Archive for Microsoft

Microsoft Says That It’s Not Killing Microsoft Paint Due To Public Pressure

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 25, 2017 by itnerd

Yesterday I posted that Microsoft was going to kill Microsoft Paint after being part of Windows 10 for just over 3 decades. Well, there was a plot twist that I didn’t see coming. Apparently people like Microsoft Paint and told Microsoft so. Thus the software said late Monday that it will not be killing off its Paint app in the next update of Windows 10. It will be made available via the Windows Store for free and will not be completely removed:

The U.S. technology company recently released a list which labeled Paint “deprecated,” meaning it was considering removing the app when the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update gets released later this year. Fans on social media decried the potential death of Paint, which has been in existence for 32 years. But Microsoft released a blog post shortly after to clarify that Paint would not be completely removed, but instead made available via the Windows Store for free. “Today, we’ve seen an incredible outpouring of support and nostalgia around MS Paint. If there’s anything we learned, it’s that after 32 years, MS Paint has a lot of fans. It’s been amazing to see so much love for our trusty old app,” Megan Saunders, a general manager at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post on Monday. “Amidst today’s commentary around MS Paint we wanted to take this opportunity to set the record straight, clear up some confusion and share some good news: MS Paint is here to stay, it will just have a new home soon, in the Windows Store where it will be available for free.”

This is an interesting reaction and one that I would not have expected. Who knew that so many people loved Microsoft Paint? But maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. It hasn’t changed all that much over the years, so people are comfortable with how it works. Plus it’s kind of handy to have as a quick and dirty file conversion tool for different graphics formats. That might explain what happened in the last 24 hours or so.

Long live Microsoft Paint!

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Microsoft Paint To Be Axed In Fall Windows 10 Update

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 24, 2017 by itnerd

If you’re really attached to Microsoft paint, I have bad news for you. If you go to this link, you’ll see that Microsoft Paint is among the features to be deprecated by Microsoft in what is called the “Fall Creators Update” to Windows 10.

That sounds like a big deal, but I don’t think so. Here’s why:

  1. Microsoft Paint hasn’t been updated in a very long time. Thus most people end up using a more feature rich app.
  2. The Creators Update that popped up in April brought Paint3D to the table.

With those in mind, I think that it’s safe to say that after a 32 year run, it’s time for Microsoft Paint to ride off into the sunset.

Now before I go, I would suggest that anyone who administers PCs for a living take a look at the link above to see what other features are being axed. The removal of Microsoft Paint may be trivial, but some of the other features that are being removed may not be for your use case.

Windows Phone Is Dead….. Probably

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 11, 2017 by itnerd

If you’re someone who is one of the few users of the Windows Phone platform, I have some bad news for you. According to this document from Microsoft, the platform is dead as of today. What that means is that as of today, there will be no new security updates, non-security updates, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates. In other words, you’re on your own if you’re a Windows Phone user. Now this really shouldn’t be a shock as Android and iOS dominate the smartphone market. And if you combine that with the fact that Windows Phone 10 is due to reach its end of support date in 2018, and the fact that Microsoft no longer makes its own phones, you have to think that the writing is on the wall for Windows 10. Probably. While it could yet rise from the dead like a Zombie, I wouldn’t count on it.

 

Microsoft Sheds 3000 Jobs In Major Re-org

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 7, 2017 by itnerd

CNBC is one of a number of news outlets that are reporting that Microsoft is undergoing a major re-org which will include the layoff of 3000 people. Most of them will be in sales and most will come outside the US. The purpose of the layoffs is to help Microsoft to focus on selling their Azure cloud services which is currently booming for them. Now, is this a big deal? From a numbers perspective maybe not:

Microsoft has 71,000 employees in the U.S. and 121,000 employees around the globe, suggesting that these cuts are relatively small compared to the size of its entire workforce.

Though, that’s likely not going to wash with any of the 3000 who have been let go. Having said that, it is a big deal from the perspective of focusing on an area that is big for the software giant. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the near to medium term.

Windows 10 Source Code Leaked To Web…. Or Not

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 26, 2017 by itnerd

The Register posted on Friday that up to 32TB of “official and non-public (Windows 10) installation images” were uploaded to BetaArchive.com. Now that sounds like a big deal. And frankly it is because at a very basic level, anytime source code for an OS like Windows 10 is available in the public domain, it opens the doors for epic hacks because hackers suddenly have access to resources that they wouldn’t normally have access to. Plus short of rewriting the entire OS, there’s not a whole lot that Microsoft in this case can do to stop them. So Windows 10 users should get ready for an onslaught of epic pwnage. Right?

Well…. Maybe not.

It turns out that the stuff that hit the streets is part of Microsoft’s Shared Source Initiative. In short, this is a program that Microsoft has that serves up source code for various products to certain “qualified” customers, governments and partners for debugging and reference purposes. The source code is only relevant to whatever the organization is working on and isn’t the whole OS. I’ve seen stuff that Microsoft serves up via this program and it’s not much. Thus, there’s very little chance of epic pwnage. That’s made The Register modify its original story to lessen what the perceived impact could be.

