Computer hardware

How (and Why) Microsoft Blocks Windows 7 Updates on New PCs

Microsoft doesn’t want you to keep installing Windows 7 (or 8) on new PCs. If you try, you’ll see an “Unsupported hardware” message and your PC won’t receive any security updates from Windows Update. Other hardware features may not work properly, either.

Microsoft Now Requires You Use Windows 10 With the Newest CPUs

This is somewhat confusing because Windows 7 is in its extended support period, and is officially supported by Microsoft with security updates until 2020. Windows 8.1 is still in its mainstream support period and is officially supported until 2023. In theory, these operating systems should work fine, even on newer hardware.

Historically, Microsoft hasn’t enforced any sort of hardware limitations for older versions of Windows. Even after Windows 7 was released, you could continue installing Windows XP on the new PC hardware being released, if you liked.

But Microsoft now has a new policy, which they announced at the beginning of 2016. New CPUs will require the latest version of Windows. “Going forward, as new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support,” explains a Microsoft blog post. This doesn’t even just mean Windows 10—it means the latest update to Windows 10, too.

This policy is now in place. If you have a PC with an Intel 7th-generation CPU (Kaby Lake) or AMD’s 7th-generation processor (Bristol Ridge or Ryzen), you’ll see an error message and Windows Update won’t offer your PC and security updates. New CPU architectures will have the same limitation going forward.

Microsoft initially announced that only some computer models running Intel’s 6th-generation CPUs (Skylake) would be supported with security updates, but most PCs with Skylake would be left out in the cold. This came as a shock, as it was announced after some people had already purchased Skylake PCs and installed Windows 7 on them. However, Microsoft eventually backed off on this threat. Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs with Skylake will continue receiving security updates normally until 2020. Instead, Microsoft is firmly drawing a line in the sand with the 7th-generation CPUs.

This policy also appllies to Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Server PCs will need the latest version of Windows Server to get security updates.

“Unsupported Hardware” Won’t Get Security Updates

Here’s what this actually means: Microsoft won’t provide you with security updates via Windows Update if you install Windows 7 or 8.1 on a PC with one of these modern CPUs. Instead, you’ll see an “Unsupported hardware” message that informs you your PC “uses a processor that is designed for the latest version of Windows”.

In other words, Microsoft is saying you should install Windows 10 on these PCs. Windows 7 and 8.1 don’t actually include code that prevent these operating systems from working on the new CPUs. Instead, Microsoft is just blocking…

What to Do When Windows Won’t Boot

blue-screen-of-death

You turn on your computer one day and Windows refuses to boot—what do you do? “Windows won’t boot” is a common symptom with a variety of causes, so you’ll need to perform some troubleshooting.

Modern versions of Windows are better at recovering from this sort of thing. Where Windows XP might have stopped in its tracks when faced with this problem, modern versions of Windows will try to automatically run Startup Repair.

“Windows© Update” Repair
Follow These Simple Steps. Fast, 2 Minute Repair (Recommended) defender-pro.com/Repair

First Things First: Has Anything Changed?

Be sure to think about changes you’ve made recently—did you recently install a new hardware driver, connect a new hardware component to your computer, or open your computer’s case and do something? It’s possible the hardware driver is buggy, the new hardware is incompatible, or that you accidentally unplugged something while working inside your computer.

If the Computer Won’t Power On At All

If your computer won’t power on at all, ensure it’s plugged into a power outlet and that the power connector isn’t loose. If it’s a desktop PC, ensure the power switch on the back of its case—on the power supply—is set to the On position. If it still won’t power on at all, it’s possible you disconnected a power cable inside its case. If you haven’t been messing around inside the case, it’s possible the power supply is dead. In this case, you’ll have to get your computer’s hardware fixed or get a new computer.

Be sure to check your computer monitor—if your computer seems to power on but your screen stays black, ensure your monitor is powered on and that the cable connecting it to your computer’s case is plugged in securely at both ends.

The Computer Powers On And Says No Bootable Device

no-bootable-medium-found

If your computer is powering on but you get a black screen that says something like “no bootable device” or another sort of “disk error” message, your computer can’t seem to boot from the hard drive that Windows was installed on. Enter your computer’s BIOS or UEFI firmware setup screen and check its boot order setting, ensuring that it’s set to boot from the correct hard drive.

