Windows Archive

Windows Subsystem for Android 2309 Preview released

We’ve shipped an update for Windows Subsystem for Android on Windows 11 to the Windows Subsystem for Android Preview Program. This update (2309.40000.2.0) includes improvements to platform reliability and functionality improvements. It updates the Chromium WebView to version 117, allows .cer files to be shared to Android, contains various Android 13 platform updates, and more. The Windows Subsystem for Android is available in the Windows Store.

Microsoft experiments with Windows driver development in Rust

Microsoft has opened a GitHub repository for a set of tools to create Windows drivers in Rust. This repo is a collection of Rust crates that enable developers to develop Windows Drivers in Rust. It is the intention to support both WDM and WDF driver development models. Note: This project is still in early stages of development and is not yet recommended for commercial use. We encourage community experimentation, suggestions and discussions! So both Linux and Windows are now experimenting with using Rust to write drivers.

Install Windows the Arch Linux way

Installing Windows strictly through the Command Line is an important tool to have. If Windows changes the installer or out of box experience, you can bypass any changes with this guide! I had no idea this was possible. I knew you could open up cmd.exe during installation and do certain things there, but I didn’t know you could perform the entire Windows installation this way. I’m not entirely sure what the use cases are, but it’s definitely a neat trick.

Windows 11’s next update arrives on September 26th with Copilot, AI-powered Paint, and more

Microsoft will release its next big Windows 11 update on September 26th. The update will include the new AI-powered Windows Copilot feature, a redesigned File Explorer, a new Ink Anywhere feature for pen users, big improvements to the Paint app, and much more. Windows Copilot is the headline feature for the Windows 11 23H2 update, bringing the same Bing Chat feature straight to the Windows 11 desktop. It appears as a sidebar in Windows 11, allowing you to control settings on a PC, launch apps, or simply answer queries. It’s integrated all over the operating system, too: Microsoft executives demoed using Copilot to write text messages using data from your calendar, navigation options in Outlook, and more. Copilot feels like Clippy 3.0 – yes, 3.0, if you know your Microsoft history – and I have zero interest in any of it. I don’t want to be second-guessed or receive “helpful” advice from a glorified autocomplete that’s hogging both bandwith and CPU cycles that I’d much rather put to use somewhere else. I’m absolutely baffled by this weird obsession Microsoft has to shove “AI” into every nook and cranny of their products. Am I just out of touch? If this what Windows users want?

Today I learned this weird Windows keyboard shortcut opens LinkedIn

If you’re running Windows try holding down CTRL + SHIFT + ALT + WIN + L. Then watch in bemusement as LinkedIn opens in your default browser. Windows watcher Paul Thurrott posted this bizarre keyboard shortcut on X (Twitter), noting that it’s an operating system hotkey. So why does Windows even have this? It’s all part of the Office key that Microsoft introduced on some of its own keyboards a few years ago. The Office key replaced the usual right-hand Windows key, offering up the ability to hold the key in combination with another one to quickly open Office apps. Absolutely bizarre. The funniest outcome of this is a joke feature request by KDE developers in the KDE bugzilla, demanding a shortcut key combination be added to KDE to open LinkedIn to achieve “feature parity” with Windows, which sparked a flurry of proposed “fixes” and additional feature requests – with this one definitely being my favourite.

Microsoft is testing folders for the Recommended section in Windows 11’s Start menu

As it turned out, Microsoft is testing the idea of adding folders to the Recommended section in Windows 11’s Start menu, giving users access to more recently added applications and suggested files. The release notes do not mention the change, and enabling it requires a third-party app called ViVeTool. I was forced to use Windows for a little while on a new laptop, and the current Start menu is an atrocious mess. Somehow I doubt adding folders to an already useless section of the Start menu is going to make it any less of a disaster.

What’s next for Windows and Surface without Panos Panay?

