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Do you think Microsoft Access have a long future or short future ahead?


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Is this Database software going to still have a long life, you think or will something better come along to replace it? I am talking about the next 3-5 years.

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Next 3 to 5 years? *shrug* 2013's supported till 2023 anyway, so even if they axe it it's not going anywhere any time soon.

 

That said, it's been around for ~22 years, I doubt it'll disappear.  It's a decent front-end tool if used for the right jobs, stupidly easy to design reports/forms/queries/etc, build web front-ends, etc, the built-in database engine itself I wouldn't use in an enterprisey situation (good for home/small projects though) but you can attach other data sources like SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL and such to it too.   A few alternatives like Libre's Base (free) or FileMaker (pricey) and the like are out there too, you got alternatives for this sort of thing.

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SQL Server has been attachable to Access since 1997 (Access 97) - however, truth be told, the only life for Access is where SQL Server/MySQL or other SQL-type databases haven't already replaced it.  Unsurprisingly, the biggest replacement for Access is Microsoft SQL Server, because of the one thing Access lacks - scalability, especially up.  Where Access has thrived is because SQL has, until recently, been unable to downscale - however, due to improvements in both MySQL and SQL Server Express, SQL databases can get as small as Access databases - and at either the same price or less (less if you don't own Office, due to SQL Server Express being free).  As to SQL being difficult to learn, don't be silly;  I found out that SQL Server is, by and large, actually *easier* to learn from a standing start than Access (and especially if you are familiar with - of all things - spreadsheets, such as Excel, VisiCalc, or even - don't laugh - 1-2-3).  What has SQL seeming difficult is that SQL databases CAN get supremely large - by large, I mean supercomputer (as in Cray TITAN) large.  However, while they can grow to overlarge sizes, they don't necessarily have to start there.  But due to the sheer size they can grow to, SQL databases was looked at as the ICBM of database software - using SQL on a small scale would be like swatting a fly - with a MADM (Medium Atomic Demolition Munition - which is a man-portable backpack nuclear warhead that can take small cities - or vital infrastructure - and turn them into so much irradiated territory - who wants to hold territory that glows in the dark?); overkill, basically.

 

In fact, the biggest use for SQL databases doesn't require knowing ANY code - and doesn't require Access (or any other front end, either).  The big use for SQL these days is (you should have heard this before) network administration (via Microsoft System Center Essentials or the full-up Microsoft System Center).  At the core is one or more SQL Server databases - none of which require writing any code.  (If someone would have told me that even five years ago, I would have said they were full of it - yet it's been doable since the original System Center - SEVEN years ago.  In other words, the only person "full of it" would have been me.)

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I don't think that sql would be a good replacement for access. For one the front end. Sql is great but it does require a bit of knowledge to get things going. Access you can open up and start going without knowledge of much or downloading multiple packages to get going. Access has the ability to create forms (think user front end or the system center front end to the sql back end). In access I was able to create a forms ui for my wife to enter in wedding guest names, numbers, and addresses to populate the database. Access has a bit to offer that sql lacks by itself.

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When I first started studying IT around 15 years ago there was much that was made about Access apparently dying but here we are 15 years later. I have a feeling that just like Filemaker it will keep hanging around as a quick and dirty solution when you want to get a database setup with minimum fuss and worry particularly in a small business environment. In terms of support it'll keep hanging around but don't expect anything major like being turned into a touch based application or something.

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Access will keep ticking along, but I would never use it for anything more than a simple database you could pull off in Excel O.o

 

If you are asking if it will work in 5 years, you should probably be considering using a proper tool anyway. My advice, like the above is MS SQL Express or SQLLite. Both are fantastic for slightly different things.

 

MySQL works too, but it's a pain in the ass sometimes >.>

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Access will keep ticking along, but I would never use it for anything more than a simple database you could pull off in Excel O.o

 

If you are asking if it will work in 5 years, you should probably be considering using a proper tool anyway. My advice, like the above is MS SQL Express or SQLLite. Both are fantastic for slightly different things.

 

MySQL works too, but it's a pain in the ass sometimes >.>

 

My impression is that with MySQL it gained ground because of its free status and well known but one of those situations where the most well known doesn't say anything positive about the quality of it as a product. Personally I prefer Postgresql, Firebirdsql and SQLite (for embedded scenarios) if I had to go for an open source solution sitting on a *NIX or *BSD. When it comes to commercial SQL offerings Microsoft does make the best in terms of price, performance and reliability - I'd also put Sybase up there as well particularly when you compare Sybase running on Solaris where it would out perform Oracle in terms of price performance in almost every test - cluster or a single image. Microsoft's own SQL runs the heart of Kiwibank (the bank I bank with) which has almost a million customers so it must be doing a pretty good job.

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MySQL gained traction because it was an excellent piece of software. It was cutting edge in dozens of ways and really drove SQL technology and database engines forward.

 

Then the things that normally happen with super powered Open Source software happened. The team driving it forward had a disagreement and split along the middle. Some of the team just straight up left, some started to attempt to block the proposed change and the entire thing started to slow down and fall apart.

 

Then the closed source tools screamed past as they had focus and were very well funded. MySQL got overtaken by MSSQL, and suddenly everyone else exploded onto the scene as well.

 

All in all, it's still fantastic in certain scenarios. We still use it for some of our projects and you can tune it's performance to a fine point. MSSQL is better when you don't have the time or ability to tune MySQL, even then it's very close in terms of performance.

