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Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in Microsoft Windows | 0 comments

Windows 7 Tweaks

These are tweaks that I use and have done on most computers I load.  Some of these tweaks are just because of my personal preferences and some are for speeding up Windows.  They involve editing registry keys and turning off system services and other settings.  Use at your own caution.
The links are to .reg files containing the registry settings.  You can save the file and view it in a text editor to see exactly what it’s going to do.

  • Remove Libraries in Windows Explorer
  • Remove home group from Windows Explorer
    • You need to leave a home group if you joined one before doing this.
    • Disable the home group listener and home group provider services.
  • Remove Shared Folder Synchronization – from an elevated command prompt:
    REG DELETE HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{6C467336-8281-4E60-8204-430CED96822D} /f
  • Right clicking My Computer tweaks – Registry File
    • Adds Device Manager
    • Adds Manage
    • Adds Services
  • Speed Tweaks:
    • Disable the Windows Search service
    • Turn off transparency
    • Set power options to High Performance
      Disable “Turn off hard drive after…”
    • SSD related
      • Disable Prefetch and SuperFetch (registry and Windows Service)
        Registry File
      • Disable drive indexing
      • Turn off Windows write-cache buffer
      • Turn on Trim
        To see it’s current state from a command prompt:
        fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify
        0 = enabled, 1 = disabled
        Enable Trim: fsutil behavior set disabledeletenotify 0
      • Disable disk defrag scheduled task and Windows service
    • TCP Optimizer
    • Turn off system restore
    • Turn off page file (if you have a decent amount of ram)
      Also disable ClearPageFileAtShutdown and LargeSystemCache
      Registry File
  • Some other userful tweaks from computingunleashed.com
    Registry File
    Does the following:

    • Programs that are hung will be terminated quickly
    • Menus will be shown faster.
    • Adds – Take Ownership when you right click on files or folders.
    • Disable searching for a program that no longer exists when you click on a broken shortcut.
    • Adds – Copy To and Move To options to the right click context.
    • Speeds up ”Open With” right click menu option, gets rid of the search the internet choice.
    • Speeds up the navigation in Windows Explorer by disabling searching for network printers and scheduled tasks on network.
    • Disables the ”low disk space” message notification in your system tray.
  • Black Viper Windows services guides
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Posted by on Oct 29, 2013 in Blog, Microsoft Windows, Software | 0 comments

Activate Office 2010 manually

Microsoft-Office-2010-Logo

To force Microsoft Office 2010 to activate manually open a command prompt (I assume with elevated privileges):

For 32bit:

cscript “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\ospp.vbs” /act

For 64bit:

cscript “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\ospp.vbs” /act

This is assuming that you’ve given Office a product key.  I also think this will work for Office 2013 by changing the Office14 to Office15 because that same ospp.vbs script is present in my copy of Office 2013.  I’m not sure if this works for retail versions of Office.  I only deal with volume licenses in my environment.

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Posted by on Oct 18, 2013 in Blog, Microsoft Windows | 0 comments

Add “Run as Different User” to right click of icon on Windows 8 start screen

By default right clicking on an icon on the Windows 8 start screen gives you the option to run an app as administrator but that just runs the app as the logged in user with elevated privileges.

What if you want to run the app as a totally different user?  You have to tweak a local group policy to add it.

Press the Windows key and R to get the Run dialogue box.

Type:  gpedit.msc

Navigate to User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar

In the right Window pane look for: Show “Run as different user” command on Start
If you click the Setting column it’ll sort the settings alphabetically.

Click Enabled then Ok.

To force the change to take effect press the Windows key and R again.

Type:  gpupdate /force

RunAsDiffUser

Now you should see Run as Different User when you right click an icon on the start screen.

