All posts in “Windows 10”

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop comes with one big suck, but it’s easily fixable

Like so many students, the very first laptop I had was a MacBook (the plastic one, not the new 2-pounder). I bought it in the summer of 2007 after finishing my first year of college, and it lasted until I graduated.

I loved the machine even though it weighed a hefty five pounds and was an inch thick. It’s a tank by today’s thin and light laptop standards, but you have to remember something: Back then, a one-inch thick machine was the definition of thin.

Steve Jobs wouldn’t famously pull the MacBook Air out of a manila envelope until a year later, and the laptop wouldn’t go on to become the most popular laptop until 2010 when it got a redesign with more ports.

In the last decade, MacBooks have morphed into the gold standard. They’re still more expensive and underpowered compared to Windows laptops, but for students and professionals, Apple’s machines expertly balance style and performance.

Chromebooks are also a popular option for many students, but their inability to run many “real” apps outside of Google Docs, underpowered web apps, and Android apps (if your machine supports them), makes them less viable for many college students (at least according to the dozen or so that I asked).

Apple’s MacBook domination on campuses and in Starbucks is arguably the strongest case for why Microsoft’s first clamshell laptop, the Surface Laptop, exists. 

Unmistakably Surface-y

The Surface Laptop is made of durable aluminum.

The Surface Laptop is made of durable aluminum.

Image: lili sams/mashable

The Surface Laptop builds on the Surface Pro’s success. Although the Surface Pro was never meant to sell in volume — it’s mostly an aspirational reference design meant to nudge PC makers towards Microsoft’s 2-in-1 vision — it has helped ingrain this idea that Microsoft is an underdog that builds hardware Apple won’t.

Just like how you know an Apple product when you see one, the same goes for Microsoft’s entire lineup of Surface devices.

The Surface Laptop is a very handsome machine. It comes in silver, gold, blue, and burgundy — all very attractive colors. The 2.76 pound laptop is lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, and thinner, too.

Its aluminum body is sturdy and sits firmly on a table or on your lap. The Surface Laptop has a wedge-shaped design and flaunts it hard; you won’t find rounded tapers to create the illusion that its thinner.

You only get one USB 3.0 port, Mini DisplayPort, and headphone jack. Woulda been nice to get two USBs.

You only get one USB 3.0 port, Mini DisplayPort, and headphone jack. Woulda been nice to get two USBs.

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

Most of its ports (USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, and headphone jack) sit on the left side. On the right side is a lone SurfaceConnect magnetic plug. I appreciate the full-sized USB 3.0 port, but one just isn’t enough; a second one would have been great, or at least one USB-C port. There’s also no SD card slot (a trend I don’t like), which basically means students will need to buy a separate memory card reader or a USB hub to get more ports. Even though Microsoft thinks USB-C isn’t ready for primetime, you’ll probably still end up in #donglehell.

That's not an SD card slot. It's the SurfaceConnect magnetic charging port.

That’s not an SD card slot. It’s the SurfaceConnect magnetic charging port.

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

The number of ports may be a little lacking, but the screen, keyboard and trackpad are sublime.

The 13.5-inch PixelSense touchscreen (2,256 x 1,504 resolution) has super slim bezels around it, and it’s covered with scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3. I found the screen both remarkably sharp and bright, and incredibly responsive. 

The touchscreen is excellent.

The touchscreen is excellent.

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

I used to feel touchscreens on a laptop were silly, especially on Windows machines, which have tiny icons not designed for fingers, but I now really like them. “Gorilla arm” isn’t really an issue since you’re not using the touchscreen all the time, only sometimes. It’s a shame Apple thinks touchscreens are wrong for Macs. My only qualm with the touchscreen is how it wobbles when you poke at it, but that’s a necessary concession to get the screen so thin.

Hate the MacBook's flat keyboard? Surface Laptop's keys are superb.

Hate the MacBook’s flat keyboard? Surface Laptop’s keys are superb.

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

The keyboard and trackpad are some of the best I’ve ever used on a laptop. If you’ve typed on a Surface Pro or Surface Book, you’ll know how bouncy the keys are — the Surface Laptop’s keys with 1.5mm travel are satisfying and the opposite of the flat-as-hell keys on Apple’s MacBooks (the Air’s still got the old keys, though). 

Likewise, the trackpad is exceptionally smooth and nearly on par with a MacBook’s. That Microsoft can make a great trackpad only upsets me more that PC makers like HP and Lenovo still can’t get their shit together.

It looks great now, but how well will the Alcantara fabric hold up over time?

