The Windows 7 Extended Security Update program is now available

Microsoft will end support for the company’s Windows 7 operating system on January 14, 2020, the same day that security updates are made available for the last time for the operating system.

While there are not any official options for home users of Windows 7 to extend support, paid or unpaid, companies and organizations may pay Microsoft to extend support by up to three years. Security company 0Patch revealed plans to release (some) security updates for Windows 7 for free after Microsoft ends support.

Microsoft unveiled the program for Enterprise customers in 2018 and for non-Enterprise businesses in 2019.

Enterprise customers may pay Microsoft $50, $100, or $200 per year and user to extend Windows 7 Pro or Enterprise support. It is unclear at the time if Windows 7 Ultimate devices may also receive extended support or if support is reserved to Pro and Enterprise editions exclusively.

Small businesses may also pay Microsoft for extended support for Pro and Enterprise editions but these businesses pay per device and not user. The cost of extending support for Windows 7 Pro machines is the same that Enterprise customers pay per user whereas it is half of that for Enterprise machines.

Customers who have active subscription licenses for Windows 10 Enterprise E5, Microsoft 365 E5, Microsoft 365 E5 Security, or Windows VDA E5 will receive the first year of Windows 7 ESU support as a benefit according to Microsoft (only available to volume licensing customers).

Enterprise customers could join the Extended Security Update program in April 2019 already while Small Business customers had to wait until December to join the program.

extended security updates windows 7

Microsoft released an update that verifies whether Windows 7 SP1 or Server 2008 R2 SP1 devices can get the Extended Security Updates. The update is a test package that is only available via the Microsoft Update Catalog website (or WSUS) at the time of writing.

The following prerequisites exist:

  1. 4474419 SHA-2 code signing support update for Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008: September 23, 2019
  2. 4490628 Servicing stack update for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1: March 12, 2019
  3. 4516655 Servicing stack update for Windows 7 SP1 and Server 2008 R2 SP1: September 10, 2019
  4. 4519976 October 8, 2019—KB4519976 (Monthly Rollup)
  5. Install and activate the ESU key. See this article for instructions. Small businesses need to purchase ESUs from Cloud Solution Providers.

Transactions generate unique keys.

Each transaction for Windows 7 ESU licenses will generate a unique MAK key. If a customer purchases Windows 7 ESUs at multiple points in time, CSP partners will be able to see the full list of transactions in the Partner Center for that customer. The customer will also see the MAK keys and associated licenses in their Microsoft 365 Admin Center.

Closing Words

The information that Microsoft provides is scattered across multiple company websites and properties, and it is quite difficult to get a clear picture of requirements and instructions. Things like missing information about Windows 7 Ultimate make things even more complicated. Whether Microsoft manages to make things easier for customers remains to be seen.

Now You: Do you still run devices with Windows 7? What will you do after January 14, 2020? (via Born)

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Here is why free upgrades to Windows 10 still work

When Microsoft launched Windows 10 in 2015, it revealed that devices with legitimate Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 licenses could be upgraded to the new operating system free of charge for the first year.

The company pushed harder and harder to get devices running earlier versions of Windows 10 to upgrade to Windows 10.

The company extended the free upgrade offer to devices with accessibility technology and ended that officially in December 2017.

windows 10 upgrade

We tested the free upgrade process several times after the official end of the period and discovered that  free upgrades were still possible. Windows customers who run Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 devices can still upgrade to Windows 10 for free, even in late 2019.

Microsoft never revealed why that option remained available, but the company did not terminate the option either. A user on Reddit, who claims to be a Microsoft employee, provided an answer yesterday.

Note: The user has not been verified as a Microsoft employee and it is possible that the information that is provided is incorrect.

According to the post, Microsoft ended the free upgrade offer because of pressure from retailers. Microsoft announced that customers needed a paid license after the upgrade offer expired but this was never enforced behind the scenes.

I work at Microsoft and have been since before the Windows 10 launch. That whole “free” upgrade for a year was fully marketing fluff. After the cut off happened, the direction given was that it requires a paid license HOWEVER, this was brought up by the brick and mortar stores that they were doing simple clock changes on customer devices during the upgrade challenge to get around it and then ultimately it was clear two years later that anything Windows 7 and up would go to 10 fully activated and still to this day.

