Microsoft Teams Is Set to Receive a Major Calls Update

Microsoft Teams is about to receive a major update to its audio and calling features, moving everything into a single interface to increase accessibility.

There are also improvements being made to meetings and chat features in this major update to Microsoft's collaboration platform.

What's in the Microsoft Teams Update?

The headline feature for this update focuses on the enhancements to Microsoft Teams Calling, the integrated voice calls option. Microsoft is upgrading several areas of the calling experience, including:

  • Save your call recordings straight to OneDrive and SharePoint, setting either as the default save location.
  • Transfer calls between your mobile and desktop using the Microsoft Teams app.
  • Merge multiple one-to-one calls into a single conversation, unifying your conversation.
  • New spam identification and blocking options.
  • New support for CarPlay, allowing you to use your vehicle's integrated controls with Microsoft Teams, including using Siri to make and receive calls.

The Teams Calling update will bring the dial pad, your call history, your voicemail, and call settings into a single tab in Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft recognizing that 2020 has seen more of us spending time at home and making calls from our desks is no bad thing. With potentially more working from home set for 2021 and onwards, better tools will make life easier.

Related: How to Use Microsoft Teams: Your Questions Answered

Better Support For Voice Channels

The update also includes new features for certain types of businesses too.

For example, you can now switch on specific voice-enabled channels while restricting voice access in others. As per the Microsoft example, you could create a dedicated IT support channel in Microsoft Teams, allowing quicker voice support.

Related: The Microsoft Teams Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet

There's also a new call queue feature, plus enterprise calling and holding solutions. You can check out the full list of new Microsoft Teams Calling features in this post on the Microsoft 365 Blog.


What Is the Best Linux Distro for Laptops? | MakeUseOf

One of the best things about Linux is that there is a distro for everyone, no matter what type of hardware you're using. You can take a janky old laptop out of your attic, dust it off, install Linux, and you're good to go.

But with so many Linux distros available, figuring out the best option for your laptop can feel overwhelming. So, read on to find out the best Linux distro for your laptop type, be that old, Ultrabook, or anything in between.

Best Linux Distro for Old Laptops: Lubuntu

Let's start with those aging, venerable machines: your old laptop. Linux carries a strong reputation for breathing life into old hardware, and Lubuntu is one of the best options.

Lubuntu, as you might guess from the name, is an Ubuntu derivative. It uses a different desktop environment from Ubuntu, opting for the more lightweight and less resource-intensive LXDE desktop instead of GNOME. The result is a lightweight Linux distro that will run nicely on an older laptop.

Lubuntu requires a minimum of 1GB RAM for "advanced internet services" such as YouTube and Facebook, while just 512MB RAM will suffice for basic operations such as LibreOffice and basic web browsing. In terms of CPU, you'll need at least an Intel Pentium 4 or Pentium M, or an AMD K8.

Related: Lightweight Linux Distributions to Give Your Old PC New Life

Best Linux Distro for Mid-Range Laptops: Linux Mint

Linux Mint is one of the go-to options for Linux newcomers. It includes a heap of applications, plus it is user-friendly, stable, and doesn't require a huge amount of system resources.

The beauty of a distro like Mint is that you can scale it up to match your hardware specifications. The minimum system requirements are relatively low, requiring just 1GB RAM (2GB for the best experience), a 2.0GHz dual-core processor, and 20GB storage. That's the minimum specs, mind. If you have a more powerful machine, you'll get more from the distro.

Once installed, you have various desktop environments to choose from and an app repository with tens of thousands of options, among other things.

Best Linux Distro for High-Performance Laptops: Solus

Solus is a versatile Linux distro that will suit those with more powerful laptops. While Solus can run on a laptop with less powerful hardware, it shines brightest when it has some extra oomph to play with.

In that, Solus comes with multiple editions, including Solus Budgie, "A feature-rich, luxurious desktop using the most modern technologies," and Solus Plasma, "A sophisticated desktop experience for the tinkerers." Solus also includes a wide range of popular apps in its repository. While the base number of installed apps is fairly small, you can rapidly expand without much trouble. It comes with rolling updates, and a decent enough package manager, too.

