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By Usama Jawad96
Google starts enforcing offline experiences for installable PWAs in Chrome 89
by Usama Jawad
Google continually updates its Chrome browser to offer new features and enhancements to users. For example, a major change in Chrome 88 was that it featured better password protection. Apart from making customer-facing changes, the company also updates its software to make it easier for developers to offer new capabilities in the browser.
Now, Google has rolled out Chrome 89 in the stable channel. It contains multiple enhancements to the developer and, subsequently, user experience.
A major change in Chrome 89 is that Google has started warning developers to offer offline experiences with their installable Progress Web Apps (PWAs). Previously, developers were able to skirt this condition in some cases but now Google will be cautioning developers in DevTools in the Issues tab, and will begin enforcing it as a mandatory requirement of the PWA installability criteria from Chrome 93 later this year. This change does not affect developers who already offer offline experiences for their installable PWAs.
WebHID, WebNFC, and Web Serial have hit the stable channel on Chrome as well. These APIs allow website developers and hardware manufacturers to create engaging experiences between the two platforms with minimal lines of code. This also removes certain dependencies on driver updates and software installation when you get a new piece of hardware you'd like to link to a webpage on Chrome.
Another significant addition to Chrome 89 is the availability of Web Share and Web Share Target APIs for desktop. These enable users to share their content to other apps on the device. For example, a user will be able to share photos from Google Photos to Twitter. This capability was already available on mobile, but has now made its way to Chrome OS and Windows as well.
By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft quietly fixes weird Windows 10 drive corruption bug, but only in Insider build
by Usama Jawad
Last month, it was revealed that Windows 10 contains a weird bug in which the OS throws an error message that the drive is corrupted and that you should reboot the system, when a certain location is accessed via the Command Prompt or a browser. While Microsoft appears to have quietly fixed the issue in the latest Insider Preview build 21322, it still appears to be present in other versions of Windows 10.
Bleeping Computer reports that when you run the change directory "cd" command on the Command Prompt with a specific location, Windows warns that "The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable", recommending that you reboot the machine with chkdsk to fix the drive. This happens even when users with low privileges access the NTFS volume. Microsoft had previously stated that the corruption message is inaccurate and the drive isn't actually corrupted, but another report from OSR claims that in its testing, one instance of Windows 10 failed to reboot even after repeated chkdsk.
Microsoft has fixed the issue in its latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build 21322 pushed out a few days ago, and it does not allow users to access the problematic location as can be seen below:
Naturally, we tested accessing the location on our virtual machines powered by other, older versions of Windows too. On Windows Vista, the location in question is not accessible either:
However, when we tried to access the location via Command Prompt on an old machine with Windows 10 Pro version 1803 - which is an older version of the operating system that is no longer supported. True to reports, there is an error message that the "file or directory is corrupted and unreadable", and the system recommends that you close all apps, restart the PC, and repair drive errors to fix the issue:
In our case, Windows 10 fortunately did manage to reboot with chkdsk and did not get stuck in a loop. We expect other versions of Windows 10 prior to Insider build 21322 to behave in the same way, barring any serious anomalies:
It's a six-year-old PC! It is important to note that other vendors and companies are trying to block access to the problematic location from their end. Mozilla Firefox 85.0.1 has a check which disables access to locations with the ":$" symbol, while OSR has released an unofficial patch which disallows access to the path. That said, it is rather strange that Microsoft is not pushing out a hotfix for older versions of Windows 10. We have seen similar issues with other operating systems such as iOS in the past, and while they may not be dangerous in most cases, it is always worth fixing these issues to prevent viral pranks that can be a nuisance for PC owners who are not tech-savvy.
by Razvan Serea
Kodi (formerly known as XBMC), is an award-winning free and open source cross-platform software media player and entertainment hub for digital media for HTPCs (Home theater PCs). Its graphical user interface (GUI) allows the user to easily browse and view videos, photos, podcasts, and music from a hard-drive, optical disc, local network, and the internet using only a few buttons.
Kodi can be used to play almost all popular audio and video formats around. It was designed for network playback, so you can stream your multimedia from anywhere in the house or directly from the internet using practically any protocol available. Use your media as-is: Kodi can play CDs and DVDs directly from the disk or image file, almost all popular archive formats from your hard drive. Kodi will scan all of your media and create a personalized library complete with boxcovers, descriptions, and fanart. There are playlist and slideshow functions, a weather forecast feature and many audio visualizations. Once installed, your computer will become a fully functional multimedia jukebox.
Kodi 19.x "Matrix" - Release Candidate 1 changelog:
Not yet available but see https://github.com/xbmc/xbmc/compare/19.0b1-Matrix...19.0b2-Matrix Note: Kodi 19.0 changelog is not yet available.
Download: Kodi 19.0 (32-bit) | 62.1 MB (Open Source)
Download: Kodi 19.0 (64-bit) | 65.9 MB
Download: Windows Store
Links: Kodi Home Page | Kodi for Android
Get alerted to all of our Software updates on Twitter at @NeowinSoftware
By Usama Jawad96
The first preview of .NET 6 is now live: Here's what you need to know
by Usama Jawad
Microsoft announced .NET 5 a few months ago as the first step in the path to .NET unification. The goal is to have a single set of APIs, languages, and tools that you can utilize across multiple platforms. Today, the firm has unveiled the next stepping stone in this journey, which is .NET 6 Preview 1.
The first preview of .NET 6 brings with it a raft of new features and capabilities. However, first and foremost is that it enables the next bits of .NET unification. Under this plan, while you can use .NET SDK to build mobile apps in Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code, the size of the SDK will actually be smaller because mobile workloads are optional. This capability will be gradually rolled out with .NET 6 releases and will be complete in .NET 7.