In short, nothing to see here. Move along.

June’s Patch Tuesday Updates Includes Updates For Windows XP and Vista

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 14, 2017 by itnerd

Here’s a bit of a plot twist that I noticed last night while running updates on my virtual machines that have a variety of Windows OSes installed on them. My Windows XP and Vista machines got updates for either the first time in a very long time (in the case of XP) or the first time in a few months (in the case of Vista). I did some quick research and found that Microsoft actually documented that they were doing this in a post on their website:

In reviewing the updates for this month, some vulnerabilities were identified that pose elevated risk of cyber attacks by government organizations, sometimes referred to as nation-state actors or other copycat organizations. To address this risk, today we are providing additional security updates along with our regular Update Tuesday service. These security updates are being made available to all customers, including those using older versions of Windows. Due to the elevated risk for destructive cyber attacks at this time, we made the decision to take this action because applying these updates provides further protection against potential attacks with characteristics similar to WannaCrypt.

Interesting. But they also said this:

It is important to note that if you’re running a supported version of Windows, such as Windows 10 or Windows 8.1, and you have Windows Update enabled, you don’t need to take any action. As always, we recommend customers upgrade to the latest platforms. The best protection is to be on a modern, up-to-date system that incorporates the latest innovations. Older systems, even if fully up-to-date, lack the latest security features and advancements.

Translation: Dump XP and Vista and get with the times because Microsoft is likely not to do this again. So my advice is that if you’re running XP and Vista, run software update to ensure that you’re up to date. Then make plans to migrate to an updated OS from Microsoft….. Or Apple….. Or Red Hat….. Or whatever company you prefer.

I Was Wrong: Maybe You Should Enable Automatic Updates On Windows 10

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 18, 2017 by itnerd

Frequent readers of this blog know that I am not a fan of Windows 10’s update scheme which force feeds updates down your throat. The reason why I am not a fan is because they have a tendency to break your PC every once in a while. Such as this recent example. But because of this epic cyberattack this past week, I’ve altered my stance a bit. Maybe I was wrong on this and people should enable automatic updates.

But before I get to why am altering my stance and how to make automatic updates something that is tolerable, let me get one thing out of the way. And I’m directing this at you Microsoft. Automatic updates in Windows 10 needs to be way better than it is. I get that unlike the folks at Apple, Microsoft doesn’t fully control what their OS goes onto. Thus that opens the door to a weird combination of security patches and driver updates that Microsoft couldn’t possibly have tested crashing a PC. On top of that, there’s the fact that the way Microsoft has automatic updates implemented can also result in lost work when a computer is force rebooted, or bandwidth usage skyrocketing without your permission because a large volume of updates get downloaded. This whole experience needs to be redesigned so that it is way better than it presently is to make it less risky and more palatable to have automatic updates turned on.

Now, with that out of the way, here’s why I have altered my stance. Components of the ransomware that hit users in 170 or so countries this past week used an exploit that was patched by Microsoft in March. Now if you ignore the people who were running out of date Microsoft OS’es, a lot of computers that got hit by this could have avoided this if they automatically got the patch in question. That one simple fact has made me change my tune. Now how do you use automatic updates without it annoying the daylights out of you? Here’s my suggestion:

  1. Tap or click on the Start button, followed by Settings. You’ll need to be on the Windows 10 Desktop to do this.
  2. From Settings, tap or click on Update & security.
  3. Choose Windows Update from the menu on the left, assuming it’s not already selected.
  4. Tap or click on the Advanced options link on the right, which will open a window headlined Choose how updates are installed.

Here’s where the fun begins. You need to check the following:

  • Automatic (recommended): Choose this option to automatically download and install updates of all kind, both important security patches as well as not-as-important non-security updates, like feature improvements and minor bugs.
  • Give me updates for other Microsoft products when I update Windows: I recommend checking this option so other Microsoft programs (Microsoft Office for example) that you have installed will get automatic updates too.

From there, I would do the following:

  1. Tap or click on the Start button, followed by Settings. You’ll need to be on the Windows 10 Desktop to do this.
  2. From Settings, tap or click on Update & security.
  3. Choose Windows Update from the menu on the left, assuming it’s not already selected.
  4. Select Change active hours.

This feature allows you to define when you use your PC. That way it will not restart in the middle of your work and instead restart itself when you are asleep or likely to be away from your PC. Just make sure to save your work before you leave your PC and make sure you leave it on.

The last thing that I would suggest is to always backup your PC. None of this deals with the issue of updates making your PC non-functional. Thus you should have a recent backup handy in case things go south.

In closing, other operating systems that Microsoft still supports such as Windows 7 and 8.1 have a similar feature. If you want a guide for those operating systems to allow you to set up automatic updating, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to build one.