Archive for the ‘Windows 10’ Category

It looks like Windows 10 Home can now defer updates for 35 days

March 13th, 2019
A painfully adorable guinea pig sits amidst green grass.

Enlarge / Not every Windows 10 user appreciates being a guinea pig for Windows updates. (credit: Andy Miccone / Flickr)

The next Windows 10 feature update, version 1903, looks like it's going to give Windows 10 Home users a little more flexibility about when they install updates. All versions of Windows 10 allow for updates to be deferred, waiting a number of days after each update is released before attempting to install it.

Currently in Windows 10 version 1809, Windows 10 Home users are limited to a delay of just seven days. In the latest preview build of Windows 10, however, this has been raised to 35 days (via Reddit). This means that users nervous about being the first to use each new update can wait a little over a month before installing it.

While most Windows updates are problem-free for most people, issues do crop up from time to time. Generally, these are resolved within a week or two of the initial release, with Microsoft either reissuing fixed versions of the patches or sometimes blacklisting particular hardware or software combinations that have proven problematic. The 35-day delay is almost invariably going to be sufficient to let people wait for these bugs to be shaken out.

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Posted in microsoft, Tech, updates, Windows, Windows 10, Windows Update | Comments (0)

Windows 7 end-of-life nag messages will start showing up next month

March 12th, 2019
Licensing and support lifecycles are not really the easiest topics to illustrate.

Enlarge / Licensing and support lifecycles are not really the easiest topics to illustrate. (credit: Peter Bright)

As the end of Windows 7's free extended support period nears, Microsoft is going to do more to tell Windows 7 users that their operating system will soon cease receiving security updates.

Starting next month, the operating system will show users a "courtesy reminder" to tell them that security updates will cease and that Windows 10 (and hardware to run it on) exists. Microsoft promises that the message will only appear a "handful of times" during 2019 and that there will be a "do not notify me again" checkbox that will definitely suppress any future messages.

For those organizations that intended to keep using Windows 7 beyond its January 14, 2020 cut-off date, Microsoft has up to three years of paid fixes through its new Extended Security Update (ESU) scheme. These will be available to any organization with a volume license and will have a ratcheting cost structure that doubles the price each year.

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Posted in end-of-life, microsoft, support, Tech, Windows, Windows 10, windows 7 | Comments (0)

Microsoft shaking up how Windows feature updates are rolled out—again

February 15th, 2019
Microsoft shaking up how Windows feature updates are rolled out—again

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

Customers using Windows Update for Business will lose some ability to delay the deployment of each new Windows feature release once version 1903 goes live.

When Microsoft first started delivering Windows 10 "as a Service" with a regular flow of feature updates, the company planned to have two release tracks: a "Current Branch" (CB) that was consumer-oriented and "Current Branch for Business" (CBB) aimed at enterprises. The CBB track would trail the CB one by a few months, with consumers acting as guinea pigs to iron out bugs before the quality of each release was deemed good enough for corporate customers.

That naming, though not the underlying concept, was changed in 2017 when Microsoft formalized the Windows 10 release schedule and settled on two feature updates per year, one in April and the other in October. The CB track became the "Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)" (SAC-T), and when this was proven in the real world, it would be pushed to the "Semi-Annual Channel" (SAC), the replacement for CBB. Pro and Enterprise versions of Windows could be set to follow one track or the other, depending on how aggressively an organization wanted to adopt the feature updates. Machines that were set to SAC would automatically wait a few months after each SAC-T release, waiting for the SAC-T version to be blessed as SAC. Typically the gap has been about three months, even for the troubled version 1809 release.

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Posted in microsoft, Tech, Windows, Windows 10, windows as a service | Comments (0)

Microsoft begins work on its 2020 Windows releases in new preview

February 14th, 2019
Stylized image of glass skyscrapers under construction.

Enlarge / Windows is now perpetually under construction. (credit: David Holt)

Microsoft has published a new preview release of Windows 10, build 18836, to participants of the "Skip Ahead" group. But it's not quite the preview that they were expecting to get.

Microsoft's preview program has a number of different channels to let people use and test Windows feature updates, Microsoft's twice-yearly Windows 10 upgrades. The two main channels are Fast and Slow; Fast receives builds more regularly, while Slow generally receives only those builds that are felt to be stable. Both channels look ahead to the next feature update. For example, right now, the stable Windows 10 version is 1809. The Fast and Slow channels are receiving previews of version 1903, codenamed 19H1, which is due for release in April.

