Windows Archive

Microsoft to close Windows Phone 8.1 application store in December

Support for Windows Phone 8.1 operating system ended on July 11, 2017. As a culmination of the end of support process, the Windows Phone 8.1 Store will shut down on December 16, 2019. Lumia phones using Windows Phone 8.1 and any apps that have already been downloaded from the Store may continue to work after this date. Any Lumia device that can’t be upgraded to Windows 10 Mobile will be affected.

What the heck is Windows 10X?

If we consult years of insider whispers about Microsoft’s alleged internal strategy for Windows, many from The Verge’s own Tom Warren, there’s a simple reason why you shouldn’t care whether Windows 10X ships on just a few devices or thousands. That’s because Windows 10X is likely just a modular shell that gives the core Windows operating system a new user interface to do the tricks you see in these videos. And it all comes back to the philosophical question of what “Windows” really is now. As Tom and fellow reporters have discovered, Microsoft has been building a new Windows Core OS (WCOS) that will serve as the new modular backbone of Windows. It can be paired with a different user interface for different types of displays by adapting what Microsoft’s calling a Composable Shell, or CShell (say it out loud), to each new interface. I hope Microsoft will eventually give users the choice to switch between the various shells whenever they so desire. And if not – the community will take care of it.

Windows Phone was never on the table for Microsoft’s new Surface Duo smartphone

Those dual-screened experiences Panay describes are just as reliant on the software working well as they are on the two screens existing side by side. And that’s where Android comes in. At some point Microsoft determined that if you can’t beat them, you need to join them and try your darnedest to differentiate. It will attempt to make Microsoft apps the best Microsoft apps you can get on an Android device. When I ask him if he ever considered reviving a Windows mobile OS, Panay says no. Twice. And he says it firmly. “At the end of the day, where the applications sit today, the opportunity that people have already leaned into, that developers have already taken advantage of—it’s right there. And there’s a reality to that. To ignore that would be silly.” Of course they never considered using Windows for a mobile phone. That ship has sailed, crashed, and sunk, and the market just isn’t open to any new entrants, as the lack of response to this change.org petition illustrates.

Chrome for Windows on ARM is ready, but Google isn’t releasing it

I’ve heard this from multiple sources now, and it was confirmed again at yesterday’s Microsoft event, where the company announced the ARM-based Surface Pro X. What’s unclear is why Google isn’t releasing Chrome for ARM64. There seems to be some kind of disagreement between Google and one of the other companies involved (either Qualcomm or Microsoft), and last I heard, it will likely be resolved some time in the February timeframe. At this point this doesn’t seem to matter much – how many ARM Windows 10 devices are out there, really – but with Microsoft really going all-in on ARM now, it’ll really want this issue resolved quickly.

Windows Virtual Desktop is now generally available worldwide

Today, we’re excited to announce that Windows Virtual Desktop is now generally available worldwide. Windows Virtual Desktop is the only service that delivers simplified management, a multi-session Windows 10 experience, optimizations for Office 365 ProPlus, and support for Windows Server Remote Desktop Services (RDS) desktops and apps. With Windows Virtual Desktop, you can deploy and scale your Windows desktops and apps on Azure in minutes. Among other things, you can use this to run virtualised instances of Windows 7 on Azure, where Windows 7 will get free Extended Security Updates until January 2023. This can be a great tool for maintaining access to legacy Windows 7 applications.

Microsoft is making it difficult to create local accounts in Windows 10

Windows admins have options to create local or Microsoft Accounts when it comes to the operating system. The initial setup after installation pushes the Microsoft Account option but it was possible up until now to create to a local account instead. Microsoft has made it more and more difficult to create local accounts during initial setup and discouraged users to do so. A report on Reddit suggests that Microsoft has made it more difficult to create local accounts during first run. The user reported that no option to create a local user account was presented during first run on the system Windows 10 was set up on. While there’s nebulous ways to make the local account option reappear, this is clearly designed to push people to online Microsoft account. I personally use an online Microsoft account since I find it easier to manage my various machines, but removing or hiding the option to use a local account is just a user-hostile dick move.

