Windows 10 gets three more years of security updates, if you can afford them

Windows 10’s end-of-support date is October 14, 2025. That’s the day that most Windows 10 PCs will receive their last security update and the date when most people should find a way to move to Windows 11 to ensure that they stay secure.

As it has done for other stubbornly popular versions of Windows, though, Microsoft is offering a reprieve for those who want or need to stay on Windows 10: three additional years of security updates, provided to those who can pay for the Extended Security Updates (ESU) program.

↫ Andrew Cunningham for Ars Technica

Getting users to upgrade from Windows 10 to 11 at that point isn’t going to be easy, because at this point Windows 10 users who can technically upgrade are clearly not doing so for a reason. I also wonder what this will mean for the large number of Windows 10 users who simply cannot upgrade because they have a processor that’s artificially restricted from running Windows 11.

Firefox on the brink?

A somewhat obscure guideline for developers of U.S. government websites may be about to accelerate the long, sad decline of Mozilla’s Firefox browser. There already are plenty of large entities, both public and private, whose websites lack proper support for Firefox; and that will get only worse in the near future, because the ’fox’s auburn paws are perilously close to the lip of the proverbial slippery slope.

↫ Bryce Wray

US government guidelines say that US government websites only need to be tested on browsers with more than 2% market share – and Firefox is getting perilously close to that threshold. While it won’t kill Firefox overnight, it would definitely make Firefox progressively more cumbersome to use for American users, and could have ripple effects elsewhere.

HP Smart is auto installing on Windows 11 and Windows 10 on non HP-machines

According to our tests and reports seen by us, HP Smart is auto-installing on all versions of Windows that use Microsoft Store, including Windows 11 23H2 or 22H2. HP Smart is an app that allows you to manage HP printers, and it’s typically pre-installed on HP PCs. It’s not supposed to be installed when you’re not using an HP device like a PC or printer.

However, the Microsoft Store is auto-installing the “HP Smart” app on Windows installations.

↫ Mayank Parmar for Windows Latest

Microsoft is giving away free applications to Windows users the world over, and even installing it for them! What a nice, altruistic gesture. I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Rest in peace, Optane

Intel’s Optane memory modules launched with a lot of fanfare in 2015, and were recently discontinued, in 2022, with similar fanfare. It was a sad day for me, a lover of abstraction-breaking technologies, but it was forseeable and understandable.

At the time of Optane’s launch, a lot of us were excited about the idea of having a new storage tier, sitting between DRAM and flash. It was announced as having DRAM endurance and speed with the persistence and size of flash. It was a futuristic memory technology, but the technology of the future met the full force of Wright’s Law.

↫ Nima Badizadegan

I definitely remember Optane being presented as a huge deal, but it seems it fell between the cracks of other technologies developing around it and their prices dropping fast.

A year in recap: Windows accessibility

The Windows Accessibility team adheres to the disability community’s guiding principle, “nothing about us without us,” emphasizing the creation of products that empower everyone. We launched and announced new and exciting features last September through our Windows 11 2022 Update and with your feedback, we have improved upon those experiences in a number of ways.

↫ Divya Bhaskaran on Microsoft’s official Windows blog

In this blog post, Microsoft details some of the accessibility features it has added to Windows in 2023.

The hidden secrets of the Fn key on the Mac

Even if you’ve used the Mac for decades, I suspect you have never fully understood the Fn key. Not helping is the fact that Apple sometimes calls it the Function key, but all Mac keyboards already have 12 or more numbered F-for-Function keys! The Fn key first appeared in 1998 in the PowerBook G3 Series (Wallstreet) and has become a fixture in the lower-left corner of laptop keyboards ever since. The Fn key migrated to standalone keyboards only in 2007 with the release of the Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad, where it occupies a spot between the Delete key and the Home key. On Apple’s compact desktop keyboards, it reverts to the lower-left corner.

