Watch out for FAKE Microsoft Audit Scams!

A client of mine got an email from “Microsoft” asking them to perform a self audit on all their Microsoft Licensing. It came with Microsoft header, from a address and was pressuring them into completing an audit and upload their licenses to a site where they can “assist” in helping them be compliant.

After my client did not respond, they got a phone call from Microsoft in (New Zealand) not the USA. At that point, they handed it over to me and I dug into researching everything. I found the they are NOT Microsoft, but a Partner (so they said), the site does not belong to Microsoft. I found a video on youtube demoing their “fake audit site” and figured out this was the scam. Upload the data, make money for Microsoft from company being told they are not compliant and make money for this “partner” monthly for mining all the license data. This is not good business! Shame on the both of them for letting this happen. I have filed a complaint with Microsoft with little faith I will hear anything back.

Click image to see full screen.

Looks real, but it’s all FAKE.


-Five reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10-

At the end of July, Windows 10 will no longer be offered as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 users.

Microsoft has pushed Windows 10 out to users through Windows Updates.  Most users have their Windows Update settings set to download and install Windows Updates automatically; consequently updating users unknowingly.  Here are 5 reasons why we recommend staying away from Windows 10.


1.) Your privacy –

By default Windows 10 collects more data than many users are comfortable with. This includes information about how Windows and Windows apps are used, what you type, your contacts, your location, calendar appointments and more. If the virtual assistant Cortana is enabled, this data extends to web browsing history, voice commands and even more information about your activity.

Users of Home and Pro versions of Windows 10 can only reduce this data collection to the “Basic” level. On this setting, Windows 10 collects information about security settings, quality-related info (such as crashes and hangs), and application compatibility. Microsoft describes this information as being essential for maintaining and improving the quality of Windows 10 and says that only “anonymous identifiers” are transmitted.

2.) System requirements –

Is your system capable of running Windows 10 without issues? Is your hardware/drivers compatible with Windows 10? Most of these questions go unanswered until the upgrade is already completed.

As Microsoft states: “The upgradability of a device includes factors beyond the system specification.”

Microsoft gives you the option to rollback your machine to its previous OS, but there are reports from multiple people who claim the upgrade left their machine virtually unusable. In these cases either the rollback feature didn’t work or it did work but the earlier OS is no longer stable, with previously working programs crashing.

3.) Less control over Windows Updates –

Users now deal with updates coming down more frequently and its also less obvious.  You do not have the control you had over Updates in 10 as Windows 7 or 8.  These updates can sometimes be hundreds of MB’s which will take some time to download tying up internet connections.

4.) The new look

Most people coming from Windows 7 will still have somewhat of a learning curve migrating to Windows 10. Unlike Windows 7, Windows 10’s Start Menu takes up far more room, thanks to a menu full of tiles that is bolted onto the side. While most users should be able to quickly adjust to these cosmetic and layout changes, other alterations may cause more issue.  The start menu is going to be doubling its ads that you will see within the start menu; promoting the app store.  The start menu itself is confusing.  Between all the apps and the random search button at the bottom, there is a settings option and control panel button.  Navigating Windows 10 will take some time to get used to.

5.) Upgrading didn’t go as planned

We have had several customers come into our repair shop with just this problem.  There computer updated to Windows 10 without their knowledge, and the upgrade completed unsuccessfully.  We have seen users not being able to log in, certain features within Windows 10 not function at all, the start menu will not open, and we have seen the system power buttons not function. The rollback feature will not fix this, and in most cases, the computer needs to be restored back to factory settings with the operating system that came with the computer.  Most users request the Windows 10 updates be hidden, and the notification bubble removed.


**QUICK TIP:  For users that DO NOT want to upgrade to Windows 10, and are tired of seeing the pop ups and advertisements regarding your free upgrade, (Win 7 users) Access the Start Menu > Control Panel > Windows Updates.  Once Windows updates is open, click check for updates and wait for it to complete. Once completed click on “important updates”, navigate to the Windows 10 upgrade, right click and select “hide update”.  Navigate back to the Control Panel and access the “notifications area icons”.  Find the GWX Tab (Windows 10) and click the tab to the right. Navigate to “hide icon and notication”.

-Microsoft Forcing Windows 10 down through Windows Updates-

I Woke Up & My PC Looks Different.

It seems there is not enough people ready to commit to Windows 10 yet so Microsoft is giving us a kick in ass. We have had an influx of clients calling us complaining about coming into work on Monday morning to find their PC has been upgraded to Windows 10 without any warning. We have had a mixed out come of scenarios for reverting their PCs back to Win7. Sometimes it rolls back without any problems, other times we see the message “An Error Has Occurred” leaving us to either leave Windows 10 on their PC or reinstall Windows 7. Even when the roll back is successful, Microsoft Office is corrupted and needs to be reinstalled. For those of us who are blessed with hard copies of Microsoft Office should be up and running in a few minutes. For everyone else, go find your key cards or your Microsoft store logins and figure out how to re-download it. We have also seen Quickbooks get corrupted as well, particularly versions that are not current.

How & Why Did This Happen?

Most people have Windows Updates set to automatically download and install. Microsoft used that to their advantage and sent the Windows 10 down in an update (guess they thought they were doing you a favor).

It’s Free, Right?

For whatever reason, Microsoft thinks this is necessary but it is not. Windows 7 is good to use until 2021 without any issues. If you don’t like Windows 10 you do not have to upgrade. The only reason to upgrade is if you like the word FREE. But be mindful of what free will get you. There are plenty of “Phone home to big brother services” in the new Operating system and MS says you can turn them off if you don’t like it. What they don’t tell you is there are more services that you are not privy to turn off.  Depending on which version of Windows 10 you upgraded to Automatic Updates are no longer an option to turn off.

I Got Windows 7 Restored, Now What?

First thing, DO NOT TURN OFF WINDOWS UPDATES! “It sounds logical, turn them off and Windows 10 can’t come down.” However, it also prevents windows from getting any security updates which are strongly advised. There are a few ways to remedy the problem. First, change Windows update settings to “Notify me but do not download or install updates”. This works but you will need to manually review, download and install every update. The second way is to check for updates, review them and look for the “Windows 10 Upgrade”. Right click it and select hide. This will prevent it from installing and allow automatic updates to continue to work properly.