 

I've always hated Postgre. It's well respected in some circles though, so obviously has its benefits. It's always a fun topic to discuss though :D

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For it's intended purpose, it is a very good tool.  It's not meant to serve the same use-case as SQLServer or MySQL.

 

However, it is misused a lot.  I think that misuse is going to go away, but it will continue to exist for its intended purpose - there are other things that you can now misuse which are more prevalent, and now that it is understood how Access is misused.

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Access also has Web Apps you can quickly turn your database into a web application accessible from any device its a great feature but who knows if it will be axed in the future wasting all those development hours.

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Without Access, where would everyone keep their video/dvd/cd/book libraries? :p

 

It is, and always has been, the king of small DB's, and really isn't going anywhere.  At worse, MS may eventually replace its Jet Engine with the same SQL engine they use for the free versions of Visual Studio, but its front end isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

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I highly doubt it's going anywhere anytime soon 

 

I work for a Dow top 30 company, and we use both Access and SQL Server, all depends on the project 

Also as long as it's an easy tool to use at the home and SMB level it will live on there also 

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Microsoft is still supporting and upgrading Microsoft Access, but their last release didn't provide much for new features related to desktop application development.  The changes Microsoft made to Access focused on adding Mobile development features.  Market share for Microsoft Access continues to decline as users move from desktop applications to mobile and tablet enabled applications and take advantage of cloud based solutions.  While this is true, I still foresee Microsoft continuing to support Microsoft Access for at least a decade if not longer, especially if they can also find a niche in the mobile and tablet world.

 

Microsoft Access has been a unique development environment for many years being that it is a true rapid application development (RAD) environment.  It has historically been a great tool to bring applications into production quickly and cheaply (when done right.)  Because it is easy to start using Access, it also tends to get a bad rap from developers that do not understand how to truly develop sound database solutions.

 

While it has always been great for rapid application development, the total cost of ownership of an Microsoft Access solution is also affected by the cost of maintenance.  Microsoft Access is not ideal when it comes to maintenance as it is difficult to find all code that may be affected by changes as it is not an object-oriented software development environment, and affected code can span VBA modules, queries, forms, reports, and external code in other Microsoft Office tools. 

 

Also of consideration, a lot of Microsoft Access development professionals have moved on to other development environments since the desktop is not the future for programming and because it's not easy to maintain your code like object-oriented solutions.  It's becoming harder and harder to find qualified Microsoft Access developers to support your software.  The labor market to support your software matters too.  It's getting more and more expensive to find Microsoft Access developers and those that are good at it are actually being paid premium rates because of their now special skills.  The labor market matters in the total cost of ownership of your software.

 

Another consideration is security.  Microsoft Access is NOT a secure development environment and protecting your data in an Access solution is very difficult to do right and even when done the best ways possibile, it's still not as secure as other options or custom code that is designed for security. 

 

For new development or as an optional RAD environment for robust applications, I would strongly suggest looking into Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a viable replacement for existing Microsoft Access application or new development that used to be ideal for Microsoft Access.  CRM is available onsite or in hosted environments at third-parties or through Microsoft Cloud Services.  The online offerings takes the burden of maintaining SQL Server and CRM off the business and provides a much more robust "backup" of your data than any Microsoft Access solution.  It also includes incredible out-of-the-box functionality allowing you to maintain client and account information online or via mobile or tablet based forms.  CRM is built to be easily customizable by properly indentifying the relationships between your data entities (like Access) but with the added benefit of having quick to build forms and reports based on your entity (table) relationships.  Security is built-in and users, teams and roles can easily be configured to limit access to information to only data that is allowed to be viewed.

 

If your Microsoft Access solution is primarily based on tracking contacts and accounts, CRM would be my first recomendation for an inexpensive solution to replace Microsoft Access-based code.  You'll get a well designed system that has been pre-tested and debugged and will work out of the box for tracking your contacts and accounts.

 

But CRM is not just for contacts and accounts.  It's actually what is referred to as an xRM development platform, where the x can be anything that has a relationship with other entities in your system.  CRM is built to be configurable and it's web and mobile functionality is built in.

 

Before you invest a lot of time or money into a new or aging Microsoft Access application, look into what you would get out of the box by using Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online solution instead.

 

-Eric Isaacs

Celedon Partners

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For it's intended purpose, it is a very good tool.  It's not meant to serve the same use-case as SQLServer or MySQL.

 

However, it is misused a lot.  I think that misuse is going to go away, but it will continue to exist for its intended purpose - there are other things that you can now misuse which are more prevalent, and now that it is understood how Access is misused.

Boy if that isn't the truth.

 

I used to work for a company that was part of a franchise system.  The franchisor (Who just decided one day they were going to offer IT services) designed an application that was designed to be NETWORKED entirely within Access.  Ignoring the $ 150 per month price tag for that software, it was garbage (For obvious reasons)....

I've used Access for projects in the past, but any time you're networking anything, or will have multiple users in the product, you really need a more robust solution such as SQL Server.

 

To chime in on the OP's question, I agree with the other posters on this.  I don't see Access going anywhere, but what I do see (hope) is that it becomes better understood what its strengths and weaknesses are.  It has some great strengths and uses, but it also has some significant weaknesses (Because there are some things it just wasn't designed for).

