Windows 10 Something Went Wrong Edition

Microsoft just announced a new laptop Surface device, it’s $1000 and comes with an intentionally broken version of their Windows 10 operating system. Matt Weinberger:

The one thing to know is that the Surface Laptop is the poster child for Windows 10 S, a new version of the operating system that Microsoft says is more streamlined and secure — and offers better performance and battery life — than the standard Windows 10.

The trade-off for those perks is that Windows 10 S won’t let you install any software that’s not from the Windows Store app market, which means that, at the very least, you wouldn’t be able to install the Google Chrome web browser.

If you’re not down with that, Microsoft will let you switch any Windows 10 S computer, including the Surface Laptop, to the regular Windows 10 Pro for a one-time $49 fee — less if you’re on a tablet or something else with a smaller screen. But if you do that, Microsoft says, it can’t guarantee you’ll get the improved battery life and performance.

$50 to fix the operating system on a $1000 laptop! This loses all of the benefits of Microsoft’s touch-enabling of their operating system, and I wouldn’t recommend that anyone buy one of these devices.

There’s a comparison to be made here to the iPad, but I don’t think that works out. The iPad was always locked to an app store, this version of Windows 10 is more like Windows RT. RT was the version of Windows for ARM-processor based Surface devices that couldn’t run x86 applications. It was based on Windows 8, limited to apps from Microsoft’s app store, and a few custom applications they produced outside of it like Office RT.

Windows RT was shitcanned because nobody wanted that environment, so this is another attempt at the same thing but based on Windows 10.

Epic’s Tim Sweeney:

 

Twitter readers will know that about 6 months ago my Windows 10 user account became unable to access any Windows 10 functions that require a Microsoft account. That’s their app store, the Xbox app, and so on. I get this error whenever I try to log in to my Microsoft account on that Windows 10 user account:

That “Send feedback” link is the only other option besides cancelling out and giving up in the dialog that Windows gives you when your login fails. “Send feedback” takes you to the Windows 10 Feedback Hub app, which, wouldn’t you know it, requires a login:

Depending on how their bug reporting works in Windows, they’ll never see any user feedback about this issue because you can’t report it directly to them through the tools that you’re giving as a Windows 10 user. Can you imagine if a Surface laptop user had this same problem on Windows 10 S? They would be furious, they couldn’t get new applications from the Windows app store.

My story got worse.

I contacted Microsoft’s Windows support team over their text support chat to get assistance with the problem after spending a few hours looking into it. After going through a few different options to debug the problem their technical support agent offered to remotely access the computer and try to resolve the issue.

The agent accessed the computer and we went through a few troubleshooting steps and then asked me what the two-factor authentication on my Microsoft account was. After I explained it, he started using Google’s search engine to research two-factor auth in my web browser.

He loaded up a Google help page that explained how their two-factor authentication system works for users.

Support agents are supposed to research problems with their computers, not the one requesting support, and Google’s help pages aren’t going to be very useful for understanding Microsoft’s two-factor solution.

That’s all very strange, but it gets better. The Microsoft support agent then disabled two-factor authentication on my Microsoft account without asking if that was OK to do first.

It’s a reasonable step to figure out if the problem with the Microsoft account logging in to Windows 10‘s app store and other functionality is the extra step in two-factor authentication, but disabling the option on the Microsoft account puts that user at risk. Almost worse was that at no point did the Microsoft support agent remind me to re-enable two-factor auth.

Finally, the support agent gave up and gave me the only option of creating a new Windows 10 user account. That is not a good solution.

I know what I would think if I were reading this, “That’s not Microsoft support!” It certainly was. They called to apologize a few days after I contacted Microsoft through a different channel with a complaint about what happened.

Still can’t log in to my Microsoft account with that Windows 10 user account.

I’m fortunate enough to be technically literate and comfortable with downloading applications manually, but a Windows 10 S user whose computer has this bug is just left with a completely broken computer unless they make a new user account or pay the $50 ransom Microsoft is charging to get access to the rest of their computer’s functionality. Unless that ransom is payable through the Windows app store, in which case they’re shit out of luck.