With .NET 6, Microsoft is also leaning towards "open planning" so everyone is aware of the direction the company is headed in. This can be viewed in the Blazor-based app here which has multiple filters that allow you to see the plan most relevant to you.
Additionally, .NET 6 comes with a new Multi-platform App UI built on top of Xamarin. It is a toolkit that allows developers to get a consistent view of their apps across various platforms, also allowing them to share code. Microsoft states that the focus during .NET 6 releases will be performance, control themes, and "faster developer experiences". Preview 1 currently includes support for Android and iOS. Windows and macOS will be supported in future releases.
.NET 6 also includes support for developing Blazor desktop apps. This capability is primarily aimed at web developers who want to offer a feature-rich UI in offline desktop apps. Currently, Blazor desktop is being built for .NET apps, but Microsoft has stated that it can be used to build apps in other stacks like Swift as well. As can be ascertained, Blazor is built on top of the Multi-platform App UI, with focus being on providing performance similar to other desktop solutions.
Another project that the .NET is working on goes by the name of "fast inner loop". The aim of this initiative is to enable faster build time and to develop capabilities that allow developers to skip rebuilding altogether, and just integrate code edits in live processes.
With .NET 6, Microsoft is investing more in ARM64 support as well. Performance improvements are a key focus area in Preview 1, along with support for Windows Forms and Windows Presentation Framework (WPF). The development team also plans to add support for Windows Desktop app features in .NET 5 once it has enabled and tested them in .NET 6. With regards to Mac, initial support has been added for Apple Silicon ARM64 chips.
Microsoft also plans to improve containers in .NET 6. Multiple ways to do this include reducing container image size, enhancing the scalability of containers, adding support for Windows process-isolated containers, and optimizing performance, among many others. Based on the current Linux landscape and release strategy, Microsoft has stated that images for .NET 6 will be based on Alpine 3.13, Debian 11, and Ubuntu 20.04. Once the company begins to release new .NET 6 images, this base image version will not change. Debian 10, which has been used as the image in multiple past releases, will be retired.
The .NET command-line interface (CLI) also has a bunch of new experiences thanks to adoption of the System.CommandLine libraries. These include response files and Directives. Furthermore, math APIs and libraries have been added to .NET 6 too. It includes better support for Windows access control lists (ACLs) as well, with improvements to various relevant methods such as Semaphores and Mutex.
The .NET thread pool has been redesigned to enhance portability. It will be the standard for .NET releases going forward, and will allow applications to have access to the shared thread pool, regardless of their runtime.
A major part of .NET 6 Preview 1 is support for Apple Silicon. However, Microsoft has emphasized that this is currently in alpha stage. With this release, both ARM64 and x64 builds for macOS are being released. According to the company, this has been a major effort and as such, it does not plan to release ARM64 versions for earlier releases of .NET. Microsoft has also thanked Apple for all its support in bringing .NET 6 to Apple Silicon.
That said, there are still some issues with the current release on Apple Silicon. Debugging native .NET apps doesn't currently work for any Visual Studio product. Microsoft plans to add support for this in Preview 3. Other known issues include:
.NET has not been fully tested on Rosetta 2 emulation, but Microsoft has noted that this is a temporary bridge connected to ARM64 anyway, and will likely not be supported forever by Apple. The Redmond giant plans to support .NET on Macs on these older machines as long as Apple supports them.
As stated, another focus of this release is also performance improvements. As such, .NET 6 Preview 1 brings enhancements to single file apps, single-file signing on macOS, hardware-accelerated structs, and dynamic PGO. It also includes Crossgen2 - a new iteration of the initial Crossgen tool - which allows for easier code generation and cross-generation development. Currently, the SDK defaults to Crossgen, but will be moving to Crossgen2 in future preview releases.
.NET 6 will be officially released in November 2021, similar to how .NET 5.0 was released in the same timeframe last year. You can download .NET 6 by heading to this dedicated webpage and find out more details about it in the extensive blog post here. Microsoft has also stated that .NET 6 Preview 1 was tested on Visual Studio 16.9 Preview 4 and Visual Studio for Mac 8.9, so it is recommended that you use these configurations to test it for yourself.
By Abhay V
Google rolling out dark theme for Search on the desktop for some users
by Abhay Venkatesh
Google seems to be rolling out a new dark mode for Search on the desktop for some users. A new pop-up message suggesting that “Dark theme is now available has begun showing up for people, based on user posts on Twitter, which was corroborated by folks over at 9to5Google as well. The feature seems to also be showing up for users when accessing Google Search from the desktop in Incognito mode.
The prompt reportedly redirects users to a setting that lets them choose between light, dark, or system theme. This means that the search engine will adapt to the system theme settings on Windows and macOS, making it a much more streamlined option for those that prefer to switch between themes regularly. However, it is not clear if the rollout is part of an A/B test or an actual staggered release since the feature supposedly gets disabled for some users after a page refresh or when users navigate to image search.
This isn’t the first time that users have been able to spot dark mode for Search on the web. Back in May last year, the company was testing the theming option on mobile browsers via a hidden flag. Early this year, there were reports of a randomized test with an experience similar to what users are reporting today.
As for the theming option itself, the company is keeping the experience in line with its mobile apps, which means that the UI adapts a dark grey background color with white text. From the screenshots posted by users, it does not look like there are too many rough edges, although, the theme is applicable only to a few pages.
The addition of a dark theme for Search on the web will be a welcome addition for those that prefer the theming option, especially when working in dimly lit environments. It will be interesting to see if the Mountain View company expands the rollout of the feature soon or if this is another toe dip in the water to gauge reception from users.