‘Panic’ as Apple works ‘feverishly’ to fix iPhone 8 bugs ahead of launch, report says

  • Apple is apparently trying to fix last minute software bugs in its new iPhone
  • The bugs are reportedly related to a 3D sensor and wireless charging
  • There’s a “sense of panic” among the team, Fast Company said

Apple is reportedly working around the clock trying to fix software bugs affecting its next flagship iPhone, possibly called the iPhone 8, according to a source speaking to Fast Company.

The report mentions several issues plaguing the new iPhone, which analysts have suggested may face delays: Problems with wireless charging, which would allow users to charge the battery without having to plug the phone in, and problems with a 3D sensor for facial recognition, which may be used to help users unlock the phone.

Samsung includes both wireless charging and support for face unlock on its new Galaxy S8, but Apple hasn’t worked with either technology before. Fast Company said there’s a “sense of panic” among the team working to build the new iPhone and a fear it might not meet tight deadlines.

Apple typically launches new iPhones in September, but some analysts have suggested that the flagship high-end model might not launch until October or November.

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Kill it! Kill Windows XP now!

Or are you OK with leaving yourself open to something that can kill your business?

Computerworld | Jul 10, 2017 4:20 AM PT

windows xp pc Credit: Microsoft

The headline — “HMS Queen Elizabeth is ‘running outdated Windows XP’, raising cyber attack fears” — was startling, but wrong. The United Kingdom’s newest aircraft carrier wasn’t running Windows XP. But some of the contractors that built the warship were.

The U.S. Navy, meanwhile, has been purchasing Windows XP support, at least through this year, so odds are our military still has XP systems running to this very day.

To which I can only say: “Just how stupid are you?”

Yes, I follow the adage “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” But guess what: XP is broke.

Mainstream XP support ended in April 2014. True, Microsoft has started reissuing general Windows XP patches because of the latest run of ransomware, but do you really think the company is going to continue to cover your rump? I don’t.

I liked Windows XP a lot back in the day myself, but come on, it’s been over three years now, and, truth be told, it was never safe from day one. It’s time to move on up to Windows 7, if not Windows 10.

Enough already. If you’re still running XP, I presume it’s because you have a program that only runs on XP and you’ve been too lazy or cheap to rewrite or replace it. Here’s the thing about that, though: At this point, being lazy is going to result in a lot more work than you ever bargained for, and being cheap is going to get very expensive. It’s time to wake up. The alarm clock is ringing, and it’s ringing for all.

Bite the bullet, and get rid of your old software. If you can’t reprogram it yourself, get someone who can.

If your vendor doesn’t have a new version, ask yourself what you’re doing with software from a company that hasn’t updated its product for over three years. It’s not like we didn’t know XP was coming to an end. Microsoft told us over and over again that XP would no longer be supported. By using out-of-date programs on top of an obsolete operating system, you’re just asking for a disaster.

Disaster has already hit many businesses. The U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) hospitals were still running XP when the WannaCry ransomware came calling this spring. A lot of NHS facilities were knocked out. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

We don’t know how many other businesses have been knocked out by WannaCry, Locky, Petya and other ransomware programs. Companies don’t like admitting they’ve been hacked.

What we do know is that FedEx, Nissan, Hitachi and Renault were all hit by WannaCry. We know that ransomware took in a billion bucks last year from its victims. That’s only the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of businesses and institutions were successfully attacked.

In all fairness, it’s not just Windows XP. The recent run of ransomware was largely caused by businesses that simply didn’t bother to patch their existing “up-to-date” Windows systems.

I get it. You don’t want to patch your operating system only to find that your mission-critical program or device no longer works. But that argument loses its punch when Windows is being smashed by ransomware.

The newest attack programs only need one vulnerable PC to get in, and then they can wreak havoc all over your network.

You have no choice but to secure your network by patching the operating system as soon as patches come out. Attack programs using zero-day bugs have become as common as cockroaches.

