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  1. Windows 10 1903 has been released to the world. People have been upgrading eagerly to this new release. If you missed the frontpage article, there's a lot of changes for 1903. Here's a recap! Speed Improvements (Thanks to Better Spectre Fixes) The news of Spectre shook the industry at the start of 2018. Spectre is a design flaw in CPUs, and it allows programs to escape their restrictions and read other programs’ memory spaces. Microsoft patched Windows to help block Spectre attacks, but the resulting patches reduced your PC’s performance in some scenarios—especially on PCs from 2015 and earlier, which don’t have the CPU features needed to speed up the fix. Now, a change in the April 2019 Update looks set to practically eliminate those performance penalties and speed your PC back up. Specifically, Microsoft is enabling “retpoline” and “import optimization.” All you need to know is your PC should get faster, and you won’t even need to think about it. But here’s a detailed document from Microsoft explaining how these optimizations work if you’re interested in the details. 7 GB of Your PC’s Storage Reserved for Updates Windows Updates can fail to install properly if your PC doesn’t have enough free disk space. This can be a problem on inexpensive devices with only a small amount of built-in storage. Microsoft is solving the problem by commandeering about 7 GB of your PC’s storage and making it into “reserved storage.” This space is used for Windows Updates, but programs can also store temporary files here. When Windows needs the space for updates, it deletes the temporary files and performs the update. So space isn’t completely wasted, as files that would have normally used space on your computer will just sit in the reserved storage space. The exact amount of storage space used depends on the optional features and languages you have installed, but it starts at about 7 GB. Home Users Can Now Pause Updates, Too! Microsoft says it’s “[made] the Pause Update feature easier to find” by placing it directly on the main Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update page. However, that’s not all. Microsoft didn’t announce this officially, but the Pause Updates feature now works on Home editions of Windows 10—at least in Insider builds, so this could easily change. Home users can now pause updates for up to seven days. It’s a great feature if you need a temporary reprieve from updates. However, as in the Professional version of Windows 10, Windows Update will immediately check for and install updates after it unpauses. Windows 10 Professional users can still pause updates for up to 35 days at a time. A Light Desktop Theme Windows 10 now has a shiny new light theme. The Start menu, taskbar, notifications, action center sidebar, print dialog, and other interface elements can now be light instead of dark. Windows 10’s latest update even features a new default desktop wallpaper that matches the new theme. Technically, Windows 10 now has two separate options: Windows mode and app mode. The old default theme, which combined a dark taskbar (dark Windows mode) with light apps (light app mode) is still an option. You can choose any combination of the two settings. File Explorer’s icon has been tweaked to have some brighter colors, and it now looks better with the new light theme. Windows Sandbox for Professional Users Windows 10 now has a built-in “Windows Sandbox.” It’s everything we’ve always wanted: an integrated, isolated desktop environment where you can run software in a container without affecting your host operating system. When you close the Sandbox, all the software and files in the sandbox are deleted. It uses hardware-based virtualization to keep the software confined to a container, just like Microsoft’s Hyper-V. The Sandbox is only available on Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows, so Home users will have to pay to upgrade from Home to Pro to install and use the sandbox. A Less Cluttered Default Start Menu Microsoft is cleaning up the default Start menu. The default Start menu is now just a single column and is much simpler. Yes, it’s not perfect, and it still has Candy Crush Saga—but at least that game is buried in a “Play” folder. You won’t see these changes on an existing PC. But, when you start using a new PC or start using a new user account on your current PC, you’ll see a cleaner Start menu. You can also unpin the default groups of tiles more quickly if you’d rather have a cleaner Start menu. Windows now lets you unpin groups of tiles by right-clicking them and selecting the “Unpin Group From Start” option. You don’t have to remove tiles one by one anymore. Windows 10 Lets You Uninstall More Built-in Apps If you want to uninstall more built-in apps completely, now you can. Windows 10 always let you uninstall some built-in apps like Solitaire, My Office, and Skype, but now it also lets you uninstall built-in apps like 3D Viewer, Groove Music, Mail, Paint 3D, and more. This doesn’t extend to all apps. There’s still no way to remove the Edge browser or Store app, for example. But you can remove most apps. Cortana and the Search Bar Are Separating Windows 10 has a search bar that’s integrated with Cortana, but they’re separating. In the April 2019 Update, the search bar functions as a normal search box, and there’s a separate Cortana icon on the Windows taskbar. You can leave the search box on the taskbar and hide the Cortana icon or hide the search box and leave Cortana. Of course, you can also hide both. The Search interface has a new start design, and it features options like “All,” “Apps,” “Documents,” “Email,” and “Web” after you click it. This is different from previous versions of Windows 10, which showed Cortana whenever you clicked the box and waited for you to type a search to present these options. Unfortunately, the