Windows – gHacks Technology News http://www.ghacks.net The independent technology news blog Sun, 26 Mar 2017 09:43:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.3 Windows Tip: Speed up Disk Cleanup System Files loading http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/25/windows-tip-speed-up-disk-cleanup-system-files-loading/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/25/windows-tip-speed-up-disk-cleanup-system-files-loading/#comments Sat, 25 Mar 2017 07:01:59 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131579 The following tip provides you with information on how to speed up the loading of Disk Cleanup's "clean system files" option on Windows. Disk Cleanup is a built-in tool on Windows devices that users may utilize to remove temporary data from the operating system. It is not as complete as dedicated third-party cleaning programs such […]

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The following tip provides you with information on how to speed up the loading of Disk Cleanup's "clean system files" option on Windows.

Disk Cleanup is a built-in tool on Windows devices that users may utilize to remove temporary data from the operating system.

It is not as complete as dedicated third-party cleaning programs such as CCleaner or Privazer, but it may still remove Gigabytes of disk content that is no longer needed from the system.

Only part of what can be cleaned is listed when you run Disk Cleanup on a Windows machine. You can run the program by tapping on the Windows-key, typing Disk Cleanup, and selecting the option.

thumbnails disk cleanup

There you find the items listed for cleanup, and a button to clean up system files as well. If you click on that button, the whole process starts over to include system file locations as well.

Microsoft improved the process in the Windows 10 Creators Update. The option to select a drive was removed from the process, and the loading of the interface was improved as well.

We talked about one option to load the system files interface right away. It required running a command, and while you could create a shortcut for it to improve usability, it was not really liked by many users.

There is a different way however to load the system files version of Disk Cleanup right away.

All you need to do is hold down the Ctrl-key and the Shift-key before you select the option. So, tap on the Windows-key, type Disk Cleanup, hold down the Shift-key and Ctrl-key, and select the Disk Cleanup result.

disk cleanup system files

Windows will take you to the full Disk Cleanup interface right away that includes system files. This works both when you run Disk Cleanup from the start menu, and when you run it from a drive's properties page.

You can right-click on any drive and select properties to open the drive's properties. There you find listed an option to run disk cleanup.

If you just click on the button, the regular Disk Cleanup interface is loaded. If you want to clean up system files as well, you'd have to click on the button to do so.

The tip mentioned above bypasses this and loads the interface right away.

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Windows 10 KB4016635 Update released http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/23/windows-10-kb4016635-update-released/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/23/windows-10-kb4016635-update-released/#comments Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:26:46 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131487 Microsoft released a new cumulative update for the company's Windows 10 operating system, KB4016635 that patches two issues. The update is not available through Windows Update, but exclusively available on the Microsoft Update Catalog. It is unclear right now whether Microsoft will make it available through Windows Update at a later point in time. The […]

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Microsoft released a new cumulative update for the company's Windows 10 operating system, KB4016635 that patches two issues.

The update is not available through Windows Update, but exclusively available on the Microsoft Update Catalog. It is unclear right now whether Microsoft will make it available through Windows Update at a later point in time.

The new update replaces the previously released update KB4015438 which Microsoft released on March 20, 2017. The previous update fixed two crash and hang issues in the operating system that affected MPEG2 playback if Microsoft libraries were used for that, and systems with Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) enabled.

The cumulative update KB4016635 for Windows 10 version 1607 (Anniversary Update) and Windows Server 2016 increases the build number of the operating system to 14393.970.

Windows 10 KB4016635 Update

kb4016635

The update fixes the following two issues:

  • Addressed a known issue with KB4013429 that caused form display issues with CRM 2011 on Internet Explorer 11.
  • Addressed the issue with KB4013429 that prevents users from updating apps from Windows Store with 0x80070216 error.

The two bugs were introduced on the March 2017 Patch Day. A workaround patch was discovered for the issue which was caused by improper CSS according to this report on Ask Woody.

Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 users who are affected by the issue in CRM 2011 are advised to install the cumulative update as soon as possible to resolve the issue.

The cumulative update fixes a Windows Store issue that prevented users from updating applications as well.

The 64-bit version of the update has a size of 1062.7 Megabyte, the 32-bit version which is only available for Windows 10 and not Windows Server 2016, a size of 569.2 Megabyte.

Microsoft did release a patch for Internet Explorer 11 as well that fixes the issue on earlier versions of Windows.  You can find out more about the patch on the KB4016446 support page on the Microsoft website.

Forms in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 are not displayed correctly after KB 4013073 is installed on a Windows system that is running Internet Explorer 11.

KB 4013073 is a cumulative security update for Internet Explorer 11 that's dated March 14, 2017. The affected Windows versions are Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.

You can download the patch for Internet Explorer 11 on the Microsoft Update Catalog site. It is available there for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server 2012 R2.

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Windows 10: look up data usage for the past 30 days http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/22/windows-10-look-up-data-usage-for-the-past-30-days/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/22/windows-10-look-up-data-usage-for-the-past-30-days/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:02:05 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131436 The following guide walks you through the steps of looking up data usage information on devices running Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system. It can sometimes be useful to find out how much data is used on a device in a given period of time. Maybe you are on a metered Internet connection and want to […]

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The following guide walks you through the steps of looking up data usage information on devices running Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system.

It can sometimes be useful to find out how much data is used on a device in a given period of time. Maybe you are on a metered Internet connection and want to make sure that you did not cross any thresholds yet.

Or, you crossed a threshold last month and want to find out how that happened, and what you can do about it.

You may also use it to find out which programs or apps did use data in the past 30 days, for instance as part of a security or privacy audit.

While you can use specialized programs for that that monitor network traffic. To name a few that we reviewed in the past: Netlimiter Monitor, Networx, or Network Traffic Balancer.

Windows 10: data usage

If you run Windows 10, and to a degree also Windows 8.x, you can look up basic information about data usage without installing third-party tools.

Option 1: Data Usage in Settings

The first thing that you can do to check data usage on Windows 10 is to look it up in the Settings.

You can launch the Settings app with the shortcut Windows-I. Select the Network & Internet option when it opens.

network internet

Locate the data usage link in the left sidebar when Network & Internet opens, and click on it.

Windows 10 displays the overall bandwidth on the page. This is sorted by adapter. If your device connects using various Ethernet ports or WiFi, it is listed there separately.

data usage

Click on the usage details link on the page to open the list of programs, and the bandwidth that each used in the last 30 days.

data usage

The programs and apps are sorted by the amount of transferred data, with the program that used the most listed at the top.

You can scroll down on the page, but there is no 0ption to find a specific program, sort the data in a different way, or export it.

Option 2: Windows Task Manager

windows 10 app history

The Task Manager option was introduced in Windows 8 for the first time. It is limited to the data usage (and other metrics) of applications.

What this means is that you only get a list of installed (Windows Store) apps there, and not desktop programs / legacy Win32 programs.

Still, if you want to find out which app used data in the past 30 days, you may find the listing useful.

Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-Esc to open the Windows Task Manager. Switch to the App history tab when it is open.

There you find listed all apps that used CPU time or network data. One advantage of the listing in the Task Manager is that you can sort the data with a click on a column title. A click on network sorts the application listing by network data usage for instance.

Option 3: Powershell

powershell data

I'm not super proficient when it comes to PowerShell, but you can use it to list the total of received and sent bytes.

To start a PowerShell interface, tap on the Windows-key, type Powershell, hold down the Shift and Ctrl key on the keyboard, and execute the result from search.

Use the command Get-NetAdapterStatistics to display data usage information for each connected network adapter.

Now You: Do you monitor data usage on Windows?

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KB4012218, KB4012219: Windows Update processor generation detection http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/22/kb4012218-kb4012219-windows-update-processor-generation-detection/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/22/kb4012218-kb4012219-windows-update-processor-generation-detection/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 07:53:33 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131473 The March 2017 preview updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 introduce Windows Update processor generation and hardware support detection. Microsoft published KB4012218 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and KB4012219 for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 yesterday evening. These previews are only available through the Microsoft Update Catalog, […]

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The March 2017 preview updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 introduce Windows Update processor generation and hardware support detection.

Microsoft published KB4012218 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and KB4012219 for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 yesterday evening.

These previews are only available through the Microsoft Update Catalog, and only include non-security updates.

They are designed to give system administrators, and interested home users, time to test cumulative updates for the operating systems they are released for before they are pushed out through Windows Update on the next Patch Day.

What's particularly interesting about these two preview updates is that they introduce the detection of the device's processor generation and hardware support.

Both include the following entry:

Enabled detection of processor generation and hardware support when PC tries to scan or download updates through Windows Update.

As you may know, Microsoft announced some time ago that it would not support the latest generation of processors on older versions of Windows. To hammer this home even more, Microsoft revealed that it will block updates on older versions of Windows if the device was powered by a processor of the latest generation.

Test showed that this was not the case at the time of revelation. It appears now though, that the updates KB4012218 and KB4012219 introduce that functionality on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 (and the server versions).

Tests need to be conducted to find out whether this is indeed the case when the release updates are made available though.

For now though, it seems like a good idea to avoid these patches if your Windows device uses a cpu of the latest generation, or if you plan to equip it with one in the future.

KB4012218

kb4012218

Changelog:

  • Enabled detection of processor generation and hardware support when PC tries to scan or download updates through Windows Update.
  • Simplified listing of Approved Servers in the Point and Print group policies by allowing wildcards in the server name.
  • Addressed issue that produces corrupt output when using fread() to read data from a pipe. The runtime will sometimes drop the newlines between lines.
  • Addressed issue to update time zone information.
  • Addressed issue with the Local Security Authority Subsystem Service process that crashes on the domain controller when making certain Lightweight Directory Access Protocol requests.

KB4012219

kb4012219

 

Changelog:

  • Enabled a warning message in Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) to alert administrators of a design change that may prevent the processing of a User Group after installing security update MS16-072.
  • Addressed issue that prevents a smart card module from pairing with a contactless smart card reader.
  • Addressed issue where a Scale-Out File Server that uses dual parity disks loses access to a disk if a disk fails while the parity log is being written.
  • Addressed issue with the Spaceport driver that causes disks to detach after a hard restart.
  • Addressed issue in multipath I/O when Driver Verifier is enabled.
  • Addressed issue that causes workload disruption in Azure StorSimple appliances after installing KB3169982. Installation occurs using the KB3172614 rollup (released 2016.07).
  • Addressed issue that causes crashes in a customer’s data path management software because of a regression in multipath I/O after installing KB3185279, KB3185331, or KB3192404.
  • Addressed issue where installation of KB3121261 on a third-party, thinly provisioned Storage Area Network causes multipath I/O Event ID 48. This is in response to Small Computer System Interface status - 0X28 - SCSISTAT_QUEUE_FULL (SRB Status - 0X4 - SRB_STATUS_ERROR).
  • Addressed issue to provide PowerShell cmdlets that enable and gather diagnostics for storage spaces.
  • Addressed issue with multipath I/O failure that can lead to data corruption or application failures.
  • Addressed issue that causes File Explorer to hang when performing a search on a network drive while connected using the Remote Desktop Protocol.
  • Addressed issue that causes a crash when the user tries to connect to the server using WinShare and Remote Desktop Services. Stop error 0x50 at win32k!pDCIAdjClr+0x4f.
  • Enabled detection of processor generation and hardware support when PC tries to scan or download updates through Windows Update.
  • Improved support for networks by adding new entries to the Access Point Name (APN) database.
  • Simplified listing of Approved Servers in the Point and Print group policies by allowing wildcards in the server name.
  • Addressed issue to update Windows Defender on Windows 8.1.
  • Addressed issue that prevents clients from accessing a file server when using Server Message Block 1.0 and NT LAN Manager authentication after installing MS16-110/KB3187754.
  • Addressed issue that produces corrupted output when you use the fread() function to read data from a pipe.
  • Addressed issue to set and persist the Quality of Service settings on a per-host basis.
  • Addressed issue that breaks high-availability and fail over of a clustered virtual machine (VM). This occurs when the default data store settings for the VMs are configured inconsistently across the nodes in the cluster. For example, some data store settings are in %ProgramData%, while others use shared storage.
  • Addressed issue where, under high load, the background tasks threads are blocked. None of the clusters that use Virtual Hard Disk Sharing can access their disks. This results in unresponsive virtual machines.
  • Addressed issue (error 0x800b) that causes System Center Virtual Machine Manager to fail after live migrating a virtual machine between two Hyper-V clusters.
  • Addressed issue where false file conflicts occur when Windows Server Work Folders is reinstalled after installing Azure Hybrid File Services.
  • Addressed issue where share contents go offline if remote clients connect over slow links when encryption is enabled and offline caching is disabled for a server share.
  • Addressed issue to generate Remote Desktop Services self-signed certificates to use SHA-2 instead of SHA-1. After this update, any existing self-signed certs in RD Session Host should be updated with SHA-2 certs. However, existing self-signed certs (if any) in Connection Broker and Gateway should be regenerated using the Remote Desktop Management Services (RDMS) UI.
  • Addressed issue to allow a user to set the password for a virtual account.
  • Addressed issue where IIS Automatic Certificate Rebind feature breaks client certificate mapping with active directory by disabling DS Mapper upon renewal of the server certificate. As a result, no user will be able to access the site unless an administrator manually remakes the binding and enables the DS Mapper.
  • Addressed issue where Active Directory returns incorrect active thread count numbers for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol requests. Incorrect thread counts prevent Office 365 from load balancing correctly.
  • Addressed issue to update time zone information.
  • Addressed issue with random crashes on Hyper-V servers when users access Virtual Hard Disk files on Cluster Shared Volumes.
  • Addressed issue that causes file share witnesses stored on a Scale-Out File Server cluster 2012R2 to fail. Event ID for this Error is 1562 and you will get an Error 64 in the Cluster Log for the failed Healthcheck (from RFC 7205769).
  • Addressed issue where, after installing security update MS16-123, administrators cannot access some network drives that are mapped using the Distributed File System Namespace. This lack of accessibility occurs even though User Account Control and EnableLinkedConnections are enabled.
  • Addressed issue where virtual Network File System (NFS) server shares intermittently fail to mount when another NFS share is assigned the same ID in a clustered environment.
  • Addressed issue to add the LiveDump capture feature that will trigger a live kernel dump if requests are stuck for an extended period.
  • Addressed issue where Failover Cluster Manager crashes when connecting to a cluster with a long name (15+ characters). This occurs after .NET 4.6.1 is installed.
  • Addressed issue that crashes Exchange servers whenever a customer installs an Exchange cumulative or security update. Error code: STOP 0x3B
  • Addressed issue that prevents the capture of network traffic when Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics starts and stops the session that monitors traffic in promiscuous mode.
  • Addressed issue where users cannot connect to wireless, proxy, and VPN authentication. The Online Certificate Status Protocol responder service intermittently returns an IIS 500 error when processing client requests. This causes the clients to fail revocation checking and fail authentication to the required service.
  • Addressed issue to provide a maintenance mode for Active Directory domain controllers.
  • Addressed issue where Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) fails to authenticate external users because the ADFS proxy servers time out.

 

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Windows 10 KB4015438 fixes crashes and hangs http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/21/windows-10-kb4015438-fixes-crashes-and-hangs/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/21/windows-10-kb4015438-fixes-crashes-and-hangs/#comments Tue, 21 Mar 2017 05:18:53 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131412 The new cumulative update for Windows 10 version 1607 (Anniversary Update) KB4015438 patches two issues introduced by last week's Patch Day. This raises the version of the Anniversary Update version of Windows 10 to 14393.969. The KB4015438 update seems to fix two issues introduced last week that affected some users of the operating system after […]

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The new cumulative update for Windows 10 version 1607 (Anniversary Update) KB4015438 patches two issues introduced by last week's Patch Day.

This raises the version of the Anniversary Update version of Windows 10 to 14393.969.

The KB4015438 update seems to fix two issues introduced last week that affected some users of the operating system after devices were updated with last week's security updates.

The first issue caused programs that use Microsoft MPEG-2 handling libraries to crash (e.g. Windows DVD Player). The second issue listed by Microsoft affected customers with Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) enabled who "might experience a deadlock" according to Microsoft.

Windows 10 KB4015438 fixes crashes and hangs

windows 10 kb4015438

According to Microsoft's Windows 10 version 1607 and Windows Server 2016 update log, KB4015438 fixes the following issues:

Addressed a known issue with KB4013429 that caused Windows DVD Player (and 3rd party apps that use Microsoft MPEG-2 handling libraries) to crash.

