Archive for the ‘Windows 10’ Category

Microsoft unveils a ton of new Surface devices, including the Surface Book 3

May 6th, 2020
Microsoft's new Surface devices

Enlarge / Microsoft's latest suite of Surface PCs and headphones. (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft on Wednesday launched several new devices under its Surface brand of PCs and consumer tech. Headlining the announcements are the Surface Book 3, the company’s latest high-performance two-in-one laptop with a detachable display, and the Surface Go 2, a lower-cost two-in-one tablet that’s designed like a smaller Surface Pro.

Beyond that, Microsoft is branching out with its lineup of audio accessories. The company unveiled the Surface Headphones 2, an updated pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones, and confirmed a price and release date for the Surface Earbuds, the set of AirPods-esque true wireless earbuds it first unveiled in October.

All the new Surface gadgets are now available to pre-order and will start shipping to customers later this month. Most of the new devices aren’t radical departures from past Surface hardware, but we’ll dig a bit deeper into the new machines below.

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Posted in microsoft, Surface, surface book 3, surface earbuds, surface go 2, surface headphones, Tech, Windows 10 | Comments (0)

No, Microsoft isn’t killing the Control Panel off just yet

March 27th, 2020
We find Windows 10's Settings dialog difficult to love.

Enlarge / We find Windows 10's Settings dialog difficult to love. (credit: Jim Salter)

You may have seen dark rumors around the Web that Microsoft is about to kill off the classic Control Panel. Rest assured, friend, we were as horrified as you are—but on more careful inspection, this seems not to be the case.

A new set of Feature IDs popped up in the latest build of Windows 10—HideSystemControlPanelSystemControlPanelFileExplorerRedirect, and SystemControlPanelHotkeyRedirect. This looks grim—but fortunately, developer Rafael Rivera discovered they really only apply to the System applet.

Settings vs Control

For about eight years now, Microsoft has been trying to pry everyone loose from the Control Panel and guide them gently to the newer Settings applet instead. They've encountered strong resistance in doing so, particularly from systems administrators and support technicians. For one thing, the newer Settings applet is a single-instance interface—you can't have Settings open for, say, printers and the network at once. Pick one.

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Posted in Biz & IT, control panel, microsoft, settings, Windows 10 | Comments (0)

Microsoft delivers emergency patch to fix wormable Windows 10 flaw

March 12th, 2020
Stock photo of a beat-up pair of jeans.

Enlarge (credit: Cortney Dean / Flickr)

Microsoft on Thursday released an unscheduled fix for a critical security bug that makes it possible for attackers to remotely execute malicious code that can spread from vulnerable machine to vulnerable machine without requiring any interaction from users.

The flaw, in version 3 of Microsoft's implementation of the Server Message block protocol, is present only in 32- and 64-bit Windows 10 versions 1903 and 1909 for clients and servers. Although the vulnerability is difficult to exploit in a reliable way, Microsoft and outside researchers consider it critical because it opens large networks to "wormable" attacks, in which the compromise of a single machine can trigger a chain reaction that causes all other Windows machines to quickly become infected. That's the scenario that played on with the WannaCry and NotPetya in 2017.

In a bulletin accompanying Thursday's patch, Microsoft said it has no evidence the flaw is being actively exploited, but the company went on to label the bug as "exploitation more likely." That designation means malicious actors will probably develop and use exploits in the future.

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Posted in Biz & IT, exploits, microsoft, Server Message Block, SMB, vulnerabilities, Windows 10 | Comments (0)

Cortana’s not Alexa—skills are going away in Windows 10 version 2004

February 28th, 2020
Pictured: a full set of Office 365 icons on the taskbar. Not pictured, for good reason: "Cortana, play Old Town Road."

Enlarge / Pictured: a full set of Office 365 icons on the taskbar. Not pictured, for good reason: "Cortana, play Old Town Road." (credit: Microsoft)

Today, Microsoft announced a major shift in focus for its personal assistant, Cortana: she's getting out of the consumer gadget business and focusing on productivity. The new version of Cortana will debut with the next major update to Windows 10, expected to roll out in April.

