Tech Tip – Use Windows Key Shortcuts to Snap Windows

Snapping windows allows you to quickly arrange open windows on your screen, making multitasking more efficient by giving you a better overview of multiple applications simultaneously. Here’s how to do it:

To snap a Window to the Side

– Click on the window you want to snap.

– Press Win + Left Arrow or Win + Right Arrow to snap the window to the left or right half of the screen.

To snap a window to a Corner

– After snapping to the side, press Win + Up Arrow or Win + Down Arrow to move the window to a corner.

To snap to quadrants

– You can also directly snap a window to a corner by dragging it to a corner or using the Win + Arrow keys combination.

Tech News : Google Acquisition Means Windows App Support For ChromeOS

Following the success of their partnership last year, Google has announced that it has acquired Cameyo, thereby enabling virtualised Windows apps to be integrated into ChromeOS.

Why?

Google says that its research (such as a new Forrester study) has highlighted a “fundamental shift in how businesses operate”. Google says that businesses are now turning to “web-based applications” to unlock significant advantages over their competitors, such as “security, reduced costs, and enhanced user experiences”. The Forrester study referenced by Google shows for example that “90 per cent of IT respondents envision a world where applications reside in the cloud, not on the desktop” and that “seventy-eight percent of respondents indicated that companies that don’t embrace the web will be left behind”.

Cameyo? 

Cameyo, a US-based company, formed in 2018, specialises in virtual application delivery, i.e. they create software solutions that enable users to access Windows and internal web applications securely from the cloud, from any device, to help facilitate remote work and enhance productivity. For example, their technology means that Windows apps can be virtualised so that they can run on non-Windows machines and within web browsers. Cameyo essentially virtualises apps (such as popular Windows apps) and then serves them from a public cloud (like AWS), or a private cloud, alternatively an on-premises data-centre, or perhaps a hybrid cloud environment.

Last Year’s Partnership Leads To Acquisition This Year 

Last year’s partnership between Cameyo and Google led to the launch of a “seamless virtual application delivery experience fully integrated with ChromeOS”. This means that Cameyo’s technology has enabled virtual Windows apps to be integrated within (and run within) Google’s ChromeOS. This enabled local file system integration and the ability to deliver virtual apps as progressive web apps (PWAs) and enhanced clipboard support, providing improved functionality for copying and pasting text, images, or other data between different applications or environments (between virtual or remote desktop environments).

Google said the partnership was “incredibly successful” and has now announced that as a result, it has acquired Cameyo.

How This Helps Businesses 

For Business users of the ChromeOS, the acquisition of Cameyo and the integration of its technology with ChromeOS could help them accelerate their adoption of web-based technology by:

– Simplifying application deployment. Virtualised apps can, for example, be easily deployed and accessed across the business, regardless of device or location. This means ChromeOS users can get greater access to Windows apps without the hassle of complex installations or updates. It also gets around the issue of half of apps still suffering the limitations of being client-based (Forrester).

– Enhancing security. Google says both ChromeOS and Cameyo provide “zero trust security”, and together deliver deep protection of data and systems from vulnerabilities.

– Improving productivity. By using virtual cloud-based apps, employees can access the apps they need quickly and easily as a PWA directly from the ChromeOS shelf (a taskbar at the bottom of the ChromeOS screen), without the frustration of compatibility issues, slow performance, or virtual desktops to navigate.

– Reducing IT costs. The streamlining of application management, support processes, and the removing infrastructure requirements may translate to significant cost savings over time.

What Will The Move Do For Google?

The move by Google to gain control of the integration of Cameyo’s technology (by acquiring Cameyo) is likely to help Google make its ChromeOS more attractive to the lucrative business and education markets by simplifying access to their most used apps, whether they work with Windows and ChromeOS, or they move away from Windows. It will also mean that Google owning Cameyo will keep its technology out of the hands of competitors, thereby giving Google a competitive advantage.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Google’s acquisition of Cameyo could bring substantial benefits to both companies and their users. For Google, integrating Cameyo’s virtual application delivery technology into ChromeOS could strengthen its position in the business and education markets. By enabling seamless access to Windows applications on ChromeOS, Google will make its platform more versatile and appealing to organisations that rely on a mix of web-based and legacy applications. This move may not only enhance ChromeOS’s functionality but also align with the growing trend towards cloud-based applications, reinforcing Google’s commitment to innovation and flexibility in the workplace.

