Newsletter Archives

  • More Microsoft Rewards tips and tricks


    Mary Branscombe

    By Mary Branscombe

    You can earn points by playing games on Xbox — even if you don’t have a Game Pass subscription — or even by learning about new games!

    Last week, I looked at all the ways you can earn daily and weekly Microsoft Rewards points by using the Bing search engine and the Edge browser. But if you have access to an Xbox, you can earn significantly more points, even if you’re not a regular gamer.

    The number of apps involved depends on where you live and how much you travel, because the Rewards program has become attractive enough to exploit.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.33.0, 2023-08-14).

  • Make the most of Microsoft Rewards

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    ISSUE 20.32 • 2023-08-07


    Mary Branscombe

    By Mary Branscombe

    Microsoft will give you points for using Bing, and more!

    Welcome to this first of a two-part series on how to earn rewards points, where to spend or donate them, and how to maximize your earnings.

    You can view the Rewards program as a bit of a bribe to use Microsoft’s search engine and browser, or you can see it as getting your share of the advertising money Microsoft earns on Bing and MSN. Every search engine makes money, but only Microsoft shares it with users through what’s now called Microsoft Rewards.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.32.0, 2023-08-07).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • So you are looking for a Windows 10 pro key?

    So the other day I was upgrading a Windows 10 home to pro and found it interesting the ‘current’ way one has to upgrade to Windows 10 professional.

    In the past I’ve been able to get the key online – even through the Microsoft store and apply it to the Windows 10 Home.  You go into system, about and there’s a button there to “Change product key or upgrade your edition of Windows”  On the recent Windows 10 Home I was assisting with, there was an option to enter a key or buy a key from the Microsoft store.

    If you buy a key through the Microsoft store it ties it to a Microsoft account and I could not find where it sent the product key code separately.

    Q: Where can I find my Product Key?

    A: Your Product Key will be provided with your purchase. However, if you need to find it again it is included on your confirmation email or in your Digital Content.

    To find your Product Key:

    Sign in with your Microsoft account.

    In the menu select Digital Content

    Find your Windows 10 purchase and you can see your Product Key

    Hmmmm not that I can see.  There is no “digital content” only orders.  This doesn’t exist anymore.  I do see my order.  I don’t see a separate product key.

    So the good news is that clearly you can get the home to pro upgrade, but you’ll need at least a temporary Microsoft account.  My guess is that once you remove the Microsoft account from your computer it would roll back to Home sku.

    Amazon only showcases a 11 home to pro upgrade key.

    Go out to google and you get what I call “Malware roulette”. When the price tag of the upgrade is ridiculously low, I treat it with EXTREME caution and distrust.

    So bottom line there is a way still to purchase a key code to go from Home to Pro.   Sort of.  Kinda of.  With a catch of a Microsoft account.

    Update as of 12-11-2022

    Just tested purchasing a Windows 10 Home to Pro key with B&H photo online.

    Within about 30 minutes of purchasing a key I got an email that included the upgrade key.  Bottom line there is still places online that sell keys that I don’t feel are slimy and will send you A KEY.

    Dear ASKWOODYTECH,Thank you for your purchase from B&H.

    Here is your download link and installation instructions:


    Thank you for purchasing this Microsoft product!

    • Below is your product key which is used to activate your Microsoft product. To upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Pro follow these instructions. Search the word ?Activation? in the Windows search bar. You will see the option Activation Settings UI. Select that option and click on Change Product Key. Enter the license key that you received in this email.
  • July Windows security updates are out

    Here we go again where we sit on the sidelines and watch the carnage…. excuse me review for side effects.

    In the meantime check out some of the Amazon prime day deals on computers, HP computers and Chromebooks and most importantly for today, external harddrives you can use for backup. While I wouldn’t mind if you bought your way into Windows 11 (after installing start11), I’m still not giving it the all clear for those of you on Windows 10.

    Also remember iOS has a beta out for version 16, so for those of you in the Apple ecosystem, expect some changes (more on that in the newsletter)

    In the meantime here’s what I’m looking at in terms of security updates (more links as the analysis web pages go live, remember my post dead body recap in Monday’s newsletter:

    9:58 am. – Patch Day Dashboard goes live 86 vulnerabilities, 4 critical.

    Dustin Child’s write up.

  • Even .net thinks 21H2 should be out

    So I’m recapping the updates for the Master patch list tonight and listing the early issues I’m tracking and I realize that even the .NET blog thinks that 21H2 should have been released already.

    Take a look at their listing of .NET releases:

    They too think that  Windows 10 21H2 should be out.

    Note that both Windows 11 is considered a 21H2 release as well as Windows 10.

    P.S. note that this month’s .NET updates do not include any new security updates. If you are using WSUS/WU for business or any sort of deferrals you may not see them offered to you.

  • Look Ma, no legs

    Day one keynote at Microsoft’s Ignite. This is Microsoft’s major IT pro presentation for the year. Once again it’s coming to us digitally.  They are demonstrating an virtual experience that Accenture has used to onboard employees during the pandemic to provide animated versions of “you” in business meetings.

    Most of the comments were about the fact that folks had no legs! It is a bit… odd to say the least.

    Alex Fields notes that Microsoft Defender for Business is coming to SMB as it will be included in M365 Business premium. Announcement only, no public preview yet.

    If I hear any announcements about Windows 10, I’ll add it here!


  • Viva Microsoft!

    One day in what seems the distant past, Microsoft Cortana starting sending me email messages. I didn’t ask for them; they just started showing up. For the most part, I found them useless. I think there were some “mental health” messages. My wife thinks I’m crazy; I don’t need some server in Redmond telling me that.

    One day in what I’m sure is the recent past, the new Microsoft Viva took over that responsibility. This time, however, the focus appears to be on actionable items. Cortana/Viva is watching me, picking out what it thinks are to do items, and reminding me about them. I’ve been a happy camper for years because while it was apparent that Google was reading my Gmail, Microsoft wasn’t. Now it clearly is.

    But, okay, reminders. I handle a lot of email in my editorial duties; some assistance might be helpful. So, I’ve been experimenting.

    Microsoft Viva Broken

    More often than not, clicking one of the action buttons in the email results in the teeny, tiny error message shown at the top.

    Can’t Microsoft code any longer?

  • Microsoft account or local account – which one should you choose?


    Lance Whitney

    By Lance Whitney

    Which type of account should you use for your personal Windows 10 computer? That depends on your situation, though there are benefits and drawbacks to each.

    When you set up a Windows 10 PC for personal use, Microsoft makes you select which type of account you want to use to sign in. A Microsoft account will synchronize certain apps and settings across multiple devices and give you access to services beyond Windows. A local account provides an entryway solely to your current PC.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.24.0 (2021-06-28).

  • How to control the security of your Microsoft Account


    Lance Whitney

    By Lance Whitney

    You can view and tighten many of the security settings associated with your Microsoft account to better protect it from compromise.

    A Microsoft account not only serves as your login to Windows but also grants you access to Microsoft 365, OneDrive, Skype, and other key Microsoft apps and services. Due to the power of such an account, a hacker who gains access to your credentials or to any of your Windows devices could view sensitive information and even spoof your identity.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.20.0 (2021-05-31).