standard Windows search bar still integrates online search results with Bing, so it doesn’t just search your PC. There are more options, too—you can even disable SafeSearch for results in the search bar, and Windows will show you previews of adult content, for some reason. But this does point to an interesting way forward and a decrease in the relevance of Cortana—now, you could leave the search bar on the taskbar and disable the Cortana icon, putting Alexa in its place. The Start Menu Searches All Your PC’s Files The Start menu’s search box is getting a lot more useful, however! The file search feature in the Start menu can now search for files anywhere on your PC using the Windows search index. In previous versions of Windows 10, it only searched libraries like Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos, and your Desktop. The search will still be quick thanks to the index. This is an elegant solution and makes a lot of sense. The Windows search indexer has been around for a long time and was always ignored by Windows 10’s Start menu for some reason, but Microsoft has finally seen the light. You can configure which locations are indexed and searched from within the Settings app. To enable this, head to Settings > Search > Searching Windows and select “Enhanced (Recommended)” to make the indexer search your entire PC. “Classic” indexing mode, which just searches your libraries and desktop, is still available as an option. You can also customize search locations to choose the precise folders indexed by Windows. Passwordless Login Microsoft is pursuing “a world without passwords.” You can now create a Microsoft account without a password online. That account is linked to your phone number, and Microsoft will text you a security code whenever you try to sign in. On the latest version of Windows 10, you can now sign into Windows 10 with these passwordless accounts and set up a PIN or other Windows Hello sign-in feature to secure your computer. The account doesn’t have a password you ever have to type. Of course, this isn’t mandatory. It’s just a new, optional type of account you don’t have to create. A System Tray Icon for Windows Update Windows Update now has a notification (system tray) icon for updates. You can head to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options and enable the “Show a notification when your PC requires a restart to finish updating” option to enable it. After you do, you’ll see a Windows Update icon with an orange dot in your taskbar’s notification area when you need to reboot your PC for updates. It’s a nicer way of getting alerted to a required reboot than a full-screen message; that’s for sure. A New Update Naming Scheme (For Now) Microsoft keeps changing Windows 10’s update naming scheme. Windows 10’s October 2018 Update was named Redstone 5 during development, and the previous four were also “Redstone” releases with different numbers. Now, to make things even simpler, the April 2019 update was named 19H1, as it was scheduled for release in the first half of 2019. This sounds simple, except Microsoft has already abandoned the new naming scheme and is about to change the naming next time around. The releases after 19H1 will reportedly be codenamed “Vanadium” and “Vibranium,” as the Windows 10 team is aligning its naming with the Azure team. Zoom (and More) in the Console Windows 10’s console now lets you zoom in and out. Just hold the Ctrl key and scroll with your mouse or trackpad. With the default Consolas font, text in the console scales nicely and doesn’t look pixelated, no matter how much you zoom in. The aspect ratio of the frame stays the same so text won’t overflow onto different lines, either. There are also some new experimental console features you can adjust. Right-click any console window’s title bar, select “Properties,” and click the “Terminal” tab to find them. For example, you can configure the text entry cursor’s color and shape. More Automatic Troubleshooting Windows has had troubleshooters for a while, but you had to know what type of problem your PC was having and then navigate to the correct troubleshooter. Now, you can just navigate to Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot. You’ll see a list of recommended troubleshooters that Windows thinks might fix your problem. In fact, Windows automatically tries to fix some problems in the background now. Here’s what Microsoft says about that: Microsoft can automatically fix certain critical problems on your Windows device to keep it running smoothly. For example, we may automatically restore default settings for critical services, adjust feature settings to match your hardware configuration, or make other specific changes required for Windows to operate normally. Critical troubleshooting happens automatically and can’t be turned off. Windows can perform recommended troubleshooting in the background, too. To control whether this happens, head to Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & Feedback. Under Recommended Troubleshooting, select “Ask me before fixing problems,” “Tell me when problems get fixed,” or “Fix problems for me without asking. By default, Windows 10 is set to ask. Notifications Hidden in Full-Screen Apps Windows 10’s next update can also hide notifications while you watch videos or use any other full-screen app thanks to an improvement in Focus Assist. Focus Assist can already hide notifications while you’re playing any full-screen game, but now it can work when you’re using any app, whether that’s a video player, full-screen spreadsheet, or web browser after you pressed F11. Notepad Improvements, Once Again Yes, Microsoft is still working on Notepad—even after all the improvements back in the October 2018 Update. Microsoft has also made changes to the way Notepad handles encodings. The status bar now displays the encoding of the open