Category: Windows 7

Final Word on Windows 7

Final Word on Windows 7

You are probably aware that Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 on January 14th of this year (2020). On January 14th, Microsoft released the last batch of security updates for Windows 7. Going forward, there will be no more security updates to Windows 7. New security vulnerabilities are discovered in Windows every week. Those newly discovered security vulnerabilities will no longer be fixed in Windows 7. Only Windows 8 and Windows 10 will continue to have these fixed. Windows 8 will stop receiving security updates after January in 2023 for the few of you who have Windows 8.

If you still have a computer with Windows 7 on it, you should consider either upgrading to Windows 10 or replacing the computer. There are some situations, usually in business environments, where older software or hardware won’t work on Windows 10 and they must keep Windows 7, at least for now. But for most of us, upgrading or replacing is not only a good thing to do, it’s something we really must do.

You may be thinking, “Since I have good, unexpired, up-to-date security software, I should be OK, right?” Actually, no. Computer security software works like the flu shot. It protects you against known strains of the flu, but not all strains of the flu are known. And since there are always new ones being discovered every day, you can’t rely solely on that. Using Windows 7 on the internet after end of support even with good security software is a risky thing to do.

In Summary, if you have a Windows 7 computer, you should upgrade or replace it as soon as possible. Whether or not your computer can be upgraded depends on the computer. We can take a look at it and tell you. You may be wondering how much it costs to upgrade to Windows 10. Upgrading from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10 is free if you have a valid license for Windows 7 or 8 to upgrade from. If we do the upgrade for you remotely, the cost is generally $80, give or take $40 depending on your computer. If a remote upgrade is not possible, then the cost will be $105 – $150.

Windows 7 End of Support in 6 Months

Windows 7 End of Support in 6 Months

Windows 7 was released on October 22, 2009, nearly ten years ago.
Windows 7 was probably the most beloved version of Windows.
Now, approximately 6 months from now on January 14, 2020, Microsoft will end support of Windows 7.

As of June, 2019, Windows 7 is still installed and running on about 38% of computers compared to Windows 10 which is on 41%. So even though Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 7 in about 6 months, it’s still very popular. The same thing happened with Windows XP.

In case you are wondering, Windows 8 is on about 6% of computers.
Windows XP is still on about 3% of computers even though Microsoft ended support for it 5 years ago.
And, in case you are intrested, Mac OS is on about 8% of computers and Linux is on 1.5%.

What does it mean that Microsoft will end support for Windows 7? It means Microsoft will no longer release security updates for Windows 7. So, going forward from January 14th, 2020, it will become more and more dangerous to use Windows 7 on the Internet.

If you still have a computer with Windows 7 on it, you have 3 options.
First, you can ignore all of this and keep using your computer and hope your security software will save your computer.
Second, you may be able to upgrade your computer to Windows 10. Upgrading to Windows 10 is free, but not all computers can handle Windows 10.
The third option is to get new computer.

If you are a very light user of your Windows 7 computer, then the option of continuing to use your computer after January 14th, 2020 might be OK. Just make sure you have good security software and a good backup of your computer.

Otherwise, we recommend most people either upgrade to Windows 10 (if possible) or replace their computer with a new one. If you want to know if your computer can be upgraded to Windows 10, you can ask us and we can check your computer and let you know. However, if your computer is more than 5 years old and you are more than a light user, we generally recommend replacing it.

Microsoft to Nag Windows 7 Users to Upgrade

Microsoft to Nag Windows 7 Users to Upgrade

We’ve told you here in our newsletter that Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. We’ve recommended that those of you still running Windows 7 upgrade or replace by the end of the year (don’t wait until the last minute). Now, Microsoft will be nagging you too.

If you still have Windows 7 and haven’t already, you will soon be seeing a message pop up on your computer from Microsoft telling you about the end of support for Windows 7.

What does end of support really mean? Microsoft hasn’t added any new features to Windows 7 since January 2015. It’s currently in extended support which means they only release security updates for it. And they do that every month. Why? To keep your computer as safe as possible from threats. After January 14th, 2020, Microsoft will no longer release any security updates for Windows 7. From that point forward, your computer will be more and more vulnerable to attack.

