Wednesday Newsbytes: MS Stops Selling Windows 10, Where You Can Still Get Windows 10, Gmail Changing, MS Says 100 Threat Actors Spreading Malware, ChatGPT-like AI Might Destroy Google, Google’s AI Music Will Freak You Out… and more!

By | February 1, 2023
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Wednesday Newsbytes: MS Stops Selling Windows 10, Where You Can Still Get Windows 10, Gmail Changing, MS Says 100 Threat Actors Spreading Malware, ChatGPT-like AI Might Destroy Google, Google’s AI Music Will Freak You Out… and more!

Every day we scan the tech world for interesting news in the world of technology and sometimes from outside the world of technology. Every Wednesday, we feature news articles that grabbed our attention over the past week. We hope you find this week’s  ‘Wednesday Newsbytes’ informative and interesting!

Microsoft’s Windows 10 block could prove costly for millions of PC owners

Microsoft has confirmed that it is no longer selling Windows 10 downloads and that will leave millions facing a huge bill as they’ll now need to switch straight to Windows 11.

Microsoft’s campaign to get all of its users to adopt Windows 11 is taking another dramatic turn with the US technology now stopping the sale of Windows 10 via its official store. January 31, 2023, was the last day that those using older operating systems – such as Windows 7 or Windows 8 – were able to purchase the Windows 10 upgrade directly from Microsoft – after this date, only Windows 11 will now be available.

“January 31, 2023 will be the last day this Windows 10 download is offered for sale,” the US technology giant confirmed on its website. This news comes at a particularly bad time for millions of Windows fans with Microsoft ending support for some of its ageing products earlier this month.

Users of operating systems such as Windows 8.1 were recently warned that their PCs will no longer get vital security updates, new features or bug fixes aimed at keeping things safe and free of glitches.

Those who haven’t already switched to Windows 10 will now be left with only one, and very costly, option.

Although Windows 11 is the latest and greatest software from Microsoft it does have one issue as many older PCs simply aren’t compatible with it…

Read more at Express.

Where to Buy Windows 10 When Microsoft Stops Selling It

Microsoft doesn’t want to sell you Windows 10 anymore; but you can buy it elsewhere.

My friends, it’s been a great run—but Microsoft will stop selling Windows 10 on Tuesday, Jan. 31, one week from this article’s publication. The news isn’t necessarily shocking, since the company has been full-steam-ahead with Windows 11 since October 2021. However, it’s still a sad development. Windows 10 is the preferred OS for many PC users who still can’t stomach upgrading.

Of course, Windows 10 isn’t dead. Microsoft will continue to support both Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro until Oct. 14, 2025, giving plenty of us on PC an excuse to keep running the OS until then. If you already have Windows 10 running on your PC, you’re good to go. But if you’re going to build a PC, you’re going to need a new license to install the beloved OS. Here’s where you can get one…

Come Feb. 1, though, you won’t have any luck making purchases on Microsoft’s site. So, where can you turn?

Brick and mortar stores

Just because Microsoft is no longer selling Windows 10 doesn’t mean every other store is pulling the plug. Look to established outlets like Best Buy, Staples, or OfficeDepot for copies of Windows 10. Depending on the store and inventory, you might find a digital download or a physical copy of the software.

Look for old PCs with product key stickers

If you have access to an old PC with a product key sticker on the outside, you can use those codes to activate Windows 10 on your current PC. These stickers work all the way back to Windows 7, so it’s a potential solution here.

Be careful of third-party resellers

The first places that pop up when you search for Windows 10 licenses are third-party resellers. These sites have existed for years, and they offer copies of Windows 10 for way less than Microsoft… sites like Kinguin or PCDestination will sell you a key for anywhere from $25 to $40.

The reason these sites can sell these licenses at such a markdown is because they obtained the software for cheap, one way or another. Perhaps the site was able to buy the key in another country where Microsoft charges less for Windows 10. Or perhaps the key is stolen…

Read more at Lifehacker.

Your Gmail is permanently changing soon – here’s what to expect

Gmail is getting a facelift

Your Gmail account will soon look a little bit different as the company finally rolls out its long-expected makeover to all users.

In a bid to offer users a more complete Google Workspace experience, the updated Gmail will now provide not just email services, but video conferencing and chat options, all in a single location.

Users won’t have to do anything to activate the new-look Gmail, which will be updated by default over the next few days to users across the world in a bid to help modernize the platform.

New-look Gmail

In a Google Workspace update post(opens in new tab), the company has confirmed that the new look “will become the standard experience for Gmail, with no option to revert to the original UI”.

News of the facelift was first announced in February 2022, as part of a move to bring other Google Workspace services such as Chat and Meet closer to Gmail.

Most Gmail users were able to try out the new look service in November 2022, but retained the option to revert back to the “original view” at any time.

From today (31 January 2023), this will no longer be possible, with users fixed to the new design – although Google does note that users can change their Gmail theme, inbox type, and more through the quick settings menu.

The change may seem quite drastic to some Gmail users, who will still see emails displayed front and centre, but shifted significantly over to the right-hand side of the display to make way for a new sidebar on the left side that contains quick links to Chat, Spaces and Meet, shifting your email folders and label options over slightly…

Read more at TechRadar.

