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7 Frighteningly Dark Secrets Microsoft Desperately Doesn’t Want You To Know About Windows 10

Windows 10 Secrets

A light blue Surface Pro tablet with the Windows 10 start menu prominently displayed zooms in on the TV screen as the commercial begins.

The image transitions to a little girl writing the word “love” with her finger on her laptop’s touchscreen. 

In the next scene, two adolescent girls in a classroom use one hand to “snap” Microsoft Word to the top left corner of their tablet screen, while viewing other programs in the remaining corners. 

Finally, a blond middle-aged woman sits at her kitchen counter, smiling as she views her Surface Pro tablet.

Then with hypnotic techno-style music playing the background, Microsoft boasts what seem to be impressive statistics about Windows 10 – it’s newest (and maybe last) operating system:

  • The fastest growth of any version of Windows.  Ever.
  • Most monthly hours of use.
  • Customers love it more than any other version of Windows.  Ever.
  • Over 5 billion questions asked of Cortana.
  • 6.6 million hours of Xbox One games streamed to Windows 10 PCs.
  • More Universal Windows Platform apps.
  • Double the number of monthly repeat customers.

“The future starts now” proclaims another Microsoft commercial that describes several amazing and cool features of Windows 10 – touchscreens, ability to annotate web pages, devices that listen, sing, talk and tell jokes.

Why would you want to miss out on the latest and greatest Windows operating system?  It’s more interactive, it’s more responsive, it’s faster, it’s easier to use, it’s fun, and it’s cool.

At least that’s what Microsoft and the commission-based computer sales folks at the big box retail stores would have you believe. 

Even some computer “experts” who own or work at independent computer stores promote such hype – despite the fact they should know better.

Sadly, many people believe these greedy con artists who only have one thing on their minds:  THEIR bottom line.

Microsoft’s executives only care about increasing the value of their stocks and having their sales and usage numbers look good to their investors.

The big box stores sales people carefully follow the scripted sales presentations given to them – designed to convince you, the unsuspecting but trusting consumer, to buy that Windows 10 desktop or laptop – which pads their wallets with a nice sales commission.

The mission of both the Microsoft exec and the box store sales geek is this:  distract you with the bells and whistles, the glitz and glam of Windows 10, hoping you’ll never discover the frighteningly dark secrets hidden beneath the operating system’s shiny façade.

I don’t have room in this tech column to fully explain all of the evils of Windows 10.

So I’ve written a 20+ page eBook that you can download for free at my website that you need to read BEFORE you do anything with your current computer or BEFORE you buy a new one.

In this eBook, you’ll uncover seven important secrets Microsoft desperately doesn’t want you to know about Windows 10. 

  • The free upgrade to Windows 10 can render your computer completely useless. 
  • Microsoft’s forced updates can crash your computer – and it’s YOUR problem, not theirs. 
  • Your “free” upgrade is paid for by intrusive ads embedded throughout Windows 10.
  • Microsoft uses your Internet connection – even when you’re not online.
  • Many apps are missing important features to make them useful.
  • Where’d that program go?  Microsoft can automatically uninstall software or hardware it doesn’t like.
  • You have NO privacy in Windows 10.  Nearly everything you do is tracked and reported to Microsoft – which even puts the NSA to shame.

The final pages of the guide will give you specific actions to take, depending on your computer situation.

Download the free eBook at https://www.calibreforhome.com/windows10secrets.

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Tired of annoying Windows 10 pop-ups?

Say No to Windows 10

No doubt you’ve been annoyed by the constant pop-ups from Microsoft on your Windows 7 or 8 computer urging you to upgrade to Windows 10.

All you want to do is relax by playing a game of solitaire, catch up on the day’s news, or see what friends have posted on Facebook.

Instead, you’re forced to close the window that takes up more than half your screen before you can enjoy using your computer.

It’s like malware

Microsoft is becoming more and more aggressive and intrusive with their notifications. 

