Although I gave up on Microsoft’s Windows Phone a couple of years ago I still have plenty of good memories of me and my nifty Windows Phone. In fact if you are in a nostalgic mood you can browse my Windows Phone articles here.
All is not lost for Microsoft in the smartphone world. Even though I gave into Apple empire for both myself personally and my organization all is not lost. That’s because Microsoft has been publishing apps at an amazing rate during the past two years and many of them are simply top notch.
One of my favorite Microsoft Apps is “Outlook”. Why do I recommend trashing Apple’s default mail app and installing Outlook?
Innovation and Consolidation
The Microsoft Outlook app is a mobile productivity powerhouse, bringing your email, attachments, contacts and calendars into easy reach. Outlook’s built-in analytic engine automatically surfaces important email (across multiple accounts) based on your communications, and quick swipe controls allow you to easily triage your email. It’s a great mobile email app, and works with Exchange, Office 365, Outlook.com, Gmail, Yahoo Mail and iCloud email accounts.
Also included with Outlook is your calendar, files (OneDrive, Box, Dropbox & Google Drive) and contacts. If you are using Apple’s default apps you have separate programs for each of these. With Outlook – you have one app to control them all.
Of course if you rely on Microsoft Outlook on your desktop this is the perfect companion app on your smartphone or mobile device.
You can learn more about Microsoft’s Outlook app here.
Things can go wrong in the world of computers. Sometimes a operating system (OS) upgrade, like the new Windows Creators Update can go wrong or your PC can get sluggish and start misbehaving over time.
In the past this often meant finding a “tech person” to look at the PC and “format” it. While this may still be necessary from time to time, thanks to Windows 10 and it’s new Fresh Start feature you may be able to improve your relationship with your PC quickly and on your own. Saving yourself time and money.
Life Before Windows 10
In the Windows 8 period, a feature was added to the operating system called Reset and Refresh. The choice was simple. Reset meant your device was returned to a pristine installation of Windows 8 with none of your files, settings, or apps remaining on the device. The experience after the reset would be just like powering up your device for the first time. On the other hand Refresh would keep your files and Windows Store apps installed but system settings and desktop software would be removed. This options was great for a quick fix due to corrupted settings or something like that.
In the Windows 10 Creators Update those two options are now called Reset this PC and Fresh Start but they have now reversed roles in a couple of ways.
Option 1 – Reset this PC
To access this setting just go to Windows Settings>Update & security>Recovery and then select Get started.
You will then be presented with two options:
Option 1 – Keep my files. Apps and Settings are removed but your personal files are retained and available in the reset system.
Option 2 – Remove everything. files, apps, and settings are removed. This results in a completely pristine state just like the day you started it up for the first time out of the box.
Option 2 – Fresh start
The starting point for Fresh start is in a non-standard location – the Windows Defender Security Center app under Device performance and health tab. Although now that I am looking at that written down – it does make sense because this option is all about improving device performance and health.
To get started just select the Additional info link.
Here you will see the explanation of what Fresh start will do on your system. Your personal files and some settings are always retained in this option. Take note that apps you installed will be removed along with Office, third-party anti-virus software, and pre-installed desktop apps.
That last one is key about Fresh start because this includes OEM software that is pre-installed on many devices out of the box.
To begin the Fresh start process just select Next and follow the subsequent prompts.
Fresh start gives you a truly clean start because the latest version of Windows 10 is downloaded from Microsoft and not pulled from the standard restore partitions that many systems have these days for reinstalling the operating system.
In the above dialog box you will see that Windows Store apps that were pre-installed by the device manufacturer will be restored in this process just like the standard Windows 10 inbox apps.
So if you are experiencing any unresolved issues on your Windows 10 device then these two feature options could help sort that out. I recommend you start with the Reset this PC option which will use your devices recovery media. If that does not help or you want a much cleaner install with a fresh copy of Windows 10 then Fresh start is the one to use.
Microsoft yesterday touted operating system-wide power savings in a recent preview of Windows 10, claiming that the technology will reduce notebook battery consumption by 11% on laptops equipped with the newest processors.
The technology, temporarily tagged as “Power Throttling,” was enabled on all copies of Windows 10 Insider build 16176, which Microsoft released Friday. Insider is the beta program Microsoft runs for both enthusiasts and businesses, which I participate in. Microsoft relies on Insiders to learn how the OS will change for the next feature upgrade, as well as for testing the upgrade prior to deploying the final code when it is shipped several months later.