It looks great now, but how well will the Alcantara fabric hold up over time?

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

The most eye-catching thing about the keyboard and trackpad is, of course, the Alcantara fabric that surrounds it. The soft touch material is indeed soft and really keeps your fingers warm when you’re typing and scrolling. Microsoft says the material’s got a “polyurethane covering for durability, including water and chemical resistance.” 

I’m not sure how well the Alcantara cover will hold up to years of Cheetos dust, Red Bull spills, and whatever other gross things it may come into contact with in a dorm room. But I can tell you the edges on my review unit started to fray a little after a week in my bag.

I tested the $1,299 model with 7th-gen Intel Core Intel Core i5-7200U, Intel HD 620 graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage, and it powered through like a real champ. 

I wasn’t gaming on it or anything (mostly web browsing, typing, and streaming Netflix and YouTube videos) — just typical college student stuff — but even so it never chugged. I can’t speak for the 4GB model, though. But based on my past experience testing laptops with 4GB of RAM I can tell you they bottleneck very quickly.

Walled in

The Surface Laptop runs Windows 10 S. It’s Windows 10, but with one huge caveat: You can only install apps from the Windows Store. In this regard, Windows 10 S is basically like iOS.

Microsoft gives a few reasons for why Windows 10 S is better for students. One, it’s safer. Barring users from downloading and installing apps (from who knows where) means fewer virus-infested machines. Two, allowing Windows Store-approved apps improves performance and battery life. And three, Windows 10 S computers are easier to manage by network admins who want to quickly deploy a specific version and set of apps to devices.

You’d be stupid to say no to security and better performance, but are they worth restricting yourself to apps only in the Windows Store?

For me, the answer is no. I need Chrome for work and I use many apps that aren’t available in the Windows Store. But I’m not the target audience — students are — so I asked a bunch of my friends’ siblings who are in high school or college. 

What happens when you search for Chrome (it doesn't exist) n the Windows Store.

What happens when you search for Chrome (it doesn’t exist) n the Windows Store.

Image: screenshot: raymond wong/mashable

No surprise, all of them gave Windows 10 S’s huge app restriction a thumbs down. Sure, Windows 10 S runs Office 365, Google Docs works just fine in Edge, and you’ll find some popular apps like Netflix, VLC Player, but if you want, for example, Adobe’s Create Suite (Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere, etc.) or even another web browser, you’re totally screwed unless the app makes it into the Windows Store.

You could probably find alternative apps, but college students often use custom apps that come with their textbooks — none of which will work on the Surface Laptop unless… you upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.

Students I asked all gave Windows 10 S’s huge app restriction a thumbs down.

Surface Laptop owners can upgrade from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro and basically remove the Windows Store-only apps restriction until December 31, 2017. After that, upgrading will cost $50. 

But while upgrading to Windows 10 Pro will “un-cripple” the Surface Laptop (there’s no going back to Windows 10 S), it comes at the expense of the aforementioned advantages.

You could argue that there’s no such thing as a truly secure computer — it’ll always be a cat and mouse game between Microsoft and hackers — and no laptop truly gets all-day battery life with real-world usage (I got around 6-8 hours of mixed usage; Microsoft advertises up to 14.5 hours of local video playback), and I agree.

How’s a student supposed to pick? I say be fearless and just upgrade. The Surface Laptop doesn’t get significantly slower and the power adapter’s compact enough to lug around. It’s not like it’s 2005 and laptops only get two hours of battery life on a single charge.

Making a decision

Surface Laptop might be the best alternative to the MacBook Air/Pro.

Surface Laptop might be the best alternative to the MacBook Air/Pro.

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

The Surface Laptop can be summed up in a single word: finally.

After years of beating the 2-in-1 drum, Microsoft’s finally made a laptop that’s a real laptop through and through (sorry, but the Surface Pro isn’t a laptop if the keyboard isn’t included).

The Surface Laptop starts at $999, but nobody should buy this model; 4GB of RAM won’t get anyone very far. Which means the lowest-priced model to consider is the $1,299 version I tested. (Don’t forget to add $50 to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro if you miss the cutoff by the end of year.)

A $999 MacBook Air (2017) gets you more ports and double the RAM, but also a lower non-touch display and punier graphics. The new $1,299 MacBook Pro (non-Touch Bar) is a more comparable machine, and it’s got the better specs for the same money (without a touchscreen, of course).

It’s a tough call. How important is a touchscreen to you?

