Windows 10 One-Minute Ad Launches

Subject: Editorial | July 20, 2015 - 08:28 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 10

As we've been saying for several months now, Windows 10 is coming in a handful of days. Naturally, Microsoft is trickling out information and marketing material leading up to it. Some of the interesting ones we can talk about. I'd normally consider a one-minute TV spot as “not very interesting”, and it probably isn't for our audience, but there was one thing that I wanted to say about it.

The ad looks through an international cast of children, and of course an adorable puppy, describing how their technology life will evolve with Windows 10. The premise is that the OS will empower everything that they do, and grow with them because of automatic updates. Of course, young children and a puppy does a lot to sell a consumer product in itself. The video currently has over 200,000 views on YouTube with an almost 20:1 like-to-dislike ratio.

But the part that interested me was the quote “for them, every screen is meant to be touched”.

In a direct way, yes. Once you provide someone with a touch screen, especially a young child, they instantly want to touch every screen in their life. This has actually led to schools refusing to install touch-based all-in-one PCs because they were worried about kids ruining the non-touch monitors.

It is odd that Microsoft would focus on “touch” in the ad, though. This leads me to the point that I want to bring up. Nowhere in the ad is “familiar” or similar verbiage used. Each example is touch, stylus, or voice. You would think that Microsoft wants to draw in the audience who avoided Windows 8.x, and yet the tone sounds identical to what they've been saying for years.

It's just a TV spot, but it sounds a bit out of tune with the last year.

Cortana for Android Invite-Only Beta Launches

Subject: Mobile | July 19, 2015 - 06:43 PM |
Tagged: Android, microsoft, windows, windows 10, cortana

When it graduated from high school, Microsoft was voted “least likely to have an open relationship with itself”. Well who's laughing now, member of the Yearbook Committee? You thought you were so clever, sitting in the back of the late bus for students in extra-curricular activities, giggling as you doodled in your Five Star binder. Even though they always hogged the Windows seat, maybe they would have opened it up for a little fresh air in the Summer time had you taken the time to ask.


Image Credit: Ars Technica

While Cortana is first and foremost a Windows 10 feature, it will appear on iOS and Android as well. Peter Bright of Ars Technica got in on the pre-release, invite-only beta and walked through the features. He notes that, while many have complained about crashes, his experienced wasn't marred with stability issues. On the other hand, because Cortana is not as deeply integrated into the operating system, despite the laundry list of permissions it requests, he expects that most users looking for a digital assistant will look to Google Now on their Android devices, even if they use Cortana on Windows 10.


Image Credit: Ars Technica

There really wasn't a whole lot of note in the article though, at least in my opinion. There are a few interesting screenshots, but it basically looks like someone grafted the Cortana fly-out menu from Windows 10 onto a fullscreen mobile device. Even though I already saw the similarities in the Windows 10 Technical Previews, it is funny to see it so explicit.

No release date has been set for Cortana on Android or iOS.

Source: Ars Technica

Windows 10 Supported Until 2020, Extended Until 2025

Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2015 - 09:16 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft announced the upgrade strategy of Windows 10 in their January consumer press conference. If the promotion is claimed within the first year, the new operating system would be a free upgrade to users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.x “for the supported lifetime of the device”. The internet combined “the first year” with “for the supported lifetime of the device” to speculate that Microsoft would charge a license or subscription from then on.


The bandaids will keep coming until 2020 (features) or 2025 (security)

Now, less than two weeks before launch, Microsoft has released an official statement on the matter. Windows 10 will be supported until 2020 with extended support reaching out to 2025.

This does not mean that every device will be supported until then, though. In order to receive new updates, the user needs to install every update prior to that update, because they are cumulative. If a device is incompatible with an update, and the affected manufacturer is not willing to fix the problem, then Microsoft will not make a special support branch just for you.

