Security researchers have found a fake Windows 11 upgrade website that promises to offer a free Windows 11 install for PCs that don’t meet the minimum specifications, but actually installs data-stealing malware.
Understandably, this annoyed people with relatively new hardware that couldn’t upgrade to the latest version of Windows, and many looked at ways of circumnavigating the TPM 2.0 requirement to install Windows 11 on their unsupported devices.
While the website’s address (URL) should be a red flag (we won't mention it here), as it’s clearly not a Microsoft website, the actual website itself does look like it’s an official Microsoft website, using logos and artwork that makes it difficult to tell it apart from a real Microsoft page.
However, as security researchers CloudSEK discovered by clicking the ‘Download now’ button, the website downloads an ISO file that contains malware.
This malware, called ‘Inno Stealer’, uses a part of the Windows installer to create temporary files on an infected PC. These create processes that run and place four additional files on your PC, some of which contain scripts that disable various security features, including in the Windows registry. They also tweak the built-in Windows Defender anti-virus, and remove other security products from Emisoft and ESET.
Other files then run commands at the highest system privileges, while yet another file is created in the C:\Users\AppData\Roaming\Windows11InstallationAssistant folder, and it’s this file that contains the data-stealing code, named Windows11InstallationAssistant.scr. This then takes information from web browsers, as well as cryptocurrency wallets, stored passwords and files from the PC itself. This stolen data is then sent to the malicious users who created the malware.
Pretty nasty stuff.
Analysis: Be careful what you wish for
The scale of the infection here, and what it’s able to steal from you, is very scary, but the good news is that it’s easy to avoid.
No matter how desperate you are to install Windows 11, you should only download ISO files from sources you are absolutely certain are legitimate. While the makers of this malware have put in a lot of work to make the website look legitimate (like many so-called ‘phishing’ attacks), there are some tell-tale signs, such as the aforementioned URL, which highlights that this is not a genuine Microsoft website.
If your PC is eligible for a Windows 11 upgrade, you’ll be alerted via Windows Update, a tool that’s built into Windows operating systems. This is the safest way to ensure you are downloading and installing a genuine copy of Windows 11.
If your PC isn’t eligible, due to not meeting the TPM 2.0 requirements, then there are some safer ways to install Windows 11 without TPM anyway. But we don’t really recommend any of them, especially as Microsoft is making it harder to run Windows 11 on unsupported systems, which could mean you miss out on important updates, security fixes and features in the future.
Above all, however, you should never attempt to download and install a Windows 11 ISO file from any website that isn’t run by Microsoft itself.
There's been much speculation that Microsoft is already hard at work on the successor to Windows 11, likely to be called Windows 12.
Some of us at TechRadar are all for a swift follow-up to Windows 11, and would like to see Microsoft matching the regular update schedules of macOS and other operating systems.
So what improvements and new features might Windows 12 bring with it? Users have been peppering Microsoft with feature requests, with some of these wishes set to be granted in upcoming updates to Windows 11, tentatively called Sun Valley 2.
The TechRadar computing team has come up with its own wish list of five features we'd like to see in a Windows 12 release, no matter how unlikely some of them may be.
Windows 12 release date rumors
This is still very early days for Windows 11 – we're not even at the one-year anniversary of the update having been announced. However, going on past releases, we'd expect to see Windows 12 arrive in late 2025, just as support for Windows 10 is ending.
Windows 12 supported devices
When Microsoft announced availability for Windows 11, the main requirement was for machines to have a hardware feature called TPM enabled, which is a security feature that can be found on most motherboards.
While the same requirement will most likely be requested by Microsoft again, it may be at a point where almost every PC has TPM enabled anyway.
Other than that, it will likely have similar requirements to Windows 11:
A display larger than 9-inches with HD Resolution (1366×768)
DirectX 12 compatible graphics / WDDM 2.x
What we want to see
We don't know much about Windows 12 yet, or whether the rumored upgrade will even become a reality, but we do have a good idea of what we want from it, with the following features topping our list.
1. Merge Skype and Teams into MSN Messenger 12
It's no secret that Microsoft's efforts on video calling and collaboration through messaging apps have been less than stellar in recent years. In a time when people needed to communicate remotely more, it was Zoom that took the lead and Skype was bafflingly left by the wayside.
While there have been some new features brought to both Teams and Skype, there's still an air of confusion as to which one you should use. If you need to take part in a job interview that's on Teams, for example, chances are you'll quickly need to install the app and make sure it works.
Instead, let's see them both retire and mark a fresh start for Windows 12, with the return of MSN Messenger to do the job these two apps have limped on with.
Not only to see the return of nudges, winks, and classic sounds if users want, but powerful features to make it go toe-to-toe with Zoom, Google Meets, and FaceTime. Perhaps have integration with Slack, so if a video meeting is needed, it can prompt in a channel and with one button, MSN Messenger will launch with the required invitees.
Microsoft needs to reboot how it perceives itself for messaging apps, and the return of MSN Messenger could be a great start to that.
2. Live Wallpaper
A request by TechRadar's Senior Computing Editor Matt Hanson, and an intriguing one at that. There have been similar features in iPhones and Android phones for some years, with animations moving across these devices. But for PC and Mac, they've been relegated to third-party apps, such as Wallpaper Engine, to be able to have animated wallpapers with the ability to display information from your PC.
To have something similar from Microsoft for Windows 12 could further push its efforts in themes, something that's seen improvements in Windows 11, thanks to its dark themes.
Having a dedicated section for wallpapers where you can place static bytes of information on the desktop that works with an animated live wallpaper, could appeal to all kinds of users.
Microsoft could also bring back previous wallpapers, such as the hillside of Windows XP but have it animated, alongside some clouds displaying battery status or the weather.
This can update the desktop substantially and make it much more up to date, without having to rely on widgets or a taskbar to showcase changes.
3. Dedicated Podcast app
While it's been great to see the return of Windows Media Player from Microsoft, having additional features such as podcasts feels irrelevant for what Media Player is for.
macOS has had its own podcast app since Big Sur in 2019, but if you wanted to use a similar app on Windows, it's not clear where to start, as Microsoft doesn't offer a dedicated podcast app.
This is why Windows 12 should include a dedicated podcast app that could also be used on other platforms, such as iOS and Android, so your subscriptions could sync across all your devices.
Podcasts are a great way of listening to interviews or the latest news that involve your interests, and managing them all in a first-party app would be great for Windows users. It's something that could really help spur the company's effort to make content available on almost every device.
4. Dedicated Streaming app
A storming idea by our resident Computing writer Jess Weatherbed, as there is yet to be an integrated option in Windows to stream what you're playing.
For years there have been apps such as OBS and Twitch that offer ways to stream what you're playing or watching with others. However, these apps have always required extra effort to make sure that you're streaming to viewers in good quality, with low latency.
Then there's the additional aspect of the peripherals that streamers use to help show them in a better light, or Stream Decks to easily control their setups with shortcut keys.
It can be overwhelming to manage multiple apps just to control all of these, which is why Windows 12 could benefit from having one app that can manage your streams and the peripherals.
Microsoft has been pushing gaming in Windows 11 since its announcement in June 2021, with a redesigned Xbox app and HDR support. But countless gamers also stream these games through Windows, so there's a big opportunity here.
Having one app to control, say, ring lights and the streams for viewers is appealing, shifting the heavy lifting to one app. It could automate streams based on the schedule and the games being played, alongside different lighting scenarios for the different times of the day.
This could encourage more gamers to see Windows as a service, as the CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella has been stating since the release of Windows 10 in 2015, while also making Windows 12 an enticing prospect for streamers to earn more followers and income for their careers.
