Are you an admin or power user who feels slightly confused by the detail underpinning Microsoft’s Windows 10 updating and patching plans? If so, that’s not surprising. Microsoft has at times been less than clear about the ins and outs of the new Windows 10 updating branches and ‘rings’ which is some respects are similar to the regime pre-dating Windows 10 but dressed up in a new and confusing terminology.
Here we try to piece together what’s what with updating and Windows 10. There are certainly some things to watch out for. What is clear is that this new world is more complex, necessarily so. Today, Windows 10 is still an operating system but at some point it will resemble more of a service. This is the fate for all ‘big’ operating systems.
The mental map to understanding what’s going in are the different updating ‘branches’ and, within each of those, the deployment ‘rings’. A second important issue is to understand the difference between ‘updates’ (additional feature and services) and patches/fixes (security updates). The first of these is described in detail below while the second will happen as and when they deigned necessary by Microsoft.
For a specific primer on Windows 10’s main Security features see Windows 10 – the top 7 enterprise security features
Windows 10 updating: Current Branch (CB) – Windows 10 Home
This is plainly just the old Windows Update (WU) that home users have grown used to since its appearance in 2003 with Patch Tuesday but there are some important subtleties. Instead of the current monthly patching cycle, some updates will be applied on an ongoing basis, including Defender updates and what would once have been called ‘out of band’ security patches. Bigger updates covering new features will happen every four months, nudging Windows evolution along more rapidly than in the past.
In short, security fixes might coincide with CB updates but are, at a deeper level, independent of them and can happen on any timescale Microsoft chooses.
If you’ve ever had to configure an SELinux (Security Enhanced Linux) kernel security module without the guidance of an administrator, you’ll understand why this recentinterview with David Mirza Ahmad in Motherboard is interesting. Ahmad is the President of a company named Subgraph, which is developing a security-focused version of Linux named Subgraph OS. He states that its purpose is to provide an end point that’s “resistant against remote network exploitation,” that will run on low-powered notebook computers, and can be used (and presumably installed) by people who are not security experts.
Subgraph OS offers more than kernel security. It includes features such as full-disk encryption and what appears to be a technique to sandbox (isolate) exploits. It includes also several applications and components to reduce the user’s attack surface.
Subgraph Mail integrates OpenPGP to let the user have access to signed encrypted email. An identity verification service is built into the mail client. Plus, there is no need to execute commands in a terminal window or the need to install plug-ins. Web browser support is deliberately left out of the mail client to eliminate Web exploits from within mail.
Tor is used by exclusively by applications that perform communications. This is done by using Subgraph’s Metaproxy software to intercept outgoing connections and relay them through the correct proxy (SOCKS, HTTP, etc). Tor (The Onion Router) is the volunteer network of servers connected using a series of virtual tunnels instead of direct connections to anonymize information about network connectivity. Subgraph’s Orchid is a Java-based Tor implementation that can be also be used outside of Subgraph OS.
Although it’s not obvious from the documentation so far, I presume Subgraph’s Vega vulnerability scanner is a component of the OS as well. Vega is an automated scanner, intercepting proxy, and proxy scanner (and it may be related to the Metaproxy application mentioned earlier). Vega itself is a standalone application written in Java that can run on Linux, Apple OS/X, and Microsoft Windows. Note, however, that on theVega download page, the first thing mentioned is that it is “still early stage software.”
The Motherboard report said Subgraph recently received funding from the Open Technology Fund (OTF) which is part of Radio Free Asia and is funded by the U.S. Congress to “empower world citizenry to support the Internet as a safe and secure platform for free speech.” While this funding is apparently new, Subgraph OS itself has been in development for at least a few years. Wired UK ran an article about its then reportedly imminent release in June 2014, but apparently the current release is still in pre-alpha stage.
If you would like to learn more about Subgraph OS, check out its GitHub repository, which includes the beginnings of a Subgraph OS Handbook. Although Subgraph OS does not look it like it will be in production form in the near future, it may be worth keeping an eye on this project as it percolates through its development phases.
Is Windows 10 for you? Well, there’s a better chance that it brings something to your life than not, whether you use a computer for 10 hours or 10 minutes a day.