Addressed a known issue with KB4013429, that some customers using Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 1607 Client with Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) enabled might experience a deadlock or when changing the physical adapter’s link speed property. This issue is most commonly seen as a DPC_WATCHDOG_VIOLATION or when verifier is enabled a VRF_STACKPTR_ERROR is seen in the Memory dump.

KB4013429 refers to the previous cumulative update of Windows 10's Anniversary Update version.

Woody notes over on InfoWorld that Microsoft has yet to patch an Internet Explorer bug that breaks Dynamics CRM.

Günter Born notes on the other hand that the cumulative update does not fix the system restore no longer working issue that some users experience after installing January's KB3213986 update.

KB4015438 is already available through Windows Update. You can run a manual check for the update by going to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.

If you prefer to download the update manually, point your web browser to Microsoft's Update Catalog. There you find the cumulative update listed for Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016.

The 64-bit versions of the update have a size of about 1 Gigabyte, the 32-bit version about 560 Megabyte.

Now You: Do you experience any issues on Windows 10 right now?

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Turn off most Windows 10 Ads with a double-click, or manually http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/20/turn-off-most-windows-10-ads-with-a-double-click/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/20/turn-off-most-windows-10-ads-with-a-double-click/#comments Mon, 20 Mar 2017 17:07:46 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131391 The following guide offers instructions on turning of all ads on Windows 10, and most of them with a simple double-click. Not all Windows 10 users have seen advertisement yet on devices that run the operating system, but the number is certainly growing. The main reason why it is growing is that Microsoft is pushing […]

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The following guide offers instructions on turning of all ads on Windows 10, and most of them with a simple double-click.

Not all Windows 10 users have seen advertisement yet on devices that run the operating system, but the number is certainly growing.

The main reason why it is growing is that Microsoft is pushing what it calls suggestions or tips to more and more places on the operating system.

What started with pre-installed third-party apps and suggestions in the Start Menu, has grown to ads in other locations such as the lockscreen, the File Explorer, and the taskbar.

Microsoft does not differentiate between systems that were upgraded for free to Windows 10, and bought Windows 10 licenses.

Good news is that you can turn off most ads on Windows 10.

Turn off most Windows 10 Ads with a double-click

turn off ads windows 10

The following two Registry files let you turn ads on or off on Windows 10 devices. Please note that the files allow you to turn off most ads but not all. The reason for that is that some features cannot be turned off using the Registry Editor.

The second part of this guide lists all locations, and provides you with instructions on how to disable ads for these locations as well.

First, the download link: disable-windows10-ads.zip

Here is what the turn-off-ads-windows-10.reg file does:

  1. Turn off File Explorer ads.
  2. Disable Start Menu suggestions.
  3. Disable "Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows".
  4. Turn off Game Bar tips.
  5. Optional: Turn off Lockscreen
  6. Optional: Turn off Cortana

Note: I suggest you create a backup of the Windows Registry before you run the files, or the Windows system as a whole.

To use the file, simply double-click on it. Accept the UAC prompt in the next step of the process, and confirm the Registry Editor warning message as well.

You can open the file in any text editor to take a look at it before you run it.

Disable Windows 10 ads: the manual way

As I mentioned earlier, it is not possible to disable Windows 10 from showing ads in some locations as you cannot control the functionality using the Registry Editor.

The following instructions offer manual ways to disable Windows 10 ads. This includes instructions for ads that you cannot turn off using the Registry.

Disable Start Menu Suggestions

occasionally show suggestions in start

We talked about turning off Start Menu ads before here on Ghacks. These suggestions are listing applications for the most part near the top of the start menu. This included in the past free apps or games, but also commercial applications or games.

One of the issues that you may have with the listing is that it is near the top. This means that it uses valuable space there that your program listings could fill instead if it would not be there.

Microsoft started to show suggestions to use Microsoft Edge in the very same location recently (for instance stating that you can stream videos longer with Edge).

To turn them off do the following:

  1. Use Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  2. Go to Personalization > Start.
  3. Locate "occasionally show suggestions in Start", and toggle the option so that it reads off.

Disable Lock Screen ads

windows lockscreen ads

The Windows 10 lock screen may feature two different types of ads. First, you may see wallpaper ads. Microsoft showed a Tomb Raider wallpaper for instance there at one point in time. It looked really nice, but it was still an ad. Microsoft may also display suggestions and tips there.

You have two options here. First, disable the lock screen entirely. Or, and that is probably better, switch to a local wallpaper image instead.

  • Use Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  • Go to Personalization > Lock screen.
  • Select Picture or Slideshow under Background (not Windows Spotlight).
  • Also, toggle "Get fun facts, tips, tricks, and more on your lock screen" to off.

Get Office, and Get Skype

get office

Get Office and Get Skype are two apps that may be installed on your device. The first advertises Microsoft Office 365, the latter the Skype application.

If you don't use Office 365 or Skype, or use it already, you may want to uninstall those applications as they serve no purpose. Additionally, they may interfere with the system in critical ways. The Get Office application blocked System Restore from working correctly for instance some time ago

  1. Use Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  2. Select System > Apps & Features if you run Windows 10 version 1607 or earlier.
  3. Select Apps > Apps & Features if you run Windows 10 version 1703 or later.
  4. Search for "Get" using the search form.
  5. Click on Get Office or Get Skype, and select Uninstall to remove the application from the device.

Disable Windows 10 taskbar nags, welcome experience, and sign suggestions

windows welcome suggestions

Windows 10 may display suggestions, tips or tricks directly on the taskbar. Microsoft did so in the past to advertise Microsoft Edge for instance, showing that it is more secure than Firefox, or that it has a better battery life than Google Chrome.

We talked about the taskbar nags on Windows 10 here already.

Windows 10 may also display a welcome screen on start after updates, and show what's new or suggested when you sign in.

  1. Use Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  2. Go to System > Notifications & Actions.
  3. Locate Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use windows, and toggle the feature to off.
  4. Locate Show me the Windows welcome experience after updates, and occasionally when I sign in to highlight what's new and suggested, and toggle the feature to off as well.

Windows Ink Workspace suggestions

windows ink suggestions

If you use the Ink Workspace of Windows 10, you may have seen application suggestions there already. These work similarly to the Start Menu suggestions, only that they show up when you open the workspace, and that they are powered by a different setting.

  1. Use Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  2. Switch to Devices > Pen & Windows Ink.
  3. Locate show recommended app suggestions, and turn the feature off.

Disable File Explorer ads

sync provider notifications

The most recent location where ads appeared on Windows 10 is File Explorer. The built-in file browser showed an ad for Office 365 to some users directly in the center of File Explorer.

Even worse, there was no option to turn the ad off completely, as you could only select "not now" when it was displayed. This suggests that it will be spawned again at a later point in time.

We talked about File Explorer ads here before. Do the following to turn them off:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Select File > Change folder and search options.
  3. Switch to the View tab.
  4. Scroll down until you find show sync provider notifications.
  5. Uncheck the option to turn off File Explorer ads.

Other things you may want to consider

There are a couple of other things that I'd like to mention. First, that the operating system's live tile functionality for application icons in Start may display ads. You can turn off live tiles with a right-click on the tile, and selecting more > turn live tile off. Some apps can be uninstalled as well if you prefer that.

You can also uninstall apps that shipped with Windows 10 by default to get rid of them.

Or, and that is also an option, install an application like Classic Shell to replace the entire Start Menu (and get rid of any ads this way).

Closing Words

Microsoft increased the locations that it displays what it calls suggestions or tips slowly but gradually. It seems likely that we will see even more ads further down the line. I will update the guide whenever new ad locations become known.

If you know of another location, let me know and I'll check and update the article asap.

Now You: What's your take on the whole Windows 10 advertisement situation?

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Top 8 Things to do with a new Windows 10 System http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/17/top-8-things-to-do-with-a-new-windows-10-system/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/17/top-8-things-to-do-with-a-new-windows-10-system/#comments Fri, 17 Mar 2017 17:16:39 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131284 A fresh installed Windows 10 operating system, regardless of whether it is store-bought, an upgrade from an earlier version of Windows, or a reset of Window 10 machine, is a good opportunity to apply some useful tweaks and fixes to the operating system. While deep customization of Windows 10 depends largely on what you use […]

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A fresh installed Windows 10 operating system, regardless of whether it is store-bought, an upgrade from an earlier version of Windows, or a reset of Window 10 machine, is a good opportunity to apply some useful tweaks and fixes to the operating system.

While deep customization of Windows 10 depends largely on what you use the device for, there are certain tweaks and changes that are beneficial to the vast majority of users.

Here are our recommendations when it comes to that.

Note: It is recommended to create a backup of important date, or the system image, before you continue. While you should not experience any issues making the changes, a restoration option is a must.

1. Update Checks

march 2017 windows security updates

One of the first things that you may want to do is install updates. How you do that depends largely on the type of updates that you want to install.

You have options to install only security updates, or also non-security updates. If you fall into the latter group, you can just go ahead, fire up Windows Update, and let Windows do all the updating for you.

If you want only security updates, then you need to download security patches manually, and install them this way.

The reason why some users prefer the latter group is that they want to avoid Telemetry patches, privacy issues, and other changes that Microsoft may introduce with these patches. You can grab the security only patches at the Microsoft Update Catalog website.

It is a good idea however to make sure that you don't run a feature update version of Windows 10 that is no longer supported by Microsoft.

Also, make sure you block driver updates when you use Windows Update, and set Windows Update to inform you about updates only.

Rule of thumb: Microsoft supports the last two feature updates at the very least.

Tip: To find out which version you run, tap on the Windows-key, type winver.exe, and hit the Enter-key.

Also, install drivers if you require them, e.g. for the video card, printer, or other peripherals.

2. Backup

veeam backup

In times where ransomware threats and malware attacks are on the rise, where Windows Updates may cause issues, you need a backup strategy.

While you can make use of File History and System Restore, it is better in my opinion to create full system backups regularly. At the very least, backup the Windows partition in regular intervals, and all important data regardless of where it is stored.

Use a free program like Veeam Endpoint Backup Free for that, or Macrium Reflect, Backupper, or any other free backup software that supports system backups.

If you don't have enough storage space for backing up the entire partition, consider buying an external hard drive that has sufficient space for the backup (or an internal drive if you are comfortable enough adding it to the PC).

Create a backup right away.

3. Privacy

windows 10 privacy

Windows 10 is quite the data hungry operating system. Microsoft collects Telemetry data and other data, and some of it is also accessible by third-parties.

A good starting point is to make sure that the privacy preferences in the Settings application are set correctly.

These options are not sufficient however if you value your privacy. This is where third-party privacy programs for Windows 10 come into play.

We suggest you pick a program from the list that has been updated this year. W10Privacy for instance is a good candidate.

The programs offer lots of options, from killing Wi-Fi Sharing and removing system apps, to changing Telemetry settings or blocking servers using the hosts file.

4. Security Software

hitmanpro 3.7

Windows 10 ships with a two-way firewall and Windows Defender. If you plan to use those, you may want to add at least a second opinion scanner to Windows 10. Pick something like Malwarebytes 3.0 for that in this case.

Programs that you may want to consider for some extra security are Windows Firewall Control for better Windows Firewall control, Sandboxie for sandboxing some programs, or Hitman.Pro for some extra protection.

5. Explorer tweaks

hidden items

File Explorer is the default file browser on the operating system. You use it for many things unless you install a third-party alternative.

One of the first things you should do is make a couple of tweaks to File Explorer:

Display file extensions for all file types -- Windows hides some file extensions by default. This is commonly exploited by malware, and it may also lead to confusion when you are change the file extension.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Select View at the top, and check File name extensions.

Display hidden items -- File Explorer hides items by default. Windows differentiates between operating system items that are hidden by default, and regular items that are hidden. It is a good idea to display hidden items.

 

  • Open File Explorer.
  • Select View at the top, and check hidden items.

Add or remove items from the file table -- Explorer displays file names, types, size and modification details in its interface. You can add or remove details from the table, for instance to display the date the file or folder was accessed the last time.

  1. Right-click on the header bar (e.g. on name), and select more from the context menu.
  2. Select or uncheck items there, and click ok afterwards.

Tip: Check out Winaero Tweaker for lots of other tweaks.

6. Remove Apps you don't require

uninstall system app

While you cannot uninstall all system apps that ship with Windows using the Settings application, you can remove some.

It makes no sense virtually to keep apps installed that you will never use.

  1. Use Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  2. Select System > Apps > Apps & features (It is Apps > Apps & Features in the Windows Creators update or later).
  3. Select the application that you want to remove, and click on the uninstall button that appears.

You can remove any native app that ships with Windows 10 using Powershell.

Tip: you may also want to run disk cleanup. Tap on the Windows-key, type disk cleanup, and select the option. Select the c: drive and hit ok. Wait for the program to run the scan,  select clean up system files, and repeat the process.

7. Install custom software

firefox 52.0

You may want to install a couple of third-party tools once you are done with all the things mentioned above.

What you install depends largely on what you need. You may want to consider installing a new browser, image editor, video player, and many other programs.

I suggest you check out our best Windows software listing for more than hundred programs that we recommend.

8. Disable Ads

Microsoft is pushing ads in various places. The company calls these recommendations, suggestions or tips.

You may find ads in the start menu, on the lockscreen, in File Explorer, and on the taskbar. Consult the following guides to find out how to disable ads in these locations:

  1. Disable ads in Windows 10 File Explorer
  2. Turn off Start Menu ads
  3. Turn off the Windows Customer Experience Program

Now You: Have another tip? Feel free to share it in the comments.

 

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Microsoft blocks updates for new cpus on Windows 7 and 8.1 http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/17/microsoft-blocks-updates-for-new-cpus-on-windows-7-and-8-1/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/17/microsoft-blocks-updates-for-new-cpus-on-windows-7-and-8-1/#comments Thu, 16 Mar 2017 23:03:05 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131270 Microsoft announced some time ago that new silicon as the company called it back then would not be officially supported on Windows 7 or 8.1. This meant basically that only Windows 10 would support Intel's, AMD's and Qualcomm's new processors, while Windows 7 or 8.1 would not. This does not mean that Windows 7 or […]

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Microsoft announced some time ago that new silicon as the company called it back then would not be officially supported on Windows 7 or 8.1.

This meant basically that only Windows 10 would support Intel's, AMD's and Qualcomm's new processors, while Windows 7 or 8.1 would not.

This does not mean that Windows 7 or 8.1 won't install on machines running these new processors, but that Microsoft (and the manufacturer) won't offer any form of support for those devices.

A new support page on the Microsoft website suggests that users who run an unsupported processor on an older version of Windows -- read Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 -- won't be able to scan for or download Windows updates anymore.

march 2017 windows security updates

Users will get the following error message when they run the scan:

Unsupported Hardware
Your PC uses a processor that isn’t supported on this version of Windows and you won’t receive updates.

Microsoft notes that users may see other error messages when they use Windows Update, including:

Windows could not search for new updates
An error occurred while checking for new updates for your computer.
Error(s) found:
Code 80240037 Windows Update encountered an unknown error.

The cause, according to Microsoft, is that "new processor generations require the latest Windows version for support". Microsoft mentions seventh generation Intel processors, AMD "Bristol Ridge" and Qualcomm "8996" processor families specifically on the support page.

The company has a solution for users affected by the issue: upgrade to Windows 10:

We recommend that you upgrade Windows 8.1-based and Window 7-based computers to Windows 10..

Is there another option besides upgrading the operating system to Windows 10? Updates that are released for Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 are also made available on the Microsoft Update Catalog website.

I don't have access to one of the processors mentioned on the support page, but it is possible that manual installation of updates released for Windows 7 or 8.1 still works. While this means more work for the user, as it is necessary to monitor update releases to run searches on the Microsoft Update Catalog whenever they are released, it may be an option to keep on using the older version of Windows.

Microsoft does not mention this explicitly on the support page, but it does not deny it either.

Because of how this support policy is implemented, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 devices that have a seventh generation or a later generation processor may no longer be able to scan or download updates through Windows Update or Microsoft Update.

Blocking Windows devices from using Windows Update is certainly an anti-consumer friendly move with the aim to get users to upgrade to Windows 10.

Now You: Do you think Microsoft is going too far with this policy?

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Adguard website: Download Windows and Office ISO images http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/13/adguard-website-download-windows-and-office-iso-images/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/13/adguard-website-download-windows-and-office-iso-images/#comments Mon, 13 Mar 2017 08:33:27 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131162 Adguard is a third-party web service that allows you to download Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office ISO images from Microsoft services directly. Microsoft makes it quite difficult for the average user to download ISO images of Windows or Office. While you can grab some ISOs from Microsoft directly, it gets quite complicated if you need […]

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Adguard is a third-party web service that allows you to download Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office ISO images from Microsoft services directly.