For a first laptop, Microsoft got a lot right. It’s not perfect (no laptop is), but it’s damn close and it’s still one of the better Windows 10 laptops that I actually wanted to keep using because the hardware is so nice. 

But if you buy one, do your self a favor and upgrade to Windows 10 Pro ASAP.

Microsoft Surface Laptop

The Good

Bright, high-res touchscreen Fantastic keyboard and trackpad Speedy performance Great battery life

The Bad

Apps restricted to Windows Store unless you upgrade to 10 Pro No SD card slot No USB-C port $50 to upgrade to Win 10 Pro in 2018

The Bottom Line

Microsoft’s first laptop is a winner, but only if you upgrade it.

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This hot MacBook replacement is from a company you’ve never heard of

Laptops are hot fire once again.

Microsoft announced its first laptop, the Surface Laptop, earlier this month, and now Huawei, the world’s third-largest phone manufacturer, is getting into Windows 10 laptops, too.

Though Huawei is known mostly for its budget and midrange phones (more recently with its Honor sub-brand) in the U.S., the Chinese tech giant has made more concerted efforts to be seen as a premium device maker.

The company’s flagship P10 phone sits with the best Android phones. Hell, Huawei’s even hired former “Get a Mac” actor Justin Long to push its products.

Last year, Huawei dipped its toes into the PC world with its MateBook 2-in-1 Surface Pro competitor. It was a decent device, but like all first tries it had its shortcomings such as poor battery life.

Huawei’s new MateBook X — the company’s first clamshell laptop — is aimed squarely at Apple’s entire MacBook lineup. 

Thinner than MacBook

Image: huawei

More ports than MacBook

The MateBook X has two USB-C ports and a headphone jack.

The MateBook X has two USB-C ports and a headphone jack.

Image: huawei

Like its flagship phones, the MateBook X has a unibody aluminum design and is built for thinness and lightness. The 13-inch laptop measures just 0.49 inches at its thickest point — thinner than the MacBook (0.52 inches) and MacBook Pro (0.59 inches). It only weighs 2.31 pounds compared to the MacBook Pro’s 3.02 pounds.

Thin as the laptop is, it’s still plenty powerful inside. The 13-inch non-touchscreen IPS display is made of Corning Gorilla Glass and boasts a 2,160 x 1,440 resolution. And, yes, the keyboard’s backlit.

Image: huawei

Under the hood, it’s packing a fanless 7th-generation “Kaby Lake” Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, Intel HD Graphics 620, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and 256GB or 512GB of SSD storage. Huawei also claims up to 10 hours of battery life for watching 1080p-resolution video. There’s also Dolby Atmos Sound inside.

For ports, the MateBook X has two USB-C ports, a power button that doubles as fingerprint sensor (fancy!), and a headphone jack. In the U.S., Huawei’s including the MateDock 2, which includes a full-sized USB port, USB-C, VGA, and HDMI port. Also bundled is a USB to USB-C dongle.

I haven’t seen the laptop in person so I can’t say how the device feels. But if the old MateBook tablet and Huawei’s excellent industrial design for its phones are any indication, the MateBook X could be the laptop to keep any eye on when it launches this summer. Plus, it comes in rose gold. Hopefully the price is lower than a MacBook, too.

Go bigger

Huawei MateBook D

Huawei MateBook D

Image: huawei

The MateBook X isn’t Huawei’s only laptop. Alongside the 13-incher is a the MateBook D, a 15.6-inch Windows 10 laptop.

While not quite as premium as the MateBook X, the MateBook D is still a decent machine with an all-aluminum body, a full HD resolution display, a discrete graphics card, and a full range of ports.

No dongles needed on this laptop!

No dongles needed on this laptop!

Image: huawei

Specs for the MateBook D include seventh-gen Kaby Lake Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, up to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of storage with several configurations split combining a traditional hard drive and SSD, and discrete graphics (up to Nvidia 940MX). Battery life is pegged at around 8.5 hours of local video playback.

The MateBook D has two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, a headphone jack, and an HDMI port.

The MateBook D ships this summer. Pricing is also TBD.

Go mobile

The MateBook E.

The MateBook E.

Image: huawei

In addition to the new laptops, Huawei’s also updated its 2-in-1 to the MateBook E. 

The new 2-in-1 has the same 12-inch screen as the old one, but this time around the 1080p screen’s been upgraded to 2K (2,160 x 1,440) resolution. 

Performance gets a boost across the board with seventh-gen Intel Core m3 or Core i7 processors, up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of SSD storage. The company advertises up to 9 hours of video playback.

