Microsoft Could Miss an Opportunity with Windows 11 (Premium) -

Technology 12 July, 2021 - 05:23pm 15 views

When does Windows 11 come out?

Microsoft says the official release of Windows 11 (what the company calls General Availability, or GA) will arrive on new hardware in late 2021. Most knowledgeable observers expect the Windows 11 GA release to arrive in October 2021, and you would be foolish to bet against them. ZDNetWindows 11: Everything you need to know

Microsoft’s animation work in Windows 11 is refreshing

Microsoft has started detailing some of the design approaches it has used for Windows 11 and its attention to detail for daily micro-interactions. That includes things like a checkbox that has an animated tick to subtly let you know when you interact with it, or a settings cog that spins when you hover over it. Plenty of buttons in Windows 11 pop with faint signs of life or bounce as you move around the OS.

It’s this attention to detail that makes Windows 11 feel fresh and new but still familiar to use on a daily basis. The animations are often playful but in equal parts useful to provide an important visual cue for what you’re interacting with. Thankfully, they’re not in your face, slow, or annoying, mostly because Microsoft designed them to be calming. “Calmness is much needed in today’s world... Windows 11 facilitates this through foundational experiences that feel familiar, soften formerly intimidating UI, and increase emotional connection,” says Microsoft’s design team.

While the subtle animations might be calming, the choice to center the taskbar and change the Start menu is the more striking change in Windows 11. “After listening to people express a need for more efficiency and less noise when using Start, we designed a cleaner and simpler experience that puts people at the center by prioritizing the apps they love and the documents they need,” says Microsoft’s design team. “It also adapts to modern device form factors and enables easier access for all screen sizes, from a Surface Go to an ultrawide monitor.”

Windows 11 also improves the out-of-box experience (OOBE) of when you set up a machine for the first time. The settings you configure are a lot more useful than in Windows 10, including naming your PC and setting up a PC for how you intend to use it. Sometimes, it’s the little things that count.

Microsoft has also added rounded corners to most parts of Windows 11, new iconography, and an updated Segoe UI Variable font. Like most of Windows 11, these are subtle changes that you only really start to notice after using the OS for a few days. Microsoft even worked with design studio Six N Five to create most of the wallpapers you’ll see in Windows 11. They’re mostly centered to match the Start menu. “We want your journey into Windows 11 to be literally centered from the start,” says Microsoft.

The Windows 11 design certainly isn’t perfect, though. It’s a work in progress, but there’s still a lot of inconsistency in this preview that needs to be ironed out. At times, it still feels like Microsoft is mashing together Windows from a decade ago with this modern and simple UI. There’s a lot that goes into overhauling something as big and sprawling as Windows, so hopefully the final product smooths up some of the early and rough edges.

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Microsoft issues urgent security warning: Update your PC immediately 13 July, 2021 - 06:23pm

Updated 11:06 AM ET, Wed July 7, 2021

We deleted the POC of PrintNightmare. To mitigate this vulnerability, please update Windows to the latest version, or disable the Spooler service. For more RCE and LPE in Spooler, stay tuned and wait our Blackhat talk.

Windows 11 vs Windows 10: The biggest improvements

Trusted Reviews 13 July, 2021 - 06:23pm

Windows 11 will be amazing, but why is Microsoft making things difficult?

T3 13 July, 2021 - 06:23pm

Windows 11 could be an amazing upgrade for millions of people, but the machinery of Microsoft is frankly exhausting. By now a lot of people are aware that Microsoft is making some changes and that Windows 11 might not work on some older machines and a lot of computers will need their settings tweaked in order to accept the new operating system. 

For one, there’s the requirement that computers installing it have a TPM or Trusted Platform Manager. While most people probably haven’t heard of the TPM there’s little reason to worry. Most reasonably modern PCs have them and they’ve been common for a number of years. And I don’t object to this idea, PCs that use a TPM and secure boot are more able to withstand malicious code attacks from hackers, so there are some solid reasons to use them.

My concern really is that a lot of computers that are technically able to use a TPM but won’t have it turned on. My self-built PC didn’t, and while I’m not a PC expert, I certainly know my way around a BIOS, or UEFI configuration. And this is where the problem lies, for those who own machines that are technically capable, Microsoft may be shutting them out for want of a simple change in the computer’s settings. 

Perhaps worse though is the requirement for Windows 11 Home users to have a Microsoft account in order to set up their PC. This is new, and again it’s a very frustrating requirement. I asked Microsoft about this and it declined to officially comment however I  was told, on background, that people are used to having user accounts tied to the cloud and it was common with companies like Apple and Google to require it for their mobile phones. 

But that really dodges the point. This isn’t for phones, it’s for PCs, and some people just aren’t interested in setting up yet another user account. Honestly, I’m at my wits end thanks to literally everything needing an account now. I can’t so much as buy a doorbell now without needing an account somewhere in the ether. 