↫ Adam Engst at TibBITS

This article made me wonder when the Fn key first appeared, but searching for it leads to a lot of SEO spam that is clearly all wrong. As the article notes, Apple first introduced it in 1998, and IBM already it in on the monochrome ThinkPad 300 in 1992. It’s much older than that, though; the IBM PC Convertible from 1986 also had one, as did the IBM PCjr from 1984. At this point I’m starting to think it was actually a fairly common key, but with the explosion of IBM compatibles in the early ’80s it’s basically impossible to check them all, and, of course, there’s the possibility it may have existed on earlier systems, or third-party keyboards long lost to time.

This would be an interesting mystery to solve.

macOS Sonoma is setting records for update size

It was Big Sur that focussed attention on the size of macOS updates. In Mojave and earlier, updates had essentially been Installer packages that brought a minimum of overhead. By the time that many had installed Big Sur’s new Signed System Volume (SSV), we were starting to discover just how large its updates were. Those were early days with its completely new updating process that builds a new System volume, takes a snapshot of it, and constructs a tree of hashes that verify the integrity of every last bit within it.

↫ Howard Oakley

I had no idea macOS updates had become as big as they had, and good on Apple for trying to bring this back down again, and speed up installation of updates, too.

Ousted propaganda scholar Joan Donovan accuses Harvard of bowing to Meta

A prominent disinformation scholar has accused Harvard University of dismissing her to curry favor with Facebook and its current and former executives in violation of her right to free speech.

Joan Donovan claimed in a filing with the Education Department and the Massachusetts attorney general that her superiors soured on her as Harvard was getting a record $500 million pledge from Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg’s charitable arm.

↫Joseph Menn for The Washington Post

This is why “voting with your wallet” is such an empty platitude, usually used by corporatists trying to absolve corporations from misdeeds and shifting the blame to us, mere consumers. How on earth can us regular folks vote with our wallet when someone like Zuckerberg can just buy the entire “election” without blinking?

Launching brand new BeOS, Mac OS X, and MS-DOS T-shirts in the OSNews Merch Store!

The holidays are coming, there’s a chill in the air (literally for me, I live in the Arctic), so it’s time for a few new additions to the official OSNews Merch Store.

Do you live in the terminal, breathe the terminal? We’ve got new shirts just for you. The opening message of the terminals of Mac OS X, BeOS, and MS-DOS (let’s be generous and call MS-DOS a terminal), with a command to call an osnews directory on the file system, printed on the front of the shirt. They sport the correct fonts, background colours, and exact verbiage used in the operating systems themselves. For the Mac OS X one, I had to choose a last login date and a username, so I opted for the exact time and date of birth of my oldest son, and a username that’s a bit of an Easter egg.

These shirts of the organic cotton variety, and all proceeds go to supporting OSNews’ continued existence so we don’t have to resort to SEO crap, “AI”-generated garbage, and malvertising. Every item sold on the store generates around $10 for us, with the rest going to our partner Bonfire for producing the items and running the store.

You can also support OSNews through individual donations on Ko-Fi, by becoming a Patreon, and by supporting us through LiberaPay.

Finally: proper attribution

You may have noticed that starting today, I’ve been adding a dedicated link to the main story in every post on OSNews. Our old-fashioned 2001 method of “biggest link is main story” simply doesn’t hold up today as proper attribution, so from here on out every post will have a link marked by ↫ crediting the name and/or publication of the main linked article (or multiple where it makes sense). I’ve been unhappy with our attribution for years, and finally got my act together and settled on this solution. While I’ve had, in total, maybe no more than 2-3 complaints about this since I started in 2006 – it’s taken too long, and I apologise for that.

Credit and attribution matter.

For the curious: ↫ is part of the arrows Unicode block as U+21AB, titled “Leftwards arrow with loop”. I settled on it because the path of the loop and the arrow evoked a feeling of being yoinked back somewhere else, and that’s what a link does. Sure, I could’ve opted for a chain link or whatever, but that’s boring.

Porting Hare to OpenBSD

I was always very interested in OpenBSD and a few months ago, I decided to give it a try. I’ve quickly fallen in love with it! There is, however, a big problem: Hare does not fully support OpenBSD! So, I decided to port it and I am happy to announce that my work was merged yesterday and OpenBSD is now fully supported by Hare. Let me show you some of the tricky stuff that was involved in the port.

