Microsoft confirms TPM 2.0 is a hard floor for Windows 11

Microsoft has published a blog post, trying to dispel some of the confusion around Windows 11’s system requirements. First and foremost, the company makes it clear that TPM 2.0 and 8th generation Intel and 2nd generation Ryzen are hard floors. Microsoft adds that based on the feedback during Windows 11’s testing process, support for 7th generation Intel and 1st generation Ryzen processors might be added. Using the principles above, we are confident that devices running on Intel 8th generation processors and AMD Zen 2 as well as Qualcomm 7 and 8 Series will meet our principles around security and reliability and minimum system requirements for Windows 11. As we release to Windows Insiders and partner with our OEMs, we will test to identify devices running on Intel 7th generation and AMD Zen 1 that may meet our principles. There are ways around these hard floors, through registry hacks and custom Windows 11 ISOs, but updates might break those, and who knows if Microsoft will plug those holes.

Judge dismisses FTC and state antitrust complaints against Facebook

A federal court on Monday dismissed the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust complaint against Facebook, as well as a parallel case brought by 48 state attorneys general, dealing a major setback to the agency’s complaint, which could have resulted in Facebook divesting Instagram and WhatsApp. However, the court ruled Monday that the FTC failed to prove its main contention and the cornerstone of the case: that Facebook holds monopoly power in the U.S. personal social networking market. I mean, I hear Friendster and MySpace are the bomb.

The parallel universe of FireWire hubs

One example of this was the parallel universe of FireWire hubs. If you think of FireWire as “a big USB” then a hub wouldn’t seem so strange, but FireWire was actually meant to replace SCSI. SCSI and FireWire are peer-to-peer: any device on the bus can talk to any other device, unlike USB where each bus has at most one host and the host does all the initiation of data transfer. (USB On-The-Go still has one host and one host only; it just allows certain devices like your mobile phone to swing both ways.) The point-to-point capabilities of USB 3 notwithstanding, a USB hub has one upstream port for the host and multiple downstream ports for the devices. A FireWire hub, however, is like getting a longer internal SCSI cable; more devices simply exist on the same bus. Connecting multiple FireWire hubs just makes a bigger bus because all the ports are the same. Everything you ever wanted to know about FireWire hubs, with lots of examples.

Microsoft remains vague and unclear about Windows 11’s minimum requirements

In my first story on the unveiling of Windows 11, I remarked that the system requirements remained largely unchanged from Windows 10. Well, as it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Since the announcement, Microsoft has been incredibly obtuse and back-and-forth about the system requirements for Windows 11, and at this point, it seems like nobody has any clue anymore what’s true and what isn’t. Windows 11 is arriving later this year as a free upgrade for Windows 10 users, but many are discovering that their hardware isn’t compatible. Microsoft has altered its minimum hardware requirements, and it’s the CPU changes that are most surprising here. Windows 11 will only officially support 8th Gen and newer Intel Core processors, alongside Apollo Lake and newer Pentium and Celeron processors. Windows 11 will also only officially support AMD Ryzen 2000 and newer processors, and 2nd Gen or newer EPYC chips. That’s one hell of a hard cutoff, and one that seems entirely arbitrary. There’s nothing in Windows 11 that a first generation Ryzen or 6th or 7th generation Intel Core processor cannot handle, so why rule them out? A lot of people just assume Windows 11 will work on older processors than those listed, but there’s no confirmation from Microsoft that this is the case. Aside from processor support, there’s another aspect that Microsoft is vague about: does Windows 11 require TPM 2.0 or TPM 1.2? Do you need a hardware TPM, or will a firmware TPM, available in about every modern x86 processor but turned off by default, suffice? Nobody seems to have the answers, and it’s leading to a lot of speculation ad uncertainty. The same applies to Secure Boot and UEFI – Microsoft lists both of them as requirements, but most news stories online just assume Microsoft doesn’t truly think of them as requirements, more as suggestions. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the air here for Windows users.

The death of Alpha on NT

Let’s take a step back from Windows 11 and go back in time – to 22 years ago, to be exact. Alpha on Windows NT is dead. As far as NT goes, it’s an Intel world. Last week, Compaq announced that it was laying off more than 100 of its Alpha/NT employees in its DECwest facility located near the Microsoft campus. This group of developers was tasked with making Alpha on NT a technical reality. Citing Compaq’s decision and the strength of Intel’s architecture and systems, Microsoft says it will discontinue development of future 32-bit and 64-bit Alpha products across its existing product line. Windows NT on PowerPC, Alpha, MIPS, and Itanium have always been deeply fascinating to me, and at some point, I want to get my hands on some supported hardware, just for the fun of it.