Power Throttling Explained
Microsoft stated when explaining their new ‘Power Throttling,’ that when background work is running, Windows places the CPU in its most energy efficient operating modes, meaning work gets done, but with as minimal possible battery usage as possible.
Like other such technologies, Microsoft’s is meant to recognize foreground tasks — such as active apps — as well as persistent applications, like music streaming applications, then give them full access to the processor. Other apps, or even individual processes within an app, that are classified as “background,” are restricted in how they impact the CPU’s power usage. For instance, they may not be allowed to kick the processor into its higher-frequency, higher-power, higher-consumption mode.
What You Will Need
Power Throttling works only on Intel processors with that firm’s Speed Shift, a feature of sixth-generation and later CPUs, including “Skylake” and the newer “Kaby Lake.” Sadly this means if you have an older laptop you will need to pick up a new one to enjoy longer battery life through Speed Shift & Windows 10.
When Will Power Throttling Be Available?
The first opportunity most users will have to apply Power Throttling will be with 2017’s second feature upgrade. Microsoft has not revealed a release timetable, but most expect it to appear this fall.
Microsoft’s big new Windows 10 Creator’s Update is starting to roll out to Windows 10 PC’s everywhere. I have been using this for several weeks now, in a beta release and recently received the official upgrade. I am running the new operating system on both my Microsoft Surface 4 and Microsoft Surface Book.
So what’s included in the update? here is a rundown:
This might seem like a small thing but I really like this new feature. Anyone knows that staring at a bright screen at nighttime can be bad for your health. This new feature enables you to change the screen temperature and even schedule it from dusk to dawn, or any hours you choose. I wonder how many headaches this will save.
Windows Defender Advanced Treat Protection (ATP) Service
ATIP is a service to help businesses detect and respond to advanced attacks, beyond what you get in Windows Defender. Creators Update beefs up those abilities by enabling sensors to detect threats that hang out in system memory or kernel-level exploits. IT admins can add their own alerts, and the remediation actions support will reduce response time. This will be part of the Windows 10 Enterprise version only.
Windows Upgrade Analytics
From within the Windows Analytics Dashboard, you’ll get more telemetry on device-health of PCs. The Operations Management Suite will be integrated directly with the dashboard for a more secure way to analyze those insights.
Better Privacy Controls
Microsoft released a new web-based privacy dashboard, which lets you control and see Microsoft’s activity such as location, search and browsing. When Creators launches you’ll also be able to opt into one of two levels of data collection: Basic or Full. At Basic, Microsoft will not collect data about installed apps, error reports or whether Windows is running right.
A new Unified Extensible Firmware Interface conversion tool that will reduce the need for IT professionals to manually convert Windows 7 devices using legacy BIOSes. The tool will be integrated with other management tools such as System Center Configuration Manager.
Unified Update Platform (UUP)
The UUP reduces the size of update downloads across tablets, smartphones, PCs, IoT devices and Hololens through the use of differential download technologies. That means a differential download package will contain the changes that have been made since the last time the Windows device was updated. Microsoft says the technology can shrink the download file size by up to 35 percent.
Virtual Machine Display Scaling
Hyper-V Virtual Machines aren’t always scaled the way you might want. Creators Update brings a new Zoom option in the View menu, which allows you to override the default scaling and set it to 100, 125, 150 or 200. This also led to a fix a problem in which certain virtual machines wouldn’t display the remote desktop connection bar after entering full-screen mode.
Stop Bloatware Installation
Windows 10 users will be able to turn on a feature that will prevent the installation of classic Win32 apps, making the only source for app downloads the Windows Store. If someone tries to install a Win32 app they will get a dialog pop-up that says apps from Microsoft’s store are safe and reliable. There’s also an option to allow people to download them anyway, after seeing the warning.
Container-Based Isolation in Edge
Microsoft built a new security feature into Edge browser, a container-based isolation technology codenamed Barcelona. Windows executives have named Barcelona the Windows Defender Application Guard, which will use virtualization-based security to isolate potentially malicious code into containers.
Workplace Augmented Reality & HoloLens
HoloLens keeps getting more interesting. The $5,000 headset will let you project 3D virtual objects into real-world space. That means being able to plan out a workspace before you buy the equipment or furniture. With Creators Update, Microsoft added a new Capture 3D tool, which lets you scan a 2D image of an object from your computer and project a 3D model in your physical space. The HoloLens is likely to be joined next year by $299 competitors from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo.
