Windows Hello & Goodbye

Windows Hello & Goodbye

hello

Image source: Thurrot.com

With Windows 10, Microsoft introduced a new biometric system mechanism to sign into your PC. The new method to sign in is with, yourself. Yes, Windows Hello system uses either your face, using facial recognition or fingerprints. It is a very convenient way of signing into your PC, which I absolutely love and prefer.

Windows Hello (facial or fingerprint) isn’t new anymore and you probably already know about it. I will be brief explaining.

I have been using facial recognition to sign into my Surface Pro 4 since early last year when I bought the device. I love signing into my PC with it 95 percent of the times. In low light areas it’s when it fails to recognize you, this does not mean it cannot recognize you at all in low light areas.

It is super fast. Most of the times you will not be able to admire the beautiful lock screen wallpaper you have set or which comes off Bing. The moment the PC goes to sign in option and IR (Iris scanner) turns on it has already detected you and you are in.

Currently a lot of computers support Windows hello IR scan, like Dell Inspiron 13 7000, HP Spectre x360, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga and of course Surface Book and Pro. Others with fingerprint option includes but not limited to, Dell XPS 13, Lenovo Yoga 910, Samsung Notebook 9 and many others.

See below video to understand Windows Hello (facial recognition) better.

Windows Hello is not only used for signing into your PC but also used for signing into compatible websites, so instead of putting in username and password, just sign in using your face. It can also be used for purchasing Windows Store items, such as songs, movies, apps.

To setup Hello, head to Settings > Accounts > Sign In Options and set up Hello with step by step wizard guide.

Hello

This was little information about Windows Hello. But what is Windows Goodbye?

Well, Windows Goodbye was a reference made to a new Creators Update feature which is now called, Dynamic Lock.

DynamicLock

It is a interesting new feature in Windows 10 Creators Update, and which I have recently started using.

Dynamic Lock is basically locking your PC automatically when you walk away. Walk away? Well yes, the feature pairs with your Bluetooth enabled phone, such as Windows 10 Mobile, Android or iPhone. Once the Bluetooth has been established with your phone, in my case the iPhone 7 Plus, when you walk away from your computer to a certain distance and your PC no more able to retain that Bluetooth connection with your phone, the PC then understands that it is you who are not at your desk and walked away with your phone. It then automatically locks your computer.

I am sort of enjoying this feature but there are few caveats. First, I haven’t yet established what happens when you connect two phones with your computer? Let’s say an iPhone and a Samsung Phone. Which phone does Dynamic Lock work with? Currently I don’t see option of choosing which device to make it work with Dynamic Lock.

Secondly, in my limited tests, I have realized sometimes when I walk away with my phone, my computer does not lock. I understand this is version one so such glitches are bound to happen. But then, this is a security feature and even with version one, it must run as it is expected to. Microsoft should not let this feature let out to people when it is not fully functional. You cannot mess around with a security feature, specially if you are going to be relying on this that your computer will just lock when you are away with your phone only to realize later, that it never locked.

Nonetheless, it exists in Windows 10 CU, and to setting it up is simple. First add your phone (Add Bluetooth or other devices) from Devices under Settings. Once your new phone is added, head to Sign In options under Accounts and click on “Allow Windows to detect when you’re away and automatically lock the device” as shown in the image above.

Once the setup is done, whenever you walk away with your connected phone, you PC will automatically lock.

That’s it for now folks, leave me a comment below and let me know what you think about Windows Hello and Goodbye (Dynamic Lock).

Defender – the Anti-Virus for Windows

Defender – the Anti-Virus for Windows

 

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Windows Defender Security Center in Windows 10 Creators Update

 

A lot of times friends and families ask me what Anti-Virus (AV) I use? Using AV depends again on people to people and their preferences and how they use their computers.

For years, I have personally preferred and used Microsoft’s homebrew AV, the Windows Defender. Windows Defender is well known for its light-weight client side application, it gives very little burden to memory unlike most other Anti-virus softwares who are known for memory hogging.

Microsoft ventured into AV back in Windows XP days. It was released as a free download to the OS, called the Antispyware. It did very little job back then, to only monitor spyware threats. Overtime, it became a full featured AV and got a new name, Microsoft Security Essentials.

Microsoft Security Essentials or MSE catered for various threat types including viruses, spyware, rootkits and Trojan horses. Until Windows 8 and later, it was available for Windows Vista and 7. But before Microsoft made MSE freely available, it had released a paid product prior to MSE and Antispyware, it was called Windows Live OneCare.

In May 2006, Windows Live OneCare debuted to public, which Microsoft bought over a company called GeCAD software in 2003.

