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  1. LaunchBar Commander is a free customizable application launcher for Windows Rocketdock was the coolest application launcher in my opinion and it still works on Windows 10 devices even though it is outdated. LaunchBar Commander is a free application that's similar and offers a lot of customization options on top of that. Upon running it for the first time, you will be greeted by a message that says the program is donation ware (made by Mouser, a popular DonationCoder developer). A small panel titled "My First Dock" will open, click on the edges to resize it. This is a floating panel, so you can drag it around the screen. The Dock has 4 buttons: Control Panel, Documents, Start Menu and a Sample Menu. Clicking one of the buttons opens up a menu with the contents of the selected option. The Control Panel menu lists all the options available in Windows' namesake, the Documents menu displays links to files in your Documents folder, and so on. This is pretty useful for opening files quickly without having to navigate around in Explorer or opening Control Panel or the Start Menu. The program plays a sound when you click on a button which you can disable in the options. Right-click inside the dock to view its context-menu. This has a few options to resize, center, rebuild the bar. One of the options includes the ability to dock the panel, i.e., place it on the edge of the screen. You can drag the docked panel to any of the four sides of the screen. Hitting the close button minimizes the program to the system tray. Left-click on the tray icon to access the shortcuts that were on the dock are available from the tray. Right-click the tray icon and select preferences. This brings up the LaunchBar Commander settings window, that you can use to customize the dock. Undocking restores the panel to its original size. Create your own dock You can customize the pre-made dock or create your own. Shortcuts that you place in the dock are called Nodes. Click on the "Add Node" menu button (or right-click on a dock > Insert) and select "Add child - Dock": you may rename it to what you want. Select a display style for the icons, menu, and border (optional). You can also set the dock to autohide, autoslide or reserve a space for it. Next, choose the background you want, set its color and transparency. You can even choose a custom background should you not like the ones that LaunchBar Commander ships with. Let's add some shortcuts to the dock. Select Add Node > Add Child - Command. A new command is created, rename the caption, and set an icon (paste the icon's path) or use one of the built-in icons. There is a "Command path" box in the pane below, browse for the EXE or folder that you wanted to add. For applications add the word "%file%" in the argument box. That's it, your shortcut is created. Want to do that in a single click? Drag and drop a shortcut or an EXE, to the LaunchBar Commander interface (over the dock's name). It will prompt you to copy the shortcut properties or create a link to the shortcut. Use either option and it will add the shortcut to the dock. The drag and drop method adds the application's icon, path, name, etc automatically, so you should consider using this if you want to speed up the process. What about dragging and dropping shortcuts on the dock interface? That works as well. Note: You can right-click icons on the dock to access the Explorer context-menu options and execute them. Adding folders is quite similar and these folders open like menus, i.e., they display the contents of the directory. And speaking of menus, you can create custom ones, but you'll need to place the nodes inside (EXEs, Folders, URLs, etc). You can place Folders inside menus too. Multiple docks are supported, and since they are floating panels, you can place them where you want to. Each dock minimizes to the tray independently. Closing Words The application is also available in a portable archive. LaunchBar Commander is a brilliant program, it has some more advanced options, but this should cover the basics and help you get started with it. Landing Page: https://www.donationcoder.com/software/mouser/popular-apps/launchbar-commander Source: LaunchBar Commander is a free customizable application launcher for Windows (gHacks)
  2. Microsoft is expected to release a major software update on Tuesday, January 14 that will fix an "extraordinarily serious security vulnerability" affecting a core cryptographic component found in all versions of Windows. This will be the first Patch Tuesday release of 2020 from Microsoft. January 14 is also the day that Microsoft will end support for Windows 7. As reported by KrebsOnSecurity, Microsoft has already rolled out a patch to fix the bug for the U.S. military and other important high-profile clients and customers. These clients have been asked to sign agreements preventing them from disclosing details of the flaw on or before January 14, 2020. The flaw is found in the crypt32.dll system file which handles "certificate and cryptographic messaging functions in the CryptoAPI." It is also used by the Microsoft CryptoAPI that is used for securing cryptography applications and encrypting/decrypting digital certificates. This component is used by key Microsoft apps like Internet Explorer and Edge to securely handle sensitive data. A flaw in the crypt32.dll can be used to spoof digital signatures which can be used by attackers to make malware appear a safe and genuine app on your PC. The report also states that the NSA's Director of Cybersecurity Anne Neuberger is scheduled to host a press conference on January 14 where she will "provide advanced notification of a current cybersecurity issue." Microsoft on its part has already issued a statement saying that it does not discuss any vulnerabilities before rolling out a fix for them. It also made it clear that it does not roll out production-ready updates before its regular Update Tuesday schedule. Source: Microsoft expected to patch a serious security bug affecting all Windows versions today (via Neowin)
  3. Fewer versions, more focus. Now that Microsoft has ended support for Windows 7, it has an opportunity to rethink how it manages its operating system. It would be a good time to take some lessons from its age-old enemy, Apple: Stop doing some things that make Windows upgrades onerous, and start doing some things that will keep Windows users faithful and happy. Some particularly important things to stop and start come to mind, like: Stop: Charging for upgrades Microsoft fell far short of its widely publicized goal to get a billion people to upgrade to Windows 10 within three years. It’s not hard to see why. While Microsoft offered a long grace period to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, those who missed the deadline have to pay up (unless certain unofficial loopholes to upgrade to Windows 10 for free still work). Windows 10 Home costs $139, while Windows 10 Pro, which brings “enterprise-grade security, powerful management tools like single sign-on, and enhanced productivity with Remote Desktop and Cortana,” will set you back $200. I get why Microsoft still charges OEMs for Windows 10 licenses—it makes a lot of money. Even though CEO Satya Nadella admitted, “the operating system is no longer the most important layer for us,” Windows is still the biggest cog in the trillion-dollar Microsoft machine. There are more than a billion devices, just as many active users, and oodles of third-party licenses. But the end user shouldn’t ever pay. Apple hasn’t charged a penny for an upgrade since Mavericks landed in 2013. The simple fact that Microsoft still charges for upgrades—sometimes even on new Windows 10 devices—is just plain wrong. Start: Sticking with the same UI Another big reason why so many people refused to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 or Windows 10 wasn’t budget constraints, laziness, or even hardware compatibility. It was the Big Change. Windows 8 represented a massive departure from the old way of Windows in just about every way, with a new start menu, a tablet-oriented tile interface, and an app structure. Windows 10 fixed most of Windows 8’s biggest problems, but the scars remain to this day. If you look back at the original Mac OS X release from 2000, it’s really not all that different than it is now. It’s the same with Android or iOS: Users expect annual upgrades, but the wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented to keep things fresh. Microsoft has changed the look of its OS numerous times over the years. Now that Windows 7 is dead, Windows 10 needs to be the way forward. So please keep it the way it is (for the most part) for the foreseeable future. Stop: Having so many versions of Windows On the Mac, there’s just macOS Catalina, whether you’re running a $799 Mac mini or a $50,000 Mac Pro. And the next version, and the version after that, and the one after that will be the same. When a new version of macOS arrives, no one needs to figure out which version they’re getting. We click Update, it installs, and life goes on. Meanwhile, on the Microsoft side, it’s hard to keep up with all the different versions of Windows 10. There’s Windows 10 S, Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Education and Pro Education, Windows 10 Enterprise, and the dual-screen-friendly Windows 10X. Who can forget when Windows 10 Mobile was a thing? This is the most confounding thing about Windows from the perspective of Mac users. I can understand why you might need an Enterprise version, but that’s it. Why should Windows 10 Home people be deprived of the better security in Windows 10 Pro? Why sell a stripped-down, “streamlined” Windows 10 S version tied to the Windows Store, but also offer to switch users to the fuller-featured Windows 10 Pro? It’s all very confusing. Because most Windows users will stick with the OS that comes with their PC, Microsoft should simply offer a single consumer version of Windows: Windows 10. Give it all of the “pro” features, deliver regular updates, and make everyone happy. Start: Embracing the Surface Neo The Surface Neo is Microsoft’s most exciting product in years, because it wasn’t built around Windows. The biggest lesson Windows can take into the future doesn't come from Apple, but from Microsoft itself: the dual-display, 360-degree-convertible Surface Neo. It's one of the most exciting products