Category Archives: Computer Help

Setting Up Windows 10 Tech Preview on OSX 10.9.5 VirtualBox Host

windows 10 desktop + Start menuHi Everybody,

Windows 10 tech preview (win10) is the newest version of Microsoft Windows (not yet complete), and has been released for public trials. I, as well as others, want to experiment with an installation of this trial operating system. For this I thought I would use a virtual machine. This post documents my experience using VirtualBox (VB) on my MacMini model: late-2011, with OSX 10.9.5 to create an win10 installation. Here are the steps  to get up and running .

First, I downloaded the win10 source disk image. You can find a link to the download on the following Microsoft page: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/preview-iso. You only get two choices: 1) What language, and 2) whether it’s going to be 32 bit or 64 bit? I chose 64 bit because my MacMini runs a 64 bit OS, and supports 64 bit virtualization. For these test I don’t see an advantage of 64 bit over 32 bit. Depending on usage case I may change to 32 bit in the future. The download file is around 3-4GB in size, so it maybe a slow download for anyone on Telmex’s DSL connection. Just be patient!

Second, (while you”re waiting for the win10 download,) if you don’t already have VirtualBox (VB) installed (I do already; I do this stuff often), then you’ll need to go download and install their application from the website: https://www.virtualbox.org/. VB is a much smaller program then the win10 disk image, so it should download and be ready quicker. Install and run VB.

Select Windows 8.1 (64bit), and give the virtual machine it's own name.

Select Windows 8.1 (64bit), and give the virtual machine it’s own name.

Third, setup a new virtual machine (vm) for use later to install win10.

Click the VirtualBox Manager’s ‘New’ button to bring up the first page of the configurations. Give your vm a descriptive name and choose either Windows 8.1 (64 bit) or (32 bit) depending on the version of win10 you downloaded. Click ‘Continue’ and then VB’s setup  will ask you for to set how much memory the vm needs for the operating system.

Note: According to an article in PCWorld the system requirements for win10 are the same requirements from Windows 8.1. This means: 2GB of memory for 64 Bit (or 1GB of memory for 32bit), 1GHz CPU, and 16GB of hard disk.

The 2GB of ram has been selected for me by default. I wont change it, and it’s not a problem on my system since my mac has 8GB of ram installed.

Note: I do have another vm running regularly that  uses 3/4 GB of ram (I hope I don’t have trouble running the  win10 vm along side my other vm.)

I’ll just click ‘Continue’ and hope for the best.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 12.54.36 PM The next dialog, by default, asks if you want to create a new virtual hard drive. When you click ‘Create’ the VB vm setup asks for the type of hard drive. For now, I am going with the default setting of VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image.) This will be fine, and probably only matters in special use circumstances anyway. Click ‘Continue’, and  VB should have set the storage as ‘Dynamically allocated’ on the following page.

File allocation and sizeClick ‘Continue’ again you will need to set the name of the file (as it will appear on your on computer,) and the size of the hard drive for your vm. I am going to pick the defaults for both by clicking the ‘Create’ button at the bottom.

This will finish the vm creation process and leave you back at the ‘Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager’. The manager lists your vms in the column on the left. You should see your vm listed there just like my ‘Win10 Tech Preview’ is listed in the following image.

VM Virtual Manager

The VirtualBox Manager. The left column lists various virtual machines, and the right displays the attributes of the selected vm.

Forth, I will now install the win10 from the disk image we downloaded earlier (if it is finished downloading by now….damn…it’s still downloading!…..double damn!….I’ll be back!…….)

still waiting 🙁  I’ll be back in an hour…arhhhh…

FINALLY! I’ve got it downloaded.

Next, (Forth, again!) I want to start up my vm using the disk image I downloaded from Microsoft.

Example of blank virtual machine. A PC without an operating system.

Example of blank virtual machine. A PC without an operating system.

NOTE: A vm (virtual machine) is like a computer made from software. If you were to double click on the vm from the VB manager you would start up a window that looks very similar to the screen of a PC starting up without an operation system. (see the image)

Using ISO disk image as a boot disk in Virtual Box
VirtualBox allows us to configure a bootable device from a ISO  file (such as the win10 disk image.) In other words, we can tell the vm that the ISO file is a windows 10 install  CD/DVD that can boot the vm, and we never have to burn the ISO to an actual disk.

To do this we need to go into the settings of our new vm. Click once on the vm and then click the ‘Settings’ button. A dialog will open showing the setting options.

Standard preferences and settings dialog box. Choose storage to change settings to boot the disk image.

Standard preferences and settings dialog box. Choose storage to change settings to boot the disk image.

Click on the ‘Storage’ Icon and look at the storage tree:

Use 'Choose a virtual CD/DVD file...'to set Microsoft's Windows 10 disk image as a bootable DVD.

Use ‘Choose a virtual CD/DVD file…’to set Microsoft’s Windows 10 disk image as a bootable DVD.

Click the ‘Empty’ IDE Controller, and then click the disk to the right. Select the menu item: ‘Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file.’ This will open an explorer window that you can use to find the win10 disk image file that was downloaded earlier. The name of the file will appear under the ‘Controller: IDE’:

Storage tree displaying the name of the disk image under the 'Controller: IDE'.

Storage tree displaying the name of the disk image under the ‘Controller: IDE’.

When that’s done, click ‘OK’, and then try to boot your vm. If all goes well your vm should boot into the Windows Setup system.

booting win10

Installing WindwosI am going to step through the windows setup assuming that it will talk me through all the decisions, however the next message is already confusing. I have the choice of Upgrade: Install Windows and keep files,… or Custom: Windows Only (advanced). Upgrade allows you to keep your files and applications, while who knows what custom entails. I am not sure why they asked if I want to upgrade since this vm is a blank system (there is nothing to upgrade.)

I am going with Custom. The next message was to select where to install windows. The vm virtual hard drive was already selected so I just clicked the ‘Next’ button. Then Windows started the install process. I gotta give Microsoft credit; Ever since Windows 7 the install process has been a breeze.

 

So far everything has been automatic. The vm has restarted at least once (maybe twice. It didn’t ask me for anything, so it could have sneaked past me.) Finally, it reaches a screen ask me for either ‘Express’ configurations, or ‘Custom’. I pick ‘Custom’. I’ll probably just click ‘next’, ‘next’, next’, however I want to see what’s going on.

Settings question screens:

  • Connected to a network: do you want to find network devices (yes if your at home or work, no if your in a public place.) I’ll say yes.
  • Update your PC and apps? and Help Protect your PC and your privacy?: everything is turned on by default. I’ll click ‘Next’.
  • Check online for solutions?: on (default), and Help improve Microsoft products and services? off (by default)…wow….win10 knows how to make me like it. So I don’t change anything and click ‘Next’.
  • Share info with Microsoft and other services? Ahmmm…hmm?? huh? and everthing is on by default. great. I probably wouldn’t have even seen this if I hadn’t done the ‘Custom’ install. Since my goal is testing and evaluating I am going to leave everything turned on, however you should read there each option and decide if you have a problem with what is being asked.
  • Next you’ll setup your account. From my experience with Windows 8 I feel comfortable with using this in conjunction with my current hotmail/outlook/live account.
  • Help us protect your info. Verify your secondary email account by receiving a code in email and providing it to the win10 installer/activator.
  • OneDrive is your cloud storage. Hmm…not much of an option here. ‘Next’.

Setting up my account, and then these screens:

I wonder what are my apps?

you can get new apps from the storetaking care of a few thingsgetting your apps readyAlmost ready

Well. There you go! The Windows 10 technical preview running in a virtual machine on a macintosh computer.

 

windows 10 desktop + Start menu

Well, this brings us to the end of my blog post. The next thing I am going to do is check for and install Windows updates. I would install the VirtualBox guest additions, however people have not been successful, and it looks like VirtualBox may need to release an updated version for Windows 10. I guess that’s it for now. I’ll post more of my experiences as I continue to test Win10.

Until next time.

Scott

 

My Take on Windows 8 ~ The Various Versions of Windows 8

The following is the article I wrote for the Dec, 2013 edition of the San Carlos Wireless (more info at SanCarlos.tv). I hope people find it helpful. and informative. Please leave comments and questions.

Thanks,
Scott, headNerd at international computer solutions

The Various Versions of Windows 8

Hi everybody. My name is Scott Stimson and I am the director of International Computer Solutions (internationalcsi.com) in San Carlos and also a main speaker at The San Carlos Computer Club (http://sccClub.org.)

Recently, Microsoft has released a new version of the Windows operating system (OS) named Windows 8.1 (Win8.1.) This is a major release and upgrade to the one year old Windows 8 (Win8) OS. Looking around the Win8/8.1 community you will  find complaints and a learning curve, however there are some nice new features. We have dedicated a lot time in the computer club to the subjects of Win8/8.1 and I thought other people would find this information helpful. If  you have upgraded from an older Windows computer or will soon be buying a new Windows computer, then you will want to know what to expect from Win8/8.1.

Over the next few issues I will try to eliminate some of the confusion about the Win 8/8.1 operating system. I will address some of the complaints people are having, and help you determine the features you want from a new PC. However, for today, I thought we would discuss the different versions of Win8 and how each version affects the computer hardware and software that you will use.

The Three Versions (actually four…well…actually five) of Windows 8/8.1

There are four different versions of Win8/8.1…Well…There are actually five version if we include Windows Phone 8 (WP8), however WP8 is not a major part of this article. WP8 will be important as Microsoft moves forward with Windows development, but at this moment it’s not relevant for our PC/laptop/tablet discussion.

The first three versions of Win 8/8.1 are intended for what you think of as the traditional PC/Laptop experience. These versions are: 1) Windows 8/8.1 (sometimes called core), 2) Windows 8 Pro, and  3) Windows 8 Enterprise (only available through corporate volume license.) The computers that run these three versions are based on Intel’s x86/x64 architectures. That means they run legacy software (i.e., programs that may have run in Windows 7, Vista, and XP.) Some examples of legacy software are old versions of Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Intuit’s Quickbooks, and Apple’s iTunes. (Yes! iTunes. If you need iTunes, then you need one of these versions of Windows.) Because legacy software is supported on these computers, then you are allowed to install your software from a variety of different sources. For example, you can download installers from any website, use purchased boxed software CDs/DVDs, and you can also download applications from an online marketplace.

You could say that these three versions of Win8 are actually a Windows 7 version that includes the new Win8 features. The hardware for computers running these versions can be very powerful. They are based on the traditional multi-core CPU technology that has grown-up throughout the different version of windows. These computers are expected to be able to run other operating systems such as linux and Windows Server 2012. They can be assembled using third party motherboards, video cards, and components. These computers are used by gamers and software developers. They are also found in corporations and office environments. These three versions are the best of both worlds; They transition between what Windows was to what Windows will be.

What is Windows RT?

The fourth version of Win8/8.1 is called Windows 8 RT (WinRT), and is only available preloaded/embedded on a new style of  PC (more commonly found as a tablet or netbook.) These devices use a mobile chip (aka, an arm processor.) This processor is the mobile CPU used in many smartphones, iPads, and android tablets. This is a fundamental change and has set the Windows world into a whole different direction. These devices are geared towards consumption of content and services. They compete directly with iPad and Android tablets. They are intended to have great battery life, easy touch controls, beautiful displays, fast on/off, and other characteristics that we associate with mobile devices.

WinRT is Win8 built to run on arm processors. The software you use must also be built for arm processors. This means you will not be able to use any of your old software CDs/DVDs. You can not install iTunes, Photoshop, or Quickbooks. Legacy softwares, such as those, will never be installable on WinRT devices. You will need new versions of your softwares built for WinRT on arm processors (ie, Win8 Apps.) These apps will be available only after developers adopt the new Win8/8.1 platform and rebuild their software for arm processors.  Microsoft must approve all Win8 Apps and the apps are only available to you through the Microsoft Store using a Microsoft Services account (a marketplace model similar to Apple’s App Store.) At this moment a WinRT device doesn’t have the same amount of software available, that software must be built for Win8 running on arm processors, and it is only available through the Microsoft Store.

and Then There is Windows Phone 8

There is also a smartphone Windows OS (the fifth version of Win8) that I had mentioned earlier called Windows Phone 8 (WP8.) This Windows OS, unlike the first four versions, has a different foundational core (kernel), however it also runs on arm processors like devices that run WinRT. It is becoming clear that Microsoft sees a future where WinRT and WP8 will merge into the same software and be offered on tablets, netbooks, and smartphones. This would result in two fundamental branches of Windows based on either the Intel x86 x64 CPUs (ie, Pentium, Atom, AMD), or the arm processors.

Why the Distinct different Windows 8 Versions?

In the industry we talk about devices being either a production device or a consumption device. Either the device is good for producing content and services, or it’s a better device for the consumption of content and services. At the moment we believe production devices to be powerful systems that can run legacy software and have the most options of compatibility. Production devices are for creating data, documents, videos, darkroom work, and accounting. On the other hand, consumption devices act more like portals to information and functions. Consumption devices are ideal for reading ebooks and web pages, listening to music, watching videos, and doing email.

In the Win8/8.1 world, this distinction is very clear. The first three versions of Win8/8.1 (i.e., core, Pro, and Enterprise) are run on production devices while WinRT is run on consumption devices. Now the question for you is: how do you use your computer? Are you a producer, or a consumer? Are you building video project, or watching them? Are you writing books, or reading them? Are you building websites, or surfing them? Are you photoshopping pictures, or viewing them? Are you recording music, or listening? Both styles of devices will work for either production or consumption, but when you have identified your computer needs, then you’ll know better how to select the type of device that is ideal for you. Who knows; you may want both.

How I Restored My Email Messages to the Hotmail Servers

OK! It’s My FAULT! First of all, I need to state that my email messages did NOT disappear as I was proclaiming on twitter (not that it would matter, since no one @Hotmail, nor @Microsoft came to my rescue.) Regardless, after some soul searching, and back-tracking, I have determined that I am the reason that my messages were removed from the Hotmail servers. To be more correct, my using Apple’s OS X Mail application’s default setup for a Hotmail account is what resulted in the removal of all my old messages from the Hotmail servers. Obviously, I should have reviewed Apple’s default settings for my email account before I allowed it to go live.  The following post will explain how Apple’s Mail application setup my Hotmail account, and then what I needed to do to get my messages back onto the Hotmail servers.

Couple of things: I have a Windows computer too. My Mac is running Lion with Mail 5.3. Do not delete your messages; Always copy and never move messages (the only exception would be in considering how I would do it differently as a commented that the end of this post.)

How Apple’s OS X Mail Application Configures a Hotmail Account by Default

By default, when you setup an email account in your Macintosh Mail you are first greeted by a configuration dialog box.

Apple, always trying to make things easier for the user, starts the dialog asking for the bare minimum of information about your email account (i.e., your name, your email address, and the password to your account.) If Mail is familiar with your email server, then it will automatically add the incoming/outgoing server addresses, as well as, whatever security settings are needed. This is a very convenient way to get your web-mail accounts (e.g., Hotmail.com, yahoo.com, gmail.com, etc.) configured into Macintosh Mail, because you do not need to track down  the manual settings; Mail already knows Them.

Hotmail is different. The free Hotmail account that most people have doesn’t support the IMAP protocol, so Macintosh Mail sets it up as a POP3 server (which is available with the free account.) This is great! Mail knows the server addresses and the security so you don’t have to. However, Mail also configures this account with options to delete all messages a week old.  After completing the setup for your Hotmail account go look at the configurations. Under the “Advanced” tab you’ll find the default settings are to “Remove copy from server after retrieving a message: After one week.”

<PERSONAL RANT> “Since, Hotmail is a web-mail service,  it doesn’t make sense to remove the email message by default. It’s fine if a user’s personal choice is to not leave mail on the server, but it seems counter-intuitive to delete the server side messages by default. It’s HOTMAIL! Though this is a pretty common default setting for a POP3 email client, it’s made confusing because Macintosh Mail is “Helping” to setup HOTMAIL!”</PERSONAL RANT>

If you’re like me and want the flexibility of using a web browser for your Hotmail, as well as have access to Hotmail from Macintosh mail, then remove the check mark “Remove copy from server after retrieving a message.” That will leave the mail on the Hotmail server, while allowing Mail to download copies using the POP3 protocol.

 

 How I Restored my Email Messages to the Hotmail Servers

Before I begin, if it isn’t obvious yet, you cannot do this if you don’t have your messages stored somewhere. In my case, I had downloaded all the messages to Apple’s Mail application in OS X. That means that I had my email messages on my Macintosh computer in Mail, and needed a way to get them back to the Hotmail Servers (if only for my own sanity and peace of mind.) Here is the process I went through.

1st – configured my gmail account as IMAP access in Macintosh Mail.
I also have a gmail account, and I configured it in the Macintosh Mail application using the automatic default configurations. Gmail supports the IMAP email protocol (more info on IMAP here ->http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Message_Access_Protocol.) Basically, IMAP lets you synchronize folders of email messages.

2nd – created a new folder in gmail and copied email messages.
I created a new folder in the gmail folder structure called “Hotmail Backup” and copied all the Hotmail messages I had from the local Mail folder. Since, I have a few thousand messages with attachments, this took a while.

3rd – setup Microsoft Outlook for both my gmail and Hotmail accounts on a windows computer
So…I can’t help you if you don’t have access to a email client with IMAP type support and access to Hotmail. Microsoft only makes this available for the free Hotmail accounts using their software. That means Windows+Outlook (or maybe Live mail.) I used MS Outlook 2003 with the Microsoft Office Outlook connector installed. The Outlook Connector gives you access to your Hotmail account as though it’s a IMAP server (I believe that the Microsoft Live Mail application will do the same thing.) I setup both my gmail account (as IMAP,) and my Hotmail account (using Microsoft Office Outlook Connecter) in Microsoft Outlook 2003.

4th – Copy all email message from the gmail “Hotmail Backup” folder to my Hotmail inbox
enough said? I just selected all the message from the my gmail folder labeled “Hotmail Backup” and copied them to the Hotmail inbox in Microsoft Outlook. Since, I have a few thousand emails with attachments, this took awhile.

This worked great except for one problem. Every message duplicated in Macintosh mail on the next download of email from the Hotmail account. Since, I have a few thousand messages with attachments, this took a while.

Crap! and now I have that cleanup to do in my Mail inbox…If I was to do this again, after having copied them into the gmail “Hotmail Backup” folder, I would empty the local Hotmail inbox on my Macintosh by moving all the message to a new local folder (keeping a backup of all the messages.) That way it would be empty and ready to download all of the messages again and wouldn’t create duplicates in the inbox. However, it’d probably take a while….I have a lot of mail.