Microsft heals some wounds as it moves to Open Source

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2018 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: windows, open source, microsoft, edge, chromium, browser, Opera, firefox

One of the big stories this week has been the rumour and confirmation of Microsoft's move to Chromium.  What we hadn't seen until this morning was what the competition thought about it, which we now know thanks to a link from Slashdot.   You will be shocked to learn that Firefox sees this as solid proof you should have been using Firefox all along, or should switch immediately.

Opera and Google both applaud the move; Opera pointing out that they did something very similar about 6 years ago while Google welcomes Microsoft to the open source community it once spurned.  Take a peek at the rest here.

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"Google largely sees Microsoft's decision as a good thing, which is not exactly a surprise given that the company created the Chromium open source project. "Chrome has been a champion of the open web since inception and we welcome Microsoft to the community of Chromium contributors. We look forward to working with Microsoft and the web standards community to advance the open web, support user choice, and deliver great browsing experiences."

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Source: Slashdot

Microsoft Confirms Edge Browser is Moving to Chromium

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2018 - 10:02 AM |
Tagged: windows, open source, microsoft, Joe Belfiore, edge, chromium, browser

It's official: Microsoft is indeed moving their Edge browser to Chromium as previously reported. Windows VP Joe Belfiore made the announcement yesterday with a blog post entitled "Microsoft Edge: Making the web better through more open source collaboration".

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The post begins as follows (emphasis added):

"For the past few years, Microsoft has meaningfully increased participation in the open source software (OSS) community, becoming one of the world’s largest supporters of OSS projects. Today we’re announcing that we intend to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge on the desktop to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers.

As part of this, we intend to become a significant contributor to the Chromium project, in a way that can make not just Microsoft Edge — but other browsers as well — better on both PCs and other devices."

Not an immediate move, the under-the-hood changes to the Microsoft Edge browser will take place "over the next year or so", with the transition described as happening "gradually over time". From Microsoft:

1. We will move to a Chromium-compatible web platform for Microsoft Edge on the desktop. Our intent is to align the Microsoft Edge web platform simultaneously (a) with web standards and (b) with other Chromium-based browsers. This will deliver improved compatibility for everyone and create a simpler test-matrix for web developers.

2. Microsoft Edge will now be delivered and updated for all supported versions of Windows and on a more frequent cadence. We also expect this work to enable us to bring Microsoft Edge to other platforms like macOS. Improving the web-platform experience for both end users and developers requires that the web platform and the browser be consistently available to as many devices as possible. To accomplish this, we will evolve the browser code more broadly, so that our distribution model offers an updated Microsoft Edge experience + platform across all supported versions of Windows, while still maintaining the benefits of the browser’s close integration with Windows.

3. We will contribute web platform enhancements to make Chromium-based browsers better on Windows devices. Our philosophy of greater participation in Chromium open source will embrace contribution of beneficial new tech, consistent with some of the work we described above. We recognize that making the web better on Windows is good for our customers, partners and our business – and we intend to actively contribute to that end.

The full blog post from Belfiore is available here.

Source: Microsoft

Chrome plated Windows? Microsoft is making like a magpie

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2018 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: Project Anaheim, microsoft, rumours, chrome, chromium, arm, alphabet

There are two very interesting rumours about Microsoft circulating the intertubes today, both involving Alphabet's Chrome products.  The most shocking is that they have finally internalized the fact that when people refer to Edge as "the one you use to download Chrome with", they are not kidding.  This has lead to the possibility that they may be designing a Chromium-based browser, under the moniker Project Anaheim, to replace Edge as their embedded browser.  They have been trying to get Chrome add-ins to work on Edge with little success, so this would certainly resolve that, unless they intend to focus on making Windows Store apps work with Chrome.

The second rumour signals another big internal change, though in some ways it is less shocking than the previous rumour.  Via Slashdot we have heard more details on Windows Lite, which will replace products like Windows 10 S and RT.  It will be able to run on any processor, up to and including Qualcomm and other ARM based processors and is likely targeting the same market as Chromebooks currently do.  It looks to have a new GUI built off of the mysterious Windows Core OS.  Follow the link for more info on Windows Lite as well as Andromeda, which is not dead yet.

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" As we've previously told you, Microsoft is already working on Chromium in order to help Google port it over to ARM-based Windows machines, such is the power that the world's top browser holds. "

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Source: The Inquirer

Incoming friendly fire! Microsoft is launching more patches!!!

Subject: General Tech | November 29, 2018 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: patch, terror, microsoft, windows 10

The seemingly endless barrage of patches attempting to patch the issue the previous patches attempt to patch after needing a patch to patch the patch ... continues ad nauseam.  If you are running Server 2016 or Windows 10 1709 or newer then you are about to receive a gift you probably don't want; though one fix in Server 2016 is worth it as it fixes something that left many technically inclined people, including The Register, scratching their heads.

You should consider a setting a shortcut to "About your PC" to keep tabs on your Windows version as Win10 has made this necessary for the first time.  Case and point, Windows 10 1703 is no longer receiving updates unless you are running Enterprise or Education versions, so unless you install one of the roll ups, you ain't even getting basic security updates!

