Windows 10 to Arrive July 29

The date we’ve been waiting for is out there. Microsoft will make Windows 10 available for laptops, desktops and Windows tablets July 29, and it can’t come a day too soon as far as we’re concerned. Yes, it will be free – if you download within a year of its release. Don’t wait. Here’s why you should migrate to Windows 10 ASAP.

Freebie – Well, it’s a freebie for life if you install it within a year. You know our feelings about freebies: they always come with strings attached. The “free” upgrade is for customers running Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 running Home, Home Premium and Pro versions. And while it will be free for life, early reports indicate that not all the features will be available July 29. Neither will Edge, the new browser that replaces Internet Explorer, nor Windows phone be available. If you have a really old version of Windows, such as Vista, XP or even RT, you’ll have to pony up the money. Speculation is up to $199 for Windows 10 Pro. Enterprise users will be charged for an on-going service, and that’s where Windows will ultimately head with everyone. As we’ve discussed before, software as a service with automatic updates is a good thing.

Easy Transition – Unlike most migrations to a new operating system, you’ll be able to retain all of your data, drivers and settings if you are using Windows 7 or 8. Microsoft used the analogy of the egg and the yolk, calling your data, drivers and settings the egg and your operating system the yolk. The egg stays while the yolk changes. Let’s hope it’s more like “eggs easy over” and nothing gets scrambled. Once you make the transition, you’ll have 30 days to get used to everything and decide if you want to keep it. We fully expect you’ll make that decision pretty quickly. If you find you don’t like Windows 10, you can revert back to your older operating system with a simple click. To further ease your mind, Microsoft will continue to support Windows 7 until Jan. 14, 2020 – almost five years from now – and support Windows 8 until Jan. 10, 2023.

Return of the Start Button – The Start Button is back, and that might be reason enough by itself to migrate from Windows 8 or 8.1. The big advantage for many users is that it will restore a well-known way to navigate through various application programs. However, it will retain some of the visual cues from Windows 8, and those will be resizable to help you find and launch your key apps quickly and easily. Along with the Start Button, there are also reminders when you install new apps and an alphabetical grid when you click on a heading letter.

New Browser – The Edge will replace Internet Explorer. Names aside, the new browser will load pages faster and display some useful information, such as weather forecasts, in a pop-up menu below the toolbar. Edge will also feature a predictive search engine, which could come in especially handy on a mobile device if you’re looking for a restaurant or a store. This could also be a good salvo against Google for getting more search (and advertising) traffic.

Cortana – This is Microsoft’s personal digital assistant. It will differ from Siri or Google Now by giving you the ability to conduct a single search across your hard drive, as well as the cloud and the web, bundling the results into a single pop-up menu.

Apps – We talked about a photo-editing app in our initial evaluation of an earlier version (build, as we say in the tech biz) of Windows 10, and you should find a lot to like with various apps. The new Photos app will scan your devices and OneDrive account for photos, arrange them into a giant collection and automatically enhance them, such as fixing red-eye. Microsoft will use a unified code for its apps that should work across desktops, tablets and smartphones. A new code base makes it easier for iPhone and Android developers to make their apps work with Windows.

With more than six weeks until Windows 10’s release, you have plenty of time to prepare for the migration. Windows 7 users must be running Service Pack 1 to enable the update, and Windows 8 users must have upgraded to the latest version of Windows 8.1. Your computer should have these minimum system requirements:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for a 32-bit version, or 2GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space: 16GB for a 32-bit OS; 20GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display: 1024×600

You’ll also need to enable your Windows 10 reservation. Look for the tiny Windows icon down in the right corner of your taskbar, and click it to launch the Windows 10 reservation app. However, even if your PC seemingly meets those specifications, it might not be upgraded. Use the “check my PC” function within the reservation app.

If you are cleared for takeoff, the process could take 20 minutes to 3 hours, depending on your computer’s age and networking setup – among other things. It goes without saying that even though the upgrade is expected to be a proverbial “piece of cake,” you should have all of your important files backed up before you start the process.

We can help you make sure your computers are ready for the Windows 10 upgrade. If your computers don’t qualify for the upgrade, we can help you purchase and install the software. If you are an enterprise user, we can help you migrate to the new Windows 10 service. Call us – 973-433-6646 – or email us with any questions you may have about making Windows 10 work for you.