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I think MS Access will continue to have it's place somewhere between the spreadsheet (Excel) and SQL server.  It's still ideal for creating a small and portable database solution for data entry and simple reports, where the dataset is too large for spreadsheets.  I use Access for small business sales records and customer mailing lists, and for that purpose, it works great.

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At worst, they could fall like IBM, that doesn't mean IBM not still around.

They've evolved with the new CEO, and they have a chance to continue to be relevant in the future.

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I don't think that sql would be a good replacement for access. For one the front end. Sql is great but it does require a bit of knowledge to get things going. Access you can open up and start going without knowledge of much or downloading multiple packages to get going. Access has the ability to create forms (think user front end or the system center front end to the sql back end). In access I was able to create a forms ui for my wife to enter in wedding guest names, numbers, and addresses to populate the database. Access has a bit to offer that sql lacks by itself.

Remember, Access can still be the front end to a SQL database (it has, in fact, been the case for almost two decades) - the only reason that Access has persisted as the back end as well (in business) is that there was no zero-cost alternative (I'm referring to SMBs, of course). Now there is SQL Server Express - which itself is upscalable to the full SQL Server; the REAL problem is that there is no converter between Access and SQL - either from Microsoft or a third party. That means there is the nasty chore of re-writing the database itself.

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As a heavly invested MSAccess user and with Microsoft supporting it till 2023 - it is not going anywhere.

To be honest it is the only software product that Microsoft has produced that is still current today.

Code that was written back in MSAccess 95 with DAO still works today.

It is just a pitty it has a bad wrap in the market place.

If they could have only made the .accdb client server not file server out of the box with out doing anything - it would have dominated the world......

Instead they have focused on SQL and .Net which are great products.

Then Lightswitch came,  i thought was a serious MSAccess replacment, however they have dropped the ball here too.

So back to MSAccess, the only product that continues to work consitantly year after year......

 

To Redmond - the new MSAccess 2013 really has gone in thw wrong direction with Web Forms, it really does not work. If you could get the old forms to work in the cloud, with existing code and using the .accdb then you really have a game changing product. PS: A VBA update would be nice to use both VBA and VB.Net to hook into .net code libaries would also be awesome (which you can sort of do now).

 

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Is MS Access a good option for a 25 page Excel Pivot Table?    I need to make the pivot table accessible to customers and clients of a financial agency....   

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As a heavly invested MSAccess user and with Microsoft supporting it till 2023 - it is not going anywhere.

To be honest it is the only software product that Microsoft has produced that is still current today.

Code that was written back in MSAccess 95 with DAO still works today.

It is just a pitty it has a bad wrap in the market place.

If they could have only made the .accdb client server not file server out of the box with out doing anything - it would have dominated the world......

Instead they have focused on SQL and .Net which are great products.

Then Lightswitch came,  i thought was a serious MSAccess replacment, however they have dropped the ball here too.

So back to MSAccess, the only product that continues to work consitantly year after year......

 

To Redmond - the new MSAccess 2013 really has gone in thw wrong direction with Web Forms, it really does not work. If you could get the old forms to work in the cloud, with existing code and using the .accdb then you really have a game changing product. PS: A VBA update would be nice to use both VBA and VB.Net to hook into .net code libaries would also be awesome (which you can sort of do now).

 

And therein lies the rub - with anything - the "heavily invested".  Once you get to that point (or even think you're at that point), you're looking for reasons to stay put - not reasons to move forward.  How much of what you use Access for can translate to any other database - including SQL Server?  Yet the migration curve keeps folks with the status quo.  Unless you have no real choice, most businesses (from SMBs to enterprises) can't be pried away from whatever software they are using with a Caterpillar D-15 - staying put is too easy.

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Microsoft is still supporting and upgrading Microsoft Access, but their last release didn't provide much for new features related to desktop application development.  The changes Microsoft made to Access focused on adding Mobile development features.  Market share for Microsoft Access continues to decline as users move from desktop applications to mobile and tablet enabled applications and take advantage of cloud based solutions.  While this is true, I still foresee Microsoft continuing to support Microsoft Access for at least a decade if not longer, especially if they can also find a niche in the mobile and tablet world.

 

Microsoft Access has been a unique development environment for many years being that it is a true rapid application development (RAD) environment.  It has historically been a great tool to bring applications into production quickly and cheaply (when done right.)  Because it is easy to start using Access, it also tends to get a bad rap from developers that do not understand how to truly develop sound database solutions.

 

While it has always been great for rapid application development, the total cost of ownership of an Microsoft Access solution is also affected by the cost of maintenance.  Microsoft Access is not ideal when it comes to maintenance as it is difficult to find all code that may be affected by changes as it is not an object-oriented software development environment, and affected code can span VBA modules, queries, forms, reports, and external code in other Microsoft Office tools. 

 

Also of consideration, a lot of Microsoft Access development professionals have moved on to other development environments since the desktop is not the future for programming and because it's not easy to maintain your code like object-oriented solutions.  It's becoming harder and harder to find qualified Microsoft Access developers to support your software.  The labor market to support your software matters too.  It's getting more and more expensive to find Microsoft Access developers and those that are good at it are actually being paid premium rates because of their now special skills.  The labor market matters in the total cost of ownership of your software.

 

Another consideration is security.  Microsoft Access is NOT a secure development environment and protecting your data in an Access solution is very difficult to do right and even when done the best ways possibile, it's still not as secure as other options or custom code that is designed for security. 

