Archive for the Category ◊ Microsoft ◊

Windows 8 Review – Not Your Mother’s Windows
Monday, March 26th, 2012 | Author:

I have spent some time installing and using Windows 8, Consumer Preview. After working with Windows 8, the bottom line is that Windows 8 is irrelevant to most PC users.

It is by far the worst user interface I have ever used, and I have used many of them including Windows 2, 3, 3.1, 95, 98, 2000, ME, XP, Vista, 7, Apple and even the GEM desktop.

Here are some of my highlights, or really low-lights.

Once you install Win8, you come up to a desktop called “Metro” that looks like this

Not your mothers Windows...

 It took me at least 10 minutes to try to find the start button. Then once you find it, (not really a start button per se) then you see a window pop up, you move the mouse to the little window to click on it, and it disappears. No, the huge Letters that Spell out S T A R T do not do anything, they are just pretty.

I tried this numerous times, getting madder by the minute. Then I figured out that you move your mouse down in the left bottom corner, nothing shows, then suddenly a mini window like above shows up. But you just click where your mouse is, you don’t move it onto the graphic, which is what you would think.

It is nearly impossible to figure out what the dorks were thinking that came up with this interface. Everything is so oddly placed and many things hidden with no clue on how to access it. I was lost, and frustrated within the first few minutes of using it.

I clicked on several of the child like blocks on the page, and many of them bring up a login to Windows services. Ah, now it is starting to make sense. Microsoft is trying to make your computer a “cloud” computer and everything stored on their servers (mail, photos, documents.)

This is something Microsoft has been trying to push for a while now and not everyone likes it.

From the hands on and all the reading I have done on Win8, it appears that this operating system is meant to move people away from PCs and get them into Windows oriented tablet devices.

As a computer support person, I hate the way they are doing this, and I think it is a big mistake for Microsoft. They are making an Operating System that is geared towards tablets, but I am sure Dell, HP and others will slap it on thier latest towers and laptops and will freak people out.

Check out this video of a dad trying to use the Windows 8 interface. This is exactly what I experienced myself.

I have done hands on tech support with customers since 1995, and have been teaching seniors basic computer skills in Adult Ed classes at the local college. I have first hand knowledge on how the average user thinks and uses a computer, and I promise, it is nothing like this. 

I am very open minded to change, and here is the point. One can pick up an Apple iPad and in minutes be surfing the Internet, looking at photos with very little direction. It is easy, simple, and really makes sense once you do a few taps here and there.

Apple created this device from scratch and all of their devices work the same, so you pick up an iPhone, iPod or iPad, and they all work the same and if you can use one, you can switch to any and use it just as easy.

That in contrast to Microsoft who has a pretty darn good operating system with Windows 7, decides to completely redesign the look and feel of their main product. People, including myself have raved about how well 7 works, and how it looks.

So, change it up. Confuse people, make them look for things that used to be there. Also make it so it is not really for a PC, but for a tablet, which not everyone wants.

The biggest flaw I see in this design is the fact that there is this “metro” interface and you cannot eaisly switch back to a Windows 7 menu interface, which would make complete sense. My thought is, when you install it, you should have to answer a question, “would you like the Windows 7, or the new metro interface? You can change it at any time”

But no, you are stuck with the Metro/Win 7 hybrid, which oddly switches back and forth, and neither work like you would expect.

Bottom line, I would not recommend Windows 8 to any of my customers, and unless they do some really nice changes and user friendly updates, I will not be installing this on any computers.

Internet Explorer 9 – Tips & Info
Wednesday, May 04th, 2011 | Author:

We have been using IE 9 now for a month or so, and it works really well, but it has a few little differences and as we all know, some differences can be annoying or aggravating. IE 9 is not available for XP, only Vista and Windows 7.

IE9 is supposed to be more secure and have better security built in and it does, but it comes with a few differences in the way the browser works.

The biggest difference for me, is when downloading a file. They have radically changed how the download confirmation button looks and where it is located. For years, we would see a pop up window in the middle saying “DO you want to download this file?” and Yes or NO buttons were right there. Then they moved it to the top of the window in a long yellow box asking if you wanted to download the file.

Now you have to look at the bottom of the window, and there is a long strip across the bottom that asked
IE9 download notification
Normally you will click on the save button. But if you just click on SAVE, it will save it to the last location you saved a file to, and when done, it will ask if you want to run or go to the location where the download file is. You also have the choice to SAVE AS (rename it and put it where you want) and to Save it and then Run the file. This is much more Firefox or Chrome like in the way you download. There is nothing wrong with it, I am just having a hard time getting used to that, and I download a lot of files.

