So Long, Old Friend

January 14, 2020. The day Win7 died. Really it’s the day Microsoft stopped issuing free security updates and support for the nearly 11-year-old OS. No more patches. No more tech support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008/2008 R2.

And gathered among us are some who are denying the inevitable: migrating to Windows 10. A world without patches is no place to secure your business’s data. Windows desktop OS vulnerabilities have almost doubled the past six years. 1 And one-in-three breaches 2 caused globally is due to an unpatched vulnerability. A breach could mean curtains for your business: the average cost of a data breach in 2018 was $3.86 million (each lost or stolen record averaged out to $148). Consider the risks in remaining without security updates.

Bryley Basics: How to remove Windows 10 updates

Anna Darlagiannis and Gavin Livingstone, Bryley Systems Inc.

The Windows 10 update can be removed from a computer with these steps:

  • Go to Control Panel
  • Select Program and Features
  • Select View Installed Updates
  • Right click on each update below and select Uninstall:
    • KB3033583
    • KB2952664
    • KB2990214
    • KB3012973
    • KB3044374
  • Go to Control Panel
  • Select Windows Update
  • Select Check for Updates
  • Select ### important updates are available where ### is the current number of updates available on your computer
  • Right click on each update below and select Hide update:
    • KB3033583
    • KB2952664
    • KB2990214
    • KB3012973
    • KB3044374
  • Restart the computer
  • Go to Control Panel
  • Select Windows Update
  • Select Check for Updates
  • If the following do not appear then you have successfully uninstalled Windows 10 updates:
    • KB3033583
    • KB2952664
    • KB2990214
    • KB3012973
    • KB3044374

If no updates appear except for Install Windows 10, then a group policy needs to be created to remove Windows 10 updates.

Best practices to deploy Windows 10 across your organization

Microsoft has been bombarding end-users with free-upgrade ads for Windows 10; their goal is to bury older Windows operating systems, which should reduce support requirements while enabling future capabilities. (Click here for specifications on Windows 10.)

The free-upgrade process works reasonably well for individual users, particularly those with compatible applications (Microsoft Office 2016) and modern peripherals (printers, monitors, etc.). However, upgrading in a multi-user environment across many different PCs with older peripherals can be problematic; these upgrades require a planned approach, with significant testing before implementation.

Windows 10 is a major upgrade to the Microsoft Windows franchise, which started back in 1985. It is an operating system (OS) which controls system functions and provides the basic, under-lying glue that unites end-users with their applications, peripherals, and the organization’s computer network. (See “Can Windows 10 revitalize the PC?” from the November issue of Bryley Information and Tips (BITs).)

Because of their complexity and the disruptive impact on the end-user’s desktop environment, we typically delay OS upgrades for at least a few months; we like to see a body of evidence that suggests the upgraded operating system is actually behaving as advertised. This is a two-part concern:

  • We want to ensure that user experiences match the manufacturer’s claims.
  • We need to verify that supporting parties – relevant vendors with installed applications and peripherals – have caught up with the upgrade and have made their products compatible with the new version.

These are the recommended steps:

  • Planning
  • Testing
  • Training
  • Deployment


Planning should include all of the steps necessary to ensure a successful upgrade throughout the organization; it is particularly important to discuss and review all relevant applications, older peripherals, and the impact on end-users.

Applications are critical: If the upgrade does not work with existing applications, something will need to change. With compatibility issues, typical choices include:

  • Upgrade the application to its latest version – This works if the application vendor has upgraded to work with the new OS.
  • Launch the application from within the OS in compatibility mode – This does not work for all applications, but should be evaluated and tested thoroughly.
  • Delay the OS upgrade – This option does not solve anything, but might provide time for the application vendor to upgrade or to select a new app.
  • Replace the application with a compatible application – A difficult choice, particularly if the application is organization-wide, but might be a welcome change if the existing application is a bit dated and under-performing.

You will need to identify and locate installation media, license keys, and product software for all applications; these applications may need to be verified and/or reloaded during the upgrade.

Peripherals are controlled via device drivers; a driver is a small, software-based application that interfaces the peripheral to the OS, enabling access without requiring detailed knowledge of the peripheral. For compatibility, the driver is typically upgraded. However, if the peripheral is old or the overall need for compatibility is limited, a manufacturer might choose to not upgrade a driver. (Click here for a list of manufacturer support pages.)

