Apple simplifies Windows 10 installs with support for Windows 10 Creators Update

Apple this week updated macOS Sierra to version 10.12.5 with more than three dozen security patches, and a change that lets users install Microsoft’s latest version of Windows 10 on their Macs.

boot camp

Sierra 10.12.5 “adds support for media-free installation of Windows 10 Creators Update using Boot Camp,” the update’s brief release notes read. Creators Update was the name Microsoft assigned to Windows 10 1703, the upgrade issued last month.

Boot Camp, which is baked into macOS, lets Mac owners run Windows on their machines. A Windows license is required. Boot Camp, while not virtualization software like VMware’s Fusion or Parallels International’s Parallels Desktop, serves the same purpose: Running Windows applications, including custom or mission-critical corporate software, on a Mac personal computer.

Previously, Mac users were forced onto a circuitous road to put Windows 10 Creators Update into Boot Camp. According to a Microsoft support document published before the upgrade was released, Mac owners first had to install an .iso of 2016’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update, aka 1607, to Boot Camp. Once 1607 was in place, they could then upgrade Windows 10 to 1703 from within Boot Camp.

Monday’s macOS update voids that workaround: Mac owners may instead directly install a disk image — in .iso format — of Windows 10 1703 into Boot Camp.

Sierra 10.12.5 also patched 37 vulnerabilities in macOS. Apple also released security updates for Sierra’s two predecessors, 2015’s macOS El Capitan and 2014’s macOS Yosemite.

Windows 10 Insider build 16199 fills some holes in the Creators Update

Microsoft may be using Windows 10 Insider Build 16199 to flesh out its My People experience for Windows 10, but chances are you’ll find a few of the new Settings to be the more useful features.

windows 10 my people hero

Like other Settings, the new additions—the updated System Health listings, new tips videos, and a more comprehensive Storage Sense—won’t be called out, and you’ll have to know where to look for them. Another improvement, a notification that will pop up on your screen when your Android phone receives a call, is part of the new cross-device connectivity built into the upcoming Fall Creators Update.

What this means: My People was originally slated for the original Creators Update, so the pace of its addition isn’t surprising—it was probably already pretty far along. In all, however, the new features indicate that Microsoft is busy introducing new code before the expected September ship date nears.

One of the issues with any product, really, is a lack of good documentation. (There’s a reason that we spend so much time writing tips!) Well, Microsoft has decided to contribute, too. Scattered about the Settings menu (try Settings > Update & security) will be a number of tips and videos providing detailed guidance on completing a given task.

In our original review of Windows 10, we dinged it for failing to inform users regularly about what’s new. That’s now been solved, and Microsoft is adding other resources as well. What isn’t clear quite yet are whether those videos are being stored locally—adding to the size of the OS—or streamed, which would require an active Internet connection.

windows 10 tips videos

Microsoft

You’ll fnd new tips content scattered around the Settings menu.

Microsoft also maintained its theme of informing the user in a new About page, which usually is the graveyard for burying obscure copyright and licensing language. Not so in the refreshed Windows About page, tucked into the Settings > System > About section. Here, you’ll find a system synopsis, including the basic specs of your PC, the version of your operating system, and more. (It’s a bit more detailed than the System page accessed via the WIN +X key.)

windows 10 settings system health

Microsoft

The About page provides a wealth of content that you should know about.

Now, Microsoft has added a “System health” section, demonstrating that your PC is safe and secure, thanks to Windows Defender—and if it’s not, what to do about it.

Finally, there’s Storage Sense, which was originally designed to provide more information about which apps gobble up your disk space, but has evolved into a tool to manage your disk storage, too. With the most recent update to Settings > System > Storage, Storage Sense can now automatically clean up files in your Downloads section that have been unmodified in the last 30 days, giving you more storage space. If you think that sounds pretty risky, however, there’s good news: The feature is off by default.

My People gets a bit more personal

windows 10 my people share

Microsoft

Your People are now your go-to contacts.

When Microsoft first launched the My People experience, the company talked about giving you quick access to a number of friends right from your taskbar, complete with the ability to send and receive emojis, short communications, and more.

With the most recent update, that vision is a bit more complete. Friends can now send (spam?) emoji from your taskbar, and they’ll animate and display on your desktop.  If you have additional notifications, they’ll show up as a numeric badge on top of the icon. In addition, your My People will now be the default option if you want to share something with friends.

