security Collection

The Internet can be a dangerous place especially in light of the recent incidents which involved a series of celebrity photo hacks. We think these security guides, based on stories from the Windows Secrets archives, can help you make it significantly safer. This bundle includes top information on online security poured in 3 successful guides: The PC Security Guide and the Data and Internet Security Guides volumes

1 and 2.

The Online Security Collection

Table of contents

Top Story: Learn to use the Windows 10 Recovery Drive

Field Notes: Lost and found: Windows 10’s safe mode

Lounge Life: Learn something new about an old app

Wacky Web Week: As if Berlin were a whole little earth

LangaList Plus: SSD stuck in slow IDE-emulation mode

Best Hardware: New devices that help you stay connected

Top Story

By Lincoln Spector on September 17, 2015 in Top Story

Sooner or later, nearly every Windows user powers up the machine — and Windows simply refuses to start.

Every current version of Windows lets you create and run a self-booting rescue disc, but Win10 takes that tool to a new level.

The Windows 10 Recovery Drive comes with multiple tools for repairing and reinstalling Windows. You can, for example, use a system restore point to restore an image backup, run an automated Startup

Repair tool, refresh Windows (either keeping or removing your data), or completely reinstall the operating system.

If you’re lucky, you’ll never need your Win10 recovery drive. But when things go serious wrong with

Windows 10, you’ll be extremely relieved to have it. Here’s how to create and use a recovery drive.

Preparing the Recovery Drive — on a flash drive

The changes to the self-booting, Windows-recovery system start with the name. Bowing to changes in

PC technology, it’s no longer a rescue disc, it’s now a rescue drive. In fact, creating a bootable CD or DVD is no longer an option; you must use a spare USB flash drive with a capacity of at least 512MB. But for a recovery drive with a complete set of tools, you’ll need an 8GB or larger drive.

If your internal drive crashes, and you need to install Windows on a replacement drive, you’ll be glad you splurged on teh 8GB drive.

Note that everything currently on the flash drive will be lost when you turn it into a Win10 recovery drive.

Most important, you’ll want to create your new recovery drive now, while your Win10 setup is healthy.

(Note: A recovery drive created on one PC might not work perfectly on another machine.)

Once you have a suitable flash drive plugged into your system, it’s time to run Win10’s Create a

recovery drive option. There are two ways to do it:

In the Win10 search box, enter “recovery” and select the option under Settings.

Open Control Panel/Recovery (in the icon view).

Click Create a recovery drive (Figure 1) and follow the prompts. If your flash drive has a capacity of less than 8GB, uncheck the Back up system files to the recovery drive option. Otherwise, the drive-creation process will fail, possibly with a generic error message.

Figure 1. Setting up a Win10 recovery drive starts with a click of the Create a recovery drive link.

Keep in mind that the actual drive creation can take considerable time — especially if you’re backing up system files.

When the process is done, label the flash drive with something like “Recovery” plus the make and model of the PC. Store it securely, so it doesn’t get used for some other purpose and you’ll be able to find it in an emergency.

But before you do that, I strongly suggest testing that the rescue drive boots — you can also check out its various tools, preferably while reading the rest of this article.

Booting Windows from the recovery drive

Starting your system from the recovery flash drive should be easy — simply plug in the USB drive and power up your system. But if that doesn’t work on an older system, you’ll need to check the preferred boot order in the BIOS.

On newer PCs, the disaster of an unbootable PC can be compounded by the UEFI startup system. If you’re left with “How the bleep do I get this thing to boot from a flash drive?” you’ll probably find the answer in Fred Langa’s Dec. 11, 2014, Top Story “How to solve UEFI boot and startup problems.”

When the recovery drive boots, you’ll first be asked to choose a keyboard layout — which is really a choice of languages and nationalities. (I chose US.)

The next screen, Choose an option (Figure 2), offers three choices. Obviously, you can ignore Exit and

continue to Windows 10 and Turn off your PC. Click (or tap) Troubleshoot.

