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near Retford, Bassetlaw
North Nottinghamshire
United Kingdom

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[2nd October 2015] For much more on the personal security issues embedded in Windows 10 - and ways to get around them, click here...

[25th September 2015] Reports continue to give the download and updating of Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 good reviews. HOWEVER, various news commentators have raised some significant issues regarding Microsoft’s approach to ‘data harvesting’. This confirms our previous advice about waiting a while before updating. This is compounded by reports that Microsoft will be issuing a significant ‘service pack’ (although with a new name!) later in October to address already-identified shortcomings. If you are a Windows 7 user, most pundits say ‘there’s no hurry’ although the free update expiring on 28th July 2016 should be kept in mind.

Initial reports (8 August) from local users) suggests that download and installation of Windows 10 is a relatively painless although lengthy, process. However, our advice to ‘wait-and-see’ remains although those who have upgraded from Windows 8.1 have a much easier decision to make!
We should note that Windows 8.0 users must update to 8.1 before they can install Windows 10.

Windows 10 release on 29th July 2015 seems to have gone smoothly at one level but has also raised a number of personal security issues on the other. This is a bit too early to come to any conclusions other than do expect a fairly lengthy download time with our locally quite slow broadband services!

Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 will be released on 29th July, 2015.
Icons are now appearing on desktops for individuals to join a queue for downloads - which are estimated to be ‘up to 3GB’ so will take quite a while in our slow internet backwater! Clarborough & Welham IT Group will not be rushing to upgrade, waiting until the initial dust has settled and reviewers have noted their experiences. We are likely, however, to get one of our Windows 8 machines into the upgrade path so that we can report back our experiences. Watch this space!

‘Have I missed Windows 9?’ you might ask. Preliminary word seems to be that Microsoft are putting as much water between their forthcoming offering and the dismal effects of Windows 8 as possible! The earliest reviews of ‘beta versions’ suggest a return to the ‘feel’ of Windows 7 with even the Start menu returning.

From a business perspective, and with Microsoft’s track record on upgrade costings, etc. it would seem wise to hold-fire on hardware upgrades until issues regarding the pathway from earlier Windows versions are clarified.

Microsoft seem to treat their customers as though they owned them! We were told that support for Windows XP, launched in 2001, ended on 8th April, 2014.
A simple question: If Volkswagen or BMW stopped supporting their cars after this period - how would consumers react? Microsoft is a company in the same financial league as these motor manufacturers.

After all the furore over Microsoft’s Windows 8, they announced that a Windows 8.1 would go into distribution addressing some of the flak aimed at the first version. We strongly advise anyone looking to buy a Windows machine in the near-term to ensure that they get this upgraded version. Make sure you ask the sales-person, ‘is this machine sold with Windows 8.1’. Our latest survey (mid-March 2014) shows that major retailers such as PC World are still off-loading machines with Windows 8.0 and expecting purchasers to go through the time-consuming tedium of downloading Windows 8.1 update from the online store - a process that Which? recently reported to take up to 3hrs! Our advice is to wait a while until all of this ‘old stock’ has been shipped before seeking a Windows machine. See below for the background.

Windows 8.1 upgrade was released in the UK on 17th October 2013 - so be on your guard for machines being sold with only version 8.0 installed- ask the above, very specific, question. If you don’t, you risk having to do up to three hours (Computing Which?/December 2013) of download and installation time at home before your new machine is up-to-date!

If you have updated to Windows 8.1 and still hanker for something more familiar: then why not install Classic Shell?  This free accessory re-introduces the familiar start menu that you grew up with in Windows XP right through to Windows 7.
Go to www.classicshell.net now!

Nottinghamshire County Council’s Rural Broadband project is irrelevant to us - we are not considered ‘rural’ enough!

Telephone Preference Service - a partially successful route to blocking those annoying ‘cold calls’ (07 March, 2013).

Windows Microsoft Telephone Scam update (10th February, 2013)

We have been advised that a new version of the WINDOWS Microsoft Scam is being circulated.

SCAM DETAILS
Normally you are contacted by telephone by a bogus WINDOWS employee stating that your computer is due for an upgrade and asks for £100.00 or more to download the new software for you.

NEW SCAM
They are now asking you to go to a website page to verify they are genuine and the visited website page infects your computer with a virus which they then ask you for £100.00 or more to remove the programme.

Please do not allow anyone access to your computer or follow links when requested to do so.
Simply replace the telephone and DO NOT enter into any conversation with the individual. Once a criminal knows that you will enter into conversation, they will sell your details to other scammers or third parties. This means that you will be constantly targeted over a period of time.

If a computer scammer has targeted you, please turn off your computer immediately and ask a trusted source to check your operating system to see if it has been infected.

Remember: no company, bank or reputable outlet will ever contact you ‘cold’ asking for details such as account numbers, or seeking to guide you to websites or e-mail addresses. No ‘computer’ engineer has any way to gain access to your machine unless you allow them to. There is no way that a remote operator can ‘know’ what is in your computer, no way that they can know that you have a virus, for example, so any conversation setting out this idea is clearly a scam!

Stay safe
Never accept goods or services from someone that has contacted you directly without being asked. If you make a mistake and sign up for a service, you have seven days to cancel the contract in writing.

Register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) to remove yourself from mailing lists, www.tpsonline.org.uk or ring: 0845 070 0707

Cybercriminals have launched a scam designed to steal your AOL, Gmail, Yahoo or Windows Live passwords. Read the details here and be aware! (25 Sep 2012)

Which? Computing reported (June 2012 issue) that fraudsters can find rich pickings of personal data on discarded computer hard drives. Do you know how to effectively delete data before disposing of old machines? If you have business machines, how secure is your company’s disposal strategy?

How many users realise that clicking ‘delete’ simply removes the ‘address’ of the data, not the data itself. Deleting is just as effective (as far as some identity thieves are concerned) as protecting yourself by removing the house number on your front door! This is why law enforcement agencies so often take computers used by law-breakers. More effective ways to erase old data are needed.

THE most effective way to destroy valuable data when disposing of an old machine is physical destruction - if nothing else, remove the hard drive and smash it with a heavy hammer!

See our Security Tips page for more on this topic.