Aug 25

Get Windows 10

Some of us are quite happy to stick with Windows 7. After all, it’s supported by Microsoft until 2020. So the ‘Get Windows 10’ icon in your system tray can be a bit of an annoyance. On the other hand, you may not want to update to Windows 10 just yet until some of the early bugs have been ironed out.

A number of posts have appeared over the past few months with instructions on how to remove the ‘Get Windows 10’ system tray icon but not many tell you how to remove it permanently. The problem is, Microsoft considers it an important update, and once you’ve uninstalled it, it reappears back in your system tray as early as the next system reboot. Here’s how to permanently remove it. It’s a two-step process.

Uninstall the update

To uninstall the ‘Get Windows 10’ update in Windows 7, go to Start, Control Panel, Programs and Features, and select View installed updates. Then hit Ctrl-F and search for the update ‘KB3035583’. Once you have found it, right click on it and select Uninstall.

After this, you will be prompted to reboot or postpone that till later. I suggest postpone for 4 hours to give the system time to realise it’s missing this so called important update. You’ll know when Windows wants to reinstall it because when you click Start, the Shut down button will have an exclamation mark indicating that important updates will be installed on reboot. Now is the time to stop that particular update.

Hide the ‘Get Windows 10 update’

So don’t reboot. Instead go back to Start, Control Panel, Windows Update and you will see that important updates are available, in my case just the one. We are now going to hide that update so it is ignored for update in future. By the way, you can also see that if you change your mind you can restore hidden updates in the left panel.

Get Windows 10 - Update available

So click on ‘1 important update is available’. This will show that KB3035583 is available to install. There may be others as well.

Get Windows 10 - Hide Update

Right click on update KB3035583 and chose Hide update, then close the window.

Now when you reboot, this update will not be reinstalled and you will no longer have to suffer that ‘Get Windows 10’ nag screen.

Jan 22

In this series of posts, I’m considering and planning my future computing needs. If you’re a Windows user, you may find some of my thoughts relevant to your own situation, or perhaps not.

So far I’ve decided to stick with Windows 7 as my main desktop operating system rather than move to Windows 8. Windows 7 will continue to be supported until 2020 so at this stage there’s still plenty of time to decide and time for new players to enter the scene.

I never really felt the need to upgrade to Windows 8 as I just don’t need a touchscreen interface on my desktop PC. Besides, I’m very happy with Windows 7. Interestingly, I read just recently that HP is starting a marketing push offering Windows 7 rather than Windows 8 on new PCs. In addition, I was interested to read an article by Paul Thurrott at the end of December where he comprehensively laid out Windows problems for 2014 and beyond. What caught my eye in Thurrott’s piece was this statement:

We know that the firm (Microsoft) in embracing a “devices and services” strategy is doing so agnostically, and we’ve already seen many high-profile Microsoft apps and services show up on competing devices this past year. I’d be surprised if 2014 passed without major, full-featured versions of Office on both iOS and Android.

MS Office on Android would be a game changer for me. I need to be able to edit Word documents with tracked changes, etc and without compatibility issues, and Word on my Nexus 10 tablet would be a really nice option when I’m away from my desktop and even as a backup work option. Android is based on the Linux kernel and a relative newcomer on the block, but it really must be considered as another contender in my future computing needs. Who knows where Android will be in 2020. At CES recently, HP and Lenovo announced Android powered desktop PCs and laptops.

Aside from that, I really believe that Linux (probably Mint) could be my best option on the desktop, once I check out running MS Office in Wine on Linux. Mint has made great strides forward and is a great alternative for those wishing to move away from Windows.

What are your thoughts on your future computing platform at home and at work? Will you move to Linux at some point or are you content to stick with Windows? Are you tied to Windows at work or because you need to run proprietary software? Drop a comment below.

Here are links to the earlier posts in this series:

Approaching the Fork: Part 3. LibreOffice or OpenOffice instead of MS Word?

Approaching the Fork: Part 2. Upgrade to Windows 8 or Stay with Windows 7?

Approaching the Fork: Part 1. Windows or Linux?

