Windows 10 Costs Users from a Data Usage Perspective

Data BandwidthThe OS may be free, but, for some, the extra bandwidth isn’t!

Windows 10 churning through data, blowing up usage caps

For some Windows 10 users, the problems keep coming.

ZDNet – By: Zack Whittaker for Between the Lines – “Just shy of a month since Windows 10 was released to millions of users through a staggered upgrade, many have found they’ve run out of bandwidth already. That’s because their internet provider sets the amount its customers can download in a monthly billing cycle.

In many parts of the US, the ‘cap’ is in the low hundreds of gigabytes, like for AT&T and Comcast customers, as well as those using mid-sized providers.

But many smaller ISPs — including those providing users in remote areas and in countries where internet access is not as available– have data caps that can be significantly lower.

Though Windows 10 was free to download, updating the operating system is costing some dearly, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Some have blamed the way the new operating system downloads and installs updates. Prior to Windows 10, users could choose whether or not to install updates, depending on where they were in their billing cycle. But for many who breezed through the setup process, updates install in the background, often without user interaction.

Other reports that have trickled in also blame Windows 10’s forced updates.

In the past three weeks since its launch, there have been three cumulative updates available for Windows 10. According to sister-site TechRepublic, some installations — including drivers — could use about 5 GB of bandwidth for a typical 64-bit installation.

Based on a snapshot analysis of some data caps on one Reddit thread, that could amount to anything from one-quarter to one-third of a user’s monthly data.

Some have added that Windows 10’s internet-based system services use up significant amounts of data — such as the Cortana voice assistant, search, telemetry and diagnostic services, and sharing updates with others (which can be turned off).

Things have changed in the past few years, thanks to the rise in internet streaming services and more interactive (and bandwidth hungry) gaming consoles. But many internet providers have yet to catch up, or don’t have the capacity to offer faster services or more bandwidth.

Internet service caps vary wildly by state, region, and country. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have ‘unlimited’ data. Even many Americans are in a region where broadband internet isn’t available, relying on mobile broadband and satellite internet — often at a significantly greater cost for a lesser overall service.

In any case, for heavier bandwidth users, Windows updates are likely going to look paltry in size compared to a single hour of streaming high-definition content from Netflix.

However, turning off updates may not be the best solution. Updates often come with software improvements and bug fixes, but also security patches. Not installing security patches can put a user’s data at risk if they are susceptible to hacking and data theft.

The sad part is that these caps are, in many cases, a business decision rather than a technical one, according to Ars Technica.

While many have pointed to Windows for churning up data, it seems that blame may be mislaid.

‘This isn’t the fault of the operating system,’ said one Reddit user. ‘This is the fault of the ISP.'”

Streaming Issues Reported by Some on Windows 10

I saw it once, but it seems better after the last Windows 10 stealth upgrade.

YouTube, Netflix Hit by Video Streaming Issues on Windows 10

Softpedia News Blog – “More and more users are reporting various issues in Windows 10, and now complaints keep coming about a video streaming problem that apparently affects services such as YouTube and Netflix.

Basically, a number of those who upgraded to Windows 10 claim that watching videos doesn’t work as expected, the sound goes ahead of the clip, and sometimes everything turns green all of a sudden.

While this sounds like a graphic driver issue and everyone is recommended to try updating the drivers first, it appears that the problem goes beyond that, and in some cases, additional OS patches are needed.

Edge affected by similar issues

What’s interesting is that, in some cases, Microsoft Edge, the new default browser in Windows 10, cannot stream videos, but everything appears to work fine in other apps, such as Chrome.

Here’s a message posted by a Windows 10 user on the Microsoft Community forums:

‘I have a similar problem – I can’t stream from Netflix on Edge without some serious stutter and freezing. The first time, it caused a BSOD – I hadn’t seen that since Vista. It somehow worked after I updated all my drivers, but now, a day later, it’s back to square one. Sadly, Chrome had no problem playing videos. Please fix this.’