If the hard drive doesn’t appear in the list at all, it’s possible your hard drive has failed and can no longer be booted from.

“Windows© Update” Repair
Follow These Simple Steps. Fast, 2 Minute Repair…

SDR Sniffing Electric Gates

Most wireless OEM hardware traditionally use 433MHz OOK modules to exchange information. The encoding and encryption of this data stream is left as a task for the embedded software designer. In most cases, the system can be hacked using a replay attack where an RF packet is recorded and replayed to emulate a valid user. [Gilad Fride] hacked his parking gate using this technique but decided to go the extra mile of connecting it to the internet.

He used an RTL-SDR dongle and ook-decoder by [jimstudt] to sniff out…

Mobile AR could hit $60 billion by 2021 thanks to Apple and Facebook

The mobile AR platform war kicked off at F8 with Mark Zuckerberg’s proclamation that “we’re making the camera the first augmented reality platform.” That simple sentence transformed what had been a one-hit wonder in Pokémon Go into an epic battle between Facebook, Apple, Google, Tencent, Snap, Alibaba, Baidu, Samsung, Huawei and more. Apple’s announcement of its ARkit for iOS this week as “the largest AR platform in the world” took the mobile AR war to the next level. They’re fighting over a market that could hit over a billion users and $60 billion revenue globally by 2021 (as detailed in Digi-Capital’s new Mobile Augmented Reality Report).

Software is eating the (mobile AR) world

While folks were distracted by the prospect of an iPhone AR being launched by Apple, Facebook changed the game fundamentally by launching its mobile AR Platform. But Apple secretly had its own mobile AR software plans brewing ahead and countered with ARkit for iOS. So where mobile AR hardware from Apple, Samsung, Huawei and others could deliver an installed base over 400 million users by 2021, Facebook, Tencent, Apple, Snap and others could drive a mobile AR software user base in the hundreds of millions next year, and billions by 2021. Mobile AR software platforms could deliver over 4 times the number of users of dedicated mobile AR hardware.

All about that base

Some folks might be incredulous at these sorts of numbers. So let’s look at hard data on installed bases and conversion rates for the major players to get a sense of scale.

Facebook’s AR platform could be rolled out to Facebook Messenger’s 1.2 billion monthly active users, WhatsApp’s 1.2 billion MAU, and Instagram’s 700 million MAU. While it’s tempting to add these numbers together, significant overlap means that is too aggressive (i.e. Facebook doesn’t have 3.1 billion unique MAU). It’s more conservative to think about either Messenger or WhatsApp as a starting point for the number of unique users Facebook could try to migrate to its AR Platform. And Facebook knows what it’s doing when migrating users to new features. 15 percent of WhatsApp users use Status 10 weeks after launch, 29 percent of Instagram users use Stories less than a year after launch, and 54 percent of Instagram users use Direct 4 years after launch. Now that’s a growth curve.

But let’s not forget that Apple is expert when it comes to converting existing users to new software, with 86 percent of Apple’s nearly 700 million iPhones installing iOS 10 a year after launch. That’s a pretty compelling prospect for the rollout of ARkit.

Tencent has 846 million MAU for WeChat, and migrated 61 percent of them to use Moments every time they open WeChat 5 years after launch. While Tencent hasn’t formally announced its AR platform yet, it battled Alibaba in the mobile AR market earlier this year. Of Snap’s 300 million MAU, they’ve migrated 45 percent to Stories 4 years after launch. Snap doesn’t describe Lenses as mobile AR yet, but it’s still fighting a head-to-head battle with Facebook and Apple over mobile AR. And this is before considering LINE, Kakao, Snow, Baidu and more.

The platforms entering the mobile AR software market have billions of users. They’re great at migrating them to new features. If hard data is anything to go by, the only user numbers that make sense for mobile AR software platforms are big ones.