RunAsDiffUser2

 

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Posted by on Oct 17, 2013 in Blog, Microsoft Windows | 6 comments

Remove “Test Mode” from desktop of Windows 8.1

Windows-8-1-blue-logo

Windows 8.1 released today.  I’ve been using it since they released it to Technet and MSDN subscribers last month.  It’s had an annoying “Test Mode Windows 8.1 Pro Build 9600″ message on the desktop since I installed it.  I finally took time today to find out how to get rid of it.

Launch a command prompt as Administrator.

Type:  bcdedit -set TESTSIGNING OFF

Reboot.

No more Test Mode message.

Windows81TestMode

Update (10/20/2013):  I’ve had one commenter say this doesn’t work for non-Pro versions of Windows 8.1.  I haven’t verified this.

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Posted by on Oct 15, 2013 in Blog, Microsoft Windows | 0 comments

Internet Explorer Maintenance settings within Group Policy not getting applied for Internet Explorer 10

internet-explorer-10-logo-600x273

I’m a big fan of Microsoft.  I prefer nearly all of their products to the competitors.  Windows RT?  Love it.  Windows Phone?  Love it.  Microsoft Office?  Mostly love it.  Hotmail, SQL Server, Windows Server, Windows 7 and 8, Exchange Server and more I use and like a lot.  Sometimes though I have to scratch my head and wonder what someone at Microsoft was thinking.  Exchange 2013 brought a lot of good improvements.  The web interface for managing it is great.  There’s several things they changed that I’m still scratching my head about (mailbox delegation, anti-spam functionality and a few others).

Today I’m scratching my head about changes to Group Policy regarding Internet Explorer 10.  I have a handful of generic domain accounts that I don’t want on the internet.  They can access a few internet sites but mostly just intranet sites are allowed.  Up to this point I use Group Policy – Internet Explorer Maintenance settings to control that stuff.    You can enforce proxy settings and exceptions.  So, I make these generic users have a proxy address of 127.0.0.1 for all internet traffic and I feed it a list of exceptions I want to allow.  It’s not full proof, I know.  A slightly savvy user could get around these restrictions a few different ways but I’m not concerned with that.  I just want to make sure I’m doing something to block the normal user.

Here’s another head scratcher.  Why are there all kinds of Internet Explorer settings under the Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Internet Explorer and yet no connection settings there?  Why not just put the connection settings there and be done with it?  There’s probably a perfectly good explanation for that, surely.

Anyways, I’ve been loading several new Windows 7 machines and I noticed they were able to access the internet after running all of the Windows updates.  What’s up with that?  Well after much head scratching and running gpresult and web searches I finally find a document about how the Internet Explorer Maintenance settings were deprecated in favor of the Group Policy preferences.  Here is a document about the replacements as well.

Ok, I’m used to change.  I try new phones and tablets and devices all the time.  I can adapt.  I poke around and try to setup a set of preferences for IE 10.  You have to create the preferences in the Internet Settings of your group policy.  It’s a little funky.  You have to right click and select new.  Well I do that and there’s two items “Internet Explorer 5 and 6″ and “Internet Explorer 7.”  Huh?  I’m doing the group policy editing on a Server 2008 machine with Service Pack 2 installed.  There’s no option for IE 8,9 or 10 (Oh, and what happens when 11,12 and 13 come out?).  Sheesh.  (What’s the gorilla have to do with this post?  Nothing.  His look is how I’m feeling at this point.)

More head scratching, more web searches and finally I find someone that says you can only make Internet Explorer 10 preference settings on a machine with Group Policy editor  running Windows 8 or Server 2012.  I haven’t deployed Windows 8 just yet but my workstation is running it.  So, I install the Remote Server Administration Tool for Windows 8.1.  This give me the Group Policy editor, I launch it using a Domain Admin account and now I can see a set Preference settings for “Internet Explorer 8 and 9″  and “Internet Explorer 10.”  Sweet!  I’m almost there right?  Nope.

