Linus Reviews HTC One M8 for Windows


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theyarecomingforyou

 

All in all this phone baffles me a bit. It's a phone for no-one. I understand that some people have a thing for supporting the market underdog and are willing to work around numerous inconveniences to do it or have specific complaints about Google and Apple that would cause them to want to avoid using the services of both those companies, and for you there's high-end Windows phones, like the One M8 for Windows. For everyone else there's stuff out there that's just plain more functional and easier to use and in the case of the One M8 also exactly the same price, so the conclusion pretty much writes itself here.

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+E.Worm Jimmy

holy crap.  this review highlight all that is wrong with WP

 

i love windows.... but they just did not create an appealing OS for phone.  

was it their fault, or the fact they were too late, and too sucky, so no developer support...

 

does not matter.  actually, i am kidding... MS messed up big. unfortunately..  

i was thinking of buying WP for the longest time.  but it was just never appealing overall.

 

 

i WOULD LOVE TO LOVE WP.   but overall, it still does not provide what i expect of it (not just apps... OS functionality)

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Draconian Guppy

There's no youtube app on windows phone?

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+E.Worm Jimmy

this guy is so un-objective that  is quite humorous.

un-objective....

   

 

 

can you name points why it is?

 

 

everything i have heard from actual users points to me that WP is way behind, not only in developer support, but in basic usability.  

as a long time MS fan, i am disappointed, but i am not going to dismiss the points as humorous. i find them mostly upsetting.. as i expected much better of them!

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Praetor

it's still a big problem the lack of high profile apps in the store and some of the ones that exist aren't official.

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theyarecomingforyou

this guy is so un-objective that  is quite humorous.

If you have a specific issue with the review then please share it but broad, unsubstantiated statements like yours contribute nothing to the discussion.

 

I like Linus, as he calls it how he sees it. This review pretty much sums up the problems with Windows Phone right now, which is that Android and iOS devices just do everything better. I didn't realise that Windows Phone doesn't support third-party keyboards, which is annoying as I love Swype - I've tried other keyboards but their swiping and predictions just aren't as good.

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Dot Matrix

There's no youtube app on windows phone?

Yes, there are. But since Google is being a bully, the official app might as well not even exist.

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theyarecomingforyou

Yes, there are. But since Google is being a bully, the official app might as well not even exist.

I haven't been keeping up with all the details. What exactly has Google done to make YouTube bad on Windows Phone or to act as a 'bully'? I see the app has terrible user reviews on the Windows Store.

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siah1214

Apparently I'm no one.

I would fall into the enthusiast category, however, I love my Lumia 928.  I've used Android on tablets, iOS on tablets and iPod touches, and webOS, and of those, Windows phone will always be my favorite. It's always been the least frustrating, most enjoyable, "Just works" experience. My iPod usually "just worked" (other than some build quality issues that are neither here nor there for this discussion), however, I hate the way the homescreen works, it's just way too limiting.  My 928's homescreen is full of folders of tiles of stuff I care about, the app drawer is vastly superior to Android's (seriously, an icon grid is the WORST layout imaginable, the list is infinitely more functional and easy to use), the UI is beautiful (and yes, most mobile OSs are beautiful these days but Windows Phone's has been the most coherent for me), and it works great with MS services that I'm invested in. 

 

 

Who's it for? It's for someone that wants a "just works" experience that also wants more flexibility than iOS and doesn't care about stuff like loading ROMs onto Android phones. It's for people that want a fast, beautiful OS that runs on the lowest and highest end hardware.  Most of the apps people care about are actually there, either first party or third party alternative (which are usually fantastic and sometimes even better than the official apps on other platforms), the average person probably doesn't care about pebble or niche apps like that. 

I love the tiles, and if you hate them, you can turn them into icons with a few taps, and you can have the nice hideous grid you've always dreamed for. 

 

Btw as far as google integration goes, if you're completely married to Gmail, Gdocs, gcalendar, etc. then maybe it's not the phone for you. I used to be but switched over after I got my first Windows Phone (an HTC trophy back when Nodo was cool)

And I don't miss anything from it.

