Windows Updates: Allow Them, Don’t Block Them

Ron Cochran is Help Desk supervisor for Tech Experts.

One of the first things you should do when purchasing a new computer (or rehabilitating an older computer) is to make sure the operating system is up-to-date with the latest security patches. In some cases, people disable the automatic updates and this can cause a whole host of issues.

Microsoft regularly puts out security patches, as well as other patches for their software. These patches are applied through the automatic update process. When that process is disabled, this means your computer hasn’t received the latest updates from Microsoft. Because your updates are halted, the system vulnerabilities that Microsoft engineers have found have not been repaired on your system.

You may remember the WannaCry Ransomware attack or, by now, heard of the most recent news of the Intel CPU flaw with Meltdown and Spectre. These two vulnerabilities, if exploited, can wreak havoc on an affected computer.

An affected system could suffer circuit issues, data corruption, system instability, and even data theft. There are always going to be people doing nefarious things when it comes to computers and the Internet, but the engineers behind your operating system and your antivirus company will always be on top of a fix for the vulnerability as soon as it is discovered.

Did you know that Microsoft releases most Windows Update patches on “Patch Tuesday” – the second Tuesday of each month? This keeps automatic system reboots to a minimum and also assists managed service providers like Tech Experts in ensuring that all of their clients’ servers and workstations have the latest software and security patches installed.

At home, you can set your Windows Updates to the “Automatic” option. That way, your system will automatically check for Windows Updates every 24 hours or so if the computer is connected to the Internet.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “I just use my home computer for browsing DIY pages, listening to music, and sending emails. Why would anyone want to get into my computer?,” reconsider how much personal information is actually stored.

It may seem as though your computer wouldn’t hold much useful information, but a hacker only needs a few passwords, an email address, phone number, and address to potentially gain access to cell phone accounts, shopping site accounts, tax information, and even banking and credit card accounts.

Even if the hacker isn’t looking for personal information like that listed above, they could still use your computer to send spam emails to other computers all over the world, slowing down your computer and Internet and causing a whole slew of issues for other computer owners.

Keeping your operating system up-to-date with the latest updates and security patches, keeping your anti-malware and anti-virus software updated and running on a regular basis, and adding robust security settings to your router and firewall will help keep all of these vulnerabilities behind closed doors. At least, until the software engineers can create and deploy the patches and updates to block access to them.

Windows 10 Creator’s Fall Update to Bring Hardened Ransomware Protection


Jared Stemeye is a Help Desk Technician at Tech Experts.

2017 has seen some of the most high-profile ransomware and cryptoware attacks to date. These incidents have demonstrated that these types of attacks can have catastrophic effects that reach far beyond the ransom demands paid to these attackers.

The cost of downtime and damage control multiplies quickly. Even more damaging is being impacted because critical infrastructure or health care services are unexpectedly unavailable for extended periods of time, consequently costing much more than any monetary value.

Microsoft has stated that they recognize the threat that these cybercrimes represent and have since invested significant yet simple strategies that are proving to be extremely effective as new attacks emerge. These new security features are now coming to all businesses and consumers using Windows 10 with the Creators Fall Update.

These advanced security features are focusing on three primary objectives:

  1. Protecting your Windows 10 system by strengthening both software and hardware jointly, improving hardware-based security and mitigating vulnerabilities to significantly raise the cost of an attack on Windows 10 systems. Meaning hackers will need to spend a lot of time and money to keep up with these security features.
  2. Recognizing that history has revealed vastly capable and well-funded attackers can find unexpected routes to their objectives. These latest security updates detect and help prevent against these threats with new advances in protection services like Windows Defender Antivirus and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection.
  3. Enabling customers and security experts to respond to threats that may have impacted them with newly updated tools like Windows Defender ATP. This will provide security operations personnel the tools to act swiftly with completeness of information to remediate an attack that may have impacted them.

Microsoft states this is a proven strategy that has remained 100% successful on Windows 10 S, the new secure version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system. Albeit, this version of the operating system does not allow any software from outside the Microsoft App Store to be installed.