Skip Ahead is a third channel. Most of the time, Skip Ahead is identical to the Fast channel, but in the last few weeks of each update's development, the two diverged. The Fast ring continues to receive builds of the next feature update; Skip Ahead, well, skips ahead to the update after the next one. As such, one would expect today's Skip Ahead release to be a preview of 19H2, version 1909, due in October. But it isn't; it's skipping ahead not one but two releases, all the way to 20H1, due in April 2020.

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Posted in development, microsoft, Tech, Windows, Windows 10, windows insider program | Comments (0)

Latest Windows 10 build puts desktop apps in a 3D world

February 1st, 2019
Any desktop app can now be launched in VR as a "Classic app."

Enlarge / Any desktop app can now be launched in VR as a "Classic app." (credit: Microsoft)

Just in time for the weekend, Microsoft has released a new Insider preview build of Windows 10. Build 18329 should be available now to most people who have opted into the fast preview ring. Though it's not available to everyone because, for some reason, the new build isn't available in all the languages it'd normally be shipped in.

The strangest new feature is that you can now launch and run regular Win32 apps—2D apps built for the desktop—in the Windows Mixed Reality environment that's used for both virtual reality headsets and the HoloLens augmented reality headset. Previously, it was only possible to run apps built using the modern UWP API. Now, it seems that any Windows application will work. If you want to use Photoshop or Visual Studio with a headset on, you can.

The new build also adds a couple of new scripts to support the writing of languages that until recently had no adequate written form. There's the Osage language spoken by the Osage Nation in Oklahoma (which prior to 2006 used the Latin alphabet with various diacritics) and the ADLaM script used to write Pular, the language of the Fulani people in West Africa (which, similarly, used the Roman alphabet with diacritics prior to the development of the new alphabet in the 1980s). ADLaM and Osage were both added to Unicode in 2016.

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Posted in augmented reality, microsoft, mixed reality, Tech, virtual reality, Windows 10 | Comments (0)

Microsoft: Windows 10 Mobile support to end, so use Android or iOS instead

January 18th, 2019
Lumia 950

Lumia 950 (credit: Peter Bright)

Windows 10 Mobile will receive its last patches and security updates on December 10 this year, as Microsoft winds down the last remaining bit of development of its smartphone platform.

The last major notable to the platform was October 2017, when it was bumped to version 1709. At that point Microsoft ended feature development entirely, shipping only security updates and bug fixes. That's going to come to an end on Patch Tuesday this coming December.

Certain online services will continue to operate beyond that date; device backups for settings and applications will work for three months, to March 10, 2020, and photo uploads and restoring devices from backups will work for 12 months beyond the end of support.

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Posted in Android, iOS, lumia, microsoft, Nokia, smartphones, Tech, Windows, Windows 10, windows 10 mobile, Windows Mobile | Comments (0)

Windows 10 will chew up another 7GB of disk space to make sure it can update

January 10th, 2019
Windows 10: Doing great things sometimes requires 7GB?

Enlarge / Windows 10: Doing great things sometimes requires 7GB? (credit: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The latest Windows 10 Insider build, number 18312, introduces a new feature wherein the operating system reserves a big old chunk of disk space, effectively expanding its on-disk footprint by another 7GB.

The storage reservation is to ensure that certain critical operations—most significantly, installing feature updates—always have enough free space available. Windows requires substantial extra disk space both during the installation of each feature update (as it unpacks all the files) and afterward (as the previous version of Windows is kept untouched, so that you can roll back if necessary). Lack of free space is one of the more common reasons for updates failing to install, so Microsoft is setting space available on a long-term basis, allowing those periodic updates to be sure they have what they need.

The exact amount reserved will depend on the optional features and language packs installed, but about 7GB will be typical. The reserved space isn't entirely lost during normal usage, with certain temporary files having their disk usage charged against reserved space rather than free space. Being temporary, such files can be safely discarded each time an update is available to reinstate the full reserved capacity.

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Posted in microsoft, Tech, Windows, Windows 10 | Comments (0)

Windows 10 creeps past Windows 7 usage, latest update barely used

January 2nd, 2019
Who doesn't love some new Windows?