Others claim that video streaming issues happen in all browsers after upgrading to Windows 10, while playing local videos works just fine.

As you can see, there’s no pattern here, so it’s hard to isolate the problem, but there’s no doubt that video streaming isn’t working as expected in Windows 10. Microsoft hasn’t provided any information on this yet, but in case you’re having the same problem, make sure you update the graphic drivers before anything else.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft for a word on this and will update the article, should we receive an answer, to let you know how to fix the video streaming issues in Windows 10.”

Microsoft’s Ten Reasons for You to Upgrade!

If you scroll down the Windows 10 Launch Site, you will find these 10 Reasons to Upgrade:

1. Familiarity in Windows 10

2. Do personal things with Cortana on Windows 10

3. Do unexpected things with Microsoft Edge

4. Game Epically on Windows 10

5. Do multiple things at once with Windows 10

6. Security in Windows 10

7. Say ‘Hello’ to Windows Hello on Windows 10

8. A look at the great built-in apps in Windows 10

9. Continuum on Windows 10

10. Do one-stop shopping with the new Windows Store

How to Fix Windows 10 Soundcard Issues

SoundDoes your microphone and audio work correctly since the Windows 10 upgrade? No? Well, there is hope!

Having audio issues with Windows 10? The fix is just a few clicks away

Digital Trends – By: Tyler Lacoma – “As people download and experiment with Windows 10, they’ve found a lot to appreciate, but also found a recurring problem with sound. A number of audio issues plague the latest Windows OS – it’s one of the most common complaints – leaving people unable to play videos, use certain apps, or hear anything at all from their speakers.

That’s not fun, especially when learning your way around a new operating system, so let’s do some troubleshooting. Here are the ways you can fix Windows 10 audio issues to remove the dreaded sound of silence.

Updating your sound card
The most common source of sound problems is poor communication between Windows 10 and your sound card or chip of choice. This often leads to your sound failing to work at all. Fortunately, there are ways to make Windows 10 and your sound hardware compatible. All you need to do is find the right updates for the job.

Start by heading over to the Start menu and searching for ‘Device Manager.’ Inside the Manager you will see a list of icon options. Choose Sound, video and game controllers. If you have a sound card, it will show up here. Open the sound card, go to the Driver Tab, and look for the option to Update Driver. This will start an automatic Windows search to find driver updates and download them. After the update is finished, restart and see if your audio now works. Here are a couple additional points to consider.

Windows will not always find the right audio drivers on its own. If the search does not work, consider visiting your sound card manufacturer’s website and looking up the sound card to find a manual method to download any applicable updates.

Your driver may just need a kick in the bytes. If updating it doesn’t work, then open your Device Manager, find your sound card again, and right-click on the icon. Select Uninstall. This will remove your driver, but don’t panic. Restart your computer, and Windows will try to reinstall the driver. Allow it to do so, and you may find that your sound is back on.

Using Windows 10 ‘high definition audio device’
If working on your sound card software has no effect, you should try switching to the generic audio driver that Windows 10 offers. This can often circumvent compatibility issues and restore sound capabilities to Windows activities.

Start by entering the Device Manager and finding your audio driver as if you were updating it. Right-click the driver and choose Update driver software… to see several update options. Select Browse my computer for driver software, then select Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer. This will bring up a list which will include High Definition Audio Device. This is the generic Windows 10 driver. Select and install it, to see if this restores your sound.

Browser sound problems on Windows 10
If you are having trouble hearing sound online on the Edge browser but the rest of Windows audio seems to be working fine, then the problem is probably with the Adobe Flash Player. If you open the Edge browser you will see in the upper right corner a ‘. . .’ button for more options. Click this button and select Settings. In the first Settings drop-down menu, you can scroll down and find a toggle bar called Adobe Flash Player. Make sure the toggle is turned to on.Cortana side note — Does your computer have a mic?

