On many keyboards, each of these keys will have additional functions like multimedia, sleep/wake etc. However, in this article we will talk about how to use them across browsers and MS Office.
Almost every program comes with a help menu and pressing F1 while on the program will bring up this Help menu. Pressing F1 with the Windows key brings up Windows Help and Support.
Also: SHIFT + F1 reveals the formatting within a Word document; CTRL + ALT + F1 displays your PC’s Microsoft system information.
F2 is considered an edit key. To rename a file in File Explorer, select the file name you want to edit, press F2 and type the new name. Alt + Ctrl + F2 opens the Documents Library within the MS Office suite.
Also: SHIFT + F2 to copy text; CTRL + F2 to choose the print preview command; CTRL + ALT + F2 to choose the open command (file menu).
In File Explorer press F3 to search for specific files and folders. Pressing F3 in almost all browsers including Google Chrome, Firefox Mozilla and Microsoft Edge allows you to search by launching the Find bar. Shift + F3 toggles between lower case and upper case for selected text in Word.
F4 is known as the great escape key. Pressing Alt + F4 immediately closes the current program without saving it. Good for an emergency as it can be used to close browser windows you don’t want others to see! In Microsoft Edge, F4 takes the cursor to the address bar.
To refresh the active window in most common browsers, press F5. Use it on PowerPoint to start a slide show or to open the Find, Replace, Go to dialog on MS Office programs.
F6 can be used like the Tab key on Windows desktop to toggle from the desktop files to the taskbar and the system tray icons. It can also be used to bring the focus to the address bar on most browsers. In Microsoft Office programs, it toggles between the menu items and workspace.
The F7 key is commonly used to spell check and grammar check a document in Microsoft programs such as Word, Outlook, etc. Shift+F7 runs a Thesaurus check on the highlighted word. Within Mozilla Firefox, pressing F7 enables “Caret browsing” – this is a feature which allows you to navigate a page just like a document in MS Word or any other word processing application. You can move the cursor between lines using arrow keys and can select the text or click on any link using your keyboard.
Within Microsoft Word, press F8 to select a word within the text. Keep pressing F8 to extend the selection, also using the arrow keys. SHIFT + F8 shrinks the selection. ALT + F8 opens the Macro dialogue box.
Pressing F9 refreshes a document in Microsoft Word. You can also use it to send and receive e-mail in Microsoft Outlook.
Shows and hides the Menu bar in Mozilla Firefox browser or highlights the menu bar within an open application in Microsoft Office programs. Pressing Shift+F10 is the same as right-clicking on a highlighted icon, file, or Internet link.
Opens and closes full screen mode in File Explorer as well as in all modern internet browsers. In Microsoft Excel, Shift + F11 adds a new sheet and Ctrl + F11 adds a new macro to the workbook.
For all applications within the Microsoft Suite: F12 opens the Save As window on an open application, Ctrl + Shift + F12 is equivalent to Ctrl + P (print function), Ctrl+F12 opens a document, Shift+F12 saves the document (like Ctrl+S) and Ctrl+Shift+F12 prints the document.
Do note that some keyboards' F1-F12 keys include additional functionality when used in combination with the Fn key. For example, if the F11 key has a blue "Stop" sign under it, pressing Fn + F11 will stop the music you're listening too. The additional functions available with the use of the Fn key will differ depending on the brand of keyboard you are using. Do check your computer's documentation or the manufacturer's website for specific details on which features are available on your keyboard.
Microsoft is constantly updating Windows 10 with new features, security patches and general system adjustments. To keep your PC in good condition (including minimising the risks of malware and viruses), you’ll want to make sure these updates are being implemented. Remember that Windows 10 is a large and complex piece of software, which needs to be constantly tweaked to maintain optimum performance and correct any little bugs that can enter into systems.
Windows Update is the software that checks to make sure that Windows and the driver software that runs displays, peripherals and printers work the way they were intended. It also adds new features to existing software such as OneNote, the Edge browser and the operating system itself. Unsurprisingly, security is the most frequent and important type of update as it limits dangerous attacks. It therefore goes without saying that Windows must be kept up-to-date.
