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    • By Usama Jawad96
      Microsoft Weekly: Defender for the win, trouble with Nextcloud, and ARM exclusivity
      by Usama Jawad

      As we approach the end of the week, now is the time to catch up on all the Microsoft news you may missed in the past few days. Although it's been a relatively slow week due to the holidays in the United States, there are still significant news stories you might want to read up on. Let's dive into our weekly digest for the week of November 21 - November 26.

      Microsoft Defender for the win

      German IT Security research institute AV-TEST released its ratings for the best anti-virus software for Windows 10 Home users, ranking them based on metrics like performance, usability, and protection. Microsoft Defender secured all 18 of the available points to join the ranks of other solutions such as Avira, AVAST, AVG, Bitdefender, ESET, and received the "AV-TEST TOP PRODUCT" certification. You can check out more details about the results here.

      In related news, a bunch of anti-virus solutions including Microsoft Defender have started flagging UserBenchmark, a freeware benchmarking tool as malware. It's not exactly clear yet whether this is a false positive or something else, but do keep an eye out in case you utilize it.

      While we are on this topic, Microsoft is receiving backlash from the security community for apparently lowering its bug bounty rewards, even for high criticality issues. In some cases, this has led to security researchers publicly exposing zero-days out of sheer frustration. This is definitely something that the Redmond tech giant will want to keep an eye out considering public exposure without coordination with the software vendor can cause problems for potentially millions of users.

      Trouble with Nextcloud in the EU

      Microsoft seems to have found itself in a bit of bother at the European Union (EU). This is due to a Nextcloud-led coalition that has filed a complaint against the Redmond tech firm for anti-competitive behavior. Other notable members of the coalition include Tutanota, OnlyOffice, Free Software Foundation Europe, The Document Foundation, and European Digital SME Alliance.

      Together, these parties claim that Microsoft is bundling its 365 services such as OneDrive and Teams natively into Windows and is shipping the OS with them installed by default. According to the group, this pushes users to Microsoft's bundled software rather than third-party alternatives. As of now, the challenging party's demands include Microsoft unbundling its software from Windows and adopting open standards that makes it easier for users to switch software. The issue is still evolving so do keep an eye out on our coverage.

      In related news, the German state of Schleswig-Holstein has announced that it is shifting 25,000 government machines running Windows to open-source alternatives like Linux by the end of 2026. This will be a multi-step process initially involving migrating to LibreOffice from Microsoft Office, and then switching to Linux entirely. One of the reasons being cited for this massive transition is licensing costs. It is important to note that Munich city attempted the same a few years ago but the experiment eventually failed, with the government going back to Windows in 2015.

      ARM exclusivity and Windows updates

      If you were wondering why Qualcomm is the only company making chipsets for Windows on ARM PCs, wonder no further. It appears that Microsoft has an exclusivity deal in place regarding Windows on ARM with Qualcomm, which is why we have not seen hardware from other competing firms yet. That said, it has been reported that this deal is set to expire soon and MediaTek has already shown interest in developing processors for the Windows SKU.

      In other news, it's been a relatively quiet week in the world of Windows updates too, mostly due to the aforementioned holidays in the U.S. Windows 10 did receive an optional KB5007253 update that fixes a bunch of issues related to remote printers, a 32-bit Excel bug, and more. Meanwhile, Windows 11 also received an optional 22000.348 November Update release. The most notable front-facing change here is the inclusion of new Fluent 2D emoji and a bunch of other behind-the-scenes updates that you can check out here.

      We also heard back from the creator of APK sideloading app WSATools, who shared that his app was removed from the Microsoft Store for Windows 11 because it did not clearly note the requirements and it also contains the name "WSA" which is seemingly an official branding that Microsoft is using for Windows Subsystem on Android. You can check out more details on this topic here.

