Windows Fall Creator’s Update: Breaking More Than It’s Fixing

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

Microsoft dominates the world of operating systems. Windows has been a part of our lives for years and some of us can’t remember a world without it.

Each time Microsoft rolls out a new operating system, it is updated and patched for years for various reasons.

Over the lifespan of a Windows operating system, there are various security updates perhaps more than any other type of update.

There are fixes for issues, whether that’s problems with Windows itself or interaction with other hardware and software.

Then there are the outliers: Windows feature updates. These updates typically introduce new features or changes to the core function of the operating system. Feature updates can improve the user experience for many people.

Windows 10 launched in 2015 and, like all of its predecessors, did not launch with perfection. There have been numerous updates of all kinds since its launch. Those security patches, hotfixes, and even a handful of feature updates had rolled out by October of 2017.

That is when Microsoft released the Window’s Fall Creator update. This update was going to create a better user experience. Personal connections were going to be easier to make.

A new application allowing you to resume work or browsing started on a mobile device like a smartphone on your computer was introduced as well. There were a few security updates as well.

All in all, the Fall Creators Update was going to fix a few bugs and introduce some quality-of-life improvements.

In previous versions of Windows, the updates were able to be shut off and postponed.

Large scale feature updates are known to have some complications when rolled out.

That is why these updates are not “pushed” when initially launched, but available to download as an optional update at first.

Upon this introduction window, there were, as expected, reports of problems coming in. What was not expected was the range of issues and the severity of some.

The first issue arising from the release of Windows 1709, the Fall Creators Update, was the update failing to install.

Many people reported issues of an error when attempting to install the update. The initial portion would install, but the finalizing of the updates upon a restart would fail.

If that wasn’t frustrating enough, if the update did manage to install, it was reported that the applying updates portion could take two hours (and in some cases as many as ten hours).

Then, let’s assume you got that far. Maybe you want to use Microsoft Edge, the Microsoft browser of choice. With the 1709 update, many users found that Edge was essentially broken. It would crash repeatedly.

Then, bring in the numerous broken drivers. Imagine an update breaking your Ethernet adapter. It happened. Applications disappeared, began opening on their own, and in some cases just didn’t work. The problems continued to roll in.

Many of these issues were resolved in a timely fashion and some were not. In mid-January, Microsoft declared the Fall Creators Update ready for business. This means that the update would be pushed out to anyone that was not already using it.

After 3 months, many issues were still present and others would soon be discovered.

Many users of corporate software and other specialty software were surprised by software that no longer worked. In some cases, the suggested fix was to roll back the update, which will force itself to reinstall shortly after.

There have been some big patches to fix these issues since January and I’m hoping that in another three months Microsoft will have all of these issues resolved.

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

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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 https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/upcoming-features.

Built-In Windows 10 Tools You May Not Know About

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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 microsoft.com/windows/upcoming-features

Why You Should Upgrade Your Business PCs to Windows 10

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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: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/13853/windows-lifecycle-fact-sheet. 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

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…]

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.

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.

Windows 10 Updates Are Now Mandatory

For those who have made the switch to Windows 10, there are some changes to how the new operating system updates are handled.

While users were previously notified of the availability of updates and were prompted to install them, these changes are now made automatically. Most Windows 10 users are likely unaware of this change because the only notification from Microsoft is a brief line in the licensing agreement that states users will “receive automatic downloads without additional notice.”

Microsoft doesn’t have any nefarious intentions (or at least we hope they don’t) by making this change; its intent seems to keep the most up-to-date version of the operating system on users’ devices.

There are, however, some potential drawbacks to having automatic updates without user knowledge. While the updates make it easier for Microsoft to keep up with changing technology, knowing its users are basically all on the same page and developers have a consistent target audience, these updates can potentially cause systems to interact differently with other hardware devices that aren’t part of the updates.

A particular printer’s driver, for instance, may lose functionality with an automatic update, and affected users would just be dumbfounded as to what happened, ultimately having to replace that hardware device.

Although Microsoft isn’t making any settings changes widely known, there is a way to configure your device to only install security updates automatically. This keeps your PC or tablet safe from the latest security threats while keeping your computer system as stable as possible.

Unfortunately, this option is not available to users running the Home version of Windows 10. Thus far, only the Enterprise Edition provides this capability, which is an important consideration for business owners.

Should Your Company Install The Windows 10 Preview?

In short, no. While the Windows 10 Technical Preview is free of charge, there are too many dangers in downloading what is essentially the Beta release of Microsoft’s newest operating system.

There’s a reason why the preview is available, and it’s not to generate excitement about its coming release this fall. The preview exists for Microsoft to discover bugs and glitches that are present in this version, so they can fix them before Windows 10 officially hits the market. Unless you just enjoy being part of that process, it’s best to leave the testing to others.

It is especially important to wait for the official Windows 10 release if you only have one PC or mobile device.

Since all the kinks have not yet been worked out, you could find yourself unable to use accessories like printers or scanners if you make the premature jump into the new operating system. You also can’t be assured that the Windows 10 preview is safe for your devices, and it’s simply not worth the risk of incurring problems that can not only be costly moneywise but in the ill use of your time trying to correct any damage.

Furthermore, the technical preview isn’t complete. The features you’re looking forward to may not be included. The Spartan web browser and Holograph feature are missing from the Windows 10 preview.

So, even if the test version of the operating system functions seamlessly, you’re apt to be disappointed. Although you may be chomping at the bit to get rid of your old operating system, the wise thing to do is wait until Microsoft perfects Windows 10 and then fully explore it when it’s finally released, making sure it is compatible with your business applications.