You are probably wondering if you should upgrade your computer to Windows 10 or replace your computer. The answer to that question will be different for everyone depending on their computer. If you have this question, let us know, we can take a quick look at your computer and give you our recommendation.

You may also be wondering how much upgrading to Windows 10 costs. If you have a valid license for Windows 7, the cost of a Windows 10 upgrade is free. However, the process of upgrading is not for the average person, so you will probably need us to do it for you. If we can do it remotely, the labor cost would be $80 give or take $40 depending on any issues that may arise.

However, if you have an older computer, this would be an excellent time to upgrade to an SSD and breath new life into your older computer. For that, we would have to do the work on your computer in our office. Contact us for a quote.

Windows 7 Availability

Windows 7 Availability

As you know, Windows 8 was released at the end of October of last year which is a little over 2 months ago as I write this. We have customers who call us and want to purchase a new computer. When getting these new computers for our customers, we are finding that it is getting harder and harder to find new computers in local stores that have Windows 7 on them. Most of them have Windows 8. It’s much easier to find new computers with Windows 7 on them at online stores, although the selection of Windows 7 computers has certainly diminished, even online.

If you’ve been reading our newsletter or our website for the last few years, you know that we generally don’t recommend going to a new version of Windows until it’s been released for at least a few months, just to make sure there are no major problems. That turned out to be invaluable advice when Windows Vista was released. But when it comes to Windows 8, we really haven’t seen any major issues so far. The only issues we have seen have been with the design changes. No real problems in terms of stability or performance.

Although there have been some pretty major design changes in Windows 8, there are several things that can be done that will make it an easier transition. Adding some critical icons to the desktop helps make it so that you don’t have to use the start menu. A third party utility program can be installed that makes Windows 8 boot directly into the desktop so you don’t have to see the start menu at boot up. And there are several other tweaks that can be made as well. That in addition to a little training and using Windows 8 isn’t all that different from Windows 7.

Using the Windows 8 start menu on a computer isn’t that bad if you know the secret. The secret is to use the search capability. When you enter the start menu, just start typing what you are looking for and then when you see it above in the search results, click on it. The other secret is how to shut down your computer. Just hit Control-Alt-Delete and then click on the power button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

All this is to tell you that if you need a new computer, it’s OK to get a Windows 8 computer, but you might need for us to make some changes to it to make it easier to use. One advantage to getting a Windows 8 computer over Windows 7 in addition to the fact that they are easier to find is the fact that they are cheaper. Supply and demand.

Should You Upgrade Windows?

Should You Upgrade Windows?

Just because a new version of Windows comes out doesn’t mean you have to upgrade. If the new version has features you need or want, then that is certainly a compelling reason to upgrade. But most of us don’t have a compelling reason. And some of us have a compelling reason not to upgrade.

When Windows 95 came out, it was such a vast improvement over Windows 3.1 that it was very compelling to upgrade to Windows 95. Windows 98 wasn’t very compelling, but Windows 98 Second Edition had a feature that was very compelling. Plug and Play. Very helpful. Windows 2000 wasn’t all that compelling. Like Windows 95, Windows XP was a vast improvement over previous versions of Windows, so it was pretty compelling to upgrade to XP.

When Vista came out, there was a compelling reason not to upgrade. The reason was Vista was slow had a lot of problems. Microsoft eventually fixed most of the problems with Vista, but the damage was done and Windows 7 was released. However, if you had Windows XP, there wasn’t really a lot of compelling reasons to upgrade to Windows 7. If you had Vista and were having trouble with it, that was a compelling reason to upgrade to Windows 7, but if your Vista system was working OK, there wasn’t much reason to upgrade.

One compelling reason to upgrade your version of Windows is when Microsoft stops releasing security updates for it. When that happens, it’s important to move to a newer version of Windows. Sometimes that means upgrading your current computer. Sometimes that means getting a new computer. Right now if you are using any version of Windows prior to Windows XP, you should get a new computer as soon as possible.