The Verge: Panos Panay has always been the force behind Microsoft’s Surface line. He helped bring Surface to life as a secret project more than 10 years ago. He’s presented the new devices onstage at events, showed up at malls to promote Surface hardware, and has steered Microsoft’s Surface tablets to success in the years since. Now, he’s leaving in a surprise departure announced just days before Microsoft’s next big Surface event. Panay will no longer be presenting at Microsoft’s showcase on Thursday but will remain at the company for another couple of weeks as part of a transition process. He’s reportedly joining Amazon to replace Dave Limp and lead Amazon’s Echo and Alexa push. Amazon is also holding its own hardware event on Wednesday. This sure is an odd and rather abrupt departure – only a few days before Panay was supposed to be present Microsoft’s Surface event – and I wonder what the full story is, and if we’ll ever get to hear it. I have mixed feelings about Panay’s tenure at Microsoft. As far as hardware goes, Surface devices are quite nice and pleasant, albeit often a tad bit out of date for the prices Microsoft is asking. Worse yet, Microsoft and Panay, despite halfhearted attempts, completely missed the boat on ARM, and Windows is still floundering there due to both poor ARM hardware (compared to Apple’s offerings) and Windows on ARM being an afterthought. As far as software goes – well, Windows is in a worse state than it’s ever been in. It’s the clown car of operating systems, and two decades of layering one user interface and API above another has turned the operating system into a layer cake that makes Hisarlik seem like a thin sheet of single-ply toilet paper. The ways in which Microsoft has jerked Windows from left to right are numerous, and Panay was at the head of it all for a long time. Maybe Microsoft’s relentless push for shoving AI down Windows’ users’ throats as the straw that broke Panay’s back?

Microsoft is replacing Windows 10’s Video Editor with web-based Clipchamp

Last week, Microsoft started rolling out the modern Photos app on Windows. While the modern Photos app has several new editing tools, it removes the built-in “Video Editor” and replaces it with a web-based Clipchamp. If you’ve lost track of how many different photos applications Microsoft has shipped for Windows and what features they don’t and do have – the linked article has a good, if Microsoftian convoluted overview.

Microsoft replaces Chat with “Microsoft Teams – Free”

I know I keep harping on the declining quality and enshittification of Windows, but Microsoft just makes it so easy. In the changelog for the latest Windows 11 Insider Preview Builds is this gem: Beginning to roll out with this build, Chat is now Microsoft Teams – Free. Microsoft Teams – Free is pinned by default to the taskbar and can be unpinned like other apps on the taskbar. So you buy a new Windows machine or reinstall Windows, and the taskbar will have the beautiful and not at all thirsty name “Microsoft Teams – Free”. I know a good ad agency for Microsoft.

End of servicing plan for third-party printer drivers on Windows

With the release of Windows 10 21H2, Windows offers inbox support for Mopria compliant printer devices over network and USB interfaces via the Microsoft IPP Class Driver. This removes the need for print device manufacturers to provide their own installers, drivers, utilities, and so on.  Device experience customization is now available via the Print Support Apps that are distributed and automatically installed via the Windows Store. This framework improves reliability and performance by moving customization from the Win32 framework to the UWP software development framework. Finally, print device manufacturers no longer have to rebuild their software since this solution is supported across all Windows versions and editions. With these advancements in the Windows print platform, we are announcing the end of servicing of the legacy v3 and v4 Windows printer drivers. As this is an impactful change, end of servicing will be staged over multiple years. Printer drivers used to be an absolute hell on Windows. Whereas on Linux you just plug the printer in and Linux will find and use the printer without much issue, on Windows, you had to trawl vendor websites using obscure device names and minor version variations just to get the right driver installed – usually accompanied by a whole boatload or crapware. Things got better as Windows eventually started downloading printer drivers and accompanying OEM management software by itself, and it seems this is the next step in the process by moving the functionality from these often crappy printer management applications into Print Support Apps.

Microsoft has not stopped forcing Edge on Windows 11 users

Microsoft published a blog post on the Windows Insider Blog in late August with a vague statement saying that “Windows system components“ were to begin respecting the default web browser setting. Windows 10 and 11 regularly bypass this setting and force-open links in Microsoft Edge instead. In my extensive testing, I haven’t found any changes in the new Windows Insider version. The issue here, I think, is in the wording Microsoft used. Here’s the announcement: In the European Economic Area (EEA), Windows system components use the default browser to open links. I think the issue lies in the term “Windows system components”. The author of the post, Vivaldi employee Daniel Aleksandersen, states he tested links inside “the new Copilot, Start menu, Search on the taskbar and desktop, Windows Spotlight, first-party apps (Outlook, Teams, News, Weather, and more), and Widgets on the taskbar (formerly called News and Weather).” However, I don’t think Microsoft was talking about any of those things. When I read that original announcements from Microsoft, I assumed “Windows system components” referred to links inside things like the Settings application, or various control panels. I have a feeling “system components” does not include applications, search, or things like the search functionality. Idiotic and unclear, I know, but Microsoft is known for arcane language and terminology that doesn’t make any sense to normal people outside the company. Of course, this is just my guess, so we’ll see how this plays out.