Microsoft is tightening access to Cortana considerably. First and foremost, no more Cortana use for anyone only using local accounts. Cortana access will only be available to those logged in with school work domain accounts or Microsoft online accounts—Windows 10 users sticking to local accounts only will also be out of luck.

The new Cortana's focus will be on a productivity-focused chat UI. Users will be able to review or set calendar items and tasks in natural English as well as query or create emails, set alarms and timers, open apps, and find people or files. She'll also search the Internet for you—using Bing, of course—or offer jokes.

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

Critical Windows 10 vulnerability used to Rickroll the NSA and Github

January 16th, 2020
Chrome on Windows 10 as it Rickrolls the NSA.

Enlarge / Chrome on Windows 10 as it Rickrolls the NSA. (credit: https://twitter.com/saleemrash1d/status/1217519809732259840/photo/1)

Less than a day after Microsoft disclosed one of the most critical Windows vulnerabilities ever, a security researcher has demonstrated how attackers can exploit it to cryptographically impersonate any website or server on the Internet.

Researcher Saleem Rashid on Wednesday tweeted images of the video "Never Gonna Give You Up," by 1980s heartthrob Rick Astley, playing on Github.com and NSA.gov. The digital sleight of hand is known as Rickrolling and is often used as a humorous and benign way to demonstrate serious security flaws. In this case, Rashid's exploit causes both the Edge and Chrome browsers to spoof the HTTPS verified websites of Github and the National Security Agency. Brave and other Chrome derivatives, as well as Internet Explorer, are also likely to fall to the same trick. (There's no indication Firefox is affected.)

Rashid's simulated attack exploits CVE-2020-0601, the critical vulnerability that Microsoft patched on Tuesday after receiving a private tipoff from the NSA. As Ars reported, the flaw can completely break certificate validation for websites, software updates, VPNs, and other security-critical computer uses. It affects Windows 10 systems, including server versions Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019. Other versions of Windows are unaffected.

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Posted in Biz & IT, Certificates, cryptography, exploits, validation, vulnerabilities, Windows 10 | Comments (0)

Hands-on with Microsoft’s barrage of new Surface devices

October 2nd, 2019
Surface Earbuds

Enlarge / That charging case uses USB-C. (credit: Jeff Dunn)

Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled a slew of laptops and tablets for its Surface line of Windows computers and related accessories. The announcements include the Surface Pro 7, the latest iteration of the company's popular line of 2-in-1 tablets; the Surface Laptop 3, a refresh of its traditional clamshell laptop; the Surface Pro X, a new 2-in-1 with a svelter design and a custom ARM-based chip called the Microsoft SQ1; and the Surface Earbuds, a pair of true wireless earbuds that integrate with the company's Office 365 software.

I attended Microsoft's reveal event in New York City and was able to get some hands-on time with the new hardware. Below you can find a few quick impressions.

Of note: perhaps the biggest news of the day was Microsoft's tease of the Surface Neo, its long-anticipated dual-screen PC, and a surprise reveal of the Surface Duo, essentially a smaller version of the Surface Neo that works as an Android smartphone. I wasn't able to get hands-on time with either of those devices beyond checking out a couple non-functional dummy models, but Microsoft says they are scheduled to release in late 2020. Regardless, here's what Microsoft has coming for the rest of 2019.

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Posted in 2-in-1, Laptops, microsoft, surface earbuds, surface laptop 3, surface pro 7, surface pro x, Tech, true wireless earbuds, Windows 10 | Comments (0)

Apple’s iCloud has been a poor experience in Windows, but a new update seeks to fix that

June 12th, 2019

Apple has released a new version of iCloud for Windows 10 in the Microsoft Store, according to a recent blog post by Microsoft and a handful of Apple customer support documents. The new version claims to be a major improvement, with more robust features and more reliable syncing—the latter of those has been a common complaint for users of Apple's previous version.