 

Anyway, this is all opinion, which is all that Linus has to offer as well. Everyone's needs are different, one size does not fit all, and neither Android nor iOS fit me. WP8.1 is the best alternative. 


I haven't been keeping up with all the details. What exactly has Google done to make YouTube bad on Windows Phone or to act as a 'bully'? I see the app has terrible user reviews on the Windows Store.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/24/microsoft_pulls_youtube_winphone_app/

 

TL:DR Microsoft made a gorgeous youtube app for WP8.  Google issued a takedown notice, Microsoft made changes that they asked for and republished, Google proceeds to make up ###### and issue another takedown notice, Microsoft caves and reverts to the terrible previous app.  Google are ######.

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sanctified

Serious question, due my ignorance. Why MS relies on companies to make apps like youtube? As far as I know HTML5 is mature and responsive enough to act like an app inside a wrapper. Surely any modern mobile OS can take advantage of that, right? I think that's what Firefox OS is trying to do. In that way, the web is your appstore.

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adrynalyne

If you have a specific issue with the review then please share it but broad, unsubstantiated statements like yours contribute nothing to the discussion.

 

I like Linus, as he calls it how he sees it. This review pretty much sums up the problems with Windows Phone right now, which is that Android and iOS devices just do everything better. I didn't realise that Windows Phone doesn't support third-party keyboards, which is annoying as I love Swype - I've tried other keyboards but their swiping and predictions just aren't as good.

Therein lies the problem.  He calls it as HE sees it, not everyone else.

 

I rather see an unbiased review, not some twit telling everyone who a phone is for(or in this case not for).

Serious question, due my ignorance. Why MS relies on companies to make apps like youtube? As far as I know HTML5 is mature and responsive enough to act like an app inside a wrapper. Surely any modern mobile OS can take advantage of that, right? I think that's what Firefox OS is trying to do. In that way, the web is your appstore.

Google is being an ass and has killed off Microsoft's attempts with takedown requests.  I think there were at least two attempts by MS, if memory serves.

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sanctified

Google is being an ass and has killed off Microsoft's attempts with takedown requests.

 

How so? HTML5 is public. An html5 version of youtube in an app is no different from opening youtube.com inside Mobile Internet Explorer? That sounds quite unreasonable from Google's part.

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adrynalyne

How so? HTML5 is public. An html5 version of youtube in an app is no different from opening youtube.com inside Mobile Internet Explorer? That sounds quite unreasonable from Google's part.

HTML5 is, the API is not, at least not in the way HTML5 is.

 

Google has also shut down webview versions too, I think.

 

Which, webview versions blow anyway.

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sanctified

HTML5 is, the API is not, at least not in the way HTML5 is.

 

I see. That's crazy. Unbelievable how the three big companies sometimes seem more interested in tripping each other than to offer us better solutions.

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eddman

"It's a phone for NO ONE"

 

Yes, well done. Very objective. /s

 

How is the lack of some apps an OS' fault? Sure, WP would be a no go for those who want a specific app that is missing, but not all people are the same.

Google apps? Ask google why they are missing.

 

He dislikes the keyboard yet there are reviews where they actually like it. Subjective.

IINM, text prediction learns over time and gets much faster.

He says he mistyped letters. Well, no surprise there. He's not used to it.

Auto correct, auto fill, etc. take space? How else can they be shown then?

Says the keyboard takes too much space, but it's about half the page, pretty much the same as android. Then he says there's the new swype style keyboard but he dismisses it because... he doesn't use it and doesn't care. Subjective much?

 

He picks on the UI. Again, very subjective. Some like how it looks, some don't.

 

Not being able to back out of an email, initiated from the notification center, into the inbox; this is a good criticism. A design oversight, I suppose.

Lack of T9 dialing; this is also a good point, but he acts like it's the be-all when it comes to dialing and that its absence somehow breaks the whole thing. There are other ways, like pinning contacts to the home page and there is a speed dial page too. Stock android didn't have it either, until kitkat 4.4.

