Friday, July 31, 2015

Windows 10: The smart person's guide

This comprehensive guide covers must-know Windows 10 details, like features, system requirements, upgrade options, and Microsoft's new Windows-as-a-service strategy. 

Like a Swiss Army Knife, Windows 10 was designed to do just about everything for everyone...or at least that's Microsoft's hope. It's built to provide a unified operating system that can run across multiple platforms, such as PCs, tablets, and smartphones. It's also designed to provide PC users with a more traditional Windows experience compared to Windows 8's touch-centric UI, something Microsoft hopes will win over long-time Windows users and many IT departments that skipped Windows 8. Lastly, Windows 10 marks the beginning of Microsoft's new Windows-as-a-service strategy, which could signal the end of numbered Windows releases.

To help IT leaders quickly get up to speed on Windows 10, we've compiled the most important details and related resources on Microsoft's new operating system into this "living" guide, which we'll periodically update as new information becomes available.

Executive Summary

What it is: Windows 10 is the next major release of Microsoft's Windows operating system and is the successor to Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1.

Why it matters: Windows 10 contains a host of new features, security updates, and a platform-unifying design aimed at both enterprise users and consumers. It also marks the beginning of Microsoft's "Windows-as-a-service" strategy.

Who does this affect: Windows 10 is available as a free upgrade to qualified devices running Windows 7 (SP1) or Windows 8/8.1. Windows XP and Windows Vista users will need to purchase Windows 10.

When is this happening: Microsoft made Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro generally available on July 29, 2015 through a staggered release schedule. Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education editions will be available beginning on August 1, 2015.

How to get Windows 10: Most Windows 7 (SP1) and Windows 8/8.1 users can get Windows 10 through the Get Windows 10 app. Users can also download a Windows 10 ISO to be used on multiple PCs.

What it is?

Officially unveiled on September 30, 2014, Windows 10 is the next major release of Microsoft's Windows operating system and is the successor to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

Developed under the codename "Threshold", Microsoft's goal with Windows 10 is to provide a common operating system that can run across multiple platforms—including PCs, tablets, smartphones, embedded systems, and even Xbox One, Surface Hub and HoloLens at some point in the future. Each platform will have a device-specific user interface (UI), but share the same Windows 10 core.

Windows 10 includes several new features and important changes, in addition to its platform unifying design. Many new features are designed to improve the desktop experience and draw in business users who were turned off by Windows 8's tile-based UI and the initial removal of the Start menu. New features include:

Start menu: Windows 10's new Start menu combines the Windows 7-like application list and the live tiles interface from Windows 8's Start screen. Windows-8 style "modern" apps (now called "universal apps") can run within a window on the desktop, like standard desktop programs.

Action Center: The Charms menu has been replaced with the Action Center, a sidebar that provides notifications and contains buttons for common tasks.

Tablet mode: A new tablet mode is designed to make Windows 10 easier to operate without a keyboard or mouse.

Improved security: Microsoft has announced several new security features for Windows 10, including Windows Hello—an integrated biometric authentication system.

Microsoft Edge: Formerly codenamed Project Spartan, Edge will be the default web browser in Windows 10. Internet Explorer 11 will also be included with the OS, but will be basically unchanged from the version of IE11 found in Windows 7 and 8.1.

Cortana integration: Cortana, Microsoft's voice-powered personal assistant, makes its desktop debut in Windows 10 and can be configured to take over the Search box.

Xbox Live integration: Although not critical for many business users, Xbox live is built into Windows 10. Users can stream games from an Xbox One to a desktop, laptop, or tablet over Wi-Fi, play multiplayer games with people on different platforms, and more.

Enhanced graphics: Windows 10 will include new versions of DirectX and WDDM to improve game performance.

Microsoft's new Edge browser
Microsoft's official system requirements for Windows 10 are:

  • Processor: 1GHz or faster processor or SoC
  • RAM: 1GB for 32-bit OS or 2GB for 64-bit OS
  • Hard disk space: 16GB for 32-bit or 20GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display: 800x600

Additional resources:

  • Windows 10 review: Full of promise, but not a must-have just yet (TechRepublic)
  • Review: Goodbye, Windows 8; hello, Windows 10 (ZDNet)
  • Windows 10: The end of computing as we know it (TechRepublic)
  • Windows 10 and the cloud: Still hazy (ZDNet)
  • Here's how Microsoft plans to push new features to Windows 10 business users (ZDNet)
  • Windows 10 and Edge: How Microsoft's new browser could soon challenge Chrome (TechRepublic)
  • Why your business won't use Microsoft's new Edge browser (Tech Pro Research)
  • How to decide: Should you upgrade to Windows 10? (ZDNet)
  • Windows 10 supports AllJoyn making the Internet of Things possible (TechRepublic)
  • Here come the Windows 10 computers: PCs, convertible laptops and mini-desktops (TechRepublic)

Why it matters

Windows 10 is Microsoft's effort to recapture many enterprise users who balked at Windows 8's mobile-focused interface and to finally move the last Windows XP and Vista holdouts onto a newer OS.

