Archive for Windows

End of Windows XP Support

No More Microsoft Windows XP

No More Microsoft Windows XPIn less than 1,000 days, on April 8, 2014, Microsoft will stop issuing security patches, updates, and hotfixes for all versions of Windows XP.

You may, or may not, be aware that Microsoft issues FREE updates to Windows and other Microsoft software products every Tuesday evening. Most computers will automatically retrieve them when the computer is connected to the Internet. (Although, some people, who don’t know about the service, choose not to install them. Is that you?)

On April 8, 2014, PCs running Windows XP will no longer find updates and fixes to download, so those computers will remain at risk to any new security threats that arise. Furthermore, many other companies (known as “third party” providers) will no offer service or support for their hardware or software applications on systems using Windows XP.

What about businesses using Windows XP? Business owners and managers may find this may generate more complexity, security risks, and ultimately, added management costs for IT departments.

Industry analysts say that it can take from 12 to 18 months for an organization to migrate, and a recent Gartner report stated that “more than 50% of organizations that do not start deploying Windows 7 by early 2012 will not complete their deployments before Windows XP support ends.” (Read “Creating a Timeline for Deploying Windows 7 and Eliminating Windows XP“)

Several other versions of Windows have had their service runs ended within the last year.

Previous End of Support Schedules for Other Windows Operating Systems

  • Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) support ended on July 12, 2011. SP2 is still being supported.
  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2*) support ended on July 13, 2010. SP3 is the most recent and last service pack issued for XP systems.
  • Windows 2000 support ended on July 13, 2010.
  • Windows Vista Release to Manufacturing (RTM) support ended April 13, 2010.

Ready to Deploy Windows 7? Whether your a home user or a business user, I encourage you to consider making the move to Windows 7. If you feel your computer is still going strong on XP you may find it runs even better on Windows 7. Otherwise, if your budget allows, you may find it’s more cost effective to buy a new system.

Windows Easy Transfer

Windows Easy Transfer

What about the files on my old system? Moving fromWindows 7 from Windows XP is easier than ever. Windows 7 comes with powerful tools to assist and guide you every step of the way. If you decide to get a new system, you can use Window Easy Transfer to move your files from one system to another using a network or USB flash drive.

Some of the world’s most prominent companies have made the move to Windows 7 like Boeing, InfoSys, Dell, Samsung, and BMW and getting benefit from the cost-savings, security, and productivity gains Windows 7 delivers.

On the homefront. I have helped several people upgrade their Windows XP computers to Windows 7, and they say their computer is faster than it was with Windows XP. I have been very impressed with Windows 7’s performance. It’s easy to install, and works great with every device I’ve connected to my computer — specially with devices that weren’t supported by Windows Vista (hiss).

Need help? If you have any questions you can send them to me at skylarkingblog @ or with the contact page on this site. Or consult with your local computer service professional.

Windows 7 from The Microsoft Store. You can purchase Windows 7 on DVD from The Microsoft Store. If you have more than one computer in your home, or your family, then I recommend the orange package below. It will allow you to upgrade 3 computers for one low price. It’s my favorite package. Click the image below for more information.

Also, if you get the Home Premium version or the Professional version, you can always upgrade to a higher level for a reasonable price using the Windows Anytime Upgrade feature on your Windows 7 installation. I have used it to upgrade one Home Premium computer to a Professional system.

Taking a Screenshot in Word 2010

Microsoft Office 2010 has lots of new and improved features. One feature which will prove very useful is the new screenshot button in Word 2010. With it you can take a snapshot (screenshot) of any image or window on screen. Furthermore, you can crop and edit those shots, too.

This can be a very useful feature for writing articles while including images from websites or other sources on your computer. This tool is found on the “Insert” ribbon in Word 2010. Starting with Office 2007, Microsoft replaced the familiar toolbars with a “ribbon”, thereby reveling features that had long been buried and hard to find.

To take a screen shot, you click the “Insert” tab above the ribbon. (See picture below). You’ll see the Screenshot tool has a arrow below it. Whenever you see a downward pointing arrow on the ribbon that indicates that other options will be made available to you when you click such a tool.