 

For new development or as an optional RAD environment for robust applications, I would strongly suggest looking into Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a viable replacement for existing Microsoft Access application or new development that used to be ideal for Microsoft Access.  CRM is available onsite or in hosted environments at third-parties or through Microsoft Cloud Services.  The online offerings takes the burden of maintaining SQL Server and CRM off the business and provides a much more robust "backup" of your data than any Microsoft Access solution.  It also includes incredible out-of-the-box functionality allowing you to maintain client and account information online or via mobile or tablet based forms.  CRM is built to be easily customizable by properly indentifying the relationships between your data entities (like Access) but with the added benefit of having quick to build forms and reports based on your entity (table) relationships.  Security is built-in and users, teams and roles can easily be configured to limit access to information to only data that is allowed to be viewed.

 

If your Microsoft Access solution is primarily based on tracking contacts and accounts, CRM would be my first recomendation for an inexpensive solution to replace Microsoft Access-based code.  You'll get a well designed system that has been pre-tested and debugged and will work out of the box for tracking your contacts and accounts.

 

But CRM is not just for contacts and accounts.  It's actually what is referred to as an xRM development platform, where the x can be anything that has a relationship with other entities in your system.  CRM is built to be configurable and it's web and mobile functionality is built in.

 

Before you invest a lot of time or money into a new or aging Microsoft Access application, look into what you would get out of the box by using Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online solution instead.

 

-Eric Isaacs

Celedon Partners

And guess what Dynamics/CRM is largely built around? Dynamics/CRM - like every version of SQL Server itself going forward - has required less and less in the way of scutwork going forward as far as maintenance - for most uses nowadays, between wizards and templates, it mostly maintains itself.  (That is something that very few CRM products can do on any scale - what are most of the costs of SAP or Salesforce.com built around, for example?)

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Access will keep ticking along, but I would never use it for anything more than a simple database you could pull off in Excel O.o

Excel doesn't even come close to the functionality and database management functionality of Access.  Unfortunately there are a large number of folks who think that Excel and Access are similar - maybe because the tables in an Access database look similar to an Excel spreadsheet.  In reality, they have absolutely no similarities beyond that grid-like looking structure.  Access has the ability to create relationships between different tables - query creation using a form of SQL language, and of course the ability to design forms for viewing data from multiple tables and/or queries.  Excel is just a spreadsheet application.  I can't believe how many people think they have anything in common.

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      What do you think of Microsoft Teams' integration in Windows 11 right now? Have you had a pleasant experience so far? Do you see a use-case for it? Let us know in the comments section below!

      Take a look at the section here or select from the links below to continue exploring Windows 11 in our ongoing "Closer Look" series:

      Closer Look: Search in Windows 11 Closer Look: Widgets in Windows 11 Closer Look: Start menu in Windows 11 Closer Look: Snap Layouts and Snap Groups in Windows 11 Closer Look: Taskbar in Windows 11 Closer Look: Quick settings and notifications in Windows 11 Closer Look: Virtual Desktops in Windows 11 Closer Look: Power and battery settings in Windows 11 Closer Look: Default apps settings in Windows 11 Closer Look: File Explorer in Windows 11 Closer Look: Context menus in Windows 11
    • By anmol112
      Windows 11 is coming soon - here's what to expect, system requirements, and more
      by Anmol Mehrotra

      In June, Microsoft finally unveiled the much-anticipated Windows 11 update. It comes with an updated UI, and performance and productivity improvements. Microsoft also released the minimum system requirements for Windows 11 which includes Secure Boot and TPM 2.0 among other things. Following the announcement, Microsoft confirmed that it will start rolling out Windows 11 to existing Windows users from October 5.

      With Windows 11 around the corner, we will take a look at the new features, changes, as well as when can you get the new update. However, before that, we need to go through the system requirements as that caused quite a confusion when Microsoft introduced Windows 11 to the public.

      Windows 11 System Requirements
      Microsoft has always maintained a list of requirements to install Windows. Usually these are set in a way so almost every computer can run Windows without any major issues. However, that is changing with the introduction of Windows 11.

      Windows 11’s system requirements are complicated and will exclude a lot of old systems as Microsoft will not officially allow users to install and run Windows 11 on those systems. Of course, the company has left a loophole for tech enthusiasts to install Windows 11 on unsupported systems but that comes with a huge asterisk.

      Talking about the requirements, users will need the following hardware to qualify for Windows 11:

      1Ghz 64-bit dual-core processor 4GB RAM 64GB storage 9-inch display (1366x768 resolution) UEFI, Secure Boot & TPM 2.0 DirectX 12 compatible graphics / WDDM 2.x Microsoft has increased the storage requirement for Windows 11 to 64GB and the screen-size to 9-inches. However, the biggest change is the addition of Secure Boot and TPM 2.0. While most new systems ship with Secure Boot and TPM, there are still millions of computers that lack both the features. Not only that, but Microsoft has also released a list of CPUs that are required if you want to run Windows 11 on your system. So, in essence, even if you have Secure Boot and you buy a TPM module, if your processor is old and is not on Microsoft’s list, you are out of luck.