Beyond the new features, security updates, and its platform-unifying design, Windows 10 marks a significant shift in how Microsoft's characterizes its flagship operating system. Microsoft is encouraging people to think of Windows 10 as a "service". Instead of releasing a new numbered version of Windows every few years, the company will continuously release new features and updates. Microsoft has committed to support Windows 10 for a decade after the July, 2015 launch.

According to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley there are three distinct "servicing branches" for Windows 10: Current Branch (CB), Current Branch for Business (CBB) and the Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB). Access to each servicing branch will be determined by the version of Windows 10 you have.

Windows 10 Home users can only use the CB, under which Microsoft will automatically push new features, bug fixes, and security updates to them through Windows Update. The version of Windows Update that ships with Windows 10 Home does not give users any way delay or disable updates. (Microsoft has released a special tool designed to allow power users to block certain updates, particularly hardware drivers, but this tool isn't intended for mass use and doesn't ship with the operating system.)

Windows 10 Pro users can use either the CB or the CBB servicing branches. The CB option on Windows 10 Pro works exactly as it does on Windows 10 Home. The CBB option however, allows Pro users to install security updates immediately, but delay new features and bug fixes (although not indefinitely).

Windows 10 Enterprise customers can use the CB, CBB and/or the LTSB. The LTSB allows enterprise IT departments to put off the installation of new Windows 10 features for up to 10 years.

Additional resources:

  • Piecing together the Windows as a Service puzzle for Windows 10 (ZDNet)
  • Microsoft: 10-year support lifecycle (ZDNet)
  • Microsoft commits to 10-year support lifecycle for Windows 10 (ZDNet)
  • Mandatory Windows 10 Home updates: The good, the bad, and the potentially ugly (ZDNet)
  • Microsoft releases tool to hide or block unwanted Windows 10 updates (ZDNet)
Who does this affect?

Users running an eligible version of Windows 7 (SP1) or Windows 8/8.1 can upgrade to Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro for free, during the first year of general availability. 

Users running Windows XP or Windows Vista, must purchase a copy of Windows 10 from the Microsoft Store or other retailer. There is no direct upgrade path from Windows XP or Windows Vista to Windows 10. On these machines, Windows 10 must be loaded as a "clean install" and users should backup their data prior to installing the new operating system.

Additional resources:

  • 10 things SMBs need to know about Windows 10 (TechRepublic)
  • Seven must-read Windows 10 deployment tips for net admins (TechRepublic)
  • Windows 10: Will your PC run it? (ZDNet)
  • How long should you wait before deploying Windows 10? (Tech Pro Research)
  • Seven must-read Windows 10 deployment tips for net admins (TechRepublic)
  • Windows 10 upgrades won't be free for everyone: Do you qualify? (ZDNet)
  • Windows 10 on an old PC: When it comes to specs, how low can you go? (TechRepublic)

When is this happening?.

Windows 10 general availability (GA) began on July 29, 2015, but Microsoft has adopted a staggered deployment schedule.

Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education editions will be available beginning on August 1, 2015 through Microsoft's Volume Licensing Center. Neither edition is included in the first-year-free program.

Additional resources:

  • When should I upgrade to Windows 10? (ZDNet)
  • Microsoft's rolling Windows 10 launch: What's coming next (ZDNet)
  • Will Microsoft be able to successfully deliver Windows 10 to millions? (TechRepublic)
How to get Windows 10

For the first year of general availability, Windows 10 Home and Pro is free if you're running a genuine copy of an eligible version of Windows 7 (SP1) and Windows 8/8.1. On eligible machines, an icon for the Get Windows 10 app will appear in the taskbar and allow users to "reserve" a free copy of the operating system. Users can cancel their reservation prior to installing the new operating system.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

How to Download Windows 10, 7, 8, and 8.1 Install Media — Legally (How to Geek)


You can reinstall Windows from scratch using the product key that came with your PC, but you’ll have to find installation media yourself. Microsoft offers free Windows ISO files — if you know where to look.
These tricks let you reinstall Windows without visiting a shady BitTorrent site and downloading ISOs that may be filled with malware. These links give you official installation media straight from Microsoft.
Note: depending on the OEM version of Windows that you are running, you will sometimes have an issue using the OEM key with a retail version of Windows, but you can always install and then call Microsoft and get them to straighten it out and allow your copy to activate. The most important thing is that you have a valid license key.
Note: We’ve been updating this article with every new release and now we’re updating for Windows 10.

Download Windows 10 ISO Image


Anybody can grab Windows 10 directly from Microsoft’s web site as of right now.