For Cameyo, becoming part of Google will mean an expanded reach and the resources to further develop and enhance its technology. The integration into Google’s ecosystem will provide Cameyo with a broader platform to demonstrate the value of its virtual application delivery solutions, potentially reaching millions of new users. This acquisition will likely accelerate Cameyo’s growth and innovation, allowing them to leverage Google’s extensive infrastructure and market presence.

Business users of ChromeOS are likely to experience significant advantages from this acquisition. The ability to access virtualised Windows applications directly from ChromeOS simplifies application deployment and management. This means businesses can avoid the complexities of traditional software installations and updates, leading to smoother operations and reduced IT overheads. Enhanced security through zero-trust frameworks ensures that data and systems are better protected, addressing one of the primary concerns of modern enterprises.

Also, the improved productivity facilitated by Cameyo’s technology allows employees to work more efficiently. They can access necessary applications quickly, without compatibility issues or performance slowdowns. This ease of access is further supported by features like enhanced clipboard support and integration with the ChromeOS shelf, making everyday tasks perhaps more seamless and intuitive.

Ultimately, the acquisition appears to be a potential strategic win for Google, Cameyo, and business users alike. It represents a step towards a more integrated, secure, and productive work environment, leveraging the strengths of both cloud-based and legacy applications. As businesses continue to evolve and embrace digital transformation, the combined capabilities of Google and Cameyo could help provide another way to boost future growth and innovation.

Tech Tip – How To Customise Quick Access in File Explorer

Quick Access in Windows File Explorer allows you to pin frequently used folders and files, making them easily accessible. Customising Quick Access can save you time when navigating to commonly used locations. Here’s how to do it :

– Open File Explorer.

– Navigate to the folder you want to pin.

– Right-click on the folder and select ‘Pin to Quick Access’.

– To remove an item from Quick Access, right-click on it and select ‘Unpin from Quick Access’.

Tech Tip – Update Your Software and Drivers

Although cyber security insurance may be all very well for after the event, keeping your software and drivers up to date is crucial for helping to prevent security issues in the first place, and for maintaining the security and performance of your Windows device. Updates often include security patches that protect against newly discovered vulnerabilities. Here’s how to make sure your security is up to date:

Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.

Click ‘Check for updates’ to see if there are any new updates available.

Install any available updates to ensure your system is protected.

Additionally, check for updates for your installed applications and hardware drivers through their respective software or the manufacturer’s website.

Featured Article : New Windows Screenshot Feature Sparks Privacy Concerns

The new AI-powered Windows ‘Recall’ feature that takes 5-second screenshots to generate a searchable timeline of everything a user has interacted with has prompted security and privacy concerns.

What Is Recall? 

The Recall feature for Windows (currently in preview status) is a new feature that’s exclusive to Microsoft’s forthcoming Copilot+ PCs. Recall takes snapshots of whatever is on your screen every five seconds (e.g. emails, and photos), while content on the screen is different from the previous snapshot. These snapshots are then stored (encrypted) and analysed using optical character recognition (OCR), which uses AI, locally on the user’s PC. The collection of snapshots is designed to give users not only a timeline of everything they’ve done and seen, but they can use voice commands to search through it for what they need, e.g. for any content (text and images) they may have been working on or seen. Microsoft says the functionality will be improved “over time” to enable users to open the actual source document, website, or email in a screenshot.

When Recall opens the snapshot a user has requested, it enables ‘screenray’.  This runs at the top of the snapshot and allows the user to interact with any of the elements in the snapshot, so for instance, the user can copy text from the snapshot or send pictures from the snapshot (to an app that supports jpeg files).

Won’t It Just Fill Up The PC’s Storage Space With Snapshots? 

With different screen snapshots (captured every-five-seconds having to be stored locally on the PC) you may be wondering what this will do to the storage space. Microsoft says the minimum hard drive space needed to run Recall is 256 GB (whereby 50 GB of space must be available) and that the default allocation for Recall on a device with 256 GB will be 25 GB, which can store approximately 3 months of snapshots. Users can increase the storage allocation for Recall in the PC Settings and old snapshots are deleted when the allocated storage is used, allowing new ones to be stored.

