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Windows 10 build 21376 is now available with a new font and other improvements
by João Carrasqueira
Following on last week's release of build 21370, Microsoft is sticking to a Thursday release for this week's Windows 10 build in the Dev channel, build 21376. Like the past few releases, this one is from the co_release branch, which would usually indicate that Microsoft may be getting ready to wrap up development on the next feature update for Windows 10.
This build is fairly light on news, but it does include a new Segoe UI Variable font, which is designed to scale better across different display sizes, specifically larger ones. The original Segoe UI font was designed to optimal at 9pt sizes, but this variant should adapt better to different displays.
Not every part of the UI will be using Segoe UI Variable right away, though, so you may not see changes in all elements of the OS.
Aside from that, the build mostly consists of smaller improvements, including a new icon for the Connect app. Here's what else is new:
The focus right now seems to be on bug fixes, and there's a lengthy list of them to look forward to in this build. Here's everything that's been fixed:
As Microsoft moves to focus on stability, the list of known issues keeps shrinking, and this time it's the smallest we've seen in quite a while. Here's what you need to be aware of before installing this one:
Since builds in the Dev channel are no longer tied to a specific Windows 10 feature update, it's hard to say when general users may be able to try out the improvements made in the past few builds. The next feature update, version 21H1, is a simple enablement package without much in the way of new features. We're expecting to see a more significant update in the second half of the year, though, and it could include some of these changes, but that remains to be seen.
By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft warns of widespread gift card scam targeting organizations
by Usama Jawad
Multiple types of security threats exist today including cryptojacking, malware, ransomware, phishing and more. Many of them use emails as attack vectors to lure in targets into sharing personal information or tricking them into installing malicious software on their devices. Today, Microsoft has issued an advisory against a widespread gift card scam that is targeting organizations.
Image via Shutterstock Attackers are utilizing business email compromise (BEC), which is a phishing technique to get access to business information or to steal money. In this particular campaign, attackers are targeting various industries including real estate, consumer goods, agriculture, and more by using typosquatted domains to trick recipients into thinking that they legitimately come from people they know.
Microsoft has outlined a classical example of a BEC gift card scam where an executive assistant receives an email from their boss saying that they want to reward their employees for their efforts during the pandemic, so the executive should immediately buy some gift cards and respond to the email with the codes so they can be shared among the team. The assistant does so, and eventually finds out that their boss never sent the email in the first place.
That said, Microsoft notes that the attack mechanism is not as simple as it appears. Attackers typically conduct detailed reconnaissance activities about the person they are impersonating, their target, and the company in general. Message headers occasionally contain a false "Re:" to indicate a prior conversation as well as typosquatted domains in reference headers that appear legitimate at first glance. Meanwhile, message bodies sometimes directly address the target with demands, and at other times they begin with small talk with a hint that they have a task for the target - the task being purchasing gift cards or making wire transfers for whatever reason. An example can be seen below:
Image via Microsoft Microsoft noted that after a successful attack, impersonators typically visit websites which allow them to convert gift card codes to cryptocurrencies or other foreign currencies untraceably. The chances that this is part of a coordinated campaign is high considering that Microsoft observed impersonation of 120 organizations using typosquatted domains which were registered just a few days prior to attacks. The company went on to say that:
As usual, Microsoft has recommended that organizations use Microsoft Defender for Office 365 which can detect potential attacks, identify user and domain impersonation, and increase aware among employees, among other things.
By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft customers in the EU will be able to store all their data in the region by 2022
by Usama Jawad
Microsoft has announced a new initiative called the EU Data Boundary for the Microsoft Cloud, through which it aims to enable EU customers to store all their data in the region by 2022. As the name suggests, the plan applies to all of the company's core cloud services, namely Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Azure.
Microsoft states that this will bring greater peace of mind to customers who want data residency and localization commitments. It will continue working with these organizations as well as regulators to ensure that its engineering efforts to implement this change are completed by the end of 2022.
The Redmond tech firm says that most of its online services allow users to select the geographical locations for data storage, but in the coming months, it will be further enhancing them to reduce data transfer outside of the EU. However, customers will still have the ability to utilize enhancements to services that make use of resources that lie outside the EU.