document. Notepad can now save files in UTF-8 format without a Byte Order Mark, which is now the default. This makes Notepad more compatible with the web, where UTF-8 is the default, and it’s also backward compatible with traditional ASCII. Notepad will now have an asterisk in the title bar when the current file has been modified and not saved. For example, if you’re working on a file named Example.txt and make some changes, the title bar will say “*Example.txt” until you save the file. New shortcuts are available, too. Press Ctrl+Shift+N to open a new Notepad window, Ctrl+Shift+S to open the Save As dialog, or Ctrl+W to close the current Notepad window. Notepad can also now save files with a path longer than 260 characters if you set a larger MAX_PATH on your system. There’s also a new Help > Send Feedback option that will open the Feedback Hub to the Notepad category so you can provide feedback to Microsoft. More Improvements and Changes You’ll see a banner at the top of the Settings app’s “home page” with your Microsoft account and links to common tasks like Your Phone, Windows Update—and Microsoft Rewards, for some reason. The official release of Emoji 12 is coming in March 2019, and Microsoft has added new emoji to Windows 10 in preparation. As always, you can press Windows + . (period) to open the emoji panel anywhere in Windows 10. They’re also available on the touch keyboard. Windows 10 now supports kaomoji in the emoji picker, too. Kaomoji is a Japanese term that translates to “face characters. For example, (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ is a popular kaomoji. And, when you open the emoji panel, you can now click or touch and drag it to move it around. File Explorer now shows “friendly dates” by default. So, rather than dates like “1/23/2019”, you’ll see dates like “Yesterday,” “Tuesday,” “January 11,” and “February 16, 2016.” You can disable this by right-clicking the top of the columns in the File Explorer window and unchecking “Use friendly dates.” This will give you the old format back. The Storage Settings page has been redesigned a bit, too. Head to Settings > System > Storage to see a breakdown of how your space is used. You can click each category to find actions that will help free up space. The Settings > Time & Language > Date & Time screen gains a “Sync Now” button to immediately synchronize your clock with an internet time server. It also shows you when the time was last synchronized and the address of your system’s current internet time server. This helps if your time is wrong for some reason—like, for example, if Windows doesn’t correctly change your clock for DST. The Settings app can now configure advanced IP settings for Ethernet connections. For example, you can configure a static IP address or set your favorite DNS server. Previously, this required using the Control Panel. Head to Settings > Network & Internet > Ethernet, click your Ethernet connection name, and click “Edit” under IP settings to find these options. Windows Update has had “Active Hours” since the Anniversary Update. You can tell Windows when you’re using your PC, and it won’t automatically restart your PC during these hours. In the April 2019 Update, you can enable a new “Automatically adjust active hours for this device based on activity” setting and Windows will automatically set your active hours, so you don’t have to think about them. This option is available at Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Change Active Hours. There’s now a new, globe-shaped icon that appears when your PC doesn’t have any Internet connection. This replaces the previous individual icons for Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and cellular data connections. Windows now has a microphone status icon, too. This icon appears in your notification when an application is using your microphone. You can mouse over it to see which application is using your mic. Click it to open the Settings > Privacy > Microphone screen. The Windows Security app—Windows 10’s built-in antivirus and security application—now has a redesigned “Protection History” pane. It shows you more information about detected threats and available actions. For example, in addition to threats detected by the Windows Defender antivirus, it also shows you blocks initiated by Controlled Folder Access. Windows Security now also has a new “Tamper Protection” option. When enabled, this setting protects important security settings. For example, it limits changes to many of the options controlled by the Windows Security app unless you open the app and make the changes. This prevents programs from changing them in the background. To enable this setting, head to Windows Security > Virus & Threat Protection > Virus & Threat Protection Settings. You can set a default tab in the Task Manager. This tab will open whenever you launch the Task Manager. To do so, use the Options > Set Default Tab in the Task Manager. The Task Manager now displays the high DPI awareness of the processes on your system, so you can see more information about which applications will work properly with high DPI displays. To find this option, open the Task Manager, click the Details tab, right-click the headers at the top of the list, click “Select Columns,” check “DPI Awareness” in the list, and click “OK.” Microsoft is also enabling the “Fix Scaling for Apps” option by default. This will help fix blurry applications on high DPI displays. This was added to Windows 10 back in the April 2018 Update, but Microsoft left it disabled by default to be conservative. The sign-in screen now has an “acrylic” background to blend in with Microsoft’s new “Fluent Design System. Previously, it had more of a blur—it’s a different visual effect. Speaking of Fluent Design, Microsoft is also adding shadows to Microsoft Edge’s context menus and other parts of the operating system. The Start