Showing posts with label Windows 10. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Windows 10. Show all posts

How to Fix the Most Annoying Things in Windows 10

Windows 10 is great, but it has its issues. Here's how to fix them.

Windows 10 is probably the best edition of Microsoft's venerable operating system. But Redmond has never made an entirely perfect OS. As much as we like Windows 10—and we really do like it a lot—it's got problems. Thankfully, a number of them are easily corrected. Here's our look at a few of them, and the steps you can take to rectify the problems so the OS doesn't drive you up the Windows wallpaper.

1. Stop Auto Reboots

Windows 10 updates are regular and seemingly never-ending, and pretty much out of the user's control (unless you turn off updates altogether, which is a bad idea). What's worse: if you don't reboot your PC after an update, Windows 10 eventually takes it upon itself to reboot for you. That's a good way to lose data in open apps.
You can take advantage of a feature called Active Hours, which lets you schedule a time for reboots. But our brethren at ExtremeTech also found a solution via blogger Winaero: It involves going to Administrative Tools in the Control Panel (just type "Administrative Tools" into the Windows 10 search box). Choose Task Scheduler. In the left pane, click Task Scheduler Library and then navigate to Microsoft\Windows\UpdateOrchestrator. In the middle pane, right-click on Reboot and select "Disable" from the menu.

stop auto reboots

This doesn't stop the installation of Windows updates, but it will stop the reboot so you can do it on your timetable. (Windows 10 may also change this setting back; read on at ExtremeTech for how to prevent that.) Another option: freeware program shutdownguard will stop the restarts for you.

2. Prevent Sticky Keys

If you hit the Shift key five times in a row, you activate Sticky Keys, a Windows feature that allows for keyboard shortcuts where you hit one key at a time instead of simultaneously (so it works with any combo that includes the Shift, Cntrl, Alt, or Windows keys).
If you activate it without knowing—you'd have to hit "yes" in a dialog box without thinking—it can be seriously annoying. Prevent it from ever happening by hitting the Shift five times rapidly to bring up that very dialog box. Select Ease of Access Center > Set up Sticky Keys and uncheck the box next to "Turn on Sticky Keys when SHIFT is pressed five times."

3. Calm the UAC Down

Ever since Windows Vista, User Account Control (UAC) has been there to protect users so they can quickly grant administrative rights to software programs that need it—specifically when installing or uninstalling software.
In the old days, when you went to do an install, the screen would suddenly dim and everything seemed to come to a halt, causing several (anecdotal, probably fictional) heart attacks amid the populace. UAC is still there in Windows and will still dim the desktop, but you have the option to turn it off, or at least prevent the screen dimming.
Type UAC into the Windows 10 search box to get Change User Account Control Settings. The screen presents a slider with four levels of security, from never notify (bad) to always notify (annoying—it'll warn you when you make your own changes). Pick one of the middle options; the second from the bottom notifies you without the dimming scare tactic. With that option, you'll still get a dialog box confirmation with a yes/no option when you install things.

4. Delete Unused Apps

Did you know you have a program in Windows 10 called Groove Music? Probably not, because the world uses other services. But now, you can get rid of it and a few others.
You'll need the latest version of Windows 10 for this to work—but because updates are forced on you, that's probably not a problem! As of late in 2016, a few pre-installed apps can finally be deleted when you go into Settings > System > Apps & Features. Deletable apps include Mail and Calendar, Groove Music, Weather, and Maps.
If your uninstall option is grayed out, you can go the DOS route, but it gets a little complicated and you should be 100 percent sure of what you're doing.
  • Type PowerShell in the Windows searchbox—when you see it, right-click and launch it via Run as Administrator.
  • Type in "Get-AppxPackage –AllUsers" without the quotes. A giant list of all the stuff you've got installed that came from Microsoft's Store, plus some other stuff, will appear.
  • It's hard to find those apps in there, but the last one will probably clearly read Microsoft.ZuneMusic—that's actually Grove Music. Copy everything it says on the line next to PackageFullName.
  • You'll then type in a command and paste that line, so it reads something like "remove-AppxPackage Microsoft.ZuneMusic_10.16122.10271.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe" (yours will be different after the first underscore character).
  • Execute it with a stroke of the return key, and if you don't get any errors, the Groove Music app should be gone. Be careful using this on other apps—be sure you've picked the right one.