If you want to give Solus a try, its minimum requirements are at least 2GB RAM, a 64-bit Intel or AMD processor, plus a minimum 10GB storage drive.

Best Linux Distro for Ultrabook's: Elementary OS

Ultrabooks are sleek, beautifully crafted machines that require a sumptuous operating system to boot. Enter Elementary OS, one of the most beautiful Linux distros around. It is an eye-catching alternative to Windows or macOS, delivering a stylish aesthetic that will suit any Ultrabook.

But, enough about looks, what about substance? Well, Elementary OS has that, too. It won't suit everyone, that's for sure. But it comes with a decent range of drivers, aimed to support a wide range of laptops, old and new. In that, you can rest assured your Ultrabook will work well with Elementary OS (of course, double-check compatibility before downloading and installing any Linux distro).

Like many Linux distros, Elementary OS doesn't come with heaps of pre-installed apps to keep the installation package small. You'll find a browser, email client, and a few standard tools. But it supports all popular Linux applications, and there are multiple installation options, including a package manager and App Centre.

Elementary OS recommends using a "recent Intel i3" or comparable dual-core 64-bit processor, 4GB RAM, and a solid-state drive with 15GB storage. There is no minimum specification, but machines with older hardware might struggle with some of the visual styles and elements in Elementary OS. But those with a powerful Ultrabook can head to the App Center and begin installing and upgrading the operating system, creating a beautiful Linux experience.

Best Linux Distro for Gaming Laptops: SteamOS

If it's gaming you're after, you should consider the official SteamOS Linux distro.

SteamOS is a Debian-based distro with extensive support for the Steam gaming platform. Out-of-the-box, you'll find drivers for controllers, display configurations, and much more. Once it's up and running, the ease of use and access with your Steam library is excellent.

However, the downside is that SteamOS is designed for Steam games only, so you won't be able to fire up Wine and play something else. As you can dual-boot your laptop, you're not restricted to a single distro, meaning you can work around the issue. But if you are thinking about gaming on Linux, check out some of the other common questions and issues you might face.

To run SteamOS, you'll need a laptop with a 64-bit Intel or AMD processor, at least 4GB RAM, and a minimum 200GB storage drive (though you'll want something larger for your games).

How to Choose a New Linux Distro?

With so many Linux distros out there, figuring out which one will suit you and your hardware does feel overwhelming at times. There are few things you can do to narrow your options down:

  • Hardware specifications: Check the hardware specifications for your laptop and the minimum or recommended hardware specs for the distro.
  • Usage: Consider what you're doing with the distro and the laptop. If you're just word processing, checking your emails, and browsing the web, you don't need a specialized distro like OpenSUSE.
  • Check different versions: Many Linux distros are built with lightweight installations in mind, and therefore come with multiple download options. If the main distro is too heavy for your laptop, check if there is a more lightweight option. A prime example of this is Ubuntu, with its many derivative options, such as Lubuntu, Xubuntu, and Kubuntu.

The best thing about Linux is that it's free and open-source, so you can experiment to your heart's desire.


Microsoft Begins Testing Windows Feature Experience Packs

Microsoft is making a small change to how it delivers feature updates for Windows 10, with the introduction of the Windows Feature Experience Pack. You'll still receive the major feature update every six months, but these smaller feature packs will improve specific features outside that period.

What Is the Windows Feature Experience Pack?

The Windows Feature Experience Pack is a new way for Microsoft to deliver and test features. Unlike a major feature update, which contains multiple new features and new designs, the smaller Feature Experience Pack will contain a limited number of improvements.

For example, the first Windows Feature Experience Pack includes two improvements:

  • The introduction of a built-in screen snipping tool for Windows 10 allows you to create and modify a screenshot before saving to a folder of your choice.
  • Using a touch keyboard in portrait mode on a 2-in-1 device will now support split keyboard mode. This splits the on-screen keyboard in half, moving each segment to the screen's left and right, respectively.