menu’s design has been tweaked a bit, too. It has more “Fluent Design” touches and icons in the menus. For example, the Sleep, Shut Down, and Restart options in the menu now have icons. The Windows Hello options at Settings > Accounts > Sign-in Options have been redesigned. All available sign-in options are now in a single list, and each option has an explanation under it. You can also now set up Windows Hello to work with a physical security key (like a YubiKey) directly from the Settings app. The brightness tile under quick actions in the Action Center is now a slider, which makes it a lot easier to quickly change your display’s brightness level. You can now right-click a quick action tile and select “Edit Quick Actions” to quickly edit your tiles right from the sidebar without opening the Settings app, too. The touch keyboard now lets you input more symbols. To find them, tap the old “&123” button to see symbols and numbers, and then tap the new “Ω” button see additional symbols. These symbols are integrated into the emoji picker, too. That same touch keyboard now helps you type more accurately by dynamically adjusting the targets around each key. So, if you frequently mistype a letter by tapping a little to the left or right, it’ll learn. This happens invisibly, under the hood. Windows now lets you choose a cursor color and size. You can make the cursor larger and change its color, making it easier to see. Head to Settings > Ease of Access > Cursor & Pointer to see available options. Even More Changes! There are always tons of new changes in these Windows 10 builds. Even this isn’t a complete list! But here are a few more: App Updates: Various apps included with Windows have been updated, as usual. For example, the Snip & Sketch app has more options for working with screenshots, including the ability to add a border to them and print them. It can now take delayed screenshots on a timer and screenshots of individual windows, too. Sticky Notes 3.0 is available, and it finally syncs your notes between computers. The Mail & Calendar app now has a navigation button for opening Microsoft To-Do. The Game Bar has a built-in gallery so you can see view screenshots and videos, right from the Game Bar interface. The Office app has been redesigned to be based on the new Office.com experience. It helps you launch Office apps on your computer, install ones that aren’t, and find recently used Office documents. Cortana + Microsoft To Do: Cortana now adds your reminders and tasks to lists in Microsoft To-Do. So, when you tell Cortana to add milk to your grocery list, you’ll see Milk appear on the “Grocery” list in the Microsoft To-Do app. Consistent Display Brightness: Your display’s brightness will not change automatically when you plug it into a charger. Previously, you may have lowered your display’s brightness, and it might become brighter when you plug it in. Now, it will automatically remember your preferred brightness—even when you plug it in. Download Folder Sorting: Windows 10’s Downloads folder will be sorted by “most recent” by default, which puts your most recently downloaded folders on top. This has always been an option, but it wasn’t the default. If you’ve chosen a default sorting method, your existing setting won’t be changed. Disk Cleanup Warning: The Disk Cleanup tool now displays a warning when you click the “Downloads” option, warning that this is your personal downloads folder and all files inside it will be removed. Windows Update Reboots: Windows Update can now reboot your PC immediately after installing updates rather than waiting for a more convenient time. This is an optional setting you can enable if you like, and Windows Update will be more considerate by default. Start Menu Reliability Improvements: The Start menu is becoming more reliable. Start was previously part of the ShellExperienceHost.exe process but is now its own process: StartMenuExperienceHost.exe. If a problem occurs with the main ShellExperienceHost.exe process, the Start menu should still be responsive. This will also make it easier for Microsoft to debug problems with the Start menu. Native RAW Support: Microsoft is adding native support for the RAW image format often used by professional photographers to Windows 10. Open the Microsoft Store and install the “Raw Image Extension” package to use it. This will enable image thumbnails, previews, and metadata of RAW files in File Explorer. You can also view RAW images in apps like Photos after installing the package. Font Management in Settings: Font management is improved. You can now drag-and-drop font files into the Settings > Fonts page to install them. You can click a font on this page to view its font faces and details or uninstall a font from here. (This installs the font for a single user. To install it system-wide, right-click a font file normally and select “Install for All Users.”) Clipboard History Redesign: The Clipboard History viewer added back in the October 2018 Update has a new, more compact design. Press Windows + V to open it. Streamlined PIN Resets: When signing into Windows 10 with a PIN, you can click the “I Forgot My PIN” link, and you’ll see a new, streamlined interface for resetting your PIN right from the welcome screen. Colors in the Task Bar’s Jump Lists: If you tell Windows to show your accent color on the taskbar from Settings > Personalization > Colors, the jump lists that appear after you right-click an icon on your taskbar will also be themed with your chosen color. Windows Subsystem for Linux: Windows Subsystem for Linux’s wsl command-line tool now has new options, including the –import and –export options for importing and exporting Linux distributions using tar archive files. Microsoft is also consolidating things—the wsl command now includes options from the wslconfig command, and Microsoft plans to only update the wsl command with command-line