 

He was corrected on saying it lacked folder support; just shows he doesn't even properly investigate what he's reviewing.

 

The most popular, and perhaps, the best third party youtube app, metrotube, is free. Yes, it says $0.99, but actually in the description it says *Unlimited & unrestricted free trial!*. He didn't care to read that either.

 

He says battery life is good and even lasted two days, but then says it probably lasted that much because he DIDN'T ACTUALLY USE IT THAT MUCH. Was he even using this thing during the review period?

 

As for draft emails not showing; Could it be a sync protocol limitation? For example, outlook.com drafts don't show because EAS protocol lacks draft syncing. The same thing happens in office 2013 too. Very stupid limitation. Don't know about gmail though.

 

It seems that he just does not like WP and actively looks for flaws to nitpick upon.

 

I'm surprised he didn't mention the settings page, which is a bit unorganized, or that it's not possible to dismiss notification individually. You can either clear all or clear a group of them.

 

The video should be titled "Why I still dislike WP".

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Dot Matrix

Unbelievable how the three big companies sometimes seem more interested in tripping each other than to offer us better solutions.

Indeed.

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siah1214

Oh yes, on the topic of dialing: Either set up speed dial, pin the contacts to your start screen, or just tell Cortana to call that person. Seriously, learn the phone you're reviewing.

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sanctified

I understand the learning curve. But that something the reviewers should help us with, not surrender to it like the rest of us. I admit I don't like Windows Phone much, but it's an amazing OS. The phone my mother learned to use the quickest is her trusty Lumia 520.

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adrynalyne

I see. That's crazy. Unbelievable how the three big companies sometimes seem more interested in tripping each other than to offer us better solutions.

Yeah, its a bunch of petty crap.

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Stoffel

I see. That's crazy. Unbelievable how the three big companies sometimes seem more interested in tripping each other than to offer us better solutions.

 

For once we can't blame MS for this one, they have all their main apps available on all 3 platforms.

Often the rivaling platforms get new features before the Windows platform

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tsupersonic

I think his review is pretty spot on, and it is nice to see good hardware on WP. I'd love to see MS overcome challenges and be a true competitor to iOS & Android. 

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Draconian Guppy

Yes, there are. But since Google is being a bully, the official app might as well not even exist.

So no "official" app then?

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DrainTheSw4mp

Just so you know, you can play Youtube videos flawlessly using Internet Explorer, don't see the need for an app. Also, WP8.1 brought an excellent built in swype-like keyboard.

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notchinese

There's no youtube app on windows phone?

 

 

There are multiple free youtube apps that are amazing. I use myTube, which IMO is the best 2nd Youtube app available on any platform (Hyper for Youtube on Windows 8 is the best IMO)

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      Let's start with the design, which I think is truly where the Huawei Mate X2 shines the most. Unlike the original Mate X, the company has opted for a inner folding screen paired with a flat external display, similar to Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold line. Unlike its competitor, though, the inner display is covered by plastic, but since it's protected when it's closed, I think this is much less of an issue. Plus, while it is very impressive that Samsung created its Ultra Thin Glass that's able to fold, some users have noticed micro-cracks forming along the crease, so some work may still be required on that type of harder material.



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      When you fold it, each half of the phone aligns in a way that makes it almost completely flat, so the odd shape isn't really noticeable when you're just using it as a normal phone. Its design also makes it noticeably thinner than Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold2, and it's actually manageable with one hand, even though it's obviously much thicker than your average smartphone. As I said above, I haven't had a ton of time with other foldables to make a direct comparison, but Huawei did some great work here.



      The hinge on the Mate X2 feels pretty good, but it's also a fairly new unit, and the real question with these devices is how well they hold up over time. There is some noise from the plastic flexing when you open and close the phone - but that's to be expected, according to Huawei - and otherwise everything feels as solid as can be. The phone slams shut with very strong magnets that are actually a bit challenging to separate when you want to open it, but you can get used to that.



