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By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft Office 2021 is coming on October 5, LTSC available today
by Usama Jawad
Back in February, Microsoft announced upcoming updates to two variants of Office, namely Office Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) and Office 2021. Both are quite similar in nature with a key difference being that the former is meant for organizational use and the latter is intended for consumers. Both offer five years of mainstream support via a one-time "perpetual" license purchase, but that also means that they won't get any new features or updates until the next perpetual license release. They are primarily intended for organizations and consumers who can't migrate to the cloud to take advantage of Microsoft 365, which gets updated way more frequently.
Microsoft announced a commercial preview of its LTSC releases in April, and now it has announced that Office LTSC has become generally available (GA) to organizations starting today while Office 2021 will hit GA on October 5, which is the same date as Windows 11's general rollout.
Microsoft has emphasized that Microsoft 365's subscription-based system is its preferred direction for the future, it understands that in some scenarios, organizations can't migrate to the cloud or connect certain services to the internet. As such, LTSC releases has more value for them. Although this LTSC release contains performance enhancements and improved accessibility, Microsoft has noted that it cannot take advantage of cloud-driven hybrid security capabilities, AI automation, and real-time collaboration. The company has noted that it will be making "investments" to make it easier for LTSC customers to shift to Microsoft 365 in the future.
Another major change from previous releases is that Office LTSC ships with Teams as part of the installed features, rather than Skype for Business, but Teams is treated differently than other Office apps. Unlike the others, it will continue to get updates continuously over time, but you also only get access to the free version of Teams, since the premium version is licensed separately. You can learn more about managing the free version of Teams here.
Office 2021 is the consumer version of "perpetual" Office and will replace Office 2019 on October 5, 2021. It will be available on Windows and macOS just like Office LTSC. If you're an IT admin at an organization looking to upgrade to Office LTSC generally available today, you can go through Microsoft's deployment instructions here.
By Usama Jawad96
PSA: Microsoft is ending support for Silverlight next month
by Usama Jawad
Silverlight is Microsoft's framework for the development of web applications. It was released in 2007 and its most recent release came almost three years ago. As of now, the legacy framework is only supported on Internet Explorer, and that is set to change soon as well. Silverlight is reaching end of support on October 12, 2021, as pointed out by Tero Alhonen on Twitter.
The writing's been on the wall for quite some time now for Silverlight. Silverlight 4 was the primary development platform for Windows Phone, and we all know what happened to that. Even way back in 2011, we had former Microsoft executives proclaiming the death of Silverlight. Netflix transitioned from Silverlight to HTML5 in 2013 too. Microsoft Edge does not support Silverlight outside of IE mode, Google Chrome ended support for it in September 2015, and Mozilla Firefox did the same in March 2017.
The dedicated Microsoft Silverlight portal shows a banner about impending end of support and points to a support document detailing some more information.
Microsoft says that until the end of support date on October 12, it will continue providing technical assistance to customers using Silverlight 5 only. This includes paid support for Silverlight applications running on Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) on the following platforms:
Windows 10 Windows Server 2016 Windows 8.1 Windows Server 2012 R2 Windows Server 2012 Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Windows Embedded 8 Standard POSReady 7 Thin PC 7 Microsoft has emphasized that it is not planning any move to kill off Silverlight applications but it is important to note that software running on this framework will not get any security or feature updates. Similarly, customers who purchased Silverlight perpetual licenses are still legally licensed to utilize it, without support. No customer is eligible for extended support past October 12, even if they offer to pay for it. The company has also warned that the perpetual Silverlight license cannot be redistributed.
After the aforementioned date, the Silverlight portal will still be accessible, but it will not offer an installer. For web-based applications, Microsoft has recommended Blazor as an alternative, while WinUI 3 with Windows App SDK has been encouraged if you're considering moving to a desktop-based application not dependent upon the browser.
Although Internet Explorer 11 - the last browser that currently supports Silverlight - is being phased out, Microsoft says that Silverlight apps will continue to work in IE mode in Edge.
By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft: Running Windows 11 on M1 Macs is not a supported scenario
by Usama Jawad
Around a month ago, Parallels announced that its Desktop 17 software supports running Windows 11 on both Intel and M1 Macs. However, users would only be able to emulate the Windows on ARM variant of the OS. It is important to note that in order to get Windows on ARM up and running on virtualization software like Parallels, you have to grab and utilize a virtual hard disk file from a Windows Insider Preview build, as noted by XDA.
That said, in a statement issued to The Register recently, a Microsoft spokesperson has confirmed that running Windows 11 on M1 Mac devices isn't a "supported scenario". What this means is that while you can install the OS via Parallels on an M1 Mac, if you run into any issue, Microsoft isn't responsible for providing a workaround or a fix. Furthermore, if at any point in the future, Microsoft makes changes to the OS that renders this virtualization impossible, people who paid for software like Parallels Desktop will be left out in te cold.
It is important to understand the importance of this caveat as a Windows 11 Dev Channel build recently starting throwing errors related to hardware compatibility on M1 Macs, and although Parallels was able to update its software to resolve the issue, there might be a future scenario where a quick fix is not possible. Interestingly, Thurrott does say that a source told him that Windows on ARM for M1 Macs would be officially supported by Microsoft in September. However, this seems to be very unlikely to happen now, in light of the recent statement.
By Abhay V
Microsoft Weekly: Windows 11 builds, new zero-day vulnerability, and gaming news
by Abhay V
Another week has passed, and a lot has happened in the world of Microsoft. There were new Windows 11 builds for both the Dev and Beta channels, information about another refreshed app for the OS came from Windows chief Panos Panay, a few vulnerabilities were reported on - including a zero-day that affects all Windows versions, some security fixes, and a bunch of gaming news. Check all this out and much more in our weekly Microsoft digest for September 5 – September 11.
