Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Insider Build 11099

Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2016 - 08:18 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

The second Insider release on the “Redstone” branch has been pushed to Fast ring users. Once again, this has basically no release notes because a lot of features are “under the hood.” The push with Windows 10 since just before the holidays is to create a sensible structure for various teams to target with their changes. You could imagine how difficult this gets when you're dealing with phones, IoT, tablets and convertibles, HoloLens, and high-performance workstations, across a few different architectures.

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Insiders who are interested in UX updates and other features will probably be best to switch to “Slow” for a handful of builds once they find one that's stable for them. I can't really see this being useful for most Insiders, because unlike open-source previews where you can contribute to (or develop software alongside of) the internal tweaks, all you really can do is report when something is broken or acting funny. If that's what you want, then it's great that Microsoft is providing these previews.

Source: Microsoft

Windows 8 Also Deprecated on January 12th

Subject: General Tech | January 8, 2016 - 10:31 PM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, windows 8, microsoft

So I was just browsing ZDNet when I came across a post by Ed Bott. Turns out that Microsoft, on top of deprecating Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10, will also end support for the original Windows 8 on that date. To receive security updates, users will need to install the Windows 8.1 update first. Alternatively, if they have Windows 8 Pro, they can exercise their downgrade rights and install Windows 7 Pro. You can also install Windows 10, but I'm sure Microsoft has told you that ad nauseum.

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They reason for this is because Windows 8.1 is considered a service pack. Microsoft allows service packs to be delayed for up to 24 months before they stop developing security updates. Once they upgrade to Windows 8.1, they will remain supported until 2018 with “extended” support until 2023. Windows 7 will continue to be supported until 2020.

The vast majority of our readers probably don't care. One or two might have an old laptop that you've never bothered pushing the service pack on, or they work for an enterprise IT firm that will have an annoying week starting Monday.

Source: ZDNet

CES 2016: Windows 10 PC-Exclusive Data Plans

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2016 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2016, microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft is partnering with Transatel to provide cellular data services for Windows 10 PCs and tablets, but not phones. It will launch in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, but could be rolled out to other regions over time. This will not be a contract service. Everything will be pre-paid, with short-term plans (think “XGB for the next 30 days for Y upfront”) available for a discount before a trip or something.

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One downside is that compatible PCs will require a SIM card slot, which a Microsoft-branded SIM card will be inserted into. The write-up at Thurrott.com doesn't discuss external adapters, like the USB cellular modems that carriers offer and were popular until tethering became mainstream. A few unlocked LTE, USB modems can be found online, which you'd think would be compatible, but I'm not up on many of the details. I'm not a mobile enthusiast.

Despite the source being a Microsoft corporate VP, speaking on the record, it has not been officially announced by the company yet. Details, like when it will be available, have not been released.

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Source: Thurrott.com

If you really don't want to upgrade to Windows 10 ...

Subject: General Tech | January 8, 2016 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

There are those who are not interested in upgrading to Windows 10 from 7 or 8.x and they offer a variety of reasons as to why they will not.  Recently two objections have been resolved, with the newest Media Creation Tool from Microsoft you are now able to do a clean install, using your Win7/8.x key during the installation process.  As well Scott has shown how you can force a roll-back if you encounter difficulties after the upgrade.

If you still have no interest in the new OS, then take a gander at these tips from The Register which will disable those annoying popups.  By making these changes to the registry you will retain the ability to recieve updates via Microsoft Update, you just will not see the nag screen asking you to upgrade to Win10.  They also mention a way to stop the update files from being downloaded.  You can also just choose to ignore this until Microsoft's stated deadline of  July, at which point the popup should disappear as well.

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"If you're using a PC running Windows 7 or 8, you may be getting a little sick of endless popup screens telling you to upgrade to version 10. And you may be worried about inadvertently installing the upgrade as part of a security update."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Slashdot

Is Windows 10 Nagging Actually Getting Worse?

Subject: General Tech | January 8, 2016 - 03:18 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

My production machine has been on Windows 10 since the second Insider Preview build, back in 2014. We have a handful of laptops that are on older versions, however. One of them, which runs Windows 8.1, was upgraded to Windows 10 for a few weeks once 1511 landed, but it did not handle the transition well. There was a few nasty glitches, including 100% screen brightness for some reason being interpreted as 0% screen brightness, making the display turn off when I plugged it in (until I realized what was going on).

No problem, I thought to myself, I will just roll back to Windows 8.1. I gave it a shot.

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That's apparently not good for Microsoft. Windows Update apparently has no record of an upgrade being rolled back, because the first thing it asked me when Windows 8.1 was restore was to upgrade back to Windows 10. Noooooooooooooooo. I will not, Microsoft, at least not until some later service release fixes these issues.

All I could think of is, if these are the problems that I'm having, how are novice users supposed to figure this out. It turns out that Microsoft has added a couple of Windows Registry keys to block the various naggings. Once I set them, the OS didn't complain or try to hide standard Windows Update buttons with Upgrade to Windows 10 ones. Registry keys are definitely not for novice users, but many of our readers should be comfortable with registry editing, and they may know novice users who would like a little help.

ll you need to do is change two keys:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\OSUpgrade
    • Change or add a DWORD named AllowOSUpgrade with a value of 0
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\GWX
    • Change or add a DWORD named DisableGWX with a value of 1
    • The GWX folder (called a key in the registry) wasn't present. I needed to add it.

