Windows Phone Is Now ‘On Hold’

Microsoft has been keen on promoting their “one platform for all premise”. This meant that no matter what device you were using, be it your computer, a tablet or a phone, you would experience the same system. The concept of Windows Phone has recently been put in doubt, with major projects such as the porting of Android Apps to the platform being stopped and sales constantly decreasing. It would seem now that Windows Phones won’t be making any big steps anytime soon as the system is declared all but ‘on hold’.

Microsoft held their Build keynote on Wednesday, explaining all their big steps and their phones didn’t even get a mention. The reason it would seem is that, according to Windows chief Terry Myerson, it’s just not the right time for the “4-inch screen”. In his explanation, Myerson goes to say that “there will be a time for it to be our focus” and saying that while it is “a part of the family” the phones are not “the core of where I hope to generate developer interest over the next year”.

With the news that not all Lumia phones would be receiving the update to Windows 10 as previously promised among the collection of “updates not delivered” for Windows phones, it’s hard not to see the signs that the mobile OS will change from its new on hold status to something you’ll see anytime soon.

Are you a Windows Mobile user? Were you thinking of getting a Windows Mobile at any time? Having previously used one, I enjoyed it until the lack of support and apps meant that the experience was all but as thrilling as first advertised. Leave us your thoughts in the comments below about what Microsoft needs to do to make their mobiles as catchy as their PC’s and laptops.

Microsoft Will Now Support Windows 7 and 8.1 For New Processors

Technology changes, that is an inevitable fact. As we produce more and more powerful designs and techniques we create new pieces of hardware and sometimes this causes trouble for those who aren’t quite ready to move on. Microsoft announced previously that those wanting to use the latest in Intel’s processors, the Skylake series, they would need to use Windows 10. It would appear they’ve changed their tone and are now looking to offer support for Windows 7 and 8.1 for the new processors.

The technical reasons provided was that offering support for the older operating systems would be too much given that the new system would be optimised for windows 10. Some people considered this as a push though for businesses to stop using the older operating systems and instead use Windows 10 if they wanted to get new equipment.

Microsoft has now recanted on that and will offer support for the older operating systems, offering companies the chance to upgrade to windows 10 at their own pace if they use Skylake devices. To help this the security updates for the older operating systems will also be addressed to PC’s running Skylake systems till January 14th, 2020 for Windows 7 users and January 10th 2023 for Windows 8.1 users.

Are you happy to hear about this? Are you looking at Skylake processors but would prefer to keep an older OS for the time being? You can see Microsofts tech blog outlining all the changes here.

Microsoft Slips Ad Generator Into Windows 7/8.1 Security Update

Microsoft has been getting more brazen every day as  they continue to try to get users to upgrade to Windows 10. After making Windows 10 a recommended update for Windows 7 and 8.1 systems, Microsoft may have gone too far with their latest step. If Microsoft’s own documentation is to be believed, the latest Internet Explorer 11 Security update for Windows 7 and 8.1 bundles in an ad generator that urges users to upgrade to Windows 10.

KB 3139929 is the latest cumulative security update for Internet Explorer 11, bundling in a number of security fixes. Digging into the documentation, you find KB 3146449, an update that “adds functionality to Internet Explorer 11 on some computers that lets users learn about Windows 10 or start an upgrade to Windows 10“. According to some users, this pops up a blue banner when a user opens a new IE11 tab with the message, “Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 10”.

While it is understandable that Microsoft wants to get as many users as possible on Windows 10 and is trying to spread the message, bundling a non-security update into a security update is simply unacceptable. Is is misleading to users and raises the question as to how trustworthy and legitimate Microsoft’s limited Windows 10 update notes are. Along with moves like the bundling of third-party apps into Windows 10, Microsoft may still reach their Windows 10 install goals, but only at the cost alienating users and undermining trust.

Windows 8 To Stop Receiving Security Updates

Microsoft recently cut off support for their popular operating system, Windows 7. In light of this, you would think their later operating systems would have a little longer left on the clock? Not if you are one of the users who stuck with Windows 8.

The follow-up and slightly controversial operating system which was only released three years ago. Typically windows support an operating system for 10 years, but Windows 8 received more than a few bad reviews covering everything from their new Metro start menu to the difficulty users had with software even when run in compatibility mode. Windows 8 will stop receiving the all important security updates as of January 12th.

The reason for the cut short updates? Windows 8.1, the solution that Microsoft provided to the problems many faced. Originally cited as a “service pack” and released nearly a year after Windows 8 made its debut, the “service pack” in question rounded off a lot of criticisms people had with Windows 8, offering more customizability and fixing a lot of the technical difficulties that people faced.

While originally released as a free update for Windows 8, there is still roughly 3% of desktop users who use the operating system as of December 2015. While this may be scary, Windows XP stopped receiving security updates in April 2014 and still accounts for roughly 11%, we don’t know however how many of these systems are used by companies, a fact that would be even scarier given what data they could have about you on their system.