But if an OEM has stopped supporting a device, yet Microsoft updates don't break anything, then you can still receive updates for Microsoft. Again, the clause is just for the case where Microsoft's updates are incompatible with your device -- it is not Microsoft's responsibility to keep giving you updates for the manufacturer's problems until the OS gets end-of-lifed.

This does lead to some concerns, though. Imagine that Microsoft pushes a build which disables developer sideloading and Win32 support, locking Windows 10 down to a Windows RT state. If you are even capable of blocking that update, Microsoft will likely not allow you to receive security patches. On the other hand, I don't exactly blame Microsoft for branching the operating system for each individual milestone. Doing something like killing support for Win32 would also be pretty brazen, although it looked like Windows 8.x was on that trajectory when it relegated the Desktop as an “app”... and one which all Win32 software required to survive.

So freedom advocates will have some things to think about, but those concerned about “free as in beer” can sleep a little easier. They will continue updating you for as long as the hardware supports it, until at least 2020 for features (at least 2025 for security). Beyond that time, it depends on whether Microsoft will charge for upgrades to whatever the next version is. Will it be a free milestone (think service pack)? Or will it be classified as Windows 11 with an upgrade or subscription fee? Who knows.

Source: ZDnet

Microsoft "Suspends the Availability" of Builds Tomorrow

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2015 - 08:43 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, windows, microsoft

UPDATE (July 14th, 6:15pm ET): The change is now in effect. Going to the Insiders page at has the PC link disabled and a message explaining that you're too late.

NOTE: We’re very close to the public release of Windows 10 so we’re not onboarding any new PCs to the Windows Insider Program just now. You can still onboard a supported Windows Phone and please do keep using Windows 10 on any PCs you’ve already set up and sending us great feedback!

See you at RTM!

Windows 10 is launching two weeks from Wednesday. Microsoft has set up a reservation system for Windows 7 and 8.x, apparently to create a queue for early adopters in before their “could care less” demographic. This was not available on Windows 10 Insider Preview, which we later found out is because Insiders are already at the front of the line. This is important, given today's announcement.


July 13th, which is thankfully not a Friday, will be the last full day to receive ISOs or new builds over Windows Update. By some point tomorrow, these will be taken offline. We will be transitioned over to “production channels” for our next build and ISOs will not be provided. Also, pre-release keys will no longer activate. ISOs will return at some point, but they want to get everyone using their updating platform to make sure they work.

They also say that we will receive at least one new build before release.

Obviously, we are getting close so things are going to start changing. I wonder how long we will stay on RTM branch before Microsoft pushes Insiders forward. We know that Microsoft has already forked development into a 105xx line of build numbers, which is very likely to be post-launch updates. I am not sure that they would push those out over production though, so you would think that Insiders will be on RTM-based builds for at least a little bit.

Today might be your last chance to get in on Windows Insider for a bit, though.

What if a server OS died and no one cared

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2015 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: server 2003, microsoft, idiots, EoL

In a lack of foresight that will not take anyone working professionally in IT by surprise, 70% of business are ignoring the fact that Windows Server 2003 hits EoL next Tuesday.  The belief that what your clients don't know won't hurt them is endemic in the business world and this is yet more proof of that philosophy.  Most businesses sign agreements guaranteeing their clients data will be stored securely and using an unsupported OS over a decade old stretches the definition of secure storage far beyond the breaking point.  Your bank, your payroll company, your government, even your ISP and telephone provider are all likely to be guilty of this and you should be aware of that.  It does not mean that there will be a sudden outbreak of attacks next week, instead it will be a slow rise in the number of security breaches and leaks as more and more exploits are discovered and never patched.  The Inquirer does not have the numbers on how many companies are taking Microsoft's offer of support for Server 2003 beyond Tuesday for $600 per server but you can bet that the uptake is a tiny percentage of the 70%.   Much like the proverbial frog, people will not notice the slow rise in security breaches until the damage is already irreversible.


