Windows Archive

Windows 11 update coming next month brings Android apps to Windows

Next month we’re bringing new experiences to Windows that include a public preview of how you can use Android apps on Windows 11 through the Microsoft Store and our partnerships with Amazon and Intel, taskbar improvements with call mute and unmute, easier window sharing and bringing weather to the taskbar, plus the introduction of two new redesigned apps, Notepad and Media Player. Definitely some welcome changes for Windows users.

This is Microsoft’s canceled Andromeda OS running on a Lumia 950

Ever wondered what Microsoft’s canceled version of Windows for the Surface Duo was going to be like? Well wonder no more, as we’ve got a first hands-on look at a pre-release build from mid-2018 running on a Lumia 950. We’ve already shown you what Andromeda OS looked like in recreated mockups, so now it’s time to see the real thing running on video. The idea of using a blank canvas for writing as the homescreen is fascinating, but it’s definitely not the first time this has been tried. In fact, one sure way to ensure your mobile platform will fail, is to build it around the notepad interface. It didn’t work for PenPoint OS, it didn’t work for Apple’s Newton, and it didn’t work for any other attempts either. People simply do not want to do handwriting on a computer. It’s been tried over and over, and people just don’t like it. The only platform which has been able to sort of make handwriting work is Palm OS, but that’s a misnomer since Palm’s Graffiti was a standardised character set you had to learn – it didn’t recognise handwriting at all.

Windows 11’s Device Manager finally uses OS path instead of A:

Microsoft took a while to figure out that the A: assignment is pointless as the era of Floppy drives is now over. This has been fixed in Windows 11 Build 22000 (stable). Starting with Windows 11, Device Manager no longer defaults to A: i.e it doesn’t ask you for a floppy disk for drivers (icon has also been replaced). Device Manager can now automatically detect the OS drive, so you can easily locate the driver package if you extracted the downloaded zip file to a folder on the system drive. Everything about this user experience is terrible, but at least the ditching of A: makes it slightly less terrible. I can’t believe we’re at Windows 11 in 2022, and this UI is still identical to what was first shipped in Windows 95.

Filling in some gaps in the story of Space Cadet Pinball on 64-bit Windows

Space Cadet Pinball has a special place in the hearts of many Windows enthusiasts. A customer used their support contract to ask how to change among the three levels of play in Space Cadet Pinball. My proudest achievement of Windows XP was fixing the game so it didn’t consume 100% CPU. People keep asking if it can be brought back. One point of contention is over my claim that I removed Pinball from Windows because I couldn’t get the 64-bit version to work. Retrocomputing enthusiast NCommander even undertook a Zapruder-level analysis of all of the 64-bit versions of Windows he could find to prove or disprove my story. I was amazed at the level of thoroughness (and the fortitude it required to get those Itanium systems up and running, much less debug them), but there’s one version of 64-bit Windows that NCommander didn’t try out, and that’s the one that’s relevant to the story. This story and investigation into Space Cadet Pinball is wild. At this point we seem to have a pretty complete picture of its entire history, but it too some serious digging to get there.

Windows 11 Sun Valley 2 to be finalized by summer

Windows 11 is going to be a year old in July 2022 and Microsoft will be giving users an anniversary present – a new feature update with a long list of much-needed improvements. The update is apparently codenamed “Sun Valley 2” internally and it is going to be similar to the anniversary update for Windows 10. Sun Valley 2 or version 22H2 would be a version of Windows 11 with some important improvements to make it faster, smoother and more modern, and to integrate WinUI more closely with the rest of the operating system. For example, a new Windows Run with dark mode could show up in this release. We’re also expecting new native apps. Considering Windows 11’s modern desktop context menu has its own classic Win32 context menu, I think they still got some work to do.

Windows 2000 modernization guide

So, you want to use Windows 2000 in 2021? Well, you’ve come to the right place, although we’re not the only place you’ll want to keep handy. You’ll find some great tips, software advice, and know-how at the MSFN Windows 2000 Forums. Special thanks to @win32, who provided many of the pointers and suggestions used in this guide. This place is a message… and part of a system of messages… pay attention to it! Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture. This place is not a place of honor… no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here… nothing valued is here. What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger. The danger is in a particular location… it increases towards a center… the center of danger is here… of a particular size and shape, and below us. The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours. The danger is to the body, and it can kill. The form of the danger is an emanation of energy. The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.

