What’s the best way to set up a Windows 10 machine?

Alcatel Plus 10 Windows 10 2-in-1 convertible tablet.
Alcatel Plus 10 Windows 10 2-in-1 convertible tablet. Photograph: Alcatel

My daughter has asked for a Windows laptop for Christmas, for schoolwork and games. I’m a Mac user and haven’t set up a Windows machine for many years so I’d appreciate any advice … except “get her a Mac/Linux” from below the line! Stuart

Windows has changed a lot in the past decade, and now it’s a mobile operating system. If your daughter has some experience with Google Android, she’ll probably cope quite well. Many of Windows 10’s main features came from the mobile world. These include sandboxed apps installed and updated from an online store, log-on PINs, touch screens, notifications, a voice-aware intelligent assistant (Cortana), location awareness and a “Find my device” feature.

Your daughter should ideally have some information ready before going through Windows 10’s “out of box experience”, or OOBE, as it’s known in the trade. Some are obvious: country, preferred language, time zone etc. She should also have your Wi-Fi password, and a working email address for her log-on. Otherwise, she can choose Express Settings to speed up the process. She can change the settings later.

Microsoft Accounts

Your daughter can use any email address as her Microsoft account (MSA). It’s the Microsoft equivalent of a Google Account (Gmail address) or an Apple ID. It’s used to link her laptop to OneDrive cloud storage, the Windows Store, Skype, Cortana’s personalisation data, the free online Microsoft Office programs etc. It also links her PC to other Windows devices, Android and Apple smartphones and tablets, Xbox One games consoles, and so on. Finally, the MSA stores the laptop’s activation details (which used to be a product key) and encryption keys.

People typically use an existing Microsoft email address. This can be at Hotmail, Live, MSN, or whatever. If she doesn’t have one, the Windows 10 set-up procedure will create one. However, it’s simpler and less stressful to have one ready to go.

When your daughter enters her email address and password, Windows 10’s Mail app will automatically download recent emails. If she has used this account on a Windows machine before, Windows 10 will offer to set up her new laptop with the same settings. This includes her wallpaper (desktop background) and any apps she has downloaded from the Windows Store.

Once logged on to Windows 10, click the Start button in the bottom left, type ‘get’ in the Search box and click the “Get Started” app. This introduces most of Windows 10’s features, and includes around 50 short videos. The What’s New section covers Cortana and the Edge browser. I strongly recommend watching Reduce Distractions, a two-minute video in the Ease of Access section. It shows how to remove unwanted animations, tiles, pinned programs, and so on.


US regulators seek to reduce road deaths with smartphone ‘driving mode’

smartphone use while driving
While the NHTSA cannot force manufacturers to follow the guidelines, previous guidelines have seen wide adoption and implementation. Photograph: Rob Lever/AFP/Getty Images


US regulators are seeking to reduce smartphone-related vehicle deaths with a new driving-safe mode that would block or modify apps to prevent them being a distraction while on the road.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are to issue voluntary guidelines for smartphone makers, which will seek to restrict the apps and services accessible on a smartphone being used by a driver.

US transport secretary Anthony Foxx told the New York Times: “Your smartphone becomes so many different things that it’s not just a communication device. Distraction is still a problem. Too many people are dying and being injured on our roadways.”

The NHTSA is hoping that Apple, Samsung and other popular smartphone manufacturers will adopt the guidelines in future smartphone and software releases. The so-called driving mode will block distractions such as social media, messages or email, stop the use of the keyboard for communication activities and also restrict access to websites, video and distracting graphics.

The intention is that the driving mode will be adopted in a similar manner to the airplane mode common to most smartphones and connected devices, which restricts radio communications while airborne. Airplane mode has been a feature of smartphones since 2007.

While the NHTSA cannot force manufacturers to follow the guidelines, previous guidelines concerning the design and use of navigation and entertainment systems built into cars have seen wide adoption and implementation.

The guidelines for smartphones call for features able to differentiate between drivers and passengers within cars, so that only the driver is shown a simplified and restricted view. They also request a connection between smartphones and in-car controls such as steering wheel buttons, to remove the need to interact with the screen.

two cars following an accident
Data from the NHTSA shows that 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted driving in 2014 in the US. Photograph: Christof R Schmidt/Getty Images/F1online RM

Such driving modes are already implemented within certain Android smartphones, including Samsung models, but they are not compulsory and are up to the users to activate.

Simplified driving mode interfaces are also a feature of several smart in-vehicle mounting options, which aim to collect navigation, music and other driving orientated features into a large button interface that is easier to at arms length and less distracting.


School for teenage codebreakers to open in Bletchley Park

Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch as Bletchley Park codebreakers Joan Clarke and Alan Turing in the 2014 film The Imitation Game. Photograph: Allstar/Black Bear Pictures

Its first operatives famously cracked coded messages encrypted by the Nazis, hastening the end of the second world war.

Now Bletchley Park is planning a new school for the next generation of codebreakers in order to plug a huge skills gap in what is fast emerging as the biggest security threat to 21st-century Britain.

The College of National Security, a first for the UK, is scheduled to open in 2018 in a specially adapted premises on the Bletchley Park site.

The sixth-form boarding school will be free to the 500-odd applicants, with a mix of venture capital, corporate sponsorship and very possibly state funding underwriting the multimillion-pound costs.

The school will teach cyber skills to some of the UK’s most gifted 16- to 19-year-olds. It will select on talent alone, looking in particular for exceptional problem solvers and logic fiends, regardless of wealth or family background, according to Alastair MacWillson, a driving force behind the initiative.

“The cyber threat is the real threat facing the UK, and the problem it’s causing the UK government and companies is growing exponentially,” said MacWillson, chair of Qufaro, a not-for-profit organisation created by a consortium of cybersecurity experts for the purposes of education.

Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, which is to be the site of the UK’s first cybersecurity sixth-form college
Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, which is to be the site of the UK’s first cybersecurity sixth-form college. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA

“There is a shortfall in terms of the professional resources to combat this right now and it will get so much worse unless there is a programme to get to grips with it,” MacWillson said, adding that a shortage of about 700,000 cybersecurity experts in Europe has meant that companies are struggling to get the right people.

The college will offer a curriculum that balances cybersecurity tuition – approximately 40% – with related subjects including maths, physics, and computer science over a three-year study period.

Beyond the boarding school option, there will be a selection of virtual short courses. Staffing and a detailed curriculum are still being thrashed out. Qufaro is discussing with the Department for Education whether state funding will apply. If it does not, the backup plan is to rely wholly on corporate sponsorship and money earned from other Qufaro initiatives.

Bletchley Park buildings that are being renovated
Bletchley Park buildings that are being renovated. Photograph: Qufaro

The college will be boarding partly to ensure attendance by those who do not live in the south-east, but also, according to MacWillson, so individuals attending the college see themselves as a collective “inspired by their surroundings, and linked by a common goal”. One in 10 places will be offered to day students.

“It will be open to anybody providing that they can demonstrate the key talent – people who have natural ability to solve logic problems,” MacWillson said.

Cybercrime is growing at an unprecedented rate. According to the 2016 Internet Security Threat Report, spear-phishing campaigns targeting corporate and private data via seemingly innocuous emails have increased by 55% over the past year. The report also found that 75% of all legitimate websites have serious security flaws.