I’m thinking of abandoning Office365

I’ve started thinking of abandoning Office365, and what I would need to do in order to replace what little remaining functionality there is.

  • Outlook design is too flat, and even the Outlook.com web interface is richer, with more contrast, colors and just as easy to work in. (In fact easier since it’s way much faster in responding)
  • Using contacts in Outlook 2016 is horrible, the old dialog box for adding details is gone, replaced with some flat strangeness, and even more important, to add pictures to my Outlook-contacts I still need to edit contact details through a web browser.
  • Beyond Outlook I’m mainly using OneNote. The rare few times I use Word and Excel are easily counted. And OneNote is free.

That leaves OneDrive as the key factor for safekeeping all my photos and documents. And while I could place them on my NAS the whole point of OneDrive was to have them roaming, available anywhere and safe offsite in case anything would happen to my home computers.

I’m thinking whether any other service could replace this, on the other hand that would mean I’d need to pick and choose software all over again, when all I wanted was one working bundle. But when the bundle goes in the direction of working less and less as needed it gets slightly frustrating.

I’m not sure it will happen yet, but it needs thinking about.

And there is still at least one glitch in a complete move to web-only, in that Outlook.com doesn’t support having contacts in iCloud. Which would mean I’d need to migrate entirely to iCloud email as well, which is really too much work in the way of updating my contact information across all places where I’ve used it.

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And all I wanted was to quickly download a file

The morning starts with troubleshooting my own computer, as it so often tend to do. Auto-updates may be a must in some cases but sometimes they’re really more a pain…

This morning I wanted to update my webpage, and in order to do so I needed to access the photos from yesterday, which were uploaded to OneDrive, since I was now on a computer which does not cache this folder locally due to lack of disk space.

Starting Firefox and going over to onedrive.com I noticed a new, odd behavior. There was an infinite reload-loop and selecting a folder was almost impossible. The reloads also made the browser so slow it became unusable. (Excluding the fact that this really shouldn’t happen of course).

A quick check in Edge confirmed it was a Firefox problem, and that reminded me of the notification I had dismissed that NoScript had updated itself. Seeing this a the most likely problem I disabled the plugin and all was well again.

What annoys me in this is that I have whitelisted all URL’s used and needed by Onedrive, so this shouldn’t really happen. And it’s the second time in a short while where NoScript has failed. I really like the plugin, but I don’t like unpredicted instability, so I’m not sure whether to keep NoScript or not, but I’m not sure there are any equally good replacements either.

Office 2016 was released today

Office 2016 was released today and I didn’t have the patience to wait for any automatic upgrades to kick in, so I logged in to my account page and launched the installation from there (with the added benefit that the page finally updated itself to show correct OS-version, previously it kept insisting I was still running Windows 8.1 even though I upgraded to Windows 10 as soon as it was released).

So far there’s not much to say, installation worked smoothly, launching Outlook and OneNote with retained settings and, well… if not the color schemes I had hoped for, then at least more color and more contrast.

Beyond that I’ve yet to experiment with the new online apps which are not downloaded, namely “Sway” and “Docs.com” which are linked from the Office365 homepage.

Sway at first glance looked like an enhanced Powerpoint-meets-Wordpress storyline kind of thing. Quite nice and possibly something I’ll test out more later on.

Docs.com I’ve still to understand what it really is, it requires a separate registration, so is it part of Microsofts Live.com or not? And it offers unlimited free space, how does that compete with OneDrive, and if it’s true what use do I have for a paid Office365 subscription? But I don’t think it’s actually free, few things are and they often come with commercials and ads instead, and then I prefer the small cost of my subscription.

But I still want more color schemes. (Preferrably the dark red one from outlook.com!)

Fully upgraded to Windows 10, and it’s working great!

Fully upgraded to Windows 10, and it’s working great!

The household is now fully upgraded to Windows 10.

I upgraded my third and last (out of those that can be upgraded, sadly the Surface can’t), and most important computer to Windows 10. After having had some glitches with the graphics driver on both previous upgrades and also hearing about a friends total crash and burn with her upgrade I wasn’t exactly nervous, but still not entirely sure how this would work out.

Especially since this computer runs an Iris HD touch screen graphics card, which the upgrader reported as non-compliant and would be replaced with a factory default driver, and I had unsuccessfully tried to upgrade or replace the driver already on Windows 8.1, since ASUS did not release any newer driver (yet). So I was expecting some functionality drop, at least until a new driver was released, and hoped that touch screen would still work.

As it turned out, the entire upgrade was extremely fast, download and upgrade in all took about 15 minutes, it felt almost faster than waiting for the first login screen. (“Stand by. We’re doing some things…”), and the new graphics driver that came with Windows 10 is actually light years better than the old OEM version, it has less 3rd party tools to manage settings (even though the old Iris control panel for some reason hasn’t been removed and pops up in some scenarios) and it also scales graphics to actual screen size much better than the OEM driver did. And all touch functionality remains. Total win for this one!

