Microsoft Replaces Placeholders with Files on Demand

OneDrive’s Placeholders have finally gotten a replacement on Windows 10…

I think nearly everyone will agree – Windows 8 was pretty much a train wreck. The OS confused nearly everyone that used it; and that confusion came in the guise of a tablet “interface” that had features missing, existing features deprecated, and a new set of applications that just didn’t fit the design language that everyone was used to when it came to Windows.

However, there was one thing that came out of it that nearly everyone, present company included, really liked, and that was OneDrive Placeholders.

Placeholders in OneDrive were special file stubs that looked like your documents but actually just “took the place” of the actual document. When you actually wanted or needed to edit the actual file, you could double click on it to open it or sync the actual copy down to your hard drive and use it as you normally would. Placeholders were a wonderful way to seeing every file that was stored on OneDrive. This was especially helpful so that you wouldn’t have to choose what files to have on your PC or not. You could bring down what you needed and the rest was done with Placeholders.

Unfortunately, the version of OneDrive that came with Windows 8.x was not compatible with Windows 10. Microsoft further deprecated all subsequent versions of OneDrive so that all platforms (all versions of Windows, macOS, etc.) ran off the same sync engine. Placeholders, we were told would come back at a later date.

My friends… that time has come.

As part of the latest Windows Insider build on the Fast Ring – Build 16215 – Microsoft is releasing a new OneDrive client that has a new feature called Files On-Demand. In an entry on the Windows Blog, Dona Sarkar, a software engineer in the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft noted,

“With Files On-Demand, you can access all your files in the cloud without having to download them and use storage space on your device. All your files—even online-only files—can be seen in File Explorer and work just like every other file on your device. You’ll be able to open online-only files from within any desktop or Windows Store apps using the Windows file picker. And you’re covered in both your home and professional life since it works with your personal and work OneDrive, as well as your SharePoint Online team sites.”

The updated OneDrive client will be rolling out over the next few days but can also be installed from here.

After enabling Files On-Demand in the updated OneDrive client, your files will have an “Online-Only” status and be shown with an icon with a “cloud” overlay, similar to what you see below. Local files will have a green checkmark with a white background. Always available files (those that are marked, “always keep on this device”) will have a white checkmark with a green background. Examples of all three icons can be seen immediately below.

Please note that installing this version of the OneDrive client on any other Windows version – for example, Windows 7 – won’t enable the feature. The feature is dependent upon the latest Fast Ring Build, currently Build 16215. Release notes for that build can be found here.

When installed on a Windows 10 PC with the right Fast Ring Build, the user will see the following when they click on the OneDrive icon in their system tray:

Unfortunately, for me, I don’t sit in the Fast Ring any longer. I’ve had too many issues with prerelease versions of Windows to understand that if I want my Surface Book (or other designated Windows 10 PC) to run without issue or problems, I need to stay away from them. It’s really a one way move. Every time I’ve tried to reset my PC back to a released version of Windows 10, its died.

Files On-Demand is currently scheduled to be part of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, due out sometime in Q3 2017.

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Ammyy Admin – Take Control.

ammyy-admin

Take control of a remote PC with this great remote control app for Windows.

Working with computers is what I do, all day, every day. Most of you who frequent Soft32 know that. I know I probably mention it way too much. However, when you work with computers as much as I do, you often find yourself with many different needs, many different reasons to get to one or another PC on a local or distant network. For that, you need Ammyy Admin. It’s a remote control app for Windows.

Remote desktop software allows you to take control of a desktop PC. Ammyy Admin does just that; and its kinda cool. It can be used for remote administration, remote office arrangement, or remote support. Ammyy Admin gets you access to a remote PC via the internet without firewalls or NAT problems. You can work with remote PCs as if you’re sitting right in front of them. In order to keep all of your data and your activities safe and private, Ammyy Admin uses advanced AES and RSA encryption for each remote session.

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Ammyy Admin is reliable, trustworthy and affordable. One of the best things about it is that it doesn’t require installation or admin access to use. The remote desktop is available within a few seconds after the app has been started.

Ammyy Admin is a really easy to use, important piece of software. Controlling a PC that you don’t have physical access to can be a huge plus and advantage, especially if you have to provide some kind of support or advice to users who need your help. For me, apps like this can make or break my ability help friends and family as well as do my job.