Figure 2. To access Win10's repair tools, select Troubleshoot.

Next, you get three more choices: Reset this PC, Recover from a drive, and Advanced options (Figure

3). I’ll start with the more flexible Advanced tools.

Figure 3. The Advanced options offers a variety of tools for fixing Win10 issues.

One more thing: After selecting one of these tools, you might be asked to select an operating system — even though the only option is Windows 10. Don’t worry about it; simply select Windows 10.

Advanced options: When you don’t need to reinstall

Despite the heading, most of the offerings under “Advanced options” (Figure 4) aren’t more advanced than anything else on the Troubleshoot menu. They are simply tools that might fix Windows without reinstalling the operating sytem. In other words, these are the tools you should look at first.

Figure 4. The recovery disk's Advanced options includes various levels of repair.

I’ll start with the easiest. (Note that all these tools are available within the default Win10 setup. Click

Settings/Update & security/Recovery/Advanced startup. Next click Restart now/Troubleshoot/Advanced options. But, of course, you can’t access those tools if you can boot your PC.)

Startup Repair: This simple tool examines all system files and settings that play a role in the

Windows boot process. It then tries to determine what’s at fault and attempts to fix it.

Because it’s relatively quick, this tool is a good place to start your troubleshooting. If it doesn’t work, you can then move on to more extensive solutions.

Go back to the previous build: If you’ve upgraded from Win7 or Win8.1 within the last 30 days, and you haven’t removed your Windows.old folder, this option will take you back to the previous


System Restore: Most likely, you’re already familiar with Windows restore points — records of previous operating-system settings and configurations that you can access and restore via Control

Panel/Recovery. The option in the recovery drive works that same way (Figure 5).

Figure 5. The Win10 recovery drive includes the basic Restore system files tool.

System Image Recovery: You also access backup images of your system hard drive or SSD, stored on another drive. (I’ll assume you have a recent image backup; if not, click Control Panel/File

History tool. You’ll find the link, System Image Backup, in the lower-left corner of the File History window.)

To restore an image from an external drive, you’ll need to plug in both the recovery drive and the backup drive into separate USB ports.

I succeeded in restoring a backup only after some struggles. On the first try, the image-restore system didn’t see the backup drive. But rebooting the PC with the backup drive already plugged in solved the problem.

Then the tool failed to restore the backup, stating: “Windows cannot restore a system image to a computer that has different firmware. The system image was created on a computer using BIOS and this computer is using UEFI.” This, as it turned out, was a cockpit error: my computer had displayed two listing for the same flash drive (Figure 6), and I’d mistakenly chosen the one prefaced with “UEFI.”

Figure 6. Picking the correct flash drive

The third try was the charm.

Command Prompt: Feeling nostalgic about DOS? Me neither. But there are times when the command-prompt environment is useful — for example, when booting to Safe Mode from the recovery drive.

Unfortunately, recovery drive doesn’t include a simple safe mode–restart option. In my opinion, that’s a significant omission. (For more on booting in safe mode — including from a command prompt — see the Field Notes article in this issue and a Windows TenForums page .)

The command prompt has other recovery uses. For example, use XCOPY ( more info ) to move your personal files to an external drive, or use DISKPART ( info ) to delete or create drive partitions (if you’re careful and patient).

Of course, you’ll also want to remember the “exit” command, which gets you out of Command


Reset and Recover: Reinstalling Windows 10

Now back to those first two Troubleshoot options, Reset this PC and Recover from a drive. Both reinstall Windows and offer essentially the same options.

Where the two options differ is that Reset uses the installation files on the internal drive and Recover uses files on the recovery drive. That’s why you’ll see the Recover option only if you used an 8GB or larger flash drive and chose the Back up system files to the recovery drive option when you created the recovery drive.

When would you use Recover instead of the Reset option? Typically when the special recovery partition on the main system drive has been destroyed or corrupted. You might also use Recover when replacing or upgrading the main drive and you’re creating a clean installation.