"WE'RE AT T-MINUS four days and counting, and a new survey suggests that as many as 70 percent of businesses are going to miss the deadline for upgrading from Windows Server 2003."

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Source: The Register

Faster than fast ring; Windows 10 RTM spotted?

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2015 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, rtm, build 10176

Windows Insider members are currently on 10162, the third release in four days.  This new release offers you a chance to download an ISO to test a completely fresh install although you can install it as an in place update as well.  The new version also allows you to buy WiFi from the Microsoft Store as well, you may start to see WiFi networks in the USA and perhaps North America wide which you will be able to connect to after buying time and perhaps data from the Microsoft Store. 

We've also heard rumours via Slashdot that build 10176 will be the RTM version which may be sent out as soon as Thursday.  This implies that there will not be many changes to the new OS between now and the release date, as providing differing versions to the manufacturers and current customers would not be a good business decision.  As well, if purchasers of new hardware will form a very negative opinion if they have to go through a long series of updates simply to be able to use their new machine.  Ready or not, Windows 10 is just about ready to go.


"Mark Wilson reports that the first RTM candidate for Windows 10 has been spotted: build 10176. Leaks and sources have suggested the company intends to finalize the operating system later this week, perhaps as early as July 9th. This would give Microsoft almost three weeks to distribute it to retailers and devicemakers before the July 29th launch date."

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Source: Slashdot

My Take on July 29th Reservations

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2015 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

A couple of days ago, Paul Thurrott wrote an editorial about Microsoft's Windows 10 reservation system. His point was that, while Microsoft claimed users of Windows 7 or 8.1 could upgrade on July 29th, they might not get it until later. Upgrades will start rolling out on the 29th of July, but the actual queue is expected to take several days. According to Microsoft's blog post, which shows blatant disrespect for the Oxford Comma, “Each day of the roll-out, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users.”


Paul linked this backtrack to an episode of Seinfeld, one where Jerry reserves a rental car; his reservation was held, but a car was not. He stated that the availability date was clearly stated as July 29th, and not everyone will get it then. I can see his point, and I agree with it. Microsoft really should provide what they claim on the date that they claim it.

On the other hand, it is possible that Microsoft saw the whole reservation system as reserving your spot in line. That is, it might be that upgrade requests will be processed in reservation order, at least mostly, when devices are available. I imagine a “take a number” system where slots will be assigned for anyone below a threshold that increases as upgrades are fulfilled. Again, this is hypothetical, but I cannot really see any other reason for a reservation system in the first place, apart from pure marketing.

Either way, some may need to wait until after July 29th to experience Windows 10, and Microsoft botched their announcement.


Microsoft Releases Several Windows 10 Builds This Week

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2015 - 04:20 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

Early this week, Microsoft released a pair of new builds into the Windows Insider Fast Ring. Back to back, Build 10158 was released on Monday and 10159 followed it on Tuesday. These two updates fixed several hundred bugs, officially branded Project Spartan as Microsoft Edge, introduced the new default wallpaper to the desktop and lock screen, and tweaked a few more interface elements since 10130. After an uneventful Wednesday, Build 10162 arrived on Thursday with ISOs released later that evening, which was great for me because I couldn't get the build through Windows Update. Sad face.


I was a Slow Ring user for the last few releases, and I honestly intend to continue with that pace going forward. This is my production machine, but switching to Fast was tempting in hopes that the new build would fix the few problems that I had. Namely, StarCraft II was flickering terribly since 10074 when played in windowed mode. Thankfully, StarCraft II can reliably alt+tab without crashing, but it excludes playing a slow-paced Arcade mod in another monitor while doing something else. Mount & Blade: Warband had similar issues, especially when the monitor and game are set to 120 Hz. It seems to be just DirectX 9 titles, too. Either way, they are still unfixed for me. Some of our viewers may want to know my experience.