5. Companion app for Android
A suggestion by our Editor-in-Chief at TechRadar Pro, Desire Athow – this can be an expansion of Your Phone, Microsoft's effort to sync your phone to Windows. But when you open this new app in Windows 12, it has a layout reminiscent of Windows Phone and its tile layout that can enable a desktop experience from your phone.
This would be similar to Samsung DeX, where you can transform your S22 or Tab S22 Ultra into a desktop once it's connected to a peripheral.
This new app would go beyond DeX and Microsoft's Your Phone efforts. When you connect to a monitor, it becomes a fully-fledged Windows 12 desktop, showcasing everything from your main PC. And when you click on an icon, it downloads the content from the cloud and displays it in its native resolution.
It would be an innovative extension of the cloud, where you can access your files wherever you are. Here, you're carrying your desktop with you and all you need to do is to connect your smartphone to a monitor, either with touchscreen features or a keyboard and mouse.
This would also further Nadella's plans again, similar to the streaming feature, of seeing Windows as a service. Having your PC in an app is an enticing thought, and could help for those situations when you have a short window of opportunity to do some work with a spare monitor, keyboard, and mouse somewhere.
Microsoft is planning to introduce some additional options into the current Task Manager, alongside other updates and new features planned for its Windows 11 operating system, at least according to a slew of leaks that have appeared in the last week.
On top of this, it seems that the current Task Manager in Windows 11 will also get some additional features, including the ability to get dedicated information regarding “App health” and “Battery health”. This information was discovered within the recent Dev Channel build 22543 by another well established Windows leaker, FireCubeStudios
In 22543 I found this hidden WIP home page for Task Manager It looks like Microsoft is going to add Health, battery life and startup info but based on the comments Microsoft has not decided the final design yet. It is very WIP.#Windows11 #FluentDesign pic.twitter.com/olKug4PcD0February 8, 2022
It seems that additional features could also be included when the update is released to the public. As Neowin points out in its own reporting, Microsoft developers have commented to state this isn't a final design, so we could also get options relating to Startup applications.
This isn't the first time we heard that Microsoft may be looking to revamp the Task Manager from its previously dated state, with some alterations being introduced in build 22538, but with this being a work in progress, it could be a while until this is fully rolled out to the public.
Analysis: These tweaks are more important than ever
While they're nowhere near as important as actual performance-based improvements and patches being developed to fix ongoing issues, these planned updates to streamline the Windows 11 experience for everyday users shouldn't be overlooked.
The vast majority of folks who use the Windows 11 operating system won't be experts or enthusiasts, so simplifying the more 'complex' areas of the OS will hopefully streamline the process of new users getting comfortable using it. This is especially so in the case of people who have avoided upgrading from Windows 10 despite having compatible hardware out of the fear of needing to relearn how to use their laptop or desktop PC.
There's still a lot to be resolved with the Windows 11 operating system before tech-savvy users are happy to make the upgrade, but with its new, modern look and general quality-of-life improvements, this is becoming a great choice for those with less experience using computers who don't want to be reliant on others to address issues they might face.
Juggling multiple tasks, windows and displays at work could soon be a lot easier thanks to a new update coming to Google Chrome.
The browser is set to upgrade its picture-in-picture mode to include non-video content for the first time, giving a boost to those who love having multiple windows open at once.
Google Chrome is reportedly working on the upgrade, codenamed PIP 2.0, now, with a plan to support embedded content such as audio feeds or image galleries while the users continues browsing.
PIP 2.0 on Chrome
Although more commonly used for entertainment and sports viewing, Google Chrome clearly thinks picture-in-picture can also be an incredibly handy workplace tool, allowing users more options for viewing different kinds of content.
In a Chromium blog post, Google explained that PIP 2.0 is part of a series for “the new picture-in-picture v2 feature that allows always-on-top windows with arbitrary content”.
A separate Google developer document addressing the feature adds that, “Picture-in-Picture V2 will include a new web api that is still under discussion.” This new Chrome code will “hide the window frame and location bar (after a timeout) when the [PiP] window loses focus” but also be able to add it again when the focus is regained.
