If you believe StatCounter’s numbers, Windows 10 finally overtook Windows 7 in January. However, if you tend to trust NetMarketShare’s monthly desktop operating system figures more, well, then it didn’t.
According to the analyst firm’s numbers, in January Windows 10 narrowed the gap by a fair margin, but Windows 7 is still some way in the lead.
Every month, StatCounter reports on the state of the desktop operating system market. Since October last year, the analyst company’s figures have shown the gap between Windows 10 and Windows 7 narrowing. It looked as if the newer OS would overtake the older one in November, but that didn’t happen, and it didn’t happen in December either.
However, in January, according to StatCounter, Windows 10 finally claimed the top spot.
Microsoft is taking a firmer line with misleading system utilities and tools that try to scare users into paying for software. An update to Windows Defender means that software found to be "coercive" could be ripe for automatic removal.
New policies come into play in March as Microsoft tries to banish software that makes misleading claims or adversely affects system performance. Tools that exaggerate problems or resort to scare tactics are among those in the firing line.
The computer industry is in utter chaos right now. Despite a slight increase in PC sales for Q4 2018, the market is still extremely unhealthy. Not to mention, pretty much all existing hardware is fundamentally flawed thanks to both Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. At least major companies such as Intel, AMD, and Microsoft are working together to mitigate these risks, right? Wrong. These patches have proven to be problematic -- for instance, some AMD computers were rendered unbootable. Ugh, what a failure.
To make matters even worse, Intel's Spectre variant 2 mitigation is causing instability (random reboots) on some Windows computers. Microsoft has apparently had enough of Intel's shoddy patches, and as a result, it has issued an emergency update to disable the Spectre variant 2 mitigation on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.
The Windows 10 Creators Update rollout was a bit of a mess. Shortly after it launched, Microsoft warned people not to install it, and a quarter of Windows 10 users still didn’t have it by the time its successor, the Fall Creators Update, arrived last October.
Microsoft has definitely learned its lessons this time around however, as the Fall Creators Update is being installed at a much faster rate. According to AdDuplex, last month (a mere two months after it launched), the Fall Creators Update was already on half of all Windows 10 PCs in use, and in January, that figure has increased to nearly three quarters.
Microsoft releases Windows 10 Redstone 4 Build 17083 with Timeline improvements and privacy enhancements
Windows Insiders have got used to Fast ring releases arriving at a slower pace lately, but it looks as if Microsoft might be stepping on the gas once more, as Build 17083 arrives a mere fortnight after 17074.
The latest build comes with lots of new features and improvements, including the additional privacy options announced earlier.
Following the inevitable backlash, the software giant has reigned in this snooping with each new feature update, and the next big release -- codenamed Redstone 4 -- will take things further when it arrives in a few months' time.
Microsoft releases Windows 10 Preview Build 17074.1002 with AMD boot fix related to Spectre and Meltdown
A week ago, Microsoft released a new Preview Build of Windows 10 -- 17074. It was chock-full of new features and fixes, making it a wise upgrade for anyone in the Insiders program.
Sadly, it was discovered that Build 17074 had a huge bug -- it made some AMD systems unbootable. Yikes! Apparently, this was related to fixes for Spectre and Meltdown. True, this is pre-release software, so bugs should be expected, but losing the ability to boot can really ruin a user's day. Today, that bug is fixed, as Microsoft pushes out Build 17074.1002. It also fixes an issue where some computers would hang.
Microsoft today announces that it is expanding the availability of the Surface Book 2 to include all the markets where it currently sells Surface devices.
The Surface Book 2 was launched in mid-October of last year, making the 13-inch version available in more markets than its 15-inch counterpart. This latest move will slowly change that.
While the notorious Meltdown and Spectre chip bugs are still yet to pose a real threat in their own right, it's rather a different story when it comes to the patches designed to fix the problems. Microsoft had to pause the rollout of patches after reports that they were leaving some AMD systems unbootable.
Now the software giant has released two new updates -- one for Windows 7 (KB4073578) and one for Windows 8.1 (KB4073576) -- to fix the "Unbootable state for AMD devices" issue. But it's not all good news. These are updates that have to be manually downloaded and installed, and Microsoft has provided no instructions about how to use them.
However, according to the Firefox Hardware Report, a public weekly survey of the hardware and software used by everyone running the release channel desktop build of Mozilla's web browser, Windows 10 still has a long way to go until it catches up to Windows 7.
Windows 10 Insiders on the Fast ring have got used to weekly new builds from Microsoft, but just lately we’ve been having to go a lot longer between releases. There have been just two new builds in the past seven weeks, although both have been jam packed with new features and improvements, so it's easy to understand the reason for the delay.
Build 17074, the latest release for the Fast ring (and Skip Ahead), has a lot to offer users and shows the direction the OS is taking these days. Here’s what’s new.
Microsoft has released an updated version of PowerShell which adds support for macOS and Linux. PowerShell Core 6.0 uses .NET Core rather than the .NET framework, and this means it is able to break out of being a Windows-only tool.
The tool is described as a "new edition of PowerShell that is cross-platform (Windows, macOS, and Linux), open-source, and built for heterogeneous environments and the hybrid cloud." The arrival of the scripting tool on new platforms will be welcomed by those working in mixed environments.
Microsoft rolls out two Windows 10 feature updates a year. The Creators Update arrived last April, followed by the Fall Creators Update in October. In order to limit the number of issues that users experience, Microsoft staggers the rollout.
There is a problem with this approach, however. While it means -- hopefully -- fewer headaches for people updating to the latest incarnation, it also means that the update can take forever to reach all users. In fact, in the case of the Creators Update, a quarter of users still didn’t have it by the time its successor arrived.
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.