Neither of these options will require a product key — assuming you’re running the recovery drive on the original PC.

When selecting Reset the PC, you’ll be asked whether you want to Keep my files or Remove everything

(Figure 7). The first option reinstalls Windows but leaves your personal documents, photos, and other data files where you left them — at least if you left them in folders (Documents, Music, and so on) recognized by Windows as part of your libraries. Personal files in other locations might get deleted.

(Obviously, you should have all your data files backed up before you do anything involving significant changes to Windows. In fact, your data files should be regularly backed up, period.) Reset the PC also remembers who you are; you won’t have to set up your account all over again.

Figure 7. When resetting a PC, you can either keep personal files or start from scratch.

If you select Recover from a drive or if you go with Reset this PC and Remove everything, the installation process will delete all files. Once it’s finished, you (or perhaps a new owner) will have to start from scratch, including setting up user accounts.

Remove everything has two more options: Just remove my files and Fully clean the drive. That last one, which can take hours, securely wipes everything off of the drive.

A secure wipe will make it impossible to recover any data from your hard drive. But the technique is problematic with SSDs, as reported in a PCWorld article . Microsoft hasn’t answered my questions about this issue. For now, I’d skip this option on an SSD.

Final thoughts: The Win10 recovery drive could use some more tools — the lack of a “Boot to Safe

Mode” option is particularly vexing. If you can’t get to your usual sign-in screen, you can’t get to the various Safe Mode settings via the standard Win10 Troubleshoot/Advanced/Startup Settings screen.

That said, Win10’s flash drive-based repair system is still a must. Create a recovery drive and store it someplace where you won’t forget where it is. One of these days, it may save, if not your life, than at least your sanity.

Learn to use the Windows 10 Recovery Drive

Feedback welcome: Have a question or comment about this story? Post your thoughts, praise, or constructive criticisms in the WS Columns forum .

Field Notes

Lost and found: Windows 10’s safe mode

By Tracey Capen on September 17, 2015 in Field Notes

Windows 10 might be a significant improvement over Windows 8, but it still possesses some of its predecessor’s dual personality.

That’s most evident in Windows system settings, but it’s also true of some built-in troubleshooting tools.

A workaround for accessing Windows safe mode

During the writing and editing of this week’s Top Story, it became evident that Microsoft is deemphasizing one of Windows’ longstanding troubleshooting tools: booting to safe mode. That’s not entirely surprising: most average Windows users have forgotten about that option. But many advanced users and system admins still use it, according to our own Susan Bradley.

In brief, safe mode boots Windows with a limited set of essential drivers and startup files. Safe mode loads just enough to get Windows running. As noted in a Microsoft help page :

“Safe mode is useful for troubleshooting problems with programs and drivers that might not start correctly or that might prevent Windows from starting correctly.

“If a problem doesn’t reappear when you start in safe mode, you can eliminate the default settings and basic device drivers as possible causes. If a recently installed program, device, or driver prevents

Windows from running correctly, you can start your computer in safe mode and then remove the program that’s causing the problem.”

Microsoft doesn’t make it easy to access safe mode either in Windows 8 or 10. As Lincoln Spector discovered while researching Win10’s recovery drive option, it’s especially difficult to launch safe mode if Windows won’t boot — which sorta defeats the purpose of the tool.

Here are three ways to start Windows 10 in safe mode.

A quick launch of Win10 Troubleshoot

As described in the Top Story, Win10 has a set of troubleshooting tools for fixing operating-system problems. The easiest way to access them is to open the start menu and click the Power icon. Next, hold down the Shift key and click Restart. That will pop up the “Choose an option” window; select

Troubleshoot and then Advanced. (An alternate route is to click Settings/Update &

Security/Recovery/Advanced startup.)

In the Advanced options window, select Startup Settings; you’ll end up with the window shown in

Figure 1. It merely describes what options you’ll have. Click Restart.

Figure 1. The Start Settings window lists alternate startup settings — including safe mode.

