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By Jay Bonggolto
Microsoft announces general availability of Application Guard for Office
by Jay Bonggolto
Microsoft unveiled a couple of security features for Microsoft 365 early in 2020, which included Application Guard. Today, the company announced that Application Guard for Office has hit general availability.
The feature basically puts documents from untrusted sources in a container before opening them in order to ward off malicious threats. Microsoft also noted that it analyzes every malicious attack contained by Application Guard to bolster its threat intelligence. Your files are also protected from kernel-based attacks since it uses Hyper-V-based containers.
Unlike Protected View which opens documents in read-only mode, Application Guard opens files in a virtualized sandbox where you can still edit and print documents in a limited capacity without leaving the container. These files include those coming from untrusted sites, files stored in potentially unsafe folders or network, and documents blocked by File Block.
That said, you can still choose to disable protection for a specific file if necessary, provided you're confident that it's safe. Prior to opening that file, it will be scanned with the Safe Documents feature if it's enabled. In addition to documents, emails are protected as well with combined security from Application Guard and Microsoft Defender for Office 365.
The new feature is turned off by default and administrators will need to set the right policy for each user in an organization. It's available to customers on Current Channel and Monthly Enterprise Channel while a rollout in Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel is scheduled later this year.
By Abhay V
Microsoft releases Edge Dev 89.0.774.4, the final build for version 89
by Abhay Venkatesh
As is the case every week, Microsoft has released a new Edge build for users in the Dev channel. Today’s build bumps the version up to version 89.0.774.4, which is the last build from major version 89 making it to the Dev channel. The firm is planning to promote this build to the Beta channel next week, pending any small bug-fixing updates.
As for the build itself, there are a couple of new features, bringing improvements to Collections and the Read Aloud function for PDFs, along with the host of fixes to reliability and changed behavior. Additionally, the firm highlights the completion of features such as History and Open Tabs sync, something that has been rolled out to all versions of the browser. It also adds that builds across channels now sport support for Apple Silicon natively.
Here are the two new features added with this build:
As usual, there are a bunch of fixes to improve the reliability of the browser. Here is the complete list:
And here are the fixes to address changed behavior:
Lastly, there are a few known issues, some of which have been on the list from the last few releases. Here is the complete list:
With this version making it to the Beta channel, the first version 90 build might make it to the Dev channel as early as next week. Guessing from this week’s Feedback Summary, one of the features that might make it to that version is the ‘Tab Previews’ option from Edge Legacy.
As is the case always, today’s release should automatically be downloaded and installed. However, you can head into Settings > About Microsoft Edge to manually check for updates.
By Abhay V
Surface Duo begins receiving its first firmware update for 2021
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft is rolling out a new firmware update for the Surface Duo, making it the first update in over two months. While the firm had been serving monthly updates for the dual-screened Android device, it skipped the December update owing to the holidays and reportedly due to a tricky bug. Today’s release brings with it a bunch of improvements along with the December and January Android security patches. What it does not bring is the Android 11 update, of which there is no information from the company.
As has been the case for the past few months, the Duo is getting improvements to address stability issues with touch, possibly still ironing out issues pointed out by early reviewers. There are also improvements to the UI stability, likely to fix crashes or issues with features like App Pairs and the overall stability of the software when moving apps across screens. The changelog is generic in nature and does not divulge much information about the details of the updates.
Here is the complete changelog of the January 2021 update that brings software version 2020.1211.85:
As usual, this release only applies to the unlocked version of the device and is rolling out gradually, meaning it will be a while before all users see the update hit their devices. Users that own the AT&T version of the Duo might have to wait slightly longer for these updates. Usually, updates for the carrier variant are served within a week, so the wait should not be too long.
The company is also slated to make the Surface Duo available to more markets soon. It will be interesting to see what the timeline is for the release, and if the device gets an update to Android 11 by then or even ships with the updated software in those regions.
Halo: MCC Season 5 of content lands with new Halo 3 and Reach unlocks
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Halo: The Master Chief Collection's journey to PC completed with the arrival of Halo 4 late last year, but 343 Industries isn't finished with updating the game across all platforms just yet. Today, the studio launched the fifth season of content for the multi-game collection, delivering a range of new cosmetic unlocks aimed at Halo 3 and Halo: Reach along with a lightweight MCC update.
Halo: MCC Season 5 is dubbed Anvil and its battle pass has 100 unique new items for customizing player armor, weapons, and nameplates. These include armor pieces from the Halo Online project finally being implemented to Halo 3 and the cut GRD helmet over to Halo: Reach. The timed seasonal challenges this time offer some interesting rewards as well, including the humorous 'Mister Chief' helmet.
The free battle pass requires Season Points for unlocking this content as usual, which can be earned from simply ranking up by playing any of the included Halo experiences, as well as completing challenges that refresh daily, weekly, and across seasons. Moreover, all content from battle passes remains a part of the collection even after a season ends, letting players go back and unlock content from previous rounds.
Today's Halo: MCC update is related to the cosmetic side as well. Players will now find a new toggle in the options menu for disabling or enabling the new skins being added to Halo 3, letting those who prefer the original experience keep it that way. The game already had a similar toggle set up for the new Halo: Combat Evolved skins.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection Season 5 Anvil is now available for all PC (Steam and Microsoft Store), Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S players. The size of the update will be around 258MB on Steam, 6.3GB on the Microsoft Store PC version, and up to 9.9GB for Xbox consoles.
By Hamza Jawad
Microsoft releases 2021 release wave 1 plans for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform
by Hamza Jawad
In June last year, Microsoft released the 2020 release wave 2 timeline for its Power Platform and Dynamics 365 services. This was the second and final major release wave for the previous year. Today, the Redmond firm has unveiled plans for the first release wave for this year concerning both the aforementioned platforms.
The 2021 release wave 1 plans provides information on the major enhancements and new capabilities that will be arriving for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform between April and September. The timeline below showcases a quick overview of how users can expect this rollout to commence over the following months:
January 27: Release plans unveiled February 1: Early Access available - customers to be allowed to test the features in a non-production environment TBA: Release plans to be made available in 11 additional languages; namely Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish, and Swedish April 1: General availability - Production deployments begin, with regional deployments to initiate on April 2 For Dynamics 365, the focus of the new capabilities will center around Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Finance, Supply Chain Management, Project Operations, Guides, Human Resources, Commerce, Fraud Protection, Business Central, Customer Insights, Customer Voice, and industry accelerators. For the Power Platform, meanwhile, all services falling under its scope including Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents will be improved upon. Microsoft has also specifically remarked upon new capabilities for the AI Builder and Power Apps portal in Power Apps.
Interested users can check out the detailed release plans for the Power Platform here, and for Dynamics 365 here.