DragonFlyBSD to see better low-level lock performance when heavily contested

Let’s step away from Windows 11 for a second, and spend some time with DragonFlyBSD. Software running on DragonFlyBSD and making use of pthreads is set to see better performance around low-level locks when heavily contested. This commit has the details on the change by DragonFlyBSD founder Matthew Dillon. But long story short pthreads-using software should benefit from this low-level lock performance improvement.

Microsoft will allow you to install any Android APK file in Windows 11

Next up, an important detail regarding Windows 11’s support for running Android applications. While there’s no Google Play Services or Play Store, you can sideload any APK you want. Microsoft has now confirmed that it will allow users to install any Android APK on Windows 11 devices. Yes, you can download a 3rd party Android APK file and install it on your Windows 11 device. This is a great decision by Microsoft as it enables consumers to install their favorite Android apps from various sources. This is good news, and I’m sure it will take about four days for XDA to hack Play Services and the Play Store onto Windows 11.

Windows 11 is deleting Internet Explorer

With Windows 11 just having been unveiled, there’s quite a few tidbits to go through – news that has come out after the actual event. First, Windows 11 will spell the official end of Internet Explorer shipping as part of Windows. At one point in Windows 10’s lifetime, you could have had Internet Explorer, the legacy version of Microsoft Edge, and the new Chromium-powered Edge all installed. This trio of browsers was the perfect illustration of Microsoft’s struggles with the web over the past decade, but now that Internet Explorer is being laid to rest in 2022, it’s disappearing from Windows 11, too. About time.

Google delays ending support for third-party cookies in Chrome to 2023

Today, we’re sharing the latest on the Privacy Sandbox initiative including a timeline for Chrome’s plan to phase out support for third-party cookies. While there’s considerable progress with this initiative, it’s become clear that more time is needed across the ecosystem to get this right. We plan to continue to work with the web community to create more private approaches to key areas, including ad measurement, delivering relevant ads and content, and fraud detection. Today, Chrome and others have offered more than 30 proposals, and four of those proposals are available in origin trials. For Chrome, specifically, our goal is to have the key technologies deployed by late 2022 for the developer community to start adopting them. Subject to our engagement with the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and in line with the commitments we have offered, Chrome could then phase out third-party cookies over a three month period, starting in mid-2023 and ending in late 2023. Chrome is, for some reason, the most popular browser in the world, and it sucks that Google has to delay ending support for third-party cookies. This is the price they pay for being as big and powerful as they are, since while cutting off third-party cookies won’t harm Google’s advertising business all that much, it certainly will harm the very few remaining competitors it still has. I won’t shed a single tear for any online advertising company, but I will shed a tear for the masses who still believe they’re hogtied by Chrome.

Microsoft unveils Windows 11

At an online event today, Microsoft officially announced Windows 11, the next major version of Windows. Windows 11 comes with several new features and improvements for end users. Microsoft highlighted the below features during the event today. Aside from the visual nip and tuck that we were already aware of, there’s a new Windows Store experience, a shift to a yearly update schedule, lots of new features for gaming, and the biggest new feature of all: Android applications are coming to Windows. Android applications on Windows have a few asterisks, though, the biggest of which is that Microsoft is collaborating with Amazon on bringing Android applications to Windows – after installing or upgrading to Windows 11, you first have to install the Amazon App Store from within the Windows Store, after which you can install Android applications, but only those found in the Amazon App Store. There’s no Google Play Store here, and no Google Play Services. My guess is that Google wasn’t going to play ball on this one, so Microsoft had to settle for this. Microsoft also showed off a revamped Settings app, redesigned versions of Notepad and Paint, and teased a UI overhaul for Windows Explorer, merely replacing its ribbon with a few buttons, so there’s no truly new, improved Explorer here. There’s more, but these are definitely the highlights. Windows 11 will come out later this year, and will be a free upgrade for Windows 10 users. The hardware requirements are roughly the same as Windows 10.

