Mark Sofia Wyciślik-Wilson

Microsoft invites you to take part in a Windows 10 Bug Bash

Windows 10 logo on a beach

Microsoft has announced a new Windows 10 Bug Bash for people taking part in the Insider program. The Bug Bash gives the company a chance to gather more information about problems with the operating system, and gives participants the opportunity to earn rewards.

The Bug Bash is available right now and runs until May 17. Microsoft has set up quests to check various elements of Windows 10 including using Desk Management to check storage, and testing the magnifier tool.

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Microsoft is closing down its Azure Blockchain Service

Microsoft building logo

Microsoft has announced that its Azure Blockchain Service is to close down this fall. The end date for the complete closure is September 10, but the company has already put a stop on new deployments and signups.

No big announcement has been made about the closure of the service which has been around since 2015 when Microsoft partnered with ConsenSys. The decision leaves existing users with just four months to find an alternative home for their ledgers.

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Microsoft releases new PowerToys update with important fixes and changes

PowerToys

It feels like it has been a while since the last PowerToys update, but today that changes. Microsoft has released PowerToys v0.37.2 bringing a couple of key changes to the suite of utilities for Windows 10.

Anyone hoping to see the appearance of the Video Conference Mute tool will remain disappointed. As this is only a minor version number increase, however, it is not really surprising that there are no major additions.

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Microsoft releases KB5003173 cumulative update for Windows 10 20H2 and 2004

Windows key on keyboard

Anyone running Windows 10 version 2004 or 20H2 has a new cumulative update to install in the form of KB5003173. The update takes Windows build numbers up to 19041.985 and 19042.985.

Cumulative updatse like this are rarely über-exciting, and KB5003173 is no different. Although Microsoft has not introduced any major changes with the update, the release remains an important security update, and it's a good idea to get it installed.

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Time to upgrade Windows 10 as Microsoft ends support for older versions

Windows 10 logo on a beach

If you have been holding off upgrading Windows 10 because of concerns about problems with updates for the operating system, Microsoft is given hangers-on a very good reason to take the plunge.

The company is holding a fire the feet of people doggedly holding on to older versions of Windows 10. The support lifecycle of another build of the operating system has now come to an end meaning that the oldest supported edition of Windows 10 is now version 2004.

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Microsoft launches new open-source project to bring Linux tool eBPF to Windows

eBPF on Windows

Microsoft has launched a new project which has the aim of bringing Linux kernel tool eBPF (Extended Berkeley Packet Filter) to Windows.

The company insists that the move to get the technology working in Windows does not represent creating a fork of eBPF. Instead, it will use existing projects, including the IOVisor uBPF project and the PREVAIL verifier, to run eBPF programs and APIs on top of its own operating systems -- specifically Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 or above.

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Microsoft removes all Windows 10 upgrade blocks including Conexant audio driver issues

Windows 10 laptop

Microsoft has now resolved all known issues that were preventing people from updating Windows 10. The company had put upgrade blocks in place that stopped users with certain hardware from upgrading to Windows 10 version 2004 and 20H2.

The last two safeguards to have been removed relate to Conexant audio drivers and Conexant ISST audio drivers. This change means that the latest version of Windows 10 can now roll out to more people, just ahead of Windows 10 version 1909 reaching end of life later this month.

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Microsoft withdraws AMD driver that causes INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE error in Windows 10

Microsoft building logo

Microsoft has pulled an AMD SCSI driver from Windows Update after it was found to cause boot problems for numerous people.

Reports came from many users who experienced boot problems, BSoDs, INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE errors "bricked"systems after installing the troublesome driver. The driver -- Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. - SCSIAdapter - 9.3.0.221 -- has now been withdrawn, but anyone who has already updated will need to manually uninstall it.

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Bye bye, Windows 95! Windows 10 Sun Valley update brings a host of new icons

Windows key on keyboard

There is a lot to look forward to in the future of Windows 10, and the not-too-distant Sun Valley update is an excellent case in point.

With the Sun Valley redesign, Microsoft is giving the operating system a much-needed visual overhaul.  We already know about changes to the general look, new menu design, and even a new default font, but icons are also getting a big refresh -- including plenty of old favorites that have not changed since the days of Windows 95.

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Audio editor Audacity has the audacity to add telemetry collection -- and users are not happy

Laptop collecting data

Whatever the reasons behind it, the inclusion of telemetry collection in software never goes down well -- as Microsoft knows all too well from the reaction to Windows 10 telemetry. Now, open-source audio editor Audacity has taken the decision to add such data capture into the software.

The development team stresses that telemetry exists solely to "identify product issues early", but there has already been quite a backlash. The sharing of data with Google and Yandex has not gone well.

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How to block site notification requests in Chrome

Google Chrome icon

There are many things to get annoyed by online, and we're not just talking about the content you find and the people you encounter. It used to be that pop-ups were the scourge of the internet, but these have been replaced by new irritants -- in particular ads, cookie warnings and site notifications.

Pop-ups have all but died a death and ads can -- should you wish -- be avoided with various blockers. There's little that can be done to stop sites warning your about cookies, but when it comes to being pestered by sites asking if you would like to receive notifications, you can take action. Here's how to block notifications and notification requests in Chrome across Windows, macOS and Linux.

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Microsoft may have cancelled Windows 10X

Windows 10X

Microsoft has put the development of Windows 10X on hold and will not release the operating system in 2021, according to insiders. But the truth is that the company may have completely given up on producing its much-hyped Chrome OS competitor.

The news is hardly surprising; things have been very slow for Windows 10X for quite some time now, with Microsoft gradually changing its focus and seeking to lower expectations. Now it seems that the company is more interested in channelling its efforts into Windows 10 proper and the upcoming Sun Valley update.

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Dell issues critical security update to patch serious driver flaws on hundreds of millions of systems

Dell laptop

Dell has patched a recently discovered series of security flaws in a driver installed on hundreds of millions of computers. Tracked as CVE-2021-21551, no fewer than five high severity vulnerabilities were found to exist in Dell's dbutil_2_3.sys firmware update driver since 2009.

The flawed DBUtil driver is installed on consumer and enterprise desktops, laptops and tablets around the world. If exploited, the vulnerabilities could be used to "escalate privileges from a non-administrator user to kernel mode privileges". The problem only affected Windows systems, not those running Linux.

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Microsoft is ramping up efforts to forcibly remove Flash from Windows with KB4577586 update

Windows key on keyboard

The software blight and security nightmare that is Flash has all but died. In theory it is dead already, with support for Adobe Flash Player having drawn to an end last year and Microsoft having pushed out an update to carve it out of Windows.

But the company has realized that there are a lot of systems out there that still have the cancerous software installed, and starting next month it will ramp up its effort to kill it off once and for all. This means that more people will be receiving the KB4577586 update.

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How to bypass 'Windows protected your PC' message in Windows 10

Boltcutters and padlock

Microsoft has included various protective and security tools in Windows 10, and for the most part these are very welcome. But there are times when the operating system is a little over-zealous, and the protection becomes intrusive and restrictive. A good example is the SmartScreen filter which has been designed to safeguard your computer against potentially dangerous software downloaded from the internet.

You'll know when this kicks in as when you try to run or install a particular app, you'll see a message that reads "Windows protected your PC" and the operation is blocked. In some instances you'll be able to easily bypass the block, but this is not always the case. So what can you do? Here's how to get around SmartScreen.

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