If uncertain, end-user peripherals are often cheaper to replace than upgrade, particularly printers, scanners, etc. However, large-scale equipment (high-volume printers, CNC machinery, and the like) will need to be tested and verified.

Don’t forget to check the Microsoft Windows 10 upgrade requirements:

  • Do I have enough available disk space and Internet bandwidth to deploy the Windows 10 upgrade? (It is a 3 GB download.)
  • Do my computers qualify for the Windows 10 upgrade? (Upgrade is only available for the latest Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 versions and must be applied within one year of availability, which ends 7/29/2016.)
  • Do my computers meet the minimum hardware requirements of 1 GB RAM, a 16 GB (or greater) disk-drive, and a modern video adapter?
  • If my computers are old, should I consider a wholesale replacement rather than trying to upgrade hardware?

End-users will need to be informed and trained before deployment.

Deployment schedules and dates must be considered:

  • Do we hit everyone at once, or upgrade department-by-department?
  • Can we schedule individual upgrades during the day or must they be performed (at greater expense) after-hours?
  • Can I meet the free-upgrade deadline of 7/29/2016? (Click here for Microsoft’s Windows Lifecycle schedule.)


The only way to ensure compatibility is to test everything:

  • Test all applications and their modules
  • Test all peripherals and their drivers; be prepared to replace when needed

Unfortunately, thorough testing takes a lot of time. An alternative is to upgrade or replace whenever possible, especially peripherals. However, core applications will need to be thoroughly vetted, either by the manufacturer or internally, to ensure that post-deployment users can operate without restriction or obstruction.

Testing should take two forms:

  • Test the upgrade process directly on an application-equipped computer.
  • Test a clean installation of Windows 10 with a reinstall of all components.

Although Microsoft has taken great pains to provide a clean upgrade, we find that a clean rebuild, although it takes longer, can reduce some deployment issues.

A clean rebuild requires these steps:

  • Document all applications and peripherals for all users on a computer
  • Install Windows 10 as a fresh installation (rather than as an upgrade)
  • Reinstall all applications and peripherals
  • Test thoroughly


Not as well understood, but extremely important, are the changes to the end-user interface and how it will be received within your organization. For example: When Microsoft introduced Windows 8, its Tiled approach was extremely different from the Start Menu in earlier versions of Windows. As such, its adoption was poor, even though its core components improved on Windows 7.

Most end-users see their computers as a tool; they’re not particularly interested in upgrades unless they receive significant benefits. It helps greatly to introduce the differences and train end-users before rolling out a new OS.

End users should be trained not only on the new interface; they also need to know how to perform basic functions that may have changed, like loading applications, printing, retrieving files, accessing the Internet, etc.

Rollout timing should also be considered: I suspect most folk would want to be trained separately and then come to work with the update completed rather than try to work around a computer person in their office.

We find it helpful to have advocates; those internal end-users who are enthusiastic about the new version and willing to assist their co-workers. These advocates should be upgraded first, so they can spread the word.


At last, we have done our homework, the users are trained, and everything is ready to go.

Although critical data should never be stored on an end-user’s computer, a backup is always a good first step; a backup provides recourse in case anything is missed.

Disk cloning is an excellent tool; it is a process whereby a computer’s disk image is first replicated and then redeployed on multiple computers, adjusting for differing components (video adapters, etc.) and the input of valid licensing keys. It works well, particularly if your computers are fairly similar and, preferably, are from the same manufacturer. Even though commercial-grade disk-cloning-software licenses cost about $50 per computer, disk cloning can save a lot of time and effort when deploying multiple new computers or upgrading many existing computers. (Click here for a list of disk-cloning software.)

If you are not cloning, create a detailed checklist that documents every step of the upgrade or clean-rebuild process. Ensure that the checklist is followed in its entirety for each computer.

Try to work systematically, but efficiently. If possible, line-up all similar computers and work your way down the line, performing each step at the same time on all computers, but verifying completion before moving on to the next step.

As always, we’d be glad to help or to do it for you. For assistance, please email or call us at 978.562.6077.

Can Windows 10 revitalize the PC?

With the introduction of Windows 10 this summer past, Microsoft (and its PC vendors like HP, Inc., Dell, Lenovo, etc.) are hoping for a significant surge in the sales of Windows-based desktops, notebooks, and tablets. However, the results to date have been modest at best.