      Just to round out some parts of the design, there are stereo speakers on the top and bottom of the phone, specifically in the thinner half, along with a SIM card slot on the top edge. The thicker portion houses everything else: a USB Type-C charging port and microphone at the bottom, another microphone at the top along with an IR blaster, and a volume rocker and power button on the right-hand side of the phone. The power button also doubles as a side-mounted fingerprint reader, so there isn't one under the display here.



      The two displays
      As mentioned above, the Mate X2 has two displays, one on the outside, and a foldable screen on the inside. Here, too, Huawei has outshone Samsung in a few ways. It starts with the external display, which has a much more reasonable aspect ratio of 21:9 - compared to the tall 25:9 display on the Galaxy Z Fold2 - and with a fairly high resolution, too, at 2700x1160. It's also a 90Hz display, while Samsung used a 60Hz panel for the cover display on its phone.



      Once again, this means that using the Huawei Mate X2 as a normal phone is a much better experience than on the Galaxy Z Fold2. It's only slightly taller than a typical smartphone display, and given that it's 6.45 inches diagonally, you still have enough space to type comfortably on a keyboard, or to have five columns of apps on the home screen grid.

      Of course, the star of the show is the inner 8-inch folding display, with its nearly square aspect ratio of 8:7.1. It, too, has a 90Hz refresh rate - which in this case is worse than the 120Hz panel used by Samsung in its foldable - and the resolution is 2480x2200, which means it has 413ppi. I've found it to be more than sharp enough, and if we're talking numbers, then it still edges out Samsung's competing device with its 373ppi.



      I've found the internal screen to be fantastic for reading and watching videos, of course, thanks to its large size. The aspect ratio of the display means you'll have huge black bars on top and under the video that's playing, but you still get a much larger canvas than a typical phone. As for reading, while I don't normally read e-books, this display is great for reading on the internet, simply based on how large the display is. It's just nice to have this big canvas, and some apps even scale to have multiple panes, like Telegram lets me see my conversation list on the left and the current conversation on the right.



      Games are also awesome on this big screen, and titles like PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9 scale really well to the big screen, so you get a huge canvas for them while still having solid controls. However, cloud gaming services don't work as well in terms of the touch controls offered, since they'll always be blocking your view at least a bit. It's up to each service to make it possible to move the game stream to the top portion of the display, though, which would help a lot.

      One thing that you might find disappointing is that you can't open the display halfway, so it's always either fully open or fully closed. As such, there's nothing that would take advantage of that ability, like being able to watch a video on one half while scrolling through comments on the other half. On the other hand, Huawei does better in terms of accessories and includes a case in the box that doubles as a kickstand, so you can watch videos on the big screen much more easily. The kickstand can be used in either portrait or landscape orientation, but when the phone is unfolded, it works better in landscape due to the weight distribution.



      However, I still find the lack of dedicated features for this big display a bit disappointing. Just like any other Android phone, the Mate X2 lets you use apps in split-screen mode, but using it on the big display is hardly any different from using it on the smaller one. You can split the screen in half, but you can't resize the apps to your liking as far as I've been able to tell. It's always half the screen for each app. I also feel like we could have used the ability to split the screen into even smaller sections, like how Samsung allows for up to three apps to be open at once. You do get floating windows for additional apps, but that's not the same thing. On top of that, you can't create app pairs so that the same two apps are launched at once, you always have to set them up manually, which is a cumbersome process after a while. You can, however, use a feature called App Multiplier, which lets you run multiple instances of the same app at the same time.



      The closest thing to a unique feature that you get for this dual-screen dynamic is that if you have an app open on one display, it will transition over to the other one when you fold or unfold the phone. I feel like that's the bare minimum you'd expect from this form factor, though. Even then, how well the transition goes depends on how each app scales its UI, and some apps may have to be restarted to offer the best experience on each display.

      You could argue that having a big screen that fits in a normal(ish)-sized phone is a big benefit by itself, and it certainly is, but Samsung has proven that more can be done with it, and I wish Huawei had learned from that.

