Microsoft Office 2010 to be FREE?!

Yes, it is true. The spanking new version of Office 2010 will be free, and available online. In other words, it will compete (keep up with?) Google Apps, the other ONLINE office package.
So, instead of purchasing a standard DVD software package with license key, you can now sign up online for access to a web site called “SkyDrive
As MS Office has been the leading software (in sales and other realms) for years now, this will indeed be a force to reckon with in the years to come.
Here is the summary:

“How to begin using your Office Web Apps (Technical Preview) on Windows LiveFollow these instructions to successfully begin using Office Web Apps.
1. Open an existing document or create a new one in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint 2010 Beta on your PC.

2. Click File to open Backstage, a full-window file menu that gives you easy access to functions such as saving, printing, and sharing.

3. Click Share and then Save to SkyDrive (The free online storage service from Windows Live).

4. In Backstage, click Sign in. You will be prompted to enter your Windows Live ID, or create a Windows Live account. If you use Hotmail, Messenger, or Xbox Live, you already have a Windows Live ID.

5. Select from the list of SkyDrive folders that is displayed and then click Save As.

6. In the dialog box that appears, type a file name and then click Save. Click File, and then click Close.

7. Visit If prompted, enter your Windows live ID and password and click Sign in.

8. Select the folder where you saved your document. Click the file and then select View.

9. You will be prompted to read and accept the terms of use. When you click Accept, you will be able to view, edit, and share your document online. To access all of your documents saved online, just log in at

To access all of your documents saved online, just log in at”

Learn more about Office 2010 (Beta)


Free Security Tools from Microsoft

Microsoft Security Essentials are available for Vista. Why not download and install them? After all they are free. The download is only 6 Megabytes and is easy to install. Even if you have another antivirus application, this is another tool in the fight against spyware and malware, and yes, viruses.

“Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good. It’s that simple.

Microsoft Security Essentials runs quietly and efficiently in the background so that you are free to use your Windows-based PC the way you want—without interruptions or long computer wait times.”

Get the Security Tools here!



Speaking of all things Microsoft, have you tried Bing? Many have, but word is still not out to all. Google still has a majority share of internet searches, but Bing is quite good. I use both. Bing is snazzy and shows amazing images, with embedded optional informational links. Many of the links of course encourage further web surfing, shopping, and planning for the next vacation.
Very cool.



Windows 7 Arrives

By now almost everyone has heard that Windows 7 has arrived. I have worked with it already and it is quite good. It is robust, quick to boot (imagine!), and zippy. It appears Microsoft has heard from its constituents and answered their prayers.

Now …. what am I going to do with this blog title and subject matter? Oh no! Well, anyway for the foreseeable future Vista and XP will remain widespread in the typical Enterprise environment. But Windows 7 will no doubt make significant headway. Expect a boom for Microsoft in 2010.


Enable System Restore

Is there any better way to recover from a Vista PC or laptop disaster than System Restore? I think not. To be more specific, is there a better utility that can be used to recover from an operating system or applcation type of problem? Hardware problems aside, it is not uncommon for a faulty piece of … software (can you say, ‘freeware’?) or faulty Windows update to freeze up a workstation. Maybe Vista boots, but locks up after updating some printer software. Or maybe it locks up after Windows Update just finished installing the monster ‘DotNet’ Framework version 3.5 and all of a sudden the workstation will not boot!?
There are 3 steps to fix problems like the above:
1) Maintaining awareness of system changes (i.e. software updates or new installs)
2) Enabling System Restore Points
3) Restoring the system to a previous point in time

I will save # 2 and # 3 for a future time. But often overlooked is # 1. How many times do people quickly, and without a second thought, install freeware and ignore symptoms of possible problems? If you just installed a new freeware antispyware application, and your system is bogging down dramatically, then you may want to consider unistalling before further issues ensure. Awareness is key. If you notice some problems, i.e. blue screens, sluggishness etc after installing software, then consider it a helpful warning: uninstall it, and ask, did this solve the problem?

# 2 and # 3 will be covered in the future.

Auto-Tag in WinAmp

One more item about my previous blog entry on the WinAmp Auto-tag feature: this can be done in bulk. I realized after the post that I had many songs with no album information, for example. The workaround, per WinAmp’s site, is to to this in bulk. Use sort, by clicking ‘Album’ at top of menu. Sort once or twice to get the songs with blank Album information together. Then select all of these songs, and right click. Finally, select Send To: Auto-Tag, and Apply To. Do the same for any empty information.

Cool WinAmp Feature

This is not a Vista note per se, but I cannot believe I am just now discovering this: WinAmp has an Auto-tag feature! What is this? It means the days of empty music library data are over. When one opens WinAmp in order to play local MP3s for example, in the Local Media view can be seen basic song information: Artist, Album, Track #, Title, Length, etc (assuming music files have already been added to the library). However, as we all know, it is very common for song information to be scattered and these fields are frequently empty.

To solve this problem, using WinAmp, in the Local Media view, right click the song, or file, and select “View File Info”.

Note the empty boxes.
Now just click Auto-tag and you should see a brief note like this:

Anf finally, you can see this killer Journey song’s information has filled in ;>

WinAmp is a very nice application. It is amongst the best media players, IMHO. I recommend it heartily. Now you also can fill in those empty music file descriptions by use of the Auto-Tag feature.


Windows Vista Service Pack 2 and Windows Update Services

I pushed out Vista Service Pack 2 successfully on a test station. I am amazed at the fact that Windows Vista Service Pack 2 installed smoothly and well under 25 minutes. This is a service pack, after all, and I was expecting a long time. I used Windows Update Services (WSUS)and do this off hours for workstations, but nonetheless the relatively short install time is a great improvement over some behemoths of the past!

Vista Service Pack (SP) 1 Needed Before Installing SP 2?

Yes, Vista Service Pack 1 is required, not just recommended, before installing Service Pack 2. This is unusual, if I am not mistaken, in that previous major workstation operating system (i.e. XP) service packs contained all previous service packs or patches.

Also note that this service pack applies to both Windows Server 2008 and Vista. This speaks to the similarities between the 2 architectures, despite their very different roles.

From the Microsoft FAQ on SP 2:

“Why does the SP2 installation require SP1 be installed first?
There are a number of reasons for this, the primary one being the overall size of the standalone package for SP1. Having a cumulative SP2 that includes the updates from SP1 would have made the size too large. Furthermore, because SP2 is a single-servicing model, and since Windows Server already includes SP1, a cumulative SP2 would have meant a needlessly larger file for Server customers. Finally, in the consumer space the majority of customers have already installed SP1 over WU or will be doing so before SP2, so incorporating SP1 into a cumulative SP2 would take unnecessary time and bandwidth.”

SP 2 FAQ Link..