One reason for that was that Microsoft executives were focused on the 1 billion devices goal for the operating system and that the number of upgrades was more important to Microsoft than the licensing fees that it would get from sold licenses.

WDG didn’t care pretty much at all because Terry Meyerson at the time cared more about his upgrade stats than license revenue as Windows isn’t Microsoft’s cash cow anymore. It’s the same stance back in the day where Microsoft would allow Windows Updates on pirated copies of Windows 7 as the bigger picture was to thwart security threats based from those copies.

In other words: Microsoft stated publicly that the free upgrade offer ended but did not end it behind the scenes.

The explanation appears plausible but requires validation before it can be taken at face value. Windows 10 might see a push in January 2020 when Windows 7 support runs out for Home users. These may be able to upgrade to the Windows 10 operating system for free then as it seems unlikely that Microsoft will block the ability in the coming two months.

Now You: What is your take on the explanation? (via Born)

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Ashampoo Snap 11 screen capture review

Ashampoo Snap 11 is a premium screen capturing tool that offers plenty of options, some of which are unique and the built-in editor has a lot to offer.

The program is available for Windows 7 and newer versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system. The regular price is $39.99 but there are discounts for users who upgrade from previous versions and deals available (e.g. Black Friday) regularly.

Ashampoo Snap - editor

A help screen is displayed when you run Snap 11 which outlines the key elements of the interface to assist new and returning users.

Capture Bar

Ashampoo Snap - capture bar

While minimized, Snap puts a Capture Bar at the top of the screen. You can mouse over to where the small line is displayed, and the bar appears. It allows you to access the various capture modes (explained below) and the program’s settings quickly. The capture bar provides for a distraction-free experience and works in full-screen mode too.

Note: I don’t believe the hamburger menu icon used to be there in previous versions. Anyway, it’s called the Touch-Screen Gripper (seriously), and can be disabled from the Settings > Capture tab.

Tip: You may want to disable the Automatic Crash Reporting from the Settings > General tab. And while you’re at it, you might as well disable the news (service information, exclusive offers, and recommendations). I don’t like it when premium software displays banners and places shortcuts, it makes me not want to buy those.

System Tray Icon

Tip:  On the wrong screen? Just use right-click to cancel a capture.

Right-click on Snap’s system tray icon and you’ll be able to access all the capture modes from the context menu. These are the various screenshot modes available in Ashampoo Snap 11:

  • Capture Desktop – This is your basic print screen key feature as it captures the entire screen.
  • Capture 3D Game/Primary Monitor – You can use this by pressing Shift + Print.
  • Capture Window/Object – This is one of the most useful options in Ashampoo Snap 11. It can be used to capture an application’s Window. You can left-click in a window to capture a screenshot. It also has a Capture Menu option which identifies when a menu is open to capture a screenshot of that menu. Another interesting option provided is “Capture Multiple Windows/Objects” at the same time.

Ashampoo Snap - multi windows

The option supports four modes – desktop (as-you-see-it) which is same as the print screen mode, stacked (Cascading windows), side-by-side (application windows), and side-by-side (application windows and child objects). None of the 3 advanced options actually rearranged anything on the screen, yet the screenshots turned out to be as described which makes it a useful feature for certain applications.

Ashampoo Snap 11 - stacked windows
Ashampoo Snap 11 - windows side-by-side

  • Capture Video – Ashampoo Snap 11 is more than just a screenshot tool, it can be used for Video Recording as well. You can capture the content of the desktop or a specific window. There are options to select a rectangular region, fixed region, or even the primary monitor (in case you’re using a multi-monitor setup). You can also choose to record video from a webcam. The application can capture the audio from the speaker or microphone, and supports on-the-fly encoding or disk cache encoding. It’s easy to use, just select the area to record and sit back while Ashampoo Snap 11 does the work.

Ashampoo Snap 11 video recorder 1

Optionally, you can display the mouse cursor, pressed keys, display the webcam feed, add a watermark and choose an effect for the video from the video control bar.

All of these are useful for creating tutorial videos, streaming on YouTube, Twitch, etc. Once you have recorded a video, Snap will automatically open the built-in video editor that you can use to cut the video, export it as WMV, GIF or append it.