If you are using Windows XP, it’s a little more complicated. You should move to a newer version of Windows before April 2014 because that’s when Microsoft will stop releasing security updates for Windows XP. However, how you get to a newer version of Windows depends on how old your computer is.  If your computer is less than five years old, it might be able to run Windows 7. You might need  to upgrade the RAM, but it can probably run it. However, you can’t just upgrade. You have to backup your computer, wipe it clean, install Windows 7, and then restore your data and reinstall all of your programs. You can upgrade from XP to Vista without having to wipe out your data, but you may still have to upgrade your RAM. In addition, you can’t find the Vista Upgrade in local stores so you’ll have to buy it online. If you do upgrade your computer to Vista, be sure and install all of the Windows Updates.

Now we are on the cusp of the release of Windows 8. Is there a compelling reason to upgrade to Windows 8? In a word, no. There are some cool things in Windows 8, but there are some huge annoyances too. And the learning curve for your average computer user is going to be big. So big, it might be frustrating for some people. So for many people there might be a compelling reason not to upgrade to Windows 8. And you already know that we don’t recommend anyone upgrade to Windows 8 when it first comes out.

By the way, if you are planning on getting a new computer in the next year, I would recommend getting a new computer this year, once Windows 8 is out, it will get harder and harder to find new computers in local stores with Windows 7. It won’t happen overnight. But by March it might starting getting hard to find new computers with Windows 7 on them. That is, unless Windows 8 turns out to be another Vista. But I don’t think that will be the case.

Shutting Down or Restarting Windows

Shutting Down or Restarting Windows

When you shut down your computer it closes all of your programs gracefully, exit Windows and turns off your computer. If you want to turn on your computer again, you have to press the power button to turn it on.

A restart or reboot does all of the same things as a shutdown, except that it doesn’t turn off your computer, instead, it starts Windows back up.

When you shut down or restart Windows XP, it would pop up a little window for each program that wasn’t closing as fast as Windows thought it should. The little window would give you the option to “End Now” or “Wait”.

With Windows 7 or Windows Vista, you will instead see a black screen that tells you it’s waiting for programs to close down before it shuts down. It’s supposed to have a list of programs that it’s waiting on, but sometimes that list is blank. This screen has two buttons. One labeled “Force shut down” and the other labeled “Cancel”.

What is happening is that Windows has told all of the programs running that Windows is going to shut down. All of these programs should then exit normally and Windows waits for them to do so. However, sometimes a program can’t shut down because it is waiting for input from the user. For example, let’s say you had a Microsoft Word document open and you had made changes but hadn’t saved those changes. If you try to exit the program, it will ask you about saving the document. When you shut down and windows tells Microsoft Word to exit, Microsoft word will ask you about saving the file. But you can’t see it because of the screen I described above. In that case, you would click the “Cancel” button. Save the file, or exit without saving, and then shut down again.

Actually, the best thing to do is close all programs yourself before you shut down or restart. That way you won’t run into these problems.

The “Force shut down” button should only be used if your computer hangs on this screen for more than a minute or so. In general, it’s best to wait for Windows to close down on its own.

Windows 7 is now King

Windows 7 is now King

Windows 7 was released late in October of 2009. For next 2 years, Windows XP was still the most widely used operating system. But as of October of this year, that is no longer the case. Windows 7 is now the most widely used operating system. If you combine all versions of Windows together you find that Windows is the operating system on 86.5% of all computers. In this context, the term computer includes tablets and phones.

Something you may find interesting is that in December of last year, Windows was on over 90% of all computers, so it has dropped 4%. What changed?  The biggest change is the popularity of tablets and smart phones. The iPhone, iPad, Droid phones and Droid tablets combined increased about 3%. That last 1% went to Macs.

The fact that phone and tablet sales are impacting computer sales just shows the direction we are going in. Laptop and tablet sales are increasing while desktop sales are decreasing. But the desktop isn’t going away.

Windows 7 HomeGroup

Windows 7 HomeGroup

You already know that in Windows XP and in Windows Vista you can share files and printers. But, it’s really not all that easy to set up. Especially in Vista due to the extra security. And if you want to share files between Vista and XP, you may be in for a fight.

Windows 7, on the other hand, has a new feature called HomeGroup that makes sharing easy as pie. Setting up a HomeGroup couldn’t be easier. Just specify what types of things you want to share, documents, music, etc. and enter the password.

Windows 7 will assign a password to the HomeGroup, but I recommend you immediately go and change it to something you can remember. Once you have done this on one computer, then all you have to do on each of the other Windows 7 computers is to join the HomeGroup by entering that password and specifying what information on that computer you want to share with the HomeGroup.

