Windows 10

Sea of Thieves is getting a tiny technical alpha test on Windows 10

Sea of Thieves E3 2016 02

I know how the song goes, but I’m not sure that a pirate’s life is really for me. It seems exciting, but I think sailing the seven seas would eventually leave me hankering for amenities like Wi-Fi and The Cheesecake Factory. So I think I’d rather go with something like Microsoft’s Sea of Thieves instead.

The Rare game studio responsible for the online multiplayer pirate simulator is planning a small test for the Windows 10 version this weekend. This is part of an effort to ensure Sea of Thieves will run well when it arrives later this year. On Saturday, Rare will invite approximately 1,000 PC players as part of this technical alpha to try the game’s mechanics, which include working together to sail vessels and to fighter other crews on other ships. The tiny test group will give the developer early feedback about aspects directly related to the PC release as opposed to the Xbox One version.

Microsoft…

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…

It’s time to take your medicine and stop WannaCry ransomware in its tracks

There is a way to stop WannaCry.
There is a way to stop WannaCry.

Hackers attacked a hospital system with ransomware and demanded $17,000 in bitcoin payment.

This was not part of the potentially deadly Global WannaCry Ransomware attack that slammed Britain’s National Health Services (NHS) on Friday. It took place over a year ago, and the target was Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Like the NHS, Hollywood Presbyterian chose to pay the ransom so they could quickly regain control of their antiquated systems.

Ransomware attacks have been on the rise for more than a year and, according to Jonathan Penn, Avast Security’s director of strategy, WannaCry could be “just one wave in a very long series.”

So far, Avast, a security solutions company, has detected and prevented almost a quarter of a million WannaCry ransomware attacks around the world.

If companies, people and governmental agencies like the NHS knew that ransomware was exploding last year, why weren’t they preparing themselves? It’s like the ground floor of a 28-story high-rise is on fire and, instead of putting out the flames, we just keep taking the elevator up to another unaffected floor.

There are many excuses businesses and government agencies use to avoid upgrading their software. But the dramatic rise of ransomware attacks means it’s time for them to take their medicine and figure out a way to get it done. Otherwise, these attacks will just keep spreading with organizations paying ransoms that are cheaper than upgrades, until they’re not.

Microsoft and most security experts will tell you that the surest way to prevent a ransomware attack is to keep your Windows system up-to-date and fully patched, run security software, and avoid opening email from unknown parties and opening unknown links.

Those running Windows 10 can’t even avoid updates (they can postpone for a week or so, but that’s it). However, most people and businesses aren’t running Windows 10. They’re on older platforms like Windows 7, which Microsoft will only patch through 2020.

A shocking 7% are still on Windows XP, a 16-year-old operating system Microsoft stopped supporting years ago (but patched just for this attack). Anecdotal information indicates that businesses and governmental agencies around the world are the primary culprits here. Late last year, Citrix reported that the majority of NHS hospitals were…

What Happened to Solitaire and Minesweeper in Windows 8 and 10?

The classic desktop versions of Solitaire and Minesweeper are gone in Windows 8 and 10. Instead, you’ll find shiny new versions with advertisements, Xbox integration, and optional subscription fees. But you can still play Solitaire and Minesweeper without ads, and without paying a cent.

How to Launch Solitaire on Windows 10

Solitaire is installed by default on Windows 10. You can just open the Start menu and launch the “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” application to open it.

If the Microsoft Solitaire Collection isn’t installed—perhaps you’ve uninstalled it in the past—you can get it from the Windows Store.

How to Get Minesweeper on Windows 10

Microsoft Minesweeper isn’t installed by default on Windows 10, but it’s available for free. To install Minesweeper, launch the “Store” application and search for “Minesweeper”. Click the “Microsoft Minesweeper” tile and click “Install” to install it.

You can also click here to go straight to Microsoft Minesweeper on the Windows Store.

Once it’s installed, you can launch Microsoft Minesweeper from your Start menu.

On Windows 8, neither Solitaire nor Minesweeper are installed by default. You’ll need to open the Store and search for Solitaire and Minesweeper to install the Microsoft Solitaire Collection and Microsoft Minesweeper applications.

How Solitaire and Minesweeper Are Different on Windows 8 and 10

Whether you like the new games depends what you’re looking for. The good news is that they’re more shiny and polished than the old Solitaire and Minesweeper games.

The Microsoft Solitaire Collection includes quite a few different games—Klondike, Spider, FreeCell, Pyramid, and TriPeaks. Klondike is the classic, default solitaire experience you’re probably familiar with from previous versions of Windows.

You can choose “solvable decks” of different difficulty levels—decks guaranteed to be solvable so you don’t get stuck and have to restart—or use a traditional, randomly…

Microsoft’s new strategy is really touchy-feely

Terry Myerson has a holistic vision for Microsoft.
Terry Myerson has a holistic vision for Microsoft.

Satya Nadella changed Microsoft.

That’s the assessment of Microsoft Executive VP for Windows and Devices Terry Myerson who was recalling the very first staff meeting with the newly installed CEO three years ago.