Hard wearing

We’ve been saying for the last 2 years Apple is…

The factions of the mobile AR war

Mark Zuckerberg’s “We’re making the camera the first augmented reality platform” was the most important step so far toward mass market AR. Where Pokémon Go gave many consumers their first taste of mobile AR, and Google Tango ushered in the race towards high end mobile AR phones, Facebook’s AR Platform now democratizes mobile AR regardless of hardware. Apple launching an AR enabled iPhone this year or next year could combine with Facebook to kick-start the mobile AR market at scale, and also be the final step towards the next great platform war. Consumers will win as usual, but there will be blood (as we detailed in Digi-Capital’s new Mobile Augmented Reality Report).

The platform question

Hardware and software platforms are so intertwined that it can be hard to tell the difference, and this has played in Apple’s favor for the last decade. But Apple, Samsung and other phone makers have done such a great job with existing hardware, that this may backfire for mobile AR. Facebook’s AR Platform, for example, has shown exactly how the major social and messaging platforms can play the game using nothing more than a standard smartphone camera. So while device manufacturers roll out new hardware to build an installed base for AR phones, established and startup social/messaging platforms could build a mobile AR ecosystem and user base in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the cost. They’ll also be able to leverage this advantage as dedicated AR phones come to market.

What is mobile AR anyway?

At one end Pokémon Go is what some industry insiders call “the best worst example of AR”, because its ambient mobile AR is pretty basic. Lovely graphics positioned approximately against the real world on your phone screen, using basic computer vision and positional tracking. Nonetheless it’s introduced mass consumers to mobile AR, and they’ve loved playing with it.

At the other end of the spectrum is Google Tango, with hardware based immersive mobile AR driven by integrated hardware and software. Without diving into the technical weeds, Tango phones enable accurate motion tracking, area learning and depth perception in a device that looks much like any other smartphone. The difference comes from a motion tracking camera, a depth sensing camera, an infrared projector, computer vision and Simultaneous Localization And Mapping software. So virtual objects superimposed on the real world appear as you would expect them to if they were really there. But Tango’s time is yet to come in terms of consumer awareness and app ecosystem (though Google, Lenovo and Asus are trying).

Facebook and Snap’s software-based immersive mobile AR is a serious contender, as it combines the ubiquity of ambient mobile AR with some of the computer vision and SLAM that previously required dedicated hardware. While Google Tango’s sensors enable heavier duty mobile AR apps, that’s not the problem Facebook and Snap are solving. By plugging immersive software based mobile AR into the largest consumer platforms on the planet, they’re democratizing mobile AR for everyone for free. And free is a good price point. This hasn’t escaped the notice of Tencent in China either. Mark Zuckerberg, Evan Spiegel and Pony Ma didn’t get to where they are by being dummies, and so it is with software based mobile AR.

The cool kids

There’s another factor in the democratization of mobile AR that Pokémon Go highlighted – demographics. Sixty-eight percent of Pokémon Go users are between 13 and 29 years old. Even though that came from a very specific set of circumstances, it is the largest sample set of mobile AR mass adoption to date.

For comparison in terms of major consumer platforms: Eighty-eight percent of Americans from 18 to 29 use Facebook (two-thirds of them use Messenger), 76 percent of U.S. teens own an iPhone (81 percent want their next phone to be one), 75 percent of WeChat users are between 20 and 30, and 60 percent of Snapchat users are between 13 and 24. Spot the pattern?

Mobile AR will be adopted by the young. Platforms that can scale…

Microsoft’s Apps Problem Has Never Been More Dire

At Microsoft’s Build conference, the dorkiest of companies put on a big show, complete with fog machines and fancy lights, in order to show it’s a cool competitor to Apple and Google. The speakers who came on stage during keynotes had stylish hair. “Do they have dressers backstage?” an attendee asked a group of us when it was all over.

Build exists to get developers excited. The biggest devs blow upwards of $2000 for a three-day pass to the event, where they have unlimited drinks, plentiful meals, and access to Microsoft’s best and brightest. Part of Microsoft’s wooing process involves appearing “hip” to a group of developers who resemble the cast of Silicon Valley in all the worst ways. Hence the light show and Microsoft EVP Terry Myerson’s questionable hoodie and leather vest combo. It wants these devs so amped that they’ll rush back to their MacBook Airs and Surface Books to crank out brilliant software, hopefully for Microsoft’s Windows Store, which has just one third of the apps of much cooler stores from Google and Apple.