Microsoft seems to have done a good job with Windows 10:

  • The update process is free (for a year), reasonably easy (for individuals, but not as much for organizations), and somewhat user-friendly. Also, updates are now “continuous”, mimicking the operating system-update policies of competitors Google and Apple. 1
  • Windows 10 is more secure with enhanced security features and improved look/touch login via Windows Hello.
  • There are new, useful features like Cortana (voice-activated assistant) and Edge (Internet browser replacing the old Internet Explorer).
  • Microsoft added built-in apps like Maps, Photos, Groove, Movies & TV, etc.
  • There are many, new, mostly free apps by third-party developers. 2
  • Reset and Refresh have been optimized for SSD drives.3
  • Some of the wrongs with Windows 8 (ie: no Start Menu) are now righted.

Windows is also somewhat of a player in mobile devices with increasing sales in Microsoft Surface (now a $1B business) and Lumina phones (purchased from Nokia), which contributes about $2B quarterly. (Although growing, these sales represent only 3% of the sales of mobile devices worldwide.) 4

These improvements seem to be part of Microsoft’s two-part mission:

  • Have Windows 10 run across as many devices and screens as possible, and
  • Make consumers love Windows 10, rather than just need it.

On the positive side:

  • Microsoft reports that Windows 10 is installed on over 110M devices to date.
  • Gartner predicts that Windows 10 installations will eclipse Windows XP and Windows 7 by 2019.

However, Windows is losing market share (and has been for some time) to other mobile devices like smartphones and tablets; there are over 2B people running Google Android or Apple iOS-based devices compared to about 1.5B running Microsoft Windows. 5

Another troubling trend: Although PC ownership is relatively stable among adults (at about 73%), PC ownership among 18 to 29 year olds dropped from 89% in 2012 to 78% in 2015. (This may change as these younger folk enter the workforce and require a full-sized keyboard and large or multiple monitors.) 6

Basically, Windows 10 is off to a good start, but only time will tell if the Windows franchise will retain its powerhouse status.


  1. Windows 10 is here and you can get it for free at
  2. 10 (mostly) free must-have Windows 10 apps by Paul Mah at ComputerWorld.
  3. Windows 10: Disk Optimization by Russell Smith,
  4. Microsoft gets hardware foothold as Surface, Lumina sales jump by Nick Statt at CNET on 1/26/2015.
  5. Windows 10 Launch Results: A Success or Fail? in the 7/31/2015 edition of The Gazette Review.
  6. Smartphones, Tablets Take Toll On PC Ownership Among Youth by Joseph Palencher from the November 3, 2015 edition of Twice.

Migrating to Windows 10 – Now, later, or never?

Migrations bring about change in the lives of technology end-users, whether desired or not.  Often, the IT-support team receives undeserved blame for issues with a new operating system; although, they can help smooth the way by testing core software applications and devices for compatibility before upgrading.

So, here you are with new computers that ship with multiple versions of Windows; which to deploy?  You know there are going to be compatibility issues; there always are.  (Our current VPN client does not yet work with Windows 10 and I have heard of issues with Google’s Chrome on Windows 10.)  Also, there are individuals within your organization who will have trouble adapting to a new user environment.

These are the issues you will need to address when migrating to Windows 10:

  • Equipment compatibility
  • Application compatibility
  • User acceptance

Equipment compatibility

Equipment-compatibility issues exist because Windows has always been everything to everyone:  Windows supports most any printer, scanner, fax, camera, or device as long as the manufacturer conforms to Microsoft specifications, which might include creating a Windows device driver (a small application designed to translate instructions between the device and the operating system) to enable all features.

Likewise, your desktop or notebook computer might not be compatible with Windows 10; you will need (at a minimum):

  • 1GHz processor
  • 1Gb of RAM for 32-bit deployment or 2Gb for 64-bit deployment
  • 20Gb of disk space
  • DirectX9 display with 800×600 display

Please see the Windows 10 specifications for details.

Applications compatibility

Software applications must also conform to Microsoft specifications; however, updating applications to work with a new operating system takes time and effort.  So, older, legacy applications not built to current-day Windows standards can be slow to comply, particularly those from smaller developers, who might not have the resources necessary to make them compatible.  These developers might suggest: “Don’t upgrade now” or “Use XP Compatibility mode”, but usually offer no specific timetable or long-term work-around.

Cloud-based applications have an advantage over most legacy applications; they are likely browser-dependent (and operating-system independent) and are updated continually.  However, you can run into compatibility issues with different browser versions and even different browsers.

