Windows Archive

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.

The best part of Windows 11 is a revamped Windows Subsystem for Linux

For years now, Windows 10’s Windows Subsystem for Linux has been making life easier for developers, sysadmins, and hobbyists who have one foot in the Windows world and one foot in the Linux world. But WSL, handy as it is, has been hobbled by several things it could not do. Installing WSL has never been as easy as it should be—and getting graphical apps to work has historically been possible but also a pain in the butt that required some fairly obscure third-party software. Windows 11 finally fixes both of those problems. The Windows Subsystem for Linux isn’t perfect on Windows 11, but it’s a huge improvement over what came before. Microsoft is doing a decent job making Windows a good platform for Linux system administrators, but is WSL really comparable to the real thing?

Windows 11 released

A day early, Microsoft has decided to release Windows 11. Today marks an exciting milestone in the history of Windows. As the day becomes October 5 in each time zone around the world, availability of Windows 11 begins through a free upgrade on eligible Windows 10 PCs and on new PCs pre-installed with Windows 11 that can be purchased beginning today. This is the first release of Windows I haven’t personally used or even tested, but much like Android 12 that’s also been released today, it seems to be a version heavily focused on giving Windows a fresh coat of paint, while sadly removing features and customisations and adding strict system requirements. As the detailed Ars Technica review concludes: Here’s the thing: I actually like Windows 11 pretty well, and as I’ve dug into it and learned its ins and outs for this review, I’ve warmed to it more. The window management stuff is a big step forward, the new look is appealing and functional, and the taskbar regressions mostly don’t bother me (the more you customized the taskbar and Start menu in Windows 10, though, the more the new version’s lack of flexibility will irritate you). Unfortunately for Microsoft, Windows 11 is going to be starting its life with some of the same public perception problems that made Windows Vista and Windows 8 relatively unpopular. Meanwhile, AnandTech concludes: I’ve only a had a short time with Windows 11, and that is partially due to how short of a public beta that it got compared to Windows 10. Already there are some features that I really enjoy. The new interfaces are well thought out and easy to use. But for me, the true test is using a new version of the OS and then stepping back to an older version. How painful is it? How many of the new features do I miss? There is no single item right now that is a must-have, so swapping between Windows 10 and Windows 11 is not a huge deal. And that’s good because Windows 10 is going to be around for years to come still. Some of the biggest new features announced for Windows 11 won’t even be shipping until next year. Perhaps if and when they arrive that will make the difference. Windows 11 just doesn’t seem like that big of a release to me, and depending on how much you enjoy using Windows, that can be a good thing or a bad thing. To me, it seems like this new UI theme is skin-deep, and underneath it all still lie countless layers of UI cruft dating all the way back to Windows 3.x.

Epic Games Store, Discord, and Zoom all join Windows 11’s more flexible app store

Now we’re seeing some of the fruits of that change—Microsoft has announced that major third-party apps like Zoom, Discord, Adobe Reader, the VLC media player, and even the LibreOffice suite are all now available in the Microsoft Store for people using the Windows 11 Insider Preview builds. Web apps like Wikipedia, Reddit, and Tumblr are also available. These PWAs look and work just like the regular websites but can easily be pinned to Start or the Taskbar and can display notification badges and a few other benefits that make them feel a bit more like desktop apps. Microsoft also says it will allow other app stores into the Microsoft Store, starting with Amazon and the Epic Games Store. These will be available “over the next few months.” (When support for Amazon’s Android apps are added to Windows 11 sometime after the official launch, those apps will still be searchable from within the Microsoft Store itself.) If you don’t want to (or can’t) install Windows 11 on your PC, Microsoft says that the new Microsoft Store and the new apps in it will also be coming to Windows 10 “in the coming months.” Windows 11’s rollout officially begins on October 5. Credit where credit is due – these are good moves, and shows that at least at this point in time, Microsoft is not interested in using the Microsoft Store as a stick. As long as their store policies remain like this, and they don’t lock down sideloading, they’re on the right side of this divide.