Next I go through and create a set of preferences for Internet Explorer 10 and I set the home page and the proxy settings and the exclusions.  Go back to the Windows 7 machine I started with and run gpupdate /force.  Open Internet Explorer and……only a few of the preferences I configured are set.  The proxy address isn’t and the exclusions aren’t.  Seriously?  I’m getting tired and irritated by now.

More head scratching, more web searches and I run across a forum post where someone explains the green lines and the red dashed lines that are on the settings screen.  I saw them but didn’t really take notice of them.  Well the red dashed lines means that setting “may” getting applied and the green line means that setting will always get applied.   There’s nothing on the screen that indicates this nor is there anything that says that you can change it from red dashed to green.  You have to hit F6 on the setting to change it from red dashed to green.  You can hit F7 to change it from green to red dashed.

IE10GroupPolicySettings

After changing those things and running gpupdate /force on my Windows 7 machine the settings are applied and all is well.  Until someone at Microsoft decides to change it to something else.  Or IE 11 comes out.  Or the moon becomes full.

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Posted by on Aug 16, 2013 in Blog, Microsoft Windows, Software | 0 comments

How to launch XBMC on startup in Windows 8

I’ve yet to find a device or software that I like as much as XBMC for streaming videos from a local network on a TV.
My Roku tends to get used mostly for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Pandora.  There still not a good local network streaming app on the Roku that doesn’t rely on transcoding.  I like the pure experience of viewing a video file, no matter the type (avi,mpg,mp4,mkv,etc.)   XBMC does this and gives my videos a good looking interface.  For this reason I use a small PC (Intel NUC with Core i3, model DC3217IYE) for streaming videos from my local network.

I recently upgraded my HTPC to Windows 8 which like a lot.  The problem is the Windows Start Screen gets in the way and doesn’t easily let a desktop app run full screen at start up.  I poked around the web and found a few methods for getting it running but didn’t really like any of them too well.  Putting a shortcut in the start up folder doesn’t necessarily work.  There’s a group policy you can change that sets XBMC to be the default interface but then you can’t easily get back to the desktop when you want to.  Then I found XBMC launcher and it took care of my whole setup with minimum configuration.

The application is perfect and super easy to use.  It even adds some power icons to the desktop and or start screen.

Because of the nature of the internet and how things tend to disappear sometimes I have a copy of the current install (version 4.0) on my site here.  You should try to get it from the XBMC site itself though to make sure you have the most recent version.

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Posted by on Jul 22, 2013 in Blog, Microsoft Windows, Software | 0 comments

Outlook won’t open Internet links – Operation cancelled due to restrictions…

outlook-logo

Microsoft Outlook started displaying the following error message when clicking on links within emails on one of my PCs.

restrictions-error

“This operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator.”

So I get “contacted” but have no idea why it’s doing that!  So a Bing search later and I find a registry fix.
It has something to do with Google Chrome being uninstalled from a PC and it doesn’t set the links back to the right defaults.

The following instructions (found here) fixed the issue for me:

If you received this error after uninstalling any application that takes over the HTML open command (including, but not limited to, Chrome & Firefox browsers) you may also need to change the HTM/HTML association in the registry.

  1. Start, click Run, type Regedit in the Open box, and then click OK.
  2. Browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\.html
  3. Right click the value for the .html key and select Modify…
  4. Change the value from “ChromeHTML” to “htmlfile” (or from FireFoxHTML to htmlfile)
  5. Repeat for .htm, shtml, .xht, .xhtml, .xhtm keys
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Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Blog, Microsoft Windows | 0 comments

Error trying to create virtual machine on Windows 8 – Failed to add device Microsoft Synthetic Ethernet port

logo_hyperv

I received the following error message trying to create a Windows 7 virtual machine on Windows 8:
Failed to add device ‘Microsoft Synthetic Ethernet port’

I found people saying to disable your anti-virus which I did and still received the error.
On a whim I renamed the title of the Windows 7 virtual machine from Windows 7 to Windows7 with no space.
For some reason that fixed it and it created the virtual machine.  Weird, but easy fix.