If you’re still using Windows 8 it may be worth looking at an upgrade, if not to Windows 8.1 then maybe check out Windows 10, an operating system that people can upgrade to for free from Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 until summer.

How to Permanently Prevent Forced Windows 10 Download

Microsoft is set to introduce Windows 10 as a recommended update through Windows Update for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 very soon, meaning that millions of users will be inadvertently upgrading their operating system merely by installing recommended updates. Thankfully, there is a way to disable this automatic upgrade which does not require turning off Windows Updates altogether.

The information comes, surprisingly, direct from Microsoft, and does not require installing any additional software. A 30-second registry update is all it takes:

  1. Open Regedit (by typing “regedit” into the Windows Start Menu searchbar and clicking on the icon);
  2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\
    WindowsUpdate\OSUpgrade;
  3. Find AllowOSUpgrade (if it doesn’t exist, create it: right-click, new, create DWORD (32-bit) value, rename AllowOSUpgrade) and double-click. Set value to 0;
  4. Then, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\OSUpgrade;
  5. Find ReservationsAllowed (again, if it doesn’t exist, create it. Same method as above) and set value to 0;
  6. Restart Windows.

The “Upgrade to Windows 10” pop-up can also be disabled, if you haven’t already:

  1. In Regedit, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\GWX;
  2. Create DWORD (32-bit) value DisableGWX and set the value data to 1.

If you’re not comfortable poking around in Windows Registry, ZDNet has written a guide to creating your own executable file to automate the task.

Save the following text in a Notepad document as DisallowOSUpgrades.reg:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\OSUpgrade]

“AllowOSUpgrade”=dword:00000000

“ReservationsAllowed”=dword:00000000

[-HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\OSUpgrade\State]

Alternatively, the file can be downloaded here.

Microsoft Calls Sticking With Windows 7 a Security “Risk”

At the end of December, NetMarketShare reported that Windows 7 is the most popular operating system in the world, taking a huge 55% of the market share, compared to Windows 10’s meagre 9.9%, despite being installed over 200 million times since its release in July 2015. Microsoft has been pushing Windows 7 and 8.1 users to take advantage of its free upgrade scheme to graduate to the Windows 10, and its latest tactic seems to be to cast doubt on the security of Windows 7 in an effort to scare that 55% into migrating to the new operating system.

During the latest Windows Weekly podcast (via Forbes), Microsoft’s Marketing Chief Chris Capossela claimed that Windows 7 users should know that they use the old OS “at [their] own risk, at [their] own peril.”

“We do worry when people are running an operating system that’s 10 years old that the next printer they buy isn’t going to work well, or they buy a new game, they buy Fallout 4, a very popular game, and it doesn’t work on a bunch of older machines,” Capossela told hosts Leo Laporte, Mary Jo Foley, and Paul Thurrott. “And so, as we are pushing our ISV [Independent Software Vendor] and hardware partners to build great new stuff that takes advantage of Windows 10 that obviously makes the old stuff really bad and not to mention viruses and security problems.”

Capossela added that it is “so incredibly important to try to end the fragmentation of the Windows install base” in order to get users to a “safer place”.

I am one of many PC users who upgraded my copy of Windows 7 to Windows 10 before rolling back to my old operating system. I did so safe in the knowledge that Windows 7 is just as secure as 10 – Microsoft will maintain official support for the operating system until 2020, and any security update it develops for 10 will be applied to 7 – and the only compatibility issues I ever encountered were during my one month using Windows 10.

Capossela then intimated that Microsoft could adopt a more aggressive strategy to force Windows 7 and 8.1 users to upgrade, saying, “We think every machine that is capable of running Windows 10 we should be doing everything we possibly can to get people to move to Windows 10…We are going to try to find that right balance, but we just know there’s a lot of people out there who constantly kick the can down the street without a little bit more of a, frankly, a push.”

“And so,” he continued, “there’s no doubt with a base as big as ours, it is hard to move anyone to a new model without angering some people. We don’t want to anger anybody, but we do feel a responsibility to get people to a much better place, and Windows 10 is a much better place than Windows 7. We will always give you a way out, but we’re trying to find the right threat balance.”

 

Windows 10 Upgrades Will Start Installing Automatically Next Year

When Microsoft released Windows 10 early this year, the new operating system was meant to unify the Windows/Microsoft ecosystem. In an effort to achieve homogeneity among its desktop user base, Microsoft is taking extreme measures to push Windows 10 onto Windows 7/8.1 users. Starting next year, the Windows 10 update will be made “recommended” and set to automatically install. For the next few months, an intermediary step of making Windows 10 an “optional” update for all users will take place.

By making the update recommended, it means that any users who are set to have automatic updates will have Windows 10 automatically start installing. Microsoft is saying that before the OS fully changes over, there will be a user prompt though it looks like the update will download automatically. In these times, having automatic updates is critical for maintaining security and keeping up to date so it’s a hard choice between remaining secure or using the OS of your choice.