Oct 7

Windows Switcher

In Windows 7 and Vista, there’s a keyboard shortcut to bring up cascading windows of the open programs on your taskbar. Press the Windows key + Tab to see it in action now… Pretty impressive. And to cycle through the windows, first use the Ctrl+Win Key+Tab combination and then the left and right arrow keys to cycle. Pressing the Enter key or selecting the Window does just that.
Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 28

SnowLeopard Ubuntu plain logo windows 7 logo

With the latest version of any operating system, there’s often a lot of hype around its release with many eager to upgrade straightaway. Whether you’re running Mac OS X Snow Leopard, Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 or Windows 7, you’ll know all about this. But do we really need the latest OS?

I was reading the Lifehacker Editors’ Favorite Software and Hardware the other day and what really caught my attention was not so much the apps they used, but their operating systems. You would think these guys at the cutting edge of tech would demand the latest OS on their systems, but no. Here’s what they’re running:

Gina Trapani: Mac OS X and Windows XP and thinking about Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04

Adam Pash: Mac OS X

Kevin Purdy: Windows Vista and Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04

Jason Fitzpatrick: Windows XP, Mac OS X and Linux

Tamar Weinberg: Windows XP and Fedora 9

So no Windows 7, 6 months after its release. Not even Ubuntu 9.10.

Which just goes to show that maybe we just don’t need the latest version. I upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7 recently, because I got a good pre-release price on the upgrade and my XP install was badly in need of a refresh. But I have to confess I did succumb to all the hype – the general consensus was that Windows 7 was awesome. But in all honesty, Windows XP was just fine. What can I do now in Windows 7 that I couldn’t do in Windows XP….let me think…nothing! I’m running just the same desktop software and web apps and services.

And I seem to recall a bit of disquiet over the Mac Snow Leopard release – some felt the upgrade from Leopard just wasn’t worthwhile. And I guess the interest in Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron rather than the latest release is because it was a Long Term Support version (LTS) with 3 years support on the Ubuntu Desktop.

So you might say there really is no need to upgrade your OS. They are becoming more mature and more stable with each release and software vendors are going to find it increasingly hard to get us to upgrade in future. If you’re system is performing well and doing what you want, that’s the main thing. But it’s probably worth reinstalling your OS every couple of years to blow away your old bloated registry (Windows users) and the apps you never use, and you’ll likely see an improvement in performance. Eventually however, you’ll find that new hardware and software won’t be supported on the very old OS versions and technical support will be withdrawn so you may have to upgrade then.

Do you run the latest OS? If you have upgraded, was it worth it? Drop a comment below.

Apr 6

I’ve been using Windows 7 on my desktop PC for a couple of months now after upgrading from Windows XP. So far I’ve had no real problems and am quite satisfied with the OS but I have two minor annoyances:

Date and time display in the status bar

I’m not a great lover of the new full size taskbar. For me, the icons are too large and the bar takes up too much real estate at the bottom of my screen. So I changed to small icons (right click on taskbar, Properties and choose Use small icons) which I like better but the problem is that the two-line time-date display in the system tray now just shows the time, which is a pity because I find myself constantly referring to the date (and day of the week for that matter!). Yes, you can see the date and day of the week if you hover your mouse over the time but I’d rather just be able to glance there and see the date. I’ve tried changing the display format, looked around online, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to get the time and date to display on the same line. Which is a pity because it’s the default display in Ubuntu Netbook Remix on my Acer Aspire One netbook:

Ubuntu date and time

I don’t know why the single line date-time option wasn’t included in Windows 7. It would surely be a nice option for those who don’t want a two-line display. But date display in the system tray has always been a problem in Windows for some reason. I used to use the TClockEx utility in XP to get the date in the system tray. Unfortunately, TClockEx hasn’t been updated for Windows 7. Update (6 March 2012):  T-Clock 2010 works with Windows 7 so you can now display date and time on a single line. There’s a good write-up of T-Clock 2010 here.

Still, I have some kind of a workaround. My Rainlendar desktop calendar shows the date in the system tray as you can see:

Windows date and time

And I have found a Firefox extension (Date Picker/Calendar) which displays the date and time (and a pop up calendar) in the bottom left corner of the status bar in the Firefox browser window:

Firefox date and time

But what a pity Microsoft couldn’t follow Ubuntu’s lead on this one – or at least give us the option.