Ashampoo Snap 11 video recorder

  • Capture Scrolling Window – This particular option captures the entire content of windows with scrollbars. You have three modes for this – Website, Freestyle, Text
  • Capture Region – Free Rectangle Region, Freestyle Region, Fixed Region and Custom Region. Basically you draw a rectangle or shape, or select a specific area or define the screen position (in pixels) and Snap will save a screenshot using the chosen method. The Fixed Region option has different resolution sizes that you can choose from.
  • Color Picker –  This is the eye-dropper tool, which you can use to pick a color on the screen. The application copies the color value to the clipboard, and you can use it in other programs for editing images.
  • Capture Timed – I normally use Snipping Tool’s timed capture for this, but Ashampoo Snap  11 offers more options. There are three timed capture styles: regular timed captures, capture in specific interval (every n seconds/minutes), and time-lapse video which captures the screen every few seconds/minutes. You can set the wait duration for all three modes. And you can select the content to capture as well (window, desktop, rectangular region, custom region, or record from the webcam).

Ashampoo Snap - timed capture

  • Capture Text (OCR) – If you have an image which has a lot of text in it,but you don’t have the time to manually type all that, Optical Character Recognition can scan the text for you and copy it to the clipboard. This was not very accurate during testing but it may speed things up nevertheless.

Tip: You can set your own keyboard shortcuts for some capture modes.

  • Browser monitoring and URL monitoring – This was a feature which I hadn’t seen in other screenshot programs (I could be mistaken though). When Ashampoo Snap 11 was open in the background, and I right-clicked on images on web pages to copy them, they were captured by Snap 11 and opened in its editor.  The captured screenshot also had the URL of the web page where it was saved from. It can be a quick way to save content for future reference.

Editing Screenshots

The Action Bar is on the right edge of the screen; it provides you with options to save/delete the capture, share the screenshot by email, Twitter, Facebook, or upload it to the Cloud. You can also export it to Photoshop or other applications, or simply copy the image to the clipboard, open it in another application, or view the screenshot folder. Ashampoo Snap 11’s editor can be used to open previously saved images.

The Tool bar to the left side is handy for adding text (watermarks, customizable fonts), shapes, arrows, stamps, spotlight, and other objects. You can use the marker pen to annotate images, and the eraser and blur tools to redact information. The crop tool is useful for resizing pictures quickly in your desired dimensions.

Output modes

By default, Snap opens the captured screenshot in its built-in editor. You can change it to save directly to the screenshot folder, or copy it to the clipboard, or open it directly in an app (like your image editor).

Note: For some reason, Ashampoo uses check boxes for the Output mode selection. I think radio buttons would’ve been a better option here, because check boxes are for multi-selection.

Closing Words

Ashampoo Snap 11 is a powerful screen and video capture program for Windows. It provides all the features that one could possibly need, and then some more when it comes to the capturing, processing and editing.

The program has more to offer than Martin’s favorite screen capturing tool PicPick, but that one is free whereas Snap 11 is not.

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Windows Terminal update introduces support for multiple panes

Microsoft released a new preview version of the upcoming Windows Terminal application that brings the version of the application to 0.7. The new version introduces support for splitting the interface into multiple panes to run command prompts next to each other in a single application.

Microsoft unveiled the open source Windows Terminal application in May 2019. One of the main appeals of the application is that it allows users to run different terminal applications, e.g. PowerShell, Command Prompt, or Linux-based terminals, from a single application window.

Support for tabs was introduced recently to launch multiple command prompts and switch between them in the Windows Terminal window.

The new multi-pane functionality extends the feature set by providing administrators with options to split tabs into multiple panes. You may use it to run multiple prompts in the same tab.

windows terminal split panes

The Windows Terminal team added shortcuts to the application that split the interface into vertical or horizontal panes.

The two main keyboard shortcuts are Alt-Shift-Plus to create a new vertical pane and Alt-Shift-Minus to create a new horizontal pane. Similarly to Vivaldi’s Tab Splitting functionality, it allows you to split the interface multiple times.

As a rule of thumb: the selected pane will be split when you run the commands.

Keyboard shortcuts to move the focus or resize the active pane are provided as well. The shortcut Alt-Up|Down|Left|Right moves the focus accordingly, and the shortcut Alt-Shift-Down|Left|Right|Up resizes the pane instead.

