Every Microsoft announcement brings a lot of excitement, expectation, and few intriguing debates. On June 24th, 2021, Microsoft launched the ambitious all-new Windows 11. However, it is still not officially available to install. Though Windows 11’s first preview is available for the users of the Windows Insider Program, it would take almost 6-8 more months for a stable version to come for your PC. However, since users are eagerly looking forward to Windows 11, Microsoft has provided a way to check whether your current machine is compatible with the Windows 11 or not so that users can upgrade their system accordingly. For that, you can use the PC Health Check application. While checking the Windows 11 compatibility for their device, many users are getting the error warning “This PC can’t run Windows 11” that tells them that their device is incompatible with Windows 11 because of various reasons. It is fair that the warning is appearing on the older devices which might not have the hardware capabilities to run Windows 11, such as the device with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) lower than the 2.0 version. However, the thing that is weird and unacceptable is that the error is appearing on comparatively new devices too, which fulfills the minimum system requirements. This forced us to ponder whether Microsoft wants us to upgrade to the latest Windows 11 or not? The main reason for that can be security. With Windows 11, Microsoft is shifting its focus more on security and privacy, just like Apple. Windows OS are traditionally prone to malware attacks, and with Windows 11, Microsoft is looking for a new beginning to compete with Apple, at least on security and privacy levels. That’s why they don’t want Windows 11 to be installed on the device with old generation processors, even if they meet the minimum requirements. Another reason could be Microsoft might want to limit the existing PCs to run Windows 11. Since it is a new OS that might contain a few bugs, Microsoft might roll it out for other compatible PCs after it gains initial success. If they roll it out for everyone, many users will experience bugs that can have a negative impact on Windows 11 marketing. Microsoft does not want to repeat the same mistake that ruined the reputation of Windows 10. There could also be a bigger picture to this. It is speculated that Microsoft is limiting Windows 11 to the latest device and doesn’t want older devices to upgrade to it because they want people to buy new devices with Windows 11 enabled on them. There is a big valid reason why Microsoft might intend to do that. If you upgrade your old Windows 10 devices to Windows 11, Microsoft will gain nothing as Windows 10 users would get a free upgrade to Windows 11. But, if you buy a new device, Microsoft would earn money for the Windows 11 OS installed on it. Follow this and more by visiting OUR FORUM.
There are lots of reasons to upgrade to the preview version of Windows 11, but that doesn't mean you have to live with all aspects of the new user interface. Perhaps, like me, you don't like the new Start Menu because it takes up so much space. Or maybe you hate the fact that File Explorer is missing a ribbon menu or that right click menus only hold 7 options and force you to click "Show more options" to see them all. The good news is that, with a combination of registry tweaks, third-party apps and some different art work, you can get some of the look and feel of Windows 10 back in Windows 11. The bad news is that Microsoft doesn't seem to want you to go back to a previous UI so it may disable any registry hacks you use in future updates. And these are hacks for a frequently-changing beta OS so there's no guarantee you won't run into bugs; proceed at your own risk. Below, we'll outline a number of tweaks for different parts of the UI and you can use one, several, or all of them to get the look you want. Get a More Windows 10-Like Start Menu
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We already know that Windows 11 Home will require a Microsoft account (MSA) at the beginning of the installation process. What Microsoft hasn’t publicized is whether it’s possible to log in with just a local account. It is, but only with Windows 11 Pro. A source close to Microsoft has now told us that the only way to avoid using an MSA is with Windows 11 Pro. According to our source, users who buy or own a PC with Windows 11 Pro may choose to use either a local account or an MSA from the very beginning of the installation process. The Windows 11 Home MSA requirement isn’t permanent, just unavoidable. Microsoft will allow the user to transition to a local account once the Windows 11 Home installation process has completed. Retail versions of Windows 11 Home will offer the same experience. Our source told us that local account users will not have a “diminished or limited experience,” though they won’t be able to sync content or use Windows 11’s ability to sync or recommend content from other devices. That content—which could include documents or webpages that a user had viewed on another PC—is typically synced to the user’s MSA account.