Windows 7

Windows 7 ISO files are available for download from Digital River, an officially licensed distributor of Microsoft software. These are the same ISO files you’d get if you purchased a digital copy of Windows 7 online
This isn’t an officially supported way to get Windows 7 installation media — Microsoft won’t recommend this trick — but it’s worked for years. If Microsoft didn’t want users doing this, they’d have disabled access to the files long ago. This won’t help you pirate Windows 7, anyway — even if you download Windows 7 and install it on your PC, you can’t use it for more than 30 days without entering a genuine product key.
Update! Microsoft has removed the Windows 7 downloads from Digital River, but you can download them directly from Microsoft as long as you have a valid product key.
Some people report that the Digital River links sometimes go down, but they usually seem functional. Try again later if they don’t work.
We’re linking to the English “Windows 7 SP1 Media Refresh” ISO files here. These are Windows 7 installation discs with Service Pack 1 and additional updates built-in. The x86 files are 32-bit versions, while the x64 files are 64-bit versions:
After downloading one of the ISO files, right-click it in Windows Explorer and select Burn disc image to burn it to a disc. To install Windows 7 from a USB drive, use the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to put that ISO file onto a USB drive.
If you’re looking for the Enterprise edition of Windows 7, you can download a 90-day free trial of Windows 7 Enterprise from Microsoft and activate it using an Enterprise product key.
For links to Windows 7 ISO files in non-English languages and more information,

Windows 8.1

If you want to just download the installation media for a fresh reinstall of Windows 8.1, there’s a new option from Microsoft that can allow you to download that image without even entering your product key.
And if you are completely reinstalling a Windows 8.0 PC you can use this 8.1 installation media with the same key from Windows 8.0, so there’s no reason not to do so. It even comes with Update 1 integrated.
Simply download the Windows Installation Media Creation Tool, and then select the details about which version you want (Windows 8.1 or 8.1 Pro, etc), and then follow through the wizard to create your boot media.
You can choose to put the boot media directly on a USB drive, or you can create an ISO for later use or to burn to a disc later.
It’s as easy as that.

Windows 8 and 8.1(Alternate)

Note: if you want Windows 8.1 media you should use the method above. Otherwise if you need to create a 8.0 boot disk for repair purposes, this is a good option.

You may still need to perform a fresh reinstall of Windows 8 or 8.1 on a new PC to get rid of all that bloatware. Computer manufacturers can bake their bloatware into the refresh image so the Refresh and Reset options won’t eliminate it.

Here’s the most important thing you need to know: Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 have different product keys. That is, if you have a Windows 8 license and attempt to install Windows 8.1 with your Windows 8 product key, you’ll receive an “invalid product key” message. You must instead install Windows 8, provide your Windows 8 product key, and then update to Windows 8.1 from within Windows 8. Yes, the Windows 8.1 upgrade is free if you’re using Windows 8, so this is just unnecessary pain.
Likewise, if you have a Windows 8.1 license, your Windows 8.1 key won’t work with a Windows 8 disc. You’ll need Windows 8.1 installation media to use a Windows 8.1 product key.
First, visit the Upgrade Windows with only a product key page on Microsoft’s website. Click the Install Windows 8.1 button if you have a Windows 8.1 product key or click Install Windows 8 if you have a Windows 8 product key.
Open the downloaded .exe file and enter your Windows 8 or 8.1 product key. This tool will create installation media that matches your product key — so, if you have a Windows 8 Professional key, you’ll get Windows 8 Professional installation media. The tool will create 32-bit installation media on 32-bit PCs and 64-bit media on 64-bit PCs.
Select Install by creating media and you’ll be able to choose between a USB flash drive or ISO file. The wizard will create a bootable USB drive or provide you with an ISO file you can burn to disc by right-clicking it and selecting the Burn disc image option.
If you’re looking for Windows 8.1 Enterprise installation media, you can download a 90-day free trial of Windows 8.1 Enterprise. Enter a legitimate product key to turn the trial version into a full, official version.

Microsoft provides other software via the TechNet Evaluation Center. For example, you could download a trial version of Windows Server 2012 R2 and enter a legitimate product key to get the full version. Older versions of Windows are found in the Previous Versions section of the TechNet Evaluation Center.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Windows 10's seven editions are excessive:

Greg Shultz offers his take on the seven editions of Windows 10, and wonders if Microsoft's plans for a free OS include reviving the Anytime Upgrade program. 

Microsoft announced last week that there will be seven editions of the Windows 10 operating system (OS). When I first learned this information, I was surprised; the way Microsoft has been talking about Windows 10 being the last major upgrade — plus, the fact that the upgrade will be free for the first year for qualifying devices, and future upgrades will be delivered in an ongoing fashion — I assumed there would just be a consumer/business edition, a mobile edition, and an enterprise edition.