“He deeply was convicted about refreshing our mission statement,” said Myerson, who sat down with me a few weeks ago, just hours after unveiling Windows 10 S and the Surface Laptop.

Myerson looked a little drained (“I kind of feel like I go down in a dark cave for two days before these events”) and was careful not to tip anything coming at this week’s Build Developer’s Conference, but he wanted to explain Microsoft’s transition from a company that builds good products to one that more intentionally marries form and function. It all started, it seems with the new mission statement:

“To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

Nadella, Myerson told me, wanted Microsoft to ingest the mission statement so it became part of company culture, “as the purpose behind what we were doing every day.”

Nadella, it seems, agonized over every single word. Myerson described Nadella’s process:

“‘Should we say, “Everyone on the planet” or should we not? Is that necessary?’”

“‘Should we say people and organizations or just people or just organizations?’”

“‘Is empower the right verb in the mission statement?’”

Getting it right was important because it would define Microsoft and its future projects.

“[Nadella has] internalized that as a mission behind everything that we’re doing and has led our culture behind that. That is now why we do everything we do at Microsoft.”

That effort to “empower” has led, somewhat naturally, to Microsoft’s new focus on creators.

It’s a somewhat risky framing device as not everyone thinks of themselves as “creative,” but Myerson and Microsoft aren’t just thinking about artists, musicians, and designers.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at Microsoft Build 2017 where he spoke of developers' opportunities and responsibilities.

Image: Lance Ulanoff/Mashable

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at Microsoft Build 2017 where he spoke of developers’ opportunities and responsibilities.

“I’m not a musician and I’m not an artist by any means, but I love being part of a creative…

Watch Windows 10 running on ARM with full support for existing Win32 apps

During a Windows 10 on ARM session at Build 2017, Microsoft shared some more details about Windows 10 on ARM. Not only will Windows 10 on ARM support Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps, Win32 apps in the Windows Store, but also existing Win32 apps.

Back in December 2016, Microsoft first revealed that it will allow Windows desktop apps to run on mobile ARM processors, but the company did not disclose a timeframe for when to expect such devices. Last month, Qualcomm shared that the first ARM laptops running Windows 10 won’t arrive until Q4 2017.

“For the first time ever, our customers will be able to experience the Windows they know with all the apps, and peripherals they require, on a mobile, power efficient, always-connected cellular PC,” the session’s description reads. Watch Hari Pulapaka, Microsoft’s lead program manager in the…

What’s New in Windows 10’s Fall Creators Update, Arriving September 2017

Windows 10’s Fall Creators Update, codenamed Redstone 3, will be released in September 2017. Here are all the new features Microsoft announced at its BUILD 2017 event on May 11.

There will be many more new features and small changes that make Windows better to use, just as there were in previous updates. We’ll learn about those through the Insider Previews released between now and September, so check back with this post for more useful, smaller, geeky features.

OneDrive Shows Files in the Cloud, Downloading Them on Demand

Microsoft announced “OneDrive Files on Demand”, which allows some files to be stored in the cloud and available to you without being synced on your local device. An older version of this feature appeared in Windows 8.1, and people have been asking for it since. Dropbox and Google Drive are incorporating a similar feature, too.

Interestingly enough, this works with files in the Desktop and Documents folder, so it isn’t just limited to files in the OneDrive folder.

When you try to open a file that isn’t stored on your PC, Windows will download it and open it for you. This is implemented at a low level in the operating system and works with any application, even command line ones.

Windows Syncs Your Clipboard Between Your PCs and Phones

There’s now a cloud-based clipboard that allows you to copy and paste data between your devices. This will work in Windows without developers having to do anything. Copy something on one of your Windows PCs, and it’ll be available on the clipboard on your other Windows PCs. It’ll also work with Microsoft’s SwiftKey keyboard on iPhone and Android.

The Microsoft Office team is working on a clipboard history feature, allowing you to paste things you’ve copied to your clipboard in the past. That’s just one example of what app developers could do with this feature, and Microsoft hopes other app developers take further advantage of it.

Microsoft Graph Tracks Your Activities, and the Timeline Helps You Resume Them Anywhere

According to Microsoft, “the Windows PC will help you roam from device to device using the Microsoft Graph”. Windows knows whether you were working on a document, playing music, browsing the web, reading news, or watching a video through the Microsoft Graph. There’s a new Timeline feature that shows the activities you perform on your PC over time, and it’s searchable.

Cortana’s “Pick up where you left off” feature suggests activities you might want to resume when you switch to another PC.

This feature works iPhones and Android phones, too. If you install the Cortana app, Cortana will prompt you to pick up where you left off on your phone when you leave your PC. Cortana is aware of your timeline, so you can choose to resume activities you were working on. Perform an activity on your phone and it will appear in the timeline on your PC later, too.