Brave Search beta now available

Starting today, online users have a new independent option for search which gives them unmatched privacy. Whether they are already Brave browser users, looking to expand their online privacy protection with the all-in-one, integrated Brave Search in the Brave browser, or users of other browsers looking for the best-in-breed privacy-preserving search engine, they can all use the newly released Brave Search beta that puts users first, and fully in control of their online experience. Brave Search is built on top of a completely independent index, and doesn’t track users, their searches, or their clicks. Brave Search is available in beta release globally on all Brave browsers (desktop, Android, and iOS) as one of the search options alongside other search engines, and will become the default search in the Brave browser later this year. It is also available from any other browser at search.brave.com. I’m going to give Brave an honest try, since I’ve been quite unhappy with DuckDuckGo lately, and Google’s search engine has been going down the drain for years now. Being in search engine limbo is not a fun place to be, so I’m genuinely hoping Brave Search can fill this void.

Rocky Linux 8.4 released

Rocky Linux, a fork of CentOS and a replacement set up by one of the founders of the original CentOS project, has unveiled its first final release. Rocky Linux is a community enterprise operating system designed to be 100% bug-for-bug compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.4. Since this is the first Release of Rocky Linux, the release notes below reflect only changes in upstream functionality between point releases. CentOS needed a replacement since the project shifted focus towards CentOS Stream.

PipeWire under the hood

In this post I’ll try to explain PipeWire in the most simple way possible, to make it accessible to others that want to start following this cool new project but that don’t know where to start. It’s especially important to do this to open the door for more people to join in and follow the current development, which is happening at a fast pace. PipeWire is making its way into the generic Linux desktop market, so now is as good a time as ever to gain a better understanding of what it is and how it works.

Tech giants, fearful of proposals to curb them, blitz Washington with lobbying

It seems the big technology companies are running scared. According to a report by The New York Times, they have ramped up their lobbying efforts into the stratosphere at all levels of government, and Tim Cook is even personally calling politicians – most prominently, Nancy Pelosi. The calls by Mr. Cook are part of a forceful and wide-ranging pushback by the tech industry since the proposals were announced this month. Executives, lobbyists, and more than a dozen think tanks and advocacy groups paid by tech companies have swarmed Capitol offices, called and emailed lawmakers and their staff members, and written letters arguing there will be dire consequences for the industry and the country if the ideas become law. The bills, the most sweeping set of antitrust legislation in generations, take aim at Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google by trying to undo their dominance in online commerce, advertising, media and entertainment. There are six bills in total, and if passed, they would empower regulators, make it harder for the tech giants to acquire start-ups and prevent the companies from using their strength in one area to form a grip in another. Apple also published a 16 page PR document today, warning that the world will end if Apple is forced to allow sideloading or third party application stores on iOS. Of course, this is all nonsense, as the only thing Apple worries about is the protection money it extracts that makes up the vast majority of its services push that it uses to please investors. Nobody is going to break into iOS users’ homes and force them to sideload – don’t sideload if you don’t want to, but the rest of us should be allowed to do whatever we want with the devices we paid money for. Another major reason Apple is running is scared is that if it has to allow sideloading, the company will lose the control over its platform that is so coveted by Apple’s closest friends and allies, the totalitarian governments of this world. China, Saudi-Arabia, Russia, and others are weaponising Apple’s walled garden, and if that wall is cracked open, Apple is suddenly no longer as valuable to totalitarian governments. This would hurt Apple’s bottom line significantly. Amazon and Google also have a lot to lose, of course. Google controls most of the advertising market and any measures to lessen that control will be a major blow to the company’s bottom line. Amazon, for its part, abuses the data it collects about buyers and sellers to create their own products and delist their competitors, which has become a cornerstone of the company’s strategy. The fact they are running scared bodes well for the contents of these proposed bills, but at the same time, it also means a lot of bribes are flowing towards Washington, and American politicians are nothing if not deeply, systematically corrupt and easily bought.

SiFive’s brand-new P550 is one of the world’s fastest RISC-V CPUs

Today, RISC-V CPU design company SiFive launched a new processor family with two core designs: P270 (a Linux-capable CPU with full support for RISC-V’s vector extension 1.0 release candidate) and P550 (the highest-performing RISC-V CPU to date). There’s quite a bit to unpack here today. Not only did SiFive announce these two new core designs, it also partnered with Intel. Intel will be the main development partner on the P550 core on Intel’s 7nm process, and most likely, Intel will also build its own SoCs using these P550 cores. In other words, there’s a lot of IP sharing going on here. This is a big step for both RISV-V and SiFive, and bodes well for the open source ISA as a whole.