options in the future. FLS Slot Limit Increase: Microsoft raised Windows 10’s FLS (Fiber Local Storage) slot allocation limit. This is particularly useful for musicians, who will be able to load more unique plugins into their DAWs (digital audio workstations.) This will also aid any other application that wants to load hundreds or thousands of unique DLL files. Narrator Improvements: Narrator has a “Read by Sentence” feature that you can instruct to read the current, next, and previous sentences. The Narrator also works better with Google Chrome, too—which makes sense, as Microsoft Edge will one day be based on Chromium, the open-source software that forms the basis for Google Chrome. Narrator will now even warn you if the Caps Lock key is on when you start typing, too. It also has a new “Narrator Home” interface that appears whenever you turn on Narrator. Reset This PC Redesign: The “Reset This PC” interface that resets your PC to its original state was redesigned a bit, and now requires fewer clicks to go through. Insider Settings Redesign: The Windows Insider settings at Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program have also been streamlined and simplified, but all the same options are still there. Sound in the Notification Area Stays the Same: In earlier Insider builds of 19H1, Microsoft experimented with making the sound icon system tray open the Sound page in the Settings app. This change has been reverted, and the option in the volume icon’s context menu will now open the classic desktop volume mixer window. My People: Microsoft may kill Windows 10’s “My People” feature at some point, but this hasn’t been officially confirmed. Other new features include support for additional languages throughout the operating system. For example, SwiftKey’s typing intelligence now supports languages like English (Canada), French (Canada), Portuguese (Portugal), and Spanish (United States). If you write in Vietnamese, the touch keyboard now supports Vietnamese Telex and Number-key based (VNI) keyboards. Windows now also contains an Ebrima font that supports ADLaM documents and web pages, which is the language of the Fulani people, who predominantly live in West Africa.
  2. Hi all. With MSE no longer available for download for XP (and with limited updates in the future), what would be the best antivirus and antimalware set-up? I have a bunch of questions as ever; Currently have Avast, but was wondering if AVG would be better? Or anything else? As stand-alone additional scanners/blockers, I just have SpywareBlaster to help protect, and MalwareBytes available as a standalone scanner. Is it worth adding Superantispyware to the mix, or indeed anything else (I of course have CCleaner)? Is it worth keeping XP? My family is using it on there desktop, and really can't afford to upgrade to Vista or any of the above (and I don't think it would run particularly well). What would be best? Try Lubuntu/Xubuntu or the like? Or leave XP and just be careful? Thanks for the advice as always!
  3. Dial-a-fix does not support Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, or Windows 10. Dial-a-fix only supports Legacy Windows - that is Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, and XP. For more information please check the wiki. If you need support for these operating systems, please post in the corresponding forum.
  4. 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 security and performance updates will be offered. "Individual patches will no longer be available," Mercer said. The new maintenance model for Windows 7 and 8.1 was a direct transplant from Windows 10, which has always relied on cumulative updates that include the contents of all previous releases along with the new fixes. View the full article
  5. 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, Microsoft plans to bump CBB up to version 1607, putting both CB and CBB on the same major version. The Long Term Servicing Branch, an Enterprise-only version that will receive security and critical issue support for 10 years, will also be updated. Currently, Windows 10 LTSB is essentially the Windows 10 RTM release with certain features such as the Edge browser and Windows Store permanently removed. On October 1, a new Windows 10 LTSB build will be released, starting another 10-year support window. View the full article
  6. 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 expect to get new desktop OS upgrades for free (indeed, Mac users have done since 2013). The touch-centric look-and-feel that arrived with Windows 8, which confused and upset many users, was onther reason for the Windows 10 offer. Giving Windows 10 away for free helped Microsoft put that painful negative reception behind it, and in the process got rid of much of the Windows 8 installed base still out there (has any version of Windows appeared and disappeared so quickly?). View the full article
  7. 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 off Cortana and stop personal data gathering in Windows 10". That guide mostly applies to the current version of Cortana, but a lot of the privacy tips are relevant for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. View the full article
  8. By default, on Windows, Firefox is a 32-bit application. This means that it is limited to using at most 4 GiB of memory, even on machines that have more than 4 GiB of physical memory (RAM). In fact, depending on the OS configuration, the limit may be as low as 2 GiB. Now, 2–4 GiB might sound like a lot of memory, but it’s not that unusual for power users to use that much. This includes: users with many (dozens or even hundreds) of tabs open; users with many (dozens) of extensions; users of memory-hungry web sites and web apps; and users who do all of the above! Furthermore, in practice it’s not possible to totally fill up this available space because fragmentation inevitably occurs. For example, Firefox might need to make a 10 MiB allocation and there might be more than 10 MiB of unused memory, but if that available memory is divided into many pieces all of which are smaller than 10 MiB, then the allocation will fail. View the full article
