Opening Time:  Mon‑Fri  08:00‑18:00   Sat‑Sun 10:00‑17:00
Call now:  +256-394-836289

Our news

Microsoft plans to sell post-2020 support for Windows 7

Microsoft plans to sell post-2020 support for Windows 7

Microsoft bowed to the reality that enterprises won’t purge Windows 7 by its January 2020 retirement, and has announced it will sell extended support for three years past that deadline.

Called “Windows 7 Extended Security Updates” (ESU), the after-drop-dead deal will add support through January 2023, according to Microsoft. The news was part of a larger announcement Thursday by Jared Spataro, the executive who leads marketing for Office and Windows. “While many of you are already well on your way in deploying Windows 10, we understand that everyone is at a different point in the upgrade process,” Spataro said in explaining the offer.

pan xiaozhen modified by IDG Comm. / Microsoft (CC0)
Windows by the numbers: Windows 10 marches on, but pace may be a problem
FAQ: Microsoft 365 explained
FAQ: Office 2019 is coming; here’s what you need to know
6 security reasons to upgrade to Windows 10
Microsoft bowed to the reality that enterprises won’t purge Windows 7 by its January 2020 retirement, and has announced it will sell extended support for three years past that deadline.

Called “Windows 7 Extended Security Updates” (ESU), the after-drop-dead deal will add support through January 2023, according to Microsoft. The news was part of a larger announcement Thursday by Jared Spataro, the executive who leads marketing for Office and Windows. “While many of you are already well on your way in deploying Windows 10, we understand that everyone is at a different point in the upgrade process,” Spataro said in explaining the offer.

[ Related: Windows 7 to Windows 10 migration guide ]
Left unsaid was the general status of Windows 7-to-Windows 10 migrations by commercial customers. The Windows 7 ESU was almost certainly a response to customers telling Microsoft that they would not make the Jan. 14, 2020, deadline, or at least a realization by the company that, for all its aggressive efforts to push aside the older OS, enterprises would not finish their upgrades in time.

Clues abound that Windows 7 will be tough to expunge. In July, Microsoft said that approximately 184 million commercial PCs still ran Windows 7worldwide (although the number did not include systems in China, an omission Microsoft did not explain). But Microsoft’s number – a tally derived from PC telemetry – was just a fraction of the latest estimate calculated by Computerworld using data from analytics vendor Net Applications. Computerworld’s number for August: 378 million Windows 7 business PCs.

Other forecasts have pegged Windows 7’s January 2020 user share at a remarkable 34%, meaning more than a third of all Windows PCs will rely on the then-unsupported operating system.

Windows 7 ESU, said Spataro, will be available only for PCs running Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise, and then only if those operating systems were obtained via a volume licensing deal. Discounts will be offered to customers who also have Software Assurance plans in place for Windows or have subscriptions to Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education, such as the pricy Microsoft 365 subscription.

The additional support will be dealt in one-year increments for up to three years and support will be sold on a per-device basis, rather than the per-user approach Microsoft has pushed for Windows 10 licensing. Prices “will increase each year,” Spataro confirmed. However, Microsoft did not reveal Windows 7 ESU’s costs or the exact nature of what would be provided.

Windows 7 ESU resembles what Microsoft once labeled “Premium Assurance” when it was unveiled in late 2016 for Windows Server but then axed when the Redmond, Wash. company came up with “Extended Security Updates” in July.

To confuse matters even more, Microsoft has had a different program, called “paid supplemental servicing,” for Windows 10. Evidence of that deal, a one-year-and-done paid support plan for Windows 10’s feature upgrades, has been scrubbed from the Microsoft’s page where it had been touted in February. The omission or demise of paid supplemental servicing was probably due to Microsoft lengthening support for each fall’s feature upgrade from 18 to 30 months.

Based on Spataro’s announcement and what Microsoft offers to customers through other plans – notably Windows Server’s Extended Security Updates – Windows 7 ESU likely will distribute security patches for vulnerabilities rated as “Critical” or “Important,” the top two tiers in the firm’s four-step ranking system. The price may be steep: ESU for Windows Server 2008 runs 75% of the full license cost annually when the updates are deployed to on-premises servers.

Beyond patching bugs, Windows 7 ESU also allows covered PCs to continue to run Office 365 ProPlus, the locally-installed applications – Outlook, Word, Excel and the like – that form the foundation of the software-as-a-service Office 365. Microsoft had previously mandated that support for Windows 7 running Office 365 ProPlus would expire when the former reached the end of support in January 2020. “This means that customers who purchase the Windows 7 ESU will be able to continue to run Office 365 ProPlus,” Spataro said.