Very occasionally updates may cause things to stop working, or even create new problems. In fact, last December, a small update affected internet connectivity for about 2% of users. The fix was simple though – a simple restart instead of shutting the PC down and turning it back on again. But for the most part Windows Update is definitely something we recommend.
When Windows 10 launched, automatic updates were the default setting. This means that unless you have changed the setting manually then you’re already receiving the updates as soon as they come out. You can check to see if this is that case by typing “Windows Update” into the Cortana search bar (or by clicking on the Start button, then Settings, then Updates and Security).
Once the Windows Update window is open, it will tell you if any updates are due and when they are scheduled to take place, which is usually outside of active hours (you can customise your active hours if 8am -5pm doesn’t work for you). If you want to see if there are any new updates available then click the Check for Updates button.
One thing you really need to check is whether your PC is running the latest version of Windows 10. Go into the Cortana search bar next to the Start button in the bottom left hand corner of your screen and type WINVER then Enter. This will give you the Version number, which should be 1703 (at the time of writing 14/09/17). If not, you need to hit that Check for Updates button as you’re not using the latest version.
We’re only a couple of weeks away from version 1709 (Fall Creators Update), which has some exciting new features that we’ll be looking at over the next month or so.
Star Chart (contains in-app purchases)
Hold your tablet up to the night sky and it becomes - in real time – a brilliant star finder. If you are curious about a bright star, point your device at it and Star Chart will tell you what it is. It displays all the planets of the solar system, including the sun and the moon and if you tap on an object it will display facts about it.
Great British Chefs
This app provides over 300 recipes, for cooks of all abilities, from great chefs such as Marcus Wareing and Tom Aitkins. It features a handy shopping list tool so once you’ve selected your chosen dishes, the ingredients can be added to your shopping list. There is also an app for kids – Great British Chefs Cooking with Kids.
Phototastic Collage (contains in-app purchases)
This app offers a simple way to create eye-catching collages from your photos. It includes templates of greeting cards to which you can add images and you can also enhance photos with colours, drawings and stickers. There are loads of colour effects and frames to choose from and you can even create photo albums – great for holiday photos or to remember baby’s first year.
Fresh Paint (contains in-app purchases)
This is a fun and creative way to unleash the artist in you! It’s a painting app (best used on a tablet) that provides realistic oil, watercolour, pencil, pastel and pen tools as well as a selection of canvas styles. You can even use one of your own digital photos as a base for your artwork. It features a fan button to "dry" the paint and cleaning your brush in the water is fun as the 'liquid' turns the colour of the paint you put in it.
If you’re a radio fan, this app is a must as TuneIn has the largest selection of real radio stations from around the world. You can listen to your favourite talk shows and podcasts live and on demand and enjoy live coverage of sporting events, concerts and more. It’s also possible to filter the thousands of stations by language.
Elements - The Periodic Table (contains in-app purchases)
Tap on any element and you get a detailed breakdown that includes, among other things, physical properties, images, a short history of the element and details of what it's used for, as well as links to websites for further reading.
This week we thought we’d have a look at some of the top FREE software available for your PC.
BACKUP: EaseUS ToDo Backup Free
Computer users should always perform two types of backup: one for files and documents, and the other for the system. EaseUS ToDo Backup Free is reasonably good at both types of backup and is straightforward to use. It can back up everything from selected files and file types to entire partitions or drives and includes cloning tools for upgrading from one drive to another. It provides you with backup scheduling options and support for incremental updates so backups are kept as small and efficient as possible. When restoring data, EaseUS Todo Backup gives a timeline of the date and exact time of backups so you can easily pick a point in time in which to find a backed-up file.
OFFICE SUITE: WPS Office Free
Available completely free of charge (although there are ads associated with certain features), WPS Office includes tools for word processing, presentations and spreadsheets and is fully compatible with Microsoft document formats. It includes hundreds of free fonts and templates and has a clear, easy to use interface. All of the most common tools and options are intuitively placed so you won’t spend ages searching for the setting or tool that you need. It even allows you to convert PDF files into Word format.