At this point, your system will do a full restart. A second Startup Settings window then appears — with actual choices. As shown in Figure 2, pressing the F4 key enables safe mode. If you press it, Windows restarts again and opens with the classic minimalist look. (Interestingly, the safe mode window lists your current Windows build.)

Figure 2. Default Startup Settings screen in Windows 10

Rebooting out of safe mode returns your system to its standard startup format.

Launching the classic startup options

Surprisingly (or not), the traditional startup-troubleshooting options are still in Windows 10. On some systems, through a trick of the command prompt, you can have the OS boot to the DOS-like “Advanced

Boot Options” window. Here’s how:

Launch Windows 10 using a standard installation/recovery/rescue disc or flash drive.

Select your language. If “Repair my computer” appears on the next screen, click it. Otherwise, click

Troubleshoot/Advanced options/Command Prompt.

Enter the following commands, as shown, on separate lines.




Back in the Troubleshoot menu, click Turn off your computer.

Power up the system again, and (as the boot process starts) repeatedly press the F8 key until the

Advanced Boot Options menu appears, shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. The classic window for launching safe mode

Again, after you’re finished with safe mode, rebooting should return your Windows installation to its normal startup process. (A tip of the hat to Fred Langa for bringing up this tip.)

A few notes about this technique. On my system, I had to turn off Fast Boot in my system BIOS.

Otherwise, Win10 would never see the F8 key command. So, as is usual with Windows, much depends on your particular system setup. You might have to experiment.

And has been previously discussed in Windows Secrets, on newer systems, the Unified Extensible

Firmware Interface (UEFI) boot system can be problematic for self-booting media. For a refresher on that, see the Dec. 11, 2014, Top Story , “How to solve UEFI boot and startup problems.”

Windows 10 updating is still a mystery

For advanced Windows users, it’s bad enough that Win10 automatically installs all updates. But often there’s very little information on what the updates contain — other than a long list of modified files.

That means features can change in Win10 without any real notice. For example, the format of the Win10

Settings screen recently changed shape on my test machine. Admittedly that’s an extremely minor thing, but it points up the problem with poorly documented updates. I don’t know whether the change was due to a feature update or something else. And can we expect our Win10 experience to change without any sort of forewarning?

The answer appears to be: yes! — at least for now. For the average Win10 user, the silent evolution of this OS might be both a blessing and an annoyance. But for businesses, it can be a real problem. That point was nicely discussed in a recent The Register article , which mentions the efforts by our very own

Susan Bradley to convince Microsoft to change its policy. Check it out.

Editor in chief Tracey Capen was the executive editor of reviews at PC World magazine for 10 years, from 1995 to 2005. He was InfoWorld's managing editor of reviews from 1993 to 1995 and worked in the magazine's test center and as networking editor from 1989 to 1992. Between his stints at InfoWorld, he was senior labs editor at Corporate Computing magazine.

Wacky Web Week

As if Berlin were a whole little earth

When German photographer Jonas Ginter dressed up in a crocodile suit and took his

360-degree GoPro camera crew on the road (and river) in Berlin, he created a beguiling little planetary experience for viewers.

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit Berlin, you’ll enjoy the resonant pleasures of comparing Ginter’s image of the city with your own. Everyone else can view the video on its own terms. Click below or go to the original YouTube video .

Post your thoughts about this story in the WS Columns forum .

LangaList Plus

SSD stuck in slow IDE-emulation mode

By Fred Langa on September 17, 2015 in LangaList Plus

How to troubleshoot a solid-state drive that’s operating at speeds far slower than expected.

Plus: Windows Defender vs. Microsoft Security Essentials, questions about the current quality of Firefox, and how to activate God Mode in all current versions of Windows.

New SSD uses old IDE software interface

Reader Mike C. added a speedy solid state drive to his Win7 PC. However, his system refuses to use the correct software interface.

“Fred: I’m not a newbie, but I made a newbie mistake; I forgot to enable AHCI in the BIOS before adding a new solid-state drive [SSD] and installing a fresh copy of Windows 7.