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Posted by on Jun 17, 2013 in Blog, Microsoft Windows | 0 comments

Turn off Defender on Windows RT

Windows RT Logo

The Surface tablet includes Windows Defender as a service which causes a slight performance hit.  Not major but it’s something that doesn’t need to be running (in my opinion).

To turn it off:

1. Open regedit. Find HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Defender
2. Take ownership of the key and add write permissions to yourself (Right click Windows Defender key, click Permissions, click Additional settings, click Owner, type your username and accept. Now on the Permissions window click Add, type your username and check Full Access and click OK)
3. Change the value of DisableAntispyware to 1
4. Reboot

 

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Posted by on May 3, 2013 in Blog, Microsoft Windows | 0 comments

Force Windows Update check from command line

windows-8-logo-png-819
Here are a few commands for running the Windows Update Agent from a command line:

Force detection of updates:
wuauclt /detectnow

Force reporting status to an Windows Update Server:
wuauclt /r /ReportNow

Stop and start the automatic updates service:
net stop wuauserv
net start wuauserv

To help troubleshooting here’s where the log is normally.
%systemroot%\WindowsUpdate.log

Some more documentation on Microsoft’s Technet site.

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Posted by on Feb 13, 2013 in Blog, Microsoft Windows | 0 comments

Windows Update Services shows Windows 8 x64 as Windows XP x64

My Windows 8 machine was not getting updates from our Windows Update Services server.
When I looked at my computer account it showed the operating system as Windows XP x64 which is definitely wrong.

I found the following instructions on Microsoft’s Technet site:

ReInstall KB2734608 (found here, scroll down towards the bottom for the actual download)
Open an elevated Command Prompt
net stop wuauserv
rd /s %windir%\softwaredistribution
y
Use regedit to delete HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate
net start wuauserv

This fixed my issue and my Windows 8 machines now report as having Windows 8 as their operating system and they immediately found updates that needed installed.

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Posted by on Jan 28, 2013 in Blog, Computer Tips, Microsoft Windows | 1 comment

Windows 7 domain user keeps logging on with temporary profile

temp-profile

I recently had a computer replaced on our domain.  For some reason the domain account I was working with kept logging into Windows with a temporary profile.  I tried numerous fixes found on the Internet to no avail.  Then I thought maybe it had something to do with the fresh load of Windows and I nuked the machine and started over.  Still not working right.  I figured it must be something to do with the domain account but couldn’t figure it out.

On a whim I compared domain accounts with another account and found the affected account was a member of the guests security group and the domain guests security group.
I removed the account from both groups and the problem went away.  Not sure how or when the account got added to those groups but the problem was solved by removing membership to them.

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Posted by on Jan 24, 2013 in Blog, Computer Tips, Microsoft Windows | 0 comments

Easy way to block ads in Internet Explorer

High-Res-Stop-Sign-final

One of the first things I do after installing Firefox is install ADBlock+ and then subscribe to a list.  Internet Explorer has had some addons that did the same sort of functionality for awhile but I found with IE9 and IE10 it’s even easier to block ads.  Open Internet Options and click the Programs tab.  Click the Manage Addons button.  Click “Tracking Protection” and then below that click “Get a Tracking Protection List online…”

That will take you to the Internet Explorer Gallery and there will be several different types of lists you can add.  I don’t recommend adding to many lists as this is likely to slow down your browser.  I added the Fanboy Adblock list.  I’ve read that the EasyPrivacy list put out by Easy List but I haven’t tried it yet.

I’ve used this on Windows 7 with IE9 and Windows 9 with IE10.  I haven’t looked to see if it’s in IE8 or below.

One thing to consider when adding ad blocking is that it can be taking revenue money from bloggers who rely on ads to provide free information.  That’s a decision I’ll leave up to you.