Microsoft: Over 100 threat actors deploy ransomware in attacks

Microsoft revealed today that its security teams are tracking over 100 threat actors deploying ransomware during attacks. In all, the company says it monitors over 50 unique ransomware families that were actively used until the end of last year.

“Some of the most prominent ransomware payloads in recent campaigns include Lockbit Black, BlackCat (aka ALPHV), Play, Vice Society, Black Basta, & Royal,” Microsoft said.

“Defense strategies, however, should focus less on payloads but more on the chain of activities that lead to their deployment,” since ransomware gangs are still targeting servers and devices not yet patched against common or recently addressed vulnerabilities.

Furthermore, while new ransomware families launch all the time, most threat actors utilize the same tactics when breaching and spreading through networks, making the effort of detecting such behavior even more helpful in thwarting their attacks.

As Redmond added, attackers increasingly rely on tactics beyond phishing to conduct their attacks, with threat actors, such as DEV-0671 and DEV-0882, capitalizing on recently patched Exchange Server vulnerabilities to hack vulnerable servers and deploy Cuba and Play ransomware.

Last week, the Exchange team urged admins to deploy the latest supported Cumulative Update (CU) to secure on-premises Exchange servers and have them always ready to install an emergency security update.

Over 60,000 Internet-exposed Exchange servers are still vulnerable to attacks leveraging ProxyNotShell RCE exploits. At the same time, thousands still wait to be secured from attacks targeting the ProxyShell and ProxyLogon flaws, two of the most exploited security flaws of 2021.

Other ransomware actors are also switching to or using malvertising to deliver malware loaders and downloaders that help push ransomware and various other malware strains, such as information stealers.

For instance, a threat actor tracked as DEV-0569, believed to be an initial access broker for ransomware gangs, is now abusing Google Ads in widespread advertising campaigns to distribute malware, steal passwords from infected devices, and ultimately gain access to enterprise networks.

They use this access as part of their attacks or sell it to other malicious actors, including the Royal ransomware gang…

Read more at Bleeping Computer.

Gmail creator says ChatGPT-like AI will destroy Google’s business in two years

Will it? Only time will tell.

The popularity of ChatGPT, the online chatbot built by OpenAI, has brought many to question the survival of search engines such as Google. Paul Buchheit, the creator of Gmail, has also dropped his opinion on the matter, and he thinks that Google’s business will last a maximum of two years, he tweeted.

Google may be only a year or two away from total disruption. AI will eliminate the Search Engine Result Page, which is where they make most of their money.

Even if they catch up on AI, they can’t fully deploy it without destroying the most valuable part of their business!

— Paul Buchheit (@paultoo) December 1, 2022

Launched in November last year, ChatGPT has become the favorite destination to ask questions among millions of users. Instead of delivering a response to a search result that runs into tens of pages, ChatGPT answers the questions in a conversational style, making it easier for the user to ask follow-up questions, too.

Many have wondered if this could draw the curtains on Google’s main product, the search engine…

Read more at Interesting Engineering.

This Google AI Music Will Freak You …Out

Where uncanny valley really sets in is whenever Google asks MusicLM to produce vocals.

If you’ve played around with ChatGPT at all, you know how impressive (and terrifying) AI can be. ChatGPT can generate just about anything you ask it to, with prompts as simple or as complex as you can think of. Well, Google has figured out how to do the same. But rather than spit out poems or computer programs, Google’s AI writes music, and you can preview its creations right now.

Google’s AI, dubbed MusicLM, is designed to produce multiple minutes of high-quality music based on text prompts. While AI music isn’t necessarily new, the company claims its program produces tracks that are more accurate to the initial text prompt and are better quality than previous models. Big claims, of course. But, based on these previews, they might just live up to them…

Read more at Lifehacker.

Tom Hanks is getting de-aged with deepfake AI for new movie

The upcoming Robert Zemeckis movie will be using the technology behind the viral deepfake Tom Cruise

Conversations about AI art are everywhere you look these days. People on social media are using it to “recreate” the aesthetics of filmmakers like Wes Anderson, artists are suing AI art generators over copyright infringement, AI-powered apps are hypersexualzing users, streamers are using AI to maintain eerie eye contact with their viewers, and filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro are calling AI art “an insult to life itself.”

The upcoming movie Here, from Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks and Robin Wright, will probably increase that discourse tenfold. The movie will be using the AI-driven tool Metaphysic Live, best known for its deep fakes of Tom Cruise (and also featured on America’s Got Talent).

Here, adapted from Richard McGuire’s graphic novel, follows the two protagonists over a long period of time and is set in a single location. Both Hanks and Wright will be de-aged in the movie, playing the younger versions of their characters.

Zemeckis said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter the technology will allow Here to do things that were “previously impossible,” by having Hanks and Wright play their characters throughout the film’s time periods…

Read more at Polygon.

Thanks for reading this week’s Wednesday Newbytes. We hope you found these articles informative, interesting, fun, and helpful. Darcy & TC

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