So enough waiting around. Get rid of XP. Move up to Windows 7. Patch your Windows system as soon as possible. Heck, consider moving to Linux.

Today’s Windows malware won’t just mess up your day; it can destroy your business. Security is now job one for any companies relying on Windows.

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How to Enable Favorites Bar in Microsoft Edge

Windows 10 comes with a new default browser, Microsoft Edge. It’s a Universal app which has extension support, a fast rendering engine and a simplified user interface. The user interface unfortunately does not have a Favorites bar enabled by default. In this article, we will see how to enable this bar.

When enabled, the Favorites bar shows links to web sites you have bookmarked. This is very useful, because you can open the site or page you have bookmarked with a single click. It won’t be necessary to open the Favorites hub and find the link in the list.

The Favorites bar is not enabled in the Edge browser. It is hidden. Often, users who have switched to Edge from Internet Explorer or other browsers do not have an idea that the browser has such a bar, because Edge looks very simple and not so feature-rich. You need to change one of the options in the browser’s settings.

To enable the Favorites bar in Microsoft Edge, do the following.

  1. Open Edge and click the Settings button with the three dots. Edge Menu Button
  2. In the Settings pane, click on the Settings item. Edge Settings Item
  3. In Settings, scroll down to the Favorites bar section and turn on the option Show the favorites bar. See the screenshot below:Edge Enable Favorites Bar

This makes the Favorites bar visible. Now, you can add something there. Open the Favorites hub and re-arrange your bookmarks. You will see the folder called “Favorites bar” as shown below.Edge Favorites Hub

Drag the desired bookmarks from the list in that folder. The browser will display them in the Favorites bar, so you can access them instantly.Edge Favorites Bar In Action

Tip: See how to export Favorites to a file in Edge.

Edge has been slowly gaining features ever since it debuted in Windows 10 RTM Build 10240. Microsoft released Edge as the successor to Internet Explorer to provide a smoother experience and modern web standards support. While it started as a barebones app, it already got a lot of useful features like extensions, EPUB support, Set Tabs Aside (Tab Groups), Tab Previews, and a dark theme. In more recent releases of Windows 10, it is also protected by Windows Defender Application Guard.

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British Police and Microsoft Take Aim at Tech Support Scam Fraud

Four suspects were arrested in the U.K as part of a collaboration between Microsoft and law enforcement to help stop the growing problem of tech support fraud.

online fraud

Tech support scams are a global problem with fraudsters tricking unsuspecting users into believing that their systems are somehow infected with malware that needs to be removed. British authorities and the City of London Police department working with Microsoft have made an attempt to reduce tech support fraud, making four arrests of alleged perpetrators.

The arrests were announced by the City of London Police on June 28. Those arrested have only been identified by their ages and include a 29 year-old and and a 31 year-old woman who have since been released on bail. Additionally a 37 year-old and and a 35 year-old woman were arrested by North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) officers, and later released pending further enquiries, according to London Police.

The arrests came as part of a two-year collaboration between Microsoft and British authorities. In tech support scams, the fraudsters call victims claiming to be Microsoft or other technology companies in an effort to trick the users into providing system access or paying a fee.

“Realizing that you’ve fallen victim to a scam is a horrible experience for anyone,”  Hugh Milward, Director, Corporate, External and Legal Affairs at Microsoft UK said in a statement. “Not just the loss of money but also the feeling that you’ve been tricked and that your personal information has been stolen.”

Furthe

Milward emphasized that Microsoft does not ‘cold call’ users or use tech support pop ups on websites. Microsoft’s advisory on technical support scams warns users to not trust unsolicited calls or to provide any personal information when an unknown tech support calls comes in.

“If you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support, hang up. We do not make these kinds of calls,” Microsoft’s advisory warns.