In the interim, Windows 10 will be set as an optional update for all users. Previously, only those that reserved a Windows 10 update would have Windows 10 show up as an optional update. Given previous debacles with optional updates, it remains to be seen if Microsoft is up to the task. The major reason for this shift is that the #1 service issues with Windows right now is about where to get the Windows 10 update.

With the many unanswered questions that Microsoft has not dealt with for Windows 10, there are likely going to be many users who are going to be unhappy with the way Windows 10 is being pushed. While Windows 10 has been working on over 110 million devices so far, those who have not chosen to upgrade probably have issues with incompatible hardware and software or plain just don’t want to use it. By being so forceful with Windows 10, Microsoft risks creating a public backlash though then again, where can users go?

Windows 10 Upgrade May Automatically Install on Windows 7/8.1 Systems

Microsoft has been pushing their new Windows 10 OS pretty heavily since launch a little over two months ago. Due to those efforts, the Windows 8.1 replacement managed to hit 75 million installs in just 1 month, with the 2nd month reporting in at over 110 million installed devices. We’re now getting word though that some of these installs may have been done by unsuspecting users who had the Windows 10 upgrade automatically install.

With Windows 10, Microsoft broke new ground by allowing free upgrades to Windows 7 and 8.1. However, things started looking a bit sketchy when Microsoft started making the Windows 10 upgrade download itself whether the user requested it or not. It looks like Microsoft has made a greater mistake by automatically having the Windows 10 upgrade checked, leading users who aren’t careful with their updates automatically being forced to upgrade.

While Microsoft has claimed this issue was caused by a soon to be fixed error, this is the first time that an optional update has been checked off. Combined with other buggy issues, either Microsoft is playing with the truth or their quality control has slipped up. Either way, though, needs to ensure that they respect users choice, something Windows 10 has not been doing a good job about.

Thank you Ars Technica for providing us with this information

Windows 10 Hits 110 Million Mark by Second Month

Earlier in the month, we got word that Windows 10 had surpassed the 100 million install mark. While that was an unofficial source, we now getting word directly from Microsoft that their new operating system managed to hit 110 million installs in the first 2 months. By this point of the month, Windows 10 is sure to have already surpassed that point, with well over 110 million installs.

Windows 10 managed to hit 75 million installs in the first month which was much better than what previous Microsoft OS’s have managed to do. Despite a drop in the adoption rate, Windows 10 still managed a quite respectable 35 million in the second month, putting it above what Windows 7 managed, if only barely. Compared to Windows 8, Windows 10 has managed to nearly double the number in 2 months.

For Microsoft, the free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8 users look to be paying off. With update rates trailing off though, Microsoft’s lofty goal of a billion Windows 10 devices in 3 years still seems a fair bit away. Even with all of the privacy concerns and other bugs, Windows 10 is still looking really strong. With DX12 and the promise of further fixes to both bugs and maybe even privacy, Microsoft will be sure to attract more users to upgrade eventually.

How to Stop Windows 7 and 8 From Spying on You

By now, the internet is saturated with articles advising Windows 10 users how to stop the new operating system from tracking and collecting their data, with many existing Windows 7 and 8.1 users breathing a sigh of relief that they rejected their free Windows 10 update. What many are unaware of, though, is that Microsoft has updated its user agreement to introduced exactly the same spying tools into the previous two Windows iterations.

The following four Windows Updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 are responsible for turning your operating system into a user data collection conduit:

KB3068708 This update introduces the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices. By applying this service, you can add benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded. The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.

KB3022345 (replaced by KB3068708) This update introduces the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to in-market devices. By applying this service, you can add benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet been upgraded. The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.

KB3075249 This update adds telemetry points to the User Account Control (UAC) feature to collect information on elevations that come from low integrity levels.

KB3080149 This package updates the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices. This service provides benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded. The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.

If you are a Windows 7 or 8.1 user that handles their Windows Updates manually, simply right-click on the offending updates in the list (Control Panel > Windows Update > Select updates to install) and click ‘Hide’. Don’t panic if the updates have already been installed, though, as you can still uninstall them. Navigate to Control Panel > Programs and Features > Installed Updates, find the relevant items under the Microsoft Windows sublist, right-click, and select Uninstall.

Alternatively, you can use an elevated command prompt to execute the following commands:

  • wusa /uninstall /kb:3068708 /quiet /norestart
  • wusa /uninstall /kb:3022345 /quiet /norestart
  • wusa /uninstall /kb:3075249 /quiet /norestart
  • wusa /uninstall /kb:3080149 /quiet /norestart

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information.

Windows 10 Data Policy is Optionally Coming to Older Operating Systems

The recently revised “Microsoft Services Agreement” has caused a great deal of controversy and could theoretically disable pirated games and unauthorized software. Additionally there are concerns about Microsoft’s data policy in regards to monitoring user activity. It’s still unclear what the true extent of these updated terms are, but some users have reverted back to older operating systems due to privacy concerns. However, Microsoft is now implementing updates in Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 which report information back to Microsoft’s servers.  The updates in question are KB3075249 and KB3080149 and designed to:

KB3075249 “Update that adds telemetry points to consent.exe in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 ”

KB3080149 “This update aligns down-level devices on the same UTC binary that’s released in Windows 10. This update would enable all the down-level devices to receive the software updates, design updates, and additional power and performance tuning.”

