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Vol 1 Issue 194
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Win10 in July - Free for 1 year;
Build, Ignite reveal more OS information


Windows 10, the Technical (now Insider ) Preview being tested on more than 3.7 million Windows Insider PCs worldwide, has - at this writing (May 9) - reached build 100074, a beautiful, if still buggy beta.

Microsoft has been its usual sphinx-like self in revealing the contents of its new operating system. However two of its recent conferences: Build in San Francisco (April 29 to May 1 ) and Ignite in Chicago ( May 4 to 8 ), provided many new insights, but also added more questions.

CEO Satya Nadella, in his Build keynote remarks, confirmed that the public version (what once was called the RTM - Release to Manufacturing) version, will become generally available to more than 1 billion computers world-wide in late July as a Windows Update, Free Upgrade for the first year!

The words Free Upgrade for the first year emblazoned on signage behind Nadella, was first noted in a speech by Terry Myerson, Microsoft's Executive Vice President of Operating Systems. at a Win10 preview event back on January 21 at Redmond, Wash. The now repeated words beg the question: what kind of fee after the free period ends? How will any fees be applied? Will Insiders get a deal for their efforts? No word yet.

Speaking of Insiders, Gabe Aul, Microsoft's General Manager OSG Data and Fundamentals team and Windows Insider guru has said: "Insider feedback has become so valuable to our engineering process, we've decided to rename Windows 10 Technical Preview to Windows 10 Insider Preview."

We now know that the new OS is set to be a simple update; offered in the easiest upgrade manner! No ISO download to befuddle newbies. But little was said about some code packages labelled GWX (Go Win 10 ) in an April 20 Windows Update delivery to all PCs worldwide running Win8.1 or Win 7.1 SP1.

You probably didn't notice among the security updates was one labelled either as an optional (Win7) or important (Win8) update. That packet - KB3035583 - was described by Microsoft support online as an update that: "enables additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications when new updates are available to the user. . . . " Hmm?

Woody Leonhard writing for InfoWorld is upset at the subterfuge and says: "the description of the patch by rugk on the eset Security Forum is accurate: It's "an adware PUP (Potentially Unwanted Program) for Windows 10 upgrade." But to reiterate, we haven't seen any examples of the advertising. . . . " He eventually calls it: "disingenuous at best."

My feelings: Microsoft is entitled to pitch their product. But GWX has (should you agree) the capability of initiating the massive 2 Gigabyte or more update to Win10. But, as we all know Windows Update is not infallible! There are no guarantees. There might be problems with such a huge update!

Ed Bott in his Report deciphered the packet's presence and says: "The update also sets up four scheduled tasks, one of which runs an appraiser app that checks prerequisites for the download and subsequent upgrade. And in the GWX folder is an XML file that contains a roadmap of the different phases in store after that update is installed. . . . "

Bott calls it: "perfectly targeted advertising, . . . The big question is how many consumers and small businesses will say yes to the free Windows 10 upgrade, and how quickly. Recent data suggests that close to nine in 10 PCs running Win8 have updated to Win8.1. Getting Win7 holdouts to upgrade might not be as easy a sell."

Win 10's Release - A Staggered Rollout

On April 30 Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's Corporate VP of the Operating Systems Group, speaking at a Build breakout session, said the launch schedule for Win 10 would be: "a staggered release. Windows Insiders know that builds for desktop PCs are well ahead of those of the phone, for example."

He added that: "there is a lot more to Win10 than PC and phone." - devices include IoT, Xbox and Surface Hub - "a staggered Win 10 rollout is an obvious reality." The Win10 releases for these and such features as the new Edge browser and Hololens will also follow at unspecified later dates, probably this year.

In another Ed Bott article here he says Belfiore also confirmed that the Windows Insider program will continueafter the launch event. "Registered members of the Insider program who've been testing preview releases will be offered the option to switch to the Current Branch or remain in the preview program.

"Those who choose to remain on the active branch will continue to get new updates ahead of the public, with those updates making their way to the Current Branch when they're deemed stable enough for release."

"This summer's launch is just the first step in an endless rolling Windows release cycle. Some features that have been demonstrated publicly will not be available in the initial launch version. As ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley has previously reported, Microsoft plans a major feature update for Windows 10, code-named Redstone, in 2016. That's just the first of several major updates to Windows 10 coming in the next few years."

Major Business Patch Tuesday Upgrade

The big deal at Ignite, a 23,000 person gathering including Tech Ed, was the change coming to the company's updates for businesses. Terry Myerson explained that the current Windows update process isn't ideal, adding the company wanted to provide more flexibility for Windows 10, which led to his unveiling of Windows Update for Business.

He said the new system will reduce management costs, provide controls over update deployment, offer quicker access to security updates, and provide access to the latest innovation from Microsoft on an ongoing basis. Windows Update for Business is free for Windows Pro and Windows Enterprise devices. We will update and maintain Windows devices for you, while still giving you control."

