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Issue #511: May 7-13, 2017

Q: Windows 10 updated without asking me first. Result was ALL my icons are gone from the screen and replaced with a few tiles!!! Also, I now cannot figure out how to scan a photo/document. It was no problem before the update. I hope you can tell me how to restore my original icons. Thanks.

– Gloria P.
Niceville, Florida

A: It’s not clear to me whether you mean that your system was updated to Windows 10 from an older version of Windows, or if you already had Windows 10 and it performed an update that you weren’t expecting.  I mention that because there was a rather big stink a while back when we were approaching the tail end of Microsoft’s offer to upgrade people to Windows 10 for free.  As the date got closer, Microsoft intentionally made it increasingly more difficult for people to avoid the upgrade, including rolling-out a “Get Windows 10” update that had buttons that were so counterintuitive that a large number of people found the upgrade foisted off on them even though they thought that had said no (Thanks, Bill!).  I’ve spent so much space in previous columns discussing the “whys” of upgrading to Windows 10 that I won’t bother rehashing them all here.  For anyone interested, those articles are all in the column archive over at (remember – not .com!).  Suffice it to say that one way or another, sooner or later, whether you like it or not, if you use a PC, you will land on a Windows 10 platform.  Sorry, but the choice is not yours to make.

Now, you seem to think that Windows 10 replaced your icons with tiles, I can assure you, that is not what has happened.  Both Win8 and Win10 replaced the Start menu that you’re used to seeing with a screen full of “live tiles” which offer far more functionality.  Despite that, you can count me among those in the camp that don’t particularly like the change.  Unfortunately, in Windows 8, you were largely stuck with the tiles unless you installed some 3rd-party software that would emulate a Start menu.  However, when Windows 10 was finalized, it must have been a rare day in Redmond, because apparently the cries of the masses were heard, and Microsoft actually gave us end-users the option to restore the Start menu, thereby also making the Desktop visible again.  (Actually, the Desktop was still there in Win8 too – you just had to know how to get to it.)  In Windows 10, it’s fairly simple.  Go to Control Panel, and click on “Personalization”.  Click “Taskbar and Navigation”, then click “Start”.  Turn off the setting that says “Use Start full screen” and close the dialog (there is no “Ok” button to push).  You should see your Desktop, hopefully with your icons intact, and your Start menu should be confined to displaying tiles only when you ask for them.

Now, if the problem was not a sudden and unexpected upgrade to Windows 10, but rather was Windows performing a regular security and maintenance update, I hope you understand that it is normal for Windows to do this without asking permission first.  These updates are a routine part of keeping your system operational, and can include bug fixes, security patches, driver updates, antivirus signatures, and more.  Admittedly, there is always that possibility that something on your specific computer is going to react negatively with something in an update, and on rare occasion Microsoft drops the ball and rolls out an update that affects many systems in a negative way.  Aside from getting yourself hired on at Microsoft and trained to check updates before they roll out, there really is not much you can do to avoid it when these occur.  Fortunately, they are quite rare, and almost always very quickly re-patched. 

Regarding your last concern, scanning is more a function of the hardware device, and the software involved is usually more from the hardware’s vendor than part of the operating system.  Nevertheless, if you’ll write-in again and provide me more information, I’ll be happy to try and help you with it.

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