The thing is, time is running out to upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10 for free. Specifically, you have until the end of today. It’s not a decision that you should simply gloss over, as the current price is around $120 (£100 or AUS$160). That’s enough for 10,000 penny sweets, and we’re particularly fond of the chewy fried egg ones.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about the burning core of my being, it’s in terms of being a bunch of easily-categorisable stereotypes. Which is handy, as it means I can make a purchasing decision entirely on the basis of said arbitrary categorisation. Am I a frequent flier, a parent, a gamer, or a paranoid survivalist hermit living in wildest Orkney? There’s a reason to own Windows 10 for all of you.
(Well, apart from the hermit, but then I’m frankly amazed he’s reading TechRadar rather than a 19th century almanac, or scrawling on his bathroom wall with turnip juice.) To see how Windows 10 will probably fit into your life, click (or tap) on ahead.
This article is part of TechRadar’s Windows 10 week. Microsoft’s latest operating system turns from a free to a paid upgrade on July 29, and we’re looking to answer the question of whether it’s good for you.
The Raspberry Pi is a superb microcomputer designed to help people learn about computing. Rather than a fully contained computer, like the Apple Mac, the Raspberry Pi is just a bare-bones board that you can hack into all kinds of electronics projects, but it offers huge potential at a price that’s manageable for kids, students and amateur enthusiasts.
For just £30, it’s no wonder that the Raspberry Pi has sold so well (it’s currently the biggest-selling British computer). The latest model, the Raspberry Pi 3, features a much faster processor as well as on-board Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It doesn’t have a hard drive, however. Instead, you install the operating system directly on to an Micro SD Card and insert this into the Raspberry Pi. Several different operating systems are available, but most users opt for Raspbian (the recommended OS).
To set up Raspbian on a Raspberry Pi, you’ll need a computer – a proper, conventional computer – to begin with. This is where Mac OS X steps in. It’s really easy to set up a Raspberry Pi 3 using OS X on a Mac. You use OS X to format the SD Card, download Raspbian from the Raspberry Pi foundation and install the files on to the SD Card. This can then be plugged into the Raspberry Pi and booted.
There are two ways to set up Raspbian on a Mac. The first is to use NOOBS (New Out Of Box Software) and the second is to use the “dd” command in Terminal. In this simple tutorial we’ll look at both options.
Microsoft’s Windows, which in 2015 fell to third place among the world’s operating systems, will continue to lose share this year to both Android and Apple’s combined OS X and iOS, Gartner said today.
Not until 2017 will Windows begin to recoup some of the losses it’s sustained since 2013, Gartner said in its latest device forecast.
The continued decline of Windows makes Microsoft’s job of pivoting to explorations of cross-platform opportunities all the more pressing. And it goes a long way to explain Redmond’s drumbeat of new strategies, including this week’s announcement that it will pursue a “conversations as a platform” initiative that aims to put automated assistants, or “bots,” front and center on not just Windows, but also Android and iOS.
According to Gartner, which provided Computerworld with its forecast broken out by operating systems, Windows will power about 283 million devices shipped in 2015, a 3.4% year-over-year decline. The 283 million represents 11.7% of the total of 2.4 billion devices shipped, over 80% of that number smartphones, and the majority of those smartphones running Google’s Android. Six months ago, Gartner’s forecast had pegged Windows in 2016 at 308 million devices, or 12.9% of the total.
Gartner regularly downsized its estimates of both total devices shipped and Windows’ portion of those shipments throughout 2015. The trend continued into 2016.
In fact, last September, Gartner predicted that Windows would not slip behind Apple’s combined OS X and iOS until 2017. But according to the research firm’s latest data, Windows dropped to No. 3 in 2015, thanks to Apple shipping 297 million OS X/iOS devices — 4 million more than Windows — and grabbing the second spot behind way-way-out-there Android and its leading 1.3 billion devices.
In Gartner’s current forecast, Windows will dip 3.4% in 2016 to 283 million devices shipped while Apple’s OS X/iOS will climb 2.1% to 303 million. By the end of the forecast window — the calendar year 2018 — Windows will be even farther behind, shipping 298 million devices compared to Apple’s 334 million.
If Gartner’s prognostications are on target, Apple will ship more OS X/iOS devices in 2018 than OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) did of Windows systems in 2013.
Overall, Gartner’s latest forecast continued the trend of pessimism not only for Windows, but for all device shipments. The researcher now believes 2.41 billion computing devices will ship in 2016 — 80.4% of them smartphones — compared to a same-year prediction of 2.46 billion made in the fall of 2015.