To make this easier to set up, there’s a new “Phone” icon on the main Settings app screen that will guide users through setting this up. This will also enable syncing notifications with Android devices and syncing reminders to iPhones and…

Microsoft unveils Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, coming ‘later this year’

At its Build 2017 developer conference today, Microsoft announced the Fall Creators Update for Windows 10. The company detailed a slew of new features coming to its latest and greatest operating system, all free. The update is slated to arrive “later this year” (that likely means September 2017, but Microsoft isn’t committing to a specific timeframe). Windows Insiders and developers will be able to play with it sooner.

Windows 10 is a service, meaning it was built in a very different way from its predecessors so it can be regularly updated with not just fixes but new features, too. Microsoft has released many such updates, including three major ones: November Update, Anniversary Update, and Creators Update.

As part of the update, Terry Myerson, executive vice president for Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, showed off Windows Story Remix, a new creative app built with .NET that uses the Microsoft Graph to transform your photos and videos. Think of it as the successor of Windows Movie Maker, with 3D features. It automatically brings together your photos and videos, or even those shared by your friends and family, to create stories with a soundtrack, theme, and cinematic transitions. You can also add 3D objects to your photos and videos or turn them into a canvas for drawing on with Windows Ink.

Lorraine Bardeen, Microsoft general manager of Mixed Reality Experiences, gave a demo that emphasized the collaborative nature of the creative app. There is image recognition technology for people and objects, Android and iOS versions…

How to Disable OneDrive and Remove It From File Explorer on Windows 10

Windows 10 includes OneDrive, but if you’d rather not see it, there are several ways to disable OneDrive and remove it from File Explorer on Windows 10.

Home Users: Uninstall OneDrive Normally

Starting in Windows 10’s Creators Update, you can now easily uninstall OneDrive like you would any other desktop program. Only Windows 10 Home users should do this. If you’re using Windows 10 Professional, Enterprise, or Education, skip this step and use the below Group Policy Editor method instead.

Head to either Control Panel > Programs > Uninstall a Program or Settings > Apps > Apps & features. You’ll see a “Microsoft OneDrive” program appear in the list of installed software. Click it and click the “Uninstall” button.

Windows will immediately uninstall OneDrive, and the OneDrive icon will disappear from the notification area.

(If you ever want to reinstall OneDrive in the future, you’ll need to run the OneDrive installer buried in the Windows system folder. Just head to the C:\Windows\SysWOW64\ folder on a 64-bit version of Windows 10 or the C:\Windows\System32 folder on a 32-bit version of Windows 10. Double-click the “OneDriveSetup.exe” file here and Windows will reinstall OneDrive.)

There’s one problem with uninstalling OneDrive this way: The empty OneDrive folder will still appear in File Explorer’s sidebar. If you’re fine with that, you can stop now. OneDrive has been removed and is no longer doing anything. However, if the empty OneDrive folder bothers you, you’ll need to use the below tricks.

Home Users: Remove the OneDrive Folder From File Explorer by Editing the Registry

If you have Windows 10 Home, you will have to edit the Windows Registry to remove the OneDrive folder from the File Explorer’s left sidebar. You can also do it this way on Windows Pro or Enterprise, but the Group Policy Editor method is a better solution for cleanly disabling OneDrive.

Standard warning: Registry Editor is a powerful tool and misusing it can render your system unstable or even inoperable. This is a pretty simple hack and as long as you stick to the instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems. That said, if you’ve never worked with it before, consider reading about how to use the Registry Editor before you get started. And definitely back up the Registry (and your computer!) before making changes.

To get started, open the Registry Editor by hitting Start and typing “regedit”. Press Enter to open Registry Editor and give it permission to make changes to your PC.

In the Registry Editor, use the left sidebar to navigate to the following key. In the Creators Update, you can…

What to expect from Microsoft Build 2017

Developer conference season has officially kicked into high gear.

Microsoft Build is about to get underway, and we’re expecting the show will be as jam-packed with news as ever.

This year Microsoft has moved the conference back to Seattle after holding it in San Francisco for a number of years. Whether the location — right in Microsoft’s backyard — is a hint the company has more than usual in store for us isn’t clear.

But we do know there will be a ton of news to fill the four and a half hours (!!!!) of keynotes and then some. For now, here’s a rundown of everything we’re expecting.

Windows

If there’s one certainty about Build it’s that we’ll hear about what’s next for Windows. Last year at Build we got our first look at the Windows 10 Creators Update, which had been given the nickname Redstone 2.

This year, we expect to hear about what’s reportedly nicknamed Redstone 3. (Build is also when we typically find out the official name of the next version of Windows, too.) There hasn’t been much in the way of leaks about what will be in Redstone 3, but expect improvements on last year’s features as well as updates to core services like Office and its Edge browser.

Rumor has it the company is also planning a massive update to the look and feel of Windows with a new design language codenamed “Project Neon” (as with Windows, we’ll likely hear the formal name at Build). Windows’ first major design update in years, Project Neon will bring back transparent effects to Windows. More importantly, as PCMag points out, it will also make it easier for Microsoft to translate Windows across other platforms, like HoloLens.

Bots + AI

We already know Microsoft wants to put AI everywhere, and that plan will no doubt continue at Build. During the keynote we’ll hear not only about what’s going on in the labs of Microsoft Research, but…