Images of the New Windows 10 Revamp Appear Online

If you're getting a little tired of how Windows 10 looks, you're in for a treat. Microsoft has published a few images related to a Windows 10 revamp, and they tell us a lot about the UI direction the software giant is taking with its future products.

A Sneek Peek at the Windows 10 Sun Valley Revamp

A little while back, it was rumored that a Windows 10 revamp was in the works. Back then, we knew it was codenamed "Sun Valley," but we had no further details on what was planned for Windows 10's new look.

Now, Windows Latest has scoured the internet and found some interesting screenshots from Microsoft. These are on GitHub and give us a great look into how the Windows 10 revamp may look.

First up is the thread called "DatePicker and TimePicker flyout visual updates." Here, we have Microsoft developer Jevan Saks showing off his UI design skills:

What I'm doing here is taking the PickerHostGrid and feeding it through CompositionVisualSurface and then into a ColorMatrixEffect. This way I can take the alpha channels of what's in the PickerHostGrid and replace the RGB channels with something else. This lets us do a color swap dynamically even during the scrolling, which gets a really smooth looking "x-ray" kind of effect.

If your eyes crossed while reading that paragraph, Saks says that he designed a date picker that dynamically changes the color of the selected date. For instance, see how January 14, 2021, is written in black in the screenshot below, while every other date is written in white.

As the user scrolls through the entries, the text turns black as it passes into the blue bar and turns white again when it scrolls out. This is what Saks meant when he said, "x-ray kind of effect."

Next up is "Visual update for menu flyout" from Microsoft developer Tasha Titova. This thread shows that Microsoft aims to sand down the pointed edges on its windows and take a more rounded approach.

Insiders should see these UI updates roll out to them relatively soon, while everyone else will have to wait until the second half of 2021 for these flashy new menus.

A Small Peek, but a Peek Nonetheless

While these images aren't huge reveals of Windows 10 and Sun Valley's future, they give us a nice idea of how Microsoft is approaching the revamp. Adaptive sliders and rounded edges are seemingly in, so keep your eyes peeled for any further updates as the topic develops.

While we wait for Sun Valley to roll out, why not grab a custom theme and give your Windows 10 a makeover early?

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You Can Now Try Microsoft Edge’s Vertical Tabs in the Dev Channel

Do you want to give vertical tabs a test-drive in the new Chromium Microsoft Edge? If you do, you'll be pleased to know the software giant has recently updated the Dev build to contain this handy feature for tab-aholics.

What Are Vertical Tabs?

If you're left scratching your head over what a vertical tab is, it's a handy tool that helps with tab management once you start accumulating a large number of them.

When you only have a few tabs open in your browser, they tend to work just fine. Tabs present the favicon (the little icon to the left of each tab) and the page title in a horizontal manner, and tabs are arranged horizontally across the top of your browser. As such, you can do a quick left-right scan across the top to find the tab you're looking for.

Things get a little messy when you begin opening a lot of tabs. When this happens, the browser tries a few tricks to pack all of the tabs along the top. It can let you scroll left and right through the tabs, squeeze each tab down to just the favicon, or---if you're really deep in the tabs---both at once.

Whichever method the browser uses, you'll encounter issues with trying to scan through the tabs to find the one you want. If you need to scroll through the tabs, the one you're looking for may be out of sight and require you to scroll around until you find it.

If it's reduced to a favicon, you can see what website the page is from, but not what the webpage is about. And if both have kicked in at the same time, you're in for a world of hurt.

Vertical tabs solve this problem by offering a button that moves the tabs from the top of the browser to the left. The feature can then list the tabs in a vertical arrangement, giving you enough room to see every tab's title and showing more of them at once before you need to scroll.

If the sidebar is taking up too much room, you can click an arrow at the top to reduce each tab to a favicon. This means you can swap between extra webpage space and tab details to better sort through your tab hell.

How to Try the Vertical Tabs Feature for Chromium Edge

If you want to give this feature a try, hop over to the Microsoft Edge Insider Channels page and grab the one called "Dev." While you're waiting, be sure to check out the full patch notes over on the Microsoft Tech Community, which contains auto-filling birthdays and some Web Capture stability fixes.

The Microsoft Dev and Canary branches are also currently testing native M1-based Mac support, so be sure to give that a try if you own one.

Taking Tabs on Microsoft Edge's Vertical Tabs

If you love having lots of tabs open but hate managing them all, vertical tabs may be the answer to your browser nightmare. Be sure to give it a spin on the Dev channel and keep your eyes peeled when it lands on the main Edge channel.

If you want to slay your tab hydra, but you can't afford to let go of Google Chrome, there are plenty of extensions you can download that can do the job for you.