Windows 10 comes with one specific audio feature unique to this new version of the OS – Cortana, the Microsoft voice assistant. Cortana is supposed to listen to your commands and respond by bringing up searches, relevant files, bookings, reservations and so on.

However, some users are trying to use Cortana with the ‘Hey Cortana’ feature and finding that the voice assistant is deaf to their pleas. This is a bit frustrating for excited Windows fans, but it’s usually easy to address.

First, make sure that your computer has a mic so Cortana can hear you. A microphone is a standard feature for many of today’s laptops and desktops, but it is not guaranteed. Without a built-in mic, you’ll need to use your microphone jack and an external device instead.

Also note that the problem could lie in your Cortana settings. Head over to the Cortana Notebook, and select Settings. This will give you a number of toggle options to control what the voice assistant can do. Make sure that the option for Cortana to listen for ‘Hey Cortana’ commands is turned on. If she isn’t listening, your voice commands won’t work.

Keep checking your updates
As with any new operating system, updates are incoming to improve the Windows 10 experience and solve various problems that have cropped up. We saw this occur in the early versions of the Windows 10 technical preview build, where static and other issues would plague sound drivers, HDMI ports, and other audio features. People even saw issues trying to play Spotify or other music apps. An update was later released that fixed these issues, but until then there was no available fix.

Keep in mind that the solution, as we mentioned, is often a driver update, it doesn’t always happen right away. It may take a little time for the right update for your driver to appear, which is why it’s important to wait it out.

Some driver updates are packaged into general Windows 10 updates, and some are available independently from creators such as Realtek. At intervals, visit both the manufacturer of your sound card and the Windows update icon and check for the latest updates if your sound problem has still not been resolved. If you see a new update, it could be the solution to your problems. Otherwise, consider buying a new computer with compatible drivers — especially if your current machine is growing rapidly outdated.”

How to Back Out if You Want To!

Cold FeetYou asked for Windows 10, but now you are not sure? You may be able to back out!

How to get rid of the ‘Your upgrade to Windows 10 is ready’ lock

InfoWorld – Woody on Windows – By: Woody Leonhard – “You signed up for the Windows 10 upgrade, but now that the bits are ready, you’re getting cold feet. I understand. But there’s one little problem: Your Windows 7 or 8.1 machine won’t install any updates until you install Windows 10. Windows Update may say, ‘Your upgrade to Windows 10 is ready,’ and if you check for updates, you get ‘Windows Update cannot currently check for updates, because you must first restart the computer so that a previous installation can be completed.’

You may get a message that says, ‘Your upgrade is ready to install’ and then, ‘Great, we’ll get the upgrade started.’ I’ve seen hundreds of posts (and more than a few emails) from people stuck in the same boat. If you accepted the offer for Windows 10 and later decided that you aren’t ready, Microsoft locks your machine into a situation where it’s very difficult to say no.

I’ve been playing around with this problem for a couple of weeks, ran it through a dozen testers on AskWoody.com, and think that maybe — maybe — this approach may work. Please test it. The worst that’ll happen is you’ll end up in the same position, after 20 minutes to an hour of hassle, for which I apologize.

Try this:

Step 1. Wait until you have a spare hour. This is good to do before you head out to a meeting, to lunch, or at the end of the workday.

Step 2. Turn off Automatic Update. Go into Windows Update (in Win7, using an administrator-level account, click Start, Control Panel, and then System and Security; in Win8.1, while looking at the old-fashioned Windows desktop, hold down the Windows key and press X, then choose Control Panel, System and Security). Under Windows Update, choose this setting: ‘Check for updates but let me choose whether to download or install them.’

Step 3. Hide the upgrade, if you can. In Windows Update, click Show all Available Updates. If you see an entry for Upgrade to Windows 10 (many of you won’t), right-click on Upgrade to Windows 10 and choose Hide Update.

