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Posted on May 29, 2017 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 48 – Hello creators update, goodbye Vista

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TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 48

Welcome to the May 2017 TWT Newsletter

Time for another TWT newsletter! Time flies, and we’re now well into 2017. At least here in the northern hemisphere we can look forward to longer and warmer days, though the good old British weather is anything but predictable even in summer.

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In this months issue:-

What’s new at
Creators update lands and it’s another rough landing!
Tip of the Month – Give your Windows privacy settings a once over
Free Utility of the Month – Plex
Windows Store App of the Month – Forza Horizon 3 Demo
Goodbye Windows Vista – Support ends for the much maligned OS

What’s new at

In April we took some time to overhaul our section on Windows Updates, specifically, our advice on updating Windows drivers. If you’re having issues with hardware on your PC, then updating your computers drivers may help. Drivers do not usually update automatically, but you can use special tools to check for updates to them.

picture Snappy Driver Installer Tutorial

In this video tutorial we will show you how to update your Windows drivers quickly and easily with Snappy Driver Installer. Click here to watch the video.

Creators update lands and it’s another rough landing!

The much hyped Windows 10 creators update landed last month and is now available to download through Windows update. We’ve been over the new features extensively in our November 2016 and February 2017 newsletters. If you’ve not already gone and got the upgrade, should you go to the trouble of installing it?

Update woes

So far we’ve installed, or at least attempted to install, the creators update on five different machines. Disappointingly, the update has only worked on three of them, and even then it wasn’t always without its problems.

On two of our PCs, the update would simply not install at all. The update process started, then exited with an error. Google searching for this error code yielded no useful information. These two PCs now regularly prompt us to reboot and install the update and unfortunately every time we try the process fails.

On our Dell tablet PC the update installed without too much hassle, but upon rebooting after the update we found that several of our Windows Store apps, such as Microsoft Solitaire Collection, would no longer open. We had to delete these apps from the device and re-download them from the store, very disappointing!

A further two more PCs we are responsible for also received the update, this time with no obvious adverse effects.

This is, once again, very disappointing from Microsoft. It seems every major Windows update has complications installing on an alarmingly high number of machines. We don’t recall Windows 7 or 8 updates being quite this problematic. Every time we hope for a smoother upgrade process only to find that we’re spending hours on troubleshooting once again.

Gentle learning curve

A major Windows update like this often means significant changes to the layout of Windows, the Start menu or other key places on your computer. Luckily, the creators update doesn’t seem to fundamentally alter or change the layout of your PC, meaning you’re unlikely to be cursing and chuntering at Microsoft for hiding your favourite app or setting.

There are some cool new features (such as sub-folders on the Start menu) but these are things you can discover as and when you need them, rather than things you need every day.

That’s not to say things haven’t moved at all, one of the biggest changes is to Windows Defender, which has been completely overhauled and now also manages things like family safety. If you need to review your family safety settings, Defender is now the place to go.

Good but not essential

There are a lot of cool features in the latest Windows update as we’ve previously discussed. If you can’t wait to get your hands on Paint 3D or the new Windows 10 themes, then there’s really no reason to hold off on updating. If you’re not that interested by these new features, we’d suggest waiting for a while until Windows update automatically installs the update, as this gives Microsoft longer to work out those annoying installation bugs.

Tip of the Month – Give your Windows privacy settings a once over

Remember the bad old days when computers sat in isolation, only doing new and exciting things when fed a floppy disc with a new game or program on it? As dull as those days might have been, at least we didn’t have everything we see and do slurped up and used for advertising or government snooping.

We might not be able to turn back the tide of the ever encroaching data collection, but at least we can keep an eye on what Microsoft knows about us in the cloud. To give your privacy settings a peruse, log onto the Microsoft Privacy dashboard by visiting this page. Here you can manage the data that Windows has gathered about you on ALL your Microsoft devices and delete it if necessary.

Free Utility of the Month – Plex

Got an old PC in the home you barely ever use any more? If so, why not turn it into a Plex media server? You can store all your movies, photos, music and more on this PC and access it from any device that supports the Plex app or, for music, any device that supports DLNA streaming, or even through a simple web interface.