Passwords and Underwear: An Analogy Worth Mentioning

When Thycotic, a security software company, compared passwords to underwear, it certainly got a chuckle or two. But they share three characteristics that are worth more than a mention:

  1. Change them regularly.
  2. Don’t leave them on your desk.
  3. Never lend them.

Without getting into TMI, changing every password every day is a lot more involved than changing your underwear, and it’s really impractical. But you can help make your data more secure by changing passwords monthly or quarterly – or any time you see something that looks funny, odd or out of place.

We’ve seen numbers indicating that 75% of all Internet users employ the same password for all the sites they visit. I would strengthen it by using upper and lower case letters, numerals and special characters. I feel my information is safe because it could take years for a hacker to figure it out.

However, hackers have various tools to crack passwords, and they’ll get one eventually. The longer and more complex your password is, the longer it will take. And, hackers make a business decision in how far to go. If they can get a whole bunch of easily decoded passwords quickly, that’s where they’ll concentrate their efforts. So, if you want to keep your password simple, change it more often. But, do change it regularly.

Don’t leave them out on your desk. I can’t tell you how many times I visit clients and see passwords taped to monitors or walls for the whole world to see. In busy offices, where people walk in and out all day, it would be very easy for a practiced password thief to see a password or two and remember them. If you recoiled with horror at the thought of someone seeing your underwear on your desk, how do you feel about someone getting into your personal or corporate bank or credit-card information?

Never lend your passwords to anyone. Yes, the thought of someone using your password should be just as disgusting as someone wearing… Well, you get the idea.

You can further protect your password by being very careful about which websites you provide information. Remember that 75% figure? If a hacker uses a website for a bogus offer – such as something for free – to get you to sign on with a password, he’ll make the assumption that you lack good judgment or common sense. He’ll also assume you use the same password for dozens of other places, including those where he can either take money from you or find information to sell to others.

If you use cloud-based services, such as Microsoft Office 365, the provider will monitor patterns and notice something out of the ordinary. You, too, should be on the lookout for out-of-the-ordinary things, such as emails with attachments or links from people who normally don’t send you those things or emails with odd subject lines.

If you have any questions about password security, contact us by phone – 973-433-6676 – or email. In the meantime, treat your password like your underwear.

Virus and Malware Protection Requires Vigilance

The numbers are grim when it comes to the ability of antivirus and malware software to protect your computer from an invasion. Keeping a close eye on your computer is a huge help.

Let’s start with the bad news. I was astonished to learn that the four major antivirus engines used to combat viruses combine can only detect 40% of the viruses floating around. If you want to take some consolation, it’s a higher success rate than this past year’s flu vaccine, but it’s not comforting. It’s the same with antimalware protection. Quite simply, the antivirus and antimalware software developers can’t keep up with the volume of viruses and malware that’s produced every day.

If you know or believe your computer is infected by a virus or malware, disconnect it from your network or the Internet or shut down the computer and call us – 973-433-6676. IT professionals know which tools to use and where to use them to find and remove them. The tools are Microsoft tools, and they are free, but, again, it’s a matter knowing how to use them and being able to verify that a computer is totally disinfected.

If you have an infected server and no back-up in place, we’ll try to clean the server. With a computer, it’s easier to isolate the infection and – if needed – rebuild it, which means wipe it clean and reinstall the operating system, application software and data files. If you are using cloud-based applications and data files, the chances of an infection are greatly reduced because the hosting companies constantly update the software.

While the numbers may seem to be stacked against you, you can take steps to protect yourself. First, install, update and use your antivirus and antimalware software. Those programs will pick off the more numerous “easy-to-detect” viruses and malware.

Second, be very careful about the websites you visit and the networks you allow to connect to your computer. Only go to trusted sites and only connect with trusted networks. Of course, there’s a caveat here. Sometimes, your antivirus software may flag a network or computer trying to connect, and it may be a false positive. If it looks like something that’s OK, it’s most likely a network driver update.

Contact us – 973-433-6676 or email – if you have any questions about anything having to do with viruses or malware on your computer or server. It’s a dangerous world out there, but it’s more than survivable with good judgment and common sense.