Microsoft makes it quite difficult for the average user to download ISO images of Windows or Office.

While you can grab some ISOs from Microsoft directly, it gets quite complicated if you need ISO images of older Microsoft products.

One of the better options to get those is provided by the Windows ISO Downloader program for Windows. You may use the program to grab ISO images of Windows or Office versions or editions straight from Microsoft servers.

The program is available for Windows only however, so that you cannot really use it if you happen to use a different operating system.

Adguard: Download Windows and Office ISO images

adguard download windows office iso

The Adguard website offers an alternative. If's biggest advantage over Windows ISO Downloader is that it is a web service. You need a modern web browser to access it, but don't need to install programs or plugins to make use of it.

All you have to do is pick an interface language at the top, and select the product that you want to download using the menus provided.

The following five menus determine the product:

  1. Type: Windows RTM, Windows Insider, Office, Other.
  2. Version: depends on type, includes Windows 7, 8.1 and 10, Office 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2011 for Mac, and recent Windows 10 Insider Preview builds.
  3. Edition: depends on type and version. Windows editions include Home, Pro, Enterprise, Office include Home,Personal, Professional, and more.
  4. Language: lists all supported languages based on the type, version and edition.
  5. File: usually 32-bit or 64-bit, if provided.

Once you have made the last selection, the file download link is provided right away. The listing includes the file size of the download, and the SHA1 hash.

Downloads, at least those that I have tested, originate from Microsoft servers. It is recommended that you check the download link before you start it. The Adguard site seems to be powered by Microsoft TechBench, the same source that the Windows ISO Downloader is also getting its files from.

Closing Words

Aguard offers another method of downloading Windows and Office ISO images to the local system. Since it relies on TechBench, it is equally dependent on Microsoft not shutting down access to older ISO images.

The service works well right now, and downloads are quite fast considering that they are served directly from Microsoft servers and not third-party servers. (via Born)

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Remember: Windows Vista support ends next month http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/11/remember-windows-vista-support-ends-next-month/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/11/remember-windows-vista-support-ends-next-month/#comments Sat, 11 Mar 2017 07:40:50 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131077 Microsoft plans to end the extended support for its operating system Windows Vista next month so that no further security updates will be released for the OS. The client Windows lifecycle sheet on Microsoft's website lists April 11, 2017 as the end of support. Microsoft will release security patches for Windows Vista on that day, […]

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Microsoft plans to end the extended support for its operating system Windows Vista next month so that no further security updates will be released for the OS.

The client Windows lifecycle sheet on Microsoft's website lists April 11, 2017 as the end of support. Microsoft will release security patches for Windows Vista on that day, and stop support for the operating system afterwards.

Windows Vista mainstream support, support that may add new features, drivers, and support for new technologies to the operating system, ended in 2012 already.

While companies and organizations may pay Microsoft for extending the support deadline, all Home users face a difficult decision at that point in time.

While some may decide to continue running Windows Vista on their machines, it is generally not advised to to so as future security vulnerabilities won't be fixed anymore.

This may not be a problem if the PC is not connected to the Internet at all, or only occasionally. Windows Vista itself has no expiration date. This means that you can run it ten years from now without any issues.

Windows Vista end of support

Windows Vista Desktop

Windows Vista users are limited when it comes to available operating system upgrades. The only option provided is to upgrade to the next operating system in line, Windows 7. This works only if the right Windows 7 version is installed however, meaning that Vista Home users can only upgrade to Windows 7 Home, and Pro or Ultimate users to Pro.

Windows 7 support is guaranteed for another three years before Microsoft ends support for the operating system as well. Users would face the same decision then again, but with better options when it comes to upgrading the operating system to a newer flavor of Windows. Also, upgrades from Windows 7 to Windows 10 are still free right now. While that may change, there is no indicator right now that Microsoft will close the option anytime soon.

Some Vista users might consider switching to Windows 8 or 10 directly instead. Since there is no direct upgrade path available -- the only option is to upgrade first to Windows 7, and then to Windows 8 or 10 -- it is usually better to do a clean install. The only time when you don't want to do a clean install is when you need programs that run on Vista, but are not available anymore for installation on newer versions of Windows.

This is for instance the case if you have installed the program on the Windows Vista machine, but don't have the installer anymore for it.

Please note that some programs may not work under newer versions of Windows. Compatibility is good generally, but some apps or games may refuse to run out of the box, or at all. Also, direct upgrades from 32-bit Windows versions to 64b-bit versions are not possible either. You will have to run a clean install in that case.

Another option that Vista users have is to switch to a Linux distribution. There are Linux Mint and Manjaro  for instance which we have reviewed both before here on Ghacks.

Now You: Are you affected by Microsoft ending support for Windows Vista?

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Nvidia Driver 378.78 big DirectX 12 improvements http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/10/nvidia-driver-378-78-big-directx12-improvements/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/10/nvidia-driver-378-78-big-directx12-improvements/#comments Fri, 10 Mar 2017 06:31:10 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131058 Nvidia released a new driver for GeForce video cards yesterday that bumps the version to 378.78 and improves DX12 performance significantly. The new video card driver ships with three core improvements; namely, DirectX 12 optimizations, support for the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, and Game Ready support for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands. The driver includes […]

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Nvidia released a new driver for GeForce video cards yesterday that bumps the version to 378.78 and improves DX12 performance significantly.

The new video card driver ships with three core improvements; namely, DirectX 12 optimizations, support for the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, and Game Ready support for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands.

The driver includes several fixes furthermore that may be of interest as well.

The three main features are limited to certain user groups though. DirectX 12 is only supported by Windows 10 for instance. If you run a different version of Windows or another operating system, then you won't benefit from this at all.

Also, a lot of games don't ship with optimizations for DirectX 12 as the main group of gamers is still on systems that don't even support DirectX 12.

The same is true for GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and Ghost Recon Wildlands support. If you don't own the video card or the game, you won't benefit from these improvements obviously.

Nvidia Driver 378.78 DirectX 12

nvidia geforce gtx game ready driver 378 78 directx 12 performance

The DirectX 12 optimizations that went into the driver improve frames per seconds significantly according to Nvidia.

The company ran the tests on a fairly powerful rig: GeForce GTX 1080 video card at 3840x2160 resolution: information on other components was not provided.

According to Nvidia's own tests, performance increases between 4% and 23% with the new driver when compared to older drivers.

It needs to be noted that your mileage may vary, as benchmarks depend on other factors as well, for instance RAM or processor.

Funny side note: Nvidia did not test Hitman Pro, but the game Hitman. Hitman Pro is not a game but a great security software for Windows.

Nvidia Driver 378.78 Fixes and Issues

Several issues are fixed in the new driver. This includes blue-screen crashes on some notebook platforms, a Steam crash, driver erros when using GPUGrid CUDA or PrimeGrid Genefer OpenCL tool.

The driver has several open issues. You may run into issues when you run the driver installation if you don't select the clean install option. The driver installation may fail. The workaround is to select clean install as it will run just fine then.

Application crashes for some games under certain conditions.

Nvidia Driver 378.78 Download

nvidia geforce driver 378-88

You can download the latest driver from the official Nvidia driver download page. Make sure you select Nvidia Driver 378.78 WHQL.

As always, make sure you select custom installation during installation to avoid installation of components that you don't require.

Also, read this to disable Telemetry tracking after installation of Nvidia drivers, and this to disable Nvidia processes.

Now You: Do you install new video card drivers regularly?

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Playable ads coming to Windows 10 http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/09/playable-ads-coming-to-windows-10/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/09/playable-ads-coming-to-windows-10/#comments Thu, 09 Mar 2017 20:31:59 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131055 Microsoft revealed the new playable ads advertisement option on the Windows Dev Center blog today that developers can take advantage of. A preview of the Playable Ads feature launched today in the Windows Dev Center. If you have never heard of the term before, you are probably wondering how the ad format differs from other […]

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Microsoft revealed the new playable ads advertisement option on the Windows Dev Center blog today that developers can take advantage of.

A preview of the Playable Ads feature launched today in the Windows Dev Center. If you have never heard of the term before, you are probably wondering how the ad format differs from other ad types already available for developers on Windows 10.

Regular advertisement for apps right now usually consists of a text or image link that leads to Windows Store. Users may then look at screenshots, read the description, comments, and install the application.

The issue with this approach according to Microsoft is that the content on the Store page may not always provide a thorough picture on the application. The user experience may be different from the user's expectation.

Playable ads change that. They provide the user with a three minute long experience of the advertised application directly in the application the new app was promoted in.

Playable Ads are a completely new way for end users to interact with ads and apps. With this capability, end users never leave the current app. The ad click will result in inline expandable app streaming: for three minutes, the user can interact with the app as if it’s already installed on his/her device. This gives the user time to decide if he or she wants to install the app. At the end of the streaming session, users can click on a link to install the app if the app experience met expectations.

The following picture highlights the core differences between regular ads and playable ads promoted in Windows 10 applications.

playable ads

Microsoft lists several reasons on the blog why playable ads are better. Reasons include that users can experience the app before installing it, that they don't leave the context of the application with the ad, that users may stop the app stream of the playable app at any time, that developers have a better chance to highlight their app or game, and that users who stick with the app and install it after the three minute stream -- or before -- will more likely stick with the app.

Developers of Windows 10 apps can start creating playable apps right away using the Windows Dev Center.

These advertisements appear to be limited to Windows 10 apps for now. Please note that this may include native Windows 10 apps that Microsoft produced, provided that they show ads as well.

So, Windows 10 users who don't make much use of apps on the system, won't likely be exposed to these new ad format. The company pushed out a new type of ad recently though in File Explorer.

Now You: What do you think of playable ads?

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Microsoft releases yet another botched driver (WPD) http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/09/microsoft-releases-yet-another-botched-driver/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/09/microsoft-releases-yet-another-botched-driver/#comments Thu, 09 Mar 2017 09:22:52 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131033 Reports are starting to come in that Microsoft released -- yet another -- mysterious driver for the Windows operating system. The driver, Microsoft – WPD – 2/22/2016 12:00:00 AM – 5.2.5326.4762, has been released for Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10. At least some users are reporting issues with the drivers, from failed installations […]

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Reports are starting to come in that Microsoft released -- yet another -- mysterious driver for the Windows operating system.

The driver, Microsoft – WPD – 2/22/2016 12:00:00 AM – 5.2.5326.4762, has been released for Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.

At least some users are reporting issues with the drivers, from failed installations to mobile devices no longer being recognized by the Windows machine the update was installed on.

We don't know much about the update; the update is released without a Knowledgebase ID. If you see it when you check for updates on Windows, it is simply listed as Microsoft – WPD – 2/22/2016 12:00:00 AM – 5.2.5326.4762.

Not much to go by right?

Microsoft wpd driver

Virtually the only indicator the update gives is that it is a WPD driver. WPD is an abbreviation, and means Windows Portable Devices.

These drivers enable a computer running Windows to communicate with attached media and storage devices. It allows your computer to communicate with mobile phones, music players, storage devices, and many other device types that get connected to the computer in one way or another.

Several drivers and protocols are provided, including Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP), Media Transfer Protocol (MTP), and Mass Storage Class (MSC).

While that is helpful to know, it does not really explain why the update is pushed out via Windows Update to Windows devices. While it may look like an update for the driver to you, no information is available on why the update was released.

Does it fix issues in the driver, update features, or make other changes?Since there is no KnowledgeBase article, we don't know any of that.

Considering that at least some users are reporting that the driver installation does more harm than good on their systems, it is recommended not to install it right now.

If you have installed it already, try to use System Restore or another form of restoration to restore a previous version of the system (prior to installation of the driver). While you may consider keeping it around if you did not notice any issues, users who ran into device recognition issues after installation may need to do so to regain connectivity.

Another option that is work exploring is to try and run a manual driver update check:

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type devmgmg.msc, and hit the Enter-key on the keyboard. This opens the Windows Device Manager.
  2. Locate your phone in the Device Manager, right-click on it, and select Update Driver Software.
  3. Select "Browse my computer for driver software" when the wizard opens.
  4. Select "let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer".
  5. Check the "show compatible hardware" box.
  6. Select MTP USB Device and click on next.

You may also want to try rebooting the PC to see whether this is sufficient to regain device accessibility.

Günther Born managed to get his hands on the driver, and took it through a thorough analysis. You can check out his English blog post on the driver here. While you are at it, check out Woody's post over on Infoworld as well.

He discovered that it is an Android driver for MediaTek Android devices by Shenzhen Diadem Technology Co, Ltd.

My recommendation is to avoid this driver update for now, especially if you have no issues connecting devices to your Windows machine, or don't require this functionality at all.

You may want to check how to disable driver updates in Windows, how to remove installed Windows updates and block them, and how to uninstall Windows Updates for additional information.

Now You: Do you install drivers through Windows Update?

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Windows 10: turn off ads in File Explorer http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/08/windows-10-turn-off-ads-in-file-explorer/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/08/windows-10-turn-off-ads-in-file-explorer/#comments Wed, 08 Mar 2017 04:30:39 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131010 Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system differs in several regards from previous versions. It is the last version of Windows according to Microsoft, was offered as a free upgrade to existing license holders, and its core powers not only desktop PCs but also the company's Xbox, mobiles, and other devices. Advertisement in Windows is not an […]

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Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system differs in several regards from previous versions. It is the last version of Windows according to Microsoft, was offered as a free upgrade to existing license holders, and its core powers not only desktop PCs but also the company's Xbox, mobiles, and other devices.

Advertisement in Windows is not an entirely new concept, but it is being pushed in Windows 10 like never before.

Ads have been spotted on the lockscreen, the start menu, the share menu, and the taskbar already. Not all users see all the ads all the time, and it is quite possible that some users may have seen them in only some locations, or even none at all.

Note: Microsoft calls these suggestions and not ads.

Ads serve several purposes. First, to get users to use Microsoft software, for instance Edge instead of Firefox or Chrome. Second, to get users to use the Windows Store, for instance by highlighting third-party apps in the start menu. Third, to get users to sign up for other Microsoft services, e.g. OneDrive.

Windows 10: turn off ads in File Explorer

file explorer ads

The newest location of Windows 10 where you may be exposed to advertisement is File Explorer. Yes, the renamed Windows Explorer application that most Windows users use to navigate their system.

A user on Reddit, see the original thread here, noticed the ad when he opened File Explorer on a Windows 10 Home machine which he upgraded from Windows 8.1.

It advertised an Office 365 subscription to the user:

Get the best deal on your cloud storage with OneDrive

For $6.99 a month, an Office 365 subscription gets you 1 TB (1000 GB) of OneDrive cloud storage as well as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Funny side note of the incident is that the user already has an Office 365 subscription.

The advertisement is displayed on top of the file pane in File Explorer. You can dismiss it, but there is a chance that other ads, or even the same, may be shown again.

Turning off the ads

windows 10 show sync provider notifications

Microsoft makes it difficult to turn off all ads in Windows 10. Ads are not controlled using a single preference, as controls are scattered around.

What makes this even more difficult is that the preferences don't necessarily reveal that they control advertisement (or suggestions) at all.

To turn of the ads in File Explorer for instance, you have to do the following:

  1. Open File Explorer on the Windows 10 machine.
  2. Select File > Options at the top.
  3. Switch to the View menu when the Folder Options window opens.
  4. Scroll down until you find "show sync provider notifications".
  5. Uncheck that box.
  6. Click ok.

The name of the feature suggests that the "notifications" are limited to file sync services such as OneDrive, and not just limited to OneDrive.

Using the Registry

showsyncprovidernotifications

You may toggle the setting using the Windows Registry as well (thanks Into Windows).

  1. Tap on the Windows-key to open the Start Menu, type regedit.exe, and hit the Enter-key on the keyboard afterwards.
  2. Confirm the UAC prompt.
  3. Navigate to the following value: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
  4. Locate the ShowSyncProviderNotifications  on the right-side.
  5. Double-click on it to change its value.
  6. If you set its value to 0, the feature is turned off. If you set it to 1, the feature is turned on.

The preference should exist, but if it does not, you may create it with a right-click on the Advanced value on the left-side, and selecting New > Dword (32-bit) Value. Name it ShowSyncProviderNotifications, and set its value either to 0 (off) or 1 (on).

Now you: have you seen ads on Windows 10?

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Smaller Windows updates thanks to differential packages http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/03/smaller-windows-updates-thanks-to-differential-packages/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/03/smaller-windows-updates-thanks-to-differential-packages/#comments Fri, 03 Mar 2017 06:57:33 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130910 Microsoft began to roll out its new Unified Update Platform last year, first on mobile and then for Windows 10 Insider Builds as well. One of the advantages of the platform was the use of differential update packages. This meant, all in all, that update packages would be a lot smaller going forward. While updates […]

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Microsoft began to roll out its new Unified Update Platform last year, first on mobile and then for Windows 10 Insider Builds as well.