In the United Kingdom (UK), the Action Fraud national fraud and cyber reporting centre, received 34,504 computer software service fraud reports in 2016.  Tech support scams are also common in the U.S. with the FBI’s Internet Crime Center (IC3) receiving 10,850 tech support fraud complaints in 2016 with financial loses estimated at $7.8 million. In contrast, FBI’s IC3 received 2,673 ransomware complaints in 2016 that resulted in victims losing approximately $2.4 million.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been active in 2017 in combatting tech support scams. In May, the FTC announced results from”Operation Tech Trap” which is an effort to stop tech support scams. The FTC together with its law enforcement partners have launched at least 29 law enforcement action against alleged tech support scam operations over the course of the past year.

The most recent tech support scam settlement announced by the FTC was on June 7, against a group of St. Louis-based defendants that used pop-up ads to trick consumers into buying unnecessary technical support services.

“When tech support scams pop up, the FTC will take action,” Tom Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said in a statement. “Today’s settlements, along with the agency’s recent Operation Tech Trap actions, underscore the FTC’s commitment to protecting consumers from tech support scams.”

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Screening Out Malware with Microsoft Edge

Q. Google Chrome has malware warnings. Does Microsoft’s Windows 10 browser have similar protections?

Photo

In the latest version of Windows 10, open the Windows Defender Security Center in the Settings area to choose how the Edge browser should react to suspicious or malicious sites on the web. Credit The New York Times

A. Microsoft Edge, the browser created for its Windows 10 operating system, has a tool called the Windows Defender SmartScreen designed to thwart malicious websites, apps, downloads and other files that target PCs. The SmartScreen is optional, and you can set the level of protection you wish to have in the Windows Defender Security Center — like outright blocking potentially intrusive software, or opting for a warning that a site may possibly have malicious intentions.

To get there in the latest version of Windows 10 (the Creators Update), go to the Start menu and open the Settings icon; you can also press the Windows and I keys on the keyboard to get there without the mouse. At the bottom of the Settings window, select Update & Security. On the next screen, choose Windows Defender and then Open Windows Defender Security Center.

In the Windows Defender Security Center window, select App & Browser Control. In the SmartScreen for Microsoft Edge section, make your selection: Block, Warn or Off. (The warning is typically the default setting.)

In addition to configuring protections for the Edge browser, you can also set up screening filters for apps and files downloaded from the web with Edge, or for apps downloaded through the online Windows Store. (Website screening involves checking the URL of a page you are visiting against a list of known malicious sites, so a link to Microsoft’s privacy policy is also displayed under each setting.)

Earlier versions of Windows have a similar SmartScreen filter for the Internet Explorer browser that warns against potentially malicious sites and files. To see its settings in Internet Explorer, go to the Tools menu and select Sa

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Surface Laptop review: Microsoft’s MacBook Air killer nails what students need

Great looks, battery life, light weight. And for the future, there’s Windows 10 Pro.

At a Glance

  • Microsoft Surface Laptop (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB) – Burgundy

    PCWorld Rating

    $1,299.00 MSRP $1,299.00

    View

    on Amazon

Our Surface Laptop review looks at Microsoft’s new notebook in two ways: as a stylish ultrabook, designed and priced to compete with Apple’s MacBook Air for college students’ favor. But it’s also a machine purpose-built for Windows 10 S, which restricts users to Windows Store apps but allows an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. We’ve therefore reviewed the Surface Laptop using its native Windows 10 S, but will add to our review once we make the leap to Windows 10 Pro, which offers the freedom to load any app you choose.

After several days using the Surface Laptop as a Windows 10 S machine, though, I can already say it does a great job of addressing exactly what college students need. For other users intrigued by it, though, I might look a bit further afield, or at least bail out of Windows 10 S early on. 

Microsoft Surface laptop

Dan Masaoka

The tinted aluminum exterior of the Surface Laptop gleams, especially with color options like burgundy.