  • A pop-up appears every time you power on your PC.
  • An icon displays in the bottom right corner of your desktop.
  • It takes over your manual Windows update options.

This behavior simulates that of virus and malware infections.

Microsoft’s questionable tactics

Did you know that these forced “ads” significantly slow down your computer when you first power it on?

It does.

Windows 7 computers, for example, take 20-30 seconds longer to fully start background programs and services because the Windows 10 notifications must load first.  This forces you to wait before your PC is ready to use.

Did you also realize Microsoft steals your precious hard drive space by secretly downloading the Windows 10 installer files to your computer?

I’ve seen on client computers as much as 6.2GB of hard drive space filled with Windows 10 installation files.  Files my clients did not download nor give permission for them to be downloaded.

Watch where you click

Besides the intrusiveness, the biggest problem with the incessant pop-ups and notifications is the risk for you to accidentally click the wrong button and install Windows 10 on your computer.

This “oops” can cause major problems and cost hundreds of dollars to fix.  We’ve seen dozens clients experience this.

One client didn’t understand the changes the upgrade would make to her computer – until after she had clicked “yes” on the pop-up and Windows 10 installed.  When her computer rebooted, she couldn’t find her programs or files.  And her favorite game – solitaire – was no longer on her PC.

Another client’s laptop became a useless doorstop after she accidentally approved the Windows 10 upgrade.  When her laptop rebooted, neither her mouse nor keyboard worked.

Last week, a client brought her desktop in because her grandchildren clicked the “upgrade now” button in the pop-up, which installed Windows 10.  She, too, was very frustrated by the changes.

Put a stop to the madness

Microsoft doesn’t want you to keep your Windows 7 or 8.  They’re doing everything possible to annoy you into upgrading to Windows 10.

They figure you’ll get tired of closing the pop-ups, so one time you’ll finally click the “upgrade now” button to be done with it.

They don’t care if you like Windows 10 or not.  They’re not concerned that your computer may not be able to handle the new operating system.  It doesn’t bother them that you can’t play your favorite solitaire game because it’s no longer part of the operating system.

You’re smart – you won’t upgrade to Windows 10.  I’ve written before about the problems it causes.

But you don’t have to forever suffer with a slower computer, stolen hard drive space, or the annoying pop-ups.

There is a quick and easy way to stop Microsoft from bugging you with the upgrade notifications.  It also deletes all the unnecessary Windows 10 files from your computer.

It can keep you from accidentally clicking the wrong button and save you headaches and hundreds of dollars.

For more information about how to put an end to the Windows 10 notifications, send me an email at support@calibre-cs.com or call me at (812) 386-8919.

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Are you spending dollars to save pennies?

Penny Wise Pound Foolish

 

Suppose for a moment you’re shopping for a new car.  You’re not extremely picky about its features.  You don’t need built-in GPS, leather seats, or a premium sound system.  It only serves as your mode of transportation from point A to point B.

At the first dealership you visit, the salesman points out a very inexpensive model.  It’s your basic car – no bells and whistles.  It has a set of tires, a clean engine, and looks reliable.  This car would most likely meet your needs.

You decide to check out a second dealership to see what they have.  The salesman there offers you a similar car.  It doesn’t have any of the fancy add-ons, either.  It too has a set of tires, a clean engine, and looks reliable.

But it’s more expensive than the first car you looked at.

What you don’t realize are the hidden, yet important, differences between the two cars.  Many “features” of the second car make it much safer for you to drive, guarantee it will last longer, require less frequent repairs, and overall provides a more pleasurable experience.

If you chose to buy the first car because it was cheaper up front, you would find out that the constant frustrations and repairs it needed over time would make it more expensive than the second car.

This is known as total cost of ownership.

Unfortunately, I see many people fail to consider total cost of ownership when buying a new computer – especially around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Big box stores advertisements scream that you can get a laptop for $180.