Plex is clever media cataloguing software that makes accessing collections of format shifted DVDs or home movies easier and quicker than ever. Plex is even intelligent enough to automatically convert formats so that your media can be played on the widest range of devices possible (PC processing power permitting). What’s more, its online database knows about millions of TV shows and movies, so you can get information and synopsis on all your ripped DVDs.

Check out Plex and the entire family of Plex apps and devices now by visiting this link.

Windows Store App of the Month – Forza Horizon 3 Demo

Got yourself a swanky new PC and want something to put it through its paces? This fantastic looking racing game demo will test the mettle of your new rig and is a great little game to boot. Drive on-road or off as you explore Australia in exotic sports cars, buggies and 4×4’s. At 20GB it’s a hefty download, but for anyone that loves cars and racing it’s an essential one. Best of all it is totally free.

Grab your copy of the Forza Horizon 3 demo by visiting this link. Be sure to check the minimum system requirements before downloading, a PC with a gaming graphics accellerator is required.

Goodbye Windows Vista – Support ends for the much maligned OS

April the 11th 2017 was the final day of extended support for Windows Vista. Once extended support ends for a Microsoft product, there are no more security updates issued. Like Windows XP before it, this now means that using Windows Vista on any computer that is connected to the internet is strongly not recommended. Security updates for Windows operating systems are issued all the time and it’s not likely to be long before an unpatched vulnerability is found in Windows Vista.

Unlike Windows XP, there was no high profile “save Windows Vista” campaign, with most users seemingly happy to let the ageing OS die peacefully. It’s fair to say Vista never had as many fans as Windows XP, or Windows 7 for that matter, but was all the bad press really justified?

While Windows Vista upset many long-time XP users with its new ‘gimmicks’, it actually introduced several very useful new features. Ironically, one of its most loathed features turned out to be one of the very best things that has ever happened to Windows, namely User Account Control.

Most Windows users today are familiar with UAC or User Account Control. Those little prompts that appear when a new program installs or a system setting is changed. It’s easy to see why XP users were at first perturbed by this whole new mechanism. XP had no such system in place and users could simply install or change any setting they liked. Microsoft’s support forums were full of howls of discontent from users calling this new feature “stupid”, “annoying”, “irritating” and other adjectives we wouldn’t want to print here. Unfortunately, most security measures sacrifice some degree of convenience in exchange for better security. Not locking your front door might make it convenient when you come home, but if you do that you may well come home to a house emptied of valuables.

Of course, the advantages of UAC aren’t immediately obvious to the end user, but IT experts quickly began to appreciate just how much more secure Windows was thanks to this new mechanism. Under Windows XP, software could write and access any part of the operating system freely. All it would take was for the user to be tricked into running a program and the whole system could be compromised. With UAC, programs need to ask permission before changing system critical parts of the OS. Furthermore, by using UAC and a standard (non-administrator) user account, you can beef up your security even more. Standard accounts existed with Windows XP, but few home users ever used them because every time a new piece of software needed to be installed, it was necessary to switch back to an administrator account.

There’s more to Vista than just UAC too. Vista laid the foundations for the improved desktop search and Start menu, which of course is still present in Windows today. It was also the first version to come with Windows Defender, which eventually evolved into a full antivirus solution. While these features are still around today, many of the other new features of Windows Vista proved to be less enduring. The Windows Aero theme, that made windows on your desktop transparent, was dropped in Windows 8 in favour of a minimalist theme that preserved device battery power. The Windows Sidebar was dropped after Windows 7 due to vulnerabilities in sidebar widgets. Windows Media Centre was dropped in Windows 10 after declining user numbers eventually caused its demise.

While many users won’t be sad to see Windows Vista go, we really feel it was an unsung hero. It did many things right and paved the way for a more secure and robust Windows that we have today. So, we salute you Windows Vista, have a happy retirement and know that we are still fans.

That concludes our newsletter for May. On behalf of the team here at TWT, I’d like to say thank you to all our readers, new and old for your continued support. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th June 2017 for more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10. We hope that you found this newsletter informative and useful. If you did not then please let us know why, you can contact us by visiting this page. If you have enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to pass it on to all your friends and family, or better still encourage them to sign up for their own copy. Until next month, keep checking and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!

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