“Now my super-fast SSD is running in IDE-emulation mode.

“I’d like to enable AHCI without doing yet another Windows installation, but from what I’ve read, the likeliest outcome will be blue screens at bootup.

“I found two articles suggesting Registry edits to correct the problem, but the articles [at


] differ in which Registry keys to edit.

“I’d love to hear your advice on this problem.”

Intel’s Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) allows for flexible, high-speed operation of Serial ATA

(SATA) devices — including most SSDs (for more on AHCI, see the Wikipedia entry ).

The problem you encountered occurs mostly with older PCs that came to market when IDE/Parallel ATA

(PATA) hard drives were still dominant. The classic BIOSes in these systems (as well as in some early UEFI systems that emulate classic BIOSes) might not automatically recognize AHCI-capable drives.

With newer, fully UEFI-based systems running Win8/10, the firmware and the operating system operate more or less as an integrated whole. But the classic BIOS typically offers only rudimentary communication between the hardware and the OS.

So if you manually change the BIOS’s drive entries to AHCI without also changing the Win7 Registry to match, Windows can no longer access the hard drive and death by blue screen is a likely result.

To further complicate matters, newer systems also use a different version of AHCI than older systems — which probably explains why some sites offer different instructions for editing the BIOS and Registry.

For example, the Win7 implementation of AHCI is called MSAHCI. But in Win8 and Win10, it’s called

StorAHCI ( more info ) and has different code. It’s hard to say whether your new SSD drivers are designed for MSAHCI or StorAHCI — or both.

Vista and Win7/8/10 can usually implement MSAHCI or StorAHCI if the system BIOS is configured properly during the initial Windows setup — even on older hardware. A clean install almost always prevents a mismatch between the BIOS AHCI setting, the Windows Registry, and whatever storage drivers are available.

I know it’s not what you want to hear, but a clean install probably is the best option — especially because we don’t know what drivers your SSD is using or the capabilities of your PC’s BIOS.

On the other hand, if you want to roll the dice, start by making a full image backup. Next, try the Win7specific AHCI instructions on the aforementioned AskVG page . Win8 instructions are on the Super User page .)

If you’d rather not risk having to unravel blue-screen problems, I recommend the safer, surer cleaninstall method:

Make a complete system-image backup. You might also copy your user files to a separate, safe location so that you can easily restore them later.

Reboot your PC. Because your PC did not automatically detect your AHCI-capable hard drive, manually edit the firmware’s drive settings to support AHCI. (Note: Most newer systems don’t need this; usually, the hardware can automatically detect AHCI-capable drives.)

Boot from your Win7 installation disc and set up Windows afresh; then copy your user files back from wherever you stored them.

Chances are good that Win7 will install and run normally, with the correct drivers in place — and with no additional Registry or BIOS tweaking needed.

That, in turn, will smooth the way for any upgrades to Win8 or Win10 that could be in your future.

Keep in mind that your next PC won’t have this problem. Newer hardware is smarter about AHCI and usually gets things right — from start to finish. For example, I have a native Win8 system (now running

Win10) that doesn’t even have an AHCI option in its UEFI-based firmware. Special ACHI settings aren’t needed because the hardware and Windows correctly set up conventional drives or SSDs, with no user intervention required.

So, your problem is limited to your current system; it’ll go away for good when you eventually upgrade to a newer, fully UEFI-compliant PC.

Confusion between Windows Defender and MSE

Microsoft’s naming of its free anti-malware tools has caused needless bewilderment among users. It started with the Win7 and Win8 versions of the software, and it’s causing trouble anew with Win10.

Reader Roy’s letter highlights this issue.

“After upgrading to Windows 10, I ran into some confusion about Microsoft Security Essentials

[MSE] and Windows Defender.

“Under Win7, MSE was my active AV program and Windows Defender was disabled. After the upgrade to Win10, Defender is active and MSE is gone. Can you clarify which of these Microsoft

AV apps would be best to run?”