Huawei says it’s also improved the 2-in-1’s less noticeable features; the magnetic connector for the keyboard is stronger thanks to a reduction in pins from seven to three, and the included folio case is adjustable from 10 degrees to 160 degrees, compared to the original folio case’s three angles.

The MateBook E also ships this summer with pricing TBD.

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

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. 

This latest attack could be ‘just one wave in a very long series.’

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 still running Windows XP on at least some of their systems.

Penn isn’t surprised that the NHS hasn’t upgraded more quickly. “The health service in Britain is government-run. So, they need to make quite a significant case, go up the chain or take budget from somewhere else.”

However, it’s more than just money and bureaucracy that’s keeping businesses and governments from retiring old hardware and software.

Think about what it takes to update your own computer — or even your smartphone. It’s a pain in the neck, especially if functionality changes (and many people simply don’t let devices update). “Now multiply that times a thousand for business,” said Penn.

Businesses and government agencies often have customized software and disparate systems that need to communicate. Patches and OS updates can’t roll out willy nilly; they must be tested. That takes time and money and so do the potential ancillary updates that are often required.

“It’s just a hamster wheel of expense for a lot of these people,” said Penn.

Many simply decide to not upgrade, especially if all systems are still functioning.

“It’s just a hamster wheel of expense for a lot of these people,” said Penn.

What they’re doing, essentially, is a risk assessment. Changing things incurs cost and maybe lost business or even the ability to serve constituents. But the risk equation is tilting dramatically in the other direction.

Penn told me that the risk ramsomware poses is getting larger and will not go away. More worrisome is that the effectiveness of the WannaCry ransomware attack will probably lead to more attacks.

And the risks are widespread. 

Sources within the U.S. Federal Government tell Mashable that, so far, the impact on government systems hasn’t been bad and that there have been no public reports of WannaCry-related issues. 

However, the U.S. health care system may not be so lucky.

“Our health care system is fragmented: medical records, for example, might be created and managed by a single doctor’s office or by large hospital systems,” said former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services CIO Frank Baitman via email. “Their ability to patch legacy systems and employ cybersecurity staff varies enormously. Even in large enterprises, it’s difficult to patch all computers as soon as a Zero Day vulnerability is discovered,” he wrote. A Zero Day attack has no known patch or signature.

Penn, though, believes the next logical target is the education system, which has a devil’s brew of massive amounts of private data and grossly underfunded infrastructure. “It’s low-hanging fruit,” he said. I also asked him about the electric grid’s vulnerability, but Penn wouldn’t comment. 

Even if consumers and businesses follow Penn’s advice and upgrade, patch, and install antivirus, they may not be fully protected.

Shortly after news of the Hollywood Presbyterian attack broke, Security Architect Kevin Beaumont detailed the powerful ransomware behind it. Called Locky, it was reportedly infecting thousands of systems a minute. More terrifying, Beaumont wrote that having fully up-to-date systems didn’t seem to matter:

Having your endpoints fully Windows and Office patched, antivirus software installed, behind a firewall and with Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware (in beta) likely wouldn’t have protected you if you allowed users to open macros and didn’t have application whitelisting correctly configured.

MessageLabs, Google Mail, Office 365 and hosted Exchange all delivered the Word documents.

Penn acknowledge that so-called Zero Day attacks are a reality.

“No one is going to claim that, if you do XY and Z you will never get any kind of attack, because there are these things called Zero-day attacks. They can be successful against systems with all these protections. It depends on nature of exploit,” he said.

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Microsoft’s new strategy: A deeper meaning

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.

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

Image: Lance Ulanoff/Mashable

“I’m not a musician and I’m not an artist by any means, but I love being part of a creative process at work every day,” said Myerson, who joined Microsoft in 1997. 

Instead of Windows users being daunted by the process of creation, Microsoft wants them to feel empowered to do things like “sculpt in code” and “paint in numbers.” If people buy that, they may embrace Microsoft’s widening Creators strategy.

“When I see someone expressing themselves in an Excel spreadsheet,” said Myerson, that’s what Microsoft means by “painting the numbers.”

It’s not all touchy-feely empowerment. Myerson can be pragmatic when it comes to platform, hardware and, especially, partner choices.

He defends, for example, Microsoft’s choice to confine Windows 10 S application download choices to the Windows Store, even if it does cut out popular apps like Chrome, which just happens to compete with Microsoft’s relatively young Edge browser.

Myerson talking about Creators at Build 2017.

Myerson talking about Creators at Build 2017.