Note that splitting functionality is only available when the default profile is used. Support for “other” profiles may come in the future though.

Windows Terminal 0.7 features another useful new features. It is now possible to use drag & drop to change the order of tabs in the Terminal window.

The third and final change allows users to disable title changes so that tab titles don’t change anymore when using Windows Terminal. To achieve that, suppressApplicationTitle needs to be set to True in the config.

Closing Words

Windows Terminal is getting better and better. Support for tabs and panes were highly requested features and bring the application one step closer to final release.

One downside is that the application is only available for Windows 10 at the time of writing and that it is unlikely that it will be released for earlier versions of Windows.

Interested users can check out the GitHub repository for additional information and download options. The popular application downloader and installer Chocolatey supports Windows Terminal as well. To install it, run choco install microsoft-windows-terminal.

Now You: Do you use PowerShell, Command Prompt, or another Terminal application predominantly?

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Criptext is a free encrypted email service with open source apps for Windows, Linux, macOS, Android and iOS

Criptext is a free encrypted email service for Windows, Linux, macOS, Android and iOS. It has been around for a while, but I thought it may be worth looking into.

Criptext desktop app

Before we get started, allow me to say that this article isn’t about Criptext vs Protonmail, so we’re not going to discuss which one’s better. It’s about what Criptext has to offer.

The applications for Criptext are open-source, but the servers are not. Then again neither is Protonmail’s. (Okay, I know I just said I won’t compare the two, but this is the only time I do it in the article).

Signal Protocol

There is something you should know about Criptext. It is not cloud-based like Gmail or Outlook; Criptext emails are not stored on servers permanently, they are only stored on your device using end-to-end encryption. It uses the Signal Protocol for this.

How does this work? According to the official documentation, Criptext passes the mail through their server for a moment and it’s deleted once the mail is delivered. The only exception to this is when the message is un-deliverable; say when the recipient’s device is offline. The email is stored on the server until it is delivered in this case. If it isn’t delivered within 30 days, it’s deleted from the server as well.

Encrypted mails

Criptext says that every email is encrypted with a unique key. Attachments are encrypted as well; they are stored on Criptext’s Amazon Web Services servers though the encryption keys for those are saved on user devices.

The important thing to note here is that the service only encrypts mails sent by one Criptext user to another. So, if you use it to send mails to other services (Gmail, Outlook, etc), those will not be encrypted.

Tip: You can tell whether an email is encrypted or not, by looking for the padlock icon. If it has one, it’s encrypted.

How to sign up for Criptext

You need to install the desktop program or the mobile app and use it to sign up. Once you do, the application begins creating the encryption/decryption keys for your account on your device.

Note: While signing up for an account, you can optionally enter a recovery email address. This is only required to reset the password of your account.

Testing the sign in process

Since the account credentials part is not cloud based, I wanted to see how I could sign in to an existing account on a new device. So, I disabled the internet on my laptop and tried to sign in to the same account on my phone. The mobile app prompted me to use the desktop client to approve the sign in, but it did offer an option to sign in with my password. Because I was testing the service, I used the desktop app’s approval method to sign in. And it synced the account to my phone. This was unusual, but works fine.

criptext login

criptext approve login

Warning: Using a password to sign in will not sync the existing mailbox (from another device) to the new device. That’s because the decryption keys for the older mails are stored on the other device.

criptext login with password

Criptext’s Special Features

Syncing the mailbox

Criptext sync

Criptext syncs the mailbox between devices, so if you send an email from your phone, it will sync it to your desktop program’s sent folder (and vice-versa). Incoming emails are delivered to all devices. You can use it to sync up to 10 devices. Attachments have a 25MB size-limit, but there are no limits for the number of attachments.

Unsend an email

You can unsend an email that you sent to a contact; you have up to 60 minutes for this. While I like the Unsend mail feature, I feel having a one-hour limit is a bit much. Also, this works only if the email has not been read already.

Email Tracking à la Read Receipts

Criptext email tracking

Read receipts are supported in Criptext, i.e., you can tell when the recipient has opened your mail.

Frankly, I’m not a fan of this. The recipient deserves a bit of privacy too, fortunately you can turn off “Read Receipts” from the Settings. Doing so will also disable read receipts for mails that you send to others. I initially thought the mail service uses a header or something for this, but I’m quite certain that this feature is available because Criptext uses the Signal Protocol (which is intended for instant messaging).

