Hi, welcome to the June 2019 TWT Newsletter!
We’re Back! Having survived the stormy seas in March, we made the bold trek over to the Republic of Ireland and we have now set up our new office here in County Carlow. For now, we have decided to keep Top-Windows-Tutorials.com under the ACEL systems banner, should that change in the future due to Brexit related complications we will be sure to let you all know.
Things have been super busy behind the scenes setting up our new business and unfortunately that has not left much time to work on Top-Windows-Tutorials.com or Play-Old-PC-Games.com. Please accept my apologies for not having produced a newsletter for the last few months.
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In this months issue:-
More Windows 10 updates!
More Windows 10 updates!
Since we’ve been away a few months, it seems like it’s high time to bring our readers up to speed on the new features planned for Windows 10 in the next big update. We imagine many of you are groaning already at the prospect of your favourite feature or most often used setting being shuffled around again, but updates can be exciting and bring much needed improvements too. Here are our round up of the most interesting new features planned for Windows 10.
More flexible updates – Had update woes with Windows 10 before? Wish that Microsoft would just leave you alone, “if it ‘aint broke don’t fix it?” Well, this new update will be music to your ears. Now, you will have much more control over the way Windows 10 installs updates.
Windows 10 will no longer automatically install big updates without your permission. Instead, you will see a notification and then it is your choice when you want to install the update.
If you keep refusing the update then you can keep using your current version of Windows 10 for as long as it is supported, typically that is 18 months after release. Once that expires, you will need to update in order to get important security fixes. Ideally, as far as we are aware, you will be able to update to an older version of the OS rather than the bleeding edge release.
Game bar – Microsoft are making big changes to the game bar in Windows 10. After sending out surveys to games players, MS is making a big effort to implement more of the functionality gamers have come to expect from dedicated games consoles. Personally, we miss the days of tools like Xfire and Evolve, which added community features, streaming, in-game web browsing and more to ALL games, not just the ones supported by the particular market place you happened to be using. If Microsoft get this right, we could see a great new community and set of features appear for PC gamers to take advantage of.
Sandbox – In IT speak, sandbox is a playful name for a virtual PC or operating system that runs on top of your regular windows. Think how you gleefully played in your sand pit or sand box when you were a child, you were free to make or destroy whatever you wanted and as long as you managed not to flick any sand into your eyes, none of your creativity would affect or damage the world outside of this private little play area.
Now, Windows 10 will allow you to run in sandbox mode. Imagine you need to try some software but you don’t fully trust the publisher. No problem, run it in sandbox mode and even if it is a virus, it can’t do any damage to anything other than the sandbox virtual PC it’s running in (at least, it shouldn’t be able to!). When you’ve finished, shut the sandbox down and reset it if necessary and it is just as if you have a fresh PC next time you run it.
Sadly, sandbox mode will only be available on the professional and enterprise versions of Windows 10, at least initially.
Passwordless Login – Remembering multiple passwords is one of the things most users still struggle with. Password re-use is a huge problem and means that if a site you use is compromised, the hacker now has your passwords to several other sites too.
If passwords still perplex you, you can now create a Microsoft account without a password online. That account is linked to your mobile phone number, and Microsoft will text you a security code whenever you try to sign in. Alternatively, you can use the Microsoft authentication app.
On the latest version of Windows 10, you can now sign into Windows 10 in the same way, if you want to.
Dozens of other little updates – From a new “light” theme to less clutter on the Start menu, there are lots of little changes planned too, along with the usual stability and performance updates.
The Windows 10 May update is out now, and will start rolling out across PCs this month. If you can’t wait, try manually checking for updates on your PC, which should cause the update to start downloading.
Tip of the Month – Restart your PC without restarting (well, almost)
Modern versions of Windows are, thankfully, much more stable than older versions ever were. Windows 98 users were used to seeing the blue screen of death on a fairly regular basis. In XP, such crashes became much rarer as memory protection was introduced, preventing a badly programmed app from writing over areas of memory that should have been outside its jurisdiction.
Even with these safeguards now in place, things can still go wrong, especially when using games and multimedia software. If your PC seems to be behaving erratically, you might be able to save yourself the time and inconvenience of restarting it by performing the steps below.
1) Open the task manager, either by searching for “task manager” on the Start menu/search bar or, if this is not responding, by pressing and holding the key combination of Control (or ctrl), Alt and then Delete (or Del).