of 2020, and even though it won’t arrive until the end of the year, it's already having an impact on the next generation of Windows. When Apple designs a product, it doesn’t try to cram it into the existing version of iOS or macOS—it designs both to work in tandem. The hardware dictates the software features and plots the way forward. That’s how it is with the Surface Neo. Microsoft didn’t try to cram the existing Windows 10 architecture into a new device. It crafted both together into a new platform, Windows 10X. Granted, I asked for fewer versions of Windows 10 earlier in this story, but Windows 10X has a distinct purpose. When you buy a Windows 10X device, you’ll know that you’re getting an experience built for the hardware that runs it, not the other way around. It’s like Apple with iOS and iPadOS: The two operating systems are largely the same, but the separation actually eliminates confusion. The Surface Neo is easily the most exciting Microsoft device since the Surface, not because of its gorgeous hardware, but because of how beautiful the hardware and software integrate. Stop: Looking backward The Surface Neo also reflects Nadella's vision that Windows isn’t the future of Microsoft—in fact, OSes aren’t all that important at all. Apps, services, and hardware are the way forward. Case in point: Next year’s Surface Duo smartphone runs Android instead of Windows—but it will still be a Microsoft device. Sometime between the launch of Windows 10 and the death of Windows 7, Microsoft finally realized that a platform and an OS needn’t be one and the same. A Microsoft device running Microsoft apps using the Microsoft launcher on a forked version of Android isn’t any less on-brand than a Surface running Windows 10. Microsoft is leading the conversation with the Surface Neo in a way the other Surface devices never did. If it’s truly going to move beyond the traditional Windows model, it needs to do more of this. You know, like Apple. Source
  4. FileVoyager is a freeware dual pane file manager and file viewer for Windows FileVoyager is quite a bit different compared to your average file manager program. It's a hybrid dual pane file manager and file viewer, and has plenty of features that set it apart. Tip: check out recently reviewed file managers such as File Commander, Tablacus Explorer, or Altap Salamander. The application has a ribbon interface which some like and others dislike. The massive number of icons and information that is displayed on the screen may be confusing to first time users as it will take some time to get accustomed to everything. Fortunately you can disable some elements and switch to a different view which minimizes the learning curve greatly. The Exploration tab, displayed on top of each file view pane, displays the file tree. You can use it to navigate to different locations,e.g. folders or drives. See that large picture on the top portion of the pane? That's the 3D thumbnail view. It takes a nice chunk of the on-screen real estate, so you may want to use the buttons below the "Exploration" tab to switch to something like the Details mode that is similar to Explorer's details view. There are other views such as Details mode with thumbnails (every icon has a thumbnail and a description), icon mode (which looks like the Windows Control Panel), a list mode and a thumbnail mode (like a grid of icons). I used the first button, which is the details mode because it has the best of both worlds, i.e. looks nice and provides enough information. The first 5 buttons on the Exploration bar can be used for the basic file operations: cut, copy, paste, delete to recycle bin and delete permanently. The icon with three upward arrows allows you to navigate to the root folder of the current path, the up icon is for jumping up to the previous folder, and the refresh button updates the folders contents. The left and right arrow icons are used to go back or forward a visited folder, while the clock icon pops down with a history of the recently opened folders. There are two bars on the bottom of each pane: the first displays the number of selected files, folders, and their size. The other displays the current folder's properties such as the number of files, folders it contains and their size. It also shows you the current drive's total space and available free space. Right-click within the Exploration tab to access the file manager's context menu. It looks similar to the Explorer context menu but you will notice some new options. The view with FileVoyager option opens the selected file using the program's built-in viewer. I had trouble with this, when I used the menu item, it'd always say the file wasn't found. But clicking on the file directly opened it in the other pane of the program, so the option does work. The same goes for the Hashes and VirusTotal menu, it works with the Preview tab but not from the menu. Mouse over images in the Exploration tab and you get an inline preview of the image, along with its name, resolution, file type and size. The ribbon UI has four tabs: Home, Manage, View and Tools. File This is actually a menu which has options to open another instance of the program, with or without administrator rights. Similarly, you can use it to open a command window with/without elevated privileges. Home This tab is used for basic file operations (similar to the one mentioned in the Exploration tabs). But there are more options here including creating new files, archives and extracting archives. FileVoyager comes with 7-Zip built into it, so you have most of its options available in the file manager. You can copy a file's path, search for files, and manage favorites from the Home tab. Manage You get more file operations here, but those aren't the important options. The Open section lets you use the embedded viewer in FileVoyager to view the selected file. The external viewer and edit options let you open the files in their default external handlers. The Folder Size tool calculates the file size of the selected folder and displays the result. The All Folder Sizes option does the same, but for all folders in the current view. This tab has the Preferences of the program, should you want to change any settings. View You can enable or disable the Exploration tab's check boxes for items, marquee, show hidden folders, sorting, thumbnails, and more. But this tab can change the appearance of FileVoyager, too. The folder tab can be toggled to be displayed on the bottom of the pane. There is an option to set the program to close or minimize to the Tray. FileVoyager allows you to sort the columns (name, type, size, date), customize the file selection method, duplicate or switch the panes, too. The Common Toolbars are in my opinion really important, as you can toggle the Center Toolbar, Favorites and Appbar. Why have a ribbon and all these toolbars? The Panes option can be used to view/hide the tree (hidden by default), drive pane, folder tab, and the pane's toolbar. The Splitter button has many ways to resize the panes, but you can do that manually by dragging the pane's borders. I wish the two drive bars at the bottom could be hidden, but there isn't a setting for that. Tools This tab has a few system tools, e.g. to connect/disconnect a network drive, create new shortcut, open the "Run" box, find files, display properties, Control Panel's Programs and Features, or Date and Time properties. Those are useful but not too special, but the Viewers section is. Select a file and click on embedded viewer to view the document or picture in the other pane. The External Viewer does the same, but in a floating window. The other "External Viewers" option is used for closing all the opened "External Viewers". There is a nice Folder comparison tool which can be accessed by clicking the "Compare listed paths" option, which by the way opens in a new window. The "Compare Items" on the other hand, opens a new window that uses FileVoyager's built-in viewers to display a visual comparison of the selected files. And to cap it off, the Hash Tool is handy for computing the CRC, Haval, MD, Panarma, Ripe MD, Sapphire, SHA, Snerfy, Square, Tiger and Whirlpool hash values of any file or folder. You can use the "check with Virus Total" option to check the file using the virus checking service. Preview Tab The Preview Tab acts as an inline image and document viewer in FileVoyager. Select a file in the right or left tab, and the content will be displayed in the other tab. The modes available here include Text, Binary, Hexa, Unicode, U-hex, RTF, Windows, Web, MM and SumatraPDF. The document viewer supports PDF, EPUB, MOBI, CBR, CBZ, XPS, FB2, DJV2 formats, using the embedded SumatraPDF viewer. While editing documents, you can see the syntax highlighting for many languages. The program supports audio and video playback using Windows Media Player and VLC (codecs are packaged with the application). So you can play the audio or video directly within the application, when the MM (multimedia mode) is enabled. It also works with playlist formats like M3U, PLS, ASX, etc. Toolbars The Appbar is at the top of the left pane and acts as a "Send To" shortcut that you can use to send any file to Bluetooth, Compressed Zip Folder, Desktop, etc. It's the same as Windows Explorer's "Send To" menu. The Center toolbar sits between the two panes and can be used to open/copy/move/rename files. You can also use it for accessing the embedded viewer for supported files, edit (with external program), switch/duplicate panes, search or create files/folders. The Favorites bar, at the bottom of the left pane is a shortcut bar for your computers favorite folders (Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Videos, etc). Themes There are about 18 themes for FileVoyager, which you can switch on the fly, by using the button in the top right corner of the program's window. The application is available in 2 versions (technically four if you count the portable versions). One of these comes with VLC codecs, the other one doesn't. The same goes for the portable versions. FileVoyager has a lot of features packed into it. The only problem is the interface which can appear to be a bit complicated. If you can brave that, you have yourself a nice file manager to use. Source: FileVoyager is a freeware dual pane file manager and file viewer for Windows (gHacks)
