Thursday, December 25, 2014

Windows 10 Preparation Tool for Windows 7, Windows 8.1 (Updated) 

Microsoft has quietly released a Windows 10 Preparation tool for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 which ostensibly makes sure your PC is ready for the new OS. But I'm pretty sure all this tool does is alert users when the latest preview build is available for download in January.

I'm curious if it actually does more than that. So if you run this on your Windows 7- or Windows 8.1-based PC and see anything other than a "Your PC is now ready for Windows Technical Preview" message, please let us know in the comments.  

News of the tool comes courtesy of WinBeta, which was tipped off by a reader. But it's not clear what actual preparation it does per se. I would guess it just adds a trigger to Windows Update so that the next preview build will appear there. That happens January 21, as you may know.


I've spoken with Rafael Rivera about this tool and after a bit of Windows spelunking, he provided the following information.

The tool does check for OS upgrade eligibility. Which is a little more complicated than "Windows 7 or Windows 8.1." Actually, it will only work with Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows 8.1 with Update 1 (KB2919355).

It only supports a range of languages—Arabic (Saudi Arabia), Chinese (Traditional, Taiwan), Chinese (Simplified, PRC, though it's currently not supported due to a bug), Czech (Czech Republic), Dutch (Netherlands), English (United Kingdom), English (United States), Finnish (Finland), French (France), German (Germany), Italian (Italy), Japanese (Japan), Korean (Korea), Polish (Poland), Portuguese (Brazil), Russian (Russia), Spanish (Spain), Swedish (Sweden), Thai (Thailand), and Turkish (Turkey) —and will return an error message if you don't meet its requirements:

"We can't prepare this PC for Windows Technical Preview. Make sure it's using either Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update and a language supported in Windows Technical Preview.

Likewise, if you've already run the tool and try to run it again, you will see the following message: "This PC has already been prepared for Windows Technical Preview. Windows Update will let you know when the latest preview build is ready to install on this PC in early 2015."

So what does the "preparation" bit mean? It means that the tool creates the following key in your PC's registry:


And creates a value under that key named "Signup" with its data set to "924EADEB-2472-490D-9203-5D0A1FD5CC73"

Put simply, this is roughly what I thought it was, a way to get Windows Update ready to look for and then prompt you to install the January Update for the Windows Technical Preview (or what we think of as the Windows Consumer Preview.)

Update 2: This is just the tool people download when they sign up for the Windows Insider program, not something new. In short, nothing to see here. This is what I get for trusting other blogs. :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Microsoft opens up About More Windows 10 Preview eatures in the Works

Windows 8 and want Windows 7 back, I have good news and bad news.There is a new Windows 10 coming and at first glance it has all the right stuff to please many; but it won’t be here until next summer. This means we are stuck with Microsoft’s Windows 8.1, a feeble attempt to combine traditional desktop and laptop computing with the popular touch tablet.After having spent a few weeks on the first public version of Windows 10 Technical Preview, I am impressed with the handful of improvements. They should have been in the original Windows 8, which was launched two years ago. This time Microsoft is listening.

What’s new?

  • The start screen is back, much like the old start screen that is missed by Windows 7 fans. It’s even better with a mix of large enhanced icons and access to all of your apps.
  • The old desktop is back when you start your PC, but with more features. The Windows 8 enhanced view of mixed touchable icons is gone. You can also still search for computer content in the charm bar.
  • You can open, size and move around a mix of the simpler-looking enhanced programs and desktop programs, instead of the current awkward way of accessing those programs in Windows 8.1.
  • Too many apps open on your PC screen? No problem. The virtual desktop feature lets you easily create multiple desktops, each with its own open applications. Simply choose which desktop you want to show on your screen. This is akin to a poor man’s multiple screen set up!
  • Even though the desktop is front and centre, the screen touch fingers – up to 10 fingers at the same time – trump mouse and keyboard only PCs.

Microsoft missed the rumored Windows 9 and Windows jumped 10 instead, citing a major update which central bank (such as DNA) is common for Windows phones, laptops, desktop computers, hybrid and even Xbox. This means that an application can run on all devices, but the smaller the simplest device that runs as a single touch functionality on smart phones.

