PCWorld August 2021

We review the Google Pixel 4a, plus what to expect if you’re switching from an iPhone SE. Find out if your Chromebook is expiring. Reviews of Note 20 Ultra, Norton 360 Deluxe, Mullvad vs. NordVPN, and much more!

United States
12 Issues

in this issue

5 min
want windows 11? your pc had better have these specs

Microsoft has published its hardware requirements for Windows 11, adding strict new security requirements for its next operating system. Here’s what you’ll need to run Windows 11 when Microsoft releases it in the fall. Microsoft will release Windows 11 by holiday 2021, so you’ll have ample time to prepare. Microsoft is working with PC makers to develop Windows 11–ready PCs, and you may be able to upgrade to Windows 11 for free with your existing PC—provided it meets the minimum hardware requirements. Fortunately, if your PC doesn’t meet those requirements, you’ll have several years to replace it, as Windows 10 will be supported until 2025. New Windows 11 PCs will also ship this fall. We’ve updated this story to note that Microsoft has published a multipage document listing the detailed hardware requirements…

4 min
here are the cpus that officially can run windows 11

A new operating system incompatible with older hardware—that’s surely another MacOS announcement, right? Not this time. Windows users could soon find themselves in the same boat as Apple fans: Following close behind the official announcement of Windows 11 was the reveal of much stricter hardware compatibility (see page 7) for Windows 10’s successor. Unlike previous generations of the operating system, Windows 11 tacks on tougher security requirements, like the presence of a Trusted Platform Module 2.0 and the ability to use Secure Boot. In a mild surprise, Microsoft has already named specific processors that are cleared for the next era of Windows. Much remains to be explained—such as the criteria for getting the green light, though we’ve sniffed out some strong clues about processor security features—but for now, if you’re curious whether…

2 min
windows 11 will give you 10 days to roll back to windows 10

If you don’t like Windows 11, you’ll have a 10-day time frame to roll back to Windows 10, according to Microsoft and its customers. So far, what we’ve seen of Windows 11 feels surprisingly good (see page 35), though Windows 10 users may be surprised by the sparer interface. We know Windows 11 removes a number of Windows 10 features. The official preview build of Windows 11 does away with dynamic Live Tiles, replaces the Start menu with rows of simplified icons, and more. We also know that Microsoft plans to add more Windows 11 features in future beta builds, such as Teams integration into the Taskbar, and PC gaming features like Auto HDR. This all assumes that you’ll want to use Windows 11 when it rolls out. Fortunately, you can try…

2 min
the printnightmare exploit is so scary, even windows 7 got an emergency fix (but it’s imperfect)

Microsoft typically releases updates for Windows as part of its monthly “Patch Tuesday” blitz, but the company recently took the unusual step of releasing an emergency out-of-band security update to fix the critical “PrintNightmare” vulnerability published (and deleted) by researchers—even for Windows 7. Bottom line? Update your Windows PC pronto…but the patch may not fix all PCs if your system is connected to a local network. PrintNightmare attacks the Windows Print Spooler service, which runs by default. “A remote code execution vulnerability exists when the Windows Print Spooler service improperly performs privileged file operations,” Microsoft’s executive summary states. “An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could run arbitrary code with SYSTEM privileges. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.” In…

5 min
windows 365 launches microsoft’s cloud pc era

Windows 365 is Microsoft’s name for the Cloud PC, a new Microsoft service that will stream Windows in the cloud to Android phones, tablets, Macs, and more. Windows 365, available to businesses starting August 2, was announced at Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft’s partner conference. The concept is simple enough: Just like you can now stream Xbox games from Microsoft’s Azure cloud to either your phone or your browser, now you can do the same for Windows 10 and eventually Windows 11. The Cloud PC won’t depend on local hardware to run Windows; instead, you’ll need a dependable, persistent Internet connection to reach Windows 365. For now, Windows 365 will be a business offering, though you’ll be able to run it on personal devices—just like you can access your company’s SharePoint files via your…

3 min
razer launches new blade 17 gaming notebook for both work and play

Razer has launched the latest generation of its Razer Blade 17 gaming PC, though with numerous enhancements that the company says will make it usable for both work and after-hours gaming. Razer’s Blade 17 (previous generations were known as the Razer Blade Pro 17) will be available on July 30 in seven configurations, starting with a base price of $2,399 up through $3,699. You can preorder now on Razer.com. The most expensive configuration, known as the RZ09-0406A*R3, will add a Core i9 for the first time, specifically the 8-core, 16-thread Core i9-11900H. A representative of the company said that the i9-11900H uses a PL1 setting of 65W, which for that specific part is the maximum allowed by Intel. Otherwise, the configurations will be based upon the Intel Core i7-11800H, with a range…