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  1. New firmware is now available for the Surface Pro 4, Surface Laptop 3, and the original Surface Book running Windows 10 1909 and above. The update brings security and stability improvement. See the changelog below: Surface Laptop 3 For the Surface Laptop 3 (Intel version) the update brings the following fixes and improvements: Surface System Aggregator– Firmware: 14.502.139.0 Improves system performance. Surface Integration – System devices: 6.119.139.0 Improves device performance. Surface Dock Firmware Update – Firmware: 6.7.137.0 Improves Surface Dock 2 stability. Surface Pro 4 The July update for the Surface Pro 4 addresses the following security issues: Surface UEFI – Firmware: 109.3748.768.0 Addresses critical security vulnerability. Surface ME – Firmware: 11.8.86.3877 Addresses critical security vulnerability. Intel(R) Management Engine Interface – System devices: 2102.100.0.1044 Addresses critical security vulnerability. Surface Book The July firmware for the original Surface Book also addresses a critical security vulnerability: Surface UEFI – Firmware: 92.3748.768.0 Addresses critical security vulnerability. You can download the update by Checking for Updates in Settings. via onMSFT Microsoft release new firmware for Surface Pro 4, Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Book
  2. Microsoft Weekly: Flight Sim on console, Windows updates, and Q4 earnings As yet another set of seven days has gone by, it’s time we take a look at the news that popped up during this time, including the landing of Flight Simulator on console, a series of updates for Windows, and the Q4 earnings report for Microsoft’s 2021 fiscal year. You’ll find info about those subjects and more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of July 25 – 31. Flight Sim on console As promised, on July 27, Microsoft Flight Simulator landed on Game Pass and the Xbox Series X|S. This is the first time the title has made its way to console, with Xbox One users presumably being able to enjoy it via Xbox Cloud Gaming, where possible. In case simulators are not quite your thing, there’s currently an Xbox Ultimate Game Sale, featuring deals for Assassin’s Creed games, Call of Duty titles, and others, and if you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription, Darksiders III and Lost Planet 3 are now free to claim. In first-party news, Forza Motorsport 7 is set to be removed from storefronts in September (having initially been released in October of 2017). Those who currently own the game will be unaffected though, as they get to (obviously) keep their copies. And ending with another first-party game, Halo Infinite’s first Insider test is now live, and runs until August 2, at 10AM PT. Do be warned that Microsoft has accidentally leaked Infinite campaign details, so you’ll need to be cautious if you don’t want to have plot points spoiled. Windows updates Much like taxes, Windows updates are a given, and this week, there were definitely some interesting such updates. For one, Microsoft released the first Windows 11 build to the Beta channel, last week’s Dev channel build, 22000.100. As you’d imagine, it contains broadly the same number of fixes as the Dev build, only this one has a couple more known issues added. As is the case with Windows 11 going forward, Teams is quite tightly integrated with the OS, so here’s our hands-on with said Teams experience. In additional news about changes, Microsoft is set to retire semi-annual Windows Server updates in favor of LTSC (Long-Term Servicing Channel) releases. The next LTSC variant, set to drop this year, will still be based on Windows 10. And speaking of, KB5004296 was pushed out by the firm, bumping up the build numbers for Windows 10 versions 2004, 20H2, and 21H1 to 19041.1151, 19042.1151, and 19043.1151. The list of fixes is a little longer than usual, and contains everything from fixes for bugs with WFP (Windows Filtering Platform) to System Integrity memory leaks, and more. Last but not least, to end the talk about versions and version numbers, Windows 10 21H1 is now on 26% of PCs, with Windows 11 (the Insider flavor) grabbing 0.9% of the market. Q4 FY21 earnings It’ll come as no shock to those who follow Microsoft that the Redmond giant has now posted its quarterly earnings for the fourth quarter of its fiscal year 2021, which ended June 30. Microsoft brought in $46.2B in revenue (up 21% Year-over Year). Operating income landed at $19.1B (up 42%), with net income being $16.5B (up 47%). Diluted earnings per share was $2.17 (up 49%). Of the three sections that Microsoft’s earnings are split into, Productivity and Business Processes brought in $14.7B (up 25%), Intelligent Cloud contributed the most with $17.4B (up 30%), and More Personal Computing accounted for $14.1B of the total sum, a 9% increase year-over-year. In the first category, Office Commercial products and cloud services grew 20% in terms of revenue – off the back of a 35% increase in Office 365 Commercial revenue. Consumer Office earnings grew 18%, with Microsoft 365 consumer seats increasing to 51.9 million. Revenue from LinkedIn and Dynamics grew 46% and 33%, respectively. In the Intelligent Cloud bracket, Azure revenue grew 51%, with revenue from cloud services and server products being up 34% (accounting for $3.9B). The Enterprise Mobility install base grew 19% (to over 190 million seats), and Premier Support – as well as Microsoft Consulting services - grew by a respectable 12%. Under More Personal Computing, there was strong Search advertising revenue growth, with Windows Commercial products growing 20%, and OEM Pro (as well as non-Pro) revenues dipping 2% and 4% (respectively), which happened due to supply chain constraints. The other effect of said constraints was a 20% fall in revenue for the Surface unit. Gaming revenue was up 11%, with a 172% increase in hardware revenue (year-over-year). Xbox content and services were down 4%, and Search advertising was up 53%. Because this is also the end of the fiscal year, Microsoft shared the overall FY21 figures, with revenue landing at $168.1B (up 18%) and net income being $61.3B. Dev channel The final Edge Dev 93 build (93.0.961.2) is now out with an improved Settings layout. Outlook on the web now has a ‘My Day’ pane for easy access to Calendar and To Do. New phishing protections are now live in Teams. Teams now has nearly 250 million monthly active users. Logging off We end the column by highlighting a software transition that took place earlier this week. As was announced by Microsoft two years ago, Skype for Business Online was retired on July 31, 2021. The replacement is of course Teams, and the company is so confident in its latest chatting endeavor that it’s not extending the EOL date of Skype for Business Online. For folks who have not moved to Teams completely (or at all), there will be Microsoft-assisted upgrades (starting in August). Until the upgrades are completed, users will be free to continue their chats and calls via Skype for Business Online. Missed any of the previous columns? Check them all out at this link. Microsoft Weekly: Flight Sim on console, Windows updates, and Q4 earnings
  3. Microsoft reports weaker Surface and Windows revenue amid global chip shortage Cloud and Office save the revenue day Microsoft posted the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2021 financial results today, reporting revenue of $46.2 billion and a net income of $16.5 billion. Revenue is up 21 percent, and net income has increased by 47 percent. While cloud and Office services have boosted Microsoft’s revenues, it’s clear that the global chip shortage is taking its toll elsewhere. With the PC market experiencing its first big growth in 10 years earlier this year, there were some signs recently that laptop and PC sales could be starting to slow again amid a global chip shortage. Microsoft’s Windows results this quarter reflect that. The Surface Pro 7 Plus has been on sale for six months now. Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge Windows OEM revenue has declined by three percent, in what Microsoft blames on “supply chain constraints. Windows non-pro OEM revenue also declined four percent, with Windows OEM Pro revenue also down, by 2 percent. Windows commercial products and cloud services revenue has increased 20 percent, though. This includes businesses opting for Microsoft 365, with multi-year agreements and reflects the company’s push towards its bundling of Office and Windows. Microsoft is now planning to boost the PC market with the introduction of Windows 11, which is expected to ship on new devices in October. Windows 11 is a visual overhaul to the operating system, with a new Start menu, updated design, and an overall simplification of Windows. This recent quarter is also the first time we’ve seen the new Surface Laptop 4 combined with sales of the Surface Pro 7 Plus affect overall Surface revenue at Microsoft. Surface revenue has decreased by 20 percent this quarter, “driven by supply constraints” and a strong quarter of Surface sales in the year prior. Microsoft’s new Xbox Series consoles are now three quarters into sales. Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Series S consoles are now on their third quarter of sales, after helping grow hardware revenue in recent months. Hardware revenue is up again, as expected, by 172 percent. “We’re all in on games,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella during the company’s earnings call today. “The Xbox Series S and X are our fastest selling consoles ever, with more consoles sold life-to-date than any previous generation.” Microsoft’s overall gaming revenue is up by 11 percent, but Xbox content and services revenue has declined by four percent. Microsoft mentions growth in Xbox Game Pass subscriptions and first-party titles offsetting declines from third-party title revenue during a strong quarter in the year prior. Microsoft has not disclosed new Game Pass subscriber numbers, after the company revealed it had 18 million subscribers back in January. Microsoft had been regularly revealing Xbox Game Pass numbers over the past year, but it has now gone two quarters without any updates. Microsoft 365 keeps growing on the consumer side. While Microsoft’s Windows and Surface businesses took a hit this quarter, cloud services, Office, and LinkedIn have all seen impressive revenue growth. Office commercial revenue is up 20 percent, and Office consumer revenue up 18 percent. Overall Microsoft 365 consumer subscribers has also jumped to 51.9 million, a 22 percent increase year-over-year. Server and cloud services revenue grew 34 percent this quarter, with Azure alone up 51 percent. Overall revenue for Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud business was $17.4 billion, 37 percent of Microsoft’s total revenue. LinkedIn continues to grow well for Microsoft, too. LinkedIn revenue is up 46 percent year-over-year, thanks to stronger advertising demand after a dip during the early stages of the pandemic last year. Microsoft says LinkedIn sessions have grown 30 percent, “with record engagement.” Search advertising revenue is also up 53 percent. This has all resulted in LinkedIn becoming a $10 billion annual business for Microsoft. “In the past 3 years, gaming, security, and now LinkedIn, have all surpassed $10 billion in annual revenue,” said Nadella on the company’s earnings call today. Update, July 27th 6:15PM ET: Article updated with comments from Microsoft’s earnings call. Microsoft reports weaker Surface and Windows revenue amid global chip shortage