One of the advantages of the platform was the use of differential update packages. This meant, all in all, that update packages would be a lot smaller going forward.

While updates are released regularly for retail versions of Windows 10, the advantages of differential update packages become visible the most when feature updates are released.

Microsoft notes that retail users will be able to take advantage of the new Unified Update Platform along with its differential update packages when the Windows 10 Creators Update is released.

Differential updates transfer only the bits of the update package that have changed or are new, and not bits that are already on the user system.

So, instead of delivering a full Windows 10 Creators Update update package, only the bits that are new or have changed are transferred to the user system.

The effect is that the update size will be considerably smaller when compared to previous feature updates for the Windows 10 operating system.

Smaller Windows updates thanks to differential packages

Windows 10 differential

Microsoft uses new terminology when it refers to updates and builds. A canonical download package, or full build for instance is a package that is a self-contained as it includes all files required for the update and does not rely on any files on the target system the update is installed on.

So how big are download packages when differential update packages are used? That is not that easy to answer, as it depends a lot on the update itself. Microsoft revealed median download sizes of the Windows 10 Insider builds 15025 and 15031 recently. Build 15025 had a median size of 910 Megabyte, build 15031 one of 2.56 Gigabyte.

The screenshot above shows differences in download sizes for the update packages. One explanation for the differences is that some systems may not have been up to date when the latest Insider build update was downloaded.

Some smaller updates may not have been installed on systems with larger downloads, but it is also possible that some systems were not on the previous build but one of the builds prior to that.

The relatively small update size for some Insider Builds is explained by the frequent release of new builds. Insider Builds are similar to feature updates for Windows, only that they happen more often. It should be clear that frequently released builds have less differences than an update from the Anniversary Update to the Creators Update.

According to Microsoft, Windows 10 feature updates will see a size reduction of about 35% on average when they are downloaded starting with the Windows 10 Creators Update for retail channel systems.

Updates will be downloaded faster thanks to differential update packages. That's good as it saves bandwidth and speeds up the updating process as a whole as well.

Now You: Do you care about Windows update sizes?

 

 

 

 

 

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Windows 10 Creators Update: No automatic restarts after updates anymore http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/01/windows-10-creators-update-no-automatic-restarts-after-updates-anymore/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/01/windows-10-creators-update-no-automatic-restarts-after-updates-anymore/#comments Wed, 01 Mar 2017 19:54:22 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130897 Microsoft just announced a major change in regards to how updates are delivered once the Windows 10 Creators Update is installed on a machine. The update to Windows Update prompts users, giving them options to schedule the update for a specific date and time, or to postpone the update for three days straight. The main […]

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Microsoft just announced a major change in regards to how updates are delivered once the Windows 10 Creators Update is installed on a machine.

The update to Windows Update prompts users, giving them options to schedule the update for a specific date and time, or to postpone the update for three days straight.

The main idea behind the new options is to avoid situations where Windows Update restarts a PC automatically.

Automatic updates are convenient, but the Internet is filled with user complaints that Windows Update restarted the PC at the least convenient time, for instance shortly before a three day long rendering sequence completed, during a video game, or while holding a presentation.

Some users say that they don't even see the restart prompts to postpone or block them, while others were afk for minutes only to find out that the operating system restarted the machine automatically during that time.

Windows 10 Creators Update: automatic restarts are a thing of the past

windows update prompt schedule

Windows 10 supports Active Hours already that prevent the installation of updates during that period of the day unless initiated by the user.

The new feature adds new options to that. Windows displays an update prompt when updates are discovered that offers three options to you:

  1. Restart the PC right away and complete the installation of the update.
  2. Pick a time to schedule the installation and restart of the PC. This opens a schedule screen that you may use to pick a day and time for the installation of the update.
  3. Snooze to postpone the installation of the update for three days.

A couple of things are unclear right now as Microsoft did not reveal them. First, whether the prompt will disappear automatically if no option is selected, and whether the machine is rebooted in that case.

windows update schedule restart

Second, if there is a limit for scheduling the update to be applied to the system in the future. It seems likely that there is one, but it is unclear whether it is one day, one week, or even longer than that.

All in all though this is quite the good change from a usability point of view as it -- likely -- does away with the automatic restart after updates are downloaded situation.

Another feature that is part of the Windows 10 Creators Update is the ability to pause updates on the system for up to 35 days.

Now You: What is your take on the Windows Update change?

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Windows 10 Creators Update: block Win32 program installation http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/27/windows-10-creators-update-block-win32-program-installation/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/27/windows-10-creators-update-block-win32-program-installation/#comments Mon, 27 Feb 2017 19:07:35 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130875 If you run the latest Windows 10 Insider Build, you may have spotted a new option already that lets you block the installation of Win32 programs on the system. While there is no guarantee that the feature will land in the Creators Update, as Microsoft may pull it again before the final version is released, […]

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If you run the latest Windows 10 Insider Build, you may have spotted a new option already that lets you block the installation of Win32 programs on the system.

While there is no guarantee that the feature will land in the Creators Update, as Microsoft may pull it again before the final version is released, it appears as if users get the option to block any win32 program installation on the device.

The feature is not turned on by default of course, and it is unclear why Microsoft added it to the operating system.

Administrators could use it to lock down the system. One side-effect of not being able to install Win32 applications is that it will also keep malware that is distributed through installers in check.

The core difference to Windows RT Cloud is that users may run any win32 program that is already installed on the system, and also any software that does not require installation.

Windows 10 Creators Update: block Win32 program installation

The new feature offers two options when it comes to the installation of legacy Windows programs on a system running the latest version of Windows 10.

The first blocks the installation of any win32 programs. Users who try to install programs anyway get the following message:

You can only install apps from Windows Store. Limiting installations to apps from the Store helps to keep your PC safe and reliable.

A link points to the relevant preference under Apps & features in the settings.

The second option displays the same message, but adds ab "install anyway" button to the prompt. This means that users may install the legacy program after all, as it is not blocked completely.

Do the following to configure the feature:

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, and select Settings from the Start menu.
  2. Navigate to System > Apps & features.
  3. Select "choose where apps can be installed from", and pick one of the available options:
    1. Allow apps from anywhere.
    2. Prefer apps from the Store but allow apps from anywhere (prompt with install anyway).
    3. Allow apps from the Store only.

I don't see many scenarios where users may want to limit the installation of programs on their devices.

While you may block your parents, kids, or anyone else from installing win32 apps after adding all they require to the system, it is not a method that will block all malware or unreliable software from running on the device. The main reason for that is that it will only block installations, but nothing else.

The locked down setting won't prevent program updates either. So, if a win32 program is already installed, any updates for it will install fine as well.

The German site Deskmodder discovered the Registry values for the feature:

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type regedit.exe and hit the Enter-key.
  2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
  3. Locate AicEnabled.
  4. Value of Anywhere means all installations allowed.
  5. Value of PreferStore displays warning but allows bypass.
  6. Value of StoreOnly blocks all future win32 installations.

Now You: What is your take on the feature? Good to prevent malware infections and installation of unreliable software? Useless? Or something in between?

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LoadedDllsView: display dlls loaded by Windows processes http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/26/loaddllsview-display-dlls-loaded-by-windows-processes/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/26/loaddllsview-display-dlls-loaded-by-windows-processes/#comments Sun, 26 Feb 2017 07:35:10 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130273 LoadedDllsView is a new portable program by Nirsoft that lists all DLL files loaded by processes that run on a Windows computer. The program shares the traits of all Nirsoft applications for Windows. It is provided as a 32-bit and 64-bit executable file, tiny at less than 150 Kilobytes unpacked, and portable which means that […]

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LoadedDllsView is a new portable program by Nirsoft that lists all DLL files loaded by processes that run on a Windows computer.

The program shares the traits of all Nirsoft applications for Windows. It is provided as a 32-bit and 64-bit executable file, tiny at less than 150 Kilobytes unpacked, and portable which means that you can run it from any location.

While it is usually not necessary to list the dll files that get loaded by Windows processes, doing so may be useful when you are troubleshooting issues, or audit the Windows operating system and the software running on it.

LoadedDllsView

loadeddllsview

LoadedDllsView scans all running processes and the dll files that each loaded on start. This can should not take longer than a couple of seconds.

The program lists all loaded dll files alphabetically after the scan making it easy to find dlls you are interested in. You may also use the built-in search, another Nirsoft trait, to find data quickly.

Since the list is usually around 1000 or so dll files, you may prefer to use the search over browsing the listing manually.

You may click on a column header to sort the table based on that header. This allows you to sort it by product name, internal name, company name, local path, or file creation date instead.

There is no option to sort the listing by process file name however which is a bit unfortunate. Product name is the closest that you come to that, but an option to search for process names directly is missing.

windows show dlls

The options menu holds several interesting options. You may use it to hide 32-bit or 64-bit dlls, to hide Microsoft dll files so that only third-party dlls are listed in the program interface, or to enable auto refresh.

The option to show only non-Microsoft dll files is quite useful, if you can rule out Microsoft dll files being the culprit when you are troubleshooting issues or doing a system audit.

What remains are all dll files loaded by third-party applications that are not Microsoft's.

LoadedDllsView comes with handy reporting options. You can save a selection or all data as a HTML report, or plain text, CSV or XML files for further processing or safe keeping.

Closing Words

LoadedDllsView is a powerful niche program. Since it is small and portable, it is an ideal addition for a troubleshooting program collection on USB Flash Drives, or other removable storage.

Now You: Do you have a troubleshooting tools collection?

 

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Report: Non-admin accounts mitigate 94% of critical Windows vulnerabilities http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/23/non-admin-accounts-mitigate-94-of-critical-windows-vulnerabilities/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/23/non-admin-accounts-mitigate-94-of-critical-windows-vulnerabilities/#comments Thu, 23 Feb 2017 15:47:55 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130745 A new report suggests that Windows admins and users could mitigate 94% of all critical vulnerabilities automatically by running non-admin accounts. It is common sense that using standard user accounts on Windows, opposed to accounts with elevated privileges, is a good security practice. The main reason behind this practice is simple: if a user cannot […]

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A new report suggests that Windows admins and users could mitigate 94% of all critical vulnerabilities automatically by running non-admin accounts.

It is common sense that using standard user accounts on Windows, opposed to accounts with elevated privileges, is a good security practice.

The main reason behind this practice is simple: if a user cannot perform certain operations due to limited rights, so can't malware that attacks the system.

The recently released Microsoft Vulnerabilities Report 2016 by Avecto highlights how much of an impact the switch from admin to non-admin accounts could make on Windows systems

According to the report, 36% of all Windows vulnerabilities that Microsoft released patches for in 2016 were rated with the highest severity rating of critical. A whooping 94% of those would be mitigated by removing admin rights and running Windows with standard user accounts.

The figure is even better for Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer vulnerabilities. Avecto reports that all, that means 100%, of Internet Explorer or Edge vulnerabilities are mitigated in a non-admin user scenario.

For Microsoft's newest operating system Windows 10, it would mean that 93% of all reported vulnerabilities would be mitigated by removing admin rights.

Avecto notes that Windows 10, dubbed the most secure operating system ever by Microsoft, had the largest total number of reported vulnerabilities of all supported versions of Windows. Windows 10 was affected by 395 different vulnerabilities, compared to 265 for Windows 8.1 for instance.

A simple change, switching a user account from administrator to standard, or creating a second user account with standard rights and using it predominantly, has a huge impact on computer security.

While the mileage differs from year to year, last year saw a mitigation percentage of "just" 85% for instance, it is clear that standard user accounts will mitigate a large percentage of attacks.

Configuring user accounts

standard windows account

You can switch any user account from administrator or standard in Windows, provided that you have access to an admin account.

I suggest you keep the admin account, and create a secondary user account that runs with standard privileges. You may also want to change the rights for any other user on the system from administrator to standard, if you have not done so already.

You can manage accounts in the following way:

  1. Use the Windows-Pause shortcut to open the System Control Panel applet.
  2. Select Control Panel Home, and on the next page User Accounts.
  3. Select "change your account type" if you want to change the account type of the signed in user, or "manage another account" if you want to change the account type of other user accounts on the PC.
  4. The second option lists all accounts on the next page. Select one, and then "change the account type" afterwards to switch from administrator to standard.
  5. You may create other user accounts as well. Either directly in the Control Panel, or by clicking on "add a new user in PC settings" if you run Windows 10 for instance.

Rule of thumb is that all user accounts that are used actively, e.g. by different family members or yourself, are standard accounts. You should keep an admin account around that you can use to make changes to the operating system that standard accounts cannot though.

You can download the 2016 report from the Avecto website. Note that you are asked to fill out a form before you can download the report.

Now You: Do you run a regular or administrative account on Windows?

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Microsoft targets Q2 2017 for OneDrive Differential Sync support http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/21/microsoft-targets-q2-2017-for-onedrive-differential-sync-support/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/21/microsoft-targets-q2-2017-for-onedrive-differential-sync-support/#comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 19:03:42 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130699 The updated OneDrive roadmap for the first and second quarter of 2017 suggests that Microsoft plans to add differential sync support to OneDrive in the second quarter of 2017. Microsoft revealed back in 2016 that it had plans to introduce differential sync support on OneDrive. The company listed the feature under committed, but did not […]

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The updated OneDrive roadmap for the first and second quarter of 2017 suggests that Microsoft plans to add differential sync support to OneDrive in the second quarter of 2017.

Microsoft revealed back in 2016 that it had plans to introduce differential sync support on OneDrive. The company listed the feature under committed, but did not reveal a timeline back then. This meant that it was not clear when Microsoft would introduce the feature for all files, but that it was working on it.

Microsoft customers suggested as early as 2014 that Microsoft should introduce differential synchronization for all files on OneDrive.

An update roadmap suggests that different sync support is introduced in the second quarter of 2017. Microsoft plans to support RMS sync as well in the second quarter of 2017.

OneDrive Differential Sync support

onedrive differential sync

Differential Sync refers to a data synchronization algorithm in which only the changing parts of a file are synced.

If you make a small change to a 100 Megabyte audio file right now that is stored on OneDrive, all of the file needs to be uploaded to OneDrive.

With differential sync in place, only the bits that changed would need to be synchronized. If you are interested in algorithm specifics, check out Neil Fraser's document on Differential Synchronization.

Differential synchronization support is a much requested feature. First, because it saves a lot of bandwidth. Instead of transferring all of a file when it is edited, only the bits that changed are transferred.

That is good for home users, and great for organizations who use OneDrive as it may save them a lot of bandwidth depending on how heavily OneDrive is used in the organization. Microsoft does benefit from this as well of course as its servers are transferring files to client systems during sync operations.

Microsoft's OneDrive will also support a feature that Dropbox and several other services supported for some time now.

The new OneDrive roadmap for the first and second quarter of 2017 was revealed during Microsoft's Tech summit. Skip to 1:05:17 for the roadmap sheet, or watch the full presentation instead. It is aimed at businesses however almost exclusively.

The roadmap lists other features that Microsoft plans to release in the first two quarters of 2017. While differential sync is probably the most anticipated feature, Microsoft plans to remove key restrictions such as mac path or the blocked # and % characters, expiring permissions, password protected links, and file analytics. (via Deskmodder and Zdnet)

Now You: Are you using OneDrive? What's your take on differential sync?

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What Is Windows Defender Application Guard http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/20/what-is-windows-defender-application-guard/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/20/what-is-windows-defender-application-guard/#comments Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:29:43 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130636 Windows Defender Application Guard is a new security feature of the Windows 10 operating system that Microsoft revealed back in 2016. The company revealed back then that it would integrate the feature in a future Windows Insider build before shipping it with the new feature update of Windows, the Windows 10 Creators Update. It appears […]

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Windows Defender Application Guard is a new security feature of the Windows 10 operating system that Microsoft revealed back in 2016.

The company revealed back then that it would integrate the feature in a future Windows Insider build before shipping it with the new feature update of Windows, the Windows 10 Creators Update.

It appears that the time has come, as information about the feature is now included in Microsoft Edge already.

When you load about:applicationguard right now in the latest Microsoft Edge Insider Build version, you are taken to a welcome screen that highlights the feature to you.

Windows Defender Application Guard

microsoft edge application guard

The Welcome Screen reads: Welcome to Windows Defender Application Guard. Windows Defender Application Guard is a lightweight virtual machine that helps isolate potentially malicious website activity from reaching your operating system, apps, and data.