Table of Contents

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An ultrabook with style

The Surface Laptop follows in the formidable footsteps of the Surface Pro, Surface Book, and Surface Studio—all category-defining products with prices to match. The Surface Laptop is a striking ultrabook with prices that are attainable, if not exactly affordable. For now, the Surface Laptop ships in four configurations:

[ Further reading: Our picks for best PC laptops ]

  • Intel Core i5/4GB RAM/128GB SSD: $999
  • Intel Core i5/8GB RAM/256GB SSD: $1,299
  • Intel Core i7/8GB RAM/256GB SSD: $1,599
  • Intel Core i7/16GB RAM/512GB SSD: $2,199

Microsoft also separately ships a Surface Arc Mouse, which is color-coordinated to match the Surface Laptop. The Surface Pen and Surface Dial will work with the Laptop, but they’re not required.

We reviewed the $1,299 model, which I’d consider to be the price/performance sweet spot, assuming a college student with generous parents. Though gamers want 16GB of RAM, 8GB is sufficient for web browsing and some basic apps, and 256GB of storage is finally becoming more of the norm.

Just as important as what’s inside is the Surface Laptop’s outside, which is dressed to kill MacBook Airs. Lifting the tinted aluminum veneer of the lid to reveal the softer Alcantara fabric of the keyboard tray beneath evokes the elegance of a jewelry box. Microsoft also streamlined the exterior by eliminating the volume control rocker switch and power button, moving them to the keyboard.

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Mark Hachman

Microsoft offers four colors for the Surface Laptop, though they’re currently not available throughout the full product line.

The Surface Laptop is very thin, just 0.57 inches at most, compared to the MacBook Air’s 0.68-inch profile. At 12.13 x 8.79 inches, it’s also a little smaller than the MacBook Air. Grab the Surface Laptop by its keyboard, and its 2.76-pound weight (3.2 pounds with charger) will feel impressively light.

There’s one catch: The base $999 Core i5 model ships only in the silvery “platinum” color. The only configuration to offer the three other color options (graphite gold, burgundy, cobalt blue) is the model we tested. While Microsoft should eventually offer the additional colors across the entire product line, it hasn’t yet—a situation that’s sure to frustrate some consumers.

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Dan Masaoka

“Thin and light” defines the Surface Laptop.

A surprising lack of ports

Thin ultrabooks have to give up something, and the Surface Laptop’s configuration is no different. Most of it is good: Our unit houses a 2.5GHz Core i5-7200U, part of the 7th-generation Kaby Lake family. Each of the Core i5 options includes an Intel HD 620 graphics core, while the Core i7 version includes the powerful (for integrated graphics, that is) Iris Plus 640 core which we tested on the new Surface Pro. For college papers and web browsing, an HD 620 core will be just fine.

One of the hallmarks of the Surface lineup is the display, and I enjoy Microsoft’s bright PixelSense 10-point touchscreens. The Surface Laptop’s 13.5-inch, 2256×1504 (201 ppi) version, aligned in Microsoft’s standard 3:2 ratio, lives up to the name. The IPS panel pumps out 365 lumens, enough even for outdoor use.

Some competing devices offer 4K displays. Keep in mind, though, that pushing more pixels requires more power, and one of the strengths of the Surface Laptop is its excellent battery life.

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Mark Hachman

The sides of the Laptop chassis angle in, making inserting the Surface Laptop charger blade a bit awkward sometimes.

On the right side of the Laptop is Microsoft’s Surface connector, maintaining compatibility with older chargers as well as optional peripherals like the Surface Dock. The other ports—USB 3.0 Type A, miniDisplayPort, headphone—appear on the left side of the chassis.

There is no miniSD or other removable storage slot, recognition that photos and other files are more often stored online or on USB sticks. I can agree with that rationale, though the single USB-A port looks awfully lonely, and the lack of USB-C is the opposite of future-proofing.

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Mark Hachman

Would an additional USB connector have killed you, Microsoft?

The Surface Laptop reclines about as far as the Surface Book, about 50 degrees or so off the horizontal. Unlike the Surface Book, however, there’s no accordion hinge. Instead, an barely-visible hinge smoothly moves the display back and forth. The screen tends to wobble a bit when inking or when the keyboard moves sharply.

