Windows 10 Upgrade Prompt Changes This Week

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2016 - 07:52 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet is reporting that the “Get Windows 10” window will be redesigned to make it easier to reject. The option will now have the button “Upgrade now” right beside two obvious link inputs, “Choose time” and “Decline free offer”. The close button will also dismiss the notification without accepting it.

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Image Credit: ZDNet

Of course, this is what they should have done a year ago, and it probably doesn't matter by now. At this point, I'm not sure how many people who need this change are still fighting Get Windows 10. Most have probably been tricked into upgrading, or have already figured out the direct way to disable it. I tend to encourage companies when they do the right thing, but this just seems too late to even approach its intended effect.

Also, this change occurred a few days after Microsoft decided to not appeal a lawsuit, brought about a woman whose business, a travel agency, suffered downtime related to the OS update. Windows 10 apparently did not work well with her system, causing it to slow down and crash. She won $10,000 in damages. Personally, I know how much Windows 10 can mess up certain devices. While I run Windows 10 on my production machine, and prefer it over Windows 7, a family member's laptop would turn its display's backlight off when brightness is set to 100% (which was default when plugged in). To a general PC user, that would look like Windows 10 upped and killed the device. Worse, rolling back to Windows 8.1 wasn't a sign to stop trying to update -- it wanted to put Windows 10 right back on it!

So yeah, Microsoft is doing the right thing... after about a year.

Source: ZDNet
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Huawei

A new competitor has entered the arena!

When we first saw the announcement of the MateBook in Spain back in March, pricing was immediately impressive. The base model of the tablet starts at just $699; $200 less than the lowest-priced Surface Pro 4, with features and performance that pretty closely match one another.

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The MateBook only ships with Core m processors, a necessity of the incredibly thin and fanless design that Huawei is using. That obviously will put the MateBook behind other tablets and notebooks that use the Core i3/i5/i7 processors, but with a power consumption advantage along the way. Honestly, the performance differences between the Core m3 and m5 and m7 parts is pretty small – all share the same 4.5 watt TDP and all have fairly low base clock speeds and high boost clocks. The Core m5-6Y54 that rests in our test sample has a base clock of 1.1 GHz and a maximum Turbo Boost clock of 2.7 GHz. The top end Core m7-6Y75 has a base of 1.2 GHz and Boost of 3.1 GHz. The secret of course is that these processors run at Turbo clocks very infrequently; only during touch interactions and when applications demand performance.

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If you work-load regularly requires you to do intensive transcoding, video editing or even high-resolution photo manipulation, the Core m parts are going to be slower than the Core i-series options available in other solutions. If you just occasionally need to use an application like Photoshop, the MateBook has no problems doing so.

Huawei MateBook Tablet PC
MSRP $699 $849 $999 $1199 $1399 $1599
Screen 12-in 2160x1440 IPS
CPU Core m3 Core m3 Core m5 Core m5 Core m7 Core m7
GPU Intel HD Graphics 515
RAM 4GB 8GB
Storage 128GB 256GB 256GB 512GB 256GB 512GB
Network 802.11ac MIMO (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz)
Bluetooth 4.1
Gigabite Ethernet (MateDock)
Display Output HDMI / VGA (through MateDock)
Connectivity USB 3.0 Type-C
3.5mm headphone
USB 3.0 x 2 (MateDock)
Audio Dual Digital Mic
Dual Speakers
Weight 640g (1.41 lbs)
Dimensions 278.8mm x 194.1mm x 6.9mm
(10.9-in x 7.6-in x 0.27-in)
Battery 33.7 WHr
Operating System Windows 10 Home / Pro

Update: The Huawei Matebook is now available on Amazon.com!

At the base level, both the Surface Pro 4 and the MateBook have identical specs, but the Huawei unit is priced $200 lower. After that, things get more complicated as the Surface Pro 4 moves to Core i5 and Core i7 processors while the MateBook sticks with m5 and m7 parts. Storage capacities and memory size scale though. The lowest entry point for the MateBook to get 256GB of storage and 8GB of memory is $999 and comes with a Core m5 processor; a comparable Surface Pro 4 uses a Core i5 CPU instead but will run you $1199. If you want to move from 256GB to 512GB of storage, Microsoft wants $400 more for your SP4, while Huawei’s price only goes up $200.