With the arrival of Windows 10 S, which can only use apps from the Windows Store, the app marketplace has never been more important than today. Yet time after time over the course of the event, Microsoft dropped the ball on its pitch to developers in favor of niche distractions.

Apple’s a monolith of money and users, and thanks to Android and Chrome OS, Google is right there with it. Both have OS platforms with heavily used app stores. They’ve built customer bases of hungry fans that enthusiastically embrace their hardware and software products, and consequently, developers want to build apps that work with Apple and Google platforms.

Microsoft, on the other hand, can’t seem to ditch the buttoned-up association it’s developed for making the work computer you don’t want to use. Its reputation is seemingly forever cemented by those old Mac vs PC commercials. Attempts to rewrite the script have been met with mixed success. On the hardware side, Microsoft has become a genuine player in the field of coveted kit. The Surface Pro and Studio are ambitious devices that are legitimately exciting. The Surface Laptop announced earlier this month is one of the most interesting products announced so far this year.

But Microsoft’s software landscape is still dorktown and one of the big ways Microsoft’s attempting to undorkify things is by leaning into the Windows Store. There’s a problem though. Microsoft’s app store in uncommonly small compared to the other guys. According to Microsoft, in 2015 there were just 669,000 apps available. (The company hasn’t officially updated that number since.) According to Statista Apple and Google both have more than three times that number of apps available in their stores.

The number of available apps alone doesn’t necessarily dictate the quality of someone’s computing experience, but…

How to Make Your RGB Gaming Gear Actually Useful

RGB lighting in computer hardware, especially gaming-branded gear, is a divisive subject. Either you think it’s really cool and you want it in all your stuff, or you have good taste. (I kid, I kid.) But despite the rather flashy nature of LED-soaked “battlestation” gaming setups, there’s actually a surprising amount of utility to be found deep in all that rainbow-colored extravagance. Even if you aren’t a fan of the aesthetic, it’s worth considering the next time you’re assembling a gaming PC.

Here are a few of the useful things you can do with those flashy lights.

Clean Up PC™ – Restore Like New Performance.
Speed Up PC, Eliminate Errors & Freezes, in Just a Couple Clicks! th4pc.com

Create Game-Specific Keyboard Layouts

This one’s a bit of a no-brainer, but creating a lighting layout for specific games can help you remember the key bindings for various titles. It’s especially helpful if you often play different types of games, going from a WASD-heavy shooter to a hotkey-laden MOBA game to a custom-bound setup for a deep strategy or simulation game.

Using color groups for different kinds of actions is generally the best way to go here. Setups typically break colors into movement, basic attacks, special attacks, healing and other modifiers, and custom macros (see the title photo of this piece). More robust programs offer pre-made RGB themes for popular games, which can be downloaded and installed.

Display System Information

There are plenty of ways to show your system’s operating information, like current CPU temperature or fan speed. But…

3 Costs to Consider When Mass Manufacturing a Hardware Product

Developing a new electronic product that can be sold in volume is not simple or cheap. Underestimating all of the costs involved is one of the most critical mistakes made by those wanting to bring a new hardware product to market.

If you want to create a new hardware product, development costs will be your first major financial obstacle (assuming you do not immediately patent your product). Roughly 60-80% of the development cost will consist of engineering fees. The remaining 20-40% comprises the prototyping expenses. Development costs for most hardware products can be broken down into three categories: the electronics, the enclosure, and the retail package.

The Electronics

For most hardware products, the electronics are the most complicated and costly piece to develop.

For most new products the electronics will be the most expensive piece to develop.

Hire an Independent Engineer

Since engineering fees are usually the largest chunk of the development costs, your best strategy to minimize the required capital is to reduce the amount of engineering required. If you are experienced with designing electronics then you can save yourself a lot of money. If you are not, you may want to consider bringing on a co-founder with the necessary experience. However, for most startups, the best option is to hire an independent engineer to design the electronics.