View Utopia Microsoft all devices running the same operating system contrasts with Apple's commitment to keep its popular iPhones and iPads in a simple, easy to use iOS, MacBooks and Mac more productive and environmental seal and timely control of OS X. Apple User allows each device to know what the other is doing. You can even complete the unfinished tasks between devices. The new Mac OS X also allows people to text phones, including Android, Blackberry and Windows.

Windows 10 is on the right track, but time is your worst enemy in the consideration of a task so great.

The saving grace of Microsoft is its large installed base and the flood of laptops Windows 8.1 innovative and well-priced are dozens of computer and tablet manufacturers associated.

Should consumers buy Windows 8 computers now, or wait for Windows 10 next summer? Microsoft has not commented on whether Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for current owners of Windows 8. Think. If your Windows 7 PC or laptop is less than 30 months old, I hope. Hardware will be better and cheaper way.

Inevitably, the question of Mac or Windows appears. Here is my executive summary of Apple versus making computer and Microsoft sales philosophy:

Apple makes a lot less choice models with better components and more expensive. Laptops from $ 999 for the MacBook Air and go as high at $ 3.900 for a load of 15 "MacBook Pro.

Microsoft and its partners make a much wider selection of models and price range, the more expensive it is as good as the best of Apple. But buyer’s budget conscious Windows PC can end up with "good enough" PCs that are less stuck with, unless you do your homework.

Here are some examples of smart Windows laptop choices:
  • MacBook killer Dell 15.5” XPS 15 ($1,599 – $2,399)
  • Microsoft’s own 12” Surface Pro 3 with stylus ($849 – $1,999)
  • Acer 10” Switch 10($449)
  • Dell’s pocket-sized 8” Venue 8 Pro (starting at $299)
Microsoft’s goal to get its dissatisfied user base on board with Windows 10 is apparent.

“We want to make Windows 7 users feel as though they are upgrading from a Prius to a Tesla with Windows 10 without having to relearn how to drive,” said Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore who leads the company’s operating system experience team.

If you want to take the Windows 10 Technical Preview for a spin, a word of warning: You need a spare PC, preferably a desktop, not your regular working PC and do-it-yourself troubleshooting experience.

I am using a small, minimally powered 11” Acer V 11 Touch and it did take some fiddling to get things running right. But it runs all the new Windows 10 features well.

Monday, September 29, 2014

MCTS 70-680 Practice Questions - Windows 7 Configuring

Free practice questions for the MCTS Windows 7 Configuring exam: 70-680. This video includes 5 sample questions but users can visit our site for the full online practice test for MCTS 70-680.

Monday, September 8, 2014

MCTS 70-680 Windows 7 Remote Assistance/Desktop

This video will look at Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop. Remote Assistance is designed to provide help to the user in the same way that they would get help from someone if the person were looking over their shoulder so to speak. Remote Desktop is designed to allow a user to take complete control of their P.C. from remote. For example they could access their computer from home.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Windows 8.1 and XP Market Share Falls While Windows 7 Gains Users

Windows XP is no longer supported, and according to the latest statistics from Net market share, it seems some people are moving to other operating systems as a result. However, unfortunately for Microsoft, many people are moving away from XP, while Windows 8.1 actively dodge. They are probably also waiting for Windows 9, which could be released as early as 2015.

For the month of July, Windows 8.1’s desktop market share stood at 6.56 percent. That's a smaller decline of 6.61 percent in June but down nonetheless. Meanwhile, the share of Windows 8 was reduced from 5.93 percent in June to 5.92 percent last month, a small tiny 0.01 percent decrease. Combined, Windows 8 and 8.1 occupy 12.48 percent of the pie desktop operating system from July. That's not much, considering that Windows XP takes almost twice that despite the fact that it is over 10 years old.

Speaking of Windows XP, although still very popular, some PC users are left there last month. I share the desktop of Windows XP decreased from 25.31 percent in June to 24.82 percent last month. However, that does not necessarily mean that the decline will continue unabated. After all, Windows XP share actually increased in June, up from 25.27 in May.

Then there is the big cheese, the head honcho, the big kahuna; Windows 7. Installment of Windows 7 in July soared to 51.22 percent. That's up 50.55 percent in June, representing an increase of 0.67 percent.