Continue reading our review of the Huawei MateBook convertible PC!!

You can HaaS Surface; Microsoft now considers it a service

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2016 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, surface

Microsoft now offers the perfect thing to run software you don't really own on; you can run your rented OS and applications on a rented Surface Book, Surface Pro 4 or Surface 3.  As per the usual industry practice they don't refer to it as renting, but rather Hardware as a Service.  The plans are available as 18, 24 or 30 month memberships, with a "Complete for Business Extended Service Plan with Accidental Damage Protection" which sounds rather impressive as it claims to cover high velocity impacts and coffee disasters.  The Register has more information on the deal here.

The default Surface Book will run you $109/month @ 18 months or $80/month if you sign up for 30, or $1500 to buy it outright.  Interesting idea, fad or a money grab that will make Adobe green with jealousy?

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"First Microsoft turned Office into software-as-a-service. It's currently transforming Windows into Windows-as-a-service. And now it's decided that its Surface Pro typoslab should become Surface-as-a-service, to help businesses buy more of the hybrid machines."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft's guide on how not to to win friends and influence people

Subject: General Tech | June 10, 2016 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, pc sales

IDC is predicting a drop in PC sales this year and put the majority of the blame on Microsoft and it's new OS.  The free upgrade has not driven PC sales higher as HP and others predicted in either the consumer or business market segments.  That is not the whole picture of course, as there are also economic factors involved as exemplified by a similar drop in sales of phones and tablets.  You can follow the link from The Inquirer for a more indepth look at this drop and the causes for it from IDC and Gartner.

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"That's according to forecasts by analyst outfit IDC, which claims that PC shipments will fall by 7.3 per cent year on year, around with growth in the market now forecast at two per cent below its earlier predictions for 2016."

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Source: The Inquirer

Criminy, that's a nasty one! Near invisible infections via BITS

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2016 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, BITS, security

BITS, the Microsoft Background Intelligent Transfer Service used for pushing out OS updates among other things can be turned to the dark side in a rather nasty way.  When cleaning up an infect network, security professionals stumbled upon a nasty discovery, a compromised machine with no sign of an infection vector except in the BITS database.  The malware came in through the usual channel but once installed it used a BITS task to clean up any traces of the installation from temp files and the registry and then delete itself, leaving an infected machine with almost no traces of where the infection came from or is residing.  The Register offers advice on how to check suspicious machines in their story.

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"While working on a customer clean-up project, SecureWorks staff found that attackers had created self-contained BITS tasks that didn't appear in the registries of affected machines, and their footprints were limited to entries on the BITS database."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft Open-Sources Their WebGL Implementation

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2016 - 01:42 AM |
Tagged: webgl, microsoft

Well that's something I never expected to write. It turns out that Microsoft has open-sourced a small portion of their Edge web browser. This is the part that binds OpenGL ES 2.0 functionality, implemented atop Direct3D in Edge, to JavaScript for websites to directly interact with the user's GPU (as opposed to hardware-accelerated CSS effects for instance).

Websites can use WebGL to share 3D objects in an interactive way, have interesting backgrounds and decorations, or even render a video game.

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This is not an open-source build of Microsoft Edge, though. It doesn't have the project files to actually be built into something useful. Microsoft intends for it to be reference, at least for now they say. If you are interested in using or contributing to this project for some reason, their GitHub readme file asks you to contact them. As for me? I just think it's neat.

X means X again, thanks Microsoft

Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2016 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

It seems that taking inspiration from those nasty popups where the X button does not actually close the window was a bad idea for Redmond and thankfully they have listened to reason.  No longer will clicking the X on the Win10 nag screen be construed as accepting the upgrade as long as it is a Roman numeral, but will once again return to the clost command which it represents on any and all other windows.  The Inquirer was more than a little miffed about this which is perfectly understandable as this particular step was far beyond the pale, the other attempts to forcibly upgrade ranged from reasonable to annoying but this one was just wrong.  Thankfully Microsoft has listened and once again it will go back to asking you for a date repeatedly, until you remove KB2952664, acquiesce to its advances or hold out past July 29th when you will have to pay $120 to hang out with it.