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"Tucked innocuously among a swathe of fixes ranging from dealing with Russian time zone changes to fixing wobbly Hyper-V servers is the text: "Addresses an issue in File Explorer that sometimes deletes the permissions of a shared parent folder when you delete the shared child folder."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft continues to toss patches against the wall to see what sticks

Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2018 - 02:02 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, oops, october update, windows 10

A new week brings a new Win10 bug from Microsoft to start you on your way.  This one is far less serious than previous ones, merely removing your ability to use the seek bar on Windows Media Player.  While this will not prevent you from getting work done, it is yet another blow to the confidence of anyone who has managed to retain even a slight belief in the success of Windows as a Service.  The Inquirer offers information on this bug as well as one that will interfere with your iTunes as well.

Roll-up your patches to win, eh?

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"This time, its an issue with media playback, and specifically the "seek bar", which we're given to understand is the bit that lets you find the specific bit of a song. This only applies to the default player. That iTunes borkage? Separate bug."

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Source: The Inquirer

Windows 10 someday, maybe update

Subject: General Tech | November 22, 2018 - 01:25 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, patch, oops, microsoft

The Windows 10 October Update, now to be referred to as The New ME, has now decided it dislikes the audio portion of a display driver from a tiny little company with little to no market share, known as Intel.  Microsoft have pulled the update, which is degrading audio input on systems with Intel graphics, which they blame on "OEMs that accidentally turned on unsupported features in Windows" according to The Inquirer.

In this case, one might be thankful for not checking for updates for Windows or Office for a while and eating turkey instead.

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"Intel driver users join anyone with a small hard drive, anyone who uses ZIP files, anyone using iCloud, anyone who needs to map a network drive, anyone with an HP machine, and anyone who likes their files to be associated with installed programs."

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Source: The Register

Perhaps John Wharton's ghost will visit Bill this Christmas

Subject: General Tech | November 20, 2018 - 01:04 PM |
Tagged: qdos, microsoft, John Wharton, cp/m

The history of computing and the path taken to get where we are today sports a multitude of skeletons and closets.  Some were aired, others continue to lurk, but some were dragged out so they could be immediately buried and forgotten and John Warton, who just passed away last week, was involved at the beginning of one of the latter. 

He was working at Intel when a young man by the name of Bill Gates, who represented a small company called MicroSoft approached the chip maker with an OS he had created, known as MS-DOS or QDOS or 86-DOS depending on who you ask.  Thus started a long chain of events which lead to where we are now; including legal battles on the origins of MS-DOS, thanks to some interesting resemblances to other programming languages being developed at the time. 

Drop by The Register for the Cole's Notes version, and consider following some of the links if this story is new to you.

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"In the autumn of 1980, John had been at Intel to receive a visit from the 24-year-old CEO of a tiny software company called MicroSoft that specialised in programming languages. Wharton headed a technical team conducting an evaluation of the software Bill Gates brought with him to the meeting."

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Source: The Register

Network drives? You don't need no steenking network drives!

Subject: General Tech | November 16, 2018 - 03:11 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, idiots

The latest update for Windows 10 is the gift that just keeps on giving; for those for whom snark is a joy to express.  The October 2018 Update, aka Build 1809, was pulled after users expressed a surprising dislike of having their files deleted without their consent and from the results of those testing the new build, that feature is still present.  That hasn't stopped Microsoft's innovations however as the new build also expresses an extreme dislike of mapped network drives.  As you should obviously be using SharePoint Online, which doesn't function well as a mapped folder or drive by design, this should obviously not be a problem.

Strangely, The Inquirer and various Microsoft users do not appreciate this new feature for some reason and have expressed some disappointment.  There is no fix as of yet, nor will there be for quite some time, apart from avoiding the update like you would a homeopath's office.

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"This borkage isn't quite so bad - but it's enough to be a huge problem for sysadmins, SMBs and in fact, anyone with a NAS drive, because mapping of network drives is still not working properly."

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Source: The Inquirer

Deactivate! Deactivate! Windows 10 will be deactivated!

Subject: General Tech | November 8, 2018 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, oops

If you were greeted by a message today indicating that your Win10 Pro is no longer activated or needs to be reactivated as Win10 Home, you are not aloneMicrosoft have acknowledged an issue with their licensing servers which is having a rather noticeable effect on machines in several countries.  The issue seems to arise most often on machines which were upgraded from a previous version of Windows, or installed fresh using a key from a previous version, which Microsoft has supported from the get go.  The problem is unlikely to last for long, so do not start downgrading or reinstalling until we have an update from Microsoft, unless you really get off on reinstalling OSes.

It is a toss up between the link to Slashdot and the one to Microsoft Answers as to which provides the most amusment; the comments in both are everything you would expect and more!

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"If you're having trouble activating your Windows 10 Pro computer today, you're not alone. Forums and social media networks are getting flooded with complaints from users who say their machines have automatically become deactivated. Users say they are having trouble connecting with Microsoft's activation servers, with some saying they are being prompted to downgrade to Windows 10 Home."

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Source: Slashdot

It's a bold strategy Cotton, let's see if 50% of a battery works out for them

Subject: General Tech | October 11, 2018 - 02:20 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, Surface Pro, battery

Microsoft have added an interesting feature to their new Surface Pro, the ability to limit the battery charge to a maximum of 50%.  Now, before you start tossing things, this is specifically for scenarios where the Surface Pro will be plugged into mains power all day long.  Limiting the charge should increase the lifespan of the battery, though woe to the user that forgets to change that setting in the UEFI it before heading out on the road.  As The Register points out, Microsoft have had a spotty past with batteries; hopefully they've learned from their mistakes.

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"The setting is only recommended for scenarios where a Surface Pro is constantly connected to a power supply – "all day long" as Microsoft put it, such as in a kiosk situation or perhaps permanently wedged in a desktop dock."

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Source: The Register