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Better upgrade to Windows 10 while it’s still free (and time is almost up)

Windows has been pushing those helpful little notification on Windows system to upgrade; if you don’t heed those notifications by July 29, it will cost you to upgrade to Windows 10.

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Don’t risk the costly upgrade

If you’re using a Windows operating system, chances are you’ve encountered those persistent message to upgrade to Windows 10. While upgrading does take a little bit of time and patience, the upgrade itself to Windows 10 is free, or rather it has been up to this point. Unlike Apple, which allows users to upgrade at any point, to the newest operating system for free, Windows is taking a different approach and if you’re a procrastinator, you could be in trouble.

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If you haven’t upgraded your system to Windows 10 by June 29, 2016, the upgrade will cost you $119. If the thought of upgrading right now is more than you can handle, there is another option to keep you from having to pay the hefty fee and still keep Windows 7 or 8 on your machine. What you’ll need to do is “reserve” your copy of Windows 10 before July 29.

Reserving your copy

To “reserve” your copy of Windows 10, you’ll want to go ahead and act on that notification to upgrade. Once, you’ve completed the upgrade, you can roll back to Windows 7 or 8, keeping the original verson, but “reserve” your Windows 10 license, while it’s still free.

Your version of Windows 7 or 8 must be genuine or you will not be eligible to upgrade for free.

Have questions about this? Check out this article, or if you need help determining your eligibility, check out this article.

How can you have two versions?

When you receive a notification to upgrade to Windows 10 from your PC, Microsoft knows you’re running a genuine copy of Windows 7 or 8 (also known as a digital entitlement). Microsoft notes this on their servers and knows you can download Windows 10 for free. Once this is noted, you can install and reinstall Windows 10. It will remain active, since it’s noted on the Microsoft servers, without the product key. Since it’s noted on the servers, this allows you to install a different operating system (like Windows 7 or 8), while still maintaining your Windows 10 eligibility and activation.

There are a couple of caveats here, however. The upgrade is tied to each PC, so you’ll need to repeat this process for each eligible PC. Also, if you upgrade the motherboard, or install Window 10 on another PC that didn’t receive the digital entitlement mentioned above, it will not work. This differs from previous upgrades, because once you bought the upgrade with the product key, you could use it on any machine.

How to install and roll back

Before making any changes to your computer, you should back everything up to the Cloud, or an external hard drive, USB, or other storage medium. This ensures nothing gets lost forever. When you’re ready, the easiest way to begin installation and roll back is to use the built-in roll back feature. Be warned, however, some programs may be removed during the upgrade and you’ll need to reinstall them.

To get started, click on your upgrade notification, or click here, to get started. You’ll need to run the tool and agree to upgrade. After you’ve gotten Windows 10 installed, click the “Start” button and then navigate to “Settings.” Find “Update & Security,” then “Activation.” Double-check and make sure you see “Windows 10 on this device is activated with a digital entitlement.” (Remember, this is how the server knows you’ve activated). If it does, you’re good to go; if it doesn’t, you may need to wait while the Microsoft server updates before you roll back.

If you’re activated, click on the “recovery” tab and then you’ll see “get started” under “go back to Windows 7/8.1.” Click the appropriate option and Windows 10 will automatically uninstall itself and restore your old Windows system.  Once roll back is complete, make sure you double-check for missing programs and reinstall those. Then, you’re all set.

Alternative (but not better) options

There is another method to keep your programs in place, but it is more complicated. It involves created an image of your existing Windows operating systems, but to do so, you need an external hard drive with the same amount of room as your computer. You can use CDs, but the process can take nearly a day and you have to be in front of the computer to switch out the disc as they fill up. As long as you know which programs you’re running, and have the product keys to re-install them, the option above is your best (and easiest) bet.

If you don’t want to be out the money for upgrading at a later date, July 29, 2016 is your deadline.

#FreeWindows10

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Count Iblis

    June 19, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Windows 10 doesn’t work on my computer. After installing it causes internal power error, the computer constantly restarts. The fixes for this involve installing new drivers, but these new Windows 10 compatible drivers are not compatible with the image processing software such as ImageJ that I use. They cause the error ” LoadLibrary failed with error 87: The parameter is incorrect”, and the program quits. A later attempt to upgrade drivers (within Windows 8.1) led to unexpected shutdowns immediately after a cold start; the second start did work, but then it would take a long time for the computer to boot. I had to do a system reset to get rid of that problem (the option to roll back the drivers didn’t work). So, I’m going to stick with the old drivers that are only compatible with Windows 8.1.

