Tag Archives: Software

Windows 10 – Post Upgrade

Windows 10After a couple weeks with Windows 10, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the new OS. I’ve been running Windows 10 Home on my Surface 3 that was part of the Windows Insider program and Windows 10 Professional on my primary desktop (upgraded from Windows 8.1 Pro).

Overall I really like the new look and feel. The Start menu with the tiles really works for me. I do think it is tough to scroll through the list of all installed programs, but that’s a minor annoyance. It’s very configurable (right clicking is your friend), so even that might be an option. The notification panel on the right (which is accessible with a swipe from the right or a click on the system tray icon) is fantastic for accessing features quickly (just like it is on mobile devices). The OS starts fast and seems to run most stuff well.

The new Xbox App and it’s usage with the Xbox One is fantastic. It’s probably one of the nicest new features of Windows 10. I’m able to stream the Xbox One here at my desk and even join in party sessions with friends. It’s convenient to turn it on and stream it from my desk because the living room is occupied by others at times when I want to play a game.

I haven’t found any “show stoppers” in terms of bugs or missing features. Some “show stopper” candidates might be the lack of a DVD player (you can purchase on for < $15) or the death of the MCE interface, but I believe most stuff works good. It’s pretty easy just to install the app that you want (Chrome, iTunes, etc..).

The Edge browser is sort of annoying right now. It does have “Ask Cortana” support by highlighting text and right clicking on it. It doesn’t sync my bookmarks between different machines though. You also can’t “Save As” on right click. It’s bearable though and I expect it to improve quickly. There have been several updates that improved the OS and hopefully that continues at a brisk pace. Supposedly they passed the 50 million install mark, so they need to keep those people happy. For me, both the tablet and desktop are doing great.

Windows 10 on the 29th

In 3 days, Microsoft will release the next version of their Windows OS. Windows 10 is their effort to win back the majority of their users after what could only be described as a disastrous Windows 8 (and 8.1) release. Many of those users have already moved on to iPads, Macs or Android Tablets, but a few are still holding on to Windows 7 (or XP unfortunately). I’ve been testing it out for a few months and I think that for most of the people that hate the “metro” interface (desktop users specifically), this version will be a big improvement. For me, it’s a mixed bag.

The good news for many is that the OS works a lot better for people with keyboards and mice. It’s almost like Windows 7.8 really (with a bunch of improvements under the hood, including the new browser Edge). The tablet interface is not as powerful as Windows 8, but it’s much more predictable and I think it will work better in the long run.

So who should upgrade?

  • Those with Windows 8.1 on their desktop (primarily mouse/kb) should upgrade right away. Windows 10 will be much easier to operate.
  • If you like “new” stuff, this is for you.

Who should wait?

  • Windows 8.1 touch users should probably wait until a secondary release of Windows 10. I don’t see a lot of initial problems, but there might be some day 1 “gotchas”. The Fall release will include more things that didn’t make it into this release and will make it more of an upgrade.
  • If you are happy with Windows 7, just keep enjoying it until you get a new computer. 10 is better than 7, but not so much that you need to cause yourself a lot of headaches.

What about those on XP, Vista or other version? For you, start saving up for new hardware and plan to get off those OSs before the end of the year. They are a security threat that you don’t need. Computer hardware gets cheaper every year and a new system will be a breath of fresh air. You could also just jump on one of the competing OSs and see what it’s like there.

From my perspective, Windows 10 offers a lot of new stuff (security, browser, apps, …) yet it doesn’t have a polished feel yet. It seems rushed (especially the Edge browser). It’s a work in progress and I’m sure that by the end of the year will feel much more complete. I do love the new Xbox integration. I would probably love the “Hello” instant login support if I had the hardware. It will be good, even great…. eventually. Grab some popcorn, because this is going to be interesting (and who doesn’t love some popcorn).

 

Lenovo Goes Too Far

It’s been the habit of PC manufacturers to pre-load software onto their computers before selling them. The software that gets loaded was originally suppose to be software drivers that was specific to the hardware (hard drives, CD drives, video card, etc…). That quickly turned into software to promote other services that the companies sold. The next thing to happen made matters much worse, software companies would pay the PC manufacturers to pre-install their software on the machines (limited function software that would get the consumer to buy a paid version, virus checkers, adware, etc.). It was this class of software that led to people to consider Windows as being slow and bloated. It was actually the manufacturers that were the root cause of the problem (though OS design did play a part).

