menu

Posts Tagged #Windows

Posted on by Arnon Erba in News

Update 2/12/2020: Microsoft has reversed their decision to automatically install the Microsoft Search in Bing extension. The extension will still be made available but will not be automatically deployed with Office 365 ProPlus. The original post continues below:

Starting next month, Microsoft plans to use Office 365 ProPlus to push a browser extension for Google Chrome that will change users’ default search engines to Bing. Version 2002 of Office 365 ProPlus will forcibly install the Microsoft Search in Bing extension for all Chrome users who do not already use Bing as their default search engine.

Understandably, many system administrators are frustrated with the announcement, as unwanted browser extensions that change end-user settings are usually considered malware and are blocked accordingly. In fact, Microsoft’s own security tools already block dozens of programs that exhibit similar behavior.

On GitHub, users are responding to the change by opening issues in the OfficeDocs-DeployOffice repository. So far, it does not appear that Microsoft has responded to this influx of unsolicited feedback outside of publishing a blog post extolling the virtues of Bing.

Who Is Affected?

At this point, only businesses that have deployed Office 365 ProPlus are affected. Depending on the organization’s Office 365 license, ProPlus is the version of Office delivered to end-users when they install Office from the office.com portal. According to Microsoft, not all Office 365 plans include the ProPlus version of Office:

This extension is included only with Office 365 ProPlus. It isn’t included with Office 365 Business, which is the version of Office that comes with certain business plans, such as the Microsoft 365 Business plan and the Office 365 Business Premium plan.

Firefox Is Next

According to Microsoft, a similar extension for Firefox is also on the way:

Support for the Firefox web browser is planned for a later date. We will keep you informed about support for Firefox through the Microsoft 365 Admin Center and this article.

Removing The Extension

By making the extension an opt-out feature, Microsoft is putting the onus on system administrators to deploy a method for blocking its installation. While there are official ways to prevent the extension from being installed, there is no easy Microsoft-supported method for removing the extension once it has already been deployed. Instead, Microsoft recommends running the following command as an administrator on each affected machine using a script:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft\DefaultPackPC\MainBootStrap.exe uninstallAll

It should also be possible to blacklist the extension with the 3rd party Group Policy templates for Chrome and Firefox provided by Google and Mozilla.

Unfortunately, Group Policy and other enterprise management tools do not always apply to BYOD devices, leaving users who install Office on their personal machines with little recourse except to notice and remove the extension on their own if they find it undesirable.

Sources

Posted on by Arnon Erba in News

It’s time: extended support for Windows 7 ends today. Originally released on October 22, 2009 and superseded by Windows 10 almost five years ago, Windows 7 carved out a huge market share for itself in enterprise and home environments alike. In fact, it took Windows 10 until the end of 2018 to finally break Windows 7’s dominant hold on the desktop OS market.

However, it’s time to move on. Windows 10 is a better, faster, and more secure OS that is — and has been for a while — the natural choice for modern environments and modern hardware. Even so, upgrading software and replacing legacy devices in huge organizations is difficult, and Windows 7 is sure to stick around as long as Microsoft offers the paid Extended Security Updates program to companies still trying to migrate. Just like with Windows XP, Windows 7’s story doesn’t end here.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in News

In a blog post last week, Microsoft announced an interesting new feature for Windows 7 business users. With Windows 7 reaching end-of-life on January 14, 2020, many companies have already migrated to Windows 10, but it’s likely that not everyone is going to meet the 2020 deadline. With this in mind, Microsoft is going to provide a new paid service called “Windows 7 Extended Security Updates” to help ease the last few business customers onto Windows 10.

Only For Businesses, Not Home Users

Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) will be available exclusively for Volume Licensing customers, which means only the Professional and Enterprise flavors of Windows 7 will be supported. However, that didn’t stop Gordon Kelly from Forbes from writing a confusing article about the new feature. Instead, in his post titled “Microsoft ‘Confirms’ Windows 7 New Monthly Charge”, Kelly insinuates that Microsoft is about to start charging individual Windows 7 users a monthly fee as a penalty for not upgrading to Windows 10.

That isn’t the case at all. In fact, home users will not be able to pay for Extended Security Updates even if they want to since the feature is only available for Volume Licensing customers. In reality, this feature is specifically targeted at enterprises with specialized requirements that need assistance or just a bit more time to migrate their critical systems off of Windows 7. Extended Security Updates does not impose any additional penalties over the already well-established end-of-life date for the aging OS.