5. Use a Local Account

Microsoft really wants you to sign in to Windows 10 with your Microsoft account—the one that is attached to all things Microsoft, be it your Xbox, your Office 365 subscription, your OneDrive account, buying apps or music or video in the Windows Store, even talking on Skype, to name just a few. When you set up Windows, Microsoft specifically asks you to sign in using that account.
But you don't have to. During setup, just click Skip this step. If you already signed in with the Microsoft account, go to Settings > Accounts > Your email and Accounts. Click Sign in with a local account. Now you can enter a local account name and new password (with a hint for when you forget it). The one downside is that when you end up on a service or site that requires Microsoft credentials, you'll have to enter your Microsoft login each time; it won't automatically sign you in as it would if you sign in with a Microsoft account.


6. Use a PIN, Not a Password

If you're okay using the Microsoft account, but hate how long it takes to type in your super secure password, you can reset it to a short personal identification number (PIN)—but only on the PC. The PIN, which is only numerals, no mixed case letters or special characters, might not sound very secure. But since it's PC-only, it doesn't compromise the security of your Microsoft account anywhere else. Also, it can be as many digits as you desire.
To set it up, click the Start menu, then on your avatar pic, and choose Change account settings. Navigate to Sign-in options, and click the Add button under PIN. Enter the PIN you want and restart to try it. If you've already got a PIN, you get options to change it, remove it, or click I forgot my PIN to recover it.

7. Skip the Password Login

Are you the only person who ever—and I mean ever—uses your PC? Then you can probably skip the password login screen that appears after every reboot or sometimes even when you come back from the screensaver. To do that, go to the User Accounts control panel by typing "netplwiz" in the search bar. Select the account, uncheck the box next to "Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer. You'll get a confirmation box that asks you to enter that very password—twice. Click okay when done. Reboot the PC and if it works, it should roll smoothly into the desktop without requesting a password. Don't do this if it's shared PC. And you'll still need to know the password if you're logging into the PC remotely.

Skip Password Login 

8. Refresh Instead of Reset

Windows 10 has a fantastic feature that lets you essentially reinstall Windows 10 on your computer from the ground up, like new—without deleting any of your data files (though you will have to reinstall software and drivers). When your PC is beyond repair, you access it at Settings > Update & Security > Recovery, and click Reset this PC, pick settings like "Keep My Files" or "Remove Everything" and let it rip. You don't need any separate media, like a copy of Windows 10 on a disc or USB flash drive.
But that can be overkill. Sometimes, Windows just needs a reset that does not eradicate your software and drivers. This is also easy to do, but it does require a copy of Windows 10 on separate media. Don't have the media, since you probably performed the free Windows 10 upgrade during its first year of life? Get it via here. Run it and install the included ISO file onto a 4GB or larger USB drive you can utilize for the reset now and in the future. Or you can just mount it as a virtual drive in Windows 10.
Double-click the setup on that media/drive's Setup option, ask to download updates and check "Keep personal files and apps" when it appears. After a few more prompts and waiting, your Windows 10 system will have the refresh it needs.

9. Kill Cortana Dead

Master Chief would never let this happen. Maybe that's why the most recent build of Windows 10 took out the switch to turn off Cortana, Microsoft's answer to Siri and Alexa. Using Cortana makes searching for any term more than just a look on your computer, but also the entire Internet—that's why her search box tells you "Ask me anything." You can still turn her off, however.
First, there is the option to hide Cortana: just right-click the Taskbar, select Cortana, then Hidden. The search box disappears, but she's still active and easily accessible: tap the Windows key and just start typing.