Four keyboard shortcuts to make your Windows 11 experience faster and more productive. You can now install and run the first preview build of Windows 11 through the Dev Channel of Windows Insider program. Windows 11 brings a slew of features including, Snap layouts, Widgets, Center Start menu, Android apps, and much more to increase your productivity and save time. Windows 11 provides four new keyboard shortcut keys along with familiar shortcuts to help you work faster and more efficiently. On Windows 11, you can always use the mouse to navigate and handle applications and features, but keyboard shortcuts help you to perform actions faster using a single press of multiple keys, saving you clicks and time. Although you can use all the Windows 10 shortcuts on Windows 11, the new version of the OS introduces several new keyboards shortcuts to give you quick access to new features, including Quick Settings, Notification Center, Widgets, and Snap layouts. In this Windows 11 guide, we will look at several new keyboard shortcuts to help you improve productivity. Here are the new keyboard shortcuts for Windows 11:
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Microsoft has had six years to prepare for the launch of Windows 11, but the company is still struggling to explain its new hardware requirements. Windows 11 will officially support Intel 8th Gen Coffee Lake or Zen 2 CPUs and up, leaving behind millions of PCs that were sold during the launch of Windows 10. It’s an unusual surprise if you purchased a new PC for Windows 10, or perhaps you have a perfectly capable machine that’s even older. Windows 11 will require Intel 8th Gen Coffee Lake or Zen 2 CPUs and up, TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module) support, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. Microsoft doesn’t typically enforce such specific processor requirements with Windows — with both Windows 8 and Windows 10 only requiring a 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM (2GB for 64-bit), and 16GB of storage (20GB for 64-bit). Power users of Windows, and IT admins alike, have built up an expectation of being able to upgrade to the latest OS, regardless of what hardware they’re running. It looks like that’s about to end with Windows 11. After much confusion last week, Microsoft attempted to explain its hardware requirements again yesterday, and it sounds like the main driver behind these changes is security. Coupled with Microsoft’s hardware requirements is a push to enable a more modern BIOS (UEFI) that supports features like Secure Boot and TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module). When you combine TPM with some of the virtualization technologies that Microsoft uses in Windows, there’s an understandable security benefit that we’ve discussed in detail previously. Microsoft claims that a combination of Windows Hello, Device Encryption, virtualization-based security, hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI), and Secure Boot “has been shown to reduce malware by 60 percent.” You obviously need modern hardware to enable all these protections, and Microsoft has been building toward this moment for years. TPM support has been a requirement for OEMs to gain Windows certification since around the release of Windows 10, but Microsoft hasn’t forced businesses or consumers to enable it. Microsoft’s decision to force Windows 11 users into TPM, Secure Boot, and more comes at a pivotal moment for Windows. It’s Microsoft’s operating system that’s always caught up in ransomware and malware attacks, and things are only going to get worse if the level of Windows hardware security doesn’t go up a notch. That delicate balance of security and the typical openness of Windows is something that Microsoft will struggle with over the next decade, as it wrestles with modernizing Windows and the understandable backlash. While Microsoft is waiving its new hardware requirements during the preview phase of Windows 11, we still don’t know exactly what devices will be supported when it launches later this year. Microsoft tried to offer some more clarity around this yesterday, but it wasn’t the level of detail we were hoping for. “As we release to Windows Insiders and partner with our OEMs, we will test to identify devices running on Intel 7th generation and AMD Zen 1 that may meet our principles,” says a blog post from the Windows team. That could be good news for the Surface Studio 2, a $3,499 device that Microsoft still sells with a 7th Gen chip that’s not on the Windows 11 list. This same blog post also revealed that the 7th Gen is probably as far back as Microsoft is willing to concede. “We also know that devices running on Intel 6th generation and AMD pre-Zen will not” meet Microsoft’s minimum system requirements, said the blog post before it was edited to remove this line. It’s not clear why Intel’s 6th Gen chips are definitely off the list, but part of this decision could be related to Spectre and Meltdown — two major computer processor security bugs that affected nearly every device made for 20 years. Follow this thread and more on OUR FORUM.
Microsoft has now confirmed signing a malicious driver being distributed within gaming environments. This driver, called "Netfilter," is in fact a rootkit that was observed communicating with Chinese command-and-control (C2) IPs. G Data malware analyst Karsten Hahn first took notice of this event last week and was joined by the wider infosec. community in tracing and analyzing the malicious drivers bearing the seal of Microsoft. This incident has once again exposed threats to software supply-chain security, except this time it stemmed from a weakness in Microsoft's code-signing process. Last week, G Data's cybersecurity alert systems flagged what appeared to be a false positive, but was not—a Microsoft signed driver called "Netfilter." The driver in question was seen communicating with China-based C&C IPs providing no legitimate functionality and as such raised suspicions. This is when G Data's malware analyst Karsten Hahn shared this publicly and simultaneously contacted Microsoft: "Since Windows Vista, any code that runs in kernel mode is required to be tested and signed before public release to ensure stability for the operating system." "Drivers without a Microsoft certificate cannot be installed by default," states Hahn. At the time, BleepingComputer began observing the behavior of C2 URLs and also contacted Microsoft for a statement. The first C2 URL returns a set of more routes (URLs) separated by the pipe ("|") symbol: The G Data researcher spent some time sufficiently analyzing the driver and concluded it to be malware. The researcher has analyzed the driver, its self-update functionality, and Indicators of Compromise (IOCs) in a detailed blog post. "The server then responds with the URL for the latest sample, e.g. hxxp://184.108.40.206:2081/d6, or with 'OK' if the sample is up-to-date. The malware replaces its own file accordingly," further explained the researcher. During the course of his analysis, Hahn was joined by other malware researchers including Johann Aydinbas, Takahiro Haruyama, and Florian Roth. Roth was able to gather the list of samples in a spreadsheet and has provided YARA rules for detecting these in your network environments. Notably, the C2 IP 220.127.116.11 that the malicious Netfilter driver connects to belonged to Ningbo Zhuo Zhi Innovation Network Technology Co., Ltd, according to WHOIS records: Microsoft is actively investigating this incident, although thus far, there is no evidence that stolen code-signing certificates were used. The mishap seems to have resulted from the threat actor following Microsoft's process to submit the malicious Netfilter drivers, and managing to acquire the Microsoft-signed binary in a legitimate manner: "Microsoft is investigating a malicious actor distributing malicious drivers within gaming environments." "The actor submitted drivers for certification through the Windows Hardware Compatibility Program. The drivers were built by a third party." "We have suspended the account and reviewed their submissions for additional signs of malware," Microsoft said yesterday. According to Microsoft, the threat actor has mainly targeted the gaming sector specifically in China with these malicious drivers, and there is no indication of enterprise environments having been affected so far. Microsoft has refrained from attributing this incident to nation-state actors just yet. Falsely signed binaries can be abused by sophisticated threat actors to facilitate large-scale software supply-chain attacks. We have more detailed information and images posted on OUR FRUM.