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.
June 19, 2017 / Comments Off on Surface Laptop lets you restore back to Windows 10 S if you suddenly decide you hate apps
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
June 14, 2017 / Comments Off on Razer’s new MacBook Pro slayer has no gimmicky Touch Bar
While the 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.
June 1, 2017 / Comments Off on The dreaded ‘Blue Screen of Death’ helped save some PCs from massive ransomware hack
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
More ports than MacBook
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
May 23, 2017 / Comments Off on This hot MacBook replacement is from a company you’ve never heard of
The ransomware WannaCry has infected hundreds of thousands of computer systems around the globe, but a security researcher claims he’s figured out how to beat it.
In some cases, that is.
Adrien Guinet says that he was able to decrypt a ransomwared computer running Windows XP in his lab by discovering the prime numbers that make up the WannaCry private key. The private key is what a ransomware victim would need to buy off his attackers in order to regain access to his own files, but Guinet says he was able to do this without paying any Bitcoin ransom.
Importantly, Guinet acknowledges this technique has only been demonstrated to work on a computer running Windows XP. Why does that matter? Despite initial reports, those systems were not affected by the major May 12 outbreak as the worm that spread the ransomware didn’t hit those systems.
However, WannaCry itself doeswork on XP — suggesting that if the ransomware manages to spread to XP this new technique could be used to help future victims.
There are some other provisos as well.
“In order to work, your computer must not have been rebooted after being infected,” Guinet wrote on Github. “Please also note that you need some luck for this to work,” he added, “and so it might not work in every cases!”
Why luck? As Guinet explains, when WannaCry infects a computer it generates encryption keys that rely on prime numbers. Here comes the important part: The ransomware “does not erase the prime numbers from memory before freeing the associated memory.”
“If you are lucky (that is the associated memory hasn’t been reallocated and erased),” continues Guinet, “these prime numbers might still be in memory.”
If you can recover those prime numbers, as Guinet says he did, you can decrypt your files.
Guinet released the software he used to decrypt the infected system to the public. He calls it “Wannakey.”
As mentioned above, Wannakey has not been tested on a large scale and so it may not be a silver bullet. It does, however, suggest that data considered lost in future ransomware attacks may actually be recoverable. And that is some much needed good news.
May 18, 2017 / Comments Off on Security researcher says he’s figured out how to decrypt WannaCry