If you upgrade to Windows 11 on an unsupported PC, you will have to sign a waiver first

While we now know that Microsoft will only provide support for the new OS to the processors from both Intel and AMD that are in its list of supported CPUs, the company also stated that users on unsupported systems could still go ahead with an install using ISOs if they are interested. But this in return would leave their systems in an unsupported state. It has been reported that this unsupported state may even mean that such PCs won’t also receive critical security updates. So when a user does want to upgrade to Windows 11 from such existing systems, the following formal agreement, or something similar, would be popping up. The notice basically states that installing Windows 11 on such PCs is “not recommended”, and that they are “not entitled to updates”. I could muster up some respect for Microsoft if their cut-off was a hard cut, but this wishy-washy situation is terrible for consumers.

Microsoft’s fall Surface event: the 7 biggest announcements

Microsoft just wrapped up its latest Surface event, and it was packed with news — including the redesigned Surface Pro 8, a camera-equipped Surface Duo 2, and even a new flagship laptop that puts a hinge behind the screen. There’s a lot of cool new hardware in here. I’ve always liked Microsoft’s Surface line of devices, and even own a few of them. They’re not much use to me anymore – Surface Linux support is spotty, at best, especially for newer devices – but for Windows users, they’re definitely worthy to take into consideration.

Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI

WSLg is short for Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI and the purpose of the project is to enable support for running Linux GUI applications (X11 and Wayland) on Windows in a fully integrated desktop experience. WSLg provides an integrated experience for developers, scientists or enthusiasts that prefer or need to run Windows on their PC but also need the ability to run tools or applications which works best, or exclusively, in a Linux environment. While users can accomplish this today using a multiple system setup, with individual PC dedicated to Windows and Linux, virtual machine hosting either Windows or Linux, or an XServer running on Windows and projected into WSL, WSLg provides a more integrated, user friendly and productive alternative. WSLg will ship with Windows 11, but despite it being developed and tested on Windows 10, it won’t become available for Windows 10 users, and is currently only accessible to users of Windows beta builds.

Why can an ad break the Windows 11 desktop and taskbar?

Earlier today, Microsoft pushed a promotional message to early adopters of Windows 11. The promo intended to promote the upcoming operating system’s integration with Microsoft Teams. Instead, it caused Explorer (the Windows desktop shell) to stop responding and left users without a working Start menu and taskbar. Based on the Microsoft-provided workaround, I narrowed the problem down to a registry key that contained a serialized JSON blob. The blob contained an advertisement for Microsoft Teams. The messaging and imagery in the promotion were identical to the panel you get when you press the Windows key + C on a Windows account not already set up with Teams. It’s unclear if it’s this exact promotion, however. Microsoft broke every single Windows 11 computer through an ad. Windows users – you can choose a better way.

Windows Server 2022 released

Today, we are announcing the general availability of Windows Server 2022. It’s a big step forward for the operating system that is trusted by major corporations and small businesses alike to run their business and mission-critical workloads. It comes with tons of security improvements (of course), SMB compression, support for up to 48TB of memory and 2048 threads running on 64 sockets, and more.

Windows 11 arrives on October 5, Android apps will come later

Windows 11 is no longer merely “coming this fall.” Microsoft will begin releasing the new operating system to the public on October 5, starting with newer PCs (and PCs being sold in stores) and then rolling out to other supported systems over the next nine or so months. The company also says that the Amazon-powered Android app support coming to Windows 11 won’t be ready for public consumption at launch; Microsoft will offer “a preview for Windows Insiders over the coming months.” Get your centered taskbar and 12th concurrently used Windows theme October 5.

Microsoft will allow users to install Windows 11 on anything, but you won’t get updates