Your confusion is totally understandable — and is all Microsoft’s fault.

In Vista and Win7, Windows Defender is a primitive, lightweight, “better than nothing” anti-malware tool that’s built into the operating system.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a more complete anti-malware tool, offered as an optional download.

When installed in Vista and Win7, MSE deactivates Windows Defender and takes over its functions.

But with Win8, Microsoft did something rather stupid: it dropped the basic Defender and built the more-capable MSE right into the operating system — and then called it Windows Defender.

Win10 continues this confusing naming convention.

Simply put, the Windows Defender that’s built into Win8 and Win10 is virtually the same as the optional version of MSE for Win7 and Vista, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Despite their different names, Microsoft Security Essentials (top), an add-on for Vista/Win7, and Windows Defender (bottom), built into Win8/10, are virtually the same both in look and function.

The primitive Vista/Win7 version of Windows Defender was never included with Win8 or Win10.

For a more thorough explanation of this confusing nomenclature, plus a discussion of exactly what threats Microsoft’s various anti-malware tools are designed to counter, see the April 4, 2013, Top Story ,

“Microsoft’s six free desktop security tools.”

That article was written before Win10 came out, but it uses the same naming conventions as Win8 — simply substitute “Win10″ wherever you see “Win8″ in the preceding article, and the information will still be accurate.

Has the Firefox browser’s quality declined?

Jim McIntosh is unhappy with the way Firefox runs on his system.

“The Mozilla Firefox browser has become a very unstable product. It is getting to where it is unusable! What gives?

“Perhaps comments from Windows Secrets can get these people to clean up their act!”

Mozilla Firefox is a free and open-source application; it’s produced and maintained mostly by volunteers.

If not enough programmers volunteer to update the coding — or if users don’t contribute sufficient funds to keep the servers running and the lights lit — changes to Firefox might be less than perfect when they do arrive.

If you wish, you can become a Mozilla Foundation volunteer ( site ) and/or contribute funding ( site ).

Or, simply switch to a different browser that’s supported by a large, for-profit company. Microsoft’s

Edge and Internet Explorer browsers are obvious alternatives for Windows users.

I currently prefer Google’s Chrome, because of its easy cross-platform integration (e.g., with Android devices) and rich library of extensions.

Of course, commercially supported browsers have their own drawbacks, such as the advertising they’ll shovel at you.

But there’s no such thing as a free lunch: one way or another — by direct participation, cash contribution, putting up with advertising, or other means — you going to pay for the software you use.

How to activate Windows’ GodMode feature

“GodMode” can be a handy shortcut for Windows’ power users. It places some 500 Control Panel tasks and functions, across 40 different categories, into one, organized menu (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. In all current versions of Windows, GodMode places a huge number of Windows features and functions into one giant menu (Win10's shown).

God Mode has been around for a long time — it first appeared in XP — so I was a little surprised to find it’s still available in Win10. But it is, and it’s still created the same way as in previous Windows versions:

Right-click on an empty spot on the desktop and select New/Folder.

Give the new folder this name: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

Open the new folder.

That’s all it takes. When you open the folder, you’ll see a long list of commands and functions in a single, linear menu. The exact number and type of commands will depend on your Windows version and setup.

Note: You can replace the “GodMode” portion of the folder name with any text you wish. For example, all these work exactly the same way:




If you peek behind the curtains, you’ll see that GodMode is less miraculous than it might first seem: the

{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} portion of the name is the globally unique identifier for the contents of Control Panel. GodMode simply displays these aggregate contents as a single, linear folder listing in Explorer — rather than in the normal, graphical, multilevel Control Panel format.

So GodMode won’t really give you supernatural control over Window; you won’t be able to do anything more than you can already do the normal way.

Still, it can be a convenience, giving you a faster way to access the wide array of Windows features and functions that otherwise might require lots of pointing and clicking to access.

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006.

Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media

(1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.

