Because English isn’t the same in England, Microsoft renames Fall Update for some

Enlarge (credit: Liz West)

The branding of the next major Windows 10 update, due in around September this year, was announced in May as the Fall Creators Update. Our UK siblings immediately wondered if the update would retain that same name in the UK. While American English calls the season between summer and winter “fall,” most of the rest of the anglophone community uses the British English “autumn.”

At the time of the initial announcement, Microsoft said that it would use the “Fall” name universally. But now that appears to not be the case; spotted by Windows Central, the branding being used in the UK and other English-speaking countries such as India, is now the Autumn Creators Update. In the US and Canada, it will remain the Fall Creators Update.

Given that the name was already inelegant, we find ourselves wondering if Microsoft would be better off abandoning this branding entirely. For the most part, Windows itself does not use this type of branding. Although Windows Update referred to the “Creators Update,” for example, everywhere else in the operating system simply calls it Version 1703 (which is to say, the Windows version from the third month of 2017). Windows Server, which will soon receive updates in parallel with Windows 10 similarly doesn’t use this type of branding; it just uses the version number.

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First insider build of Windows Server arrives with new virtualization features

Enlarge / Server administrator kaiju hates user password reset requests. (credit: Bandai Namco Entertainment America (CC))

Back in May, Microsoft announced that Windows Server would be joining the Windows Insider Program. Late last night, the first preview release of Windows Server was published.

The biggest areas of improvement in the new build are around virtualization and containers. The preview allows exposing more of the underlying hardware capabilities to virtual machines, with support for virtualized non-volatile memory and virtualized power/battery status. For both containers and virtual machines, networking capabilities have been enhanced to enable a wider range of virtual network capabilities with greater performance.

The focus on containerization has also seen the Nano Server deployment of Windows Server change. Presently, Nano Server is still a full operating system, but with the Redstone 3 release of Windows later this year, that’s going to change. It’s going to be a strictly container-only deployment. Upgrading and maintaining Nano Server will be done through updating the container image. This has enabled Microsoft to strip down the Nano Server installation. It no longer requires, for example, the Windows servicing stack. Because it’s upgraded simply by replacing the image, Nano Server no longer needs to use Windows Update itself. The result is a 70 percent reduction in the image’s footprint.

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Microsoft wants all of rural America to get high-speed broadband

Enlarge / Illustration of a white spaces network. (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft wants to connect two million rural Americans to high-speed wireless broadband by 2022, and it will get started with 12 pilot projects over the next year. The company is also offering free access to its intellectual property to help the rest of rural America get connected.

Microsoft isn’t planning to become an Internet service provider itself. Instead, the company will “invest in partnerships with telecommunications companies” building wireless networks using TV “white spaces” spectrum, Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post yesterday. “We and our partners will have at least 12 projects up and running in 12 states in the next 12 months.”

The 12 states are Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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Review: HP’s new Spectre x2 is a crazy value compared to the Surface Pro

Readers, meet HP’s new Spectre x2 convertible. (video link)

Convertibles and detachables are ideal for people who need versatility but only want one device. Microsoft’s Surface Pro ran on that idea and became a convenient multi-use product for many. However, the newest update to the Surface Pro left a lot to be desired, and other OEMs are jumping on this opportunity to out-Surface the Surface Pro.

HP’s updated Spectre x2 fine-tunes the original device’s design while giving the internals a power boost from Core M to Core i5/i7 for better productivity. The Spectre x2 is also more affordable than the Surface Pro and includes its keyboard and pen in the box rather than forcing customers to pay extra for them. HP’s Spectre x2 challenges the value of the Surface Pro while also trying to prove to users that you can make a two-in-one your main PC without much compromise.

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You can now put the Azure cloud on premises with Azure Stack

A block diagram that is supposed to clarify what Azure Stack does and is. (credit: Microsoft)

After being announced in 2015, Microsoft’s Azure Stack—which offers a wide range of Azure services for on private, on-premises hardware—is now available.

Azure Stack is positioned as a major part of Microsoft’s hybrid cloud offering. It offers the same management tools, straightforward provisioning, and usage-based licensing as the public Azure cloud, but it runs on premises. This makes Stack suitable for organizations with security, privacy, regulatory compliance, or legacy integration constraints that preclude the use of the public cloud.

When announced, Microsoft’s intent was to enable organizations to build private Azure clouds on any suitable hardware. It had an initial release date in 2016, and this would have made Azure Stack a direct competitor and alternative to OpenStack. Last July, those plans were changed as Microsoft switched to an appliance model and a 2017 release date. Rather than constructing their own infrastructure, Azure Stack customers must now buy specific hardware from select Microsoft hardware partners, with Dell EMC, HPE, and Lenovo all having systems available to order today. Later in the year, those companies will be joined by Cisco and Huawei. Shipments will start in September.

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OneDrive has stopped working on non-NTFS drives

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OneDrive users around the world have been upset to discover that with its latest update, Microsoft’s cloud file syncing and storage system no longer works with anything other than disks formatted with the NTFS file system. Both older file systems, such as FAT32 and exFAT, and newer ones, such as ReFS, will now provoke an error message when OneDrive starts up.

To continue to use the software, files will have to be stored on an NTFS volume. While FAT disks can be converted, ReFS volumes must be reformatted and wiped. This has left various OneDrive users unhappy. While NTFS is the default file system in Windows, people using SD cards to extend the storage on small laptops and tablets will typically use exFAT. Similarly, people using Storage Spaces to manage large, redundant storage volumes will often use ReFS. The new policy doesn’t change anything for most Windows users, but those at the margins will feel hard done by.

In a rather odd statement made to OnMSFT, Microsoft said that it “discovered a warning message that should have existed was missing when a user attempted to store their OneDrive folder on a non-NTFS filesystem—which was immediately remedied.” The company’s position, apparently, is that OneDrive should always have warned about these usage scenarios and that it’s only a bug or an oversight that allowed non-NTFS volumes to work.

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