Windows 10 Enforces Updates on Home Users

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Earlier this month, The Register revealed that Windows updates will now be mandatory. This was determined after reading the End User License Agreement on the Windows 10 Preview for the home version.  Microsoft has been moving in this direction for years. In past operating systems, during the installation phase, Microsoft would prompt to allow updates to install without any further notification. You always had the option to turn that off or choose to download the updates, but not install them. That is no longer going to be the case for home users.

The exact wording in the EULA comes from build 10240 and states the following:

The software periodically checks for system and app updates, and downloads and installs them for you.

You may obtain updates only from Microsoft or authorised sources, and Microsoft may need to update your system to provide you with those updates.

By accepting this agreement, you agree to receive these types of automatic updates without any additional notice.

On one hand, this is good for end users, as most home users do not take the time to install their updates. On the other hand, the issue that some home users will run into is if Microsoft rolls out updates without the end user knowing, this could have the potential to break applications.  Microsoft is prepared to take that risk in order to stay current with the latest technology and keep its end users protected from threats, as the world becomes increasingly unsafe in the cyber community.

Microsoft is currently only rolling out automatic updates on its home versions of Windows 10. The Pro and Ultimate versions will still give users the option to download or install if they choose to. This is a smart idea, as most Pro and Ultimate users likely need to pay attention to updates and take care of them accordingly. Most Businesses rely on the Pro or Ultimate versions, as Microsoft Windows’ Professional Operating Systems and above are the only ones that can connect to domain controllers.

Businesses rely on many different ways to update their systems and these methods will likely still be as relevant as ever. Microsoft still packages its server with the role of Windows Software Update Services, or WSUS for short. There are also many different third party applications that help keep track of updates and ensure they get deployed out to all machines in a network. GFI is a company that makes a product called LanGuard, which not only handles patch management for Windows devices, but also covers Apple products and gives great reporting on the status of devices, among other features. With products such as these, it gives businesses a much more complete overlook into ensuring their machines are up-to-date.

The job of patch management for businesses is very critical. It can be a full time job, depending on the amount and complexity of the devices involved, but ensuring your network is fully secure and up to date is critical to ensuring the safety of your employees and your data.

If you are interested in the options that Everon employs in regards to patch management, give our offices a call at 1-888-244-1748.

Product Review: Lumia 1520 – My new cell phone

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It was late February 2015, and I faced a pivotal life-moment. Time to get a new cell phone.

For some people this is not a big deal, a once-a-year (or more) thing. But for me, I got my first cell phone in 1997 and could count on one hand the number of devices I’ve owned. (Yes, I’ve continuously owned a cell phone in that time. That’s how long I keep them.) And since it’d been four years since my last one, Phone #6 was kind of a big purchase.

I was going to wait it out until Microsoft released Windows 10, but my current phone was on its own schedule. It began increasingly wimping out on me, shutting itself off and restarting at random times—inconvenient and annoying. Luckily, I learned that even if I got a Windows 8.1 device now, 10 would be a free upgrade later.

I’d had my Samsung Focus, running Windows 7.5 (its maximum upgrade), since mid-2011. Back then its 4” screen was larger than any iPhone screen until late 2013, when the iPhone 5 finally caught up to match it. And it wasn’t until the iPhone 6, released last October, that Apple screens were finally larger than mine. But now I was also four years behind with the technology. Smart phones had gotten way smarter.

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Way bigger than a 4″ screen.

I went to the AT&T store and bought a Lumia 1520 with a 6” screen. A phablet. Or, a TV, as my friends have dubbed it. The 1520 was released in October 2014. Everyone agreed its camera rocked. Lumia is, after all, from Nokia, a camera company, whose cell phone division was bought by Microsoft. The phone’s other powerful specs were pretty awesome, too.

But detractors complained. It was a Windows device, so there were less apps available. Plus, last fall, everyone thought it was a behemoth.

Flash-forward to spring, however, and 6” was suddenly the new flagship size for everyone from Apple to Samsung. Funny, how a few months changed everything.

It was a huge leap to go from a 4” screen to a 6” one, but it was amazing how quickly I got used to it. The transition from Windows to Windows was seamless, since all of my data, contacts, photos, and documents were already stored in Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud. Within a few hours, I’d completely adjusted to both the larger size and the upgraded OS.

It’s been almost four months since my purchase, and I’m still happy. There are probably features on my Lumia that I’ll never use, like Project My Screen, or the built-in Office 360 suite. But things like texting are easier with the bigger keys. And my new friend, Cortana, lets me voice-text and finds destinations for me while I keep my eyes on the road. Also, she mutes people who call or text me during “Quiet Hours,” responding with a polite return-text that I’m busy. So I can get my beauty sleep. Yes, this was definitely a good purchase!

If you need help with your technology shopping, or troubleshooting your Windows (or iOS, or Android) devices, give us a call at Everon. 888-244-1748. Or email us at info@everonit.com.

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How to Get iOS Devices to Work with Windows Servers

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A while ago a client asked, “How can I use my Apple iPad with my documents at work?” 

Initially, it seemed like an easy question. Windows computers and iPads are both very popular products; of course there would be an easy solution. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be.

These two large competitors are not very interested in working together. My client, who had his shares on a Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Server and wanted his Apple iPad to access those shares, had presented a challenge.

There were obvious solutions. You could use any number of remote desktop apps, such as Teamviewer, to get into your company’s terminal server, to work on the server’s desktop. But my client did not want to remote-in to anything. He wanted to access the documents without needing any device. He wanted to be able to use his domain credentials to authenticate and access shares.