Other improvements

Build 16199 includes two other improvements, the Android call notifications, and a couple of tweaks to the Windows 10 Beam capabilities. As long as you have the Cortana app installed on your Android phone, you’ll see something like this when you receive a call:

windows 10 android phone notification

Microsoft

Finally, Microsoft provided a nice tweak to Windows 10’s Beam capabilities, which allows users to stream games to the Internet at large. Though you don’t have to enable this option, Beam now allows you to stream just the game’s audio, and not the bleeps and pings from notifications or other sounds from your PC.

Support for the original version of Windows 10 ends May 9

As expected, Microsoft named May 9 as the date it will issue the final updates

windows 10 logo

Two months ago, Microsoft had extended support for Windows 10 version 1507—Microsoft labels feature upgrades by year and month—from March to May, but did not specify the date in the latter month. Computerworld anticipated May 9 as the end-of-support because that is the date for the month’s Patch Tuesday.

The May 9 retirement was quietly announced on several support documents, including the “Windows lifecycle fact sheet,” which lists several kinds of deadlines for various versions of the operating system.

Another document put it plainly. “The time has now come to end servicing for version 1507,” the support document read.

Stopping support for Windows 10 editions—Microsoft released the fourth on Tuesday—is an important part of the company’s software-as-a-service model. The company has pledged to support an individual edition, such as 1507, not for 10 years, as policy required for, say, Windows 7 or 8.1, but only for 18 months or so. That mandate insured Microsoft would not need to craft security patches, fix other bugs or add new features for an increasing number of versions.

By the time Windows 10 1507 slips off the list, it will have been supported for about 21 months. Part of the reason it lasted longer than Microsoft’s stated norm was because the firm issued just one feature upgrade—v. 1607—in 2016.

The next Windows 10 edition, v. 1511, could be purged from support as soon as early October. That’s because Microsoft has committed to simultaneously supporting just two Current Branch for Business (CBB) builds. At the release of N+2 onto CBB, the company starts a 60-day-or-so countdown. At the end of the 60 days, N drops off the support list. N+1 then becomes N and N+2 morphs into N+1.

Under that policy, N would be 1511, N+1 version 1607 (released in August 2016) and N+2 1703 (this month’s feature upgrade). Version 1703 will likely be promoted to the CBB in four months, or August; two months more would put 1511’s support demise in October.

Users running 1507 must have upgraded to 1511, 1607 or 1703 by May 10 to receive future security patches, and other fixes or enhancements. Windows 10 1507 will not suddenly fail to boot, however, or degrade, as do copies that have not been activated with a product key.

The only exceptions will be customers whose devices are running v. 1507 from the Long-term Servicing Branch (LTSB), a special release track available only to organizations using Windows 10 Enterprise.

This story, “Support for the original version of Windows 10 ends May 9” was originally published by Computerworld.

Microsoft offers Gmail users some key Outlook features, but only via Windows 10

Soon Gmail accounts will no longer be second-class citizens in Windows 10. Microsoft announced late last week that some of the company’s top features for Outlook.com and other Microsoft-hosted email are coming to Gmail accounts.

gmailwindows10

The changes will be available via the Windows 10 Mail and Calendar app, meaning Gmail users won’t see them outside of a Windows 10 device. The added features include Focused Inbox, and travel and package tracking. Microsoft also says it will extend “faster and improved search” to Gmail via the Mail app.

 Microsoft
Microsoft’s alert to Gmail users in Windows 10 Mail.

The new features are rolling out over the next few weeks to Windows Insiders for testing. Microsoft did not provide a timeline for when mainstream users might see the new features.

Some would argue that Inbox by Gmail offers a similar filtering ability.  Inbox by Gmail uses a dramatically different interface from Gmail, however, while Focused Inbox is just a filtered version of your regular inbox, making it easier to adapt to the feature.

Microsoft says users will have to authorize Microsoft to sync their email, calendar, and contacts to Microsoft’s cloud to use the new features. It appears Microsoft will ask users if they want to use the new features at least twice. “You’ll know the new experience is available for your account when you are prompted to update your Gmail account settings,” Microsoft said in a blog post. “If you miss the first prompt, we will remind you again in a few weeks.” Hopefully the company won’t perpetually badger people to authorize the new feature if they decide against it.

