Get a Fresh Start with Windows 10 Creators Update

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.

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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.

Reset this PC - Windows 10 Creators Update

You will then be presented with two options:

Reset this PC - Windows 10 Creators Update

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.

Fresh start - Windows 10 Creators Update

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.

Fresh start - Windows 10 Creators Update

To begin the Fresh start process just select Next and follow the subsequent prompts.

Fresh start - Windows 10 Creators Update

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.

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Windows 10 is Here to Save Your Battery

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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New Features Arrive with Windows 10 Creator’s Edition

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.

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So what’s included in the update? here is a rundown:

Night Light

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.

UEFI

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

Microsoft 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.

Other Fixes

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.

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Windows Now Has a Night Light

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.

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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.

 

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Pausing Updates with Windows 10 Creators Upgrade

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.

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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!

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Two Windows 10 Cumulative Updates In One Week

Microsoft released a new cumulative update for Windows 10 earlier this week, fixing two fairly minor issues in the OS. Microsoft today released yet another update for Windows 10 users.

Image result for windows 10 updates

Similar to the update from earlier this week, the latest update is also a minor one and it only comes with fixes for two issues. The update, KB4016635, brings the OS build number up to 14393.970.

Here’s the changelog for the update:

  • Addressed a known issue with KB4013429 that caused form display issues with       CRM 2011 on Internet Explorer 11.
  • Addressed the issue with KB4013429 that prevents users from updating apps         from Windows Store with 0x80070216 error.

Needless to mention, the update is available to all Windows 10 users and you can get it from Windows Update in the Settings app.

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3 Windows Preview Builds in a Week

This morning I started my workday with this. I docked my Surface Book for another busy workday and had to wait 30-40 minutes while yet another Windows Preview Build was installed.

Less than 24 hours after it delivered build 15060 to Windows 10 Insiders on the Fast ring, Microsoft shipped yet another build, 15061.

What makes this unusual is that Microsoft has now shipped three builds in a single week: Build 15058 on Tuesday, build 15060 on Thursday, and now build 15061 today (Friday). That’s a lot of Preview Builds… even for me!

Like the previous several builds, Windows 10 Insider Preview build 15061 does not bring any new features. Instead, Microsoft is completing the development of the next major Windows 10 version here and is just fixing bugs at this point.

You can check out the original Microsoft blog post for a list of changes, improvements, and fixes, and a separate list of known issues. Neither is very long.

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Tablet Quality Browsing Comes to Windows 10

Surfing the internet with a browser on a tablet or other mobile device can be a little clunky. That’s because internet browsers are – for the most part – designed with desktop PC’s in mind. However I have always thought laptops that can act as tablets would benefit from a clean – simple internet browser for those times we want to simply browse the internet.

Good news for Windows 10 users is that one has just arrived and it’s name is UC Browser for Windows 10.

The browser has a minimalistic UI (user interface) similar to Microsoft Edge that allows you to focus on the content. To make things even better, UC has included a tablet mode that adapts to the device you are using — for instance, if you are using the Surface Book with a keyboard and mouse, you will get the normal desktop UI but once you enable the tablet mode, you will get an improved UI that’s easy to interact with touch on a tablet.

UC has also included some neat mouse gestures built in the app. The browser also includes a built-in password manager, voice search, support for Cloud Sync, and more:

  • Minimalist UI: Focus on the content.
  • Switch Between Tablet and Mouse/Keyboard Mode: If you are using a 2-in-1 computer like Surface Pro or Surface Book, it’s easy to switch the layout by turning on/off Tablet Mode.
  • Mouse Gesture: Right-click and move to go back, forward, reload page, etc.
  • Smart Address Bar(Omnibar): Just type one letter to get most relevant suggestion. You can also use it to find matching bookmarks and browsing history, or enter any words to launch search engine.
  • Tile-view Bookmarks: Colorful and touch-friendly design for bookmarks.
  • InPrivate Window: Don’t want to leave browsing trace on the device? Go for InPrivate Window.
  • Cloud Sync: Sync bookmarks between mobile/other PCs by logging in to UC browser.
  • New Tab: Metro-style Magnet for popular sites.
  • Password Manager: Store your login info of all kinds of websites and lock them with a PIN. Easy to retrieve and edit.
  • Voice Search: Tap the microphone icon and say the words. We will take care of the rest.
  • Tab Stack: Smart tab-stacking to locate the active tab in a glance when there are many tabs open.
  • Floating Navigator: Use the sphere to quickly search, go forward and back, and view all the tabs.

UC’s Windows 10 UWP app is currently rolling out, and you can get it here from the Windows Store.

 

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Cleaning Your PC for Free!

One of my favorite PC cleaners is CCleaner. This nifty free piece of software can really put some life back into your computer. There is a paid version but for the majority of home PC users the free version will add some life your PC. Here are some highlights if you take time time to install CCleaner.

Cleaning Out Some Old Programs

When you analyze and run a cleaning scan, CCleaner picks some default types of information to delete. But some of these aren’t worth cleaning regularly. For instance, browser cache can build up over time and use lots of space on systems with smaller hard drives. However, the cache lets you access commonly visited sites quickly, so clearing it all the time is detrimental.

On the Cleaner tab, have a look at the various categories CCleaner lets you tweak. The Windows header contains entries for Edge and Internet Explorer, File Explorer, and other system elements like log files. The Applications header lets you clear browser information, as well as various utilities you might have installed like Foxit Reader, Office, 7-Zip, and more.

Browse though these items and uncheck everything you don’t want CCleaner to remove. If you often navigate via the Recent Documents page in File Explorer, it’s not worth the minuscule storage you save by removing it.