Below that are the three core features of Windows Defender Application Guard:

  • Isolated Browsing -- Windows Defender Application Guard uses the latest virtualization technology to help protect your operating system by creating an isolated environment for your Microsoft Edge session.
  • Help Safeguard your PC -- Windows Defender Application Guard starts up every time you visit a non-work-related site to help keep potentially malicious attacks away from your PC.
  • Malware Removal -- Any websites you visit, files you download, or settings you change while in this isolated environment are deleted when you sign out of Windows, wiping out any potential malware.

Microsoft's introduction of the feature back in 2016 reveals the underlying technology used to power the feature. According to the article -- linked in the first paragraph -- it uses Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization technology to create a new layer of defense around Microsoft Edge.

This is a sandbox more or less that Edge processes run in if they are not in the list of trusted sites. Trusted sites work exactly like they do right now in the current stable version of Edge. Sites and services have access to local storage, may read and write cookies, and do all the other things they have permission for either automatically or on user request.

The following happens if a site or service is not in the trusted sites list.

Application Guard’s enforcement includes completely blocking access to memory, local storage, other installed applications, corporate network endpoints, or any other resources of interest to the attacker

Microsoft notes that this sandboxed copy has no access to credentials, including domain credentials. Strict no access to anything rules would break sites or services that rely on these features. Application Guard does provide access to "essential features", and some can be configured via the Grop Policy or other management tools.

windows application guard group policy

If you open the Group Policy editor in the latest Insider Build for instance, you find four application guard specific entries under Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates >  Windows Components > Windows Defender Application Guard:

  1. Turn On/Off Windows Defender Application Guard.
  2. Block Enterprise websites to load non-Enterprise content in IE and Edge.
  3. Configure Windows Defender Application Guard clipboard settings.
  4. Configure Windows Defender Application Guard print settings.

Closing Words

Since Microsoft mentions Internet Explorer in the Group Policy, it seems that at least some of the security feature's functionality is protecting Internet Explorer users as well.

It remains to be seen how effective Windows Defender Application Guard is in protecting user systems, and how restrictive it is for users to work with.

Microsoft has not revealed yet if Application Guard will be made available to all editions of Windows 10. Also, it is unclear whether the company plans to expand the use of the feature to other applications on the system.

Now You: What's your take on Application Guard?

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Get File hashes using Windows PowerShell http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/19/get-file-hashes-using-windows-powershell/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/19/get-file-hashes-using-windows-powershell/#comments Sun, 19 Feb 2017 07:24:14 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130575 Getting file hashes can be quite useful. This can be used for instance to make sure that backed up files are not corrupt or modified (by generating hashes before and after the process), or to make sure that no one tampered with an important file. You may see it on download sites as well, but […]

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Getting file hashes can be quite useful. This can be used for instance to make sure that backed up files are not corrupt or modified (by generating hashes before and after the process), or to make sure that no one tampered with an important file.

You may see it on download sites as well, but the use there is limited. The reason is simple: if an attacker managed to change the download file, there is a chance that the website was compromised as well. This could theoretically at least mean that the file hash displayed on the site was modified as well to fit the new malicious version of the download.

We have reviewed a considerable number of hashing related programs in the past: from the Windows shell extension HashTab, over Nirsoft's HashMyFiles to File Check MD5 and MD5 Check Utility.

Get File hashes using Windows PowerShell

windows powershell get-hash

If you need to generate the hash of a file quickly on a Windows machine, then you may also use PowerShell for that.

It may not be as comfortable as some of the hashing programs out there, but it is a native implementation that does not require third-party software to work. Useful in restricted environments for instance, or when there is no Internet connection available to download these programs.

Hash generating was integrated into PowerShell 4.0. It is included in Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, and also available for Windows 7 Service Pack 1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1.

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type PowerShell, and hit the Enter-key to start it up.

The main command is get-filehash FILEPATH, e.g. get-filehash c:\test.txt.

Get-FileHash uses the Sha256 algorithm by default. You may specify a different algorithm instead using the -Algorithm parameter.

Supported are: SHA1, SHA256, SHA384, SHA512, MACTripleDES, MD5, RIPEMD160

Note that MD5 and SHA1 are not considered secure anymore but are still supported.

So, to generate a Sha512 hash you would use the command get-filehash -Algorithm Sha512 c:\test.txt.

You may also use -LiteralPath or -InputStream instead of the default path option.

  • LiteralPath: get-filehash -LiteralPath -Algorithm SHA512 c:\test.txt.
  • InputStream get-filehash -InputStream -Algorithm SHA512 Stream.

The core difference between path and literalpath is that literalpath supports no wildcards, and is used exactly as it is typed.

CertUtil

certutil

CertUtil is another native Windows program that you may use to compute hashes of files. You can run the program from the command prompt, or using PowerShell.

The base command is certutil -hashfile PATH, e.g. certutil -hashfile c:\example.txt.

You may specify the hash algorithm as well. Supported are MD2, MD4, MD5, SHA1, SHA256, SHA384, SHA512. The default algorithm is MD5.

To use a different hash algorithm, specify it after the command, e.g. certutil -hashfile c:\example.txt SHA512.

Closing Words

You may use the commands in scripts to compute hashes for several files in one operation. The two native tools get-filehash and certutil are quite handy for the quick computation of hashes on Windows, and also for script use. (via Genbeta (Spanish))

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Nvidia releases GeForce Hotfix driver 378.72 http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/18/nvidia-releases-geforce-hotfix-driver-378-72/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/18/nvidia-releases-geforce-hotfix-driver-378-72/#comments Sat, 18 Feb 2017 05:56:44 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130562 Nvidia released a Geforce Hotfix driver recently that addresses two issues in the GeForce Game Reader 378.66 WHQL drivers released on February 14, 2017. The GeForce Game Reader 378.66 WHQL drivers for Nvidia video cards was released on February 14th, 2017. It added optimizations for the games For Honor, Halo Wars 2, Sniper Elite 4, […]

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Nvidia released a Geforce Hotfix driver recently that addresses two issues in the GeForce Game Reader 378.66 WHQL drivers released on February 14, 2017.

The GeForce Game Reader 378.66 WHQL drivers for Nvidia video cards was released on February 14th, 2017. It added optimizations for the games For Honor, Halo Wars 2, Sniper Elite 4, and Nvidia Ansel for Paragon, new features, and a number of fixes.

Game Ready drivers are designed to improve the experience of players, usually through optimizations for the supported games.

Among the new features are support for high-bit depth decoding (VP9/HEVC), H.264 ME-only mode enhancements, and several fixes for games (Battlefield, Heroes of the Storm), and general video card issues.

Reports about issues with the new GeForce 378.66 driver began to appear shortly after release. One reason why reports started to appear this fast is Nvidia's focus on pushing out drivers via the company's own GeForce Experience software.

nvidia geforce driver 378.66

GeForce Experience gets installed by default alongside other Nvidia drivers and software when a GeForce display driver is installed. The latest versions of GeForce Experience work only if you register an account.

We suggest you select custom installation, to install only the Nvidia drivers you require, as it keeps the system lean.

GeForce Hotfix driver 378.72

Nvidia released the GeForce Hotfix driver 378.72 on February 16th, 2017. It fixes two issues in the WHQL driver the company released two days earlier:

  • Fixed hardware encoding in Steam (In-Home Streaming).
  • Resolved PhysX being forced to CPU when "Optimize for Compute Performance" setting is OFF.

If you have installed the Nvidia WHQL 378.66 driver already, you may want to download and install the hotfix on PCs to fix these issues. It is not necessary to download the hotfix if you don't use the video card for gaming however.

The hotfix is offered for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.

Note that you may want to uninstall the old Nvidia driver completely before you install the hotfix.

A thread on Reddit suggests that the two issues are not the only Nvidia GeForce 378.66 issues the driver causes. Several users mention issues in Google's Chrome web browser, among them a crash issue when skipping videos on YouTube. Text may also be bold on Google sites such as YouTube or Google Search after the update.

Not all Google Chrome users appear to run into the crash issue. Those who do may want to try and disable hardware acceleration in the web browser for the time being as it is said to resolve the issue.

You do this by loading chrome://settings/ in the Google Chrome address bar, clicking on "show advanced settings" on the page, and removing the checkmark from "use hardware acceleration when available".

chrome hardware acceleration

Nvidia GeForce driver 378.66 is not the first driver that caused a series of issues in recent time. Both Nvidia GeForce driver 375.57 and driver 375.86 were causing issues as well.

Now Read: Disable Nvidia Telemetry on Windows PCs

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Windows 10: Group Policy pack Privacy and Telemetry http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/13/windows-10-group-policy-pack-privacy-and-telemetry/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/13/windows-10-group-policy-pack-privacy-and-telemetry/#comments Mon, 13 Feb 2017 06:29:30 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130371 The Group Policy pack Privacy and Telemetry, short gp-pack PaT, is a collection of 70 policies designed to disable sending data to Microsoft on Windows 10 devices. Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise administrators may use the Group Policy to modify privacy settings, and block some telemetry collecting and submitting to Microsoft. Numerous privacy tools for […]

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The Group Policy pack Privacy and Telemetry, short gp-pack PaT, is a collection of 70 policies designed to disable sending data to Microsoft on Windows 10 devices.

Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise administrators may use the Group Policy to modify privacy settings, and block some telemetry collecting and submitting to Microsoft.

Numerous privacy tools for Windows 10 have been released that modify Registry keys directly. Several of the programs go further, for instance by removing applications that ship with Windows 10, or blocking Microsoft Telemetry servers on the system.

Microsoft plans to improve privacy options with the release of the upcoming Creators Update for Windows 10. Setup is streamlined, and a new Your Privacy website has been published that users can open on the Internet to manage some data that Microsoft collected.

The Group Policy pack Privacy and Telemetry

group policy pack privacy telemetry

The Group Policy pack Privacy and Telemetry is a collection of policies based on the Microsoft Technet article Manage connections from Windows operating system components to Microsoft services , and other sources.

It is a commercial offering for businesses and Enterprise customers who deploy, or plan to deploy Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016.

Control privacy and telemetry of your onPremise Clients with Group Policy, no matter if Domain-Joined or Non-Domain-Joined. gp-pack PaT delivers 70 active policies containing 250 Registry Keys to disable components sending data to Microsoft on a Microsoft Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 Operating System by Group Policy.

The package includes the following:

  • 70 policies with 250 Registry keys.
  • ADM template that deactivates 40 background apps.
  • Scripts that remove pre-installed apps (OneDrive..)
  • Script that adds entries to the hosts file to block telemetry servers (redirect to localhost)

While it is certainly possible to create your own scripts that perform these operations, the main advantage that the package offers is that you will save time, as all that is left is to go through the scripts to verify, test and modify them for the environment you are responsible for.

The scripts are templates that administrators can work on instead of having to create them from scratch.

You can check out the policies that are included in the Telemetry and Privacy package here. The page lists all policies. Even better, each policy listed links to a description that you can open there as well. The description reveals what it does, and what the different values that you can set it to do.

The listing is useful to Home users who run Pro versions of Windows 10. You can go through the collection of policies to set some or even all of them on the home computer. (thanks Günter)

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Blocking Telemetry in Windows 7 and 8.1 http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/11/blocking-telemetry-in-windows-7-and-8-1/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/11/blocking-telemetry-in-windows-7-and-8-1/#comments Sat, 11 Feb 2017 07:28:45 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130293 Microsoft pushed patches to devices running Windows 7 and 8.1 in recent time that collect information and transfer data to Microsoft regularly. One of the main issues that Windows users may have with telemetry is that Microsoft does not reveal what it is collecting, and what is included when telemetry data is transferred to the […]

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Microsoft pushed patches to devices running Windows 7 and 8.1 in recent time that collect information and transfer data to Microsoft regularly.

One of the main issues that Windows users may have with telemetry is that Microsoft does not reveal what it is collecting, and what is included when telemetry data is transferred to the company.

The following tutorial provides suggestions on limiting Windows data collecting and transferring. There is no guarantee that nothing is collected and/or submitted after making privacy related changes to the operating system, but a guarantee that data collecting is severely limited at the very least.

Information taken from various places around the Internet including this Ask Woody comment, this German forum post, and Günter Born's post.

Make sure you back up important data before you continue.

Update: Eric @ Tweakhound created scripts that you can download and run. It is recommended that you go through the scripts first before you execute them.

Blocking Telemetry in Windows 7 and 8.1

uninstall telemetry updates

The following Windows updates are related to telemetry and diagnostic data.

  • KB971033-- Description of the update for Windows Activation Technologies
  • KB2952664 -- Compatibility update for keeping Windows up-to-date in Windows 7
  • KB2976978 -- Compatibility update for keeping Windows up-to-date in Windows 8.1 and Windows 8
  • KB2990214 -- Update that enables you to upgrade from Windows 7 to a later version of Windows
  • KB3021917 -- Update to Windows 7 SP1 for performance improvements
  • KB3022345 -- Update for customer experience and diagnostic telemetry
  • KB3035583 -- Update installs Get Windows 10 app in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1
  • KB3044374 -- Update that enables you to upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10
  • KB3068708 --  Update for customer experience and diagnostic telemetry
  • KB3075249 -- Update that adds telemetry points to consent.exe in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7
  • KB3080149 -- Update for customer experience and diagnostic telemetry
  • KB3123862 -- Updated capabilities to upgrade Windows 8.1 and Windows 7

You can remove any of the patches using two methods:

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type Windows Update, and hit the Enter-key.
  2. Select Installed Updates on the window that opens.
  3. Right-click on updates and select uninstall to remove them from the system.

Second method uses the command line instead:

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type cmd.exe, hold down Shift and Ctrl, and hit the Enter-key. This opens an elevated command prompt.
  2. Use the command wusa /uninstall /kb:3080149 /quiet /norestart to remove updates.
  3. Replace the number after kb: with the update that you want to remove.

Make sure you hide any update that you have removed, as it will be picked up by Windows again the next time Windows Update checks for update.

The Windows\System32\CompatTel folder

The CompatTel folder is still there after you remove the telemetry updates on the machine. One change that you may notice is that the older Telemetry client, diagtrackrunner.exe is in that folder, and not the newer compattelrunner.exe.

You cannot remove the folder or files directly, as you need ownership first for that.

Turn off the Customer Experience Improvement Program

customer experience improvement program

We have posted a tutorial already that explains how to turn off the Customer Experience Improvement Program.

Basically, what you do is click on Start, type customer experience, and select the "change customer experience improvement program settings" result. Select "No, I don't want to participate in the program" when the new settings window opens.

Remove the Telemetry service

Next thing on the list is to remove the Diagnostic Tracking service. It may not exist anymore already, but I suggest you run the commands below just to make sure.

Open an elevated command prompt -- if it is not still open -- and run the following commands:

  1. sc stop Diagtrack
  2. sc delete Diagtrack

The first command stops the Diagtrack service, the second deletes it.

Blocking Microsoft Servers

Caution: Some servers and IP addresses may be used by other Windows services. If you notice that some are not working anymore, disable them one by one until you find the culprit that you need to exclude from the blocking.

Note: the following servers cannot be blocked using the hosts file. You need to block them using another means, e.g. router firewall or installed firewall.

  • onesettings-hk2.metron.live.com.nsatc.net
  • onesettings-bn2.metron.live.com.nsatc.net
  • onesettings-cy2.metron.live.com.nsatc.net
  • vortex-hk2.metron.live.com.nsatc.net
  • vortex-db5.metron.live.com.nsatc.net

Other servers you may want to block:

  • 134.170.30.202
  • 137.116.81.24
  • 204.79.197.200
  • 23.218.212.69
  • 65.39.117.230
  • 65.55.108.23
  • a-0001.a-msedge.net
  • choice.microsoft.com
  • choice.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
  • compatexchange.cloudapp.net
  • corp.sts.microsoft.com
  • corpext.msitadfs.glbdns2.microsoft.com
  • cs1.wpc.v0cdn.net
  • df.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • diagnostics.support.microsoft.com
  • fe2.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net
  • feedback.microsoft-hohm.com
  • feedback.search.microsoft.com
  • feedback.windows.com
  • i1.services.social.microsoft.com
  • i1.services.social.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
  • oca.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • oca.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
  • pre.footprintpredict.com
  • redir.metaservices.microsoft.com
  • reports.wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • services.wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • settings-sandbox.data.microsoft.com
  • settings-win.data.microsoft.com
  • sls.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net
  • sqm.df.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • sqm.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • sqm.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
  • statsfe1.ws.microsoft.com
  • statsfe2.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net
  • statsfe2.ws.microsoft.com
  • survey.watson.microsoft.com
  • telecommand.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • telecommand.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
  • telemetry.appex.bing.net
  • telemetry.appex.bing.net:443
  • telemetry.microsoft.com
  • telemetry.urs.microsoft.com
  • vortex.data.microsoft.com
  • vortex-sandbox.data.microsoft.com
  • vortex-win.data.microsoft.com
  • watson.live.com
  • watson.microsoft.com
  • watson.ppe.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • watson.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • watson.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
  • wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com

Deleting Scheduled Tasks

task telemetry

Windows 7 and 8.1 run a lot of tasks that send data to Microsoft.