Microsoft has emphasized that new EU customers do not need to wait to use its cloud services, because even without this initiative, its services already follow the guidelines enforced by the EU. With respect to European regulations, the company went on to say that:
The firm has clearly indicated that it will not give the US government, or any other government, access to European data, and will redirect all such requests to the customers. Where possible, it will take the matter to court and will notify the customer unless it is prohibited by law to do so. Similarly, if any customer data is disclosed in violation of GDPR, the company will financially compensate the affected customer.
Although Microsoft has assessed from its perspective the engineering and technical effort required to implement these changes, it says that it will continue consulting with customers and regulators about potential adjustments that may be needed in exceptional circumstances.
By Usama Jawad96
New customization options are available for Reply-all Storm Protection in Microsoft 365
by Usama Jawad
"Reply all" email storms are somewhat amusing to watch from a distance due to the fact that they break the daily workflow mundaneness as people commonly inject jokes and other forms of humor into online exchanges. But they can also be a nuisance, especially in large organizations. There have been multiple reported instances where distribution lists containing hundreds of thousands of people have been part of an email chain where millions of emails have been exchanged for several hours.
To combat this problem, Microsoft released Reply-all Storm Protection back in 2020 for Microsoft 365 users utilizing Exchange Online. Today, the company has enabled new customization options for the feature.
Reply-all Storm Protection automatically detects email storms for Microsoft 365 users and once that is done, automatically blocks reply-alls for a fixed period of time. While previously, some values required by the capability were hard-coded, Microsoft has made new customization options available today. It has also changed default values based on customer telemetry. You can view a comparison between the previous configuration and the modifications to it below.
Setting Previous Default New Default New Customization Options Enabled/disabled Enabled Enabled Enabled or Disabled Minimum number of recipients 5000 2500 1000 to 5000 Minimum number of reply-alls 10 10 5 to 20 Detection time sliding window 60 minutes 60 minutes 60 minutes (not customizable) Block duration (once detected) 4 hours 6 hours 1 to 12 hours The firm has also outlined commands for the Set-TransportConfig Remote PowerShell cmdlet that IT admins can use to configure these settings as per their organization's preference.
Microsoft has stated that the update is rolling out right now and should be available to all Microsoft 365 customers by mid-June. Future updates planned for the capability include insights, reports, and optional notifications. Depending upon feedback and interest, the company made also make these customization options available directly in the Exchange Admin Center.
New Windows 10 concept shows us a new Start menu and flyouts
by João Carrasqueira
Over the years, there's been no shortage of user-created concepts that try to depict what Windows 10 could look like, and that partly happens due to the number of inconsistencies across the OS, and how long it usually takes for changes to be made. A few weeks ago, a Reddit user focused on the File Explorer, but today, we have a new concept from Twitter user vGLAD, whose concept design is called Project Acrylic and focused on the Start menu and a couple of system flyouts.
Starting with (of course) the Start menu, we can see that the concept has it undocked from the taskbar and using rounded corners, something we're already expecting based on Sun Valley leaks from earlier in the year. However, there's a lot more going on here, starting with the dual-tone look thanks to the left-side pane using Acrylic transparency effects and the main area being a solid color. The All Apps list has been removed in favor of quick shortcuts to user folders and also some system settings like Disk Management, personalization, and connected devices.
Tiles are also done away with, and instead, a set of commonly-used apps and websites headlines the right-side section of the Start Menu, similar to how the Windows 10X Start menu looks in the preview builds we've had access to. However, below that you'll see Quick Access, which is usually a page in File Explorer, now more readily available. Users can pin folders and documents to this area, too. At the bottom, a button can take the user to the All Apps list.
You can also see the File Explorer in this screenshot, but it's not a big focus for this concept. It features a dual-tone design similar to the Start menu, and the ribbon has been removed, with core actions like renaming or deleting a file having new shortcuts near the top right corner. Some of the icons have also been redone.
Moving on to the next image, the concept focuses on the volume flyout and a new 'Devices' flyout, too. Both also use rounded corners, along with Acrylic transparency and solid colors to help highlight certain UI elements, and offer quick access to certain controls. In this image, you can also see updated icons and spacing for the system tray icons.
The sound flyout allows users to switch input and output devices on the fly and control music playback directly from the flyout, while the devices flyout offers a quick overview of devices plugged into the PC or connected wirelessly, with shortcuts to manage their files in the File Explorer.
The concept has garnered praise by other Twitter users, but of course, it's unlikely Microsoft will implement these concepts anytime soon. Microsoft has made some notable changes to the design in Windows 10 builds in the Dev channel, but they aren't this thorough, and they may take a while to be available to the general audience.