I realized my solution needed to be broken out into a few parts. The first was to get an iOS device onto a Windows domain network. That’s actually the easiest part out of this entire process; every iOS device has a VPN tool built-in. As long as your network has RRAS (PPTP on port 1723), you can join the device to the network. If you are inside the network and have WiFi, even easier. To find the VPN tool on your iOS device, go to Settings –> VPN. It will request your information for connecting, simple as that. WiFi is in the exact same location (Settings –> WiFi).

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FileBrowser

Once connected to the network, you need to browse SMB shares. Unfortunately, Apple decided not to build this portion into their devices. You need a separate app. I tried out many, but the one I liked most was FileBrowser ($5.99). For any business looking to complete this task, it’s worth the price. FileBrowser allows you to set up locations in your iOS device, called Remote Servers, and connect to see all shares to which your domain credentials have access. For my example we joined a VPN, then mapped a “Remote Server” to an internal IP address where his file server existed, and then reviewed the various shares related to that file server.

If you have your shares locked down in the appropriate security groups, you will only see the shares to which you have access. (FileBrowser doesn’t get around any security flaws that could be present. It’s all based on your domain credentials.

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Google Docs

My client loved this, but he added one last piece to the puzzle. His company didn’t want to just view the files, they wanted to edit them, too. After much searching, I found the best tool for this job in another app (a free one) called QuickOffice, by Google (later replaced by a more powerful version of Office editing, Google Docs.) With Google Docs you can pull up any of the FileBrowser-searched documents, edit them with tools very similar to Microsoft’s Office suite, and then place them back on the server.

Although it sounds complicated, all the apps worked together seamlessly to allow my client’s company to review and edit files in their Windows environment, thus allowing them to integrate Apple devices into their Windows domain. And in the end, my client was happy.

For more information on how you can integrate your Apple products into a Windows domain, call Everon at 1-888-244-1748.

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Microsoft to Stop Making Windows OS: How this will impact your business

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windows 10 - last osIn a recent conference speech, Jerry Nixon, a Microsoft exec, announced that Windows 10 will be the software giant’s last operating system. Instead of creating an entirely new OS after Windows 10 is released (widely rumored to happen in July), Microsoft will continue to make improvements to Windows 10 through regular updates.

This type of OS-updating is already seen to some extent with the Apple OSX architecture. Nixon stated that a big reason behind the move was due to how the development team would lock themselves away for three years to create the next operating system… but their end-result would be a product the world wanted three years ago. Given how quickly technology changes, this new process will be a welcome departure.

Microsoft has not yet determined what it will call its iterations, post-Windows 10. However, we will not see the continued numerical names to its OS. Microsoft also mentioned that this will help sales, as the idea of selling end users on entirely new operating systems has become increasingly difficult. This way of thinking can be somewhat attributed to the failures of Vista and Windows 8.

Windows 10 will have some version of the Start Menu, which is what seemed to be a stopping point for many businesses. You can download a free preview of the operating system here. (For information on how to create a virtual Windows 10 preview, see my previous blog post, found here.)

Of special note, if you are a small-medium business: you can rejoice in the fact that you will no longer have to have a test machine in your network, to test all of your applications and specialized network setup, every time Microsoft releases a brand new OS. Once your company moves to Windows 10, you should not need to worry about having a new operating system, preventing your company from moving to the latest version. (Although you will want to ensure you are getting the appropriate updates, as they will be critical for keeping your computers protected, and allowing Microsoft to patch security flaws.)

Microsoft’s updates to Windows 10 will likely be free, similar to the way Apple handles its updates to OSX. In fact, if you own Windows 7 or later, and you update within the first year of Windows 10′s release, you will get Windows 10 for free. (Details for that can be found here.) The Windows 10 free upgrade is also free for users who have pirated software as well. (Details for that can be found here.) Microsoft is allowing this to happen to help combat piracy and ensure their OS is patched and in the hands of as many end users as possible.

Microsoft’s idea of giving away their OS for free is a departure from their old way of thinking. It is a strategic move, as Microsoft continues to battle Apple for the OS user base.

Microsoft has made some other bold changes lately, including a decision to discontinue its popular web browser Internet Explorer for its new product, Spartan. Spartan will reportedly be lightweight and very similar to other popular lightweight browsers on the market, such as Chrome and Firefox. The new browser will appear on Windows 10.

Our engineers at Everon are constantly staying on top of the tech-trends that affect small to medium businesses. If you have any questions about Microsoft or Windows 10, feel free to call 1-888-244-1748.

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Quick Tip: Clear Your Screen with Windows’s Shake Feature

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jelloMy exorbitantly talented coworkers are bursting with knowledge of all-things tech. Last week a co-worker showed me the coolest hack with Windows 7. It was so simple and silly I laughed out loud. It’s a fun way to clear your screen of all other windows, except the one you are working on. Microsoft calls this feature, “Shake.” I call it “the wiggle-jiggle trick.” In any case, the name says it all:

Go to the top bar of the window you want to leave open. Left-click and hold on the bar. Now wiggle, or shake, that window around by jiggling the mouse. All of your other open windows will downsize. (You’re trying it right now, aren’t you? Cool, huh? ;) )

In addition to knowing neato-fun tricks, the Everon team has the most depth of any group of techs I’ve ever met. I’m constantly amazed at how well they function together to keep our wide array of customers happy, and their computers up and running. If you’re not yet an Everon customer, do yourself a favor and give us a call. 888-244-1748. (Or email us at info@everonit.com.) The best trick these guys do is making the headache of your computer systems go away. ;)

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