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Nextcloud-led coalition complains to the EU about Microsoft stifling competition
by Paul Hill
The cloud storage company, Nextcloud, is leading a coalition against Microsoft in the European Union over what it claims to be anti-competitive behaviour. To back up its claims, it has assembled a coalition of organisations who would also benefit from the action including Tutanota, OnlyOffice, Free Software Foundation Europe, The Document Foundation, European Digital SME Alliance, and many, many more.
According to the coalition, Microsoft is more deeply integrating its 365 services into Windows, for example, OneDrive and Teams ship by default and pushes people to use them. The coalition believes that actions like this make it impossible for them and other smaller firms to compete so it wants the EU to do something about it. Over the years, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have grown their European market share to 66% while local providers declined from 26% to 16%.
The coalition has two demands for the EU, it wants Microsoft to be prevented from bundling, pre-installing, or pushing Microsoft services so others can compete on platforms like Windows and it wants more open standards so that users can seamlessly switch between software solutions rather than being forced to pick, for example, Microsoft Office.
To help its argument, the coalition commented on how the situation today is similar to the 1990s when Microsoft bundled Internet Explorer with Windows to compete against Netscape and also accused other tech firms, like Google and Amazon, of doing the same thing.
The European Union does come down quite hard on big tech from time to time, however, it’s unclear what will happen in this situation. If Microsoft, Google, and others were disallowed from bundling their software in their operating systems, that would be one of the biggest changes we’re ever likely to see.
By Usama Jawad96
Guide: What is Super Duper Secure Mode in Microsoft Edge and how to enable it
by Usama Jawad
Back in August, Microsoft Edge's Vulnerability Research Lead Jonathan Norman revealed that his team is working on a "Super Duper Secure Mode" - that I'll mostly refer to as "SDSM" following this instance for brevity - for Microsoft Edge. With the release of Edge 96.0.1054.29 to the Stable channel, this feature has been quietly added to the browser and is now available for the general public to enable.
What is Super Duper Secure Mode?
But before we go on with how to enable SDSM, it's probably wiser to know what it actually is. Norman has explained it in considerable detail in his blog post here but for the benefit of our readers, we'll summarize some of the key points. That said, if you want to dive into the nitty gritty details, do check out the aforementioned blog post.
As such, what Microsoft is proposing that JIT be disabled completely in Edge via SDSM. The company has emphasized that a lot of security processes such as Intel's hardware-based mitigation called "Controlflow-Enforcement Technology" (CET) cannot be enabled. Arbitrary Code Guard (ACG) suffers the same fate as well. Disabling JIT would mean that these mitigations can now be applied and that the attack surface is reduced. Microsoft claims that roughly 50% of the V8 bugs that need to be patched would be left as-is and consumers won't be bothered by frequent patches and updates.
How to enable Super Duper Secure Mode in Microsoft Edge?
If the added security benefits at the cost of slightly degraded performance intrigue you, you would likely want to know more about how to enable SDSM in Microsoft Edge. Fortunately, this is a straightforward process, and you can check it out below.
Ensure that you are on Microsoft Edge version 96. You can click on the three-dotted menu on the top-right corner and then navigate to Help and feedback > About Microsoft Edge to check your browser version or trigger an update. The dedicated page can seen below. Go the to the Security page (utilize the search bar in the left pane or, alternatively, navigate to Privacy, search, and services) and scroll down to the bottom where you'll see an option called Enable security mitigations for a more secure browser experience. Enable the toggle shown in the screenshot below. Once you enable this, you will see two options, namely Balanced and Strict. Fortunately, Microsoft has noted the differences between the both the choices clearly and briefly. The former will apply to sites you rarely visit while the latter will apply to all sites. Microsoft has also cautioned that enabling either of the options may also result in portions of a website not working, so bear that in mind. You also have an Exceptions option at the bottom through which you can effectively add your trusted sites where you want JIT to work as usual. This information can be seen in the screenshot below as well. Disabling JIT via Edge's SDSM is certainly an interesting experiment. While Microsoft is not enabling it by default in its browser, that is probably the ultimate goal. We will also have to wait and see if other browser vendors follow suit, but that is likely dependent on consumer feedback. As of now, SDSM in Edge is mostly an experiment and Microsoft is looking to enhance it further.
What are your thoughts on Microsoft Edge's Super Duper Secure Mode and JIT compilation in general? Have you enabled SDSM in Edge on your machine? Let us know in the comments section below!
AV-TEST confirms Windows Defender is amongst the very finest antiviruses you get in 2021
by Sayan Sen
via AV-TEST (Twitter) AV-TEST, the IT Security research institute based in Germany, released its October 2021 best anti-virus programs assessment report for Windows 10 home users. In this report, the organization took a look at 21 different anti-malware programs from various companies and the test also included Microsoft's Windows Defender.
Very much to the delight of Microsoft surely, Windows Defender has scored very highly in this assessment. In fact, it is one of the very best available today scoring the full 18 points available. Hence it has received the "AV-TEST TOP PRODUCT" certification as it has scored higher than 17.5 points in total.
However, it is not alone at the top and other security programs like Avira, AVAST, AVG, Bitdefender, ESET, and others, have also received this seal of approval. The remainder of the products have scored below 17.5 points and have hence received the "AV-TEST Certified" badge.
The full score of 18 points in the test constitutes three categories of a maximum of six points each. These categories are:
Protection Performance Usability The image below shows how each of the 21 tested anti-virus programs has scored in the three categories differentiated by shades of blue:
You can find the full test report for October 2021 here.
Image via AV-TEST (Twitter)
By Usama Jawad96
Developers can now download a Windows 11 Enterprise virtual machine from Microsoft
by Usama Jawad
Windows 11 started rolling out almost two months ago, but due to the fact that it's being made available in a staggered manner with some pretty strict system requirements, not everyone has received it yet. That said, many use-cases including those related to software development require developers to test their apps on the latest version of Microsoft's operating system in order to ensure that performance and functionalities work as expected. To cater to this audience, Microsoft has now rolled out a virtual machine running Windows 11 Enterprise for evaluation purposes.
There are four download options available depending upon which virtualization software you are using and include VMWare, Hyper-V, VirtualBox, and Parallels. The machine includes the following software pre-installed:
The download for the Windows 11 Enterprise machine weighs in at 20GB and expires on January 9, 2022. As pointed out by ZDNet, the dedicated download page is incorrectly titled "Get a Windows 10 development environment" even though the files included pack Windows 11 Enterprise. Check it out here.
By Steven P.
The Surface Headphones 2 are almost $90 off today
by Steven Parker
Microsoft announced the Surface Headphones 2 back in May 2020, they come in two colors, Light Gray and Matte Black and cost $249.99. However, thanks to the Black Friday week of deals galore, you can save 35% off and get them for $162.49, that's a saving of $87.50.
As a reminder, and like the original Surface Headphones, they support 13 levels of active noise cancelation, which can be adjusted by a dial on the side. Noise cancelation levels remain the same, with up to 30dB for active noise cancelation and up to 40dB for passive noise cancelation.
There's also a dial for controlling the volume, and you can use the Headphones 2 to access Cortana, skip tracks, play or pause music, and so on.
Microsoft promises up to 20 hours of battery life, even with ANC on. With the original Surface Headphones, battery life was 15 hours with ANC on and 18 hours with it off.
You can add a Protection Plan from $15.99 (2 Years) and this qualifies for free delivery and returns, but as this is part of the holiday season sales, returns are limited to January 31st 2022. See details for return and warranty on the page.
Get the Surface Headphones 2 for $162.49 at Amazon
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