In a May 13 post on the Blogging Windows site, Tony Prophet, VP of Windows Marketing at Microsoft, introduced the seven Windows 10 editions as follows:

As in the past, we will offer different Windows editions that are tailored for various device families and uses. These different editions address specific needs of our various customers, from consumers to small businesses to the largest enterprises.

The seven editions of Windows 10

Windows 10 Home: This is the most basic edition and will be the one most consumers will get on their desktops, laptops, and tablets.

Windows 10 Pro: This prosumer and small business edition of the OS will run on desktops, laptops, and tablets. It will have a higher-end feature set and advanced centralized management features.

Windows 10 Mobile: This small device edition will run on smartphones and small, 7/8-inch Windows tablets.

Windows 10 Enterprise: This advanced edition of the OS is designed for large organizations running Windows servers in a network domain environment.

Windows 10 Education: This is similar to the Enterprise edition but will have a feature set that is tailored to schools.

Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise: This advanced edition of the Mobile edition is designed for large organizations.

Windows 10 IoT Core: This specialized, advanced edition of the OS is designed to run on industrial devices, such as ATMs and cash registers.

A simpler approach

After reading the more detailed descriptions on the Introducing Windows 10 Editions blog post, I think five editions of Windows 10 would suffice.

It makes sense to have a Windows 10 Mobile edition for smartphones and small tablets. I can also see that having Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise for large organizations is necessary. And, Windows 10 IoT Core is definitely its own type of animal.

However, I think that one edition of the core OS for desktops, laptops, and tablets is plenty. I'd bag the Home, Pro, and Education distinctions and have one edition with the Pro/Education feature set and just call it Windows 10. After all, if the core OS is going to be free, what's the need for multiple editions?

The Anytime Upgrade approach

The answer might be that perhaps Microsoft plans to give us equivalent editions for free and then charge users to move up an edition via a revised Windows Anytime Upgrade program. (In Windows 8/8.1, Anytime Upgrade was renamed to Add features to Windows 8/8.1.)

So, if you're running Windows 7 Home/Home Premium or Windows 8.1, you'll get a free upgrade to Windows 10 Home; if you want more features, you'll have to fork out some cash to move up to Windows 10 Pro. If you have Windows 7 Professional/Ultimate or Windows 8.1 Pro, you'll get a free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro; if you want to move up to Windows 10 Education, it'll cost you.

How much extra cash? Well, that remains to be seen. If the past is any indication, it could cost close to $100. For example, going from Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional costs $89.95. Going from Windows 8.1 to Windows 8.1 Pro Pack costs $99.99.

Just like going from Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1 to Windows 8.1 Pro, there will be a feature incentive to go from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro. For example, with Windows 7 Home, you can use Remote Desktop to connect to another computer configured as a host, though Windows 7 Home cannot be configured as a Remote Desktop host; to get that capability, you have to move up to Windows 7 Professional. Likewise, if you have Windows 8.1 and want Windows Media Center, you have to upgrade to Windows 8.1 Pro.

What features will be missing from Windows 10 Home that you'll have to move up to Windows 10 Pro to get? That's unknown at this point, but one good candidate might be the Task View virtual desktop feature.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

10 things SMBs need to know about Windows 10

The Windows 10 release means big changes for the OS. Here's what SMBs need to know. 

Terry Myerson and Joe Belfiore at a Windows 10 Q&A session.

In a historic move, Microsoft will release the latest iteration of their Windows OS, Windows 10, as a free upgrade for existing users.

This removes at least one barrier to adoption among businesses, and it could be particularly advantageous for small to mid-size businesses (SMBs) by helping Microsoft stay competitive in the SMB space against Apple and Google who are ramping up their efforts for this audience.

The Windows 10 release signifies a shift in direction for Microsoft as its new leadership gains traction. However, it also brings many changes to the product itself.

Here's what your SMB needs to know about the latest Windows release.

1. The upgrade has an expiration date
The official release date of Windows 10 has been listed as July 29, 2015. But, there's so fine print. According to Gartner vice president Steve Kleynhans, it's essential you do your research to determine if it is a good deal for your company within the timeline.

"Certainly it is nice getting the upgrade to Windows 10 for free, but it requires that you move in the next 12 months," Kleynhans said.

2. Windows is now a service
Software upgrades used to be a major source of revenue for Microsoft in the past, but with Windows 10 comes a new model. Users will receive updates to the OS as time goes on.

"Windows 10 will be a 'final' upgrade that receives three to four upgrade packs a year that include new features," said JP Gownder, a vice president and principal analyst with Forrester. "Windows as a service means you won't be stuck with some 10 year old OS, as many were with XP, but it does require a little rethinking of resources, even these upgrade packs require some testing along the year."