PHOTO EDITOR: GIMP
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a brilliant photo editor for Windows. It has many excellent tools that are on a par with those you'd find in premium (and not free!) photo editing software, with more being added all the time. It has just about all the essential photo editing tools, features and commands that most users want: special-effect filters; exposure controls, and colour controls, such as hue/saturation; replace colour, bucket fill, paintbrush, eraser, selection tools, etc.
MEDIA PLAYER: VLC Media Player
VLC Media Player has a simple interface and is compatible with almost all video and audio formats. It supports DVDs & Blu Rays, plus MPEG and DivX streaming and can play videos as they're downloading, so you can watch the beginning of a film and then decide whether it's worth downloading in full. It can also search for album covers and a playlist function allows you to play multiple films one after the other.
Image Editor: Paint.NET
This is an image and photo editing software for PCs running Windows. It has a clean interface with support for layers, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. The program includes everything you would expect to find in an image editing package, but there are plenty of surprises considering that this is free software.
Cloud Storage: Dropbox
Nowadays storing information in “the cloud” is pretty much the norm. Dropbox offers 2GB of free storage, which isn’t much, but you can increase it by referring friends and other tasks. Dropbox offers an app for every major device so you can take your files anywhere. It’s also easy to share files with others, and the service has a great interface on the web and desktop. Whether you use it for backup, as a cloud flash drive, or for setting up shared folders with others, you can’t go wrong with Dropbox.
PC Cleaning / Management: CCleaner
Over time, Windows builds up useless files that take up space. CCleaner is our favourite disk cleaner and the foundation to a clean Windows 10 system, but it also has many more useful features inside its toolkit.
Aside from cleaning the caches of all kinds of software, CCleaner lets you easily disable startup programs, find which files are taking up the most space, clean up your messy context menu, and create a quick text file of all installed programs.
Browser: Google Chrome or Vivali
Although Microsoft Edge comes pre-installed on Windows computers, there are several excellent free alternatives which can often be faster, have more options, and in many cases, be more secure than Edge.
Chrome is an extendable, efficient and stable browser that takes up the minimum of screen space. It has many easily obtained and installed extensions as well as support for parental controls. Admittedly it's not brilliant on machines with limited RAM, and because it is developed by Google, you might be uncomfortable with the ways in which your browsing data may be used.
If you haven’t tried Vivaldi, you should give it a go. You might be surprised by how much you love it, as a backup browser if not your main. Since it launched in April 2016, it has grown a great deal and is becoming increasingly popular. It offers great flexibility, and features such as web panels make it attractive as a browser option. However, you may find it a bit slow compared to other browsers and the unfamiliar interface takes a bit of getting used to.
It wasn’t that long ago that anti-virus software was the epitome of computer security, especially if you were a Windows user. However, ransomware and crypto malware attacks are rising at a terrifying rate and show no signs of stopping. Unfortunately, traditional anti-virus software alone is not effective in dealing with these types of attacks
Although experts still recommend using anti-virus software to protect your computer, this is now only the first part of a “layered approach” to keeping your PC and personal information safe.
The second part of the “layered approach” is to ensure your computer’s other software (especially the operating system) is up-to-date. Remember the WannaCry ransomware attack which struck the NHS’ (amongst other organisations) Windows machines in May? Microsoft had already provided a software update about two months before the attack that protected users running operating systems like Windows 7 or Windows Vista from WannaCry. However, PCs that hadn’t been updated or that were Windows XP were left vulnerable. Microsoft says users who were running Windows 10 weren’t affected by the attack.
Don’t forget to keep your anti-virus software, like Windows Defender, updated too. The software can't fight a threat it doesn't yet know about, and that information is found in regular updates.