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Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 in Blog, Microsoft Windows | 8 comments

Windows 8 Enterprise activation problem

Microsoft released the final version of Windows 8 to developers through MSDN and or Technet subscriptions last week.  So I quickly logged into Technet and downloaded Windows 8 Enterprise.
I’ve been using the Consumer Preview version since they released it and was anxious for the final version.  Everything installed as expected and was working great.

Until I went to activate Windows that is.  It wouldn’t activate and kept giving me an error “The filename, directory name or volume label syntax is incorrect. (ox8007007B).”

I figured at first it was the firewall at my work, then I figured it must be because they were just a lot of people activating Windows.  But the problem continued.
I did some searching and found the following command which fixed the issue:

slmgr.vbs -ipk “Your product key here”

After putting in my product key using this, the activation went through no problem.
Unfortunately I can’t find the site where I found this command to give credit.

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Posted by on Jun 27, 2012 in Blog, Microsoft Windows | 0 comments

Certificate errors in Internet Explorer and Google Chrome

This was a weird one.  I’m surfing the web this evening and web pages are acting funny and I start getting certificate errors on a few websites.  Ok, this can happen from time to time when a website fails to renew their certificate and such.  But GMail.com?  And several other huge sites?  I’ve been using Google Chrome so I figure it’s just acting up.  I clear my history and open and close it…still getting errors.  I open Internet Explorer, same thing certificate errors on most all websites.  I clear it’s history and reset it back to defaults.  After a few Google searches someone in a forum mentions the date and time on your computer might be off.  Sure enough.  My date was set back 2 months.  Set the correctly and voila.  No more certificate errors.  Weird.  My Dell XPS 15Z laptop started having a line of dead pixels on the screen.  Dell promptly sent a replacement screen and a technician out the next day onsite to fix it.  They put in the wrong display and left something rattling around inside.  The very next day they had another technician replace the screen and fix the rattling which turned out to be the CMOS battery.  I guess they unplugged it during the repair and it changed the date on my laptop which caused the certificate errors.

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Posted by on Jun 2, 2012 in Blog, Microsoft Windows | 2 comments

Install Flash player (non-IE) on Windows 8 Release Preview

I couldn’t get Adobe Flash player to install in Firefox on Windows 8 Release Preview.  Not sure if it’s a restriction Microsoft placed on Windows 8 or if it’s an Adobe thing.
It gave me “The Flash Player ActiveX control could not be registered” and would not install.

I managed to get it installed by using the version found on FileHippo, found here.

 

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Posted by on Apr 6, 2012 in Blog, Microsoft Windows, Product Reviews | 0 comments

Nokia Lumia 900 review

I pre-ordered the Nokia Lumia 900 through AT&T earlier this week and received it this morning.  I’ve already been a Windows Phone user for awhile.  I picked up the Samsung Focus when it first came out but was disappointed by Windows Phone at the time.  So, I went back to the iPhone until the Samsung Focus S and Windows Phone 7.5 came out.  Once I started using Windows Phone with the Focus S I was hooked.  Yes, there are some apps I miss from iOS, but overall I love the Windows Phone OS.  I’m still a bit flabbergasted by the lack of VPN support on a Windows platform.  I’m in IT and need to connect into work from time to time.  I’ve worked around it but am still a bit irritated by it.

So, here is my review of the Lumia 900.  I’ll be updating this through the weekend as I use it more.

The body of this is amazing.  The build quality is fantastic and the weight is nice in the hand.  I’ve seen some reviewers who have said it is not comfortable but I love it.   The screen is awesome, it is readable in bright direct sunlight.  The colors pop with bright whites and dark blacks.

The buttons will take a bit of getting used to since I’m used to a bit different placement from the Samsung Focus S.

Software it’s everything I’m used to with Windows Phone.  I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of visual voice-mail. Navigating through Windows Phone is fluid and smooth.  Bluetooth and WiFi work as expected with no issues connecting to my Bluetooth stereo in my car.