Not surprisingly, the majority of the forecast reduction was pegged to smartphones, whose growth will slip into single digits for the first time.
“The double-digit growth era for the global smartphone market has come to an end,” said Ranjit Atwal, a Gartner analyst, in a statement. “Historically, worsening economic conditions had negligible impact on smartphone sales and spend, but this is no longer the case. China and North America smartphone sales are on pace to be flat in 2016, exhibiting a 0.7% and 0.4% growth respectively.”
Traditional PCs, more mobile designs, and tablets will also take beatings of various kinds this year, Gartner asserted.
The most bruised? Traditional personal computers. Shipments of those machines will slump to just 228 million, a 6.6% decline. Although what Gartner called “ultra-mobiles” — such as Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Air notebooks, and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2-in-1 — will climb 26.7% to 57 million this year, even that hot design category won’t make up the difference. Together, the two categories are expected to result in 285 million shipments, 1.4% fewer than in 2015.
Gartner, like Microsoft and Windows OEMs, bet on Windows 10 to drag the ever-broader “PC” category out of the doldrums next year. Analysts assumed that in 2017, shipments will increase by 3.9% to 296 million.
“In 2016, the PC market will reach its last year of decline before returning to growth in 2017,” Atwal said. “The biggest challenge, and potential benefit for the PC market, is the integration of Windows 10 with Intel’s Skylake architecture. It has the potential for new form factors with more attractive features.”
If that sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Nine months ago, Gartner forecast that 2016’s PC + ultra-mobile shipments would rise 3.7%. Then, Atwal hedged his bet on Windows 10, saying, “Windows 10 could boost replacements during 2016 [emphasis added],” but anticipated that growth would return to the PC business in the year.
Ubuntu joins Windows 10 and OS X El Capitan with cross-device support
Canonical, maker of Linux-based operating system Ubuntu, has launched its first “fully converged” device, claiming to offer a hybrid smartphone-PC experience.
The Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet, produced in partnership with European technology company BQ, features the latest Ubuntu software and an adaptive user experience, which the company says is capable of “providing both a true tablet experience and the full Ubuntu desktop experience”.
The tablet represents the first in a new series of devices fulfilling Canonical’s long-running project to develop converged devices, which are devices capable of running the same platform and libraries, making it straightforward for users to access the same applications across all their Ubuntu devices.
“Ubuntu is now the only platform that runs both a mobile-based full touch interface and a true PC experience from a single smart device,” the company claimed in a statement introducing the Aquaris M10 on itscorporate blog.
Jane Silber, CEO of Canonical, said: “We’re bringing you everything you’ve come to expect from your Ubuntu PC, now on the tablet with BQ, soon on smartphones.
“This isn’t a phone interface stretched to desktop size – it’s the right user experience and interaction model for the given situation. Also, in terms of applications, we have something no other OS can provide: a single, visual framework and set of tools for applications to run on any type of Ubuntu smart device.”
Beside convergence, headline features of Ubuntu’s latest tablet include: access hundreds of apps from the Ubuntu App Store, fluid multitasking and window management, a broad range of desktop apps and thin client support for mobility and productivity, access the underlying OS if desired, mobile messaging on desktop, and security and reliability updates.
The Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet has a 10.1in multi-tactile FHD screen with Dragontrail Asahi protection, is powered by a MediaTek quad-core MT8163A 1.5 GHz processor and includes a 7280 mAh LiPo battery. It is 8.2mm thick and weights 470g.
Convergence is not unique to the Ubuntu OS though. Both Apple and Microsoft have sought to bring their mobile, tablet and desktop OSes closer together in the last 12 months. Windows 10 was built with cross-device support specifically in mind, while Apple’s continuity feature, which debuted on iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 Yosemite, enables users to open the same documents on their iPhone and Mac.
Today’s announcement therefore brings Ubuntu in line with such competitors.
Canonical believes the convergence present its new Ubuntu OS and tablet make it ideal for enterprise use, because it offers enterprise-grade, system-based security.
Built on the open-source Linux OS, and continuing the principle of openness, Ubuntu has been adopted by public sector departments and hobbyists. Its total number of users can only be estimated, but Canonical said in 2015 that it has over 40 million desktop users.