But as Time magazine reported in October 2012: “While the main supposed draw for Black Friday is good deals and ultra-low priced “door busters,”… pricing studies… highlighted the fact that Black Friday didn’t offer the best value for shoppers, especially when it comes to popular holiday purchases like electronics and toys.”

Did you notice the one key phrase in their statement?  Didn’t offer the best value.

You can buy all sorts of items at low prices. But the real question is, are you getting something of value?

Answer this question honestly:  Do you seriously think you’re buying a quality, long-lasting laptop when it’s priced at only $180?

The only way manufacturers and retailers can offer these computers at such ridiculously low prices is because 1) they’re made with lower-quality components that have a higher failure rate and 2) they’re subsidized by software companies that load up the computer with junk programs that slow the computer down by as much as 40%.

I’ve seen plenty of these cheap computers (desktops and laptops) come into our shop just a few months after they were purchased.

They have problems like:

  • the hard drive had crashed (thus causing the user to lose all their data files) or
  • the computer wouldn’t power on because the motherboard died or the power supply had failed.

When you buy one of these cheap computers on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you’re throwing your hard-earned money away.  

You save a few bucks now, but end up spending way more in the end – either paying for repairs or having to buy another, usually more expensive, computer to replace the cheap one.

A second reason to avoid the Black Friday/Cyber Monday computer specials is because all of the PCs at the big box retailers will come with Windows 10.

While Windows 10 does offer some benefits – such as a functional start menu and slightly faster performance – it is still plagued with problems.  Just like its awful predecessor Windows 8.

  • Incompatible software programs.
  • Printers and other devices that don’t work with it.
  • Errors caused by faulty updates
  • And an endless list that I don’t have room to include

The biggest concern with Windows 10 concerns Microsoft’s lack of care about your privacy.

In a 45 page document, Microsoft basically grants itself very broad rights to collect everything you do, say and write with and on your devices in order to sell more targeted advertising or to sell your data to third parties.  Microsoft appears to be granting itself the right to share your data either with your consent “or as necessary.”

Here’s the most troubling statement from their new policy:  Microsoft “will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have good faith belief that doing so is necessary to,” for example, “protect their customers” or “enforce the terms governing the use of the services.”

The definition of “good faith belief” leaves the door WIDE open to interpretation. 

Hello, Big Brother!

Bottom line is this:  I don’t like seeing people get suckered into buying something that isn’t truly a good purchase and a wise use of their money.

I like a good deal as much as you do.  But I’ve learned it’s often best to save money by paying a little more up front.

I’ve wasted enough money trying to save pennies by spending dollars.  Haven’t you?

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What To Do When Your Web Browser Gives You Trouble

Web Browsers

 

Can you guess what the most common activity is people do on their computers?

Give yourself a pat on the back if you correctly guessed getting on the Internet.

Whether it’s checking email, reading the latest news or sports updates, watching videos on YouTube, or mingling with friends on Facebook, the Internet is the primary destination of most computer users.

You use a program called a web browser to access the Internet.  The most popular web browsers are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Sometimes you’ll experience problems while visiting different websites.  A particular site may not load completely or at all.  An error message may appear.  Websites may take a seemingly long time to display on your screen.

Although there could be many possible causes of such problems, a gunked up web browser could be the culprit.  Resetting your browser can correct some of the problems you may experience.

Here’s how to reset the three most popular web browsers.

To reset Internet Explorer:

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Click the gear icon in the upper right corner.
  3. Select Internet Options.
  4. Click the Advanced tab.
  5. Click the Reset… button at the bottom of the window.
  6. Click Reset on the next window that opens.
  7. Click OK on the next window that opens.
  8. Close Internet Explorer to fully apply the changes.

To reset Google Chrome:

  1. Open Google Chrome.
  2. Click the Chrome settings icon in the upper right corner (3 horizontal bars).
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Show Advanced Settings.
  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.
  6. Click on the Reset Browser Settings button.
  7. Close Google Chrome to fully apply the changes.