According to the official Windows Insider blog, Microsoft will "expand the scope and frequency of releases in the future."

Related: How to Manage Windows Update in Windows 10

How Can I Get the Windows Feature Experience Pack?

Right now, Windows Feature Experience Pack 120.2212.1070.0 (the official title) is available to the Windows 10 Beta Channel. Beta Channel users must have Windows 10 20H2 19042.662 installed.

Related: How to Check What Version of Windows 10 You Have

The Beta Channel is the Windows 10 Insider Preview channel that receives early feature updates. The Dev Channel receives features and updates still in early development, while the Release Preview Channel receives new Windows 10 builds that are almost ready for public release.

So, for the current time, only Windows 10 Insider Preview users will receive access to the Windows Feature Experience Pack. However, there's no need to feel like you're missing out, as the new features will arrive on the main Windows 10 build soon enough.


Salesforce Buys Workplace App Slack for $27.7 billion | MakeUseOf

Salesforce is acquiring the popular workplace and organization chat app Slack for an estimated $27.7 billion. The deal is set to become one of the largest business acquisitions of 2020 and will see Salesforce add another string to its already substantial bow.

The deal exceeds the $26.2 billion Microsoft paid for LinkedIn, further establishing Salesforce as one of several companies dominating the cloud computing sector.

Why Is Salesforce Buying Slack?

Salesforce is a cloud computing software company that delivers, among other things, one of the world's most popular customer relationship management (CRM) tools.

One thing lacking from Salesforce's array of software has been a dedicated chat app. However, that position has now been filled.

Related: Killer Productivity Apps That Work Offline

The merger focuses on bringing more services in-house. If users don't have to leave Salesforce services, they'll spend more time and more money using them. Most software licensing has also moved to the Software as a Service model, which ties Slack nicely into the Salesforce model.

At the time of writing, little is known regarding how the platforms will integrate, but Slack comes with around 12 million users across its free and premium platforms.

In the official Salesforce press release, Chair and CEO Marc Benioff said:

This is a match made in heaven. Together, Salesforce and Slack will shape the future of enterprise software and transform the way everyone works in the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world. I'm thrilled to welcome Slack to the Salesforce Ohana once the transaction closes.

Struggling Slack Was Ripe for Purchase

It is a good time for Salesforce to make the acquisition, too.

Since going public in 2019, Slack had lost around 40 percent of its value. The company reported losses of $147.6 million for the first two quarters of 2020, missing out on the boom in cloud computing and remote communication services the COVID-19 pandemic brought forth.

Related: Free Online Meeting Tools to Collaborate With Your Team

Despite the outward appearance of growth, Slack struggled to compete with the major players in the communication-cum-productivity suite space. Other tech companies, such as Microsoft, operate similar packages with extensive integrations into their own platforms, which Slack couldn't entirely keep pace with.

The terms of the acquisition note that "Slack shareholders will receive $26.79 in cash and 0.0776 shares of Salesforce common stock for each Slack share." So, if you own stock in Slack, check your accounts, as there could well be a small windfall waiting for you just in time for the holiday season.


How to Fix the Clock Watchdog Timeout Error in Windows

Hitting a Windows bluescreen of death is never a nice feeling. Is it a simple system error? Or is the bluescreen error the sign of something more serious?

The Clock Watchdog Timeout Error is one of those cryptic bluescreen crash messages. If you're experiencing a clock watchdog timeout error, here's how you should fix it.

What Is the Clock Watchdog Timeout Error?

A CLOCK_WATCHDOG_TIMEOUT error relates to your system hardware, specifically indicating an issue with how your system and processor are communicating.

When you ask your computer to do something, the operating system tells the CPU, "interrupting" the processor to tell it what's going on. This is a system-level process known as a "system interrupt" and is a completely normal Windows function. However, if the system spends too long at the interrupt phase, known as the interrupt request level (IRQL), you'll encounter a bluescreen error.

