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By Rich Woods
Windows Insiders with a HoloLens 2 can now test out Edge Chromium
by Rich Woods
If you've got a HoloLens 2 that's on the Dev channel of the Windows Insider Program, build 20279.1006 was released last week. The build is from the Iron branch, which is apparently going to be a real update for HoloLens 2 headsets, unlike Windows 10 client. The new build has a bunch of new features, which is perfectly natural for HoloLens, being that it doesn't receive as many new builds as Windows 10 does.
First up is the new Edge browser. It's based on Chromium like what we've been getting on Windows 10 for a while now. It's not actually replacing Edge Legacy just yet though. For now, you'll be able to choose between the two browsers, but to be clear, Edge Chromium will replace Edge Legacy eventually. You'll be able to tell the difference because Edge Chromium has a new icon.
Setting up Edge is pretty much the same as on Windows 10. There will be the same first-run animation that interrupts your workflow, and most functionality should work as expected after that. You can view and mark up PDFs, turn on dark mode, save PDFs from the Print menu, and more. Features coming soon include WebXR and 360 Viewer extensions and joining a Teams call through the browser with video, mixed reality capture, or screen-sharing.
There's also a new Settings app. It includes new HoloLens 2 settings for Sound, Power & sleep, Network & Internet, Apps, Accounts, Ease of Access, and more. Here's the full list:
You'll find the Office web app in the 'All apps' list now, and it's really just a shortcut to Office.com. In fact, there's also a new default app picker, so if you launch the Office web app, you should be asked if you want to use Edge Legacy or Edge Chromium.
If you're on the Dev channel, this build is available now, and it should be a near-final build for the spring update.
By Steven P.
Surface Pro 7 + Pro Type Cover Bundle gets a $360 price cut on the Microsoft Store
by Steven Parker
Earlier this month Amazon was offering a decent discount on the lower end Microsoft Surface Pro 7 variant that was announced in October 2019, with pricing for the base i3 variant starting at $749. And while that deal has now ended, Microsoft has come with its own deal that knocks off $360 for its top offering of the Surface Pro 7 + Pro Type Cover bundle.
The device, which comes in Platinum or Black colors, has a 10th gen Intel Core i7 processor which is paired with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. You can choose from six Pro Type Covers that usually costs $129.99 or $159.99 depending on feature choice but are now all $50. For example, the configuration with the Surface Pro Type Cover with Fingerprint ID will normally cost you $2,059.98 on the Microsoft Store but it is now $1,699.98 so you will be saving $360 on the bundle.
In addition, you can also add the Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3C Flash Drive which is designed for USB and USB Type-C compatibility and has a capacity of 64GB, to the bundle for free. There's also a bunch of other accessories that can be added with various discounts.
It's unclear how long this discount will stay live for, but if you were on the lookout for the top variant of the Surface Pro 7, now might be the time to act.
Control hits the Xbox Game Pass for PC subscription on January 21
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
The Xbox Game Pass subscription on PC is gaining a new experience later this week, as Microsoft announced over the weekend that Control is finally debuting on the PC variant. The action game had arrived to the console version of the subscription last month.
This delay of gaining high-profile content on the PC Game Pass side compared to the console version is not an uncommon sight anymore, as Doom Eternal - and in a larger way EA Play - also suffered a similar delay.
Control will be available to Xbox Game Pass for PC subscribers this Thursday, January 21. The hit title developed by Remedy Entertainment is a third-person action experience surrounding a government agency, the Federal Bureau of Control, that investigates supernatural events. It is set in the developer's connected universe of games where the classic Alan Wake series also resides.
Keep in mind that this should only be the base game that is arriving to the subscription, and gaining access to the two expansions of Control, The Foundation and AWE, will require additional purchases. Meanwhile, another Xbox Game Pass content injection announcement is very likely to be happening soon, as the previous one only covered the first half of January.
Microsoft Weekly: Writers of the lost art, a range of patches, and builds galore
by Florin Bodnarescu
This week brought the usual set of Patch Tuesday updates, a number of Insider previews, and a rather interesting announcement from MachineGames, the previously ZeniMax and now Microsoft / Xbox Game Studios subsidiary. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of January 10 - 16.