To reset Mozilla Firefox:

  1. Open Firefox.
  2. Press the ALT key on your keyboard one time. The menu bar will appear in the top left corner of the web browser.
  3. Click on Help.
  4. Click on Troubleshooting Information. A new page will open.
  5. Click on the Refresh Firefox button.
  6. Click on the Refresh Firefox button in the small dialog window that appears in the middle of your screen.
  7. Close Firefox to fully apply the changes.

Resetting your web browser, especially Internet Explorer, corrects many problems you may experience viewing websites.  If after resetting your browser, you still experience problems, you will want to contact your trusted computer professional to further diagnose the issue.

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Just Say No to Windows 10 – For Now

Windows 10

Vic stopped in my office the other morning while out running errands.  “What do you think about Windows 10?  Should I upgrade?”

Sara called me later that afternoon asking, “I have Windows 8 on my laptop.  Should I go ahead and install Windows 10?  It keeps telling me I should.”

Every day at least one person asks me what they should do about Windows 10 – because they’re constantly nagged to upgrade to Microsoft’s latest operating system.

Last month in this column, I suggested that for most home users, moving to Windows 10 would possibly be ok – but explained several reasons why you probably shouldn’t.  I adamantly warned business owners to NOT upgrade.  (Missed that column?  Read it here:  http://tinyurl.com/Windows10Verdict).

Since then, I’ve had numerous clients express frustration after they’ve upgraded. 

Some despise its layout.  They can’t find their programs, files, or how to change certain settings.

Others complain it causes their computer to run slow.  Some report error messages appear and software programs don’t work properly.

I’d like to answer a few of the common questions I’m frequently asked about Windows 10.

 

If I don’t upgrade, will my current Windows stop working?

No.  Your ability to use Windows on your computer does not expire.  Microsoft does stop supporting and updating its various Windows versions.  For example, support for Windows XP ended in April 2014, but thousands of computers running Windows XP still work just fine – it’s just not wise to use them on the Internet.

Windows 7 and Windows 8 will be supported and updated through at least January 2020 and 2023, respectively.  So you don’t have to worry about using your computer with these operating systems for a long time.

 

Windows 10 is free.  Will I have to pay for it if I don’t update now?

Microsoft is enticing users to move to Windows 10 by offering it for free.  But you don’t have to do so immediately.

If you have a Windows 7 or 8 computer, you will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free through June 2016.  

Because you can still take advantage of it being free later, it’s wise to wait.  Let them get the bugs and problems mostly resolved before you upgrade.

 

If I upgrade but don’t like Windows 10, can I go back to my old operating system?

Yes, but it may not be easy or cheap.

Supposedly Microsoft has a utility built into Windows 10 allowing you to undo the upgrade.  But many people are finding that it either doesn’t work or they experience a myriad of problems after rolling back to their previous version of Windows.

In many cases, it requires a complete erasure of the PC followed by a clean install of Windows 7 or 8 and all your software programs.

Should you decide you really wish to upgrade to Windows 10, I’d strongly recommend having us perform our Comprehensive Windows 10 Upgrade Service.  It includes built-in safety precautions to allow for an easier reversion to your original operating system if you find you don’t like Windows 10 or it causes you problems.

 

How do I stop Windows from insisting I upgrade?

Uninstall Windows patch KB3035583 and then hide it from showing again.

Do it yourself with step-by-step instructions by downloading our instruction guide at https://www.calibreforhome.com/guides/NoWindows10.  Or contact your trusted computer professional to handle it for you.

 

What’s your ultimate recommendation?

Like everything else in life, some people love Windows 10 while others hate it.  It does have some positive enhancements over Windows 8, but it also has some serious problems.

It is best, in my professional opinion, to wait to upgrade.  Stay with your current version of Windows – 7 or 8.  Let other people experience the problems with Windows 10 for now and wait until Microsoft fixes them.  You’ll be a much happier computer user!