The third layer is to recognise that phishing attacks are the most common way for attackers to get into your system. Phishing attempts happen when you receive an email with a malicious link in it, or are asked to enter your username and password on a website that impersonates your bank’s website, for example. So, try to be smart about what email service you use. Google and Microsoft are good choices, because, as they have effective inbuilt controls and security, they help prevent phishing in their Gmail and Outlook.com email services.
DO BACK UP YOUR DATA REGULARLY, because should your computer become infected by ransomware, you can wipe your computer, install the operating system from scratch, and then restore it from the backed-up version. OK, so it can be a pain to do, however it’s better than losing everything. Don’t forget to unplug your back up drive from the computer once the backup is done, otherwise it too will become infected.
Finally, as I have mentioned many times before, vigilance and common sense are crucial factors in helping prevent malware and ransomware attacks:
Never follow links from e-mails. Instead open a new tab or window and enter the URL of your bank or other destination manually.
Enter your username and password only over a secure connection. Look for the “https” prefix before the site URL - if there is no “s,” beware.
Is your computer sluggish? Or maybe it no longer supports the games you play? Whatever your reasons for needing to upgrade to a better hardware, there are primarily three things you can upgrade on a computer: the hard drive, the RAM memory, and the video/sound/graphics cards.
Upgrading your computer’s RAM
RAM (Random Access Memory) is the temporary storage memory used by your computer. The more programs you use, the more RAM you need, and the slower your computer will be if you don’t have enough.
Adding RAM is often the cheapest upgrade you can make to speed up a slow computer. Although it may have had more than enough RAM when you first bought it, after a few years it will have trouble keeping up with the demands of the latest programs. Greater RAM means that the computer won´t have to rely on the hard drive for memory and with more memory, you will be able to operate more programs and software simultaneously.
When upgrading the computer´s RAM you must identify the type of RAM it is using. To do this, right click the Start button, then click System and you will see the Installed Memory (RAM) information. As a rule of thumb, if you have a 32-bit system, you will need 2GB of RAM. If you have a 64-bit operating system, we recommend a minimum of 6GB of RAM.
Upgrading your computer’s hard drive
Movies, music, and all those Steam games you bought in the sale will quickly fill your hard drive space. Upgrading your hard drive may also be a requirement when you need to perform a system update, a software update, or run a new operating system. Hard drives tend to become less effective and reliable over time, therefore, if you have used your hard drive for a long period of time and don’t want it to suddenly stop working, thus, putting your valuable information at risk, you should consider upgrading it.
SSDs have read and write speeds many times greater than classic hard disks. Before purchasing an SSD, do check that it's possible to get inside your computer and that yours is compatible with the SSD. If it's just a few years old, it probably is. Really old models might not have support for SSDs (but a computer that elderly isn't going to be worth upgrading anyway!).
Upgrade your desktop’s graphics card
A graphic card basically turns processed data into video signal before sending it to the output or to your display. You may need to upgrade your graphics card if you have problems with your current card, for a better performance (especially for gamers) or to support dual screens. NOTE: This mainly applies to desktops - it is not possible to change a graphics card in 99.9% of laptops.
In our last article, we spoke about the ransomware which crippled, amongst other large organisations, the NHS, mainly because their computer systems were still running the hugely outdated Windows XP operating system. In fact, any computer user who is still using Windows XP is at risk of being struck by any type of malware or ransomware, by which we mean that all their data, including photos, coursework etc, could be lost forever.
Well this also applies to anyone still running Windows Vista on their PC. And there are many people out there. Mainstream support for Windows Vista actually ended on April 10, 2012, but Microsoft continued to offer support options and updates as part of its extended support phase. However, that came to an end on 11th April of this year.
Microsoft has confirmed that "After April 11, 2017, Windows Vista customers will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates. Microsoft has provided support for Windows Vista for the past 10 years, but the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources towards more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences."
Windows Vista will continue to work after 11th April, but if new security vulnerabilities or bugs are found - and believe me, that will happen - Microsoft will not issue updates to fix them. Some programs will continue to work and you can still run security software to keep your device as safe as you can, but fact of the matter is you are basically putting yourself at risk.