There are a few bluescreen error messages that can occur when this occurs, and the clock watchdog timeout error is one of the most common. The clock refers to the CPU, while the watchdog is the process monitoring the interrupt.

Related: How to Fix the DPC WATCHDOG VIOLATION Stop Code Error

How to Fix the Clock Watchdog Timeout Error?

You can fix a clock watchdog timeout error fairly easily, but it does depend on which bit of hardware is causing the error. Most fixes revolve around checking your hardware and drivers, as these are the components attempting to communicate with your CPU.

Here is a list of the most common fixes for this issue.

1. Restart Your System

The most basic and easy fix is to restart your system. A clock watchdog timeout error isn't necessarily the indicator that your system is failing. It might be a bug that you can resolve with a quick and easy restart.

2. Check and Reseat Your Hardware

Your second fix is one that can fix many Windows issues, and that's to reseat your system hardware. If something has become loose in your PC case, it can create system errors. That could mean a loose cable, out of place drive, unseated RAM, or anything else in between. The following video explains how to reseat your hardware and check everything is secure:

Clean Your Computer

While you're in there, give your computer a clean. Dust build-up will kill your hardware. It is one of the worst things for your computer, and it builds up over time. Remember, your PC is like any other bit of hardware you own. Take care of it, and it'll last longer.

3. Update Windows 10

Next up, check if there are any pending Windows 10 updates. A pending Windows 10 update may contain a bug fix that your system is waiting for.

Press Windows Key + I, then head to Update & Security > Windows Update. If there are updates available, download and install them.

4. Update Drivers

Updating your system drivers features in almost all Windows bluescreen error fix lists. There's a good reason for that. If a system driver becomes corrupt or buggy, it can cause its associated hardware to throw up error messages, such as the clock watchdog timeout error.

It isn't always clear if a driver error is causing an issue. Windows 10 takes care of your driver updates automatically, but things can slip through the net. You can check for driver errors manually via the Device Manager.

Type device manager in the Start Menu search bar and select the Best Match. Check down the list for any yellow error indicators. If there aren't any, it is unlikely a driver is the source of the issue. However, if you want to double-check, you can attempt to update each driver manually.

For example, Unfurl the Disk drives section, then right-click the driver for your SSD and select Update driver. Select Search automatically for updated driver software to let Windows automate the update process for you.

5. Uninstall New Software

Have you installed any new applications recently? Did your clock watchdog timeout error start after installing the new software? If so, you should remove the new software, reboot your system, and check if the error continues.

Input programs in your Start Menu search bar and select the Best Match. Switch the Sort by dropdown menu to Install date, sorting the list of programs by the installation date. Uninstall any programs installed recently, then reboot your system.

6. Run SFC and CHKDSK

The Windows file system works well. That is until it doesn't, and errors start appearing. One way to fix errors relating to system files is to repair them using Windows inbuilt System File Check (SFC). This integrated system tool scans for and fixes errors automatically.

Before running the SFC command, it is important to check it is working properly. To do this, we use the Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool, or DISM.

Like SFC, DISM is an integrated Windows utility with a wide range of functions. In this case, the DISM Restorehealth command ensures that our next fix will work properly.

Work through the following steps.

  1. Type Command Prompt (Admin) in the Start menu search bar, then right-click and select Run as administrator to open an elevated Command Prompt.
  2. Type the following command and press Enter: DISM /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth
  3. Wait for the command to complete. The process can take up to 20 minutes, depending on your system's health. The process seems stuck at certain times, but wait for it to complete.
  4. When the process completes, type sfc /scannow and press Enter.

CHKDSK is another Windows system tool that checks your file structure. Unlike SFC, CHKDSK scans your entire drive for errors, whereas SFC scans your Windows system files specifically. Like SFC, run the CHKDSK scan from the Command Prompt to fix your machine.

