Is Windows 10 really free?

Who doesn’t like free stuff? For Windows users there is a lot of free software out there. Today it seems like there’s a lot more bad than good. Free software often means they want something in return. Our personal information, search history or maybe just payment for the full version later. So when Microsoft tells its Windows users that it is going to give away Windows 10 to everyone that has Windows 7 or 8, you have to ask yourself; what’s the catch?

Microsoft has been talking about offering Windows as a service but hasn’t specified what the term “service” means.


Typically it would mean paying monthly or annually, the way Office 365 is now offered. In other words, you don’t actually own the software and if you stop paying, it could stop working.

Despite this, back in January (2015) Microsoft’s Executive VP of Operating Systems Terry Myerson said Windows 10 would be free to anyone who had Windows 7 or 8 and would continue to keep it current for the lifetime of the device at no additional charge.

Doesn’t that sound like Microsoft is contradicting itself? If Windows 10 is supposed to be a service that you pay for then why are they giving it away for free? Why does Microsoft want you to have Windows 10 so badly? Here’s a theory: the Windows Store.

There is one thing that Microsoft envies about Apple. The App Store. It has generated over $25 billion in revenue for Apple (mobile apps included). As of Windows 8, Microsoft has implemented it’s own app store on the PC, but since Windows 8 has been a flop it has only seen limited success. So, how can Microsoft get everyone to start using the Windows Store? Give away Windows 10 which is pretty much just a fixed version of Windows 8.

Well, what if everyone upgrades to Windows 10 and people still don’t use the Windows Store? The internet is chock full of websites that offer software directly from the company’s website to your computer via download. Will Microsoft put a stop to that somehow? I have a feeling that may be their next step, or at the very least, they will try to discourage Windows users from doing so.

In the meantime Windows 7 and 8 users have a choice to make and a year to make it. Do we upgrade to Windows 10 or stick with what we have? My suggestion is to reserve your copy of Windows 10 for now but don’t upgrade until Microsoft gives us some answers. Microsoft needs to clarify what it means by “Windows as a service”. We need to know if we will be charged for other Windows 10 features and end up with some kind of limited version of Windows 10. Will we be forced to use the Windows store in Windows 10? Is there any reason at all to upgrade besides getting a better version of Windows 8?

Don’t worry about accepting the free Windows 10 offer for now. There’s no commitment in doing so and you have a year from the July 29, 2015 release date to actually apply the upgrade to Windows 10. Worst case scenario you can ignore the upgrade and stay with what you have now.

Of course you can always count on me to keep my ear to the technological floor so stay tuned for further updates regarding upgrading to Windows 10!

Black Friday Computer Buying Guide

toycomputerRor How to NOT buy a Thanksgiving “Turkey”

I know a lot of people can’t wait for Black Friday deals to come around. There are loads of deals to be had but how do we know when we are actually getting a deal? As the saying goes “you get what you pay for”. So how do we know if what we are getting is a good deal for a good computer or a fair price for a cheap computer? Here are some simple tips that can help you decide.

Know your brands
Companies like Acer have driven the cost of computers way down which sounds good at first but they have done so at the expense of quality and a lack of tech support. So the better brands like Dell and HP have had to compromise as well in order to keep their prices competitive. It’s true that “they don’t make them like they used to” but I would definitely stay away from Acer, Gateway and eMachines, which are all the same company, as well as any brand you’ve never heard of. Keep in mind the quality of the hardware in a computer directly affects the cost and even the better brands have “economy” models. I would still recommend Dell or Asus.

The cost of power
Your computer’s brain is its CPU or central processing unit. The vast majority of its speed will come from it so it is important to know which CPUs are slow and which are fast. This is another way that manufacturers can keep the cost of a computer down. If a computer costs $300 it’s a pretty safe bet it’s nowhere near as fast as a computer that costs $600. However sale prices do have a tendency to muddle this view.

So how do we choose? There are tons of different CPUs out there and a lot to consider so I’m going to make it easy. Right now Intel processors are on top. The best three are the Intel i3, i5 and i7. The i3 is low end but not too bad so if you’re on a budget that may be the way to go. The i5 is a good above average processor and the i7 is of course high end. I wouldn’t really recommend the i7 unless you have some money to spare and want to stay ahead of technology or if you need the extra horsepower.

Love and hate: Windows 7 and Windows 8
Some people can’t stand the Windows 8 interface (menus and visuals). If that’s you, should you shun a computer with Windows 8? You may not have to. Thanks to certain apps, you can have your good ol’ start menu back along with the look and feel of Windows 7 on your Windows 8 computer. Windows 7 computers may be hard to find in stores so if you see a good deal on a Windows 8 machine but are not sure if you’re going to hate the interface, don’t worry, you can always change it.

Still have questions? No problem. I’m here for you. Give me a call during business hours or email me anytime.
Happy shopping!

BTW did I mention I build high-quality custom computers?

File Organization Made Easy

Directory TreeA simple guide to keeping better track of your files using Windows 7 or Vista

Before I became a computer technician, the files on my computer were a mess. I would lose data and tons of work only to find them later in a place where they didn’t belong. If you find yourself in the same situation, here are some tips to keep your files organized.