Once updated, your PC will share data in a similar vein to Windows 10. Whether you’re happy with this or not is all down to user-preference. You could argue, that there is no privacy online, and Microsoft requires this information to customizable apps such as Cortana to your needs. On the other hand, other users will feel aggrieved by this intrusive data sharing and decided to dismiss Windows 10 for this very reason. Most importantly, the updates are optional and Windows cannot under any circumstances, apply the updates automatically. Although, this could change in the future.

If Microsoft do make this an integral system update, you can always disable Windows Update.

Are you concerned with the new Microsoft Services Agreement or feel people are being overly paranoid?

Thank you TechWorm for providing us with this information. 

How to Stop Windows 10 From Sharing Your Bandwidth

The Windows 10 upgrade procedure is remarkably simple and easily reversed if you prefer an older operating system. To manage the bandwidth demands, Microsoft uses a peer-to-peer (P2P) system which allows your network to host the data for additional machines. However, a number of Reddit users discovered the P2P update delivery protocol extended to computers outside of your network and across the globe. Subsequently, this can reduce your download and upload bandwidth as you seed the data to other Windows users.

Currently, there’s no substantial evidence which estimates the impact of the worldwide P2P delivery. It’s clear this has caused some concern and can be manually disabled via the following process:

Firstly, click the “Start Menu” and select the “Settings” tab.

This should open a new window and you need to click on the “Update & Security” sub-menu.

Navigate to the “Windows Update” option on the left side panel, and click “Advanced Options”.

This next menu simply involves scrolling down to the bottom and clicking on “Choose how updates are delivered”.

Once complete, change the highlighted option to “PCs on my local network”. Doing so will disable network sharing across the internet and restrict your bandwidth to a local connection.

In real terms, I’m not entirely convinced the network sharing will have a major impact on the average user’s internet connection. Although, some people may oppose the idea of using their own network to manage traffic instead of Microsoft building a greater networking infrastructure.

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information

Windows 10 Market Share Rises to 3.55 Percent

Despite some of the negative press surrounding Windows 10’s hidden snooping tools, the operating system appears to be roaring success and has extended its market share to 3.55 percent. The latest data comes from the weekly Statcounter report and shows a distinct shift from Windows 8.1 to Microsoft’s latest operating system. More specifically, Windows 8.1 dipped from 16.45 percent to 14.93 and Windows 7’s share reduced from 54.41 percent to 53.8.

These numbers are extremely impressive considering how new the operating system is and users are taking full advantage of the free upgrade incentive. Transferring customers from Windows 7 will be a more difficult task for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s a more desktop-orientated environment and doesn’t use the Metro interface. Secondly, Windows 7 is stable, fast and adopts a familiar user-interface most people are accustomed to. While Windows 10 implements the Metro style in a more desktop-friendly manner, it’s still integrated into the Start Menu.

Thankfully, users have a full year to initiate the upgrade process and within a few months, most of the glaring issues should have been resolved. Also, it will be fascinating to see how Microsoft responds to concerns about privacy and their data policy. Whatever the case, Windows 10 continues to expand its market share at a rather impressive pace.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information.

How to Rollback From Windows 10 in a few Clicks

Windows 10 has finally arrived and already accounts for an estimated market share of 0.375%. Microsoft’s figures suggest a staggering 14 million devices were activated within 24 hours of launch. However, Microsoft’s latest and probably last operating system has come under fire due to privacy concerns and users have reported some unnerving bugs. The procedure to revert from Windows 10 is relatively simple, but it must be done within 30 days of your initial upgrade date.

If you decided to perform an upgrade without transferring any files, make sure to back up any data on an external flash drive or optical media. Operating systems are prone to anomalies when using a system restore or reformat so it’s important to have a contingency plan. Once your data has been successful backed up, it’s now time to instigate the rollback from Windows 10.

Firstly, navigate to the Start Menu and click on the Setting tab. This will bring up the traditional Control Panel which contains a number of categorized options.

Click on the Update and security icon to access a new screen with installation commands.

Next, you should be able to see the Update and security menu which contains a host of system tools. On the left, there is a tab entitled, “Recovery”. Click this and the right hand section will display 3 key options. Ensure you select the “Get Started button” underneath the label “Go back to Windows 7/8/8.1”.

Once pressed, Microsoft allows you to cancel the process or offer feedback on the decision to drop Windows 10 from your system. To proceed, you must tick one of the boxes and click next.

After choosing a reason for the rollback, Microsoft asks you to confirm the decision to prevent customers from making any rash decision.