 

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Image source: Sofipedia

 

Windows Live OneCare was heavily focused on three aspects. Anti-Virus, Personal Firewall and Backup utilities. It was a very good take on core protection for a home user. However within just 3 years it was replaced by Microsoft Security Essentials and stripped out Backup and firewall built into the product and instead relied on the superior Windows Firewall which bundled with Windows Vista and later OSes.

I’ve been using Microsoft Security Essentials and now, Windows Defender since XP days. I’ve personally enjoyed using this product ever since with zero attacks, and literally, zero attacks.

There are 3 important points for me:

  1. Light-weight – As noted above, MSE was and Windows Defender (WD) now is a very light weight software which is very friendly with your computers resources. Its got very small footprint on the storage, and chews up very little memory even on Real-Time mode. There is a spike however only when the scan is triggered.
  2. Out of way – This is very important to me. I’ve used previously Norton Antivirus, McAfee and even AVG over a long period of time. They are good products on their own rights and does the job really well. My issue with them have been that first they were bad at memory management, which they have significantly improved overtime. Second issue was they always made their presence felt. Every once in a while they would pop up alerting you for various things. At times warnings for out of date definition files, or the product is about to expire, or upgrade to a better edition. Granted, warnings like out of date definitions are important but it was too much to handle. The beauty with Windows Defender is you almost forget its existence. It is always there, running in the background doing its job silently without ever troubling you. Just like the other products mentioned above, this too auto updates definitions files but it does it in a way that you never get to know. It is most of the times just updated. Since it is free and the only edition, there is no renewal or upgrade promo pop ups ever. For me this is important.
  3. Baked into the OS – This may not be a key point to some, but it is vital to know Windows Defender is baked deep into Windows 8 and Windows 10 operating system. It disables itself when a 3rd party AV is installed like a good boy, heck they don’t want another lawsuit. Windows Defender not only does scanning of viruses but it is also seamlessly integrated to Internet Explorer and Edge browsers for web activity or files downloads. Most of these features are also available on 3rd party AV, but they don’t come free.

My theory is this. Most AV vendors a lot with their products which is really good, undoubtedly. They do the usual virus scanning, protect you from the web, real-time scan mode, alert on malicious files, in and outbound firewall and some also provide cloud backup option of important files. All these options are fantastic and if bundled all in one, it is a great package. But a great package with a price.

So how do I cope up with all features mentioned above since Windows Defender does not provide everything in one package? The answer lies right in the latest OS you use. If you are running Windows 7 or God forbid Vista or XP. Then you are little out of luck here, there are work around for those OSes too. My focus is Windows 10.

Windows 10 is a very secure OS, there is no two ways about it.

I’ll highlight only a few of many killer security features of Windows 10:

  1. Secure boot – Upon booting (or your computer starting up) Windows only allows signed or trusted executables to run. Any unknown/untrusted program that maybe installed as a virus will not run at the booting process. This helps ensures your OS will boot up to desktop. In olden days, specially XP and prior, if a virus would load at boot times, then your OS would either crash or go into infinite restart loop.
  2. SmartScreen and Edge Browser – SmartScreen technology is a real-time phishing and malware protection. It is designed to protect against social engineering threats and as well as drive by downloads.
  3. Windows Firewall – Backed into Windows since XP Service Pack 2, this guard has incrementally improved and is a strong firewall in Windows 10. In a nutshell, Firewalls protect your computer from all incoming and outgoing connections. Any untrusted outbound connection it tries to make with your PC, it will be stopped by Windows Firewall.
  4. Others include such as Device and Credential Guard.

All four points above and more security features bundle it with Windows Defender and now you have a full featured/complete security solution. Throw in OneDrive and you got file level backup protection that was once offered by Windows Live OneCare or currently offered by Nortons and others.

I personally recommend to my family and friends stay up to date with latest Windows operating system, with latest security updates via Windows Update and built in Windows Defender is all you need for a day to day usage of your computers.

However do note, paid Anti-Virus products, Bit-Defender, Norton, Kaspersky and couple of others have been in the industry for really long and are experts in this domain. They do bring in their expertise in their products and a lot of under the hood features which are really important to certain segment of market/users.

Windows Defender with Windows 10 is a good, friendly, free basic protection to your computer. It is what I use literally for many years and never faced with a virus or malware. The last time I paid for any Anti-Virus product must be more than 10 years ago. Anti-Virus is a product I never think about anymore since Windows Vista and later. Microsoft Security Essential and Windows Defender has served me well over these years. I do however once in a while use 3rd party/online malware scans such as ESET just to make sure everything is smooth.

That’s all for now folks. Leave comments below to let me know what you think about this article.