I know why Microsoft’s pushing for user accounts too, it’s clearly desperate to stop the rot in its ailing app store. I would imagine it’s seen Apple and Google’s vibrant app libraries and the potential revenue stream from them, and has decided that it needs to do something about its own app store. And I agree, Windows Store is, without doubt, one of the worst things Microsoft has ever attempted, and I have absolutely not forgotten about Clippy. But trying to force people to use it will be an unproductive waste of time and money. 

And, what’s more, it turns out that almost all of these restrictions can be ignored if you have a bit of technical knowledge. I’ve just watched a great Linus Tech Tips video on exactly that, and I’d urge you to check it out if only to understand that Microsoft’s decision to push these changes feels like a punishment for normal people, while the more technically literate will simply unplug their Ethernet cable during installation to get around the user account problem (I’m deadly serious, apparently that works). 

Come on Microsoft, it’s all looking so good right now. Windows is better than ever and about to become a powerhouse - don’t ruin it with ludicrous restrictions. 

Ian has been involved in technology journalism since 2007, originally writing about AV hardware back when LCDs and plasma TVs were just gaining popularity. Nearly 15 years on, he remains as excited about how tech can make your life better. Ian is the editor of

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Say goodbye to all that: Microsoft ends Windows-as-a-Service

Computerworld 13 July, 2021 - 06:23pm

Microsoft's once-vaunted Windows-as-a-Service (WaaS) is in tatters. Windows 11's introduction last month — and more importantly its proposed servicing and maintenance scheme — did that.

The fact that Microsoft bent to the seemingly inevitable should be credited, even if the company took years to reach a cadence that many customers had pleaded for almost immediately. But the failure of the Windows-as-a-service model likely also has a downside, chief among them the tainting of that strategy — perhaps to the point where it's no longer an option through the foreseeable future.

Pluses and minuses, then, as usual. But which is which?

Microsoft had big plans for Windows 10. Enormous plans. The operating system would not be the next upgrade from Windows 7 but would be the final version for the rest of time. Rather than replace Windows 7 with another edition that would eventually age out of support and be supplanted in turn by Windows 10+x, Windows 10 would be constantly refreshed, with new features and functionality added to major updates released first three, then two times a year.

Even now, the company trumpets Windows-as-a-service with the same language it did when it unveiled the model, as well it should; Windows 10 will continue until late 2025.

Although the following is lengthy, it's important in its entirety because it best explains how Windows 10 was different from everything that came before. In fact, it also spells out why Windows 10 was a radicalized reimagining of what an OS should be.

Without the change in release cadence, Windows 10 would have been just an improved Windows 7.

With Windows 11 moving to a once-a-year release tempo, Windows-as-a-service is clearly in retreat. After all, other operating systems — macOS on the desktop, Android and iOS on mobile — refresh annually, and their makers don't tout them as being a service.

Expect Microsoft to drop the WaaS concept, conceding defeat. (If it doesn't, we can't wait for the spin on this one.)

The fast pace Microsoft set for Windows 10 — initially that three-times-a-year release schedule — suffered pushback from the get-go. The servicing change was simply too great for most commercial customers to wrap their heads around, much less adopt ASAP.

Analysts kept saying that Microsoft was finding its way to policies that both it and customers would accept as the months, then years, ticked by. Those analysts also predicted that Microsoft would eventually reach an annual cadence.

And they were right. So credit goes to Redmond for adapting to a slower release tempo. It doesn't matter whether Microsoft did so to address customer complaints or for its own, unknown purposes; the bottom line — annual feature upgrades — is what's important.

Nearly forgotten now, another change in how Microsoft updated Windows 10 devices once raised as loud a ruckus as the too-often feature upgrades. Concurrent with the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft said that quality updates, its name for the monthly security fixes issued for the OS, would henceforth be cumulative. "This means new feature upgrades and servicing updates will contain the payloads of all previous releases and installing the release on a device will bring it completely up to date," Microsoft said in August 2015.

That was a huge departure from decades of practice, which let customers pick and choose which individual patches they would install or decline.

Users and IT admins howled, saying that they would no longer be able to skip some patches; those that had been proven to cripple an application or even PCs were cited most often. "Enterprises will lose the control that they have had," said one patch expert at the time. "They won't be able to handle exceptions anymore."

Griping about cumulative updates has virtually subsided, proving that some of Windows 10's changes were ultimately accepted. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Microsoft will continue the cumulative approach with Windows 11.

Whether those cumulative updates accomplish what Microsoft set for them — to make sure "customers' devices are more closely aligned with the testing done at Microsoft, reducing unexpected issues resulting from patching" — is unclear. (Like many of Microsoft's decisions regarding Windows, any benefits delivered to customers may have been more incidental than intentional.)