Writers of the lost art
Back in September of last year, Microsoft announced that it was acquiring Bethesda’s parent company, ZeniMax Media in a deal worth $7.5B. As a result, there was an interview with two of the most well-known folks on the Bethesda side, Pete Hines and Todd Howard. What everybody seems to have missed was the range of Indiana Jones-related paraphernalia present behind Todd Howard. As it turns out, this was yet another, pretty clever hint at a game announcement which showed up this week.
Born as a partnership between the newly-(re)announced Lucasfilm Games and Bethesda subsidiary MachineGames is an upcoming “wholly original, standalone title” in the Indiana Jones series. Helmed by Todd Howard as the executive producer, the project is currently in its early stages. Needless to say, this may very well end up being an Xbox and PC platform exclusive, as Microsoft is preparing to close its ZeniMax acquisition this year.
In other gaming news, Dead Rising and Breakdown are now free to get if you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription, and for fans of the red and white combo, there’s now a Pulse Red variant of the latest Xbox Wireless Controller. It’s set to debut February 9 for $64.99. Folks in China however are already able to pick up the controller as of January 12.
A range of patches
Besides being the second full week of January, this week was also host to the second Tuesday of the month, which is usually when Microsoft releases a range of patches for all of its supported operating systems. If you’re on Windows 10, these are:
May 2020 Update / October 2020 Update (2004 / 20H2): KB4598242, builds 19041.746 / 19042.746 – includes a number of security updates for scenarios when you need to use external devices, as well as for basic Windows operations. Known issues: The same user certificate known issue appears in this build, as does a bug with the Japanese IME and Furigana characters. November 2019 Update (1909): KB4598229, build 18363.1316 – very similar changelog to the updates above, with the mention that this also includes security updates for Office products. Another thing worth mentioning is that this update isn’t coming to the May 2019 Update (1903), as support for it ended last month. Known issue: This update only contains the user certificate known issue from the known issues list above. October 2018 Update (1809): KB4598230, build 17763.1697 – supported for Enterprise and Education SKUs. April 2018 Update (1803): KB4598245, build 17134.1967 – supported for Enterprise and Education SKUs. Creators Update (1703): KB4599208, build 15063.2614 – supported for Surface Hub only. Anniversary Update (1607): KB4598243, build 14393.4169 – supported in the Long-Term Servicing Branch. Windows 10 RTM (1507): KB4598231, build 10240.18818 – supported in the Long-Term Servicing Branch. Naturally, as Windows 7 and 8.1 are still supported, those operating systems got updates too. Curious folks, here’s what you need to look out for:
Windows 8.1: KB4598285, KB4598275 (security-only) – the monthly rollup which includes some security enhancements for the Printer RPC authentication, and has the same CSV error that’s been plaguing this OS for a while. Windows 7: KB4598279, KB4598289 (security-only) – very similar changelog to the monthly rollup for Windows 8.1, even down to the known issue. Keep in mind that the Windows 7 updates are only received by business who pay for these extended security updates (ESUs), the price of which is set to double soon.
We obviously couldn’t have ignored the fact that Microsoft also likes to put out Insider builds for just about everything under the sun.
As such, the company released Edge Dev 89.0.760.0, which brings the Password Monitor feature to those on macOS, as well as a Fluent Design icon refresh for Teams Public Preview testers.
Speaking of refreshes, the company is gearing up to release a major UI overhaul of Windows 10, due for release in the second half of 2021. Referred to via the umbrella term Sun Valley, it’ll include changes to the Start Menu, taskbar, Action Center, built-in apps and other features, seeking to add more of those ever-pervasive rounded corners.
We’ve seen some of that with Windows 10X which was revealed in October of 2019. Since then, the company has been radio silent on it, going as far as to just not release the flagship product that would showcase this OS, the Surface Neo. For those curious to see how the operating system functions, a near-final build has leaked online, and we have a hands-on video with it.
Moving on to other bits of software that the company actually wanted to release, build 21292 of Windows 10 made its way to the Dev channel, including fixes for the news and interests feature that debuted in build 21286. There are of course other fixes included, but the known issues list is about as long as the fixes list, so have a gander at it if you’re curious before installing this build.