Backup

You can backup your mailbox locally on the device or store it in the cloud manually. The backup is encrypted with a passphrase that you specify.

Two-factor authentication

Enabling this will require you to enter the password on your next sign-in, and approve it from a device that you’re already signed in to.

For more information, you should read the official FAQ and Privacy Policy.

The reason I haven’t reviewed the desktop mail client is because it’s nothing special, it looks and functions like your average mail client.

Closing Words

On paper the service looks great; it’s nice to have such privacy friendly platforms. But with all that being said, I don’t think Criptext isn’t for casual users. Why? Well, it can’t encrypt mails that you send to mail addresses belonging to other services. The privacy/security that encryption provides are its primary feature. So, unless you manage to convince people to shift to Criptext, you’re probably not going to be using it every day. And that’s not going to be easy as people will opt for convenience over privacy, which is a sad story in itself.

Criptext

For Windows

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Here is what's next after Windows 10 version 1909

Microsoft released Windows 10 version 1909 in November 2019; the new major version of Windows 10 was just a minor update that did not introduce many new features or changes to the system.

Windows 10 devices that run older versions of the operating system can be upgraded to the new version. While there are some stopper bugs and devices that are held back, as usual, most devices are eligible for the update to Windows 10 version 1909.

Microsoft revealed earlier this month that it won’t release smaller updates like Windows 10 version 1909 anytime soon. The company revealed that it used the update to test the functionality but that it had no plans to make the 2009 update a minor update as well.

Another major change that happened recently was the termination of the Skip Ahead Insider Ring. Microsoft dropped it entirely from the program which meant that Fast, Slow and Release preview rings are all that is left.

Microsoft’s plans for 2020

windows 10 version 2004

What about 2020 then and Windows 10? Microsoft published a new Windows 10 Insider Preview version, build 19033, on November 26, 2019 and announced the release on the official Windows Experience blog.

Brandon LeBlanc, a Windows Insider Program Senior Program Manager, revealed the version of the next feature update for Windows 10 in the blog post.

Eagle-eyed Windows Insiders will notice that that as of this build, 20H1 officially shows it is version 2004. We have chosen to use 2004 as the version to eliminate confusion with any past product names (such as Windows Server 2003).

To avoid confusion with Windows Server 2003, Microsoft made the decision to make Windows 10 version 2004 the next feature update for the operating system. Obviously, that may still be confusing considering that users could interpret the version as year.

Still, the month may align better with the actual release date of the feature update considering that the last two, named Windows 10 version 1903 and Windows 10 version 1909, were released in May 2019 and November 2019 respectively.

Build 2004 has been pushed to the Fast and Slow ring. Fast ring systems will receive Windows 10 20H2 soon; the second feature update for Windows 10 of 2020 will then be tested by participants who run Fast Ring devices.

Closing Words

Microsoft plans to release two major feature updates for Windows 10 in 2020. Windows 10 2004 will be the first major release in 2020 and it will introduce new features and make changes to the operating system. Little is known about the second feature update of 2020 as public testing has not yet begun.

Now You: Which version of Windows 10 do you run, if any? (via Deskmodder)

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Split or Merge PDFs with PDFsam Basic, an open source program for Windows, Linux and macOS

PDFs have long been a commonly used format for eBooks, digital manuals or documents thanks to how content is presented regardless of operating system that is used and great support for PDF reading applications (check out Sumatra for an excellent PDF reader).

Editing PDF documents on the other hand has never been great, especially if you limited your search to free solutions.

Most free PDF tools are online based, which means you’re uploading your document to a third-party server. While that is okay for generic files, it may be an issue for anything else.

PDFSAM — PDF Split and Merge

Split or Merge PDFs with PDFsam Basic free

If you just want to perform some basic operations such as splitting a PDF or merging multiple files into a single document, you can use PDFsam Basic. It’s a free, open source program that’s available for Windows, Linux and macOS.