      Apart from these, Microsoft also has a couple of additional requirements for laptops. The company notes that laptops need to come with a webcam, Bluetooth and Precision Touchpad in order to qualify for Windows 11. Furthermore, the Redmond giant also wants external PCIe capable ports (like Thunderbolt) to support Memory Access Protection or Kernel DMA Protection (kDMA) and have it enabled/opted-in by default. Thankfully, these apply to new laptops, so you don’t need to throw away your old laptop if it is missing any of the aforementioned features.

      If you are concerned about the system requirements, then you can get Microsoft’s PC Health Check app that will let you know if meet the system requirements or not. In case your system does not meet the requirements, the tool will let you know which component is not compatible, giving you an easy option to upgrade and install Windows 11 at a later date.

      New Features and Changes
      Now that we have gone through the system requirements, let’s talk about the new features and changes that are coming with the Windows 11 update.

      New User Interface
      One of the major changes with the Windows 11 update is the new UI. Microsoft has completely revamped the interface and it looks more modern. With Windows 11, Microsoft is also embracing the rounded corners which is a treat for the eyes. Furthermore, the company has redesigned the context menus across the operating system. The new menus look refined and go well with overall Windows 11 visual design. You can take a deep dive into context menus with our closer look article on the topic.

      Taskbar and Start Menu
      The biggest change one will notice when they log in for the first time is the taskbar. Microsoft has improved the taskbar design which looks much more in line with the overall UI. Furthermore, Microsoft has moved the taskbar icons to the middle, which is one of the many design choices that were picked from the now-defunct Windows 10X. While Microsoft will allow users to move the taskbar icons to the left, the company has axed some of the taskbar features including the ability to move the taskbar to the left, right or the top of your screen, as well as the ability to adjust the taskbar height. Microsoft has also killed the taskbar context menu. You can read more about the Windows 11 taskbar in our dedicated article on the topic.



      Speaking of things that are killed off, Live Tiles are now gone. Microsoft has overhauled the Start Menu on Windows 11 and unfortunately, the Redmond giant’s plans for the future does not include Live Tiles. For better or worse, the start menu now consists of pinned apps as well as a recommendation section that suggests to you documents, and files based on your usage history. Microsoft has also added a search bar on the top of the Start Menu. Unfortunately, the search bar is still unreliable and shows search results from Bing sometimes. Lastly, Microsoft has also moved the all apps section to the top right of the Start Menu so you will no longer get the app list when you open the Start Menu. You can check out more about the Start Menu in our Closer Look section.



      Multitasking features and improvements
      At the Windows 11 launch, Microsoft made a huge deal about the multitasking features and improvements. The company highlighted several productivity features that will enhance the experience. One of the biggest multitasking improvements is the new snap layouts. You might be familiar with these if you have used Microsoft’s PowerToys in the past. Essentially, with Windows 11, Microsoft will give users pre-made layouts for when you want to snap two or more windows on the screen. Microsoft will also group snapped apps on the taskbar, so you don’t have to manually minimize and maximize each app. Instead, you can just click on the group to minimize or maximize the whole group. Unfortunately, Microsoft currently offers just a handful of options, so it is not a perfect replacement for PowerToys users. You can control/disable snap assist by navigating to Settings > System > Multitasking.



      Furthermore, Microsoft is also making improvements to the way Windows manages multi-monitor setups. With Windows 11, Microsoft will remember the layout on your external monitor and will arrange the windows when you plug your second monitor back. You can navigate to Settings > System > Display and check “Remember window locations based on monitor connection” and “Minimize windows when a monitor is disconnected” under the ‘Scale & layout’ to enable the feature. You can take a deep dive into multitasking features with our Closer Look article.



      Microsoft Store and Android Apps
      Windows 11 is also bringing a revamped Microsoft Store that takes UI inspiration from the rest of the operating system. The new Store app also comes with UI changes for better user experience. For instance, search now sits at the top-middle of the app while Microsoft has moved categories to the left side of the app.



      The individual app pages have received an overhaul as well. The new pages accommodate more information about the app on a single screen, reducing the need for scrolling down. The company has also moved the ratings, category, and screenshots to the top, so they are visible as soon as the page is loaded.



      Apart from the aesthetics, the new Store app also brings new features as well. Microsoft will now allow developers to host all kinds of apps on the Store. This means users can now download PWAs, Win32, Electron, etc. apps directly from the Microsoft Store.

      Saving best of the last, Windows 11 will also feature Android apps, courtesy of the Amazon app store. At the Windows 11 launch, Microsoft announced that it will be partnering with Amazon to bring Android apps to Windows 11. While, Microsoft has noted that Android apps will not be available at Windows 11 launch, the company says it is working on bringing support in the near future.

      File Explorer
      File Explorer is also getting some of that Windows 11 goodness as the Redmond giant brings it in line with the new visual update. The new design ditches the top ribbon in favour of quick action buttons. This is another attempt from Microsoft to help those on touch-based devices as it is easy to interact with big buttons, compared to small items the company had before on the top ribbon. The company, however, has added a new drop-down option at the top to accommodate all the ribbon options.



      File Explorer has also received a new right-click context menu which again matches the overall Windows 11 design. Here too, Microsoft has added quick action buttons to the top that give users easy access to cut, copy, and paste options. We have a dedicated article covering the finer details about the File Manager on Windows 11.