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Addressing Controversy & A Verdict on Windows 10

Windows 10

The headline of my last column, “Porn sites aren’t as bad as you think,” grabbed people’s attention – for which it was designed – and apparently created a little controversy. 

Funny thing, tho – a handful of people either didn’t read the article or didn’t understand its point. 

But instead of emailing or calling ME to ask questions or discuss, they ran to OTHER key influencers in my life to complain I was promoting the perusing of perverted websites.  Despite the fact in paragraph 7, I clearly stated that I DON’T condone such sites for many reasons.

Two lessons to glean from this: 

1) Headlines are supposed to draw attention to the article and

2) Read the ENTIRE story first before drawing an erroneous conclusion from a short phrase. 

2.5)  If you ever have a question, a problem, or suggestion about the topics in this column, please call me first.  I promise I don’t bite and I’m always willing to have a civil conversation to discuss.

* * * *

MY VERDICT ON WINDOWS 10

 

“Should I upgrade to Windows 10 when it’s released?” has been a constant question I’ve answered over the past month.

Mark and I have continuously evaluated the new operating system since it first became available for testing purposes.  When its final release version debuted last Wednesday, we examined it closely to make our final determination regarding its suitability for you and our clients.

 

And the answer is …

For most home users, I would say it’s safe to upgrade to Windows 10.  BUT there are several things you MUST know before doing so, which I will explain below.  (Please … don’t stop reading now.)

For business users, I would strongly recommend AGAINST upgrading to Windows 10 for now.  The main reason is that some software programs used in businesses are NOT compatible with Windows 10, so you’ll only create headaches and problems for yourself by upgrading.  Wait until your software vendors tell you their software will work on Windows 10.

 

Better than Windows 8/8.1

Microsoft learned their lesson with the dismal failure of Windows 8/8.1 that desktop and laptop computers are not the same as tablets.  Thus, a more desktop friendly operating system emerges in Windows 10.

Windows 10 is pretty sleek.  Some of the positive changes include:

  • A functional start menu returns, making it easier to open programs and files. It combines features from the earlier versions of Windows with useful functions introduced in Windows 8.
  • Microsoft Edge replaces the problem-filled Internet Explorer as a faster, safer, and more website compatible web browser. It offers some neat features, like being able to make notes directly on a website and saving them to your computer.
  • Improved speed and performance. Even for older computers, Windows 10 starts up considerably faster than Windows Vista and Windows 7.

 

Warnings to consider

As much as there is to like about Windows 10, home users need to consider these important caveats:

  • Upgrading to Windows 10 on your own isn’t for the non-computer-savvy. While the upgrade process goes smoothly for most people, I’ve read of several instances where it didn’t – turning their computer into an expensive brick.

    Mark and I have identified a specific 6-step process to cautiously and safely upgrade your computer to Windows 10.  It’s well worth letting a trusted professional who’s developed a tested process to upgrade your PC for you, instead of forking out money for costly repairs caused by a failed upgrade.

  • Do you like playing solitaire and minesweeper on your PC? If so, don’t upgrade to Windows 10.  Microsoft removed these favorite pastimes for some unknown reason. 
  • Do you use more than one monitor? Hold off on upgrading.  Thousands of users who use dual monitors, especially using NVIDIA graphics cards, found that additional displays didn’t display anything.  No official fix has been released by Microsoft yet.
  • The biggest concern is Microsoft’s new Privacy Policy and Service Agreement which went into effect on August 1.

    In this 45 page document, Microsoft basically grants itself very broad rights to collect everything you do, say and write with and on your devices in order to sell more targeted advertising or to sell your data to third parties.  Microsoft appears to be granting itself the right to share your data either with your consent “or as necessary.”

    Here’s the most troubling statement from their new policy:  Microsoft “will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have good faith belief that doing so is necessary to,” for example, “protect their customers” or “enforce the terms governing the use of the services.”

    The definition of “good faith belief” leaves the door WIDE open to interpretation. 

    Hello, Big Brother!

It appears Microsoft is keeping its tradition of releasing a horrible operating system followed by a really good one a few years later. 

Windows 10 looks promising – if you can accept Microsoft’s deep intrusion into your personal life.

Before you upgrade, I encourage you to give us a call at (812) 386-8919 so we can help you determine if Windows 10 is the right thing for you to do.

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Upgrading to Windows 10 Isn’t As Easy As It Sounds

If you’re afraid of doing something to mess up your computer, upgrading to Windows 10 is NOT a task you want to perform on your own.

Windows 10Microsoft recently began prompting Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users to reserve their free upgrade to Windows 10, which will be released on July 29. 

It stares you in the face when you check for Windows updates and also appears as a new icon in the bottom right corner of your desktop by the time and date.  (To learn more about this process, read this blog article: https://www.calibreforhome.com/2015/06/watch-out-for-this-pop-up/).

Thoroughly testing new versions of Windows before recommending it to our clients is something we take serious at Calibre Computer Solutions.  The latest and greatest shiny new software or gadget isn’t always the best.

My senior computer technician, Mark, has been experimenting with everything Windows 10 the past two weeks.

What he’s discovered is it’s not for the faint of heart.

 

THE UPGRADE PROCESS

First, you need to perform at least five specific steps BEFORE you start the Windows 10 upgrade on your computer.  Failure to do so could cause a myriad of problems – from certain programs or hardware not working properly to rendering your computer completely inoperable.

Second, you will need to perform one specific task after the Windows 10 upgrade is complete.  Not doing so could create serious and costly issues if your computer experiences problems later on.

Microsoft hasn’t made end users aware of the need to do these steps.  They’re promoting the upgrade as a simple, easy, painless, and problem-free process.  Fact is, it’s not!

 

USING WINDOWS 10

We are still evaluating how easy (or difficult) Windows 10 is to use.  All of which could change between now and July 29.

We’ve found that some of the “cool” features marketed about Windows 10 – like using Cortana to speak to your computer and execute tasks by voice are challenging to configure.

Microsoft has brought the full start menu back, making it simpler to navigate to your programs and files.  They have also fixed some of the instabilities present in Windows 8 and 8.1.

 

WHAT’S MISSING IN WINDOWS 10

Many of you enjoy playing the built-in games in Windows – games like Solitaire, Minesweeper and Hearts.

Sorry, but Microsoft is taking those away.

Do you play DVDs on your computer?  If so, you’ll have to install a third-party program to continue playing them.  Windows 10 will no longer come with the built-in capability to play DVDs.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

I still strongly recommend you NOT upgrade to Windows 10 at this point in time.  It does have some promising new features and enhancements that can make it a solid operating system.  But the complexities and bugs still present make it a no-go for now.

If you do decide to upgrade to Windows 10, do NOT simply take it to any computer repair shop. 

Remember the six specific steps that MUST be done before and after the upgrade process? 

Not every PC tech will do those, whether it’s your locally owned PC repair shop or the geeks at the big box stores.  This puts you at risk for problems and having to spend lots more of your hard-earned money to fix them.  

Only allow technicians who intricately known Windows 10 to install the upgrade – once it’s safe to do so.

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Watch Out For This Pop-Up

 

Pop-ups. 

They’re annoying and most likely indicate a virus or malware infection on your PC.  When one appears on your screen, your smart next step is to stop what you’re doing and call your trusted computer professional.

But one day soon, if you haven’t already, you’ll receive a pop-up message from Microsoft encouraging you to “Get Windows 10.”  It first appears as a new icon in the bottom right corner of your screen by the date and time.

Microsoft officially announced Windows 10 will be available for installation on July 29.  Thanks to an update they pushed out in March to Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 computers, Microsoft gives you the opportunity to reserve your free Windows 10 upgrade through this time-activated pop-up.

The window contains a series of six slides.  The first describes the upgrade reservation process.  The next four try to sell you why you should upgrade to Windows 10.  The final screen asks you to provide your email address so Microsoft can let you know when Windows 10 is ready to be installed on your computer in late July.