Don’t piss off Bradley, the parts seller keeping Atari machines alive

Every old video game console dies eventually. Moving parts seize-up, circuit boards fail, cables wear out. If a user needs a replacement connector, chip, ribbon, gear, shell—or any of the thousands of other parts that, in time, can break, melt, discolor, delaminate, or explode—they’re usually out of luck, unless they have a spare system to scavenge. But there is an exception to this depressing law of nature. In San Jose, on a side street next to a highway off-ramp, inside an unmarked warehouse building, is part of the world’s largest remaining collection of factory-original replacement Atari parts — a veritable fountain of youth for aging equipment from the dawn of the home computing and video gaming era. This is the home of Best Electronics, a mail-order business that has been selling Atari goods continuously for almost four decades. But if you’d like to share in Best’s bounty, as many die-hard Atari fans desperately do, there’s a very important piece of advice you need to keep in mind: whatever you do, don’t piss off Bradley. I love this story. There’s a lot you can say about having one person dictate nebulous terms like this, but we’re not talking a primary, secondary, or even tertiary life need here. It’s his way, or the high way, and I like that, in a romantic, old-timey kind of way. His website is glorious, the outdated catalog that is entirely outdated unless you combine it with decades of online updates – it’s almost mythical, a modern fairy tale.

Haiku sets R1/Beta3 timeline and release date

If all goes to plan, Beta 3 will be released sometime after the 24th of July. Note that the release will only happen when everything is ready, so there are no final dates and the timeline may change to account for delays. The Promotion Team is currently investigating Beta3 DVDs and USB sticks to order: the Inc. has been notified and quotes have been requested from two possible services. A lot of other software projects would’ve called these betas final releases. Haiku is a lot more stable, capable, and usable than the beta label indicates.

State of the Windows, part 2: did Windows 10 slow down with each feature update?

One of the main reasons some people tend to avoid updating their PCs is that “it makes it slower”. Especially with Windows 10’s Software as a Service approach, where it gets the so-called “feature updates” twice a year. But is it actually true? Today we’re gonna find out how much Windows 10’s performance has changed over time, by benchmarking 10 elements of the OS experience. As much as I dislike Windows, performance really was never an issue for me. It’s been responsive and snappy ever since Windows 7, but it’s still interesting to see the changes in performance over Windows 10’s lifetime.

State of the Windows: how many layers of UI inconsistencies are in Windows 10?

We’ve all heard this riddle: if you dig down deep enough in Windows 10, you’ll find elements that date from Windows 3.x days. But is it actually true? In this article we’ll discover just how many UI layers are in Windows and when they were first introduced. This is just painful to read. It highlights just how messy, inconsistent, and jarring Windows has become, which is a damn shame, since during the days of the ‘Classic’ theme, Windows was actually quite consistent and predictable. It’s pretty much been downhill since Microsoft introduced the Luna theme in Windows XP, and it’s clear Windows 11 isn’t fixing this issue either. To dispel a common myth – this issue does not just affect what the various parts of Windows look like – it also affects how they act and behave. There are still scrollable areas in Windows 10 that do not register mouse wheel input, or cramped dialogs and windows that should be resizable but aren’t, all because they were designed in the era of Windows 95 or even Windows 3.x. This is simply inexcusable, and the fact a massive company like Microsoft does not seem at all interested in addressing these issues, preferring to develop yet another five new application frameworks not even Microsoft will use, shows how little they actually care.

Safari 15 on Mac OS, a user interface mess

The utter user-interface butchery happening to Safari on the Mac is once again the work of people who put iOS first. People who by now think in iOS terms. People who view the venerable Mac OS user interface as an older person whose traits must be experimented upon, plastic surgery after plastic surgery, until this person looks younger. Unfortunately the effect is more like this person ends up looking… weird. These people look at the Mac’s UI and (that’s the impression, at least) don’t really understand it. Its foundations come from a past that almost seems inscrutable to them. Usability cues and features are all wrinkles to them. iOS and iPadOS don’t have these strange wrinkles, they muse. We must hide them. We’ll make this spectacular facelift and we’ll hide them, one by one. Mac OS will look as young (and foolish, cough) as iOS! I haven’t encountered a single person who likes the new Safari tab design on macOS.