There are many great partnerships in life; Bert and Ernie, Batman and Robin, Yin and Yang and of course the humble Cheese and Pickle sandwich.
Introducing the Dynamic Duo – Cortanaand Microsoft Edge. These two separate applications seamlessly interact to provide you the consumer with a much more fluid and full browsing experience.
Lets back track a little. If you are reading and this and thinking ‘What in the world is Cortana?‘, then you are not alone.
Cortana is your clever new personal assistant! Cortana will help you find things on your PC, manage your calendar, track packages, find files, chat with you, and tell jokes. Yes, I said tell jokes. That was not a typo. The more you use Cortana, the more personalized your experience will be.
Now if you are anything like me, the words ‘Microsoft’ and ‘Assistant’ may conjure up this image in your mind…
Remember this guy?
Ah, Mr Clippy. Everyone’s favourite letter writing obsessed friend. The good news is, Cortana is very different to previous Microsoft Assistant tools and it can be utilised very effectively from within Microsoft Edge.
Turn on Cortana
Before you can use Cortana in Microsoft Edge you need to turn it on in System Settings.
Click the Windows button in the bottom left-hand corner OR press the Windows logo key on your keyboard
Start typing ‘Cortana’ to search
Select ‘Cortana & Search settings’
Use the slider to turn Cortana on
Once Cortana has been turned in, you can now ‘Ask Cortana’ questions directly from your we pages as you are browsing.
Ask Cortana when browsing the web
For example, I was looking at the BBC News website this morning and I was reading an article on the Falkland Islands. I was curious as to where the Falkland Islands were located so I utilised Cortana within my Edge browser.
Highlight the word you would like to search
Right-click and select ‘Ask Cortana’
Cortana will load information related to your search in a pane on the left-hand side of the screen.
NOTE: You must ensure you turn Cortana on within settings in order for ‘Ask Cortana’ to show in the menu when you right-click.
Hands up if this applies to you. You’ve spent hours working on an awesome document, typing and formatting like a mad thing, switching from one window to the next when suddenly….ahh! You’ve accidently closed the document you were working on without saving. *Cue lots of colourful language and crying*. Fortunately, Word 2013 allows you to recover your unsaved documents.
Click File to go to the backstage area
Click the Manage Versions drop-down arrow
Click Recover Unsaved Documents
Select your document and click Open
A yellow warning message will display across the top of the document.
Click Save As
Save your document as normal
Tip 2: Edit a PDF in Word 2013
If there is one thing sure to infuriate me, it’s receiving a form or document that I need to complete in PDF format! For years, PDF was the ‘go to’ file format if you wanted to prevent others from editing your document. Well not anymore! In Word 2013, you can easily edit and make changes to a PDF document. You can almost hear the sound of Microsoft users everywhere rejoicing!
Click the File menu to go to the backstage area
Click the Open tab
Navigate to the correct folder and select the PDF file
A dialogue box will appear informing you that your PDF file will be converted to an editable Word Document. It is worth noting that if your document contains a lot of images or graphics it might not look exactly like the original PDF and may need some ‘tweaking’.
Tip 3: Preserve your eyeballs and switch to Read Mode
Read Mode is a great option to use if you find yourself spending time reading or checking long documents. Also, if you are like me and find it easier to read text on a darker background, you can switch the background colour and give your eyeballs a well needed break from black on stark white. All of the document review options you know, love and need are still available in Read Mode.
Click the View tab
Click Read Mode
The document layout will change to an easy-to-read, two page per screen format.
Click the grey arrow to move to the next two pages
To maximise the ‘real estate’ on the page, you can hide the toolbar by clicking the ‘Auto-hide reading toolbar’ button in the top-right corner
To change the background colour of the page
Select Page Colour from the menu
Select Sepia or Inverse
Tip 4: Replying to comments
Collaborate smarter on documents by utilising Word’s reply to comment feature. This is an inline option that enables you to directly reply to any comments added by colleagues ensuring a smoother workflow.
Ensure that you have comments showing
Right-click on the comment icon within the comment
Select Reply to Comment from the menu
Add your reply comments. These will appear slightly indented underneath the original comment and will display under your name.