Then, your PC will begin to automatically downgrade from Windows 10 and doesn’t require any user-input. This could take 10-30 minutes depending if you have an SSD or mechanical hard drive. When the procedure is finished, you should be able to log into your previous operating system without any problems.

Please let us know if this guide helped you and your overriding opinions of Windows 10 so far.

Windows 10 Hits 14 Million Upgrades in Just 24 Hours

Many Windows users look like they’re jumping right onto the Windows 10 bandwagon right away. According to Microsoft, more than 14 million devices have upgraded to and are using Windows 10. Given that many users on Windows 7 and 8/8.1 that are eligible for upgrading but have not yet gotten their prompt, that number is likely to balloon for the near future.

These early adopters are sure to face a whole slew of issues though. Microsoft’s touted personal assistant Cortana is currently limited to a select few countries and even then, sometimes it has trouble activating. Other bugs like the app store and other Metro apps crashing have also popped up. For instance, I was unable to install any of the Universal apps and have multiple app store crashes. Along with some other issues and privacy concerns, it’s probably not quite that time for an upgrade yet.

For those that are eager to try out Microsoft’s new OS but have not yet gotten their upgrade option, you can find our guide to download Windows 10 here. Having tried Windows 10 myself yesterday, Microsoft really should have spent a bit more time fine tuning the OS in improving the UI and bug fixes before launch. Overall though the OS is largely fine but still feels rough around the edges. It will take a while yet till we know how the public at large responds to Windows 10.

Why You Shouldn’t Upgrade to Windows 10 Today

Introduction


The launch date of Windows 10 has finally arrived after an extensive Beta testing period for users in the Windows Insider Program. Microsoft’s latest operating system is designed to be light on system resources and implement the Metro user-interface in a less obnoxious way. Windows 8 was heavily criticized by Microsoft customers, game developers and even Valve who became so concerned, they pushed their own Linux-based operating system. Microsoft’s strategic direction was too focused on mobile devices and tried to implement touch functionality at the expense of Desktop PCs.

Microsoft made a catastrophic error in trying to enforce full-screen applications through the Metro user-interface. As a result, it was extremely awkward to arrange multiple Windows and the OS felt pretty cluttered. Furthermore, navigating to newly installed programs, the Control Panel or advanced settings seemed counter-intuitive and hidden behind too many sub-menus. The end result was a terrible operating system for power users or customers opting for a traditional keyboard and mouse control scheme.

Windows 8.1 alleviated some of these concerns but kept the garish Metro system and Microsoft were unwilling to admit defeat. Many users derogatorily refer to Windows 8 as “the next Vista” and refuse to upgrade from the highly acclaimed Windows 7 operating system. Given the amount of disdain Windows 8 received, you might be a little perplexed about not upgrading today. However, there are a number of factors which you should take into consideration before upgrading.

Slow Download Servers


As with any digital product launch, the download servers are being hammered and resulting in extremely slow download speeds. This can create a rather frustrating experience as the queues grow and Microsoft struggles to keep up with demand. Perhaps waiting a few days is a more cogent option so you can download the update when the servers aren’t overpopulated. Also, the free download only applies to existing customers. Subsequently, you cannot legitimately acquire an ISO from a fast mirror and apply the update yourself. Personally, I would perform a re-format of my existing operating system, then install Windows 10; unless you have a boot SSD and few programs, this may take a while.

Windows 10 Could Suffer From Undocumented Compatibility Problems


Despite undergoing a thorough Beta testing phase, Windows 10 hasn’t been adopted on such a widespread scale. This means various third-party programs, games or hardware could experience teething problems. For example, older printers using a Parallel to USB converter might no longer work until the manufacturer releases a fix. Of course, this is a very small percentage of people but emphasizes what kind of problems you might run into. More commonly, many older games could become unstable or fail to detect the platform being used. It shouldn’t be a major issue due to Windows’ compatibility mode, but it’s something to be wary of.

Additionally, mods or unofficial game patches are untested and it’s sensible to let others be the guinea pig. Another factor to take into consideration is the amount of old games like Wing Commander which already struggle on modern operating systems. Windows 10 is brand new, so the amount of threads with information to get the game running will be minimal. Hopefully, the Windows 8.1 fixes work on Windows 10, but this is still an unknown entity.

DirectX 12 is Here, the Games are not


In terms of potential, DirectX 12 is one of the most revolutionary changes to PC Gaming in over a decade. This new low-level API reduces CPU overheads and theoretically increases the performance of games by an estimated 20%. However, there are no games on the market able to leverage this extra performance and it’s up to developers to begin supporting the new API. Realistically, this could take at least a year before modern games are reworked to use DirectX 12.

A large quantity of older games were produced by defunct studios and unable to implement DirectX 12 functionality. I highly doubt this could be done by a modder since the engine needs to be reworked. The data on DirectX 12 is quite new and we need to wait until the API has matured before analyzing its significance. Make no mistake, DirectX 12 will be a monumental change, but gamers shouldn’t expect to see this anytime soon.