If you still need help, give us a call and schedule a repair.

-Windows 10: What you need to know-

Microsoft has confirmed that there will be seven versions of Windows 10, spanning from displayless IoT devices to fully-fledged workstations. Servers and big-iron machines will be served by Windows Server 2016. More before our “cut to the chase” section.

With Windows 8 and today Windows 8.1, Microsoft tried – not entirely successfully – to deliver an operating system (OS) that could handle the needs of not only number-crunching workstations and high-end gaming rigs, but touch-controlled systems from all-in-one PCs for the family and thin-and-light notebooks down to slender tablets.

When Microsoft pulled the curtain back on Windows 10 back in September of 2014, it was clear that, with an operating system optimized for PCs, tablets and phones in unique ways, the Redmond, Wash.-based firm was onto something. Skipping the Windows 9 name entirely, Microsoft issued a public preview of the shiny new OS later that autumn, known as Windows Technical Preview (WTP).

You can try it out for yourself through Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program (nearly four million have, as of May 2015). You’ll need a Microsoft account to get it, and it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s not the finished product, so it will be a bit rough around the edges.

Since then (and one more major reveal event in January 2015), new features have been rolling in with each preview build update. Now, with Microsoft’s huge annual developer event, Build 2015, behind us, we were served up a bunch of Windows 10 news that you can dig through below. But before that, here are the most important bits of info from the past week:

Microsoft issued a preview of how Windows 10 will work on small tablets. The OS will operate using a tiled interface, much like Windows 10 for phones, but will also support desktop-grade Win32 apps when connected to a larger display. The company also recently revealed that Windows 10 will have support for emojis that depict the middle finger, not to mention that its race-neutral shade for emojis will be gray.

Redmond also finally issues a preview of how Windows 10 will cater uniquely to enterprise users during its inaugural Ignite conference in Chicago. Essentially, IT users will have further control over updates and the ability to remotely install features and services on Windows 10 devices. And finally (and sadly), Windows 10 will mark the end of Windows Media Center – the app will not make it into the new OS, and no replacement or successor is in the works.

Seven shades of Windows 10

Windows 10 will be available in 7 versions, far more than one would have expected in the first place. While IoT, Mobile, Home, Enterprise and Professional were already confirmed, Mobile Enterprise and Education were unexpected. In comparison, there were only four versions of Windows 8.1 (five if you include Windows Phone 8) and one of them was Windows RT.

Microsoft clarified the free upgrade offer for Windows 10, adding that Windows 10 Home and Pro will be available for free to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users that have appropriate licenses (presumably, Windows 8.1 Home users will only be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Home).

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? A complete update for Windows
  • When is it out? Definitely summer, but likely late July 2015
  • What will it cost? For Windows 7 and 8.1 users, it will be free for one year

The highlights from Build 2015

While we didn’t get that coveted Windows 10 release date or a look at the first ever Windows 10 devices, Microsoft did offer quite a few meaty nuggets of info during its Build 2015 conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Calif.

On Day Two of the conference, Microsoft didn’t have as much big news to offer up. It’s not necessarily surprising, given the developer bent of the show, but nevertheless deflating. That said, a few interesting developments did come out of the second keynote.

For starters, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 is now available on the Raspberry Pi 2 micro computer and Intel Minnowboard Max. Some specific tailoring had to be done to fit the operating system on these tiny machines, resulting in this version of OS earning the name Windows 10 IoT Core. Folks can test out the special software now, as your feedback is sorely needed.

Then, Microsoft showed off a demo website showing the company’s Machine Learning and face recognition platforms at work. Called, the goofy site takes photos of people and, based on several factors, attempts to guess how old those people are. It’s not exactly foolproof, but it’s also just a demo.

Finally, we got some quality hands on time in with Edge, Microsoft’s official name for the Windows 10 browser. It doesn’t yet have those fancy features that were shown off on the Build 2015 stage, but we were able to play with the Inking and sharing features. The early verdict? Unsurprisingly, it needs a lot of work.

On the first day, Microsoft EVP of Operating Systems Terry Myerson surprised the crowd when he announced that Windows 10 will support apps written for iOS and Android. That is, with some reworking, of course. Still, this will undoubtedly blow the Windows 10 app store wide open.

When Microsoft Corporate VP of Operating Systems hit the stage, he immediately dove into a host of minor –but very welcomed – tweaks to the Windows 10 interface design. First, the Live Tiles within the new Start menu are now animated as they were in Windows 8 to bring it more life. Second, that same Start menu is now slightly translucent, much like window panes were in Windows 7 through its Aero Glass feature.

Belfiore then went into changes that are incoming to the Windows 10 lock screen. He detailed some updates to the Spotlight feature, a more service-driven, personalized and lively take on the lock screen. In Windows 10, this screen will allow users to choose what kind of images appear on that dynamic screen by choosing their favorites.

More importantly, Spotlight in Windows 10 will suggest apps and tools that users may not yet have used yet. Belfiore used the example of Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-based virtual assistant. If a user had yet to use the feature on a fresh install of Windows 10, the system will soon recommend that he or she check it out and make that easy to with some custom buttons.

Speaking of which, Cortana will soon serve up information based on how people search the web and how they use their PCs. The Cortana interface will also serve up suggestions for new apps based on what people search for, too. Finally, Cortana will be able to interact with apps through just voice control – Belfiore on stage had the tool send someone a message through Viber without pressing a button.

Then Belfiore let loose the official name for Project Spartan, the new and improved default browser for Windows 10: Microsoft Edge. He than went on the detail the New Tab, a more interactive page for the “new tab” function used a billion times a day by browser users. The new, New Tab will feature a search bar followed by a collection of the top sites that you visit, below that will be a collection of news stories by partner websites, not to mention weather, suggested apps and a sports ticker.

Finally, Belfiore detailed how Microsoft’s Continuum works on Windows 10 for phones. After hooking a Windows phone up to a monitor using mini HDMI and connecting a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, the interface on the phone immediately adapted to the new environment in a desktop orientation.

When is the Windows 10 release date?