  5. TaskExplorer is an advanced Windows Task Manager alternative TaskExplorer is a free open source application for Microsoft Windows devices that may be used as an alternative to the operating system's built-in Task Manager. Like other Task Manager alternatives such as System Explorer, TaskManager DeLuxe or Security Task Manager, it is designed to provide functionality that the native task manager application lacks. In the case of TaskExplorer, it is a strong focus on providing its users with information on what processes actually do. The program is available for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system. The minimum Windows version is Windows 7. The app itself is based on the Qt Framework which explains the, rather large, size of 37 Megabytes. The interface is quite noisy when you first start the program (it does not need to be installed). It displays performance bars at the top, a tree list of processes in a sidebar on the left, and information on the right. The application updates the data in real-time but you may hit the pause button to stop the automatic refreshing. A click on the (rather small) arrow icon next to the refresh button displays options to change the automatic update interval from the default 1-second value to another. Values range from ultra-fast, which updates every 0.1 seconds to extremely-slow which updates every 10 seconds. The main interface on the right is divided into two parts: a general administrative part at the top that displays system information by default, and a process-specific part at the bottom. The administrative part at the top lists tabs that lead to pages filled with information. System for example provides general operating system information as well as an overview of memory, I/O or CPU activity. You may switch tabs to access advanced information about CPU, Memory, DNS, Services, Network, or GPU related information. The lower half of the panel displays process-specific information. Information is updated when you select a process from the left sidebar. The interface is divided into tabs as well and you find a wealth of information listed there. From basic information such as the image file name and path, to handles, sockets, threads and more. Right-click on any process in the sidebar to display a context menu. It lists the usual options, e.g. terminate or open folder, but also options to change the priority or affinity, permissions, or other advanced options such as "run as user", reduce working set, create crash dump, or debug. TaskExplorer has more to offer than all that. You may use the application to free memory in multiple ways, flush the DNS cache, search for handles, modules or strings (in memory), or change the power state of the computer. Closing Words TaskExplorer is a powerful task manager for Microsoft Windows devices. It is designed for advanced users as it provides information that most regular users don't need. Source: TaskExplorer is an advanced Windows Task Manager alternative (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann) [Software Updates post here... https://www.nsaneforums.com/topic/358478-taskexplorer-101 ]
  6. Google is bringing a Tab Strip to Chrome for Windows and Linux If you have used the Microsoft Edge web browser, classic or new, you may have stumbled upon the browser's Tab Strip feature. Just click on the arrow icon on the tab bar to display thumbnail images of the sites and resources open in the browser. It appears that Google is attempting to bring a similar feature to the company's Chrome web browser. Already in Chrome OS, Google engineers are working on introducing Tab Strip functionality in the Chrome browser. The feature introduces an option in the Chrome browser to display a strip of tabs. While it is unclear yet how it would be activated by the user, it is likely that Google is adding an icon to the browser's tab bar to activate and deactivate the Tab Strip view in the browser. The following screenshot shows the Tab Strip in the Microsoft Edge web browser. The arrow icon next to the plus icon in the Tab Bar displays and hides the Tab Strip interface. When activated, it pushes the activate site down as it needs room to display the thumbnails. Edge users may use drag and drop to change the order of tabs or jump to any open site with a click on the tab. The video that is embedded below demonstrates how the Tab Strip looks like in Chrome OS. All tabs open in the web browser are displayed with thumbnails when users activate the Tab Strip functionality. Since thumbnails use a wider area than tabs, scrolling is available to go through the list of open sites and resources in the browser. It is furthermore possible to drag and drop tabs to reorder them just like it is the case in Chrome's Tab Bar (and any other browser's for that matter). The visualization may improve use on touch-enabled devices and help users locate tabs quicker. Google did not reveal when the new functionality will land in Chrome; it is likely that it will be introduced behind a flag that users need to enable to activate the functionality. Closing Words While I'd like to see options to scroll the tab bar in Chrome, as the browser still becomes unusable when too many tabs are opened, it is clear that the Tab Strip would offer users some resource as it supports scrolling. Chrome users who cannot identify tabs anymore could use it for navigational purposes. Source: Google is bringing a Tab Strip to Chrome for Windows and Linux (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  7. FalconX is an open source program that can center the taskbar icons One area in Windows that has not evolved over different versions that much is the taskbar. Microsoft made the last fundamental change to it when it released Windows 7. The company made several minor adjustments in recent versions of Windows but that is about it. FalconX is an open source tool that adds new functionality to the operating system's taskbar. The application is also known as Center Taskbar or Falcon, and we have reviewed it back in 2018 for the last time. Windows 7 users could also use a manual method to center taskbar items. FalconX is a portable application. Run the program and your taskbar icons will now be placed smack-dab in the middle of the taskbar. This gives a dock-like experience and some users may find the icons easier to reach as a consequence. The program sits on the system tray and you can access its options by right-clicking the icon and selecting "Settings". Animation You can choose the animation style from the Settings Screen. FalconX has 42 animations to choose from and if you don't like any of those, you can disable animation completely. There is an option to adjust the animation speed, which you can set by using the slider or enter the precise ms (Millisecond) number in the box. Position You can set the offset position of the taskbar, in terms of pixels. The default value is 0 and you may adjust it using a slider or by entering values manually; This is useful if you want to move the taskbar to a particular position, for e.g. towards the right side of the screen. Taskbar Style FalconX has three taskbar styles that you can choose from: Transparent, Blur and Acrylic. The last one is marked as unstable by the developer, but it worked pretty well during tests. The styles are disabled by default, so technically the default Windows 10 style acts as a fourth option. The Blur style adds a frosted glass effect to the taskbar, while the Transparent setting offers an immersive experience. You can view the changes immediately without having to restart the application. Here's what the Acrylic style looks like. You can still apply Windows' own Taskbar customizations such as changing the icon size or enabling auto-hide. Note: If you have auto-hide enabled for the taskbar and choose a style in FalconX, the taskbar will not apply the effect based on the wallpaper, rather it uses the color of the current window. So, if you're on a webpage with a white theme, the taskbar turns white-ish, and the system tray becomes nearly unreadable. This isn't an issue if you don't use auto-hide. The refresh button reloads the application. You can enable the "Run at Startup" option to make the program load during Windows' boot. If you have the Search Bar enabled on your taskbar, you can enable the "Center between Start or Search" option in FalconX, and the program will center the icons between the two Windows UX elements. FalconX works with multiple monitors as well. Though it is available for free from GitHub, an optional paid version is available from the Windows Store. Closing Words The program is quite light-weight and used about 2MB of memory and less than 1% of the CPU (usually about 0.2%) during my tests. When the Settings screen was in view, i.e., when the program switches from a background task to a foreground app, the memory usage was a bit higher but still under 7MB memory and 3% CPU usage. Source: FalconX is an open source program that can center the taskbar icons (gHacks)
  8. Apple preparing to build the ‘next generation of media apps for Windows’ Apple looking for UWP developers, too Apple is hunting for software engineers to help the company build media apps for Windows. The iPhone maker revealed its plans in a job listing earlier this month, spotted by Neowin, inviting potential candidates to “join us and build the next generation of media apps for Windows.” Apple maintains existing Windows apps like iTunes and iCloud, but these are both old traditional desktop apps that are showing their age. Apple revealed earlier this year that it’s breaking up iTunes into three separate macOS apps: Podcasts, TV, and Music. None of these apps have arrived on Windows, leaving PC users with just iTunes. If you’re an Apple Music or Apple TV Plus subscriber, you have to use the web versions instead of dedicated apps on Windows 10 right now. Apple’s job listing mentions “experience with UWP is a big plus,” which hints that the company is looking to build Universal Windows Platform (UWP) versions of its media apps for Windows 10. This could help Apple bring apps to both Windows 10 and Xbox One, which is particularly important for Apple TV Plus as there’s no way to watch content from that service on the Xbox One right now. It’s not clear when these new media apps for Windows will arrive, but the fact that Apple is investing in Windows 10 is good news for owners of Surface or Windows tablet devices that will benefit from new touch-friendly apps for Apple’s services. Source: Apple preparing to build the ‘next generation of media apps for Windows’ (The Verge)