Microsoft unveils new tablet experience for Windows 10

Microsoft is planning to redesign the tablet experience for Windows 10. The software giant has started testing a new design for 2-in-1 convertible PCs that will keep the user interface more similar to the existing desktop design. Currently, Windows 10 throws you into a more tablet-optimized UI that removes task bar icons and puts the Start menu full-screen when a device automatically switches into “tablet mode.” Microsoft is now walking back some of those changes, while keeping some touch-optimized elements for 2-in-1 PCs. In the new tablet experience, the desktop will remain in full view, with the task bar icons visible and increased spacing between them. If enabled, the search box will collapse into an icon, and the touch keyboard will appear when you tap on a text field. File Explorer will also switch to a touch-optimized layout. Windows’ tablet modes have simply never really taken off, so it makes sense for Microsoft to try and come up with better ways to align Windows with what users actually want. I’ve had several Surface devices with detachable keyboards, and not once have I liked the tablet mode. I always prefer to just use the regular desktop environment, with the slightly enlarged and more spaced-out touch targets Windows already supports. This seems like Microsoft embracing this particular way of using Windows and touch, and I’m all for it.

All the useless Windows 10 features Microsoft should remove

It’s 2019, and Windows 10 has too many useless and annoying features. Don’t get me wrong: Windows 10 has gotten better and, overall, I love it compared to Windows 8. But some things just need to go. Like any operating system, Windows 10 is full of junk that we’d all love to remove, and this is a decent list. Personally, I’d much rather more and more of the ancient things in Windows 10 get replaced by modern equivalents, such as Explorer, various outdated settings panels, applications like Notepad, and so on.

The SuperH-3, part 1: introduction

Windows CE supported the Hitachi SuperH-3 and SuperH-4 processors. These were commonly abbreviated SH-3 and SH-4, or just SH3 and SH4, and the architecture series was known as SHx. I’ll cover the SH-3 processor in this series, with some nods to the SH-4 as they arise. But the only binaries I have available for reverse-engineering are SH-3 binaries, so that’s where my focus will be. Another architecture series by Raymond Chen, diving into some deep details about the SHx architecture.

Microsoft confirms users unable to switch out of Windows 10 in S Mode

Some flagship devices like Samsung Galaxy Book2 and Microsoft Surface Go come pre-installed with Windows 10 in S mode (formerly known as Windows 10 S). Windows 10 in S Mode locks installation of apps only from the Microsoft Store and users cannot download or install .exe apps. Fortunately, Microsoft allows users to switch out of Windows 10 in S mode from the Microsoft Store, but users are reporting that this Store feature is broken and they cannot switch out of Windows 10 in S Mode. That’s pretty rough if you bought a Windows 10 S device without being able to run the traditional applications you might need for school or work.

Windows 10 build 18950 leak shows a cloud restore option for a factory reset

If you’ve ever had a Mac that had become completely corrupted, or if you simply deleted the disk partitions, then you’ve probably discovered that Apple has a built-in solution. When you try to boot up the Mac, it will simply connect to the internet, download the version of macOS that came with your PC, and take you through the process of installing it. It seems that Microsoft has an idea in mind now that’s more similar to what Apple does. As discovered by Microsoft leakster WalkingCat, you’ll have the option to ‘cloud download’ Windows 10, or restore from the local image. I used FTP installation on Mandrake Linux ages before this ever became an option for the Mac, so it’s not like this is exactly a very modern or novel feature. Still, better late than never I suppose, and it will make a Windows install a much less cumbersome process if you can’t find your installation medium.

Leaked internal Windows 10 build reveals new Start menu experience

Leaked internal Windows 10 build has revealed a brand new Start menu experience that replaces live tiles with a more traditional grid of apps. This Start menu experience is believed to be the Start menu that Microsoft is working on for Windows Lite, featuring a more simplified app layout. The leaked build comes directly from Microsoft itself, thanks to an issue with the Insider Program rolling out builds that were never greenlit to ship to testers. As a result, an internal build that includes features that are not supposed to be seen by the public has leaked. The new Start menu is very early, and its UI isn’t finished. So don’t judge it by its looks just yet. This iteration of the Start menu looks a lot more basic, simple, and straightforward – exactly what I, personally, look for in a launcher: a grid or list of stuff I can click on.