The longer you stay with Windows Vista or XP, the higher the chance of you becoming a victim of cyber-crime. Cyber-criminals target out of date operating systems due to their vulnerability, therefore updating your operating system will safeguard you from these external threats and help keep your system more secure with continued Microsoft mainstream support and patches.
Another thing to consider is what will happen to Windows Vista support when it comes to popular programs. Google, for instance, stopped supporting Windows Vista in the Chrome browser nearly a year ago, and Mozilla is now doing the same thing with Firefox.
For those of you who do wish to upgrade to Windows 10, our next article will cover buying new or refurbished PC’s and laptops, on which this latest Microsoft operating system is installed.
In our last article, we explained how to set up a child’s account in Windows 10 with the aim of being able to protect and monitor their on-line activity using the parental controls. With your child’s account added, you will be able to set up appropriate website, app and game restrictions for their age, set PC time limits, and review their recent activity using the Microsoft family Safety website. Their settings will apply to any Windows 10 device that they sign in to.
To begin, you need to add your child's Microsoft account to your family by signing in at account.microsoft.com/family. Choose Select a child to view or edit their settings, then select Add. Then enter the email address your child uses to sign in to Windows 10 and click on Send invite. Your child needs to accept the invitation, which will arrive in their email in-box.
Once you’ve added your child’s account, you can start applying the relevant settings from the Family Safety website:
The Recent Activity settings will collect your child’s on-line activity and email it in the form of reports to you. You can disable this setting if you so desire, but I would recommend keeping it enabled.
You may also want to consider the “web browsing” category. You can “block inappropriate websites” and there is a check box to restrict your child’s web browsing to only websites on the allowed list, i.e., you can allow and block websites. If you elect to “only see websites on the allowed list,” this will be where you can add websites to the “Always allow these” list.
The next category is to limit apps and games from the age of three up to twenty, or not at all. Note, as you change the age, the ratings will also change. You can explicitly allow or block apps and games, just as you would with websites.
Finally, you can choose when your child uses the computer. You can decide how early and late they can use it, as well as how many hours per day. This means that even though your child may be able to use the computer throughout the entire day, you can still limit how many hours they’re allowed to use it.
The Internet is a scary place and keeping your child safe online can often be a daunting prospect. Luckily, Windows 10 offers access controls, time limits and activity reports, including reports on the websites, apps and games your child uses. You can set up individual user accounts for each member of the family with their own unique passwords and then tailor the controls and restrictions to the age of your child. It’s relatively easy to set up a user account and then protect and monitor their activity in just a few minutes.
To get started, you need to create Microsoft accounts for your kids, which you then can add to your family at account.microsoft.com/family. Once you've added them to your family, you'll be able to choose the additional limits and permissions you want your kids to have. When your kids sign in with their own accounts, they can personalise their desktop and explore apps and games and in addition, their family settings will be applied to any Windows 10 device they sign into.
To set up a child’s account in Windows 10, open Settings, then Accounts, then click Family and Other Users in the left side panel. From here, you can either add a new family member, which gives you the option to set parental controls on your children’s accounts, or simply add a new user. If you choose 'Add a family member', each person you add will need to have their own Microsoft account. (You can create Microsoft accounts from here by clicking the 'The person who I want to add doesn’t have an email address' link).
For extra security, you will need to enter a telephone number. This way if you’re ever unable to access the account, i.e. if it is hacked or you forget the password, you can have a code sent to your phone that will let you reset it.
On the next screen, there are options to have Microsoft recommend apps and other such advertising techniques. I would suggest unchecking these boxes. It’s entirely up to you, but considering this is a child’s account, I don’t believe that either of these options are relevant.
Once you’ve set up your additional accounts, the next time you reboot or log off your PC the new users will appear to the bottom-left of the login screen.
With your child’s account added, you can set up and configure their account settings using the Microsoft Family Safety website. We will cover this and How to Use the Parental Controls in Windows 10 in our next article.