  1. Type command prompt in your Start menu search bar, then right-click the best match and select Run as administrator. (Alternatively, press Windows Key + X, then select Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu.)
  2. Next, type chkdsk /r and press Enter. The command will scan your system for errors and fix any issues along the way.

7. Run Windows 10 Memory Diagnostic Tool

You can use the integrated Windows Memory Diagnostic to check if your RAM is causing the error. The Windows Memory Diagnostic scans your RAM, checking for errors that could cause your system to crash. You cannot run it within Windows. You have to start the tool, then restart your system to allow the tool to scan your RAM.

Type Windows Memory Diagnostic into your Start menu search bar and select the Best Match.

Now, you can set the tool to run immediately or run the next time you restart your system. As you're attempting to fix the bluescreen error, run the tool immediately, but save any work first.

The Windows Memory Diagnostic will run automatically after reboot.

The log file, however, isn't apparent after you boot back into Windows 10. Press Windows key + X and select Event Viewer from the power menu. In the Event Viewer, select Event Viewer (Local) > Windows Logs > System.

Then, in the right-hand column, select Find and type MemoryDiagnostic into the box. Hit Find Next. Your diagnostic results will display at the bottom of the window.

From there, you need to investigate any specific errors the Windows Memory Diagnostic throws up.

8. Remove Overclock Settings

If you have overclocked your system hardware to squeeze out some extra performance, you might encounter the clock watchdog timeout error. Given the nature of overclocking your system, there are no specific instructions on offer in this tutorial. That's because overclocking is unique to your hardware, and you'll have to roll your system back using specific applications or system settings.

So, if you have overclocked your system, and you encounter the clock watchdog timeout error, consider rolling back to a stock setup.

You've Fixed the Windows 10 Clock Watchdog Timeout Error

Windows bluescreen errors are never fun. Thankfully, some are easy to resolve, and the clock watchdog timeout error is one of them. Work through the steps on this list, and your system will be back up to speed in no time at all.


Google Chrome Will Stop Running on Windows 7 In 2022 | MakeUseOf

January 2022 may sound like it's a long way off, but for Windows 7 users, it's a date to keep an eye on.

Even though Windows 7 reached its official end-of-life date in January 2020, there are still tens of millions of people using the operating system globally. Those users need support not only from Microsoft but software developers, too.

And for those using Chrome on Windows 7, Google has now set a specific date when support for your favorite browser will end.

When Is Google Ending Support for Chrome on Windows 7?

The official word is that Google will now end support for its Chrome browser on Windows 7 in January 2022. While this doesn't sound long, it's actually a six-month extension from the original support end-date, which was first set as July 2021.

The half-year extension gives existing Windows 7 users another chance to migrate from Windows 7 to an alternative operating system such as Windows 10. Or make alternative arrangements for their browser.

Although Microsoft no longer supports Windows 7 officially, NetMarketShare indicates that the operating system still accounts for over 24 percent of the market. In fact, Windows 7's market share has grown recently.

Considering the number of vulnerabilities and security issues facing Windows 7 and the multiple extensions to the support period, the figure remains high.

Why Is Google Extending Its Windows 7 Support?

The fact that many organizations have found migration difficult in 2020 doesn't come as a surprise.

Writing on the Google Cloud Blog, Google Chrome Engineering Director, Max Christoff, said:

Migrating to Windows 10 was a part of many organizations' roadmap for the year. But as new priorities for IT teams emerged, we've heard that 21% of organizations are still in the process of migrating to Windows 10.1 With this extension of support, enterprises with their upgrades still in progress can rest assured that their users remaining on Windows 7 will continue to benefit from Chrome's security and productivity benefits.

Google's primary focus, then, is on security. With such a large number of Windows 7 users across the consumer and enterprise world, additional security support is welcome. A large number of Windows 7 machines running critical hardware can ill-afford exposure to critical vulnerabilities.

