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  1. Microsoft yesterday announced that beginning in October it will offer only cumulative security updates for Windows 7 and 8.1, ending the decades-old practice of letting customers choose which patches they apply. "Historically, we have released individual patches ... which allowed you to be selective with the updates you deployed," wrote Nathan Mercer, a senior product marketing manager, in a post to a company blog. "[But] this resulted in fragmentation where different PCs could have a different set of updates installed leading to multiple potential problems." Instead, only cumulative
  2. Microsoft released Windows 10's Anniversary Update last week, but it's already getting ready to unveil new features for its next major update. The software giant has started testing its "Redstone 2" update to Windows 10, with an initial build available for Windows Insiders testing public beta copies. The new update doesn't have any big new features for public testers yet, as Microsoft is in the early stages of making structural improvements to its OneCore shared code of Windows across PCs, tablets, phones, HoloLens, Xbox, and IoT. The first few builds available for testing "may include mo
  3. With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, aka Windows 10 version 1607, released earlier this week, it's time to look forward to what's next. Windows 10 has multiple release tracks to address the needs of its various customer types. The mainstream consumer release, the one that received the Anniversary Update on Tuesday, is dubbed the Current Branch (CB). The Current Branch for Business (CBB) trails the CB by several months, giving it greater time to bed in and receive another few rounds of bug fixing. Currently the CBB is using last year's November Update, version 1511. In about four months
  4. Microsoft's year-long offer of a free upgrade to Windows 10 has now finished, albeit with a couple of loopholes still to be closed. Since the deal was launched last year there are now more than 350 million devices running the new operating system, mostly thanks to the offer. It's not especially surprising that users have quicker to upgrade to Windows 10 than earlier versions: Microsoft was giving it away for free, after all. Microsoft's offer was, to an extent, bowing to the inevitable: since the rise of the smartphone with regular free mobile OS upgrades, consumers increasingly
  5. Seeing as another major round of updates to Windows 10 is about to take place next week it only makes sense to see some fear-inducing articles. In fairness, the articles themselves aren't that bad (see PC World) as the content mostly explains away the so-called controversy. Nonetheless in the age of "I only read the headline" things like "You can't turn off Cortana in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update" with the fine print "...but you can lessen her awareness" does a disservice to the community. Normally, I ignore such articles as in June we wrote a detailed guide called "How to turn
  6. Apple's legal battle over encryption dominated headlines earlier this year, but another tech giant is fighting a quieter legal war over user privacy: Microsoft. It won a major victory last week, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit sided with the company, ruling that a U.S. warrant could not be used to force Microsoft to turn over email data stored in an Irish data center. The decision, which the Justice Department is considering appealing to the Supreme Court, could have major implications for tech companies who routinely move data around the world so it can be backed up or quic
  7. We reported earlier on France's demands to Microsoft with regards to bolstering its Windows 10 OS to better protect user data, and ultimately, their privacy. The fact that a watchdog would target Microsoft for collecting too much data probably strikes no one as a surprise, as that very complaint has been one shared by many users since the launch of Microsoft's latest OS. In the complaint, France's Chair of the National Data Protection Commission noted a couple of big issues, from the fact that the PIN code can be entered as many times as an attacker needs it to be and also that certain me
  8. On Wednesday, Microsoft claimed that its Edge browser was the only one of the big four browsers—which also includes Chrome, Firefox, and Opera—to offer 1080p resolution while playing Netflix content. A quick test of all four browsers by PCWorld proved this claim to be true, with the other three browsers capped at 720p. Currently, Opera runs Netflix at a maximum resolution of 720p. Why this matters: Microsoft’s been busy trying to rehabilitate the reputation of Edge, which suffered after the browser initially offered slower performance than its competitors, while also lacking the plug
  9. Microsoft has released a new update rollup for Windows 7 users that brings an important pack of improvements to computers still running this OS version - according to third-party stats, Windows 7 continues to be used on some 45 percent of the PCs out there. The June 2016 update rollup for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 includes fixes and performance improvements, so it doesn’t bring any new security patches. These continue to be part of the Patch Tuesday rollout taking place on the second Tuesday of each month. Microsoft announced in May this year that it would start rollin
  10. While some of Microsoft's older game titles, such as Age of Empires II HD (a 2013 update of a 1999 game) are found on Valve's Steam platform, its latest high-profile titles, such as Forza 6 Apex and Quantum Break, are exclusive to the Windows Store. But this is going to change, with Microsoft planning to release more titles on the popular store. Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox team at Microsoft, was talking on Giant Bomb's E3 stream, via GameSpot. When it comes to PC gaming, the Windows Store is very much an also-ran, with Steam the dominant force. As Spencer noted, "I don't think Valve's
  11. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and LinkedIn Corporation (NYSE: LNKD) on Monday announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft will acquire LinkedIn for $196 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $26.2 billion, inclusive of LinkedIn’s net cash. LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence. Jeff Weiner will remain CEO of LinkedIn, reporting to Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. Reid Hoffman, chairman of the board, co-founder and controlling shareholder of LinkedIn, and Weiner both fully support this transaction. The transaction is expect
  12. No matter how many times we tell you to change your passwords and make it anything but your birthday, “123456,” or “password,” many still aren’t taking the efforts to make their accounts more secure. So Microsoft is actively doing something about it by banning weak passwords entirely. The team calls it “dynamically banned,” which means that if your account uses a password that appears in the most-used/stolen password list, Microsoft will force you to create a more complex one instead. This will apply to Microsoft Account and Azure AD services. Here’s the screen to look out for, if yo