If you want to really take her out so all searches are local, you need to edit the registry—don't do this if you're not feeling like a Windows expert. You have to open the Registry Editor in Windows from a command line—there is no easy shortcut. In the search box, type Run or CMD to bring up the command line, then type regedit and hit Enter. In Windows 10 Home, navigate to HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search. If it's not there, create it. Create a DWORD value and call it AllowCortana. Then set that value to 0 (zero). Once you sign out and come back, the search box will now read "Search Windows."
If that's a little too complicated, check out How to Share More (or Less) Personal Data With Cortana.

10. Access Special Symbols Quick

Just using 26 letters and 10 numerals and a few pieces of punctuation—that's so old school. We live in the emoji world now—but how do you put those fun little icons into your text when typing in Windows 10? You can't unless you memorize a bunch of ANSI codes... or you could try the pop-up keyboard. It's typically meant for use when Windows is in tablet mode, but it's easy to access even when you're using it with a regular keyboard.
Right-click the Taskbar in a blank area, and select the Show touch keyboard button. A new icon will appear next to the clock in the taskbar of a little keyboard. Tap it anytime with the mouse cursor to bring up the on-screen keyboard; use your IRL keyboard to dismiss it from the screen. Click the extra keyboard icon at the lower left of the virtual keyboard, and there is an option to split the keyboard so it appears at the lower left and right of the screen, so it's less likely to obscure your document.
onscreen keyboard
You now have access not only to emoji but also special characters like the em dash or degrees symbol (°). If you can't find them, that's because first, you have to hit the &123 key to switch to symbols, then, like on a smartphone, hold down your cursor on the main key to get some special symbols—hold down on the hyphen to get em dash and en dash; hold down on equals (=) to get non-equals (≠), etc. Same goes for the letters to get variations, such as accent symbols over the letters. VoilĂ !

11. OneDrive Into the Grave

Like Cortana, OneDrive—Microsoft's answer to Dropbox or Google Drive—is integrated into Windows 10. Tightly. Too tightly. You can try to ignore it, but it comes up a lot. Again, a registry edit will nix it completely. In the Registry Editor in Windows 10 Home, go to HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\OneDrive (or create it). This key needs a DWORD value called DisableFileSyncNGSC—set it's value to 1. Then restart. OneDrive is dead, but any files you stored in a local OneDrive folder stay put, as do the files you may have on OneDrive in the cloud. They just won't sync from that PC any longer.

12. No More Notifications

You either love notifications or hate the distraction. The noise, the popup, it's too much when your phone is likely displaying most of the same info. Go into Settings > Notifications & Actions. Turn off all the toggle switches. Turn them off for individual apps, especially the ones you find most annoying. Or click on the App name in the list for even more granular control—get notifications from one app on the lock screen, for example, but nowhere else, or turn off sounds for all but one notifier, that kind of thing. Play with the settings to get it just right. This is also where you can personalize the Quick Action buttons that appear at the bottom of the Windows Action Center (the pane where notifications appear on screen)—they give you quick access to settings like Airplane mode, turning off Bluetooth or Wi-Fi or VPN, or creating a note in OneNote.


13. Cool Your Diagnostics

Like many other big-name companies, Microsoft likes to get OS feedback about things like crashes. But when you do a setup and Windows 10 asks to "Send full error and diagnostic information to Microsoft," Redmond's getting more than you think. In Settings, go to Feedback & Diagnostics—the "Send your data to Microsoft" option will likely be set to "Enhanced." Set it to Basic to send the least amount of data.


14. Fix Start Menu/Cortana Issues

Got tiles and entries that disappear in the Windows 10 Start menu? Does Cortana not pop up when you expect? The Start menu can, it turns out, get pretty gummed up over time. Microsoft has suggestions, but the best is to use the Start Menu Troubleshooter tool. Restart after running it and you're likely to find most of your Start menu problems have gone, at least for now. Or, you can always dump the Windows 10 Start menu and try a third-party option to make the current OS more Windows 7-esque. For more, check out How to Use and Tweak the Start Screen in Windows 10.