Screenshot Tool in Word 2010

In the case of the Screenshot button, it will reveal “screenshots” of all the available windows from actively running programs on your screen. For example, I might be working on a spreadsheet or browsing a website when I come across information or images I’d like to include in a Word document. In Word 2010 I could click the “Screenshot” button and a snapshot of these open windows would be displayed in Word. Then I juct click on the image of the window I want to include in my document, and voila!, that’s it. The image is embedded into my document.

If you want to just show a portion of a window, then select the “Screen Clipping” link at the bottom. (Show at right). Then the last screen you displayed is redisplayed (but faded) with some crosshairs for you to drag a selection around the portion of the image you want to display, then Word embeds that portion into your Word document.

Need to enhance the image further? Use the the “Picture” tools tab to manipulate your new image.

Buy or Try Out Microsoft Office 2010 Online from the Microsoft Store. Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 Download can be yours today for only $149. Or you can order the package and have Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 delivered anywhere you choose. The Home and Student edition comes with the popular Word, Excel, and PowerPoint applications.

Business users might be interested in either Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote) or Microsoft Office Professional 2010 (Includes all the previous applications, plus the Access database application and Publisher). These packages cost $280 and $499 respectively and are available for download or delivery.

For Windows (Windows 7, Vista, or XP SP3)

Microsoft Office
Home and Student 2010


Microsoft Office
Home and Business 2010


Microsoft Office
Professional 2010


For Mac (Mac OS X version 10.5.8 or later)

Microsoft Office for Mac
Home and Student 2011


Microsoft Office for Mac
Home and Business 2011 Download


Trouble with Windows 7 and the T-Mobile G1

HTC Dream (T-Mobile G1)

I don’t have any complaints with Windows 7 whatsoever. Really I don’t, but I have read about some people experiencing a problem accessing the G1’s SD card with Windows 7.

Okay, I experienced this problem too, but, luckily, I knew how to fix it.

What happened? I was connecting my T-Mobile G1 Smartphone to my computer to backup the memory chip in the phone. For your information, the G1 was the first phone to use Google’s Android Operating System for smartphones. Today’s leading Android based phones are Verizon’s Droid, Google’s Nexus One, and T-Mobile’s new Samsung Vibrant.

But, as they say, I digress.

HTC Dream (T-Mobile G1)

HTC Dream (T-Mobile G1)

Shortly after upgrading to Windows 7, I attached my G1 to my PC via the docking station, and then I “mounted” the SD card in the G1 by selecting “Mount” option from the G1’s notification panel.

Now, for those who don’t have a G1, you “mount the SD card” — sounds ‘dirty’, I know — so you can transfer files to and from the SD or memory card in the phone to your computer.

But, now, with Windows 7, one time I attached my G1 via its USB cable (or docking station) I saw a notification on my computer’s desktop that Windows was “installing a driver” for the “HTC Dream”. (For your information, HTC is the company that makes the G1 for Google and T-Mobile. Dream is HTC’s model name for the G1).

I had never seen this happen before, but I thought it was cool because I was thrilled that Windows 7 was capable of recognizing so many devices when they were attached to the computer.

My thrill was short lived.

Once I mounted the card, and I double clicked the “Computer” icon on the desktop, I expected to see an icon, as I had in the past, that represented the SD card in my phone.

The icon wasn’t there.

I unmounted the card, remounted it, and, again, no icon for the card visible after double-clicking the Computer icon.

Uh oh!

This meant I wouldn’t be able to get my files the old fashioned way. Instead, I would have to remove the card from the phone and insert it into the memory card reader on my desktop computer. That would work, but I would prefer being able to just access he chip by attaching the phone to the computer as I always had.

The Fix. Here’s the solution for anyone who has experienced this problem, too.