↫ Lorenz (xha) on the official Hare blog

Hare is a relatively new programming language, and originally only supported Linux and FreeBSD. This post details the process of porting it over to OpenBSD.

The world depends on 60-year-old code no one knows anymore

The problem is that very few people are interested in learning COBOL these days. Coding it is cumbersome, it reads like an English lesson (too much typing), the coding format is meticulous and inflexible, and it takes far longer to compile than its competitors. And since nobody’s learning it anymore, programmers who can work with and maintain all that code are a increasingly hard to find. Many of these “COBOL cowboys” are aging out of the workforce, and replacements are in short supply.

This puts us in a tricky predicament. We need to maintain and modernize the code that underpins so much of the business and finance worlds, but we don’t have enough skilled workers we need to carry out those updates.

This is precisely the kind of problem that IBM thinks it can fix with AI.

↫ JD Sartain for PCMag

It seems like learning and getting good at COBOL is a surefire way to ensure job security. I wonder if there’s a way to make modern applications or software in COBOL? I mean, there are COBOL compilers for modern platforms, of course, but are there any bindings (I think that’s the correct term?) for modern GUI toolkits like GTK, Qt, and so on?

The headline’s probably a bit hyperbolic, but the core of the issue stands.

Everything you ever wanted to know about HP’s 9000 Series 300

Hewlett-Packard’s 9000 Series 300 (HP300) was a range of technical workstations based on Motorola 680×0 microprocessors. Superbly engineered in modular form, and ahead of the curve in terms of functionality, these workstations were used mainly as instrument controllers and for desktop technical computing. The HP300 series launched in 1985 with the models 310 (pictured below) and 320. It evolved through numerous variants of increasing power, concluding with the 38x models released in 1991. The series was officially obsolete as of 1997.

The definitive website dedicated to vintage Hewlett-Packard computers is the wonderful HP Computer Museum, which has excellent and wide-ranging archival resources. The present site is focused specifically on the HP 9000 series 300 and is for anyone interested in the history, conservation and restoration of these personal workstations.


Everything you could possibly ever want to know about the series 300, in one place. It’s incredibly detailed, and if you have your eyes on buying one of these machines, I urge you to keep this resource in a permanently open tab so you know what you’re doing.

The Unix V6 shell and how control flow worked in it

On Unix, ‘test‘ and ‘[‘ are two names for (almost) the same program and shell builtin. Although today people mostly use it under its ‘[‘ name, when it was introduced in V7 along side the Bourne shell, it only was called ‘test; the ‘[‘ name was only nascent until years later. I don’t know for sure why it was called ‘test‘, but there are interesting hints about its potential genesis in the shell used in V6 Research Unix, the predecessor to V7, and the control flow constructs that shell used.

↫ Chris Siebenmann

I’m fairly sure if I read this about 12 more times, I’ll start to maybe understand some of it.

Fuchsia version 14 rolling out to Nest Hub Preview Program

According to Google’s official support page listing the current firmware versions of its speakers and smart displays, version 14.20230831.4.72 is now available to those enrolled in the Preview Program (which can be accessed via the Google Home app). These updates are often released in stages, meaning it may be a few weeks before your Nest Hub gets the latest build.

On the project’s website, Google offers a more in-depth look at what has changed in Fuchsia version 14 (as well as version 13, which the Nest Hubs skipped). Most of the changes will only be relevant to Fuchsia developers, but there are a handful of user-facing improvements.

Google is providing some very detailed release notes for each version of Fuchsia, which are quite interesting to peruse. The recent layoffs at Google hit the Fuchsia team hard, likely reducing its future prospects as Google’s unified consumer-facing operating system, but that clearly doesn’t mean it’s entirely dead in the water.

