Did Your Windows 10 Search Function Break?

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

It seems like every time I turn around I have a new Windows 10 story to share. The combined abundance and variety of issues has been frustrating to say the least. The number of users affected normally varies as people will install updates at different times, but those updates are the most likely cause of a widespread issue.

Microsoft recently had one of the most widespread issues in its Windows 10 OS history, and that is quite a statement. It likely affected more users than any group on a given operating system version.

When trying to update something in its own programming for Windows 10, Microsoft broke the search feature.

First, some background information: Windows 10 search is built-in and Microsoft has integrated the search with Bing to allow for both local searching of your system and online results as well.

The option can be very useful for users as it allows a centralized location to look for whatever you might need to find. Personally, I still use the search feature for Windows functions and use Google to do any web searches. That said, I can see the value the search feature has for some.

For each person it works well for, there is a user that will search for something on their computer then accidentally open a Bing search result for something they never had any intention of opening.

It happened recently to someone I know. They were searching for their scanner and nearly downloaded a third party application from an untrusted source. It can happen easily and frequently.

Whether you find use in local and online results or you are more like me and use the search purely for Windows functions, you likely rely on it to some degree.

So what would you do if you had no ability to search at all? What if the entire functionality of searching was broken in Windows 10? That is what happened recently to just about every person who happened to login over a few day period recently. Microsoft was updating some of its backend search code (likely making changes to Bing itself) and didn’t account for an impact on the integrated search.

The impact on each user varied, but even as someone who is very comfortable using Windows 10, the broken search function really made things more difficult. Fortunately, the problem was very quickly resolved.

In terms of a Microsoft turnaround, a 1-day fix is quite incredible. Some users experienced it for a bit longer as the fix was not always applied automatically. The problems were sporadic, but some machines took a few restarts to apply the hotfix.

When you break Windows for almost all of your users (especially right after taking away the most loved operating system of all time), fixing it quick is in your best interest. That is exactly what Microsoft did. Let’s just hope we all achieve a little stability now that some of their resources have been freed up with the end of Windows 7.

Windows 10 Issues Persist After Windows 7 Retires

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

January marked the end for Windows 7. After ten years and more than a few extensions, Microsoft finally made the cut-off and will no longer be updating what many would call its most reliable operating system ever.

Many businesses held out as long as possible, and some have even paid for privatized extended support.

Microsoft certainly had to split its focus while having more than one operating system in production, but with the end of Windows 7, one would assume that Windows 10 would have more developers working on the issues and updates as they arise.

It hasn’t been long, but so far, we have not seen anything to indicate a brighter future for Windows 10.

Now, Microsoft is no stranger to a failed OS. Who can forget Windows ME (Millennium Edition), Windows Vista, and even Windows 8? These were deemed failures and had a much shorter life span than favorites like Windows XP and Windows 7.

That said, Windows 10 won’t fall into the same category as ME, Vista, or Windows 8. Windows 10, when correctly functional, really is one of the better user experiences there has been. It has already proven commercially to be more successful with a larger market share than any of the failed systems.

Of course, that could also be attributed to the fact that there was another OS available at the times of ME, Vista, and Windows 8. Windows ME couldn’t break the grasp that Windows XP had. Vista was a victim of Windows XP and Windows 7. Windows 8 was decimated by Windows 7 and Windows 10.

Windows 10 from a user standpoint is not a failure, but there are a few ways that it exceeds the issues that some of these failed operating systems had.

Windows 10 has had some fairly widespread issues. The most recent problem? A majority of Windows 10 users found themselves unable to use the search feature in Windows. The start menu would allow you to open it, but the search never returned results.

Microsoft was able to fix the issue within a day or so, but what caused the issue?

The broken search was related to a broken link to Bing search. The search function is integrated with Bing, and the functionality of the feature was completely broken because of it.

There have been other issues as well. One of my favorite and most unique problems with Windows 10 was a few month span during an entire feature update where Microsoft had broken the ability to install Microsoft Office.

There was no fix. If the problem occurred, you had to either roll back to install Office or wait until the next feature update.

You almost expect there to be issues with third party software during a new update, but when it’s the company’s own product? It is definitely a headscratcher. Relatedly, there were frequent problems with Office activation and the Microsoft store being completely missing or broken.

While Windows 7 didn’t have all of the features that Windows 10 did, it seemed to be much more reliable.