15. Get Off the Edge

Don't like Microsoft's latest browser? It's safer and faster than using Internet Explorer, but Edge is nothing special compared to our Editors' Choice, Mozilla Firefox. But no matter what browser you choose, you need to make it the default so anytime you open a link, it goes to the browser you want.
Go to Settings > System > Default Apps, scroll down to Web browser and click whichever is listed. A list will pop up of all your installed browsers—pick the one you want permanently. You can always go back to whatever Redmond thinks best later by clicking the "Reset to Microsoft Recommended defaults" button.
get off the edge 

If you get problems with certain links, you may want to go in and ensure the file type (like .htm versus .html) or even protocols (like http:// versus https://) are all set to your browser of choice as well. Links to adjust are on the same screen in Default App settings.
Most new browsers you install will try to take back the default position when you start them the first time, so if you speed through a setup, you may need to revisit these settings to go back to your original, preferred Web browser.

If you have any queries/feedback, please write it in comments section below OR mail me here : Snehal[at]Techproceed[dot]com.

Happy Fixing :-)

How to minimize Internet data usage in Windows 10

Ever wondered where’s your data vanishing post the upgrade to Windows 10? Well, if you are held up in an area with limited modem speed you are bound to face such issues. If you have noticed that Windows 10 loves to feast on data, in no time would you see them disappearing strangely. Even though we can set the connection to “Metered” the data still fast diminished without any clue.

Wondering what’s leading to this heavy internet usage? Want to find out what’s causing your data to disappear? Today we will not only guide you through how to set your connection as “Metered” under the settings, but will also show you how to limit Windows 10 data.

Tips to Save your Data Consumption on Windows 10 OS

  • Select “Metered” as your Data Connection

Changing your data connection to “Metered” under the Settings is one of the most basic steps in order to send a signal to the Windows 10 that will restrict massive updates and self-regulating app downloads. In order to change the setting to “Metered” you need to click on the “Start” button (the windows key on your keyboard), then go to “Settings” in the menu, select “Network and Internet” from the list, now go to “Wi-Fi” and then click on “Advanced Options”.

The box that opens now will display the second option as “Metered connection”. Click on the slider beneath it to put it “ON”.

  • Switch Off Background Apps
Windows 10 allows some of the background apps to function by default which in turn consumes a lot of data. The notable culprit here is the “Mail” application that depletes the majority of data. In such cases, it is rather safe to switch off of these offenders or apps in order to save yourself some data.

Go to “Settings”, click on “Privacy” and now locate “Background apps”. Switch off the “Background apps” options and then scroll through and switch off any other apps that you think you do not require and are finishing your data.

  • Set “One Drive” Off

One Drive is one of the other background apps in the Windows 10 that depletes your data in no time. It is indeed one of the most crucial apps in the Windows 10 OS disabling which can be a radical step, however, not many of us need it running in the background at all times. Yes, the One Drive does help you sync your files which makes life simpler, but that can be even done in the next cyber café. This may take a while for you; however, it will save you some substantial data over the period.

  • Read: How to uninstall OneDrive
In order to deactivate the One Drive, right clicking on the “Task Bar” will open up a list. Select “Task Manager” from the list and click on it or alternatively use your keyboard shortcuts, such as, CTRL + SHIFT + ESC all at once. Under this you will see a series of tabs and the one that you need to click on is the “Startup” tab. This will further open up a list and here you need to scroll down and select “Microsoft OneDrive”. Now deactivate this option to stop “One Drive” from automatically syncing the files in the background. You can also disable other drives, like the Google Drive or the Dropbox in order to save data.