 

Windows 10 Anniversary Update Out With Bash

Bash on Ubuntu on Windows

Windows 10 has been out for a year as a free upgrade from Windows 7, 8, and 8.1. Excepting some hacky workarounds the upgrade is no-longer available for free to users. Brett Howse has an article with the major changes that are available today in the Windows 10 anniversary update.

The biggest feature for me is the awkwardly named Bash on Ubuntu on Windows. Microsoft has a long history of picking poor names for their UNIX subsystems including the awkwardly named Services for Unix. Services for Unix was Microsoft’s hedge of interoperability to please third-party businesses, but it was always hindered by Microsoft’s desire to compete with Linux. The options to install and update applications were limited to what you could compile because SFU didn’t include any kind of package management system. The only choices left were either shelling out to a Linux machine, cygwin (which is a huge pain in the ass), dual-booting, or installing Linux in a virtual machine.

Bash on Ubuntu on Windows been available in a preview form to beta testers (Windows Insiders) for a while, it’s a more complete version of command-line utilities and an environment you would commonly get on a Linux desktop or server developed with Ubuntu‘s owner, Canonical. Though you still have to jump through some hoops to install it, it’s very promising that BoUoW includes Ubuntu’s package management system and  native Linux command-line utilities that haven’t been recompiled for Windows.

I hope this extends to GUI applications some day, but the focus for Microsoft this time is on attracting developers.

Even Thurrott Is Frustrated With The Windows 10 Upgrade Scheme

Paul Thurrott:

Last week, Microsoft silently changed Get Windows 10 yet again. And this time, it has gone beyond the social engineering scheme that has been fooling people into inadvertently upgrading to Windows 10 for months. This time, it actually changed the behavior of the window that appears so that if you click the “Close” window box, you are actually agreeing to the upgrade. Without you knowing what just happened.

Previously, closing this window would correctly signal that you do not want the upgrade. So Microsoft didn’t change the wording in the window. It didn’t make an “Upgrade now” button bigger, or a non-existent “don’t ever upgrade” button smaller. It pulled a switcheroonie. It’s like going out to your car in the morning and discovering that the gas pedal now applies the brakes, while the brake pedal washes the windshield. Have a fun commute!

The violation of trust here is almost indescribable. It’s bad enough that Microsoft has been training Windows 7 and 8.1 users–i.e. most Windows users–to not trust Windows 10 because of this horrible, unstoppable advertisement. But now they will not trust their own sanity because all they’ll remember is that they dismissed the advertisement by clicking the Close windows box. Why on earth did Windows 10 just install on my PC?!?

République Remastered

Republique

After the Peter Molyenux’s Godus fiasco, you would be forgiven for concluding that crowdfunding is just a string of failures. There are a lot of great games that have actually shipped after being funded. Originally for iOS devices, the crew at Camouflaj just put out the PC and Mac OS X version of their kickstarted stealth survival game, République.

It’ll be interesting to see how the PC version turned out given the unique control scheme on iOS where you did not directly control the protagonist, Hope. Instead, you swiped the touchscreen to control surveillance cameras and could pause the game at any time to utilize hacking tools, scan the environment, and give Hope directions on where to go so that she won’t be seen by the patrolling guards while she is stuck in some kind of insane totalitarian regime.

Get it on Steam, gog, or Humble.

ABC Linuxu interview w/icculus

Lots of interesting stuff including Ryan discussing OS/2 at length. This portion is especially compelling:

I find if you’re targeting Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X right from the start, your code will probably work anywhere else that you might try it later.

Not to long ago, people would say, “why bother? Everyone runs Windows!”

But then the consoles became important.

And smaller shops might still say, “well, I’m not targeting those anyhow!”

But now they wish they had an iPad port.

You never know what will be important tomorrow!

via Interview: Ryan C. Gordon.

The English version of the interview is unfortunately lacking this great picture so I have provided it for reference.

