Here’s how to block the Windows 10 upgrade

January 18th, 2016

164_A_MWIf you’ve ever been in the car with a child constantly asking, “are we there yet?” you know how annoying a repetitive question can be. Unfortunately for Windows users, Microsoft has decided to take this method of annoyance to their own customer base, constantly nagging them to upgrade. If you’re as sick of this as thousands of other Windows users are, then here’s how you can zip the lid on Microsoft’s prompts.

If you’re like many people who are happy with their current Microsoft operating system, you may have no desire to upgrade to Windows 10. And while Microsoft seems to be doing everything they can to force your hand, like no longer offering security updates for Windows 8, upgrading is still avoidable for now. So if you’d like to get rid of the annoying prompts that are likely pestering you on a regular basis, it is possible to do so. And believe it or not, Microsoft themselves have released instructions on how to do this and they can be found their website.

How to block Windows 10 prompts

To block Windows 10 popups, you will need to dig into your PC’s registry and disable the upgrade path. However, a word of warning before you start: editing your registry incorrectly can cause serious problems to your PC. Before you make any modifications, back up your computer and registry in case anything goes wrong. In other words, at this point you're proceeding at your own risk.

If you are a Windows 7 Pro, Ultimate or Windows 8.1 Pro user and have admin permissions on the computer, follow these steps.

  1. Open up group policy editor (gpedit.msc)
  2. Browse to Computer Configuration>Administrative Templates>Windows Components>Windows Update Policy
  3. Switch on the Turn off the upgrade to the latest version of Windows through Windows Update setting
For users who are on a non-Enterprise version of Windows 7 or 8.1, you will need to input the below registry key in manually:

Subkey: HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Gwx DWORD value: DisableGwx = 1

And that’s all there is to it. Now you will no longer be bothered with popups bugging you to upgrade to Windows 10.

That being said, if you are currently running Windows 8 you need to make sure that you've upgraded to the latest “8.1 Update” version of the software so that you can enjoy continued 'Mainstream Support’ (including new features) until 9 January 2018 and ‘Extended Support’ (security patches) until 10 January 2023. If you're running the original Windows 8.0 you will no longer have support and your systems could be at risk.

If you would like additional assistance in blocking Windows notifications or help with other IT related needs, we are happy to be of service. Get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 12th, 2015

164_MW_AWouldn’t it be grand if you could afford to hire your own personal assistant? Someone who could take care of menial tasks, sing songs to you, and generally just make your life more pleasant? As technology develops, we are getting closer and closer to virtual assistants who are just as good as their real-life counterparts. In fact, Cortana, the assistant for Microsoft Windows 10, can do all three of the tasks mentioned above (yes, she’ll actually sing for you) and a whole lot more. Here are some handy tips and tricks every Windows 10 user should know about their new virtual assistant.

Get directions

Let’s start with something very practical that nearly anyone can use - directions. Simply put, Cortana makes it easier to get them. All you have to do is ask her “How do I get to Tony’s Pizza?” She’ll then paste your location and destination into the Maps app, and wallah! Instant directions.

But when it comes to getting to a destination, Cortana can do more than just directions. She can also provide you an estimate as to how long it’ll take to get there. Simply ask her, “How long will it take to get to xyz?” and she’ll tell you. Better yet, if your default method is bus or train, she’ll also tell you which number or line to take.

Set an alarm

While setting your own alarm isn’t the most tedious task in the world, it is certainly easier and quicker with the help of Cortana. To get some alarm-setting assistance, simply tell Cortana, “Set an alarm for XXX”. She’ll then display your alarm entry to ensure she got it right, and at this point you can edit it if there was any misunderstanding.

Make decisions for you

Whether you’re trying to decide what type of sandwich to order at lunch, or the color of a new shirt you’re going to buy, Cortana can help. How, you might ask? Simple - she uses the tried-and-true method of a coin toss. Ask her to “flip a coin”, and you’ll never struggle again when it comes to making menial decisions.

Set reminders

In this busy world where many of us are constantly on the move, it can be easy to forget tasks, errands, and other important things we need to do. Cortana can be really handy here, as she can provide a set of reminders based on either people or location. Here’s how it works.

Let’s say the next time you’re at the grocery store you want to remember to buy milk and eggs. All you have to do is tell Cortana to “Set a reminder”, tell her to remind you to “buy milk and eggs”, and then give her the location details of where you want to be reminded. The next time you’re at that grocery store, an alarm will go off reminding you to buy your desired items.

As for the people reminders, these work in the same way as the location-based ones, but instead for the contacts in your phone. To activate this, tell Cortana “The next time I call Amy, remind me to talk with her about work”. The next time you talk with Amy on the phone or via text, your reminder will appear on the display.

Check the weather

No virtual assistant would be complete without being able to act as the weatherman and tell you if there is a chance it’s going to rain, snow or sleet. And Cortana does just that. Whether you need to know the weather right now or next week, Cortana can provide you with the forecast for anywhere in the world. All you have to do is ask.

