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It was only last week that Microsoft was showing off the latest build of Windows 10, but the company has just made this version of its upcoming OS available to all. During the event, we found out about the awesome look AR headset HoloLens, and that DirectX 12 will be an exclusive to Windows 10.
The January Technical Preview build - 9926 - is now out, and includes total Cortana integration. Microsoft's virtual assistant will hang out on the taskbar, helping users search for apps, settings, files and more across the Internet. The revised Settings menu has also had some work done to it, bringing it into line with the look of the Control Panel.
Microsoft has also baked in the new Photos, Maps and Xbox applications, as well as a look at the Windows Store Beta. Minor changes have sneaked into the new build according to insiders, with a bug in the keyboard lights not working for Caps/Num/Scroll lock, now being fixed in the latest build. One of the bigger parts of the new build of Windows 10 that is missing is Internet Explorer's replacement, Spartan. Another is the new Music Locker feature, which is based on the company's OneDrive service.
We only just reported that DirectX 12 will be providing CPU-bound games with up to 50% more performance, but the new version of Microsoft's API will be completely exclusive to Windows 10.
This is going to hurt some gamers, but with the offer of providing Windows 10 for free for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 users, the sting won't be felt for too long. We shouldn't be too surprised, as previous versions of Windows have had exclusive rights to the latest version of DirectX. Windows Vista had DirectX 10 for example, but let's not even begin to talk about Vista.
The reason behind DirectX 12 being exclusive to Windows 10 is that Microsoft is making the desktop OS free to everyone who owns the last three versions of its OS. So anyone who wants to get in on more performance, or better quality graphics (DX12 games) then there is nothing bad here at all.
As previously rumored, Microsoft plans to make Windows 10 a free upgrade to current Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, and Windows Phone users. The promotion is available only during the first year of release for 10, and is designed to help spur adoption to the new operating system.
Windows 10 is scheduled for release before the year, and hardware OEMs and users are cautiously optimistic about the new OS. It appears Microsoft is serious about taking an updated approach to Windows 10, providing a frequently updated, subscription-based strategy.
"Overall we know that about only 10% of computers are running Windows 8 and the adoption rate among companies is similar or lower," said Frank Gillett, analyst with the Forrester Research group, in a statement to BBC. "Developers are not paying much attention to Windows for mass market consumer apps, and you could even argue that for enterprise software most of the energy is going into mobile apps for iPad and Android tablets."
Microsoft is really pushing the gaming side of its upcoming next-generation desktop OS, Windows 10, with a big event planned for January 21, just days away. During this event, Xbox boss Phil Spencer will be talking about Windows 10 and how it will be a platform for gamers.
Spencer said: "I'm excited to be talking on January 21st. We have speakers coming up talking about Windows 10 and the great work that we're doing there. For the Xbox team, this is the beginning of our discussion with fans about the work that we're doing to bring gaming to the Windows 10 operating system". We previously heard that Windows 10 would be more focused toward gamers, but we've heard that before, too.
Spencer continued, saying "It's really nice to finally be able to get to talk about this. We'll continue the conversation throughout the year. We remain committed to gaming on console, but we know that we have fans and gamers that also play on PC and phone, and it's important that we build out the features that we have, learning from what we've done on console, and helping make Windows 10 the best operating system we've ever created for gamers on PCs".
Microsoft's head of the Windows Insider program recently extolled the virtues of 32-bit Windows on Twitter and announced that Microsoft will be providing 32-bit versions of Windows 10. This is surprising considering that 92.8% of new Windows computers utilize 64-bit operating systems.
32-bit operating systems pigeonhole users to 4GB of user addressable memory, not just RAM. Many GPU's feature much more than 1GB of RAM, and this drains the user addressable memory pool, so subtract a portion of video memory (it's not a direct 1:1 ratio) from the total RAM you can actually use. Add in PCI and ACPI and the pool starts to get pretty shallow, so why oh why is Microsoft still moving forward with 32-bit?