  1. Right-click the Computer icon.
  2. Click Properties.
  3. Click Device Manager.
  4. Locate “HTC Dream” on the list. You may need to double click a few items on the list to reveal the HTC Dream listing. I think I found it under “Other Devices”.
  5. Double-click HTC Dream.
  6. Click the Driver tab.
  7. Click Update Driver.
  8. Select “Mass Storage Driver”.
  9. Click OK to close out the dialog boxes.

Now when I connect my T-Mobile G1 via its USB cable or dock, and then mount the SD card, I am able to access the G1’s memory chip and transfer my files without a hitch.

Failed Windows Update Installations (Office 2007)

Update (Thurs. 3/11. 12:18am) : As of late Wednesday evening the page for “Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB977724)” appears to have been “taken down” by Microsoft. No word — that I can find — as to why. Possibly related to an error mentioned in the reader comments for this article.

Yesterday was Tuesday, and Tuesday is the day Microsoft typically issues the free Windows Updates to patch any security problems that have been discovered, fix flaws, remove malicious software (Windows Malicious Software Tool) and add new features.

Four of the six updates my computer downloaded for installation failed to install properly. These were all Microsoft Office 2007 updates:

  • Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB977724)
  • Security Update for Microsoft Office Excel 2007 (KB978382)
  • Security Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB978380)
  • Update for Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 Junk Email Filter (KB979895)

If you’ve had the same problem with these updates then you will have to manually download and install them. It’s not that difficult to do, and I’ll make it easier by providing you with links to Microsoft’s download pages for these updates. You’ll see two links on each line, but they both take you to the same page.

Just click the links above to go to the appropriate download page, then click the “Download” button on each page. Choose the “Save” option, and save them to either your desktop, your documents folder, or your downloads folder. Anywhere you can easily find them later on. If you have to install them on more than one computer you might consider saving them to a flash drive.

Once you’ve downloaded them, you will need to run them as an administrator. You can’t do this with your typical double-click.

  1. Right-click on the file (point at the file, and click the right mouse button, not the left mouse button) and choose “Run as administrator” from the shortcut menu that appears.
  2. If the User Account Control dialog box appears — for you Windows Vista and Windows 7 users — asking “Do you want to allow the following program to make changes to your computer?”, click “Yes”.
  3. Click the checkbox to accept the Microsoft License Terms, then click “Continue”.

Repeat the process above for each of the downloaded files, and that’s it. Your updates should be properly installed at this time.

I wrote about a similar “Failed Windows Update Installations (Office 2007)” problem back in November 2009.

Yahoo Email and Upgrading from Vista to Windows 7

I read this question online recently:

I am upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7. How do I back up my Yahoo! emails and do I need to do it?

If you have a free Yahoo! email account then there is no need to back up your emails because the emails are stored on Yahoo!’s servers and not your computer.

If you have a paid Yahoo! email account, called Yahoo! Mail Plus, which costs $19.99 per year, then it is possible that you could be downloading email messages to your computer with a program such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Eudora, or some other program or email client.

Generally, when you are upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7 there is no need to erase your hard drive. When the hard drive is erased it is usually referred to as a “clean install”. While it’s always good idea to do a backup before an upgrade, it isn’t necessary. When upgrading from XP to Windows 7 the hard drive must be erased, so this is a case where it would be a good idea to have a backup of some sort.

Still, if you want to take the precaution of doing a backup, go to a computer store and get yourself an external USB drive such as a MyPassport from Western Digital and use the Windows Easy Transfer wizard to copy important files to the external drive. For more info on Windows Easy Transfer go here:

For more info on upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 go here:

$450 Computer with a Future

PowerSpec TX366 mATX CaseThanks to everyone who contacted me yesterday by email and on the Skylarking Facebook page to wish me well amid all my respiratory problems and woes. It only takes 4 or 5 kind words to really lift the spirits. Thanks everyone!

One of the things I had been doing when I was able to breathe and function was building a new computer for a friend with a tight budget. They were actually a business client, but I like to call them friends, too. That’s just what I do.