  13. Microsoft is removing part of its controversial Wi-Fi Sense feature from Windows 10. "We have removed the Wi-Fi Sense feature that allows you to share Wi-Fi networks with your contacts and to be automatically connected to networks shared by your contacts," says Microsoft's Gabe Aul. "The cost of updating the code to keep this feature working combined with low usage and low demand made this not worth further investment." Wi-Fi Sense was originally introduced on Windows Phone and then updated and included with Windows 10. It's a feature that lets you automatically connect to open hotspots,
  14. Microsoft has announced it will natively support cross-platform play between Xbox One, Windows 10, and other "online multiplayer networks." The move effectively opens the Xbox Live platform so that it can accommodate players on Sony's PlayStation Network, among others. The announcement was made on Xbox.com by Chris Charla, director of ID@Xbox, who said "it's up to game developers to support this feature" and noted that players will "always have the option of choosing to play only with other Xbox Live players." "In addition to natively supporting cross-platform play between Xb
  15. Put down your coffee gently. Microsoft has today released a homegrown open-source operating system, based on Debian GNU/Linux, that runs on network switches. The software is dubbed SONiC, aka Software for Open Networking in the Cloud. It's a toolkit of code to bend switch hardware to your will, so you can dictate how it works and what it can do, rather than relying on proprietary firmware from a traditional networking vendor. It also pits Redmond against white-box network operating systems from the likes of HP, Dell, and Cumulus Networks. SONiC builds upon the Window
  16. Microsoft stopped actively developing Windows Media Center in 2009, but the company still shipped an unmodified version in an upgrade pack for Windows 8. The software giant is planning to kill off Media Center in Windows 10, meaning any PCs upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will lose the feature. Microsoft confirmed the plan to ZDNet’s Ed Bott in a recent interview. It’s not a surprise move, but Windows Media Center has a passionate and loyal following which will undoubtedly mourn the loss of the feature. Microsoft first introduced Windows Media Center in 2001 as a separate Windows X
  17. During its Build 2015 keynote, Microsoft just unveiled a new Windows 10 feature it's calling Continuum for Phones. It allows smartphones running Microsoft's latest OS to transform into desktop PCs — or at least an experience that's very close — when connected to larger screens. We've already seen Continuum help ease the transition for users switching between tablet and PC modes, and this is an even better example of what's possible when developers go along with Microsoft's universal apps plan. View the full article
  18. At its Build developer conference, Microsoft today announced the launch of Visual Studio Code, a lightweight cross-platform code editor for writing modern web and cloud applications that will run on OS X, Linux and Windows. The application is still officially in preview, but you can now download it here. This marks the first time that Microsoft offers developers a true cross-platform code editor. The full Visual Studio is still Windows-only, but today’s announcement shows the company’s commitment to supporting other platforms. View the full article
  19. Microsoft announced a four-pronged effort to bring developers and their apps to Windows at its build conference today. One of these prongs—a way for Web developers to present their sites as apps—was already announced at Mobile World Congress earlier in the year. The second prong is logical but not altogether surprising. In Windows 10, developers will be able to specially prepare existing Windows apps, whether Win32, .NET WinForms, .NET WPF, or any other Windows development technology, and sell them through the Windows Store. Unlike the "traditional" Windows application installation experience,
  20. As you may have heard in the technical press, Microsoft is a more open-source friendly place these days, and has embraced GitHub for a number of high-profile projects. As a result of this shift and an internal push to move to git generally, I've updated my existing CodePlex projects so that I can easily mirror them to GitHub. For the immediate future, I plan to maintain both sites equally with the bulk of the documentation still residing on CodePlex, but you can get full source and releases from either location thanks to the magic of distributed VCS. In addition, all six of these pro
  21. If you don't have your Windows 7 disc handy—but want to create a custom installation, run Windows from a USB drive, or just do a fresh install—you'll need an ISO file of the disc. You used to be able to download them from Digital River's servers, but those links no longer work. Now, Microsoft has a Software Recovery Center where you can download those ISOs for free. This isn't piracy, of course—you still need a valid Windows license to download the ISO and register Windows. If you purchased a retail version of Windows, enter the product key from the package. If you can't find it, use
  22. While Microsoft has dropped hints that the Internet Explorer brand is going away, the software maker has now confirmed that it will use a new name for its upcoming browser successor, codenamed Project Spartan. Speaking at Microsoft Convergence yesterday, Microsoft's marketing chief Chris Capossela revealed that the company is currently working on a new name and brand. "We’re right now researching what the new brand, or the new name, for our browser should be in Windows 10," said Capossela. "We’ll continue to have Internet Explorer, but we’ll also have a new browser called Project Spartan
  23. Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users this summer, but Microsoft is also extending its offer to software pirates. "We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10," says Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Windows chief, in an interview with Reuters. The move means that thousands, perhaps millions, of machines will get a free copy of Windows 10 even if a license has not been properly acquired. "Anyone with a qualified device can upgrade to Windows 10, including those with pirated copies of Windows," says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement
  24. Microsoft first started supporting the MKV file format natively on the company’s Xbox One console earlier this year, and now the company is bringing those changes to Windows. Starting today, Windows 8.1 will now natively support the Matroska Multimedia Container (MKV) file format with the built-in video app. The open standard container format has long been used to provide pirated copies of movies and TV shows through BitTorrent or other file sharing sites, but Microsoft’s move to provide native support lends the file format some much-needed legitimacy. > While it’s likely most con
  25. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) co-founder Paul Allen one-upped his good friend co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates with an even bigger donation to fight the Zaire Ebolavirus (ZEBOV) which has engulfed a trio of nations in western Africa in a deadly, fast-growing epidemic. Gates and his wife have pledged to give away all their money to charity before they die. His Microsoft-derived fortune current makes him the world's second richest man with a net worth of $81.4B USD. In September he announced that he would be giving $50M USD to fight Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. The announcement
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