Frankly, we don’t know yet exactly. (A certain CEO seems to know, but more on that in a moment.) What we do know is that, according to Microsoft’s Terry Myerson, the OS “will be available this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages.”

What we also are factoring in is, with the Windows 10 launch at the end of July, we are watching the impact of that on the back-to-school season’ – AMD CEO Lisa Su

If you were peeved by the vague choice of words in Myerson’s announcement, then chip maker AMD’s CEO Lisa Su has a juicy nugget of information for you. During a recent quarterly conference call, Su let loose in a comment that AMD is anticipating a “Windows 10 launch at the end of July.”

However, Su didn’t specify whether this launch at the end of July was for hardware manufacturers (known as release to manufacturer, or RTM) or the general public.

All of this language, both official and mistaken, seems to line up with a February 2015 report from Windows blog Neowin, citing sources claiming that Windows 10 will release to manufacturers this coming June. Getting laptop, tablet and phone makers ready for the back to school season with fresh copies of the new OS well ahead of time only makes sense.

With all this in mind, it’s safe to expect a Windows 10 release by the end of August. Or, technically speaking, by September 22 – the day before this year’s autumnal equinox – if you want to put an exact deadline on it.

That said, not all Windows 10 releases will be treated equal. Microsoft’s Belfiore hinted recently that Windows 10 will likely release for PC first and then later in the year on devices like phones, tablets, Xbox One and more. So, yes, Windows 10 will launch this summer, but not on every screen you own.

How much will Windows 10 cost?

Myerson announced in January that Windows 10 will be free for Windows 7 and 8.1 users for its first year. While there’s no word on pricing for users still on an older version, Microsoft confirmed a while ago that the two most recent Windows versions will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 directly.

Microsoft’s chief blogger Brandon LeBlanc also confirmed that Microsoft will support those who scored a free upgrade to Windows 10 with security and system updates for the lifetime of those Windows devices.

In May, Microsoft confirmed that the two versions of Windows 10, Home and Pro will be free for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users that possess a genuine, valid licence.

Neowin also reported back in February that Microsoft has trademarked the term “Windows 365,” supposedly with the intent of it being a service. The news and speculation has sent folks buzzing about the possibility of a subscription-based Windows to come, though that’s not likely to be Windows 10. Oh, we hope not.

How will I get to download Windows 10?

Thanks to some digging by ZDNet and Windows blog Myce, we’ve learned that – for Windows 7 and 8.1 users – getting Windows 10 will operate much in the same way that new builds are released in the WTP.

Later this year, after users agree to download the latest update from the Windows Update tool within the Control Panel, four scheduled tasks will be at the center of it all. One of which kicks off an “appraiser” app that is run to check for prerequisites for the download and upgrade that are about to follow.

For Windows 7 and 8.1 users, Windows 10 will be free for one year. After that period – not to mention for standalone copies of the OS – the asking price is still a mystery.

Inside of a discovered folder titled just “GWX” (Get Windows 10) is where things get even more interesting. The XML file in there opens up with the “Anticipation UX” that will bring a pop-up advertisement that informs the user of the update. Following that, there is a “Reservation Page” that will presumably allow users to opt-in to Windows.

Following this is the upgrading, download in progress, download complete, ready for setup, setup in progress, and setup complete phases that will get underway by themselves.

See? The whole process is almost identical to the one that Windows Insiders currently go through for new Windows 10 Technical Preview releases.

What’s new in Windows Technical Preview?

The latest WTP build available for all testers is build #10074, released during Build 2015. The update builds on what was released in the last stable build, namely streamlining the Virtual Desktop experience and giving the Photos app some much-needed functionality. Check out our full breakdown of build #10041 right here.

Build #10074 brings the debut of the resizable Start menu from “Fast” ring build #10056, not to mention the first look at Microsoft’s new Mail and Calendar apps in a stable environment. Most importantly, this version gives users their first look at Microsoft Edge, the company’s new default browser for Windows 10. The release also includes the translucent, resizable Start menu as well as deeper Cortana functionality and Live Tiles on the Start menu.

More importantly, Microsoft detailed how the Windows Technical Preview will end later this year. For build numbers 9841 through 9879, those already stopped booting on April 30. For build numbers 9926 through 10049, those will stop working on October 15 – well after the final release of Windows 10, of course.

What Microsoft hasn’t seemed to address yet is how folks who installed Windows 10 outright on a machine will be able to “upgrade” to the final version once it launches this summer.

Further updates are in the works (already)

Before Windows 10 has even launched, Microsoft’s upgrade plans for the OS have leaked. Operating under the codename “Redstone”, the Windows maker will issue updates in two waves.

According to Neowin’s report, the first will come June 2016 and the other October of next year. But don’t expect huge, sprawling changes from these updates – they’re likely to be tweaks to the new OS for specific types of hardware and other improvements.

The Start menu: bigger, better, stronger

The return of the Start menu that Microsoft teased during its Build 2014 conference and detailed in full at subsequent events has been available for testing in the WTP since October 2014. Replete with a merging of the traditional Windows 7-style interface and Windows 8 Live Tiles, the new Start menu is designed to please both camps: touch and mouse users.

“They don’t have to learn any new way to drive,” Belfiore said, referring to Windows 7 users. That said, customization will also be featured throughout, first with the ability to resize the Start menu itself along with the Live Tiles within.

The Start menu features empowered search capabilities as well, able to crawl your entire machine, not to mention web results. We know now that this is through Cortana, Microsoft’s voice assistant, but more on that later.

Step into Microsoft’s new Office

Back in February, shortly after a leaked video on WinBeta revealed Microsoft’s Universal (now known simply as Windows) Office apps in detail, the company issued an update to the Windows 10 Technical Preview with just that. If you’re not doing so already, WTP users can test out the new Word, PowerPoint and Excel Universal (or Windows) apps.

Like the whole of Windows 10, these apps are designed to work on Windows 10 laptops, tablets and phones. This update comes in advance of Office 2016, Microsoft’s desktop-based version of the suite, which we expect to see debut in the second half of 2015. It’s likely that Office 2016 will interact with its Windows app counterparts through OneDrive and other solutions.

