Wayne Williams

Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 11099 arrives on the Fast ring

Windows 10

It’s been a while since we’ve had any new Windows 10 preview builds, thanks to the holiday season, but Microsoft has at last pushed out a new build to the Fast ring. The software giant plans to make the Fast ring live up to its name this year with an accelerated release schedule.

In the future Microsoft’s criteria for releasing builds to the Fast ring will be much closer to its criteria for releasing them to its internal rings, which means new builds are likely to be buggier and suffer other issues. Build 11099, which is available for Insiders to download now, should be relatively stable however, as Microsoft has had a while to iron out any big problems.

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New cumulative update for Windows 10 available now [update]

windows update

If you’re running Windows 10 you might want to head to Settings, Update & Security as Microsoft has just pushed out a cumulative update for its new OS.

This is an update for non-Windows Insiders, and brings the current build up to 10586.63.

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Data breaches and cyber-attacks are often caused by failing to patch known (and fixable) vulnerabilities

Cyber attack

Data breaches were rarely out of the news last year, with the likes of VTech, OPM, Experian/T-Mobile, Ashley Madison and even Hello Kitty all admitting to data leaks.

While you might expect attackers to be using sophisticated methods to get at user data, a new survey from software solutions firm BMC and Forbes Insights reveals that in many cases, it’s known but unpatched vulnerabilities that are being exploited.

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Apps are far less secure than you imagine

bad app

Protection solutions specialist Arxan Technologies has just released its fifth annual State of Application Security report which takes an in-depth look into the security of some of the most popular mobile apps available.

The company found a huge discrepancy between consumers’ beliefs regarding the level of security built into the apps, and the degree to which developers of these apps actually address known application vulnerabilities. Worryingly, 90 percent of the applications tested were vulnerable to at least two of the OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) Mobile Top 10 Risks. These are the most critical risks facing apps.

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Warning! Windows 8 will no longer receive security updates from today

Windows 8 Start screen

If you’re still using Windows 8 it’s now time to upgrade because that operating system is about to get a whole lot less secure.

From today, January 12 2016, Microsoft will stop issuing security patches for its 3-year-old tiled OS, which will mean users will no longer be safe from newer threats.

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Oculus Rift pre-orders now open, ships March 28

riftblogpierre1

There’s no shortage of VR products available to buy, but the daddy of them all is unquestionably Oculus Rift. Unlike some rivals, this isn’t just a device you slap a smartphone in and strap to your face, it’s a full blown VR system with a sensor for tracking head position, and an input device that’s been built specially for navigating VR worlds.

The Rift has just gone up for pre-order now, and Oculus will start shipping it from March 28. It will be available in 20 countries, including the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan. The full list of supported territories is here. It will also be available through select retailers from April.

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Microsoft says that Windows 10 is now on 200 million devices and is its fastest growing OS ever

Happy PC user

NetMarketShare’s latest desktop usage figures suggest that Windows 10 now has nearly 10 percent of the market. And that translates to over 200 million devices, according to the latest figures released today by Microsoft.

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s corporate vice president, Windows and Devices Group, says "there are more than 200 million monthly active devices around the world running Windows 10" and he reports some other interesting adoption figures about the new OS, which will surprise a lot of people.

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Canonical goes on the attack, claims over a billion people use Ubuntu

Abacus

At the end of last year, Michael Larabel of Phoronix wrote an article in which he pointed out that Ubuntu had failed to hit its stated aim of 200 million users by the end of 2015. This figure was a goal that Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth laid out at the Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) in May 2011.

"We're just days away from closing out 2015 and it doesn't look like Ubuntu has come close to reaching that goal", Larabel wrote. Clearly his article riled those at Canonical, and the company has come out swinging with a blog post that details exactly how popular, and ubiquitous, Ubuntu is.

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Despite Microsoft's increasingly aggressive tactics, Windows 10's growth continues to slow

Angry businessman

Microsoft is largely unrepentant about pushing its new operating system so aggressively, and early in the year it will be marking Windows 10 as a "recommended update" in a bid to get larger numbers of Windows 7 and 8.x users to make the switch.