As Mary Jo Foley in her ZDNet blog All About Microsoft "Microsoft is continuing to flesh out the details as to how it will provide users with new features and fixes for Windows 10, as part of its Windows as a Service strategy.

"Consumers who move to Windows 10 will regularly receive all new features, security updates and other fixes to the operating system for free for the supported lifetime of their devices. (Exact details as to what this "lifetime of their devices" period includes are still not being disclosed in full.)

"Consumers won't have a choice as to which updates they get or don't; they'll get them all via Windows Update. This group of Windows 10 customers will be on the Current Branch.

"Windows 10 Enterprise customers will have the option to receive security updates only -- and no new features - as part of the Windows 10 "Long Term Servicing" branch. Enterprises will be able to control the pace at which their Windows 10 users get these security updates via existing updating mechanisms like System Center Configuration Manager, Enterprise Mobility Suite and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

"But there's another class of Windows 10 customers: End users at work who aren't running mission-critical devices and apps. These users will be able to get new features, security updates and other fixes to Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise devices for free, but at a more measured pace. These users will get these updates and fixes via the new Windows Update for Business service. . . .

"Microsoft execs didn't elaborate today on how long they'll be providing new features, security updates and fixes for Windows 10. Back in January 2015, however, officials said those in the Long Term Servicing Branches for Windows 10 would get security updates for the duration of mainstream support (five years) and extended support (five additional years). Microsoft officials also are not yet ready to provide a full list of Windows 10 SKUs (I asked)."

What does Free for One Year entail?

When Microsoft announced Win10, it said devices running specified versions of Win7 and Win8 would receive a free upgrade for one year. The company added some cryptic words - "for the supported lifetime of the device." But what that meant has never been clear. However new statements have shed some light.

Joel Hruska on ExtremeTech says: "The good news: Microsoft is incredibly unlikely to try and turn Windows 10's free upgrade into a perpetual stick. For one thing, any attempt to stick consumers with a gotcha price at the end of the first 12 months would result in the mother of all class-action suits, and Microsoft is savvy enough to know this . . . ."

Hruska continues: " Microsoft has historically provided support for operating systems long past what it considered their prime - Windows XP support lasted 13 years, while Windows 7 Extended Support will run through 2020 . . . ."

"One thing I'm not concerned about is whether Microsoft will continue to provide security updates. Regardless of how the company plans OS updates, Microsoft has offered security products even to pirates running illegal copies of its operating system. The chances that Redmond would roll back that critical feature are slim.

"Microsoft is moving away from deriving its income from the single point-of-purchase, and more towards an ecosystem where the initial OS revenue is just the beginning of monetization.

"What this will mean for consumers is unclear. . . . Microsoft, doesn't have the best track record when it comes to subtly integrating ad content. The company's shift towards alternative revenue sources will need to be handled with a very light touch."

Edge is Win10's new browser's name

Remember all the chatter about Microsoft's new browser? The one called Project Spartan? Well, fugedaboutit! It's now, after opening day of the Build conference, named Edge and has a new logo too.

Although Microsoft still insists Edge is something totally new Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft says: "in my opinion. Normal users are very familiar with the current IE logo - the stylized lowercase e. They know if they click on the e they open a Web browser. If Microsoft suddenly changed that logo to an s, or another new image/letter, there might be confusion among at least some of its user base.

"Edge will be the only browser supported on Windows 10 Mobile devices. Microsoft will make both IE and Edge available on devices running Windows 10 Desktop on PCs, desktops, laptops and larger tablets, for backwards-compatibility reasons. Edge is integrated with Cortana and will be a Universal app, meaning it will be available for download, and be updated, from the Store."

Foley also noted on May 7 that: "The Softies detailed some of the post-release features that Edge will be getting. The list includes Extension support (including extensions for Skype Reddit and Pinterest), More Cortana scenarios, Object RTC and Pointer Lock.

"On the feature-cut list are a number of legacy IE technologies, including ActiveX, VBScript, and more - resulting in the elimination of more than 220,000 lines of code . . . . according to a new Microsoft blog post. (Silverlight wasn't called out on Microsoft's list, but I'm fairly sure Silverlight plug-ins aren't supported in Edge, either.)"

She also wrote that the post said:"Not supporting these legacy technologies in Microsoft Edge has a number of benefits: better interoperability with other modern browsers, improved performance, security and reliability, and reduced code complexity, just to name a few."

So at this point Edge is the default Win10 browser on PCs, tablets and phones, but IE 11 also will be available for legacy reasons and gets all its updates and new features.

A Big Thank You to Everyone!

I've decided this will be my last Rife Report in this format. Time and medical issues have taken their toll on me. I've enjoyed doing it over the years and enjoyed the response from club members and from my loyal readers outside the club. But with the advent of Windows 10, it seems a good point to call a halt. Again, thank you to all - and especially to my online editor Hugh Crawford.

The Rife Report has been featured by the DPCUC for more than 10 years.
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