  9. System Information for Windows - SIW 2019 v9.5.1112 SIW is an advanced System Information for Windows tool that analyzes your computer and gathers detailed information about system properties and settings (Software Information, Hardware Information, Network Information and Tools) and displays it in an extremely comprehensible manner. SIW can create a report file (HTML, JSON, CSV, TEXT or XML), and you can run it in batch mode (for Computer Inventory, Hardware, Software and Network Information, Software License Management, Security Audit, Server Configuration Management). The System Information is divided into few major categories: Software Information Operating System, Software Licenses (Product Keys / Serial Numbers), Passwords Recovery, Installed Programs, Applications, Security, Accessibility, Environment, Regional Settings, File Associations, Running Processes, Loaded DLLs, Drivers, NT Services, Autorun, Scheduled Tasks, Databases, Audio and Video Codecs, Shared DLLs, ActiveX, MMC Snap-Ins, Shell Extensions, Event Viewer, Certificates, etc. Hardware Information System Summary, Motherboard, BIOS, CPU, Memory, Sensors, Devices, Chipset, PCI/AGP, USB and ISA/PnP Devices, System Slots, Network Adapters, Video Card, Monitor, Sound Devices, Storage Devices, Logical Disks, Disk Drives, CD/DVD Devices, SCSI Devices, S.M.A.R.T., Ports, Battery and Power Policy, Printers, etc. Network Information Basic/Extended Information about Configuration, Statistics, Connections, Active Directory (Computers, Groups and Users), Shares, Open Ports, etc. Tools Network Tools: MAC Address Changer, Wake On LAN, Remote Licenses (from Windows Folder, Remote Computer or Registry Hive), Hosts Scan, Ping, Trace, etc. Miscellaneous Tools: Eureka! (Reveal lost passwords hidden behind asterisks), Shutdown / Restart, Monitor Test, MUICache Viewer, URL Explorer, Open Files, etc. SIW (Technician's Version) is a standalone utility that does not require installation (Portable Application) - one less installed program on your PC as well the fact that you can run the program directly from an USB flash drive, from a network drive or from a domain login script. SIW is periodically updated (usually once per quarter) in order to provide most accurate results. Client Platform: Windows 10 / Windows 8.1 / Windows 8 / Windows 7 / Vista / Windows XP SP3 / WinPE / WinRE / Winternals ERD Commander Server Platform: Windows 2019 / Windows 2016 / Windows 2012 (R2) / Windows SBS 2011 / Windows Server 2008 (R2) / Windows Server 2003 (R2) Homepage: https://www.gtopala.com Changelogs - Added ARM64 binaries for SIW Technician's Version. - Updated Operating System module: Windows 10, version 1909 (November 2019 Update). Improved Missing Updates module. - Updated Passwords module. - Updated Memory module. - Updated Devices database. - Minor enhancements and compatibility fixes. https://www.gtopala.com/siw/changelog.php Download (without fix): Site: https://www.mirrored.to Sharecode: /files/1EXE4WA9 Included: Home, Technician and Enterprise Editions
  10. Windows 10 - Media Creation Tool - Version 1909 The new Windows 10 edition - version 1909 - is available. With Windows 10 Media Creation Tool you can download the newest Windows 10 edition and create a ISO, USB stick or DVD for installation. Need to create a USB stick, DVD or ISO? If you need to install or reinstall Windows 10 using a USB stick or DVD, you can use the Media Creation Tool to create your own installation media with either a USB stick or a DVD. The tool provides file formats optimized for download speed and can be used to create ISO files. Release Notes: Changes in v1909: various bug fixes and some new features. Check this on the computer where you want to install Windows 10: 32-bit or 64-bit processor (CPU). You’ll create either the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 10 that’s appropriate for your CPU. To check this on your computer, go to PC info in PC settings or System in Control Panel, and look for System type. Homepage: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10 Direct Download Link: MediaCreationTool1909.exe
  11. Hello experts, I have a Dell Latitude 3490 Laptop. It comes with Windows 10 Pro Pre-installed. Around 3 months before I did a Windows Update after that I have witnessed a "Yellow" "Lock" Icon present in the Drive volumes, I thought the Windows is protecting the drives, but i didn't know that it was "BitLocker Encryption" at that time. Three days before i had given my laptop to the Dell Service center as it couldn't power on. They have replaced the Motherboard. Now Windows is asking for BicLocker Recover Key which i don't have, The Laptop HDD is 1TB with 3 partitions, c = 150GB, d = 390GB, e = 390GB all three are encrypted with BitLocker. Note: I never enabled the BitLocker Encryption by myself so I don't have the password / Recovery Keys. Any help would be appreciated Thanks ppu
  12. How to list all installed third-party drivers on Windows PCs Drivers play an important part in Windows as they add certain capabilities or support for certain hardware devices to the operating system. Windows operating systems come with a set of default drivers that ensure that things work reasonably well and don't require users to install numerous drivers manually before components like video or sound cards, wireless network adapters, or drives function properly. It may not be necessary to install any third-party drivers on Windows PCs but sometimes, it is necessary or wanted. Administrators may need to install third-party drivers if the default drivers don't support certain hardware devices; sometimes, it is also beneficial to use third-party drivers to improve functionality or performance. Many security and low-level tools such as Sandboxie or VeraCrypt install drivers on the system; without these drivers, these programs would not function usually. Drivers may cause issues on Windows PCs; a bad driver may cause crashes, data loss and other issues, or even prevent the system from booting up correctly. Managing drivers with native Windows tools is not a pleasant experience for the most part. Third-party tools such as DriverStore Explorer or InstalledDriversList improve management significantly. DriverView is a free 32-bit and 64-bit program for Microsoft Windows systems that administrators may use to list all third-party drivers installed on the system (among other things). The Nirsoft application is portable and compatible with all recent (and many not so recent) versions of the operating system. The program is offered as a 32-bit and 64-bit executable, and has a size of under 100 Kilobytes unpacked. The interface lists installed drivers by default. These include native Windows drivers and third-party drivers. A click on the View menu item displays options to hide all Microsoft drivers; doing so lists all third-party installed drivers on the system. Each driver is listed with its file name and type, path, modification and creation date, and many other parameters. Some have descriptions while others may not. Tip: enable the digital signature option under Options > Read Digital Signature to display it in the table. Note that you need to refresh the driver listing after enabling the option as it is not added automatically when you enable the option. Here are a couple of use scenarios for the app: List the drivers that were installed most recently. Verify installed driver versions. Sort drivers by company or installation path. Run a Google Search for specific drivers that you select in the application's interface. Create a HTML report that lists all installed third-party drivers. Upload some drivers to Virustotal for checking (manually only). DriverView may be run from the command line. The parameters are limited as there is no export only non-Microsoft drivers to a file. Closing Words DriverView is a handy software program to analyze installed third-party drivers on Windows machines. It is portable, easy to use, and its export options allow admins to create snapshots of drivers installed on a system. The program could use a handful of options that make it more useful, e.g. an option to open the folder a driver is installed in on the local system or integrated Virustotal scanning. Source: How to list all installed third-party drivers on Windows PCs (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  13. Two security vulnerabilities in Microsoft's NTLM authentication protocol allow attackers to bypass the MIC (Message Integrity Code) protection and downgrade NTLM security features leading to full domain compromise. Microsoft patched the two NTLM flaws and issued security advisories as part of the Patch Tuesday security updates issued yesterday after Preempt’s disclosure. Preempt researchers Yaron Zinar and Marina Simakov discovered that attackers can exploit these flaws as part of NTLM relay attacks that may, in some cases, "cause full domain compromise of a network," with all Active Directory customers with default configurations being exposed. The Windows NT (New Technology) LAN Manager (NTLM) authentication protocol was used for client/server authentication purposes to authenticate remote users, as well as to provide session security when requested by app protocols. NTLM is superseded by Kerberos, now the default auth protocol for domain connected devices for all Windows versions above Windows 2000. "Despite Kerberos being the more prevalent authentication protocol in most organizations, NTLM is still enabled and thus abused by attackers to exploit the vulnerabilities that we have described above," adds the Preempt advisory. Tampering vulnerability impacts all in-support Windows versions Preempt's research team was able to find flaws that could be abused by potential attackers to circumvent NTLM relay attack mitigations provided by Microsoft. While Microsoft added a Message Integrity Code (MIC) field to block attackers from tampering with NTLM messages, Preempt's researchers found a bypass on NTLM authentication that allows attackers to "modify any field in the NTLM message flow, including the signing requirement." "This bypass allows attackers to relay authentication attempts which have successfully negotiated signing to another server, while tricking the server to entirely ignore the signing requirement." The NTLM tampering vulnerability that leads to this bypass is tracked