3. You have to be ready for the updates
As you consider whether or not to make the upgrade, it's important to consider if you can handle the deluge of service packs that will come your way in this new system, Kleynhans said. You won't have much time to "settle" into the new service packs before the next one comes.

"It will constantly be moving forward," Kleynhans said. "You need to monitor it and test to see how it performs in your environment and decide when it is ready to fit into your environment."

4. You can only upgrade from certain versions
To qualify for the Windows 10 upgrade, you must be upgrading from a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 device. The availability of the upgrade for Windows Phone 8.1 varies by manufacturer, carrier, and operator. You'll also need to have Windows Update enabled. Many of the enterprise versions are excluded from the upgrade offer, so make sure you check if yours is compatible.

5. There are different versions of Windows 10
Depending on your starting OS, you will get a comparable version of Windows 10 when you upgrade. Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, and Windows 8.1 (4) will yield Windows 10 Home. Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate, and Windows 8.1 Pro and 8.1 Pro for Students will yield Windows 10 Pro.

6. Follow best practices for deployment
Just because Windows 10 is a new model for the OS doesn't mean that it won't come with some of the standard deployment pains you may have faced in the past. Make sure you time everything properly to minimize the number of problems you run into.

"OS upgrades, no matter how good, are disruptive," Kleynhans said. "Don't roll out Windows 10 right before your busiest selling season, or in the middle of implementing a new accounting system."

7. Upgrade for security
Especially for SMBs, protecting your assets is critical. If you're already a Windows shop, upgrading could bring some added security to your company.

"Security threats are only growing, and Windows 10 has some inherent application containerization that makes it more secure than its predecessors," Gownder said.

8. It doesn't (technically) require new hardware
While you will need a certain set of specs to run Windows 10 and a set amount of hard drive space, you probably won't need to update your hardware. However, Kleynhans said, you might need new hardware to make use of new features such as Windows Hello or the advanced security. Unfortunately, he said, in may cases, that hardware won't ship until later this year.

9. It's a new user experience
One of the most contentious aspects of Windows 8 was its tile-based design. Some loved it, while others switched back to the standard desktop view immediately. Gownder said that Windows 10 is poised to provide the best of both tiles and the standard desktop, and will be optimized for mobile.

"If you have a detachable keyboard — say, on a Surface Pro 3 — the OS will default to desktop mode if the keyboard is attached, and to tile mode if it isn't," Gownder said. "So, it's smart about desktop vs. mobile usage."

10. The ecosystem might not be perfect
As we creep closer to the release date, it's important to remember that although the OS might be ready, that doesn't mean the ecosystem is. As an SMB, you might need additional support and, with the novelty of Windows 10, you might have trouble finding someone to provide the support right away, Kleynhans said.

Also, just because your key software or application works on Windows 10, that doesn't always mean your vendor will provide Windows 10 support.

"They might need some time to complete some testing and make some tweaks," Kleynhans said. "Talk to your software and service providers and understand their plans and timeline as your develop yours."

Monday, July 27, 2015

This Wall Street Veteran Is Whipping Google Into Shape (BusinessWeek)

Ruth Porat brings Wall Street discipline to the freewheeling search giant

Google is known for multicolored bicycles, nap pods, and complimentary meals—and the free-spending ways that come with those perks. Now it wants to be known for something else: financial discipline. To whip the numbers into shape, it’s brought in Ruth Porat, an almost 30-year veteran of Wall Street.

She’s off to a good start. Porat, who joined Google as chief financial officer in May after five years as Morgan Stanley’s CFO, on July 16 unveiled second-quarter earnings and sales that topped analysts’ estimates. Impressed investors sent the shares to a record the next day, adding $65 billion to the company’s market value and more than $4 billion each to the fortunes of co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Shareholders cheered Porat, 57, with her strong finance background, as the right person to help instill more discipline at a company that’s invested in everything from driverless cars to giant barges. Now she must prove she can create efficiency without crimping the creative culture that’s helped Google dominate the online advertising market. “No one really knew her before, because there’s no reason a tech investor would really know her,” says Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray. When she announced the second-quarter results, the idea that a Wall Street hand was whipping Google into shape “kind of went viral,” he says.

 “This perception of a real, hard-nosed woman who has something to prove—I think that inspires confidence.”

During the second quarter, Google’s operating expenses grew 13 percent from the same period a year ago, the slowest rate since 2013, and declined from the previous quarter. “A key focus is on the levers within our control to manage the pace of expenses while still ensuring and supporting our growth,” Porat said on a call with analysts. Her remarks also left open the possibility of Google returning cash to investors in the form of buybacks or dividends, something Wall Street has been asking about for years. At a companywide meeting following the earnings report, she talked about the importance of disciplined execution at Google even as she thanked employees for their work, according to a person familiar with the remarks. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

Porat benefited from the efforts of her predecessor, Patrick Pichette. Google’s increase in expenses started slowing during the first quarter. “Everything was probably already in motion by the time she came along,” says Sameet Sinha, an analyst with B. Riley & Co. Even so, the quarterly numbers seemed to resonate with investors, as did Porat’s résumé. “She comes with a pedigree from Morgan Stanley of doing a good job of enhancing shareholder value over her tenure there,” says Walter Price, co-manager of the AllianzGI Technology Fund, which owns shares of Google.

