The source code for Windows XP SP1 and other versions of the operating system was allegedly leaked online today. The leaker claims to have spent the last two months compiling a collection of leaked Microsoft source code. This 43GB collection was then released today as a torrent on the 4chan forum. This is a massive leak of old code, and other than Windows XP, it also includes Windows Server 2003 and various versions of MS-DOS and Windows CE. One of the funnier tidbits we’ve already learned from the leak is that Microsoft was working on a Mac OS X Aqua theme for Windows XP, probably just to see if they could. I doubt much of this code will be useful to any serious projects, since no serious developer working on things like ReactOS or Wine will want to be found anywhere near this code. That being said, individuals, tinkerers, and those crazy people still making community-updated builds of Windows XP will have a field day with this stuff.
Before you click the link, please try and answer the question past the blurb. I am still using it at work, but not at home since 2001 when I upgraded to Windows 2000 – then I upgraded to XP in 2002 and this was the last Windows version I ran at home. After that I upgraded to Linux/Unix and have not had any reason to look back. So, this person is still using Windows 95 at work today. Before clicking through – can you guess what this person’s job is?
Windows 95 turns 25 years old today. The operating system was possibly the most significant and notable release for the Redmond giant, which laid the foundation for some core elements of the OS, such as the Start Menu Taskbar, and the Recycle Bin that are still present, albeit in a much more modern form. It also marked the phasing out of MS-DOS, with it being merged with Windows into one offering, making it more user-friendly operating system. Windows 95 is the most impactful and most significant operating system release of all time – hands down. Windows 3.x laid the groundwork, mostly in corporate environments, getting people accustomed to and interested in Windows at their jobs. When it came time to get a computer at home, Windows 95 knocked it out of the park. It was a massive one-two punch that knocked out every single competitor, with Apple only surviving because Microsoft allowed them to. A computer on every desk and in every home, and Windows 95 was installed on every one of those computers. It’s easy to forget just how massive and hysterical Windows 95’s launch was, and the fact Windows 10 today still looks and behaves in essentially the same way as Windows 95 underlines just how many things Microsoft got right.
A new feature rolling out to Windows 10 will make it easier for users to access the available driver and optional updates. In Windows 10 Build 19041.450 or newer, Microsoft said it has restored the Windows 7-era optional updates page, which allows you to discover new updates to drivers and non-security features. Windows has definitely gotten beter over the years at providing a basic set of functional drivers after a fresh installation, but it’s far from perfect, and unlocking the full potential of your hardware still requires going through a long list of hardware manufacturer websites.
Microsoft has a long history of innovations which never really went anywhere, but with the new Hosted App Model on Windows 10 the company may just have hit it out of the ballpark. Microsoft introduced the Hosted App Model in Windows 10 2004 ie. the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, and the technology already appears set to solve a wide variety of problems for both Microsoft and end-users. In the Hosted App Model, an app can declare itself as a host for other applications, while allowing those applications to retain their identity as independent apps. It does seem like a neat technology.
The Verge reports: The software giant placed Surface chief Panos Panay in charge of Windows earlier this year, and is now reshuffling parts of that team. It follows Microsoft’s decision to slice Windows into two parts more than two years ago after the departure of former Windows chief Terry Myerson. Microsoft moved core Windows development to a cloud and AI team (Azure), and created a new group to work on Windows 10 “experiences” like apps, the Start menu, and new features. Now, Microsoft is moving parts of Windows development back under Panos Panay’s control. Specifically, that means the Windows fundamentals and developer experience teams have been returned to what we traditionally call the Windows team. It’s an admission that the big Windows split didn’t work quite as planned. We’ve seen plenty of evidence of that with a messy development experience for Windows 10, delayed Windows updates, a lack of major new features, and lots of Windows update issues recently. That’s a lot of reshuffling, but I wonder what the purpose of it all really is. It seems most Windows users want Windows to just be… Windows. They don’t want ‘modern’ apps forced upon them, they don’t want touch-optimised user interfaces, they don’t want application stores, and they certainly don’t want Windows anywhere else but their desktops and laptops. How much freedom to push the Windows platform forward do you really have when all users want is to run the same set of Win32 applications in perpetuity? They’ve tried creating a version of Windows only capable of running ‘modern’ apps, and it failed – twice (and a third attempt is on the way). They tried combining the two into one with an adaptable UI – and everybody hated it. They’ve been trying to just kind of coast by on Windows 10, and as the above article notes, it’s been quite problematic. They’ve tried to put full Windows on phones – twice! – and nobody wanted that either. What other options remain?