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Microsoft Teams on the Web Will Get Gallery View and Together Mode

Microsoft Teams is packed with a lot of handy features, but right now, you need to use the desktop or mobile app to get the most of it. Microsoft is aiming to change this by bringing two useful features, Gallery View and Together mode, onto the browser version of Teams.

Microsoft's Push to Update Microsoft Teams on the Web

You can see this planned update for yourself over on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap. If you've been keeping tabs on all things Microsoft, you'll know that the Roadmap is a fantastic way to keep on top of the software giant's plans for its products.

The Roadmap gives the general public a way to see what to expect and when. Recently, a new entry made its way onto the Roadmap, with a feature ID 70573 and the title "Microsoft Teams: Large gallery view and Together Mode for web meetings in Edge and Chrome browsers."

The description doesn't waste words:

User can change layout to Together mode or Large gallery during a meeting in Edge or Chrome browsers.

"Together mode" places everyone's webcam feeds in a scene to give the impression of being in a virtual room, while the large gallery view means you can see up to 49 attendees at once. The update is due to drop sometime in February 2021.

A Missing Entry in the Browser Trifecta

You may have already noticed that Microsoft explicitly names only two browsers. Microsoft's Edge browser will enjoy this update, as can Google's Chrome. Mozilla Firefox, on the other hand, is left well alone.

This is an interesting move by Microsoft, and its ramifications depend on what Microsoft has planned for Mozilla's browser. Because both Chrome and Edge use a Chromium base, it's likely that the programmers designed the feature for a Chromium browser first, and plans to develop it for other browsers later on.

However, this may also be a hint as to how Microsoft plans to solidify its lead ahead of Firefox. Microsoft's browser recently overtook Firefox for US usage, and starving Firefox of features may be how Microsoft intends to keep the trend going.

So, if Microsoft is actually starving its competitors, how come Chrome is getting the feature, too? As it turns out, Microsoft is quickly becoming Chrome's biggest ally due to it using Google's Chromium codebase for its own browser. As such, this may be a way for Chrome and Microsoft to team up and take down one of its competitors.

Microsoft Teams' New Update... but Only for Chromium

Some of Microsoft Teams' handiest features are making their way to Chrome and Edge browsers, but the software giant is silent on if it'll also come out for other browsers. Is additional support in the works, or is Microsoft trying to starve the competition out?

If you've been out of the loop for Roadmap news, you'll want to check out a recent addition that states that the OneDrive upload limit is being upped from 100GB to 250GB.


Microsoft Announces Five 4G-LTE Laptops for Learning at Home

With COVID-19 showing zero signs of stopping, the world had to adapt to working and learning from home. Microsoft is no stranger to the concept and has announced five laptops to join the ranks of the tech giant's work-from-home range.

Microsoft's New Batch of Laptops

These five laptops, as reported by Neowin, all share a few common traits. They all have 4G LTE capabilities, and their main focus is to aid children with learning.

Microsoft isn't manufacturing the laptops; instead, the software giant has announced a partnership with Acer, ASUS, and JP-IK to produce five laptops in total.

The laptops will come in a range of different prices, and you can pick and choose what you want on your system. The cheapest model starts at a JP-IK Leap T304 that comes in at $185 but only has 4G-LTE capability as an optional upgrade. It will, however, run with an Intel Celeron N4000 and 4GB of RAM.

JK-IK also has a Leap Connect T304, which uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c processor. This one does come with 4G capability from the get-go.

Acer offers the TravelMate B3 ($239) and TravelMate Spin B3 ($329), and both use an Intel Jasper Lake processor. On the ASUS front is the ExpertBook BR1100, which comes with an anti-bacterial cover and weighs in at $279.

There is no official store link or release date for these models, so keep an eye out for future updates as Microsoft rolls these laptops out.

Microsoft's Bid in a COVID-19 World

With COVID-19 forcing schools to shut and teachers moving into digital classrooms, parents are put in a nasty dilemma where they need to purchase additional equipment so their children can learn long-distance.

Fortunately, remote learning software doesn't need an incredibly beefy computer. As such, parents have been flocking to cheap laptop models to get their children ready for life in lockdown.

Microsoft has responded to this by pushing out some of its cheapest laptops yet. For instance, the pandemic inspired Microsoft to release the Surface Laptop Go, the cheapest Surface device at writing.

As such, these five laptops appear to be Microsoft pushing for more affordable laptops so that parents don't need to spend a lot to get their children online and learning.

Making Post-COVID-19 Life Affordable

With everyone rushing to purchase cheap laptops for remote learning, Microsoft aims to supply parents with what they need. We'll have to wait and see how these laptops will make their way into the hands of those who need them.