  4. Microsoft Surface Duo 2 leak reveals much-required camera upgrade More than cosmetic updates Microsoft’s Surface Duo was arguably the company’s most ambitious hardware project in recent times. Despite a promising form factor, the phone failed to live up to the expectations due to some drawbacks – camera performance being a major one. Now a fresh leak shows off its sequel - the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 in its full glory and Microsoft seems to have persisted with the design that garnered a positive reaction. After all, why fix that ain’t broken. That said, some cosmetic changes are visible and the most prominent one is the presence of a vertically aligned triple camera setup on the rear panel. The camera bump is now more prominent which suggests that Microsoft might use powerful camera sensors this time around. The phone’s slim form factor also makes the camera bump stand out that much more. While the overall design might look fairly similar to the original Surface Duo, however, there are some minor design tweaks like the corners are more rounded than earlier. However, these cosmetic changes are barely noticeable till the time you place both the devices next to each other. Also, the Surface Duo had chunky bezels on the front, thankful, the video claims that the upcoming smartphone may come with a modern design and may have thinner bezels. The metal hinge on the Surface Duo which was liked by many as it allowed users to keep the device partially folded for video calls and media consumption, seems to have been retained. This also confirms the fact that the Surface Duo 2 will continue to sport two separate screens which are in contrast to most other Android makers who’re busy making phones with foldable or rollable displays. Microsoft Surface Duo 2 launch date According to the leak, the Surface Duo 2 is expected to launch sometime in September or October and will start retailing right after the launch. This, however, may coincide with multiple other major devices like iPhone 13 series and the new Pixel lineup which is expected to include a foldable Pixel as well. Samsung’s latest foldable phones are slated to launch slightly earlier in August however might start retailing on a global level around the time the Surface Duo hits the market. Last but not the least, the price of Surface Duo was reduced multiple times making it extremely affordable. One of the primary reasons behind the cold response to the Surface Duo was its high price despite the dated hardware. Microsoft is expected to correct his as well and while the Surface Duo 2 may have the latest hardware under the hood, it is expected to be priced aggressively as well. With all these updates in place, we can only hope that Microsoft launches the phone at a global level rather than limiting it to a handful of countries. Microsoft Surface Duo 2 leak reveals much-required camera upgrade
  5. Microsoft Weekly: Windows 11 testing, future gaming, and HiveNightmare aka SeriousSAM It’s been a rather busy seven days in Redmond, with new Windows 11 test builds, long-awaited game releases on console, and yet another security vulnerability all being in the news. You can find details about the aforementioned and more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of July 18 – 24. Windows 11 testing It would be prudent to start with some of the news surrounding Microsoft’s next major iteration of Windows. For one, there’s the possible release time frame, which was revealed in a document accompanying a recent Intel GPU driver update. In it, Windows 11 is referred to as the October 2021 Update, though it’s possible this may also be a reference to Windows 10 21H2, which should drop around the same time. This timing wouldn’t be too surprising, as October has been the month of choice for the denomination or GA of several H2 updates - barring say 1809, which was quickly pulled following a number of problems, then re-released in December -, or previous major releases like Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 8. As far as the release of the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) variant of Windows 11 is concerned, Microsoft was clear that it is still several years out. The LTSC release that’s about to drop this year will be based on Windows 10 21H2, but the release after that is set to be underpinned by Windows 11. Given the recent change in the LTSC support lifecycle – namely slashing of support from 10 to five years -, there’s still a bit of a wait involved. Until then though, Microsoft is continuing to shed little more light on its Windows 11 design choices, such as the new context menu, or the Teams integration. Sadly, the Store variants for Business and Education will not be supported in Windows 11, though the downloading of Edge from the Store will be. And speaking of, Teams chat can now be tested thanks to Windows 11 Insider build 22000.100, which also adds some taskbar enhancements. Naturally, there are some known issues to keep in mind as always, one of which is the fact that Windows Hello is now broken. Not to worry though, there’s a way to fix it. Finally, in not exactly earth-shattering news, Microsoft has released a new cumulative update to Windows Insiders in the Release Preview ring. This is KB5004296 and should be available for folks running Windows 10 21H1 and 21H2. The only change is a new policy which „creates generic strings and removes branding-specific terms, such as „Windows” or „PC” for IoT Enterprise editions”. In other words, you’ll be seeing phrases like „Getting things ready” instead of „Getting Windows ready”. Future games On the gaming side of things, there’s a selection of titles now available on Game Pass, including Battlefield V, Cris Tales, Atomicorps, and Raji: An Ancient Epic. In terms of high-profile releases arriving soon, there’s Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge, The Ascent, as well as the long-awaited console release of Microsoft Flight Simulator. If those are not your cup of tea, the Deals with Gold are right this way. In other news of future releases, Halo Infinite’s first technical preview will focus on bots, with the kickoff allegedly happening as soon as next weekend. Matches will be 4v4 across the Bazaar, Recharge, and Live Fire maps. Yet another first-party title, this time Fallout 76, is set to get a long-requested feature in a couple of months, namely private servers. Dubbed Fallout Worlds, it will officially arrive in the game in September, but the PTS (Public Test Servers) already have it available, for those interested in testing this out early. Last but not least, we should mention the Dead Space remake announced at EA Play. Rebuilt by Motive Studios from the ground up to use the Frostbite engine, the game is slated to launch across PC, Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 5, though no release date or window was given. HiveNightmare aka SeriousSAM It seems like Microsoft just can’t catch a break when it comes to security recently. Following the massive Exchange Online exploits in March and April, and the PrintNightmare exploit affecting the Print Spooler Service, there’s now another high-profile security flaw going around. Dubbed HiveNightmare – due to it being a registry vulnerability -, or SeriousSAM (due to the Windows Security Account Manager – or SAM – database being involved), the flaw allows passwords and security keys to be accessed by non-admin users. As such, it would give an attacker access to the SAM, SYSTEM, and SECURITY registry hive files. In the linked post, we’ve detailed how to restrict access to the system32 config file, as well as how to delete Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) shadow copies in order to protect yourself against this. In light of the above, it’s perhaps no surprise that Microsoft chose to acquire CloudKnox Security in order to enhance its unified privileged access capabilities. Unfortunately, the section won’t be ending with any good news, as the July set of updates for Windows 10 has broken printing and scanning via the use of smart cards. This is an unfortunate side effect of the Redmond giant’s attempts at fixing the aforementioned PrintNightmare flaw. And as if that wasn’t enough, fake Windows 11 installers have also started circulating around the web. Unsurprisingly, they are being used for malware distribution. Dev channel Apps for Teams meetings are now supported on mobile. Microsoft is fighting legal battles to restrict the use of imposter domains. Online civility has deteriorated in the second year of the pandemic, says the Redmond giant. Edge 92 is now out, with a new Password Health dashboard. SharePoint Server Subscription Edition is now available in public preview. Visual Studio 2022 for Mac is now available in private preview. Logging off We end today with a Task Manager concept featuring what is perhaps one of the most oft-requested features for the utility. via AlurDesign While the Task Manager has certainly evolved over the years from its inception, one of the most often requested features is an option to switch to dark mode. Changes have been made so far in Windows 11 to make the implementation of this theme option a lot more consistent, though legacy apps still don’t respect the dark mode setting. To visualize just how a dark mode for Task Manager would look, Twitter user Jakub (AlurDesign) has put together a concept – seen above – which makes use of the more rounded aesthetic in Windows 11, as well as translucency effects. Of course, it’s a mere concept, but here’s hoping Microsoft sees this and chooses to take at least some design cues from it. Missed any of the previous columns? Check them all out at this link. Microsoft Weekly: Windows 11 testing, future gaming, and HiveNightmare aka SeriousSAM
  6. Microsoft Weekly: Another round of updates, Inspire 2021, and shifting release dates As yet another batch of seven days has passed, it’s time for us to look back at the various things that have taken place in the world of Microsoft. Among them this week, there was the ever-familiar Patch Tuesday, a set of announcements from the company’s Inspire event, and even a small helping of gaming news. You can find additional details about those and more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of July 11 – 17. Another round of updates To the surprise of very few, the second Tuesday of the month rolled on by, a sufficient cue for Microsoft to deploy its usual Patch Tuesday fixes. On this occasion, everything was focused even more so on security (given the PrintNightmare exploit), with updates as follows: Windows 10 21H1, 20H2, 2004 (May 2021, October 2020, May 2020 updates): KB5004237, builds 19043.1110, 19042.1110, and 19041.1110, respectively. Windows 10 1909 (November 2019 Update): KB5004245, build 18363.1679; Windows 10 1809 (October 2018 Update): KB5004244, build 17763.2061; Windows 10 1607 (Anniversary Update): KB5004238, build 14393.4530; Windows 10 1507 (RTM): KB5004249, build 10240.19003. The usual monthly roll-ups made their way to Windows 7 and 8.1 systems too: Windows 8.1: KB5004298, KB5004285 (security-only) Windows 7: KB5004289, KB5004307 (security-only) That is of course not all, as Microsoft has also detailed the upcoming Windows 10 21H2 feature update. Beyond support for technology like WPA3 H2E, the release of this update will also mark the point when the next LTSC (Long-Term Servicing Channel) variant is set to be released. Windows 10 21H2 is specifically targeted at those PCs that don’t support Windows 11. The latter, while set for release later, is still in testing in the Insider Program. The latest build, 22000.71, has added an Entertainment widget, as well as tweaks to the design of the context menu. Inspire 2021 Microsoft’s Inspire partner conference took place this week, with the Redmond firm outlining a number of enhancements it has made to existing products, as well as announcing new ones. For one, those running Server 2021 on Azure will get free extended security updates, similar to Server 2008 R2 