 

Don't Do ItWHY NOT UPGRADE?  IT’S FREE!

Sure, Windows 10 will be provided at no cost to all legitimate Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users for one year from the day it’s released. 

Free is good, right?  Not always. 

You wouldn’t eat a half-cooked piece of filet mignon even if someone you knew really well proffered it to you, would you?  Of course not.  You want the steak to be thoroughly cooked to your liking.

The same with Windows 10.  It’s half-baked right now.

Windows 10 does fix many problems plaguing Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, including bringing back a fully functional, albeit cluttered, start menu.  It eliminates the ugly tile interface and utilizes the familiar Windows desktop.  Apps perform similarly to programs now that they open in windows with the usual title bar and window controls.  Apps used to open full-screen with no intuitive way to exit them.

But with the many fixes, it still contains a plethora of problems that will frustrate early adopters of the operating system.  Additionally, it’s yet unknown how your existing software programs and hardware will work with Windows 10.  You may experience errors or be required to update some programs so they will function properly.

Microsoft still has almost two months before it’s official release to either make Windows 10 a world-class software or to royally mess it up.  Which is why I recommend you, my reader, wait until my staff and I have thoroughly tested the software and let you know when it’s safe to update your computer.

 

A HACKER’S PARADISE

When I heard the news of Microsoft’s Windows 10 pop-ups, I cringed.  The “Get Windows 10” pop-up is so generic, it can easily be spoofed by hackers and those looking to steal your personal information.

Microsoft asks for your email address to send you a notification when Windows 10 is ready to be installed.

A technology-astute criminal can create a pop-up that looks like it’s from Microsoft, ask for your email address, and then use that to send you emails that can infect your computer.

Not a smart move by Microsoft.   And a big reason for you to be alert.

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Windows 10 Free Upgrade: Sincere Apology or Bribery?

In a stunning announcement on January 21, Windows chief Terry Myerson announced that Microsoft will offer an upgrade to Windows 10 for free for the first year to all Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 users.

Microsoft has NEVER done this.  So why are they doing it now?  I suspect we’ll never know the real reasons.

One guess is they’re extending an apology of sorts for the mess they made of Windows 8 – a despised, problem-infested operating system reminiscent of the seriously flawed Windows Vista.

They know frustrated computer users have spent hundreds of dollars of their hard-earned money fixing problems caused by Windows 8.  This may be their attempt to make up for that.

Another theory is Microsoft is bribing people to adopt Windows 10 to boost their numbers.

Prior to its release, Windows 8 received a significant amount of negative publicity.  More than a few people chose to avoid upgrading to Windows 8 because of it (including many smart readers of this column).

Microsoft’s numbers plummeted, especially compared to the release of the stable Windows 7 operating system.

The largest majority of computers running Windows 8 or 8.1 are new computers bought from big box store retailers.  And that’s only because Microsoft forced retailers to stop selling Windows 7 computers soon after they realized Windows 8 wasn’t very popular and most people preferred to avoid it.

Windows 8’s numbers remain pathetically low, which is why it’s theorized Microsoft is offering the free Windows 10 upgrade to alter the numbers.  And we all know Mark Twain’s famous quote, “There are lies, d**ned lies, and statistics.”

Windows 10 is slated to be released sometime in the fall of 2015.  Our testing of the technical preview indicates it’s a promising operating system, correcting many of the problems with Windows 8.  However, Microsoft will continue to modify it over the next few months, so our official review will be made when we see the final release.  (They still have time to screw it up!)

We learned in February that Microsoft is making the Windows 10 upgrade super-easy by allowing it to be downloaded and installed as part of regular Windows updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users.

I’m not so sure this is a good thing.

Windows 10 Free UpgradeFirst, Microsoft is notorious for releasing faulty Windows updates.  I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve fixed computers broken by bad updates.

Second, changing operating systems is completely different than just patching one.  It’s the difference between tearing out an existing wall and erecting a new one versus simply patching up a small hole in the drywall.