Microsoft discreetly drops ‘telemetry’ as part of larger ‘security cumulative update’ for Windows 7

Microsoft appears to have once again attempted to sneak telemetry components. The company released security updates for all supported operating systems on the July 2019 Patch Day. However, this month’s cumulative updates, which were supposed to contain only security-related components, contain an unexpected compatibility/telemetry component. The suspicious components were hidden in plain sight. Incidentally, this is the second time Microsoft has attempted to insert telemetry components. However, during the first attempt the Windows OS maker had openly mentioned the inclusion of the telemetry components, whereas this time, the company didn’t offer any indication. This methodology appears to an attempt to garner more accurate data about usage and installation patterns of the Windows operating system as Microsoft will soon phase out Windows 7. People sticking with Windows 7 are a potential gold mine for Microsoft, so from the company’s perspective, it makes perfect sense to try and collect as much data about Windows 7 users as possible. Such data will help them determine what the best approach would be to get these users to upgrade. If such telemetry collection is opt-in, then I see no problem with it. Sneaking it in as part of a security update, however, is downright scummy.

Microsoft is making Windows 10 passwordless

Microsoft is planning to make Windows 10 PCs work without passwords. While the company has been working on removing passwords from Windows 10 and its Microsoft Accounts for a number of months now, the next major update to Windows 10 next year will go one step further. You’ll soon be able to enable a passwordless sign-in for Microsoft accounts on a Windows 10 device. This means PCs will use Windows Hello face authentication, fingerprints, or a PIN code. The password option will simply disappear from the login screen, if you decide to opt in to this new “make your device passwordless” feature. I’m totally on board with this – I love the depth sensor-based Windows Hello on my Dell XPS 13 – but a big problem is that it’s so difficult to get Windows Hello facial recognition on a regular desktop. Only very few cameras actually have the required sensors – not even Microsoft’s own webcams support Windows Hello – making it hard to opt into this passwordless future. Any company that can make an affordable Windows Hello sensor that’s small and easy to attach to a display gets my money.

Evolving Windows 10 servicing and quality: the next steps

The next feature update for Windows 10 (known in the Windows Insider Program as 19H2) will be a scoped set of features for select performance improvements, enterprise features and quality enhancements. To deliver these updates in a less disruptive fashion, we will deliver this feature update in a new way, using servicing technology (like the monthly update process) for customers running the May 2019 Update who choose to update to the new release. In other words, anyone running the May 2019 Update and updating to the new release will have a far faster update experience because the update will install like a monthly update. This service pack-like release is scheduled for September. I do have to say though that I am starting to miss the forest through the trees when it comes to Windows and its updates. I understand why things have to be so complicated – Windows is used in many different environments, and each environment requires unique updating rules – but it hasn’t exactly made things easier to grasp for consumers.

Microsoft explains the lack of Registry backups in Windows 10

Martin Brinkmann at ghacks.net: We noticed back in October 2018 that Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system was not creating Registry backups anymore. The scheduled task to create the backups was still running and the run result indicated that the operation completed successfully, but Registry backups were not created anymore. It turns out that this is a feature, not a bug, as Microsoft has posted a support document explaining the new behaviour and the reasoning behind it. Starting in Windows 10, version 1803, Windows no longer automatically backs up the system registry to the RegBack folder. If you browse to to the \Windows\System32\config\RegBack folder in Windows Explorer, you will still see each registry hive, but each file is 0kb in size. This change is by design, and is intended to help reduce the overall disk footprint size of Windows. To recover a system with a corrupt registry hive, Microsoft recommends that you use a system restore point. This might come as a surprise to some, hence it seems prudent to highlight this change. In the support article, Microsoft lists methods to reenable registry backups.