Windows 10 Will be Free for a Year


It’s remarkably easy to get into the hullabaloo of a product launch and be disappointed by the final result. There’s no need to rush if you want to upgrade because Windows 10 will remain free for an entire year. As such, you could wait a month to see how well the operating system has been received and until the launch bugs are patched. Perhaps Windows 10 doesn’t offer enough of an improvement from Windows 7 and isn’t worth the hassle of learning a new visual style. This will be fairly prominent with those who aren’t technically minded and struggle to navigate around an operating system.

The Metro UI Still Exists


For all Windows 10’s posturing about returning to its Desktop roots, the Metro UI is still an integral component, albeit in a less obtrusive manner. In Windows 10, clicking the Start icon brings up the familiar Start menu. Unfortunately, this takes up a lot more space as the Metro icons are positioned adjacent to the Start menu. Once pressed, the menu can take up to 50% of your screen space instead of the narrow 20% seen in Windows 7. Microsoft’s ideology revolves and integrating all their services together including mobile, PC and Xbox. This sounds like a good idea, but I strongly believe Microsoft should release two versions of Windows 10; a Metro-based tablet edition and PC version which drops the Metro UI completely.

Windows 8 or 8.1 users can download an invaluable tool called Classic Shell which removes the Metro UI and replaces it with a simple, yet customizable Start menu. I’m surprised Microsoft didn’t take greater notice of this software which creates a much better experience than Windows’ 10 default setup. While the tool should work on Windows 10, this is just another example of how previous operating systems can be made more intuitive than Microsoft’s latest effort.

Final Thoughts


Windows 10 is shaping up to be a highly successful release, as Microsoft attempts to transfer individuals from older operating systems through the free upgrade incentive. Despite this, launch dates are always marred with a wide array of problems. In this case, the servers are almost at breaking point and I wouldn’t recommend downloading the update right now. Furthermore, DirectX 12 games could be some time off, and the Metro user-interface is still an integral part of the user-experience.

There’s no need to rush out and instantly download the update either as the average user will not majorly benefit from upgrading today. This doesn’t apply to technology enthusiasts or tweakers who want to play with the latest operating system. I’m still wary about the lack of mature drivers for unusual peripherals and wonder if they will work without any complications.

Microsoft has hinted that this could be the last version of Windows formally released. After that, Windows could possibly become a service platform which evolves without reselling the operating system as a product revision. Windows 10 is here and you should definitely upgrade, but now is probably not the best time for everyone.

Not Everyone Will Get Windows 10 on the 29th of July

If you were eagerly waiting to get your hands on Windows 10 on the 29th of July, you might be a bit disappointed. Microsoft just ruled out some updates on the upcoming Windows distribution timings, so bear with us on this.

The company said that Windows Insider program members will be the first to get Windows 10 when it launches, with other users who have reserved their copies being notified by email. Once you get notified, you will be able to get on downloading the Windows build. However, the company will be rolling it out in waves, which will increase in size gradually. This means there won’t be a lot of users who reserved Windows 10 getting it when the clock hits zero.

For regular home users, Microsoft will release the notification once it gets enough information from your system and considers it “ready” for Windows 10. Users who do not have a PC fitting Microsoft’s requirement will be notified by the Microsoft team and be given details as well as contact information on what they should do to get the build.

Business users have something else to deal with. Windows 10 Pro businesses will be able to download the build alongside Windows Insider users on the 29th of July, but larger companies have to wait. Windows 10 Enterprise and Education will be available through the company’s Volume Licensing Service Center starting on the 1st of August.

In addition to the above, all Windows 8.1 versions sold from retail stores will be given out with additional information on how to upgrade to Windows 10. More information about what Microsoft has planned for the Windows 10 rollout can be found over at their blog here.

Lenovo Enters PC Stick Market

Lenovo is releasing a PC-on-a-stick to rival Intel’s Compute Stick, and it’s cheaper, to boot. The Lenovo IdeaCentre Stick 300 is a dongle that will turn any monitor or TV with an HDMI input into a computer.

The 15mm-thick dongle boasts an Intel Atom Z3735F processor, 2GB memory, and 32GB of onboard storage, which can be boosted via it Micro SD slot, plus WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. It will ship with Windows 8.1, which will of course be eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10 upon its release on 29th July.

Jun Ouyang, Vice President and General Manager of Worldwide Desktop and Visuals, described the IdeaCentre Stick 300:

“We’ve looked at the computing needs of travelers, business people and families, and realized that a truly portable and affordable solution would be a significant benefit to users of all kinds. Our goal with the Ideacentre Stick 300 is to give those users a sense of freedom and enhanced mobility, while packing a serious punch in a small device.”

Lenovo promises that the IdeaCentre Stick 300 can transform “the traditional TV in a vacation rental into a smart multi-media hub, capable of streaming a movie, video chatting with relatives or editing a work document on the fly,” and allowing you to “Convert the dusty monitor lurking in a spare bedroom into a web-enabled homework station, or transform a coveted man-cave into a home cinema.”