And back during MWC 2015, Microsoft squeezed out a few more details surrounding the touch-centric Office 2016, namely cosmetic makeovers for Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Also, Outlook will be more deeply integrated with its sister apps than ever before. Finally, the new Insights and Tell Me features will let users search the internet from within Office and create search-based command prompts, respectively.

Today, both general users and IT pros-slash-developers can preview Office 2016 on Windows and Mac OS X. Plus, we’ve finally got the skinny on what the differences are between the simply-named Office for Windows 10 and Office 2016.

Windows Phone fans get a sneak peek

After much teasing leading up to an event during MWC 2015, a Technical Preview of Windows 10 for phones was released to just about every Lumia device under the sun.

Handled much in the same way as it is on desktop, the WTP for Windows 10 on phones has introduced alpha-phase features like the Project Spartan browser, the new Outlook and a much-improved camera app that borrows heavily from Nokia’s camera app for its pre-Windows-buyout Lumia phones. Check out all the details here.

As for when it’s coming to everyone in a final release, there have been far fewer rumors and scuttlebutt than we’ve seen around Windows 10 for PCs. It’s assumed that Windows 10 will released simultaneously across all supported device categories, including phones, but Microsoft has yet to address that publicly.

In the meantime, we’ve learned quite a bit installing Windows 10 on the cheapest Windows Phone around. You can check that out right here.

Cortana is warping to the PC

That’s right, Windows 10 will see the spread of Cortana, Microsoft’s Siri and Google Now competitor, into Windows PCs and tablets in addition to phones. Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore showed off the new PC-centric features within Cortana during its January reveal event.

Namely, Redmond developed PC-specific functions into Cortana for easier access to files, apps and more. Belfiore demonstrated colloquial queries like, “Show me photos from December,” to which Cortana summoned images within that time period immediately. The idea here is to make key pain points in interacting with a PC easier than before through voice.

Since then, Microsoft has gone on to discuss how Cortana is more about machine learning, or computer systems and services becoming smarter over time based on user behavior, than simply retrieving files and facts for you. Plus, it was recently reported by Reuters that Microsoft has aims to release the voice assistant to iOS and Android.

Microsoft gets an Edge

During the Build 2015 conference, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore outed Project Spartan as Microsoft Edge, the official name for the company’s Windows 10 browser of choice. The original details follow.

Project Spartan, essentially the company’s replacement for Internet Explorer, was revealed during the January event, too. Belfiore detailed unique features, like the ability to mark up webpages before sharing them with others, and to comment on those same pages at the software level.

Once pages are marked up with drawings and comments, that page is frozen in time with live links and open for sharing through Windows 10’s built-in sharing features. Spartan will also support built-in offline reading and PDF support, not to mention Cortana.

Microsoft’s virtual assistant will be baked into Spartan and pop in with recommendations and help based on your browser behavior. Belfiore in particular demoed a scenario in which a user is en route to a flight. Upon opening the browser to find flight data, Cortana will pop in with that info before the user even needs to look it up.

Microsoft won’t say it, but for all intents and purposes, Edge will replace Internet Explorer as the browser of choice in Windows 10.

Since the big reveal, Microsoft’s Group Program Manager for Internet Explorer, Jason Weber, confirmed one big question: Spartan is not a replacement for Internet Explorer, but rather a second browser. Weber went on to explain that, while his team is heavily focused on making Spartan work with the rest of the web, IE11 will be kept for compatibility with legacy and enterprise websites. (So, in reality, Spartan will effectively replace IE for the majority of users.)

Microsoft’s @IE Dev Chat account on Twitter later confirmed that the Project Spartan team is working on bringing extension support to the new browser. Furthermore, Microsoft confirmed to The Verge that the team is also working on a way for users to import Chrome extensions directly to Spartan.

Finally, Microsoft recently revealed that the popular “Do Not Track” browser option will be disabled by default in Spartan. The company claims that the feature no longer complies with the Worldwide Web Consortium’s standard on the matter. Regardless, Redmond promises that it will provide users with directions for how to enable the feature.

If you’re not in it already, you can test out Project Spartan on Windows 10 PCs and Windows 10 for phones right now in the “Fast” ring of their respective WTP programs.

Windows 10 and Xbox unite

Microsoft’s Xbox lead Phil Spencer took the stage during Microsoft’s big January event, detailing the Xbox app on Windows 10. The app collects all games played on any Xbox or Windows 10 device, a universal friends list and an activity feed. Every Windows 10 device will have the Xbox app pre-loaded.

Watch out, Steam Machines: Microsoft is ‘investigating the possibility’ of streaming PC games to Xbox One.

Users will be able to record game sessions through the Game DVR tool and share them across the Xbox network. Essentially, Windows 10 will bring the automated recording featured in Xbox One to games played on Windows 10 – even those launched through other apps, like Steam.

Around the time of GDC 2015, Microsoft updated the Xbox the app for Windows 10 for testing in the WTP with just about everything teased during the January event, including access to Xbox One game clips and options to search for friends and interact with the Xbox Live activity feed. Plus, the app can now better deal with window size changes. Finally, users can control the Xbox One through a virtualized remote control within the Xbox One app on Windows 10.

But back to the January event, Spencer also briefly showed off Microsoft’s next collection of graphics and gaming APIs, DirectX 12. Namely, support for the platform has expanded to the Unity game engine, and DX12 enables low-power graphics processing for Windows 10 mobile devices.

Plus, Spencer and a Lionhead Studios representative demoed what it’s like to play the same game through a Windows 10 PC and an Xbox One with friends at the same time. Basically, cross-platform multiplayer gaming is coming to Xbox One and Windows 10.

Finally, Spencer demoed the ability to stream any Xbox One game to any Windows 10 device from within the home over Wi-Fi. The Xbox lead also teased that several Windows 10 features will find their way onto Xbox One, but was mum on the details.

During GDC 2015, the Xbox chief let loose even more details regarding the increasingly intimate relationship between Windows 10 and Xbox One. For starters, Spencer revealed that soon all wireless Xbox One accessories will work on Windows 10 PCs.

Later during the show, we learned that Microsoft is “investigating the possibility” of streaming PC games to Xbox One. Currently, Microsoft is only committed to allowing the inverse, for all Xbox One games to stream to Windows 10 PCs.

