Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category

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)

Next Windows 10 version will let you search without Cortana’s involvement

January 16th, 2019
The Cortana button is now no longer part of the search box.

Enlarge / The Cortana button is now no longer part of the search box. (credit: Microsoft)

Today's Insider build of Windows 10, number 18317, changes how search and Cortana are used, as Microsoft is working to reposition Cortana as a productivity-focused digital assistant and integrate search with Office 365.

Currently, Windows 10 has a single text box on the taskbar that's used for searches and Cortana commands. Type a word or two and it'll search the Start menu, settings, and documents. But type a command ("tell me a joke," say) and no search is performed; instead, the command is delivered to Cortana, and she duly responds. In the new build, the text box is used solely for searching. To give Cortana a command, you'll have to speak to her or click a separate Cortana button on the taskbar.

The combination of the two features was an oft-criticized part of the Windows 10 interface, as there's no particular reason to bundle them together. Both can respond to typed commands, so using the text box for two different things saved some space. Because searches are popular, it's likely that some people were introduced to Cortana as a result of a search. Separating the two things should make the Windows interface a little more logical. The settings pages have also been disentangled.

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Posted in Cortana, digital personal assistant, microsoft, Tech, Windows | Comments (0)

Microsoft’s fonts catch out another fraudster—this time in Canada

January 15th, 2019
The Calibri font. Don't use this if you're forging anything written before 2007.

Enlarge / The Calibri font. Don't use this if you're forging anything written before 2007. (credit: Peter Bright)

You'd think that people forging documents would have learned by now. Canadian Gerald McGoey was judged to have falsified documents in an attempt to protect certain assets from bankruptcy proceedings, because—and stop me if you've heard this before—the documents used Microsoft's modern "C" fonts, which didn't become widely available until 2007. This would have been fine, were it not for the minor detail that the documents were dated 2004 and 1995. Whoops.

McGoey was CEO of Look Communications when it collapsed and left him bankrupt. The company was liquidated, and McGoey was ordered to replay $5.6 million to creditors. McGoey claimed that the assets in question—homes, in this case—were held in trust by his wife and three children and hence beyond the reach of the courts. To prove this, he presented two signed documents. Unfortunately for him, he'd created the documents using typefaces that didn't exist at the time of the documents' purported creation.

The first trust document was dated 1995 and used the Cambria font. The second, dated to 2004, used Calibri. Cambria was designed in 2004, while Calibri was between 2002 and 2004. But neither became widespread until 2007, when they were bundled with Windows Vista and Office 2007. That software included seven different fonts with names beginning with "C"—the "C fonts"—that were optimized for ClearType antialiasing. With their release, Microsoft changed Word's default font from the venerable Times New Roman to Calibri. Using the new fonts instantly betrays that a document wasn't written any time prior to 2007.

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Posted in fonts, fraud, microsoft, office, Tech, Windows | Comments (0)

Windows 7 enters its final year of free support

January 14th, 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)

Windows 7's five years of extended support will expire on January 14, 2020: exactly one year from today. After this date, security fixes will no longer be freely available for the operating system that's still widely used.

As always, the end of free support does not mean the end of support entirely. Microsoft has long offered paid support options for its operating systems beyond their normal lifetime, and Windows 7 is no different. What is different is the way that paid support will be offered. For previous versions of Windows, companies had to enter into a support contract of some kind to continue to receive patches. For Windows 7, however, the extra patches will simply be an optional extra that can be added to an existing volume license subscription—no separate support contract needed—on a per-device basis.

These Extended Security Updates (ESU) will be available for three years after the 2020 cut-off, with prices escalating each year.

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Posted in cloud, microsoft, patches, security, support, Tech, vdi, Virtualization, Windows, windows 7 | 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)

New Windows 10 build silences Cortana, brings passwordless accounts

January 4th, 2019
New Windows 10 build silences Cortana, brings passwordless accounts

The latest Insider build of Windows 10, 18309, expands the use of a thing that Microsoft has recently introduced: passwordless Microsoft accounts. It's now possible to create a Microsoft account that uses a one-time code delivered over SMS as its primary authenticator, rather than a conventional password.

In the new Windows 10 build, these passwordless accounts can be used for logging into a machine locally. The initial sign-in will use SMS, and it will then prompt you to configure biometric or PIN authentication. Your face, fingerprint, or PIN will be used subsequently. This capability is in all the editions, from Home up to Enterprise. A few previous builds had constrained it to Home only.

While SMS-based authentication has security issues of its own, Microsoft seems to feel that it's a better bet for most home users than a likely insecure password. Removing the Windows login password is part of the company's broader efforts to switch to using a mix of one-time passwords, biometrics, and cryptographic keys.

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

Chrome’s getting a dark mode on Windows to match the one for macOS

January 3rd, 2019
Chrome's dark mode.

Enlarge / Chrome's dark mode.

Chrome 73 is going to include support for macOS 10.14's dark mode, with an alternative color scheme for its user interface that cuts the brightness. It's now clear that a Windows version of the same is in development, though it seems to trail the macOS version.

A bug report was spotted by Techdows, and preliminary work has been started to bring Windows its dark mode. Unlike its macOS counterpart, which should track the operating-system mode, the Windows dark mode currently has to be forcibly turned on with a command-line switch. Adding "--force-dark-mode" to the command line of current builds of Chrome 73 makes everything dark.

The dark theme is still unfinished, hence this menu with almost illegible black text on a dark grey background.

The dark theme is still unfinished, hence this menu with almost illegible black text on a dark grey background.

The macOS work has top priority (P1). The Windows work is only P2 (originally P3), surprisingly suggesting that it's less important, enough though Chrome has far more Windows 10 users than it does macOS users. Development of the Windows theme was at least, for a time, hindered by one of the developers not having a Windows laptop to use.

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Posted in browsers, chrome, dark mode, microsoft, Open Source, Tech, Windows | 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)

Microsoft issues emergency update to fix critical IE flaw under active exploit

December 20th, 2018
Microsoft issues emergency update to fix critical IE flaw under active exploit

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has issued an emergency update that fixes a critical Internet Explorer vulnerability that attackers are actively exploiting on the Internet.

The memory-corruption flaw allows attackers to remotely execute malicious code when computers use IE to visit a booby-trapped website, Microsoft said Wednesday. Indexed as CVE-2018-8653, the flaw affects all supported versions of Windows. The vulnerability involves the way Microsoft's scripting engine handles objects in memory in Internet Explorer.

In a separate advisory, Microsoft said the vulnerability is being used in targeted attacks, but the company didn't elaborate. Microsoft credited Clement Lecigne of Google's Threat Analysis Group with discovering the vulnerability. No other details were available about the vulnerability or exploits at the time this post was being reported.

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Posted in Biz & IT, exploits, Internet Explorer, microsoft, vulnerabilities, Windows | 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)