The Lenovo IdeaCentre Stick 300 is due to ship in July, in-store and online, priced $129.

Image courtesy of liliputing.

Testers Get Windows 10 For Free With a Catch

After making a pigs ear of it over the last week, Microsoft has finally, definitively, clarified whether or not testers of the beta version of Windows 10 are eligible for a free upgrade to the release version of the new operating system upon its release on 29th July.

Members of the Windows Insider Program who have Windows 10 Technical Preview installed will be entitled to a free upgrade to Windows 10, but only if they remain signed up for beta updates to maintain the build’s activation status. Anyone who decides not to receive beta updates any longer will have their licence expire and will have to pay in order to continue running the full version of Windows 10.

Even Gabriel Aul, Head of the Windows Insider Program, admitted that Microsoft’s communiqués on the matter were unclear, posting a link to a new blog post which aims to illuminate the matter:

As Aul phrases it in the blog post:

As part of the program we’ll upgrade Insiders to what is for all intents and purposes the same build as what other customers will get on 7/29, but that will be just another build for Insiders, and those who stay in the program will simply get the next build after as well.

So, if you want a free version of Windows 10, and don’t already own Windows 7 and above, you must submit to being a full-time tester of the OS. Is that a fair trade-off?

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Windows 7 and 8.1 Users Can Now Reserve Windows 10 Upgrade

Microsoft has confirmed the release of Windows 10 as 29th July, and certain Windows 7 and 8.1 users are able to reserve their free upgrade to the new operating system, thanks to a handy little icon in their Windows taskbar notifications area:

If you are a Windows 7 or 8.1 user and you don’t have the icon on your desktop, you need to make sure that you have installed the KB3035583 Windows Update from March. Without it, you will not be able to reserve your automatic Windows 10 update. After the update is installed, the icon should appear instantly. Once clicked, it offers a load of information about the new OS, and at the click of a button signs the user up to the free update.

The update window will even warn you about drivers and programs that either might become incompatible or will need to be reinstalled after the update, though an option titled “Check your PC”.

Windows 7 and 8.1 users have one year from Windows 10’s release date to take advantage of the free upgrade “for the supported lifetime of your device,” as Microsoft puts it, stressing that it is a permanent upgrade, not a free trial or limited version. Sadly, Windows RT and RT 8.1 users are not eligible for the offer.

Thank you CNet for providing us with this information.

Microsoft’s New Surface 3 Runs With Windows 10

Microsoft’s new Surface 3 will launch on the 5th of May, but some people in the industry already got their hands on the new dual-usable systems. The Surface 3 runs the full version of Windows 8.1 and is said to be working with Windows 10 too once that is released. That’s pretty much a given, but how does it handle the current beta builds?

Pretty good from the looks of it. The guys over at Neowin wanted to know for sure and they tried it out, and the results look promising. The direct update through Windows Update did take quite some time but completed successfully.

There are a few hiccups and things that don’t work yet, but that was to be expected. The onscreen keyboard disappeared during the login password entry, but the Type Cover and the pen both worked well and as they should. A few app crashes were noted too, but nothing too major and no bluescreens. Well, that’s not entirely true, there was an occasionally blue screen that required a tap on the power button to fix after logging in, but no BSODs.

Users who decide to test this for themselves once the Surface 3 arrives should remember to create a backup USB drive in case things go wrong and you need to revert back to the original system. You should also keep in mind that this is a passive cooled system and the update put significant stress on the tiny unit.

Thank you Neowin for providing us with this information

New Asus RG6 ROG Console is Powered by Intel Broadwell and GTX 960M

If you wanted a powerhouse console for your living room, Asus just came forth with a solution. The company just announced its RG6 ROG console-inspired gaming PC, featuring a minimalistic and extremely silent design.

The RG6 looks to maintain the company’s Republic of Gamers design and is powered by an Intel i5 5th Gen Broadwell CPU, 8GB DDR3L which is also upgradeable to 16GB, Nvidia’s GTX 960M graphics solution and even comes with an optional SSD slot. The company looks to have added one of their ROG M801 keyboard and Sica RA01 mouse in the bundle too.

Aside from its ultra-silent operating environment, outputting 20dB in idle and 28 dB in full-load, the RG6 comes with a built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Intel Gigabit Ethernet with GameFirst III that aims to provide lag-free connectivity. In terms of connectivity, the gaming-PC comes with a HDMI and DisplayPort output, four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports that also feature a USB Charger option.

When it comes to the audio, the RG6 comes with the SupremeFX ELNA audio capacitors that offer to connect you system with either the HDMI or S/PDIF optical port. In addition to the latter, audio jacks are available on both the front and back of the console. Its Sonic Studio also aims to help you personalize sound modes and te equalizer.

Asus’ RG6 comes pre-installed with Windows 8.1 and has support for Steam Big Picture Launcher out-of-the-box, even if you choose to use just a game-pad controller, giving user an additional option to add the SteamOS just as easily after the console is officially launched.