Microsoft’s Universal approach

During the January reveal event, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore revealed exactly what the company meant by “Universal apps” (now known as “Windows apps“) when it first showed off Windows 10. Basically, the company is developing special versions of its key apps, like Office, for Windows 10 phones and tablets under 8 inches.

Apps like Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook will look and feel nearly identical to their desktop counterparts, but be optimized for touch and screen size. And through Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure, all of your files will be accessible on those devices regardless of where they were created.

Belfiore also detailed a brand new Photos app accessible from any Windows 10 device, pulling down images from the company’s OneDrive storage service. The new app aggregates images from both local and cloud storage, eliminating duplicates and enhancing photos automatically.

Finally, the universal Photos app will also automatically create photo albums based on not only when and where photos were taken, but the subjects of those photos. The idea here is for managing photos to be simpler and more automated, taking things a few steps further than rival solutions.

Following the January event, Microsoft went on to confirm that its most important suite of Universal apps, Office 2016, will launch in the second half of 2015. This potentially puts Office 2016 ahead of Windows 10 in terms of release.

Keeping in touch

During the January event, Belfiore demonstrated its “continuum” approach to computing with Windows 10 – not just through different devices, but 2-in-1 products as well. Using a Surface Pro 3, the OS chief showed off what it will be like changing use cases on a Windows 10 device.

When the tablet was connected to its keyboard cover, the Surface Pro 3 acted as if it were a laptop, which it technically is. Then, as soon as Belfiore removed the keyboard, a small icon appeared in the lower right of the screen, asking him whether he’d like to activate tablet mode.

Doing so changed all of the apps to full screen, made icons slightly larger and allowed users to access the Start screen a la Windows 8, albeit much updated. As soon as he reconnected the keyboard, the device offered to revert back to its original mode, which then repositioned and resized the windows and icons as they were.

Paving the way for enterprise

Going way back to the first-ever Windows 10 reveal in September 2014, Microsoft spoke to enterprise users almost exclusively. “Windows 10 is a very novel approach of separating corporate and personal data across all devices,” Myerson said on stage. “Windows 10 is going to be our greatest enterprise platform, ever.”

Microsoft didn’t exactly please its enterprise audience with Windows 8.1 – adoption has been awfully slow. (And now will likely halt with this new version on the horizon.) To that end, Belfiore even noted that the company is “looking to find the balance, so that all the Windows 7 users get a familiar experience on the devices they already have.”

As of early February, Microsoft issued its plans for rolling out Windows 10 to enterprise users: through Windows Software Assurance program. While this program will offer several methods for enterprise users to upgrade their fleets of systems to the new OS, that also means it will not come free like it does for consumer versions of Windows 10.

The SA program is designed to give enterprise customers more control over when and how updates are pushed to their range of machines. Of course, the idea here is a focus on security and flexibility for IT through additional Long Term Servicing branches that provide security and critical updates only – barring new feature updates.

Shooting for security

Running the world’s most ubiquitous OS, Microsoft has always taken security quite seriously, often releasing patches daily to its various versions of Windows. Now, the company looks to take its security measures for Windows 10 to the next level, with two-factor authentication (2FA) coming standard on enterprise versions of the OS, the company announced during its September 2014 reveal.

Microsoft also intends to protect user identities by storing user access tokens in a secure container that runs on top of Hyper-V technology, isolated from the rest of the OS. Windows 10 will also offer a data loss prevention solution that will allow users to separate their corporate personae from their non-work ones.

… and for your data?

Short after the release of the Windows 10 WTP, the OS was pegged for collecting user data. While this is a beta preview, and as such should be collecting feedback data, claims from a number of news outlets pointed to more even more sensitive information.

The Technical Preview reportedly has the capability to track and log keystrokes, capture voice data and more. This may be cause for caution, but keep in mind that almost all, if not all, modern operating systems track and log some level of usage data. Though, it’s almost always anonymized.

-Microsoft Windows End of Life Fact Sheet-

Windows lifecycle fact sheet

Last updated: April 2014

Every Windows product has a lifecycle. The lifecycle begins when a product is released and ends when it’s no longer supported. Knowing key dates in this lifecycle helps you make informed decisions about when to upgrade or make other changes to your software. Here are the rights and limits of the Windows lifecycle.

End of support

End of support refers to the date when Microsoft no longer provides automatic fixes, updates, or online technical assistance. This is the time to make sure you have the latest available update or service pack installed. Without Microsoft support, you will no longer receive security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software that can steal your personal information. For more information go to Microsoft Support Lifecycle .

Client operating systems Latest update or service pack End of mainstream support End of extended support

Windows XP

April 14, 2009

Windows Vista

April 10, 2012

April 11, 2017

Windows 7 *

January 13, 2015

January 14, 2020

Windows 8

January 9, 2018

January 10, 2023

* Support for Windows 7 RTM without service packs ended on April 9, 2013. Be sure to install Windows 7 Service Pack 1 today to continue to receive support and updates.

-What you didn’t know about Internet Explorer-

Internet Explorer and AOL Security Breach

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that a major security flaw was discovered in ALL versions of Internet Explorer.  The security breach has taken the attention of the DHS.  The DHS issued a warning for everyone to aviod using Internet Explorer until Microsoft fixes the problem.  There is current evidence showing hackers are using this bug to take control of people’s computers when they visit certain websites.

Ways to stay secured:

PC Professionals recommends using Firefox or Google Chrome as an alternative web browser.  Even if this security risk didn’t pose a threat, we would still recommend Firefox or Google Chrome over Internet Explorer.  These browsers are faster and more secure.

When you see that Windows Updates have updates available, make sure you install them immediately.

As you know, April 8, 2014 Windows XP is now end of life.  If you are accessing the internet, understand you are at extreme risk for virus and spyware problems since the security issues like this wont be fixed for Windows XP.

AOL also issued a security breach and is stressing anyone using AOL email to change their password right away.

-Windows XP Going.. Going.. Gone!-

windows_xp_deadFor those who do not know yet Microsoft has ended support for Windows XP.
What does this mean? No more updates for Internet Explorer, No more security updates for the operating system, it is now officially RETIRED. Moving on, there is still Windows Vista (on the chopping block for April of 2017) or the stable Windows 7 which business has migrated to. For Home users, Microsoft is pushing Windows 8 on you and the votes are in with mixed results. Fortunately, Windows will be keeping us running until 2020. Windows 8 is scheduled for retirement a couple years after that in 2023.