Understanding the directory structure

Almost since day one, Windows has offered a place for users to keep their files: “My Documents”. In more recent versions of Windows it’s just “Documents” and it’s located under your user folder along with Pictures, Music and Videos. You can get to these folders by looking under your user name on the Start Menu. The basic structure of these folders will help you keep your files organized by category or type.


Turn on the Navigation

There’s nothing like having a map to keep track of where you are. So turning on the Navigation Pane is definitely a good idea when you’re learning to manage your files. Here’s how you do it. In Vista and Windows 7 open Documents and find the button that says “Organize”. It should be toward the top left of the window. When you click it, it will drop down showing the option “Layout” then make sure “Navigation Pane” is checked. If it’s enabled, you should see the file structure on the left part of the window. When you put your cursor over the folders you will notice a white triangle to the left of some of the folders. This indicates the folder has subfolders under it. When you click the arrow it will turn downward and black, indicating that the folder is open, allowing you to see the folders in it.


Simple Subfolders

Let’s say you have a ton of photos. Of course when you copy or import them from your camera you’re going to put them under the Pictures folder right? After a while it’s going to get very difficult to find a specific picture when they are all piled up. Even when your camera creates subfolders with the date, it can be difficult. Why not create an easy to understand folder system that helps you keep them organized? If you made a new folder under Pictures called “Hawaii Vacation 2008” you would know exactly where to look to find those pictures.


Making New Folders

Creating a new folder (or subfolder) somewhere is easy. Simply right-click on an empty space where you want the folder, select “New” and then “Folder” from the menu that appears. Then type the name of the new folder. If you don’t type a name it will be labeled “New Folder” and if that already exists then it will get a number added to it. To fix this or if you ever want to change a folder name later, right-click the folder and select “Rename” from the menu and then make your changes.

Now that we have a new folder to put our pictures in, we need to cut the pictures from where they currently are and paste them into the new folder.


Make a Selection

Now that you know how to make a new folder, name it properly and see where it’s located, let’s start organizing. First if you haven’t already, make a folder where you want your files to be. Then using the navigation pane, go to the folder where the files are that we need to move. Now select the files by using one of three methods.

  1. If all the files you want to move are in one folder, you can go to that folder and hit Ctrl + A. This will select all the files there.
  2. If you want some but not all the files and they are in a row, you can click the first file once to select it. Then while holding Shift, select the last file. All the files in between will be selected.
  3. If you only want a few files you can hold Ctrl then click the files you want. This can also work to deselect files so if you want all but a few files, you can use Ctrl+A to select all the files then hold Ctrl to deselect the ones you don’t want. Try it!

Move = Cut + Paste

Your files should now be selected and ready to cut. Right-click one of your highlighted files and from the menu that appears select Cut. Now you can navigate to the folder you created and right-click again on an empty space. Select Paste from the menu and viola! Your files are in their new and easy to find location.

Leaving XP

Leaving XPHello XP users,
I’m sure you’ve heard that Windows XP support has come to an end. As a result, your old XP system is more at risk with each passing day. You may still be very happy with XP or may feel like you have no choice but to stick with it due to some old software or a printer you have that only works with DOS or XP, so here are your options.

1)  Stay with XP:
This is definitely the riskiest option.  If you have to stick with your old software or hardware in order to keep working, it may be your only option. If that’s the case you should consider taking the computer off the internet to prevent any outside threats from getting in, or at the very least, limit your internet activity to a few, safe websites. By safe I mean websites you are familiar with and have decent security. No social, file download or email sites. The fewer the websites, the better.
Remember, this is not the best option. You should take immediate steps to transition away from whatever is keeping you on XP. Disaster may not strike right away, but it can and probably will.

2)  Try to upgrade to Windows 7:
This is something I don’t usually recommend for older PCs. It can cost several hundred dollars and in the end, doesn’t usually perform as well as a machine that was designed for newer operating systems. For a little more, you can buy a new Windows 7 or 8 machine that will perform much better.

3)  Buy a new computer:
Buying a new computer is a good option and is not terribly expensive, especially if all your software runs on Windows 7 or 8. If your software doesn’t work with newer versions of Windows you still have options. Something you can try is compatibility mode which allows older software to work on a newer version of Windows.
More work does goes into purchasing a new computer because it takes time to transfer all your files and install your programs on the new machine. However, I think this is still the best option.

About Windows 8:
Don’t let Windows 8 keep you from buying a new machine. Yes, a lot of people don’t like the interface but it can be dealt with, even changed. There are ways to make Windows 8 look and function just like Windows 7 or even XP. You can also special order a computer with Windows 7. Contact me if you have questions about this.

How do I know what version of Windows I’m using?
Simply right-click on my computer and select Properties from the menu. Under the General tab you should see info about your computer including what version of Windows you are using.

If you feel like you are stuck with XP, don’t worry. You do have options. Give me a call and we can take a closer look at your options.