Step 4. Delete the installation files. In File Explorer, right-click on your C drive and choose Disk Cleanup. When Explorer comes up for air, click the box marked Clean up System files. When the list appears, check the box marked Temporary Installation Files (it’ll be big — 5.8GB or so). Click OK. There’s a message that says ‘Are you sure you want to permanently delete?’ Click Delete Files. Wait … and wait … patiently. Remember, this is Windows.

Step 5. Get rid of the GWX (Get Windows X) patches. Back in Control Panel, Add or Remove programs, on the left click View installed updates. Look for KB 2952664 (likely on Win7 systems) and KB 2976978 (likely on Win 8.1). Also look for KB 3035583 (both Win7 and Win 8.1). If you find any of them (hint: click the column heading to sort alphabetically), click on it, and click Uninstall. (t/h EP)

Step 6. Reboot. Windows will prompt you to reboot. Do it. And wait. And wait. It may take an hour to reboot.

Step 7. Permanently disable the GWX patches. The minute you’ve rebooted, go back in to Windows Update and ‘hide’ KB 2952664, KB 2976978, and/or KB 3035583. To hide them, run Search for Updates, right-click on the entry and choose Hide. (t/h CT)

Step 8. For good luck, reboot again. That probably isn’t necessary, but it’ll kill off any process that thinks it should be downloading the Windows 10 installation files.

On the systems I’ve tested, that’ll remove the downloaded Windows 10 files, the obnoxious nags in the system tray, and the ‘Your upgrade to Windows 10 is ready’ notification in Windows Update. I’m not absolutely sure it’ll work in all cases, but the worst case is you’ve lost some time — you aren’t twiddling with any registry settings or doing anything that might cripple your Win7 or Win8.1 system. It’s strictly a home remedy, but Microsoft certainly isn’t going to distribute a magic fix.”

Microsoft Extends the PC Takeover!

Dr. Evil - MicrosoftThe benevolent dictators at Microsoft will be controlling your PC now!

Microsoft kills patch notes, will no longer explain most Windows 10 updates

ExtremeTech – By: Joel Hruska – “When Microsoft debuted Windows 10, it began offering significantly less information about KB updates in any given package. Instead of getting a clickable link that provided more than a bare sentence of information, users have to manually search for KB articles based on the given name. While this isn’t difficult, it’s an example of how Redmond has made it a bit more difficult to know what the OS is doing or why it’s doing it. Now, the company has stated that this obfuscation isn’t an artifact of a rushed launch — the company will not explain feature updates unless it deems them significant.

Over the past few weeks, Microsoft has drawn increasing fire for its update policies. To date, Microsoft has released three KB Cumulative Updates (CUs) — KB 3081424 (August 5), KB 3081436 (August 12) and KB 3081438 (August 14). All are described in precisely the same way: ‘This update includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10.’ All three cumulative updates contain an unexplained bug that traps some PCs in an endless reboot cycle, according to InfoWorld. Some users, who successfully installed the patch, have begun having trouble accessing the Windows Store and downloading updates from it. Others, who had problems with the store after the first CU, have reported that the second or third fixed their problem.

These cumulative updates are different from previous Windows Update releases in Windows 7 / 8.1. In the past, each KB was downloaded and applied individually, if Microsoft detected that the update should be offered to your system. Now, each cumulative update contains all previous updates. In theory, this allows for a streamlined download and installation process. In practice, it’s causing major problems. Microsoft no longer distinguishes between most security updates, feature updates, and bug fixes. It also gives no information about what bug fixes or feature updates do, which makes it nearly impossible to troubleshoot any given problem.

The Register reached out to Microsoft, hoping for clarification on what level of patch notes the company planned to issue in the future. According to Microsoft, ‘As we have done in the past, we post KB articles relevant to most updates which we’ll deliver with Windows as a service. Depending on the significance of the update and if it is bringing new functionality to Windows customers, we may choose to do additional promotion of new features as we deploy them.’