For us, the reasons for the continued dominance of Windows XP and Windows 7 over 8 and 8.1 are simple. The first two operating systems have a Start menu and provide a familiar experience for users. Windows 8 and 8.1 do not, through a Metro-market version of the Start menu is likely to return in Windows 9. Then, of course, is the issue of cost. Windows 7 costs the same as it does in Windows 8.1 on Newegg; about $ 100. Most people clearly prefer to use the operating system with a boot menu, even if you are approaching five years old.

Microsoft To End Support For Windows 7 in 2015

Microsoft is warning customers that the end is coming soon for Windows 7 in the same way it came out for Windows XP earlier this year. The company will exit mainstream support for Windows Free 7 on January 13, 2015, but users will still receive security updates until 2020.
  The measure will mainly affect consumers. Companies that pay for extended support for Windows 7, as most of them do, will be supported for five years on 14 January 2020.

That's important because many companies are currently in the process of upgrading their old PCs with Windows XP, but are moving to Windows 7, Windows 8 does.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Top 10 Windows 8 Questions Everyone Asks

You’ve finally made the leap to Windows 8 (or, more probably, Windows 8.1), and a pretty big leap it was. Everything looks different. Everything acts differently. Even a simple task like shutting down your PC suddenly becomes a challenge.

We know. We've lived through Windows 8, too, and we've received many, many questions about it. Here are the 10 most common ones we hear about Microsoft’s latest operating system. With these answers under your belt, you can consider yourself well past the beginner stage.

1. What's the differences between Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and the Windows 8.1 Update?

To start the confusion, there are three versions of Windows 8:
· The original Windows 8
· The much-improved Windows 8.1
· The even-better Windows 8.1 Update, though saddled with an idiotic name

windows 8 top10 questions start button and none
The Start button is one subtle, but key, difference between Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

How do you tell which you have? Go to the Desktop environment and look in the lower-left corner. If there’s no Start button, you’ve got the original Windows 8.
If there's a Start button, click or tap it to go to the Start screen. Look in the upper-right corner. If there's a magnifying-glass icon, you have Windows 8.1 Update.
If you have the Start button, but not the magnifying glass, you have Windows 8.1, without the Update. In that case, you need update KB2919355. Microsoft is patching Windows 8 and the Windows 8.1 Update, but not Windows 8.1 without the Update. Without patches, Windows becomes less secure.

 The magnifying-glass icon means you have Windows 8.1 Update.

Besides, the Windows 8.1 Update is by far the easiest and friendliest version of Windows 8 so far. Finally, the two user interfaces—Modern and Desktop—appear to be cooperating.
The good news: If you have a new computer, it’s almost certainly running Windows 8.1 with the Update.

2. What about the Start menu?

windows 8 top10 questions start menu classic start menu setup
Classic Shell brings back the Start menu that Windows 8 took away.

From the very birth of Windows 8, this was the biggest complaint: “Where’s the Start menu?” 
Even with the improvements of 8.1 and the 8.1 Update, which brought back the Start button, there’s still no Start menu.

windows 8 top10 questions start menu separate programs and apps
There you go, a Windows Start menu, courtesy of Classic Shell.

One could argue that the Start screen—which is what you get when you click the 8.1 Start button—can do everything that the Start menu can. Except that it can’t. You can’t hover the mouse over a Modern tile and get a submenu of files recently opened in that application. And the Start screen just doesn’t feel right. When you’re working in a windowing environment like the Desktop, you don’t want to be thrown into a bad-imitation iPad just to launch a program.

Luckily, where Microsoft fails, others provide. You can find plenty of third-party Start menus for Windows 8, and many of them are free.

My favorite, Classic Shell, is one of the free ones. It’s capable of giving you, with no trouble at all, a close facsimile to the Windows 7 Start menu. But you can change that look with additional skins, add separate Programs and Apps menus in place of the traditional All Programs, and pick an image for the Start button. You can also control what happens when you left-click and shift-click the Start button.