If you're struggling to keep your children learning in lockdown, did you know there are plenty of homeschooling websites that can help? This includes lessons from TED aimed explicitly at children.

Image Credit: EZ-Stock Studio /


Your First Self-Driving Car May Be Powered by Microsoft

While you can't buy a self-driving car just yet, lots of big businesses are working away in the background to make them a reality. Different companies are hedging bets on different car manufacturers in hopes they'd become the new norm, and Microsoft has just joined the race.

Microsoft's Push Into the Automated Car Industry

Microsoft is expressing its interest in automated cars by teaming up with Cruise, as reported by The Verge.

Cruise is a subsidiary of General Motors and focuses on developing automated cars. Such a development requires a lot of money to get off of the ground, so other big businesses chip in some money in exchange for getting a foot in the door of this exciting new market.

Cruise has previously received support from both Honda and GM, and now Microsoft is eager to get its name known in the future of automobiles. The tech giant has donated a massive $2 billion to Cruise to help get them started, bringing Cruise's total donation amount to $30 billion.

Of course, this move is more than a charitable donation. With this deal, Cruise will now use Microsoft's Azure platform, the software giant's main platform for smart devices.

Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella said the following:

Advances in digital technology are redefining every aspect of our work and life, including how we move people and goods. As Cruise and GM’s preferred cloud, we will apply the power of Azure to help them scale and make autonomous transportation mainstream.

Microsoft's Push for an Azure Future

While Microsoft hasn't gone on record as to why they've expressed a sudden interest in automated cars, it may simply be due to a desire to have the world rely on Microsoft Azure in the future.

Smart devices are quickly becoming the future. Whether or not this is a good thing is up for debate, as smart devices are a double-edged sword. On one hand, they can talk to one another and get updates in real-time. On the other, you need to follow specific tips to secure Internet of Things (IoT) devices and stop hackers from getting in.

At any rate, Microsoft likely wants the new world of smart devices to rely on its Azure framework. This foray into smart cars is potentially Microsoft's bid to ensure it has a presence in the self-driving car industry, so it doesn't get left behind if and when our cars begin to drive themselves.

Microsoft: the Next Biggest Thing in Automobiles?

With everything turning smart these days, Microsoft is keen to get its Azure framework onto as many devices as possible. If self-driving cars do take off, there's a good chance that the first one you buy will run on Microsoft's codebase.

Self-driving cars definitely sound like a cool concept, but what stops them from colliding with one another? Fortunately, there are systems like SLAM that prevent cars from doing just that.

Image Credit: Pavel Vinnik /


How Does a Ping of Death Attack Work?

There are many scary-sounding terms in the cybersecurity world, and the dreaded "ping of death" is no different. However, it's a lot tamer than it sounds, albeit still a pain to deal with as a security flaw.

Let's explore what the ping of death is and how it works.

What Is a "Ping?"

Before exploring what a ping of death is, we have to look at what a "ping" is to see how it can be turned against you.

A ping, by itself, is not harmful. In fact, your PC does a lot of them when you use the internet.

Pinging allows devices on the same network to double-check that they're both working as intended. It's akin to how two recipients say "hello?" down a phone to make sure the other is there and listening.

Related: The Basics of Ping, Explained

You can even learn how to perform a manual ping using your computer. It's not very exciting, as all it tells you is how many milliseconds it takes for your PC to send a packet of data to the target. However, it can diagnose server problems and identify flaws in faulty connections.

What Is a "Ping of Death" Attack?

A ping is a very innocent and innocuous part of internet technology that PCs do every day online. So, how can someone turn this harmless tool into a weapon?

The ping of death is one of many kinds of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Typically, when people use the term "DDoS," it refers to a flood of connections bringing down a single server. However, there is a range of ways a hacker can initiate a DDoS attack, and the ping of death lets them perform one with a single computer.

To do this, the hacker needs to find an old system connected to the internet. The system has to be so old that it was set up before the wide roll-out of the fourth version of the Internet Protocol (IPv4). This is because these older networks don't have proper ways to handle what happens when someone sends data larger than the packet maximum of 65,535 bytes.

Once the hacker finds one, they send a packet larger than the maximum size. A modern-day network will properly detect and handle this gigantic package, but a legacy system will buckle under its weight. This, in turn, can cause instability and crashes the network.

How Do You Protect Yourself From a Ping of Death?

If the above attack sounds worrying, don't panic just yet. There is a good chance you're already safe from it. All you need to do is ensure your computer and networking devices were designed and released after 1998, as devices made after this date are designed to withstand a ping of death.