Further, Microsoft states that even prior to the fall security updates rolling out, no Windows 10 customers were known to be compromised by the recent WannaCry global cyberattack. Despite this, Microsoft knows that there will always be unforeseeable exploits within their systems.

This is why the Windows 10 Creator’s Fall Update benefits from new security investments to stop malicious code via features like Kernel Control Flow Guard (kCFG) and Arbitrary Code Guard (ACG) for Microsoft Edge. These kinds of investments allow Windows 10 to mitigate potential attacks by targeting the techniques hackers use, instead of reacting to specific threats after they emerge.

Most importantly, Windows Defender security updates coming in this Fall will begin to leverage the power of the cloud and artificial intelligence built on top of the Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph (ISG) to promptly identify new threats, including ransomware, as they are first seen anywhere around the globe.

Though no exact date is set in stone, all of the amazing security updates detailed above will be available this Fall 2017 for free. For more information about the Creator’s Fall update beyond the security features, visit

Built-In Windows 10 Tools You May Not Know About


Jared Stemeye is a Help Desk Technician at Tech Experts.

As we approach the second anniversary of Windows 10 this July, users have continued to steadily adopt Microsoft’s flagship OS and move away from the limited support of Windows 7 and clunky interface of Windows 8.

With this, many new users are currently unaware of the simple, yet powerful features that are now built right into Windows 10.

Some were present in previous iterations of Windows, but have been improved upon within 10.

Built-in Screenshot Utility
Those of us without fancy third-party screenshot software had to resort to the old tried-and-true Control + Print Screen function to copy and paste the screenshot into Paint to save. However, there’s now an easier way.

The Snipping Tool application built into Windows since Vista has a ton of intuitive features for taking screenshots.

You can easily find this handy tool by typing “snip” into your start menu search. Windows 10 has added time delayed screenshots as an additional feature to take screenshots that were not previously possible.

Sticky Notes
Built-in since Windows 7, Sticky Notes allows small text boxes to be attached to your desktop. They are great for reminders or quick notetaking. You can create multiple notes and change the background and text colors for better visual organization.

These notes are also smart, using “insights” to provide contextual information to your notes automatically. If you add an email, address, or phone number, your note will recognize it as such to make the note easier to interact with.

Action Center
Brand new to Windows 10, the Action Center can be accessed next to your clock at the bottom right of the screen. By clicking the text box icon, you can access alters from your operating system and applications.

This menu also allows quick access to tablet mode, Connect (Bluetooth device pairing), VPN settings, and other tools. My favorite Action Center tool is night light mode, which dims your screen and provides a warmer tone that’s easier on the eyes in low light.

Display Calibration
In my opinion, the Display Calibration tool is by far the best and most underused tool built into Windows 10. Out of the box, your PC monitor is usually too bright and the colors are typically oversaturated. That may not be an issue if all you do is spreadsheet work, but if you’re editing photos or video, you’ll want to fine-tune the colors for accuracy.

Sure, you could spend $60 or more for color-calibration software and hardware and that might be money well spent if you’re a graphics professional or a movie buff who’s finicky about faithful color reproduction. However, the color-calibration tool built into Windows can give you most of what you without additional software.

Type “calibrate” into the start menu search, and select Settings. You want to pick Calibrate Display Color, which is usually the top option.

The color calibrator’s welcome screen includes a link to a help-center tutorial. All you really need to do, however, is walk through the steps and read the explanatory text.

The first time you do this, don’t skip any of the steps. The steps are, in order: gamma settings, brightness adjustment, contrast adjustment, and color balance. Your monitor’s color will look better than ever once you complete the tuning.

For even more information on the new tools that are in the works for Windows 10, visit

Why You Should Upgrade Your Business PCs to Windows 10


Jared Stemeye is a Help Desk Technician at Tech Experts.

As of April 2017, Windows 10 holds around 25% of the computer operating system market share for all computers in the world and it continues to grow. Windows 7, on the other hand, is still the overall leader, retaining a staggering 49% of the entire OS market share. The remaining difference is held by Windows 8, Linux, and Mac OS users.

