Microsoft releases Windows 8.1 and Office 2013 updates

Microsoft releases Windows 8.1 and Office 2013 updates

After 12 years of faithful service for many computer users, Microsoft ended support for the Windows XP operating system earlier this month. On the very same day, Microsoft announced Windows 8.1 Update 1 as an essential update to Windows 8.1. They also advised support for Windows 8.1 was ending from 13 May 2014. In order to receive future updates, Windows 8.1 Update 1 is required to be installed in order be supported by Microsoft.

In order to receive Windows 8.1 Update 1, you are required to have all important updates to be already installed onto your computer. These can be downloaded from Windows Update. Prior to doing this, we strongly suggest that you ensure you have a backup along with a reliable internet connection as the update is quite large. Once these have been installed, Windows 8.1 Update 1, also known as the “Windows 8.1 Update for x64-based Systems (KB2919355)” (link opens in new window) will be installed.

Some of the enhancements on Windows 8.1 Update 1 include improved navigation for keyboard and mouse, integration between the desktop and Windows apps, and the ability to go directly to the desktop rather than the Start screen when the computer starts. The following video provided by Microsoft gives a brief introduction into these features:

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How to avoid being “phished”

How to avoid being “phished”

We began writing articles warning the perils of phishing (emails that appear to be from reputable organisations collecting personal and confidential information from unwary users) in our newsletters over ten years ago, but in recent times the issue has come to light again.

As we reported then, a typical phishing scam will be an email claiming to come from a bank, commercial business or other organisation. Such emails typically ask you to provide information that the organisation should know already, so be wary of responding to or clicking on the links to the emails. It is strongly recommended you delete these emails. It may ask you to click on a link to confirm your account details, or complete a survey to receive a gift voucher. By clicking on these links and entering your information, you may be actually sharing the information with others you do not wish to share it with.

It is important to understand phishing emails use fraudulent email accounts to make you access their websites and provide your confidential data to them. Most times, the website and email address is fake and when picked up by authorities, they are blacklisted and removed from the internet. However, some times this may take a while to occur. In this cases, there are some rules you should follow if you receive such an email:

  1. Be cautious when opening emails, even if they appear to be from someone you know. Most importantly, do not click on any links or open any attachments. A virus infection might occur if you do this.
  2. Check the email for bad spelling, grammar errors or strange formatting.
  3. Contact the bank itself to see if it actually issued the request to update your details.
  4. Forward the email to the “abuse” account for your Internet Service Provider (ISP). They will often have the means to blacklist the address or advise the police if necessary. However, do not forward it to your friends or colleagues, even if it is just a warning.
  5. Ensure you have internet security software installed and keep it updated.

Our advice is that you never respond to such an email, and that you confirm with the organisation that it is fraudulent and then delete it. Most organisations would not request such personal information from its clients over the internet.

If you are unsure whether or not an email you have received is actually genuine, contact the organisation by phone or visit their website. Do not use the details provided in the email itself, look up the correct details in the phone book or visit their website.

To help you become aware of phishing emails, here are some samples:

 How to avoid being "phished" - Email from PayPal  How to avoid being "phished" - Email from Apple
How to avoid being "phished" - Email from Westpac How to avoid being "phished" - Email from Telstra

If in doubt in any way, even if you recognise the organisation or do deal with them, it is recommended that you do not open the file and delete it immediately. If you feel you have been compromised, call the organisation to ensure that you are protected.

In addition to phishing emails, another ploy is the Microsoft phone scam. It is also important not to allow organisations reporting to be from Microsoft calling you advising you of issues with your computer to take control of your computer. These are hoaxes Microsoft has released an article advising of how to avoid the phone scams which can be found on the Microsoft Security website (link opens in new window).

For more advice and support, please contact us to enlist our Support computer solution to help remove these threats, and Training computer solution to help you understand and prevent such issues occurring in your organisation.

Useful Windows and Office features uncovered through April Fools’ jokes

Useful Windows and Office features uncovered through April Fools’ jokes

Have you found your screen has done a 180 degree turn, or when you type your business name something else comes up instead, or that you can’t seem to type English characters on your keyboard? Perhaps you have been caught by an April Fools Day jokes. Surprisingly enough, some of these features do serve useful purposes, so why not make use of them?

On some computers, the rotation of the screen can be turned around automatically through the use of a series of keys on your keyboard. You don’t need to physically turn your screen around (as some computer helpdesks suggest), but try using pressing CTRL and ALT keys together and then either the UP or DOWN key. Depending on your computer’s configuration, these keys may be different. You might find this feature useful if you have multiple screens you are displaying vertically rather than horizontally.

Other users may have noticed their words have changed to not what they have intended, such as your business name or your own name to something else! To change this, use the AutoText feature of Microsoft Word, which also applies to other Microsoft Office applications including Outlook. To change AutoText, review Microsoft Word Help for version 2010 and 2013 (link opens in new window). AutoText can be a timesaver if typing long words or automatically correcting misspellings, which allow certain words which are replaced by others (such as Dept to Department).

Another similar issue is if you try to enter English characters on your keyboard and it comes out in another set! This might be the language has changed from English when you enter information in on your keyboard. This can be changed in Windows through the Control Panel but is also reflected in other programs including Microsoft Office. To add or change your language for Windows 8 (link opens in new window) and Windows 7 (link opens in new window).

If you would like more information on how to make use of these and other features within Windows and Office, please contact us to enlist the help of our Training computer solution. We’ll be happy to help you learn and uncover more about these and other features.