Dell, HP and many other PC makers follow this practice, but Lenovo has crossed the line as of late. It was discovered that Lenovo was pre-installing Superfish software. From the linked article on ArsTechnica above:

The critical threat is present on Lenovo PCs that have adware from a company called Superfish installed. As unsavory as many people find software that injects ads into Web pages, there’s something much more nefarious about the Superfish package. It installs a self-signed root HTTPS certificate that can intercept encrypted traffic for every website a user visits. When a user visits an HTTPS site, the site certificate is signed and controlled by Superfish and falsely represents itself as the official website certificate.

Translation: This is bad…. really bad. Read the article for all of the details.

If you have a Lenovo system, you will want to make sure that you use a software tool to remove it. Microsoft recently updated their Windows Defender software to detect and remove it as well.

The action should be a wake up call for consumers. Do not purchase PCs from manufacturers that load their computers down with trial versions and adware. Microsoft offers a “Signature Edition” of many popular PC models (including their own) without any additional pre-loaded software. It’s a clean OS install that should run faster and be more stable over the long term. It’s not just an annoyance anymore, it’s actually a danger to your privacy as well. If Microsoft doesn’t reign this behavior in (which they are limited as to the tools they can use by the anti-trust consent decree), then I suggest using Apple as an alternate vendor (Google already has too many privacy issues for me to recommend). Manufacturers have already proven that they will not do it on their own.

Windows 10 Technical Preview

In my post last week, I posted a number of guesses as to what Microsoft might be adding to the Windows 10 OS (or at least announcing in their big Jan 21st press event). Looks like I got a lot right, some wrong and completely missed one of the biggest pieces. I was hoping for better Xbox One integration and got voice/text chat and a remote play option (within a home) like I hoped. We got to see Windows 10 running on phone devices (and it looked great). We also got to see how Universal Apps would run across every Windows 10 device.

HoloLens

The biggest surprise: Hololens. Hololens is Microsoft’s augmented reality device (large visors) that augment your view with holograms. Right now the scope of the eventual consumer device will be limited, but expect the technology to change the way we view software and devices. Coming up with the software to use the new technology will be its biggest limitation. All that considered, hololens is completely amazing. Really looking forward to seeing this personally.

I’ve been testing out their latest Windows 10 Technical Preview in a virtual machine on my main desktop. My initial reaction was, “Meh, it’s a nice tweak of Windows 8.1”. After using it a little, I think that Microsoft is really nailing this new OS. It really is something that both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users will love. Knowing that I can write one set of code that will run across all devices has me pretty excited as a developer. The completely rebuilt browser engine is another great feature. Shame it took this long. By the way, when you have multiple devices running 8.1 or higher then there is very little configuration involved. Setup took about 20 minutes and I had all of my apps, email, desktop background, etc. I’m sort of shocked that Windows 10 will run on the hardware requirements of Windows 7.

When you combine the fantastic features of Windows 10 (Xbox integration, switching screen layouts between desktop and tablet, new browser, etc.) with the free upgrade from Windows 7, 8, 8.1 for the first year, this is going to be the time when I’ll move all of the PCs in my house to Windows 10. At the same time, I’ll probably start a subscription to Office 365 as well. This will get everyone on the same version of Office and provide cloud storage for all of my photos and videos.

The biggest piece of the puzzle that was missing in their presentation was their vision for digital media moving forward. By that I’m referencing Windows Media Center. We still use MCE to power the media in our house (recording shows, viewing photos and recorded media). Other than a series of individual apps, I didn’t see a unified vision presented. Perhaps they will eventually release their Digital TV Tuner for the Xbox One in the US. If they would do that and support it in Windows 10 (DVR capabilities), then that might suffice.

If you use Microsoft software in your house, prepare for a very exciting Fall 2015. You may want to hold off any hardware purchases until then as you’ll see a whole host of new devices when Win 10 hits the market.

Antimalware Only Works When On

Infection Rate ChartMicrosoft posted via their TechNet Security Blog, some enlightening information today that I thought was worth sharing. They took a look at infection rates for computers running Windows 8 and 8.1 (I would assume rates are worse for Windows 7). They compared those that had up-to-date security software with those that either didn’t have any security software or had software that was out-of-date, turned off or just expired. The take away is that rates were about the same for no security software as they were for software that was either turned off, not updated or expired.

It’s so common to get some type of antivirus or antimalware software with a new computer, but rarely do people actually pay for an updated subscription. With Microsoft Security Essentials being free, no one should be without antivirus software. If you would prefer would of the paid packages from Norton, Trend Micro or McAfee then that’s okay also. Just remember that if you have expired subscriptions that you don’t plan on renewing, then uninstall the software and install the free software from Microsoft. Please don’t delay. Do it this weekend. One other thing, if you go to get Microsoft’s free version, then don’t search for it with a search engine. A lot of those links are bogus. Go to their main site (http://www.microsoft.com) and navigate from there.