Archive for Windows 10

Tech Tip – Link your Android Phone To Your Windows PC or Laptop

If you’ve ever emailed yourself a photo or screenshot to get it from your phone to your computer or uploaded photos to e.g. Google Photos or Dropbox and then download them onto your PC, you may want to try Microsoft’s ‘Your Phone’ app.  With the app, you can link and sync your Android phone to your Windows PC or laptop and simply drag and drop photos or screenshots, plus you can receive and send text messages from your phone on your computer. Here’s how to set it up:

This works for PCs or laptops running Windows 10 April 2018 Update (Version 1803) or later, and Android phones running Android 7.0 Nougat or later.  Both devices should be connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

On your PC or laptop, type “Your Phone” in the search bar, scroll to launch Microsoft Store, find the “Your Phone” app.

Download and install the Your Phone app for Windows 10 from Microsoft e.g. here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/p/your-phone/9nmpj99vjbwv?activetab=pivot%3Aoverviewtab

Next, install the counterpart on your Android phone. For example, when you launch the app on your PC, type your number in to receive the install the app link via text on your phone. Alternatively, you could visit the Google Play Store, type “Your Phone Companion” into the search bar and then Install the app on your Android phone.

The two apps should sync, and once you’ve answered and granted the permissions questions on your phone, you should see your phone appear in the Windows “Your Phone” app on your computer.

Click to access recent photos or messages + see the Settings page.

Windows 10 Error Messages Soon To Make More Sense

Starting with the April 2019 update, Microsoft will be adding “Learn more” links to its error code messages in a bid to enable users to see what the code means, plus the chance to fix the error on the spot.

Resolved During Installation

The “Learn More” links will be there to help if there is an error during the upgrade (or installation) of Windows 10.  As well as explaining what the error is, Microsoft will also be giving users the chance to resolve the error messages themselves within the installer and will offer suggestions on how to update any problematic applications without having to uninstall.

What’s The Problem?

If a problem is encountered during the upgrade/installation of Windows 10, users are given error messages, for example if a version of an app isn’t compatible with the latest Windows 10 OS, and users need to either update or reinstall the app.

To date, Microsoft has provided articles on how to solve Windows errors written by support staff called the ‘Knowledge Base’ (KB).  The main problems for users have been that:

  • Users don’t know what the numerical error messages in the upgrade and installation of Windows 10 mean, or what to do with those error codes.
  • Users generally don’t know how to use KBs, look for specific KBs using their numerical ID, and there are no direct links to KB articles in setup error notifications.
  • Users have also found that ‘back ‘and ‘refresh’ buttons don’t fit with the error notifications they receive.

Link To A Quick Fix

Whereas the October 2018 Update means that users were only given the options of uninstalling the app, going back, or refreshing in the case of an error, the changes in the April update (code-named 19H1) should afford user the opportunity to save time and hassle by having information about the error to hand, and being able to get quick fix on the spot.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The current system of offering up codes that mean little to many to users who are not acquainted with the existence of the Knowledge Base or how to use it causes frustration and can waste time and therefore waste money for businesses.  This change in April appears to be a straightforward, user-friendly way of saving time and hassle by offering users the chance to more easily understand and find a fix for errors on the spot.

At present, a list of the common errors experienced during a Windows 10 upgrade and installation plus explanations of them can be found on the Microsoft Windows Support pages here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/help/10587/windows-10-get-help-with-upgrade-installation-errors

Tech Tip – Drag & Drop Tasks To Your Calendar

In Windows 10, the Tasks experience in Outlook.com (powered by ‘To-Do’) means that when looking at your inbox, you can save time and create tasks by dragging and dropping an email to your task list. You can also easily schedule items by dragging a task to your calendar. Your tasks then travel with you on the To-Do app.

You can see how it’s done on the Windows Blog here:

https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2018/12/16/windows-10-tip-schedule-items-by-dragging-a-task-to-your-calendar/#WX3WrBWATdGxSk48.97

No More Windows 10 Mobile Support – Microsoft Suggests Switching

Microsoft has formally announced on its support pages that, as of December 10th 2019, Windows 10 Mobile users can no longer expect security updates and support, and Microsoft recommends that customers then move to a supported Android or iOS device.

Windows 10 Mobile

Windows 10 Mobile is a mobile OS that was released in 2015 as the successor of Windows Phone 8.1 and is essentially an edition of Windows 10 running on devices that have less than a 9-inch screen.