A Smoother Transition

The enterprise world works very differently than the usual home/small office Windows environment. There are a lot of factors that hold back major OS upgrades, and, as we saw with Windows XP, these delays can cause major businesses to run past the end-of-life date of software and become vulnerable to newly discovered security flaws. When Windows XP left extended support, Microsoft was forced to continue supporting select customers (for a fee) who were unable or unwilling to migrate to Windows 7 in time.

At any rate, Microsoft will only provide the Windows 7 Extended Security Updates option until January 2023, so Windows 7 is certainly not going to be around forever.

Oh, and Microsoft is not planning to force Windows 10 home users to pay a monthly fee either, no matter what clickbait nonsense Kelly writes.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in News

Rufus, the lightweight and portable program for creating bootable USB drives on Windows, has reached version 3.0. Rufus, primarily developed by Pete Batard of Akeo Consulting, remains one of the easiest and most powerful ways to create bootable USB drives on Windows. Its simple user interface is easy to navigate, and Rufus is able to create bootable USB drives from a wide variety of Windows and Linux ISO files. It supports MBR and GPT partitioning and can even be used to create bootable DOS disks.

Released on May 29th, the version 3.0 of Rufus brings a new user interface and many other changes (pulled directly from the changelog):

  • UI redesign to follow the flow of user operations (with thanks to Fahad Al-Riyami for the concept)
  • Drop Windows XP and Windows Vista platform support
  • Switch all downloads to SSL and use https://rufus.ie as the new base URL
  • Add ARM64 support for UEFI:NTFS
  • Fix delays when querying floppy drives during device enumeration
  • Improve support of efi.img files on Linux ISOs
  • Improve support for non-ISO9660 compliant openSUSE Leap ISOs
  • Improve translation support and remove manual positioning
  • Internal fixes and improvements

You can grab a copy of Rufus at its new website, https://rufus.ie/. Rufus can be run directly from the downloaded .exe file — no installation is necessary.

Posted on by Arnon Erba in How-To Guides

If you want to enable or disable the inverted colors feature in Windows 8 or 8.1, here’s what you’ll need to do:

First, press WinKey+F to open the search tool and then type in “Magnifier”. Then, select “Magnifier” in the search list (not “install magnifier” or something).

invertedcolors1

Once Magnifier opens, the screen may, as you might expect, magnify. Ignore this (or hit the minus button until the screen goes back to 100%) and locate the gear icon in the Magnifier window.

invertedcolors2

Check or uncheck “Turn on color inversion” and click “OK”.

invertedcolors3

If everything worked, your screen will now be inverted (or back to normal).

Posted on by Arnon Erba in How-To Guides

Ever wished you could stare at a different background image while logging into Windows 7? With a bit of photo editing and registry modification, you can.

The first step is to get an image that matches your computer screen’s native resolution. This is important, because the image will not be scaled and will appear stretched or distorted if it is the wrong size. Once you’ve found the image, save it as backgroundDefault.jpg (note the capitalization) and make sure that it’s under 245 KB in size. Then, put it aside for a second as we modify the registry.

Type regedit in the Start menu and press Enter to open the registry editor. Then, browse to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Authentication/LogonUI/Background

and change the OEMBackground DWORD value to 1. To change the value, double-click on OEMBackground, type in a 1 under Value data, and click OK. If the value OEMBackground does not exist, right-click in the folder, select New DWORD (32-bit) Value, and create a DWORD entry called OEMBackground with value 1.

Now you can close Registry Editor and open Windows Explorer. Browse to the C:\Windows\system32\oobe folder and check if a folder named “info” exists. If it does, open it and proceed to the next step. If it doesn’t, create it, accept the User Account Control warning, and proceed.

Now, create an empty folder called backgrounds inside the info folder. If the “backgrounds” folder already exists as well and contains images, rename it to something like “backgrounds_old” and create a new one. Then, move your backgroundDefault.jpg image into the empty backgrounds folder and lock or log off your account to see the new welcome screen.

Keep in mind that if you switch back to the default Windows 7 theme in Control Panel>Personalization, Windows will reset the value of OEMBackground to 0 and the default welcome screen wallpaper will display. Just change the value back to 1 to display your custom wallpaper again.