Registry Editor Enhancements
You can use shorthand notation for HKEY names in the address bar. For example, you can use “HKCR”, “HKCU”, “HKLM”, and “HKU” instead of typing or pasting the respective full name “HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT”, “HKEY_CURRENT_USER”, “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” or “HKEY_USERS” into the address bar.
Trackpad on Touchscreens with a Virtual Touchpad
You can now send your tablet display to a second screen via a virtual touchpad. To activate it, you connect to a monitor, open Action Center and tap Project Quick Action. When you press and hold the taskbar you can then select Show Touchpad Button to bring up a black box on the bottom right corner. You can tweak the trackpad’s settings in Settings > Devices > Touchpad.
New Display Settings
Windows 10 will now know when sunrise and sunset happens. And it will use that knowledge to automatically adjust the amount of blue light emitted at night. Microsoft is also simplifying the options to let users switch resolution easier and improve DPI.
Edge Browser Improvements
These include the addition of a tab preview bar that lets you glance at the rest of your tabs without leaving the page you’re on. You’ll also be ablet o save and restore whole sets of tabs. Microsoft will also now black untrusted Flash content by default.
3D in PowerPoint and Paint
3D in Windows 10
Creators Update brings 3D capabilities to Microsoft PowerPoint and the venerable Paint program. Microsoft launched a new online database/community for 3D elements called Remix3D. From here you can find and share 3D creations, which Microsoft calls mixed reality. It could help you add some serious flair to your next business plan pitch to the executives.
Easier Team Collaboration
By pinning individual contacts to your taskbar, you can save yourself some clicks with the Creators Update. With one click you can decide to send text, email, or even share files with one person or your team. You can also relay messages from smartphones to desktops.
Windows Insiders like me accept some level of risk in trying out early builds of the operating system. So as Microsoft ramps up to the official Creators Update rollout there will be minor fixes and tweaks. So the various improvements include changes to automatic brightness, log in failures, system crashes caused by ejecting SD cards. The company also rolled out a ton of improvements to Sticky Notes, including languages support and time recognition.
Apps that filter blue light have been around for ages. F.lux is a popular solution for both Windows and Mac, and there also several apps that will do it on your smartphone.
However, such third-party apps might become obsolete soon thanks to built-in functionalities. macOS just released Night Shift, and more recently, the Windows 10 Creators Update which is arriving soon brings with it new feature called Night Light will fill the same need.
If you’ve got the Creators Update already, you can start using it now. Head to Settings > System > Display. You’ll see a switch labeled Night Light on the right side. Click on Night Light Settings first to configure it to your liking.
Use the slider bar to choose a temperature of color. The further left you drag it, the warmer the color becomes. Warmer temperatures filter more light but greatly distort the colors, so you might not want such an extreme setting for color-sensitive work.
Enabling Schedule night light makes sense so you don’t have to toggle it on every evening. You can check Sunset to Sunrise and the colors will automatically change based on your time zone. If you want to set your own times instead (maybe you have an unusual work schedule), click Set hours and specify them.
To quickly enable or disable Night Light, open the Action Center with the Windows Key + A shortcut or by clicking the icon in the bottom-right corner of your screen. Click the Night Light panel to toggle it — useful if you’re watching a movie or something and need to disable it for a time.
If you are using Windows Vista it’s time to move on. That is because earlier this week Microsoft released the official release of the Windows 10 Creators Update, bringing with it new 3D, gaming, privacy, and security functionality to the operating system and at the same time announced the end of Windows Vista support.
What this means is that Microsoft is officially ending Windows Vista extended support as of April 11, 2017. This was expected and is five years after the operating system hit its end-of-maintenance support date of April 10, 2012, and roughly 10 years since Microsoft first released Windows Vista to a litany of complaints and its eventual replacement by the much more well-received Windows 7.
Microsoft’s operating system support policies are spelled out fairly specifically, as follows:
Mainstream support. Microsoft will offer mainstream support for a minimum of 5 years from the date of a product’s general availability. For example, if you buy a new version of Windows and five years later another version is released, you will still have two years of support left for the previous version.
Extended support. Microsoft will offer extended support for a minimum of 5 years from the date of a product’s general availability.
What this means is that Windows Vista will no longer receive any kind of update, including new security updates, non-security hotfixes, or free or paid support. Microsoft will also no longer provide any online technical content updates. In other words, if you’re intent on continuing to use Windows Vista — and there aren’t many of you who remain committed to one of the company’s least popular operating systems — then you’re completely on your own.
