Woody Leonhard's no-bull news, tips and help for Windows and Office
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  • Have the Surface RT and Surface 2 been put out to pasture?

    Posted on January 9th, 2017 at 08:08 woody 15 comments

    If you got suckered into buying a Windows RT machine from Microsoft, you’re basically up the ol’ creek, the next time you try to reset it.

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows

    UPDATE: Evan Forrest has published detailed instructions for installing Update 3 on an RT machine. https://surfacetip.com/install-windows-rt-8-1-update-3-2017/  Amazing! There are still lots of problems – and Microsoft should be thrashed for tossing its RT customers under the bus – but it’s a very worthwhile fix. Thanks, Evan!

  • New $3,000 + Surface Studio in the real world

    Posted on December 1st, 2016 at 12:42 woody 6 comments

    If you’re thinking about buying one of the just-shipped $3,000+ Surface Studios, it’d be worth your while to see what “real” people are saying about it.

    I don’t own one. I can think of better ways to spend several thousand dollars – and Microsoft isn’t likely to send one to me for evaluation.

    Engadget’s hands-on “Mini” review is out, and their take is decidedly lukewarm:

    Innovative, but not for everyone…

    If you’re curious about the innards, iFixIt has detailed teardowns of the Surface Studio and its circuitous sidekick the Surface Dial.

    You can run into a Microsoft Store and take a look yourself, but before you do, you should see what new owners are saying.

    My first exposure to the Surface Studio came on this week’s live recording of Windows Weekly. Leo Laporte received his new Studio on Monday, and the way he’s working with it is telling. Some of the foibles got cut in the mix, but the machine has many good features – gorgeous screen, interesting peripheral – and several significant problems – it’s slow (with a mobile GPU) and the drive’s a hybrid. If you look at the way Leo uses it and compare it to the way you work, you might not be impressed. “It’s like a giant iPad.” Think hard about where you’d put your keyboard.

    Then I bumped into this comment on the Microsoft Answers forum. Poster Damon S says:

    Dissapointing performance and hard drive for $4100… I love the idea of the machine but do i now want to go find a way to replace the HD with an SSD and then spend a day reinstalling windows and all the other drivers needed and spend another $500 on a $4k plus computer is daunting.

    Photographer Scott Bourne on Photofocus says the reflections on the screen are so bad “it’s a simple deal breaker for me. As much as I like EVERYTHING else about this machine (okay well maybe not the price) I can’t see myself using one until / unless Microsoft offers one with a matte display.”

    The Surface Studio ships with a tech support phone number, which appears to be unique for Studio support – see Brad Sams post on Thurrott.com – although some wags posit that the number’s answered by Microsoft’s usual support center.

    Watch out for Acer- and Dell- manufactured Studio wannabes in the near future.

  • Win10 usage nudges upward slightly, but IE and Edge keep tumbling

    Posted on December 1st, 2016 at 07:45 woody 61 comments


    The stats are in, and they ain’t pretty.

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows

  • So what’s Joe Belfiore up to?

    Posted on November 30th, 2016 at 13:34 woody 59 comments

    Just a bit of idle speculation….

    I finished re-reading Paul Thurrott’s article about the future of the Windows Insider Program. It’s a good article, vetted by Microsoft, that shows how the Insider Program grew and will continue to grow. (Although, notably, neither he nor Microsoft address my six key problems with the Insider Program.)

    The story is so well-liked inside Microsoft that Gabe Aul, Dona Sarkar and Frank X. Shaw have all tweeted their approval.

    Anyway, that article has me wondering if Joe Belfiore is on tap to head up a re-designed Insider Program – or perhaps to lead a group inside Microsoft, reporting to Terry Myerson, that encompasses the Insider Program.

    Joe took a one-year leave of absence in Oct. 2015, but he’s been back on campus since early September. So far, there hasn’t been  a word about what he’s up to.

    As one of the most admired and genuinely liked people in the company, his next assignment should speak volumes about Microsoft’s intentions for Windows.

    FURTHER RUMINATIONS: So Microsoft Security Essentials now has a preview. What if Microsoft combined all of its Insider Programs – Windows (which is actually two different Insider Programs, one that does “previews”), Office, Visual Studio, Xbox (renamed Nov. 7), Skype (established Nov. 9), and who-knows-what-all. JoeB in charge. The products span all of Microsoft, but the Insider functions are quite similar. Sounds like a winner to me.

    UPDATE: JoeB’s trip to the dark side. Brad Sams at Thurrott.com has just unveiled what Joe will be up to:

    Joe will be running the consumer-focused Windows Shell and will be reporting to Terry Myerson; his objective will be to find new ways to make money with Windows 10 as the traditional licensing model of the OS goes away, especially in the lower-priced segment.

    And that speaks volumes about Microsoft’s intentions for Windows.

  • If you use OneDrive for Business, you should know about new troubleshooting program from Microsoft.

    Posted on November 21st, 2016 at 15:31 woody 5 comments

    Microsoft quietly announced a new troubleshooting tool for those of you with OneDrive for Business.

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows

  • Is Microsoft crushing the antivirus industry?