The main screen of PDF Split and Merge is where you select what you want to do. The application provides the following options:

  • Merge
  • Split
  • Rotate
  • Extract
  • Split by bookmarks
  • Mix
  • Split by Size

Clicking on one of the options takes you to the editor interface which may look different as it depends on the selected action. The left side-bar can be used to switch between the tools. You can drag and drop files on to the interface or use the add button to select the PDFs that you wish to use. Right-clicking on the added files allows you to rearrange the order of the documents, remove them, or view the PDF’s properties.

Merge PDFs

Split or Merge PDFs with PDFsam Basic

This option can be used combine multiple PDF documents into one. The Page range selector lets you select specific pages from each document for the merging process.

The Merge tab has options to add a blank page at the end of each document if the number of pages is odd. The footer setting, when selected, adds the name of the PDF to the page, while the normalize page size option re-sizes pages to the width of the first page. Other options provided include generating a Table of Contents, Bookmark retention, and interactive form management. To merge the selected files, set the desired options and hit the Run button; the merged PDF will be ready in a few seconds.

Merge PDFs with PDFsam Basic

You can customize the destination folder where the PDF should be saved, and also set the name of the new file using the “Destination” section.

The Mix and merge section of the sidebar uses pages in alternating order from two or more PDFs to create a single PDF. So it will use a page from the first PDF followed by one from the 2nd PDF, and so on to mix and merge the document.

Split PDF

If you have a large PDF that you wish to break down into smaller documents, you can do that with PDFsam. There are a few different ways to split a PDF including: after each page, odd or even pages, split after specific page numbers, or after every “n” pages (for e.g. after every 5 pages). There are two more ways to Split PDFs: by bookmarks and by size (in KB and MB).

Rotate

Ever had a PDF which had pages or pictures in landscape mode? This set of options in PDFsam can be used to rotate individual pages, all pages, odd or even pages of a PDF, by 90 or 180 degrees clockwise, or 90 degrees anti-clockwise.

Extract

This option is handy if you just want to extract one or two pages, to use for reference or quick access. You can also extract the pages by using the page ranges selection tool (like extracting a Chapter).

There is a whole section of Premium features that you obviously can’t use in the free version. It just serves as an ad for the paid versions, and you can ignore it or disable the Premium section from the settings. PDFsam Basic does not require Java to be installed, it comes with the required files needed to run the application. The program is available as a portable version.

Closing Words

In my tests, I merged various eBooks to form a single book. I did this a few times with various options enabled, and the size of the final PDF differed a bit depending on what I selected. For the price of free, I have no complaints with it.

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AdwCleaner 8.0.0 is out: drops Windows XP and Vista support

Malwarebytes released AdwCleaner 8.0.0, a free tool to remove adware and potentially unwanted programs, from Windows devices on November 26, 2019.

The company acquired AdwCleaner back in 2016 and has produced new versions of the application for free since.

Note: AdwCleaner 8 drops support for the Microsoft Windows XP and Vista operating systems. These operating systems are not supported by Microsoft anymore and users who run these need to stay on older versions of AdwCleaner to continue using the application.

AdwCleaner 8 supports Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 officially. The new version can be downloaded from the developer website and run without installation after the download.

The program’s main interface has not changed in the new release. It displays the “scan now” button in prominent position to scan the system for adware, potentially unwanted software and preinstalled software (that may be unwanted as well).

adwcleaner 8

The program’s core was updated in the new release. The new version features an upgrade to Qt 5.13 and new OpenSSL version, and the build toolchain was upgraded to use Visual Studio 2017.

Chrome users will notice that AdwCleaner 8.0.0 supports the latest version of the Chrome browser again so that remediation is supported. The new version drops support for Firefox scanning and remediation but it will be back in early December according to Malwarebytes when AdwCleaner 8.0.1 is released.

Chrome users benefit from a new scan and remediation module and Firefox users will benefit from the same once the implementation lands in the next version.

Another change in AdwCleaner 8 is that debug logs are not generated anymore by default. It is still possible to enable the option in the settings, but it is turned off by default. The new version features updated translations and definitions next to all that.

The program should be more stable thanks to the improvements made in the version.

Tip: you may want to check the settings on first run before you run a scan. You find options to turn off the cloud database (which may impact scan results), enable or disable basic repair options, e.g. reset firewall or IE policies, and maintain a list of exclusions that you don’t want scanned by the application.

Closing words

AdwCleaner is a handy portable program for Windows that you may run every now and then to verify that the system is adware free.