  • Deactivate PC Synchronization Function
Even though you may admire the PC sync function being the Windows 10 trademark feature, the fact is that it eats up a considerable portion of your data. So you really do not want it to run at the background unless required, hence, it’s a better idea to keep it switched off till the time you need to sync files. In order to switch the PC sync off you need to find the “Settings” option, go to “Accounts”, and find the option that says “Sync your settings” and now just slide it to “OFF”.

  • Disable Notifications

“Notifications” is another section where you have the opportunity to save some data. Simply disable the notifications if you do not need to be constantly informed of the current activities by the background apps. Simply right click on the “Action Centre” icon and click on the “Turn on quiet hours” to turn it off.

  • Deactivate Live Tiles
Opting to keep the “Live Tiles” option “On” will keep the News application running in the background which will constantly keep you updated with the latest Feeds. Facebook, Twitter, Mail or Weather are certain apps that are interconnected with the Feed and will keep retrieving the News automatically. In case if you are not interested in the Feeds you can deactivate it the “Live Tiles” and opt out of it. Right click on the option “Tile” and select the option that says “Turn live tile off” and you are done!

  • Disable Bandwidth sharing !
Windows 10 have come up with an improvement in its Windows Update option that allows it to sync updates from a local network PC in a P2P (peer-to-peer) style named “Windows Update Delivery Optimization” or WUDO.

WUDO is ideal for situations if your OS is set up with “Metered” connection but have more than one computer using the Windows 10 operating system. However, if the computers in the local network are of the same built, you can make use of only computer to update the other.
In order to deactivate this configuration click open “Settings” option from clicking on the windows start key and then settings.

Then select “Update and Security”.

Go to “Windows Update”.

Finally select “Choose how updates are delivered”.

Once you reach this option slide it to “OFF” and there you go!

WUDO is a dicey feature offered by Windows 10 since in its Home and Pro versions the WUDO is set in such a way that it transports Windows Update info to other computers via the internet, but only to computers in the local network in Education and Enterprise versions. So in situations where you are bound in a limited modem speed it is a better idea to stay away from sharing updates online with other computers.
Turn off Auto update of offline Maps in windows 10

Just go to Settings -> System -> Offline Maps . Turn off the option Automatically Update Maps.

  • Disable Windows 10 auto Update ! Read here
Delay Windows Update ! Only for Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise users

Yes! You also have this convenient feature in Windows 10 which allows you to actually delay/defer the Windows Updates. So if your PC is running an OS which is either Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise, you will find an option in the settings section of the Windows Update that will let you delay/defer the procedure of new features download for quite a few months. This definitely makes a huge impact as any update to the new features can be significantly big.

And what’s more, delaying the Windows Update will not disturb either the download process or the installation procedure of the security updates! Also, it will not affect the downloading of the features forever, but only for a limited period.

Go to the “Setting” option, click open the “Update and Security”, now select “Windows Update” and then click “Advanced Options”. Toggle towards the bottom and click on the check box next to the option that says “Defer Upgrades”. However, remember that by turning this on will also defer “Microsoft Updates”.

Please note that you need not apply all the options that we mentioned here and you should rather apply the ideas based on the type of connection that runs on your OS. However, when applied tactfully these ideas will help you control the data consumption by Windows 10 in a much better fashion, thereby helping you save a good amount of data.
Happy data saving :-)

Windows 10 tour: The good, the bad, and the missing

For Microsoft it is arguably the most important Windows release of all time. After 30 years, the company wants to change the game: new business model, new release strategy, new controls over updates. Everything changes.

All of which asks the question: should you upgrade to Windows 10?

Given the biggest headline about Windows 10 is it is FREE logic suggests this should be an easy answer. But it isn’t. I have used Windows 10 since the first beta back in October 2014 and I received an advanced press copy of the finished product and the costs come elsewhere.

Furthermore choosing whether to upgrade will prove a deeply personal question based on your own needs and concerns. So here is a breakdown of everything which has impressed me and everything that has left me with reservations. I’ll give you my own conclusion after that.

Let’s go!