More information about Windows 7 ESU may be forthcoming later this month. In his announcement, Spataro implied that Microsoft will go into detail about the multiple support policy changes during the Ignite conference, which is scheduled to run Sept. 24-28.

Enterprises were also urged to contact their Microsoft account team, or their Microsoft solutions partner for more information about Windows 7 ESU.

10 best gaming laptops

10 best gaming laptops

Sure, you want your computer to do word processing, run accounts software and surf the web at speed. But what you really want is to play video games. There’s a school of thought which says that in that case you need to buy a Nintendo Switch, or Xbox One or Playstation 4.

But many games thrive with controls like a keyboard or mouse. Be warned, though, a gaming laptop is not cheap. To make the most of your fragging, driving, shooting and other skills, you need advanced graphics, plenty of RAM, and a fast, responsive processor so your beloved hero or heroine doesn’t end up dead because your PC couldn’t keep up with the gamer you’re playing against. Speed and the avoidance of the dreaded latency are essential for gaming.

Note that many, though not all, gaming machines tend to be big, heavy and gaudy. There are slimmer, lighter games laptops but the category thrives on hefty machines with rear ventilation grilles, strips of lights adorning the edges and multi-coloured backlit keys as if to shout about their powerful, heavy-duty capabilities.

MSI Stealth Thin GS65: £1,929.51, Currys​

This is a slick, slim gaming machine that looks good with few of the bright red lights and oversized grilles that trick out some laptops, almost as though they should always be surrounded in a fog of dry ice. I say few, but the design does include a backlit keyboard with a range of colour choices to brighten things up, and you can even set it up so the lights change according to the gameplay demanded.

It’s very fast, thanks to an impressive processor, decent graphics card and a big dollop of RAM. The Full HD display looks great in a very narrow frame: bright, rich and detailed. Battery life is okay, but the harder you push it, the shorter, and hotter, it will run. The fans on board don’t stop the base getting hot, so this is not a laptop for your lap. It’s well-priced for its components.

Alienware17 R5: £2,599, Amazon

Alienware and its unmissable, backlit alien logo indicate a machine that is configured for gaming first. Lighting isn’t limited to the logo, though, as there are edge lights and more which can be coloured as you choose. Big displays are very useful for gaming, whether it makes it easier to aim your sniper’s shot or where to build your next fort.

So, the 17.3in screen here is ideal, and it looks tremendous. This laptop has Tobii eye-tracking, meaning that for compatible titles you can move the game’s camera with your eyes. As you’d expect for this price, this is a very fast, responsive and effective gaming machine that’s fun to look at and enjoyable to use.

Acer Predator 15 G9 593: £1615.73, Amazon

There are grilles on the back of the Predator which make it look every inch a gaming machine, and adjustable fan speeds help keep the machine cool, so it won’t get overheated even if you do. The direction arrow keys and W, A, S and D letters you’ll most likely use to control a game are picked out in unmissable red, which is a nice touch.

The 15.6in display is bright and sharp, and when you’re playing games there’s a solid audio performance, too, thanks to big speakers and a built-in subwoofer.

Razer Blade: £2,149.99, Amazon

The Razer Blade has a big screen which is squeezed into a small case, making it impressively compact. Battery life is not as strong as some rivals, and it heats up noticeably when the processor is under a heavy load from a demanding, fast-moving game. The display is bright and detailed with smoothly rendered animations, however fast the game gets.

But what makes this laptop so appealing is the slim design, oh, and the neat Razer logo on the lid. Overall, it looks great and is a fast, capable powerhouse.

Alienware 13: From £1,168.99, Dell

Although this laptop is lower-priced than many here, it still has significant grunt, enough to ensure you can play  at speed. The Alienware keyboard is designed to be responsive, too, with decent travel and resilience. It has manual overrides for controlling performance and prioritising data speeds for gaming over more mundane activities.

As with several gaming machines here, you can customise the lights on keys and trackpad, for instance to create special effects. There’s sound customisation software as well. Like many gaming laptops, it can get quite hot in use. The Alienware 13 has another thing up its sleeve: it has an OLED display, which is needle-sharp and high-contrast.

Gigabyte AERO 15W-CF2: £1,679.98, Amazon

Gigabyte’s aim is to make a gaming laptop look like a slim, sophisticated Ultrabook. It’s light and compact, despite squeezing in a 15.6in display. This has meant that the webcam position has slid down to the bottom of the screen which isn’t ideal, but that’s the price of putting such a big screen into a smaller laptop – it’s the size you’d associate with a 14in display.