Hopefully, the PC you're using at home isn't that old; in fact, you may struggle to imagine why anyone would still use such an ancient system. Believe it or not, there are still older devices and OSes that continue to chug along without having been upgraded. Perhaps owners have been worried that an upgrade might break everything they've already set up.

However, keeping a system stuck in the past means that it becomes outdated and open to security vulnerabilities. For example, take how ransomware attacks ravaged the NHS because they used Windows XP when 10 was readily available. The NHS seemingly dared not touch their already-running systems, which made them prime targets for hackers.

Companies need to choose between upgrading their systems and risk breaking everything or staying with their current setup and coming under attack. If they choose the latter for a very long time, it may just open them up to an attack like the ping of death.

The Ping of Death: A Threat You're Probably Already Safe From

A ping of death attack is just as easy to carry out as it is devastating; that is, if the hacker targets computers that believe Windows 98 is the hot new operating system. As long as your hardware hails from the 21st Century, you don't have anything to worry about.

Did you know you can also ping devices using your Android phone? There's a nice selection of apps you can use for the job.

Image Credit: Freeda Michaux /


Microsoft Teams Will Soon Save Your Eyeballs With a Better Dark Mode

If the words "light mode" are enough to make you wince in pain and rub your eyeballs, you'll be pleased to know that Microsoft is rolling out a dark mode for all its products. While Microsoft Teams already has a dark mode, Microsoft is making it even better in a future update.

Microsoft Teams' New Enhanced Dark Mode

The news on Microsoft Teams' new dark mode arrived on Windows Latest. While the existing dark mode does tone down all the bright whites, there are still elements on Teams that hurt to look at while you're working away at 3 am. For instance, some UI elements use a solid purple that isn't as forgiving on the eyes as the rest of the app.

The update will allow these colors to adapt to your chosen theme, which means dark mode users will get a more eye-friendly version of Team's harsher colors. The update will also feature rounded corners on icons and drop shadows and implement Microsoft's Fluent Design into Teams.

While we don't have a solid release date for the update right now, it's expected to drop in mid-February 2021. This is around the same time that the new Microsoft Teams PowerPoint Presenter view will arrive, so expect a big batch of updates for Teams around late January to mid-February 2021.

Come to the Dark Side, We Have Better Eyesight

If you dislike harsh, bright colors when using websites and apps, Microsoft Teams may have the update for you. Keep an eye out around mid-February when Microsoft Teams' dark mode gets a much-needed improvement.

You may already know that Windows 10 has its own built-in dark mode; however, did you know that you can customize it to turn on when it turns nighttime?

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Microsoft Is Fixing a Windows 10 Exploit That Attacks When You Look at It

Normally, a Windows 10 exploit or virus requires the user to run an infected program; however, what if someone could trigger an attack just by looking at a malicious file? The concept is more than science fiction, as Microsoft is working to patch an exploit that does just that.

Microsoft's Race to Fix a Nasty Exploit

News of this exploit came to light on The Verge. The exploit was found a week before the report by Twitter user @jonasLyk.

This exploit works because Windows 10 handles a particular string of text, numbers, and symbols. When Windows 10 detects this string, it trips a bug that tricks the operating system into thinking its hard drive is corrupted.

Someone abusing this trick doesn't need to do anything extraordinary. All they need to do is get you to see the string in some way. When you see it, your computer processes the string which trips the false corruption alert.

Someone can achieve this by sending you a ZIP folder with a file named after the string, or they can set up a shortcut that contains the string, which triggers the moment you look at the icon.

Fortunately, the bug doesn't destroy anything for good. It does cause Windows 10 to believe the drive is corrupted by marking a section as "dirty;" however, it doesn't actually damage the disk's data.

Once Windows 10 realizes what happened, it will prompt you to restart your computer. It will then perform a CHKDSK scan and fix the issue... most of the time.

In some cases, the user will have to do some manual fixes themselves to get their PC back in working order. Either way, the bug is believed not to cause any permanent corruption, and anyone who encounters the exploit won't lose data.

Microsoft's Response to the Exploit

Fortunately, Microsoft both knows about this bug and is actively fixing it. A Microsoft spokesperson said the following to The Verge:

We are aware of this issue and will provide an update in a future release. The use of this technique relies on social engineering and as always we encourage our customers to practice good computing habits online, including exercising caution when opening unknown files, or accepting file transfers.

For now, exercise caution when downloading unknown files to your PC; however, if you do fall prey to this tricky bug, your files should be safe and there should be no reason to panic.

A Sly Bug, but Not Very Harmful

Microsoft is fixing a new bug that causes a corruption warning when you look at a specific string. Fortunately, the bug does no lasting damage, and a fix should hopefully appear soon.