Another thing that had been causing me some trouble was OneDrive. None of those happened here. OneDrive correctly identified all previous settings and started to sync files. It seems Windows 8.1 must have missed quite a lot of files, I knew some were missed but not the full extent, since it reported it needed to download 65 GB of missing documents and pictures. But I let it run in the background through the evening and after that all seems to be in order. Except I now need a larger hardddrive…

So, this far most things seems to be running smoothly, at least the important things are. Still I’ve noticed a few small remaining glitches or things that could work better

  • One computer won’t run Store, I’ve read there’s a patch about to be released for that so I’ll just wait and see.
  • Favorites/bookmark sync between Edge and “all the other browsers” is not yet there, prior to upgrade I had full sync between 4 computers and 2 devices and between Firefox, IE11 and Safari of all bookmarks. Edge is the missing item here, I’d really like to see a native sync between IE and Edge, or as second best that XMarks updates and adds Edge to their sync mechanism. Or. Scratch first option, I’d like to sync with master source on XMarks.
  • I’d like to know what keeps changing my username to my email adress all the time, not that it’s a big problem it’s just that on the login screen I see the family’s names except mine which is my email adress. It’s just odd.
  • I’d like to get comfortable enough to upgrade the “compatibility” PC I’ve kept running Windows 7 (since it also runs a virtual Windows XP in order to support an old Windows 3 (!) application. Or I should really take the time to finalize migrating data from that app…)
  • And I’d like to see an upgrade path for Surface RT. Actually not an upgrade path to Windows 10, more an upgrade path that said something along the lines of “return your failed device here and get a new shiny Surface 3 in exchange”)

But apart from that, things are working quite well right now. It feels like there’s less tinkering and fixing than before, and more time to actually do things.

First computer upgraded to Windows 10

First computer upgraded to Windows 10

I’ve upgraded the first of my computers to Windows 10, the others have not yet gotten the option to upgrade but that’s no problem since I can then spend a bit more time learning and fixing any issues on the first PC for the time being.

The upgrade worked very smooth in itself, it paused for quite some time detecting devices and for a moment I thought the process was hanging, but then it resumed and upgrade finished without any glitches. At least at first glance.

Then I noticed the poor screen resolution and discovered the graphics driver must have failed to install. And after login that proved to be the case. The Microsoft and NVIDIA drivers battled a short while for control over who gets to be in the driver seat, but soon things seemed to be settled with NVIDIA as the winning driver.

Windows 10: NVIDIA driver

That’s where things went wrong and in retrospect I must blame myself as well. This is when the OneDrive upgrade started, and I didn’t check the fine print well enough, since I didn’t notice that it defaulted to the C: drive, even though in the existing installation I had moved the folder to D: due to its size. So the installation process started to create a new folder structure, and for unknown reason this failed too, leaving me with one failed OneDrive which refused to sync, and one giant unused OneDrive datafolder.

After some searching I happened on this most excellent article on how to initiate a reinstallation/reset of OneDrive, which turned out to be just what I needed, in one go I cleared up both problems and now I have OneDrive syncing properly and located on the right drive. Though I must confess I’m not entirely comfortable with the new design that only synced folders are visible, I would really like to see non-synced foldes in order to be able to add files to them even if I don’t want to download the entire folder contents.

But, all in all, for the moment all basic things seems to be running. (Except my 3rd-party antivirus was uninstalled and replaced with Windows Defender, but I’ll think about reinstalling it later).

And now on to find all the new and fun stuff…!

Windows 10: Here we go!

Update 1: I’ve noticed a few glitches, mainly right now concerning user accounts. All other user accounts on the computer seems to work fine (except several of the kids apps are failing). For my own accounts however, it’s quite annoying that the display name keeps changing from full name to email adress. And I’ve found no way to change it, I even ran NETPLWIZ.EXE and set the account properties but they got removed at next login, so it’s “something” unknown that keeps changing the name. And it all started when I reinstalled OneDrive, so that’s were my primary suspicions lie.

Update 2: I’ve also seen the new Store and several apps fail, for both myself, I cannot make or install purchases, not even for free apps. (They get added to the list of purchased items, but they never install.), and also for the kids where some apps (mainly Microsoft games) fail to run, and requests reinstallation, which I can do, but they still fail to either run, or fail to install. And there are tons of popups to re-authenticate with Xbox Live, hopefully this is only due to some overload, and not a sign that Windows 10 is this glitchy permanently.

Update 3: It also seems the Family functions in the accounts are broken, I’ve had to reenable the link to the kids accounts on this computer, which seems fine since the disconnection was due to the upgrade, but the links on the SurfaceRT are also broken. But I guess I’ll just live with that for now, it’s only SurfaceRT so far and it’s mostly useless anyway.

Restorations and cloud sync

I had to spend last wednesday evening doing a kind of system restore.

OneDrive had finally gone completely bananas, and insisted on stating there was no internet connection, meanwhile sync still worked properly, except the indexing engine consumed all disk capacity on the boot drive, and huge loads of CPU as well.

First I tried a system restore, since I also had a problem with DirectX or the NVidia graphics drivers, where especially CoD:AW continually crashed a few times every day.
That didn’t help at all and actually made things worse since Dropbox stopped working after the restore. Which led to an rollback of the system restore and brought me back to where I was, with the same OneDrive problems unfortunately.

Next attempt was simply to delete my user profile, which felt somewhat risky since it had grown to 175 GB, but all data was supposed to be safe in the cloud so… to boldly go…!

Profile deleted, account needed to be deleted as well, and then re-created, then I could login without errors, and lo! OneDrive started working properly!

And surprisingly much else just started working right out of the box. Steam did not even glitch, some icons for Password Safe and Dropbox went missing but all data was there, even favorites in Firefox since I’m using XMarks. So far the only thing I really have found not working was the start page, plugins and settings in Firefox, and since these could be quite a pain to restore I took a shortcut and exported the whole Firefoxprofile from another computer and loaded, which worked nicely.

It took a few hours for OneDrive to fully resync itself, but apart from the waiting time all now seems fine so I guess it was worth it. If only I could now find the cause or solution for the DirectX error as well.

…always get as much RAM as possible

I remember seeing one of those one-picture funny PC-cartoons a few years back saying something along the lines of “The secret to true happiness is, always get as much RAM as possible”. Quite funny at that time of more limited computer capacity, but I guess it still holds true today. As the capacity grows, so too does programs.

Memory usage, april 2015But on the other hand, what’s the point of having lots of RAM if I don’t use it?