Perhaps the most significant downside to using an unsupported OS is that you’re leaving yourself wide open to security vulnerabilities. You’ll also likely receive zero support from hardware and software vendors in terms of keeping their products working well.
Most users will likely go ahead and upgrade their machine to Windows 10 if it’s currently stuck on Windows Vista. Windows 10 offers a host of improvements, not the least of which is enhanced security — albeit raising some potential privacy concerns — along with the best level of third-party support. If your PC can’t handle an upgrade to Windows 10, then you might just want to consider buying a new one.
The Windows 10 Creators Update is rolling out to Windows 10 PCs across the world. The massive Windows 10 update is packed full of features, like Start menu tile-folders, an overhauled Game Mode, and further integration of the Control Panel into the new Settings menu. There is something for everyone here.
Microsoft continues to receive negative feedback regarding their new update system. Windows 10 removed control over system updates from the user, switching to an enforced update system. It was, understandably, very unpopular. In the nearly two years following the Windows 10 rollout, Microsoft has stuck firmly to its guns: automatic updates are the easiest and safest option for the majority of users.
However, Microsoft is softening, and the Windows 10 Creators Update introduces a new Pause Updates option.
A Momentary Pause
The Pause Update button provides a momentary pause in the Windows 10 update schedule. Your system will be update-free for seven days from the moment you push the button. Once the seven days is up, your system will be open to updates once again.
In fact, Microsoft has made sure you cannot simply spam the seven day pause to cut updates out completely. In order to use the Pause Update feature again, you’ll have to let your system update. Meaning while you’ve had a quiet seven days, at the end, there is a barrage waiting.
To find the new Pause Update feature, head to Settings > Update & security > Advanced options, then toggle the Pause Update to On. Your pause update timeframe will be displayed underneath.
Normal Service Resumes
The Windows 10 Pause Update button isn’t the indefinite update stopper that many users still cry out for. But it does offer an easier method of pausing updates than installing third-party software or tinkering with the command line.
Is the new Pause Update enough? Or do you still want more from Microsoft? How many times have you lost work because of an unexpected update? Or have you simply ditched Windows? Let us know your thoughts below!
Just yesterday I warned against a scam alert and now here is yet another threat that involves Microsoft Word. We live in scary times dedicated readers.
You might want to be extra careful about what files you open in Word over the next few days: Attackers are exploiting a previously undisclosed vulnerability in Microsoft Office to sneak malware into your system.
The zero-day bug fundamentally relies on infected Word documents, which then download malicious HTML applications disguised as make-belief Rich Text files. Once executed, the HTML application connects to a remote server and runs a custom script designed to stealthily install malware.
What is particularly worrying is that unlike regular macro hacks – which Office generally warns against when opening macro-enabled documents – the attack vector makes it difficult to prevent potential attacks.
This latest threat has to do with the Windows Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) function, which has been exploited on a number of occasions over the past few years.
The vulnerability affects all versions of Office, including the latest Office 2016 for Windows 10, according to the researchers.
Fortunately, a Microsoft spokesperson has confirmed that Microsoft will eliminate the issue with the release of its upcoming monthly update later on Tuesday, April 11.
Until then users should only run Office in Protected View mode as well as to refrain from opening any Office files obtained from untrusted locations.
Microsoft has launched a new iOS camera app called Sprinkles. I am not sure if we actually need another iOS camera app, but I guess Microsoft thinks we do. I do think Microsoft picked a cool name for this app. It’s called Sprinkles. With Sprinkles Microsoft is taking on a genre currently dominated by Snapchat. Like Snapchat Sprinkles brings with it captions, stickers, and emojis and more fun stuff.
There was a time, not so long ago, when you’d take a photograph and that would be that. Each photo would capture a moment in time, and remain unsullied by filters and other silly stuff. And then Snapchat arrived on the scene, and changed everything.
Sprinkles is an iOS camera app which lets you do a host of different things with each photo you snap. You can add your own caption, add stickers and emojis, and place virtual photobooth-style props about your person.
Sprinkles utilizes Microsoft’s machine learning capabilities. The app will suggest captions based on what’s in the photo, resize and align stickers to fit your face, auto-detect your age, and inform you who your celebrity lookalike is.
Sprinkles is a strange app, but one that’s likely to appeal to a certain demographic. That being the younger generation who need to add something, anything, to a photo before letting anyone see it. Which is, we assume, why Microsoft called this app Sprinkles in the first place.