Click on any colleagues name in the comments section to directly IM, Call, Video Chat or Email without leaving Word.
Tip 5: Permanently delete cropped areas of a picture
This was something that I didn’t discover until recently. Did you know that if you crop a picture in Word and then send that document to a colleague, they can see the full, uncropped picture and restore it to the original? Imagine the embarrassment of cropping out a company logo or sensitive information only for it to re-appear again with a simple click of the Crop button by a ‘Word savvy’ colleague. Don’t be an amateur, ensure you permanently delete all cropped areas before sending.
Select a picture in your document
Click the Picture Tools contextual ribbon
Click the Format tab
Select Crop from the drop-down menu
Drag the handles to select only the part of the picture you would like to retain
Click Crop again
Once the picture has been cropped ensure that you permanently remove the cropped section so that it cannot be restored by a colleague.
Select the picture
Click Compress Pictures
Place a tick in the ‘Delete cropped areas of picture’ tickbox
Tip 6: Touch/Mouse Mode
In an increasingly mobile world it is becoming extremely important to be able to access and work on documents and files ‘on the go’. Mobile devices play a huge role in this with more and more people working from Smartphones and tablets. The new Touch/Mouse Mode in Word (available across all Office applications) optimises the spacing between commands for use with a mouse or a touchscreen. Yes, Microsoft have developed a solution to ‘fat finger’ syndrome. Hoorah!
Select the Touch/Mouse Mode icon on the Quick Access Toolbar
Tip 7: Border Painter Tool
This new feature in Word 2013 enables you to fully control your border style and placement in a table. Go crazy with your painting and decorating and really make those tables stand out!
First, setup the colour, weight and line style for the border
Select the table
Click the Design tab under the Table Tools contextual ribbon
Set the desired Border Style, Pen Colour, Line Weight
Click Border Painter. The curser will change to a paintbrush
Paint over a border of the table to apply the new style
Tip 8: Adding online video
Have you found a really awesome video on YouTube or Bing that you would love to be able to insert into your Word document to really make it come alive? Utilise Word 2013’s Online Video feature to search and add any video into your document.
Click the Insert tab
Click Online Video
Select Bing Video Search, YouTube video search or paste the video embed code directly.
Select a video
The video will be inserted into your document.
Click the Play button
You can also share the link to the video on social media from within the Word document.
Click the Share icon
Select a social media service to share the link on.
Office 2016 is released on 22nd September 2015 and hits the volume licensing pricelist on the 1st October. What’s new? Some will be disappointed it’s not radically different from Office 2013. Others will breathe a sigh of relief and appreciate the consistency between the versions whilst having a good level of improvement over Office 2013 which was a fantastic suite of applications. We’ll be running a series of hints and tips blog posts over the next month detailing the main changes.
For now, if you’re a Microsoft partner you can visit the Microsoft Drumbeat site, packed full of sales training events and resources to help you start, grow and accelerate your Office 365 practice (registration required).
If you love videos of Americans waving their hands around too much and generally being very excited with words like ‘super’ and ‘cool’ then take a look at the 400 second-long Vimeo video.
Q – Is this going to be an automatic upgrade from 2013 to 2016 if I’m on Office 365?
A – No. If you want to deploy Office 2016 you’ll need to do that using your usual deployment processes, e.g. via the Office 365 portal. There will be automatic upgrades in the future but there aren’t any full details on that yet, for example how to accept or prevent the automatic upgrade to 2016.
Q – Will Office 2016 still be available as a perpetual, on-premises product?
A – Yes, Office 2016 is available on-premises and through Office 365 subscriptions. Unless you have Software Assurance on Office 2013 on-premises, you’ll need to buy the licence to Office 2016 as it’s a completely new version. Office 365 includes new version rights so if you’re on an Office 365 which includes the Office apps (e.g. E3, E4, Business, Business Premium, ProPlus) you have the rights to 2016 immediately.
Q – I’m on Office 365; how long can I stay on the 2013 release?
A – For 12 months after the release of Office 2016.
Q – InfoPath is no longer included in the 2016 release, where can I get this?
