Recently Browsing 0 members
No registered users viewing this page.
Microsoft Weekly: Patch Tuesday, better Quick Resume, and productivity enhancements
by Florin Bodnarescu
In the past seven days, we’ve seen the usual set of Patch Tuesday updates, a number of productivity improvements for Teams, and even a confirmation from The Coalition that it’s working on multiple projects using Unreal Engine 5. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of May 9 - 15.
Microsoft, right on cue, decided to release its latest set of Windows updates. For some variants of Windows 10, it also means their last update before EOL. This would be the April 2018 Update (1803) which as of this week is no longer supported. For the October 2018 Update (1809), folks can still get updates if they’re in the Long-Term Servicing Channel, while the November 2019 Update (1909) is set to still be supported for those running Enterprise, Education, or IoT Enterprise flavors until May 2022.
Flipping over to versions still supported, we have 2004 and 20H2 (May 2020 Update and October 2020 Update, respectively), both of which get a cumulative update. Details for this can be found in KB5003173, with the update bumping the build numbers up to 19041.985 and 19042.985, respectively.
Home and Pro users of Windows 10 1909 (November 2019 Update) also got an update, more details for which can be found in KB5003169. It brings the build number up to 18363.1556 and like the other updates above, contains a number of security and Bluetooth enhancements.
Last but not least, we have updates for variants of Windows 10 supported in specific SKUs. These are:
October 2018 Update (1809): KB5003171, build 17763.1935 – supported for Enterprise, Education SKUs. April 2018 Update (1803): KB5003174, build 17134.2208 – supported for Enterprise, Education SKUs. Anniversary Update (1607): KB5003197, build 14393.4402 – supported in the Long-Term Servicing Branch. Windows 10 RTM (1507): KB5003172, build 10240.18932 - supported in the Long-Term Servicing Branch. Of course, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 (for those paying for ESUs) are still supported, so here’s what you need to be on the lookout for in terms of updates:
Windows 8.1: KB5003209, KB5003220 (security only) – contains a number of security updates, and the same known issue that’s been plaguing the OS for months. Windows 7 SP1: KB5003233, KB5003228 – contains a number of security and SMB enhancements, with the same known issues being present too. Microsoft also released Windows Holographic version 21H1, which added the Chromium-based Edge browser, among other features. Additionally, build 21382 made its way to testers in the Dev Channel of the Windows 10 Insider program, bringing HDR improvements for Photoshop, font, and folder icon updates, as well as a respectable list of fixes.
Last but not least, if you’re on either Windows 10 2004 (May 2020 Update) or 20H2 (October 2020 Update) and use 5.1 audio, you may hear a high-pitched noise if you have KB5000842 installed. This seems to only be affecting certain configurations, and is not present when using stereo. The firm stated that it’s working on a fix for this problem.
Better Quick Resume
When it comes to games, there’s been a pretty steady stream of news coming out of Redmond, and this week is no exception.
Starting with the platform updates, the Xbox May 2021 Update adds passthrough audio and improved Quick Resume on console, and coincides with the beginning of the rollout of Dolby Vision HDR on Xbox Series X|S. This is essentially in the testing phase, and is available to Xbox Insiders in the Alpha ring, with a global rollout targeted for later this year. Also available for Insiders are new accessibility features in Xbox Party Chat, including speech transcription and text-to-speech.
And since we’re focusing on games, it’s worth highlighting some of them, including Ace Combat 7, Asura’s Wrath, Halo 5: Guardians, Lost Planet 3, and others, all of which are part of the latest crop of Deals with Gold. Speaking of latest, the latest and greatest DLC for Minecraft Dungeons, dubbed Hidden Depths, is set to surface May 26 both as a standalone expansion and as part of the Minecraft Dungeons Season Pass.
Looking out a bit further than May 26, The Coalition has confirmed that it’s working on multiple next-gen projects, and is set to use Unreal Engine 5 for said projects. The studio emphasized that a move to a new engine is “a big undertaking”, and made it clear that no new projects will be announced for “some time”.
In the third major section of this column, I thought we should highlight some productivity improvements made to Microsoft products and services this week.
For one, if you use the Office app on Android, it now supports voice recordings with transcription. You do need to be in the beta program and running version 16.0.14026.20172 to be able to use the feature. In case any errors are made in the transcription process, you can edit the text after the fact.
And speaking of editing, Customer Key, a method for organizations to protect their data, - allowing for the development of personalized Data Encryption Policies -, is now generally available in Teams. Also hitting the GA phase are Teams Webinars, which allow for the creation of highly interactive Teams meetings with up to 1,000 attendees.
As far as features in the pipeline are concerned, Teams will soon let you restart a live event that accidentally stopped. The capability is in active development and is targeted for GA on both desktop and web clients globally in July.
Azure Blockchain Service will be shutting down in September. GitHub now supports video uploads. The May firmware update for Surface Studio 2 is now available. Microsoft Threat Vulnerability Management now has support for Linux. PowerToys v0.37.2 is out, fixing explorer.exe freezes, and more. The latest Edge Dev build is now out, adding a number of minor features, though not for Linux just yet. Edge Canary adds support for Coupons on Android. Logging off
We end this week’s column with a mix of good and bad news.
First off, the bad, as the Colonial Pipeline hack was allegedly caused by the company running an outdated version of Microsoft Exchange. As you may remember, on-prem Exchange Servers were the target of a widespread attack, which began being more widely publicized at the beginning of March. As the patches were released, an impressive number of servers were updated, but if the forensic report is to be believed, the unpatched Exchange server is partly to blame for Colonial Pipeline’s woes.
