Sunday, August 16, 2015

Windows 10 - Mikey Likes it!

For the most part, I am happy with Windows 10.  The Upgrade was mostly simple which I manually applied to my older Windows 7 laptop.  I had reserved Windows 10 on it but was too impatient to wait for a green light from Microsoft.

I won't dwell much on any new features, except that the new browser allows you to make "hand-written" notes & highlights on pages, as well as typed annotations.  And the Reading Mode provides a less distracting view of a web page.  Note that Firefox now offers a similar Reading View option.

Things I Did Not or Do Not Like
1.  So I did have a technical hurdle to jump in order to have the Upgrade install on my laptop.  While the Get Windows 10 app said that my laptop was ready, the Upgrade did not like the size or allocation of a hidden system partition on the hard drive.  Actually, I have an SSD drive as I'd replaced my hard drive for improved performance and a bit better battery life.

The failed attempts were painful because the Upgrade would download the entire package and only then tell me that something was wrong.  If you have a metered connection, those 3 GB downloads can add up quickly!

All told, I tried about 8-10 times before the Upgrade would start the actual installation.

2.  The Upgrade disabled my Norton anti-malware program and Windows 10 was running the included Defender app instead.

3.  My default web browser was no longer Chrome.

4.  The legacy Windows Photo Viewer - only in Slideshow mode - would adjust a photo so any image file would be as large as possible and not have anything cropped.  In Windows 10, parts are cropped whether it would fit on my display or need to be resized.

5.  Oh, there are those privacy concerns. Many of the applications want to talk to each other and share your data (more on this in the next item).  For example, the Calendar wants to look at your list of Contacts.  There are convenience factors worth considering.

However, I have an Android phone and am happy to let Google link up my information.  I don't want to reinvent that wheel, so I've disabled most of the Microsoft requests to share.

The worst part is that all the sharing is, by default, turned on.  Avoiding Express Mode is critical if you don't want all options set to Share.  Of course, all settings can be changed as long as you can locate where those settings reside.

In order to share data among the apps, the Windows 10 apps need to be enabled or installed with the same user ID (an email address).  Which brings me to the next point.

6.  The Microsoft Account.  Many people do not want to log in every time they turn on their PC and often have only one User account.  By default, Windows 10 Setup asks you to create a new Microsoft Account or sign in with an existing one.

Well, once that is done, that Microsoft Account becomes a Windows 10 User Account.  Which means using that Account's password to sign in when the computer reboots and, if required, when the computer wakes from sleep.

Avoiding the Microsoft Account is possible but it is not easy to spot where to click.

And some of my online accounts use user IDs that I just do not want to tie together.  I have no practical reason for my Pandora account to have the same user ID as my Netflix or Facebook accounts.  Does anyone still share what they're listening to on Spotify with their Facebook friends?

But Wait, There's More!
Other problems have been noted in this article from betanews, from Wayne Williams.

In summary, I do like Windows 10.  However, there will be a period of adjustment for some, especially if they don't know how to set up Windows 10 to look more like Windows 7.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Not Ready for Windows 10? But You Reserved Your Copy?

So you saw the Get Windows 10 message on your computer and reserved your copy. But you really don't want to upgrade immediately. It's OK, you have a year to upgrade for free.

But you need to UN-reserve your copy. Consider that app and offer as advertising. But you still need to un-reserve that copy!

It's easy, and let me spell out the steps for you.

Un-Reserve Windows 10, Step-by-Step
1.  Find the Get Windows 10 app:

Yes, that's it, the Windows logo since Windows 8, in my red magnifying glass, on the right-hand side of the Taskbar near the time & date. That section is called the System Tray, by the way.

Click on it (Left-click;  only right-click when I specifically say, "right-click").

Not the Start Button on the left-hand side of the Taskbar (found on Windows 8 PCs).

The Get Windows 10 window opens.

2.  Click on the Hamburger.  That's the three lines now used in many programs and apps to hide a menu.

3.  Click on View confirmation.

4.  Now click on Cancel reservation.

5.  Yes, really, click again on Cancel reservation.

6.  For good measure, click on Close.

When you are ready, you can simply open up Get Windows 10 and reserve it again.  Or contact me, I can bypass that and upgrade your computer manually.

Addenda - A Few Sorta-Brief Notes about Windows 10 and the Upgrade
FWIW, I had problems when I tried to upgrade my Windows 7 laptop.  Not serious ones, but it took some time to find the solution. As well, the technical, detailed fix took some time to complete before the Upgrade would begin the installation.

Once resolved, I ran the upgrade overnight as I knew the laptop would automatically reboot a handful of times and the process could take an hour or more. And the download - before the Upgrade actually starts - is 3 GB, and it takes some time, too. Your mileage may vary.

When I looked at the laptop in the morning, Windows 10 had setup steps that required my input. These were similar to some of the Service Packs in previous Windows versions. All personal files, shortcuts, folders were right where I left them and almost all programs ran as before.

The Norton Security Suite (Comcast's version of Norton 360) was disabled and Windows Defender was enabled.  Re-enabling Norton was not difficult.

Note that if you do not want a password-protected computer, then you may need some guidance walking through the Windows 10 setup. User passwords are still not required but, since Windows 8, Microsoft has been pushing their Microsoft Accounts to be the User ID on Windows computers. Their goal - similar to Apple and Android computers & devices - is to save and share information between different applications for your convenience.

