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  • Win10 “Activity History” — misnomer or snoop?

    Posted on December 14th, 2018 at 07:59 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Another important story where I’m slow on the uptake. (Sorry, been very busy. You’ll see why shortly.)

    Chris Hoffman at How-To Geek broke this on Monday:

    Windows 10 collects an “Activity History” of applications you launch on your PC and sends it to Microsoft. Even if you disable or clear this, Microsoft’s Privacy Dashboard still shows an “Activity History” of applications you’ve launched on your PCs.

    Chris goes through details on how your “activity history” gets snooped  — Microsoft collects and stores a list of which programs you use and when. The list gets collected even when you turn Activity History off: Click Start > Settings > Privacy. On the left choose Activity History and uncheck “Send my activity history to Microsoft.”

    In Win10 version 1809 I don’t see a button to clear my Activity history (see screenshot). Apparently Chris is working with 1803 or an earlier version, where the Clear activity history option is at the bottom of the Activity History Settings pane.

    Even after you’ve stopped collecting Activity History and blasted it away by clicking on Clear Activity History (which, again, doesn’t appear on my 1809 test machine), your history still appears in Microsoft’s coffers, which you can see by signing into the cutesy web site called Privacy Dashboard and clicking the tab at the top marked Activity History. You can see how my Activity history is still being collected, even after turning off “Send my activity history to Microsoft.”

    Microsoft says it’s a case of mixed definitions — “Activity history” in the Windows Settings app is different from “Activity history” on the Privacy Dashboard Activity History tab. According to Microsoft, the only way to avoid sending your entire app history to their big data collection agency is by turning off “Send my activity history to Microsoft” and setting Diagnostic data collection (Start > Settings > Privacy, on the left choose Diagnostics & feedback) to “Basic,” instead of “Full.”

    As Microsoft says, per Chris:

    Windows 10 Activity History data is only a subset of the data displayed in the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard. We are working to address this naming issue in a future update.

    I’m sure there are some folks on the EU GDPR compliance team who’d be interested in that little, uh, misnomer.

    Any of you running Win10 1809… I’d sure be curious to know if you can find the Clear Activity History button.

    And… tell me again how Chromebooks are collecting so much more data than Windows machines?

  • Microsoft 365 Consumer may actually be good for us

    Posted on December 14th, 2018 at 06:57 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    On Wednesday, Mary Jo Foley described her dumpster diving through Microsoft’s help-wanted ads, which turned up a couple of hints:

    Microsoft is working on a new subscription bundle aimed at consumers, which looks to be named “Microsoft 365 Consumer.” The coming bundle will be the consumer-focused complement to Microsoft’s existing Microsoft 365 subscription bundle for business users.

    A couple of recent Microsoft job postings mention the consumer subscription bundle, which Microsoft has yet to announce publicly.

    Gregg Keizer speculates about what might make MS 365 Consumer compelling:

    It’s possible that Microsoft will take a very measured approach with M365-C and simply include a license for Windows 10 Pro – the OEM-installable SKU that’s more feature-rich than the standard Windows 10 Home – with the subscription. The rationale for subbing to M365-C, then, would rest on Windows 10 Pro’s qualities. To boost Pro’s perceived value as part of M365-C, Microsoft could, say, discontinue sold-at-retail copies of Windows 10 Pro and the for-purchase licensing keys that transform Home into Pro. The only way to migrate from Home to Pro, without buying a new system, would be through M365-C.

    That’s a fascinating possibility. Who knows if it’ll happen, but if you need to subscribe to (and pay for) MS 365 Consumer in order to block forced updates on your machine… yeah, that’s a compelling reason to fork out some money.

  • Any advice on restoring a Macrium Reflect Free image?

    Posted on December 9th, 2018 at 12:25 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Considering how frequently the folks on this site need – and recommend – full-image backups, it’d be good to have a definitive guide.

    Anybody interested in giving it a whirl?

    Thx @cesmart

  • Microsoft adopting Chromium for Edge rendering is a big deal — let me count the ways

    Posted on December 8th, 2018 at 13:50 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    If you’ve been following the “Edge is dead (but it isn’t)” story, you know that Microsoft announced a couple of days ago that they’ll stop developing the EdgeHTML rendering engine, and switch the Edge browser over to using Google’s open-source Chromium under the covers.