Bare bones snipping tool

Microsoft have included a snipping (screenshot) utility in Vista and Windows 7 which is fine as far as it goes. But it’s just a basic capture and save tool with no facility for annotation of screenshots with text and symbols – a must for bloggers. And that’s a great pity because, as with Windows XP,  I have to download a third party app to do the job properly. So it’s back to FastStone Screen Capture for me, at least until Microsoft improves the functionality of their tool.

Do you have any gripes or niggles with Windows 7? Drop a comment below.

Mar 10

Windows key

Is the Windows key a forgotten key on your keyboard? Is your hand glued to your mouse or do you try and use any keyboard shortcuts? I must admit, I’ve never been one to use the Windows key much and I’ve been missing out on some cool shortcuts.

Apart from the obvious function of opening the Start menu, the Windows key can be used in combination with others for some great shortcuts. I’ve tried them out and this is how they work in Windows 7. Many of these shortcuts will also work in Vista and some work in Windows XP.

Win + Tab: displays the apps open on your superbar (really cool 3D effect in Windows 7); keep pressing Tab to cycle through them and release keys to open that window  (Alt + Tab is nice too; keep your finger on Alt and move your mouse over the windows; click to select one)

Win + E: opens My Computer

Win + D: shows the desktop; pressing the same key combination again takes you back where you were

Win + F: opens Windows search; or if you have Coperic Desktop Search installed, that opens instead

Win + R: displays the Run command box

Win + Pause/Break: displays system information in Windows 7

Win + U: displays the Ease of Access Center (try the Magnifier tool)

Win + G: shows your gadgets if you have any installed

Win + L: locks your desktop

Win + S: select and save a screenshot to Microsoft OneNote (if it’s installed)

Win + T: cycle through the apps on your superbar

Win + N: opens Microsoft OneNote

Win + P: opens the display control dialogue box

Win + F1: displays Windows help

Win + 1: Maximises or opens the leftmost application on your superbar in Windows 7. If Word is the first application on your superbar, and say you have three documents open in Word, you can cycle through them by repeatedly pressing Win + 1.

Win + 2 maximizes or opens the second application and so on. Works right through to Win + 0 for the 10th app along your superbar.

Hope all this helps you to be more productive.

Image credit: Jeremy Brooks

Jan 22

I upgraded my son’s Dell laptop from Vista to Windows 7 recently. Did a custom install without reformatting the hard drive. Everything went fine but after installing some essential programs and putting his 20GB of music back from an external drive, I couldn’t reinstall his 20GB of photos as I was out of disk space. This Dell 1545 came with a 160GB hard drive which should have been way more than enough. What was hogging all the disk space?

I’m not a great lover of Windows Explorer so I downloaded the free Xinorbis to analyse the folder sizes on the hard drive. Straight away I could see that a folder called Windows.old was taking up 63GB of space! I googled windows.old and discovered that the Windows 7 installation had backed up the entire Vista set up here. I didn’t need anything from Windows.old as everything important was backed up to an external drive so I deleted the folder using great instructions I found here.

So if you’ve moved up from Vista to Windows 7 by doing a custom install and without reformatting the hard drive and were wondering what had happened to all your disk space, watch out for Windows.old.

Dec 16

Many people treat an operating system upgrade with great trepidation. Is my data safe? What if I have problems, can I go back? I’m just going through an upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 but I’ve chosen a no-risk route which completely preserves my old OS and all my data so I can transition to Windows 7 at my own pace, getting it set up just the way I want and getting used to it before completely moving over from XP.

I’ve already blogged about installing a new 1TB SATA drive in my PC and I’m going to do a clean install of Windows 7 Home Premium (Full Version) on this new drive. I’m going to be replacing my 4-year-old 80GB Maxtor drive running Windows XP (which still works fine). I should say that I also have an identical 80GB removable Maxtor hard drive to which I cloned my primary drive soon after its installation and where I back up new data on a regular basis with a simple batch file. I blogged about it soon after I started this blog. So I effectively have an XP install with a mirror in case the first drive dies. But I felt that both these drives were too small (and probably too old) to move forward with Windows 7 so I chose to buy a new 1TB drive and keep the old drives for backups of music, photos, etc.

Anyway, on to the Windows 7 install on the new drive. I must say that, as someone who doesn’t regularly reinstall my OS, I found the Windows 7 custom install a breeze and no-one should be worried about a clean install on a new hard drive. I booted up with the Windows 7 disk in the DVD drive and followed the prompts, picking Windows Setup on the first screen and then Custom Install (not Upgrade). A custom install is a clean install.