      Widgets
      Windows 11 will see a return of the widgets, albeit different from the ones we were used to seeing in Windows 7. Microsoft has added a new Widgets button on the taskbar which opens a pop-up window to the side giving users easy access to weather, traffic, stock market updates, sports, news headlines and more. Microsoft will be collating data based on user preferences and it will be pulled from MSN. The feature is an extension to the News and Interest option that Microsoft added to Windows 10 earlier this year. We have covered Windows 11 Widgets extensively before and you can check out our article on the topic for more information on Widgets and how they will work.



      Revamped Native apps
      Microsoft is also upgrading the native apps experience with Windows 11. The company has released updates for several native apps like the snipping tool, calculator, photos app and more. All the updates bring these apps in line with the Windows 11 with Microsoft’s design language, rounded corners, and support for dark mode. Microsoft is expected to upgrade all the remaining native apps in the future, providing a unified and clean experience to end users.



      Windows Settings and Personalization
      With Windows 11, settings and personalization is getting a massive bump. Microsoft has redesigned the settings app that now features headings on the left corner with sub-headings in the middle that expand to show the various settings and options. The new app also includes breadcrumbs so you can quickly jump between pages.



      The new UI includes updated options for different features and settings. Microsoft has also included a new battery page that gives more information and can be useful for laptop users. You can read more about power options and battery settings on Windows 11 in our Closer Look article. The company has also improved the way it shows related settings and has moved them at the bottom to accommodate more information. Windows 11 will also bring the following new shortcuts:

      Windows + A- Open quick settings Windows + N- Open notifications Windows + Z- Open snap layouts Windows + H- Open voice typing Shift + F10- Open the old right-click menu Moving on to personalization, Microsoft has added a couple of new personalization options to Windows 11. These include improved dark mode, new system themes, themes for on-screen touch keyboard and more.



      One of the major improvements is made to the new on-screen touch keyboard which now features a variety of themes, keyboard size and more. You can navigate to Settings > Personalization > Touch Keyboard to access the customization options.



      Microsoft Teams 2.0
      Microsoft is trying to take on both FaceTime and Zoom with Microsoft Teams as the company has added a Teams button on the taskbar. Microsoft says it wants people to use Microsoft Teams to communicate with both their colleagues and their families.

      While, the new Teams app is in early stages, it offers a variety of features such as inviting people to the chat, audio and video calls, groups and much more. Microsoft is expected to continue updating Teams long after Windows 11 has been released to the public so we may see new features and changes in the future. For now, you can check out our dedicated article covering Microsoft Teams in depth.



      General changes and improvements
      Apart from improvements to the specific features, Microsoft has also introduced general system-wide improvements to enhance the user experience. Rounded corners is one way Microsoft has improved the Windows 11 look and feel. The company has also introduced new animations that make the system feel snappier and gives a smooth experience to the user.

      Microsoft has made changes to the Action center which is now split into two parts - Quick settings and notification area. The notification area will show the latest notifications along with calendar while Quick settings will give users easy access to setting such as WiFi, Bluetooth, Brightness and more. You can check out our dedicated article for a deeper insight into the topic.



      The Windows Startup sound is also making a comeback on Windows 11. The startup sound is something that many veteran Windows users can relate to, and Microsoft has finally decided to include a brand new sound that is softer and has a new soothing melody.

      Lastly, Microsoft has also completely overhauled the setup UI. While the Windows installation UI remains the same as it has been since Windows 7, the company has completely changed the setup UI. The Windows 11 setup includes the same steps as Windows 10, but with nice round corners on an off-white background that will look familiar to anyone who has used macOS.



      Furthermore, Microsoft has improved the lock screen that looks a lot better with the new font and slight UI improvements. The most noticeable improvement here is the center alignment of the date and time.



      Features getting axed on Windows 11
      Unfortunately, Windows 11 is also taking away some of the features that are currently available in Windows 10. Below is the list of features that Microsoft is killing with the Windows 11 launch:

      Who can upgrade to Windows 11?
      While Microsoft has made Windows available to almost everyone who owns a PC, this time the company is narrowing the path so a lot of users will miss out on the update, at least via the "supported" upgrade path. For starters, Windows 11 will be a 64-bit only operating system so if your hardware does not support 64-bit operating system then you are out of luck.

      Secondly, the company has provided a comprehensive list of hardware requirements that one needs to meet in order to qualify for a Windows 11 update.

      Will Windows 11 be a free upgrade?
      Now on to the biggest question, will Windows 11 be available for free. In short, the update will be free for the existing Windows users. So, Windows 10 users who meet the minimum system requirements can upgrade to Windows 11 for free once the update is available. You can refer to the system requirements section in the beginning of the article to ensure your system meets the minimum requirements to upgrade to Windows 11.

      Those who are using old versions of Windows but meet the minimum requirements can upgrade to Windows 11 but may have to do a clean install as there no direct upgrade path available.

      How to upgrade to Windows 11?
      Microsoft will be releasing Windows 11 on October 5, post which Windows 10 users will start seeing the update. As with all updates, Microsoft will be seeding the update to a small subset of users before the broader public roll out.

      Microsoft has already seeded the RTM build to Windows Insiders in the Release Preview channel. So, if you are eager to upgrade to Windows 11, you can head to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Insider Program and enroll in the Release Preview Ring.

      For the rest, Windows 11 will start seeding on October 5. You can head to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Update and click on Check for Updates to download and install the Windows 11 update.