instances, which are getting yet another year of security updates (for free). Sticking a tad more to Azure, the cloud platform’s Event Grid managed service is now able to integrate with Azure API Management (in preview), as well as Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). Furthermore, Azure Synapse and Stack HCI have gotten improvements of their own, centered around partner solutions. In addition, Dynamics 365 data is now accessible in Teams, and Microsoft has outlined its efforts for sustainable technology via a brand new initiative called the Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability Initiative – built off of similar initiatives that the firm is involved in, like the Green Software Foundation. Beyond the above, Microsoft commercial marketplaces will reduce fees to 3%, and as of August 2, organizations will be able to start making use of Windows 365 Cloud PC. This brand-new virtualized cloud operating system solution is Microsoft’s answer to what it calls the “hybrid personal computing category”, offering a personalized experience, and remotely delivering Windows 10 (or 11) to a specific endpoint. This is all underpinned by the familiar Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) tech. Shifting release dates This week has also been the host of a few bits of gaming news, starting with Ghostwire: Tokyo, the upcoming game from the Shinji Mikami-led Tango Gameworks. The title originally slated for an October 2021 launch window has been pushed to early 2022. More first-party game news also surfaced, as the Echoing Void DLC for Minecraft Dungeons was revealed to be releasing on July 28. It’ll add a brand-new region, new enemies, gear, and more, and will be priced at $5.99. Until then, there are Xbox Deals with Gold for Call of Juarez, various Lego games, deBlob and more to peruse, and Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break, as well as Midway Arcade Origins to claim for free if you’re an Xbox Live Gold subscriber. Dev channel Microsoft has acquired cybersecurity company RiskIQ for over $500 million. Windows Terminal Preview 1.10 is now out with Quake Mode added to the system tray. Edge Dev 93.0.946.1 has now gained the same flag previously found in Canary, enabling you to switch on the in-progress Windows 11 redesign. The Redmond giant has redesigned over 1,800 emoji in 3D, and has also brought back Clippy. JavaScript can now be debugged in Visual Studio Code without needing an extension. Logging off We end with some news around cyberattacks and security. Late last year, Microsoft, VMware, SolarWinds and others were victims of a targeted supply chain attack. As a result, through exploitation of said supply chain, attackers were able to even access private emails and documents of some companies. The latest development surrounding this attack is an RCE (Remote Code Execution) exploit making use of SolarWinds’ Serv-U Managed FTP and Secured FTP software. Extensive guidance regarding Indicators of Compromise has been published by Microsoft, with upgrade paths outlined by SolarWinds itself. As a result of the above, Microsoft has also begun cracking down on private business that sell cyberweapons, spurred on by the recent DevilsTongue malware discovery, which was distributed thanks to 0-day exploits in Windows and single-time-use URLs sent through WhatsApp. Missed any of the previous columns? Check them all out at this link. Microsoft Weekly: Another round of updates, Inspire 2021, and shifting release dates
  7. Microsoft announce extension of security updates for Windows Server 2008, 2012 and SQL Server 2012 The internet has become increasingly dangerous, making it very difficult for Microsoft to simply abandon old software which is often running important infrastructure. At Inspire 2021 Microsoft announced that they will continue to release Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2008 and 2012, and for SQL Server 2012. Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 was set to exit Extended Support on the 10th October 2023, but Microsoft has confirmed that this will be pushed back 3 years, while SQL Server 2012 will also get another 3 years beyond its earlier July 12, 2022 end of support date. Extended support of course costs a pretty penny, but Microsoft is prepared to offer it for free if you move your Windows Server to their Azure cloud using Azure Hybrid Benefit, which Microsoft says is the cheapest way to run Windows Server and SQL Server in the cloud. If you decide to stay on-prem, Microsoft is demanding a price escalator, with year one of support costing three-quarters of your licence costs, year two the price will be at full price, and in year three Extended Security Updates will cost 125 per cent of the license cost. Read all the detail at Microsoft here. via The Register Microsoft announce extension of security updates for Windows Server 2008, 2012 and SQL Server 2012
  8. Microsoft redesigns over 1,800 emoji in 3D, resurrects Clippy as the paper clip emoji Microsoft’s Claire Anderson, Art Director & Emojiologist at the company’s design team today penned a post on Medium to talk about the work the Redmond firm has been doing to revamp the look of emoji for Windows and the various Microsoft services – which the firm says are over 1,800 in total. Anderson says that the team has been working to “dramatically refresh” these emojis to create something that is “innately Fluent” by option for 3D designs and animations, moving away for 2D. The post is a lengthy one and dives into the discussion of professionalism when using emoji and how these characters are evolving communication at work. It also cites research articles pointing to the benefits of using expressive that “encourages innovation” and creativity. The post also mentions the impact of the pandemic and the resulting adoption of hybrid work. The company says that the new emojis feature “bright, saturated colors and bold forms” and that the designs adhere to the connected icon system that the firm talked about last year. An interesting addition is the new Clippy emoji in place of the paper clip, which the firm was teasing on its social media platforms yesterday. There are examples of a bunch of other designs that the company is working on and is asking feedback for. There are also five brand new emojis that were inspired by the new remote work paradigm. These new emoji characters are now live on Flipgrid and will make it to Windows and Teams this holiday. The emoji will also roll out to Outlook, Yammer, and other Microsoft 365 suite of apps through the course of the next year. The company adds that it will bring its “Fluent aesthetic to life” to the productivity suit with not just emoji but also themes, backgrounds, and illustrations, and more. Microsoft redesigns over 1,800 emoji in 3D, resurrects Clippy as the paper clip emoji
  9. Changelog: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/deployedge/microsoft-edge-relnote-stable-channel Download Page: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/edge/business/download Downloads: x86: https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=2093505 https://msedge.sf.dl.delivery.mp.microsoft.com/filestreamingservice/files/449d444c-fe06-4441-a224-903168884ce3/MicrosoftEdgeEnterpriseX86.msi x64: https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=2093437 https://msedge.sf.dl.delivery.mp.microsoft.com/filestreamingservice/files/f21e29e2-9608-47a9-b793-8caa6e670eb4/MicrosoftEdgeEnterpriseX64.msi
  10. Microsoft threatens to resurrect Clippy as an Office emoji Microsoft wants 20,000 likes in return for Clippy, and it got them Microsoft is threatening to bring back its annoying loveable Clippy character. The software giant claims it will replace the paperclip emoji in Microsoft Office with Clippy if the tweet below gets 20,000 likes. The tweet has already surpassed that number, so it seems Clippy could be about to return as a more innocent emoji — but Microsoft is being coy about what might happen next. Born in Office 97, Clippy originally appeared as an assistant to offer help and tips for using Microsoft Office. You either loved or hated its Groucho eyebrows and persistence, and Microsoft eventually killed off Clippy in Office XP in 2001. The famous paperclip nearly made a return a couple of years ago, though. Some Microsoft employees briefly resurrected Clippy as animated stickers in Microsoft Teams, but the company’s “brand police” swooped in to shut the effort down. It was a brutal firing of the anthropomorphic paperclip, but it looks like Microsoft has now realized humans like to have fun while they’re entering data into spreadsheets or creating a PowerPoint presentation. So will we finally see Clippy return to Microsoft Office? Microsoft is currently holding Clippy hostage behind a tweet that already has more than 30,000 likes, so we’ll have to wait and see. As every YouTuber puts it, hit that like button Verge readers and we’ll find out what happens. Update July 14th, 4:15PM ET: Added that Microsoft’s tweet has already surpassed 30,000 likes and that the company is being cagey about if it will follow through on its promise to make Clippy an emoji. Microsoft threatens to resurrect Clippy as an Office emoji
  11. Microsoft working with Google for improved Clipboard API Microsoft is determined to make PWAs first-class applications on Windows and their latest effort is improving support for the system clipboard for websites and web apps. Microsoft and Google are currently working on a new Pickle Clipboard API which lets websites read and write arbitrary unsanitized payloads using a standardized pickling format, as well as read and write a limited subset of OS-specific formats (for supporting legacy apps). Microsoft says the existing Web Platform has an API that supports the most popular standardized data types (text, image, rich text) across all platforms, however, this API does not scale to the long tail of specialized formats. In particular, custom formats, non-web-standard formats like TIFF (a large image format), and proprietary formats like .docx (a document format), are not supported by the current Web Platform. With web apps becoming more prevalent, some powerful web applications would like to exchange data payloads with web and native applications via the OS clipboard (copy-paste). The Pickle Clipboard API would see the name of the clipboard format is managed by the browser in a standardized way to indicate that the content is from the web, which allows native applications to opt-in to accepting the unsanitized content. Microsoft says the new API will allow: Allow copy/paste between web and native apps using the system clipboard. Developers can create custom clipboard formats. Preserve security/privacy. Provide fine-grained control over the clipboard. Built on existing Async Clipboard API. The work has already begun to implement Pickling into Chromium, and will hopefully proceed without the controversy caused by Microsoft’s Enhanced URL copy and paste. via WindowsLatest Microsoft working with Google for improved Clipboard API