These numbers show many stick with 7 — the Windows they know and love — but as each day passes, this is less and less of a feasible solution for the long term.

End Of Windows 7 Extended Support Is Coming

Windows 7 was initially released in July of 2009 and quickly became the most popular Windows ever created. Almost ten years later, many still feel the same.

However, this popularity is not saving Windows 7 from the end of its security and support updates. Official support of the Windows 7 OS actually ended back in January 2015, then went into extended support. Now, the end of the extended support has been labeled with a January 2020 termination date.

This may seem distant, but these next three years will pass faster than most think and, once this support ends, users will be forced to use Windows 10 if they want to remain secure.

This is especially true for business that are required to meet certain security compliances. Now, pair this with the learning curve for some that would be involved with adjusting to Windows 10. You don’t want your employees spending time figuring out the changes when they could have already been acclimated.

Windows 10 Then vs. Now

Many refused to leave Windows 7 as Windows 8 was so different… and not in a good way. Many believed Windows 10 would be the same as Windows 8 and, in many ways during the initial release, it was. This is no longer the case. It truly is an understatement to say that Windows 10 is better now than when it was first released. The updates, including the newly released Creators Update, have taken Windows 10 to new heights of accessibility, ease of use, and features.

Unlike Windows 8, Windows 10 has the start menu you know and love. Along with this, 10 provides additional file accessibility with Cortana voice control and customizable tiles for your favorite applications. There is also the universal notification and security center. The notification center has links to other useful features like the Windows 10 Settings app, VPN settings, and quick toggles for things like location and Quiet Mode. If you have a Windows machine connected to a touchscreen, there’s also a button to quickly switch between desktop and tablet modes. Finally, Microsoft has already stated that 10 will receive at least two massive updates a year and will continue to evolve over a foreseeably long lifespan.

What You Should Do

The sooner businesses upgrade to Windows 10, the better off employees and administration will be. Sadly, Windows 7 does not have much time left and investing any more time into learning the quirks and shortcuts of 7 will be wasted time after January 2020. Though the free upgrade for Windows 10 Home and Pro users have expired, any Windows Enterprise users can still upgrade to Windows 10 for free. You can access all Windows support lifecycle information here: If you’re looking toward upgrading or need help to ensure that the upgrading process goes smoothly, you can reach us at (734) 457-5000; we would be happy to help.

New Features Coming To The Windows 10 ‘Creators’ Update


Jared Stemeye is a Help Desk Technician at Tech Experts.

Windows 10 doesn’t follow the footsteps of previous Windows iterations. Far and away from the uniform operating system that would be replaced by a successor every few years, it’s more of a living, breathing entity – one that consistently evolves with new “named” updates. The last update, the Anniversary update, was nothing compared to the new bells and whistles Microsoft has in store with the Creators Update.

The Privacy Dashboard
The Windows 10 initial launch was the subject of scrutiny for two main factors. The most well-known was the forced-upgrade push from Microsoft.

The second was the watered-down privacy settings when compared to Windows 7 and 8. Fortunately, Microsoft’s attempts at a forced upgrade ended when the free upgrade offer expired.

Now, the Windows 10 Creators Update addresses the privacy concerns with a new privacy dashboard. This makes privacy settings much easier to understand and manage.

Users will now be able to quickly enable and disable location tracking, ad tracking, and speech recognition, among other privacy settings right from the desktop.

Application Throttling
Application Throttling will allow users to dial back resources from background processes to allow more power for their main focus.

This will be especially favorable for business-oriented users who are plagued with hang-ups and freezing from resource-hungry applications. It will also come in handy for those running Windows 10 on older PCs.

Power-Mode Slider
This is for the mobile users who rely on battery power. By simply clicking on the battery icon in your system tray, you can adjust your power settings on the fly. Crank up the power settings if you need more computing firepower or dial it to reduce performance for a substantial increase your battery life.

Paint 3D
The new Paint 3D app dramatically boosts the power of the Paint we all know and love and adds 3D image manipulation.