Of course Microsoft has to consider all of the existing computers that run 32-bit versions of the operating system, which are estimated to be roughly 71 million. This is based off of computers that are currently receiving patches, but it could expand into the hundreds of millions. Considering that Windows is deployed into over a billion computers this still seems like a small fraction of the user base, and with the vast majority of systems being 64-bit compatible it is interesting that Microsoft will still develop 32-bit versions.
The number 13 is bad luck, again, as Microsoft is ending free support for Windows 7 today, the 13th of January. Speaking of bad luck, Microsoft is hoping the end of free support for Windows 7 will speed the transition to Windows 8, which has been rejected by discerning users worldwide. Thankfully for Microsoft, Windows 10 is on the horizon. Windows 10 is slated to be released later this year.
The end of free support also means that no new features will be added, so dont expect any further service packs in the future. Windows 7 sold over 100 million units in the initial six months of availability in 2009, largely due to customer dissatisfaction with the notoriously buggy Vista. Many are speculating that sales of Windows 10 will also be propelled by user distaste with Windows 8. Windows 7 has been truly successful for Microsoft, and it powers roughly half of the world's computers.
Google may be pumping out Android 5.0 Lollipop, but Apple has been working on iOS 9 for a while now, and it looks like we could see Apple's next mobile OS unveiled at its WWDC 2015 event.
It looks like Czech language online site letemsvetemapplem says it has proof that iOS 9 is out in the wild, as they've seen Apple's new OS in its analytics. The screenshot above shows that iOS 9-powered devices have accessed the site at least three times since January 1, 2015. These would be very early builds of the operating system, since WWDC 2015 doesn't kick off until the middle of the year.
For over ten years, Microsoft has run an advance notification service (ANS), notifying customers what is to be expected of their monthly security update, allowing for IT teams to prepare their systems and prioritize what needs to be installed in which order.
In a recent announcement by Microsoft's Chris Betz from their security response center (MSRC), this company is focusing on 'optimizing' the notices for their biggest customers only, no longer providing them for free to all.
Betz commented in the MSRC blog that "moving forward, we will provide ANS information directly to Premier customers and current organizations involved in our security programs, and will no longer make this information broadly available through a blog post and web page." He went on to mention that "more and more customers today are seeking to cut through the clutter and obtain security information tailored to their organizations. Rather than using ANS to help plan security update deployments, customers are increasingly turning to Microsoft Update and security update management tools such as Windows Server Update Service to help organize and prioritize deployment. Customers are also moving to cloud-based systems, which provide continuous updating."
The outside world doesn't know what type of computer hardware and software is used in North Korea, but there have been recent glimpses of what the reclusive government utilizes. Former Google executive Will Scott visited the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, and purchased a copy of the "Red Star 3" desktop operating system.
North Korea previously relied on Microsoft Windows for desktop PCs, but developed its own Red Star 3 OS. The OS looks strikingly similar to the Apple Mac OS X operating system - past versions of North Korean-made software closely mimicked Windows.
As the world begins to learn more about Bureau 121, the elite North Korean cyber hacking unit, there is still very little known about technology usage in the country. Internet use is heavily restricted, and is aimed towards military and government use - and for the elite of the country.
The ever-evolving world of storage has created an issue in the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Microsoft has incorporated a new feature into Windows 10 that enhances performance with SSHD's, but this has unfortunately led to widespread problems with all types of boot devices. Microsoft has added a new command to the drivers, Power-Up in Standby (PUIS), that allows SSHDs to remain idle when the system is powered up. The system saves power by only powering-up the SSHD when it receives a specific command from the BIOS.
The new driver isn't fully compatible with all BIOS revisions and the driver is also sending the SSHD-specific command to all types of drives. Non-SSHD drives do not recognize the command upon boot up or resumption from standby, which results in the computer freezing. Microsoft is aware of the problem, which is specific to Build 9879, and a new update is already available to resolve the issue. There is also a workaround available that allows users to simply disable the PUIS command, which resolves the issue.