Comparing KB articles
Microsoft’s response states that the company will continue to offer KB articles with additional information and implies that this is business as usual. We can test this theory by examining a recent Windows 7 KB article and comparing it to what Redmond is offering with Windows 10. First, here’s the description for optional Windows 7 KB 3075851.

This article describes an update that contains some improvements to Windows Update Client in Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. This update also resolves an issue in which certain Windows Update operations fail when you install Windows Update Client for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: July 2015 (3065987) on Windows 7 Embedded editions.

That’s dry, but descriptive. If you have an issue with Windows update failing while running Windows 7 Embedded Edition, KB 3075851 applies to you. If you don’t, it doesn’t.

Here’s the KB file for Windows 10 KB 3081438. This is a cumulative update, which means it contains security fixes, feature updates, and bug patches.

This update includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10.

Microsoft wants people to believe that its level of disclosures haven’t changed, that it’s simply continuing on as before. It’s not true. Over on Reddit, user bileci picked up on the fact that KB 3081444 also pushed a kernel update to the operating system, without disclosing that it did so.

A troubleshooting nightmare
Going forward, there’s no way for users to tell which Windows patch caused a problem, if any. Microsoft may offer the ability to uninstall patches, but without some coherent method of determining which patches need to be uninstalled, there’s no way of telling what’s causing a problem. Short of using software products that monitor the registry and file system for every single change, it may not be possible to determine what changed or why it changed in every instance. Furthermore, what happens when a business or individual needs a security patch, but the feature update bundled along with it causes problems or breaks another aspect of the system? I’ll be the first to acknowledge that such issues are rare, but rare and ‘doesn’t happen’ are not the same thing.

Microsoft’s stripped down communication model is essentially, ‘Trust us.’ The company has yet to demonstrate that it deserves that kind of trust, and its decision to roll all updates together and say nothing about their contents could catastrophically backfire.”

Recover Disk Space After Your Windows 10 Upgrade

Hard DriveHave less space after your Windows 10 upgrade? Here’s what to do!

Windows 10 upgrade left you low of storage space? Free up gigabytes with a few clicks

ZDNet – By: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes for Hardware 2.0 – “Are you finding that your hard drives feel a bit cramped following your Windows 10 upgrade? Here’s how to free up tens of gigabytes of free space with just a few clicks.

What’s taking up the additional space on your storage device are the Windows 10 files that were downloaded to your PC before the upgrade, along with the previous operating system your PC was running.

On my test systems these files have taken up anything between 12 and 35 gigabytes.

One important caveat before going any further: The following operation will delete your previous operating system, which means that you won’t be able to roll back to the Windows installation you were running prior to the upgrade.”

Search for “Disk Cleaner”

Select “Clean up system files”

Select “Previous Windows Installations,” and “Temporary Windows installation files” (at least)

Agree to the warning that if you clean up the previous Windows installations or temporary installation files, you will no longer be able to restore the machine back to previous versions…

You are done!

Star Wars Land is Coming to Disney!

Star Wars LandI would REALLY love to get on-board the Millennium Falcon.

Star Wars-Themed Lands Coming to Disney Parks

StarWars.com – “Today at the D23 EXPO 2015, The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced to an audience of more than 7,500 fans that Star Wars-themed lands will be coming to Disneyland park in Anaheim, California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, allowing Star Wars fans to step into the stories from a galaxy far, far away.

Ambitious plans to bring Star Wars to life in the two parks include creating Disney’s largest single-themed land expansions ever at 14-acres each, transporting guests to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life.

‘I am thrilled to announce the next chapter in the long and exciting history between Disney Parks and Star Wars,’ said Iger. ‘Through each new attraction and new land we create, we push the boundaries of what is possible. And as you can imagine, with Star Wars, we are taking that to a whole new level, with a whole galaxy to explore.’

These authentic lands will have two signature attractions, including the ability to take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, on a customized secret mission, and an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle.”

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