SoftGPU: SW and HW accelerated driver for Windows 9x virtual machines

Do you need software and hardware accelerated graphics drivers for Windows 9x running inside a virtual machine? Well, here’s SoftGPU, which will give you just that in Bochs, VirtualBox, Qemu, or VMware, for Windows 95, 98, or ME. The Github page provides detailed instructions on setting up the optimal virtual machines, and information about what, exactly, each virtual machine and diver supports and doesn’t support. On top of that, there’s links to a number of YouTube videos showing the driver in action. Excellent work, and this will allow you to get the most out of your Windows 9x virtual machines.

The history of Windows NT 3.1

Cutler and his team had nearly zero experience with either OS/2 or with PCs. They did, however, have ample experience with both portable code and with varied hardware platforms. Similar to his experience at DEC, Cutler was very quickly placed as the lead of the NT project. NT needed to have some compatibility with MS-DOS, OS/2, and UNIX (all systems Microsoft supported, sold, and developed at some level at the time ). As a result, NT was a fully 32 bit microkernel operating system with paged virtual memory and the win32 API operating in protected mode with fully pre-emptive multitasking. It also had the NTVDM for MS-DOS compatibility, the win16 WOW system for older Windows compatibility, an OS/2 compatibility subsystem, and a POSIX subsystem for UNIX compatibility. For Cutler and his team, “WNT” was the working name for the OS (increment each letter by one from VMS). The similarities between VMS and NT are striking. The VMS Interrupt Priority Level became the Interrupt Request Level in NT, the Asynchronous System Trap became the Asynchronous Procedure Call, a Fork Procedure became the Deferred Procedure Call, while some other terminology was copied verbatim. NT and VMS share similarities in many ways, but unlike VMS, NT processes can contain more than one thread of execution, NT uses access control lists for object security, NT uses its own NTFS, and NT uses the registry (a centralized hierarchical configuration database) allowing the configuration of computers over a network, among many other major differences. Dave Cutler has had such a massive impact on the world of computing, yet relatively few people know his name or are aware of his accomplishments. He still works at Microsoft today, and has worked on both Azure and Xbox One’s hypervisor.

Microsoft deprecates WordPad

Are you a fervent user of WordPad? Are your company’s finances run through a document only WordPad can deal with? Do you run your Kinder egg smuggling side hustle through WordPad? You better find an alternative, because WordPad has just been deprecated. WordPad is no longer being updated and will be removed in a future release of Windows. We recommend Microsoft Word for rich text documents like .doc and .rtf and Windows Notepad for plain text documents like .txt. A moment of silence for WordPad. It has been included in Windows since Windows 95, as a replacement for Microsoft Write, which was included in Windows from Windows 1.0 until Windows NT 3.51. Definitely a long history, but one has to wonder if this deprecation will actually affect anyone.

Microsoft adds autosave to Notepad

Microsoft is testing an incredibly welcome feature in Notepad. With this update, Notepad will start automatically saving your session state allowing you to close Notepad without any interrupting dialogs and then pick up where you left off when you return. Notepad will automatically restore previously open tabs as well as unsaved content and edits across those open tabs. Saved session state does not impact any of your files, though, and it is still your choice whether to save or discard unsaved changes to files anytime you close a tab. You can turn this feature off in app settings if you would prefer to have a fresh start every time you open Notepad. I’m not exactly impressed by Microsoft’s handling of Windows as of late, but the few things they are doing right are the more frequent, sometimes constant updates to core applications like Notepad, the terminal, and so on. Features like these are table stakes in better-managed platforms like GNOME or KDE, but it’s welcome to see Windows play catch-up, if at least when it comes to a notepad application.