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The biggest thing here, is that the app doesn’t require any installation in order to be used. Put it on your PC and go. That’s it. You get a secure, fast, easy way to control a remote PC that can easily get past NAT and firewalls. It also has built in voice chat and a file manager that will allow you to grab files and talk to friends and family as you try to give them a hand. 

Ammyy Admin offers a great deal and the price is more than right. Plainly put, the app is a winner.

download Ammyy Admin

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Clean, protect and maintain your PC with Ashampoo WinOptimizer 10

box_ashampoo_winoptimizerMaintaining your machine is a must.

In order to keep on functioning correctly and provide an effective service, computers, like any other type of machine, require regular maintenance. Whilst computers come with optimization and maintenance facilities as standard, utilising these can often be difficult, and require the user to have a sufficient amount of technical know-how, while also requiring the time and effort to keep abreast of current technological developments.

Ashampoo WinOptimizer 10 promises to take the sting out of things by offering all manner of customisation tools for your PC or laptop in one simple application. It offers backups, restore points and task schedulers, as well as allowing users to analyse detailed information on hardware and software specifications, such as the space and health statuses of disks and drives. There are a large number of file tools, allowing the user to recover lost or deleted files, remove duplicate files or safely and securely delete files, as well as maintaining internet history and cleaning up the system registry.

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Ashampoo have long been providing essential utilities for computer maintenance, and WinOptimizer 10 continues on that trend. The User Interface is a joy to work with, and takes the hassle out of tuning up your PC. Installation was quick and easy, and the main program was up and running within a matter of minutes. As WinOptimizer continues to grow and develop as a program, so too do the list of features it has on offer, and it comes highly recommended for tweaking, tuning and optimising your machine.

While the free trial has its limitations, some people may be reluctant to fork out $39.99 for the full version, especially when there are numerous free tools and utilities online. Although for ease of use, and having a wide variety of powerful features in one simple to use application, we think it’s a solid choice when it comes to PC optimisation.

Download Ashampoo WinOptimizer 10

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Keep your computer running well with Windows Doctor

With nearly the entire computer-verse running some version of Windows, keeping your PC running well has become a huge subject of interest. I for one, am constantly tweaking my PC trying to eek out every last possible gram of performance from it. This is one of the reasons why I like applications like Windows Doctor. It’s a performance utility for Windows.

Windows Doctor is a comprehensive PC care utility that helps you easily protect, maintain and optimize the performance of your computer. It provides an all-in-one solution for your PC’s daily maintenance and protection. It protects your system by locating and fixing all its system vulnerabilities.

Windows Doctor can speed up your system and internet access by as much as 100%. By tuning-up Windows, Windows Doctor can significantly boost your system and internet speed. It provides an all-around optimization of your system so that the overall PC performance can be highly improved.

If you’re on a shared machine, or just concerned with privacy in general, Windows Doctor can take care of you. It cleans historic traces left by many different applications so you’ll have no more worries about your computing habits being disclosed. Windows Doctor is able to clean all the traces from your computer.

If you’ve got PC errors that you’re constantly bumping into, Windows Doctor has you covered there as well. With it, you can fix dozens kinds of PC errors in order to make your computer run smoothly. Most PC errors are caused by invalid registry entries. Windows Doctor can clean and optimize your Windows registry, making your PC error free.

Read full review | Download Windows Doctor

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Is Convergence the Way to Go?

Both Apple and Microsoft are bringing their desktop and mobile computing experiences closer together. Is this a good idea, or a recipe for disaster?

Current rumor has Apple releasing Mountain Lion next month.  Windows is due to hit the streets outside of Redmond, likely in October 2012.  While considered polar opposites, these two new versions of OS X and Windows have one key ingredient in common – they are both trying to bring their desktop and mobile computing experiences closer together.

Microsoft Windows 8
You can see Soft32’s Windows 8 deep dive, here.  In Windows 8, Microsoft is designing an operating system that can be used on either a desktop or laptop as well as a tablet.  Windows 8’s new user interface, Metro, is heavily touch based. It has the user physically interacting with the hardware and the computing objects on it via touch.  If the hardware being used doesn’t have a touch layer, then the user can use both keyboard and mouse to simulate touch.

