Business Columns & Blogs

Navigating notices to upgrade Windows

Q: I see there’s yet another Windows 10 update out now. I get notifications about patches all the time, so how do I know when this notice is for a system upgrade? Can I tell if it already installed itself?

A: Microsoft began rolling out its Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Oct. 17 using the Windows Update utility on compatible computers and devices. When you are checking the available updates, look for the one labeled “Feature update to Windows 10, version 1709” in the list of security patches and other listed software fixes in Windows Update.

You can manually check to see if the software is ready for you. Just click or tap the Start button on the Windows 10 desktop, and select Settings; as a keyboard shortcut to the Settings box, you can also press the Windows and I keys. In the Settings window, select the Update & Security icon, and on the next screen choose Windows Update on the left side of the window. Next, click or tap the “Check for updates” button on the right side of the window. You should see a list of available updates for your computer or tablet.

To see if the update has been installed already — especially if other people use the computer and may have taken care of it — open the Windows 10 Settings box and choose System and then About. Look to see if “Windows 10, version 1709” is listed there.

Microsoft has a list of new features included with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update on its site. A blog post on the company site also has a 30-minute video tour and a highlighted list of changes to the system, like the ability to annotate PDF files and e-books in Microsoft Edge, use new voice commands with Cortana and protect your PC against ransomware.

Doing the Forensics on a Cable Problem

Q: Is there an easy way to tell if the cable television service is out for everybody or just at my house because of equipment problems? I hate calling.

A: If you have a working internet connection (or access to one on a cellular device or work computer) and an online account from your cable company, you might be able to check specifically about the status of your own equipment. To do that, log into your account on your TV provider’s site and find the technical support area.

What you find there will vary depending on your cable company, but many providers have problem-solving tools available to help lighten the load on the phone lines. Spectrum, for example, lets you select the problematic service (like TV or internet) from a menu to see the status of your service and check for notice of a possible problem in your area.

If there is no systemwide disruption, you can use the available guides and tools to troubleshoot your cable converter box and other equipment. Spectrum has a nationwide page that customers can use to check on storm-related problems, and Comcast has its own Status Center page for Xfinity cable customers. Many companies have their own mobile apps for account management. too.

Even if you do not have an online account to see your home setup, your cable provider’s site might have live chat, general support tips and a service-disruption map. (While it may seem like just another password to remember, signing up for an account lets you check your bill, pay online, sign up for service alerts, control your DVR or even watch live television on a mobile device — depending on what your provider offers.)

Your cable company’s customer-service account on Twitter can be another good source of news. Websites that monitor the status of communications services may also be useful. Down Detector, Outage Report and Is the Service Down? are a few to consider.