The Ghost of Windows Past gains spooky second wind as the October 2020 Update nears double digits

Plus: Insider fixes and support extensions for old versions of Win 10


In Brief An odd thing has happened in the Windows 10 market-share figures published by ad slinger Ad Duplex. While the most recent release, the October 2020 Update (aka 20H2), crept closer to double digits, an older version also registered a gain.

The share of PCs running the latest and greatest is up from 1.7 per cent last month to 8.8 per cent in the latest survey of nearly 100,000 PCs.

So far so normal – after the fiasco of 2018, Microsoft has adopted a far more cautious approach to deploying updates to its flagship operating system.

However, observers will also be interested to note an increase in the share of last year's Windows 10. The November 2019 Update reversed a decline that had seen the release drop from a 34.5 per cent share in September to 32.4 per cent in October. In November, things have ticked back up 36.4 per cent.

The increase can be attributed to the impending end of service of Windows 10 1903 (due in December) and Microsoft pushing users not to the very latest edition of Windows 10, but to the November 2019 Update (1909).

While an odd move at first glance, 1909 was little more than jumped-up cumulative update to 1903 and so presents less risk of things going horribly wrong. Microsoft has also been quietly extending support for old versions of Windows 10 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With service for 1909 due to come to an end of Home, Pro, Pro for Education and Pro for Workstations in May 2021, a subsequent update may be on the cards for those who don't go seeking the newest version of Windows 10.

Microsoft posts another set of fixes for Windows Insiders

While those on the cutting edge of Windows development in the Dev Channel may have been given time to digest their Thanksgiving turkey (US fans, at least), those in the Beta Channel hoping for a sniff of what might be coming down the pipe in 2021 were to be disappointed once again as Microsoft dropped build 19042.662 for Insiders to play with.

Also appearing in the Release Preview channel, the update contained a raft of fixes, from the potentially critical, such as a mystery non-paged pool memory leak "in some scenarios", to the cosmetic, such as updating Internet Explorer's About dialog to use the standard modern dialog. For the latter, we're a little surprised the company didn't simply fling up a message box pleading with users to put the dear old thing out of its misery.

Sadly, however, Microsoft stuck to its guns regarding 64-bit Intel emulation for the Arm version of Windows 10 and, at time of writing, has yet to squeeze in that promised Dev Channel update. We understand that a preview is in the works but a little more patience is required on the part of fans.

Anyone who has had to run apps under emulation on Windows on Arm will be well versed in the art of waiting for things to happen.

100 per cent renewable Swedish Bork DCs

New Azure data centre regions are due to open in Sweden in 2021, giving El Reg a new source of Swedish Chef-style borkage when the inevitable happens. However, Microsoft also plans to implement the 24/7 power monitoring solution seen in pilot form in its new Stockholm HQ.

The Vattenfall tech used gives bosses a picture of where the energy used is actually coming from (in this case: 94 per cent from Swedish wind and 6 per cent from hydro power). Microsoft has signed a power purchase agreement covering 100 per cent of its consumption in Sweden, ensuring operations are run fully on renewables.

The news will come as a relief to Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich, who recently burned through some power firing up a 420 virtual processor, 24TB RAM Azure VM in order to play Minesweeper.

Windows can certainly be a little resource-hungry nowadays, but even the most profligate programmer would struggle to bother what Russinovich called "the Azure 24TB Mega Godzilla Beast VM."

Then again, looking at how Windows' resource demands have gone up since the first version, we suspect that sentence may not age too well. ®


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