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type Task Scheduler, and hit the Enter-key.
  2. Navigate to Microsoft > Windows in the task hierarchy, and delete (or disable) the following tasks:
  3. All tasks with Application Experience.
  4. All tasks with Autochk.
  5. All tasks with Customer Experience Improvement Program.
  6. DiskDiagnosticDataCollector under DiskDiagnostic.
  7. WinSAT under Maintenance.
  8. Deactivate all Media Center tasks.

Closing Words

There is always the chance that new updates will add new services or tasks. This is why it is recommended to set Windows Update to inform but not download and install automatically.

Now You: Have anything to add? Let us known in the commands.

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Windows KB2952664 and KB2976978 telemetry updates re-released (again) http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/10/kb2652664-and-kb2976978-telemetry-updates-re-released-again/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/10/kb2652664-and-kb2976978-telemetry-updates-re-released-again/#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2017 05:13:22 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130264 Here we go again. Microsoft re-released the Windows 7 telemetry update KB2952664 and the Windows 8.1 telemetry update KB2976978 yesterday. You can check out our October 2016 article on the last re-release of the updates. Windows 7 and 8.1 users may still know these updates as they were the prerequisites for Microsoft's infamous Get Windows […]

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Here we go again. Microsoft re-released the Windows 7 telemetry update KB2952664 and the Windows 8.1 telemetry update KB2976978 yesterday.

You can check out our October 2016 article on the last re-release of the updates.

Windows 7 and 8.1 users may still know these updates as they were the prerequisites for Microsoft's infamous Get Windows 10 (GWX) campaign that haunted users who did not want to upgrade to Windows 10 for almost a year.

The two updates have been released with the optional flag for now, which means that they won't be installed on most systems.

What is likely going to happen however is that Microsoft will promote the updates in the near future, maybe next Tuesday, to important. This would install the updates automatically on systems that use the default configuration for Windows Update. The company has done so in the past for those updates, and it seems likely that it will do so again this time.

Windows 7 and 8.1 administrators who have hidden the updates will notice that they reappeared in Windows Updates because of the re-release.

KB2952664 and KB2976978 telemetry updates

kb2952664 kb2976978

The hidden flag for updates on Windows Update that administrators can set is only valid for a particular revision of an update. When Microsoft releases a new update revision, it becomes available again.

If it was blocked by hiding it in Windows Update, it needs to be blocked again each time Microsoft re-releases the update.

To hide a Windows update, right-click on it in the Windows Update window, and select "hide update" from the context menu. Unless it is re-released, it won't show up anymore on the machine and won't be installed either.

Both "compatibility updates for keeping Windows up-to-date" are offered through Windows Update and Microsoft Update Catalog.

The update description is identical for KB2952664 and KB2976978:

This update performs diagnostics on the Windows systems that participate in the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program. The diagnostics evaluate the compatibility status of the Windows ecosystem, and help Microsoft to ensure application and device compatibility for all updates to Windows. There is no GWX or upgrade functionality contained in this update.

According to the description, the update performs diagnostics on machines that participate in the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program. The program has been part of Windows since Vista, and is designed to collect information on hardware, software and services.

As I mentioned back in October 2016 already when I described how to leave the Windows Customer Experience Improvement program, Microsoft does not reveal the actual data that the program collects.

You could say that these updates are not that bad then if you do not participate in the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program.

Woody Leonhard demonstrated that the last revision of the updates did trigger new scans regardless of the membership status of the Customer Experience Improvement program. While it has not been tested yet with the new version, it seems likely that Microsoft has not changed that.

We don't know an awful lot about what KB2952664 and KB2976978 actually do. They do seem to trigger a new Windows task called DoScheduledTelemetryRun, but it is unclear what is being collected, and whether something else is changed on the system during installation of the updates.

Tip: You can use the Windows Task Schedule, PowerShell, or Nirsoft's Task Scheduler View to manage tasks on all recent versions of the Windows operating system.

Now You: Did you hide these updates in the past on your machines?

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Et tu, AMD? No Ryzen drivers for Windows 7 http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/09/et-tu-amd-no-ryzen-drivers-for-windows-7/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/09/et-tu-amd-no-ryzen-drivers-for-windows-7/#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2017 13:58:56 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130251 Microsoft announced back in January of 2016 that the upcoming chip generations of Intel and AMD would only support Windows 10, and not the more widely used Windows 7, or Windows 10's predecessor Windows 8.x. It was not really clear what Microsoft meant by that at the time, but we figured it out some time […]

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Microsoft announced back in January of 2016 that the upcoming chip generations of Intel and AMD would only support Windows 10, and not the more widely used Windows 7, or Windows 10's predecessor Windows 8.x.

It was not really clear what Microsoft meant by that at the time, but we figured it out some time later.  Basically, what it means is that Microsoft does not support these processors on older versions of Windows, and that both Intel and AMD won't support them officially either.

So, no official drivers, and no support for new features that these processors may ship with on older versions of Windows.

Some or even all of these processors may work however; a YouTube video was published that demonstrated that Windows 8.x could be installed on a PC equipped with Intel's Kaby Lake processor (check the link above for the video).

Unsupported means that some new features may not work as intended, and that Microsoft, Intel and AMD won't provide support on devices equipped with these processors if they run Windows 8.x or Windows 7.

amd rizon windows 10

It was not really clear what AMD's intentions where with the company's Ryzen processors. Microsoft did mention back in 2016 that upcoming Intel and AMD chips would not run on older versions of Windows.

Information on AMD stances has come to light recently. While AMD appears to have validated Ryzen processors on machines running Windows 7 and Windows 10, the company stated that it would only offer support and drivers for Windows 10 (via Infoworld).

PC users who upgrade hardware components on their PCs, and those who want to stay on Windows 8.x or 7, face a difficult decision now.

While they may be able to install a Ryzen or Kaby Lake processor on the machine, and run Windows 7 or 8.1 on it, they'd be left alone if they require support. Neither Microsoft, nor Intel or AMD will provide support on unsupported operating system version.

So, if you want to run the latest Intel or AMD processors, you need to get your hands on Windows 10 if you want them to be supported officially by those companies.

It is unclear if Ryzen processors will perform the same on Windows 7 or Windows 10, or if driver support and better operating system support make Windows 10 beat earlier versions of Windows performance and stability wise.

This is something that has to be tested extensively, but it seems likely that without proper drivers and operating system support, performance and stability are probably going to be worse on older versions of Windows.

Closing Words

The decision to limit support for next generation silicon to Windows 10 seems anti-consumer to me. Windows 7 is still the operating system that is most widely used, and that is not going to change in the next couple of years.

Did Microsoft convince AMD and Intel to drop support for older versions of Windows? I cannot see any of the two companies drop support for the Windows version with the largest user base. We will probably never know for sure.

Now You: What is your take? Why are AMD and Intel supporting only Windows 10 for their next gen chipsets?

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Windows 10 Cloud hacked to run Win32 programs http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/09/windows-10-cloud-hacked-to-run-win32-programs/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/09/windows-10-cloud-hacked-to-run-win32-programs/#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2017 06:25:49 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130248 That did not take long! Windows 10 Cloud has not been revealed officially yet, but someone managed to hack the operating system already to run legacy Win32 programs on it. Windows 10 Cloud leaked earlier this month, and first impressions revealed that it looked like a revival of Microsoft's -- failed -- Windows RT operating […]

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That did not take long! Windows 10 Cloud has not been revealed officially yet, but someone managed to hack the operating system already to run legacy Win32 programs on it.

Windows 10 Cloud leaked earlier this month, and first impressions revealed that it looked like a revival of Microsoft's -- failed -- Windows RT operating system.

Windows RT was released alongside Windows 8 as a low cost solution. Microsoft's marketing back then did a bad job at highlighting to customers that Windows RT would not run Win32 programs-

Windows 10 Cloud looked to be in the same boat initially when the first ISO of it leaked on the Internet. It was revealed then however that users can upgrade the operating system to Windows 10 Pro, and that Windows 10 Cloud may be free.

Note: Microsoft has not confirmed any of this yet. It is possible that things may change along the way.

The leaked version of Windows 10 Cloud supports Windows Store apps and legacy Win32 programs that Microsoft whitelisted. Any Win32 program not on that list, and there are several that ship with Windows 10 Cloud that don't, won't run by default but will throw an error message instead:

The app you're trying to install isn't designed for Windows Cloud. Windows Cloud helps protect your PC by running on Windows Store apps.

Still want to install the app? See How.

The last sentence of the notification that users see when they try to run programs that are not whitelisted provides them with an option to upgrade the operating system to Windows 10 Pro.

This highlights one of the major difference to Windows RT, which did not ship with such an option. The upgrade option, and the fact that Windows 10 Cloud runs on x86 processors indicated strongly that Microsoft must have implemented a software restriction that prevents legacy Win32 programs from running on the operating system.

Jürgen Born suspects that Device Guard is used in Windows 10 Cloud to allow or block applications and programs based on signatures.

A Twitter user by the name of Longhorn posted a screenshot yesterday that showed Google Chrome and the Desktop App Converter running on a Windows 10 Cloud machine.

He managed to hack the restrictions of Windows 10 Cloud to run Google Chrome and the Desktop App Converter on a Windows 10 Cloud device.

The user did not reveal how it was done.

Information about the protection and how to circumvent it were published on the user's blog.

At the end, Windows Cloud is nothing more or less than a Professional variant with UMCI enforced.

At the end, Windows Cloud is nothing more or less than a Professional variant with UMCI enforced.

As such, its compatibility with existing Windows software* is only and solely prevented by having UMCI enabled and active.

While command, powershell, regedit and other core Windows features that give users control over the operating system are blocked, Linux Bash is not apparently. This allowed him to enable test signing of programs, and run a handful of other commands to get the legacy Win32 programs to run on Windows 10 Cloud

Provided that the screenshot is not fake, it shows that the built-in protection is not as protective as Microsoft would hope it to be. Microsoft has not announced Windows Cloud officially yet. Considering that it is still in development, it can be that Bash support will be dropped in future builds.

Since the methods used to get Chrome and the Desktop App Converter to run were not revealed, we don't know how complex of an operation the hack is.

Now You: Would you get Windows 10 Cloud if it was free?

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Windows 10 Build 15031: dynamic lock, overlay window http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/09/windows-10-build-15031-dynamic-lock-overlay-window/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/09/windows-10-build-15031-dynamic-lock-overlay-window/#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2017 05:16:53 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130243 Microsoft released a new Windows 10 Insider Preview build to the Fast Ring earlier today that brings the build number to version 15031. The company announced recently that the next feature update for Windows 10 has reached feature complete status with Windows 10 SDK 15021. This means that the coming weeks will mostly see bug […]

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Microsoft released a new Windows 10 Insider Preview build to the Fast Ring earlier today that brings the build number to version 15031.

The company announced recently that the next feature update for Windows 10 has reached feature complete status with Windows 10 SDK 15021.

This means that the coming weeks will mostly see bug fix releases. While you may still see changes being revealed in the coming weeks, all of those are already implemented but have not been made visible to users prior to this.

Windows 10 Build 15031 is one of those bug fix releases for the most part. While it does introduce a couple of new features, and changes to others, it is definitely a minor release when it comes to new features.

Compact Overlay Window

overlay

The new compact overlay window feature is reserved for Universal Windows Platform apps. It allows developers to enable support for the compact mode in their apps, so that users can launch it when they want to make use of it.

The mode works similar to video overlay features, for instance the one in the Opera browser. Basically, what it allows you to do is to display an app in a small overlay window on the screen that stays in that location on top of other apps or programs that you open.

So, always on top functionality combined with a compact mode for that app.

Microsoft's own apps Skype and Movies & TV will support Compact Overlay window in the future.

This can be useful at times, for instance to keep Skype open all the time and in the foreground, or to watch a movie or show in a small window while doing something else.

Dynamic Lock

windows 10 dynamic lock

We reviewed the Dynamic Lock feature of the Windows 10 Creators Update previously already. The feature is now active in Windows 10 Build 15031

Dynamic Lock is a new option that allows you to pair a Bluetooth device with the Windows 10 machine. Once done, you may enable Dynamic Lock to lock the operating system automatically whenever you are not near the PC.

The system is relatively straightforward: If the Bluetooth device is in reach, the system stays unlocked. Once it cannot be detected for a 30 second period, it is locked.

You find the new option under Settings > Account > Sign-in Options.

Other changes

Microsoft improved full screen support for the operating system's Game Bar feature. Game Bar is an overlay that you can trigger with the shortcut Windows-G. It allows you to capture a screenshot or video of the application or game, and configure other gaming related features.

The new version supports 52 additional games in full screen mode, including Civilization VI, Dishonored 2, Path of Exile, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, and GTA V.

Quite a few of the issues of previous Insider Builds were fixed in this release. Tencent apps and games don't crash anymore, select games don't crash or show black screens anymore when you try to run them, and a bug that caused Cortana's background task to use a high amount of CPU.

The list of known issues in build 15031 is considerably shorter because of this, but you will notice that more than a dozen longstanding issues have not been fixed this. Among them Developer Tools issues in Edge, games minimizing and not recovering from that, or the issue where Windows Update is seemingly stuck at initializing.

You can check out the full list of fixes and known issues on the Microsoft Windows Experience blog.

Now You: The Windows 10 Creators Update is feature complete. Does it have features that you are looking forward to?

 

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How to fix “no Internet secured” Wifi connectivity issues on Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/05/how-to-fix-no-internet-secured-wifi-connectivity-issues-on-windows/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/05/how-to-fix-no-internet-secured-wifi-connectivity-issues-on-windows/#comments Sun, 05 Feb 2017 08:38:13 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130115 The following guide provides you with a solution for fixing the dreaded "no Internet secured" notification that signals Wifi connectivity issues on machines running Windows. I bought a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 device back then when it first came out, and like it a lot. It is the device that I use mostly when I'm […]

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The following guide provides you with a solution for fixing the dreaded "no Internet secured" notification that signals Wifi connectivity issues on machines running Windows.

I bought a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 device back then when it first came out, and like it a lot. It is the device that I use mostly when I'm traveling as it offers all I require in a compact package.

For the past year or so, I noticed a strange wireless Internet connectivity issue regularly when connecting the device using WiFi. Connections to the WiFi hotspot work, but Internet did not at times.

The WiFi that the Surface Pro 4 is connected to at the time that this is happening would always display "no Internet secured" indicating that Internet access was not available. This happened often after turning the Surface on, but could happen also while the device was already running.

A reconnect helped sometimes, but not all the time. I never really had the time to look into this though up until now.

Please note that the fix described below solved the issue for my device. It may help you as well, but since there are probably myriads of issues that may cause wireless Internet connectivity issues, it may not.

Fix "no Internet secured" Wifi issues

It appears that the no Internet issue that I experienced when connecting the Surface Pro 4 device to a wireless network was caused by an IPv6 conflict. I cannot really say what is causing it, only that the following fix repaired the issue on my end.

Here is what I did to fix it:

Step 1:open network and sharing center

network and sharing center

Right-click on the network icon in the Windows system tray, and select Open Network and Sharing Center from the context menu that opens up. Note: the icon may not be displayed all the time. Click on the arrow icon in the system tray area then to display it.

Step 2: Change Adapter Settings

wifi no internet secured

Select the change adapter settings option when the Network and Sharing Center window opens. You find it on the left side there.

Step 3: Open the properties of the network adapter

network adapter properties

Locate the network adapter that you are using at this point in time. It should highlight that it is a wireless adapter.

Step 4: Disable IPv6

disable ipv6

Locate the Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6) on the list of items that opens, and uncheck it to disable IPv6. Click on ok, and restart the computer afterwards.

Closing Words

This resolved the connectivity issue on my end. I cannot guarantee that it will work in all situations, but it is definitely something that you may want to try out as the "no Internet secured" issue is quite troublesome.

If the fix does not work on your device, you could try and delete the network adapter completely so that Windows adds it anew on the next start of the system.

You may also want to try the following Internet connectivity troubleshooting tools which we reviewed in the past:

Now you: Did you ever run into Internet connection issues?

