What is that little Windows icon on my taskbar?

Win10-U-07A little Windows icon has appeared in the notification area of the taskbar on PCs operating on Windows 7 (SP1) and Windows 8.1. What is it for?

It is a little “gateway” to the future!

Win10-U-08Put your pointer on it and it will bring up a little message saying “Get Windows 10”.

Click on it and you will see a window with this message:

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The “How this free upgrade works” message from Microsoft tells you the three steps to get your free upgrade to Windows 10. Step 1 is to “Reserve” your copy of Windows 10. You really have a year to perform this upgrade operation, but why not get in line to be one of the first to enjoy the latest and most efficient operating system from Microsoft?

Click on “Reserve your free upgrade” and you will see a simple form that just asks for your email address and whether you want to be informed of the latest on Windows 10.

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Once you have sent in your reservation, you will get downloads of the upgrade components. The actual Windows 10 upgrade package will not be installed on your computer until after July 29, 2015, the official release date of the new operating system. There will still be opt-in steps for you, so don’t worry that your computer will be “taken over”.

.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck

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When it says “Do not turn off your computer” what happens if I do?

You see this message usually when your PC is installing updates and it is in the process of shutting down or restarting. If the computer is powered off during this process the installation process will be interrupted.

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The interruption can have several outcomes. The best is that when you restart your computer the process either continues or picks up from the start and you hardly notice that anything bad has occurred. It may be that the computer goes through several cycles trying to get the job done. That may take extra time but gets everything updated.

It can also happen that the process was stopped when it was already marked done but has not completed. The PC will show the update installed when in fact it reverted back to the prior version of whatever was being updated. This can be bad especially if some vulnerability was being corrected and that did not really happen. It is usually best after a power interruption to manually check for updates again.

The worst outcome can be that the process gets caught in such a way that it loops back to the same incomplete state. The machine might even be unusable as it tries over and over to complete the update. Intervention might be needed, restarting into safe mode, and starting the update process again.

One thing you normally do not need to worry about is loosing any of your data.

.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck

How do I pin Outlook to the taskbar in Windows 8?

How to pin Outlook to the taskbar in Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10

Outlook can mean a couple of different things these days. There is Microsoft Outlook, the desktop mail client that is part of Microsoft Office, there is also Outlook.com the Microsoft email service. Let’s take them up one at a time.

Office ProgramsOutlook – mail client

To pin the Outlook mail client to the taskbar do this:

  • Click Start, or press the Windows key on the keyboard.
  • Find the Outlook listing – you may need to scroll around a bit.
  • Right-click on Outlook
  • Click on Pin to taskbar

That’s it.

Outlook.com – the online email service

To pin a link to the Outlook.com site to the taskbar proceed as shown below.

NOTE: This only works if you are using Internet Explorer.

  • Outlook.comOpen Internet Explorer and go to outlook.com. Sign in.
  • Find the little icon in front of the web address. See the illustration here.
  • drag iconPlace the pointer on the little icon. Note the tooltip “Drag to taskbar to pin site”.
  • Drag the little icon down to the taskbar and release it on the taskbar.

That’s it.

You can have both the mail client and the online outlook.com site pinned to the taskbar. The icons are very similar. The “white envelope” one is the Outlook client.

Taskbar icons

Outlook icons

.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck

How do I make a OneDrive album public?

Back a year and a half ago when OneDrive was called SkyDrive this same question was answered here. Of course, Microsoft has made a lot of changes since then and the details have changed. In fact, the current procedure is not at all intuitive and might frustrate a lot of users.

Microsoft intends your OneDrive to be your “file cabinet in the cloud”. It is meant for your private use, but you can share any folder, album, or individual item with a specific person, with anyone you provide a link to, or with everybody on the Internet anywhere in the world. This last “share” setting is usually referred to as “public”. If you wish to provide access to an item in your OneDrive to any and all readers of your blog for example, you need to make that item “public”. It’s sharing setting has to be “Everyone”.

Anything in a folder, or album, including sub-folders and items in the sub-folders will inherit the share setting of the folder. It is possible to have an unshared folder and somewhere inside you may have an item, album, folder, photo, or document, that you may wish to share publicly. That is possible. There are some disadvantages to such mixed up sharing that are beyond the scope of this article. It is best to maintain a clean,easily understood sharing structure.  Things available to the public should be in one main folder that is public. That makes adding public material straightforward.