Best Hardware

New devices that help you stay connected

By Michael Lasky on September 17, 2015 in Best Hardware

For most of us these days, staying connected to family, friends, and coworkers means staying connected to the Web.

When the usual paths for communication go down or prove inadequate, some specialized accessories can bridge the gap.

Keep your Web connection during power outages

Winter’s coming to the northern hemisphere. It’s time to think about maintaining your computing capabilities during possible power outages.

The last time there was a power failure in my neighborhood, I felt fortunate to have a full battery charge on my notebook. I didn’t lose the document I had open — in fact, I kept working on it for another couple of hours (the display illuminating an otherwise dark room). But what I did lose was my vital connection to the Internet.

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) would have kept my modem/router going, but at that time I didn’t have one. The typically UPS is heavy, expensive, and rarely used — they also use lead-acid batteries that are difficult to recycle. That’s because many are still designed to support old powerhungry desktop PCs and displays.

But new UPS devices are becoming lighter and smaller. For example, APC’s Back-UPS Connect BGE50ML

( info ) uses a lithium-ion battery pack and is designed specifically for today’s low-power (up to 50 watts) digital devices.

Figure 1. The small and light Back-UPS Connect includes a detachable battery pack for charging mobile devices. Source: APC

Weighing under three pounds, the Connect has two AC outlets that rotate, making attaching power bricks a bit easier. It also has three USB charging ports and an innovative removable power pack for charging mobile devices when you’re on the go.

To test the Connect, I plugged it into an AC outlet controlled by a wall switch — a convenient power outage being unlikely. Cutting the power to the UPS triggered its no-power alarm, alerting me that my router was now running on battery power. After muting the alarm, I was able to maintain my Internet link for just over two hours. Recharging the Connect takes about 2.5 hours.

It also has a single USB charging outlet that’s in addition to the pair in the removable power pack.

The one aspect of APC’s Back-UPS Connect that gives me pause is its U.S. $140 price tag. The mobile feature is nice, but why not get a more robust UPS for my entire computing system?

After some research, I found the APS Back-UPS Pro 500 ( site ), which has a 300-watt lithium-ion battery.

But it’s priced at $300.

Eventually, I settled on the APC BR1000G Back-UPS Pro ( info ), an eight-outlet UPS that sells for about

$120 online. It handles up to 1000 watts and includes an LCD front-panel display for battery status.

Powered by a lead-acid battery, it weighs over 24 pounds — but it’ll never stray from under my desk.

Bottom line: New Li-ion-powered UPS devices are small and light, but they’re also still expensive.

Voice Bridge merges cell and landline phones

As we depend more and more on our smartphones, landlines are rapidly disappearing from our homes.

But hard-wired connections still have their uses, such as a backup system for connecting to the Internet or making emergency calls when our smartphones are out of power.

European company Invoxia has come up with a novel product: a bridge between our landlines and smartphones. The $99 Swissvoice Voice Bridge ( info ) lets you make and receive landline calls on your mobile phone or tablet.

Figure 2. The compact Voice Bridge joins landlines with smartphones and tablets. Source: Invoxia

Setup is easy: you connect the small Voice Bridge box to both your phone jack and Wi-Fi router; you then install an iOS or a forthcoming Android app. (Obviously, cabling might be an issue if you don’t have a phone jack near your router.) I was able to answer my landline calls from my iPhone and use the iPhone’s address book to make outbound calls over the landline.

Voice Bridge is especially handy if you have spotty cell service at home. When you’re away from home,

Voice Bridge notifies you of calls to your landline, and it can let you know who called.

There’s no subscription fee for the Voice Bridge — it’s a one-time purchase. If you still get calls on your landline, or you’ve got a basic mobile account with limited call time, this little gizmo is well worth the

$99 price.

Double-duty PC headset is mobile, too

If I’m going to spend about $250 for an audio headset, it had better work not just at home but also on a plane or at the local coffee shop. It must also have excellent noise-canceling technology, a solid

Bluetooth connection, and a battery life that lasts all day.