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"Microsoft has now responded to "customer feedback" and agreed to change the behaviour of the 'X' button back to the more 'piss off' tone that we all know and love."

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Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft Releases Windows 7 "Convenience" Roll-Up

Subject: General Tech | May 18, 2016 - 03:40 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, Windows 7, Windows 8.1

I know this sounds like yet another story where Microsoft attempts to ram Windows 10 down your throat, but it's not (apart from a potential interpretation of the last paragraph). It's been about six-and-a-half years since Windows 7 launched, and about five years since Service Pack 1. If you've attempted to install Windows 7 recently, then attempting to run Windows Update makes it painfully obvious how long that's been.

microsoft-2016-windows7-update.png

Image Credit: Microsoft

Finally, Microsoft is making an official roll-up available. Better? It can be slipstreamed into install media, so you don't even need to go through that step with each reformat. This will not contain every possible update, though. Microsoft lists 23 patches that they excluded based on three conditions:

  • “They don't have broad applicability.”
  • “They introduce behavior changes.”
  • “They require additional user actions, such as making registry settings.”

They also excluded every update to Internet Explorer, which makes sense. Users can install Internet Explorer 11 and update it, or just uninstall it entirely if they want (after they download whatever browser(s) that they will actually use). While some of these excluded fixes will affect many users, it should be a much better experience than several hundred patches and a half-dozen reboots. It's probably better to let the user choose many of these optional updates by hand anyway.

At the same time, they also announced that “non-security updates” will be merged into a monthly roll-up for both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 (and several versions of Windows Server). They're not too clear about how this will work, but it sounds like users will not be able to pick and choose parts of optional patches anymore. Given how many of these were attempts to, again, shove Windows 10 down our throats, that's a bit of a concern. However, I suspect that this is just so Microsoft can align its release structure to how it's done on Windows 10. It's probably just easier for them to manage.

Source: Microsoft

Simply FUD or a message from the Forced Upgrade Department?

Subject: General Tech | May 18, 2016 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: Intel, microsoft, fud

DigiTimes has a doozy of a post title, stating that Intel plans to limit OS support on future processors starting with Kaby Lake and Apollo Lake CPUs.  Now this sounds horrible but you may be taking the word support out of context as it refers to the support that major customers require which leads to the so called errata (pdf example), not that the processors will be incapable of running any OS but Windows 10.  This may not matter so much to the average consumer but for industries and the scientific community this could result in huge costs as they would no longer be able to get fixes from Intel, unless they have upgraded to Windows 10.   That upgrade comes with its own costs, the monstrous amount of time it will take for compatibility testing, application updating and implementation; not to mention licensing fees.

AMD should take note of this, focus on continued legacy support and most importantly advertising that fact.  The price difference between choosing AMD over Intel could become even more compelling for these large customers and help refill AMD's coffers.

Opportunity.jpg

"With Intel planning to have its next-generation processors support only Windows 10, industrial PC (IPC) players are concerned that the move will dramatically increase their costs and affect market demand, according to sources from IPC players."

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Source: DigiTimes

So long WiFi Sense, don't let the door hit you ...

Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2016 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: wifi sense, security, microsoft

Here is an update we can get behind!  Windows 10 Build 14342 will no longer have WiFi Sense, that bizarre feature which Microsoft added which would pass on any of your stored WiFi passwords to your contacts as well as overriding your preferred network if one of your contacts signals was available.  This caused a certain amount of alarm as you might not trust every contact you might have on Outlook.com with your WiFi password nor trust their WiFi networks.  The blather about high cost and low demand is an interesting cover for changing their minds, regardless it is good to see it go.  There were a couple of other updates included in this release, check them out at The Inquirer.

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"We have removed the WiFi Sense feature that allows you to share WiFi networks with your contacts and to be automatically connected to networks shared by your contacts," explained Aul."

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Source: The Inquirer