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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Microsoft is extending its Office Insider Fast Ring test program

Microsoft is adding a Fast Ring option to its Office Insider test program for Windows desktops, Windows 10 Mobile, iOS and Android.

mary jo foley thumb2By Mary Jo Foley




Microsoft has an Office Insider testing program that shares a number of similarities with its Windows Insider program, but one difference broaderofficeinsiderbetween the two has been scope.

The Office Insider program, which Microsoft launched in November 2015, didn't initially support different test rings. The one rather odd exception was the Office Insider for Mac program, which did include both Fast and Slow ring options, since June 2016. (Microsoft added Office for Mac users to its Insider test program in January 2016.)

Today, August 30, Microsoft disclosed it would be adding a Fast Ring option to its Office Insider program for users on other platforms, beyond Mac OS.




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Millions of people are still running Windows XP

By: John Zorabedian    

It’s been two years since Microsoft ended support for Windows XP, the popular operating system that’s been around since 2001 and which many people just don’t seem willing to let goWindowsXP

Microsoft did about all it could to drag XP-ers into the present with pop-up warnings urging them that they need to upgrade, and a free migration tool to help people transfer their files and settings to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

It’s not merely that Microsoft wants to get everybody onto the latest version of Windows, although it has certainly gone to great lengths recently to get people to upgrade to Windows 10, whether they want to or not.

But as we at Naked Security repeatedly warned XP users, the end of support means “zero-days forever,” because those vulnerabilities will never be patched – and XP computers are sitting ducks for cybercriminals to attack.

And yet there are still millions of XP computers connecting to the internet, where all manner of malware is waiting to pounce.

Windows XP was still running on 10.9% of all desktops as of March 2016, according to stats compiled by Net Applications.

To put that in perspective, according to Net Applications’ figures, Windows XP is still the third-most popular desktop OS, trailing only Windows 7 (51.9%) and Windows 10 (14.2%).

And there are more PCs running XP than Windows 8.1 (9.6%), and all versions of Mac OS X combined (7.8%).

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Win10 July Availability Announced

Coming in ahead of schedule, Microsoft announced general availability (GA) for its highly-anticipated Windows 10 desktop operating system as of July 29, 2015. This is significant, as I had heard Windows 10 was going to release-to-manufacturing (RTM) in July 2015 and that suggested that GA would have been late August or early September.

Here is the flaw in my old-school RTM thinking: In an agile cloud-based world, there is NO manufacturing to worry about. The product will be downloadable for installation on desktops, laptops and tablets July 29. I’m still checking on when Windows Phones will receive Windows 10.

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With retail SKUs gone gone gone, there isn’t the whole MRP-based manufacturing cycle to contend with (think about packaging, etc.). July 29 is it for consumers. I’ve been running Windows 10 on a gest machine and it’s a #win, in that it’s not Windows 8 LOL. Much more context surrounds Windows 10 that I can’t go into know, but interested readers can attend one of five independent Windows 10 pilot workshops in June produced by SMB Nation with Onuora Amobi (Windows 10 Update editor) as the lead presenter and subject matter expert. Early today, Onuora broke the news here:

Learn more and sign up for the tour here:

Finally, the small matter of OEMs and devices remains. I’m hearing that it will be 4Q before OEMs such as Lenovo ship devices with Windows 10. That’s fine, as it’s the holiday shopping season and past the summer vacation season. Windows 10 will miss the back to school surges in August and September, but that’s OK in the grand scheme of things. One other positive is that our 13th annual fall conference October 1-3 at Microsoft Redmond will feature Windows 10 as a pillar conversation and should offer OEM device bars available for attendees to play with.

PS – the official Microsoft announcement about Windows 10 and its general availability July 29 can be found here:

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Million Mile Tour – Life on the Road

xpm-logo-xp-bgbigWe did it once. We’re doing it again. In the middle part of the first decade--between 2004-2007--it was an honor and a privilege to travel more than 1 million miles evangelizing Windows Small Business Server (SBS). Guess what? We’re back, and for some very important reasons.
First – you the partners have asked for it. Not a single conversation occurs today where an SMB IT Pro asks me what to do next. With the SBS life cycle complete and the alternatives seemingly spooky, I can report that you should strongly consider embracing the here and now: Windows XP and any Server 2003 migration opportunity.

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Urgent: Download Our XP Migration Guide Now!

Q3 CoverSeriously – this is our PhD thesis on the Windows XP migration matter. It looks at the situation from the obvious market measurement and deadline perspectives to the cost of keeping an aging PC to look forward alternatives such as, eeek, cloud solutions.

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The Top 5 Roadblocks to Successful XP Migrations (and how to Overcome them)

XP infographicAccording to a recent survey sponsored by Quest Software and conducted by Dimensional Research, companies of all sizes are grappling with a host of migration issues and concerns. A poll of nearly 500 IT professionals with responsibility for corporate desktops and laptops at global organizations revealed that 47 percent still haven’t completed their migrations off Windows XP. As industry averages for the time needed to complete an OS migration range between 12 to 24 months, it’s clear that many in-process migrations won’t be completed before Microsoft’s April 2014 end-of-support deadline for Windows XP.

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Master Certified Migration Expert (MCME) Program Announced!

CME XP MigrationsToday we have announced the Master Certified Migration Expert title based on the overwhelming demand for our Certified Migration Expert (CME) certificate.

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Hang on Fast – Ballmer out!

ballmer2 webActually, it was a brilliant move on Microsoft’s part, when they announced Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s pending retirement (last week) on a slow news day--a Friday in late August. Better yet–the Ballmer news competed with the Windows 8.1 Release To Manufacturing (RTM) rumor, so it was diluted. It’s right out of the Washington DC political playbook: Release bad news on a Friday in late August!

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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 Quietly Launches “Touch Win” Campaign With Distys and DMRs

Late last month, Microsoft OEM executive Peter Han (Vice President, US OEM) provided a sneak preview of the April 1 “Touch Win” campaign. Ironically, it’s not an April Fool’s joke. Rather, the “Touch Win” campaign is being adopted by distributors such as D&H Distributing, and DMRs such as CDW.

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Is Convergence Finally Here? Mac and PC Worlds…

Over the past two days, the MacTech Boot Camp in Seattle has brought together a robust audience of Apple aficionados. So intrigued was I that I attended part of both days. The first day (Tuesday) focused on an Office for Mac accreditation. Yesterday was the full-on robust workshop featuring a variety of Macintosh-centric topics including mobility, storage and Office as seen here:

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