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Windows 10 Cloud disappoints (first look) http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/04/windows-10-cloud-disappoints-first-look/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/04/windows-10-cloud-disappoints-first-look/#comments Sat, 04 Feb 2017 09:13:43 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130102 Microsoft is working on a new Windows 10 SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) that the company named  Windows 10 Cloud internally. First signs of Windows 10 Cloud appeared a week or so ago on the Internet, but it was not clear back then what this new edition of Windows 10 would offer. Suggestions ranged from a […]

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Microsoft is working on a new Windows 10 SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) that the company named  Windows 10 Cloud internally.

First signs of Windows 10 Cloud appeared a week or so ago on the Internet, but it was not clear back then what this new edition of Windows 10 would offer. Suggestions ranged from a cloud-based operating system to a subscription-based system similar to Office 365, and a successor of Windows RT.

Mary Jo Foley got confirmation from her sources -- which she did not mention -- that Windows 10 Cloud was a revival of the Windows RT version of Windows.

What this would mean was clear: Windows 10 Cloud would only run Windows Store applications, and apps that Microsoft made to work with the operating system. Any legacy Windows 32 program would not work on systems running Windows 10 Cloud.

Windows 10 Cloud

windows 10 cloud

A first ISO image of Windows 10 Cloud leaked recently. It made the rounds on several tech sites such as Born City, Deskmodder or Windows Blog Italia, and confirms Mary Jo's report.

Windows 10 Cloud revives Windows RT. It is unclear if Cloud will be the release name of the new operating system, or if Microsoft will launch it under another name. It is almost certain that Microsoft won't use RT as user perception is quite negative.

It needs to be noted at this point that Windows 10 Cloud is a work in progress. Things may change along the way before it is released.

Update: Two new bits on how Windows 10 Cloud differs from Windows RT. First, Windows 10 Cloud will run on ARM and Intel hardware, and not only on ARM like Windows RT. Second, customers may upgrade Windows 10 Cloud to Windows 10 Pro, something that you could not do with ARM. The core benefit here is that upgrading will make it a full version of Windows with support for legacy programs. End

Windows 10 Cloud behaves as you would expect it to behave. Cortana walks you through the first steps of setup on first start, and you may notice that quite a few apps are listed in Start after installation

Some of these apps are first party applications or games, while others third-party applications. The selection includes Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, and on the games side Age of Empires Castle Siege, Asphalt 8, and Royal Revolt among others.

Most don't appear to be installed though, but merely links to the application's Windows Store entry.

Windows Store is your only source for applications in Windows 10 Cloud. While you may be able to sideload UWP applications as well, it won't run any legacy Win32 programs.

windows 10 cloud blocked app

This is similar to how Windows RT handled this, and a serious disadvantage for anyone running the operating system.

If you try to run a legacy program, you get the error messsage that "the app you're trying to install isn't designed for Windows Cloud".

This is even true for some programs that Windows 10 Cloud ships with such as regedit.exe. Other programs, WordPad for instance, do work however. This includes the Group Policy Editor for instance.

It is interesting to note at this point that so-called Centennial apps, Windows 32 programs converted to UWP, don't seem to work as well on Windows 10 Cloud.

Closing Words

Windows 10 Cloud is a fairly limited edition of Windows 10 that restricts you to apps that ship with the operating system, and apps that you can download and install from Windows Store.

This means, among other things, that you are stuck with Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer as the browser, and with Windows Defender as the security solution. Security is better obviously, as users cannot execute any legacy Windows programs on Windows 10 Cloud systems. This is however also the biggest disadvantage of Windows 10 Cloud.

Windows Cloud does better space-wise compared to other editions of Windows. It uses about 12.5 Gigabyte of storage on the hard drive after installation. While that is good compared to other editions of Windows, it is nowhere near Google's Chrome OS which uses less than 6 Gigabyte of storage.

I have my doubts that Windows 10 Cloud will fare better than Windows RT, as it is basically the same thing under a new name. While it is too early for a final judgement, I'd say that this will bomb the same way that Windows RT bombed unless Microsoft has an ace up its sleeve that it will reveal at a later point in time.

Now You: What's your take on Windows 10 Cloud?

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Windows 10 Insider Build 15025 is all about bugs and fixes http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/02/windows-10-insider-build-15025-is-all-about-bugs-and-fixes/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/02/windows-10-insider-build-15025-is-all-about-bugs-and-fixes/#comments Thu, 02 Feb 2017 06:44:22 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130044 Microsoft pushed out Windows 10 Insider Build 15025 to the Fast Ring channel yesterday evening featuring mostly bug fixes. Some devices, all running 32-bit versions of Windows 10, are excluded from receiving the update though the company notes in a blog post announcing the new release. Microsoft plans to make ISO images available at the […]

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Microsoft pushed out Windows 10 Insider Build 15025 to the Fast Ring channel yesterday evening featuring mostly bug fixes.

Some devices, all running 32-bit versions of Windows 10, are excluded from receiving the update though the company notes in a blog post announcing the new release.

Microsoft plans to make ISO images available at the end of the week which will work on 32-bit PCs as well so that the update may be installed on those devices.

The new feature listing is on the light side this time after being quite impressive in builds 15014 and 15019.

Windows 10 Insider Build 15025

windows 10 15025

Microsoft is still tinkering when it comes to the new blue night light feature of Windows 10. The change in this particular build of Windows 10 drops the minimum K value to 1200 K. The company notes that the entire slider range should work now as well.

Night Light may be used to display warmer colors at night to be easier on the eyes and improve sleep. It can be enabled automatically, for instance on schedule, or enabled manually.

Windows 10 Build 15025 features two improvements to accessibility features. First, beta Braille support is now available in Narrator.

To make use of it right now, you need to perform the following actions:

  1. Make sure that Narrator is enabled. You find it under Start > Settings > Ease of Access, or by using the keyboard shortcut Windows-U.
  2. Click on the "download and install Braille" button on the same page.
  3. Find Enable Braille under Settings > Ease of Access, and add a braille display afterwards. The Windows implementation supports USB and serial connections.
  4. Select the language and braille table afterwards on the same page.

Microsoft notes that you should not enable Braille in Windows 10 if you are using a third-party screen reader already as a braille display due to issues that exist currently.

The second accessibility feature enables you to set up mono audio in the Ease of Access settings. You can enable it under Start > Settings > Ease of Access > Other Options.

Apart from collections in the Feedback Hub, all remaining changes are fixes or smaller improvements for existing features.

Gamers will be happy that Microsoft fixed the game window minimizing issue, Google users that connections to certain Google sites are no longer problematic, and Edge users that extensions in the browser work again.

The list of active bugs in the latest Windows 10 Insider Build version is not as scary anymore as it was in the last version, but some bugs may still have a major impact on the system.

Microsoft is working on fixing issues with Edge's Developer Tools that may hang, crash or fail when invoked.  The bug that audio stops working sporadically is still there, and the Action Center bug that makes it appear blank and transparent as well.

Two new bugs have been discovered already in this new version. The first affects some games that use copy protection. Microsoft does not reveal how these games are affected though, but the most likely scenario is that those games refuse to run.

The second bug affects the Desktop App Converter which enables developers to turn legacy Windows programs into UWP applications. The program fails to run on this particular version of Windows 10.

Closing Words

The next Insider Build releases will feature fewer feature additions, and more bug fixes and improvements to existing features. Microsoft plans to release the Creators Update in March or April of 2017.

Now You: What's your take on this new build?

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Fast Methods to shut down Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/01/fast-methods-to-shut-down-windows/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/01/fast-methods-to-shut-down-windows/#comments Wed, 01 Feb 2017 04:20:33 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=130010 Most Windows users shut down the computer through the Windows Start Menu, probably. Probably, because statistical information is not available that would prove it. While shutting down Windows through the Start Menu works, it is not the fastest option that you have at your disposal to shut down the operating system. The following guide lists […]

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Most Windows users shut down the computer through the Windows Start Menu, probably. Probably, because statistical information is not available that would prove it.

While shutting down Windows through the Start Menu works, it is not the fastest option that you have at your disposal to shut down the operating system.

The following guide lists several methods that are usually faster. Included are methods that are built-in to Windows, and also methods that rely on third-party applications.

Most methods should work in all versions of Windows. The supported operating systems are listed if that is not the case.

Good old Alt-F4

shut down windows alt f4

Using Alt-F4 may not be the fastest method to shut down a PC running Windows, but it works in all versions of the operating system.

All you need to do is use the shortcut Alt-F4 while the desktop is active, and click ok when the Shut Down Windows prompt opens.

It is not the fastest option, as you need to click on the desktop first to make sure it is active, before you hit the shortcut.

You may hit Alt-F4 multiple times, as it will close any open program window when you do. You will reach the desktop eventually and trigger the shut down prompt.

Tip: you may use Windows-D to minimize all program Windows, then use Alt-F4 to bring up the menu.

The Windows-X menu

windows-x shut down

This option is only available on Windows 8 and newer versions of Windows. Use the shortcut Windows-X to open the menu, then press U, and U again.

The first U selects the Shut down or sign out menu, the second the Shut down command of the menu once you have selected it. While you may use the mouse for that as well, using the keyboard is usually a lot faster.

Start Menu Shut Down

start menu shut down

We have established already that you can shut down Windows using the Start Menu. While most users may use the mouse for that, you may use the keyboard exclusively as well.

Press the Windows-key, then the right-arrow key on the keyboard, and finally the Enter-key. This selects shut down from the power menu under Start, and shuts down the computer.

Shutdown command

windows shut down shortcut

Shutdown is a built-in command that you can run to shut down the computer. To use it, press Windows-R to open the run box, then type shutdown /s /f /t 0. Note that you can also just type shutdown /s, but shut down is not enforced which means that processes may delay the operation.

  • /s refers to the shut down itself
  • /f means shut down is enforced, you may lose work that is not saved yet.
  • /t 0 sets the time before shut down happens to 0 seconds (immediately).

It is usually not that comfortable to type the command. What you can do is create a shortcut, and place it on your desktop so that you only have to click on it to shut down Windows.

  • Right-click on a free location on the desktop and select New > Shortcut.
  • In the location field, type the following command: %windir%\system32\shutdown.exe -s -t 0
  • Click Next to continue.
  • Name the shortcut or keep the name. This is the icon description that appears underneath the shortcut on the desktop.
  • If you are running Windows 7 or newer, you may pin the shortcut to the taskbar. This may be useful if you want a clean desktop, don’t display desktop icons by default, or prefer to use the taskbar for important activities.

Tip: You can assign a keyboard shortcut to the shortcut to run the command from any location on the system. Right-click the shortcut on the desktop and select properties from the context menu. Locate the Shortcut Field, click on it and pick a shortcut for it that you want to use, for instance Ctrl-F11 or any other shortcut that you are comfortable with and is not mapped by Windows or programs already.

Superfast Shutdown

superfast shutdown

Superfast Shutdown is a free program for Windows that does one thing when you run it: it shuts down the computer quickly.

You can read our review of Superfast Shutdown, and also download it directly from the review page as the developer website is no longer available.

Initially designed for Windows XP and Vista, it is compatible with all recent versions of Windows as well.

Closing Words

There are other methods to shut down Windows quickly, but they are usually slower than the ones mentioned. You can use the PowerShell command Stop-Computer for instance, or press Windows-L to lock the computer, and select shut down from the lockscreen afterwards

Now You: How do you shut down Windows?

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Windows 10 Cloud brings Windows RT back from the dead, sort of http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/30/windows-10-cloud-brings-windows-rt-back-from-the-dead-sort-of/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/30/windows-10-cloud-brings-windows-rt-back-from-the-dead-sort-of/#comments Mon, 30 Jan 2017 17:52:35 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=129987 Windows 10 Cloud is a new edition of Windows 10 that showed up for the first time in one of the recent Insider Builds released for the operating system. Microsoft did not provide any information back when Windows 10 Cloud appeared, and has not until today. The rumor mill was in full swing though immediately. […]

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Windows 10 Cloud is a new edition of Windows 10 that showed up for the first time in one of the recent Insider Builds released for the operating system.

Microsoft did not provide any information back when Windows 10 Cloud appeared, and has not until today. The rumor mill was in full swing though immediately. Suggestions ranged from a cloud-based operating system, a new subscription-based version of Windows similar to Office365, to something completely different.

Microsoft has yet to make an official statement, but according to Mary Jo Foley, Windows 10 Cloud is what Windows RT was for previous versions of Windows.

She cites unnamed sources who told here that Windows 10 Cloud will only be able to run Unified Windows Platform applications.

windows 10 cloud

source Walking Cat / Twitter

It works similarly to how Windows RT worked back in the Windows 8 days. The operating system was designed to support only Windows Store applications. While Microsoft did convert some desktop programs specifically for Windows RT, it meant that Windows users could not install any desktop program on machines running Windows RT.

The situation has not changed all that much, but it is a little bit better when it comes to Windows 10 Cloud. The main reason for that is that Microsoft created options for developers and companies to turn their legacy Win32 programs to Unified Windows Platform applications. First converted programs are already available as Store apps.

This means almost no extra development time to turn programs into apps in best case. The situation in regards to available apps is a bit better because of this, but it is still far from what is available to users who run regular versions of Windows.

The cloud name is a bit confusing. It is clear that Microsoft did not want to revive RT for Windows 10, as it failed miserably and had a bad reputation because of its limitations.

Cloud, according to Mary Jo's sources refers to Microsoft being a "cloud first" company. Cloud may be a codename however, and the new product edition may be released under a different name when it comes out.

My guess is that this could be Microsoft's attempt at establishing a competitor for Google's Chrome OS / Chromebooks. The devices are mostly cloud powered as well, and in many regards very similar to what Microsoft seems to have in store for Windows 10 Cloud.

Windows 10 Cloud could power low cost devices, much like Windows RT did back in the Windows 8 days. Microsoft's main marketing blunder back then was that it did not make it clearer that Windows RT was a limited Windows edition that was not capable of running legacy programs.

Microsoft could launch Windows 10 Cloud with the Creators Update in April at the earliest. Since the company has not mentioned Windows 10 Cloud at all until now, it is also possible that it will be released at a later point in time.

Now you: What's your take on Windows 10 Cloud?

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Windows 10 Creators Update: new options to defer updates http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/29/windows-10-defer-updates-options/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/29/windows-10-defer-updates-options/#comments Sun, 29 Jan 2017 13:58:34 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=129933 Microsoft is working on improving the updating options of some editions of its Windows 10 operating system currently that provide users with better options to defer updates. The option to defer updates in current versions of Windows 10 is limited in several regards. First, it is only available if the Windows 10 edition is Pro, […]

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Microsoft is working on improving the updating options of some editions of its Windows 10 operating system currently that provide users with better options to defer updates.

The option to defer updates in current versions of Windows 10 is limited in several regards. First, it is only available if the Windows 10 edition is Pro, Enterprise or Education.

Second, deferring only allows you to postpone the installation of feature updates, but not other updates. Microsoft released two feature updates so far for Windows 10, the November 2015 update, and the Anniversary Update in 2016. The next feature update will be the Creators Update which supposedly comes out in April 2016.

Windows 10 Creators Update: defer updates

windows update

One of the new options to defer updates is the ability to pause updates in Windows 10. This allows you to block the installation of updates for up to 35 days but no longer. This prevents the installation of updates, including those of feature updates.

What it does not do however is block Windows Defender definitions from being downloaded and installed.

The most recent Windows 10 Insider Build 15019 comes with added options to that. You see the new options on the screenshot above.

If you do open the Advanced Options under Settings > Update & Security > Advanced Options however, you won't see those new preferences listed there.

They become available only when you pause updates, and unpause them again. It is unclear right now whether this is a bug or intended. The reason I think this is bugged right now is that the menu vanishes after a couple of seconds.

The following three options become available:

  1. Switch the Branch the operating system is in. All Windows 10 installations start in the Current Branch, but you may switch to Current Branch for Business instead (which defers feature updates).
  2. Defer Feature updates by up to 365 days.
  3. Defer Security updates by up to 30 days.

I could not find out whether those options are also available for Home editions of Windows 10. My guess is that this won't be the case.

The new options make it easier for users and administrators to delay the installation of updates on machines running a Windows 10 edition that supports these new options.

Closing Words

There you have it: new options to pause updates or delay them, and to switch between the two available branches are now easier to access than before.

Now You: Good addition, or not far reaching enough? What's your opinion?