  12. Microsoft is reportedly acquiring cybersecurity firm RiskIQ for over $500 million Microsoft announced last month the acquisition of ReFirm Labs, which provides tools to help secure Internet of Things and connected devices. The acquisition bolstered the company's Azure Defender for IoT platform to help customers fend off sophisticated attacks. Now, the software giant appears to be expanding its portfolio of security services with another acquisition. Microsoft is reportedly snapping up RiskIQ, a cybersecurity firm that provides protection against various forms of online threats through its software-as-a-service platform. A report from Bloomberg claims the company is paying more than $500 million in cash for the acquisition. As per RiskIQ's website, its security service is powered by a global internet intelligence graph that "has mapped the billions of relationships between the internet components belonging to every organization, business, and threat actor on Earth." RiskIQ counts some of the biggest companies in the world such as Facebook, BMW, and American Express among its customers. Microsoft also recently beefed up its cybersecurity offering for high-risk entities such as political organizations, journalists, and human rights workers with the expansion of AccountGuard to 31 countries in March. Two months later, it unveiled Counterfit, an automation tool designed to automate the security testing of an organization's AI systems. Neither Microsoft nor RiskIQ confirmed the latest report. That said, the rumored acquisition is expected to be officially announced in the next few days. Source: Bloomberg (paywall) Microsoft is reportedly acquiring cybersecurity firm RiskIQ for over $500 million
  13. Microsoft Weekly: Continued print nightmares, Windows 11 updates, and test builds Yet another week has gone by, and as a consequence, another recap is in order. On this occasion, we’ll be covering the ongoing mitigations for the PrintNightmare flaw, additional Windows 11 news, and some Insider builds. You can find all the details about that, and more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of July 4 – 10. Continued print nightmares If you checked for updates this week, you might’ve seen that Microsoft has pushed out a set of mandatory patches for the most recent versions of Windows 10 going back to 1809, as well as supported instances of Windows 7, 8.1, Server 2008, 2012, and others. This is to provide a fix for the RCE-allowing PrintNightmare flaw in the Print Spooler service. According to some security researchers however, the fix above can be bypassed, though as per Microsoft itself, the bypass can only happen when folks are using modified registry values. The firm says that by default, the configuration of the registry entries in question is secure. As part of the mitigation process, the functionality of Zebra printers has been broken, though the Redmond giant is working on a fix. We could be seeing yet another set of patches quite soon. Windows 11 updates Ever since the unveiling of Windows 11, a number of questions have remained, if not unanswered, at least not answered completely. One such question, concerning hardware support for TPM 2.0, was clarified a tad by OEMs this week. Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and others have published a list of hardware that’s set to be compatible with Windows 11 at launch. This hardware includes – covering both standalone components and those part of pre-built systems – AMD’s TRX40 and 300 motherboards, as well as Intel’s X299, C621, C232, C236 platforms, among others. It’s important to stress that Microsoft is still testing the waters with support for 1st gen Ryzen and 7th gen Core chips, meaning that the currently published list isn’t the be all end all of supported hardware. Speaking of support, even though the Redmond giant hasn’t come out to specifically state this, some of its OEMs have published FAQ pages outlining the fact that Windows 8 and 7 users will be able to upgrade to Windows 11. That said, in the case of the latter, it seems as if a clean install is required. For folks trying out the test version of Windows 11, there’s a new Dev channel build – 22000.65 -, which brings the search box back to the Start menu, as well as including fixes for the PrintNightmare exploit, and a number of other quality of life improvements. Coincidentally or not, the firm has also kicked off its first Windows 11 bug bash. Last but not least, if you’re running the Canary variant of Edge, you can now enable an “in-progress” visual refresh of the browser that brings it more in line with the design of Microsoft’s next major iteration of Windows. All you have to do is switch on the “Enable Windows 11 Visual Updates” under edge://flags. Test builds In case you’ve signed up to be an Office Insider, you may start seeing the beginning of the rollout for a UI refresh meant to bring the productivity suite closer visually to Windows 11. If you see any updates available, and especially if you get v16.0.14301.20004, you could be presented with the new UI, thought the rollout seems to be staggered at the moment. In other UI and/or UX news, if you are one of the three people who bought a Surface Duo, and also happened to be a Skype Insider, support for split windows is now available on the dual-screen device. Though this is the consumer version we’re talking about, the timing seems a tad odd, with Microsoft prepped to sunset Skype for Business at the end of this month. Last but not least, remaining on the subject of EOL and shuttering of solutions, Microsoft has suspended the beta for SQL Server on Windows Containers, instead recommending folks use Linux. Dev channel Microsoft is planning some improvements for Visual Studio Code, improvements aimed at Java devs. The DoD has scrapped the $10B JEDI contract awarded to Microsoft, and will now award a revamped variant to the Redmond giant and Amazon instead. The Cloud PC could be announced by Microsoft on July 15. Teams is set to add the option to automatically delete meeting recordings form the cloud. Microsoft will be handing out a $1,500 pandemic bonus to nearly all employees. Logging off We wrap things up with a look at a small selection of gaming news. For one, UFC 4, Tropico 6, Farming Simulator 19, The Medium, and others have either already arrived (in the case of the first two) or will be arriving to Xbox Game Pass across console, PC, and Cloud. As is the case with subscriptions, Endless Space 2, Downwell, CrossCode, UFC, and UFC 2 will be leaving the subscription in mid-July. Last but not least, we should mention that Dark Souls III now supports FPS Boost, bumping the framerate to 60FPS on Xbox Series X|S. Missed any of the previous columns? Check them all out at this link. Microsoft Weekly: Continued print nightmares, Windows 11 updates, and test builds
  14. Pentagon kills Microsoft’s $10B JEDI cloud contract, says tech is now outdated Amazon's legal stall tactics seem to have paid off. Following years of controversy and intrigue, the Pentagon canceled its JEDI cloud computing contract with Microsoft today. Microsoft was awarded the contract in October 2019, but work stalled as Amazon, the other finalist, mounted a legal challenge. Now, the Department of Defense has scrapped the entire project, saying that it’s out of date. “The Department has determined that, due to evolving requirements, increased cloud conversancy, and industry advances, the JEDI Cloud contract no longer meets its needs,” a Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement. The deal, which was to be worth up to $10 billion over 10 years, was a significant though contested win for Microsoft that would have given its cloud division a healthy boost in revenue and market share. Late last year, Microsoft Azure held 20 percent of the market, trailing Amazon’s AWS’ 31 percent. In JEDI’s place, the Pentagon said it will be soliciting proposals for a new contract, the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability, from both Microsoft and Amazon. Oracle, IBM, and Google submitted JEDI bids as well, though Google withdrew its bid under pressure from employees. The Pentagon says it will continue its research to see whether other companies can compete, but it insists that only Microsoft and Amazon are sophisticated enough to meet its requirements. The new contract represents a victory for Amazon, which launched its legal challenge a month after the Pentagon awarded the contract for JEDI, which stands for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. The company filed suit in the US Court of Federal Claims, alleging that former President Donald Trump tipped the scales in favor of Microsoft because of his animus toward Amazon’s then-CEO Jeff Bezos. Trump fanned the flames with repeated criticism of Amazon’s bid. “I’m getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon; they’re saying it wasn’t competitively bid,” he told reporters in July 2019. “I will be asking them to take a look at it very closely to see what’s going on because I have had very few things where there's been such complaining.” Trump’s criticism aside, JEDI was mired in controversy almost from the outset. The Pentagon launched the solicitation by insisting on using a single vendor, which drew criticism from Oracle and IBM even before bids were due. Republicans in Congress joined them, arguing that multiple winners should be selected. Then, in August 2019, just weeks before the contract was to be awarded, Defense Secretary Mark Esper ordered an independent review before ultimately announcing Microsoft as a winner several weeks later. Amazon cried foul, claiming the delay was further evidence that Trump had unfairly influenced the outcome of the bid process. In February 2020, Amazon won an injunction, halting work on JEDI, and the company continued to pursue its case. The stall tactic seems to have worked. While Amazon won’t get a chance to take the entire pie, as it would have if it had been awarded the JEDI deal, it will likely get a sizable slice of the new JWCC contract. Update 5:40 pm EDT: Microsoft and Amazon have both commented on the nixed contract. "We understand the DoD’s rationale, and we support them and every military member who needs the mission-critical 21st century technology JEDI would have provided," Toni Townes-Whitley, Microsoft's President of US Regulated Industries, wrote in a blog post. "The DoD faced a difficult choice: Continue with what could be a years-long litigation battle or find another path forward. The security of the United States is more important than any single contract, and we know that Microsoft will do well when the nation does well. Because the security of the United States through the provision of critical technology upgrades is more important that any single contract, we respect and accept DoD’s decision to move forward on a different path to secure mission-critical technology." Amazon had a different take on the matter, of course. “We understand and agree with the DoD’s decision," an AWS spokesperson said to Ars. "Unfortunately, the contract award was not based on the merits of the proposals and instead was the result of outside influence that has no place in government procurement. Our commitment to supporting our nation’s military and ensuring that our warfighters and defense partners have access to the best technology at the best price is stronger than ever. We look forward to continuing to support the DoD’s modernization efforts and building solutions that help accomplish their critical missions.” Pentagon kills Microsoft’s $10B JEDI cloud contract, says tech is now outdated
