SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Microsoft is shutting down its free upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 January 16

Microsoft's Windows 8.1 has moved out of mainstream support, meaning that users are essentially running a dead OS. But there's still one more way to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

By Mark Hachman

Senior Editor, PCWorld

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If you’re still running Windows 8.1, be advised that Microsoft shut down mainstream support a week ago. But there’s still a last-ditch upgrade path to Windows 10: Microsoft’s assistive technology loophole, which closes January 16.

Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 8.1 on January 9, five years after the operating system’s debut. Essentially, it’s dead, and for the average consumer, Windows 8.1 will remain forever unchanged, with no new features or bug fixes. Instead, Microsoft has migrated the OS to “extended support,” which will provide security updates for another five years, until 2023.

In Microsoft’s world view, consumers should have already migrated to Windows 10, a modern OS with big fixes, patches, and period updates. And while the company gave users a one-year window to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, NetMarketshare shows about 7 percent of users have refused to upgrade, or simply forgot to do it by the July, 2016 deadline.

Well, know this today: You have one last opportunity to upgrade (unless Microsoft once again extends the deadline).

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Windows 7 update guide: How 'security-only' and 'monthly rollups' differ

Microsoft in 2016 changed the way it rolls out updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, leaving many IT admins and users confused. Here's how to sort out what the company is doing.

By Gregg Keizer

Senior Reporter, Computerworld

 

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It's been more than a year since Microsoft ended the decades-old practice of letting customers

choose which patches they apply, and instead instituted a cumulative update maintenance model for Windows 7 and its shadow-of-a-sibling, Window 8.1.

And yet some users still don't grasp the new scheme.

"There are plenty of people who don't know which kind of update they should use," Chris Geottl, product manager with client security and management vendor Ivanti, said in a recent interview. "'Which one should I do? What non-security features are included in the monthly rollup? There's still some confusion."

No wonder there.

Microsoft asked for a lot last year. It asked enterprise IT administrators to upend ingrained patching practices. It asked them to make radical changes to how they maintain Windows 7 deep into its lifecycle, when there were just three years and change remaining before retirement, a phase most admins probably thought they'd be coasting as they prepped for Windows 10. It asked customers to absorb new terminology. And it changed the rules more than once after the new process debuted.

In return, users had questions - ans still do. The top query may seem among the simplest - what's the difference between the two types of Windows 7 updates now offered - but as Computerworld found out, appearances are deceiving.

What's in the security-only update? Just as the name implies, this update includes only security-related fixes, the kind that Microsoft has issued for 14 years on the second Tuesday of each month (aka "Patch Tuesday").

Just as important, though, is that the security-only update contains this month's fixes, and nothing more. (Again, that characteristic is what has defined Windows patches for years.)

What's in the monthly rollup? The Windows 7 and 8.1 monthly rollups include not only this month's security patches, but also all past security and non-security fixes, going back to at least October 2016, and possibly further. In other words, a monthly rollup is a superset of the month's security-only.

Side note: "Rollup" is a term Microsoft has used for ages to label catch-up updates, those that bring a program or operating system up to current status by bundling all past fixes. (Usually from a specific point in time, say, the last major release, which in the past were called "service packs" and abbreviated to "SP" as in "SP1" to designate the first such collection.)

Microsoft has touted rollups as a customer convenience, because they allow a long-out-of-date PC to be made current with just one download and install, rather than being forced to retrieve scores, maybe hundreds, of individual updates. That's exactly how the company described what it dubbed the "Windows 7 SP1 convenience rollup" it issued in May 2016.

"Install this one update, and then you only need new updates released after April 2016," Microsoft said at the time of the convenience rollup, which preceded and presaged the monthly rollups announced three months later.

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My First Date with Windows 8.1

windows 8one networkI’ve always had a wandering eye for sexy user interfaces (UI). For it was I who worked on an early Apple Lisa computer when the IBM PC ruled. I quickly followed by purchasing an original Macintosh and salivated at the famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial reflecting the Orwellian “Big Brother” message of shattering conventional wisdom, and the MS-DOS view of the world. I raised the flag for the Windows NT Advanced Server release in the early 1990s when my fellow NetWare red heads sneered at the “comical” UI. We’re at the point again in our IT history. Windows 8.1 is here complete with the Start button the early “eight haters” missed so much.

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Windows 8.1 is Ready – Download Now

Windows 8.1A day ahead of retail availability, you can now download Windows 8.1 from the Windows Store. There are many important reasons to do this. First – you’ve got your START BUTTON back! And there is the Lock App screen, helpful hints including the new Help+Tips app, new Mail app, improved People view, new desktop themes, improved power menu, IE 11 reading view, improved tracking protections, more disclosure in Express settings, and SkyDrive acts as a local file manager. Plus there are a lot of internal programmatic patches/fixes and updates but these aren’t as dramatic as you might think. Why? Because the reality is the periodic updates (yes – where you reboot your machine or it automatically does so in three days) incorporate patch pacing – a different paradigm from Patch Tuesday. Does that make sense?

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Ready to Start? Windows 8.1 RTMs…but…

harryb testing windows8 1 webSources close to the top have confirmed that Windows 8.1 has released to manufacturing (RTM) and is on the way. The rumor, which is now fact, was leaked last Friday (perhaps to defer attention on the retirement announcement concerning Steve Ballmer). Like many readers, I’ve been running the Windows 8.1 Preview on a few machines for the past few months. I even have my sons and wife playing around with it on the family PC in the TV room. The consensus: We like it!

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Windows 8.1 to Launch October 18

windows8-1 date 046BADC9We heard today that Windows 8.1 will be released on the morning of October 18. We first reported that Microsoft was going to release a Windows 8 update known as “Microsoft Windows Blue.” Then this past May, the company said it would be releasing an update known as Windows 8.1, which will be a free update to Windows 8 for consumers through the Windows Store.

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Microsoft WPC: #WIN8.1

Windows 8 1 PreviewWhy? Why didn’t Microsoft do this the first time? It was as simple as a Start button!

This past weekend, I geeked out in my man cave (maybe I should call it a man cove as I live on an island) and installed the new Windows 8.1 Preview. I completely document the Windows 8.1 Preview deployment experience here in a 10-minute video. You will witness the “real world” as I seek to go where no Harrybbb has gone before: using Windows 8.1. I encountered a few challenges along the way, including the inability to redirect the installation to Drive D, and how the installation must be completed on a monitor in landscape, not portrait mode.

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Microsoft Windows 8 Update to be known as “Windows 8.1”

Last week we blogged that Microsoft is making changes to its Windows 8 OS, reportedly naming it Microsoft Blue. Today, we heard that the company has now renamed this initiative Windows 8.1.  

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