This same week, Microsoft also released 21292.1010, a cumulative update to the build above that’s meant to test the servicing pipeline. If you use x64 emulation on ARM PCs, the update does break this feature.
Finally, there’s also the Server Insider build 20282, which once again is missing its companion blog post. It’s possible there’s just nothing new in this build, which is why the company didn’t bother releasing a post about it.
Microsoft has released the Surface Pro 7+, with Tiger Lake, 4G LTE, and a removable SSD. More features are now rolling out to Yammer, including the ability to created posts, questions and polls on Yammer directly from SharePoint pages. Planner on the web now allows you to add image backgrounds to each plan. The OneDrive file size limit has now been increased to 250GB. Cloud for Retail, and Dynamics 365 Commerce updates are now available. Microsoft Forms now has features meant to streamline the access to and distribution of forms. An approval request app is now rolling out for Teams. Apple is allegedly testing the Music and Podcasts apps for the Microsoft Store. Logging off
We end the column with a couple of Microsoft departures.
First in line is Brad Anderson, Corporate VP of Commercial Management Experiences. Following a tenure of more than 17 years at the company, the exec will be joining Zig Serafin’s Qualtrics firm as President of Products and Services. Serafin is another 17-year veteran of the Redmond giant, who was joined by former Chief Experience Officer Julie Larson-Green in 2017. As for Anderson, he joined Microsoft back in 2003 from Novell, first as GM of SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager), then as Corporate VP in some capacity since 2007.
The second departure this week is Julia White, who’s been with the company for the last two decades. In her now former role at Microsoft, White was a Corporate VP of Product marketing for Azure, Dev Tools, and Server. She will be joining SAP as Chief Marketing Officer and Solutions Officer. Julia White started as a PM for the Server division in 2001, and has been in the current role for the last five years.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.
By Namerah S
Enacfire E90 Wireless Earbuds review: True bang for your buck
by Namerah Saud Fatmi
We've seen an explosion of new brands and products in the TWS market over the last few years. Enacfire is one such brand that caters to the budget range of audio devices. With most Enacfire devices priced below $50, the Enacfire E90 wireless earbuds are the Shenzen-based company upper-tier offering.
For an inexpensive price tag of about $50, the Enacfire E90 earbuds tout 48 hours of playback, IPX8 water resistance, USB Type-C fast charging and boosted bass to knock the listener's socks off. There's been a good amount of chatter regarding the E90 wireless headphones, so let's find out what all the fuss is about.
Now before I go into further detail, I want you to keep in mind that we're talking about some very affordable wireless earbuds. This is important because of the balance of the price against the value of the Enacfire E90 earphones.
Weight 4.5g Dimensions 2.44 x 0.94 x 2.01 inches Design In-ear Codecs aptX, SBC Speaker 10mm dynamic driver Microphone 2 mics with CVC 8.0 noise cancellation Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0 Battery 8hrs playtime, extended to 48hrs with charging case Charging USB Type-C fast charge | 1.5 to 2hrs Durability IPX8 waterproof rating Design
The Enacfire E90 true wireless earbuds come in a glossy white finish and the material used is plastic. The charging case features the same colours and materials and has a rectangular shape with curved edges. Contrary to what this might indicate, none of the parts look or feel that cheap. The earbuds have a very strange shape and they look very uncomfortable, but once worn they fit in the ears just nice. I think the uniquely shaped heads help the buds to stay in place because these things don't ever fall out.
Each earbud has an LED light and houses one mic each for better audio quality during calls. There are no physical buttons, only touch controls on both earbuds which I found very easy to use. On the front of the carrying case, there are four tiny LED lights to indicate the battery level. Meanwhile, on the back of the case, there's a USB Type-C port for charging.
I was very pleased with how lightweight the headphones were, even when accounting for the wight of the case. They weigh an unbelievably light 4.5 grams which makes it really comfortable to carry and wear them for long hours. Another feature which really sweetened the deal for me was the IPX8 waterproof rating. I live in a country where it rains quite a lot so water resistance is nearly essential.