“The promise will allow a clearer async API and would offer a way to expose that interactive isn’t supported by the platform,” the Google Chrome engineers noted.
“When Picture-in-Picture is requested and the window is displayed we will copy the requested element to the body of the new window.”
There are also concerns around security, with the engineers adding that the tool could possibly be used to impersonate system UI. “Therefore, we will ensure the UX of the Picture-in-Picture window is distinct enough by adding a border (and maybe an indicator of the origin),” they note, adding that trusted UI such as permission prompts and autofill will also be disabled, with regular keyboard events also removed to reduce the attack surface.
WhatsApp is launching a new preview feature for voice messages which should make them even more useful, by enabling you to listen to a message after recording it to check for mistakes, and to check the audio quality, before sending it.
Voice messaging is nothing new, and it's an option that serves as a handy halfway house between real-time voice conversations and laborious hand-typed messages. This type of message is more personal than a text, and far, far more flexible than a phone call.
WhatsApp has supported voice messages for some time, making it possible to record and send audio messages to your contacts.
Until now, it's been all too easy to send a message, only to later discover that background noise or interference have rendered a key part of what you've recorded inaudible; or perhaps you mumbled some of your words, but didn't realize until the recipient of the message pointed it out.
The new Voice Message Preview option enables you to listen to a message after you've recorded it, so that you can re-record the message if you notice that you've made a mistake or that the sound quality is poor, or if you simply think you could make a message sound better in some way.
Using the new Voice Message Preview feature is fairly straightforward and almost self-explanatory, but WhatsApp shares the following simple guide:
Open an individual or group chat
Touch the microphone icon, and slide it up to lock hands-free recording
Once finished, tap the stop icon
Tap play to listen to your recording. You can also tap any part of the recording to play it from that timestamp
Tap the trash can icon to delete the voice message, or tap the send button to send it
So, what are you waiting for? Take the time to preview your next voice message, and then send it, confident in the knowledge that it sounds as good as you'd like it to – no matter how many attempts it takes you!
Windows 11 only offers you a 10-day timeframe to change your mind about the upgrade and revert to Windows 10.
This isn’t a new revelation, of course, but with more folks now moving to Windows 11 – given that Microsoft opened the upgrade floodgates a fortnight ago – we figured it was worth a reminder that you’re on a pretty tight deadline for making a decision about whether you want to stick with Windows 11.
The situation differs notably and substantially from Windows 10, whereby those upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1 got 30 days grace to play around with the operating system, and move back to the old version if they decided it wasn’t for them.
In other words, Microsoft has reduced the rollback grace period from 30 days with Windows 10, to just 10 days with Windows 11.
After that time has expired, when you head over to the ‘Recovery’ options screen (search for it under Settings), the option to ‘Go Back’ – meaning to revert to the previous OS, Windows 10 – is greyed out. The only way to get back to Windows 10 at that point is to fully reinstall the OS on the PC, which is obviously quite a task compared to just clicking a button.
Analysis: Grabbing a disk image is worthwhile for this
The obvious problem here is that by narrowing down the reversion period, people who upgrade to Windows 11 and don’t hit any immediate hitches, but subsequently discover a nasty issue after a few weeks, no longer have the option to make a no-fuss switch back to Windows 10. They’re stuck.
And this is particularly galling seeing as the opportunity to revert remained open for a full month when folks were upgrading to Windows 10.
So, if you’re nervous about migrating to Windows 11 and that stingy trial time frame, as it were, then one thing you can do is make a backup image of your Windows 10 installation before you upgrade.
This can be achieved using software like Acronis True Image or Macrium Reflect (or another of the best disk cloning tools around), and with an image in place, if at any time you want to revert to that snapshot of your old OS, you can do so.
The key is to be prepared as this is something that must be done ahead of upgrading to Windows 11, obviously enough. In our book, it’s a worthwhile precaution for sure, particularly now Microsoft has whittled down the rollback period to an absolute minimum for reasons best known to the software giant.