The install took about 20 minutes on my system, followed by a reboot to bring up the Windows 7 desktop. But the new OS couldn’t detect my ZOOM ADSL X6 wireless router and get online. A little strange considering that installs of Ubuntu 8.10 and later Ubuntu 9.04 on another desktop PC and Easy Peasy Linux on my Acer Aspire netbook had no problems at all seeing the wireless router and just needed the WPA password. So I tried installing the ZOOM router driver. Still no luck. Then I tried installing the driver for my Edimax Wireless LAN PCI card, selected the ZOOM profile and activated it and finally entered my WPA password and that got me online. That was really the only hitch in the install.

First stop online was Ninite, an excellent site where you can pick multiple applications from an ever-growing list and install them together. The screenshot below shows only part of the list of applications currently available


I picked Firefox, Skype, VLC, Audacity, Irfanview, Foxit Reader, Microsoft Security Essentials, Flash (for browsers other than IE), Java, .NET, Evernote, ImgBurn, CCleaner, Revo, CDBurnerXP, Recuva, 7-Zip and Notepad++. The complete install of all these applications took only about 10 minutes – obviously a lot quicker than visiting each site and downloading the applications individually. Then Evernote just had to sync with the web client.

I’ve already listed my essential software and web applications on the About page, so I went through that and installed what I would initially need. I’ve always used AVG Free in the past for antivirus but I’m going to give Microsoft Security Essentials a try this time round – you’d figure that Microsoft should be the best candidate to keep their own system clean and it’s had pretty good reviews so far.

So that’s where I’m at right now. Installing my data won’t be a problem later – just a case of booting up with my removable backup hard drive in place and copying across everything I need. At this point, if you’ve followed this route, you may very well be plugging in your external hard drive to copy across your data.

But before I copy the data over, what I propose to do next is, when I have all the applications installed that I want and everything set up as I like it, I’m going to image the ‘untainted’ system so in future I can restore a clean system with my essential applications if I have to. So I loaded my copy of Acronis True Image 8 to make an image but found it wasn’t compatible with Windows 7. No problem, I’ve found an excellent tutorial from Gina Trapani on using the free DriveImage XML to make the image instead.

I’ll blog later about finishing this install, and any new applications I’ve come across to replace utilities I’ve used with XP.

Aug 27
Windows 7 pricing in Europe
icon1 techandlife | icon2 Software, windows | icon4 August 27, 2009| icon3No Comments »

windows 7 home premium

As some of you may be aware, Windows users in Europe have been offered a great deal to move up to the Windows 7 operating system. Since July, UK users have been able to pre-order the full version of Windows 7 for less than the cost of the upgrade version. According to a Guardian article back in June, typically, a Windows upgrade for Vista Home Premium would cost £79.99 and the full version would cost £169.99. Initially, the plan was to sell Windows 7 in Europe without the Internet Explorer browser, but according to the Windows Team Blog recently:

For customers who have already pre-ordered the full version of Windows 7 E in the EU – either as part of special pre-order offers or otherwise – they will receive full versions of Windows 7 that include Internet Explorer 8. These customers, and any other customer who pre-orders Windows 7 before upgrade versions are available on September 1, will still be able to get upgrade pricing for Windows 7 full versions.

I’ve just ordered Windows 7 Home Premium (full version) from Amazon in the UK for £64.98 (at current exchange rates – 27 August – that works out at 73.78 euro, USD105 or AUD126.63). I still run Windows XP so wouldn’t normally qualify for an upgrade price so I just couldn’t pass up that offer.

So if you pre-order before September 1, you will get upgrade pricing on the full Windows 7 version – well worth checking out, particularly if you are running XP, or an older Windows OS.

Now I have to look into a 1TB hard drive for my new OS!

Update: 4th September – Amazon UK are still pricing the full version of Windows 7 Home Premium at £64.98. I’ll try and update this with any price changes. I’m watching the page with Follow That Page.

Update: 2nd October – UK students with a valid university email address can get Windows 7 Home Premium for £30. Further details here.

Update: 21st October – Amazon UK are now pricing the full version of Windows 7 Home Premium at £114.98.

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