Plantronics has come up with such a device. The Voyager Focus UC ( site ) nicely handles all audio needs, both at home and on the road. The Bluetooth headset allows me to move easily from Skyping on my PC, to taking calls on my cellphone, to listening to music or movies, wherever.

Figure 3. Plantronic's pricey Voyager Focus UC combines excellent audio with comfort and flexibility.

Source: Plantronics

The Voyager is targeted primarily for work, but the comfortably padded, memory-foam ear cups and 15hour battery time (12 with talk) make it ideal for after-hours play. The unit comes with a desktop charging stand, or you can charge it via a USB cable.

If your PC doesn’t included Bluetooth, the Voyager kit includes a small USB/Bluetooth dongle. The mic boom can be attached to either the left or right side and the headset controls automatically change function to match.

Obviously, at this price, sound quality had better be good. I wasn’t disappointed: whether noise cancellation was powered on or off, sound reproduction was excellent for all types of music and crystalclear phone conversations. In an open-office setting — or at a noisy café — the Voyager’s noise cancellation was particularly proficient at blocking out ambient sound.

On a flight, the headset nicely eliminated the drone of the engines and surrounding cabin noise. When the flight attendant came by for my drink order, I simply pressed the OpenMic button to hear her — no need to remove the headset as I’ve had to do with other headphones.

Plantronics has embedded smart sensors, so you answer calls simply by putting on the headset. Taking off the headset automatically turns on mute. There’s also convenient, built-in voice alerts to announce

Call ID, mute, connection status, and talk time.

When you’re on the road, the headset folds flat and comes with a multipocket carrying case. Optional apps for PCs and smartphones let you customize settings and control calls from multiple phones.

Yes, Plantronic’s headset seems outrageously expense. But a high-end Bose headset costs $300 and doesn’t include the range of Voyager’s features. If you spend hours wearing headphones, this is the real deal.

Windows 10 technical support — on cards

With all the initial confusion and upgrade hassles that followed the release of Windows 10, I breathed a sigh of relief when I received Beezix Software Services’ Windows 10 Introduction Quick Reference guides

( site ). The four 8.5-by-11-inch, laminated crib sheets pack a surprisingly succinct assemblage of how-to tricks and tips for mastering Windows 10.

Figure 4. Beezix's four-page Windows 10 Introduction guide provides a quick resource for common OS tasks. Source: Beezix

Instead of searching online to figure out Win10’s myriad setup, navigation, and other common functions, I found most of my answers on one of the well-organized pages. To squeeze in all the information, Beezix uses both its own original icons as well as ones found in Windows and then combines them with step-by-step numbering to guide users along.

Using the guide, I was surprised to discover some Win10 functions that are easier to use than they initially seemed. For example, the cards showed how to configure the various ways to sign in to the operating system (picture, typed, and PIN passwords). I also found quick help for resizing the Start menu and managing tile groups. It produced a forehead-slapping ‘well duh!’ moment.

Other concise tutorials show how to get the most out of the Action Center, the multiple ways to switch between apps and windows, the ins and mostly outs of searching with speech enabled Cortana, and working with multiple desktops.

But managing content with File Explorer gets by far the most coverage. The cards take you through managing files and folders; customizing the Quick Access View; and linking to a document, folder, or app.

A useful sidebar has all the keyboard shortcuts I wrote about in the Aug. 20, 2015, Best Practices article plus many more. It’s complemented with mouse/touch equivalents and a short section of working in tablet mode.

The Windows 10 Introduction Quick Reference guide sells for just $5.75. The company’s website hosts a huge assortment of other guides for Office apps. Obviously, they can’t cover all functions of an OS or application, but they do a good job of including the functions we use the most.

WS contributing editor Michael Lasky is a freelance writer based in Oakland, California, who has 20 years of computer-magazine experience, most recently as senior editor at PC World.


The Windows Secrets Newsletter is published weekly on the 1st through 4th Thursdays of each month, plus occasional news updates. We skip an issue on the 5th Thursday of any month, the week of

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