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Initial Windows 10 Game Mode benchmarks disappoint http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/28/initial-windows-10-game-mode-benchmarks-disappoint/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/28/initial-windows-10-game-mode-benchmarks-disappoint/#comments Sat, 28 Jan 2017 09:24:27 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=129922 Microsoft launched the first functional version of Game Mode, a game performance improving feature, yesterday with the Windows 10 build 15019 update. After having some troubles getting the update to install on the test machine running a recent Insider Preview version of Windows 10, I finally managed to do so this morning. The core idea […]

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Microsoft launched the first functional version of Game Mode, a game performance improving feature, yesterday with the Windows 10 build 15019 update.

After having some troubles getting the update to install on the test machine running a recent Insider Preview version of Windows 10, I finally managed to do so this morning.

The core idea behind Game Mode is taken from Microsoft's Xbox One console: prioritize the game over other processes on the device.

This sounded an awful lot like what game booster programs for Windows promised the last ten years or so; and we all know that the promises are not really kept, and that you will not notice any improvements in most environments.

So, is Game Mode any different? If any other company would have created Game Mode, I'd probably say no immediately. But Microsoft has deeper access to the operating system than any third-party developer for Windows.

Note: Game Mode may still be a work in progress. Microsoft may improve the functionality before the final version of the Windows 10 Creators Update is released. Also, how you enable Game Mode may change over time as well.

The system I ran the benchmarks had the following components:

  • Processor: Intel Cor i5-2500K @ 3.30 GHz
  • Memory: 8 Gigabytes of RAM
  • Video: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960

Game Mode

game mode settings

Microsoft added a new Gaming section in the Settings application on Windows 10. One of the available subsections there is Game Mode.

You may use it to toggle Game Mode on or off. Doing so enables the functionality, but it does not enable Game Mode for any games you run on the device.

Microsoft may enable Game Mode automatically for select games released through the company's Windows Store though.

To enable Game Mode for a particular game (or app), you need to use the keyboard shortcut Windows-G to bring up the Game Bar on the screen while the process is in the foreground.

game mode

It works many times, but may not work for some fullscreen games. If the Game Bar opens, click on settings, and check the Game Mode preference there to enable Game Mode for that application.

Note that there does not seem to be any indicator right now whether Game Mode is indeed enabled for a particular process. Microsoft should consider adding the information, or making it more visible if it is there but not that obvious how to display it.

As far as benchmarks are concerned, I just ran a couple in a non-scientific way. So, I installed two benchmark games on Steam: Resident Evil 6 benchmark, and Star Swarm Stress Test. Also, I installed Antutut Benchmark from Windows Store.

uwp benchmark

Benchmark without Game Mode

uwp benchmark with gm

Benchmark with Game Mode

The Game Mode results were quite disappointing, as there was no discernible difference in performance between running the benchmarks with and without Game Mode.

I have to admit that I could not make sure that Game Mode was indeed enabled for these processes though.

Anyway, the performance did not change in either of the three benchmarks that I ran.Benchmark results were more or less identical as you can see on the two screenshots above.

I'm looking forward to seeing someone take Game Mode for a larger test run, maybe with games that Microsoft suggests that would benefit from the new mode.

Now You: Did you expect more from Game Mode?

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Windows 10 Build 15019: Game Mode finally operational http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/27/windows-10-build-15019-game-mode-finally-operational/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/27/windows-10-build-15019-game-mode-finally-operational/#comments Fri, 27 Jan 2017 20:24:48 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=129907 Microsoft has just released Windows 10 Build 15019 to the Fast Ring of the Insider Program. The new version brings along with it a functional Game Mode, other gaming related improvements, the new privacy set up experience, and a lot more. You may read the rather long blog post over on the Windows Experience blog […]

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Microsoft has just released Windows 10 Build 15019 to the Fast Ring of the Insider Program. The new version brings along with it a functional Game Mode, other gaming related improvements, the new privacy set up experience, and a lot more.

You may read the rather long blog post over on the Windows Experience blog for a detailed rundown on all changes and issues of the release.

Most features that are now available for testing will likely be part of the Creators Update for Windows 10, out in April 2017. Since we are talking about development releases, there is however still a chance that things may change or be pulled before the final version is released.

The issue that the download progress stays at 0% even while it is downloading is still there. You can check the resource monitor to make sure the download actually happens in the background. Note that you may go back and open Windows Update again to start the actual installation of the new build.

Note: This build is quite buggy in regards to issues. Games may crash or refuse to load, Edge extensions don't work, Edge's Developer Tools may crash or hang, and audio may stop working sporadically on some PCs. Also, if you have trouble getting the update to download or install, stop the Windows Update and Delivery Optimization service, restart the PC, and try again.

Windows 10 Build 15019

windows 10 15019

The new build features quite a few gaming related features and changes. One of the big ones is Game Mode. While the controls were visible in Windows 10 Build 15014 already, they are now functional and ready for use.

It will be interesting to see benchmarks that test game performance with and without Game Mode enabled. I'm still not convinced that Game Mode will provide a noticeable improvement when it comes to gaming, but we will see.

First thing you need to do is visit Settings > Gaming > Game Mode to toggle the feature. Once you have done that, you may enable Game Mode in the Game Bar for individual games.

game mode settings

You bring the Game Bar to the front with the shortcut Windows-G.

game bar settings

Microsoft added support for 17 additional games that run in full screen to this build. It allows you to bring up the Game Bar when these games are run in full screen mode to capture a screenshot or record a video.

The list of games features a mix of old and newer titles such as Rainbox Six Siege, Left 4 Dead 2, Grim Dawn or Fifa 17.

The third and final new gaming related feature of Windows 10 build 15019 is a new dedicated Settings section called gaming. It enables you to manage the Game Bar, DVR, Broadcasting and Game Mode there currently.

gaming settings

broadcasting settings game dvr settings

Note that some of the options were previously only configurable through the Xbox application. Moving them to the Settings application makes a lot of sense, especially since some features run in the background by default.

What else is new in Windows 10 Build 15019?

  1. Microsoft Edge supports text to speech now for ebooks that you open in the web browser. All you need to do is click or tap on the "read aloud" button when ebooks are open to use the feature. It works for all ebooks bought in Store, and all non-store EPUB files as well.
  2. Edge will display full colored emoji from this build on.
  3. The new privacy setup experience is included in this build.
  4. Wi-Fi connectivity experience during setup supports Wi-fi Captive Portal.
  5. Microsoft Account sign-up and sign-in updated "to the new design" for the Windows 10 Creators Update.
  6. Windows users can enroll into Windows Hello using the new design implementation.
  7. Audio track used for the setup experience is recorded by voice actors, and no longer computer generated.
  8. Subtitles are now an option during setup.
  9. The Blue light feature is now called Night Light. There is also a new preview option for the feature. Also, some bugs fixed such as Night Light mode not kicking in after waking device from sleep.
  10. You may now resize your virtual machine connection in Hyper-V.
  11. The Action Center displays app and game download progress.
  12. Better discoverability for Troubeshooters. The option has been migrated from the Control Panel to the Settings app. You find them under Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot.
  13. Improved high-DPI support.
  14. Custom scaling has been migrated from Control Panel to now be a subpage in Display Settings

Issues in this build (full list on Microsoft's blog post)

The new build, like previous ones, has dozens of known issues, some of them major.

  1. Games may not load correctly, but crash or show black screens.
  2. A click on "certain elements" in desktop games may minimize the game and may prevent it from being restored (yes, Microsoft is this vague).
  3. Dragging apps from the all apps list to Start won't work. Right-click still works to pin apps.
  4. On some PCs, audio may stop working sporadically.
  5. Microsoft Edge Developer Tools may crash, hang or fail otherwise.
  6. Inspect Element and View Source in Edge don't work properly.
  7. Extensions in Edge don't work in this build.

Now You: What's your opinion of this new build and the features, and its issues?

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Windows 10 KB3216755: Important fixes, Update Catalog exclusive http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/27/windows-10-kb3216755-update-catalog-exclusive/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/27/windows-10-kb3216755-update-catalog-exclusive/#comments Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:29:26 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=129889 If you monitor the Windows 10 update history website over on Microsoft Support, you may have noticed that update KB3216755 is listed as the newest update for Windows 10 version 1607. If you check Windows Update however then, you will notice that it is not offered through Windows Update. The update is not found, and […]

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If you monitor the Windows 10 update history website over on Microsoft Support, you may have noticed that update KB3216755 is listed as the newest update for Windows 10 version 1607.

If you check Windows Update however then, you will notice that it is not offered through Windows Update. The update is not found, and it appears to be made available exclusively through Microsoft Update Catalog.

It is a bit puzzling, as Microsoft offers no explanation why that is the case.  Anyway, you can download the update for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 10 from the Microsoft Update Catalog website:

  • Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1607 for x64-based Systems (KB3216755), has a size of 1046.7 Megabyte
  • Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1607 (KB3216755), has a size of 562.9 Megabyte.

If you want to install it, download the right version from the Microsoft Update Catalog website, and run the downloaded file afterwards.

Windows 10 KB3216755

windows 10 kb3216755

KB3216755 is only available on the Microsoft Update Catalog website. Most Home users of Windows 10 will probably not be aware that the update is available.

It fixes several high profile issues, including failing file downloads in Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge, failure to clear the browsing history in Internet Explorer, XSS false positives after logging in to a site, network connection issues, and more.

Here is what it fixes

  • Addressed known issue called out in KB3213986—Users may experience delays while running 3D rendering apps with multiple monitors.
  • Addressed issue that prevents the conversion of a 24-bit image to 32 bits.
  • Addressed issue that causes the loss of Windows Firewall rules after upgrade from RTM to 1511 or 1607.
  • Addressed issue that causes a file download from a webpage to fail in Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge browsers.
  • Addressed issue that prevents the use of the Delete Browsing History feature in Internet Explorer.
  • Addressed issue that loads websites that bypass the proxy server in the local intranet zone when the Intranet Sites: Include all sites that bypass the proxy server (Disabled) is set.
  • Addressed issue where an XSS false positive prevents a webpage from loading after logging in to a site.
  • Addressed issue that prevents users from connecting to a network
  • Addressed issue that causes the Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS) to fail if
  • Active Directory Federated Systems is using the Japanese language set
  • Addressed issue that causes System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) scenarios to fail
  • Addressed issue that prevents user-built keyboard events from working.
  • Addressed issue that causes incorrect tabledimensions in SAP® applications
  • Addressed issue that overwrites a <br>element when users select a line that is enclosed by a <span> element.
  • Improved reliability of Internet Explorer, Xbox, and Skype
  • Addressed additional issues with Bluetooth, Internet Explorer, engaged reboot, clustering, Internet Explorer, Japanese Input Method Editor (IME), Windows Shell. Networking, storage, fonts, Xbox, encryption, Group Policy, Point and Print, wireless networking, virtual disk, disk operations, multimedia, Work Folders, encryption, enterprise security, deduplication, domain controllers, Audit File System, Debug Memory Manager, Virtual Machine Management Service (VMMS), Remote Desktop, Task Scheduler, Microphone Wizard, .NET, font cache, system boot, and Surface Studio

The update brings the build number of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update version to 14393.726. It replaces the previously installed cumulative update for the operating system.

Closing Words

Microsoft's new update methodology continues to be confusing. It is unclear why the cumulative update was released only on Microsoft Update Catalog. It does not seem to be a preview release, which would explain the exclusive release.

Now it appears that it is not sufficient anymore to rely on Windows Update to get all updates available for the operating system in time. The fixes will be included in the next cumulative update that Microsoft releases through Windows Update though.

Now You: What's your take on KB3216755?

 

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Hide or show Wireless Networks in Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/26/hide-or-show-wireless-network-services-in-windows/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/26/hide-or-show-wireless-network-services-in-windows/#comments Thu, 26 Jan 2017 08:15:56 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=129849 The Windows operating system is configured to display all available wireless networks when WiFi is enabled on the device running the operating system. This is helpful of course, as it enables you to pick the wireless network from the list of available ones to connect to it. It becomes less useful once you have made […]

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The Windows operating system is configured to display all available wireless networks when WiFi is enabled on the device running the operating system.

This is helpful of course, as it enables you to pick the wireless network from the list of available ones to connect to it.

It becomes less useful once you have made the decision. If you only connect to one wireless network for instance, you may want to hide the other wireless networks to speed up the process and avoid picking the wrong network from the list.

All recent versions of the Windows operating system support commands that you can run that hide or show wireless networks on the operating system.

Hide or show Wireless Networks in Windows

hide wireless networks

The main commands that you will be using for that are the following ones:

  • netsh wlan show networks
  • netsh wlan add filter permission=allow ssid=mynetworkname networktype:infrastructure
  • netsh wlan add filter permission=block ssid=notmynetwork networktype:infrastructure
  • netsh wlan add filter permission=denyall networktype:infrastructure
  • netsh wlan delete filter "parameters"

netsh wlan show networks

show wireless networks

This command lists all available wireless networks in the command prompt window. Since you need to specify the SSID of the wireless networks that you want to allow, you may find it useful to display those using the command.

The command is also useful if you want to block select wireless networks, but not all of them.

netsh wlan add filter permission=allow ssid=mynetworkname networktype:infrastructure

allow wireless network

This command adds the wireless network "mynetworkname" to the list of allowed networks. This is useful if you use the "denyall" filter, as it hides all wireless networks that are not in the whitelist.

Note: you need to enclose the SSID of the network in "network name" if it contains a space.

netsh wlan add filter permission=block ssid=notmynetwork networktype:infrastructure

block wireless network

This filter hides the specified wireless network from the list of wireless networks. It won't show up when you click on the network icon in Windows to list all available wireless networks.

Useful, if you want to make sure that a particular network is never listed again.

netsh wlan add filter permission=denyall networktype:infrastructure

Use this filter to block all wireless networks but the ones that are on the allow filter list. Any network not on the allow list will be hidden automatically when you enable that option.

This makes sense only if you add at least one network to the allow list. Note that this can be quite problematic if you roam a lot, e.g. between home, work, and other locations as you may need to disable the block all filter whenever you are at a new location and need to connect to a wireless network.

Deleting filters

The delete command is useful if you made a mistake, or want to remove a filter such as denyall.

It works exactly as the add filters, and all you have to do is replace "add" with "delete" to use it. Keep the rest of the command as is.

The command netsh wlan delete filter permission=denyall networktype:infrastructure would remove the block all filter from the device again. (Thanks Sergey)

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Windows 10 Version 1607 update KB3211320 http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/25/windows-10-version-1607-update-kb3211320/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/25/windows-10-version-1607-update-kb3211320/#comments Wed, 25 Jan 2017 08:41:52 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=129837 Microsoft has released KB3211320 for Windows 10 Version 1607 today through Windows Update and the Microsoft Update Catalog service today. The Knowledgebase page of the update is not live yet, which makes it difficult to find out what it is all about. The Microsoft Update Catalog site provides information on the update. It is listed […]

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Microsoft has released KB3211320 for Windows 10 Version 1607 today through Windows Update and the Microsoft Update Catalog service today.

The Knowledgebase page of the update is not live yet, which makes it difficult to find out what it is all about.

The Microsoft Update Catalog site provides information on the update. It is listed as a critical update for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 10, and Windows Server 2016.

The size of the update is 11.4 Megabyte for the 64-bit version, and 5.2 Megabyte for the 32-bit version.

kb3211320 update

The update description on the Microsoft Update Catalog site does not reveal all that much either:

Install this update to resolve issues in Windows. For a complete listing of the issues that are included in this update, see the associated Microsoft Knowledge Base article for more information. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

This is probably the most generic of descriptions that I ever read.

kb3211320

German news site Deskmodder has additional information on the update. According to the site, KB3211320 replaces the October 2016 updates KB3199986 and KB3199209.

I confirmed this by opening the package details on the Microsoft Update Catalog sites. It states that the update replaces the following two updates for Windows 10:

  • KB3199986 is a servicing stack update for Windows 10 Version 1607 and Windows Server 2016 released on October 27, 2016
  • KB3199209 is also a servicing stack update for windows 10 Version 1607 released on October 18, 2016.

Some sites reported that this is a security update for Microsoft Edge, but this does not seem to be the case.

We will update this article as soon as Microsoft's official support page goes live. We suggest you don't install the update right now because of this.

Update: As suspected, this is a servicing stack update:

Servicing stack update for Windows 10 Version 1607 and Windows Server 2016: January 24, 2017 -- This update makes stability improvements for the Windows 10 Version 1607 servicing stack.

We have criticized Microsoft in the past for publishing support pages after the release of updates. They are usually the only option that users have to find out what an update is all about. If the support page is published after the update becomes available, users who want to know what they install on their system need to wait for it to be published before they install the update.

Now You: What's your take on this new update?

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