Related: The Best Ways to Upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10

The extension also moves Google towards Microsoft's end of support date for enterprise users, currently set for some time in 2023. This support is exclusive to enterprise users who pay for support, rather than universal support for businesses and organizations running the old operating system.

However, if you are a Windows 7 consumer user, you really should consider upgrading to Windows 10 for a faster and more secure operating system experience.


Why You Don’t Need Adobe Reader (And What to Use Instead)

Adobe Reader isn't just unnecessary. The PDF tool has a history of being an application you wouldn't want on your system. Adobe Reader carries a certain reputation from being heavy and sluggish to a long series of security flaws. For many users, Adobe Reader is simply overkill for reading PDF documents.

So, the question is, do you need Adobe Reader installed? Or, are there better Adobe Reader alternatives for reading PDFs?

What Is Adobe Reader?

Adobe Acrobat Reader is one of the most popular PDF readers. It comes in two main flavors: Free and Premium. The free version allows you to view, print, and annotate PDF files, while the premium version includes tools for editing, scanning, digital signing, and file conversion, among other options.

For most people, the advanced options available in Adobe Acrobat Pro (the premium version) are overkill. If you're just reading the occasional PDF or printing a document or form, your regular web browser can take care of business.

Is Adobe Acrobat Reader Safe?

Adobe Reader has a history of vulnerabilities, too. Security incidents in 2006, 2009, 2013, and 2016 required serious and immediate patching to remove critical vulnerabilities. Most of the vulnerabilities stem from JavaScript vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader, allowing an attacker to exploit the program to gain access to the host computer.

So, is Adobe Reader safe? If you keep Adobe Reader updated, then you should remain safe. Adobe pushes updates for its apps on the first Tuesday of every month (as part of Patch Tuesday, which many tech companies observe). Reading through the patch notes reveals that it isn't just Adobe Reader receiving critical updates; all Adobe products require a significant patch from time-to-time.

One thing you can do to increase your security is to adjust your Adobe Reader JavaScript settings.

  1. Head to Edit > Preferences.
  2. Select JavaScript from the Categories.
  3. In the JavaScript Security window, edit the options for JavaScript management.

If you want to disable JavaScript completely, uncheck Enable Acrobat JavaScript.

How to Open PDFs in Your Browser

Adobe Acrobat Reader allows you to view and print PDFs. But your browser can do exactly the same without you having to download and install an extra program.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome has an integrated PDF viewer. It has been bundled with Google Chrome since 2010. It makes opening online PDFs extremely quick, loading directly in your browser. Unfortunately, Chrome's PDF viewer doesn't have many features. Or rather, it has basically none, unless rotating your PDFs is an absolute necessity.

However, it is fast. Additionally, Google Chrome is now the most popular browser worldwide, so there is a good chance you already have it installed.

Google Chrome can function as your default local PDF viewer, too. Right-click your PDF, and select Properties. Select Change, followed by Google Chrome. Then select Apply.

Please note that this process is the same for Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or any other PDF viewer you'd like to use as default.

Enable the New Google PDF Reader

As luck would have it, as I was updating this article, Google snuck out an update to the Chrome PDF viewer. You can enable the Chrome PDF reader update through the Chrome Flags page, a list of experimental browser features. Some of these features are in active development, while other options come and go.

Input chrome://flags in your Chrome address bar, search for #pdf-viewer-update, and switch to Enabled. You'll have to relaunch your browser before the new PDF reader loads.

So, what's new? The PDF reader update aims to bring Chrome's PDF reader up to the same standard as Mozilla Firefox's, adding support for document outlines and new view controls.

Mozilla Firefox

Like Google Chrome, Firefox has an integrated PDF viewer. In fact, Mozilla has bundled a PDF viewer since Firefox 19—we're now using Firefox 83. Who said Mozilla isn't innovative?! Firefox's PDF viewer comes with some handy features, too. For example, if you have a PDF with interactive fields, such as on a form, you can use the built-in PDF viewer to fill them in.

Firefox's PDF.js browser viewer is one of the best options around.