After editing the registry and rebooting, everything Windows 10 nag-related was disabled and I could install Windows Updates. Applications exist to set these keys for you, but it's probably better to just do it yourself. The ZDNet article, linked below, also has a few files to automatically apply these registry keys to your system. I like doing these things by hand, though.

Thanks to Ed Bott at ZDNet for making a big write-up about this, just yesterday actually.

Source: ZDNet

Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10 Will Be Deprecated on Tuesday

Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2016 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, internet explorer

Microsoft has been talking about moving their web browsers to a different support model. They intend to support only the most recent version of their browser, deprecating everything beforehand. This has two benefits. First, they don't need to port security patches to nearly as many targets. Second, web developers can mostly rely upon recently added features, especially ones which do not require special hardware.

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A major stage in this plan occurs on Tuesday. Microsoft will issue a patch to notify users that their old browsers will no longer receive security updates. They are ripping off the band-aid with this one, deprecating Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10 simultaneously. Since Internet Explorer 11 is very competitive with Chrome and Firefox in terms of standards support, you will probably hear a few web developers rejoice. Internet Explorer 11 is available for Windows 7 and later.

As a side note, this also means that every supported browser on Windows from Microsoft will be compatible with WebGL. You may not be able to rely upon hardware acceleration, as blacklisted drivers will be forced into a software rendering compatibility mode, but it's good news for Web gaming.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft Announces ReCore Will Be Released on PC

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2016 - 12:05 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, xbox, recore

ReCore was first announced at the last E3 as an Xbox One exclusive, but Microsoft has recently announced that it will arrive on Windows, too. It is being developed by Comcept and Armature Studio for Microsoft Game Studios. Comcept was founded by Keiji Inafune, producer of Mega Man, Dead Rising, and Lost Planet. Armature Studio was founded by three members of Retro Studios, who made the Metroid Prime franchise. It was supposed to launch in the next couple of months, but it has been pushed to later this year.

microsoft-2016-recore-game.jpg

It's still unclear what the game even is though, which is odd considering its relatively close release date. It is listed as an action-adventure title, and the developer claims that both Metroid and Zelda have influenced its direction. There also seems to be an element of “robotic cores” that can be moved from skeleton to skeleton, bringing its AI with it. Lastly, the Game Info site highlights a robotic companion element. Neither of those two points seem to fit in a Zelda nor a Metroid framework, which revolve around puzzle solving and re-exploring areas with upgraded abilities, respectively. There's something missing, and it will likely be revealed at E3 in June.

We'll see. It could be a bust, but at least we will have the option to try it.

Sigh ... your Windows 10 device is probably only as secure as Microsoft's database

Subject: General Tech | December 29, 2015 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, security

If your Windows 10 machine uses your Microsoft account as the login then your system's recovery key now resides on a Microsoft database in the cloud.  That recovery key is used in the file system encryption present on Windows 10 systems.  The backup is good news for people who find themselves with computer problems and need access to the key from a different machine, however this is also a huge security concern as your key could be stolen or demanded from Microsoft.  Follow the link from the Slashdot article to find out how to delete that back up recovery key and consider using a domain or workgroup style account as opposed to a Microsoft account to log into your machine.

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"The fact that new Windows devices require users to backup their recovery key on Microsoft's servers is remarkably similar to a key escrow system, but with an important difference. Users can choose to delete recovery keys from their Microsoft accounts – something that people never had the option to do with the Clipper chip system. But they can only delete it after they've already uploaded it to the cloud.....As soon as your recovery key leaves your computer, you have no way of knowing its fate."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

Microsoft to Reclassify Certain Ad-Injectors as Malware

Subject: General Tech | December 24, 2015 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows defender, adware, Malware, superfish

The Microsoft Malware Protection Center has announced that, on March 31st, 2016, certain types of advertisement-injection will be reclassified as malware. This does not include all forms of ad-injection, just ones which use confusing, difficult to remove, or insecure methods of displaying them. Specifically, adware must use the browser's default extension model, including their disable and remove functions. Recent adware has been known to modify DNS and proxy settings to force web traffic through a third party that injects ads, including secure websites using root certificates.

In other words, Superfish.

microsoft-2015-windowsdefender.jpg

An interesting side-story is that, while Microsoft requires that adware uses default browser extensions, Microsoft Edge does not yet have any. Enforcement doesn't start until March 31st, but we don't have a date for when extensions arrive in Microsoft. I seriously doubt that the company intends to give Edge a lead-time, but that might end up happening by chance. The lead time is probably to give OEMs and adware vendors a chance to update their software before it is targeted.

The post doesn't explicitly state the penalties of shipping adware that violates this blog post, but the criteria is used for antimalware tools. As such, violators will probably be removed by Windows Defender, but that might not be the only consequence.

Source: Microsoft

Podcast #380 - Microsoft's Surface Devices, the ASUS X99-E WS. HTC Vive and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 23, 2015 - 11:23 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, asus, X99-E WS, microsoft, surface pro 4, surface book, htc, vive, ECS, LIVA, vulkan, dx12, Mantle, nvidia, shield tablet k1

PC Perspective Podcast #380 - 12/24/2015

Join us this week as we discuss Microsoft's Surface Devices, the ASUS X99-E WS. HTC Vive and more!

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