Update for Windows 10 and 11 blocks default browser redirect, but there’s a workaround

You can no longer fully switch away from Edge in Windows 10 and 11. It seems that Microsoft has quietly backported the block, introduced a month ago in a Dev build of Windows 11, on tools like EdgeDeflector and browsers from being the true default browser in Windows 10, with the change being implemented in Windows 11 too. Starting from KB5008212, which was installed on all supported versions of Windows 10 yesterday with Patch Tuesday, it is no longer possible to select EdgeDeflector as the default MICROSOFT-EDGE protocol. They spent engineering resources on this.

Windows Terminal will become the default command line experience in Windows 11 soon

An additional change that Microsoft is planning is that it is switching the default terminal app in Windows 11 to Windows Terminal. This modification will be rolled out in 2022 via the Windows Insider Program first before being made available generally. Microsoft hasn’t defined a firm timeline as of yet, but it’s clear that we can expect this to happen sometime next year. That would mean the end of the regular cmd.exe, which is currently the default command line in Windows. Of course, the new Windows Terminal application includes cmd.exe as an option as well, so it’s obviously not like it’s going away.

Redesigned Notepad for Windows 11 begins rolling out to Windows Insiders

We are very excited to introduce to all of you the redesigned Notepad for Windows 11, which includes a number of changes we think the community will enjoy! First, you will notice a completely updated UI that aligns with the new visual design of Windows 11, including rounded corners, Mica, and more. We know how important Notepad is to so many of your daily workflows, so we designed this modern spin on the classic app to feel fresh, but familiar. I mean, it’s just a notepad application, but finally seeing a modern Notepad from Microsoft is quite something for a company that’s been so lazy with its first-party applications for such a long time. I wonder if word wrap is still turned off by default?

Microsoft makes it easier to set your default browser in Windows 11

Microsoft has been courting much controversy in Windows 11 by making it difficult to set your default browser to anything but Edge. After much outcry and a seeming change in strategy, Microsoft appears to have come round in the latest Windows 11 Insider Builds, and are now making it relatively easier to set the default browser to your own preference. This was an untenable situation, and I’m glad for Windows users Microsoft has relented. However, as always, this once again goes to show that with platforms like Windows, you are entirely at the mercy of corporate control and manipulation – down to your individual application choices. Not a good place to be.

Qualcomm has an exclusivity deal with Microsoft for Windows on ARM

Last week, we reported that MediaTek is planning to build a chipset for Windows on ARM. As it turns out, the Windows on ARM chipset space could be even hotter than that, because there’s a reason that we’ve only seen Qualcomm SoCs in ARM PCs so far. Qualcomm actually has an exclusivity deal with Microsoft for Windows on ARM, and speaking with people familiar with it, we’ve learned that the deal is set to expire soon. That certainly explains the dearth of Windows on ARM devices. Well, that, and the fact nobody wants Windows on ARM devices.

Microsoft blocks EdgeDeflector to force Windows 11 users into Edge

Microsoft has already made it more difficult to switch default browsers in Windows 11, and now the company is going a step further by blocking apps like EdgeDeflector. Third-party apps like EdgeDeflector and even Firefox have offered workarounds to Microsoft forcing people to use Edge in Start menu search results, even if their default browser is not Edge. Microsoft has been forcing Windows 10 and Windows 11 users into Edge and its Bing search engine in the Start menu search results, and now with the new Widgets panel in Windows 11. It’s a frustrating part of Windows that doesn’t respect your default browser choice. EdgeDeflector lets you bypass these restrictions, and open Start menu search results in your default browser of choice. Clearly, this should be illegal.

Proof-of-concept work brings systemd to Ubuntu WSL

This week one of the more interesting WSL mentions is proof-of-concept work on using systemd within Windows Subsystem for Linux. Well known Ubuntu developers Didier Roche and Jean Baptiste Lallement of Canonical’s desktop team mentioned among their WSL work recently was “PoC of systemd on WSL at startup of an instance.“ I’m sure nobody will be unhappy with systemd making its way to WSL.

Expanded Windows 11 app store comes to Windows 10 “soon”, available to testers now

Ars Technica: If you don’t want to (or can’t) run Windows 11 on your PC, the good news is that Microsoft will be providing at least a few app updates to Windows 10 to keep it feeling useful. One of those app updates is Windows 11’s revamped Microsoft Store, which is now available to Windows 10 users in the Release Preview Insider channel. The new Microsoft Store isn’t dramatically different from the old one in its design, though a few of the changes are clear improvements—viewing your app library and grabbing updates for the apps you already have installed happens on the same screen now, which is handy. But the real reason to install it is its dramatically improved app selection. Microsoft has loosened the rules for the kinds of apps that can be submitted to and downloaded from the store, and apps like Zoom, Discord, the VLC Player, Adobe Reader, the LibreOffice suite, and even the Epic Games Store are all available to download through the store. Once installed, the apps look and work the same way as the standalone versions. We’ll see how long it lasts, but I think it’s great that Microsoft isn’t just completely abandoning Windows 10 now that its successor is out the door. This new store is clearly a major improvement, and giving Windows 10 users access to it is not something they had to do.