      Cameras (and the one that's missing)
      One of the criticisms that's been directed at Samsung's foldables has been the fact that they're mostly using camera setups that lag behind its traditional flagships, making it seem as though they're an afterthought. The Galaxy Z Fold2, for example, has overall lesser cameras compared to the Galaxy S20 that preceded it, and even more so compared to phones like the S20 Ultra or Note20 Ultra.

      Huawei has taken a different approach, with a camera setup that doesn't seem to be lacking in any way, at least on paper. There are four sensors on the back of this phone, including the 50MP RYYB flagship sensor we've seen on other Huawei flagships. This sensor is a big deal for night time performance, and on that front, it delivers well. You also get a 16MP ultra-wide camera, a 12MP 3x zoom camera, and an 8MP periscope camera with 10x optical zoom. That combination of zoom levels is impressive and something I praised heavily in my review of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, and it truly makes this feel like a flagship phone in terms of cameras.



      For the most part, the Huawei Mate X2 delivers in its camera performance, though I must reiterate my relatively short period for this review. The main sensor is naturally the star of the show, and low-light performance is so good it nearly makes night mode redundant. I did find some inconsistencies between the color balance across the different cameras, which I think were more noticeable than some other phones, even during the day. Even the main camera sometimes tends to oversaturate, and other times makes colors a bit too cool.

      Gallery: Huawei Mate X2 camera samples
      Like other phones, you'll see most of the differences between cameras at night, and that's where you'll really need night mode to help even things out. I find Huawei's night mode to be a bit more painful than other phones, since it often asked me to hold still for up to seven seconds while it took a photo, which meant I got blurry photos more often.

      One issue that I found is that the camera sometimes has issues with autofocus, specifically the 3x zoom camera can look very messy in some scenarios. I also had some problems nailing the right shot when zooming in to 100x, and got overall lesser quality than from the Galaxy S21 Ultra at that zoom level.

      One benefit of foldables is that the main camera can also be your selfie camera when you unfold the phone, and the main camera on the Mate X2 makes for a stellar selfie camera compared to the one on the cover display, but that's not to say that the selfie camera is bad. You can see a comparison of the two cameras above. One thing that Samsung does and Huawei doesn't is let both displays be used at the same time. For example, if you're taking a picture of someone else with the phone unfolded, the Galaxy Z Fold2 lets the other person see themselves on the smaller screen. You can't do that here, though.



      Here's a fun fact: you have to manually tap the option to switch cameras if you want to take a selfie with the main camera, and you have to tap it again to switch back. If you swipe up to go to the home screen while using the small screen to take a selfie, you can only go back to the big screen by closing and re-opening the phone, or opening the Camera app and switching the screens again. Again, I feel like some software work could be done to make this process a bit more natural.

      As for the selfie camera on the inside of the phone, there isn't one, which is one of the faux pas this phone makes in my opinion. Having no camera cutout on the inner display may please some people, but it means that you can't take video calls on this phone while using the big screen. The phone just asks you to close it and look at the cover screen instead. That's a big deal because a lot of people are taking a lot of calls right now. And when you're already charging this much for a phone, it's an odd omission.

      I also have to mention that I'm just not the biggest fan of Huawei's camera software. What you see in the viewfinder is sometimes radically different from the final shot, night mode takes a bit too long to process (though you get the benefits of that, too), and I would prefer if the zoom controls were closer to my thumb. Also, HDR is a whole separate mode instead of simply having a toggle for it while taking photos, which makes it more inconvenient than some other phones.

      Performance and software
      While I made the point earlier that there's no point debating whether you should buy this phone, I think it's still worth talking about the basics of a phone review. The Mate X2 is powered by the Kirin 9000, which is a 5nm chipset introduced last fall, but still based on older Cortex-A77 cores from Arm, opting out of both Cortex-A78 and Cortex-X1 cores that were introduced last year. It also has 8GB of RAM, which seems oddly low for a phone this premium, and up to 512GB of internal storage.

      Despite that, the Huawei Mate X2 pulled slightly ahead of the Galaxy S21 Ultra and even the OnePlus 9 (though it loses to the 9 Pro) in the AnTuTu benchmark, so it looks like Huawei didn't miss out too much by using older cores. This benchmark measures various performance aspects in one test.