WoR is a tool that can install Windows 10 ARM64 on your SD card for use in a Raspberry Pi. Exactly what it says on the tin. This isn’t Windows 10 IoT, since that’s 32bit – this is Windows 10 on 64 bit ARM. Don’t expect any crazy performance on the Raspberry Pi, but a neat tool it is nonetheless.
If I told you that my entire computer screen just got taken over by a new app that I’d never installed or asked for — it just magically appeared on my desktop, my taskbar, and preempted my next website launch — you’d probably tell me to run a virus scanner and stay away from shady websites, no? But the insanely intrusive app I’m talking about isn’t a piece of ransomware. It’s Microsoft’s new Chromium Edge browser, which the company is now force-feeding users via an automatic update to Windows. People should run whatever the hell they damn well please, but the last few years it has become increasingly clear that Windows is deteriorating fast. Oddly enough, it’s not the operating system itself that’s deteriorating – in fact, Windows is probably in a better technical state than it’s ever been – but the policies and anti-user ‘features’ draped around it. If you read OSNews, you are most likely technically inclined. People who read OSNews don’t need Windows, and shouldn’t be running it. It’s actively hostile towards its users, and you deserve better.
Microsoft is removing the ability for business users to defer manually Windows 10 feature updates using Windows Update settings starting with the Windows 10 2004/May Update. Microsoft seemingly made this change public with a change in its Windows 10 2004 for IT Pros documentation on June 23. I’ve read the article three times and I still don’t quite understand what’s going on.
Twenty years ago, Microsoft released Windows 2000. A rock-solid, 32-bit business-oriented alternative to Windows 98 and Windows Millennium Edition, it paved the way for future consumer versions, including Windows 10. Here’s why we remember it so fondly. Windows 2000 was definitely an important release, and many people seem to have good memories of it. I personally never used it back when it was new, and I never liked Windows XP. The only Windows release I truly have fond memories of – other than 95 and 3.11, which I used as a kid and can be attributed to pure nostalgia – is Windows Server 2003. I used it as my regular desktop operating system, and it always felt more stable, safer, and faster than XP. Regardless, like Server 2003, Windows 2000 defaulted to the utilitarian beauty that is the Windows Classic theme, something Microsoft really ought to bring back to modern releases of Windows.
The Windows team is changing the way it labels and distributes its beta and preview releases. Later this month, the Fast ring will become the Dev Channel, the Slow ring will become the Beta Channel, and the Release Preview ring will become the Release Preview Channel. This brings Windows beta and preview releases in line with Office, the new Microsoft Edge, and the industry at large. Even if it were just a name change, this makes a lot more sense than the weird ring names they used up until now.
What I haven’t seen is side-by-side comparisons of specific pieces of the Windows GUI, and while that makes sense, since it’s a deeply tedious and largely pointless exercise, it’s still been on my mind because I keep running old versions of Windows and finding out that minor elements of the interface are different than I remember. As an example, Notepad prior to – I think – Windows 2000 will not save if you press Ctrl+S. Little things like that that are somehow fascinating to follow through the years. Recently I discovered there are subtle (but occasionally quite significant) differences between revisions of Windows Explorer (the actual file browser, not the entire shell) that I had never realized were there – Windows 3.0’s File Manager, for instance, is a completely different beast than 3.1’s. Anyway, I checked every major release and compiled screenshots of each, so you can check them out yourself. A fascinating trip down memory lane.
It is well known that Win9x variants prior to Windows 98 have a tendency to crash on fast CPUs. The definition of “fast” is of course fuzzy but the problems were known to occur on AMD K6-2 processors running at 350 MHz or faster as early as 1998. This led to some acrimony when Microsoft attempted to charge $35 for the fix. The crashes were intermittent on the 350 MHz parts but harder to avoid with faster clock speeds. The problem soon started affecting other CPUs with higher frequencies, but it didn’t affect Intel processors for a while. Were Intel CPUs somehow better? Not exactly, but there was a reason for that; more about it later. I have been long aware of this problem but never looked into the details. And when I did, at first I didn’t realize it. An acquaintance mentioned that Windows 3.11 for Workgroups no longer works in a VM. A good and interesting read.