Features listed by Microsoft include:

  • Access your iCloud Drive files directly from File Explorer without using up space on your PC
  • Choose the files and folders you want to keep on your PC
  • Safely store all your files in iCloud Drive and access them from your iOS device, Mac, and on iCloud.com
  • Share any file right from File Explorer and easily collaborate with others—edits will be synced across your devices

Interestingly, Microsoft says the new iCloud app is "powered by the same Windows technology that also powers OneDrive's Files On-Demand feature"—an unexpected technical and corporate partnership. But it shouldn't be too surprising at this point; despite the storied history and rivalries of the 1980s and '90s (as well as competition in areas like, yes, cloud services), Microsoft and Apple have largely played together nicely in recent years.

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Posted in apple, File Explorer, icloud, iCloud Drive, Microsoft Store, Tech, Windows, Windows 10 | Comments (0)

Microsoft Windows 10 will get a full built-in Linux Kernel for WSL 2

May 7th, 2019
Yes, you heard me right. Microsoft is taking another step forward to show its love for Linux and open source community by shipping a full Linux kernel in Windows 10 this summer. No, that doesn't mean Microsoft is making its Windows 10 a Linux distro, but the company will begin to ship an in-house custom built Linux kernel later this year starting with the Windows 10 Insider builds. <!--

Posted in linux, Linux operating system, linux subsystem, Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 10, windows linux | Comments (0)

Windows 10 will soon ship with a full, open source, GPLed Linux kernel

May 6th, 2019
Windows 10 will soon ship with a full, open source, GPLed Linux kernel

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

Earlier today, we wrote that Microsoft was going to add some big new features to the Windows Subsystem for Linux, including native support for Docker containers. It turns out that that ain't the half of it.

The current Windows Subsystem for Linux uses a Microsoft-authored kernel component that provided the same kernel API as the Linux kernel but written from scratch by Microsoft. Essentially, it translated from Linux APIs to Windows NT kernel APIs. That worked pretty well, but the current subsystem had a few shortcomings: there was no ability to use Linux drivers, in particular file system drivers. Its file system performance, layered on top of Windows' own NTFS, was often 20 times slower than a real Linux kernel. It was also a relatively old version of the kernel; it offered approximately the set of APIs that Linux 4.4 did, and that was released in 2016. Some APIs aren't implemented at all, and others are only partially implemented to meet the needs of specific applications.

All is changing with Windows Subsystem for Linux 2. Instead of emulating the Linux kernel APIs on the NT kernel, WSL 2 is going to run a full Linux kernel in a lightweight virtual machine. This kernel will be trimmed down and tailored to this particular use case, with stripped-down hardware support (since it will defer to the host Windows OS for that) and faster booting.

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Posted in GPL, Open Source, Tech, Windows, Windows 10, windows subsystem for linux, wsl | Comments (0)

Coming soon: Windows Terminal—finally a tabbed, emoji-capable Windows command-line

May 6th, 2019
The Windows 7 console didn't support VT codes, so it completely garbles the output of applications that depend on VT codes. The Windows 10 console, however, does support VT codes, making it much more capable.

The Windows 7 console didn't support VT codes, so it completely garbles the output of applications that depend on VT codes. The Windows 10 console, however, does support VT codes, making it much more capable. (credit: The Windows console)

Details are currently scarce, but Microsoft has announced some big changes coming to its command-line interface. In Windows 10, Microsoft has been working to make the Windows command-line experience vastly improved, making it work much more like Unix command-line environments. But a couple of issues are still waiting to be fixed: people want tabs in their command-line, and they want support for emoji.

Coming in June, Windows Terminal will bring both of these. It sounds as if Windows Terminal will be able to replace the existing conhost console (the Windows component that's responsible for drawing command-line windows) with its limited feature set, ensuring that the new features are available to anything and everything that uses the command-line, including the traditional Windows NT cmd.exe but also including PowerShell and the Windows Subsystem for Linux.

Windows Subsystem for Linux is also in line for some big improvements. Also coming in June, Microsoft intends to add full support for running containerized applications using Docker on WSL. This has been a much-requested piece of compatibility that developers have wanted in WSL.

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Posted in command line, Emoji, linux, microsoft, Tech, Windows 10, wsl | Comments (0)