At Morgan Stanley, Porat helped the bank recover from its near-death experience during the financial crisis and developed a reputation as a cost-cutter who focused on boosting shareholder returns. In 2013 she laid out expense-reduction targets of $1.6 billion and last year gained approval for the bank’s biggest share buyback in four years. This year, the company more than doubled the share repurchase plan. Since the end of 2012, Morgan Stanley stock has climbed from $19 to more than $40.

Porat, a physicist’s daughter who was born in Silicon Valley, is no stranger to technology. As Morgan Stanley’s top Internet banker during the dot-com bubble, she advised clients such as EBay and and made pitches to tech startups considering going public, accompanied by her close friend Mary Meeker, the research analyst who was called “Queen of the Net.” Porat showed a passion for work, quickly diving back in after having each of her three sons and after a battle with breast cancer.

Connecting with Google shareholders will be a priority. After the earnings call, Porat, who traded pantsuits for jeans at Google, planned to begin meetings with investors in cities such as New York and Boston, making the case for Google’s prospects.

Announcing Porat’s hiring in March, Page said she would “invest in a thoughtful, disciplined way in our next generation of big bets.” She received a pay package worth more than $70 million that will vest from this year through 2019, according to a company filing. In her first months on the job, she’s been reviewing programs throughout the company. They include driverless cars, which seek to use technology to take humans out of the process; Project Loon, an effort to deliver Internet connectivity to rural and remote areas via high-altitude balloons; and Google Fiber, its broadband and TV service in select cities, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Some of those initiatives may have to be abandoned. “She might have to go and tell Larry and Sergey, ‘Here are 10 projects, pick five—let’s go with those,’ ” Sinha says. The Google Fiber project could get a hard look, according to Munster, because it competes with established companies such as Verizon Communications and AT&T that are focused on building and delivering broadband and TV services.

Lifting the share price is crucial for Google, where many employees get much of their compensation in stock and can easily jump to a rival such as Apple. In the year before Porat was named to the job, the shares had fallen 4.5 percent while the Nasdaq Composite Index had climbed 17 percent. “Retention is the biggest challenge,” Munster says.

Google’s issues go beyond cost control. They include a threat to its core business of selling ads next to search results. As consumers access the Web via smartphones instead of desktop PCs, they’re increasingly likely to tap on an app rather than open a browser.

At the same time, Google faces stronger competition in online commerce from Amazon, which is grabbing more users who skip comparison shopping on Google and buy from the retailer. Also, Facebook, growing more quickly than Google, is competing for advertising and is a threat to Google’s YouTube business as it pushes video options to its users. “It was a good quarter, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of the same structural and competitive concerns,” says Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Securities.

The bottom line: Investors welcomed Porat by adding $65 billion to Google’s market value after she presented second-quarter earnings.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Watch out!: Create an Image of your System before upgrading to Windows 10!

How to Create an Image of Your PC Before Upgrading to Windows 10

Windows 10 is the biggest and most aggressive Windows rollout to date. Before you take the plunge you need to image your hard drive so, should you wish to return to the familiarity of Windows 7 or Windows 8 you can do so with the click of a button.
Note: This tutorial details how to create a bit-for-bit backup (a disk image) of your current Windows system disk so that you can later restore your computer using that image. If that’s not what you’re looking for and you’d like to actually copy your disk bit-for-bit over to a brand new hard disk (a disk clone) we’d encourage you to check out our detailed tutorial on the matter:How to Upgrade Your Existing Hard Drive in Under an Hour.

Why Do I Want To Do This?

There’s nothing worse than making a major change to your PC and then finding out that change breaks your workflow (like an old app you rely on doesn’t work anymore) or it outright breaks your PC because the leap to a new operating system leaves your hardware in need of new (and as-of-yet unreleased) drivers.
Over the years we’ve covered plenty of ways to use the tools built into Windows to perform snapshots, create backups, and otherwise help you to restore your computer to a prior state if your hardware upgrades or such go awry. When it comes to a change as big as jumping from Windows 7 or Windows 8 to the barely charted waters of Windows 10, however, you don’t want to rely on snapshots and rollback features to help you return to the safety of a prior version of Windows. You want the clear and precise ability to wipe the entire drive clean and restore it, bit for bit, to the exact state it was in before you even started the upgrade process.
In order to do that we need to image the drive. We want a perfect pre-upgrade copy we can call upon to restore the system. This drive image will remain clean and unchanged independently of anything we do to the computer during the upgrade process and thereafter so even if we format the drives, even if we use Windows 10 for six months and decide we really don’t like it, we can turn right back around and use the image we’ve created to turn back the clock and restore our computer to the exact state it was in before the upgrade.
We can’t emphasize enough how important this step is. We’ll complete it using free tools, it doesn’t cost anything (unless you need to purchase an extra drive to store the image on), and it hardly takes any time (especially when you compare it to the hassle of reinstalling your old version of Windows and reconfiguring everything).