Let us say you are an independent developer and it is time to publish your app to the world. To make it easier, you build an installer and start distributing it. A courageous early adopter downloads and runs it, only to be greeted by this strongly worded warning: Indeed, in today’s Windows environment, Microsoft actively blocks binaries from running; thanks to “SmartScreen”. This article details some of the problems with SmartSCreen, which in theory could be an important and useful technology.
Keivan Beigi, the developer behind AppGet, a package manager for Windows, claims Microsoft copied his software. He was contacted by Microsoft as a possible hire, and flew in to Microsoft’s headquarters to talk about AppGet, and after suddenly being ghosted, Microsoft announced WinGet – what he claims is pretty much a direct copy. Realistically, no matter how hard I tried to promote AppGet, it would never grow at the rate a Microsoft solution would. I didn’t create AppGet to get rich or to become famous or get hired by Microsoft. I created AppGet because I thought us Windows users deserved a decent app management experience too. What bothers me is how the whole thing was handled. The slow and dreadful communication speed. The total radio silence at the end. But the part that hurts the most was the announcement. AppGet, which is objectively where most ideas for WinGet came from, was only mentioned as another package manager that just happened to exist; While other package managers that WinGet shares very little with were mentioned and explained much more deliberately. This is the kind of stuff big tech does, so it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
As the world and people’s routines change, it is important that we focus on meeting the over a billion people around the world relying on Windows where they are now. That next step comes today with the release of the Windows 10 May 2020 Update. The May 2020 Update comes with feature improvements that will help save you time and maybe even be a source of fun. The new update is available today for those who want to seek it. You can get the update in a few different ways, visit this blog post to learn more about how to get the May 2020 Update today. MSPowerUser has a detailed article of all the new features.
Some Task Manager lore: I’m the Microsoft (Redmond, ’93) developer that wrote TaskMgr at home in my den in about 1994 and then the NT silverback devs let me check it into the main tree even though I was a greenhorn at the time. So that meant I got to bring it into work and polish it up and make it an official part of Windows, where it remains to this day. So I got to define my own day job, actually, which was nice! I don’t know if it’s still like that, but great culture and people. This is all based on XP, as I left long ago, but it’s still the same core app underneath. What follows is an incredibly useful list of hidden features of the Windows Task Manager.
Microsoft surprised Windows users with a new package manager yesterday. It’s a command line tool that allows developers, power users, and really any Windows user to install their favorite apps from a simple command. If you’ve ever had to wipe a Windows machine clean or set up a new device, you’ll know the pain of having to reinstall apps, find download links, and get a PC ready again. Microsoft creating its own Windows Package Manager (winget) is significant, and the command line tool is already more useful than the Windows Store. You can navigate to a command prompt, type “winget install Steam,” and the latest version of Valve’s Steam app will be installed on your system. Steam doesn’t even exist in the Windows Store right now; there are many apps already available on winget like Zoom, WinRAR, and Logitech Harmony Remote that are also missing from the Store. Developers can choose to distribute their applications this way, and it seems Microsoft is managing a list of popular third party applications by itself. This is a great addition to Windows.
The lack of x64 emulation has been a major bottleneck for Windows on ARM devices since apps that are available only in 64-bit flavor cannot be run on these devices. Those apps include the likes of Adobe’s Premiere Pro. While some might argue that the current crop of ARM-based PC-centric chipsets may not be suited for such loads, we could see Qualcomm make bigger strides in terms of performance with its future chips that might be more potent for heavier workloads. According to our sources, Microsoft could be planning to add x64 emulation support to the platform with the Windows 10 21H1 update. If the company’s plans are still on track, it would not be surprising to see the company test out x64 emulation with Insiders sooner rather than later. This would make ARM-based Windows machines more useful, but as the linked article suggests, it would definitely need more powerful chips.
Microsoft has been working to bring win32 desktop apps and its Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps closer together in recent years. That work has an official name now: Project Reunion. It’s the latest twist in Microsoft’s promise of universal apps that run across multiple Windows 10 devices, and Microsoft is now referring to traditional desktop apps and UWP ones as simply “Windows apps.” “The idea behind Project Reunion is that it allows developers to build one Windows application and target all 1 billion Windows devices,” explains Rajesh Jha, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Experiences and Devices Group. “We’re bringing together the combined power of win32 and UWP so developers no longer have to choose because we’re unifying these existing APIs and in some way decoupling them from the OS.” Microsoft has tried to kill Win32 so many times, but it just refuses to die. The company seems to be throwing its hands in the air saying fine, if you nerds want Win32, you get Win32. I hope this will make it easier for older, more monolithic Win32 applications to be modernised.