A – InfoPath 2013 is the last version and can be downloaded from Microsoft’s download centre. Your Office 365 ProPlus licence allows use of InfoPath 2013 and it will still be supported
Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) face a complex and changing landscape when it comes to understanding all of the different ways new technologies can help their businesses.
Many Microsoft partners are capitalising on the opportunity to grow their businesses by expanding their roles to that of a trusted advisor and business consultant — looking for ways to help SMBs modernise across the IT platform.
Microsoft is focused on helping you deliver solutions that address your customers’ key goals and business challenges. So you can use technology to help make them be more successful, whether by improving operational efficiency, protecting data, helping employees be more productive, or better connecting with customers. In fact, only Microsoft offers a complete platform with the flexibility to deliver the solutions your customer’s need, from server to cloud, desktop to mobile devices.
ModernBiz Technical Series
The ModernBiz Technical Series provides training, demonstrations and hands-on instruction on how to use the latest Microsoft technologies to deliver solutions to SMB organisations. This set of training courses is designed to prepare Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners to help customers get the benefits of the modern business by providing solutions and services that span the entire IT ecosystem, from server, to cloud, to devices.
In this training, you will:
Get hands-on experience: With a focus on building real-world solutions, this training consists of presentations, demos, and hands-on labs.
Get the skills you need to build real-world SMB solutions: This technical series is designed specifically for partners working with SMB customers to build solutions using the latest products and technologies from Microsoft.
Any of the ModernBiz Technical Series courses can be attended as a standalone course or as a part of the complete series.
Who should participate: The ModernBiz Technical Series course is for Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners who work with small and midsize organisations. The training is designed for those who are ready to learn more about meeting the technical needs of SMBs with Microsoft solutions.
Audience: IT Professionals, Consultants, SMB Resellers
Level: 200 (Technical) This training aligns to the Microsoft ModernBiz campaign for SMB partners.
There are free one or two day courses for each of these key technology areas.
Performing a clean install of the free Windows 10 upgrade is a 2 step process. Firstly as an in-place upgrade to register the free upgrade and then as a clean install. This is an inconvenience especially when upgrading multiple desktops and sometimes in-place upgrades from one version of an OS fail to complete.
In-place Upgrades can Fail
Reasons for failed upgrades range from undetected incompatible hardware drivers, erroneous applications, user tweaked settings, malware, antivirus and hard disk accelerator software through to not enough disk space, underlying bad disk sectors and proprietary disk compression or encryption software.
Although these possibilities have been around for many years, the free offer of a Windows 10 upgrade has made more people than ever want to jump up onto this new release and because of the time limitation before the free upgrade offer expires in July 2016, it has made the heightened the perception of urgency to do it now (it could just be because ‘the grass is greener’ or maybe even some think Microsoft will suddenly have a change of heart and whip this free upgrade from under them).
And while the vast majority of people will simply perform the in-place upgrade and allow Windows 10 to merge onto their existing PC setup, some, however, prefer to go down the ‘purists’ route of a clean install. Migrate all the useful data off their existing system, wipe the drive (preferably after having run a HDD surface scan on older drives), install a fresh OS and enjoy the challenge of searching out any missing drivers for those odd hardware pieces.
In order to be eligible for a Windows 10 free upgrade you must allow the upgrade process to identify that your existing OS installation is valid in terms of version (Windows 7, 8.0, 8.1), edition (Home or Pro), and activation (genuine software, not a trial, or otherwise not properly activated). For those interested in more detail, go to the Windows 10 FAQ.
Two-Step Upgrade Process
This leads us back to our original point; performing a clean install of Windows 10, whilst trying to qualify for the free upgrade, is a 2 step process. Firstly the existing OS must be registered as being eligible and secondly that eligibility must be migrated over to the new clean install.
Given that quite often the reason for a clean install is that this existing OS is experiencing some of the issues I mentioned right at the very start of this article this can mean that this initial in-place upgrade never completes, preventing enrolment of the PC to enable a subsequent clean install.
However, this is a shortcut to this initial step – that of enrolling/registering/certifying (call it what you will) the PC’s existing OS that it is indeed suitable and eligible for a free Windows 10 upgrade without having to perform the entire Windows 10 in-place upgrade first.