Here is an easier way to install Google Play Store on Windows 11

A week ago we posted on a hack to install the Google Play Store and Google Play Services in Microsoft’s Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) for Windows 11. That allows access to a much wider range of Android applications, vs the very small 50 app limited selection from the Amazon App Store. That process was pretty convoluted, however, including requiring the use of a Linux environment on Windows. Now the same team has created a somewhat simplified process using GitHub Actions to customise the WSA. If you’re on Windows 11 and would really like to run Android applications properly – instead of using the Amazon App Store – this is the way to go.

Microsoft is building an 11.6″ low-cost laptop and special Windows 11 edition for primary schools

According to my sources, this new laptop is codenamed Tenjin and features a fully plastic exterior, a 1366×768 11.6-inch display, an Intel Celeron N4120 and up to 8GB RAM. This is a no-frills laptop designed to be as low-cost as possible, built for student-use in a classroom environment. I’m told the device features a full-sized keyboard and trackpad, one USB-A port, one USB-C port, a headphone jack, and a barrel-style AC port. Tenjin marks the beginning of a new K-12 education strategy for Microsoft. In addition to the new hardware, Microsoft is also preparing to launch a new edition of Windows 11 titled “Windows 11 SE” built specifically for low-cost school PCs like Tenjin. I’m told this SKU focuses on special optimizations, tweaks, and features built for education establishments deploying low-end hardware. I wonder how much of Chromebook’s dominance in education is due to hardware or software, and how much is due to excellent deployment and management tools. I’m sure Microsoft has fantastic deployment and management tools for the enterprise, but since I don’t have any experience with these matters, I wonder if they may be too complicated and too difficult to use in basic primary school settings.

Introducing Android apps on Windows 11 to Windows Insiders

Today, we are announcing the first preview of our Android apps experience into the Windows Insider Program. We are proud to deliver this experience with our partners – Amazon and Intel – to Beta Channel users in the United States on eligible devices running Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm platforms. I have my sincerest doubts about the true usefulness of running Android applications on Windows. They’ll always feel alien and disconnected from the rest of the platform, although Windows being a graphical and behavioural interface mess already, it’s probably the platform where this makes more sense than on others. Also, the fact it makes use of the Amazon application store means you won’t get access to Google’s applications or a lot of Google Play-specific applications, so curb your expectations.

Windows 11 shows Intel’s decade-old Pentium 4 CPU as supported

Surprisingly, it looks like Microsoft will not put an upgrade block on installations done on a device using Intel’s Pentium 4 661, which was released in 2006 and obviously doesn’t meet all Windows 11 requirements. As you can see in the above screenshot, Intel Pentium 4 661, which has only one core and 3.6Ghz of clock speed, is listed as a supported processor in the PC Health Check. That’s possibly because Microsoft forgot to update the strings needed to reflect “unsupported status” in the PC Health Check Tool for this particular Intel family. Disregarding artificial barriers, Windows will run on pretty much any x86 processor – and Windows 11 is no different. You really don’t actually want to, but it does form the base of a cottage community of people trying to get modern Windows releases to run on the oldest possible hardware, which is always a fun exercise.

How Microsoft reduced Windows 11 update size by 40%

Microsoft delivers the latest Windows security and user experiences updates monthly. Updates are modular meaning that, regardless of which update you currently have installed, you only need the most recent quality update to get your machine up to date. With the fast pace of Windows security and quality fixes, distributing this large amount of updated content takes up substantial bandwidth. Reducing this network transfer is critical for a great experience. Moreover, users on slower networks can struggle to keep their machines up to date with the latest security fixes if they cannot download the package. This is the kind of grunt work that doesn’t get flashy slides in a presentation or a mention in a commercial, but it’s awesome work nonetheless.

First Windows 11 patch tuesday makes Ryzen L3 cache latency worse, AMD puts out fix dates

Shortly after Windows 11 launch, AMD and Microsoft jointly discovered that Windows 11 is poorly optimized for AMD Ryzen processors, which see significantly increased L3 cache latency, and the UEFI-CPPC2 (preferred cores mechanism) rendered not working. In our own testing, a Ryzen 7 2700X “Pinnacle Ridge” processor, which typically posts an L3 cache latency of 10 ns, was tested to show a latency of 17 ns. This was made much worse with the October 12 “patch Tuesday” update, driving up the latency to 31.9 ns. That’s one hell of a regression. It seems fixes are incoming soon, though.