That Microsoft plans to continue the practice should, in the absence of other evidence, signal that cumulative updates have realized the company's goals.

Another win for Microsoft, and in reality, the Windows ecosystem as well, was the you-will-be-patched mentality that suffused Windows 10.

With Windows 10, Microsoft took it upon itself to upgrade Home devices and those Pro machines that were not managed by IT. Initially, Microsoft made all the decisions about which systems were upgraded, when and in which order. Subsequently, it bent to popular demand (we think) and allowed those users to decide when a feature upgrade was installed. But it retained final say, announcing that it would auto-upgrade PCs as they neared the end of support for their current Windows 10 edition. (The interval before retirement became approximately four months.)

Because the feature upgrades were also cumulative, installing one meant that all prior security fixes were also applied; it was not possible, then, for Home and unmanaged Pro systems to go unpatched forever. That possibility was always a Microsoft bugaboo.

Unpatched PCs, of course, are a threat not only to themselves to also to the general Windows ecosystem; if compromised, they can be used by criminals to attack other devices or spread malware within corporate networks' guarded perimeters.

Windows 11 will retain these rules of the road. In one support document, Microsoft said, "Home edition does not support the deferral of feature updates and will therefore typically receives a new version of Windows 11 prior to the end-of-servicing date shown."

The retreat from multiple yearly upgrades makes it hard to believe Microsoft can effectively pitch the concept of service going forward when refreshes occur only once every 12 months. Once a year is not a service, it's a subscription. (But then, some people will believe anything.)

The more the post-Windows 10 world resembles the pre-Windows 10 world, the more difficult WaaS will be to sustain. Just as importantly, the failure to pull off the intended rapid release cadence will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for Microsoft to resurrect it at some later moment.

Once browsers went free, for instance, shifting from, believe it or not, a paid model, charging for one became non-negotiable. If, say five years down the line, Microsoft attempts to restore a service-esque cadence of twice yearly upgrades, customers will simply shake their heads and say, aloud or not, "It failed before. How's it supposed to work now?"

Senior Reporter Gregg Keizer covers Windows, Office, Apple/enterprise, web browsers and web apps for Computerworld.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 19043.1110, 19042.1110 – here’s what’s new

XDA Developers 13 July, 2021 - 06:23pm

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Today is the second Tuesday of the month, making it Patch Tuesday. That means that all supported versions of Windows are getting updated today. For consumers, that includes Windows 10 versions 21H1, 20H2, and 2004. To make things easy, they all get the same update.

There’s no update for the Windows 11 preview though, despite Microsoft using the cumulative update method for servicing. Presumably, that will arrive later on this week.

For consumers on Windows 10 versions 21H1, 20H2, or 2004, you’re going to get KB5004237, bringing the build number to 19043.1110, 19042.1110, or 19041.1110, respectively. You can manually download it here, and these are the highlights:

Updates an issue that might make printing to certain printers difficult. This issue affects various brands and models, but primarily receipt or label printers that connect using a USB port.

Here’s the full list of fixes:

Security updates to Windows Apps, Windows Management, Windows Fundamentals, Windows Authentication, Windows User Account Control (UAC), Operating System Security, Windows Virtualization, Windows Linux, the Windows Kernel, the Microsoft Scripting Engine, the Windows HTML Platforms, the Windows MSHTML Platform, and Windows Graphics.

There are also some versions of Windows 10 that are still supported for businesses.

As usual on Patch Tuesday, these updates are mandatory, and they’ll install in the background at some point before prompting you to reboot your computer.

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Creating a Windows 11 install drive takes some work. Here's what you need to know

CNET 13 July, 2021 - 06:23pm

Microsoft recently released Windows 11 as part of its Insider program, allowing anyone with a compatible PC to install and test one of the biggest Windows updates we've seen in years. If you're on the fence about testing it out, here's how you can check if your PC will run it, and then install it. However, part of testing an unfinished operating system is you're bound to run into issues and bugs. Sometimes, those issues may force you to reinstall Windows 11. 

An easy way of doing that is by using a USB installation drive, which has a copy of Windows 11 on it. Microsoft is expected to release Windows 11 later this year, possibly in October, but until then it should be considered a constant work in progress. With the update safely stored on a flash drive, you can reinstall it at any time, should any issues get bad enough that your only option is to reinstall the update. 

You can also use a USB drive to make it easier to install Windows 11 on multiple computers or use it to quickly set up a virtual machine to make testing possible without risking your personal data. 

Stay current on the latest Microsoft news, plus reviews and advice on Windows PCs.

Microsoft hasn't yet updated its Media Creation Tool, nor has it published the official ISO images required to create a bootable drive. I've reached out to the company about the timing of an official release and will update this post when I hear back. 