  9. 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 mechanisms of the operating system collect much more user data than is required for it to function. View the full article
  10. Windows 10 breaches French law by collecting too much personal information from users and failing to secure it adequately, according to the French National Data Protection Commission (CNIL). Some of the privacy failings identified can be remedied by users willing to delve deep into the Windows 10 settings, but one of the commission's gripes is that better privacy should be the default setting, not one users must fight for. CNIL served Microsoft with a formal notice on June 30, giving it three months to comply with the law, but only made it public on Wednesday. The commission conducted seven tests of the data sent back to Microsoft by Windows 10 in April and June of this year. Among Microsoft's faux pas was the collection of data about all the apps downloaded and installed on a system, and the time spent on each one, a process CNIL said was both excessive and unnecessary. View the full article
  11. Microsoft just released yet another Win10 upgrade nag system, disguised as a "Recommended" patch for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 systems. According to the KB 3173040 article, if you have Windows set to automatically install updates, and have the Windows Update "Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them" box checked, your machine will suddenly sprout a full-screen purple message that says: View the full article
  12. 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 rolling out update packs for Windows 7 every month, thus making it easier for computers running this version to remain up to date and get the very latest improvements. “These fixes will be available through Windows Update, WSUS, and SCCM as well as the Microsoft Update catalog. We hope this monthly rollup update simplifies your process of keeping Windows 7, and 8.1 up-to-date,” Microsoft said when announcing its new update rollup plan. View the full article
  13. Before Microsoft Windows 10, users could customize all the systems sounds to be anything they wanted. Unfortunately, for reasons unbeknownst to the rest of us, Microsoft decided that certain sounds were off limits for customization in Windows 10. For example, you can't change sounds in the control panel for logon, logoff, and shutdown. But you don't have to let Microsoft get away with that, as long as you don't mind an excursion deep into the Windows 10 Registry file. Standard disclaimer: The Windows Registry file is vital to the operation of the Windows operating system. Incorrectly editing or otherwise corrupting the Windows Registry file could prevent your computer from booting properly. You have been warned. Delve deep To customize sounds in Windows 10, right-click the speaker icon in the system tray and then click the Sounds menu item. As you can see in Figure A, you will be presented with a control panel where you can modify system sounds. However, logon, logoff, and shutdown are notably missing from this list. View the full article
  14. Microsoft will end the free upgrade to Windows 10 offer that’s available for Windows 7 and 8.1 users on July 29, which means that those who can benefit from this promo have less than 50 days to do it. Redmond launched its new operating system last year on July 29 and decided to offer it free of charge to those who were running Windows 7 and 8.1, giving them one full year to upgrade without paying a single cent. For those who are still unsure whether this comes with a catch, here’s the thing. You can upgrade to Windows 10 any time by July 29, 2016, and the operating system will be available for you without any cost for the entire lifetime of your device. This means that you won’t get a trial version or a demo, and Windows 10 won’t turn into adware after July 29, as some people claimed, but to benefit from all of these, you have to upgrade before the offer expires. View the full article
  15. While we’ve spent a lot of time over the past year talking about Windows 10 (including new roadmap details), we know that organizations are still working with Windows 7 too, regularly updating their Windows 7 SP1 images to include the latest updates, app versions, and more. For those that are involved in that process, you’ve probably seen a display like this too many times: New Windows 7 SP1 convenience rollup makes image creation much faster We’re happy to announce today that we’re making available a new convenience rollup for Windows 7 SP1 that will help. This convenience rollup package, available to download from http://catalog.update.microsoft.com/v7/site/Search.aspx?q=3125574, contains all the security and non-security fixes released since the release of Windows 7 SP1 that are suitable for general distribution, up through April 2016. Install this one update, and then you only need new updates released after April 2016. And since this update can be injected into Windows 7 SP1 media, it’s fully supported to mount a Windows 7 SP1 image (WIM file), then inject this update into it. See https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd744559(v=ws.10).aspx for the details of how to do this. This convenience update is completely optional; it doesn’t have to be installed and won’t even be offered via Windows Update – you can choose whether or not you want to use it. View the full article