Why Use Recall?

According to Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s executive vice president and consumer chief marketing officer, with Recall, Microsoft “set out to solve one of the most frustrating problems we encounter daily — finding something we know we have seen before on our PC”. 

Broadly speaking therefore, Recall is essentially a productivity and user experience-enhancing feature. Microsoft hopes that Recall will transform how users interact with their digital content by providing powerful, AI-driven tools for retrieving and managing past activities while maintaining a high level of control and (hopefully) privacy too.

Privacy Concerns 

While on the face of it, it’s possible to see how useful this feature could be, Recall has set privacy alarm bells ringing for some users. For example, it’s been reported that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is contacting Microsoft for more information on the safety of the product and that Recall has been described as a “privacy nightmare” by some privacy watchdogs. Examples of some of the key concerns about the potential privacy issues of Recall include:

– Since the feature doesn’t moderate what it records, very sensitive information including snapshots of passwords, financial account numbers, medical or legal information (and more) could be accessed and taken, presenting an obvious risk. Microsoft says: “Recall does not perform content moderation. It will not hide information such as passwords or financial account numbers. That data may be in snapshots that are stored on your device, especially when sites do not follow standard internet protocols like cloaking password entry.”

– With gaining initial access to a device being one of the easier elements of an attack, this is all that would be needed to potentially access the screenshots and steal sensitive information or business trade secrets.

– Anyone who knows a user’s password could access that user’s history in more detail.

– Recall is currently at the preview stage, but unless Microsoft assesses the data protection, and peoples’ rights and freedoms before the feature is released to the wider market, there may be some serious legal issues and consequences.

Elon Musk also posted about the feature on his X platform saying: “This is a Black Mirror episode. Definitely turning this ‘feature off.” 

What Does Microsoft Say? 

In defence of Recall and to allay the privacy concerns expressed, Microsoft points out that:

– Recall is not enabled by default – it is an opt-in feature. Users must manually activate it to use it and can configure its settings to control what data it captures and stores.

– Microsoft says it built privacy into Recall’s design “from the ground up”.

– By clicking on the Recall taskbar icon after user’s first activate their Copilot+ device, they can choose what snapshots Recall collects and stores on their device. For example, users can select specific apps or websites visited in a supported browser to filter out of snapshots, snapshots on demand from the Recall icon in the system tray, clear some or all snapshots that have been stored, or delete all the snapshots from the device.

– Microsoft says: “For enterprise customers, IT administrators can disable automatically saving snapshots using group policy or mobile device management policy. If a policy is used to disable saving snapshots, all saved snapshots from users’ devices will be deleted, and device users can’t enable saving snapshots.” 

– The snapshots captured by Microsoft’s Recall feature are stored locally on the PC but are encrypted and protected using BitLocker encryption.

– Recall data is only stored locally and isn’t accessed by Microsoft or anyone who does not have device access.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

It’s possible to see the value of the Recall feature (in the forthcoming Copilot+ PCs) in terms of offering UK businesses a potential boost in productivity and efficiency. Being able to search by voice and quickly find (and eventually click through to) anything you’ve been looking at could make it much faster and easier to retrieve and manage digital content. This could, of course, save valuable time and reduce frustration, leading to more streamlined workflows and increased operational efficiency.

However, the elephant in the room with this feature which has piqued the attention of many commentators and the ICO is the significant risk to privacy that it could seemingly pose to businesses and individual users. For example, the unmoderated collection of everything (which could include sensitive information such as passwords, financial data, and confidential business details), raises substantial security and privacy risks. For example, if these snapshots were to be accessed and fall into the wrong hands, the consequences could be severe, including data breaches and the exposure of proprietary information. It appears, therefore, that the only thing standing between a potential bad actor and your personal/sensitive/business information is knowledge of the password for the PC.

Microsoft’s assertion that Recall is an opt-in feature, with snapshots stored locally and protected by BitLocker encryption, may, however, provide some reassurance, as may the fact that users can control what data is captured and stored, plus enterprise customers can disable automatic snapshot saving through group policy or mobile device management. Nevertheless, despite these measures, the potential for misuse remains, especially if a device is compromised or accessed by an unauthorised individual.