Say Goodbye to Some of those Unnecessary Startup Programs

Whenever you install software, it often sets itself to run at startup and adds an entry to your right-click menu. In theory these are useful, but having too many startup items can slow down your system and a messy context menu is more frustrating than helpful.

CCleaner lets you easily edit both of these lists. Open the Tools tab and select the Startup option. Here, you can see startup programs under Windows, as well as Context Menu items and even Scheduled Tasks. Click an entry you don’t want, then click the Disable button on the right side. You shouldn’t Delete something unless you’re certain that you don’t need it.

To keep a copy of everything you have in these lists, press Ctrl + A to select all items and click the Save to text file button. If you’re not sure what an entry is, right-click it and choose Open containing folder to find the source.

If you’re not sure which items to remove, check out the top items you don’t need at startup. And once you’ve removed useless entries, you should boost your context menu by adding great shortcuts.

So Long Duplicate Files – and Hello More Free Space

Duplicate files are a pain. Not only do they waste space, they might confuse you if you edit one file, then open the other one and wonder where the changes went. To combat this, use CCleaner’s tool to find extra copies and remove them.

Head to Tools > Duplicate Finder to start. Here you can specify criteria, such as limiting file sizes, skipping over hidden and system files (which is a safe idea), and only searching certain drives. By default, the tool considers duplicate files as those with an identical name, file size, and modified date. You can also check the Content box to further restrict matches.

Once you click Search, the list will populate. Be careful with deleting these files; stick to removing your own documents and videos and avoid removing DLLs or other data used by programs.

Don’t Be Scared – Wipe That Drive!

When you click Delete on a file in Windows, it disappears from your view. But that file is still on your hard drive for a while after deletion. Windows marks the spot where that data was stored as free space ready for new information, so until that happens you can recover the old file with the right software.

CCleaner provides a tool to securely erase data from your hard drive so that others can’t access it. Visit Tools > Drive Wiper to access it. Under Wipe, select Free Space Only. A Simple Overwrite will do in most cases, but you can do an Advanced Overwrite with three passes if you’d prefer. Select the drives you want to perform this on, and click Wipe. Note that this will take some time, so you shouldn’t use your computer while it’s running.

Wiping the free space won’t affect the contents of your drive at all, but will prevent previously deleted files from being recovered. If you want to completely obliterate a drive, select Entire Drive next to Wipe. This will irrevocably destroy all information on the drive, so use it with caution! For safety you can’t run this process on your Windows disk, but it’s great for wiping external drives.

Getting Under the Hood with Your Disk Space

While CCleaner can free up a good amount of space for you, chances are that the bulk of storage on your computer is taken up by your files and installed programs. There are several disk usage visualization tools, but CCleaner has its own built right in.

Some Cookies Are Good – Some Are Not So Good

When you clear browser information, cookies are one of the items CCleaner can remove. You probably don’t have any problem with tracking cookies going out the window, but removing the cookies for your email or social accounts means you have to log back into them. Head to Options > Cookies in CCleaner to remedy this.

The left panel shows you every cookie on your machine, while the right lists the cookies that CCleaner doesn’t delete. You can scroll through the (likely massive) list and double-click any website to add it to the Keep list. For some help, right-click on the left side and click Intelligent Scan — CCleaner will automatically find cookies for sites like Google and AOL and move them to the Keep side. You can remove them if it keeps one you don’t want.

As I said at the strat of this article, the free version in most cases is enough  however there are a few features, like cleaning automatically on a schedule which are only available in the $25 Professional version. However, you can easily set up CCleaner on a schedule manually for free. You don’t have to pay to get a ton of powerful features in one great utility. Start using CCleaner to its full potential today!

You can learn more and download the free version of CCleaner here.

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Windows 10 Creators Update Gets Closer

As a Windows Inside I downloaded and installed the latest Windows 10 build yesterday. So what is coming down the road to your Windows PC?

What I installed was a fairly minor update from the last build (15042).

As we are nearing the release of the Windows 10 Creators Update, the latest build of Windows 10 does not include a lot of new features and it mostly focuses on bug fixes and improvements in the operating system (OS). This will likely be the case for most of the upcoming builds of Windows 10, as Microsoft is busy polishing up the Windows 10 Creators Update for the public release in April.

However there are a couple of new features in the update of interest. Firstly, Microsoft is bringing back the old color for Cortana in the taskbar which the company removed with an earlier build of Windows 10 as part of an experiment. As it seems like, Insiders didn’t really like the change so Microsoft is bringing it back to its original design. A change that I like is thsat Microsoft is also adding a tiny new feature to the Windows Defender notification in the taskbar which now displays your status right from the taskbar icon.

Microsoft has also improved the “Pick up where you left off” feature with build 15046. With the latest build, Windows 10 now shows your apps, files, and websites from Microsoft Edge in Cortana rather than the Action Center. As a result, they are always accessible and you won’t have to worry about mistakenly removing the notification from the Action Center anymore.

There are a couple of other minor new changes — for instance, Microsoft is introducing improved translations, especially for the new OOBE as well as a new icon for the Gaming page in the Settings app. Apart from all of this, there really isn’t anything else in this build.

Windows 10’s development will get exciting once again when Microsoft starts releasing Windows 10 “Redstone 3” builds following the public rollout of the Creators Update. Redmond is expected to reveal details regarding the Redstone 3 update at its annual developer conference, Build 2017. Windows Insiders should be able to try out some of the upcoming new features sometime around June/July of this year when Redstone 3 development enters the “prime-time” period.

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