Windows-as-an-app is coming

Windows App, which is still in beta, will let you connect to Azure Virtual Desktop, Windows 365, Microsoft Dev Box, Remote Desktop Services, and remote PCs from, well, pretty much any computing device. Specifically, you can use it from Macs, iPhones, iPads, other Windows machines, and — pay attention! — web browsers.

That last part means you’ll be able to run Windows from Linux-powered PCs, Chromebooks, and Android phones and tablets.

So, if you’ve been stuck running Windows because your boss insists that you can’t get your job done from a Chromebook, Linux PC, or Mac, your day has come. You can still run the machine you want and use Windows for only those times you require Windows-specific software.

So remote desktop in a shinier package and some additional marketing.

Microsoft soliciting feedback about an “Windows Advanced Settings” panel

Currently, there are many settings/registry keys that developers desire to tweak that are either not accessible via the Windows Settings app and/or are difficult to discover throughout the OS. Users may have to resort to running scripts or manually changing registry keys to get their machine into their ideal state. Furthermore, there is not a single place for developers to discover and tweak new Windows features specific to developer workflows that are in development and provide feedback on them. This means that developers may not even be aware of features or settings that they can tweak to improve their workflows and optimize their productivity/machine performance. Finally, lots of developers have to search the web to find the best settings to tweak to optimize their machine for their specific use case — there isn’t a single place to find what settings are recommended by fellow developers.

Microsoft is soliciting feedback on a possible new settings panel that would centralise popular advanced settings in Windows that currently require registry hacks or are otherwise difficult to find. The company wants to know which features and settings are a good fit for such a panel, and what such a panel should look like.

This is an excellent idea, and something I’m sure many of the Windows users here would love to see.

Google researchers’ attack prompts ChatGPT to reveal its training data

A team of researchers primarily from Google’s DeepMind systematically convinced ChatGPT to reveal snippets of the data it was trained on using a new type of attack prompt which asked a production model of the chatbot to repeat specific words forever. 

Using this tactic, the researchers showed that there are large amounts of privately identifiable information (PII) in OpenAI’s large language models. They also showed that, on a public version of ChatGPT, the chatbot spit out large passages of text scraped verbatim from other places on the internet.

So not only are these things cases of mass copyright infringement, they also violate countless privacy laws.


My long quest to revive a ’90s Windows gaming cult classic

As 2023 draws to a close—and as we start to finalize our Game of the Year contenders—I really should be catching up on the embarrassingly long list of great recent releases that I haven’t put enough time into this year. Instead, over the last few days, I’ve found myself once again hooked on a simple, addictive, and utterly unique Japanese Windows freeware game from the late ’90s that, until recently, I thought I had lost forever.

Pendulumania is a cult classic in the truest sense of the word: Few people have heard of it, even in hardcore gaming circles, but those who have experienced it tend to have very fond memories of it. And while I shared those memories, it wasn’t until this week that I’ve been able to share my effusive praise for a game whose name and playable executable had eluded me for well over a decade.

What a great story.

First bits of a Haiku compatibility layer for NetBSD

Does anyone here remember Cosmoe? Cosmoe was an attempt to combine Haiku’s API with the Linux kernel and related tools, started in the early 2000s. The project eventually fizzled out, now only an obscure footnote for BeOS diehards such as myself. It seems, though, that the idea of combining the Haiku API with a mature UNIX-like operating system refuses to die, and a few days ago, on the NetBSD Users’s Discussion List, a developer by the name of Stephan picked up the baton.

Some years ago I already started to work on a compatibility layer for NetBSD and resumed working on it recently.


I think a compatibility layer would mostly consist of kernel components and a custom I have created a libroot that provides functionality missing in libc and it should behave like the original one. It makes use of libc and libpthread at the moment as well as syscalls of the kernel components. The source can be found on Github.

This is clearly an experimental project, but Stephan does note he has had success running the Haiku IPC test programs, so it’s definitely more than scribbles on a napkin. The attraction of this idea is clear, too – Haiku API, but on a stable kernel with vastly superior hardware and device support. I’m not entirely sure if it’s got life in it, but even if it doesn’t – it’s amazing work, and that in an of itself makes it a success.