To address these privacy concerns, Microsoft will need to provide comprehensive transparency and robust security assurances to the ICO, businesses, and privacy advocates too. Demonstrating that Recall complies with data protection regulations and adequately safeguards user data will be crucial. Clearly, even though Recall is still just at the preview stage, there are serious concerns, and failure to address these could result in significant backlash, legal challenges, and a loss of trust among users.

If / when Recall is thought to be suitable for wider release for businesses, the decision to implement it will require a careful evaluation of the trade-offs between increased productivity and potential privacy risks. Companies will need to establish clear policies and provide training to ensure that employees understand how to use the feature securely. IT departments will also need to remain vigilant, continually monitoring and managing the feature’s settings to maintain data protection standards.

While Recall offers exciting possibilities for enhancing business efficiency, its success will depend on Microsoft’s ability to address privacy concerns and provide robust security measures, so it remains to be seen how Recall progresses though this preview stage and whether risks can be mitigated to an acceptable level.

Tech Insight : Windows 11 Updates & VBScript Kill-Off?

In this insight, we look at the implications of Microsoft’s announcement that the Windows 11 24H2 update is being tested in a pre-release stage and the deprecation of VBScript is being initiated by making it an optional feature.

What Did Microsoft Say? 

Microsoft has announced that it is making this year’s annual feature update Windows 11, version 24H2 (Build 26100.712) available in the Release Preview Channel for customers to preview ahead of general availability later this year.

Microsoft says that Windows 11, version 24H2 includes a range of new features like “the HDR background support, energy saver, Sudo for Windows, Rust in the Windows kernel, support for Wi-Fi 7, voice clarity” and more.

Improvements Across Windows 

The update also includes many improvements across Windows, such as:

– A scrollable view of the quick settings flyout from the taskbar.

– The ability to create 7-zip and TAR archives in File Explorer (in addition to ZIP). 7-Zip is a free, open-source file archiver that compresses files into various archive formats, notably its own 7z format, and TAR (Tape Archive) – a widely used format for combining multiple files into a single archive file (typically without compression).

– Improvements for connecting Bluetooth® Low Energy Audio devices, i.e. to enhance audio quality, reduce latency, and improve power efficiency for supported devices.

Copilot Pinned To The Taskbar 

Microsoft has also said that in response to feedback from users, the update will also mean that Copilot on Windows as an app will be pinned to the taskbar. This means users can get the benefits of a traditional app experience (e.g. it can be resized, moved, and snapped to the window).

More Details To Come 

Microsoft says although Windows Insiders in the Release Preview Channel can install Windows 11, version 24H2 via its “seeker” experience, the rest of us will have to wait for more details in the coming months of the new features and improvements included as part of Windows 11, version 24H2 leading up to general availability.

The Deprecation of VBScript 

One other significant announcement from Microsoft was the sharing of a timeline for the deprecation (phasing out) of Visual Basic Scripting Edition, commonly referred to as VBScript. Last October, Microsoft announced that VBScript, first introduced in 1996, would be gradually deprecated.

The latest timeline news is that beginning with the new OS release later this year, VBScript will be available as features on demand (FODs). Microsoft says the feature will finally be completely retired from future Windows OS releases “as we transition to the more efficient PowerShell experiences.”  A diagram of the timeline states that VBScript FODs will be completely disabled by default in 2027.

Why Is VBScript Going? 

Microsoft says VBScript (VBS) is finally going because there are more versatile scripting languages (e.g. JavaScript and PowerShell) that offer “broader capabilities and are better suited for modern web development and automation tasks.” 

However, it should also be noted that VBS was a popular tool for cyber-criminals and the fact that VBScript was integrated into the Windows environment meant that it could be exploited to create VBS malware. For example, the highly destructive “ILOVEYOU” worm (2000) was VBS malware. Increased security by closing another door for cyber-criminals is apparently therefore another reason why Microsoft’s getting rid of VBS.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The forthcoming Windows 11 24H2 update looks like it will bring several key benefits for UK businesses, promising to enhance productivity, security, and overall user experience. Key improvements, such as support for HDR backgrounds, energy-saving features, and the integration of Sudo for Windows and Rust in the Windows kernel, will provide businesses with more robust and efficient systems. The introduction of support for Wi-Fi 7 and improved voice clarity may also enhance connectivity and communication within the workplace, which would be helpful for maintaining seamless operations in today’s ‘digital-first’ business environment.