  2. Debbie Cerda

    June 27, 2016 at 10:53 am

    I’m a bit wary of upgrading to Windows 10 as well. What’s the general consensus for making the move?

    • Lani Rosales

      June 27, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      Good question – all of the PCs here are upgraded, and it’s actually a slightly better iteration than 8.1, seems faster and less glitchy. Plus, get it while it’s free and you can always revert if you hate it. 🙂

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Tech News

Google Maps will soon display traffic lights

(TECH NEWS) The addition of traffic light positions to Google Maps promises to boost navigation accuracy. Now you won’t run a light while looking at navigation.

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google maps traffic lights

At over 150 million monthly users, Google Maps’ value is not to be understated. With a new feature that shows traffic light positions rolling out to select devices and locations soon, one can expect that trend to continue.

A common issue with navigation via an app–especially when navigating solo–is a lack of precision that can lead to confusion, missed exits, potentially dangerous driving, and, worst of all, spilled coffee. By adding the location of traffic lights, Google Maps will improve both landmark recognition and automated navigation by providing drivers with more accessible information.

It’s worth noting a couple of arguing points, the first of which is the assertion that Google is starting from scratch on this feature. They aren’t. In fact, Japan-based Google Maps users have had access to traffic light positioning for years; Google is simply expanding the feature to include a larger number of cities and population density.

In a similar vein, Google also isn’t the first company to implement an ease-of-access feature such as this. Apple Maps has incorporated traffic light recognition since the release of iOS 13, and while its use is hit-or-miss (my iPhone 11 fails to pick up most traffic lights in my admittedly rural town of residence), the option to have Siri direct users to the nearest traffic light rather than saying “in 213.7 feet, turn left” is helpful.

That said, Apple Maps is a service which sees a little over 20 million monthly users–a far cry from Google Maps’ monthly base. For Google, accuracy and speed of updates will be paramount for a successful, routinely helpful launch.

At the time of this writing, Google plans to release the traffic light feature in New York, San Francisco, and a few other United States cities. The feature will be available on Android devices–sorry for now, Apple users–and will ideally expand to encompass most of the country if the initial release is successful.

It will be interesting to see how comprehensive Google’s coverage is and how quick the company is to adjust positioning of lights as cities do what cities do best. For now, if you have an Android device, keep an eye on your Maps app–good things are coming your way.

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Tech News

How Microsoft plans to upskill millions of workers during COVID-19

(TECH NEWS) Microsoft is providing affordable and accessible resources to upskill workers during the COVID-19 economy.

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Microsoft helps

While the undeniable amount of job loss in the Unites States, thanks to COVID-19, may have lost some steam in the news, there are many people out of work and job searching. As of June 6, 2020, “Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 4.8 million in June, and the unemployment rate declined to 11.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.”

This means many Americans are quietly pondering their next move. Some are freaking out over what their next place or type of employment will be, while others are taking a minute to pause and re-design their life’s path. Both may be hopeful that their career is aligning with their ultimate goals or ways in which they would prefer to live their life via professional pursuits and family preferences. There may be an optimistic outlook as well if they have been able to score interviews and feel some excitement about new opportunities amongst the angst and uncertainty.

However, as you may likely know, after a job loss, the job seeker has some extra time to think and this can be scary for some. They may catch themselves with extra worry or spinning in the what ifs? What if I don’t have the skills for the jobs in demand? What if I’m too old? What if they are not looking to hire someone with my credentials? What if I am unable to replace my salary?

Let’s look at the data when we cannot get out of our heads. What are jobs that are in demand and will be growing? According to VentureBeat and Microsoft, here are the top 10 jobs that are in demand and likely to grow over the next decade:

  1. Software developer
  2. Sales representative
  3. Project manager
  4. IT administrator
  5. Customer service specialist
  6. Digital marketing specialist
  7. IT support / help desk
  8. Data analyst
  9. Financial analyst
  10. Graphic designer

In tandem, Microsoft is providing access to “learning paths” and resources for users to develop skills for these jobs, which will be available from today until the end of March 2021, and includes a series of videos to help jobseekers start off on the right foot for each role. Microsoft will also connect more technical roles with other resources and tools, including its bot-powered GitHub Learning Lab where budding coders can practice new skills. And feeding into this, Microsoft said that it will join the dots through to qualifications, by offering “low-cost access” to industry-recognized Microsoft certifications “based on exams that demonstrate proficiency in Microsoft technologies,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a separate blog post.”