The Good Stuff

It’s Free

Yes, you read that correctly. Windows 10 is free. Microsoft waited until July 17th to clear this up, but its lifecycle support page now states users Mainstream Support (adding new features) will continue until October 13, 2020 and Extended Support (security updates) will last until October 14, 2025.

This is great news. These time spans fall in line with previous paid editions of Windows and whatever Microsoft has planned for ‘Windows as a service’ in future (subscriptions perhaps?), users can sit on Windows 10 until the end of Extended Support in 2025 without any worries.

The caveat: you can only upgrade to Windows 10 free if you do so within 12 months of release (that’s July 29th 2016). Upgrade outside this period and you will have to pay the standard retail costs: $119.99 for ‘Windows 10 Home’ and $199.99 for ‘Windows 10 Pro’.

One Windows To Rule Them All

Apple famously bragged about building iOS on the core of OS X, but Microsoft has now taken this one step further: Windows 10 is what runs on all desktops, laptops, tablets and phones. Yes, the user interfaces may vary, but it’s the same codebase.

Windows 10 is the single operating system working across all Microsoft desktops, laptops, tablets and phones

This brings a lot of advantages, perhaps the best of which is ‘Continuum’ – Microsoft’s equivalent of Apple’s ‘Handoff’. This lets you pick up from exactly where you left off on one device and continue it on another.

In truth Microsoft is catching up here as Handoff and many of Google’s Cloud-based products like Docs, Sheets and Maps let you do something similar but Continuum also takes it one step further: a Windows 10 designed apps can run on any device. There’s no such thing as phone apps or PC apps, they are the same thing.

Obviously legacy programs are excluded from this. You won’t be running Office 2007 on your phone, but Office for Windows 10 can do this.


Moving onto specific Windows 10 tentpoles, the biggest is arguably Cortana.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone voice assistant and Siri rival is now baked into Windows 10 so you can ask whatever you like and have the answers returned to you in seconds. Cortana also handles core commands like opening a browser, creating a new email, setting reminders or calendar appointments, etc.

Cortana brings Microsoft’s Siri rival to the desktop for the first time

Like all voice assistants Cortana is far from flawless, but – for those not too embarrassed to talk to their computer – she’s a great addition and is only going to get better.

Read more – When ‘Free’ Windows 10 Becomes Expensive, You Must Know This

Virtual Desktops

Technically Linux was the first platform to offer Virtual Desktops, but they have been popularised in OS X (Apple calls them ‘Spaces’) and now Microsoft is finally aboard as well. Windows 10 allows users to create multiple virtual desktops: this could mean one for work, one for leisure, one for holiday planning, however you wish to set them up you can. And it’s about time.

Windows 10 Virtual Desktops

DirectX 12 and Xbox Integration

For gamers DirectX 12 is perhaps the single biggest reason to upgrade to Windows 10. While initial reports that it brought a 30-40% performance gain over DirectX 11 have actually proved to be closer to 10-20%, switching to it long term is a no brainer. Along with the usual clever visual enhancements of each new DirectX launch, DX12 is simply the future of PC gaming.

Windows 10 is also perhaps the future for Xbox One owners because it can stream Xbox One games directly to PCs and laptops. At this stage (and depending on the performance on your home WiFi connection) there is some slight lag, but it largely works very well. It is also a doddle to setup.

For Windows 10 owners this may even be enough to tempt them away from the PS4 to the Xbox One (though let’s not get into that debate here).

Windows 10 can stream games from the Xbox One

Low Specs

Despite launching six years after Windows 7, the demands for Windows 10 are not significantly greater:
Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
Display: 1024×600

In short: if you have an computer which is eligible for a free upgrade (more later on exceptions), there’s every chance it will happily run Windows 10. That’s no mean feat and it’s no doubt a byproduct of Windows 10 needing to be able to run on such a wide range of devices.

It’s Good!

I have been highly critical of Microsoft’s veil of silence surrounding Windows 10 (some key questions remain unanswered – more next) but the core operating system is excellent.