  15. Microsoft Weekly: Windows 11 for insiders, cloud gaming, and print nightmares Following on from last week’s special edition of Microsoft Weekly, where we covered most of what was known - at the time - about the Redmond giant’s upcoming OS, we take a peek at some additional info that has surfaced since. We’ll also cover an interesting development in regards to Project xCloud, and the rather serious Print Spooler vulnerability. All that and more can be found below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of June 27 – July 3. Windows 11 for insiders Following its unveiling of Windows 11 on the 24th of June, Microsoft stated that it would give insiders the chance to play with a test build soon. Rather unexpectedly, it was not ‘Microsoft soon’ as usual, but rather soon in the actual sense of the word. To start off the week properly, build 22000.51 made its way to the Dev channel, showcasing a new File Explorer, as well as a number of the new UI and UX changes shown in the presentation on Thursday. Although a number of new things made their way into the build – you can check out our hands-on video here -, like a new Store and some more consistent UI across Office apps, notably absent was support for Android apps, as well as the demoed Teams integration. The company says that these will come through at a later date, since the OS is still in testing (most likely targeted for an October release). Clarifying its rather stringent mininum system requirements, Microsoft stated that at the heart of those was security, including virtualization-based security (or VBS), hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI) and Secure Boot, the combination of which the company says reduces malware by 60%. Though the 8th-gen Intel Core / 2nd gen AMD Ryzen remains the cutoff officially, the firm also says that 7th Core and 1st gen Ryzen may be supported depending on testing and customer feedback. If you insist on installing Windows 11 on unsupported hardware – save for those few “special” PCs that don’t need a TPM to run the OS - , we have a guide for that, though you’re probably better off installing it in a VM. If you decide to go that route, here’s how to enable 3D Acceleration in VirtualBox. As for everybody else, if your PC qualifies, you’ll be getting the upgrade early next year. In case you’re not satisfied with Windows 11, you can always roll back to 10. If you’re an enterprise customer, Microsoft has also outlined a way to plan your transition to its upcoming OS. Last but not least, the company says that accessibility is area of focus for Windows 11, though it’s not clear if the new Black Screen of Death (which conveniently also shortens to BSOD) is part of this focus. Cloud gaming Hopping over to the gaming side of things, Xbox Cloud Gaming (formerly Project xCloud) has now expanded in availability to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers in 22 countries. This method of play is available through the Chrome or Edge browsers on Windows 10, Safari on Apple devices, and the Xbox Game Pass app on Android. In additional news, Conker: Live & Reloaded, Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break, Planet Alpha, and Midway Arcade Origins are this month’s Games with Gold. Folks who have either an Xbox Live Gold or Game Pass Ultimate subscription (which includes Gold) can now grab Conker: Live and Reloaded and Planet Alpha for free. But if those don’t sound like quite your thing, there are always the Deals with Gold to look at, or the upcoming horde mode from Doom Eternal. Unfortunately for those looking forward to it, horde mode will be replacing Invasion Mode, which is now canceled. Print nightmares While security updates are something folks have gotten used to, the other side of the coin, security vulnerabilities, are perhaps a tad more pervasive - even if they don’t really get too much mainstream attention. This is not the case with the latest vulnerability, which in this case targets the Print Spooler service in Windows. Known as PrintNightmare, the flaw allows for RCE (remote code execution) due to the Windows Print Spooler not restricting access to the RpcAddPrinterDriverEx() function. To put it simply, an attacker that is remotely authenticated can run arbitrary code with SYSTEM privileges. This is being tracked by the CERT Coordination Center under VU#383432, and by Microsoft under the related issue CVE-2021-1675. June’s Patch Tuesday set of updates has only fixed part of the issue, unfortunately. As a result of the above, Microsoft has pushed out further mitigations for the exploit, bumping its severity rating up to ‘high’. Dev channel The June firmware update for the Surface Pro 7 has brought in critical security fixes, among other things. Microsoft has also announced a raft of security updates for the Power Platform. Azure SQL on Azure Arc will reach General Availability on July 30. The out of band KB5004760 update has been pushed out to Windows 10 systems to fix PDF problems. Edge Dev build 93.0.933.1 is out, enabling Tab Groups by default and adding Collections integration. Edge Dev and Canary builds now have a new Share menu with an ‘Email to myself’ option. Teams’ activity feed is now integrated with Power BI. Microsoft has detailed all the changes it’s making to the App Developer Agreement come July 28. Logging off To wrap things up, we’ll take a look at a couple of updates that have arrived for PowerToys. For one, version 0.41.2 has brought in the ability to configure how you would like your PC to stay awake, either by keeping the current power plan, staying awake indefinitely, or for a set number of hours or minutes. Improvements have also been made to the ColorPicker, FancyZones, Image Resizer, and other features, with the list of changes and fixes being rather lengthy. Not long after the update above, the company also pushed out version 0.41.4, which fixed a bug that caused high CPU usage when using the 'Awake PC' feature we mentioned above. This version also included some fixes for PowerToys Run and image resizing. Missed any of the previous columns? Check them all out at this link. Microsoft Weekly: Windows 11 for insiders, cloud gaming, and print nightmares
  16. Here are all the changes Microsoft is making to its App Developer Agreement from July 28 Like most companies with a digital storefront available to third parties and customers, Microsoft has a robust "App Developer Agreement" in place that governs how developers will make their content available to customers via the Microsoft Store. The company usually updates this document once or twice a year in accordance with the ever-changing tech landscape. It has now published a new version of this agreement which will be applicable towards the end of this month, and it contains some interesting tidbits of information. The Microsoft App Developer Agreement was updated on June 28, 2021, and will be applicable from July 28, 2021. The agreement is now at version 8.7, an increment from version 8.6 released on July 10, 2020. You can view the 51-page document over here in full if you are so inclined, but for the sake of brevity and your convenience, we have highlighted all of the major changes compared to the previous version below: The definition of a "game" has been expanded to include "game-streaming or gaming subscription apps" as well. The definition of "Store" has been updated to include services which allow customers to purchase content from Microsoft-operated storefronts. There are explicit references of the "Microsoft commerce platform" and "Microsoft commerce engine" for billing systems operated by Microsoft. Sections mentioning billing systems were quite vague previously. Microsoft maintains that it does not claim any ownership of apps that you submit to the Store, but you do give it the rights to distribute, host, and reproduce them, among other things. However, moving forward, the company has explicitly highlighted that the latter does not apply to material under free and open-source software (FOSS) licenses. If your app's code is licensed from third-parties or is under a FOSS license, you are solely responsible for ensuring that you comply to the license's terms. Developers are now allowed to use secure third-party commerce engines, but only for the distribution of "non-games". Games sold on any device as well as all apps on Xbox still have to use Microsoft's commerce engine. We already know that Microsoft will not take a cut from apps which utilize third-party commerce engines. That said, the company has cautioned that any such platform has to comply with its certification requirements. Furthermore, the Redmond tech giant will not be responsible for collection and remittance of tax if you do not use Microsoft's commerce engine. It will be your responsibility to send customer tax invoices as governed by applicable local laws. Microsoft will give developers an 88% revenue cut for games sold through the Microsoft Store on PC following August 1, 2021. This is something we have been aware of since April 2021. As always, Microsoft will deduct any refunds and chargebacks from your submissions in the Store, but the terms have now been updated to highlight that you are "solely responsible" when this happens. New terms and agreements have been added for Win32 apps and Edge extensions in order to incorporate them into the Microsoft App Developer Agreement. This is the first time that the Microsoft App Developer Agreement has been updated in almost a year, and as can be seen above, it takes into account many of the company's announcements from its Windows 11 event a few days ago. The changes listed will be effective from July 28, 2021. Here are all the changes Microsoft is making to its App Developer Agreement from July 28
  17. Microsoft admits to signing rootkit malware in supply-chain fiasco Microsoft has now confirmed signing a malicious driver being distributed within gaming environments. This driver, called "Netfilter," is in fact a rootkit that was observed communicating with Chinese command-and-control (C2) IPs. G Data malware analyst Karsten Hahn first took notice of this event last week and was joined by the wider infosec. community in tracing and analyzing the malicious drivers bearing the seal of Microsoft. It turns out, the C2 infrastructure belongs to a company classified under "Communist Chinese military" by the US Department of Defense. This incident has once again exposed threats to software supply-chain security, except this time it stemmed from a weakness in Microsoft's code-signing process. "Netfilter" driver is rootkit signed by Microsoft Last week, G Data's cybersecurity alert systems flagged what appeared to be a false positive, but was not—a Microsoft signed driver called "Netfilter." The driver in question was seen communicating with China-based C&C IPs providing no legitimate functionality and as such raised suspicions. This is when G Data's malware analyst Karsten Hahn shared this publicly and simultaneously contacted Microsoft: The malicious binary has been signed by Microsoft (VirusTotal) "Since Windows Vista, any code that runs in kernel mode is required to be tested and signed before public release to ensure stability for the operating system." "Drivers without a Microsoft certificate cannot be installed by default," states Hahn. At the time, BleepingComputer began observing the behavior of C2 URLs and also contacted Microsoft for a statement. The first C2 URL returns a set of more routes (URLs) separated by the pipe ("|") symbol: Navigating to the C2 URL presents more routes for different purposes Source: BleepingComputer Each of these serves a purpose, according to Hahn: The URL ending in "/p" is associated with proxy settings, "/s" provides encoded redirection IPs, "/h?" is for receiving CPU-ID, "/c" provided a root certificate, and "/v?" is related to the malware's self-update functionality. As seen by BleepingComputer, for example, the "/v?" path provided URL to the malicious Netfilter driver in question itself (living at "/d3"): Path to malicious Netfilter driver Source: BleepingComputer The G Data researcher spent some time sufficiently analyzing the driver and concluded it to be malware. The researcher has analyzed the driver, its self-update functionality, and Indicators of Compromise (IOCs) in a detailed blog post. "The sample has a self-update routine that sends its own MD5 hash to the server via hxxp://110.42.4.180:2081/v?v=6&m=," says Hahn. An example request would look like this: hxxp://110.42.4.180:2081/v?v=6&m=921fa8a5442e9bf3fe727e770cded4ab "The server then responds with the URL for the latest sample, e.g. hxxp://110.42.4.180:2081/d6 or with 'OK' if the sample is up-to-date. The malware replaces its own file accordingly," further explained the researcher. Malware's self-update functionality analyzed by G Data During the course of his analysis, Hahn was joined by other malware researchers including Johann Aydinbas, Takahiro Haruyama, and Florian Roth. Roth was able to gather the list of samples in a spreadsheet and has provided YARA rules for detecting these in your network environments. Notably, the C2 IP 110.42.4.180 that the malicious Netfilter driver connects to belonged to Ningbo Zhuo Zhi Innovation Network Technology Co., Ltd, according to WHOIS records. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has previously marked this organization as a "Communist Chinese military company," another researcher @cowonaut observed. Microsoft admits to signing the malicious driver Microsoft is actively investigating this incident, although thus far, there is no evidence that stolen code-signing certificates were used. The mishap seems to have resulted from the threat actor following Microsoft's process to submit the malicious Netfilter drivers, and managing to acquire the Microsoft-signed binary in a legitimate manner: "Microsoft is investigating a malicious actor distributing malicious drivers within gaming environments." "The actor submitted drivers for certification through the Windows Hardware Compatibility Program. The drivers were built by a third party." "We have suspended the account and reviewed their submissions for additional signs of malware," said Microsoft yesterday. According to Microsoft, the threat actor has mainly targeted the gaming sector specifically in China with these malicious drivers, and there is no indication of enterprise environments having been affected so far. Microsoft has refrained from attributing this incident to nation-state actors just yet. Falsely signed binaries can be abused by sophisticated threat actors to facilitate large-scale software supply-chain attacks. The multifaceted Stuxnet attack that targeted Iran's nuclear program marks a well-known incident in which code-signing certificates were stolen from Realtek and JMicron to facilitate the attack. This particular incident, however, has exposed weaknesses in a legitimate code-signing process, exploited by threat actors to acquire Microsoft-signed code without compromising any certificates. Source
  18. Microsoft Weekly: A round of Windows leaks, Xbox mini fridges, and hybrid work In the last seven days we’ve seen the set of E3 2021 announcements from Microsoft – including the Xbox Mini Fridge -, the leaking of a Windows 11 ISO, and a number of other bits of news. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of June 13 - 19. A round of Windows leaks The week started in what the Redmond firm could call not ideal conditions, since screenshots of the yet-to-be announced Windows 11 emerged. A little later that same day, the situation got even more interesting as an ISO of build 21996.1 made its way onto the web. Naturally, we got our hands on it and have chosen to highlight a number of the OS’s new features – like the Windows 10X-esque centered taskbar icons, rounded corners, or the translucent UI (in some places) – via either screenshots of the desktop UI, the OOBE, the new window snapping UI, the new set of wallpapers, and more. It does seem that out of all, the Home version requires an internet connection to complete setup, but luckily there’s a workaround. In case you want to test this out yourself, you might want to be quick as Microsoft is already issuing DMCA complaints to take down the leaked ISO. We won’t have long to wait until an official announcement though, with the dedicated set of events scheduled for June 24 at 11AM ET and June 24 at 3PM ET (the latter of which is aimed at developers). On that day we might also see the performance boots that the OS brings, especially for big.LITTLE x86 CPUs – as shown in a set of tests. Xbox mini fridges As is tradition, Microsoft held its annual E3 event on the Sunday just before the event’s kickoff, and on this occasion, it was joined by the Bethesda folks (the parent company of which it finalized the acquisition of this year). To further emphasize the above, the showcase even started with Starfield, Bethesda’s first new IP in years. Powered by the Creation Engine 2, the title showcased an in-game cinematic sequence and perhaps more surprisingly, a release date as well. The sci-fi game is coming November 11, 2022 (exactly 11 years after the release of Skyrim) and yes, it will be exclusive to Microsoft platforms. While we’re on the subject of Bethesda, there was also some new ESO and Fallout 76 content announced, along with the fact that Game Pass is getting a number of the missing titles from the publisher, alongside titles like the entire Yakuza series, and even Turtle Rock’s Back 4 Blood on day one. Also in the Bethesda camp was a new IP from Arkane Austin, dubbed Redfall. The co-op vampire hunting game is coming summer 2022, unsurprisingly also to Game Pass day one. We’ll touch on the fact that Injustice: Gods Among Us and Shadows Awakening are now free to claim, and that there’s in fact a rather good selection of Deals with Gold to peruse, while also mentioning that game stories is now a supported feature in the Xbox app and that the June update for the console has brought party chat accessibility options, among other things. Speaking of other things, Battlefield 2042 gameplay was shown off during the game showcase, as was an interspersed story / gameplay trailer for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl (which lands April 28 next year, also in Game Pass), a cinematic announce trailer for co-op Xbox exclusive Contraband from Avalanche Studios, a cheeky meta cinematic announce trailer for The Outer Worlds 2, and more. Alternate-universe sci-fi RPG Atomic Heart got yet another trailer at the event – sans release date -, Diablo II: Resurrected made an appearance too – showcasing its launch day of September 23 -, and Age of Empires IV got its long overdue launch date of October 28, available across PC and Game Pass. In additional unexpected news, Sea of Thieves got a Pirates of the Caribbean crossover, bringing Jack Sparrow, Davy Jones and crew to the game thanks to a new original story dubbed A Pirate’s Life, which is coming for free to the tile on June 22. Another game that got a release date was Flight Simulator, which lands on Series X|S consoles on July 27 – and has just gotten its World Update V, with a free Top Gun expansion coming this fall -, as well as Forza Horizon 5. The latter is set in Mexico and rather unexpectedly, lands on November 9 this year. Of course, after the advent of Craig memes from last year, it was expected that 343 would show an updated look at Halo Infinite, complete with Joseph Staten on stage, a highlight of the game’s story and multiplayer, and an announcement that they will launch together this holiday. Infinite’s free-to-play multiplayer is also adding personal AIs for players, among other things. Finally, the option to make your controllers more personal is now back, as Microsoft has relaunched the Xbox Design Lab with support for the new controller. That said, it’s not the only hardware announcement that the company made at this event. After rumors of a streaming stick started circulating, folks assumed that the ‘one more thing’ at the end would be this. However, the Redmond giant leaned heavily into the memes and has announced it’ll make an Xbox Mini Fridge (shaped like the Series X). Yes, it’s real, and yes, it’s coming holiday 2021 – even outside the United States. Hybrid work Slotting just between the Xbox E3 showcase and the Windows event next week was a virtual presentation focused on hybrid work. At this event, Microsoft has announced new Teams Rooms features like a “front row” layout for meetings, improved video layouts across multiple screens, new Together Mode scenes on the Surface Hub, and much, much more. Naturally, these features will be rolled out to Insiders first. On the subject of Teams, the firm has additionally integrated Headspace for mindfulness exercises and to boost personal wellbeing in remote work situations. Worthy of mention is also the fact that inline chat message translation is now available for Teams on Android. Last but not least, Whiteboard has received a redesign, which aims to help folks collaborate better in hybrid environments. Dev channel Edge Dev build 93.0.916.1 is now out, with a number of bug fixes. Better sharing and file picking were among the enhancements that arrived to OneDrive in May. Microsoft has elected Satya Nadella as chairman of its board of directors. Visual Studio 2022 Preview 1 is now available for Windows. Logging off We end with a bit of an interesting bug related to the newly added News and Interests taskbar widget. For folks running one of the various flavors of Windows 10 that have this feature, (1909 and up), there are instances in which the News and Interests text and icon appear blurry. The issue has now been acknowledged by the firm as occurring on “certain display configurations”. Of course, which ones these are is set to remain a mystery. What’s also going to remain a mystery is when Microsoft plans to fix it, as the only time frame indication given was that it’ll happen in an “upcoming release”. If you couldn’t care less about the widget, it can thankfully be turned off. Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here. Microsoft Weekly: A round of Windows leaks, Xbox mini fridges, and hybrid work
  19. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella now doubles as the company’s chairman One leader once again On February 4th, 2014, Microsoft found its new CEO in the cloud — Azure boss Satya Nadella took the top job, Steve Ballmer retired, and Bill Gates stepped down as chairman. Now, after growing Microsoft to become one of the most valuable companies in the world yet again, Nadella has now been unanimously elected chairman of the Microsoft board. It’s the first time in two decades that Microsoft’s chairman will also be its CEO, after Bill Gates originally stepped down as CEO in 2000 (Gates left the Microsoft board entirely in 2020), and it’s a testament to how much Nadella is now trusted to lead the company forward. When Gates stepped down as chairman in 2014, the board elected independent chairman John Thompson, who’d previously been CEO and chairman of Symantec and who’ll remain an independent director on the Microsoft board. We spoke to Nadella in 2018 about how he was changing Microsoft, and how Windows wasn’t the future of the company, but rather cloud services. Windows 10 was imagined as a ongoing service, too, but PC sales turned around in 2020 after Microsoft ended support for Windows 7, and started to see big growth in 2021. It sure seems like the company now believes in distinct versions again: Windows 11 is coming soon. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella now doubles as the company’s chairman
  20. Microsoft is hiring engineers to “modernizing existing parts of the Windows” Microsoft originally planned to create a whole new version of Windows free from the 30+ year legacy of the operating system, but some time earlier this year the company scrapped the plans, and instead decided to improve Windows 10. We can see that decision reflected in an April 2021 job posting where Microsoft was looking for an engineer in the Windows shell team (which is responsible for things like the “Start & Taskbar to the touch, voice, and pen+ink interaction models, as well as features like snap and windowing“) to build “new parts and modernizing existing parts of the Windows UX“. The senior program manager would conduct “user research to understand users’ needs” and test their new solutions. Microsoft says its goal is to “unlock the creative and productive potential of customers” and we expect to see the early fruits of their work when Windows 11 is announced next week on the 24th June. via WindowsLatest Microsoft is hiring engineers to “modernizing existing parts of the Windows”