The story behind the story: The fact that Gmail users won’t see the new features in non-Microsoft apps or when using Gmail.com may not be such a huge loss. Gmail already has fantastic search capabilities on its own, and travel and package tracking has been a standard part of Gmail for years. The only advantage Microsoft offers is Focused Inbox, which does an excellent job of filtering out the cruft to deliver the most important messages to your inbox.

HP loads its new Pavilion PCs with the Windows 10 Creators Update and optional GPUs

Just two days after Microsoft’s Windows 10 Creators Update arrived, HP announced two PCs that will come pre-loaded with the new OS.

Pavilion X360

HP refreshed its Pavilion laptops and X360 2-in-1s with new processors and also is offering optional discrete GPUs with the new PCs.

You’ll be able to select AMD Radeon or Nvidia 940MX graphics when configuring the PCs. Intel or AMD chips (but not Ryzen) can be selected with the PCs.

HP realizes entry-level gaming is becoming a basic prerequisite for many laptop users, and discrete GPUs will provide serious graphics punch that integrated graphics can’t match.

The Pavilion x360 is primarily a laptop but can be used a tablet after you fold the screen. Prices for an entry-level 11.6-inch model, which has only a 720p screen option, will start at $399.99 with a Pentium N4200 processor, but it can be upgraded to Intel Core i3 or i5 processors. The 14-inch model with Core i3 starts at $499.99, while the 15.6-inch model with Core i5 starts at $699.99. The 14- and 15-inch models can be upgraded to full HD screens.

The 14-inch model with Core i3 starts at $499.99, while the 15.6-inch model with Core i5 starts at $699.99. The 14- and 15-inch models can be upgraded to full HD screens.

The optional Nvidia GeForce MX940 GPU is available only in the 14-inch model, while AMD’s Radeon 530 is available on the 15.6-inch device.

The Pavilion X360 offers up to 12 hours of battery life, according to HP. It will support up to 16GB of DDR4 memory and up to a 1TB hard drive or 512GB SSD storage per slot.

The 2-in-1 devices have one USB Type-C port and two USB 3.1 ports. HP touted the X360 as being ideal for note taking, with a stylus included. It also has 802.11ac by default. HP touted the X360 as being ideal for note taking, with a stylus included. It also has 802.11ac networking by default.

The conventional Pavilion laptops also come with optional AMD Radeon or Nvidia 940MX GPUs. The 14- and 15.6-inch laptops come with Intel or AMD chips, while the 17.3-inch can be configured only with AMD’s A10 or A12 chips. The PCs start at about $529.99.

The new laptops are 12 percent thinner than predecessors that shipped last year, measuring 19.9 millimeters thick. HP cut the optical drive option from the laptops, which slim it down. The laptops are also lighter and charge much faster.

The devices support up to 16GB of DDR4 memory and also have USB Type-C and HDMI ports. Also included is a media card reader and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

The new PCs will be available worldwide in May or June through retailers and HP’s website.

Microsoft to cut update ties between Edge and Windows 10

Microsoft will sever the update ties between Windows 10 and its default browser, Edge, to give company developers a way to refresh the browser more often than twice a year, according to an online report.

microsoft edge browser resized

“Users will finally be able to get updates to the Edge browser via the Windows Store, which will allow Microsoft to add new features more frequently,” wrote Rich Woods of Neowin Monday, citing unnamed sources within Microsoft.

Since the mid-2015 launch of Windows 10, Edge feature updates have been limited to the times when the operating system itself was upgraded. There have been four iterations of Edge thus far: The original of July 2015, dubbed version 12; then November 2015’s version 13; August 2016’s version 14; and April 2017’s version 15.

Edge, like its predecessor Internet Explorer, receives monthly security updates that patch vulnerabilities.

Woods said that the change would take place in September, when Microsoft is scheduled to ship the next Windows 10 feature upgrade.

It’s unclear whether Windows Store—the only legitimate mart that offers “Universal Windows Platform” (UWP) apps—will be the sole source of Edge updates, or whether the browser will continue to be bundled with Windows 10 feature upgrades.

If Edge updates are available only from the Windows Store, some enterprises may balk at assigning the browser to workers; firms using Windows 10 Enterprise can lock users out of the Store, and do so to restrict what runs on the company’s PCs. And firms looking for a more stable environment, and willing to consider Edge for that reason, may object to frequent Edge feature updates.

