Wayne Williams

Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 15007 for PC and Mobile arrives on the Fast ring -- introduces more great features

Windows-10 key

A few days ago, Microsoft rolled out Build 15002 (for PC) to Insiders on the Fast ring. It introduced a wealth of new features for Edge, Windows Ink, and Cortana, as well as the ability to pause updates, a new Share experience, and much more.

You might expect Build 15007 to just be a bunch of fixes to shore things up and improve stability, but actually it also adds a selection of new features and improvements. Here's what's new.

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Windows 10's new Dynamic Lock feature locks your PC when you step away

PC lock

The forthcoming Creators Update for Windows 10 introduces a lot of new features, including something called Dynamic Lock.

This allows Windows 10 to detect when you’re away from your computer and automatically lock the device to prevent anyone accessing it in your absence. You don’t need to have Windows Hello configured to use it.

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Microsoft makes big privacy changes to Windows 10 in a bid to win back user trust

New MS privacy settings

Windows 10 has a reputation for spying on its users. So much so, that a number of privacy-based third-party programs (such as Ashampoo AntiSpy and Spybot Anti-Beacon) have sprung up to disable Windows 10’s numerous tracking features.

In September 2015, Microsoft's Terry Myerson defended how the company has handled privacy in Windows 10, saying in a blog post that "Trust is a core pillar of our More Personal Computing vision, and we know we have to earn it". Today, in a new blog post, he says much the same thing, but announces two new ways for users to take back control of their privacy. Does it go far enough?

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You can still upgrade to Windows 10 for free -- here's how

Sneaky

What, you thought that free upgrades to Windows 10 ended on July 29, 2016? That might be what Microsoft would like you to think, but actually you can upgrade to the new OS for free as easily now as you could before the 'official' free period ended.

There are a couple of ways to get Windows 10 for free, and if you haven’t already done so, then it’s worth doing as who knows when Microsoft will close these loopholes? Windows 10 is getting much, much better -- as evidenced by the latest Creators Update Insider Build -- and once you’ve upgraded you can always roll back your system to your current OS if you decide that Windows 10 really isn’t for you. Having performed the upgrade once, you’ll be able to reinstall Windows 10 for free at any point in the future.

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Wow! Massive Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 15002 arrives on Fast ring -- and it's a doozy!

Happy man on laptop

The holidays are over, and so it’s time for a new Windows 10 Insider Preview build to hit the Fast ring.

While we’ve been waiting for Microsoft to find a build that’s considered safe, and stable enough for testers to try, there have been a couple of leaked releases -- 14997 and 15002. Installing either of those was not without its risks, but the big news is if you’re a good Insider and have been waiting patiently for an official build, the wait is over. And boy, has Microsoft got a treat for us with this release.

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How to find out if your PC is vulnerable to ransomware

Ransomware

Ransomware is the nastiest form of malware there is. It encrypts your files and demands a ransom to release them. While you can remove the threat, doing so will often leave your files locked, with no way to recover them.

There are a number of decryptors available, and plenty of anti-malware products promise to keep your system safe, but how do you know if you’re truly protected? Well, exposing your system to ransomware would be one crazy way of finding out, but there’s a much simpler and safer method.

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Gartner: Windows 10 is on its way down -- grim forecast for the next three years

Angry PC

Gartner has a grim prediction for Microsoft which is pinning its hopes on Windows 10 and the forthcoming Creators Update. According to the research firm, Windows will lose OS share in 2017, and then flatline for at least the next two years.

Gartner’s prediction covers all flavors of Windows, but of course it really means Windows 10 since that is now Microsoft’s only readily available OS. Apple on the other hand is set for a brighter future, with its operating systems set to see continued growth.

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Microsoft sneaks yet more ads into Windows 10 Creators Update

too-many-ads

Microsoft has been sneaking adverts into almost every spare space in Windows 10.

These ads appear in the Start menu, on the Lock screen and even in the Windows Ink Workspace. Plus, the software giant has been showing popups promoting Microsoft Edge and running app promotions on the new tab page. But, because there’s still real estate left to throw some more ads in, Microsoft plans to introduce even more promotions in the forthcoming Creators Update.

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Windows 10 makes thirsty drinkers wait while it updates the fridge

upgrading fridge

Last year we wrote about how Windows 10 ruined a live weather broadcast with an unwanted upgrade, and killed a live pro gaming stream with a badly timed update.

A few days into 2017, and Jackie Stokes, Director of Incident Response at Intel Security, has brightened our day with this image of Windows 10 updating on a fridge, captioned "I just wanted some water…"

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The Mirabook turns your smartphone into a laptop

mirabook-thumb

Smartphones are great for doing a spot of work in a pinch, but they aren’t really a substitute for a laptop.

The Mirabook solves this problem by giving your smartphone all the capabilities of a laptop, including a large full HD screen, a keyboard, touchpad, additional storage, and a high capacity battery.

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Amazon announces Fire TV Edition for Smart TVs

Seiki_Element_4K_Ultra_HD_Smart_TV

When I bought a new 4K television, my first purchase to go with it was Amazon’s Fire TV box with 4K Ultra HD. The tiny box provides a range of great 4K content -- mostly Amazon Originals, although there’s also a decent selection of movies available to purchase.

Soon you might not need to buy anything in order to view 4K content from Amazon though, as the retail giant today announces Fire TV Edition, which will come built into the latest 4K Smart TVs.

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Windows 10 enters 2017 not with a bang, but a whimper

Bored party

Happy New Year! 2016 was certainly an interesting one for Microsoft and Windows 10. The software giant hit more than a few low points during the year, and while the new operating system managed to gain decent market share off the back of an incredibly aggressive push, its growth came shuddering to a stop once the free upgrade period ended.

December should have been a great month for Windows 10, with people buying new PCs for the holidays, but actually it was a pretty lackluster month in which the new OS’s gains were minimal, and way less than those enjoyed by the aging Windows 7.

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My favorite tech items of 2016 [Wayne]

Happy new year thumb

2016 was a bad year in lots of ways -- loads of celebrity deaths, plus Brexit and Trump (depending on your point of view of course) -- but a good year for new tech.

Rather than just looking at what exciting new products made it on to the market in 2016, I’ve decided to take a look at the items that have become part of my digital life in the past 12 months.

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Behold the Windows 10 GSOD -- Green Screen of Death

GSOD thumb

The other day I turned on my computer and was faced with the infamous Blue Screen of Death. This one was caused by a graphics error, and nothing too onerous, but I’ve had to troubleshoot numerous terrifying BSODs over the years.

The Blue Screen of Death is synonymous with big show-stopping problems, but Microsoft is currently toying with a different shade of terror -- green.

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Microsoft finally lets users pause updates in Windows 10

Pause

One of the features Microsoft introduced with Windows 10 was mandatory updates. The software giant was obviously hoping this would keep users safe, but it’s proven to be a divisive move.

Pro users can defer updates, but Home users don’t have this luxury. There are numerous third-party tools available that give users greater control, but the forthcoming Creators Update will allow users to easily pause updates as and when required.

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