  21. Every trailer and announcement from Microsoft and Bethesda’s E3 showcase Halo! Forza! Psychonauts! Age of Empires! And dozens of other games, too! Curvy reflections on spaceship interiors in Starfield First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. Microsoft packed 30 different games into its hour-and-a-half-long presentation at this year's completely virtual E3 show. Most of those games will be available on Game Pass and many will be Xbox console exclusives. If you didn't have a chance to sit through the lengthy, bombastic presentation live, here's a quick recap of every trailer and announcement that graced the streaming "stage." Upcoming games Starfield got its first extensive teaser trailer, which we covered in more detail in a separate post. It's an Xbox Series X/S and PC exclusive coming Nov. 11, 2022. The trailer for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl focuses on a group of men who seem increasingly obsessed with "The Zone" and the mutated and paranormal creatures that can be found within it. Lightning effects feature prominently. It's "coming first" to Xbox and PC on April 28, 2022. Back 4 Blood is sold as being "from the creators of Left 4 Dead," and it certainly looks the part in its latest trailer. Coming October 12 to Xbox One, Series X/S, PS4/5, and Windows, complete with a new swarm mode and human vs. zombie PvP. Also check out our impressions based on the game's 2020 alpha test. The teaser trailer for Contraband had a lot of atmosphere but not a lot of concrete information, aside from the fact that it's a co-op open world title from Avalanche Studios (Rage 2, Just Cause 4). The YouTube description describes it as "a co-op smuggler’s paradise set in the fictional world of 1970s Bayan." No target date mentioned for this Xbox and Windows exclusive. We saw some footage of Battlefield 2042 that looked rather similar to the footage we saw last week. You can now airlift tanks anywhere on the battlefield, which seems like a plus. Look for it Oct. 22, 2021 on Xbox One, Series X/S, PS4/5, and Windows. The time-looping "interactive thriller" 12 Minutes is still looking good, though very similar to the glimpse we saw at E3 two years ago. James McAvoy, Daisey Ridley, and Willem Dafoe star as voices. It'll be an Xbox "console launch exclusive" on Aug. 19, 2021. Psychonauts 2 is finally approaching release after its 2016 crowdfunding campaign. Expect "headploration," "thoughtcrobatics" and a whole lot of Ras riding around on balls of various types. Also a surprising amount of tooth-strewn environments. It hits Xbox One, Series X/S, PS4, and PC platforms on Aug. 25. Party Animals is a cute, chaotic rag-doll physics multiplayer brawler that immediately brings to mind comparisons to Gang Beasts. It's coming to Game Pass in 2022 as well as Steam. Somerville gives off some Inside and Kentucky Route Zero vibes as it showcases a family trying to wandering through atmospheric 2D environments amid an apparent alien invasion. That checks out, as its developing studio Jumpship was formed by former members of Playdead (Inside, Limbo). Halo Infinite is finally coming in Holiday 2021, and a new story trailer showed Master Chief floating through the wreckage of a ship and having a confused conversation with Cortana's apparent AI replacement. The free-to-play multiplayer mode will launch alongside the paid campaign and run at up to 120 fps on Xbox Series X. Diablo II Resurrected is yet another opportunity to buy this 21-year-old game, this time with remastered 60 fps visuals, cross-progression, and eight-player co-op. Look for it on Xbox Series X/S on Sept. 23 as well as Xbox One, PS4/5, Switch, and Windows. A Plague Tale: Requiem presented a very atmospheric pre-rendered trailer evoking a lot of the same feelings as its hit predecessor, yet showing no gameplay. It's coming to Xbox consoles and Windows in 2022. Far Cry 6 looked familiar after its presentation at Ubisoft's press conference yesterday. It's still coming on Oct. 7 to Xbox and PlayStation consoles and Windows. Slime Rancher 2 looks to have more of the same super-cute gameplay of the 2017 original, letting player solve puzzles by sucking up blobby monsters and spitting them back out using a specialized gun. Look for it in 2022 on Xbox Series X/S and Windows. Shredders is a snowboarding game that seems centered on video capture. It's not SSX which is always a shame. Coming "first on Xbox Series X/S" in Dec. 2021. Mundfish's Atomic Heart is a Bioshock-esque shooter, mixing gunplay and telekentic powers amid robots, mutants, and a vaguely J-pop soundtrack. No release window provided for the game, which is planned for PlayStation and Xbox consoles and Windows. Replaced features some amazingly detailed and fluid anime-inspired pixel-art animation in what looks like a very impactful brawler. Look for it in 2022 on Xbox One, Series X/S, and Windows. Eiyuden Chronicle mixes hand-drawn 2D art with amazing 3D environments and camera angle for what looks like a spiritual successor to the much loved Suikoden PlayStation RPGs. "Hundred Heroes" is coming in 2022, while "Rising" is coming in 2023 for PlayStation and Xbox consoles and Windows. The Ascent features character shooting through some generic cyberpunk-ish environments from an isometric perspective. It's coming to Game Pass on day one, July 29, on Xbox One, Series X/S, and Windows. Age of Empires IV once again asks players "if history was in your hands, what would you build? How would you fight? Where would you go?" It's coming Oct. 28 on Windows and Xbox Cloud Gaming. The Outer Worlds 2 is in the works, but there's nothing ready to show just yet, so instead we got a very meta trailer commenting on other video game trailers. Forza Horizon 5 takes place in Mexico, where you will drive through amazing-looking deserts and waterfalls alike. "Forza Link" uses AI to link players up with multiplayer partners based on the types of gameplay they like, while the Events Lab lets players create their own challenges with their own rulesets, like car bowling. It's coming Nov. 9 to Xbox One, Series X/S and Windows Arkane Studios' Redfall is a vampire-themed supernatural shooter with a diverse cast and an irreverent attitude, based on its first pre-rendered trailer. It's coming in Summer 2022 on Xbox Series X/S and Windows. New stuff for existing games Captain Jack Sparrow will make an appearance in some Sea of Thieves DLC starting on June 22. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is available on Game Pass starting today. Fallout 76 is getting a "Steel Reign" update and a series of new "Expeditions" to new locales, including "The Pitt" from the Fallout 3 DLC. Hades, the Ars Technica Game of the Year for 2020, will be free on Game Pass on Aug. 13. Grounded's "Shroom and Doom" update features a terrifying Giant Spider called the Brood Mother and a bunch of other stuff I missed because I was scared of the Brood Mother. Among Us is getting 15 player lobbies, which is somehow legitmately big news about one of the biggest games out there. Microsoft Flight Simulator is coming to Xbox Series X/S on July 27, and getting a Top Gun-branded jet-fighter expansion in the Fall. Every trailer and announcement from Microsoft and Bethesda’s E3 showcase (To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link)
  22. Microsoft Weekly: Game streaming devices, vertical tabs, and Patch Tuesday A game streaming stick from Microsoft, some nice vertical tab improvements, and even the usual Patch Tuesday updates were revealed or confirmed in the last seven days. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of June 6 - 12. Game streaming devices It’s not much a surprise that off the back of its rather successful hardware launch last year, as well as the debut of Xbox game streaming (formerly Project xCloud), Microsoft has been looking to expand its reach. There were previous rumors of a Chromecast-like streaming solution that the firm was working on, but this week, the company came out and actually confirmed it. It mentioned that it’s working closely with TV manufacturers to integrate the “Xbox experience” into these devices, allowing folks to leverage their Game Pass subscriptions for cloud gaming. Furthermore, echoing previously outlined ambitions, Microsoft wants to launch at least one first-party Xbox game every quarter. This is certainly possible with the gaming arm’s ever-increasing focus on first-party studios (which just this year officially grew to 23 thanks to the ZeniMax acquisition going through). In terms of other bits of news, Project Acoustics 2.0 has been announced, which allows for the simulation of immersive acoustics in 3D environments, and integrates with engines like Unity and Unreal. Microsoft’s Project Acoustics 2.0 supports deployment across Windows, Xbox, Android, and macOS. Moving onto game news, players making use of Fallout 76 Battle Royale mode will have just a few more months to enjoy this variant of the game, as it’s scheduled for shutdown in September. To prepare for this, you can go ahead and pick some of the games that are currently on sale, like Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War, GreedFall, and others, as part of the Deals with Gold initiative. Last but not least, if you have any Game Pass installation errors, make sure to check for updates, as Microsoft has released an optional patch to fix the aforementioned issues. We’ll be able to see what else the company has in store in terms of games later today, as the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase kicks off at 10AM PT. Vertical tabs For folks running the Chromium variant of Edge in the Beta channel, version 92 has begun rolling out, adding various improvements to vertical tabs. Among said improvements is the ability to turn the feature off for different open windows, as well as to hide the title bar when vertical tabs are enabled. Those in the Dev channel got to play with Edge 93.0.910.5 which includes support for automatic HTTPS, font rendering improvements, improved inking experiences, and other enhancements targeted at those running the browser on a Mac. Patch Tuesday As is tradition, the second Tuesday of the month has rolled around, signaling that it’s time for Microsoft to push out its usual set of patches to supported versions of its operating systems. If you’re on Windows 10 v2004 (May 2020 Update), 20H2 (October 2020 Update) or 21H1 (May 2021 Update), you’ll be receiving the same update, KB5003637, with the build numbers changing to 19041.1052, 19042.1052, and 19043.1052, respectively. The revision number at the end is identical due to the three updates being built essentially on the same codebase. The above contain mostly security and file management improvements. Those running Enterprise, Education, or IoT Enterprise variants of 1909 (November 2019 Update) will receive KB5003635, bumping the build number up to 18363.1621 and containing mostly the same updates as the newer versions of Windows 10. There is one additional fix here though, for a bug which prevented folks from signing into some Microsoft 365 desktop apps after installing the May 11, 2021 update. There are of course some other supported variants, like Enterprise and Education SKUs of 1809 (October 2018 Update) – receiving KB5003646 and bumping the build number up to 17763.1999 -, as well as the LTSC variants of 1607 (Anniversary Update) and 1507 (Windows 10 RTM). The latter two will get KB5003638 and KB5003687, bumping the build numbers up to 14393.4467 and 10240.18967, respectively. Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 got their very own update in the form of the monthly rollup found under KB5003671 (with KB5003681 being the security-only update). Not to be forgotten, businesses paying for ESUs got KB5003667 (or KB5003694 for the security-only variant) for their Windows 7 SP1 and Server 2008 R2 SP1 systems. All the updates just mentioned carry the same known issues that have been there for months. Last but not least, Microsoft pushed out build 21390.1000 to Dev channel users to test its servicing pipeline. The firm does this either when a new version of Windows is close to release, or, for this special case, when it wants to hold back the visuals of Windows codename Sun Valley (or Windows 11, or whatever it ends up being called) for the event on June 24. We’ll probably hear more on that date at 11 AM. Dev channel Windows Virtual Desktop is now Azure Virtual Desktop, and has added some has new features. Natural language queries and dictation have been added to Outlook on iOS. Microsoft Search will soon be able to go through Teams meeting transcriptions. OneDrive will run natively on M1 Macs later in 2021. A Teams bug caused users to be prompted to a select a certificate, an issue which has now been resolved. Those using the Teams Public Preview are now able to have two 7x7 video grid pages during calls. Logging off We end things with a guide related to fonts, and a small reminder of what’s coming later today. Whether it’s a Photoshop project that requires it, or a mere PowerPoint slide deck, a custom font can definitely spruce things up. In case you’re looking to install such a font, our very own Usama Jawad has put together a guide, detailing the places you can go to obtain these fonts, the ways to install (or indeed uninstall them), as well as highlighting the fact that they can be installed on a per-user basis, among other things. And since it’s June 13, we really should highlight that the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase will take place later today. It’s expected that we’ll see a brand-new look at Halo Infinite, as well as updates and new title announcements from across the Redmond giant’s 23 studios. We may even hear about some new studio acquisitions, if prior years are any indication. The Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase kicks off today at 10AM PT (that’s 1PM ET, or 6PM BST). Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here. Microsoft Weekly: Game streaming devices, vertical tabs, and Patch Tuesday
  23. Microsoft fixes issue blocking Microsoft Teams, Outlook logins Microsoft has fixed a known issue causing Microsoft 365 to experience authentication issues when logging into desktop client apps like Microsoft Teams, OneDrive for Business, and Microsoft Outlook. When attempting to sign in, users are shown a message saying, "We ran into a problem. Reconnecting…" and asking them to restart the application. This same screen will also display 80080300 error codes at the bottom left of the window and suggesting reaching out to an IT admin if the login problems persist. This known issue is caused by the Windows 10 1909 KB5003169 cumulative update released last month as part of the May 2021 Patch Tuesday updates. Microsoft suggested a temporary workaround that would allow impacted customers to sign into the impacted Microsoft 365 apps. "To mitigate this issue on most devices, you can restart your device a second time," the company said. "Most devices will sign into affected apps as expected for all subsequent restarts after the first restart that completes installation of the update." If restarting the affected systems doesn't allow logins, customers are also advised to use the web versions of Microsoft Teams, OneDrive for Business, and Outlook. Microsoft Teams 80080300 error (BleepingComputer) Fix issued with June Patch Tuesday updates While Microsoft initially suggested a workaround to bypass this known issue on affected devices, the company has now resolved the known issue in the KB5003635 Windows 10 1909 cumulative update. Microsoft says that KB5003635 "addresses an issue that might prevent you from signing in to some Microsoft 365 desktop client apps after installing the May 11, 2021 or later update and restarting your device." The KB5003635 will be automatically installed via Windows Update, Windows Update for Business, or Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). If configured policies on your system prevent the update from being downloaded and installed automatically, you can also get the standalone package from the Microsoft Update Catalog and do it manually. Microsoft also recently shared a workaround for customers experiencing 0x8004de40 errors when attempting to log ino their OneDrive accounts. Customers are also seeing 0x80049d61 errors when trying to launch the OneDrive Store app. Until a fix is available, users are advised to use the OneDrive desktop app or go to Onedrive.com. Microsoft fixes issue blocking Microsoft Teams, Outlook logins
  24. Microsoft is keeping its secrets by pausing Windows 10 21H2 Insider Builds Many Windows 10 fans have said they were unable to see the reason for the excitement around Windows 11, with the expectation that it will simply be another build of Windows 10 21H2. Microsoft may however have a few surprises up their sleeve, with the company pausing their release schedule of Windows 10 21H2 Dev builds for a number of weeks, presumably till after they reveal what will become Windows 11 on the 24th June 2021. Microsoft writes: Over the next several weeks, we will be focused on releasing several cumulative updates on Build 21390. Having Insiders on the Dev Channel testing this will be of great help to us and we will be releasing updates as before very soon! It is unlikely Microsoft is hiding any major technologies, but Microsoft is likely working to finalize the UI improvements which are expected to come with Windows 11. Microsoft is hyping up Windows 11 as the “most significant updates to Windows of the past decade”, so we are not surprised the company does not want to develop it completely in the open. Either way, we should know soon enough if it can measure up to the hype. via XDA-Dev Microsoft is keeping its secrets by pausing Windows 10 21H2 Insider Builds
  25. Microsoft Weekly: June Windows event, FidelityFX SR on console, and new Edge features An event to give folks a look at ‘the next-generation of Windows’ scheduled for June 24, a confirmation of FidelityFX Super Resolution on console, and even some new Edge features, were all revealed in the last seven days. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of May 30 – June 5. June Windows event Aligning with previous rumors, Microsoft has announced a June 24 event to showcase “what’s next for Windows”. Although we knew of the UI refresh codenamed Sun Valley before thanks to rumors, and hints of it have been peppered throughout Insider builds - from new icons to more rounded corners on certain UI elements -, we’ve yet to see the entire picture. It’s possible that Microsoft is at last ready to take the wraps off of what’s been working on for quite a while. In case the teaser video posted on Twitter is anything to go by, the firm could be preparing to either increment the version number – as Microsoft of old would -, thus giving us Windows 11, or simply drop the number entirely. Our very own Abhay Venkatesh makes the argument that splitting off Windows 10 releases into consumer and enterprise-targeted variants could be an interesting route to take. This would, according to Abhay, ease the concerns of the traditionally change-averse business clients, leaving the new and experimental (Windows 8-level) changes on the consumer side. FidelityFX SR on console To open this particular section, it’d be prudent to highlight that AMD’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) equivalent, FidelityFX Super Resolution (or FSR) will in fact be coming to the Xbox consoles, as confirmed by Microsoft. This will presumably make its way to the Sony console as well, since both devices use essentially the same AMD architecture for their SoCs. In other tech-related news, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision will in fact not be console-exclusive to the Xbox consoles, despite previous reports. As per the Redmond giant, “a local Xbox team” published a post which “included inaccurate information regarding exclusivity of Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision on Xbox Series X|S. There is no exclusivity agreement of either tech on Xbox.” Moving on to games, Darkest Dungeon, For Honor, Backbone and more are headed to Game Pass in June, with The King’s Bird and NeoGeo Battle Coliseum being in the first batch of free-to-claim Games with Gold for the same month. Also in June, specifically on the 8, Mojang is set to release Minecraft Caves & Cliffs: Part I, having split the update in two earlier in the year to allow for more polish. Last but not least, as per a Microsoft Store leak, Sega is close to unveiling Two Point Campus, a management sim from the creators of 2018’s Two Point Hospital, which in itself is a spiritual successor to Theme Hospital. As E3 is just around the corner, we won’t have long to wait until a release date is revealed. New Edge features Ever since switching to Chromium to power its Edge browser, Microsoft has been rather busy tweaking things and adding features to its homegrown browser. Build 92.0.902.2, which landed this week in the Dev channel, continues the trend, adding a number of management policies to control Active Directory site SSO, as well as features like the ability for the browser to enter Immersive Reader automatically on eligible pages. It's not all rosy though, as some folks may have noticed that Edge now has some popups recommending that you switch to recommended settings, which include setting Bing as your default search provider. This can thankfully be turned off in the flags page by disabling “Show feature and workflow recommendations”. In somewhat related news, our very own Nick Hall went hands-on with the News and Interests taskbar feature, pointing out that a little bit more refinement is necessary before it becomes in any way useful. If you are however using this feature and are annoyed by weather not opening in the widget, EdgeDeflector 1.2.1.0 has you covered. Dev channel Microsoft is encouraging cloud adoption in light of the Nobelium cyberattacks. ReFirm Labs has been acquired by Microsoft. Power BI Report Builder is now a 64-bit app. The Surface Duo is being sold at up to $708 off. Microsoft has expanded the Airband Initiative. Teams will soon get end-to-end encryption and support for native Windows 10 notifications. Logging off To wrap things up, we’ll highlight a rather interesting screenshot posted in the Office Insider release notes. via Microsoft Though the local Outlook app is a pretty mature piece of software, Microsoft seems to be planning on taking some cues from its Outlook.com webmail service for the upcoming release. It’s expected that the app will be underpinned by a web-based platform dubbed Outlook on the web Powered Experiences (or OPX for short), reportedly codenamed Project Monarch. In the release notes of the Beta Channel build for Office Insiders, Microsoft posted a screenshot of the app’s UI, which is mostly obscured by another feature called Organization Explorer. The new Outlook app is set to enter preview later this year, with a public release targeted for some time in 2022. In the meantime however, Microsoft has also been working on improvements to the sharing experience across Microsoft 365 apps. The dropdown option, replacing the current implementation, will be available later this year for OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams, and more. Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here. Microsoft Weekly: June Windows event, FidelityFX SR on console, and new Edge features
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