Paint 3D is full of tools and filters that make 3D image manipulation simple and it can even help you convert 2D images into 3D objects.

Paint will now also work with Remix 3D, a website loaded with 3D images created by other Windows 10 users.

Windows 10 Update Improvements (Thank you, Microsoft!)
Since launch, one of the biggest gripes with Windows 10 has been its updating system. The current system can be an annoying, buggy mess and those forced updates tend to reset your PC at the most inopportune times. Two upcoming features aim to make these updates a bit more tolerable.

First, Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise users will be able to defer new updates for up to 35 days. Unfortunately, this does not apply to Windows 10 Home Edition users.

Finally, Microsoft also increased the defined period when Windows cannot update from 12 to 18 hours in the Active Hours settings, helping those of us who are regularly using our PCs into the wee hours of the morning.

So, in conclusion…
The aforementioned updates only scratch the surface of what Microsoft will be implementing with the Creators Update.

In example, a free new built-in application, Groove Music, is set to be a direct competitor to Apple’s GarageBand, which until now was the only OS that directly catered to the niche market of amateur music producers.

As Windows 10 continues to evolve, we foresee further integration of mobile and desktop unity that will soon rival Apple’s dominance in the “one document, all devices” platform. Details about the Creators Update will be released regularly leading up to this massive update coming on April 11th, 2017.

Free Windows 10 Upgrade for SMBs: What You Need to Know

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

While Microsoft has recently accounted that free Windows 10 upgrades have been reinstated, there is a caveat: They are only available to SMBs that have previously declined the offer.

If you fall into that particular category, now is the time to reconsider.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the free Windows 10 upgrade and how it affects you.

Is it open to everyone?
No. It is open to SMB customers on Enterprise plans that are running personal computers on Windows 7 or 8.1.

[Read more…]

Faster Updates On The Horizon For Windows Users

Last month, Microsoft announced that the latest release of Windows will deliver more rapid and smaller OS updates straight to user’s mobile devices or PCs.

The group’s Unified Update Platform (UUP) encompasses a novel set of technologies that will offer “differential downloads;” that is, OS updates that deliver specifically what the user needs and nothing more. Microsoft is using the analogy of a gaming app to explain how the concept works. If a user downloads an update to an existing gaming app as opposed to downloading the entire game again, the user simply receives the data required to update the game. In the same way, the differential download package will only contain the data related to the changes that have been made since the last update, thereby significantly reducing the download speed and size.

In addition to making updates faster and more efficient, Microsoft will also enhance the logic that underpins the OS update checks. Instead of sending data back and forth, it will place the processing burden on the server, making checks much faster.

Mobile users can also expect to see some positive changes. While new mobile devices have traditionally been delivered at the base build and have required “two hops” to reach the latest release, mobile devices will now behave more like PCs, offering single-hop updates.

Windows 10 Goes Back On The Shelf

Brian Bronikowski is a field service technician for Tech Experts.

While it was broadcast everywhere during the launch of the newest operating system from Microsoft, users of Windows 7 and 8.1 are nearing the end of the free upgrade period. The infamous “Get Windows 10” app has been hounding users for quite some time now and most will be happy to hear that it will be gone nearing the end of July.

That, however, is only after Microsoft ups the ante attempting to reach their goal of one billion Windows 10 devices within 2-3 years of launch. The question many users should be asking themselves is simple: what does this mean for me?

First and foremost is price. After July 29th, there will be no opportunity to obtain a free upgrade. Instead, home users will need to purchase a license for the new system that would run them $119.00. Businesses and those in need of a professional Windows license would look at a price tag of $199.00.

Neither of these seem like friendly numbers to your average user or business owner. Those who have upgraded and switched back to their previous operating system are in luck, however. Once upgraded, you obtain the Windows 10 key indefinitely. In the future, a fresh install of Windows 10 will automatically activate and update as per usual.

Before we get there however, we have one last hang-up from the software giant. It would seem that Microsoft wants to get as many free upgrades in the world as possible.

This is quite a feat when just over half of Windows-based computers are still running Windows 7. How do they plan access that user base? Automatic upgrades seem to be their answer.