Windows 10 looks and works like a hybrid of Windows 7 and Windows 8 and is arguably what the latter should’ve been in the first place. It is fast, has great security and the Start menu is back which should be appreciated by Windows 7 users in particular who stayed away from Windows 8.

Windows 10 is a smart mix of the new and the familiar

While I’ve name dropped some of the biggest new features already there are also plenty of smart tweaks:

‘Snap’ has been enhanced so it lets you resize multiple windows around your screen in just a few clicks, file transfers are smarter so moving around a lot of heavy files doesn’t slow your computer to a crawl, there’s an attractive new media player with greater codec support, a notification center to group together alerts from both Microsoft and third party programs all in one place, and much more.

I’m also a fan of the updated styling. Microsoft has recovered from some truly horrible icon choices in the early betas, and it now looks every bit like Windows but with a subtle and stylish modern twist.

The Bad Stuff

It’s Not Free For Everyone

Given the Windows upgrade market is just a tiny slice of the company’s revenues (the vast majority comes from purchases of new PCs) it irks me that Windows 10 has a number of restrictions.

Firstly Windows Vista and Windows XP owners are excluded. Combined Vista and XP remain over 13% of the global PC market and anyone still running a Vista or XP machine is likely to have upgraded it during this time so it may be in a position to run Windows 10. If the PCs can’t then there’s no hit for Microsoft, but the good PR remains because the offer was made.

Meanwhile Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise and Windows RT/RT 8.1 users are excluded, as are pirates (more later).

Read more – ‘Free’ Windows 10 Is A Nice But Stupid Microsoft Idea

Forced Updates

Easily the most controversial factor about Windows 10 is what you give up for the free update: Control.

Windows Update’s Nvidia driver update clashes with Nvidia’s own GeForce Experience update software leading to system instability and these contradictory notifications – Image credit Paul Monckton

For owners of Windows 10 Home (most consumers) and Windows 10 Pro (most enthusiasts and businesses) you accept to receive, download and install any and every update Microsoft sends your way with any advance notice. This could be an important security update, a new feature (even if you don’t want it) or a driver (the version number and changelog of which you can’t see).

Delays are possible (Home users can stall up to one month, Pro users up to eight months) but after this they override and are installed automatically. It is actually part of the Windows 10 EULA (end user licence agreement) which you agree to and the consequences of this are troubling.

In just the last week a bad graphics driver and a buggy security update were automatically installed on millions of Windows 10 beta testers computers and caused repeated crashes on many machines without warning. If the troublesome updates were removed, Windows 10 automatically reinstalled them again.

Worryingly historically Microsoft has a poor record with updates and there have been some epic Windows patch meltdowns and “40 or so” problematic patches have been released by Windows Update in 2015 alone.

Confusingly and contradictorally Microsoft has released a tool which canuninstall updates on Windows 10 and keep them uninstalled but only after they have been installed in the first place (which isn’t much good if one stops your computer booting up) but the tool isn’t part of Windows Update and seemingly contravenes the company’s own EULA.

Microsoft has released Update KB3073930 which removes Windows updates, but leaves many unanswered questions – Image credit Microsoft

I asked for a Microsoft response about this, but was told it did not wish to comment at this time so the mystery continues.

Home Users Are Guinea Pigs

The direct result of forced updates is home users become guinea pigs as they cannot delay updates for as long as Pro versions and Windows 10 Enterprise is the only version which can stop them altogether.

Microsoft actually admits as much, promoting this feature to business customers in a blog post:

“By the time Current branch for Business machines are updated, the changes will have been validated by millions of Insiders, consumers and customers’ internal test processes for several months, allowing updates to be deployed with this increased assurance of validation,” explained Microsoft director of program management Jim Alkove in a little read Windows blog post in January.

Yes that’s a pretty blunt admission of Microsoft’s Windows 10 priorities: consumers can be testers for businesses. Which shows Windows 10 may be free, but it comes with a different kind of cost to the end users.