As I pointed out in my review (URL), this doesn’t always lend itself to the best computing experience. Using the mouse to simulate a touch and swipe to scroll through a screen isn’t as intuitive as it sounds, and is really rather clumsy. I think I’ve established, with Windows 8, that having one OS for either hardware types or categories doesn’t create a good user experience. However, in my opinion, this is clearly in response to only Google’s Android (to an extent), but to Apple’s Lion and Mountain Lion releases of OS X.  Microsoft sees the movement towards a unified computing experience and has taken a unified approach in developing a single operating system to cover all computing hardware types.

Last time, we looked at Microsoft and Windows 8. Let’s take a quick look at how Apple has decided to converge iOS and OS X.  Mountain Lion continues Apple’s desire to blur the lines between the two…

Apple OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
Apple’s approach is much different.  Instead of putting OS X on your iPhone or iPad or iOS on your Mac, Apple is bringing specific iOS features to the desktop.  These mobile device features are adapted to the desktop or laptop for, what Apple feels is a better experience on the non (or not as) mobile hardware.

The difference here is approach and design.  Apple is taking specific features from iOS – Messages, Notifications, Reminders, iCloud Integration, etc., those that make sense to have on the desktop and are finding a way to implement those. The features are similar, but not identical, given the differences in the hardware.  Their addition is subtle, even elegant in some cases, as in the implementation of Notifications.  The point is though, that while both platforms have similar features, while they may share a similar look and/or feel, they are implemented and presented differently, taking advantage of the benefits of each platform.

continue reading

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Special Offer: The NEW PC SuperBundle Spring 2012 is here! Limited-Time Only – Save Over $300+

Special Offer: The NEW PC SuperBundle Spring 2012 is here! Limited-Time Only - Save Over $300+

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Instantly install and run all of today’s games with Steam

A few years ago, gaming wasn’t a big deal. Most computer users were focused on productivity and well, we thought that gaming PC’s were expensive toys for over indulged children.  I mean, wasn’t that what gaming consoles were for? It’s totally different today.  Gaming is now driving much of the PC innovation seen today, and game development is a multibillion dollar industry. That’s one of the reasons why I really like Steam. It’s one of the best ways to get today’s most popular games on a PC near you.

Steam gives you the ability to purchase, download, and play over 1,100 games from any computer. You can easily check out new releases, indie hits, casual favorites and everything in between.  If you’re bored and need a playing partner, it’s easy to find someone to play with, meet up with friends, connect with groups of similar interests, or host and join chats, matches, and tournaments.

Communication is key during gaming campaigns, and Steam allows you to chat with your friends while you’re gaming.  You can see when your friends come online or are playing games.  You can  and easily join the same games together. During play, you can chat with your buddies, or use your microphone to communicate in any game.

One of the biggest problems with gaming is keeping up with patches and updates. With Steam, that’s all taken care of for you.  With automatic game updates, hunting for patches and downloading from unorganized web sites is a thing of the past. On Steam, your games stay up-to-date by themselves.

If you’re a Mac and want to play your favorite games, don’t worry.  Steam brings PC’s biggest gaming platform and games to the Mac.  You can download your games to your Mac and play against your PC friends in multiplayer games.  If you’ve got an Android or iOS device, you can also play games on the go. Steam Mobile gives you access on your tablet or smartphone.

read full review | download Steam

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Keep your PC running in top condition with Norton Utilities 15

I remember back in the day when Norton Utilities was actually written by Peter Norton. They were THE set of utilities to have for your DOS based PC, and in many ways today, offer a great deal of protection and peace of mind. That’s why I feel that this PC based, Windows utility package is a must have.

Norton Utilities helps your PC run like new. With them you can speed up PC performance and boot time, fix common PC problems with a single mouse click, reduces launch time of applications by optimizing the registry, increase storage and performance by defragmenting and cleaning up the hard drive and of course, recuing accidentally deleted files. It’s a package that most every Windows user should seriously consider purchasing.

Norton Disk Doctor identifies and fixes potential problems that can lead to hard drive crashes. You can use it to save your bacon, should you start experiencing random data errors in files you know are uncorrupted elsewhere. Norton UnErase lets you quickly restore accidentally deleted files that may be hidden on your hard drive, provided they space they occupy hasn’t been overwritten with other data. Norton Smart Updates keeps Norton Utilities up-to-date by automatically installing product updates. Startup Manager improves PC boot time by choosing which programs will load at startup time and Norton Service Manager optimizes active Windows services so applications can run simultaneously without your PC experiencing any slowdowns.

Read full review | Download Norton Utilities 15

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