  16. 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, and share your Wi-Fi passwords with contacts. Some security experts had expressed concerns over Windows 10 automatically connecting to open hotspots, but Microsoft is keeping this feature in place. Wi-Fi Sense's password sharing feature generated unnecessary noise from people who didn't understand it wasn't sharing all Wi-Fi passwords by default, but Microsoft has clearly received enough data and feedback to show that it's not widely used. View the full article
  17. It will be interesting to see what comes of this. I'm wondering which Windows will get this implementation. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/powershell/archive/2015/10/19/openssh-for-windows-update.aspx
  18. Google is requiring more Windows-based Chrome extensions to be installed from its Web Store and will enforce the same requirement on Mac users in a few months in an attempt to prevent users from inadvertently installing malicious titles. The move comes a year after Google first required Windows users to download extensions from the Chrome Web Store, a mandate that resulted in a 75-percent drop in user support requests seeking help uninstalling unwanted extensions. The policy wasn't enforced on the Windows developer channel, so developers of malicious extensions have increasingly embraced it as a medium for distributing their wares. View the full article
  19. 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 XP version. It was designed to run fullscreen as a media player, and support television channels from TV tuners. A number of PC makers created dedicated Media Center PCs for use in the living room, but it never really made it mainstream enough for Microsoft to continue developing it fully. Windows Media Center was characterized by its use of a green button to access the main interface from a remote control. View the full article
  20. 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 a program like Magical Jelly Bean KeyFinder. Once Microsoft confirms your product key, you can download Windows and use the Windows 7 USB Download Tool to put it on a thumb drive. If your computer came with Windows, however, it's probably an OEM version, which will not work on Microsoft's new site. Instead, if you want to reinstall Windows without the bloatware, you'll probably need to borrow a disc from someone and use your product key when you resinstall. Windows 8.1 users have always been able to download ISOs with Microsoft's tool, which you can now get here. Link: Welcome to the Microsoft Software Recovery Center Source: Lifehacker View the full article
  21. 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 to The Verge. "We believe customers over time will realize the value of properly licensing Windows and we will make it easy for them to move to legitimate copies." View the full article
  22. There has been a LOT of confusion around Windows, SSDs (hard drives), and whether or not they are getting automatically defragmented by automatic maintenance tasks in Windows. There's a general rule of thumb or statement that "defragging an SSD is always a bad idea." I think we can agree we've all heard this before. We've all been told that SSDs don't last forever and when they die, they just poof and die. SSDs can only handle a finite number of writes before things start going bad. This is of course true of regular spinning rust hard drives, but the conventional wisdom around SSDs is to avoid writes that are perceived as unnecessary. I've seen statements around the web like this: I just noticed that the defragsvc is hammering the internal disk on my machine. To my understanding defrag provides no value add on an SSD and so is disabled by default when the installer determines the disk is SSD. I was thinking it could be TRIM working, but I thought that was internal to the SSD and so the OS wouldn’t even see the IO. One of the most popular blog posts on the topic of defrag and SSDs under Windows is by Vadim Sterkin. Vadim's analysis has a lot going on. He can see that defrag is doing something, but it's not clear why, how, or for how long. What's the real story? Something is clearly running, but what is it doing and why? I made some inquiries internally, got what I thought was a definitive answer and waded in with a comment. However, my comment, while declarative, was wrong. Windows doesn’t defrag SSDs. Full stop. If it reports as an SSD it doesn’t get defraged, no matter what. This is just a no-op message. There’s no bug here, sorry. - Me in the Past I dug deeper and talked to developers on the Windows storage team and this post is written in conjunction with them to answer the question, once and for all "What's the deal with SSDs, Windows and Defrag, and more importantly, is Windows doing the RIGHT THING?" It turns out that the answer is more nuanced than just yes or no, as is common with technical questions. The short answer is, yes, Windows does sometimes defragment SSDs, yes, it's important to intelligently and appropriately defrag SSDs, and yes, Windows is smart about how it treats your SSD. The long answer is this. Actually Scott and Vadim are both wrong. Storage Optimizer will defrag an SSD once a month if volume snapshots are enabled. This is by design and necessary due to slow volsnap copy on write performance on fragmented SSD volumes. It’s also somewhat of a misconception that fragmentation is not a problem on SSDs. If an SSD gets too fragmented you can hit maximum file fragmentation (when the metadata can’t represent any more file fragments) which will result in errors when you try to write/extend a file. Furthermore, more file fragments means more metadata to process while reading/writing a file, which can lead to slower performance. As far as Retrim is concerned, this command should run on the schedule specified in the dfrgui UI. Retrim is necessary because of the way TRIM is processed in the file systems. Due to the varying performance of hardware responding to TRIM, TRIM is processed asynchronously by the file