      Usually, I'd include GeekBench results as well, but the app refuses to run on the Mate X2, so we'll have to move on to GFXBench, which tests the GPU of the phone. The results here are in line with other flagships, too, so performance isn't something you'll be missing.



      Battery life on the Mate X2 is solid, often lasting me a day and a half with at least a couple hours of YouTube on the big inner display, some web browsing, and some texting. Considering the display size and the 4,500mAh battery, those are impressive numbers, but it doesn't take long to realize how that's achieved. Huawei phones are notorious for delayed notifications, and that certainly applies here. It's happened almost every day that notifications are either delayed or just not sent at all, and I've gone hours not knowing I had received messages in some of my apps. It's incredibly frustrating, and it's a long-standing issue with the brand, so if you're already a Huawei fan, it's probably not going to be worse than usual.

      Also, this phone is only available in China for now, but even if it releases worldwide, it will be plagued by the same problem as every other Huawei phone nowadays, which is the lack of Google services. No matter how much you hate Google, too many apps just don't work without those services. Like I said, GeekBench 5 wouldn't run even after sharing the APK file from another phone. Pokémon GO doesn't work either, and I also lost the ability to use Microsoft Authenticator because of this.

      Conclusion
      Despite being over two years old, the foldable market still feels like it's in an embryonic state, which makes it exciting to keep an eye on but also somewhat frustrating when it comes to actually using these devices. I love a lot of what Huawei did here, especially the design. Having most of the weight of the phone directly on the user's hand is ingenious and it almost makes you question why no one else has done it yet. It's also one of the thinner foldables right now, and the cover display has one of the most natural aspect ratios we've seen on any foldable so far, so using it as a normal phone is actually a viable option.



      I also appreciate that Huawei wasn't afraid of using a flagship camera setup on the back of the phone, which you can't say for Samsung's foldables. The results aren't always the best, but at least it isn't evident that Huawei was trying to cut corners in this area. And a lot about the phone is in line with flagship material - high-resolution displays, 90Hz refresh rate, and a solidly built design.

      But some decisions are a bit frustrating, such as the lack of a camera on the inner portion of the phone, making video calls far less convenient. I also feel like there's plenty of room for improvement in terms of multitasking on the big screen, and some software limitations make it feel like the dual-screen dynamic could have been more thought through. Of course, that's to say nothing of Huawei's overly aggressive battery management and lack of Google services.



      In the end, I don't think it would be possible to recommend any phone that costs over $2,700, no matter how much Huawei did right; I just wish I had been more blown away by it than I was. Regardless, there's a lot that other manufacturers can learn from this phone. I hope the wedge-shaped design becomes more of a trend with future foldables, and I hope more of them also have a cover display more similar to this one. I hope we'll eventually see flagship cameras on foldables like Huawei tried to do here. At the same time, I think Huawei could stand to learn from what Samsung has done, too, particularly on the software side of things.

    • By Sszecret
      Microsoft Weekly: Edge Beta for Linux, a new Segoe font, and games galore
      by Florin Bodnarescu



      A number of things happened in the last seven days, including the arrival of Edge Beta on Linux, the unveiling of a new Segoe font variant, and even a refresh of the Azure logo. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of May 2 - 8.

      Edge Beta for Linux


      We should begin with a little info regarding Edge, as not much has happened with the browser this week.

      For starters, build 92.0.878.0 made its way to the Dev Channel. While this would normally be pretty exciting, Microsoft says the build doesn’t change much, given that it came out just a few days after the previous build. The changes are so minor that the company didn’t even bother publishing its usual post about it.

      Moving on to the stable version, namely version 90, folks may be experiencing problems with YouTube playback, namely crashing. This bug has been acknowledged by a Microsoft engineer, who suggested users disable hardware acceleration as a workaround. The same engineer confirmed that the company is working on a fix, but that the issue may be more significant than initially thought.