On the flip side current Windows pirates can sign up to be ongoing Windows 10 beta testers, which gets them a free, legitimate version of Windows but they then have no delay options at all. This means they (perhaps deservedly) become the first victims of any bad Microsoft updates.

Official Windows 10 upgrade details are still verbose and unclear – Image credit Microsoft

Unclear Enforcement Policies

Unsurprisingly the policy of automatic updates has led to a lot of reader outcry. Personally I understand Microsoft’s general aim: forcing updates on users keeps their PCs up to date, which makes them more secure and reliable in general. The problem is forced anything meets resistance.

To this end users have already talked about hacks to stop updates installing, but in April senior Microsoft product marketing manager Helen Harmetz said users who forcibly stopped any Windows 10 updates would eventually have their security updates cut off.

I have been unable to get a straight answer from Microsoft to confirm or deny this. The company’s latest statement to me was this morning: “Customers can expect us to take a similar approach with Windows 10 as we did with the Windows 8.1 Update.”

Taken literally, the upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 cut-off security updates within 30 days for consumers who did not upgrade (this was expanded to 120 days for businesses), but Windows 8.1 was a major update. If Microsoft is now adopting this 30 day countdown policy for every patch it issues there will be a lot of angry users.

Read more – Windows 10 Automatic Updates Start Causing Problems

Games like Spider Solitaire on Windows 7 (above) are removed from Windows 10

Lost Features

While these will only likely to affect a small number of users, Microsoft will cull a number of features in Windows 10 that were featured in Windows 8 and Windows 10.

Most prominent is the death of Windows Media Center which some users are wedded too and have already expressed their frustration in forums. That said the rest are less alarming and include native DVD playback (third party media players and codecs are widely available), desktop gadgets, USB floppy drive support.

Sadly natively installed games Solitaire, Minesweeper and Hearts will also disappear, though these should be available to download separately for those who love wasting time at work.

It’s Not Ready Yet

This will be a matter of personal opinion, but for me Windows 10 – good as the core experience is – feels rushed out the door. It isn’t so much a case of numerous BSODs (Blue Screens of Death), though I’ve had a few, it is about smaller glitches.

Right now on two PCs I find icons in the taskbar disappear, the Start menu occasionally refuses to open and there are several driver incompatibilities while third parties still ready Windows 10 support. Microsoft’s own new Edge browser is also mostly a shell at this point with no extension support and limited tab functionality.

Meanwhile Microsoft has already promised to release a major Windows 10 update in October (these are no longer called Service Packs, so expect it to be ‘Windows 10.1’) and the company has pushed out numerous updates over the last 48 hours in advance of tonight’s big launch.

Windows 10 will be great, but it needs more time – Image credit Microsoft

Windows 10 Upgrade Verdict: Wait

Historically the rule of thumb for new Windows releases is to wait. This lets Microsoft fix any major bugs that appear early on. In my opinion Windows 7 was the exception to this rule and was rock solid even in early betas, but the rule is back in force with Windows 10.

In some ways this verdict disappoints the tech geek inside of me. Long term I believe Windows 10 will be the best version of Windows ever made, it is certainly the most exciting and ambitious since Windows 95 – and it’s free. But it simply isn’t ready.

Furthermore, despite all the good stuff (and there’s a lot), there are numerous bugs at present and key questions remain over its automatic update and enforcement policies – especially when recent updates have causedserious problems. This is where the real cost lies.

So wait. I know the biggest Microsoft fans and those on the cutting edge will ignore me and that makes sense: they are prepared to accept flaws to experience the latest things. But for everyone else remember that eligible users get a whole year to upgrade and there’s no need to rush in with so many rough edges still on show.

Mark my words: Windows 10 is going to be great and you should eventually upgrade, but with a major update coming in October that’s the month I’d circle in my calendar.

If you have any queries/feedback, please write it in comments section below OR mail me here : Snehal[at]Techproceed[dot]com

Happy Upgrading :-)