WindowsXPMigrating to Windows 7 & beyond. The good, the bad and the expense.

A few things you may want to know about migrating to Windows 7 and later.

  1. Outlook Express is gone. You want a free mail client? there are many out there, but exporting mail to them flawlessly is not easy. If you want a painless journey you will want to pony up for a retail copy of Microsoft Office for around $200.images Home & Business includes Outlook, Home & Student does NOT. (Note: Office 2007 on up is supported on Windows7, Office 2003 and back are retired, Office 2k3 installs but we have seen problems with it even with a successful install so beware!)
  2. The location of My Docs, My Pictures, My Music & My Movies have been slightly relocated into a new location called My Library. Internet Explorer aka.IE8 was as current as you could get on Windows XP, Windows7 currently is on IE11. Warning upgrading from earlier versions needs caution as many browser driven applications are not compatible with it.
  3. For business, if you use Quickbooks but not for payroll, you are mostly likely not accustomed to upgrading Qbooks every 3yrs like the rest of us. Well, it is time to shell out some more cash to upgrade it. Quickbooks 2009 is the oldest version you can use on Windows7.
  4. Though Windows 7 runs nice on most XP hardware, BEFORE you decide you want to upgrade think about this: Your XP machine’s The best case scenario is your machine is 2008, which means your machine is no younger than 7yrs old. Folks, PCs are not made to run forever. (I know you would like to think so but they don’t) If you get 5yrs out of a desktop you did well and should buy a new desktop, not upgrade. 7yr or older hard drives and various other parts are not your friend. More, importantly once you load Win7 and activate it on your old PC, Microsoft has placed in the EULA that it is NOT transferable to another PC.

For more information please contact us. We can help you make the move to Windows 7.

-Windows 8.1. to be released in October-

Article from



Computerworld – With the just-released preview of Windows 8.1, Microsoft has gone a long way towards fixing many of the interface goofs and anomalies of Windows 8; it’s also cleaned up the OS’s rough edges and introduced some nice new features and apps.

Windows 8 remains a dual-interface operating system — the touch-oriented “Modern” interface (previously called Metro) and the desktop — but one that is less frustrating to use and a bit better integrated than previously. The changes don’t solve all of Window 8’s problems, but they make it more palatable to use.

Windows 8.1

At first glance, Windows 8.1 looks very much like Windows 8.
Click to view larger image.

The Start screen and the desktop

The Start screen and the desktop have been at the core of most complaints about Windows 8. In Windows 8, you’re forced to boot into the touch-oriented Start screen, and because it is primarily designed to launch Modern-style apps, many people would prefer to bypass it and head straight to the desktop when they log in. Microsoft made that impossible in Windows 8. Like many people, I was not pleased.

Finally, in Windows 8.1, you can bypass the Start screen and go to the desktop when you log in. Oddly enough, to do that, you don’t change a setting on the Start screen. Instead, you have to do a bit of tweaking over at the desktop.

Windows 8.1

The Navigation tab lets you go straight to the desktop when you sign in.
Click to view larger image.

Go to the desktop, then right-click the taskbar. Select Properties and from the screen that appears, click or tap the Navigation tab — a new tab added in Windows 8.1. Divided into two sections, Core navigation and Start screen, it lets you customize many of the frustrating things about the way the Start screen works.

Look for the setting “Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in” then check the box next to it. After that, each time you sign into Windows, you hop straight to the desktop. It’s simple and straightforward, and desktop fans will be extremely pleased — me among them.

There’s more on that little tab that can go towards making the Start screen a more useful tool. If you have no need for the Start screen’s tiled interface, and mainly use it as an app launcher, there are several settings that do that for you. Check the box next to “Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start,” and every time you head to the Start screen, you’ll instead see the Apps view — a listing of every Modern and desktop app on your system. Click an app to launch it. I find this far more useful than the Start screen’s normal multi-sized tiles.

Windows 8.1

The Apps view is a listing of every Modern and desktop app on your system.
Click to view larger image.

If you mainly use desktop apps rather than Modern ones, make sure to check the box next to “List desktop apps first in the Apps view when it’s sorted by category.” That way, your desktop apps show first on the screen, so it’s easier to find them. I have found this small tweak quite helpful, because I frequently head here to launch Office. Now it appears high on the list.

Note that even if you leave the normal tiled Start screen intact and don’t change the settings on the Navigation tab, there’s now an easier way to get to the Apps view. On the Start screen down towards the bottom, there’s a new arrow that was introduced in Windows 8.1. When you click it or tap it, you’re sent to the Apps view.


Microsoft has also taken a very minor stab at trying to make the desktop and Start screen look as if they are a single, unified operating system, rather than two separate ones. A setting on the Navigation pane allows you to use the same wallpaper on the Start screen that you have on the desktop.

That’s a nice piece of eye candy, but that’s all it is. The two interfaces still look and work differently from one another. It’s not quite like putting a lipstick on a pig; it’s more like outfitting a pig and a giraffe in the same dress and hoping people will mistake them for twins.

Windows 8.1

Microsoft has tried to make the desktop and Start screen look as if they are part of the same, unified system. However…
Click to view larger image
Windows 8.1

…the two interfaces still look and work differently from one another.
Click to view larger image.

The Core navigation section of the Navigation tab has a few settings that I find a bit less useful, but you might want to give them a try. You can turn off the Windows navigation feature that displays the Charms bar when you point your cursor at the upper-right corner of the screen. You can also turn off the navigation feature that switches between your recent apps when you click the upper-left corner.

There’s one more setting there, and it slightly alters the Power User menu that pops up when you press the Windows key + X or right-click the lower-left corner of the screen. It replaces the Command prompt on the menu with the Windows Power Shell command-line automation tool. That setting is turned on by default in Windows 8.1.

The Start button and shutdown

The next big question you likely have about Windows 8.1 is whether there’s a Start button. Well, there is and there isn’t.

If you hover your mouse over the lower-left-hand portion of the Start screen or while you’re in a Modern app, the button appears. It also appears on the desktop’s taskbar (without your having to hover your mouse).