We can only hope that Microsoft gets those extra developers working so Windows 10 can be as reliable as its predecessor. Despite these issues, the potential is there.

Windows Core OS: The Future of Windows

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

Microsoft Windows has been the leading PC OS for as long as I can remember. There have been many different versions through the years.

There have been favorites like Windows 3.1, XP, and Windows 7 – and less well-received versions, like ME (Millennium Edition) and Vista.

Windows tried a new approach with Windows 8, something they envisioned would take over mobile device platforms, and designed an OS that would be similar across many devices.

This never truly came to be as Windows 8 was generally not well received, and the mobile version wasn’t exactly a hit either.

Enter Windows 10. While there are problems from a technical standpoint, Windows 10 (as it currently stands) is a pretty user-friendly OS and continues to make improvements and security enhancements with the user in mind. Windows 10 spans many devices.

Smart TVs, cell phones, laptops, desktops, tablets, Microsoft’s Xbox One, and so many other devices have a version of Windows 10.

I stress the fact that these devices have a version of Windows 10 for a reason. These operating systems look and function very similarly, but each is a uniquely programmed version of Windows 10. Essentially, each device type has a custom operating system developed to look and run like Windows 10.

These operating systems are fine-tuned for the type of device they are running on. You wouldn’t have a great experience using Windows 10 for desktops on a cell phone. It would be much too resource-intensive and create a real battery use issue.

So what is Windows Core OS?

Windows Core OS is a new project underway by Microsoft. Windows Core OS would create a base version of Windows that could be installed on any type of device. This is great for users and developers alike.

While it will be a long time before Core OS is available, Microsoft is already using it for testing their new Hololens and other devices they’re currently showcasing. It is also a huge part of the development for operating systems that will thrive on foldable devices and mobile devices with more than one screen.

Currently, when a new type of device comes out, like a foldable screen phone, an all-new version of Windows 10 is written specifically for the phone.

It’s programmed from the ground up and works around the device specifications and limitations to create the closest thing to a normal Windows 10 experience as possible.

While many users who use Windows 10 on multiple platforms may not notice many differences, each version requires a lot of work and each device gets a lot of attention.

Windows Core OS would change everything. Microsoft is developing Core OS to be buildable and scalable.

It would allow for a base version of Windows that would run on any device.

Whenever devices are launched with new capabilities, features can be added instead of creating an entirely new operating system. This lightweight operating system will be used on every kind of device you could think of in the not too distant future and – sooner than you think – it will also be running on a lot of devices that you probably couldn’t dream of.

Are You Still Using Microsoft Windows Server 2008?

Microsoft will stop mainstream support for Server 2008 at the end of this year. This is a popular technology solution, so the end of support creates concern for many. Read on, and we’ll explain what this means and what you should do.

What Does 2008 Server End of Life Mean For Your Company?
Windows Server 2008 end of life means that Microsoft will no longer update this product unless a warranty compels them to do so.

Unfortunately, many businesses are still not ready. The reasons vary, but many company owners stay busy running their day-to-day operations. They just don’t have time for issues like this. And yet, this is a crucial server EOL that could cause many disruptions to your business if not dealt with promptly.

How Soon Should You Get A New Server?
You need to change over from the Windows 2008 Server and Windows 2008R2 to a supported server by the end of the year. That’s the very last moment you’ll have before support is no longer available.

Migrating all of your data, applications, and other IT solutions to new servers is a time-consuming and complicated process, so small businesses should not wait until the last minute.

By waiting, you place your technology assets in danger, and you could pay more for last-minute service. Think of this as an auto repair problem. The sooner you get it fixed, the less it will typically cost. Avoid extra costs and issues by upgrading your servers now.

What Other Problems Can Happen?
An end to bug fixes and those all-important security updates may be the ultimate deal breaker for you. Data managers will tell you that not having these fixes makes your data vulnerable to access by unauthorized parties.

Cybercriminals are on the look-out for ways to infiltrate your systems and steal sensitive data, and they know about the EOL for Windows Server 2008. Since Microsoft will no longer offer security updates and bug fixes for this server, this creates numerous loopholes in data security that could be exploited.

These security breaches can be avoided by installing a newer generation server with supported security updates.

What Should You Do?
There are many reliable servers available on the market today. This new generation of servers offers better efficiency, virtualization, faster speeds, and many other good attributes. Do some research to ensure that you get a proper replacement that will address all the functions that your organization requires.