It's a great idea to get accustomed to tools like CHKDSK, even if this nasty bug never hits you. Knowing how to repair a corrupted Windows 10 PC can mean the difference between fixing a problem yourself and lugging your computer to the nearest repair shop.

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It’s About To Get a Lot Easier To Give Presentations on Microsoft Teams

While you can currently give a PowerPoint presentation on Microsoft Teams, it can be fiddly to do and is missing some great quality of life features. However, Microsoft is aiming to change that with an update that makes it easier to give a presentation on Teams.

What Microsoft Is Planning For Microsoft Teams Presentations

OnMSFT broke the news earlier after a Microsoft MVP spotted the update in the wild. This update contains the "PowerPoint Presenter view" which gives you more power over how your presentation goes.

You can currently host a PowerPoint presentation on Microsoft Teams, but its controls leave a lot to be desired. For example, the presenter cannot see the notes they've written for each slide.

Not only that, but you currently cannot change to a slide that's out of the pre-set order. This means that if you want to move back and forth between your slides, you'll find Microsoft Teams a pain to use. This goes double if you went through all the tips to prepare a professional PowerPoint presentation.

This isn't great for Microsoft, because Teams is now one of its biggest services. With the COVID-19 pandemic as strong as ever, people are flocking to Teams to give their presentations, from big businesses to small hobby groups.

Fortunately, Microsoft is aiming to fix all of these headaches using the PowerPoint Presenter view. When the update rolls out, you'll be able to see slide notes and hop between slides to your heart's content.

If you can't wait and need to get the advanced PowerPoint controls right this second, fear not. You can grab the update before its official release by signing up for Microsoft Team's public preview program.

Best of all, only the person presenting requires the update to give these enhanced presentations. As such, if you love to show off your PowerPoint slides over teams, it may be worth hopping on the train now.

If you can wait a little longer, the update should make its way onto the public channel in late January 2021.

Making It Easier To Give Presentations From Home

If you've used Microsoft Team's PowerPoint presentation service, you may have found it lacking in the features department. Fortunately, a new update to Teams is in the works, and it's not long now until you're giving a presentation like a pro.

Now that that's sorted, why not grab some nice PowerPoint templates for your next presentation? They can be a quick and effective way of making stylish slides.

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Microsoft Teams Will Soon Recap Your Meetings For You

Sometimes you have those meetings where a lot was said, but nothing managed to stick in your memory. If you need a recap after a meeting to remind yourself of its bigger points, Microsoft Teams will soon do all the heavy lifting for you.

Microsoft's Plans for Teams Recaps

You can see all the juicy details for yourself over on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap. The Roadmap is a really handy tool for checking out all the upcoming updates for Microsoft 365 products. In fact, we've only just reported on Microsoft's plans to bump OneDrive's file-sharing limit to 250GB thanks to a Roadmap entry.

This time around, we're taking a peek at Feature ID 68729, titled "Microsoft Teams: Meeting Recap." The description goes as follows:

Meeting recap will help teams stay on track and keep their work moving forward after the meeting is over. Coming this year, a recap with the meeting recording, transcript, chat, shared files and more will be shared with participants in the meeting Chat tab and viewable in the Details tab for each meeting.

It's interesting to note that Microsoft uses the phrase "coming this year," which semi-implies that the update is still a ways away. However, the release date listed on the feature pins it for a January 2021 release, which means it may come out a lot quicker than initially implied.

Moving From the Office to the Home

With COVID-19 still making the rounds, people have had to tough it out and work from home as much as possible. With the shift from the office to the home comes the challenge of trying to figure out how to be a hard-working professional when you're sitting in your armchair still in your pajamas.

Because the workplace has shifted from the office to the home, people may miss out on tools and services that they would otherwise enjoy if they were in a place of business. When someone realizes they don't have the same luxuries they did in the office, they may struggle to find a way to fill the gap.

Microsoft's plans for Teams appear to be bringing the much-needed productivity features into a work-from-home environment. That way, stay-at-home workers can benefit from professional-level services from the comfort of their living room.

This end-of-meeting recap will help people who aren't used to self-isolation when working at home to get all the information they need in the absence of printouts or one-to-one discussion. Hopefully, Microsoft will bring even more of these handy tools to Teams in the near future.

Bringing the Office Essentials Home With Microsoft Teams

With a lot of people now working from home, employees don't have access to the same tools they'd otherwise have in an office. Fortunately, Microsoft is working hard to ensure home workers have everything they need to stay productive.

If you're still not totally used to working from home, don't worry. There are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to turn your house into a productivity haven.

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