Following on from our last blog, now that your new computer has been properly set up, it’s vital that you take care of it. A laptop computer is an expensive piece of equipment – there is no point in spending all that money, only to find that in just a short time, it is damaged and you need to spend more money on getting it fixed. Don’t forget that the manufacturer’s product guarantee provides cover for mechanical and electrical breakdown but is usually only for a year and may not cover parts or breakdown due to carelessness.
The LCD display on a laptop uses a huge amount of battery. To make the battery last longer when the laptop is not plugged in, turn down the screen brightness to the lowest level your eyes can bear. Windows laptops include power plans for maximising battery life, but you can also customise your laptop’s power-management features. Setting shorter times for when the display turns off and when the laptop goes into sleep will help your battery last longer.
Due to their small vents, laptops can easily overheat when kept in small cases and using your laptop on your lap can prevent ventilation and make matters worse. Try using a lap desk or a laptop cooling pad that doesn’t conduct heat or block the laptop's vents.
Back It Up
Lots of movement puts computer components at risk, which means that laptops suffer much more wear and tear than desktops. This increases the risk of hard drive failure, so do ensure you back up the data on your laptop to an external hard drive, USB memory stick, or the cloud on a regular basis. Portable hard drives are good for backing up data when you are out and about.
If you often carry your laptop about with you, you should invest in a laptop bag, preferably one with a built-in padded sleeve. If you want something less conspicuous, place your laptop in a stand-alone sleeve and stow it in your backpack or briefcase.
When your laptop is moved from a cold to a warm environment (and vice versa) don't turn it on until it reaches room temperature. Sudden temperature changes can cause condensation and moisture to build up inside the laptop, which could damage the internal components.
Thousands of laptops are reported stolen every year. It is worth investing in tracking software, such as prey from www.preyproject.com, which can locate a registered laptop once it connects to the Web, thus increasing your chances of recovering your laptop.
Should you experience any problems with your new computer, please contact us. We’re here to help.
Laptops are fairly limited in what you can do to make them run faster and this is mainly due to space. Unlike desktops, laptops are generally designed for moving around and are therefore much thinner and lighter. This sacrifice means there’s very little you can actually replace. But there are several things you can do to speed them up.
Upgrade Your RAM
RAM (Random Access Memory) is the temporary storage memory used by your laptop. The more programs you use, the more RAM you need, and the slower your computer will be if you don’t have enough. If you have a 32-bit system, your machine will only support a maximum of 3GB of RAM. If you have a 64-bit operating system, we recommend a minimum of 6GB of RAM.
Install a solid state drive
Hard drives are the biggest cause of slow speeds. SSDs have read and write speeds many times greater than classic hard disks, and whilst they are not cheap, the performance benefits can be felt throughout your laptop. Before purchasing an SSD, do check that it's possible to get inside the laptop and that your model of laptop is compatible with the SSD. Do note that switching out the SSD in your laptop will void your warranty.
Uninstall unused programs
New laptops come with a whole load of programs you will never use (you probably don’t even know they exist). To remove them, open the Control Panel’s Programs and Features page and look through the list of installed software. Uninstall those that you do not need, but do be careful to leave programs that your laptop’s hardware needs (in general their publisher will be listed as the PC maker’s name or as Microsoft).
Delete temporary files
Temporary files, such as cookies and browser history build up on your computer every day and can remain on your hard disk, slowing the computer down. To free up hard drive space, delete these files by going to “My Computer”, and select your local drive (usually C:\). Select the “Windows” folder and then open the folder titled “Temp”. Right-click on the folder, and in the “View” options, choose “Details”. Select all the files that are older than the current date and delete them. Then empty the Recycle Bin on your desktop.
Run a disk defragment and a disk clean-up
Disk Defragment is a way of reconfiguring how your hard drive stores information for maximum efficiency. Disk Clean-Up searches through the system for unnecessary large files such as temporary Internet files, program installers, etc. In Windows 10, both “Defragment & Optimise Drives” and “Disk Clean-Up” can be found within the Windows Administrative Tools programme. Or simply search for them using Cortana.