Switch on your PC remotely

How nifty would it be if you could turn on your PC remotely and save precious time at work, just by telling your smartphone to do it? With Cortana, now you can. First you’ll need to download the free app VoiceWake for both your smartphone and PC, and you’ll also need to change some settings in the BIOS. This is undoubtedly a bit technical, so make sure you know what you’re doing before you get started.

Interested in learning more about Cortana or other Windows 10 features? Toying with the idea of installing some new IT in your office? Get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 31st, 2015

Windows_Oct13_AWindows 10’s Cortana is billed as the next generation of digital assistants, bringing a whole suite of capabilities to the fore in an attempt to upstage Apple’s Siri and Google Now. The latest is the extension of Cortana’s assistance to non-Microsoft services like Dropbox and Google Drive. The REACHit service, released by manufacturer Lenovo on its latest devices, allows Cortana to seamlessly search not only local content, but that stored on third-party cloud systems including Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box.

The Lenovo Yoga 900 convertible laptop device, expected to be released by the end of 2015, will be among the first to feature the REACHit app, available only on Lenovo PCs running Windows 10. At the heart of REACHit is an improved search experience that allows users to track down files across their various devices – meaning you’ll find what you’re looking for, regardless of whether you saved it on your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone – and cloud-based services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box.

These kind of comprehensive queries bear similarity to the deep Spotlight searches made possible in Apple’s latest operating system release, El Capitan. But REACHit can be used with both voice commands and plain-English typed search terms, something to be expected given it uses Cortana as a base upon which Lenovo and Microsoft have collaborated to develop additional functionality. The search flexibility means it’s possible not only to look for specific files when you already know the name, but also to specify parameters and find everything that matches. That includes finding photos, for example, based on where and when they were taken, who they’ve been shared with, and when they were last accessed. Perhaps most practically, this means REACHit can use date and location information to locate files even where they are not tagged in a way that would normally assist search execution.

Restricting the types of files that can be searched by REACHit, and the kind of information it uses to conduct those searches, will allow you to allay some privacy concerns – particularly prevalent given that the app is cloud-hosted. Certainly, REACHit signals further advancements in simplified natural-language searching across the numerous devices most of us now routinely use. It also exemplifies the increased importance manufacturers are attaching to an enhanced user experience that enables us to save valuable minutes in our workday.

Want to find out how effective implementation of Windows 10 in your workplace could help you boost productivity? Give us a call and we’ll show you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 27th, 2015

Windows_Aug26_AEver wondered what the Cortana thing that keeps showing up on Windows 10 is? It’s actually a digital voice assistant similar to Siri or Google Now. While you might be apprehensive about talking to your laptop, utilizing Cortana is easier and cooler than you might think. Here’s all you need to know about getting Cortana set up and what she can help you with.

If you are using Windows 10, it’s likely you have come across Cortana at least once or twice. While you might fear that the effort involved in setting up the feature isn’t worth the time you will save once Cortana is up and running, you would be mistaken. Configuring her is quite simple and she is more helpful than you might realize.

Setup

For starters, you will want to have your microphone turned on if you plan on using voice commands, and all the privacy and locations settings enabled. Cortana will not work if these have not been activated. From there, she will give you a brief overview of her capabilities and ask you a few questions to get to know you better.

Once that is completed, you are going to want to spend a few minutes testing her out and seeing what she can do for you. This awkward, getting-to-know-you stage might seem like a waste of time but, once you have a good feel for Cortana, you’ll be more inclined to use her in the future.

Maximize Cortana

Now that Cortana is ready to assist you, it’s important to utilize her as a personal assistant. Here are a few areas she can really come in handy:

Find that document - Ever saved a document somewhere to later forget where it was stored? Simply ask Cortana to look for it by saying, “Hey Cortana, find (file name),” and she will bring it up for you. Let’s say you are looking for Word documents located in multiple folders on your computer; all you have to say is, “Hey Cortana, find my Word documents,” to have her pull up all your Word files.

Easily start tasks - Football season is nearly upon us and that means fantasy football season is here. Utilizing Cortana could give you the extra edge needed to win your league this year. If you want to check on Tony Romo’s status, say, “search for Tony Romo injury,” and the search results will pop up for you. Want to make a sneaky trade offer to John before your rivals? Say “email John Fantasy Football,” and a window with his e-mail address will pop-up. Of course, these features are universal and you don’t have to like or even know what fantasy football is to use them.

Answer your questions - One of the coolest features about Cortana is the fact that when you ask her a question she will not only show you the answer, but speak it as well. Want to know what the weather is like in Denver? Just say, “Hey Cortana, what’s the weather in Denver,” and she’ll give you the lowdown on it. Need to know when your next meeting is taking place? Ask Cortana and she’ll reply with the answer. This is especially nice when you’re in your office but away from the computer.