as CVE-2019-1166 (dubbed Drop The MIC 2 by Preempt) and was, as mentioned above, patched yesterday by Microsoft as part of October's Patch Tuesday. NTLM relay basic flow (Image: Preempt) CVE-2019-1166 impacts all in-support Windows versions, with all servers that do not enforce signing being vulnerable to attacks exploiting it. "A tampering vulnerability exists in Microsoft Windows when a man-in-the-middle attacker is able to successfully bypass the NTLM MIC (Message Integrity Check) protection," says Microsoft's advisory. "An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the ability to downgrade NTLM security features." Second flaw impacts clients sending LMv2 responses The second flaw discovered by Preempt also circumvents the MIC protection against NTLM relay attacks, as well as other NTLM relay mitigations including but not limited to "Enhanced Protection for Authentication (EPA) and target SPN validation for certain old NTLM clients that are sending LMv2 challenge responses." The Windows NTLM security feature bypass vulnerability is tracked as CVE-2019-1338 and, just like the first one, was patched by Microsoft as part of this month Patch Tuesday. It affects Windows 7 SP1, Windows 2008, and Windows 2008 R2 devices, and could be used in attacks that enable threat actors "to use NTLM relay to successfully authenticate to critical servers such as OWA and ADFS and steal valuable user data." "A security feature bypass vulnerability exists in Microsoft Windows when a man-in-the-middle attacker is able to successfully bypass the NTLMv2 protection if a client is also sending LMv2 responses," says Microsoft's security advisory. "An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the ability to downgrade NTLM security features." AD customers with default configs exposed to attacks To exploit CVE-2019-1166 potential attackers would need to tamper with the NTLM exchange, while attackers attempting to abusing CVE-2019-1338 as part of their attacks would need to be able to modify NTLM traffic exchange. "All Active Directory customers with default configurations are vulnerable to such attacks," added the Preempt researchers. "Moreover, organizations that do not block LM responses and have clients who still send these default responses are vulnerable to targeted attacks on these clients to bypass additional NTLM protections" More technical details and background information on the two NTLM flaws are available in Preempt's analysis. Previous NTLM flaws and protection This is not the first time Preempt discovered NTLM vulnerabilities, with two critical ones consisting of three logical flaws and allowing attackers to run remote code and authenticate on machines running any Windows version having been fixed by Microsoft as part of June's Patch Tuesday security updates. Previously, Preempt disclosed another flaw impacting all in-support Windows version at the time, fixed by Microsoft during July 2017 Patch Tuesday and enabling attackers to create admin accounts on a local network's domain controller (DC). Preempt's research team provides the following recommendations to protect networks with devices impacted by these vulnerabilities: • Enforce NTLM mitigations. In order to be fully protected from NTLM relay attacks you will need to enable server signing and EPA on all relevant servers. • Patch! Make sure your systems are fully protected with the latest security updates. • Apply advanced NTLM relay detection and prevention techniques similar to the ones disclosed by Preempt in our Black Hat 2019 talk (a free encore presentation can be found here). • Some NTLM clients use weak NTLM variations (e.g., don’t send a MIC). This puts your network at a greater risk of being vulnerable to NTLM relay. Monitor NTLM traffic in your network and try to restrict insecure NTLM traffic. • Get rid of clients sending LM responses and set the GPO Network security: LAN Manager authentication level to refuse LM responses. • NTLM is not recommended to use in general as it poses some security concerns:NTLM relay, brute forcing, and other vulnerabilities. You can read about general NTLM risks here. As a rule of thumb: try to reduce NTLM usage in your network as much as possible. "Even though NTLM Relay is an old technique, enterprises cannot completely eliminate the use of the protocol as it will break many applications," said Preempt's Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder Roman Blachman in June. "Hence it still poses a significant risk to enterprises, especially with new vulnerabilities discovered constantly." Source
  14. JayDee

    Windows 10 Reactivation

    Hello, I recently bought a Lenovo laptop with no operating system. I bought a Windows 10 Home license (v1803), installed it and activated it on my Lenovo. My question is the following. If I perform a clean installation using a bootable usb containing Windows 10 Home (v1903), does my windows activates automatically when connected to the internet or does it ask me to enter the activation code again to activate ? Thank you
  15. All Windows users should update immediately as ‘Complete Control’ hack is confirmed The tool is available on Dark Web for free A couple of weeks back, researchers from cybersecurity firm Eclypsium revealed that almost all the major hardware manufacturers have a flaw that can allow malicious applications to gain kernel privileges at the user level, thereby gaining direct access to firmware and hardware. The researchers released a list of BIOS vendors and hardware manufacturers which included Toshiba, ASUS, Huawei, Intel, Nvidia and more. The flaw also affects all the new versions of Windows which includes Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and Windows 10. While Microsoft has already released a statement confirming that Windows Defender is more than capable of handling the issue, they didn’t mention that users need to be on the latest version of Windows to take benefit of the same. For older versions of Windows, Microsoft noted that it will be using HVCI (Hypervisor-enforced Code Integrity) capability to blacklist drivers that are reported to them. Unfortunately, this feature is only available on 7th generation and later Intel processors; so older CPUs, or newer ones where HCVI is disabled, require the drivers to be manually uninstalled. If this wasn’t enough bad news, hackers have now managed to use the flaw to exploit the users. Remote Access Trojan or RAT has been around for years but recent developments have made it more dangerous than ever. The NanoCore RAT used to sell on Dark Web for $25 but was cracked back in 2014 and the free version was made available to the hackers. After this, the tool got sophisticated as new plugins were added to it. Now, researchers from LMNTRX Labs have discovered a new addition that allows hackers to take advantage of the flaw and the tool is now available for free on the Dark Web. In case you were underestimating the tool, it can allow a hacker to remoting shutdown or reboot the system, remotely browse files, access and control the Task Manager, Registry Editor, and even the mouse. Not only that, but the attacker can also open web pages, disable the webcam activity light to spy on the victim unnoticed and capture audio and video. Since the attacker has full access to the computer, they can also recover passwords and obtain login credentials using a keylogger as well as lock the computer with custom encryption that can act like ransomware. The good news is that NanoCore RAT has been around for years, the software is well known to the security researchers. LMNTRX team (via Forbes) broke down detection techniques into three main categories: T1064 – Scripting: As scripting is commonly used by system administrators to perform routine tasks, any anomalous execution of legitimate scripting programs, such as PowerShell or Wscript, can signal suspicious behaviour. Checking office files for macro code can also help identify scripting used by attackers. Office processes, such as winword.exe spawning instances of cmd.exe, or script applications like wscript.exe and powershell.exe, may indicate malicious activity. T1060 – Registry Run Keys / Startup Folder: Monitoring Registry for changes to run keys that do not correlate with known software or patch cycles, and monitoring the start folder for additions or changes, can help detect malware. Suspicious programs executing at start-up may show up as outlier processes that have not been seen before when compared against historical data. Solutions like LMNTRIX Respond, which monitors these important locations and raises alerts for any suspicious change or addition, can help detect these behaviours. T1193 – Spearphishing Attachment: Network Intrusion Detection systems, such as LMNTRIX Detect, can be used to detect spearphishing with malicious attachments in transit. In LMNTRIX Detect’s case, in-built detonation chambers can detect malicious attachments based on behaviour, rather than signatures. This is critical as signature-based detection often fails to protect against attackers that frequently change and update their payloads. Overall, these detection techniques apply for organizations and for personal/home users, the best thing to do right now is to update every piece of software to make sure it’s running on the latest version. This includes Windows drivers, 3rd party softwares and even Windows Updates. Most importantly, don’t download or open any suspicious email or install any 3rd party software from an unknown vendor. Source: All Windows users should update immediately as ‘Complete Control’ hack is confirmed (MSPoweruser)
