If you’re using Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 7 or 8, and you are also running EMET 5.0, you should install the EMET 5.1 update before you install the November Microsoft updates.
Ars Technica’s monthly look at operating system and browser market share was delayed slightly this month as they investigated an unexpected blip in the numbers for Windows 8 and XP. It turns out that the new numbers really are more accurate, and they show that Windows 8 isn’t doing quite as badly as previously thought. In fact, Windows 8 is doing about as well as the ancient and no longer supported Windows XP.
If you’re using Windows 8.x, you’re familiar with the Windows Store, because it’s the main source for Windows 8 applications. Unfortunately the store hasn’t been at all well curated, and it’s filled with scammy and misleading apps.
After a series of complaints, Microsoft is finally doing something about it. At least 1500 scammy apps have been removed from the store. Apps must now (and retroactively) comply with more strict rules on app naming and icon use.
There’s very little to talk about for the impending Windows 8.1
Service Pack 2 Update 2 whatchamacallit, aside from Microsoft’s strange (and confusing) aversion to sticking with a naming convention. As previously mentioned, the Start menu won’t return to Windows until version 9. The Verge has the details, which really aren’t worth reading.
It looks like Microsoft really won’t be bringing the Start menu back to Windows 8, and will instead try to win users back with the next version of Windows. One wonders whether Microsoft should just skip every other Windows release, given their track record.
The Verge has leaked screenshots of Windows 9’s Start menu, and it appears to be an amalgamation of features from Windows 8 and Windows 7, with the right half of the menu showing pinned ‘Metro’ style apps.
These days ‘Patch Tuesday’ means Adobe updates as well as Microsoft updates. This month was no different: Adobe released a new version of Flash that addresses at least three vulnerabilities, including the JSONP callback API problem that made several popular sites potentially vulnerable.
The Flash runtime announcement for the new version outlines a few new features, most of which are likely only of interest to developers. The associated security bulletin gets into the details of the included security fixes.
As usual, Google Chrome will update itself, but this time via its internal ‘component updater’ rather than with a new version of the browser. Warning: the component updater sometimes takes a few days to do its work; unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any way to force the update.
Updates for the Flash component in Internet Explorer running on Windows 8.x will be made available through Windows Update.
Despite its initial growth spurt, it looks like people are staying away from Windows 8.x in droves. The latest stats show little to no change in the number of Windows 8.x installs in the last month. Windows XP’s recent slide, no doubt due to the end of its support, has also leveled out. As things stand, Windows XP use is roughly double that of Windows 8.x.
Microsoft may have have thrown in the towel on Windows 8.x. They recently announced that the Start menu won’t reappear in Windows 8.x, but will be included in Windows 9, which is giving those of us who advised against switching to Windows 8 an excuse to say ‘I told you so.’
Despite earlier indications that Microsoft would finally return the Start menu to Windows 8.x, it now looks like that may not ever happen.
Microsoft is now saying that the next update for Windows 8.1 (likely to be called ‘Update 2’) will not bring back the Start menu, and will only include small user interface adjustments.
Instead, Microsoft will wait for Windows 9 to bring back the Start menu. With Windows 9, Microsoft will apparently do what they should have done with Windows 8, making the touch-centric ‘Metro’ user interface optional, defaulting to a regular desktop on keyboard/mouse PCs and to the touch interface on touch devices.
According to Ars Technica, Microsoft is planning to release another update for Windows 8.1 in August 2014. That update is expected to finally bring an actual Start menu to the troubled O/S.
We recently wrote about the release of Update 1 for Windows 8.1.
In that post, we noted that Microsoft was making this update mandatory for all subsequent security updates, and wondered why they would do that. Apparently we weren’t the only ones, and there was enough angry feedback that Microsoft extended the period during which Windows 8.1 systems without Update 1 could continue receiving security updates, from 30 days to 120.
But why add this kind of limitation at all?
Ars Technica may have the answer to that question. We previously wondered why Microsoft wasn’t simply labeling Update 1 as ‘Service Pack 1’, in keeping with their long-established practices. The answer is simple: Microsoft sees what Apple, Google, and other O/S developers are doing, and they want to do the same.
Anyone who owns a Mac knows that Apple’s support for previous versions of OS X is extremely limited. If you want to keep running that old version of OS X, you’re going to have problems, and you won’t have any recourse except to bite the bullet and upgrade. Often, that also means upgrading the hardware. While this is clearly a consumer-hostile stance, it’s easy to understand. Apple saves an enormous amount of money and effort that would otherwise be spent on supporting old versions, developing updates for multiple O/S versions, and so on.
It appears that Microsoft has finally started down the path away from backward-compatibility and support for old versions of Windows. This is both a good and a bad thing. Backward compatibility is why so many people still run Windows XP: why upgrade your O/S if it suits your purposes and can still be kept reasonably secure? But it’s also the source of many problems.
Moving to a more restricted update system in Windows 8.x looks like the first step in a general trend towards the less consumer-friendly model used by Apple and others. And if that’s true, we can expect more moves like this in Microsoft’s future. Which is sad, but probably inevitable.