Microsoft Edge

Windows 10's native browser, Microsoft Edge, also includes an inbuilt PDF reader.

The Microsoft Edge PDF reader includes options for drawing and scribbling on your PDF using the Draw menu, as well as options to highlight and color text using the Highlight menu. There's also the option to have your PDF read aloud to you. You can use the Microsoft Edge PDF reader to fill in basic forms, though JavaScript forms are not supported at the time of writing.

What Happened to Microsoft Reader?

Microsoft Reader is no longer maintained and, as such, is not included in your Windows 10 installation. You can still download and use Reader via the Microsoft Store.

macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android

Other operating systems don't require Adobe Acrobat Reader, either. macOS users have Preview, while Linux distributions come bundled with Okular or Evince, depending on the environment. Android has a built-in PDF viewer, as does iOS.

While Adobe Reader is available to all of these operating systems, there isn't really a reason to use it. Not least because there are better free PDF options available for each OS.

The Best Adobe Reader Alternatives

If you're read enough and want to try a new PDF reader, check out the best PDF and eBook readers for Windows. The options on that list represent some of the best Adobe Reader alternatives available, with many options including similar functionality to Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Or, if you prefer something more lightweight, consider these very light alternatives to Adobe Reader. They deliver PDF functionality in a smaller package, taking up fewer system resources than the mainstream alternative.

What's Your Favorite PDF Viewer?

You've read why you don't really need Adobe Reader anymore. Between the internet browsers with inbuilt PDF viewers and the free PDF reader alternatives, you're well covered. As most PDFs are just documents meant for viewing in a specific format—that's what PDFs do, after all—most of the alternative PDF viewers on this list will deliver the same if not better experience.


What’s New in the Latest Windows 10 Cumulative Update?

There won't be any Windows 10 cumulative updates throughout December, which will no doubt please many users. But Microsoft still managed to sneak one out late on Monday (Nov. 30), before the holiday season officially begins.

What's in the Windows 10 Build 19042.662 Update?

As ever, this cumulative update are a mishmash of fixes, patches, and small changes to Windows 10. A cumulative update differs from the major Windows 10 updates that arrive roughly every six months, such as the May 2020 Update and the more recent October 2020 Update.

With that in mind, check out the following list of update highlights:

  • Updates an issue that causes Narrator to stop responding after you unlock a device if Narrator was in use before you locked the device.
  • Updates an issue that prevents you from finding certain Microsoft Xbox consoles on a Windows device.
  • Updates an issue that fails to display the Microsoft Xbox Game Bar app controls on supported monitors. This issue occurs in certain Microsoft DirectX 9.0 (DX9) games that are running with Variable Refresh Rate enabled on these monitors.
  • Updates an issue with USB 3.0 hubs. A device connected to the hub might stop working when you set the device to hibernate or restart the device.
  • Updates an issue that randomly changes the input focus of edit controls when using the Japanese IME or the Chinese Traditional IME.
  • Updates an issue that makes the touch keyboard unstable in the Mail app.
  • Improves the visual quality of Windows Mixed Reality headsets that run in lower resolution mode.
  • Updates an issue that prevents the PDF24 app, version 9.1.1, from opening .txt files.

You can read the full list of changes in the KB4586853 cumulative update on the Microsoft Support website.

Many of these updates are likely to fly under the radar, as they're not that important. However, fixes for the Microsoft Xbox Game Bar and locating Microsoft Xbox consoles are welcome at a time when many people are unboxing new Xbox Series X and Series S consoles.

Related: Questions to Ask Before Buying an Xbox Series X

Similarly, if you're experiencing issues with devices connected to your PC through a USB 3.0 hub, this cumulative update could provide the fix.

When Will the 19042.662 Update Arrive?

The update is for users running Windows 10 20H2 or 2004. If you're unsure which version of Windows 10 you're currently using, press Windows Key + I, then head to System > About. You'll find your current version under Windows specifications.