Really, for your convenience! There are privacy & security concerns, certainly. But the goals have been and currently are to allow apps to work together. For example, I can click on my Calendar for an event at a friend's home. I can click on my friend's name, and I can either open up Maps or my GPS. With the GPS, the address is loaded. With this GPS, I can actually share my route (tracked in real-time) with my friend and perhaps someone whom wants to know that I arrive safely.

But I have the choice to share or not to share. And that is all with my Android smartphone. Microsoft wants to offer the same, friendly way for apps to share your data, to help you get from here to there and be in touch along the way. Microsoft needs these Microsoft Accounts to authorize apps to work together.  OK, back to Windows 10.

Again, the Microsoft Account is not required;  but avoiding it takes some understanding on where to click, as the option to skip the Microsoft Account is not front & center.

Overall, Windows 10 looks ready to bring back the Desktop experience and also work with touch-enabled tablets, smartphones, as well as 2-in-1 laptops and PCs with touchscreens.

In my opinion, that was Microsoft's goal for Windows 8 - to bring Windows to touch tablets and phones. However, Microsoft was too eager to see everyone using the new touch features and user interface that they tried to force every user of Windows 8 onto those touch-friendly screens and apps. I don't understand why they overlooked their enormous user base of Windows 7 and Windows XP desktops & laptops (and Vista and other versions of Windows) that did not have touchscreens.

Many of these users needed new laptops or PCs but would not have touchscreens and needed to access their Desktop apps. They got a Windows 8 computer and in most cases users needed help for almost everything, including turning it off. Much frustration!

Fortunately, there were a few apps - even free - to bring back the Start Menu and keep the Desktop available or within easy reach. Not everyone knew that, though. So, IMHO, Windows 8 was a solid operating system with one flaw. But it was a doozy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Beat the Drums for Windows 10

Windows 10 is due for release on Wednesday, July 29th, 2015.  Are you ready? Do you care?

Windows 10 looks to be a good upgrade and Microsoft has been working hard to make its introduction a success.  They are betting a big chunk of the company store on the new version of Windows.  In fact, Windows 10 is a free upgrade to any licensed Windows 7 or 8 or 8.1 device (yes, PCs, laptops, tablets and even phones) - - as long as these devices have the right hardware.  And most do, but the real litmus test is whether a device will run Windows 8.

And there is a test for that at the Windows Compatibility Center. Click on Scan your computer.

This upgrade will be available, per Microsoft, free for a year.  So you do not have to upgrade immediately.

The Reservation
Microsoft had put a Get Windows 10 app on most PCs with Windows 7 or 8 as an advertisement and enticement to get the free upgrade.

The Get Windows 10 app wants you to reserve your copy NOW!  So many people may have reserved a copy either on purpose or by mistake.

Again, no need to upgrade immediately.  All computers and devices that qualify for the upgrade (details below) have a year to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

To Cancel the Reservation

  1. Go back to that Windows icon, click on it (or right-click and choose Check your upgrade status)
  2. click on the hamburger [=] in the upper left hand corner and choose View confirmation
  3. then click Cancel reservation on the left side
  4. and again, on the box that says Cancel reservation

Want to Know More? Curious?
It is no big surprise that, while I am confident that Windows 10 will be a good upgrade, I recommend caution before and during this upgrade.

I have been evaluating the Windows 10 Technical Preview for months.  There is much that I like but there is some stuff that is different.  Enough stuff that I recommend delaying the upgrade to Windows 10. But not forever.  Sometime within a year.

More Details
But wait, there's more!  As with every major upgrade, most every feature remains but some look, feel and are located perhaps a bit differently than what you're used to.

Anyone whom has dealt with Windows 8 can tell you this.  The Start Button had been removed and the Start Menu along with it.  The Start Button returned in Windows 8.1, but it still was not anything like Windows 7 or XP or before.  And that was the biggest issue and complaint against Windows 8.  Really, it was a great operating system (see More Details at the bottom)!

Windows 10 brings back a Start Menu that is more familiar and provides the access that many demanded of Windows 8.

The Windows Account
Anyone who has an iPad, iPhone, or any Android phone or tablet should know that an account is necessary to create or log into for a new one.  Many of us forget that account user ID (now an email address) as well as the password for those devices.  And many of us (yes, me included) have struggled with different accounts.

In any case, Windows 8 introduced the Windows Account.  It was not required for Windows 8 and probably not for Windows 10, either.  Setting one up is not difficult  - but if you want any apps from the Microsoft Store, you will need one.  And you will need to put the password in every time you boot up the computer or have multiple users on the PC.

Anything Missing?
Microsoft did announce that Windows Media Center will not be offered in Windows 10.  That may have changed by now.  But for those of you with TV tuners in your PC and connected to get broadcast & cable programming, you may need other software to play that content.

New & Improved
So Windows 10 will come with a new big "e" for Edge.  It replaces Internet Explorer, but I guess many will just click on the big blue "e" icon and simply continue to browse the Internet.

The Taskbar also features a search box with a microphone for speaking your queries, a la Siri and "OK Google!"  I haven't been terribly impressed but all of these personal assistants want to peek at your Contacts, Calendar, and decide what & where you're looking for an answer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Covers are OFF - New Help for the PC Website

I decided to clean up my site this past winter and ended up with a shiny, newer looking version courtesy of  I'm not into building websites as a business, though I have done a few simple ones using Google Sites.
mobile version of - go there, whether on mobile or PC, now!

Well, Google has not updated Sites much and neither have my web coding skills. as well. But WIX does offer an easier web-building tool. With mobile-friendly editing of the same content. So if I make a change or delete something on the mobile version, it won't affect the hard work I've done on the PC version.

Got to change with the times;  at bit, at least!