The keyboard: Microsoft kept what works, mostly

You can sum up the Surface Laptop’s keyboard simply: Aside from one small modification, Microsoft bundled the Surface Pro’s backlit keyboard with the Surface Book’s touchpad. The space allocated to the keyboard on both devices is literally the same—4 x 10.75 inches—and the touchpad dimensions on both the Book and the Laptop are identical.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Surface Pen

Dan Masaoka

Though the Laptop doesn’t require the Surface Pen, it immediately wrote and “erased” digital ink, without any setup.

That said, the Surface Laptop’s typing experience falls slightly short of the Surface Book’s. I prefer the fluidity of the Surface Book’s keys. There’s also a bit of structural give in the Laptop’s keyboard that isn’t present on the Book. To test it, I placed a small screw between the R, T, F, and G keys. On the Laptop, I noticed a bit of bowing that wasn’t present on the Surface Book, which expresses itself as a slightly mushy feel that’s independent of the keys.

Microsoft Surface Laptop trackpad and keyboard

Dan Masaoka

Surface Book trackpad, meet the Surface Pro (2017) keyboard.

The Surface Laptop’s touchpad feels great, slightly oilier than the Book’s aluminum surface. Clicking and gestures worked as expected.

A pair of “omnisonic” speakers are buried beneath the keyboard. The volume reaches satisfactory levels, slightly vibrating the keys as you type upon them. Naturally, there’s not a lot of bass, and I’d recommend headphones.

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Mark Hachman

I never powered off the Laptop by accident, but it’s still an odd place to put such an important button.

Windows 10 S: Lack of choice is frustrating

In a bid to make the Surface Laptop as manageable as Chromebooks powered by Google’s Chrome OS, Microsoft designed the Surface Laptop and other education-minded PCs around Windows 10 S, an optimized version of Windows 10. Windows 10 S restricts Surface Laptop users to apps found within the Windows Store, and adds a few manageability features found in Windows 10 Pro to help administrators keep tabs on the devices. (For a deeper dive into Windows 10 S, please see our Windows 10 S FAQ.)

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Dan Masaoka

Part of the way to identify a Windows 10 S machine is with this custom background image, seen here.

Windows 10 S provides an extra layer of security, Microsoft says, as well as quicker boot times than Windows 10 Pro. Holes have already been poked through these claims:  Windows 10 S was breached by a researcher using Word macros, which are only blocked if you have an Office 365 subscription. And in our tests, the Surface Laptop took 19 seconds to cold-boot to the desktop, compared to 14 seconds for a Surface Book running Windows 10 Pro. Our Surface Laptop did, however, come with device encryption enabled, helping protect files from unauthorized access. That’s a feature normally associated with Windows 10 Pro.

Restricting Windows 10 S users to the Windows Store understandably concerns some users. For one, you’re subject to the whims of Microsoft: As longtime users know, Microsoft’s Store has ranged from abysmal to where it is now, an adequate to decent experience. Unfortunately, not every app within the Store can be used by Windows 10 S, including some Win32 apps that Microsoft has begun publishing. If you do try to use a prohibited app, you’ll know it: A popup window will appear, with a link to the Windows 10 Pro upgrade at the bottom.

Windows 10 S app blocked

Mark Hachman

You can move apps around like any other file, but you simply can’t run them unless they’re Microsoft-approved.

Microsoft recently made its Office apps accessible through the Store in preview, and they worked smoothly, without any bugs that I could find. The Surface Laptop ships with a year’s subscription to Office 365 Personal, good for a single device like the Laptop.

The biggest app hurdle that Windows 10 S users will likely encounter, though, is something rather prosaic: their choice of browser. Because browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Opera aren’t found within the Store, you’ll be forced to use Edge. Exporting bookmarks from another browser and importing them into Edge is simply a pain—and forget about saved passwords. Worse, Edge Favorites I’d saved in a Windows 10 Pro machine refused to carry over to Windows 10 S. Windows 10 S also returns search results from Bing alone, though nothing prevents you from bookmarking Google.com.

