All posts in “Windows”

Microsoft’s giving power users a turbocharged version of Windows 10

Image: miles goscha/mashable

Microsoft’s Windows 10 runs on everything from powerful desktop gaming PCs to laptops to the Raspberry Pi. And later this fall there’s going to be a new edition with better support for power users running server-grade PCs.

The new OS, which comes alongside the Fall Creators Update, is simply called “Windows 10 Pro for Workstations” and according to Microsoft is designed to “meet the needs of our advanced users deploying their Workstation PCs in demanding and mission-critical scenarios.”

There are four key areas where Windows 10 Pro has been made better for professionals using beefy workstation PCs.

First, it comes with ReFS (Resilient file system) to protect your data from corruption, which is especially important when you’re handling large storage volumes on a server. ReFS can detect when data’s screwed up on a mirrored hard drive and then use another non-corrupt backup to automatically fix the bad one, ensuring your data’s always undamaged.

Second, the special version has “persistent memory” using non-volatile memory modules (NVDIMM-N) so you can read and write files lightning-quick. Your files remain stored in the RAM even when you turn your workstation off so you can resume your work quicker than before.

The four pillars where Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is better than regular Windows 10 Pro.

The four pillars where Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is better than regular Windows 10 Pro.

Image: microsoft

Third, Microsoft says it’s added faster file sharing using a feature called SMB Direct. Using network adapters with Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) support, users can transfer large amounts of data quickly without using much CPU processing power. This means the CPU can be freed for other tasks.

And lastly, the new update works with Intel’s and AMD’s server-grade hardware. It supports workstations using Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron processors that can be configured with up to four CPUs and up to 6TB of memory. Previously, workstations only supported up to two CPUs and 2TB of memory.

Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is a solid update to look forward to if you’re a professional with a workstation or manage servers for a living. For us normals, though, it’s nothing we need to bother with. The Fall Creators Update will bring lots of new consumer-friendly features like Pick Up Where You Left Off, which lets you start a task on a Windows PC and then resume on your iOS or Android phone.

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It looks like the much-hyped Windows Whiteboard app has leaked

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No one is immune to leaks in the tech world and today it’s Microsoft’s turn as a version of its anticipated Whiteboard app looks like its leaked on the web. 

The video above from WindowsBlogItalia — a, well, Italian Windows blog — which purports to show the app in use, free writing, image insertion, shapes and all. 

As flagged by The Verge, the leaked version seems to be an “Education Preview” of the software, and seems to be as cool as we expected it to be. One note, though: One of the coolest parts of the software — the collaborative tool that lets users simultaneously draw and edit the same project — isn’t available in the leak. 

Our own Lance Ulanoff got to see the software up close at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington office back in May. 

The tool’s builders included a feature called “live ink,” wherein collaborators’ ink strokes are visible as they’re made, and each collaborator is identified thanks to an icon, called “local ink identity.” 

The system also includes shape recognition. Draw a circle and it will turn into a cleaner and more manipulable one.

The app is also a powerful demonstration for Microsoft’s new, impressive Surface Pen. 

The Whiteboard app is currently “available in private previews in Surface Hub” and Microsoft has only added they plan to roll it out to more users later in 2017.

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Surface Laptop lets you restore back to Windows 10 S if you suddenly decide you hate apps

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Good news — no great news — the one thing that crippled Microsoft’s first laptop, the Surface Laptop, is no more.

As we said in our review, Windows 10 S and the fact that it only lets you install apps from the Windows Store (there’s no Chrome!) is too restrictive, and anybody who buys a Surface Laptop should immediately upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.

The downside to upgrading from 10 S to 10 Pro was that you couldn’t revert or “downgrade” back if you changed your mind later. Microsoft’s now reversed that somewhat hostile stance.

Less than week after releasing the Surface Laptop, Microsoft’s provided a “recovery image” for owners to effectively revert back to Windows 10 S if they made the upgrade to 10 Pro.

It’s a nice token for Surface Laptop owners, but it’s also not as simple as clicking a button. To get your machine running Windows 10 S again, you’ll need to perform a factory reset, which means it’ll erase everything. So you’ll want to backup your data onto an external hard drive or to the cloud before doing so.

You can find both the recovery image and instructions on how to restore your Surface Laptop to Windows 10 S on Microsoft’s website.

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is one of the best Windows 10 laptops you can buy and a solid alternative to Apple’s MacBook Pro.

It’s got a high-res touchscreen, a keyboard wrapped in Alcantara fabric that doesn’t feel like you’re typing on a table, all-day battery life, and a full-sized USB 3.0 port so you can live a dongle-free life.

Surface Laptop owners can upgrade their machines from 10 S to 10 Pro for free until the end of the year. After that, it’s $50 for the upgrade, and will presumably cost you each time you want to upgrade again after factory resetting back to Windows 10 S. Although, it’s possible you could save your Windows 10 Pro license and reuse it later. We’ve reached out to Microsoft to clarify the upgrade fee after performing a factory reset.

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Razer’s new MacBook Pro slayer has no gimmicky Touch Bar

Razer, the company behind that crazy triple-screen laptop concept, will not stop until all other PC makers are its dust.

At this year’s E3 gaming expo, Razer refreshed its littlest laptop, the Blade Stealth, with the latest specs, and announced a new, toned down version with a larger screen (but the same dimensions) that ditches the brand’s neon green.

Is Razer finally growing up and shedding its gamer badge? Heck no. But at least you’ll be able to take your Stealth Blade to class or a meeting without looking like a total douchebag.