    There have been many knowledgeable folks tossing out ideas and opinions, but some of them seem completely unfounded. As you know, I’m more of a “I’m from Missouri show me” kind of guy.

    I come from a state that raises corn and cotton, cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I’m from Missouri, and you have got to show me.

    — Willard Vandiver, 1899

    I’m not really from Missouri, but you get the idea.

    Yesterday there was an interesting “Ask me anything” session on Reddit where Edge Project Manager Kyle Alden makes some startling commitments:

    Existing UWP apps (including PWAs in the Store) will continue to use EdgeHTML/Chakra without interruption. We don’t plan to shim under those with a different engine. We do expect to offer a new WebView that apps can choose to use based on the new rendering engine.

    We expect to provide support for PWAs to be installed directly from the browser (much like with Chrome) in addition to the current Store approach. We’re not ready to go into all the details yet but PWAs behaving like native apps is still an important principle for us so we’ll be looking into the right system integrations to get that right.

    It’s our intention to support existing Chrome extensions.

    To me, that says two important things, which Windows users of every stripe need to understand:

    • UWP apps (formerly “Metro,” and many other names) aren’t going to last much longer. If you had visions of UWP-based Edge, or Office, or just about any app, you need to re-think. Put a fork in Windows anything “in S Mode.” [UPDATE: I’m overstating things here. See @warrenrumak’s comment. We just learned that Edge will become a standard Win32 desktop app, not a UWP app. Microsoft has already said that Office won’t become a UWP app any time soon. You can draw your own line from there.]
    • Even Microsoft now openly believes that Progressive Web Apps — a concept originally developed and pioneered by Google — are the way of the future.

    ‘Tis a brave new world.

  • Edge isn’t dead, it’s just morphing

    Posted on December 6th, 2018 at 13:21 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    The sky isn’t falling. Although I wish it would.

    Joe Belfiore just posted on the future of Edge:

    Over the next year or so, we’ll be making a technology change that happens “under the hood” for Microsoft Edge, gradually over time, and developed in the open so those of you who are interested can follow along. The key aspects of this evolution in direction are:

    1. We will move to a Chromium-compatible web platform for Microsoft Edge on the desktop. Our intent is to align the Microsoft Edge web platform simultaneously (a) with web standards and (b) with other Chromium-based browsers…

    2. Microsoft Edge will now be delivered and updated for all supported versions of Windows and on a more frequent cadence. We also expect this work to enable us to bring Microsoft Edge to other platforms like macOS…  we will evolve the browser code more broadly, so that our distribution model offers an updated Microsoft Edge experience + platform across all supported versions of Windows, while still maintaining the benefits of the browser’s close integration with Windows.

    No explicit promise to unhook Edge updates from Windows — so it becomes independently updatable, like a UWP app. But it’s hard to imagine Windows being delivered “on a more frequent cadence.”

  • Thurrott: Microsoft posts downloadable disc images of Windows 7 and 8.1

    Posted on December 4th, 2018 at 15:34 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    You need a valid 25-character product key to be able to download the ISO for Win7 or 8.1.

    Paul Thurrott on Thurrott.com.

    Another really dumb decision reversed.

  • Zac Bowden: Microsoft is throwing in the towel on Edge, replacing it with a new browser based on Chromium

    Posted on December 3rd, 2018 at 20:00 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    If true, this is amazing news.

    Zac Bowden, Windows Central:

    Microsoft is throwing in the towel with EdgeHTML and is instead building a new web browser powered by Chromium, a rendering engine first popularized by Google’s Chrome browser. Codenamed Anaheim, this new web browser for Windows 10 will replace Edge as the default browser on the platform.

    Edge has never been anything more than a pimple on the butt of Windows 10. Now, maybe, MS will go with an industry standard web rendering engine and add some worthwhile bells and whistles.

  • Keizer: IE and Firefox catch a break last month

    Posted on December 3rd, 2018 at 08:18 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Gregg Keizer has his usual excellent analysis of the monthly browser statistics:

    For the first time since June, Microsoft’s two browsers managed to hold onto their share of the browser market; the same could not be said of Firefox.

    Edge usage share was flat last month, but IE bumped up a little bit. Astounding.

    It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Surprisingly, Firefox is doing very well financially. But Chrome continues to swallow the earth.