You can share any file or folder and you can specify the permmissions to it. You can even grant access to one, but not to another. Or grant read/write permission to one, but read only to another.

The only real drawback to it is that it only works with Windows 7 computers. If you have some Windows 7 computers, some with Vista, and some with XP, only the ones with Windows 7 can use the HomeGroup feature. You can still share files between all of these versions of Windows, but it’s just harder to set up.

Gadgets in Vista and Windows 7

Gadgets in Vista and Windows 7

A Windows gadget is something you can place on your desktop that performs a special function. A gadget can give you weather information, show a clock, display the date, or show you information about your computer. The things that a gadget can be created to do are endless. You can get one that always shows the items you are following on eBay. There’s also one that shows the latest status updates on Facebook.

Looking forward to a particular event? There are loads of countdown gadgets that count down to Christmas, New Years, game releases, TV show premiers, movie premiers, and lots more. I could go on and on about all of the different types of gadgets available.

Gadgets were something introduced in Vista, so XP doesn’t have gadgets built-in to it. There are lots of utilities that let you add gadgets to XP; Yahoo Gadgets and Google Gadgets for example. But before you use either of these, make sure your system can handle it. They will slow your computer down a little.

In Vista, you had something called a sidebar. Be default, the sidebar was turned on and you had several gadgets including the date, time, picture slideshow, and a headline viewer that showed headlines from Microsoft. By default, Vista gadgets are displayed on the sidebar which is normally placed on the right side of your monitor.
In vista you can drag gadgets off the sidebar and place them anywhere on your desktop, but I always liked them on the sidebar. With a widescreen monitor, I would set the sidebar to always be on top. By doing that, the right side of my monitor would always show my gadgets even if I had a Window maximized, and I still had plenty of room to do what I wanted to do.

Windows 7, however, works a little differently. Be default, Windows 7 doesn’t show any gadgets. Many people don’t even realize Windows 7 has gadgets because of this. If you want to add a gadget, right click on an area of your desktop where there are no icons and choose “Gadgets”. You can then add and manage your gadgets. You can place gadgets anywhere on your desktop, but there is no sidebar anymore.

Only a small number of gadgets are installed on Windows so when you go to add a gadget, you will only see a few. You can download more by clicking on “Get more gadgets online”. When you do, your browser will open and show you a gallery of gadgets you can download and install. When you download and install a gadget, it will appear on your desktop. If you hold the mouse pointer over it, a little toolbar will appear to the right of the gadget. If your gadget has options, one of the buttons on the toolbar will be a wrench. Click on that to change the options for the gadget. Another button on the gadget toolbar is looks like a bunch of dots in a rectangle. If you click on this and drag the mouse, it allows you to move the gadget on your desktop.

As I mentioned, with Windows Vista, you could set the sidebar to always be on top and the whole sidebar would always be on top and always be visible. When you maximized a window, it would not go over the side bar and the sidebar would simply be next to your maximized window. With Windows 7,  you can set a particular gadget to always be on top, but it doesn’t work very well. Half the time a program will cover it up anyway.

Windows 7 Jump Lists

Windows 7 Jump Lists

There is a cool new feature in Windows 7 called Jump Lists that  you may not be aware of. The idea behind it is to allow you to open a program in a way that get’s you right where you want to be instead of making you open the program and click a bunch of things or type something to get where you want to go.

For example, let’s say there is a website you want to go to and it’s a web site you access frequently. Normally, you would click on Internet Explorer in the task bar. Then you would either type in the website address or find it in your favorites and access that website. With Windows 7 jump lists, all you have to do is right-click on Internet Explorer in the task bar (instead of left click) and choose the  website from the pop-up menu and it will go right to that website.

Jump lists don’t work with all programs, but they do work with a lot of programs. And that list is growing every day. Another example is using Windows Media Player. Let’s say you wanted to listen to all of the music on your PC. Normally, you would have to open Windows Media Player, click on All Music, and then tell it to play. With Windows 7 jump lists, you would only need to right-click on Windows Media Player and choose “All music” from the jump list, and that’s it!

If your computer has Windows 7, try right-clicking on some of your icons in the task bar to see your jump lists.

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