Microsoft is arming intrepid Windows 12 testers with free flash drives

Some Windows testers are receiving the offer of a free flash drive from Microsoft, although exactly who is being given the chance to pick up a freebie USB stick is slightly confusing.

Windows Latest reports that they received an email from Microsoft regarding the new Canary Channel, which is the channel created for testing the very earliest builds. In other words, next-gen Windows (quite possibly Windows 12, though we don’t know that for sure, although the name has already been leaked by Intel).

That email offered the tech site a free flash drive (with at least 8GB of storage) with the goal of performing a clean installation of Windows, a task that is recommended to be undertaken with a blank flash drive from scratch.

Those getting this offer from Microsoft have to request the drive by filling out a simple form, and the company notes that: “Items are available on a first-come, first-served basis.”

There’s a limited supply, so those USB sticks could quickly run dry by the sound of things.

Analysis: Canary confusion?

What’s slightly confusing here is that we thought only those wanting to stay in the Dev Channel would need to reinstall Windows – and therefore might need a flash drive.

The way Microsoft has implemented this fork of testing channels works like this: the old Dev Channel has effectively become the Canary Channel, and anyway whoever stays in it gets moved to these cutting-edge earliest builds (with the most chance of hitting problems). Those who want to move to the new Dev Channel have to reinstall Windows 11, perform a clean installation of the OS, and then sign up for the new Dev path.

So, it would make sense that the latter are the folks who get a free USB stick if they need it for reinstallation media. That said, Windows Latest makes it clear that Microsoft is offering USB drives to “testers who want to support the road to the platform changes,” which presumably refers to next-gen Windows (Windows 12 possibly). And the screenshot provided as evidence is clearly on the topic of the Canary Channel.

What might be happening, then, is that a limited set of testers on either side of the fence – Canary and Dev – are being offered flash drives, or at least the chance to grab them before the freebie stock runs dry.

Whatever the case, if you get this offer emailed over to you and want to take advantage, we’d advise you act pretty swiftly. Microsoft notes that delivery of the USB stick could take up to 6-8 weeks, but hopefully that’s a seriously pessimistic estimate and the hardware may turn up a good deal quicker.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

The new and improved Notepad arrives for all Windows 11 testers

The new year has started with the refreshed Notepad app being made available for all Windows 11 Insiders who can test upcoming updates.

Similar to what Clock and Office 2021 brought, Notepad is also getting the Fluent Design makeover, which brings rounded corners to windows, a softer font to menu dropdown lists, and dark mode compatibility.

The update has been available in the Insider Build Dev Channel of Windows 11 since December, where you can test features under development, but the company has decided to roll it out to users who are testing out upcoming features of Windows 11 on all channels. 

It’s the most significant update of Notepad in years, similar to Paint’s update a few months ago, but don’t expect this simple text editing app to replace Microsoft Word anytime soon.

Analysis: A unified effort

Microsoft has been making efforts to make its apps match the new look and feel of Windows 11, and it’s overdue.

In previous releases of Windows 8 and Windows Vista, some apps had felt out of place, such as Mail and Disk Management. But there’s a concerted effort from the company to ensure that these apps have a unified design where users don’t feel lost, whilst ensuring that the apps and the operating system look similar, but modern.

We’ve been encouraged by this effort from Microsoft so far, and there are other apps that we believe should also benefit from this as well. Other apps are also making a comeback in Windows 11, with Windows Media Player recently returning to replace Groove Music.

But Notepad is an app that you use almost without thinking. It’s a go-to app where you jot down lists or thoughts for the day to save for later. But it’s also a great example of an app that’s not seen an update since 2001.

See more

Something as minor as dark mode and rounded corners will be welcomed here, alongside a new Settings option to switch between themes and font options as well. But Notepad’s appeal is in its simplicity, which makes it a good alternative to Microsoft Word or other fully-featured (and overcomplicated) office apps.

Other apps that have seen updates in their design have either been included in a Windows update or are available to download on the Microsoft Store. We suspect that the updated Notepad will be a part of a bigger Windows 11 update coming soon – so you won’t need to be a Windows Insider to try it out.

Via Windows Blog

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More