The other key difference is a security feature, but a bit of a pain if you are not used to it. IE9 will pop up on the bottom of the screen after first installing it, or after you install a tool bar or other “add on” to your browser. It asks, do you want to enable this add on? And you can decide whether or not you want it to load.

Why does it do this? So when you accidently, unknowingly download a stupid toolbar for Google or whatever, and then it installs it, IE is asking if you want to run it. If you don’t have a clue, just say no or disable it. It will ask a few times, if you do nothing, it will finally stop asking you, after 5 times.

Another tip is the word menu across the top. It is not there when you start up IE9. So if you put your mouse in the top bar of the window, right click and a menu comes up, and if you click on “Menu Bar” you will get the old “File, Edit, View…” Text buttons across the top.

I like the clean look, not a lot of junk to clutter up the screen, and also it seems very fast.

Windows Live Writer, Cool or Crud?
Tuesday, April 06th, 2010 | Author:

 

I was downloading Windows Movie Maker, which is a part of Windows Live, a group of free programs from Microsoft.

The first thing I do not like for the average user, is they have everything checked off, even if you only want one program, and it installs a bunch of junk you don’t need, or necessarily want.

I have not looked at Movie Maker yet, but I took the bait on Live Writer, which is what I am writing this blog post on.

I am testing it out to see how cool this program is, compared to what they “say” it will do. So far, for posting on a blog, I really like it. Nice, compact, and very MS Word like, even has spell check.

I also downloaded the Live Photo Gallery which I will test and review in a later blog post.

I am going to do my usual upload a photo, and see if this Live Writer makes it any easier. I have also had problems on formatting my blogger posts, so we will see how that work also!

I will edit this post, once it is online, and let you know what I think of the upload process into your blog.

UPDATE – after the upload

OK, I uploaded my blog from the Windows Live tool, and I am stunned, shocked and in awe. It was very easy, and worked without a hitch.

It even uploaded my picture right off my computer, and usually it has to be uploaded from Blogger itself. I do see that the screenshot/picture is a bit blurry, and I will look into that, may have been something I did.

UPDATE to the Graphic – Yes, it was my fault, I saved the graphic as a .gif and it was los res. I cannot beleive how well this works, and if you need to update, you do it in live writer and just republish, and it does the updates. Wow.

If you have a Blog, and want to try this, I can say, you will probably never do it any other way. This thing rocks for publishing blogs. If you have not done a blog because you thought it was too much work, this takes a lot of the work out of it!

If you want to explore some of the offerings from Microsoft’s Windows Live collection, click here

Remember, you do not have to use Windows Messenger, and you can uncheck any programs you do not want to load. Uncheck the join Windows live if you do not want a Windows Live ID.

WIndows 7 Update for Stability makes Windows 7 Unstable!
Sunday, February 14th, 2010 | Author:

 

Like usual, Microsoft is pointing the finger to anything but their mistake.
 
Windows 7 really is much better than any release of any OS I have ever experienced. Also, there are less serious updates since it was released than any of the previous software. Thus, I am very impressed and happy with Windows 7.
 
However, there was a recent update which was called a stability update, and it apparently made many people’s Windows 7 act, well, not so stable.
 
Many people have reported hanging and freezing and just not acting right after the update.
 
The update is Microsoft update # KB977074, from Jan 25th, 2010, and of course Microsoft denies it was anything due to them or that update.
 
If you are having problems after it was updated, you can
 
Open up your Control Panel, then Programs and features
click on the left and show installed updates. You can right click the update and remove KB977074.
 
You can read a full article on this here.

To my loyal, local readers. This entry is quite advanced and for a very specific problem. This will not be for most people, but I wanted to put this out there to help others with this problem.

I had a machine running Vista that would not start up and was in a boot loop after Microsoft Updates. I tried all the tricks, and it just got worse. Windows updates and Vista have become a real problem, and most of the time the problem is repairable.

Not this time. I needed to wipe the hard drive and reinstall Vista. The customer did not have the code from the bottom of the laptop because it wore off and you cannot read it any longer. Very frustrating, not to mention a stupid place to put the code where it gets daily wear and tear.