      Dev Channel

      Microsoft Flight Simulator players can now buy the PMDG DC-6 Microsoft has announced plans to create a new datacenter region in Belgium A virtual machine running an evaluation copy of Windows 11 Enterprise can now be downloaded by developers, courtesy of Microsoft Some Halo Infinite cutscenes have leaked online (spoilers alert), so do browse safely Under the spotlight
      After talking about the top five features I love about Windows 11 the week before, this time I went in the opposite direction and discussed the five features I absolutely hate. That said, it is important to note that both the lists are based completely on personal preferences and user experience. So if there's nothing that you hate about Windows 11 or nothing that you love about it, that's fine too!

      I also wrote a brief guide about how to enable Super Duper Secure Mode (SDSM) in Microsoft Edge that will offer you enhanced security at the cost of potentially and slightly degraded performance. If that sounds fine to you, do give it a read here.

      Logging off
      Image via Mr. Tempter | Shutterstock This week's most interesting news item isn't related to Microsoft but it's still worth noting in our weekly catchup. Russia has demanded 13 foreign tech companies - mostly belonging to the U.S. - to open offices on its soil by the end of this year. Right now, these demands are being enforced upon social media and tech firms that average more than half a million daily users and includes Google, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Apple, Zoom, Spotify, Viber, and others. The Kremlin has warned that companies that do not comply with its legislation may face data collection, money transfer limitations, and bans within Russia.

      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.

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

    • By zikalify
      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 Copernic
      Ultimate Windows Tweaker 5.0
      by Razvan Serea

      Ultimate Windows Tweaker is a freeware Tweak UI Utility for tweaking and optimizing Windows 11. This tweaker is just around 219 KB in size and includes over 200 tweaks. Like its predecessors, UWT 5 sports the familiar, clean, minimalistic UI, offering links in the left panel, and tabs on the top, in some categories. Hover over any tweak, and helpful tooltips will tell you what the tweak does. While you may be able to access all these via the Windows 11 Settings app, the Registry Editor or the Group Policy Editor, Ultimate Windows Tweaker makes things easier for you by offering all useful tweaks from its single UI.

      List of Tweaks in Ultimate Windows Tweaker 5

      All the tweaks have been neatly categorized as follows:

      System Information: When you open UWT5 you will get to see some basic information about your system like Operating system version, Build, System Type, Processor, Installed RAM, Computer name, User name, and the WEI Score, etc. You also have buttons to open Recovery Options, run DISM, run the System File Checker or create a System Restore Point. Customization: Under this category, you will be able to tweak the settings of your Taskbar, Thumbnails, File Explorer, and the Modern UI. You can opt to use a Light or Dark theme for OS or apps, disable Start animations, use default or change Battery Date & Time flyouts or change the Volume Control, show or hide Frequent folders or Recent files, etc. User Accounts: Under the User Accounts tab, you will be able to change your User Account settings, Logon information, and sign-in options. You can also change the User Account Control settings here. Performance tweaks: The Performance tab offers tweaks to optimize Windows 10 to best suit your requirements. While most of these settings are best left at their default values, this panel gives you quick access to change them, should you wish to. Security tweaks: Harden your Windows 11 security by changing some settings. If you want to restrict access to some Control Panel applets like Windows Updates you can do so easily. You can change Windows Privacy settings and disable Telemetry, Biometrics, Advertising ID, Bing search, Cortana, Windows Update sharing, Feedback requests, Password Reveal button, Steps Recorder, Inventory Collector, disable Wi-Fi Sense and Application Telemetry. Browser: Tweak your Microsoft Edge when you open this section. Context Menu tweaks: Add Windows Store apps, features, and useful functions to the right-click context menu. Add Scan with Windows Defender, Clear Clipboard, all built-in default Windows Store apps, and more to the context menu. Additional system tweaks: Under this category, you will see some additional system and Network tweaks. You can also set UWT to behave the way you want it to. By default, when you apply a tweak and click Apply, UWT5 will automatically restart explorer.exe to apply the tweak. Change its behavior if you wish. Search Bar: Ultimate Windows Tweaker 5 includes a Search Bar. Bow you can easily search for tweaks, and then double-click on the search result to go to it directly. About tab: Here apart from the License Agreement, you will see some useful links. If you need to submit bugs, visit the About page and use the Submit Bugs link. If you need support, you can use the Support link. Clicking on the Check for Update button will inform you if any updates are available. You can then visit the homepage to download the latest version. What's new in Ultimate Windows Tweaker for Windows 11:

      A new tab has been added for Windows 11 Option to control Taskbar size Add option to revert to Ribbon UI in File Explorer Option to restore Windows 10 styled context menu Tweak to customize Taskbar Content Alignment Option to remove Open In Windows Terminal option from Desktop Context Menu Option to hide the recommended list from Start Menu Option to enable classic Alt+Tab Menu Option to disable Transparency effects throughout Windows 11 Option to enable accent color for Start menu and taskbar. Several privacy tweaks are there under the Privacy section. Many tweaks in Context Menu for Store Apps to support Windows 11. It calculates Windows Experience Index from the main page. Click on Run assessment to recalculate the WEI. You can Run DISM and SFC command to fix corrupted system image or files with a click Refreshed design with command link buttons The Internet Explorer section has been removed Hover over a tweak, and get the description at the bottom of the tweaker. Download: Ultimate Windows Tweaker 5.0 | 219 KB (Freeware)
      View: Ultimate Windows Tweaker Homepage | Screenshots

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    • 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 hellowalkman
      WSATools creator explains why APK sideloader was removed from the Microsoft Store [Update]
      by Sayan Sen

      Simone Franco, the developer who has made WSATools has shared on his blog post why his app was removed by Microsoft from the latter's Store. For those who don't know, WSATools is a third-party app that helps users sideload Android apps on Windows 11 without going into the tricky process of using the Android Debug Bridge (adb) command-line tool method.

      There was a bit of a ruckus surrounding this matter since Microsoft had seemingly removed the app from the Microsoft Store but provided "zero explanations" about the reason for the removal. However, the company had later "apologized" to the developer in a follow-up mail it sent and had also laid out the rationale for the removal.

      Franco had already declared earlier that the reasons were indeed "rightful" and has since decided to share them on his blog.

      As it turns out, Franco had sneakily published the app on to the Microsoft Store (which is why it was available privately) after it had failed the initial Microsoft certification check process. However, the app was caught by the automatic certification checker during a later WSATools update 0.1.56. That's why it was removed the second time, he believes.

      Moreover, Franco says that Microsoft also isn't too thrilled about the "WSATools" name itself as WSA or Windows Subsystem for Android is an official terminology.

      Microsoft has suggested that the app's name be either changed or it is made abundantly clear that WSATools has nothing to do with Microsoft itself. After this is done, Franco says that the app will be available on the Microsoft Store publicly sometime next year. For now, the app can be downloaded via this link.

      Interestingly, the blog mentions "two rules" that were broken but seems to only talk about the WSATools nomenclature issue after that. That's the "second rule" according to Franco's own words.

      We have reached out to the developer for clarification on this matter and shall update the post once more information is available to us.

      Source: Simone Franco blog

      Update: We had contacted Simone Franco, the developer of WSATools, for clarification on the matter of what the two broken rules for Microsoft Store were since - unlike the "second rule" - the first one wasn't clearly stated in his blog post. The developer responded back generously to our request.

      Here is his response:

      Essentially, the WSATools app requires the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) installed as a prerequisite but that is only available in the Beta and the Dev channel builds for Windows 11 insiders, and not a GA feature. Also, WSA is only available in the U.S. region for now.

      Microsoft has also provided an easy solution to address this problem by basically clarifying these requirements clearly in the WSATools' store listing.

      While we are on that topic, here are the system requirements for WSATools as per the GitHub listing: