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Microsoft Introduces Online Proctored Certification Exams

First, Microsoft dropped Prometric in favor of Pearson Vue. Now, an announcement from Microsoft says that they now have online proctored exams using your webcam and microphone. The move back to Pearson Vue was excellent news, but this is pretty awesome as well. I do have a few questions about it that I am waiting for answers, but overall it sounds like an excellent way to take an exam when you are not near a testing center. Or, if you want to take the exam on your lunch break at work. Right now, only a few exams are available, but I’m sure that number will increase in the future. I think I’m about ready for a couple new certs!

You’ll be asked to empty your pockets while on camera, provide a close-up on your ears so you can prove you’re not wearing a Bluetooth earpiece, do a visual sweep of your desk and the room…  all things you’d expect a proctor to check if they were there in the room with you. If you ensure that all of the requirements are met before you check in for your exam, the whole check-in process should only take about ten to fifteen minutes. If you have as many Bruce Springsteen posters on your office wall as I do, add another five minutes for the proctor to inspect them all for hidden notes.

Windows 9 Event September 30th

Microsoft is planning an event to showcase Windows 9 on September 30th in San Francisco. The technical preview should be available soon after the event for people to check out. Should be interesting to see what Microsoft has in store for us other than UI changes.

Additional changes are expected to be pushed regularly to Windows Technical Preview users until the operating system is complete and ready for release next year. We understand Microsoft is planning more UI changes to the desktop, and a number of those improvements aren’t ready for the preview just yet.

Microsoft Buys Mojang

The big news topic of the day is the purchase of Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, by Microsoft for $2.5B. Notch, the original creator, and several others are leaving the company with cash in hand. As awesome as the creation was, I think we all have a price. For Notch, it was $2B (per a December 2012 tweet). Looks like he got a big more out of Microsoft. I’m looking forward to what Microsoft brings to the Minecraft world (good or bad… could go either way).

As you might already know, Notch is the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder at Mojang. He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He’ll continue to do cool stuff though. Don’t worry about that.

Steve Ballmer Wrote C/A/D Text

Here’s an interesting tidbit of information I learned today. Steve Ballmer wrote the text for the CTRL-ALT-DEL, seen by millions of people around the world, many times over the years. Interesting stuff from the older days of Microsoft and Windows 3.1.

During this time period, Steve Ballmer was head of the Systems Division, and he paid a visit to the Windows team to see what they were up to, as is the wont of many executives.¹ When they showed him the Ctrl+Alt+Del feature, he nodded thoughtfully and added, “This is nice, but I don’t like the text of the message. It doesn’t sound right to me.”

Buy an XBox One, Get a Free Game

Another deal from Microsoft on it’s XBox One system. Buy the system, get a free game. I recommend one of the newer ones to maximize your buying power. Some, like Call of Duty: Ghosts, can be found for under $25 quite often.


August Updates For Windows 8.1/Server 2012R2

Those expecting Windows 8.1 Update 2 in the coming weeks will be disappointed. However, Microsoft is bringing a few improvements next Tuesday for the August updates. So, they are clearing up some Windows 8.1 Update 2 speculation. However, I’m sure there will be some (true or not) speculation on if this is a move to bring Windows 9 to market sooner and leave the larger update for that, rather than a new, large update to Windows 8.1. Take that as completely BS that I just made up, and may or not be true.

With the above in mind, rather than waiting for months and bundling together a bunch of improvements into a larger update as we did for the Windows 8.1 Update, customers can expect that we’ll use our already existing monthly update process to deliver more frequent improvements along with the security updates normally provided as part of “Update Tuesday.” So despite rumors and speculation, we are not planning to deliver a Windows 8.1 “Update 2.”

Missing Graphics and Icons in Office 2013 – Solution




We recently had a migration to Office 2013 at work. We had an issue on several PC’s where we would have missing graphics on the application – from missing icons, to missing arrows on pull down menus, even the Maximize/Minimize/Close buttons were gone. You can see in this example – the down arrows for the fonts are missing, the File icon (it’s white, but not visible in this shot), and close/minimize/maximize buttons are missing.


After a lot of searching and testing and uninstalling and reinstalling Office, other applications and installing various .Net libraries, we have a solution. It may not be a fix for every situation, but it seems to fix all of our issues on all our machines. The culprit – KB2670838. When we uninstalled the KB, as well as Internet Explorer 10, the issue was resolved. This seems to a common issue with some folks with Windows 7 (and can cause other issues – ‘gfxui.exe has stopped working’, Aero not working,  Desktop Windows Manager service crashing but shows running, etc.).

***Before you attempt to uninstall the KB (it automatically uninstalls Internet Explorer 10, as well) – make sure you download another browser (either install files for IE9 or install Chrome/Firefox/Opera). If you do not have another browser ready to go or ready to install, you won’t be able to download one. There won’t be one installed to do so.***

Here is how to uninstall the KB –   1. Open the Control Panel, click Programs and Features.


control panel


2. In the left pane, select “View installed updates”. Find the KB2670838 entry, click it and select “Uninstall” at the top of the window.




3. Reboot the machine, and when you reopen an Office 2013 application, the missing graphics should have returned.




Now, to get Internet Explorer back (or use an alternative browser), use the install file for your browser of choice. If you are resolving this issue, it’s best to go with Internet Explorer 9 or an alternative browser. Updating to IE10 may bring the same issues.


OneNote Video – I Click It and I Note It

OneNote team posted a funny video (parody?) of a popular song, but switched it up to be a bit more relevant to the Surface Pro 3 and OneNote. This came out last month, so many may have already watched it, but I just caught wind of it.

Microsoft Killing Windows RT

Microsoft is going to drop Windows RT from it’s product line according to CNN Money. But, it’s the headline that got a chuckle from me – “Microsoft’s most boneheaded product is about to be killed off”. Sounds pretty brutal. One thing they did mention in there is that the Surface RT was the only mainstream Windows RT tablet. There were others, most have already dropped out from the RT offerings, though.  It had potential, but I see more users wanting the full Windows OS and not a watered down lookalike.

Windows RT was supposed to usher in the tablet era for Microsoft. But Windows RT has two fatal flaws: it’s missing crucial apps, and it’s poorly designed. Unsurprisingly, the stripped-down operating system failed to take off. (Actually, that’s an understatement: Microsoft took a $900 million writedown last year because of awful Surface RT sales, the only mainstream tablet than ran Windows RT.)

OneDrive Ups the Quotas

OneDrive users have been upgraded to a much larger quota. From the free OneDrive accounts to the business accounts (and Home/Home Office/Education), all have been given more space for your files. Of course, there is the ability to pay for more space as needed.

New and existing personal OneDrive accounts will come with:



Also, people who use OneDrive for Business now have a 1 TB quota (up from 25 GB).