Since its launch, Windows 10 has been gaining usage share at a steady, if rather unexciting rate, but there’s a clear downward trend that shows users of older operating systems are in no hurry to upgrade.

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My favorite tech items of 2015 [Wayne]

2015 cloud

I’m looking forward to next year when, hopefully, I’ll finally be able to get my hands on the Oculus Rift which is expected to start shipping to consumers in Q1 2016. Pre-orders were supposed to start this year, but that’s clearly not going to happen now. Still I’ve waited long enough to get my VR fix, what’s a few more weeks/months?

While I didn’t get a Rift to play with this year, plenty of new technology did make its way through my hands and into my life. Here are some of the standout pieces of tech I'd definitely recommend you check out.

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Microsoft explains why it's pushing Windows 10 so aggressively (spoiler: it's to keep you safe)

Windows 7 peril

It’s understandable that Microsoft would want to push Windows 10 as much as possible, particularly as the rate of upgrades has been slowing recently. It must be a source of frustration to the company that users of Windows 7 and 8.1 appear so reluctant to switch, even though the upgrade for them is free.

In an effort to guide people on to Windows 10, Microsoft has been using increasingly aggressive methods, including pre-loading the installation files on to users’ systems, regardless of whether they want the new OS or not, and removing the option to opt-out of the upgrade. In the new year Microsoft intends to ramp up its push further, and joining the Windows Weekly team for a question and answer session, Microsoft Marketing Chief Chris Capossela made no apologies for his company’s approach which, he says, is being done to get users to a "safer place".

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Santa brought you an Apple Watch? Here’s what to do first

apple-watch-900x506

If you were lucky enough to receive an Apple Watch as a present this year, you’ll no doubt be keen to see what it offers, and what you can do with it.

To start you’ll need to pair it with an iPhone 5 or later, running iOS 9 or later. This is straightforward enough, go to Settings > Bluetooth on your phone and make sure the feature is enabled. Press and hold the side button (next to the digital crown) on your Watch to turn it on, and once you’ve selected a language, tap Start Pairing on your watch, and on your iPhone.

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Santa brought you a Windows 10 PC or tablet? Here’s what to do first

HP Elite x2 Windows 10 hybrid tablet laptop replacement keyboard stylus

If you were fortunate enough to unwrap a new Windows device this Christmas the chances are it will be running Windows 10.

The new operating system has much to recommend it, as well as a few features that you might not be so keen on (the spying aspect for example). Getting Windows 10 set up exactly how you want it will -- like all versions of Windows -- take a while, but follow this guide and you’ll soon be sorted.

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How to join Anonymous

anonymous

The hacktivist collective Anonymous does a lot of good. It’s been fighting Islamic State online for quite some time, outed Ku Klux Klan members in another operation, and even targeted Kanye West for being a "spoiled child in a grown man’s body", which is hard to argue with.

If you’ve ever aspired to join Anonymous but weren’t sure how or where to begin, here’s the bad news. You can’t "join" Anonymous. Not because you’re not wanted or welcome, but because, as a new recruiting video explains, it’s "not an organization. It is not a club, a party or even a movement. There is no charter, no manifest, no membership fees". That said, if you want to be part of Anonymous you can, and it’s easy to do so.

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Another delay and a major price increase -- is it time for Microsoft to kill the Surface Hub?

Microsoft Surface Hub

The Surface Hub looks cool. The giant wall-mounted Surface, aimed at businesses, comes in two sizes -- 55-inch and 84-inch -- and boasts 100 points of multitouch, up to three simultaneous pen inputs, dual 1080p front-facing video cameras and a four-microphone array. And the larger model has a 4k touch-screen display that refreshes every 8.33 milliseconds, which is faster than the human eye can detect.

But here’s the problem. Seven months ago Microsoft said the Surface Hub would be available to order in 24 markets -- including Australia, North America, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the UK -- from July 1, with a shipping date of September 1. But then five months ago, based on "strong demand" it delayed things (with no word of a ship date) and then a month later said orders would start shipping on January 1 2016. But guess what? They won’t.

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