One suggestion to lower both your development cost and risk is to hire a second independent engineer to review the work of your primary engineer. This strategy will reduce the likelihood of any design errors, which ultimately means fewer prototype iterations and lower engineering fees.

At Predictable Designs, not only do we offer design review services, but we also always have other engineers review our designs before prototyping. It is just a smart step that will not cost you that much extra, and may save you thousands of dollars.

Getting design reviews also makes it more realistic to hire lower cost Asian engineers to develop your product. Normally this is not recommended unless you have the necessary skills and experience to judge their work. However, if you had the necessary design skills to review their work, you would likely just develop the product yourself. So in most cases the best option is to hire another independent engineer that you have already established some trust with to review the work. This trick can potentially cut your development costs in half or more.

Tip: Find a manufacturer willing to help you offset some of the development costs. Many factories have an engineering department that may have extra time available. If you can find a factory that is not at manufacturing capacity, they will be more likely to help you. That being said, from my experience you need to have at least a first level prototype and/or…

Maker Pro News: The Dangers of Hardware Clones, Countdown to Maker Faire Bay Area, and More

You’re reading our weekly Maker Pro Newsletter, which focuses on the impact of makers in business and technology. Our coverage includes hardware startups, new products, incubators, and innovators, along with technology and market trends. Subscribe today and never miss a post.

“The impact of ersatz equipment in critical electronic systems…can be catastrophic.” —IEEE Spectrum

Maker Faire Helps Hobbyists Go Pro

The New York Times pointed a spotlight on maker pros this week in an expansive feature about the rise of hardware entrepreneurship that — without actually using the phrase “maker pro” — drew broad connections between the rise of maker-friendly manufacturing spaces like New Lab (@NewLab), growing interest in hardware among venture capitalists, and the maker movement itself:

That you don’t have to be a giant company to have a good hardware idea has been evident for years at Maker Faire events, where inventors showcase their homemade engineering projects. Last year, more than one million people attended Maker Faire events worldwide.

Enthusiastic amateurs can matter a lot in technology. Hobbyists led the personal computer revolution, before it morphed into a huge industry.

The PC market, of course, was swiftly dominated by a handful of enormous manufacturers. It will be interesting to see if the maker pro community, with its vast array of products and business models, could play out in a more a democratic fashion.

Foodtech Frontiers

Make: contributor Chiara Cecchini (@ClaireCecchini) is back with more stories about maker pros who are shaking up the world of food entrepreneurship. Needless to say, we are excited about her presentation on the Maker Pro stage at Maker Faire Bay Area, which will take place at 11:30am on Saturday, May 20.

There’s FarmBot (@farmbotio), for one, an open source CNC-style system that waters, seeds, waters, weeds, and collects data on the whole operation with an accessible drag and drop interface. Cecchini also took us inside bean-to-bar chocolate factory Dandelion Chocolate (@DandelionChoco), a venture by two founders who sold their last company to Comcast.

Microsoft and Apple in mad scramble to catch Google Chromebook in U.S. schools

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

(Reuters) — Microsoft Corp’s announcement of a suite of new education products on Tuesday shows the company’s determination to reverse a major shift that has taken place in U.S. classrooms in recent years: for most educators and school districts, Google’s Chromebook is now the computer of choice.

The Chromebook has gone from a standing start in 2011 to wild popularity in the market for education technology, which tech companies have traditionally viewed as a critical way to win over the next generation of users.

In 2016, mobile devices running Alphabet Inc’s Google’s Chrome operating system accounted for 58 percent of the U.S. market for primary and secondary schools, according to Futuresource Consulting.

The Microsoft products introduced Tuesday, including a new version of its Windows operating system, software to boost collaboration among students and a new Surface laptop, clearly show the influence of the Chromebook, industry watchers say.

“The success of the Chromebook has awakened sleeping giants,” said Tyler Bosmeny, CEO of Clever, an education technology company. “There’s so much investment into the space – it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

For years after the release of the Chromebook in 2011, Apple Inc and Microsoft stuck to their strategies of offering slightly modified and discounted versions of their products for educators.

But the Chromebook’s low price–it starts at $149– and easy management proved irresistible to many schools. Google also saw a key chance to expand its market share several years…