Call quality is good but I find myself not getting the speaker at my ear just right so far.  I think it’s just because it’s a little higher than where it is on the Samsung Focus S. The built in speaker is fine but the speaker on the Samsung Focus S is better with a clearer sound quality. Not that either one is particularly fantastic, though I’ve never heard a smartphone where I was impressed by the speaker.

The camera is good but not as good as I was expecting.  I would say that the iPhone is better.  The responsiveness on the Lumia 900 is faster than the Samsung Focus S and the pictures tend to be better, especially in low light. I haven’t tried the Nokia Apps yet.  There is supposed to be a Nokia Music app but I haven’t found it yet.

I haven’t had the Lumia 900 long enough to comment on battery life just yet.

The reviews for the Lumia are a mixed bag, most are unimpressed with the specs but all tend to agree that the design is a breathe of fresh air in a market filled phones that all look alike.

Round up of reviews:
CNET.com
The Verge

Engadget
Digital Trends

Update 4/9/2012:  So, Saturday morning a friend asked me if I received text messages he sent me and I hadn’t.  So I rebooted the phone and messed with it for awhile.  I was not receiving text messages and had no 3G/4G data.  WiFi data worked just fine.  The text messaging issue ended up being a problem with my account.  They accidentally removed text messaging for some reason.  AT&T got that fixed but I still experienced the no data issue.  After a couple of hard resets it would work but then after a reboot it would quit again.  I went into one of the stores and they hadn’t received their stock of the phones so I couldn’t swap it out yet.  This morning I went back to the store and they swapped the phone out for a new one and all seems good now.

There are some reports of others experiencing this issue because of a manufacturing defect of some sort.  Hopefully the problem isn’t widespread or it’ll turn into a bunch of bad PR for a really good phone.

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Posted by on Mar 11, 2012 in Blog, Microsoft Windows | 0 comments

Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts

Here are some Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts from the MSDN blog.

· Windows key – Brings up the Metro start screen. You can start typing to search for an app, just like the Win7 start menu.

· Win + B – Switch to the (classic) Windows desktop and select the tray notification area.

· Win + C – Brings up the Charms menu, where you can search, share, and change settings.

· Win + D – Brings up the old Windows desktop.

· Win + E – Launch Windows Explorer with Computer view displayed.

· Win + F – Brings up the Metro File search screen.

· Win + H – Opens the Metro Share panel.

· Win + I – Opens the Settings panel, where you can change settings for the current app, change volume, wireless networks, shut down, or adjust the brightness.

· Win + J – Switches focus between snapped Metro applications.

· Win + K – Opens the Devices panel (for connecting to a projector or some other device)

· Win + L – Lock PC and return to Lock screen.

· Win + M – Minimize all Windows on the desktop

· Win + O – Locks device orientation.

· Win + P – Choose between available displays.

· Win + Q – Brings up the Metro App Search screen.

· Win + R – Switch to the (classic) Windows desktop and display the Run box.

· Win + U – Switch to the (classic) Windows desktop and launch the Ease of Access Center.

· Win + V – Cycles through toasts.

· Win + W – Brings up the Metro Settings search screen.

· Win + X – Launch Start Menu.

· Win + Y – Temporarily peek at the desktop.

· Win + Z – Opens the App Bar for the current Metro application.

· Win + Page Up / Down – Moves tiles to the left / right.

· Win + Tab – Opens the Metro application switcher menu, switches between applications.

· Win + , (comma) – Aero Peek at the desktop.

· Win + . (period) – Snaps the current Metro application to one side of the screen. (Right side)

· Win + Shift + . (period) – Snaps the current Metro application to the other side of the screen. (Left side)

· Win + Space – Switch input language and keyboard layout.

· Win + Shift + V – Cycles through toasts in reverse order.

· Win + Enter – Launches Narrator

· Win + Arrow Keys – Switch to the (classic) Windows desktop and enable Aero Snap

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