      And since we’re taking a tour through the various Insider channels, it’s worth pointing out that over six months after the Dev channel availability of Edge for Linux, there is now a Beta variant for the open-source OS.

      Lastly, Microsoft is now testing everse image search in the Bing sidebar. This does pretty much exactly what it sounds like it would, namely allows you to right-click on an image and search for it on Bing in the sidebar which appears on the right of the Edge browser. As per Reddit user Leopeva64-2 who stumbled upon this, the capability is available in Edge Dev, though we have not seen this on any of our test devices.

      A new font


      For Insiders in the Dev channel, Microsoft pushed out yet another preview build, 21376, which included the usual array of fixes and, rather interestingly a new Segoe font variant.

      While Segoe UI itself has been used as a default system font going all the way back to Windows Vista, a number of variants have been revealed since, including Segoe Script, Segoe Pro, and what Microsoft used for its Modern design icons, Segoe MDL2 Assets.

      The new font is called Segoe UI Variable and as the name implies, it’s meant to vary slightly depending on the use case. Segoe UI itself for example was originally designed to be optimal at 9pt sizes, while Segoe UI Variable tweaks the letter weight and tracking depending on the size.

      For smaller text, the letters are more tightly tracked, have more weight and are more open, while at display size, text isn’t quite as tightly tracked and has amplified letter terminals. For those not familiar, tracking refers to the overall horizontal spacing between font characters. This is not to be confused with kerning, which refers to the proportional spacing between two individual letters, whereas tracking refers to, say, an entire word.

      On the subject of change, we should touch on the fact that Microsoft is set to fully remove Flash from Windows 10 in July. While support for Flash was dropped by Adobe on December 31, 2020, and Microsoft released a manual update to remove it back in October of the same year, it was, as the name implies, not necessarily mandatory. Starting in July, the Redmond giant is set to push out the update to Windows 10 v1809 and above, automagically removing the media plugin.

      To that end, the firm is also removing any update blocks for versions 2004 and 20H2 (May 2020 Update, October 2020 Update), allowing folks to freely upgrade to these supported variants. We’re on the verge of a new feature update anyway, so it’s not much of a surprise that Microsoft wants folks on the latest Windows 10 version, if possible.

      Last but not least, to the dismay of perhaps three people, Windows 10X is allegedly delayed indefinitely, as Microsoft focuses on Windows 10 proper.

      Since its original unveil at the end of 2019 with the dual-screen Surface Neo and Duo, the former device was delayed out of its Holiday 2020 release window, and Windows 10X was repurposed for single-screen devices - in stark contrast to its initial 'dual-screen devices first' approach. For now, it seems that the Redmond firm is putting 10X on the backburner, focusing its resources on the expected Sun Valley UI refresh coming to Windows 10 later this year.

      Games galore


      In a rather surprising announcement, Microsoft decided to take the wraps off a sizeable selection of titles now supporting FPS Boost. More than quadrupling the number of supported games from 23 to 97, the latest additions include Dying Light, a number of LEGO games, ReCore, and more, with supported framerates from 60 to 120FPS.

      There are good news on the Game Pass front as well, with FIFA 21, Red Dead Online, Psychonauts, Outlast 2 and many others either already available or joining the subscription very soon. Additionally, folks in the U.S. also get four months of Spotify Premium with Game Pass Ultimate, though this is available for new users only.

      On the revenue share front, Microsoft dropped its cut from 30% to 12% on PC, and was planning to do the same on console, but it will no longer do so. An interesting tidbit about the company’s strategy relates to exactly why it lowered its split. As per the court documents filed in January, this is done “in exchange for the grant of streaming rights to Microsoft.”, in other words, xCloud. It’s not exactly clear whether the proposal was far enough along to even be discussed with console publishers, but for the time being, the revenue split on Xbox remains 30/70.

      If you don’t think that’s such a great deal, maybe some of the Deals with Gold will pique your interest, like the discounts for Borderlands 3, Control, PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition, and others.

      However, if you have no desire to buy more games and already own the latest iteration of Flight Simulator or the spin-off title Minecraft Dungeons, it’s worth checking for updates, as both first-party games have received a number of enhancements and fixes.

