The spider web is one of those things that are great to look at as long as it isn't in your face. It is amazing to think how the spider can navigate these thin lines with speed and grace. I thought it was a great metaphor for the 7 1/2 hours I spent on-line with Microsoft Customer Support this past week in the attempt to resolve an issue that rendered my new Windows 8 computer unusable. I felt helpless as the fly that falls prey to this spider web. Read more below. In This Issue
June 2013

Microsoft Account

Windows 8

Subscription Software

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Microsoft Account (aka Windows Live) Saga

Microsoft has maintained personal information a very longtime. With the development of MSN, Microsoft Passport, Microsoft Yes this is a picture of NSA HeadquartersWallet, Windows Live and XBox Live, Microsoft has created a database the size of the NSA. Well maybe not. But it is big. Now with the addition of Windows 8, your Microsoft Live account stores your Windows preferences. Things that you used to set for each computer can now be automatic and synchronized between all your Windows 8 computers. Sounds great, doesn't it? Your favorite web sites, Smartdrive file sharing, your Windows themes, your background picture and even your Ribbon Menu customized settings. Sounds fabulous.


Until something goes wrong. What could possibly go wrong. Well it is computer software and sometimes there are bugs. This is the beginning of my saga this past week. I have a new Windows 8 computer for home where I do a lot of my work with photographs, web sites, file management, and work with the Sterling Historical Society. My new computer was awesome until I attempted to make a change the Ribbon options in File Explorer (new name for Windows Explorer). Windows File Explorer crashed and never ran again. That is, never when I was signed on to my computer with my Windows Account sign in. The one that I have had since 1997? Yes that one.

So on-line I went to Microsoft Online Support. A service known as the Answer Desk. This is a pay-by-occurrence service which costs $99 for Premium Software Support. We are told to take a closer look. "Get expert help", "Complete PC Diagnostics", Dedicated Attention", "...make sure your software issues are resolved". Sounded great. I spent the $99. My Microsoft Account knew immediately which credit card to charge.

To make a long story somewhat shorter, I spent 7 1/2 hours over 3 days trying to resolve the problem. I permitted them to take over my computer. I removed all my files and software (a process that takes me 8-12 hours to install). I performed a clean refresh of Windows, I reinstalled Windows. I Reformatted my drive and started from scratch. And my results were the same in all cases. If I signed on using my Microsoft Account, I could not run Windows File Explorer. So to get a refund on my $99, I must invest more time and contact Microsoft by phone, 800-642-7676. We will see if they pay my invoice for $1,125.

The problem in a nutshell: Microsoft provides no way of editing specific personal preferences, program settings and general settings that they store in the cloud. You can, in theory, remove ALL personal preferences (here) but they will tell you that they may not be deleted immediately. "Until the next scheduled clean-up". I will follow up with a blog post with an update should this problem ever get resolved.

My immediate solution is to set up a local user for my Windows 8 computers, give up Skydrive and other features of shared preferences.


Windows 8

I have been using Windows 8 for some time. I use it on a touch screen desktop PC, a Windows Surface Tablet and a multi-Windows8screen desktop PC. I do not use it in the office! I do not have XBox 360. I do not have a Windows phone. So my level of understanding a screen swipe is limited to an iPhone, iTouch and iPad.

That said, I do have a general sense of where Microsoft is going with Windows 8 and I certainly have my opinion. Here it is. Windows 8 is Windows 7 with a cover. At first, the cover is pretty to look at but hides Windows 7. At first, the cover lets you do things you might do on a mobile or a tablet or XBox. Like watch Netflix, see the latest DOW or what Bing has to tell us. But where is Windows 7. Well its right there. Click Windows button and D and Enter and there it is, your old desktop. Ahhhh, that feels better. But where is my Start button? Well sorry, Microsoft thought it best to remove your primary method of moving from application to application. Yes, that shows a degree of brilliance. We will call that Microsoft Bright! And we will define it by saying that Microsoft has an arrogance that is only slightly diminished by our friends at Apple.

So what does a business user do to make his life a little easier? He uses the task bar. That little bar at the bottom of the screen that contains icons or folders that you use all the time. If you like, you can use your desktop just like before to paste shortcuts of programs or files as you see fit. The point is that nothing has really changed all that much.

But, if you have a Windows phone, or a Microsoft Surface, then the new cover is at your disposal. So don't be too upset. If you need a hand, please let us know.




Subscription Software

So what is a company to do when 35% of their revenue slips through the hands of pirates? Stop selling it altogether. Really? Yes, this is the trend we see in Microsoft and now Adobe. We see it in anti-virus software like Trend Micro and news publications like Time Magazine. As you know, we have been a proponent of Office 365 for a while now. It is inexpensive and provides the latest available software. We also see other companies following suit. Autodesk, Azimio, IBM, Intuit, and others.

Adobe provides their complete array of design tools for $50 per month per user which supports up to two computers. Not as attractive as Microsoft, but workable for those of us that require at least 3 or 4 Adobe products.

Will we no longer be able to obtain software in a box? I am sure we will. At least for a while. But this is yet another example of how the Internet is taking over the way we do business.

Keep in mind subscription software is different from SaaS (Software as a service). SaaS is a software that runs in the cloud like Quick Books Online, Microsoft Office Web Apps or TRI's Ordertrack services. So expect to see more and more subscription software.



If any of the information here is of interest to you, please drop us a note. If you would like to see specific information on technology issues that affect you and your business, please let us know.


Robert McKay Jones
50 Leominster Road
Suite #3
Sterling, Massachusetts 01564


Copyright 2013
All Rights Reserved
All Photographs Copyright 2013 by Robert McKay Jones
Artists Sketch byBruce Davidson

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