But calling it a Start button is a stretch, because that implies that it does what the Start button did in previous versions of Windows — that is, launched a menu that lets you browse and launch your apps, search, find links to various Windows locations and services, and so on. Instead, it’s just a task switcher that switches you between the Start screen and whatever else you were just doing. I rarely find myself clicking the Start button for the simple reason that it doesn’t really start anything — except my blood boiling about how useless it is.

Windows 8.1

The Power User menu makes it easier to shut down or restart your device.
Click to view larger image.

However, Microsoft has taken one Start button feature from earlier Windows versions and made it more accessible in Windows 8.1: the ability to shut down, restart or put your device to sleep. Pull up the Power User menu and click Shut down to find those options.

Internet Explorer 11

In Windows 8.1, Microsoft has addressed a serious Windows 8 shortcoming: the close-to-useless Modern version of Internet Explorer 10. How seriously can you take a browser without the ability to create and use bookmarks, or that won’t allow you to have more than 10 tabs open at a time?

Not very. And so I simply didn’t use the Modern version of IE10.

In Windows 8.1, that’s changed. Like every other browser out there, IE11 lets you have as many sites as you want open in separate tabs. And — be still my beating heart! — you can actually bookmark pages as Favorites. The bookmarking feature includes the ability to organize Favorites into folders.

However, the Favorites feature still isn’t perfect. The Favorites in the Modern version of IE don’t show up in the desktop version of IE, although the desktop IE Favorites do show up in the Modern version. That’s something that should be fixed.

You can now also open tabs side by side, so that you can view more than one tab at a time, each in its own window onscreen. Normally you’ll be only able to view two tabs this way, but on high-resolution displays, you can view up to four.

The new Internet Explorer also has improvements under the hood: notably, its addition of WebGL, a JavaScript API that renders interactive 3D graphics and 2D graphics. WebGL allows websites to essentially deliver the same interactive experiences as game and multimedia apps, but from inside a browser. Competing browsers such as Chrome already have this. In a world in which HTML5 and associated technologies will become standard, the lack of WebGL in Internet Explorer was a serious shortcoming. It’s a shortcoming no longer.


A powered-up search

Search has been considerably improved, which wasn’t that difficult, given how poor Windows 8’s original search feature was. Previously, when you did a search, you didn’t see all the results on a single screen. Instead, you had to highlight the category you wanted to search through (such as Settings or Apps) and you’d see just those results.

In Windows 8.1, search has become more universal and far more powerful. You now get results from the Web (including graphics and videos) as well as local files, apps and settings, all presented in one interface.

If you like, you can filter to search only settings, only files, only Web images or only Web videos.

Windows 8.1

Search now includes both Web and local results.
Click to view larger image.

A great addition is the so-called Search Hero, which takes results from your device and the Web, and aggregates graphics, videos and information onto a simple-to-browse page. Here you can not only click to get more information, but if you search for a musician, you’ll be able to play music right on the page, via a widget from the Xbox Music app. I find this feature especially useful, because it lets me search for and play music without having to launch the Xbox Music app.

How does Windows search do all this? The page you click to is essentially a Bing results page.

Keep in mind, though, that many searches you do won’t display results this way, because many searches don’t have a rich set of results including Wikipedia entries, photographs and videos.

Windows 8.1

Search Hero takes results from your device and from the Web and aggregates it all into a simple-to-read page.
Click to view larger image.

This isn’t to say that search is perfect. It still has its quirks. For example, if you’re in the Windows Store, you can’t simply start typing in a search term as you can on the Start screen. Instead, you need to display the Search charm, and then do a search.

New and updated apps

Internet Explorer isn’t the only Modern app that Microsoft has done work on. It’s upgraded others, and included new ones as well. And in doing so, it’s addressed a major Windows 8 shortcoming: the general awfulness of its Modern apps. Those apps have been extremely underpowered and feature-poor, anemic and touch-focused.

In Windows 8.1, that’s changed. The Photos app, for example, now does more than just allow you to view photos, as it did in past versions. Now it includes some very good editing tools. Is it as powerful as Photoshop? Of course not. But it has plenty of features, including color editing, brightness and contrast changing, special effects, cropping, rotating, red-eye removal and more. I’ve used it several times for simple editing chores such as removing red eye and cropping, and found it simple and straightforward.

Windows 8.1

The Photos app has been updated and now includes some useful editing tools.
Click to view larger image.

Microsoft has also introduced some very nifty new apps as well. The Food and Drink app is a particularly good one. When you find recipes, you’ll be able to integrate them into a shopping list, meal planner or collections. It lets you plan out meals for the week. It’s all very clear, clean and well done. And it also shows off a new trick Microsoft has taught Windows 8: hands-free mode. Rather than use the keyboard and mouse or touch, it lets you move from screen to screen by waving your hand (it uses your device’s built-in camera).

Or at least, it’s supposed to. I was never able to get hands-free mode to work, although at least one other reviewer has reported he got it working. Still, if it ever works properly in this app, it will be great for those times when you’re in the kitchen, up to your elbows in flour and don’t want to foul the screen.

Windows 8.1

The Food and Drink app features a hands-free mode.
Click to view larger image.

There’s also a semi-useful new Reading List app, which lets you clip content from the Web or other location, save it and then read it when you want.

To clip something, you open the Charms bar, select Share, choose Reading list and save the page. Later on, you can open the Reading List app to see everything you’ve saved. You can search through the list and delete from the list.

While it’s nice to have this feature, the app pales compared to similar, more powerful apps already out there, such as Evernote. Reading List clips entire Web pages rather than highlighted content like Evernote does. And Reading List has one single list; it doesn’t allow you to organize your data into folders or notebooks. I’m certainly not about to give up Evernote for it.


More settings in the Modern interface

One of the frustrating things about the Modern interface has always been that you could change a few system settings via its Settings screen (accessible by going to the Charms bar and selecting Settings –> Change PC settings), but if you wanted to dig deep and change many of your settings, you had to head to the Control Panel on the desktop. That’s still true to some extent in Windows 8.1, but more settings can now be changed from the Settings screen.

