One of the prices of great success is that they never go away even when you want them to. Microsoft has been dealing with this problem ever since they dropped Windows XP support back in 2014. Now, 2 years later and 15 years since launch, the OS is still very popular and ahead of all OSX computers combined. In what is happy news for Microsoft, Google is dropping Windows XP support with Chrome 50.
When Microsoft first took Windows XP off support, Google and Mozilla both promised their respective browsers would continue to support the OS for a year. After extending the deadline for a year, Google has decided enough is enough. Moving forwards, Chrome won’t install on Windows XP and things like sync and account sign in might not work even with current Chrome installations once Chrome versions advance enough.
For those you who still insist on using Windows XP and want to browse, there is still Firefox 45 which supports the OS. How long Mozilla will continue supporting the OS remains to be seen. Given the fact that you’re running an unsupported OS, though, running an unsupported browser is likely the least of your worries. Perhaps, one day XP will truly die, at least for network connected devices.
After revealing their latest Windows 10 Preview at BUILD 2016 last week, the latest OS update has now become available. Ina addition to the headline native Bash support, there are also a number of other new and notable changes. The new Build 14316 is just a part of the massive changes Microsoft will be introducing with Windows 10 later this year with the Anniversary Update.
First off, we’re getting a new and improved Cortana. With the latest update, Cortana will work seamlessly across multiple Windows devices. This means when Cortana on your phone notices your phone has a low battery, Cortana on your PC will notify you to charge your phone. By making the transition between devices more seamless, Cortana becomes that much more useful.
Another area we have seen an update to is to the emojis. Microsoft has redesigned their Windows 10 emojis to better align with the Microsoft Design Language. The people emojis also feature skin tone support to ensure multiple skins tones can be displayed.
Finally, we have a new dark/night mode that changes the Windows theme to be darker. The OS, system apps and any other UWP apps that choose to respond to theme changes will all change based on the dark or light theme choice. Lastly, Windows Update will better display the update progress, showing more information about what is exactly is being updated.
Happily for Microsoft, Windows 10 adoption is chugging along quite nicely. In fact, according to Microsoft, Windows 10 has achieved the fastest adoption yet, beating out Windows 7 and 8. Since the last update at the end of 2015, Windows 10 has added an additional 70 million users, bumping the total to 270 million, quite impressive overall. However, the numbers have slowed after the new OS hit 75 million in the first month and 110 million by the second.
The biggest reason Windows 10 has seen such growth is due to the free nature of the OS. Microsoft has allowed users to upgrade for free from Windows 7 and 8.1, driving a lot of the adoption. Microsoft has also pushed hard to get users to upgrade, with controversial methods like forced upgrades, misleading options and even slipping Windows 10 ads into security updates. The unique count of users rather than installed devices is also a difference in how Microsoft is counting installs, with the graphic above being void of labeled axis.
Even with some good numbers to share, Microsoft may be starting to get worried as the June deadline for free upgrades nears. For those users who hold back, they may never move on till Windows 7 and 8.1 finally leave support at the end of the decade. Hopefully, Microsoft will get the message and stop forcing upgrades on those who don’t want them.
While there are undoubtedly many issues and concerns users have with Windows 10, one of them is finally being addressed. After announcing last year that there will be improved documentation for Windows 10 Updates, Microsoft has started releasing Update release notes for the latest updates. Each new update patch will now come with a summary of major fixes along with notes about function and security changes. For now, only security fixes come in more detail while other changes are still only vaguely documented.
Before this release, Windows 10 updates did not come with any release notes, meaning system administrators had no idea what the update was changing, making the patch a crapshoot if compatibility issues arose. The only notes about releases came from the preview beta or Windows Insider branch of the OS where some notes were released. The move to strip away release notes were largely seen as a cost saving measure and due to the move to Windows as a service.
It seems like in this case user and enterprise pushback was enough to force some changes from Microsoft. It didn’t even take up that many resources to create as Microsoft was already creating release notes for internal OEM partner use. Simply releasing these to consumers as well isn’t that much more work. Hopefully, we may yet see Microsoft act on other concerns that users have about Windows 10, like forced automatic updates and various privacy concerns.
With the successful launch of Windows 10 behind them, Microsoft is closing up their Windows 7 and 8.1 business. According to Microsoft’s Windows lifecycle factsheet, we’re getting confirmation that Windows 7 Professional will no longer be available to OEMs come October 31st 2016. With that, the era of Windows 7 will finally end as Microsoft will no longer make Windows 7 available in any form to OEMs and OEMs can’t sell Windows 7 devices.
While the Professional SKU of Windows 7 will continue for the next year, the other variants were already cut off from OEMs a year ago. The retail versions of the OS also ended sales two years ago back in 2013. Windows 7 gained popularity as it came after the bungled Vista release and the lacklustre Windows 8 failed to supplant it in a significant way. The extension for the Professional version of Windows 7 largely came about due to the less than positive reception Windows 8 faced. As a business oriented SKU, letting OEMs continue to offer it as an upgrade path was more palpable than having them stay on XP.
Windows 8.1 will also become depreciated on that same date. This means in a years time, the only Microsoft Windows computers on shelves should be Windows 10 based. Security updates will continue till 2020 and 2023 for 7 and 8.1 respectively. Interestingly, despite Windows 10 being the “last Windows”, support for the new OS ends in 2025. Whether or not that will change remains to be seen.
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.
Those who set Windows 7 to automatic update may have experienced an unpleasant surprise yesterday. According to multiple reports, the update would cause the system-wide error, with Windows Explorer and other programs frequently crashing, corrupting even system restore, rendering the system useless. While many suspected that Windows Update had been compromised by malicious actors, the source was more mundane.
According to Microsoft, a test update was inadvertently released through the Windows Update service. Despite normal practice dictating that test updates be signed by a test certificate, this update was signed by a real one, leading to Windows 7 trusting and installing it. Luckily, the update was discovered relatively quickly and taken down. Due to the large number of Windows 7 installs, the number was users impacted could still be pretty significant.
With a gaffe such as this, it’s no wonder that Windows 10 forcing updates is so widely panned. Luckily for Microsoft, this update was only pushed out to Windows 7, where the number of systems set to automatic updates is lower. If this error had happened for Windows 10, many more users would have borked systems, as the aggressive update system would have meant many users would have been forced to install this buggy update. Given that Windows 10 updates also are a black box, troubleshooting the issue would also be problematic. With some Windows 10 updates already causing issues, maybe it’s time for Microsoft rethink their update strategy.
Thank you Ars Technica for providing us with this information