So they had a tight budget of around $400, and I wanted to see to it that they got quality parts that weren’t going to give them any problems. I also wanted to get them setup with Windows 7 as an operating system. They had a Sony DVD burner in their old Windows XP computer, so I was able to transfer that to the new system. So I am not counting the cost of that DVD burner in the price of this system. I also reused their old monitor, but they could get a new flat panel for about $90 — 100.

As for the rest of the parts, I managed to spend about $60 on each component:

  • ASUS P5KPL-AM Motherboard: This is the base of the system. Everything attaches to the motherboard (mainboard). Asus makes a lot of fine computer components, and they also make the Asus Eee PC netbook I often talk about.
  • Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200 Processor: This processor operates on the motherboard’s low end, but I let my friend know they could always get a better processor in a year or two when they had another $120 or so to spend. After their old Windows XP machine, the current processor is plenty fast for them.
  • Crucial Ballistix, 2 GB RAM: Again, they could spend more money here later to double or even quadruple their total memory. Using the 64 bit version of Windows 7 allows them to add up to 8GB of RAM.
  • Hitachi Deskstar 500 GB SATA Hard Drive
  • PowerSpec TX366 mATX Case with power supply: $35
  • Windows 7 Professional, 64 Bit Edition (OEM): $90. OEM means “Original Equipment Manufacturer”, which means it is meant to be installed by a computer builder. It also means if they have trouble with Windows, I am supposed to help them, and not Microsoft. Another $30 or $40 might have got them a standard retail copy, but I stand behind the parts I’ve added to this machine. I don’t anticipate them having any problems.

I am a little short on time this morning, so I’ll be back later or tomorrow to talk a little bit more about this system, the parts, etc. Have a great day!

Failed Windows Update Installations (Office 2007)

Are you using Microsoft Office 2007? Have you been told for days and days that “new updates are available” and every time you look it’s the same 4 updates for Microsoft Office 2007?

Yeah, me too, but I’ve fixed it.

For over a week, every time I shut down, my computer shows me that it’s installing 4 updates. Then when I turn on my computer later, I look and see that the same 4 updates are available. Clearly, they failed to install when my computer was shutting down earlier. The update files are:

  • Update for Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 Junk Email Filter (KB975960)
  • Update for Microsoft Office Word 2007 (KB974561)
  • Security Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB973704)
  • Security Update for Microsoft Office Excel 2007 (KB975393)

Do those look familiar to you? Have you been Googling for a solution to these failed installs? You’ve come to the right place. I can help. You’re going to have to install these updates yourself. And it’s not all that difficult to do.

First you’ll need to download and save the installation files to your computer. The four links below will each take you to the appropriate page at the Microsoft Download Center where you’ll be able to download. At each page you’ll see a download button, which you can click to start the download. Save the file to your hard drive, and be mindful of where you save then so you can access them later. I recommend saving them to either your Desktop, your Documents folder, or your Downloads folder.

Then you’ll have to manually install them as an Administrator. Locate the saved files. If you don’t recall where you saved them you can always search for them. I’ve included the full file names above for just such an instance.

Once you’ve located the saved file on your hard drive, point at the icon with your mouse, then click the right mouse button, and choose the “Run as Administrator” option on the shortcut menu that appears. (Alternately, you could click once on the icon, then click the File menu, and then choose the “Run as Administrator” option. Click the checkbox to accept the Microsoft License Terms, then click “Continue”.

Repeat that process for each of the 4 downloaded files, and that’s it. You’ll never be told about those updates again.

Windows 7 Home Premium 3 Pack – Install Anywhere

windows-7Back on October 23 in my post I’ve Upgraded to Windows 7, No Static At All, I discussed installing WINDOWS 7 FAMILY PACK on three different computers, and a reader calling himself Ballpeen asked:

Have you installed on your family members’ pcs yet?
I am wondering if the pcs need to be installed from the same physical location? (does it check IP?)

Example, my brother & father live in different cities, can all 3 of us use the key that comes with the family pack?


I have made that installation — and one other — and there were no problems whatsoever activating Windows 7 Home Premium Family 3 Pack on three different machines in three different locations.

