Category Archives: Software

Windows 7 Ending?

Windows 7

Here’s a question from one of my customers:

I see that Windows 7 finishes in January, do you think it’s worth upgrading my computer to Windows 10? How much is the cost for this?

I am being asked this sort of question a lot recently. Here’s my answer.

When Microsoft ends support for Windows 7 on 14th Jan 2020, nothing will change immediately. If it worked on Jan 13th, it’ll still work on Jan 15th.

There are two implications though:

  1. Microsoft will no longer have people working in Windows 7, so any problems that are found with it won’t be fixed. There is only one area where this matters – security flaws. If a security weakness is found in Windows 7 in the future, it won’t be fixed. Arguably, this makes Win 7 less secure as time passes, but personally I think the dangers are overstated. It’s ages since any security flaws were discovered in Win7, and anyway most home-PC attacks are not based on security flaws in the operating system, they are based on tricking the user.

  2. More importantly, other companies will stop testing new versions of their products on Windows 7, because if Microsoft has lost interest in it, they reckon they can too. So Sage 2021, for example, probably won’t be guaranteed to run on Windows 7. It may do, but Sage won’t guarantee that it will. So if you run any program that needs to be kept up to date, there’s no guarantee that this will be possible after 2020. For most people that doesn’t matter much – even if future versions of some program won’t work, the version they have now will still be fine.

    The problem eventually comes, for most people, with their browser – the thing they look at web pages with. Things like Chrome get regular updates to cope with fancy new websites. Over time, never versions of Chrome won’t work on Windows 7, and you might not be able to view some websites properly.

    You’d also have to find an anti-virus program where future updated versions will work under Windows 7, but that should be fairly easy, at least for a few years. I think Malwarebytes that I recommend will be OK.

All that takes ages to really become a problem – several years. So I’d say there’s no need to do anything for a year or two, but when the time comes to buy a new computer, it probably should use Windows 10. All new computers do, anyway.

It’s a bit like running an old car. I used to have a Saab, and then Saab went out of business. Nothing stopped me running the car, but
over time spare parts got harder to get (but not impossible). But after a while it didn’t meet new emission regulations (it was a diesel)
and they wanted to change me for driving into London (plus the congestion change) and higher road tax. So when the time came to
change it, I couldn’t buy another Saab anyway, but I bought a petrol car rather than another diesel. Same when they phased out 4-start petrol – nothing changed overnight, but over a few years we all changed to unleaded.

So it’s the same with Windows 7. No need to do anything for a couple of years, but when you buy your next PC, don’t expect it to be Windows.

Windows 10 is OK anyway, and much of it is better than Windows 7. It’s pretty similar to Windows 7, so (unlike with Windows 8) people usually get used to it reasonably

Sound not working?

If your sound has suddenly stopped working, and you’re running Windows 10 (version 1803) and received an automatic Microsoft update on or around 11th October 2018, Microsoft have a post about how to fix it here.

There’s also a rather more technical Reddit thread here which explains how to fix it from the Command prompt or a Powershell prompt (in either case it must be an admin-level prompt). Essentially, list the drivers with

pnputil /enum-drivers

and find the one that looks like this:

Original Name: intcaudiobus.inf
Provider Name: Intel(R) Corporation
Class Name: System devices
Class GUID: {4d36e97d-e325-11ce-bfc1-08002be10318}
Driver Version: 08/22/2018 09.21.00.3755
Signer Name: Microsoft Windows Hardware Compatibility Publisher

Note the “Published Name” – let’s say it’s this:

 Published Name: oemXXXX.inf

Finally, do this command, using the value you found instead of oemXXXX.inf:

pnputil /delete-driver oemXXXX.inf /uninstall

Sound should now work. No need to restart the PC.

This only affects PCs which use Intel High Definition Audio; by 12th October 2018 Microsoft had withdrawn the update, but if it has already been applied, it stays applied and your sound won’t work.

Password-protect a spreadsheet

It can be useful to protect an Excel spreadsheet with a password, for example before sending it by e-mail. Password-protected files are also encrypted, so there’s no way of seeing their contents without knowing the password.

You can do the same with Word documents. The process is virtually identical to that described below for Excel.  Access databases can also be password protected, although it’s a little more complicated (look for File | Info | Encrypt with Password).

Here are step-by-step instructions for putting a password on an Excel spreadsheet. Continue reading Password-protect a spreadsheet

How do I tell what version of Windows I’m running?

There are a number of ways, but one of the easiest, and one that works on all modern versions of Windows is this:

Use Win+R:

Windows and R keys
How to get the Run box

In details: hold down the Windows key, press and release the “R” key, let go of the Windows key.

Win and R keys
How to get the Windows “Run” box

The “Run box” will appear:

win-run-command

Type “winver” (without the quotes) and click “OK”.

screenshot
Windows 10 Anniversary Edition

You’ll be shown a box that tells you which Windows you have (Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 8, Windows 10), and, in smaller letters the version and edition – version 1610 of Windows 10 Pro, for example. Click “OK” to make the box go away.

Time to upgrade to Windows 10?

Windows 10 screenshot
Windows 10

Windows 10 was released in July 2015, with the offer of free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 home users (there is no Windows 9). My advice at the time to most of my customers was to wait and see how Windows 10 worked out, and not to rush into the upgrade. Sure enough, there was a major re-release of Windows 10 in November 2015 (the “Fall upgrade” or the “1511 upgrade”).

My advice now to most users is to take the free upgrade. Continue reading Time to upgrade to Windows 10?