Windows Archive

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.

Microsoft launches Windows 365, a Windows desktop in the cloud

Today we’re excited to announce Windows 365, a cloud service that introduces a new way to experience Windows 10 or Windows 11 (when it’s generally available later this calendar year) for workers from interns and contractors to software developers and industrial designers. Windows 365 takes the operating system to the Microsoft Cloud, securely streaming the full Windows experience—including all your apps, data, and settings—to your personal or corporate devices. This approach creates a fully new personal computing category, specifically for the hybrid world: the Cloud PC. As silly as this sounds, I’m actually somewhat interested in this. I have a Windows 10 VM for some Windows-only translation software I sometimes need to use, but managing and updating Windows is a pain, so the idea of just paying a few euros every month to have a Windows instance on some faraway server actually seems like a much better alternative.

Devs start bringing Windows 11 to Android phones from OnePlus, Xiaomi

Running Windows on a phone has long been a dream for Microsoft enthusiasts, especially after the company discontinued their Windows Phones. While we may never see Microsoft’s vision for a phone running Windows 11, some young developers have shown us a preview of the operating system running on Android phones. We may end up in a world where Windows 11 will run on old Android phones, but not on computers with 7th gen Intel Core processors. In all seriousness, this is amazing and cool, and shows just how versatile Windows NT really is. Excellent work by these enthousiasts, and it keeps the dream alive.

Moving from Windows 7 to Windows 11 will require a clean install

Microsoft’s free upgrade offer for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users ended way back in 2016, but you can still upgrade to Windows 10. As expected, Microsoft says it will continue to support Windows 11 users upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 as long as they meet the minimum system requirements. However, there’s a catch – Windows 7 to Windows 11 upgrade could wipe your apps, settings and customizations. That’s because a proper direct upgrade path is not available for Windows 7/8.1 users, according to a support document from Lenovo, which was published on June 24 and spotted by us earlier today. This isn’t entirely unreasonable. Windows 7 was released 12 years ago, and received its last (and only) service pack 10 years ago. Mainstream support ended 2015, six years ago. I think this is a fair point to say – no more in-place upgrades. I mean, I think most people do fresh Windows installations anyway.

Only Windows 11 Pro will let you install Windows 11 with a local account

We already know that Windows 11 Home will require a Microsoft account (MSA) at the beginning of the installation process. What Microsoft hasn’t publicized is whether it’s possible to log in with just a local account. It is, but only with Windows 11 Pro. A source close to Microsoft has now told us that the only way to avoid using an MSA is with Windows 11 Pro. According to our source, users who buy or own a PC with Windows 11 Pro may choose to use either a local account or an MSA from the very beginning of the installation process. The Windows 11 Home MSA requirement isn’t permanent, just unavoidable. Microsoft will allow the user to transition to a local account once the Windows 11 Home installation process has completed. Retail versions of Windows 11 Home will offer the same experience. So you’re going to need an online account to install Windows 10 Home. If, for some reason, you truly want Windows 11, I’d suggest waiting a few months and get some cheap OEM license for Windows 11 Pro from eBay for a few dollars to save yourself the hassle.

Microsoft digitally signs malicious rootkit driver

Microsoft gave its digital imprimatur to a rootkit that decrypted encrypted communications and sent them to attacker-controlled servers, the company and outside researchers said. The blunder allowed the malware to be installed on Windows machines without users receiving a security warning or needing to take additional steps. For the past 13 years, Microsoft has required third-party drivers and other code that runs in the Windows kernel to be tested and digitally signed by the OS maker to ensure stability and security. Without a Microsoft certificate, these types of programs can’t be installed by default. One of the reasons Windows 11’s hardware requirements are so stringent is because Microsoft wants to force Trusted Platform Modules and Secure Boot down everyone’s throat, in the name of security. This way, Windows users can feel secure in knowing Microsoft looks out for them, and will prevent malware and viruses from… I can’t keep writing this with a straight face.

Announcing ARM64EC: building native and interoperable apps for Windows 11 on ARM

ARM64EC is a new application binary interface (ABI) for Windows 11 on ARM that runs with native speed and is interoperable with x64. An app, process, or even a module can freely mix and match ARM64EC and x64 as needed. The ARM64EC code in the app will run natively while any x64 code will run using Windows 11 on ARM’s built-in emulation. The ARM64EC ABI differs slightly from the existing ARM64 ABI in ways that make it binary compatible with x64 code. Specifically, the ARM64EC ABI follows x64 software conventions including calling convention, stack usage, and data alignment, making ARM64EC and x64 interoperable. Apps built as ARM64EC may contain x64 code but do not have to, since ARM64EC is its own complete, first-class ABI for Windows. Another tool in the toolbox for Windows developers who wish to treat ARM64 as a first-class citizen.

Microsoft confirms TPM 2.0 is a hard floor for Windows 11

Microsoft has published a blog post, trying to dispel some of the confusion around Windows 11’s system requirements. First and foremost, the company makes it clear that TPM 2.0 and 8th generation Intel and 2nd generation Ryzen are hard floors. Microsoft adds that based on the feedback during Windows 11’s testing process, support for 7th generation Intel and 1st generation Ryzen processors might be added. Using the principles above, we are confident that devices running on Intel 8th generation processors and AMD Zen 2 as well as Qualcomm 7 and 8 Series will meet our principles around security and reliability and minimum system requirements for Windows 11. As we release to Windows Insiders and partner with our OEMs, we will test to identify devices running on Intel 7th generation and AMD Zen 1 that may meet our principles. There are ways around these hard floors, through registry hacks and custom Windows 11 ISOs, but updates might break those, and who knows if Microsoft will plug those holes.