Wayne Williams

This is the easiest way to check if your Windows PC is vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown

You’ll no doubt be aware of the Spectre and Meltdown processor bugs, as well as the many problems caused by the patches pushed out to address them.

Microsoft last week released a PowerShell script which lets you check if your PC is vulnerable to Meltdown or Spectre, but now Ashampoo has made a free tool available which makes checking for the problem as easy as clicking a button.

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Subscriptions with automated recurring billing come to Windows 10

The number of decent apps available in the Microsoft Store pales in comparison to those in the Apple App Store and Google Play. Big names drop out almost as quickly as new ones arrive, which doesn’t help.

In yet another bid to woo developers to the platform, Microsoft is introducing subscription add-ons for Windows 10 Anniversary Edition, and later.

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Get 'Working with Linux -- Quick Hacks for the Command Line' ($32 value) FREE for a limited time

Say goodbye to unproductive Linux habits and switch to the express lane with Working with Linux -- Quick Hacks for the Command Line from Packt Publishing.

Websites, online services, databases, and pretty much every other computer that offers public services runs on Linux. With such a broad usage, the demand for Linux specialists is ever growing. Through this book, you will improve your terminal productivity by seeing how to use different tools.

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This is your last chance to get Windows 10 for free [Update: The offer has been extended]

Although Microsoft officially ended the free Windows 10 upgrade offer last year, it is still possible to get the new operating system completely free of charge by using a simple trick.

The software giant provides Windows 10 for free to anyone using assistive technologies, and doesn’t require you to prove you have any kind of disability in order to make use of this upgrade offer. However, all good things must come to an end, and Microsoft is set to close this free upgrade route.

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Windows 10 S Insiders currently receiving Windows 10 Pro

Windows 10 S is Microsoft’s locked down version of Windows 10 that only allows users to install apps from the Windows Store. It’s much faster than Windows 10 because it isn’t bogged down in the same way the main OS is. It can run on lighter hardware as a result, and deliver significantly better battery life.

Users who buy a laptop running Windows 10 S -- such as the Surface Laptop -- can switch to Windows 10 Pro for free until March 31, if they decide they require a more flexible OS. However, it seems Windows 10 S Insiders are currently getting Pro without asking for it.

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Microsoft's emergency Windows Meltdown patch may be incompatible with your PC

As you’ll have read, two massive security bugs affecting millions of Intel, AMD and ARM processors have been uncovered. Codenamed Meltdown and Spectre, these are serious vulnerabilities, but the good news is the likes of Apple, Google and Microsoft have rushed out patches to address them.

Microsoft pushed out a rare, off-schedule emergency fix for Windows 10 (with fixes for Windows 7 and 8.x expected shortly), but the bad news is it may not be compatible with your system.

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You can still get Windows 10 for free -- for now at least

Microsoft officially called time on the free Windows 10 upgrade offer in 2016, but allowed anyone using assistive technologies to continue to upgrade to the new OS without paying a penny.

This offer worked on an honor system -- you weren’t required to provide any proof that you used assistive technologies in order to make use of the deal -- allowing anyone to continue to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Microsoft finally closed this loophole on December 31, 2017, except (whisper it) the site, and the deal, are still available.

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Steam: Windows 7 loses a large chunk of usage share, but is still well ahead of Windows 10

Depending on which analyst firm you believe, Windows 10 is either a whisker away from overtaking Windows 7 as the most popular desktop operating system, or still quite a distance off.

Steam’s monthly usage survey, which shows usage share from the gamers’ perspective, paints an entirely different picture however. It has consistently reported Windows 10 as the top operating system of choice, until recently, when Windows 7 roared into the top spot.

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StatCounter: Windows 10 STILL hasn't overtaken Windows 7

Confused

While NetMarketShare’s monthly usage share figures show there to still be a fairly significant gap between Windows 7 and Windows 10 (in the older OS’s favor), rival analyst firm StatCounter has long reported the battle for the top spot to be much, much tighter.

So close is the race in fact, that in October it looked as if Windows 10 would easily pass Windows 7 at some point in the following month. Surprisingly, that didn’t happen, although the gap did narrow. It seemed all but guaranteed that Windows 10 would claim pole position in December, but incredibly it didn’t.

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NetMarketShare: Windows 10 still has quite some way to go to beat Windows 7's share

NetMarketShare reports on the state of the desktop operating system market on the first day of each month, and it has long shown Windows 10 to be lagging well behind Windows 7. However, tweaks to how the analyst firm records these numbers means the gap has closed recently.

The latest figures, for the final month of 2017, show Windows 10 growing and Windows 7 declining, but the difference in usage share hasn’t altered by much.

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Unofficial Kodi add-on provider TVAddons set to 'change how people access streaming media forever'

Six years ago, web developer umOuch launched XBMC HUB, the first add-on community for the XBox Media Center (Kodi's original name).

It provided an easy way to find and install unofficial add-ons, and later evolved into TVAddons, branching out into new areas in the process. In 2016, TVAddons even created its own fork of Kodi, called FreeTelly.

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Kodi comes full circle, now available for Xbox One

Kodi started life as XBMC (XBox Media Center) and was designed to run on Microsoft's original Xbox. The software has since then enjoyed a meteoric -- and somewhat controversial -- rise, and is now available for most platforms, including Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux.

One platform it was missing from was the latest generation of Microsoft's console, the Xbox One, but that oversight has finally been corrected. You can, from today, install Kodi on both that console and the Xbox One S. Although there is a catch.

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Fall Creators Update already on more than half of all Windows 10 PCs

Microsoft releases two big feature updates a year for Windows 10. 2017 saw the arrival of the Creators Update in April, followed by the Fall Creators Update in October.

The Creators Update was a slow and at times problematic release. A quarter of Windows 10 users still didn’t have it by the time its successor rolled out. Thankfully, Microsoft seems to have learned some important lessons, and the Fall Creators Update is being installed at a much faster rate.

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Kodi warns users to update their software and addons for safer streaming

Using Kodi is not without risk. While crazy scaremongering attacks might (and indeed should) have you rolling your eyes at the people making the outlandish claims, the truth is there are legitimate issues to be aware of. You could be hacked, or spied upon.

The developers behind Kodi have announced that users should update to the latest version of the media center software immediately "to improve security and reduce possible risks."

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New Windows 10 Redstone 4 build causing multiple, major problems for users

It took Microsoft a month to get Windows 10 Insider Build 17063 ready for release, as some pesky bugs kept getting in the way. This is an important build for the software giant as it’s chock full of new features -- including Timeline and Sets -- as well as numerous improvements throughout.

However, despite all the time Microsoft put into getting the build ready for release, it seems some pretty nasty bugs slipped through the gaps, as Insiders are discovering.

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