While Edge updates distributed from the Windows Store may give Microsoft the same number of refresh opportunities as rival browsers, notably Google’s Chrome as well as Mozilla’s Firefox, and thus play to consumers who cherish change, Chrome’s and Firefox’s every-six-week update cadence could well be exactly what corporations hope to avoid. Microsoft could solve that by making Windows Store updates optional, and instead hew to its pledged twice-annual Windows 10 and Edge upgrades for businesses.

Such a move would be entirely within Microsoft’s pattern of promoting Edge as its primary browser—it’s effectively tossed Internet Explorer on the ash pile, promising only security updates but no new functionality—and touting Edge as a legitimate rival to long-established competitors.

But in the nearly two years of Edge’s existence, Microsoft has failed to convince customers to widely adopt the browser: At no point has Edge won over a majority of Windows 10 users. More telling, Edge’s share has declined since its debut peak, falling last month to a record low of 21%, or just over one in five Windows 10 users, according to analytics vendor Net Applications.

There’s no evidence in Net Applications’ numbers that Edge has won over a sizable percentage of Windows 10 users, or that it may eventually prevail. And while most enterprises have yet to launch Windows 10 migrations, there’s little motivation for IT administrators to reverse gears, dump Chrome, which they helped make the most popular browser on Windows 7, and inflict another change on employees by switching to Edge when they do move workers onto the newer OS.

edge sinks

Microsoft to cut update ties between Edge and Windows 10

Microsoft will sever the update ties between Windows 10 and its default browser, Edge, to give company developers a way to refresh the browser more often than twice a year, according to an online report.

microsoft edge browser resized

“Users will finally be able to get updates to the Edge browser via the Windows Store, which will allow Microsoft to add new features more frequently,” wrote Rich Woods of Neowin Monday, citing unnamed sources within Microsoft.

Since the mid-2015 launch of Windows 10, Edge feature updates have been limited to the times when the operating system itself was upgraded. There have been four iterations of Edge thus far: The original of July 2015, dubbed version 12; then November 2015’s version 13; August 2016’s version 14; and April 2017’s version 15.

Edge, like its predecessor Internet Explorer, receives monthly security updates that patch vulnerabilities.

Woods said that the change would take place in September, when Microsoft is scheduled to ship the next Windows 10 feature upgrade.

It’s unclear whether Windows Store—the only legitimate mart that offers “Universal Windows Platform” (UWP) apps—will be the sole source of Edge updates, or whether the browser will continue to be bundled with Windows 10 feature upgrades.

If Edge updates are available only from the Windows Store, some enterprises may balk at assigning the browser to workers; firms using Windows 10 Enterprise can lock users out of the Store, and do so to restrict what runs on the company’s PCs. And firms looking for a more stable environment, and willing to consider Edge for that reason, may object to frequent Edge feature updates.

While Edge updates distributed from the Windows Store may give Microsoft the same number of refresh opportunities as rival browsers, notably Google’s Chrome as well as Mozilla’s Firefox, and thus play to consumers who cherish change, Chrome’s and Firefox’s every-six-week update cadence could well be exactly what corporations hope to avoid. Microsoft could solve that by making Windows Store updates optional, and instead hew to its pledged twice-annual Windows 10 and Edge upgrades for businesses.

Such a move would be entirely within Microsoft’s pattern of promoting Edge as its primary browser—it’s effectively tossed Internet Explorer on the ash pile, promising only security updates but no new functionality—and touting Edge as a legitimate rival to long-established competitors.

But in the nearly two years of Edge’s existence, Microsoft has failed to convince customers to widely adopt the browser: At no point has Edge won over a majority of Windows 10 users. More telling, Edge’s share has declined since its debut peak, falling last month to a record low of 21%, or just over one in five Windows 10 users, according to analytics vendor Net Applications.

There’s no evidence in Net Applications’ numbers that Edge has won over a sizable percentage of Windows 10 users, or that it may eventually prevail. And while most enterprises have yet to launch Windows 10 migrations, there’s little motivation for IT administrators to reverse gears, dump Chrome, which they helped make the most popular browser on Windows 7, and inflict another change on employees by switching to Edge when they do move workers onto the newer OS.

edge sinksComputerworld/Data: Net Applications
Edge’s share of the browsers used in Windows 10 reached a new low in April of just 21%. The operating system’s default browser has never accounted for a majority of users.