The Blade Stealth wowed us immediately with its stealthy compact aluminum design, 12-inch 4K-resolution IGZO touchscreen, solid Chroma-glowing keyboard and trackpad, and myriad ports.

It wasn’t much of a gaming laptop, but if you bolted on the Razer Core external GPU enclosure, you could definitely get desktop-class gaming performance out of it.

The new Blade Stealth has all of the things that made the original great, but now it’s got the latest seventh-generation Intel Core i7-7500U processors, better Intel HD Graphics 620, 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of PCie SSD storage, and up to nine hours of battery life. All these specs will also hit your wallet kinda hard; a 512GB machine costs $1,599 and a 1TB $1,999.

If the 12.5-inch Blade Stealth screen’s a little too cramped for your liking, you might want to consider the more affordable 13.3-inch Blade Stealth, which starts at $1,399. It’s got a larger screen, but the body’s the exact same size as the 12.5-inch model, thanks to its slimmer bezels.

No glowing green logo on the gunmetal 13.3-inch Blade Stealth.

No glowing green logo on the gunmetal 13.3-inch Blade Stealth.

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

The 13.3-inch Blade Stealth has the same processor, RAM, and graphics as its smaller-sized brother, but it comes with one big difference: screen resolution. Whereas the 12.5-inch has a 3,840 x 2,160 (4K) touchscreen, the 13.3-inch only has a 3,200 x 1,800 (QHD+) touchscreen. Will you see much of a difference? Not at all.

It's also a touchscreen.

It’s also a touchscreen.

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

The larger-screened laptop also comes in two colors: black and gunmetal. 

Black comes with your standard Chroma-lit keyboard capable of glowing in 16.8 million colors per key, glowing green triple-headed snake logo, and green-colored USB ports. 

One Thunderbolt 3 port (USB-C), USB 3.0 port, and headphone jack.

One Thunderbolt 3 port (USB-C), USB 3.0 port, and headphone jack.

Image: Lili Sams/mashable

USB 3.0 port and full-sized HDMI port.

USB 3.0 port and full-sized HDMI port.

Image: lili sams/mashable

Gunmetal, however, is boardroom and classroom-ready. The backlit keyboard only lights up in white, the Razer logo on the lid is a more subtle polished gray, and the USB ports are standard silver. 

Some might find the gunmetal version dull (if you’re buying a Razer laptop, you’re not afraid to shout from rooftops you drink the green glow), but I personally prefer it over the standard black and green version. It’s too bad about the keyboard, though. I really wish it still had the Chroma keyboard.

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE 

I’ve only had a few days to poke around with a pre-production gunmetal version, and so far it’s been pretty speedy. 

You just don’t realize how convenient it is to have full-sized USB and HDMI ports on your laptop until you’ve used laptops, like the new MacBook Pro, that don’t have them. That said, it’s also great to see a Thunderbolt USB-C port on the Blade Stealth, so you still get the best of both worlds.

Based on first impressions, I’d say the new 13.3-inch Blade Stealth is a better buy than the 12.5-inch version. The larger screen, despite its lower resolution, is roomier than the 12.5 despite having the same dimensions, and you get the same performance. Plus, no gimmicky Touch Bars.

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The dreaded ‘Blue Screen of Death’ helped save some PCs from massive ransomware hack

Lulz.

While the WannaCry ransomware that swept across the world and crippled hundreds of thousands of PCs ransomware last month isn’t really a laughing matter, what is hilarious is how Windows’ infamous, dreaded, face-meltingly awful “Blue Screen of Death“—the error message that appears after a PC’s crashed—managed to prevent computers from being infected.

Contrary to original reports, the majority of computers WannaCry-infected PCs were not in fact running Microsoft’s outdated Windows XP, but actually Windows 7, according to a recent Kaspersky Lab analysis.

Despite Windows XP computers contributing to an “insignificant” percentage of total infected PCs—98% of PCs infected with WannaCry were running some version of Windows 7—the damage could’ve been worse, had it not been for the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).

According to new research from the cybersecurity experts at Kryptos, installing WannaCry on PCs running Windows XP isn’t as effective as previously believed.

In tests on various versions of Windows, researchers discovered that repeated attempts to infect machines with WannaCry merely caused them to crash (displaying the BSOD) and require a hard reset, instead of encrypting all the computers’ files in return for a ransom.

“To be clear, the Windows XP systems are vulnerable to ETERNALBLUE, but the exploit as implemented in WannaCry does not seem to reliably deploy DOUBLEPULSAR and achieve proper RCE, instead simply hard crashing our test machines,” Kryptos said in a blog post. “The worst case scenario, and likely scenario, is that WannaCry caused many unexplained blue-screen-of-death crashes.”

Windows XP PCs aren’t completely immune to WannaCry (manually installing it will do the trick), but at the very least, the BSOD seems to get in the way of the ransomware doing its job locking up systems.

It’s ironic, that the last thing any PC user wants to see managed to save the day. If you’d asked anyone if there was ever a situation in which they’d want to see the Blue Screen of Death, you’d be hard-pressed to find an answer. Until now.

That said, if you haven’t already updated your PC with the latest security patch, or better yet, to Windows 10, you should definitely consider it. It’s better to not take any chances when it comes to your computer’s security—granted, some users can thank their lucky stars for it, but relying on the Blue Screen of Death isn’t exactly an ideal way to go about securing your computer.

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