The first thing that I noticed was a seemingly new upgrade screen between asking to reboot and actually rebooting. This was something that I only remember experiencing with Windows Updates, not whole new Windows builds. Perhaps this was a big one for some reason? It did try to install an anti-malware definition alongside it, so maybe it was just a weird interaction between Windows Update and the Windows 10 in-place build upgrade. Maybe it's something new though.


The lock screen is the next obvious change. It contains the new Windows branding that was announced a couple of weeks ago. The slanted window was made out of glass, fog, and projected light. Even though it fits the previous branding, Microsoft made a big deal out of it.

The major change occurs once logged in. Microsoft Edge is no longer referred to as “Project Spartan”, and it is basically a full-fledged web browser now. Its performance is great, and it is nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to browser compatibility. I do feel that the interface is kind-of ugly, though. Granted, the soft fonts are probably easier to scale between high and low DPI monitors, but I would prefer something more crisp. Likewise, the big, featureless, rectangular UI elements are likely a compromise for touch displays, but I've always thought they were placeholder during development builds. Then again, I find basically every browser to be bland, so there's that.


Other UI elements were altered as well. For instance, while I don't pay too much attention to elements in the notification tray, I am pretty sure that Quiet Hours and the OneNote shortcut are new. While “Note” is obvious, it opens OneNote, Quiet Hours apparently gives a toggle to disable notifications. This is not a new feature, dating back to Windows 8 and Windows Phone apparently, but it has a new home in the notification area.

We're getting close to the July 29th “release” date and might see several builds before then, too. Builds are mostly merging work into a stable core at this point. According to BuildFeed, fbl_impressive, the branch of Windows 10 that is given to Windows Insiders, is up to build 10164, which was created on July 1st. We're not going to see every build of course, some are destined to partners for instance, but the distance between QA-approved builds is shrinking. Unless something is broken that you hope Microsoft will fix or you can afford the time to upgrade, it might be useful to switch to slow until launch. You could always flip to Fast if something cool comes up, although there is sometimes a lag before Windows Update changes your branch if you do that.

Source: Microsoft

Windows 10ish, coming July 29ish

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2015 - 01:23 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

No rumours this Friday but more confusion out of Redmond as Microsoft announces that the July 29th launch date for Windows 10 may or may not apply to you.  Brave members of the Windows Insider program will be able to install the new OS on that date but others may see their date moved into August as the OS will be rolled out in waves.  Even more interesting is that many may see a message recommending you reach out to an application provider or device manufacturer before upgrading if the tool identifies something on your machine that may not be compatible with Windows 10.  You will still be able to upgrade if you wish but you might want to double check which hardware is being flagged.  Check the story at The Register for the current list of applications which will not survive the upgrade process, including Windows Media Centre as Scott reported on.


"We already knew the OS will start shipping to members of the Windows Insider program on July 29. On Thursday, however, Microsoft OS boss Terry Myerson explained in a blog post that not everyone should expect to receive their updates on that date."

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Source: The Register

Windows Hololens is headed to space

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2015 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, hololens

The new Windows Hololens will be headed to the ISS to let the NASA ground crew see through the eyes of astronauts onboard and even to annotate the view in real time.  Instead of using cameras and audio instructions, an astronaut could look at a peice of equipment and the engineer on the ground could overlay a visual of what repairs or changes would need to be completed, or text annotations giving details of the equipment.  One can only hope that the public might one day get a chance to see the ISS through the eyes of someone onboard.  The Inquirer also mentions several other projects the Hololens will be used in, from virtual tours of Mars to use in an underwater training facility to make the illusion of being in orbit even more convincing and valuable as training for future astronauts.  These devices will be wonderful for gaming but there are many other applications that they will be used for.


"Early demonstrations of Hololens included scenarios involving NASA researchers walking virtually on the surface of Mars through a sister project called OnSight, but now the idea has been extended to real-life interaction with ISS astronauts."

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Source: The Inquirer