Also, the update’s enhancements for Bluetooth Low Energy Audio devices could be particularly advantageous for businesses relying on audio devices for communication and collaboration.

The news of the inclusion of a scrollable quick settings flyout and the ability to create 7-Zip and TAR archives directly in File Explorer may simplify business file management and streamline workflows. Such improvements could help make everyday tasks more intuitive and less time-consuming, allowing employees to focus on more critical business activities.

However, it’s worth noting for balance that, as with other updates, some businesses may face compatibility issues with legacy systems or software that has not yet been optimised for the new features. There may also be a learning curve associated with the new functionalities, i.e. perhaps requiring additional training time to fully utilise the update’s benefits.

As for the deprecation of VBScript, considering how long it’s been around, the timeline for its demise marks a significant shift for businesses still relying on this scripting language. While moving to more modern and secure scripting languages like PowerShell and JavaScript offers improved capabilities and security, the transition may necessitate some adjustments. Businesses may need to update or replace legacy systems and scripts that depend on VBScript, which could involve some time and resource investments.

On the positive side, phasing out VBScript should reduce some Windows security risks, as VBS has historically been exploited for malware attacks. The phasing out of VBS, therefore, should enhance the overall security posture of Windows environments, thereby helping businesses protect their data and operations from cyber threats.

In summary, while the Windows 11 24H2 update promises enhancements that can drive efficiency and security, businesses must prepare for potential compatibility issues and the need to transition away from VBScript. Armed with this knowledge, proactive planning for the changes can help UK businesses to maximise the benefits of the new update and maintain a secure, modern, and efficient IT environment.

Tech Tip – Use Windows Security to Check Device Performance and Health

Windows Security provides a comprehensive overview of your device’s health and security, including storage capacity, battery life, and apps and software that may affect your device’s performance. Here’s how to use it:

– Go to Settings > Privacy & Security (Update & Security in Windows 10) > Windows Security.

– Click on Device performance & health.

– Here, you can view a report detailing any issues with storage capacity, apps, battery life, and software that might impact system performance. If any issues are detected, Windows provides recommendations for resolving them.

Tech Tip – Restore Points For System Recovery

Creating ‘restore points’ regularly in Windows could save you from unexpected system failures and software installation issues and allow you to undo system changes by letting you return your computer to a previous state. Here’s how it works:

– Search for Create a restore point in the Start menu and open it.

– Under the ‘System Protection’ tab, ensure that protection is turned on for your system drive.

– Click ‘Create’ to start the process of creating a restore point. Give it a descriptive name e.g., the date, to remember what prompted the creation (like before installing new software).

– Click ‘Create’ again, and Windows will generate a restore point, capturing your system settings and configurations at that time.

– If needed, you can now restore your system by returning to this dialog and selecting ‘System Restore’, then following the prompts to revert to a selected restore point.

Tech Tip – Enable Clipboard History for Easy Access to Multiple Clipboard Items

If you frequently copy and paste various items, Windows Clipboard History is an invaluable tool that saves multiple clipboard items for later use, allowing you to access a history of copied text, images, or files. Here’s how to use it:

– Press Win + V to open the clipboard history panel. If it’s your first time using it, you may need to enable Clipboard History by clicking the ‘Turn on’ button that appears in the panel / type ‘Clipboard Settings’ into the start menu and toggle the ‘Clipboard history’ switch to ‘on’.

– Once enabled, each item you copy will be saved in the clipboard history, and you can access and paste older items by pressing Win + V and clicking on the item you want to use.

Tech Tip – How To Restore Recently Closed Files in File Explorer

Accidentally closing a File Explorer window that you needed can be frustrating, especially if you were deep in a directory structure or working with multiple files. Windows allows you to quickly reopen a recently closed File Explorer window – here’s how:

– Right-click on the File Explorer icon in the taskbar.

– From the context menu that appears, select a recently closed folder or window under ‘Frequent folders’ or ‘Recent files’ to reopen it.

– This feature keeps track of your recent activity in File Explorer, making it easy to pick up where you left off.