Here is the procedure for making a OneDrive album public

Create your folder or album that you wish to share with the world. By default a newly created folder is not shared, it is marked “Only me” as you can see in the illustration below. Note the white arrow, it shows that the folder has been selected. In the information pane the “Sharing” shows “Only me”.

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To share this folder publicly click the “Share” link in the information pane or the Share link in the menu bar. The next page defaults to the sharing with individual people option. Click the “Get a link” option on the left.

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The next page may be confusing, as the “public” option is not apparent.

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You may think that you want to get a link with the “View only” option and that is what is shown on this page. But note the options chevron (see red arrow). Click that! Now you see the “Public” option.

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Click Public, then click Create link.

You will get a longish link in the window that you can copy (Ctrl-C) to provide to your readers. There is also an option to shorten the link.

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Also note that the folder is shown as being shared with “Everyone” and that the setting is “Can only view”.

You can use the long link or the much shorter one which is much easier to type by others, if that is needed.

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On you main OneDrive page you will see the sharing setting right under the folder name. If the information pane is showing you will see the sharing setting there also. The globe symbol indicates that the folder is now public.

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Anything you put in this folder, including new folders, will also be public by “inheritance”.

Although your folder is public it is not easily found by others. Search engines do not show OneDrive folders. So you need to provide the link to you readers in your blog or on your site. If you don’t, it is like unlocking the backdoor to your store. You customers can’t find it unless they know the address of your place.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

How do I update to Windows 8.1 – Store does not show the option?

If you have Windows 8 and the update option is not shown in the Store that is an indication that Windows 8 need some maintenance done.

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Look for a notification (right end of taskbar). imageMost likely there are some items indicated that need your attention. Run a Defender  scan (quick scan will do). Make sure it says “PC status: Protected”.

Go to Control Panel > System and Security > Action Center. Check in the Maintenance section for any items that need attention and take care of them.

Check for any updates needed. Go to Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Update.image

If you see any updates available click on the message line and install the updates. When your Windows 8 system is all up to date (restart if needed), go back to the Store. You will then see the invitation to update to Windows 8.1.

Note the process takes some time. For the Windows 8 standard version the download is 2.81 GB. If you have Windows 8 Pro installed the download is 3.63 BG. So depending on your Internet speed this can be a lengthy task.

For more on the update process see How do I upgrade to Windows 8.1 ?

.:.

© 2013 Ludwig Keck

How do I upgrade to Windows 8.1 ?

Now that Windows 8.1 is available everyone with a Windows 8 PC can get the new system at no cost. Well, it takes a bit of time, but that is all.

Before you start, be sure that you have backed up your computer. Installing a new system, and that is what upgrading to Windows 8.1 really is, is very much like major surgery, things can go wrong. So be safe, be prepared.

Do allow plenty of time. For me it took well over an hour; but then I was eager to update, right along with all the others who wanted to upgrade right after Windows 8.1 became available.

The procedure is quite easy. Go to the Start screen and click on the Store tile. You will see the invitation to update right away.

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imageClick on that invitation, the Download link on the next screen, and you are on your way. The download will proceed. There is nothing you need to to for a while. You will see the “Downloading” message, then “Getting your PC ready”, finally “Preparing to restart”.

Then you see a message asking for permission to restart.

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imageAfter a number of messages on a black screen with the new Windows logo advising the progress of “Setting up …”, “Getting devices ready …”, “Applying PC settings …”, “Setting up a few more things ..”, you will be presented with the License terms. You can read them, they are very, very long. You really have no choice but to accept if you wish to upgrade.

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Now you will need to make some more decisions. Next you will see the Settings screen.

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You can make some choices here, but clicking “Use express settings” is probably the easiest. You will be asked to sign in to your Microsoft account. Then a bit of extra security measures. You will be asked to how you want to receive a numeric code.

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If you have set up your Microsoft account with a phone number, you can receive either a text or voice message. You can also receive the code by email. Texting to your phone is the easiest. For me the phone rang immediately after clicking Next.

Enter the numeric code on the next screen. You will see an option for using SkyDrive.

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Once you proceed from here there will be a number of colorful screens as the final installation tasks. Shortly you will see your Start screen just as it was before on Windows 8. You can now start customizing and using the new features in Windows 8.1

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.:.

© 2013 Ludwig Keck