So it is April 11 – Creators Update

So it is April 11 – Creators Update

We kind of knew this date all throughout. However, today Microsoft officially have communicated that Windows 10’s latest update, the Creators Update will be releasing on April 11th.

You can read my post on what’s new in the Creators Update.

The release build will be 1703, where the first two digits represent the year, and last two the month. Though it is releasing in April, they first must have planned to release it in March but delayed it to April.

As CU is finished, the Windows development team should soon start working on Redstone 3. Remember, Creators Update was Redstone 2 and Anniversary Update was called Redstone 1.

I am more excited about Redstone 3 than 2 (CU). As much as Microsoft insists that CU is a big update, which it is, however, for the consumers there is very little meat/features to excite them about. My article “Should I Upgrade to Creators Update” explains why you are better off holding upgrading to CU on day 1 release, unless you are a tech enthusiast like me. Otherwise, there is nothing really exciting to look forward to in the Creators Update.

There are couple of neat features, small but good improvements which I have not mentioned in other posts, include:

  • PnP – Or Picture In Picture, if you use YouTube app in iOS or Android, you probably already know about this feature. It is an overlay of small video window that sits on the corner of the screen while you can explore the main section of the app. Similar feature is now in Windows 10 CU, so if you are Skyping or watching a movie, you can pop out the screen on the side and continue working.
  • Remote Lock – This feature is kind of interesting. It was formerly called Dynamic lock or Windows Goodbye. This is a live connection between your phone and your PC via Bluetooth (BT). As long as you’re in the proximity of the PC, your PC will be open/unlocked. When you walk away with your phone and the BT connection dies, your PC automatically locks.
  • Windows Defender Security Center Dashboard – This will show clear visibility to your PC health, security, and online protection.

That’s it for now folks.

Feature Focus – Paint 3D

Feature Focus – Paint 3D

Paint3d


Image source: thesun.co.uk

As part of the Windows 10 Creators Update, there is a new app, Paint 3D. Paint 3D is not a replacement for one of the oldest apps bundled with Windows, but it is an addition to it. Or put simply, Paint app on steroids. Small caveat though, Paint 3D only works with Windows 10, and Creators Update, to be more precise.

Paint (not Paint 3D) has been part of Windows since Windows 1.0, that goes way back to 1985. Ever since, it has been part and supported by most Windows versions overtime.

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Paint in Windows 7

It is a very basic, simple application for as the name suggests, Painting or drawing. It can handle cropping, adding colors, adding text to a photo, resizing image, open and save as JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP and et cetera. There’s a lot written about the Paint app and I would not extensively explain here what it does and does not.

 

Paint 3D

Just late last week, one of my colleagues asked me (as people take me as Mr. Know-it-all IT stuff),  do I know of an app that can kick start a kid’s drawing skills, like in 3D, 3D modelling. The first app I could think of, was of course the Paint 3D app, free of cost, right in Windows. It is what triggered me to write this post.

Paint-3D-I am not at all an artist, and I totally suck in drawings. But the people who are good in drawing stuff, Paint 3D might be a starter.

But having used the app, not extensively though, it is a simple app, that can convert your 2D models or image into 3D magically!

You can create objects, which has got 3D effect (like rotate, see from every side), add colors to it, there’s improved brushes for adding splashy and vibrant colors.

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The best part, Windows 10 is very good with stylus/pen or pencil (in case of Apple :-). The computers, tablets supporting stylus inputs, can leverage Paint 3D’s new ways of drawings, adding textures, rotating in a natural & intuitive ways that was not possible before.

The new Paint app, also supports stickers. Stickers are a cosmetic tool that acts as a layer on to your 3D surface. These are predefined details, such as adding an eyeballs to your image, instead of drawing the whole thing a fresh, you can simply drag it to your screen and it blends in with whatever you have drawn. This also goes for texts. You can write “IrfaanWahid.Tech” and stick it to your drawing, it then automatically adopts to the 3D environment and starts acting like one.

Microsoft has also build a new community website for 3D artists showcasing their work, and sharing it with others. The Remix3D.com is a place where you can upload your 3D models, so others can either contribute to your work or simply download and reuse it in their own work. I believe, in near future, Microsoft themselves and also other artists will sell 3D models on this site. So there is going to be the Free models, and others that you can buy. It is a great initiative by MS, and it will give a lot of popularity to 3D subject, which otherwise is considered for highly skilled individuals. It is also a great platform for the beginners, to have basic understandings of 3D modelling before going level up for Pro software, 3D animations and stuff.