      Microsoft’s Windows 11 operating system is more than just a minor update as it introduces a brand-new modern UI that looks and feels much better when compared to Windows 10. Microsoft has taken a new route with Windows 11, giving users a fresh UI for both the operating system and the native Windows apps. Apart from the new UI, improvements made to Windows 11 will ensure that users get the best performance and experience.

      With Windows 11 coming soon, do you plan to upgrade your system to the latest offering from Microsoft? Let us know your thoughts by voting in the poll below and sounding off in the comments section.

      Poll
      Do you plan to upgrade to Windows 11?
      Yes No I want to but my PC does not qualify Mine qualifies but I'll stick with Windows 10 Submit VoteResults (146 Votes)
    • By Abhay V
      Microsoft Weekly: New Surface hardware, Windows 11 in Release Preview, and gaming
      by Abhay V

      It’s been an eventful week in the world of Microsoft. There is a new Windows 11 build for the Dev channel with a bunch of bug fixes, Release Preview Insiders received their first taste of Windows 11 in the way of an optional update to the new OS, the Redmond company announced a bunch of new Surface hardware bringing much-needed upgrades to most of the product line, and much more. Check all this out and more in our weekly Microsoft digest for the week of September 19 – September 25.

      Windows 11 in Release Preview, new Dev channel build, more


      As is now the case every week, there was a new Dev channel build. Build 22463 brought a bunch of bug fixes, including a fix for the issue that caused the taskbar icons to align incorrectly. While the branch from which new Dev channel builds are being served is not tied to a specific Windows 11 version, the firm has said that many fixes being made will also be brought to the Windows 11 version releasing next month. It does note that newer features for the Dev channel are a while away.

      As the OS begins to near its October 5 rollout date, Release Preview Insiders finally got their first taste of Windows 11, thanks to the rollout of build 22000.194. The rollout, just like how recent feature updates have been, is currently optional for eligible users. It will not be surprising to see mainstream users begin receiving the same build when the OS launches on October 5, with there being a few day-one updates bringing bug fixes. Considering that the rollout is staggered, not many eligible users will see the update on day one, which gives the firm time to polish the offering further before expanding the rollout. For those who want to perform a fresh install, the firm also released ISO images for this build.

      However, for those trying to install the new OS on unsupported hardware, the company is supposedly planning to get those users to sign an acknowledgment, agreeing that they are installing the OS with the knowledge that they might not receive critical security updates or support. There has been an ongoing discussion about whether the firm will serve updates to users running its latest OS on unsupported hardware. Talking about hardware compatibility, the firm also released the updated PC Health Check app for Insiders, bringing much-needed improvements to the Windows 11 compatibility checking tool.

      Continuing the topic of updates, Edge Dev users received their final Edge 95 build which brought the new Windows 11-style visual updates by default. As expected, some elements such as the Mica material are exclusive to those running the offering on Windows 11. Another significant addition was the ability to pick up PDF documents where users last left them.

      The Microsoft Teams desktop client is also slated to receive a new capability that will allow adding anonymous users to Teams meetings. This brings another way for users to conduct meetings with vendors or users from different organizations. The rollout of the feature is slated for October, as spotted on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap.

      Brand new Surface hardware
      Source: Microsoft Microsoft held its much-awaited hardware event this week, announcing a bunch of new hardware. The Surface Pro 8 brought the first major redesign for the 2-in-1 in over five years. The display is now a 13-inch unit that sports a 120Hz high refresh rate. The device sports two Thunderbolt 4 ports, making it the first Surface PC to support a Thunderbolt port. There is also a new Slim Pen 2 that brings haptic feedback and a new design. The stylus can is housed in the new carbon-fiber sporting Signature keyboard.

      As for internals, the device sports Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake chips and can be configured with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of removable SSD storage. The Surface Laptop Studio is available in "select markets" for an asking price starting at $1599.99.

      The Android-powered Surface Duo 2 also brings welcome improvements. These include slightly larger 5.8-inch displays that now curve into the hinge area, making for a glanceable notifications panel when the device is closed. There is now a new triple-camera array at the back, bringing ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto lenses, improving greatly on its predecessor. The phone also features support for the Surface Slim pen that can be magnetically attached to the back.

      Internals have also seen a significant upgrade, with the top-tier Snapdragon 888 SoC bringing 5G support. NFC is also being added. The Surface Duo 2 is priced at $1499.99 and is available for pre-order in select markets.

      The star of the show, however, was the Surface Laptop Studio, a new device in the Surface lineup that replaces the Surface Book brand. Unlike the Book’s detachable top section, the Laptop Studio features a swiveling display that can be placed in Laptop or Studio modes, mimicking devices like the Acer ConceptD Ezel laptops.

      The offering features Intel 11th-gen H35 chips and RTX graphics, making it the most powerful Surface device to date. Just like the Surface Pro 8, the Laptop Studio comes with a high refresh rate display and Thunderbolt 4 ports. The stepped design also allows for the Slim Pen 2 to be attached – and charged – magnetically under the keyboard deck. The laptop can be maxed out with 32GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD storage. The Surface Laptop Studio is available for “select markets" for an asking price starting at $1599.99.

      There were a few minor upgrades to some devices as well. The Surface Go 3 was updated with new Intel chips, with the tablet now available with a 10th-gen Core i3 processor. The ARM-powered Surface Pro X, on the other hand, can now be had in Wifi-only flavor for a lower asking price. There were also new peripherals like the Ocean Plastic Mouse made from 20% recycled ocean plastic.