What Do I Need?

As we highlighted in the introduction this procedure is free (unless you need an additional internal or external hard drive to house the drive image). To follow along with us today you’ll need the following things:
  • The PC you wish to backup.
  • A copy of Macrium Reflect Free (available for download here).
  • An internal or external hard drive with enough capacity to hold the contents of the drive you wish to image.
  • A USB drive to turn into a restoration drive (minimum size 1GB).
A few points of consideration before we proceed. We aren’t cloning your Windows drive onto a new bootable drive so we don’t need a fresh storage drive or a drive we can wipe. As long as you have the space you can use any drive you have on hand as long as it can hold the drive image. So, for example, if you have a 2TB external drive that you have a few hundred GB of photos backed up on, you can also use it (space permitting) to backup your Windows disk image with no risk to your photos or other data.
Although we advise you to have enough space for the whole drive, in reality the disk likely isn’t full and compression will buy you some wiggle room. On our test laptop, for example, we had a 100GB SSD, 75GB of that was filled up, and the compressed image in the end was only 50GB. Still, act as if you need a 1:1 space ratio and then be happy when you don’t.
Before proceeding gather together the required materials and take a moment to download and install Macrium Reflect Free.

Creating the Rescue Media

Because we are manipulating the system drive we need rescue media in order to properly restore the drive later (as we cannot simultaneously use the system drive and reload the system image). Further, good rescue media can be invaluable for troubleshooting problems down the road.
Thankfully Macrium makes it incredibly simple to create a Windows PE-based rescue media tool that includes Macrium preloaded and even boots right into the restoration tool. It couldn’t be easier and if you do things correctly on the setup and imaging side of things, the restoration side of things is a walk in the park.
Once you’re ready to create your restoration media, launch Macrium Reflect on select Other Tasks -> Create Rescue Media from the file bar, as seen above.
The Rescue Wizard is very helpful and will not only guide you through selecting the best rescue media but will automatically download and install the files from Microsoft on your behalf. The first step in the wizard process is confirming you have the right version of Windows PE. It automatically detects the version of Windows you’re creating the rescue media on. Ideally you want the rescue media to use the version of Windows PE that shares the same base kernel as the backup version.
If you’re backing up a Windows 7 machine before upgrading to Windows 10 that means you want Windows PE 3.1 (which uses the Windows 7 kernel). If you’re upgrading from Windows 8/8.1 to Windows 10 you want Windows PE 5.0 (PE 4.0 is an option but it’s not feature rich compared to PE 5.0 and the special use case for Windows PE 4.0 is very limited and definitely not within the requirements of anything we’re doing in this tutorial). If you need to change your PE version click on the button labeled “Change PE Version” at the bottom of the wizard screen.
Click Next and then confirm the drivers list (by default the media thoughtfully snags needed drivers from the host Windows installation, like USB 3.0 host drivers). Click Next.
Confirm that the “PE Architecture” matches your machine (it should have defaulted to the correct setting). Newer machines (made recently or in the last few years) are almost universally 64 bit. If you’re unsure you can read up on the differences between 64 bit and 32 bit (and how to check what you have) in our article HTG Explains: What’s the Difference Between 32-bit and 64-bit Windows?
Click Next and you’ll be prompted to OK a download from Microsoft (typically around 500MB).
Once the files from Microsoft finish downloading you’ll find yourself in the final step of the Rescue Media Wizard. Select your USB drive carefully; while the recovering media creation process doesn’t format your USB drive it does dump a bunch of files onto the disk and make some minor modifications you’ll just have to turn around and undo.
When the process is complete it’s safe to eject the recovery disk (you won’t need it again until it is time to restore your system at a later date).