How Do You Get Ready For The Upgrade?
Installing new servers can be challenging. You have to plan out the process so that everything is done correctly and during off hours, so it doesn’t disrupt your daily operations. The sooner you start, the better.

To plan for an infrastructure upgrade, rewrite and migrate all applications based on Server 2008 to a safe storage place. The new server may require some troubleshooting. Databases can be hosted on the Windows Server 2008 hardware as you install the new system.

During the transition, put a data protection infrastructure in place that will eliminate risks during the server upgrade. This will protect your data from problems with the old server and risks associated with the new system. While this will cost extra, the fines associated with a data breach are often far more expensive.

Your Guide To Microsoft’s End Of Windows 7 Support

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

Support for Windows 7 is coming to end this year. The operating system is 10 years old, and in the near future, Microsoft will discontinue all support – including security updates – for this version of Microsoft Windows.

This means the end of Microsoft security updates and this means many 3rd-party security tools like anti-virus may no longer function.

“Malicious Actors” a. k. a. “Hackers” will quickly exploit any Windows 7 computer the moment security updates stop and any future security vulnerability is discovered.

Microsoft tells us that as of October 2018, about 39% of business computers are still running Windows 7. Clearly, there is a lot of work to do over the coming months to prepare businesses for the end of support of Windows 7. [Read more…]

Windows 10: New Issues Ahead Of The Spring Feature Update

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

Windows 10 isn’t as universally despised as Windows 8, but isn’t as loved as Windows 7. Windows 7 actually had reported growth for the number of users last month, despite being released 10 years ago.

Polarizing may be the way to describe Windows 10 as people often love it or hate it, not much in between. It is my belief that this is due to the numerous issues, such as data loss via Windows update, broken software, and totally failed systems. Going forward, I don’t think we’ll see another OS quite like Windows 10 in the eyes of its users.

From an IT standpoint, not being able to install Microsoft Office after updating Windows is both annoying and baffling. Two products made by the same company, causing issues with each other. It seems like Windows 10 has a revolving door of problems.

The latest issues are no exception.

Recently, users attempted (and failed) many times to push the new Windows 10 updates to their system. This was met with a generic error that Windows can’t communicate with the update server.

This seems minor in itself, but it’s telling of a larger failure on Microsoft’s part to do proper planning before implementing changes. While there has not been a clear report on what happened, Microsoft is ready to patch and fix its latest issue. There is, however, a work around if you can’t wait for the newest update.

If you change your DNS to Google DNS or another third party DNS provider, you will be able to update Windows. While it is not confirmed, the common belief is that Microsoft sent out a bad DNS record to ISP’s that caused this to occur. You can resolve it yourself, but Microsoft will be taking care of this broken update this week.

The other big news is the Spring update that is being prepared for deployment. Due to the previous feature updates causing many issues, you should delay your update as long as possible, if possible. If you don’t know how to do this on your own, reaching out to an IT professional like Tech Experts could be the way to go.

The new update will feature many changes, most of which are cosmetic. This does not curb my fears for issues relating to the update. Although these types of changes normally only affect what you see on the screen, being extra cautious is probably the way to go.

Cortana and the search feature will now be completely separate, allowing you to use the standard start menu or Cortana individually. There will also be the option to uninstall many applications that you could not previously.

These include Mail, Calendar, Groove Music, Sticky Notes, and more. There will be many new themes and a few quality of life adjustments. While there will surely be more news on the horizon for the new update, do what you can to let them work out all of the issues before they become your issues as well.

Back At It Again: Microsoft Suspends Windows Updates

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

Windows 10 was released in July 2015 and there were plenty of reasons to be excited. If you have been around for the last few versions of Windows dating back to Vista, you may have a love/hate relationship with Microsoft.

Windows Vista, for instance, was once known as the biggest failure Microsoft had experienced. That is, until Windows 8. Just using the adoption numbers, it’s clear that Windows 8 was the least successful OS that Microsoft has ever released.

So, Microsoft and their users had many reasons to be excited about Windows 10. Microsoft assured users that Windows 10 would be a return to the golden standard of Operating Systems: Windows 7.

As with all releases of a new operating system, there have been some issues. Some of these problems are indicative of a bigger problems while others are standalone issues.

With a myriad of different types of problems that have surfaced over the last couple of years, Windows 10 may be the most problematic OS of all-time.

