Windows 10's latest trick? Perpetually hitting EOL; secretly.

Subject: General Tech | March 9, 2018 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, spring creators update, microsoft

Microsoft demonstrated once again how little it learns from past mistakes.  Those who chose to opt out of updates to reduce the amount of data which Microsoft collects, or to ensure a production machine remains in a known state will soon find themselves running the latest build of Win10.  This will not be a choice, as it bypasses Windows Update and will install even if you have blocked that service; similar to the last three major updates.  Microsoft decided not to officially inform users of this, perhaps in the hopes no one would notice.

It seems that Windows 10 builds will essentially hit EOL every time a new major update is pushed out, and if you manage to successfully block the update, you won't receive any new security patches.  The Inquirer is as unimpressed with this as you are.


"Users, particularly those who have opted out of data collection, are being told that they must update to Build 1709 (the most recent) in order to continue receiving security patches."

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Source: The Inquirer

Windows 10 on ARM Details

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2018 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, qualcomm, arm

Paul Thurrott found a developer documentation page, Troubleshooting x86 Desktop Apps, on the Windows Dev Center. The goal of the page is to list a few reasons why the software you develop might not be compatible with Windows 10 on ARM and the WOW translation layer. Yup, they’re reusing that name, which was the translation layer for 32-bit Win32 applications running on 64-bit Windows.


Based on this document, we now know that Windows on ARM:

  • Will not translate x86 drivers, just x86 applications and services.
  • Does not support 64-bit applications ( says they’re working on it.)
  • Does not support (hardware-accelerated) OpenGL 1.1+ or DirectX 1-8
    • Vulkan is not mentioned anywhere, but I’m guessing not.

There are also a few other issues, like the application cannot modify Windows components (ex: the 7-zip entry in the Windows file explorer’s right-click menu) unless it is recompiled for ARM. also says that Hyper-V is not supported in Windows 10 on ARM.

The amount of software that Windows on ARM can run is surprisingly both broader and narrower than I would have expected. The major issue for me is OpenGL – you would think that the graphics driver would dictate this, not so much the OS APIs. I certainly hope that, especially after their other pushes toward openness, Microsoft isn’t pressuring ARM manufacturers to not ship an OpenGL driver, even though the hardware vendors clearly know how to support OpenGL ES at the very least.

And yes, there could very well be a good reason, and they might even be working on OpenGL support as we speak, but it’s an odd omission (at least for now).

Lastly, this has nothing to do with UWP applications. This document is only about standard Win32 applications running on ARM processors. UWP is designed to be cross-architecture. You just need to include the ARM target when you build and package.

Source: Microsoft

Windows 10 brings you Ultimate Power!!!

Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2018 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft's new Ultimate Performance mode is impressively name but a bit hyperbolic as what it refers to is a new power plan which will be available to desktop machines in Build 17101 and Build 17604.  There is not much more information on the new setting, apart from its intent to reduce micro-latencies, likely referring specifically to intense computational tasks and not aimed at making your game run faster.  It is possible that an enthusiast would benefit from the new power schema, it will be interesting to see the results once the update lands.  In the mean time you can pop by Slashdot for links and commentary.


"As the name implies, this is a step up for people for whom even the High Performance mode isn't enough -- it throws power management out the window to eliminate "micro-latencies" and boost raw speed. You can set it yourself, but PC makers will have the option of shipping systems with the feature turned on. Ultimate Performance isn't currently available for laptops or tablets, but Microsoft suggests that could change."

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Source: Slashdot

Windows S is now just an awkward phase which your PC can grow out of

Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2018 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: windows s, windows 10, microsoft

Microsoft is changing how they will distribute Windows S, their Chrome-like locked down OS.  It will now become an option on all Windows 10 installations, allowing you to enable it if you feel the need to set up a computer which can only run apps from the Microsoft Store and only surf via Edge.  The Inquirer cites an interesting fact, 83% of users who do not disable Windows S mode in the first week remain with that OS permanently.  Perhaps they don't know any better, or perhaps they were one of those who were satisfied with the original Surface's Windows RT?


"Now, the company has confirmed that it will instead offer an "S Mode" on standard versions of Windows 10 instead, locking the machine down to a walled garden of apps from the Microsoft Store, and blocking traditional Win32 programs. And, of course, restricting you to using bloody Edge browser. "

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Source: The Inquirer

It's about damn time; Windows Defender will start removing those bloody registry cleaners

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2018 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: registry cleaner, windows 10, microsoft, windows defender, crapware

Have you experienced the sheer frustration of explaining to a friend or family member that the reason their machine slowed down somewhat and is generating popups at a fearsome rate is because of the crapware they downloaded and not your ministrations?  Convincing someone who installed a registry cleaner or supposed driver update tool that that software is the root of their suffering can be as profitable as arguing with a brick wall that it is mostly empty space and thus you should be able to walk through it; in other words an exercise in futility.  Come March, Windows Defender will remove many of the more questionable ones automatically, though The Inquirer suggests some of the more innocuous ones may remain.


"We've all been there - warnings of out of date drivers, thousands of registry errors, and usually with a message claiming "we'll fix 30 for free, then you pay". Most of it is utter twaddle and won't affect your computing experience at all. In fact, in a lot of cases, they do more harm than good."