 

Adesso Mechanical Keyboard MKB-135B Review

There are a lot of reasons to be interested in mechanical keyboards over rubber-dome models. Much of what I could tell you about rubber-dome keyboards versus mechanical switching has been already said. Rather than reinventing the wheel we’ll reread a classic part of what Dan said about mechanical keyboards:

The big deal about these old keyboards is their lovely, positive key-click. When you use a keyboard that doesn’t have a good positive click, it’s hard to tell when you’ve depressed a key properly. You have to watch the screen to make sure you don’t leave letters out, or you have to really hammer the keyboard, which is not good for your hands.

Most of the mid-priced keyboards these days use some variant of the “rubber dome” switch technology, which gives a definite little popping sensation when the dome buckles, but doesn’t necessarily give you an actual letter at the exact same moment, thanks to uncertain contacts. The old buckling spring tech absolutely positively does give you the letter when you feel the click. These keyboards feel very much like an old IBM Selectric typewriter – there are plenty of these ironclad behemoths still in service, and they may herniate anyone that has to move them but they’re darn nice to type on.

Rubber-dome keyboards are just not as reliable, ergonomic, or fun to use as mechanicals. Though you do have to give up some goofy options for mechanical keyboards, this Adesso keyboard is kind-of goofy as far as mechanicals go.

Most mechanicals are fairly boring and extremely beige. At most you might get a trackpoint or trackball. This is why you have to go with somewhat more modern options if you want something closer to the gaming keyboard experience without the rubber-domes.

Which features does the Adesso Mechanical Gaming Keyboard MKB-135B have over the basic Model M? An integrated, powered two-port USB 2.0 hub, windows keys, multimedia controls, and audio jacks. If you too dislike the beige style you might also be happy to know this keyboard is a glossy black everywhere but the keycaps. Speaking of which, the key caps are painted with a good ink that doesn’t feel cheap.

Even my Keytronic and Logitech G15’s keycaps have faded over time, but my original Model M hasn’t. However, until this keyboard has been in my possession for a few years I can’t give any kind of definitive answer as to the quality of the ink process on the keycaps.

After yesterday’s non-review of the Tango Pro, I’m happy to say that this keyboard feels great, the throw on the key press is close to Model M perfection and far superior to anything you can buy from Logitech or any of the other major peripheral manufacturers. With the Adesso I’ve played enough RTS and FPS games and had a similar experience to my old Model M, except without the pain of giving up normal gaming keyboard features.

The only real downside for the Adesso compared to the Model M is that the plastic isn’t as solid and for the life of me I can’t figure out how the multimedia keys are supposed to work. Most cars aren’t as solid as the Model M, it is just that the Adesso doesn’t have a metal backing plate and thicker plastic like the Model M so maybe it’ll only last for ten or fifteen years instead of twenty-five.

Buy a Model M if you don’t need the extra features, or if however you don’t like the color beige and enjoy these extra features buy the Adesso. I’m not returning it for anything else.

Tango Pro Review?

I had planned on reviewing this Tango Pro USB/Firewire HDD enclosure this weekend.

I drove down to Microcenter, picked up the Tango Pro, and then since Microcenter didn’t have the HDD I wanted I got that from Fry’s.

You’ve probably heard of the drive I wanted to use, it is the only 1 Terabyte 2.5 inch SATA drive currently on the market, the Western Digital 1 TB Scorpio Blue.

Anyway, the enclosure sounds great on paper, it supports Firewire 800, 400, and USB 2. It even includes all the right cables and has a pretty blue LED.

The one problem is that the WD 1TB drive doesn’t fit. It has three platters rather than the standard two, so that makes it slightly taller than a regular 2.5 inch laptop drive.

Oh well, back to Microcenter tomorrow for a return.

Tom Francis, His Gnome, and Left 4 Dead 2

In the Dark Carnival campaign of Left 4 Dead 2, you can win a garden gnome at the fairground near the start — and there’s an achievement for carrying it all the way to the end. It is, in fact, the same goddamn gnome I carried through Episode goddamn Two, for the same goddamn reason: there was an achievement for it.

By the end of that ordeal, I prayed I’d never set eyes on his (“stupid fucking”) face again — but here he is, and here I am, and here we go.

via I Played Through Left 4 Dead 2 Holding A Goddamn Gnome, by Tom Francis.