The thin bezels do make the display look good. It’s also a screen capable of a fast refresh rate, making it especially responsive. Handy if you’re playing first-person shooters, for instance. It’s also impressive that the keyboard includes a number pad, but this does make it feel a bit cramped in use.

Acer Predator Helios 300: £1,399.99, Currys

This is a full-on traditional-looking, bulky gaming laptop, tricked out with light effects. There’s a deliberately angled shape to the sides and a beefy grille at the back designed to at least look like it’s keeping itself cool. It’s very good value, and you can save even more if you choose the model with a slightly less powerful processor and graphics card.

It has neat extras like a function key that can turn off the touchpad so you don’t accidentally brush it mid-game when you’re using an external mouse, for instance. The traditional gaming direction keys, W, A, S and D are highlighted to make them easier to find. Sometimes cooling can be a problem with this laptop (and if the laptop overheats it can cause momentary screen issues) but generally this is a decent performer for the price.

Razer Blade Pro: £1,839.99, Razer

Slim and light, this is nonetheless designed to offer almost the same heavy-duty power as a desktop set-up. It’s differently designed from pretty much every other laptop, thanks to the glass-topped trackpad which sits alongside, rather than beneath, the keyboard. The keys themselves move beautifully under your touch and make a click that is crisp and satisfying.

The 17.3in display is sharp and attractive, though for a (substantial) extra fee you can upgrade to a 4K screen instead. Battery life is not as strong as many here but otherwise performance is excellent, though the 4K variant has a slower frame rate than is desirable. But in terms of power, this is a decent desktop alternative.

Acer Predator Triton 700: £2,499.99, Currys​

This is a plenty powerful gaming machine, but it’s much slimmer than you might expect. Sturdily built, it has a lot going for it, though it’s certainly not cheap. There’s one curiosity to the design: the trackpad sits above, not below, the keyboard, that is, it’s next to the laptop hinge. This takes some getting used to, to say the very least.

Many gamers tend to favour an external mouse, which obviously you can place where you want, and that’s what I would recommend here. Not least because if there’s a lot of processing going on, the trackpad can warm up rather a lot (though for mundane uses like sending emails, you’re fine). The display has a fast refresh rate, making games look smooth and inviting.

Dell XPS 15: From £1,699, Dell

Narrow bezels round the display combine for a small laptop with a big screen. The webcam is on the base of the display, near the hinge. Dell also says it’s the slimmest laptop for its size – it’s a long way from the oversized style of many gaming machines. This laptop is also a strong performer that is fast and responsive and this is a 2-in-1 machine, so the screen can fold right round on itself.

Note that if you are doing something demanding power-wise and you’ve plugged in to the wall, the built-in fans are quite loud.

How to fix printer problems

How to fix printer problems

Printers are great when they work, but when they don’t it can be extremely frustrating. Here’s how to solve some of the most common problems, including not printing at all through to blocked nozzles and other issues.

Printers can run reliably for many years and thousands of prints, but they can also malfunction or stop working entirely.

Sometimes the reason is as simple as over- or under use. Many people don’t use their inkjet printers often enough and this can lead to problems with dried-up ink blocking the nozzles. Overuse is less common than misuse: paper clips, hair bands and even food can fall into printers and cause paper jams (and worse).

If your printer can’t be fixed with these tips, check out our list of the best printers to buy.

My printer won’t print
There are many reasons why your printer won’t print, so start with the basics such as checking to see whether there is an error message or warning light on the printer. Make sure there is paper in the tray(s), check the ink or toner cartridges aren’t empty, the USB cable is plugged in or the printer is connected to Wi-Fi.

And if it is a network or wireless printer, try using a USB cable instead. In our experience, some Wi-Fi printers are unreliable in terms of their connection. So it’s worth unplugging your printer and any powerline network adapters it’s connected to, then turning everything back on again.

Choose the right printer!
Sometimes the reason a printer won’t print is because you’ve installed some software which has a ‘virtual’ printer and this has set itself as the default. When you hit Print, a file will be saved by this virtual printer instead of the document being sent to your physical printer.

To check this, open the Control Panel from the Start menu. Then go to Devices and Printers, right-click the correct printer to use and set it as the default. (While you’re there, you can also ensure the printer’s status is set to Ready. If not, this could be the source of the problem.)

Next, make sure that the correct printer is selected in the program you are printing from – you should see an option to choose from a list as in the image below.