Other features include AI Suite III that lets you customize the system’s settings, a 100GB ASUS WebStorage for a year, the HomeCloud that lets you access the console remotely and a one-year license for Kaspersky’s antivirus software.

There is still no word on pricing or availability for the Asus RG6, but more news on this matter is bound to be released soon.

Images courtesy of ASUS ROG

Windows XP Has More Users than Windows 8.x, Not Bad for an OS That Is 14 Years Old

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there are still many people using Windows XP. Though, it may be surprising to learn that the desktop market share of the 14 year old OS has more market share than the recent Windows 8 versions (Win 8/ Win 8.1).

According to Net Application’s collected data Windows 8.x ended March with 14.07% of the market share for desktops. Windows XP ended the month with 16.94%, beating Windows 8.x by 2.87%.  Going back to November 2014 Windows 8.x had a combined market share of 18.65% against XP at 13.57%. Surprisingly November 2014 was the only month that Win 8.x beat out XP. This is pretty surprising given that XP is no longer officially supported by Microsoft, with support having been ended a year ago. Could this be the reason for Microsoft saying that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade? It would be a safe bet just by looking at the numbers, and with Windows 10 actually looking pretty great, it is a win for everyone.

Source: Hot Hardware

Microsoft Planning to Build an Intel-Powered Non-Pro Surface Tablet

Microsoft seems to be moving away from the ARM-powered Surface tablets and getting rid of its Windows RT operating system in the process. A report from WinBeta indicates that the company is planning to switch the Surface Pro series to the x86-powered CPU running on Windows 8.1 (and possibly Windows 10 once it gets released).

The report states that the new Surface will be a fanless device, powered by an Atom or Core M processor, and will be marketed as a consumer-oriented product. This might mean that the company would slot it beneath the Surface Pro 3, but it’s hard to say at this point given that details about it are still scarce.

The company’s non-Pro Surface tablet, the Surface 2, comes with a 10.6″ 1080p screen, up to 64GB of storage and with the Windows RT OS. A similar device with the Windows 8.1 (and Windows 10 in the future) could be a great consumer product, given the price is right. The Surface 2 is currently priced at $449 for the 32GB variant.

An official announcement is expected before or at Microsoft’s Build conference, which starts on April 29th.

Thank you Tech Report for providing us with this information

Intel Compute Stick Expected in Europe This April

Intel’s impressive dongle PC, the Compute Stick, is coming to Europe this April, according to Fudzilla.

The Compute Stick, first unveiled by Intel at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 back in January, is an HDMI dongle, nearly twice the size of Google’s Chromecast, with a 1.33GHz Atom Z3735F processor, 32GB on-board storage, and 2GB RAM. It is powered through a microUSB port, and has an additional USB 2.0 port for peripherals or extra storage, plus a microSDHC slot and 802.11b/g/n wireless, and Bluetooth 4.0.

Two versions of the Compute Stick will be available: the more expensive model (€180) ships with Windows 8.1, while the other runs Linux (€120+), though the Linux distro it comes with is as yet unknown.

There was quite a buzz about Intel’s Compute Stick after it was revealed at CES 2015, but the price-hike of around €50 since then will no doubt temper some of that excitement.

Toshiba Introduced Encore 2 Write Tablets with Precision Pen

Toshiba announced the new Encore 2 Write tablets with a pressure sensitive pen and ultra-responsive screen for a more paper-like precision. The tablets are powered by Windows 8.1 and the pens are made with Wacom’s latest feel pen technologies.

“Whether you’re a compulsive scribbler, sketch artist or simply prefer handwriting notes in meetings, this tablet features technologies that make writing on screen feel more natural than ever. And because it’s a Windows tablet, it’s compatible with your favorite Office programs and apps, so you can get going right out of the box,” said Philip Osako, senior director of product marketing, Toshiba America

The 8-inch and 10.1-inch tablets are powered by a Intel Atom quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Network is covered by dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi and support for wireless display right out of the box. The bigger model also has a micro HDMI port for direct connection.

The tablets offer up to an 11-hour battery life for general usage and up to 8 hours of video playback. The built in stereo speakers support Dolby Digital Plus, so several movies in a row shouldn’t be a problem. It also has GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope and e-compass, a micro USB 2.0 port for power, sync and sharing, and supports microSD cards up to 128GB.

 

Toshiba’s TruPen that is included, is a “pro-grade” pen with a fine tip and 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. This enables sharp strokes while minimizing lag for greater precision and accuracy. It is said to “virtually feels as natural as writing on paper”.

You’ll also get a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Personal and with unlimited storage through OneDrive. It also comes with a couple Toshiba apps for better photo capturing, recording meetings and taking notes.

The Encore 2 Write tablets should be available for purchase now at select retailers, including Microsoft Stores and on toshiba.com/us. The 10.1-inch Encore 2 Write is priced at $399.99 and the 8-inch model is priced at $349.99 MSRP.

Thanks to Toshiba for providing us with this information