To make it easy to use those settings, the Settings screen has been redone. One of the most useful changes is that when you head there, you’ll come to a Top settings screen, which makes it easy to change those settings you most frequently use. The screen alters according to which changes you make most often. So if you often change your Bing settings, they’ll show up there.

If you’re a dedicated tweaker like I am, you’ll still need to head to the Control Panel to change things such as whether to show hidden files in File Explorer. But otherwise, you may be able to make most or all of your changes from the new Settings screen.

Windows 8.1

The Top settings screen lists those settings that you change most often.
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Other changes

There have been plenty of other changes. SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service, is now more deeply ingrained into Windows. You can set it up so that by default all your files are saved to SkyDrive. You can also configure it to have all the photos you take with your mobile device automatically saved to SkyDrive.

The Windows Store has also been given a revamp, with a more pleasing graphical look and features that make it easier to browse and find apps. For example, when you’ve viewing an app and you scroll or swipe over to the right, you’ll see a list of related apps, a feature that is old hat by now in other places, but is now finally making its way to the Windows Store.

Also, if you drag or swipe from the top of the screen you’ll see a listing of all the categories in the store. Again, pretty much every other app store already has this, so the feature isn’t new. More than anything, when it comes to the Windows Store, Microsoft is playing catch-up.

Windows 8.1

The Windows Store now includes lists of apps related to the one you’re currently viewing.
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There is also more comprehensive support for portrait mode, such as in the News app. Unfortunately, not all apps are capable of portrait mode yet. Why should you care about this? Today, you likely don’t. But a generation of Windows 8 and Windows RT mini tablets is on the way, and portrait mode is well suited for those devices.

File Explorer (called Windows Explorer in previous Windows versions) has been given some minor tweaks as well. The Computer view is now called This PC. And if you’re looking for your file libraries, you won’t find them. Instead, you’ll see folders for Documents, Music, Pictures and so on, as well as a SkyDrive folder. This is just the latest iteration of Microsoft’s long, winding, and confusing road of default organization for your files, which seems to change every several years.

Windows 8.1

File Explorer’s Computer view is now called This PC.
Click to view larger image.

The bottom line

Some reviewers tell you that this version of Windows 8 is the one that Microsoft should have shipped in the first place. They’re only partially right.

It’s true that the new features — such as the ability to log in straight to the desktop and easier access to desktop apps — should have been baked into Windows 8 right from the beginning. And overall, the new features have improved Windows 8.1 considerably, especially for die-hard desktop users and those who don’t have touch screens.

But this still isn’t the Windows 8 that should have been shipped. The ideal Windows 8 would have been a coherent operating system, with a single, unified interface and way of working, rather than a touch-oriented tablet operating system bolted uncomfortably onto a desktop operating system, and forced to do double-duty for two very different categories of hardware.

With Windows 8.1, you don’t see the bolts quite so much. But they’re still there, and so are two separate operating systems, coexisting a bit less uneasily than before. Still, this is a good enough upgrade that once it ships, all Windows 8 users should use it. They’ll find that it makes Windows much better.

You can get the Windows 8.1 preview right now. But keep in mind that if you install it, you won’t be able to upgrade directly to the final version of Windows 8.1 when it ships. Instead, you’ll have to go through a reinstallation procedure, and when you do that, you’ll have to reinstall all of your desktop apps.

-Warning! Microsoft Does NOT Make House Calls. New Wave Of Phone Scams Has Arrived-

This article was taken directly from Microsoft’s “Avoid Phone Scams” page.

Cybercriminals don’t just send fraudulent email messages and set up fake websites. They might also call you on the telephone and claim to be from Microsoft. They might offer to help solve your computer problems or sell you a software license. Once they have access to your computer, they can do the following:


  • Trick you into installing malicious software that could capture sensitive data, such as online banking user names and passwords. They might also then charge you to remove this software.
  • Take control of your computer remotely and adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable.
  • Request credit card information so they can bill you for phony services.
  • Direct you to fraudulent websites and ask you to enter credit card and other personal or financial information there.

Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes.

Telephone tech support scams: What you need to know

Cybercriminals often use publicly available phone directories so they might know your name and other personal information when they call you. They might even guess what operating system you’re using.

Once they’ve gained your trust, they might ask for your user name and password or ask you to go to a website to install software that will let them access your computer to fix it. Once you do this, your computer and your personal information is vulnerable.

Do not trust unsolicited calls. Do not provide any personal information.

Here are some of the organizations that cybercriminals claim to be from:

  • Windows Helpdesk
  • Windows Service Center
  • Microsoft Tech Support
  • Microsoft Support
  • Windows Technical Department Support Group
  • Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team)

Report phone scams

Learn about how to report phone fraud in the United States. Outside of the US, contact your local authorities.

How to protect yourself from telephone tech support scams

If someone claiming to be from Microsoft tech support calls you:

  • Do not purchase any software or services.
  • Ask if there is a fee or subscription associated with the “service.” If there is, hang up.
  • Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer.
  • Take the caller’s information down and immediately report it to your local authorities.
  • Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from Microsoft tech support.

What to do if you already gave information to a tech support person

If you think that you might have downloaded malware from a phone tech support scam website or allowed a cybercriminal to access your computer, take these steps:

  • Change your computer’s password, change the password on your main email account, and change the password for any financial accounts, especially your bank and credit card.
  • Install Microsoft Security Essentials. (Microsoft Security Essentials is a free program. If someone calls you to install this product and then charge you for it, this is also a scam.)Note: In Windows 8, Windows Defender replaces Microsoft Security Essentials. Windows Defender runs in the background and notifies you when you need to take specific action. However, you can use it anytime to scan for malware if your computer isn’t working properly or you clicked a suspicious link online or in an email message.

    Learn more about Windows Defender

Will Microsoft ever call me?

There are some cases where Microsoft will work with your Internet service provider and call you to fix a malware-infected computer—such as during the recent cleanup effort begun in our botnet takedown actions. These calls will be made by someone with whom you can verify you already are a customer. You will never receive a legitimate call from Microsoft or our partners to charge you for computer fixes.

More information

For more information about how to recognize a phishing scam, see Avoid scams that use the Microsoft name fraudulently.

If you need help with a virus or other security problem, visit the Microsoft Virus and Security Solution Center.