    Posted on November 12th, 2016 at 05:40 woody 63 comments

    Eugene Kaspersky – founder of Kaspersky Lab – thinks so.

    Microsoft’s long walked a tightrope in the antivirus and threat monitoring arena. With the introduction of Windows Defender (formerly GIANT AntiSpyware) in 2005, Microsoft entered the business, jumping into a ring with several billion-dollar competitors.

    Now Kaspersky (who, according to Bloomberg, was “educated at a KGB-sponsored cryptography institute, then worked for Russian military intelligence”) is making distinctly antitrust rumblings. Iain Thomson at The Reg has a good overview.

    Will the stink stick? Russian courts may prove sympathetic. American courts, likely not so much. The opponents have enormous war chests. Could be interesting.

    UPDATE: Peter Bright has a detailed analysis, including a detailed step-through, on Ars Technica. One of his conclusions, which is spot-on, goes like this:

    Regardless of how regulators respond, one thing is clear: they won’t move fast enough to change anything any time soon, because they never do.

    Bogdan Popa at Softpedia notes that Russia’s already launched an antitrust investigation, quoting the Deputy Head of the antitrust department as saying:

    Since Microsoft itself develops antivirus software – Windows Defender that switches on automatically if third-party software fails to adapt to Windows 10 in due time, such actions lead to unreasonable advantages for Microsoft on the software market. Our task is to ensure equal conditions for all participants on this market.

    UPDATE: Paul Thurrott has a balanced essay on the topic on Thurrott.com (Thurrott Premium paywall).

    So what say you, Microsoft? Will you work with Kaspersky and your other software partners to ensure that Windows users are both protected and respected? Or will you ignore this complaint and continue down a road that I and many others worry is too unilateral and too patronizing for many of your customers?


  • Microsoft says it’ll refund Surface Pro 3 bad battery replacements

    Posted on November 9th, 2016 at 16:28 woody 1 comment

    Microsoft released a Surface Pro 3 firmware/driver update on November 7. Apparently the patch is specifically directed at the LGC battery problem I talked about on September 20.

    MVP and Surface advocate Barb Bowman has a detailed explanation on the Microsoft Answers forum.

    There are problems with the patch – also documented in the same thread on the Answers forum.

    Microsoft has posted a lengthy description of the problem and its solution, which includes this important announcement of a refund for those who spent hard cash to fix a defective Microsoft battery:

    Refund FAQ

    Who is eligible for an out-of-warranty Surface Pro 3 exchange refund ?

    Customers who’ve been affected by this issue and who paid for an out-of-warranty exchange of their Surface Pro 3 were refunded the cost of their out-of-warranty exchange.

    How will I know if I’m eligible for a refund?

    If you were eligible, you received an email from Microsoft in October 2016 notifying you that a refund is being processed. In most cases, you won’t have to take any action.

    How long will it take to receive my refund?

    If we’re able to process the refund directly to your credit card, you can expect your refund to process within 2-3 billing cycles, depending on your financial institution.

    In some instances, we’ll need to issue a written check, and we’ll notify you via email with the details.

    What should I do if I believe I’m eligible, but I haven’t received an email yet?

    If you were impacted by this issue and paid for an out-of-warranty Surface Pro 3 exchange, but you didn’t receive an email indicating a refund is in process, contact Surface support.

    You’ll need to provide the Surface support agent with your Microsoft account and the service request number from your original paid out-of-warranty Surface Pro 3 exchange.

    What if I’m a business customer and I paid for an out-of-warranty exchange?

    If you’re a business customer affected by this issue and you paid for out-of-warranty exchanges of your Surface Pro 3 devices, we’ll contact you via email with invoice refund instructions.

    If you have questions or problems with the refund process, contact Surface Support for Business.

  • Everything you need to know about the new Surface Studio

    Posted on October 27th, 2016 at 05:37 woody 3 comments

    Peter Bright has a Surface Studio review on Ars Technica that’s worth reading, if you’re the least bit curious about where Microsoft hardware and Win10 are heading.  It’s a thorough review from somebody who knows Windows and hardware. (Peter also has the distinction of being the only person who’s dropped a Surface Studio screen and lived to tell the tale, but I digress.)

    My takeaway: Meh. If you need a minimalist desktop PC with a gorgeous screen that doubles as a drafting table, and don’t mind shuffling the keyboard out of the way, have at it.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s wonderful that you can rotate a 3D drawing interactively inside a PowerPoint presentation. It’s just that I can’t imagine myself scouring the web looking for suitable 3D graphics – and I’m not nearly talented enough to create anything like that. Besides, I wouldn’t want to put my audience through that kind of torture.

    As for the hockey puck, hey, some of you spend a lot of time doing freehand drawing and I’m happy for you. But the rest of us can probably find better ways to spend all that money – $3,000 for older-generation Skylake i5, 8 GB, GTX 965M with 2GB, 1 TB hybrid drive, 4 x USB 3; up to $4,200 for i7, 32 GB, GTX 980M with 4 GB, 2 TB hybrid drive.

    For that price you could buy… well, let’s see what Apple’s about to announce. Although Windows users have a few hoops to jump through, if they want to watch the live broadcast, I’m going to start by simply navigating to TWiT.tv live. Starts at 10 am west coast time.