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Source: The Inquirer

Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer will let you see what your computer sends back to Redmond

Subject: General Tech | January 24, 2018 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Some time towards the end of March or the beginning of April Windows 10 will be getting another major update and one of the components will allow you to read through all the information which your computer has collected about your usage.  This won't mean you can easily read through the data as it will be presented in a JSON format with little detail as to what the various attributes mean.  The numbers may not remain a mystery for long, once released various enterprising souls will get to work decoding the information and writing applications to translate the JSON files.  This does not mean Microsoft will no longer collect data, merely that they are going to be a bit more transparent about what they are doing.  Pop by Ars Technica for more information.


"Following the publication last year of the data collected by Windows 10's built-in telemetry and diagnostic tracking, Microsoft today announced that the next major Windows 10 update, due around March or April, will support a new app, the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer, that will allow Windows users to browse and inspect the data that the system has collected."

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Source: Ars Technica

A look at the latest Radeon graphics driver stack

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 29, 2017 - 03:20 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, vega 64, RX 580, microsoft, linux 4.15, linux, amd

With a new Linux kernel out, Phoronix revisited the performance of two of AMD's new cards running on that kernel as well as the current version of Windows 10.  GPU testing on Linux has gotten more interesting thanks to the upsurge in compatible games, this review encompasses the recent Deus Ex, Shadow of Mordor, F1 2017 and GRID Autosport.  The tests show there is still work to be done on the Mesa Radeon graphics driver stack as in all cases the performance lagged behind on Linux even though the hardware was exactly the same.


"As we end out November, here is a fresh look at the current Windows 10 Pro Fall Creator's Update versus Ubuntu 17.10 with the latest Linux 4.15 kernel and Mesa 17.4-dev Radeon graphics driver stack as we see how various games compete under Windows 10 and Linux with these latest AMD drivers on the Radeon RX 580 and RX Vega 64 graphics cards."

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Source: Phoronix

All you need to know about Windows 10's Controlled Folder Access

Subject: General Tech | October 23, 2017 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, security, windows defender

One feature of the Fall Creator's Update which has not seen much coverage is the new Controlled Folder Access security setting under Windows Defender Security Center.  It is enabled for system files automatically, blocking the ability for all but approved apps from making changes to the files in your system folders.  You can also add additional folders as well as approved applications by following the simple instructions which Slashdot linked to.  The primary goal is to prevent ransomware's ability to encrypt vast swaths of folders on your machine but it will also help protect folders you choose from being modified by applications you have not approved.


"With the release of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update last week, the "Controlled Folder Access" that Microsoft touted in June is now live for millions of users. As the name hints, the Controlled Folder Access feature allows users to control who can access certain folders."

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Source: Slashdot

The new Windows 10 VR update falls upon us

Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2017 - 03:12 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, creators update

Today marks the launch of the Windows 10 Fall Creators update which will be pushed out to your machine some time in the near future.  Microsoft will be taking it slowly, so if you do not see the update yet do not fret as it will come to you eventually.  If you can't possibly wait another second, you can install it manually instead of waiting for the recommended process via Windows Update.  The update includes Paint 3D and Story Remix, which brings back capabilities similar to the old MovieMaker, along with enhanced VR support and much more.  You can read some of the highlights over at The Inquirer.  

Remember patience is a virtue.


"But the main update involves virtual reality (VR) support ready for the wealth of cheapish headsets that are on the way supporting Windows Holographic. Devices from HP and Acer lead the charge."

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Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft Once Again Backs Away from Windows 10 Mobile

Subject: Mobile | October 8, 2017 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10 mobile, windows 10

Windows 10 Mobile has been in a holding pattern for a couple of years now. Microsoft has not really announced any new hardware initiatives, but they were also saying, consistently, that the platform would get revisited in some other year. Likewise, they were keeping the mobile OS up-to-date, even tying Insider builds roughly in lockstep with PC build releases. If you were also paying attention to the Windows on ARM announcements, you could assume that Microsoft was waiting for several pieces to fall into place before pushing, once more, with all of their weight.



Today, Joe Belfiore of Microsoft has tweeted that features and hardware “aren’t the focus”. Windows Central goes on to note that some enterprises have already adopted Windows 10 Mobile.



He also goes on to discuss initiatives that they’ve attempted to attract app developers. They commissioned works, and even built apps to get third-parties started. They didn’t take off because there wasn’t enough users. (Personally, I was scared off by development requirements and restrictions back in the Windows 8 Developer Preview days, which is an ongoing issue with UWP. That said, the developers that Joe Belfiore is talking about are the type who would publish on iOS, so that’s not an issue for them.)

But let’s think about this for a second. Microsoft still seems to be pushing Windows 10 for ARM, and it’s ever-less likely to be for an upcoming mobile initiative. So, why are they doing that? I can see how they would be concerned that Intel and AMD, in the future, repeat the mistakes of ~2007-2010 and fail to keep up with ARM vendors on an important market segment (which was tablets and mobile phones at the time, but might not be going forward). It could be a good opportunity to make this big change while the rest of the company is struggling with many other big changes, rather than waiting for the dust to settle to try again (although that’s already happened a few time over the last several years). Also, there are some implications for the server market, although I always assumed things like x86 emulation was for the consumer and enterprise markets.

It’s also possible that they don’t really have a cohesive plan. Some of these ideas could be running on momentum alone, until they gradually come to a stop.