Enlarge / Who doesn't love some new Windows? (credit: Peter Bright / Flickr)

About three and a half years after its release, Windows 10 seems to have convincingly passed Windows 7 in usage share. Online stat-tracking service Net Market Share puts Windows 10 at 39.22 percent of usage, versus 36.90 percent for Windows 7.

Web-based stat-tracking services vary in their estimates of who's using what operating system. That's due to different sites being monitored and different methodologies in handling the data. Net Market Share is the one we've seen most often quoted by third parties (including Microsoft and Mozilla), so it is notable as the companies' own preferred measure. Another widely referenced service, StatCounter, reckons that Windows 10 passed Windows 7 a year ago, putting the new operating system at 52.42 percent to its predecessor's 35.65 percent.

That's a lot of people still using Windows 7—an operating system that's due to be end-of-lifed in January 2020. Microsoft says that corporate migrations to Windows 10 are going strong, with more than half of enterprise machines on Windows 10 as of October last year. But the clock is ticking to migrate remaining machines.

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Posted in market share, microsoft, Tech, Windows, Windows 10, windows 7 | Comments (0)

Windows 10 will make it easier to ¯‍∖‍_‍(‍ツ‍)‍_‍/‍¯ and ‍(‍╯‍°‍□‍°‍)‍╯‍︵‍ ‍┻‍━‍┻

December 20th, 2018
The new extended emoji picker.

Enlarge / The new extended emoji picker. (credit: Microsoft)

One of the more welcome additions to Windows 10 has been the emoji search panel, making it as easy to type emoji on a PC as it is on your phone. The latest Windows 10 insider build, 18305, is taking this a step further, including not just emoji but also kaomoji and symbols.

Kaomoji ("face characters") is, apparently, the name for those complicated faces made up of sequences of Japanese symbols. While some, such as shrugging ¯‍\‍_‍(‍ツ‍)‍_‍/‍¯, have become widespread (Slack's /shrug surely having at least some of the blame there), there is in fact a rich variety of faces that are used. So while sometimes you might be table flippingly mad (‍╯‍°‍益‍°‍)‍╯‍彡‍┻‍━‍┻ other times you might just want to flip the bird ┌‍∩‍┐‍(‍◣‍_‍◢‍)‍┌‍∩‍┐. If that's all a bit shocking you might be a little surprised (‍⊙‍_‍⊙‍) and perhaps you'll even run away ε‍=‍ε‍=‍┌‍(‍ ‍>‍_‍<‍)‍┘.

With Christmas and the New Year imminent, this is likely to be the last new build we see for a few weeks, so it's nice that it has an interesting new feature to explore. The new build also includes the first iterations of the Windows Sandbox feature announced earlier this week. Sandbox uses a combination of hypervisor and container technologies to provide a secure, isolated environment for running untrusted applications.

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Posted in Emoji, kaomoji, Tech, Unicode, Windows 10 | Comments (0)

Microsoft unveils Windows Sandbox: Run any app in a disposable virtual machine

December 19th, 2018
Microsoft unveils Windows Sandbox: Run any app in a disposable virtual machine

Enlarge (credit: F Delventhal)

A few months ago, Microsoft let slip a forthcoming Windows 10 feature that was, at the time, called InPrivate Desktop: a lightweight virtual machine for running untrusted applications in an isolated environment. That feature has now been officially announced with a new name, Windows Sandbox.

Windows 10 already uses virtual machines to increase isolation between certain components and protect the operating system. These VMs have been used in a few different ways. Since its initial release, for example, suitably configured systems have used a small virtual machine running alongside the main operating system to host portions of LSASS. LSASS is a critical Windows subsystem that, among other things, knows various secrets, such as password hashes, encryption keys, and Kerberos tickets. Here, the VM is used to protect LSASS from hacking tools such that even if the base operating system is compromised, these critical secrets might be kept safe.

In the other direction, Microsoft added the ability to run Edge tabs within a virtual machine to reduce the risk of compromise when visiting a hostile website. The goal here is the opposite of the LSASS virtual machine—it's designed to stop anything nasty from breaking out of the virtual machine and contaminating the main operating system, rather than preventing an already contaminated main operating system from breaking into the virtual machine.

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Posted in hyper-V, microsoft, sandboxing, Tech, virtual machines, Windows, Windows 10 | Comments (0)