While many have claimed to have experienced Windows 10 upgrading by itself, it seems to be a reality in the very near future. The actual update for Windows 10 comes through as any other update you may be familiar with.

The catch with 10 is that it was previously an optional update, yet Microsoft will be putting it in the “Recommended Updates” category. As such, many users will install the update files without their knowledge. In the meantime, the pre-mentioned “Get Windows 10” app will schedule the upgrade for them in a suspicious window. It looks similar to the previous screen but instead of having a cancel button, they have replaced it only with “OK”.

But what does a single button really cause? For some fast-paced users, they may misunderstand and click the new button thinking that it’s putting off the update.

Little do they know that within a day or two, they’ll find themselves mid-upgrade. There is one way around this once the update is scheduled: a link will appear on the same screen that will allow you to stop the automatic upgrade.

Microsoft leaves it to you to navigate to the link and pages beyond to stop your free upgrade. Luckily, the IT guys at Tech Experts are able to get past this or downgrade those that have recently updated against their will.

The lesson here is a plain one. Users need to keep a look out and understand what is happening to their PC if they hope to retain any control over it. Microsoft’s newest operating system does have many benefits and features that make it very appealing.

However, it isn’t for everyone. If you’re accustomed to what you’re using, the upgrade isn’t a necessity. That said, you should keep in mind that Windows 7 will experience end of life in 2020.

Severe Security Vulnerabilities Patched By Microsoft

Early last month, Microsoft released 13 security patches as part of Patch Tuesday.

While such security measures are usual, this one was particularly important because six of those patches were categorized as critical and require user attention to be put into place.

These six patches addressed programming flaws that had the potential to give cyber-attackers the means to gain full user rights in a wide array of Microsoft’s software programs. The remaining seven patches address the elevation of privileges, denial of service, and ways to bypass security features.

The programs that were at risk from these flaws included all supported versions of Microsoft Windows, the new Edge browser, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office (including Services and Web Apps), Microsoft Server Software, Adobe Flash Player, and Microsoft .NET Framework.

According to Microsoft, these flaws were detected before any actual security breaches stemming from these issues actually occurred.

If they had not been discovered, cybercriminals may have been able to gain user rights to Microsoft programs via specially crafted websites from remote locations.

Microsoft strongly urges Windows Vista and later operating system users to ensure the latest updates have been installed, especially if they do not have their systems set for Automatic Updates.

How To Create A Windows 10 Recovery Drive

Since most Windows 10 users obtained their version of the latest Microsoft operating system as an upgrade from a previous version, there isn’t a built-in recovery system if your PC or other device is disabled.

You would have to revert to that previous operating system and re-download Windows 10. Unfortunately, if that occurs past Windows 10’s first year on the market, that download won’t be free.

To potentially save some money down the line and a significant hassle, it is a good idea to create your own Windows 10 recovery drive to re-install the operating system in the case of a system disaster.

A simple way to do this if you upgraded via the media creation tool is to use that same tool to create a recovery drive on removable media, such as a disc or USB flash drive.

To do this, run the tool, click whether you have a 64-bit or 32-bit system, and choose ‘Create installation media for another PC’ from the available options. This directs you to a screen asking what language you prefer and which version of Windows 10 you currently use. Make the appropriate selections, and you will be walked step-by-step through the rest of the process.

Another method to create a Windows 10 recovery drive is to use the Recovery Options within the Control Panel.

With previous versions of Windows, this feature was a tad easier to locate, but it still lurks in the background for you to find. From the Start menu, you can open Settings and then type Recovery in the top right dialogue box to reveal an option to ‘Create a Recovery Drive’ before following the steps to complete the action. Alternatively, you can just type Recovery Drive into Cortana’s search field on the bottom left of your screen.

With either method, choose to back up your system files, and you will be directed to insert your media after a short wait for a systems check.

You will need at least 4GB of space on your disc or USB drive, and bear in mind that any other information already on it will be erased with the addition of the Windows 10 recovery drive.

This process will take a while, but you are able to continue working as your device copies everything onto your removable media.