I installed Windows 7 in my computer first (as you know), then a few days later I installed it again from the same 3 pack DVD on a friend’s computer. They live in another town, and they use a different Internet service than I do. I activated Windows 7 on their computer with no problem. Then, a few days later, I installed the last of the 3 installs allowed with the WINDOWS 7 FAMILY PACK on my dad’s computer. He, too, lives in another town, and uses a different Internet service, and there were no problems activating Windows 7 on his computer either.

So there you go. Three installs from the same DVD on three different computers, in three different locations, on three different ISPs. No problems.

So if you and you’re friends are interested in upgrading to Windows 7, why not consider chipping in together on a Windows 7 Home Premium Family 3 Pack.

I upgraded from Windows Vista, and I’m very happy with the results. My friend and my dad were both running Windows XP previously, and they, too, are very pleased with Windows 7. My friend claims his computer even starts up faster now than it did before.

By the way, I’ll be keeping the original DVD. If they ever need it, they’ll have to call me for it. But I’ve never needed to access the original disc unless I was reinstalling the operating system.

Gestures with Windows 7

I’m sure you Windows Vista users out there had several gestures you used when Vista let you down, but with Windows 7 gestures are more productive.

Gestures refer to mouse movements on your screen, and how they affect objects on the screen. Today’s video demonstrates the new windows minimization technique, and the “Aero Snap” gesture.

Minimize gesture: Windows 7, as other Windows versions before it, allowed you to minimize a window and hide it from view by clicking the minimize button on the top right of the window’s title bar, but now with Windows 7 you can grab the title bar of one window with you mouse, give it a shake, and the other windows on your screen will minimize.  So, instead of minimizing each window seperately, you just shake the window you want to keep on screen to hide the other windows.

Aero Snap: This gesture involves dragging a window toward the left or right edge of the screen, or towards the top of the screen. When you drag a window towards the left edge, the window will snap into place and cover the left half of the screen once the mouse arrow touches the edge of the screen. Similarly, dragging the mouse to the right edge will cause the window to fill the right half of the screen. This makes it very easy to organize your workspace. For example, you might be reading a web site on the left side, while taking notes in your word processor on the right side.

Dragging the window towards the top of the screen with your mouse will cause the window to maximize and fill the screen. The previous methods of double clicking the title bar or clicking the maximize button still apply. Similarly, you can restore a maximized window to a smaller size simply by dragging the title bar away from the top of the screen.

It’s nice to see that gesturing at your computer will actually have an effect, and it will probably help you fel better at the same time.

Windows 7 and ClearType

This is the second post in a series of articles about the new Windows 7 operating system from Microsoft. You can read the first post about installing Windows 7 here.

An interesting feature of Windows 7 is ClearType. ClearType was available for Vista, but it has some enhancements for Windows 7.

ClearType is a technology developed by Microsoft for sharpening the appearance of yext on the monitor’s screen. Earlier versions didn’t work on every monitor, but those problems have largely been cleared up by now. As a matter of fact, monitor manufacturers can even label their monitors with the “ClearType” logo to indicate that it works with ClearType technology.

With Windows 7 there is an option in the Display properties for adjusting ClearType text so that it appears clean and crisp on your screen. Or “as you like it.”

Adjusting ClearType text with Windows 7

  1. Click Start >> “Control Panel” >> “Appearance and Personalization”
  2. Under “Fonts”, click “Adjust ClearType text”
  3. The ClearType Text Tuner appears onscreen
  4. Make sure the checkbox for “Turn on ClearType text” is checked
  5. Click “Next”
  6. Windows 7 will make sure your monitor is set to its “native resolution” or “out of the box settings”. If the native resolution isn’t correct, you may need to check your monitor’s manual to reset it.
  7. Now, click on each sample of text shown that looks best to you. Click Next after each selection to proceed to the next step. There will be 4 sets of samples to compare.
  8. Lastly, click “Finish” and you’re done.

If you have two or more monitors on your computer, the process will repeat for each of your active monitors. This allows each monitor to have its own individual “best” settings.