R.I.P. Microsoft Retail Stores

After 11 years in existence, Microsoft has decided to close all of its retail stores.  Modeled in a very similar fashion to the wildly successful retail stores of its rival and counterpart Apple, I felt that it was a decent way to showcase all of what Microsoft brings to the table as it relates to personal computing and gaming.  Unfortunately for them, they never generated the type of excitement among consumers that they had hoped for.

Interesting enough, they ended up serving as a great benefit to those needing immediate hardware servicing of their devices along with fulfilling some SMB requests.

Askwoody.com has a great post going into great detail about how Microsoft’s stores may have had grand visions upon its inception and opening but evolved into a niche player in serving their customers specialized needs.  Check out the full story here and let me know what you think!

This doesn’t make sense: Edge for Win7

 

Yes, you read it right.  Microsoft will now be “forcing” the installation of the new Chromium Edge browser onto an operating system that has officially reached end of life status and doesn’t even receive the extended security updates for free…

Don’t believe me?  Click on the link here for yourself and get back to me…strange times indeed.

M365 > O365

You may remember my previous post here discussing how Microsoft was going to shift all relevant branding to Microsoft 365 as much as possible.

As this updated article from Gregg Keizer at Computerworld states:

For Microsoft, it’s a case of out with the old, in with the new.  For users, it’s a recipe for confusion.

Even though it may be a change that’s better in the long run, there will be growing pains as Microsoft’s “stakeholders” adjust to the strategy.

Check out the full article here for more details and examples of just how much things have changes in Microsoft’s Office 365…oh wait, I screwed up! lol…I meant to say Microsoft’s 365 ecosystem (sigh for the confusion).

Virtual vs In-Person Conferences

A few years back, I remember reading an article discussing how the trouble of attending a tech conference in-person far outweighs the benefits that could come from it.  Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced practically all well known tech conferences to shift to a virtual format at least for the remainder of this year.  Ironically enough, the organization that runs CES (shown in the featured image) plans to hold the show as scheduled in early January 2021 while adopting physical distancing and cleanliness measures.

As the pandemic has continued keeping me work from home since March, one bright side of this is that almost all the companies that throw these huge (and expensive) conferences have shifted to a virtual format that’s free for attendees and others like myself who would not have been able to attend.  Still, despite the great advances in technology that have made virtual conferences possible, the social interaction that us humans need is something only that an in-person conference can bring.

Kurt Mackie has written an article that gives his perspective on attending in-person conferences and makes no apologies about what his preference is; I have to say that I mostly agree with him.  Check out his article here and here’s to hoping that at this time next year, in-person conference will be back and safe to attend.

Google Docs vs Microsoft Word

In the words of someone who I’m sure was famous at some point in time, “winning the individual battles is key to winning the overall war”.

Case in point, Google Docs has become very competitive with the ultra popular mainstay Microsoft Word especially when it comes to performance in the enterprise environment.

Preston Galla at Computerworld has done the latest assessment between the two in his latest article here…and at the end of the day, the conclusion he reaches is not surprising when assessing all pros and cons.  Hint: collaboration is key!

Windows 10 Version 2004 is here!

At last, the latest version of Windows 10 is available to the masses.  And despite extensive testing of the operating system dating back to last December, many driver related problems are present.  From Bluetooth, GPU, sound cards, and other peripherals, it seems that no type of device is spared from it.

Hey, at least there haven’t been any reports of files mysteriously vanishing so that’s a start! HAHA!  Anyways, check out a more detailed article here from ZDNet.com to get the full scoop.

And if you do decide to bite the bullet and upgrade, let me know how it goes and if its worth the time…

Awesome security reads!

We’ll I have to say that it appears everywhere you look, there’s some type of security hack, breach, or phishing attack occurring especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Lots of sites produce great content and report on the state of cybersecurity all the time but hats off to BleepingComputer.com for staying at the forefront of such threats aimed at us.

Just a few of their latest reads about Office 365 phishing the U.S. Supreme Court and Microsoft Teams, Fake U.S. Treasury emails, and more!  Enjoy!

Kill Bloatware in Windows 10

For those of you always looking for tools to help keep your Windows 10 PC squeaky clean, take a look at SharpApp.  Its goal is to simplify the process of removing unnecessary programs which in turn aim to make your PC more secure while hardening certain privacy settings.

As stated on SharpApp’s GitHub repository:

“SharpApp is a free and portable tool building upon a PowerShell engine and community powered script files for disabling telemetry functions in Windows 10, uninstalling preinstalled apps, installing software packages and automating Windows tasks with integrated PowerShell scripting.”

Lawrence Abrams at BleepingComputer.com has the full post here…Check it out and give SharpApp a try!

Coronavirus fraud

Another great report found on BleepingComputer.com in that even during these challenging times, the scam artists haven’t stopped.

According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, an estimated $12 million has been lost as a result of Coronavirus-related scams since the beginning of this year.

Furthermore, a whopping 16,000+ fraud incidents have been reported by consumers with almost have of those reporting losses within the same time period.

It’s sad that we as consumers have to deal with this type of scam as a result of this pandemic but its just a reminder that we must not let our guard down and remain alert!  For more info, check out the article here…Stay safe and healthy!

Phone scams during COVID-19

Just came across a post from security expert Chris Krebs on his website detailing some of the best practices in response to phone scamming attempt affecting millions worldwide.

His tagline response of “Hang Up, Look Up, & Call Back” is something that all of us can embrace whether you’re a tech novice or a savvy, seasoned user but if you choose to drop the ball, you would be surprised how easily one can be taken for whatever info these scammers desire.

Check out the post here for the full story complete with a tech expert being taken advantage of!  Crazy stuff indeed!