The end of Windows 10 Mobile support comes just over four years after Microsoft’s failed acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services businesses, which led to Microsoft having to write off $7.6 billion in 2015.  At the time, tech commentators wondered why Microsoft had got into the low-margin, highly competitive phone business, and Microsoft shifted its strategy from the standalone phone business to a strategy to grow the Windows ecosystem.  This effectively put the writing on the wall for Windows 10 Mobile, and many tech commentators have been waiting over the years for the formal announcement for the end of support to come.

What Is Coming To An End?

In this announcement, Microsoft has said that new security updates, non-security hot-fixes, free assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft for free will end for users of Windows 10 Mobile as of December 10, 2019.

Microsoft has also stressed that, although third parties or paid support programs may still provide ongoing support, Microsoft support will not publicly provide updates or patches for Windows 10 Mobile after that date.

The announcement does not mean that Windows 10 Mobile devices will shut down with the cessation of support, but that continuing to use the devices afterwards will mean higher risks because of issues such as the lack of security updates and the phasing-out of backups.

Which Models?

Microsoft says that only device models that are eligible for Windows 10 Mobile, version 1709 are supported through the December 10th end date. Also, for Lumia 640 and 640 XL phone models, Window 10 Mobile version 1703 was the last supported OS version and will reach end of support on June 11th, 2019.

What Now?

The suggestion from Microsoft itself to Windows 10 Mobile customers is to move to a supported Android or iOS device.

Those customers who plan to keep using their Windows 10 Mobile device after the December 10th support cut-off date have been encouraged by Microsoft to manually create a backup before that date.  This can be done using Settings->Update & Security->Backup>More Options and then tapping on ‘Back up now’.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This announcement from Microsoft is certainly not unexpected.  Where commercial customers are concerned, they have the same cut-off dates as domestic customers, but Microsoft has said that it will be working with many commercial customers to ensure a successful migration to a supported platform prior to the end of support date.

This is an acceptance and acknowledgement by Microsoft that most of the partners and customers of businesses already use Android or iOS platforms and devices.

Some commentators have suggested that the move to end support for Windows 10 Mobile may also be a way for Microsoft to clear the decks ready for the introduction of a new folding smartphone, codenamed ‘Andromeda’.  This remains to be seen.

Tech Tip – Make Text Bigger!

Even though Windows 10 has scaling options that can make things generally easier to see, you may want to keep the screen resolution how you like it, but also have the ability to make fonts much bigger.  The Windows 10 October added a separate control for scaling the size on fonts.  Here’s where to find it:

– Go to Settings > Ease of Access > Display to make text bigger.

Tech Tip – Prepare For Microsoft’s ‘’Reserved Storage’

The next big update of Windows 10 (in April) will mean that Microsoft will reserve 7GB of your device’s storage in order to accommodate its future ‘quality updates’ or new versions of the OS.  Measures you can take to check that you will have enough reserved storage space or to avoid storage space problems include:

– Manually deleting unnecessary temporary files and (temporarily) moving important files e.g. photos and videos to external storage devices to make enough space for the update.

– Checking the size of the reserved storage on your system by clicking Start > Search for ‘Storage settings’ > then Click ‘Show more categories’ > Click ‘System & reserved’ > and look at the ‘Reserved storage’ size.

– Avoid buying devices with little storage capacity.

Finding out more about the ‘Reserved Storage’ here:https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/filecab/2019/01/07/windows-10-and-reserved-storage/

Rumours That ‘Microsoft 365’ Package Is On The Way

There have been rumours among some IT commentators that Microsoft may soon be offering a single subscription-based, Windows 10-style service named ‘Microsoft 365’ that offers home ‘power users’ a combo of its popular software including the operating system, MS Office, Skype, and even OneDrive.

Office 365

Currently, home Microsoft users can sign-up to Office 365 that includes everything except Windows 10.  The ‘Microsoft 365’ service would, therefore, offer them a kind of mini enterprise version of Microsoft products for a single payment.

Why?

It is thought that this kind of service could put Microsoft 365 on a par with other big-brand subscription services such as Office 365, Skype, Cortana, Bing, Surface and Microsoft Education.  It is also likely that Microsoft 365 would be a more powerful and attractive replacement for Office 365.  It could also simply bring more people deeper into the Microsoft fold which could, in turn, help feed its other apps and platforms such as Android (which has replaced the Windows Mobile OS).

Also, if people commit to signing-up to one bundle of products / services with one company such as Microsoft, they may be less inclined to switch easily or to be attracted by rival services e.g. by Google or Apple, that do the same thing anyway.

Rumours?