Venture Beat goes on to say that “Microsoft has announced a slew of new initiatives designed to open up access to new digital skills, including cash grants, providing access to data, affordable certifications for Microsoft products, and a new learning app baked directly into Microsoft Teams.”

Looks like those software developers aren’t going away and you can hate on sales all you want, but those are needed for companies to keep their doors open and sell their products or services.

It seems apparent that the tech giant is looking to make a positive impact and help upskill workers to be able to explore and gain the skills they need to pursue these available and growing job opportunities. They are utilizing the data available within the LinkedIn platform to provide insights on job postings, as well as pledged to support access to learning and non-profit organizations. Microsoft is also making smart moves to grow and expand in an area where they see some major growth opportunities (within the LinkedIn Learning platform and MS Teams). Microsoft CEO mentioned that we have seen a 2-year digital shift in about two months due to COVID-19.

However, this does pose a question – how long will it take for hiring managers to catch up on reviewing resumes of those that had to make a job switch and may not have the previous experience they typically look for when hiring? There is fair room for a discussion that those reviewing resumes will also need to be informed of the career shifts of candidates due to COVID-19 and may need to spend a little bit more time making sure they are not dismissed for looking to make a switch after their upskill experience.

There may also be some questions from employees if they do not feel they resonate with any of those jobs listed as growing over the next decade. We may see a spike in entrepreneurial activity and people setting out to create and design their own work-life harmony – especially if the remote work opportunities are only going to grow exponentially.

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Study finds 1,000 phrases that accidentally activate smart speakers

(TECH GADGETS) Don’t worry about accidentally activating your nosy smart speakers… unless, of course, you utter one of these 1,000 innocuous phrases.

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smart speakers

It’s safe to say that privacy concerns, especially in today’s digital era, are unquestionably valid. With new video recording technology making it easier to identify people at a glance (whether they like it or not) and concerns that your smart speakers are eavesdropping on you, it may feel like you’re bordering on slightly paranoid around modern technology.

After all, even though there have been cases of smart speakers picking up on intimate conversations, there’s absolutely no risk of them overhearing private things without your consent, right? Even though it’s been documented that these devices — including Cortana, Alexa, Siri, and Google Home — have listened in relationship spats, criminal activity, and even HIPAA-protected data, you’re totally in the clear.

Oh yeah. The thing is, everything that gets broadcast into your smart speaker? There’s a completely random chance that someone back at headquarters may decide to sift through it in order to improve AI learning.

And while most of the time these conversations are totally benign, it doesn’t change the fact that a complete stranger is getting an earful of your private life. In fact, these transmissions? Are actually completely admissible in court, as several murder cases have already demonstrated. Their key evidence was none other than poor Alexa herself.

But wait, wait. These smart speakers can only get your information if you activate them, and that requires you to clearly enunciate their names. Right? Um. Not exactly. Even though you may think that you need to speak crisply into the speaker to activate it, it turns out that these devices are highly sensitive to any suggestion that you might be talking to them. It’s almost like your dog when you even remotely glance at his bag of doggie treats in the corner: one crinkle and Fido comes running, begging for some kibble and ready to serve you.

It’s the same for your smart speakers. As it turns out, there are over a thousand words or phrases that can trigger your device and invite it to start recording your voice. These can range from the perfectly reasonable (Cortana hearing “Montana” and springing to attention) to the downright absurd (Alexa raising her hackles over the words “election” and “unacceptable”). Well, crap. Now what?

It’s no secret that someone is listening in on your conversations. That’s been clearly documented, researched, dissected, and even accepted at this point. However, if you thought that they’d only listen to it if you gave them implicit permission by activating your device (which, to be fair, should not even count as permission in the first place), you were wrong.

So what’s a privacy-loving person to do? Just suck it up and try to choose between the lesser of two evils? On one hand, yes, these smart speakers are super convenient and can make your life easier. On the other?

Well, if you’re a fan of your privacy, then perhaps these devices aren’t meant for you. At this point, you’ve got little recourse. These companies will continue to use your data, and there’s nothing stopping them from spying on you. That is, unless you prevent them from doing it in the first place.

If you want to keep your private conversations private, either unplug your smart speaker when you’re not using it, or don’t get one in the first place. Otherwise, you’ll continue to give your implied consent that you’re totes cool with them butting in on your personal life, and they’ll continue to be equally totes cool with using it without your permission.

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