3. What’s that screen with all the little tiles?

You may have stumbled upon it accidentally. You’re at the Start screen, you do something (you’re not sure what), and suddenly you have a screen filled with tiny tiles instead of big tiles.
That’s the Apps screen, which Microsoft added with Windows 8.1. It lists every program and app installed on your PC. Think of it as the equivalent of the Windows 7 Start Menu’s All Programs submenu. Or Android’s All Apps screen.

windows 8 top10 questions  apps screen
This is the Windows 8 Apps screen. It looks busy, but it's actually easy to sort.

You get to it through the Start screen. If you’re using a touchscreen, swipe up. If you’re using a mouse, move that mouse, and a little arrow icon will appear near the lower left corner of the screen. Click it.
Unlike Windows 7’s All Programs, you can sort this list. The default is to sort by name, but you can also sort by date installed, most used (which makes it a bit like the Windows 7 Start menu’s left pane), and category. Note, however, that it lacks All Program’s ability to use submenus.
One other important point: If you sort by name or category, it lists apps first, and traditional desktop programs after them.

4. How do I do some of the simple tasks that should be obvious to anyone?

The Windows 8 learning curve isn’t just about the big stuff. Here are three minor issues that vex new users.

Right-click in a touch interface

Your index finger lacks left and right buttons, and the touchscreen doesn’t know one finger from another.
To bring up a context menu on a touchscreen, touch the object and keep your finger there until a square appears around the object. Then release, and the menu will pop up.

windows 8 top10 questions simple tasks search charm
Find anything in Windows using the Search charm.


Windows 8’s equivalent to Windows 7’s “Search programs and files” field is the Search charm. There are a lot of ways to bring it up, so I’ll just give you the most convenient:
· On the desktop, press Winkey-S.
· On the home screen, just start typing.

Sleep or shut down Windows

windows 8 top10 questions  simple tasks shut down desktop
Here's the menu for shutting down Windows.

This is the one that puzzled a lot of people when Windows 8 first came out.
On the Home screen, swipe from the right edge inward, or move the mouse pointer to the right-top or right-bottom corner and then off the right edge of the screen. Select Settings>Power, and make the appropriate choice.
On the desktop, right-click or touch-and-hold the Start button. From the resulting menu, select Shut down or sign out and the appropriate option. This trick requires Windows 8.1.

5. What’s happened to Windows Explorer?

Windows’ built-in file manager got a facelift and a new name, and both are an improvement (I thought so even when I hated Windows 8).

windows 8 top10 questions windows explorer file explorer minimize ribbon
File Explorer has tabbed ribbons you can hide.

Windows Explorer is now called File Explorer. While I usually don’t approve of renaming common features in a popular OS, I’ll make an exception here: It actually describes what the program does.
It also now sports Office-like tabbed ribbons, which you can show and hide by clicking the little chevron icon just below the top-right corner. The main ribbons are self-explanatory: Home, Share, View, and Search.

windows 8 top10 questions windows explorer file explorer picture library
In the new File Explorer, the Pictures Library has new tabs and ribbons available.

Other ribbons pop up when appropriate. For instance, go to the Pictures library, and you’ll see additional Library and Picture tabs. You’ll also see the Pictures tab when you’ve selected a picture.

windows 8 top10 questions windows explorer copy two files
You can monitor two files as they copy.

You can configure the interface. Right-click any option on any ribbon and select Add to Quick Access Toolbar. That toolbar is always available, even when you’ve hidden the ribbon.
One more nice touch: Copy a big file to another drive. The familiar dialog box comes up to show you the progress. While it’s still going, start copying another big file. The existing dialog box will expand and show you progress on both files.

6. Where are my libraries?

Now that you’ve found File Explorer, you might notice something is missing. The left pane lists Favorites, This PC (the location formerly known as My Computer), and Network. But it apparently doesn’t have Libraries.
Libraries—configurable pointers to Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos—help you organize your data files. They’re one of the best features added with Windows 7.

windows 8 top10 questions where are my libraries
The libraries aren't gone! You can dig them out.

For instance, the Documents library by default contains both the My Documents and Shared Documents folder, and you can add or remove other folders as you wish. The folders aren’t actually in the library, but they appear to be.
The good news: Microsoft didn’t remove libraries; it just hid them. But why?
Probably because the company doesn’t really want you to store data locally. Microsoft would rather you stored everything in its cloud-based service, OneDrive, and pay for that privilege.
If that doesn’t sound like a good plan to you, restore those libraries. In File Explorer, go to the View tab and select Navigation pane>Show libraries.