Cloning Your Windows Disk

This portion of the tutorial occurs on your PC before installing Windows 10. Again, for emphasis as many readers following this tutorial likely don’t routinely use disk imaging software, this step occurs on your machine before you begin the Windows 10 upgrade.
Now would be a great time to do some last minute housekeeping: delete things you don’t need, run CCleaner to purge old temporary files that don’t need to live on forever in your disk image, uninstall apps you no longer want or need, and so on.
When you’re ready to create a perfect copy of the disk in a tidy pre-Windows 10 state, launch Macrium Reflect. In the left-hand navigation panel of the main window select “Create an image of the partition(s) required to backup and restore Windows” as seen in the screenshot below.
That link will automatically pop up Disk Image dialogue box with only the critical Windows partitions selected, as seen in the screenshot below.
There are a few important things to note here. By default the tool only selects the partitions you need to actually run Windows. In the screenshot above you can see that it selected the system and OS partitions. It did not select the recovery partition or other partitions on the primary disk. If you wish to preserve the recovery partition or other partitions, you can check them and include them in the disk image. If you don’t (we really don’t care if the recovery partition is preserved) leave them unchecked. If you do, check them off.
Next, select where you wish to store the image file. A local non-OS disk or a removable USB drive of suitable size is good. We stored ours on a removable USB 3.0 drive with plenty of space to spare. Click Next and you’ll be prompted to setup a backup plan for the disk. You can ignore all of these options. Macrium Reflect, even in the free version, has a very excellent automated backup system but that’s totally overkill for our needs as we’re making a one off backup. Leave the template “None”, don’t bother setting a schedule, and leave everything unchecked. Hit Next to continue on.
Confirm your settings on the last page (make sure the listed operations match what you selected earlier, like copying the system and Windows disks). Click Finish. In the final screen confirm “Run this backup now” is checked and click OK.
Sit back and relax as Macrium works to create the disk image. Expect to wait at least 30-60 minutes at minimum. When the process is complete you’ll have a perfect copy of your disk ready to pull out and restore the previous version of Windows. Put it in a safe place!

How Do I Restore To The Old Version?

Maybe you love Windows 10 and everything works wonderfully. We certainly never hope that someone is unhappy with an upgrade and despite all the complaints about Windows 8 we (albeit with a Windows 7 skin on things) were happy with the improvements. But not every upgrade is a match made in heaven and you might find that instabilities, non-existent drivers, or other problems hamper your enjoyment of Windows 10.
In such cases you’ll need to rollback with the help of Macrium Reflect and the disk image we just created. First things first, to avoid frustration, reboot your computer and enter the BIOS (it varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but typically you access the BIOS via F2 or F11 on the keyboard when the computer is first booting).
It’s not enough to have a computer that can boot from USB, you need to check the boot order. More times than we can count we’ve had a boot disk fail because while the computer was more than capable of booting from a USB drive the USB drive option was third in the list after the physical hard disk and CDROM drive. Double check that the USB drive is at the top of the list! (Sometimes you actually need the physical USB drive inserted during the BIOS adjustment process or it won’t be detected or ordered properly). Save the changes and boot into your recovery media.
The recovery media we created in the early portion of the tutorial automatically boots right to the Macrium Reflect recovery software which is more than convenient. Once it boots up look for the Restore and Image Restore tabs as seen in the screenshot below.
If you’ve booted the computer with the hard drive that houses the disk image attached (either internally mounted or with the USB drive attached to the computer) it should automatically detect that the disk image is present and it matches the disk you’re about the restore via that image. If it doesn’t automatically detect don’t worry, you can browse for it.
Click on the entry “Browse for an image file”. Browse for the file and select the .MRIMG file you previously created. After you load the backup image you’ll see additional information about the image file.
Confirm that it is the correct image file (the name matches the one you want, the drive size and partitions match, and so on). Once you’ve confirmed it is the image you want, click the link “Restore Image” as seen in the screenshot above.
You’ll be prompted to select a disk to restore your image to. Click “Select a disk to restore to…”
Select carefully from the available disks. You don’t want to overwrite your secondary data hard drive when your real target is your primary system disk. Once you’ve selected the image, then click “Copy selected partitions” to copy the partitions from the image file back over to your disk.
Note: Sharp-eyed readers will likely have noticed that the disk size and partition distribution between our source disk and our destination disk do not match up in the above image. Because the computer with which we conducted the steps for this tutorial (as we personally test and confirm all steps in all articles we write here at How-To Geek) would not cooperate with our capture tool during the time it was booted into Windows PE we recreated the sequence in a virtual machine expressly to create the screenshots for your reference. Please note that in the particular application we’ve using here (overwriting your existing disk with an old image) the image and the actual hard drive configuration should match up.
With the disk selected (and double checked), click Next. Confirm the Restore Summary and Operation list match what you expect and then click Finish to start the process.
When the restoration process is complete and the conclusion summary is displayed, you’re all done! Click on the shutdown button located in the lower left corner of the restoration user interface, remove the USB restoration drive, and confirm you wish to restart. You’ll boot back into your Windows machine and everything will be good as new and exactly like it was the day you made the image.

When it comes to foolproof restoration you just can’t beat a good disk image. Before you make the leap to Windows 10 take an hour or so and make a clean disk image you can return to should you find the upgrade isn’t all it’s promised to be.