Naturally, before proceeding, any data migration from the old PC must be completed, either in the form of a backup, file transfer or Easy Transfer Wizard. You may even want to consider performing a full system image copy in case you do not successfully complete the fresh install phase. Proceed only if you have a way to recover.
Use your preferred method to access the files within the downloaded ISO (such as burn it to disk, mount it within Windows or use a 3rd party utility to expand it).
Search for gatherosstate.exe. Depending on the version of the image you chose, it will either reside in sources or \Windows\x64\sources or \Windows\x32\sources. Copy gatherosstate.exe to your desktop.
Ensuring you are properly connected to the internet, run the gatherosstate application. After a few seconds, an additional file should appear on your desktop – GenuineTicket.XML. This is confirmation that your existing PC and OS have passed the pre-requisites needed to perform a clean Windows 10 install. Save the file GenuineTicket.XMLto a location NOT on your system HDD (as this is going to be wiped). Any location will do; USB, network share, even email it to yourself!
Perform your clean install of Windows 10. When requested for the product key, click the ‘SKIP’ button.
When the clean install has completed and you’re looking at your fresh desktop, locate GenuineTicket.XMLand copy it to the hidden folder C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\ClipSVC\GenuineTicket. You can navigate to it directly by pasting this URL directly into a RUN dialog box (Win+R to activate, or Win+X,R or just type in RUN into the Cortana search box).
Reboot your PC.
That’s it! In order to confirm activation, bring up the SYSTEM panel (Win+Pause, Win+x, S, or type SYSTEM into the Cortana search box). The System dialog box will now confirm that this new installation is activated.
Allow updates to be performed on your new system, via SETTINGS, Update & Security.
Enjoy that new-fresh Windows 10 installation smell!
Q – When does a device cease being the same device? If a faulty PC motherboard is replaced but the HDD remains unchanged will Windows 10 continue working? We frequently re-install existing Windows operating systems to return to a clean test environment. How many times will we be able to do this with a Windows 10 licence before the re-installs are blocked?
A – Typically, the motherboard is the critical mass here. You can change the hard drive(s) and reinstall, change the video card, even upgrade the processor and Windows will still work on the device. With the free upgrade offer, you must upgrade on a pc that has Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 already installed (except Enterprise and RT editions). Once you have upgraded to Windows 10 on the PC and successfully activated it, you won’t have a Windows 10 product key but you will be able to perform a clean installation and select the Skip button on the product key page. Your PC will activate online automatically so long as the same edition of Windows 10 was successfully activated on the PC by using the free Windows 10 upgrade offer.
You are also allowed to install Windows virtually on the device (but not off the device, e.g. on a network share as that becomes virtual desktop access and requires its own licensing). Section 2d (iv) of the EULA (end user licence agreement):
(iv) Use in a virtualized environment. This license allows you to install only one instance of the software for use on one device, whether that device is physical or virtual. If you want to use the software on more than one virtual device, you must obtain a separate license for each instance.
There are limits on how many times you can activate Windows over the Internet on the same device but if you ever hit that limit, you should be able to perform telephone activation instead. There’s no activation limit enforced in the licence terms. If you move a HDD containing a physical installation of Windows 10 or move a .VHD with Windows installed to another pc, it may work but you may also find that reactivation is triggered by the changes and unless the Windows licence is transferable you’ll be non-compliant.
Q – How will licensing work for people who build their own PC and would normally buy a retail version of Windows? Is that licence going to be transferable to a subsequent build, or is the retail licence going to be limited to that particular PC [and if so, what’s the definition of “that particular PC”]?