system. When a file is deleted or space is otherwise freed, the file system queues the trim request to be processed. To limit the peek resource usage this queue may only grow to a maximum number of trim requests. If the queue is of max size, incoming TRIM requests may be dropped. This is okay because we will periodically come through and do a Retrim with Storage Optimizer. The Retrim is done at a granularity that should avoid hitting the maximum TRIM request queue size where TRIMs are dropped. Wow, that's awesome and dense. Let's tease it apart a little. When he says volume snapshots or "volsnap" he means the Volume Shadow Copy system in Windows. This is used and enabled by Windows System Restore when it takes a snapshot of your system and saves it so you can rollback to a previous system state. I used this just yesterday when I install a bad driver. A bit of advanced info here - Defrag will only run on your SSD if volsnap is turned on, and volsnap is turned on by System Restore as one needs the other. You could turn off System Restore if you want, but that turns off a pretty important safety net for Windows. One developer added this comment, which I think is right on. I think the major misconception is that most people have a very outdated model of diskfile layout, and how SSDs work. First, yes, your SSD will get intelligently defragmented once a month. Fragmentation, while less of a performance problem on SSDs vs traditional hard drives is still a problem. SSDS *do* get fragmented. It's also worth pointing out that what we (old-timers) think about as "defrag.exe" as a UI is really "optimize your storage" now. It was defrag in the past and now it's a larger disk health automated system. > Additionally, there is a maximum level of fragmentation that the file system can handle. Fragmentation has long been considered as primarily a performance issue with traditional hard drives. When a disk gets fragmented, a singular file can exist in pieces in different locations on a physical drive. That physical drive then needs to seek around collecting pieces of the file and that takes extra time. This kind of fragmentation still happens on SSDs, even though their performance characteristics are very different. The file systems metadata keeps track of fragments and can only keep track of so many. Defragmentation in cases like this is not only useful, but absolutely needed. SSDs also have the concept of TRIM. While TRIM (retrim) is a separate concept from fragmentation, it is still handled by the Windows Storage Optimizer subsystem and the schedule is managed by the same UI from the User's perspective. TRIM is a way for SSDs to mark data blocks as being not in use. Writing to empty blocks on an SSD is faster that writing to blocks in use as those need to be erased before writing to them again. SSDs internally work very differently from traditional hard drives and don't usually know what sectors are in use and what is free space. Deleting something means marking it as not in use. TRIM lets the operating system notify the SSD that a page is no longer in use and this hint gives the SSD more information which results in fewer writes, and theoretically longer operating life. In the old days, you would sometimes be told by power users to run this at the command line to see if TRIM was enabled for your SSD. A zero result indicates it is. fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify However, this stuff is handled by Windows today in 2014, and you can trust that it's "doing the right thing." Windows 7, along with 8 and 8.1 come with appropriate and intelligent defaults and you don't need to change them for optimal disk performance. This is also true with Server SKUs like Windows Server 2008R2 and later. Conclusion No, Windows is not foolishly or blindly running a defrag on your SSD every night, and no, Windows defrag isn't shortening the life of your SSD unnecessarily. Modern SSDs don't work the same way that we are used to with traditional hard drives. Yes, your SSD's file system sometimes needs a kind of defragmentation and that's handled by Windows, monthly by default, when appropriate. The intent is to maximize performance and a long life. If you disable defragmentation completely, you are taking a risk that your filesystem metadata could reach maximum fragmentation and get you potentially in trouble. Source: Hanselman View the full article
  23. 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 content providers will continue to provide streaming video instead of DRM-free download options, native MKV support in Windows adds another option to share video or audio files without having to download third-party players like VLC. Microsoft has also pledged to support MKV in the upcoming release of Windows 10, alongside support for Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) files. Microsoft’s MKV implementation in Windows 8.1 is still limited by the operating system's codec and subtitle support, but the company may choose to improve both of these drawbacks in Windows 10. Source: TheVerge View the full article
  24. Just a quick note (I have the flu, can barely focus) to say Mozilla has finally set a target date for a Win x64 release - the end of March, 2015. Read about it here: http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=2876519
  25. There's lots of talking going around about the free upgrade. I'd like to get myself Windows 8 just to try it and be able to get the free upgrade to Windows 10.   Why is it now Windows 10 instead of 9? Because of third party programmers using the wrong code.   Quote source: http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/2hwlrk/new_windows_version_will_be_called_windows_10/ckwq83x   A huge offender is Java, just take a look at https://searchcode.com/?q=if%28version%2Cstartswith%28%22windows+9%22%29
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