7. What’s with the Task Manager?

Big improvements. That’s what’s with the Task Manager. Like File Explorer, it’s one of the few things about Windows 8 that Microsoft got right from the start.

windows 8 top10 questions task manager processes
The Task Manager shows computer processes in an easier-to-read format.

You launch it the same way as before: right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. But when it opens, it looks rather minimalist. All you get is a list of running programs and apps, an End task button, and a More details option.
Click More details.
Now you’ve got most of the information you had in earlier versions, except that it’s well-spaced, clearer, and easier to read. If you explore the various tabs, you’ll find all the information from the Windows 7 version, plus more. For instance, the User column is now on the Details one.
One very useful new tab is Startup, which replaces the Startup tab that used to reside in MSCONFIG. This is the place to go to trim down the list of programs that load automatically when you boot. 

windows 8 top10 questions task manager startup
The Task Manager is less cluttered and offers more information than before.

This version is far easier to read than the old MSCONFIG tab. And it gives more information, including Startup impact—how much each autoloading program slows down the boot.
On the other hand, it lacks checkboxes. To disable an autoloader, right-click Enabled and select Disable. That right-click, by the way, also offers useful options like Open file location and Search online.

8. Where do I find my product ID number?

Every legally-sold copy of Windows comes with a unique, 25-character code that acts as a proof of purchase. If you buy a copy of Windows, the code is printed inside the packaging. If you bought a PC with Windows pre-installed, it’s printed on a label on the computer.
Unless your computer came with Windows 8. With the new OS, Microsoft eliminated the requirement that pre-installed PCs come with their Product ID (PID) numbers visible on the case.

windows 8 top10 questions where is my product key
ProduKey makes it easier to find your Product ID for Windows.

In theory, you don’t need them anymore. A unique, Microsoft-approved PID is built into your computer’s hardware. If you have to reinstall Windows, the installation routine should not ask for your PID; it already has it.
Nevertheless, you may feel uncomfortable not having access to your PID. I know I do. And there is a solution.
NirSoft’s ProduKey will display your PID (and other ID numbers, as well). The program is free, and portable—meaning you don’t have to install it. Once the information is displayed, you can copy it to the clipboard and paste it into another program. Then you can save the file, back it up, or print it and tape the printout to the outside of your computer.

9. How do I switch users?

If you share a computer with someone else, or use separate Administrator and Regular User accounts, you know the routine of switching users.
At least you knew that routine before you took on the challenge of Windows 8. Now it’s entirely different.

windows 8 top10 questions how change accoounts
Switching users works differently in Windows 8.

Once again, Microsoft has changed the terminology. Remember your old options, either to log off or switch users? (Switching users was faster, but leaves the previous account running in the background. Logging off shuts down the previous account entirely.) Now you don’t log off, you sign out. And while you can still switch users, there’s no longer any name for that action.

You’ll find your name, and your picture if you’ve bothered to set one up, in the upper-right corner of theStart screen. Tap or click the name or the picture. To log off, tap or click Sign out. You’ll come to a logon page where you can select an account.To switch users, simply tap the appropriate user name.

10. Do I have to log on with a Microsoft account?

Just as Microsoft really, truly wants you to use OneDrive, they also want you to use a Microsoft account. After all, without one, you can’t use OneDrive.In fact, when you set up Windows 8 for first time, the preparation wizard won’t let you create a local account. You have to create one connected to Microsoft.

windows 8 top10 questions log on with microsoft account
You don't need a Microsoft account to log on; a local-account option is also available.

But you don’t have to keep it that way. Windows 8 has something called a local account, which doesn’t have to be tied with anything on Microsoft’s cloud. You can convert your current account to a local one.
Here’s how:
1. In the Search charm, type account and select Manage your account.
2. On the Accounts screen, select your account, then click Disconnect right below your name and email address.
3. Follow the wizard. You’ll have to enter your current password, then fill in a few fields, including Name and Password. You’ll have to use a new login name, but you can keep the old password.
When you’re done, you’ll see your old settings, programs, and files. But you’ll have a different logon and won’t be connected to Microsoft.