A – You can still purchase the retail (FPP) licence of Windows 10, install that on a bare-metal pc and the licence will be transferable to another device (subject to only installing Windows on one device at a time). Preinstalled Windows (OEM) remains non-transferable. Now this does open up new territory for retail Windows; you can buy the retail version once, enjoy updates to Windows and when you want to upgrade your pc, simply transfer your Windows licence to your new pc without requiring an OEM licence. It’s pretty tricky to buy a bare-metal pc from the major manufacturers however and OEM licences became a lot cheaper recently so that may not save much money. Section 4b of the EULA details transfer rights:
b. Stand-alone software. If you acquired the software as stand-alone software (and also if you upgraded from software you acquired as stand-alone software), you may transfer the software to another device that belongs to you. You may also transfer the software to a device owned by someone else if (i) you are the first licensed user of the software and (ii) the new user agrees to the terms of this agreement. You may use the backup copy we allow you to make or the media that the software came on to transfer the software. Every time you transfer the software to a new device, you must remove the software from the prior device. You may not transfer the software to share licenses between devices.
If you are an OEM or System Builder, there remains the COEM (Commercial Original Equipment Manufacturer) product for just that purpose. Windows 8.1 COEM licence removed the DIY (personal use rights) addendum so if you’re building your own pc for personal use, buying the retail product is the correct way to licence.
Q – How is the lifespan of a PC going to be determined? If I have a PC with Windows now, will it still be supported as long as the hardware is still operational, or is there going to be a time limit? Or just a drift towards bits of hardware no longer being supported which would result in being forced to upgrade to a newer PC [and a new Windows licence]? Not everyone cares about the latest capabilities – plenty of people only use PCs to browse the web.
A – No time limit but you’ll find that certain components will become superseded and as such the minimum system requirements for Windows may change. The Microsoft Product Lifecycle pages state:
• Updates are cumulative, with each update built upon all of the updates that preceded it. A device needs to install the latest update to remain supported. • Updates may include new features, fixes (security and/or non-security), or a combination of both. Not all features in an update will work on all devices. • A device may not be able to receive updates if the device hardware is incompatible, lacking current drivers, or otherwise outside of the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (“OEM”) support period. • Update availability may vary, for example by country, region, network connectivity, mobile operator (e.g., for cellular-capable devices), or hardware capabilities (including, e.g., free disk space).
Q – How much will an OEM version of Win10 cost; a version to be incorporated into our instruments? I cannot find any info on this.
A – There are new editions of Windows 10 called Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 Core. These are ideal for industry and embedded devices such as instruments. They’re on the price list and you should be able to get this information from your Microsoft retailer.
The path to qualifications can be a little confusing so we’ve produced a handy interactive PDF which shows the current Microsoft MTA, MCSA, MCSE and MCSD qualification routes along with the courses and exams required to get you there.
Think of this as your handy CertNav!
Why strive for an IT qualification?
For employees, 85% of IT hiring managers consider certifications a medium to high priority according to the CompTIA research paper Employer Perceptions of IT Training and Certification.
For managed services providers, a 2009 research report by Beth Vanni (then Director of Market Intelligence for Amazon Consulting) found 60% of customers trust a certified partner more and involved that partner more readily in future decision making. Also, 60% engaged more repeat business and purchased services beyond products from certified providers.
And my favourite research finding is quoted on the Microsoft certification site: Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, Microsoft Certified IT Professional, and Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator are among the top 25 highest-paying IT certifications.
You will try to remember us when you’re sunning yourselves on your yacht in the Bahamas won’t you?
Select Disable Updates and none of your Office applications will be updated; you won’t need to do this in each application. Somewhere in the world a puppy will start crying however, because you are defying Microsoft.
This action shouldn’t be taken lightly though; you will also not receive security patches so your products may become vulnerable. And at some point, your installation of Office will become unsupported.
Option 3 is performed by running OfficeC2RClient.exe from an administrative command-prompt and using the updatetoversionswitch with the specific version you want to deploy which can be newer or older than the current version (or you may not have one installed at all). If you don’t specify a version, it defaults to the latest one. The versions only go back so far but theoretically you could deploy an older release going back a couple of years.
How will rollbacks work when Office 2016 applications are brought into mainstream Office 365?
We’ll post an update to this blog when we try it.
The last point may seem obvious and irrelevant but we have to mention it for completeness. You can of course still use Office 2011 for Mac on the device whilst connecting to the Office 365 cloud services. But this is not going to help if you’ve subscribed to an Office 365 plan which includes Office applications; who wants to pay twice for the same thing?