Just in case you thought the Windows 11 upgrade and hardware compatibility situation couldn’t get any more confusing and complicated, Microsoft decided to do a Microsoft. This morning, Microsoft revealed a change of plan to The Verge: it won’t technically abandon those millions of PCs, because you’ll be able to manually install the downloadable Windows 11 ISO on whatever you want. The company’s also extending its official CPU compatibility list to a bunch of Intel’s most expensive Xeon workstation processors and its most expensive line of Core X desktop CPUs — and, tellingly, the less powerful Intel chip it shipped in its Surface Studio 2, so it no longer has to defend the idea of abandoning a flagship product that it still continues to sell brand-new. That sounds like a nice gesture, since it will enable anyone – even those who do not technically comply with the TPM requirements – to install Windows 11, even if it has to be a fresh installation (which you should probably do with new Windows versions anyway). However, it turns out there’s a major caveat here. While yes, Microsoft will allow you to install Windows 11 on unsupported hardware, these installations might not get updates – not even security updates. First and perhaps most important, Microsoft informed us after we published this story that if your computer doesn’t meet the system requirements, it may not be entitled to get Windows Updates, even security ones. We’re asking Microsoft for clarification on that now. But secondly, it still sounds like Microsoft will be encouraging millions of people to replace their perfectly good Windows PCs. Other than yet another theme third parties aren’t going to adopt, there’s not a whole lot in Windows 11 as it is, and with all this confusion around upgrades, supported hardware, and access to updates, Windows 10 users are probably better off sticking with Windows 10 for a little while longer. Or, you know, switch to an operating system that doesn’t treat its users like garbage.

Microsoft is making it harder to switch default browsers in Windows 11

In Windows 11, Microsoft has changed the way you set default apps. Like Windows 10, there’s a prompt that appears when you install a new browser and open a web link for the first time. It’s the only opportunity to easily switch browsers, though. Unless you tick “always use this app,” the default will never be changed. It’s incredibly easy to forget to toggle the “always use this app” option, and simply launch the browser you want from this prompt and never see this default choice again when you click web links. Microsoft has changed the way default apps are assigned in Windows 11, which means you now have to set defaults by file or link type instead of a single switch. In the case of Chrome, that means changing the default file type for HTM, HTML, PDF, SHTML, SVG, WEBP, XHT, XHTML, FTP, HTTP, and HTTPS. That’s what you get when you use proprietary operating systems. Windows and macOS are not designed for you; they’re designed for Microsoft and Apple, respectively.

Code written for Windows 3.1 still works well today

So imagine my surprise when I dug around in a quarter-century-old archive to find a .zip file containing something that purported to be the original executable of Labyrinth. Surely such an ancient piece of code – written for Windows 3.1 – wouldn’t launch? Well, after a bit of fiddling with the Windows compatibility settings, I was shocked – and extremely pleased – to see that, yes, it most certainly did. It shouldn’t be surprising that a piece of good Windows code from 30 years ago still runs on Windows 10 today, and yet, it always is.

WireGuardNT: a high-performance WireGuard implementation for the Windows kernel

After many months of work, Simon and I are pleased to announce the WireGuardNT project, a native port of WireGuard to the Windows kernel. This has been a monumental undertaking, and if you’ve noticed that I haven’t read emails in about two months, now you know why. WireGuardNT, lower-cased as “wireguard-nt” like the other repos, began as a port of the Linux codebase, so that we could benefit from the analysis and scrutiny that that code has already received. After the initial porting efforts there succeeded, the NT codebase quickly diverged to fit well with native NTisms and NDIS (Windows networking stack) APIs. The end result is a deeply integrated and highly performant implementation of WireGuard for the NT kernel, that makes use of the full gamut of NT kernel and NDIS capabilities. That’s an impressive porting job, and further spreads the availability of this protocol to entirely new users and settings.

Microsoft release first Windows 11 Preview build to the Beta channel

Last week Microsoft released Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22000.100 to everyone in the Dev Channel. After no major issues were detected, Microsoft has released the same build to the more stable Beta channel. Microsoft suggests those who would like to test Windows 11 but who are not ready for the wild Dev channel ride may want to switch to the Beta channel now. Microsoft also said they will not be releasing a Dev channel build this week. This is the first what you could call beta release of Windows 11, hinting that Microsoft is well on track to release Windows 11 later this Fall.

Windows 11 is getting an LTSC version, but not yet

When Windows 11 arrives this holiday season, there is going to be a ton of changes. It looks totally different, supports Android apps, and more. There are also changes coming to how Windows 11 is updated and how it’s supported, so just in case you were worried about it, you’ll be pleased to know that there will be a Windows 11 Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) version. Good news for people not interested in Microsoft’s update schedule.