Moving on to the juicy bits, the Enacfire E90 use the Qualcomm aptX technology to deliver high-quality audio efficiently. It uses low latency which reduces audio delays over Bluetooth connection. Now, this is something I've faced before in some of the lower-tier TWS earphones. To my delight, with the E90 buds, this did not happen.
The Enacfire earbuds have two microphones, one on each bud. This serves two purposes, one is to enhance voice transmission and the other is to enable users to use either bud standalone. The CVC 8.0 noise cancellation feature cuts out background noise while making calls. I used both earbuds together and individually to answer calls and both experiences were good. Nothing extraordinary, but a little above average in the budget range.
I was very satisfied with the overall sound delivery and quality of the E90 headphones. They have boosted bass which is something bass-loving audiophiles will appreciate. I cannot stress this enough, bass is really something on these earbuds.
Let's talk about other aspects of sound quality. I was actually impressed by the audio delivered by the Enacfire E90 buds because they're so cheap. I was happy with the levels of clarity and crispness even on very high volumes which is something budget earphones struggle with. I would describe my listening experience as lush, rich and punchy.
But I must say, at the point when you max out the volume, the audio quality does drop a notch and the sound becomes a bit grainy. This is to be expected, I mean the Enacfire wireless earbuds are less than half the price of premium TWS brands like Apple or Sennheiser.
I did, however, manage to fix this with a dynamic equalizer. Enacfire does not have its own companion app so I used a third-party app. All in all, at the end of the day, they perform satisfactorily and get the job done surprisingly well.
Enacfire states that the E90 earphones offer 8hrs of playback at a time, extended up to a generous 48hrs when taking the charging case into account. I decided to put this to the test, well a crash test to be more accurate, and my results were pleasing.
I started with a full 100% battery and began my day, with very heavy use. Just to see how long it would take to drain completely, I left it on for hours. When I wasn't using them, my brother was or the earbuds were just sitting around blasting music on full volume with no one listening. Almost the whole time they were on, they were playing something or the other.
Taking the case into consideration, the E90 buds gave out after two entire days - 49 hours and 42 minutes later. I probably got over 35 hours of playtime from them collectively, with most of the testing done at max volume.
Now the website does mention that increasing or decreasing the volume will affect the battery life, so I am fully confident if I had not used them constantly like a maniac, I would easily be able to get the official 48hrs of playback Enacfire claims the E90 earbuds can deliver.
Another thing that made me happy was the charge time. The Enacfire E90 true wireless earbuds support USB Type-C fast charge but the compatible wattage has not been disclosed. According to the official specs, the E90 buds take between 1.5 to 2 hours to be charged in full. Once my earbuds were drained, I plugged them in and it took me exactly 1hr 12m.
After many days of hands-on testing and heavy usage, I have some thoughts about the Enacfire E90 TWS headphones. I decided to review the earbuds because of the growing chitter-chatter about the company. It has a pretty dedicated fan base and many claim that these are the best true wireless earbuds they have ever used.
While that last part might be a bit of an exaggeration, I truly feel that the fans or on to something. It all comes together when you factor in the price, which is $49.99 on Amazon or $59.99 on the official Enacfire online store. The features that these earbuds offer at this price point is truly impressive.
You get an outstanding battery life, excellent sound quality, fast charging and a nice, lightweight design which sits tight and doesn't budge or fall out. There's even an IPX8 water resistance rating for better durability in rainy conditions or as a safeguard against clumsy incidents.
I would, however, have really liked it if Enacfire had a companion app for the E90 earbuds which provided a dynamic equalizer. I'm a big fan of customizing and optimizing audio devices to my taste. This isn't that big of an issue because you can always use a third-party app but it would have been nice.
Another area that could use improvement is the audio quality at max volume. While the vocals don't get distorted, the bass tends to sound grainy and woolly at times. This can, however, be fixed to a certain degree by using an equalizer.
So here's my final verdict for the Enacfire E90 wireless earbuds: scout's honour, you can bet your bottom dollar on these earbuds to provide true value for your hard-earned $50. Just don't expect premium sound quality from a budget product.
Get the Enacfire E90 Wireless Earbuds at Amazon for $39.99 (after 20% off coupon) + free shipping
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