  16. Manual Online KMS Activation for Windows, Server & Office Thanks to @november_ra1n Info: KMS Activation last 180 days set by Microsoft however after 180 days you can repeat the activation to gain another 180 days and so on forever. : ) PS: KMS Activation will be succeeded as long as KMS Server Host Address are still online see alternative Working Online KMS servers end of the text.... ====================================================================================== A) Windows & Server Activation: Windows <Type here to search> look for Command Prompt and (Right click and run as administrator) #Keep the Internet Connection on during activation!# 1. Install KMS Client Setup Key according to your Windows: slmgr /ipk <KMS Client Setup Key> NOTE: All Windows & Server KMS Client Setup Keys there (Make sure use right key according to your Windows Edition!): https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/previous-versions/windows/it-pro/windows-server-2012-R2-and-2012/jj612867(v=ws.11) or https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/get-started/kmsclientkeys 2. Run the following command to point Windows to the KMS server: cscript slmgr.vbs /skms kms.digiboy.ir 3. Run the following command to activate Windows: cscript slmgr.vbs /ato 4. Clear the name of KMS server (Optional) slmgr /ckms 5. Finally to find out & display your license information: cscript slmgr.vbs -dli ====================================================================================== Microsoft Office (2016, 2013, or 2010) Activation: NOTE:Unlike Windows for Office you need Volume License Edition to order to activate via KMS! Download Microsoft Office 2016 Volume License ISO [Original from VLSC]: http://bit.ly/2GLb5yY Windows <Type here to search> look for Command Prompt and (Right click and run as administrator) #Keep the Internet Connection on during activation!# 1. Set KMS Host... x64: cscript "%ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /sethst:kmshostaddress x86 installed in Win x64: cscript "%ProgramFiles(x86)%\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /sethst:kms.digiboy.ir Note:(Office14 = Office 2010; Office15 = Office 2013; Office16 = Office 2016) 2. Request Activation x64: cscript "%ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /act x86 installed in Win x64: cscript "%ProgramFiles(x86)%\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /act 3. Clear KMS Host (Optional) x64: cscript "%ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /remhst x86 installed in Win x64: cscript "%ProgramFiles(x86)%\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /remhst 4. Check Activation Status x64: cscript "%ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /dstatus x86 installed in Win x64: cscript "%ProgramFiles(x86)%\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /dstatus Note: All Office KMS Client Setup Keys can be find it there: http://sapsan.wclub5.com/archives/1230 ====================================================================================== Alternative Working Online KMS servers: kms.digiboy.ir kms.lotro.cc cy2617.jios.org kms.chinancce.com k.zpale.com m.zpale.com mvg.zpale.com kms.shuax.com ======================================================================================
  17. Cauptain

    Visual Subst 2.0

    VISUAL SUBST 2 Map Virtual Drives Easily, Reduce Long Paths to Just One Letter with Visual Subst Visual Subst is a small tool that allows you to associate the most accessed directories with virtual drives. It solves three main issues with the built-in 'subst' command: it seamlessly creates drives for elevated applications, adds editable drive labels and restores drives after reboots. Also, Visual Subst makes it easier to create, edit and remove virtual drives in a GUI way. Features: Homepage: https://www.ntwind.com/software/visual-subst.html Download Page: https://www.ntwind.com/download/VSubst_2.0-setup.exe Medicine: waiting for a great soul
  18. The Witcher: Enhanced Edition" for Windows PC Get it for free: 1) First create an account on GOG.com, then 2) Go to https://www.playgwent.com/?pp=4b1a62d54f5d635ceffa0118244d63e07779e04a download GOG Galaxy and add GWENT card game to your library (whic is also free), then 3) Go to https://www.gog.com/gwent-welcome-bonus?pp=4b1a62d54f5d635ceffa0118244d63e07779e04a Subscribe and claim your free Witcher Enhanced Edition for Windows PC free.
  19. Critical Windows 10 Warning: Millions Of Users At Risk Millions of Windows 10 users at risk of compromise as critical vulnerability is revealed at DEF CON 27 Getty As the Black Hat security conference comes to an end in Las Vegas, so the DEF CON hacker convention begins. It didn't take long for the first critical warnings for Windows users to emerge as a result. This one is particularly worrying as, according to the Eclypsium researchers who gave the presentation, the issue applies "to all modern versions of Microsoft Windows," which leaves millions of Windows 10 users at risk of system compromise. What did the researchers reveal? In a nutshell, the researcher found a common design flaw within the hardware device drivers from multiple vendors including Huawei, Intel, NVIDIA, Realtek Semiconductor, SuperMicro and Toshiba. In total, the number of hardware vendors affected runs to 20 and includes every major BIOS vendor. The nature of the vulnerability has the potential for the widespread compromise of Windows 10 machines. Eclypsium’s research team were investigating how insecure drivers can be abused to attack a device and gain a foothold on the system it is part of. "Drivers that provide access to system BIOS or system components for the purposes of updating firmware, running diagnostics, or customizing options on the component," the researchers stated during their presentation, "can allow attackers to turn the very tools used to manage a system into powerful threats that can escalate privileges and persist invisibly on the host." The drivers were found to have design flaws that enable what are meant to be "low-privilege" applications to be used by a threat actor in such a way as to potentially compromise parts of the Windows operating system that should only be accessible by "privileged" applications. That includes the Windows kernel at the very heart of the operating system. Certified for trust The dangerous escalation of privileges problem, giving an attacker read and write access at the same level as the kernel, becomes more problematical when you realize the level of trust that can be exploited here. These were not "rogue" drivers, but officially sanctioned ones. They were all from trusted vendors, all signed by trusted certificate authorities and all certified by Microsoft. As the drivers are designed specifically to update firmware, the seriousness of the issue becomes very apparent, very quickly. The flawed drivers not only provide the mechanism to make these changes but also the privileges to do so. If a threat actor can manipulate this combination of bad coding and signed certification, well, the outcome isn't going to look pretty. The researchers stated that there are "multiple examples of attacks in the wild that take advantage of this class of vulnerable drivers." Examples provided included the Slingshot APT campaign which installs a kernel rootkit and "LoJax malware" that installs malicious code in device firmware that can even survive a full Windows reinstallation. Has the problem been fixed yet? Mickey Shkatov, a principal researcher at Eclypsium, told ZDNet that "Some vendors, like Intel and Huawei, have already issued updates." Others, which are independent BIOS vendors, like Phoenix and Insyde, "are releasing their updates to their customer OEMs," Shkatov said. The Eclypsium research reveals that the security issue applies to "all modern versions of Microsoft Windows," and "there is currently no universal mechanism to keep a Windows machine from loading one of these known bad drivers." That said, group policies for Windows Enterprise, Pro and Sever could provide a degree of mitigation to "a subset of users," the researchers stated. The full list of vendors that have issued updates, which you should install as soon as possible, can be found here. What has Microsoft said? A Microsoft statement said, "In order to exploit vulnerable drivers, an attacker would need to have already compromised the computer. To help mitigate this class of issues, Microsoft recommends that customers use Windows Defender Application Control to block known vulnerable software and drivers." As well as turning on memory integrity for capable devices in Windows Security, Microsoft also recommended using Windows 10 and the Edge browser "for the best protection." Source: Critical Windows 10 Warning: Millions Of Users At Risk (Forbes)
  20. Operating systems are dwindling towards irrelevance, and that’s no bad thing When PC Pro was born nearly 25 years ago, it didn't start life under that name: It entered the world as Windows Magazine. Magazines gathered in little tribes. There was PC Pro, PC Magazine, Computer Shopper and several others all vying for the Windows users, and then there were MacUser and MacFormat trying to tempt the Macolytes. Later on, the Linux mags came along, once the writers had managed to unjam their beards from the printer. There wasn't – with the possible exception of the ultra-snobby Wired – one magazine that served all those audiences, because why would they? What would a Mac owner want to know about the new advances in Windows 98? It just didn't compute. A quarter of a century later, the operating system is on the brink of irrelevance. Nothing much is defined by the OS that you use. You could be running macOS, Windows, Android or iOS, even desktop Linux, and to a large extent your day-to-day work would be unaffected. Files flow freely from one OS to another with compatibility rarely raising its ugly head. Computing's tribes have never rubbed along so harmoniously. This outbreak of peace has had a dramatic effect on the computing landscape, and nowhere more so than at Microsoft. The company's mantra used to be "Windows everywhere"; now it's getting harder to find mention of Windows anywhere. New Windows releases used to be huge staging posts, now they're little more than blog posts. The recent Build conference, once the place where we tech journalists flocked to get a full day's advanced briefing on all the new features in the next version of Windows, barely made mention of the W word, according to those who were there. Microsoft's embrace of Linux and its conversion to the Chromium engine for the Edge browser are based on a realisation that Microsoft failed to grasp for too long: despite those billion or so users, the world doesn't revolve around Windows anymore. It's hard to think of anything but niche software packages that could survive by chaining themselves to a single OS anymore. In the process of researching and writing this column, I've gone from Word on my Windows laptop to finishing it off on the train using Word on my iPad Pro. I read the background articles using Chrome on my Android phone, clipped quotes and notes to OneNote mobile, which I've accessed on the other platforms, and saved the copy itself in Dropbox. Had any of these applications or services been tied to a particular OS, I wouldn't be using them. Twenty years ago, Sun boss Scott McNealy used to lose his rag at every press conference when asked about Windows. "Who cares about operating systems?" he would bellow. "Nobody knows what operating system is running inside their car or their mobile phone," he would argue, in the days before iOS and Android were even conceived. They were, to his mind, an irrelevance. He was wrong at the time, but he would be entitled to say "I told you so" if he were still around to swagger into press conferences now. The OS is dwindling in importance. Like a good football referee, you barely notice it's there at all. Even Microsoft has sussed that the operating system just has to get out of the way, which is why it's worked hard to reduce unwanted interruptions from security software and the dreaded Windows Update. To use the favourite phrase of a former editor, Windows has learned to "just deal with it". While a small part of me misses the tribalism and the pub banter with the smug Mac brigade (they probably had reason to be smug, truth be told), the "anything for an easy life" part of me is relieved. I can pick up almost any device and be confident that it will let me get on with the day job. Only a few specialist apps are tied to a particular machine. Windows doesn't really matter any more – it's a good job we changed PC Pro's name all those years ago. Source
