Category Archives: Windows

Microsoft claims to make Chrome safer with new extension

Enlarge (credit: Chrome’s unsafe content warning.)

Chrome already provides effective protection against malicious sites: go somewhere with a poor reputation and you’ll get a big, scary red screen telling you that you’re about to do something unwise. But Microsoft believes it can do a better job than Google, and it has released a Chrome plugin, Windows Defender Browser Protection, that brings its own anti-phishing protection to Google’s browser.

Microsoft justifies the new plugin with reference to a 2017 report that claims that the company’s Edge browser blocked 99 percent of phishing attempts, compared to 87 percent by Chrome and 70 percent in Firefox. The plugin brings Edge’s protection to Chrome, so if the theory holds, it should bump the browser up to 99 percent, too.

The new extension doesn’t appear to disable Chrome’s own checking (or at least, it doesn’t seem to be doing so for me), so at the very least isn’t likely to make you less safe, and with phishing being as widespread as it is, the extra protection probably doesn’t hurt.

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Former Microsoft designer leaks likely future of Windows and Xbox “avatars”

Microsoft’s plan to launch a new “avatar” system for Windows 10 and Xbox users received its most revealing leak yet this week, thanks to an eagle-eyed forum user combing through an ex-Microsoft contractor’s resume.

After receiving a splashy reveal at E3 2017, Microsoft’s “Xbox Avatars”—a series of cartoony characters that players can customize and possibly bring into future games—were quietly delayed beyond their original “fall 2017″ launch window. The company has remained mum on them ever since, beyond formally announcing a vague “2018″ window. But ResetERA forum user Gowans turned up Xbox Avatar’s upcoming Windows 10 app by way of one of its “design integration developers,” Mark Dunbar, posting footage of the app on his portfolio site.

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It’s anyone’s guess when the next major Windows 10 update will be out

Enlarge (credit: Rev Stan / Flickr)

It looked like Windows 10 build 17133 was going to be blessed as the 1803 update, but that plan has been derailed. Though the build was pushed out to Windows Insiders on the release preview ring—an action that, in the past, has indicated that a build is production ready—it turns out that it had a bug causing blue screens of death.

Microsoft could likely have addressed the situation with an incremental update, but for whatever reason, it didn’t. Instead, we have a new build, 17134. This build is identical to 17133 except that it fixes the particular crashing issue. Fast ring Insiders have the build now, and it should trickle out to Slow ring and Release Preview ring shortly. If all goes well, the build will then make its way out to regular Windows users on the stable release channel.

When will that happen? That’s less clear. The expectation was that 17133 would be pushed out on this month’s Patch Tuesday; with the delay, May’s Patch Tuesday would be the logical opportunity, though if Microsoft is happy that the build works, there’s no particular need to wait.

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‘Sea of Thieves’ updates will focus on new maps, not perks

Ask a Sea of Thieves player for complaints and they'll likely have one common theme: there's not enough to do. You can only dig up so many treasures on the same islands. And Rare knows it. The developer has detailed content plans for the first sev…

Project Honolulu admin GUI out of preview as “Windows Admin Center”

Enlarge / Windows Admin Center

Announced last year as Project Honolulu, Microsoft today released Windows Admin Center, the new Web-based graphical administrative interface for Windows systems.

Admin Center is intended to provide a common interface for remote management of Windows machines running Windows Server (2012 or newer) or Windows 10, whether on physical hardware, virtual hardware, or in the cloud. Admin Center is built to offer a common remote admin interface that replaces the mess of MMC applets, control panels, settings apps, and dashboards that are currently used to graphically configure and maintain Windows machines. It operates at the server, failover cluster, and hyper-converged infrastructure level.

The intent behind Admin Center is that it should replace the mix of remote and local admin tools that are used for ad hoc administrative tasks, many of which might traditionally be done with Remote Desktop. To that end, it has interfaces for tasks such as registry editing, managing network settings, listing and ending processes, and managing hardware.