There are couple of options out there for a hardware device that supports Touch+Pen input. I use Surface Pro 4, and it comes with a superb pen support, with a 1,024 touch levels. This is a premium device with a premium price tag. There are many other offerings from Lenovo, Dell, HP that supports pen input that you can check it out if you are interested in this kind of device.

If your child is into drawing and 3D stuff, I did recommend when Windows 10 Creators Update releases (April 11 they say), go check it out, it maybe worth it. However, this does not limit to children alone, adults like me who have a itch of drawing in 3D, this is also for you, so watch for this app when it comes.

That’s it for now folks, hope you liked my first Feature Focus. Let me know what you think about it. Also, enjoy the video below elaborating on Paint 3D app.

Till then, have a great day.

You can reach me on:

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Twitter: @irfaanwahid

Stalking Windows 10

Stalking Windows 10

Hello everyone, my name is Irfaan Wahid and this is my first article on LinkedIn.

I shall be writing weekly articles focusing on technology, and closely following, in my opinion the four tech giants, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google. This does not mean I will not write about other tech biggies, but I also believe these companies are driving the tech industry forward.

I will be introducing myself in other/follow up posts. For now, let’s dive right into today’s headline.

Some of us may already know Microsoft’s soon to be released Windows 10 Creators Update, expected to release early April has got nice new features, which I am going to be highlighting in just a bit. This is a third major update since Microsoft released Windows 10 in July 29 2015.

First major update was back in 2015 November dubbed November Update (or codename Threshold 2), second update was in August last year called Anniversary Update (Codename Redstone 1). We now approach third and first update of 2017, known as Creators Update (Codename Redstone 2).

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Windows 10 Creators Update, why is this an important update?

Few highlights:

  1. 3D and Mixed Reality – With this new update, Microsoft has baked in what was previously known as Windows Holographic platform (Hololens??) into Windows 10 CU (Creators Update). What this means, Windows will now support virtual, augmented reality and holographic computing right out of the box. Currently the only true augmented reality headset is offered by Microsoft known as Hololens, with a whooping price tag of $3,000 targeted at developers. I was fortunate enough to test this headset at the Microsoft event in Nairobi, and trust me, it was amazing! Windows 10 CU is also replacing one of the most loved app, Paint with Paint 3D. Paint 3D is nothing but Paint on steroids. It incorporates elements to create a 3D painting/images and publish it to web (Remix3D.com/or print it with 3D printers. Developers with CU can start leveraging these new technology and use it in their own apps and with the upcoming Windows 10 CU certified headsets by third party OEMs such as Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo. Headsets offered by these partners will be priced @ $299 going up.
  2. Games – Microsoft has been pushing gaming to its Windows 10 platform, and with CU, it even brings in more features. One nice feature for hardcore gamers is broadcasting your play via Beam service (which also Microsoft owns).
  3. Sharing and Caring – Well, with CU you can now easily connect and share with people you care about the most. Although one of the most loved MyPeople feature has been stripped out of this update for Redstone 3, which allowed your favorite contacts to be pinned on your taskbar where you could easily chat, share files among others. We hope this feature makes a come back in RS3.

There are tons of new features and improvements throughout the operating system. Some subtle but important updates include:

  • E-book support, you can now read E-Pubs and PDF right in Microsoft Edge in a nice reading view.
  • Tabs aside, You can put aside Edge tabs when the list grows big, to clean up the clutter and bring them back when you need them.
  • A new section in Windows Store, we already have Music, Games and Movies & Tv, the new addition is, “Books”. Well, not a very cool feature, but heck, it’s good to have it finally in Windows. This will be no different to Amazon’s Kindle store and I wonder why would people jump with Books store offered by Microsoft. We will have to wait and watch this space.

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  • Mails, Photos, Maps, Cameras have all good improvements here and there.
  • UI improvements, Start menu/start screen now supports folders. You can now combine multiple app tiles in a folder, just like the walking dead platform Windows 10 Mobile. Windows 10 with CU now supports this too.

 

There are many more things to write about for Windows 10 Creators Update, which I will be in follow up articles.

I am a Windows Insider, which means I get to test latest and greatest features ahead of time than what I call the “Normal” users. The current build of Windows 10 Insider sits on 15055, which also means we now get very few builds from now on. This is normal as we approach the RTM or Release To Manufacturing of Windows 10 Creators Update, we are now few weeks away from getting the final build of CU.

From what I have been reading and talking to a few techy friends, Microsoft is targeting April 11th as the General Availability (GA) of Creators Update.

I am super excited for Creators Update and will be writing a review on it very soon.

That’s it folks for now, I will be writing more articles on various other products, tech companies and discussing trends, tips and tricks.

-Irfaan Wahid