Windows 10 S app store Office Preview

IDG

Many common apps aren’t in the Microsoft Store. Fortunately, Microsoft Office is one of the exceptions—but you’ll need to use the built-in “Get Office” app to find it.

That web-based approach works well for some apps that haven’t made it into the Store. I’ve never been a fan of using a dedicated Windows app for Twitter, for example, though I use Slack’s app. With Edge, I could put both services into a tab and snap them to a corner of my screen.

I was a little shocked to discover that apps I didn’t consider to be apps were also blocked, namely the Command Line. It doesn’t appear within Windows 10 S, and commands that would normally launch Command Line or PowerShell simply don’t work—or, if they do, a Command Line window will blink into existence and then “pop,” or crash.

windows 10 pro upgrade

Mark Hachman

Upgrading to Windows 10 Pro can be done via the Microsoft Store.

For those users who want a little more, Windows 10 S does provide an escape hatch: a built-in upgrade path to Windows 10 Pro. Until the end of the year, it’s a free upgrade.

Performance: Stellar battery life redeems it

Because we couldn’t run many of our conventional benchmarks on Windows 10 S, we selected browser-based tests that could stress the Surface Laptop. We’ll update this review with additional tests once we upgrade it to Windows 10 Pro.

We compared the Surface Laptop to machines including the Surface Book and the recent Surface Pro. Recall that Microsoft also claims the Core i5 Surface Laptop is 50 percent faster than the Core i7 MacBook Air. We didn’t have a recent MacBook Air to test, so we compared it to the 15-inch MacBook Pro, as well as a Core m3-based MacBook. The Surface Laptop was slower than all of them, at least where these browser-based benchmarks were concerned.

Surface Laptop webxprt web benches

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Both Speedometer and Jetstream measure the responsiveness of Web applications, which is tied to the CPU’s processing power. WebXPRT asks the processor to perform more intensive tasks, such as photo enhancement and album organization. Octane 2.0, a Google benchmark, performs a suite of tests measuring how well a system performs Javascript.

Surface Laptop octane 2.0

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Just for fun, we also ran a built-in benchmark from Rise of the the Tomb Raider, an game that’s available via the Windows Store. Thirty frames per second is considered to be the minimum for gameplay; the Surface Laptop’s 4 fps is not remotely playable. We’ll dig into this more once we unlock the Laptop with Windows 10 Pro.

Surface Laptop rise of the tomb raider

IDG

One of the areas in which the Surface Laptop absolutely shines, however, is battery life. Color us a little skeptical after Microsoft’s claims of 13.5 hours for the Surface Pro proved to be only 8 hours. We’re beginning to think that that may have been the fault of the Iris Plus chip, for the battery inside the Surface Laptop with Intel’s HD 620 lasted a whopping 12 hours and 45 minutes, continually stressed as we looped a 4K video. That stamina is what a student needs as they go from class to class and then to the library.

Surface Laptop battery life

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Conclusion: A great choice for back-to-school

Oddly, the Surface Laptop feels like progress forward and back, all at once. Microsoft originally designed the Surface lineup to hustle its hardware partners faster into the future, implicitly stripping Apple of its design cachet and encouraging consumers to buy new PCs. Now, the Surface Laptop has stepped down a rung, challenging some of the cheaper, more mainstream product lines of its hardware partners to keep up. Laptops like HP’s latest Spectre x360 already do, but other vendors could use a push.

As someone who enjoys diving down into a Settings menu or adjusting the registry, Windows 10 S feels cramped. I have to believe most college students will encounter some app they either need or want before too long, and chafe at the restrictions. Sure, the upgrade to Windows 10 Pro is free for now, but it should be free forever.

Surface Laptop thickness comparison

Mark Hachman

Microsoft’s Surface Book (top), the Surface Laptop, and an Apple MacBook Air from 2010.