Talking to Cortana is nice, but speaking with a person about your IT is better. Contact us today for all your technology needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 1st, 2015

164_Mic_AImagine a world where you no longer rely on passwords. What would it look like? Would there be flying cars speeding through the skies? Would there be robots serving you coffee in Starbucks? While these two changes are still probably decades away, a password-free world is not. Here’s how Microsoft Windows 10 is taking the first steps to eliminating passwords now.

The problem with passwords

The problem with passwords is simple - they can be stolen. And from Facebook to iTunes to Flickr and thousands more, nearly every major website and thousands of niche ones require a password to use. And because we Internet users are logging onto dozens of these sites and services everyday, it’s virtually impossible for us to create a unique, complex password for each one. So people resort to using only a handful of passwords, or even just one master password, since it’s easier. But of course, this poses a security risk. So what’s an Internet user to do?

Microsoft Windows 10 is pioneering a new technology that is ready to flip this dated system on its head and eliminate the password problem for good.

Login to your devices with biometrics

Passwords can be stolen easily, but how easy is it to steal a person’s physicality? Microsoft’s new technology, named Hello, uses biometrics - such as your fingerprint, or face or iris scan - to log into your computer, laptop or other device. This ensures that no one can login to your device but you.

Well, what about using a photograph to login instead, you might ask? It won’t work. Using technology that takes a detailed map of your face in 3D, Hello is trained to reject the token photograph or selfie on login attempt. This makes it virtually impossible for anyone, besides you, to login to your device.

Use biometrics to login on the web

Logging into your computer with biometrics is great, but what most users really want is a more secure solution to login to websites while not having to remember a bazillion passwords. This is where Microsoft’s Passport comes in. Passport allows you to login into applications and online content without the need for a password. For example, instead of using your typical password to sign into your Microsoft Windows Account, you can now use Windows 10 facial recognition (or other biometrics) to log you in instead. That means you can access Skype, Xbox Live, Office 365 and more without a standard password. In addition to your Microsoft Windows Account, you’ll be able to use the biometric capabilities of Passport to access thousands of enterprise Azure Active Directory online services. Bear in mind, though, that it will be quite some time before you can use Passport to replace all your standard logins, since not every website has implemented this technology yet.

Want to hear more exciting Windows 10 news, or need assistance with your Windows device? Get in touch with one of our technology experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 30th, 2015

Windows_Jun18_AIt’s finally here – the long-awaited release of the new Windows 10 operating system from Microsoft has been confirmed for July 29. The tech giant is skipping number 9, making this the latest release since Windows 8 failed to live up to expectations. That means Microsoft has gone back to the drawing board, and emerged with countless impressive features. If you’re ready to get started with Windows 10 this summer, here’s what you need to know.

You can get it for free

They say the best things in life are free, and that might just be the case with Windows 10. Microsoft has kept its word about making its newest operating system free to access – at least if you’re currently running an authentic version of Windows 7 or 8.1, its two most recent releases. You’ll enjoy a free lifetime upgrade to Windows 10 provided you make the move within the next year and, better still, it’s an automatic upgrade directly from your existing Windows 7 or 8.1 interface. If you’re running an older version of Windows, you’ll need to make a fresh install and you’ll also need to pay – the various available versions of Windows 10 are expected to retail starting at $119.

It’s being launched in phases

Although the official release date is July 29, in reality Microsoft is expected to undertake a phased launch. This means that you might not end up using the brand new Windows 10 on July 29 itself – instead, Microsoft is likely to make the new operating system available to desktop and laptop users first, and only later to mobile and other devices. What’s more, the firm already has its next move in the pipeline. Upgrade and update plans for Windows 10 are anticipated to be on the way in two phases, in June and October 2016. But we are expecting these changes, codenamed Redstone, to come in the form of more minor tweaks to the Windows 10 infrastructure rather than a full overhaul.

It’s the last you’ll see of Windows

Microsoft has made no secret of the fact that it sees Windows 10 as the operating system’s final release. But that’s not quite as ultimate as it sounds – this is not really the end of Windows. Instead, what we’re seeing is the transition of Windows from a product to a service. Microsoft envisions a future where, instead of major new versions of Windows emerging every few years, there are regular improvements and updates – far beyond the WIndows Updates that we know at the moment.

It’s likely that version numbers will come to play far less of a role in system updates in the future – in much the same way as mobile apps operate, we’ll instead settle into enjoying a frequently updated service that incorporates the latest features Microsoft has developed. And while some have expressed fears that this could lead to home and business users being tied into a subscription model in order to stay up to date, Microsoft appears committed to ensuring that ongoing upgrades are free.

Ready to make the leap to Windows 10? Want to find out how best to make the transition with minimal disruption to your business? Give us a call and let us walk you through it.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.