Too many things could potentially go wrong – even if Microsoft promises it to be seamless.

There’s also the issue of software and hardware incompatibilities.  Some of your existing programs and external devices may not work with Windows 10.  But you won’t know that until it’s too late – after you’ve already upgraded.

My recommendation at this point is WAIT – do NOT install Windows 10 under any circumstances, even if you’re offered it.  Let us thoroughly test the final release version of Windows 10 and report the results to you.

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Afraid of Your Computer?

“I’m not smart enough.”

“I never touch the thing!  My wife’s the only one who uses it at our house.”

“I’m afraid I will do something wrong and royally mess it up.”

“I just don’t feel comfortable.”

“I only do things I know how to do – like checking my email and getting on Facebook.  I never venture out beyond that.”

I hear these statements almost every day from clients who come into my office.

It saddens me.

Computers are tremendous tools and the Internet is a vast resource, bringing the entire world to our fingertips.  Yet, many computer owners suffer by self-imposed limitations that prevent them from enjoying their benefits.

For example, did you know that by using one certain web browser and making one minor setting change, you can search the web using only your voice?  Yep, you can!

Granted, computers and the Internet can be time-sucking distractions.  But the positives far outweigh the negatives.

If given the opportunity, I know many hesitant computer users – maybe even yourself – would jump at the chance to become a more knowledgeable PC user.

I’m frequently asked, “Scott, do you ever teach any computer classes?” Or do you come to people’s homes to provide training?”  Of course, my answer is “Yes” to both questions.

Other organizations in our community, like the Princeton Public Library and Fort Branch Library, offer very useful, small-group computer classes.  Local community colleges sometimes offer non-credit computer classes throughout the year, too.

Classroom settings are great, especially because you get hands-on learning with a live instructor to help if you get stuck.  It’s also very affordable.

But these courses are typically very general in nature so that they appeal to a wide audience.  Often times, you may not learn exactly what it is you wanted to learn.

One-on-one computer training is next best way to learn how to use your computer.  Such training is custom-tailored to your specific needs.  You can ask specific questions and often times work on your own computer, instead of a computer in a lab.

But one-on-one computer training can be costly.  And if you don’t take detailed notes or master the task during the training session, you may not retain much of what you learned; thus, basically wasting your money.

YouTube videos are another resource available on the Internet for learning how to use your computer.  300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube EVERY MINUTE!  This means that almost every topic imaginable can be found on YouTube.

But therein lies a problem.  With such a vast library of videos, it’s hard to easily and quickly find a video specifically answering your question.

Once you do find videos related to your topic search, it’s impossible to know if the video contains correct or accurate information.  I can shoot a video in my kitchen telling you how to bake a cake and upload it to YouTube.  But I wouldn’t suggest following my recipe because your cake won’t be worth eating!  But you won’t know that until you try it.

I wouldn’t suggest taking such a risk with your computer – following directions from a random unknown person who happened to post a video on YouTube.  It could potentially damage your computer and cause all kinds of problems.

So what should you do if you want to break out of your chains and become a knowledge PC user?

Obviously, computer classes and one-on-one instruction are excellent ways to learn.

But I recently found a great website that combines the power of individual instruction with the methodology of YouTube.

Get Computer SmartIt’s called Get Computer Smart (conveniently found at www.GetComputerSmart.com).

This website offers short, very easy to follow videos showing you step-by-step how to perform specific tasks on your computer.  Everything from how to block unwanted Facebook game requests to removing viruses from your computer and more.

Because it’s video-based, you can stop, start, and even repeat videos as many times as you want until you master what you’re wanting to learn.   It’s just like having a teacher sitting right next to you showing you how to do something – without the cost.

I’d encourage you to at least check it out.  It’s one of the best resources I’ve come across in a long time that’s easy for hesitant computer users to use.

No matter how you do it – stop underestimating yourself and stop being scared of a machine!