Now you: do you use programs like AdwCleaner as additional security scanners on Windows?

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How to access Advanced Options quickly on Windows 10 devices

If you wanted to access the advanced boot options in Windows 7, all you had to do was press F8 on the keyboard during boot to load the boot menu.

Microsoft changed the boot process significantly in Windows 8 and rendered F8 more or less useless as a consequence. While you may still use F8, you have less than a second of time to do so and it usually does not work anymore even if you press the key a dozen or so times during boot.

Tip: check out our guide on shutting down Windows fast.

In Windows 10, administrators need to open the Settings application, e.g. from Start or by using Windows-I, and select Update & Security> Recovery > Restart Now (under Advanced Startup).

Administrators who want to speed up the process may use a shortcut instead to load the Advanced Options.

windows 10 advanced options shortcut

Here is what you need to do to create the shortcut:

  1. Right-click on the desktop (or any other location) and select New > Shortcut.
  2. Paste the following String in the location field: c:WindowsSystem32shutdown.exe /r /o /f /t 00
  3. Pick a name (or keep the default) on the next page.

What do the parameters do?

  • /r — Full shutdown and restart of the computer.
  • /o — Go to the advanced boot options menu and restart the computer (must be used with /r)
  • /f — Force applications to close without displaying a warning to users.
  • /t 00 — Time-out period before shutdown in seconds.

You can adjust the time-out period if you want a bit of time before the PC is restarted when executing the shortcut. The command can also be run from the command prompt directly without creating a shortcut.

A click on the shortcut restarts the system immediately. Make sure to save all work and (better) close all application windows that are open before you execute the shortcut.

The shortcut loads the “choose an option” menu during boot. You may continue to boot Windows 10 or access the Troubleshoot menu. The menu lists options to reset the PC or open the advanced options.

The advanced options lists the following menu items:

  • Startup Repair
  • Startup Settings
  • Command Prompt
  • Uninstall Updates
  • System Restore
  • System Image Recovery

Closing Words

The shortcut is one of the fastest options to restart a Windows 10 device and load the advanced startup options during start of the system.

Now You: Have you loaded the advanced startup options recently on Windows machines?

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Microsoft has no plans to make future Windows 10 updates like Windows 10 1909

Microsoft released the November 2019 Update for the company’s Windows 10 operating system on November 12, 2019. The update is available to “seekers”, administrators who run manual checks for updates on devices running Windows 10 or who use the Update Assistant or other tools to download and install the new feature update.

Windows 10 version 1909, the November 2019 Update, is special as it is the first feature update that has not been released like all other feature updates that came before it.

The core difference is that the update is turned on using what Microsoft calls an enablement package; this package is merely a switch that activates the new version as all of its files were already planted on systems that run the May 2019 Update for Windows 10.

windows 10 version 1909

Since the new version is turned on with a simple update, the process of upgrading to the new version is faster and less error-prone than before. One downside to the process is that there are not many changes when compared to the May 2019 Update.

It was not clear up until recently whether future Windows 10 feature update releases would follow the upgrades released in 2019 — meaning one major feature update and one minor, faster update — or if Microsoft would restore the old two major feature updates per year process.

During a discussion on Mixer, Microsoft revealed that it has no plans to use enablement packages in the future. While that does not mean that the company won’t be using these in the future, it appears that the company will return to the two feature updates per year schedule of earlier years.

One of the questions presented during the presentation and the answer that Microsoft gave was the following one:

Q: Will we see this cycle for every year? Major feature update in H1, more minor feature update in H2, one cumulative update for both?

A: Delivering the 19H2 feature update via cumulative update and an enablement package is  a pilot program. There isn’t a formal plan in place to deliver future releases in the same way. We are closely monitoring feedback and hoping to learn from this type of release to help influence our future plans

There you have it; Microsoft confirms that it may use the new process in the future but that it does not have plans to do so in 2020.

Closing Words

I still think that two feature updates per year are too many. First, because it adds a lot of stress to administrators who have to deal with these updates — which take longer than regular cumulative updates and are more error-prone — and second, because these don’t add too many new features to the operating  system either that would warrant a major new release.

Now You: What is your take on this? Is two major feature updates one to many? (via Windows Latest)

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