We hope our blogs this year have been of some interest and help to you. Technology is a fast moving, ever-changing business and it’s sometimes hard to keep up, especially when you only use a computer every now and again. Let’s recap on some of the major happenings over the past year.
IN WITH THE NEW…
2015 saw the launch of Windows 10, replacing the much maligned Windows 8. This is the last major numbered release from Microsoft - future features and updates will be released on a regular basis instead of during a big release. So far the feedback has been mainly positive - approximately 110 million people throughout the world have upgraded to Windows 10. Remember that it is still free to upgrade to Windows 10 from an authentic copy of Windows 7 and 8.1 until July 2016. The main advantage of Windows 10 is that it can be used across all Microsoft devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and Xbox.
…AND OUT WITH THE OLD
Although Windows XP reached its “End of Life” in 2014 (meaning that bug fixes, free assistance and upgrades were no longer available), Microsoft did continue to provide virus warnings. This support however ended in July 2015. In fact, there is no support out there at all now for Windows XP, therefore continuing to use it puts not only your system at risk but also the systems of other people.
BUT SCAMS SEEM HERE TO STAY
As mentioned in several blogs, internet and phone scamming was rife in 2015. We have dealt with many customers who have fallen prey to these evil individuals who are simply out to make easy money. And they make it so easy for us to fall for their scams. For some people, owning a PC and using the internet is a big deal and with all the clamor surrounding keeping safe on-line, panic can set in and all they want to do it follow the advice of the person who has phoned them. So remember - NO ONE GENUINE WILL EVER phone you about a faulty computer. If you do receive a call from a so-called Microsoft engineer, put the phone down. NEVER give them passwords, access to your computer or bank details. EVER.
We have also seen a rise in the number of people who have come to us with recently purchased second-hand computers, which are not only faulty but also have non-genuine operating systems installed. Often these are very old laptops which have a more recent version of Windows illegally installed on them. Simply put, these older laptops weren’t built to run Windows 7 and 8. The laptops we’ve seen were all very underpowered XP machines and were purchased through places such as Facebook selling pages, Gumtree, boot fayres and disreputable computer shops. If you have been a victim of this practice, talk to Trading Standards and Microsoft.
Windows 10 launches today! But still many of you may be asking "Should I upgrade?” Well, we find it very, very easy to recommend– here are our top reasons why:
It’s free for current genuine Windows 7 SP1 and 8.1 users.
You may have already pre-registered for your upgrade by clicking the Windows logo on your taskbar. Do note however that this does not mean you will get Windows 10 today. Microsoft announced “we will start notifying reserved systems in waves, slowly scaling up after 29th July. Each day of the rollout, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users. If you reserved your copy of Windows 10, we will notify you once our compatibility work confirms you will have a great experience, and Windows 10 has been downloaded on your system."
Cortana is great!
This intelligent virtual assistant will be available on laptops and PCs - not just Windows Phones as is currently the case – and will allow voice-activated control of some features of your PC. You will be able to make web queries via the new search facility that incorporates both the internet and your PC. You can also schedule calendar appointments, dictate notes, control your media, get map directions and much more.
Handy New Features
Virtual Desktops is a clever feature allowing you to use the Task View mode to create multiple workspaces on your PC and switch between them as if they were on different screens. You can also, using the Snap Assist feature, arrange windows on your desktop to take up one half of the screen or even to split into four quarters of the desktop.
Do note that there are some things to be aware of regarding the Windows 10 upgrade:
If you are upgrading from older versions of Windows, do check that any important applications will work on Windows 10. For major software releases this will almost certainly be a smooth upgrade, but it’s worth checking with the software provider.
You will need to download new drivers for peripherals, such as printers and scanners.
The version of Windows 10 which launches today will have gone through comprehensive testing, however some bugs and glitches may get through. You may wish to wait a few weeks or months to install it, giving Microsoft the time to fix them.