      Dev channel
      The latest monthly Office Insider build on the Mac has added the ‘Share to Teams’ capability in Outlook, and more. Microsoft has announced its automation tool for security testing AI systems, dubbed Counterfit. Live transcriptions will soon be added for unscheduled and channel meetings in Teams. Microsoft has announced Reading Progress for Teams for education. Whiteboard now has improved Teams integration, support for rich content like images and stickers, and more. The Redmond giant has detailed more education features coming through August. Excel on the web now supports Power BI-connected PivotTables. Microsoft has delivered oxygen, ventilators, and more to support India’s COVID-19 response. New customization options are now available for Reply-all Storm Protection in Microsoft 365. Microsoft customers in the EU will be able to store all their data in the region by 2022. The Redmond firm has warned of a widespread gift card scam targeting organizations. Logging off
      We end the week with a refreshed Azure logo, an interesting Defender bug, and some Surface firmware updates.



      Starting with Azure, Microsoft has decided that the logo for its cloud service needed a bit of a Fluent Design facelift, and as such unveiled a brand-new icon. Ditching the angular shape of the old logo, this one is much more reminiscent of say, the Visual Studio icon, though in some cases, it may remind folks of the Adobe or Autodesk logos.

      On the flip side, what wasn’t needed was a rather weird Microsoft Defender bug, which ended up creating “thousands” of files in users' boot drives. Some folks saw small files less than 2KB in size, while other users reported multiple GBs of storage being eaten up. A fix is already rolling out, and if you’re on Microsoft Defender engine version 1.1.18100.5, you’ll be bumped up to 1.1.18100.6 following this update.

      Finally, for owners of the Surface Pro 4, Studio, Laptop 1,2, and 4, Microsoft has released a slew of firmware updates meant to bring stability and security enhancements.

      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.

    • By Abhay V
      Microsoft removes all update blocks for Windows 10 versions 2004 and 20H2
      by Abhay Venkatesh



      Microsoft releases major Windows 10 updates in a staggered fashion, meaning not all devices get the update immediately. For the past couple of years, the firm has let users decide if they want to install a feature update till the time that the version that they are on reaches the end-of-support. The company does enforce update blocks – essentially blocking those PCs from being served the updates – due to known issues. The firm then gradually removes these “safeguard holds” as and when the issues are fixes.

      Since the release of Windows 10 version 2004 (May 2020 Update) one year ago, there have been various holds on certain devices. Considering that the October 2020 Update (version 20H2) contains the same bits as that of version 2004, those blocks also applied to this version of the OS. Though most of these update holds have been removed over the last year and versions 2004 and 20H2 now account for 80% of total Windows 10 machines, at least two upgrade blocks relating to Conexant audio drivers were still in place, at least for some users.

      Now, Microsoft has officially noted in the known issues page for both versions (spotted by Ghacks) that the issues have been resolved as of yesterday, May 7, 2021. This means that any devices that have been prevented from upgrading to the May 2020 Update or the October 2020 Update from older versions will now be served the bits automatically. An estimated 11% of users are still running the November 2019 update (version 1909).

      Of course, users have had other ways to update to the latest versions such as by using the Media Creation Tool or performing a fresh install using the available ISOs. Additionally, the company also added a Group Policy to Windows 10 allowing IT admins to circumvent these blocks or disable them and force devices to update, in case they deem it necessary.

      The official update from the Redmond firm about the lifting of these long-standing safeguard holds comes just a few days from the official end-of-support date for Windows 10 version 1909. Starting May 11, all Home, Pro, and Pro Education SKUs will reach the end-of-support, meaning those on version 1909 must move to any of the newer versions. This also signals the first time that all supported Window 10 versions will receive the same servicing updates, since the upcoming Windows 10 May 2021 Update (21H1) is yet another enablement package, just like version 20H2.

      Have any of your devices been blocked from receiving versions 2004 or 20H2, or has your organization held off on updating the devices to a newer version? Let us know in the comments below!