This is an optional update. Which means the update does not contain any critical security or feature updates. If you don't install the update manually, it will roll into the monthly Patch Tuesday update, which is mandatory for every Windows 10 machine.


Developer Successfully Boots Windows 10 on Apple’s New M1 Chip

Apple's new M1 processor has caught the headlines for all the right reasons. It is fast, power-efficient, and hitting benchmarks in all the right places. Yet, there are still surprise to come, as screenshots of Windows 10 ARM64 edition running on Apple's new silicon have emerged.

Not only that, but the Apple M1 processor appears to provide better benchmarks than the Windows 10 ARM edition reference device, the Surface Pro X.

The Apple M1 Chip Runs Windows 10 ARM Edition

Developer Alexander Graf tweeted a screenshot of the Windows 10 Task Manager, displaying the Performance tab. The tab shows a mysterious CPU type, "virt-5.2." Graf confirmed that this is the Apple M1 chip, running Windows 10 ARM edition.

Graf took a version of Windows 10 ARM64 Insider Preview and ran it through a custom version of the popular virtualization tool, QEMU. After virtualizing, Graf ran it through the Apple Hypervisor.framework, Apple's virtualization tool.

The combination allowed Graf to not only boot Windows 10 ARM64 Insider Preview on Apple's M1 chip, but to record some pretty decent benchmarks, too. You can see the benchmarking test results on Geekbench.

While these numbers may seem confusing, there are a couple of standouts. Notably, the virtualized M1 chip recorded a single-core score of 1288 and a multi-core score of 5449, considerably higher than the Microsoft Surface Pro X's single-core score of 762 and multi-core score of 3005 on Geekbench.

Windows 10 Running Natively on M1 Silicon?

Seeing Windows 10 ARM64 running on the Apple M1 chip is surprising, but not completely unexpected. The Apple M1 chip uses an ARM-based design, which opens up questions about running Windows natively on the hardware.

In an interview with Ars Technica, Apple's Senior VP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, said:

That's really up to Microsoft. We have the core technologies for them [Microsoft] to do that, to run their ARM version of Windows, which in turn, of course, supports x86 user-mode applications. But that's a decision Microsoft has to make, to bring to license that technology for users to run on these Macs. But the Macs are certainly very capable of it.

The prospect of native hardware support is perhaps closer than we think.

If Alexander Graf's virtualization project sounds exciting to you, and you want to help out or just want to poke around the interesting patches, you can explore the Implement Apple Silicon Support project. It is a little complicated, but as Graf says, the outcome is "pretty snappy."


The Next Chrome Update Will Fix Windows Security Issues

A new Google Chrome update should relieve the issues many users are currently experiencing while using the browser with Windows 10's integrated antivirus tool.

The issues stem from a bug that triggers when Windows Security is set to scan the local storage, locking users out of files, slowing Chrome down, and causing a general nuisance.

Related: The Best Antivirus Software for Windows 10

Update Google Chrome, Resolve Windows Security Issues

The issue stems from how Google Chrome and Windows Security interact when a new file is introduced to the system. As per the Chromium commit:

Antivirus programs and other scanners may briefly lock new files, which can lead to frequent problems with saving bookmarks and other files that use the ImportantFileWriter. This attempts to deal with this by retrying the racy ReplaceFile step a few times.

When you create a new file or conduct a Google Chrome task that stores data on your computer, Windows Security scans the local storage to make sure you're not downloading malware or other nasties. The frequency of access might accidentally place a temporary lock status on the files, as Windows Security believes something bad is going on, even when it isn't.

Consequently, Google Chrome runs terribly slow.

This isn't inherently bad behavior, either. You want your antivirus to scan for potentially malicious files and to protect your system. However, if that process fails, as it is here, it can cause issues.

If Chrome Is Lagging, Hit Update

The Google Chrome development team has already found a solution, with the next edition of the browser set to retry the file several times before an error occurs.

So, if Google Chrome is running slow on your computer when you download a file or create data via another method, make sure to download the next Chrome update as soon as possible.