User acceptance

An often under-appreciated issue is the changes to the user interface, particularly its look-and-feel; Microsoft received significant criticism with Windows 8.x and the fundamental changes in how it interacts with the end-users.


Migration techniques

The safe method, one that many organizations adopt, is to delay migration until:

  • All computers are known to have sufficient resources to run Windows 10.
  • Hardware compatibility issues are identified and resolved, either through updates or hardware replacement.
  • All applications are tested and compatibility issues are either resolved, the application is replaced, or a work-around is established.
  • Training is budgeted and approved.
  • Proper planning is completed to ensure a smooth transition.

However, organizations with limited budgets might not be able to invest fully in this process; they likely need to add a computer or two, right now.

For those already using Windows 8.x:

  • Applications and device drivers that work with Windows 8.x will likely work with Windows 10 (since the underlying framework is similar in both editions).
  • You can use the Windows 8.1 Upgrade Assistant to help identify application- compatibility issues with Windows 8.1, which will also be an issue with Windows 10.

Unfortunately, there is no substitute for testing; put in the time and do it right!

Often, it can be more effective to replace an aging printer (or similar device) than to try and make it work with a new version of Windows; the time to research, locate, install new device drivers (if they exist), test, and then update all migrated workstations can easily exceed the cost of deploying a new, modern device (with more features and greater functionality).

Training is necessary:  Group sessions to introduce the basics and answer questions are effective in getting things started.  Follow-up, small-group training or individual hand-holding can alleviate fears and improve productivity.

For training, Microsoft offers these free, Windows 10 training resources:

Now, later, or never

Basically, if you use Windows-based applications, you main options are:

  • Upgrade to Windows 10 without charge by July 29, 2016
  • Leave Windows-desktop entirely
  • Don’t change anything, ever

Microsoft is allowing anyone with a qualified and genuine copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 to upgrade to Windows 10 for free through July 29, 2016.  So, you can upgrade your existing equipment without licensing fees once you have completed compatibility testing, training, etc.

The second option, leave Windows, suggests one of two courses of action:

  • Switch to a non-Microsoft-dependent application.
  • Use a virtual environment to provide Windows-based applications. You can deploy these applications through a virtual server, either on-premise or remotely (i.e.:  via Bryley’s Hosted Cloud Server) that can provide access to your Windows-based application by running it on an older, Windows-based operating system.

The last option is extreme; it can work for a number of years, particularly if you are not replacing desktop computers, but will eventually require a change.  Basically, you are avoiding the inevitable.

We have begun the planning and application testing for our Windows 10 rollout; I’ll update our progress in future issues.

Visit How to upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1 by Ed Tittle in the February 12th edition of CIO and Preston Gralla’s article: Excited about the imminent release of Windows 10? You might want to wait in the July 21st issue of ComputerWorld.

Microsoft Windows 10

Microsoft is releasing Windows 10 on July 29th.  It is available as a free upgrade to licensed users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 through the Get Windows 10 (GWX) application which is part of Windows Updates.  (Note: Some companies, including Bryley Systems, are temporarily blocking this update to permit a controlled migration to Windows 10.)

To minimize bandwidth and processing disruptions, those who reserve now for this 3Gb upgrade periodically receive parts of it until the entire upgrade is downloaded and ready for installation on 7/29/2015.

Windows 10 will run most Windows XP applications.  The Windows 10 Home Edition will likely sell at $119; the Pro edition at $199.

View the article from Mark Hachman at PCWorld It’s official: Microsoft says you can download the final version of Windows 10 on July 29

Consumer PC Price Cuts!

In an effort to bridge the gap between current Windows 8.1 and upcoming Windows 10 (not sure what happened to Windows 9), Microsoft is shepherding a dramatic decrease in the prices of consumer PCs and Windows-based devices.

These price decreases started in October with year-over-year reductions of 10% and falling, particularly for consumer-class PCs; higher-priced, business-class PCs will also be affected. Most are attributed to Microsoft’s decision to fight Chromebooks with a low-cost version of Windows 8.1 with Bing.

The potential consequences:
• PCs will become even more commoditized
• Smaller, PC-centric vendors will struggle to survive
• Prices may drop on popular, after-market, Windows-based software

For details, please see the Gregg Keizer of ComputerWorld article: “Drastic price cuts may damage PC industry, jeopardize Microsoft’s hopes for Windows 10”.