Staying on the subject of Microsoft services but this time switching to the desktop version of Outlook, a bug surfaced earlier this week which prevented users from seeing email contents. As per the Redmond giant, the issue was isolated and a fix deployed within hours of the issue being observed.
Moving onto the good news, Microsoft has partnered with Darktrace to help folks combat cyber threats via the use of AI. This is especially helpful given the increase in high-profile cyber attacks in recent times.
In case you’re passionate about tech, and you’re looking to cover subjects like those above, we’re hiring! Make sure to head on over to this post for more details.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.
If you’d like to get a daily digest of news from Neowin, we now have a Newsletter you can sign up to either via the ‘Get our newsletter’ widget in the sidebar, or this link.
Microsoft is rolling out its Dolby Vision HDR test on Xbox Series X/S
by Subir Kathuria
Back in September 2020, Dolby announced that Xbox Series X and S will be the world's first game consoles to support both Dolby Vision HDR video and Dolby Atmos surround sound in games when played on a supported TV.
Now Microsoft has announced that is beginning to test of Dolby Vision HDR gaming on Xbox Series X and S and will be available for testers who are a part of the Xbox Insider’s Alpha ring. The company is looking for feedback before it rolls out the Dolby Vision HDR option more broadly, which should be anytime this year.
Xbox’s Larry Hryb, also known as Major Nelson, posted on his Twitter:
Keep in mind your TV will need to be Dolby Vision-compatible. Notably, Samsung, which is the largest TV manufacturer globally, doesn’t support the format, focusing mostly on HDR10+. You can find out if your TV is compatible with Dolby Vision or not by pressing the Xbox button to open the guide, then selecting Profile & system > Settings > General > TV & display options > 4K TV details.
Source: Major Nelson (Twitter)
By Jay Bonggolto
Xbox Party Chat now supports speech transcription and text-to-speech for Insiders
by Jay Bonggolto
Xbox' accessibility for everyone, including those with speech and hearing difficulties, has gained new improvements. Microsoft announced today that Xbox Party Chat has added support for speech-to-text transcription and text-to-speech synthesis for Insiders.
Party Chat was introduced a couple of years ago to Xbox One in order to let gamers communicate with other players on the platform using text in addition to voice chat. With the speech-to-text feature, everything you say in the party will be transcribed and the resulting text will show up in an overlay while you're playing a game. Text-to-speech, on the other hand, lets your text be read out loud to others in the party by a synthetic voice. You can even choose multiple voices for every supported language.
To get started with the new accessibility features, you can simply head over to the Settings menu and then choose "Ease of Access". From there, you can click on Game and then select chat transcription. Alternatively, when you're in a party, you can just click on options to open the settings and then choose "Configure ease of access."
Speech transcription and text-to-speech capabilities were rolled out to Xbox One (along with Windows 10) in 2017 for some games. Their addition to Party Chat is a welcome development for those using the communication feature during a party.
The Xbox May 2021 Update is now available with better Quick Resume and passthrough audio
by João Carrasqueira
Microsoft is back at it with another monthly update for the Xbox family of consoles, and as usual, this one brings some notable improvements that should make your experience that much better. These updates are available for both the Xbox One and the recently-launched Xbox Series X|S, and there's also some updates related to Xbox apps on other devices.
First off, one of the more notable improvements is in Quick Resume, which is a feature only available on the Xbox Series X|S. This feature lets users quickly jump between different games without having them load all over again, and Microsoft says this update makes the feature more reliable and faster. What's more, games that support Quick Resume will have a new tag next to them to make them easier to identify, and there's also a new group in your games library that lists all the game currently stored in Quick Resume so you can launch them more quickly.
Next is support for passthrough audio for media apps such as Disney+, Apple TV, Plex, and Vudu. This setting allows audio decoding to bypass the console and head straight into your HDMI-connected speakers for better audio quality. You can enable audio passthrough in the Xbox console's sound settings, and the guide will show an indicator when you use an app that supports passthrough audio if the feature is enabled.
Another update has to do with parental controls, and it allows children to request access to multiplayer games on a per-title basis. The Xbox Family Settings app allows parents to disable multiplayer features altogether, but now parents can enable it for specific games if they deem them more appropriate. Other smaller updates include a new dynamic background called Motes, and for Xbox Game Pass users, the spotlight section of the Game Pass hub will now automatically play trailers for games when you focus on them, without having to open the game's page.
Aside from console-specific features, Microsoft also announced today that the Xbox app for Android and iOS can now notify users when their friends are online, The achievements page has been updated with new game stats such as time played, and finally, the performance and reliability of sending messages in the Xbox app has been improved.
Finally, Microsoft also announced today that the Xbox One SmartGlass app for PC will be discontinued in June, meaning you won't be able to download it and no new updates are planned. Microsoft recommends using the Xbox app for messaging friends and managing Game Pass downloads.
There are some known issues in this update, which you can find below:
The update should now be available to download, and you can either get it right now or wait for it to install by itself. Microsoft releases new updates with notable improvements every month, and it's worth keeping an eye out for them.
By Asher Madan
Xbox Deals with Gold feature Batman, Halo, Mafia, and more
by Asher Madan
Every week, Microsoft and select publishers discount a number of titles for a weekly Deals with Gold sale. This week, games from the Halo, Mafia, and other franchises are available for substantially less. Below, you'll find the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 games with their respective discounts. The deals and games marked with an asterisk are only valid for Xbox Live Gold members, so you'll need an active paid subscription for the additional discount.
Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One
Many of the games are also backward compatible so you can play them on your Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One.
Which titles are you interested in? Did you buy any up? Let us know in the comments below.