Microsoft: Switch to iOS or Android because Windows 10 Mobile is ending

Lumia 950

Lumia 950 (credit: Peter Bright)

Windows 10 Mobile will receive its last patches and security updates on December 10 this year, as Microsoft winds down the last remaining bit of development on its smartphone platform.

The last major notable to the platform was October 2017, when it was bumped to version 1709. At that point, Microsoft ended feature development entirely, shipping only security updates and bug fixes. That’s going to come to an end on Patch Tuesday this coming December.

Certain online services will continue to operate beyond that date; device backups for settings and applications will work for three months, to March 10, 2020, and photo uploads and restoring devices from backups will work for 12 months beyond the end of support.

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Windows 10 October 2018 Update is at last being pushed automatically

Who doesn't love some new Windows?

Enlarge / Who doesn’t love some new Windows? (credit: Peter Bright / Flickr)

The ill-fated Windows 10 October 2018 Update has hitherto been offered only to those Windows users that manually sought it, either by using the dedicated upgrade and media creation tools, or by manually checking for update in Windows Update. Three months after its initial release, Microsoft has at last started pushing it to Windows users automatically.

The update was originally withdrawn because of a data loss bug. A month after the initial release, the bug was fixed and the fixed update was made available. Even this release was limited, with a number of blocks in place due to known incompatibilities. As described above, it was then only offered to those taking certain manual steps to update their machines. One month ago, these blocks were largely removed.

Even with automatic deployment and installation now enabled, the beleaguered update is still rolling out in phases. Initially, it’ll be offered to machines where Microsoft is most confident that the update will be trouble-free—ones with configurations already known and tested. As the tap is slowly opened more and the update is made available to a wider range of hardware, the company will use operating system telemetry to detect any lingering incompatibilities with device drivers or unusual software.

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Next Windows 10 version will let you search without Cortana’s involvement

The Cortana button is now no longer part of the search box.

Enlarge / The Cortana button is now no longer part of the search box. (credit: Microsoft)

Today’s Insider build of Windows 10, number 18317, changes how search and Cortana are used, as Microsoft is working to reposition Cortana as a productivity-focused digital assistant and integrate search with Office 365.

Currently, Windows 10 has a single text box on the taskbar that’s used for searches and Cortana commands. Type a word or two and it’ll search the Start menu, settings, and documents. But type a command (“tell me a joke,” say) and no search is performed; instead, the command is delivered to Cortana, and she duly responds. In the new build, the text box is used solely for searching. To give Cortana a command, you’ll have to speak to her or click a separate Cortana button on the taskbar.

The combination of the two features was an oft-criticized part of the Windows 10 interface, as there’s no particular reason to bundle them together. Both can respond to typed commands, so using the text box for two different things saved some space. Because searches are popular, it’s likely that some people were introduced to Cortana as a result of a search. Separating the two things should make the Windows interface a little more logical. The settings pages have also been disentangled.

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Microsoft removes Forza dances amid Fortnite lawsuits

Actor Alfonso Ribeiro shows off "The Carlton" during a <em>Dancing with the Stars</em> performance.

Enlarge / Actor Alfonso Ribeiro shows off “The Carlton” during a Dancing with the Stars performance.

Forza Horizon 4 no longer features two dance emotes—the Carlton and the Floss—which were previously available for use by in-game avatars. The removal is listed under the “Other Improvements” section in the notes for the game’s Series 5 update, which launched yesterday with a new online adventure playlist and new Mitsubishi cars for the game, among other changes.

Microsoft has not offered a public explanation for the removal, though a spokesperson told KotakuForza Horizon 4 features a large portfolio of content and is continuously updated.” The move comes, though, after both dances became the subject of lawsuits regarding their similar inclusion in Epic’s Fortnite.

The Carlton—popularized by actor Alfonso Ribeiro on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air—and the Floss—popularized by Russell “Backpack Kid” Horning in a Saturday Night Live performance—are the apparent inspiration for two Fortnite emotes that can be purchased as part of various Battle Pass DLC packages. Lawsuits filed against Epic by those dancers accuse the Fortnite maker of illegally profiting from their copyrighted dance creations.

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Microsoft’s fonts catch out another fraudster—this time in Canada

The Calibri font. Don't use this if you're forging anything written before 2007.

Enlarge / The Calibri font. Don’t use this if you’re forging anything written before 2007. (credit: Peter Bright)

You’d think that people forging documents would have learned by now. Canadian Gerald McGoey was judged to have falsified documents in an attempt to protect certain assets from bankruptcy proceedings, because—and stop me if you’ve heard this before—the documents used Microsoft’s modern “C” fonts, which didn’t become widely available until 2007. This would have been fine, were it not for the minor detail that the documents were dated 2004 and 1995. Whoops.

McGoey was CEO of Look Communications when it collapsed and left him bankrupt. The company was liquidated, and McGoey was ordered to replay $5.6 million to creditors. McGoey claimed that the assets in question—homes, in this case—were held in trust by his wife and three children and hence beyond the reach of the courts. To prove this, he presented two signed documents. Unfortunately for him, he’d created the documents using typefaces that didn’t exist at the time of the documents’ purported creation.

The first trust document was dated 1995 and used the Cambria font. The second, dated to 2004, used Calibri. Cambria was designed in 2004, while Calibri was between 2002 and 2004. But neither became widespread until 2007, when they were bundled with Windows Vista and Office 2007. That software included seven different fonts with names beginning with “C”—the “C fonts”—that were optimized for ClearType antialiasing. With their release, Microsoft changed Word’s default font from the venerable Times New Roman to Calibri. Using the new fonts instantly betrays that a document wasn’t written any time prior to 2007.

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Windows 7 enters its final year of free support

Licensing and support lifecycles are not really the easiest topics to illustrate.

Enlarge / Licensing and support lifecycles are not really the easiest topics to illustrate. (credit: Peter Bright)

Windows 7’s five years of extended support will expire on January 14, 2020: exactly one year from today. After this date, security fixes will no longer be freely available for the operating system that’s still widely used.

As always, the end of free support does not mean the end of support entirely. Microsoft has long offered paid support options for its operating systems beyond their normal lifetime, and Windows 7 is no different. What is different is the way that paid support will be offered. For previous versions of Windows, companies had to enter into a support contract of some kind to continue to receive patches. For Windows 7, however, the extra patches will simply be an optional extra that can be added to an existing volume license subscription—no separate support contract needed—on a per-device basis.

These Extended Security Updates (ESU) will be available for three years after the 2020 cut-off, with prices escalating each year.

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Windows 10 will chew up another 7GB of disk space to make sure it can update

Windows 10: Doing great things sometimes requires 7GB?

Enlarge / Windows 10: Doing great things sometimes requires 7GB? (credit: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The latest Windows 10 Insider build, number 18312, introduces a new feature wherein the operating system reserves a big old chunk of disk space, effectively expanding its on-disk footprint by another 7GB.

The storage reservation is to ensure that certain critical operations—most significantly, installing feature updates—always have enough free space available. Windows requires substantial extra disk space both during the installation of each feature update (as it unpacks all the files) and afterward (as the previous version of Windows is kept untouched, so that you can roll back if necessary). Lack of free space is one of the more common reasons for updates failing to install, so Microsoft is setting space available on a long-term basis, allowing those periodic updates to be sure they have what they need.

The exact amount reserved will depend on the optional features and language packs installed, but about 7GB will be typical. The reserved space isn’t entirely lost during normal usage, with certain temporary files having their disk usage charged against reserved space, rather than free space. Being temporary, such files can be safely discarded each time an update is available to reinstate the full reserved capacity.

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