Image: Lance Ulanoff/Mashable

Myerson acknowledged Chrome’s absence, but added, “Certainly the policies we have for store ingestion are there only to protect the performance and security of system.”

It’s true, Google could add Chrome at any time and, Myerson noted, there are other browser choices in the Windows Store.

Windows 10 S is designed specifically to attract the sometimes-cash and IT-strapped education market, one that is often choosing super-cheap Chromebooks and the low-cost Google Docs platform over Windows.

Windows 10 S addresses some of the education market’s security, speed, and management concerns, but the Surface Laptop that was announced on the same day offers, at $999, no respite for budget woes.

When I asked Myerson why Microsoft doesn’t build a budget Surface device, he made it clear that he understands the appeal of and need for sub-$200 devices

“It’s awesome to have these $189 Windows education devices,” he said, “but to be honest, you know, at $229, at $259, at $299, there’s is more value at each tier. More ruggedization, pen, touch. Students and schools will get more out of that.

“At the same time, when I hear about a school district buying 10,000 devices at $189, I understand the prioritization they’re doing. They’re making the right decision for their school district.”

It’s still the role of the Windows OEM partners, which Myerson said he genuinely values, to offer a wider value/price/capabilities spectrum.

“So, if a school does have $20 to trade off, per device, they can decide how much they put into ruggedization, how much they put into touch, or pen. That’s why our partner ecosystem is so valuable,” said Meyerson. “The bar that I think they’re holding us to is: Are we innovating and growing the Windows ecosystem that they have bet their businesses on.”

It sounds both right and somewhat diplomatic, especially when you consider how Microsoft has created a PC brand out of Surface, one that could ultimately rival Dell or HP. 

There’s no question Microsoft will continue to honor, work with, and support its partners, but Myerson (and Nadella’s) Microsoft is about something more. 

Myerson told me that around the time that Nadella joined, many in the company were watching a Ted Talk about what makes a great company and how these companies not only understand what they’re building, but why they’re building it, too.

And, in part, out of that, Myerson said, came a deeper purpose and one that may explain the constant references at the Build Conference to empowerment and creativity (and even love).

“Let’s focus there across everything we’re doing and build deep meaning behind, deeper meaning that answers why these products will have an impact more than just the fact that they’re beautiful,” said Myerson.

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iTunes is coming to the Windows Store

Image: karissa bell/mashable

iTunes, Apple’s nearly two-decade-old music and video store, is coming to the Windows Store.

Microsoft announced the surprise addition, coming later this year, at its annual Build developers conference in Seattle on Thursday. There are almost 700,000 apps in the Windows Store, but this would be Apple’s first addition.

The news comes 14 years after “hell froze over” and Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that iTunes was finally coming to Windows. At the time, it was a critical move for Apple. iTunes was the dominant force for legal music downloads, but it was nowhere on the Windows PCs, which basically were the computing market at the time. That all changed with a splashy event featuring a live performance by singer Sarah McLachlan and live video drop-ins from Mick Jagger and U2’s Bono.

This announcement is a much quieter affair. 

Microsoft Executive Vice President of Windows and Devices Terry Myerson announced the addition of iTunes to the Windows Store as part of an update on Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform development tools. 

At the very least, iTunes users will be able to get automatic updates.

These tools make it easy for developers to build an application for one part of the Windows 10 platform and only make minor adjustments to make it work on other parts. In other words, Microsoft may have been able to encourage Apple to retrofit iTunes for Windows to the Windows Store by showing them how easy it would be.

It’s unclear if there will be any changes to the app now that it’s Windows-official. Windows Store apps are often recognizable for their Windows Metro design looks (flat colors, blocky design). At the very least, iTunes users will be able to get automatic updates, assuming they’ve enabled that functionality.

However, the news comes just a few weeks after Microsoft unveiled Windows 10 S an education-focused flavor of Windows 10 distinguished by its ultra-tight control over application installation. The only apps you can run on Windows 10 S are those vetted by Microsoft and available in the Windows Store. Application vendors do have to make more than just cosmetic adjustments to work in the Windows Store, like cutting out services that might run during and after installation.

Microsoft claims that these strict rules will result in safer and more efficient systems.

The other big question is if this really matters. In 2003, getting iTunes on Windows was a huge deal worthy of its own event. In 2017, most people download or stream their music directly through their iPhones, bypassing the desktop iTunes app entirely. Many people don’t even bother to dock and sync with a PC or Mac anymore. 

Apple hasn’t commented on the new iTunes update and Microsoft is only promising its appearance in the Windows Store by the end of the year.

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