To create a Windows 11 installation drive, you'll need an empty 8GB USB drive, a Windows PC and up to a few hours of your time. You can download the system image using a Linux computer or Mac using the same website we outline below, but we're going to focus on using a PC for this guide. Below are the steps you'll need to follow. 

If you don't feel comfortable downloading any software, especially a complete operating system, from a third party, I suggest waiting until Microsoft officially publishes the ISO images and/or tools. 

Until Microsoft provides an official download link for the Windows 11 ISO, this is as good as it gets. 

To download all of the necessary files you'll need to create your flash drive, use your PC to visit UUP Dump. Under the section titled Quick Options look for the line that reads Latest Dev Channel Build. (Currently, Windows 11 is only available as an Insider Preview in the Dev Channel.)

If you have an Intel-based PC, click on the x64 button. If you have an Arm-based Windows computer, such as the Surface Pro X, you'll want to click the arm64 button. 

On the next screen, click Cumulative Update for Windows 11 (10.0.22000.65) (or whatever the current build number is at the time). Select your language, then click Next. Choose the Windows 11 edition you want to download -- I went with Home because that's what most of my PCs are running. Then click Next

Next, you'll see a long list of options. I left them alone, but make sure you have Download and convert to ISO selected along with a checkmark next to Include Updates. Finally, click Create download package.

Make sure to click "More Info" before "Run anyway."

After the download finishes, look for the ZIP file in your Downloads folder. Right-click on it, select Extract All, and pick an easy-to-remember location for saving all the files. I created a folder on my Desktop named "Windows11ISO." The lack of spaces in the folder's name is important, as the download tool will not run if there are spaces in the name. 

Navigate to where you extracted the files and locate a file named uup_download_windows and double-click it. You might see a pop-up letting you know Windows has blocked the file from running, but in this case we want to run the file. To do that, click More Info > Run Anyway

A command prompt window will open, detailing the current step and progress of the download process. 

The download will take some time, especially if you have a slow internet connection. A bunch of random text will scroll across the window as the command does its job, sometimes with red text reading "error." Don't be alarmed, just let it finish. 

Processing the download and turning it into an ISO is the longest part of this entire process. 

If an error prevents the command from doing its job, which happened to me, you'll see some text letting you know there was an error, along with telling you to press any key to continue. Once you press a key, the window will close. I ran the uup_download_windows file a second time and it successfully finished. 

All told, it took me over two hours to download the files and create the ISO image on a Surface Pro X, but on a Surface Laptop 4 the entire process took under an hour. You can either walk away from your computer until it's finished or get a head start on the next step by downloading and installing Rufus, the program we're going to use to flash the ISO to a USB drive. 

You'll know the download has finished and all of the files are processed when you see Press 0 to exit at the bottom of the command prompt window. 

To turn a standard USB drive into an installation drive, you'll need to use a program called Rufus. It's the same app that Microsoft itself uses in its guide for creating a Windows 10 bootable drive. Visit the company's website to download and install Rufus, which should only take a few seconds. It's a small program. 

Once UUP Dump has finished downloading Windows 11 and you've pressed 0 to exit the command prompt, plug in your USB drive and open Rufus. Select your USB drive using the Device dropdown. Remember, anything on your thumb drive will be erased during this process -- so make sure it's empty and/or you have everything you need off of it. 

Under Boot Selection select Disk or ISO image and then click on the text that reads SELECT and pick the ISO file you created in the previous step. 

There's a section in Rufus labeled Image option with several different settings -- leave everything as the default. The same can be said for format options unless you want to change the name of the USB drive to something like "Windows 11 install" or along those lines. 

Click Start when you're all of the options are set. You'll, again, have to wait while the program does its job, but it should be a much quicker process than downloading and creating the ISO. It took just over 15 minutes on a Surface Pro X for me. 

You can now install Windows 11 with ease. 

Once Rufus finishes, you can remove the USB drive from your PC and either keep it somewhere safe in case you need to reinstall Windows 11 on your PC, or you can plug it into another PC and use it to install Windows 11 by opening the drive and double-clicking the setup.exe file. A few seconds later, a Windows 11 installation screen will appear, walking you through the rest of the process. 

Alternatively, you can try and use the USB drive as a bootable installation drive. However, this is where things get even more complicated due to Windows 11 requiring Secure Boot, and the USB drive we just created not being compatible with that feature. I suggest waiting for Microsoft to release an official tool, but if you insist, I found a guide that walks you through the extra steps of making a bootable USB drive that's compatible with secure boot on Tom's Hardware starting at step 11. 

Curious what all the fuss is about Windows 11? We have your back. There's a big interface redesign making its debut that includes a centered Start menu, but don't worry, you can move it back to the left corner if you want. And, finally, if you've ever had the desire to use Android apps on your PC, well, Microsoft is making that possible.

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