      Halo Infinite preview, Sea of Thieves Season Four, and more
      Starting off this week’s gaming news is – unsurprisingly – Halo Infinite. As announced earlier this week, 343 Industries opened the next round of technical tests for its upcoming title. The first weekend of the double Technical Preview drop this week brings access to player versus player Arena from the get-go, including Bot Arena from the previous flights. However, Social Arena playlist opens matchmaking only at pre-set times to stress test the servers. You can find the schedule in the news article here.

      The first preview closes on Tuesday, the 27th of September, and opens back up on Friday, October 1. The second drop will contain the overhauled 12 versus 12 Big Team Battle (BTB) mode. It must be noted that Bot Arena, Training Mode, Weapon Drills, and Battle Pass elements are accessible through both weekends.

      Moving on, Rare announced this week the next major content update for Sea of Thieves, Season Four, which began rolling out on September 23. The update takes players under the waves this time around, bringing new undersea adventures such as new Siren Shrine and Siren Treasury destinations. The studio is also introducing a treasure storage method to transport entire loot stacks from the bottom of the sea to save players from taking multiple trips to transport their loot. The new season also brings 100-level battle pass levels to climb for free and a refreshed premium Plunder Pas.

      Those waiting for Alan Wake Remastered were also treated to a comparison trailer showing off the visual upgrades made to the title against the original Xbox 360 version. Unsurprisingly, there is higher resolution rendering, accompanied by better textures, lighting, and more. The title launches on October 5, 2021, and features the base game and The Signal and The Writer story expansions.

      Rounding off gaming news this week are the Deals with Gold discounts. Titles from the Assassin’s Creed, Halo, Forza, and Star Wars franchises are receiving major discounts. However, some discounts noted in the piece are exclusive to Xbox Live Gold members.

      Lastly, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One September update was announced this week. The release notes mention the recently announced support for Remote Play and cloud gaming on PC via the updated Xbox app. The update also brings an update to the new Chromium-based Edge browser to improve performance and more.

      Dev channel
      Chrome 94 launches on Windows with controversial idle detection API Xbox 360 Gamerpics available for select Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S users VaxApp is a new Microsoft Teams app to help organizations manage vaccination attestation Microsoft and SSE form a partnership to make energy more sustainable Latest Chrome and Edge updates fix critical memory UAF security vulnerability Logging off
      We continue with the Closer Look series where we provide a detailed view of the various new components in Windows 11, a comparison of the equivalent feature in Windows 11 – where applicable, and a run-down of the good and the bad. This week, we looked at not one but two areas of the OS – the new File Explorer and the updated Context menus. Check out our complete comparison and let us know your thoughts.

      Missed any of the previous columns? Check them all out at this link.



      If you’d like to get a daily digest of news from Neowin, we have a Newsletter you can sign up to either via the ‘Get our newsletter’ widget in the sidebar, or through this link.

    • By hellowalkman
      Latest Chrome and Edge stable channel builds fix critical memory UAF security vulnerability
      by Sayan Sen

      Microsoft and Google have both released new Stable Channel Builds that patch a critical Chromium-based Use-After-Free (UAF) vulnerability which could allow attackers to execute arbitrary code upon successful exploitation. For Edge, it is version 94.0.992.31, while for Google Chrome, it is version 94.0.4606.61. The new builds are based on Chromium version 94.0.4606.54.

      The vulnerability has been assigned the ID "CVE-2021-37973" and the flaw was discovered by a Google Security engineer Clément Lecigne with assistance from Sergei Glazunov and Mark Brand, among others.

      Google states it found the UAF vulnerability in its Portals feature and according to CERT, "a remote attacker could exploit this vulnerability to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service condition on the system".

      Use-After-Free is a security flaw that occurs when a program or application fails to properly manage the memory pointer after a dynamic memory portion has been freed, which in turn can lead to code execution by an attacker.

      A pointer stores data related to a certain address of the memory that is being used by the application. But dynamic memory is constantly flushed and reallocated for use by different apps. However, if that pointer is not set to null once its corresponding memory space has been freed or unallocated, attackers can successfully exploit that pointer data to gain access to that same memory portion to now pass arbitrary malicious code. This is why the vulnerability is named Use-After-Free.

      It has been assured however that both Edge 94.0.992.31 and Chrome 94.0.4606.61 have patched this critical memory-based security flaw and it is probably recommended that users update their browsers to these versions.

    • By Asher Madan
      Alan Wake Remastered comparison trailer reveals significant visual upgrades
      by Asher Madan

      Today, Remedy Entertainment revealed a detailed comparison between Alan Wake Remastered and the original Xbox 360 version. As evidenced by the trailer posted below, the game not only receives higher resolution rendering, but also adds better textures, lighting, and advanced features like reflections.

      This is the first time the title will be available on PlayStation systems, with PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 getting the enhanced version. It's also coming to PC and Xbox. Luckily, the wait isn't too long because it's launching on October 5, 2021.

      Alan Wake focuses on the titular character as he battles shadow-like creatures using his flashlight — and guns — as weapons. The game is regarded as a cult classic nowadays and it's beloved on PC and Xbox platforms.

      Alan Wake Remastered features the base game and The Signal and The Writer story expansions. There's also going to be developer commentary track by the game's Creative Director Sam Lake.