  21. Windows goes from cornerstone to just another building block for Microsoft in latest 10-K report Microsoft signified its expansion beyond the flagship operating system, after making a subtle change to their 2019 Form 10-K report; in which a longstanding reference that described Windows 10 as “the cornerstone” of its ambition to make computing more personal, has been removed. Windows 10 is the cornerstone of our ambition, providing a foundation for the secure, modern workplace, and designed to foster innovation through rich and consistent experiences across the range of existing devices and entirely new device categories The report was made public on Thursday in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, and now includes language that more broadly describes the context of Windows: We strive to make computing more personal by putting users at the core of the experience, enabling them to interact with technology in more intuitive, engaging, and dynamic ways. In support of this, we are bringing Office, Windows, and devices together for an enhanced and more cohesive customer experience. Windows 10 continues to gain traction in the enterprise as the most secure and productive operating system. It empowers people with AI-first interfaces ranging from voice-activated commands through Cortana, inking, immersive 3D content storytelling, and mixed reality experiences. Windows also plays a critical role in fueling our cloud business and Microsoft 365 strategy, and it powers the growing range of devices on the “intelligent edge.” Our ambition for Windows 10 monetization opportunities includes gaming, services, subscriptions, and search advertising. While Windows is used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, it’s no longer the company’s primary growth engine. The annual filing includes a breakdown of Microsoft revenue by major product lines, which is different from the broader divisional results from the company’s quarterly earnings results. Last year, there was a major reorganisation of Windows engineering teams, in order to put greater emphasis on cloud computing. Microsoft’s server and cloud services business grew by 24% to $32 billion, and for the first time, overtaking Office to become Microsoft’s largest product line by revenue. Microsoft predicted that their Windows OS would be on 1 billion devices within a couple of years. The number turned out to be 800 million, and though revenue gain was only 4% in 2019, the business is still worth a generous $20.4 billion for the year. Hopefully, despite the downgrade, Microsoft will still see fit to invest in the last major public-facing business. Source: Windows goes from cornerstone to just another building block for Microsoft in latest 10-K report (MSPoweruser)
  22. It’s time to install most of July's Windows and Office patches If you’ve been keeping your Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 machines clean with “Security-only” patches, July has an important change to consider. For most people, the coast is clear to install the July 2019 patches. Pashaignatov / Getty Images With one glaring exception, July was a rather benign patching month. The Win10 versions got their usual two cumulative updates (the second considered “optional”). Visual Studio had some hiccups, but they’re fixed now. Folks trying to upgrade from Windows 10 version 1803 or 1809 to 1903 encounter various problems, but for now there’s very little reason to push your machine onto 1903. We’ll be talking a lot more about that later this month. When Win7 Security-only patches aren’t The big pimple on the patching butt this month: The Win7/Server 2008 R2 “Security-only” patch. Without any warning or explanation from Microsoft, the July “Security-only” patch installs a full telemetry kit and hooks things up so information gets sent to Microsoft – precisely what most people are trying to avoid by taking the “Security-only” route. We have late-breaking confirmation from Windows guru @abbodi86 that the July Security-only patch installs the same kind of telemetry found in the Monthly Rollups. Many (dare I say “all”?) of the folks who go to the bother of downloading and manually installing the Security-only patches specifically do so to avoid the snooping. But if you want the July security fixes, telemetry comes along for the ride. Fortunately, there are ways to circumvent the telemetry, or at least minimize it. Details following. McAfee Endpoint Protection conflicts – maybe Again this month there are questions about McAfee Endpoint Protection’s interaction with Windows updates. Kevin Beaumont (@GossiTheDog) kicked off the latest round of suspicion and vituperations by posting: McAfee Endpoint Protection has an interesting one, they've added a rule called RDP which I think is designed around BlueKeep (?), but it stops Windows Update applying July's security patches. Günter Born has taken up the call with an article on his Borncity blog, but I’ve been unable to replicate the problem or find calls for help on the McAfee site. Anyway, if you have trouble installing the July patches and you’re using McAfee Endpoint Protection, you might try turning it off before retrying. Update the safe way Here’s how to get your system updated the (relatively) safe way. Step 1. Make a full system image backup before you install the latest patches. There’s a non-zero chance that the patches — even the latest, greatest patches of patches of patches — will hose your machine. Best to have a backup that you can reinstall even if your machine refuses to boot. This comes in addition to the usual need for System Restore points. There are plenty of full-image backup products, including at least two good free ones: Macrium Reflect Free and EaseUS Todo Backup. For Win7 users, If you aren’t making backups regularly, take a look at this thread started by Cybertooth for details. You have good options, both free and not-so-free. Step 2. For Win7 and 8.1 Microsoft is blocking updates to Windows 7 and 8.1 on recent computers. If you are running Windows 7 or 8.1 on a PC that’s 24 months old or newer, follow the instructions in AKB 2000006 or @MrBrian’s summary of @radosuaf’s method to make sure you can use Windows Update to get updates applied. If you’ve been relying on the Security-only “Group B” patching approach to keep Microsoft’s snooping software off your PC, you’re faced with a tough decision: You can hold off on installing any patches this month. Since Security-only patches are not cumulative, you may be able to skate by this month’s fix and pick up next month – assuming Microsoft doesn’t include telemetry with the patches next month – by no means a given. You can switch over to the Monthly Rollups. I’ve been recommending this approach for quite some time, but realize that there are folks who just don’t feel comfortable running Microsoft’s telemetry termites on their machines. If you’ve been installing the Security-only patches and want to continue doing so, be sure to follow @abbodi86’s advice, turn off the Customer Experience Improvement Program (gotta love the name) and, after the July patch is installed, disable the new scheduled tasks. For most Windows 7 and 8.1 users, I recommend following AKB 2000004: How to apply the Win7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollups. Realize that some or all of the expected patches for July may not show up or, if they do show up, may not be checked. DON'T CHECK any unchecked patches. Unless you're very sure of yourself, DON'T GO LOOKING for additional patches. In particular, if you install the July Monthly Rollup, you won’t need (and probably won’t see) the concomitant patches for June. Don't mess with Mother Microsoft. If you see KB 4493132, the “Get Windows 10” nag patch, make sure it’s unchecked. Watch out for driver updates — you’re far better off getting them from a manufacturer’s website. After you’ve installed the latest Monthly Rollup, if you’re intent on minimizing Microsoft’s snooping, run through the steps in AKB 2000007: Turning off the worst Win7 and 8.1 snooping. If you want to thoroughly cut out the telemetry, see @abbodi86’s detailed instructions in AKB 2000012: How To Neutralize Telemetry and Sustain Windows 7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollup Model. Realize that we don’t know what information Microsoft collects on Window 7 and 8.1 machines. But I’d be willing to bet that fully-updated Win7 and 8.1 machines are leaking almost as much personal info as that pushed in Win10. Step 3. For Windows 10 prior to version 1903 If you want to stick with your current version of Win10 Pro — a reasonable alternative — you can follow my advice from February and set “quality update” (cumulative update) deferrals to 15 days, per the screenshot below. If you have quality updates set to 15 days, your machine already updated itself on July 24, and will update again on August 21. Don’t touch a thing and in particular don’t click Check for updates. Microsoft For the rest of you, including