Important Note for ALL laptop owners, it is a good idea to avoid this problem, write down or type and print out your Windows Certificate of Authenticity 25 character code and keep it in a safe place in case it wears off your laptop, like this one did, and this is the second one I have seen in the past month like this.

If Windows is running, you can run one of the key retrieval programs, but when Vista is not booting, you are pretty much stuck. I have found a process that is advanced but it can be done, if followed step by step.

If you are not familiar with working in the registry, I HIGHLY recommend AGAINST attempting this. Also, I am posting this fix ONLY to recover a legitimate code that a customer already had so they do not have to buy a second copy of Windows due to stupid placement of a sticker on the bottom of a laptop. All of these steps are at your own risk, and again are not for illegally obtaining codes, only for people who actually own the product key code.

There are some cool software programs out there to retrieve codes from your operating system, but the OS needs to be running. It is very hard if the system is not running properly.

How to recover a product key in Microsoft Windows Vista when it will not boot but the hard drive is still accessible. This also works with XP.

————————————————————
This can be done on the machine itself, if you can at least get the Windows Install DVD to start

Put in Vista DVD and start up the Install process. Get to Command Prompt option and choose that.

Run Regedit from the command prompt. (this does not load the registry on the hard drive, but a temp one that is loaded from the DVD)

Click on HKEY Local Machine

Click on File>Load Hive (to load the Hive from the Hard drive)

Browse to the C: Drive directory C:\windows\system32\config

Choose the Software Hive with no .ext or if that does not work, try the Software.sav hive.

When it asks what key name, type in something like BackupSoftware

Click OK

Open the BackupSoftware Key and drill down to the
Microsoft>NT>Current Version key

Look at the key to the right, DigitalProductID

Double Click the key

Got down to the row under 0030 and note the 15 sets of 2 digit numbers from row 0030 to 0040.

Get those 15 pairs of numbers, and go to this decrypter tool that was made just for this need.

http://www.dagondesign.com/tools/windows-xp-key-decrypter/

Double check the numbers, and that should be your code for that machine.
———————————————————————-

Kudos and thanks to Dagon Design for the basic instructions in XP which allowed me to find this fix for Vista. Here is his original post with information and other help.

http://www.dagondesign.com/articles/windows-xp-product-key-recovery/

Even though this is not for my normal readers, I posted this to help out others who might be dealing with the same circumstances that I was. I like to give back as so many like Dagon Design and many others give out help freely.

Cannot Open Word, Excel, Powerpoint 2007 Documents?
Friday, October 16th, 2009 | Author:

There are a few things I do not like about Office 2007, and one of them is the default way to save a document is in a new format that people with older versions of Word cannot open the document easily or at all.

What Microsoft did was come up with a new format instead of the .doc at the end of the name, it now puts .docx. This adds some extra features to the document, but it is only readable to Word 2007, or you have to download a document converter so your older Office programs will work with the new files.

Microsoft Excel is also affected by this, instead of .xls as the extension, it is now .xlsx.
The biggest problem is when you create a document in this new format, and you send it to someone who does not have Office 2007 or the converter to read it. Also, PowerPoint has this feature, and the new file extension is .pptx.

There are a few ways to fix this.

1. Download the Compatibility Pack so you can read the newer 2007 files in older versions of Office.

Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack & Converter

2. Every time you save a document, change the “save as type” at the bottom to “Word 97-2003 Document (*.doc)”

3. Set the program default to always save it as the Word 97-2003 (.doc) version.

This is my favorite, and most people seem to like and use this feature.

Click on the Office button at the very top left of the page in MS Word or Excel and click on Word, Excel, or PowerPoint Options button, depending on which program you are using.

Click on SAVE on the left side menu

The top choice says “Save files in this format:” and in the box it says “Word Document (*.docx)”
Click the down arrow to the right of that and from the drop down menu choose “Word 97-2003 Document (*.doc)

Google to Unveil their new Operating System
Wednesday, July 08th, 2009 | Author:

In an interesting strategic move against Microsoft, Google has been working on an operating system around their Chrome Browser and geared towards the netbook type computers (see my earlier blog on netbooks)

The New York Times reports that Google is going to directly compete with Microsoft with a new Operating System based on the Chrome Browser that they have developed.

The OS is supposed to be for low cost “tiny” computers such as netbooks, not really for full blown PCs. However Google is hinting at the possibility of the operating system being available to full sized PCs.

For more on this story, check out the New York Times Article.