The rumours that Microsoft 365 could become a reality appear to have been fuelled by job listings being posted referring to a Microsoft 365 Consumer Subscription product manager and Microsoft 365 Consumer Subscription senior product manager with roles that relate to developing a customer-focused subscription globally for Microsoft’s consumer services.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For Microsoft, this type of service could help it to bring users closer to the brand and encourage them to use its other apps and services, while gaining an advantage over big competitors such as Google. For home users, many of whom are actually small businesses or those who work on the business from home, this kind of single subscription bundle of useful and familiar services could represent real value and convenience.

Tech Tip – Access Your Phone’s Photos and Texts On Your Computer

The Windows 10 phone app means that you can get instant access to your Android phone’s photos and texts on your computer.  Here’s how to get it:

– Make sure you have latest version of Windows 10.

– Go to this page to launch the app: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/phones 

– Follow the steps to link your Android phone.

MFA Lockout For Microsoft & Azure Users Causes Business Disruption

The latest multi-factor authentication (MFA) issue left users of Azure and Microsoft Office 365 unable to login to their accounts on Monday 21st, causing widespread disruption to businesses in Europe, Asia, and some parts of the US.

What Happened?

According to reports by Azure, the root cause was a European-based database, reaching operation threshold with requests from MFA servers.  This led to latency and timeouts, and an attempt to re-route traffic through North America caused the extra traffic to block servers.

Finally Rectified

After lasting from 4.39 am to the evening in the UK, the problem was finally rectified.  According to Microsoft reports, services could be resumed after engineers removed the link between the backend service and the Azure Identity MFA service, thereby allowing the impacted servers to catch up with the existing authentication requests.

Happened Before

This was certainly not the first time that disruptive outages had occurred with Azure and Microsoft’s service.  For example, a global outage in September this year affected Azure and Office 365 users worldwide after one of Microsoft’s San Antonio-based servers was knocked offline by severe weather.  Also, in October, UK Office 365 users endured a 3-day-long outage and had the frustration of having more login prompts appearing after their user credentials had already been entered.

Price Rise Makes Outages More Annoying

In addition to the obvious costly business disruption, the spree of outages occurring around the time of announcements of new commercial prices i.e. an increase of 10% over previous on-premise pricing (4% increase for employees who are part of a volume discount agreement), the service failures caused even greater annoyance.

MFA

Multi-factor authentication, which works by requiring any two or more verification methods for a login / transaction, such as a randomly generated passcode, a phone call, a smart card (virtual or physical), or a biometric device, is designed to be beneficial to a user and their business because it should provide an extra layer of security for user sign-ins and transactions.  Unfortunately, in the case of this most recent outage, MFA cost users rather than helping them.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For some companies, the recent outages at Microsoft and Azure are likely to bring into focus the dangers of placing huge operational dependency on one environment i.e. Microsoft, and of trusting a single cloud supplier to keep connected and productive during unplanned (and planned) email outages, especially when you have no independent cyber resilience and continuity plan.  In recent months, many businesses will have been counting the productivity costs of sticking to a software-as-a-service monoculture with a company whose service has let them down on several occasions.  Unfortunately, the dominance of big tech companies with their familiar Operating Systems and environments, and the fact that most businesses are committed to them with few possible, practical alternatives to choose from, mean that most businesses may simply have to unhappily endure the outages and weigh them up against the benefits and reliability of the environment generally.

For Microsoft, these outages can be damaging to its reputation and can shake the trust of its prized business users.

Tech Tip – Turn Your Handwriting Into a Font on Your Computer

In a creative and fun step, the latest update to Microsoft Windows now means that you can achieve maximum personalisation in your written communications by using the ‘Microsoft Font Maker’ to turn your handwriting into a font that you can install and use on your computer. Here’s how (N.B. It works best with a digital pen and tablet):

  • Download Microsoft Font Maker: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/microsoft-font-maker/9n9209f8s3vc?activetab=pivot:overviewtab
  • Either click the pen icon on the taskbar or manually enter the Settings > Devices > Pen & Windows Ink.
  • Launch Font Maker, and write each letter in each box as shown.
  • On the next page, write 3 short sentences to tell the program how to space your words.
  • Make any final adjustments in the size of font and spacing in the sample page (you’ll be shown this).
  • Click the Create button to export your font.
  • Save your new font to the fonts folder – go to the File Explorer folder icon on your taskbar, then – This PC > Local Disk > Windows > Fonts, or save it to a known location and then copy and paste it into the fonts folder.
  • You can now use a digital version of your own handwriting in popular programs e.g. Word and WordPad.