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Second ‘Destiny 2′ expansion, ‘Warmind,’ lands May 8th

Bungie promised two Destiny 2 expansions in the MMO-like shooter's first year, and we now know when that second add-on will arrive. Warmind is slated to arrive on May 8th, with more details arriving in a Twitch stream on April 24th. There's virtually…

AMD systems gain Spectre protection with latest Windows fixes

Enlarge / An AMD Ryzen. (credit: Fritzchens Fritz)

The latest Windows 10 fixes, released as part of yesterday’s Patch Tuesday, enable protection against the Spectre variant 2 attacks on systems with AMD processors.

Earlier this year, attacks that exploit the processor’s speculative execution were published with the names Meltdown and Spectre, prompting a reaction from hardware and software companies. AMD chips are immune to Meltdown but have some vulnerability to the two Spectre variants. Spectre variant 1 requires application-level fixes; variant 2 requires operating system-level alterations.

Both Intel and AMD have released microcode updates to alter their processor behavior to give operating systems the control necessary to protect against Spectre variant 2. Microsoft has been shipping the Intel microcode, along with the operating system changes necessary to use the microcode’s new features, for several weeks now; with yesterday’s patch, similar protections are now enabled on AMD machines.

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The Black Sand Desktop

We’ve been seeing a lot of water-based, beach-y, ocean-y wallpapers lately, and that makes us think you guys must be yearning for warmer weather. This one, from Sebastian, is a gorgeous, stark, black and white desktop with just a little customization. Here’s how it’s all set up.

Sebastian is running Windows, which means you’ll need Rainmeter to get this done. If you’re unfamiliar, check out our getting started guide, it’ll help you out.

Once you have the basics, you’ll need these components to make your desktop look like this:

That’s all there is to this one. You have to overlay some of the elements over one another to get the desired look, but this is a sharp one. Black and white, minimal, non-distracting, but still informative and useful when you can look at the desktop. If you have questions about how it was made, or want to make your system look like and can’t figure it out, hit the Flickr link below to let Sebastian know how much you like his work—and ping him there!

Do you have a good-looking, functional desktop of your own to show off? Share it with us! Post it to your personal Kinja blog using the tag DesktopShowcase or add it to our Lifehacker Desktop Show and Tell Flickr pool. Screenshots must be at least at least 1280×720 and please include information about what you used, links to your wallpaper, skins, and themes, and any other relevant details. If your awesome desktop catches our eye, you might get featured!

Black Sand UI | Flickr

Steam’s first game awards are chosen by you

Valve doesn't want to leave game awards to others any more. The gaming giant is introducing its first-ever Steam Awards, and it's asking the community to decide on both the nominees and the winners. These aren't the usual best-in-category awards, eit…

x86 emulation rumored to be coming to Windows for ARM in late 2017

Microsoft is working on an emulator enabling systems with ARM processors to run x86 applications, according to sources speaking to Mary Jo Foley, and the capability will ship in the update codenamed “Redstone 3,” currently due for fall 2017. This will be the third Minecraft-inspired Redstone codename; this year’s Anniversary Update was Redstone 1, and the Creators Update coming in spring next year is Redstone 2.

Ever since Microsoft announced Windows on ARM in 2012, there’s been an immediate problem that prevents the port of the operating system from having mainstream appeal: it doesn’t run Windows applications, because almost all Windows applications are compiled for x86 processors.

This isn’t such a big deal for Windows on phones because phone applications have to be purpose-built to include a phone user interface, but it was one of the things that made Windows RT tablets, including Microsoft’s own Surface, broadly undesirable. And even while it isn’t an issue for phone apps per se, it limits Microsoft’s ambitions somewhat with Windows Mobile’s Continuum feature. With Continuum, a Windows Mobile phone can connect to a keyboard, mouse, and screen, and the phone can run desktop-style applications. Currently, Continuum is limited to running UWP applications; these apps can offer dual user interfaces, adapting to whether being used in phone mode or Continuum mode. It would be logical and obvious to extend this to allow true Windows desktop applications to run in Continuum mode—but that raises the x86/ARM incompatibility issue once more.

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