I’m also still a bit leery of Microsoft’s port choices. Apple received praise for eliminating the floppy drive and DVD-ROM, but received criticism for the single Lightning port that forced users into a web of dongles. In four years, will students curse Microsoft’s cheapness, and reluctance to invest in USB-C? Maybe, though today a USB-A connector is still the right choice. The tipping point to USB-C isn’t that far away, though.

That doesn’t change what Microsoft has accomplished with the Surface Laptop. Decent performance, a stylish exterior, and outstanding battery life check all the boxes of a product designed to upend the MacBook Air. Sure, the Surface Laptop might not have as much to write home about as its fancier Surface kin. But for Microsoft, that’s nothing as long as the Surface Laptop is what those students are writing on.

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At a Glance

  • Microsoft Surface Laptop (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB) – Burgundy

    PCWorld Rating

    $1,299.00 MSRP $1,299.00

    View

    on Amazon

    Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is a reasonably-priced premium laptop whose excellent battery life and light weight outweigh any restrictions placed upon users by the Windows 10 S operating system.

    Pros
    • Fantastic battery life inside an ultrabook chassis
    • Reasonably priced, for a Surface
    • Free (for now) upgrade to Windows 10 Pro
    Cons
    • App restrictions can make Windows 10 S frustrating
    • Limited port selection
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Microsoft Secretly Planning A New Advanced Mode For Windows 10

Windows 10 desktop logo

Microsoft

Windows 10 desktop logo

Many moons ago Microsoft had a product called Windows for Workstations that was designed to make it clear that Windows was different in your office than it was at home. Back then, of course, Microsoft had two branches of Windows. The DOS-based home system, which ran up until Windows XP and the DOS-free Windows NT. Windows 2000 was the last edition of the OS that was solely aimed at business, but even then home users were seeing some advantages to using the more stable branch of Windows.

Now things have moved on and there’s one core across not just home and work PCs, but that same core runs Microsoft’s mobile platform and the Xbox One. Windows 10 is incredibly clever, and we’re only just starting to see the benefits of all these platforms running the same kernel. We’re also starting to see problems.

For a business upgrading to Windows 10 isn’t without its concerns. For one thing there’s the ongoing issue of Microsoft’s telemetry. Now I’m not personally someone who worries about this, and you can turn it off, but it’s not entirely business friendly. Then there’s the issue of adverts popping up in Windows 10 and the fact that Microsoft thinks it’s cool to stuff new installs with Candy Crush. These are not business compatible notions, in my view.


So, the leak suggests that Microsoft will bring in something called “Windows 10 Pro for Workstations” although it might actually be called “Windows Pro for Advanced PCs” which will help Microsoft move away from the stigma of Windows 10.

The OS will have a couple of different features:

  • Workstation mode enhanced performance – using the multi-core server CPUs to deliver better performance on demanding tasks.
  • Resilient file system storage – ReFS is Microsoft’s improved file system that was introduced with Windows Server 2012. Support for this was introduced in Windows 8.1 and you can use it now, in Windows 10 if you like. There’s a setup process which involves building a mirror set and formatting them with the new file system. This may be useful for anyone who has to work with a lot of data.
  • Faster file sharing – uses SMBDirect to move files quickly and with minimal overhead. Obviously useful in businesses where data is moving about quickly, and a problem with Windows currently.
  • Expanded hardware support – have 4 CPUs and 6TB of memory in one system.

Of course Microsoft doesn’t explicitly state that Candy Crush will be eliminated from this version, but we can but hope.

So will it help? Probably actually. Windows 10 is great and offers a lot to home users. I can see why businesses might not be so keen. Some of that is perhaps based on things that aren’t really a big problem, and some will be legitimate concerns (like employees wasting time on Candy Crush, data security) that Windows for Workstations might address.

Like a lot of things, sometimes the answer is to do a bit of PR on the problem and hope it goes away. Microsoft needs to win over businesses to Windows 10 or it’s sitting on a ticking support timebomb, and we have recently seen how older versions of Windows work out in business.

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