2) In task manager, click on the “details” tab. A list of apps will appear.
3) Find “explorer.exe” in this list. You can find it more quickly by clicking once on any entry in the list then typing the letter “E” on your keyboard.
4) Right click on “explorer.exe” in the list and choose “end task”. Task manager will ask you to confirm, so click “end process”.
5) The taskbar, start menu and other items will disappear. In task manager, click on the File menu and choose “run new task”.
6) In the window that appears, click on the text entry box and type “explorer” then click “OK”.
By doing this we have effectively re-started the Start menu, taskbar and other key Windows processes. This can often cure temporary glitches such as stuck Start menus or non-responsive Taskbars.
Free Utility of the Month – Open Shell
What’s wrong with the Windows 10 Start Menu? Well nothing in particular, if you don’t mind live tiles, the occasional cheeky advert, or other such shenanigans. For many users the Start menu is barely ever used, as they simply use the search bar to launch their apps.
If you’re seething with rage at us defending the very existence of that abomination that is the Windows 10 Start menu, then you need to drink less coffee and also download Open Shell.
Open Shell was known as Classic Shell until recently, when the developer decided to throw in the towel and hand the project over to the open source community. It can now be found hiding over on the Github page here.
Download and install Open Shell and the Start menu from the good old days will be back again. No live tiles, no frills but definitely no Spam.
Windows Store app of the Month – Polarr
There is no shortage of good photo editing programs on Windows and Polarr is yet another one to add to the list. The app boasts features to suit everyone from novice photographers right up to semi-pro and professional artists. You can edit faces, work with layers and get complete control over brightness and contrast.
Thanks to smart phones we’re all taking more photos than ever before and Polarr is an app that anyone should snap up. The basic app is free, while those needing more advanced features and technical support can buy a monthly subscription. Get your copy from the windows store here.
Keep BlueKeep out of your PC
Our first newsletter back after our hiatus and there’s yet another vulnerability to talk about. BlueKeep is the ‘friendlier’ sounding name for CVE-2019-0708. This particular security flaw affects not Bluetooth, as you might expect, but a flaw in the Windows Remote Desktop service. My sending a specially crafted packet of information to a vulnerable computer, an attacker can cause a memory corruption error that can then be used to load malicious code and hijack a system remotely.
Fortunately, just like with many of these particular vulnerabilities, updates have already arrived to prevent the spread of any malware which takes advantage of this nasty little bug. If you’re a regular reader of the TWT newsletter then you will know about keeping your PC, your web browser and your other apps up to date and of course that will help here too. There are a few extra steps you can take to protect against BlueKeep specifically.
Upgrade to Windows 10 – Windows 8 and 10 are unaffected by this security issue. If you are already running WIndows 8 or 10 you do not need to do anything, though of course you should always keep your computer patched and updated no matter what OS you use.
Disable Remote Desktop Protocol – Microsoft advises to disable Remote Desktop Protocol until the latest patches have been applied. If you never use Remote Desktop then leave it permanently disabled. Remote Desktop allows you to access your desktop across the internet and it is often used for technical support. See here for a guide on how to disable Remote Desktop.
Patch Windows 7 and XP systems now – Windows 7 and Windows XP machines are vulnerable to this attack, even if Remote Desktop is disabled. Patch your Windows 7 machines now using Windows update.
Windows XP is no longer supported and should NOT be used on machines connected to the internet at all. Nevertheless if you have a friend or relative that absolutely insists that they know best, and that they will keep using XP, then Microsoft has taken the unusual step of issuing a patch that should be applied. Click here to get it.
While there have been no reports of Malware using BlueKeep out in the wild yet, the damage that could be potentially caused is significant. The exploit is particularly suited to ransomware attacks, the kind of attack where your computers files, and any files it has access to, are encrypted. The attacker then demands a ransom in order to decrypt them again. Such attacks have crippled businesses, hospitals and government facilities in recent years. To mitigate against this kind of attack always keep an off-line backup of your most important files.
That rounds off our newsletter for June. On behalf of everyone here at Top-Windows-Tutorials, I’d like to thank you all for your continuing support. The TWT Newsletter will return on or around the 10th July 2019 and will bring you 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 time, keep checking Top-Windows-Tutorials.com, and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!
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