Since launch, Windows 10 has had some very unusual problems. While it is almost expected for issues to arise with a new OS, the frequency and type of problems is what’s disturbing. The issues have ranged from broken drivers that leave devices nonfunctional to our latest and greatest issue: the deleted documents folder.

A few times a year, larger updates called “Feature Updates” are released. In April 2018, there was an update that would incorrectly create a duplicate of your documents folder. A lot of these folders were empty and had no real purpose.

At this point, Microsoft decided to implement a fix with their next feature update, due in October 2018. The “fix” would remove the duplicate folder.

There was one very large issue with this. The update did not check if the folder was actually empty before deleting it from your system. People all over began reporting the issue where, all of a sudden, their files were gone.

Once reported, Microsoft acted quickly to halt the update before further systems were affected. The update would still download but would not apply. It was necessary that the access to the update be stopped to save additional systems from data loss.

A strange side effect of the update being put on hold was the failure to apply the downloaded Windows updates.

This resulted in much longer shut down/restart times as the update would attempt to apply, then roll back once it failed. This also provided users with another reason to be frustrated.

The issues are now resolved. The fix has been implemented and there is no more possibility for further data loss.

For what it’s worth, Microsoft also asked for users who lost data to reach out, and they would try to recover it where possible.

It seems like the least they could do considering the issue was created due to poor planning, poor programming, or some combination of those.

When possible, look into deferred updates. Let the problems work themselves out before taking on the unnecessary problems.

Nine Useful Windows 10 Features You Probably Never Use

Frank DeLuca is a field technician for Tech Experts.

Microsoft’s operating system runs on nearly half a billion PCs and laptops worldwide. It’s so commonplace that most of us don’t pay attention to the ways it can make our lives easier.

These are not secret features that Microsoft doesn’t want us to know about by any means. We may have just forgotten that these powerful tools exist.

Disk Cleanup
Disk Cleanup is a simple way to delete files you no longer need and to ensure your recycle bin is cleared out.

On Windows 10, type “disk cleanup” into your taskbar where it says, “Type here to search.” Then, click on the Disk Cleanup app.

Click on any of the entries in the list to see a description of what the files are and how much space can be reclaimed by removing them. Place a check mark in the box next to each entry you want deleted, such as temporary files.

Malware Removal
It’s more important than ever to have a multilayered approach to cybersecurity. Windows Defender is a security tool that can be set up to block malware attacks in real time or you can perform a scan when you need it.

To make sure Windows Defender is running, type “Windows Defender” into your taskbar. Select Windows Defender app.

Make sure it is set to real-time protection and that virus and spyware definitions are up to date.

Quick Assist
We all have that tech-challenged family member, but did you know that you can remotely manage a friend or family member’s computer (or vice-versa) so you can help fix their tech-related problems?

This handy feature is called Quick Assist and it can really be a lifesaver when offering IT assistance.

In Windows 10, type “Quick Assist” into your taskbar. Select Get Assistance or Give Assistance and then follow the onscreen instructions. You’ll thank me later.

Video Streaming
Windows 10 comes with its own built-in DLNA video and media streaming protocol. All you need is a DLNA-compatible device to stream to, like an Xbox One or Roku.

Type “Media Streaming” into the Windows 10 taskbar. Select Media Streaming Options and follow the instructions.

Task Scheduler
Task Scheduler helps you schedule tasks on your computer, like turning your PC off at a specific time each day. Type “task scheduler” into your taskbar to get started.

Virtual Desktop
The little rectangular box to the right of your “Type here” taskbar will change to display all windows you have open. Or you can click on New Desktop to create a new workspace without closing the windows you have open.

Find Missing Files
The command prompt can help you find files that your Windows operating system needs to work properly. It can also help you fix problems.

Type “cmd” into the taskbar. Right click on Command Prompt and select Run As Administrator. To find missing files, type “sfc /scannow.” To check for system problems, type “chkdsk /f.”

Print PDF
PDF is a print format that is compatible across multiple operating systems and software programs. You may not know that you can print in PDF format from any program running on Windows 10.

To do this, just go through the steps to print that you normally would. When you see the option to choose a specific printer, select the one that says, “Microsoft Print to PDF.”

Record Screen Activity
Did you know you can record videos on Windows 10? Just click the Windows key and the letter ‘G’ at the same time – then follow the prompts to record.

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 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.