 This story, “Microsoft to cut update ties between Edge and Windows 10” was originally published by Computerworld.

Microsoft reinstates My People for Windows 10, connecting you to your BFFs

Microsoft’s feature for connecting you to close friends, known as My People, may have been cut from the Creators Update, but it has resurfaced as part of the latest Windows Insider build (16184) for Windows 10 PCs.

windows 10 my people

With the Creators Update finished, Microsoft is now working on the next major update of Windows 10, known as Redstone 3. While the initial builds of Redstone 3 focused on framework, Microsoft appears to have moved on to adding features: namely, the My People “experience,” and a richer Focused Inbox for those who use Gmail with Windows 10 Mail. The latter will also add package and travel-reservation tracking, Microsoft said.

Why this matters: My People promises to be a significant feature within Redstone 3. My People works on the assumption that, while you may have a number of friends and acquaintances, there’s a handful among them that you’d like to be in near-constant contact with. We hope so, because Microsoft is making it so those folks are always close at hand.

How My People works

My People asks you to select these chosen few—three friends, for now—and pin them to your taskbar, alongside apps like Edge, Skype, or OneNote. Essentially, those friends will always be just a click away: Clicking them will open a messaging window, allowing you to remain in constant touch. (My People apparently defaults to Skype, though you’ll be able to choose an alternative program and My People will remember your choice.)

Microsoft

Microsoft launched a new Focused Inbox for Gmail users who connect using Windows 10 Mail.

It’s not clear whether all of the features Microsoft showed off previously are within the current iteration of My People. Last fall, Microsoft indicated that when you opened an app such as Mail, the My People you selected would appear among the default choices for email recipients. Microsoft also showed off “Shoulder Taps,” where your My People friends could send you emoji and other feedback, which would pop up on your desktop.

With the current release, Microsoft said that an “improved Share story for People” will be rolling out in future builds.

To ensure that My People launches correctly, however, you’ll need to download the most recent versions of the Skype, Mail, and People apps from the Store. Clicking the People icon in the taskbar will launch My People, Microsoft said.

Microsoft also released Build 15208 for Windows 10 Mobile users, which contains bug fixes.

How to delete and disable location history in the Windows 10 Creators Update

Your devices scoop up all kinds of information about you to provide helpful services and deliver supposedly targeted advertising. Since the debut of Windows 10 this trend has also landed in full force on the PC. But what if you don’t want to participate in this cloud-based madness? A good start is to restrict your location information in Windows 10.

Here’s how to turn off location services in Windows 10 and delete your location history.

location

Some Windows Store apps in Windows 10 require your location to work correctly, while others would like it in order to tailor your experience. Before you turn off location services keep in mind that any location-specific services or apps will no longer be available to you.

If that’s okay with you, open the Settings app by clicking the Windows Start button and then selecting the cog icon in the lower left corner. In the Settings app go to Privacy > Location and turn off the slider labeled Location service.

locationapps

If restricting your location data systemwide is too extreme, Windows 10 lets you do it on a per-app basis. The feature only works for apps built with the Windows Store platform.

Scroll down in Settings > Privacy > Location, and toward the bottom of the screen is the heading Choose apps that can use your precise location. This is followed by a list of apps that want to use your location, each with a corresponding on/off slider. The only one you can’t change is Cortana, because the personal digital assistant requires your location to work. Other than that, you can restrict access to your location on a per-app basis.

historycleared

Next, it’s time to delete location history. You can do this regardless of whether you’ve turned off location services for your device. In Settings > Privacy > Location, scroll down to the sub-heading Location history. Click the Clear button in that section to erase your location history on your PC or tablet. Once the history has been cleared, a checkmark appears next to the Clear button.

That was easy enough, but we’re not done yet. Your location history is also stored on Microsoft’s servers. Below the Clear button, click the link labeled Manage my location info that’s stored in the cloud.

at will take you to the location section of your Microsoft Account’s privacy settings. On the right-hand side of this page look for the section called Clear location activity.

Under that heading is a button with the same title. Click Clear location activity and a pop-up appears asking you to confirm you choice, because you cannot undo this action. Click Clear and you’re done. If you want to be extra-sure, refresh the web page and you’ll see that the map it displays no longer shows any location data.

That’s all there is to clearing your location activity in the Creators Update. If you don’t want your location used at all, you should restrict your browser from asking for your location as well.