those of you stuck with Win10 Home, go through the steps in "8 steps to install Windows 10 patches like a pro." Make sure that you run Step 3 to hide any updates you don’t want (such as the Win10 1903 upgrade or any driver updates for non-Microsoft hardware) before proceeding. If you see a notice that, "You're currently running a version of windows that's nearing the end of support. We recommend you update to the most recent version of Windows 10 now to get the latest features and security improvements" you can safely chill. Win10 1803 is good through November. If you see a link to “Download and install now,” ignore it – for the same reason. Step 3A. For Windows 10 version 1903 If you’ve already moved to Win10 Pro version 1903, and you set a 15-day deferral on quality updates, you’ll no doubt discover that the settings shown in the screenshot are no longer available on your machine. Microsoft hasn’t yet deigned to tell us what’s going on, but you can rest assured that your 15-day deferral was obeyed – and you got the July patches on July 24. Don’t worry about changing the deferral settings just yet. You’re protected until Aug. 21. We’re still experimenting with all of the settings and seeing how they interact with one another, but at this point my best advice if you’re on 1903 is to click the link on the Windows Update page that says “Pause updates for 7 days,” then click on the newly revealed link, which says “Pause updates for 7 more days,” then click it again. By clicking that link three times, you’ll defer cumulative updates for 21 days from the day you started clicking – if you do it today, you’ll be protected until Aug. 23 – which compares favorably to my preferred 15-day deferral, mentioned earlier. There are several group policies and a handful of registry settings working in the background when you make those changes. It still isn’t clear to me how they interact (@PKCano has some details – and they’re hairy). But if you’re using Pro and set the quality update deferral to 15 days, and punch the “Pause updates for 7 days” button three times (on either Home or Pro), you should be in good shape. Thanks to the dozens of volunteers on AskWoody who contribute mightily, especially @sb, @PKCano, @abbodi86 and many others. We’ve moved to MS-DEFCON 4 on the AskWoody Lounge. Source: It’s time to install most of July's Windows and Office patches (Computerworld - Woody Leonhard)
  23. How to check your Android phone’s notifications on a Windows PC Your phone and PC can work together if you set them up properly Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge It’s been a long time coming, but Microsoft finally has its own system for managing Android notifications from Windows. This system makes it possible to see notifications from your Android phone on your Windows 10 PC as they arrive and to pull up your entire SMS history along with any pending notifications on demand. You can even reply to messages and compose new texts right from your computer. Here’s how to get started. On your Windows 10 computer First, make sure you have the latest version of the Your Phone app: Open the Microsoft Store, and search for “Your Phone” If the app isn’t already installed, install it If the app is installed, click the three-dot menu button next to the “Launch” command. If “Update” appears as an option, select it. Next, prepare your computer for the connection: Open the Your Phone app Click the Android box, then click “Get started” Enter your phone number in the prompt that appears 1 of 3 Got it? Good. Time to move to the phone side of things. On your Android phone Look for a text from Microsoft with a link to install the Your Phone Companion app (or just find the app in the Play Store on your own), and then install it Open the Your Phone Companion app, and tap “Sign in with Microsoft” Enter your Microsoft credentials. Make sure to use the same account shown in the Your Phone app on your computer. Grant the app the various permissions it requests When the app prompts you to set up the Your Phone app on your PC, tap “My PC is ready” When the app prompts you to allow the connection, tap “Allow” 1 of 12 The final link There’s just one bit of setup left, the part that allows notifications to go through: Open your phone’s system settings, search for “Notification Access,” then select the Notification Access option Find the Your Phone Companion app in the list, and activate the toggle beside it Tap “Allow” on the confirmation window that appears Go back to the Your Phone app on your computer, and click the Notification tab on the left side of the screen. If you don’t see a Notification tab, close the app and then reopen it. Click “Get started,” then click “Open settings for me.” You already manually adjusted your settings (which is the more direct way of doing it — and the only way to do it as of this year’s Android Q release), so you should be taken right to the app’s Notifications screen. 1 of 2 That’s it! Any notifications you get on your phone will now automatically pop up on your desktop and then move into your Windows 10 Notification Center (in the lower-right corner of the screen). Any text messages will include the option to reply — something that’s currently limited to your default Android SMS app but will soon expand to support all apps with reply functions in their notifications. 1 of 3 Any time you want to look through all of your messages and pending notifications, just open the Your Phone app on your computer. While you’re there, click on the “Customize” command within the Notifications tab. That’ll let you selectively mute notifications from specific apps, in case you ever need a little less noise. Source: How to check your Android phone’s notifications on a Windows PC(The Verge) (To view the article's image galleries, please visit the above link)
  24. A Linux kernel developer working with Microsoft has let slip that Linux-based operating systems have a larger presence on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform than Windows-based ones. The revelation appeared on an Openwall open-source security list in an application for Microsoft developers to join the list, and was apparently part of an evidently credible argument that Microsoft plays an active-enough role in Linux development to merit including the company in security groups. The overwhelming prevalence of Linux on Microsoft’s cloud platform may come as a surprise when viewed in isolation, but it makes complete sense from a business perspective. To start with, it’s simply cheaper to run Linux on Azure, as Microsoft’s own price calculator illustrates as clear as day. In this respect, Microsoft basically forced its own hand in terms of monetizing OS licensing into a consistent revenue stream, since Windows 10 Home is essentially free (if you don’t count the “Windows tax“) and Windows 10 Pro works out to a one-and-done revenue opportunity with many enterprise customers. The fact that Linux conforms closely (enough) to the Unix structure and philosophy also makes Linux instances easier to manage. Because Unix is so prolific, basically any system administrator will instantly be at home in the Linux file system, and the saved time and headaches translate pretty quickly into saved dollars and cents, not to mention fewer complications posed by downtime. Linux’s dominance also fits perfectly in the context of its gradual, deliberate integration into Microsoft’s long-term development and innovation vision. When Microsoft first proclaimed its love for Linux in 2014, many industry professionals, especially in the open-source sphere, were skeptical, but from that point on, Linux has been rolling steadily ahead at Microsoft. Initially, Microsoft’s embrace of Linux manifested as the Windows Subsystem for Linux, a curiosity mostly aimed at developers. Last year, though, the company announced Azure Sphere, a cloud-connected platform for internet of things (IoT) devices which includes Azure Sphere OS, an in-house headless Linux-based operating system. This was a masterstroke for Microsoft — even a stripped-down Windows OS is far too bloated to run on practically any IoT device, but most IoT manufacturers could benefit from a secure, off-the-shelf IoT solution to replace their own ill-conceived attempts. Azure Sphere was designed specifically to fill this void. Taken together, it’s easy to see how the numerous Linux options Microsoft offers on Azure alone — to say nothing of the deeper integration Linux is getting on the Windows 10 desktop — outflanks the comparatively more limited options and higher cost associated with running Windows on Azure. At the rate at which the company finds new and inventive applications for Linux, this trend looks set to continue, and Microsoft seems just fine with that. Updated on July 15, 2019: Revised with additional information from Microsoft regarding Azure Sphere. Source
  25. The launch of AMD's Ryzen 3000 series has been undeniably successful thus far, but early Zen 2 buyers have run up against two curious and vastly different bugs: not being able to play Destiny 2 on Windows 10, and not being able to boot up Linux machines using more recent kernels. Good news for both camps is incoming, as AMD just sent word that a fix is coming within the next few days. An AMD representative just provided this statement via email: "AMD has identified the root cause and implemented a BIOS fix for an issue impacting the ability to run certain Linux distributions and Destiny 2 on Ryzen 3000 processors. We have distributed an updated BIOS to our motherboard partners, and we expect consumers to have access to the new BIOS over the coming days." AMD says it was able to root cause and resolve both issues fairly quickly in its BIOS code with a patch, and the company expects motherboard vendors to distribute the patch (potentially in beta BIOS form) by next week. Earlier this week a growing number of complaints amassed from Windows gamers concerning the inability to launch Activision's Destiny 2 with various Ryzen 3000 CPUs. On the Linux side of the fence, a fairly critical bug emerged that straight up prevented a system from booting with 5.0 or newer Linux kernels. It's nice to have these both addressed and resolved within the first week of launch, and hopefully the motherboard vendors will act quickly to seed this patch to their users. Keep an eye on those BIOS updates! Source
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