Windows 11 builds, new apps, and a rebranded service
As was expected, Microsoft released new Windows 11 builds for both Dev and Beta channel users. While Dev channel users got build 22454, Beta channel users were served build 22000.184. The Dev channel build brought a few minor UI improvements, such as a modern right-click menu for the Recycle Bin and more. It also included a ton of bug fixes, something that the Beta channel did not see, as those users received a couple of fixes to address translation inconsistencies. The firm did, however, note that fixes that were made as part of the Dev channel build will be released to the stable version in the way of servicing updates after the OS releases on October 5, which does seem odd. Additionally, Dev channel users that wanted to perform a clean install could download new ISO images of build 22454.
The week also brought news of a Photos app refresh, a welcome addition for those who have hoped for the in-box app to be more aesthetically pleasing and feature-rich. Of course, another expectation is that the app brings some much-needed reliability and performance improvements. It is to be seen if that is the case, as the app is yet to begin rolling out.
Speaking of refreshes, Microsoft announced a rebrand of its news service to Microsoft Start. The new service doesn’t bring much in the way of additions or features and the branding change is being applied across platforms, including on the web, in Windows, and the mobile apps. In the area of updates, there is also a new Edge 95 build for the Dev channel. It does not come with many new features, which is because it is still an early build for major version 95.
For those still on the fence about installing Windows 11 builds on their machines, we have been looking at the various components of the OS and documenting them in our Closer Look series. This week, we went over the improvements and changes coming to the Virtual Desktop experience in Windows 11 and compared it to that in Windows 10. And to gin up enthusiasm about the upcoming OS, Microsoft has posted a new ad on YouTube and is also speaking about how the OS makes the best of new hardware.
Windows zero-day vulnerability, Outlook bug, and Azure patch
There were a couple of security issues reported this week, the most significant of which was the zero-day in Windows that can enable specially tailored Office files to let attackers perform remote code execution. Microsoft acknowledged the vulnerability, adding that it is currently being exploited in the wild. The firm has said that it is working on a fix and expects to release a fix soon. The zero-day affects all Windows versions going back to Windows 7 and the corresponding Windows Server release.
Another security vulnerability affected Outlook users, where a bug had the potential to falsely flag phishing emails as genuine, thanks to the service not filtering IDs from Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). While the firm denied having plans to fix the issue to the researcher that discovered it, it appeared that the firm changed its mind and fixed the issue, which is always a good thing.
On the positive side of things, the Redmond firm changed how Microsoft 365 apps deal with Trusted Documents to make them more secure. Now, Trusted Documents no longer override the Protected View restrictions and adheres to pre-set policies. Another fix – this time affecting commercial customers – came in the way of a patch for a vulnerability in the Azure Container Instances (ACI) service. The issue risked data leaks across the same clusters, but the firm was quick to note that it found no indication of active exploits.
Halo Infinite’s next multiplayer preview, Alan Wake Remastered screenshots, and more
Starting off the week’s gaming roundup is news about Halo Infinite’s next multiplayer preview, which starts September 24. However, the sign-up cut-off is soon approaching, with the date set for September 13. Those eligible will receive invites on both the PC and Xbox platforms. As for the changes, 343 Industries detailed the tweaks it is planning to make based on the first technical preview's feedback.
For those excited about Alan Wake Remastered, screenshots of the game appeared on Amazon UK before the official announcement arrived with details on the changed elements and PC system requirements.
An extended look at Marvel's Midnight Suns also came this week in the form of visceral gameplay footage. Considering that the footage is of the game in its alpha stages, the animations and visuals were still unpolished but gave a better look at the villains. Fallout 76 Worlds Update also began rolling out, bringing Public and Custom Worlds. However, only Fallout 1st subscribers will be able to host Custom Worlds. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers, luckily, will receive Fallout 1st subscription for one month. Bethesda also acknowledged an issue with Season 5’s rank-ups, which is why it extended the season by two weeks.
Square Enix revealed the Fall and Winter 2021 Roadmap for Marvel’s Avengers, noting that it is working to address player’s concerns and bringing improvements to Gear, Resources, and Cosmetics.
Coming to Microsoft’s gaming subscriptions, this week’s Deals with Gold included hefty discounts on games from BioShock, Borderlands, and Dragon Ball franchises. Additionally, this week’s Xbox Free Play Days games included Madden NFL 22, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, and Blasphemous.
For Forza Horizon 5 fans, we have listed the current list of cars confirmed by Playground Games , which is over 400 in number. Cars from the likes of BMW and Tesla are obvious omissions and there is no word on whether they are expected later. This week, we also posted a list of every 120FPS supported game on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 (PS5).
Rounding off gaming news is Flight Simulator’s next World Update. This time, central European nations are receiving love, including Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. As usual, there are a bunch of new airports, New Bush Trips, landing challenges, and Discovery flights, and overall improvements to the visuals in those countries.
Microsoft will soon let chat supervisors delete messages in Teams chats Microsoft acquires a video-editing software startup named Clipchamp Xbox Insiders will receive an update for their controllers that improves latency Microsoft offers GPU-accelerated ML training on Windows 10 and WSL via TensorFlow-DirectML Benchmarks show Ubuntu 21.10 outperform Windows 11 in certain use-cases You can still use proper Internet Explorer (IE) in Windows 11 using a Chrome extension Logging off:
When Windows 11 began being offered to testers, it was discovered that Windows 11 Home users could not complete the setup process without an internet connection. We found out a workaround, which was soon patched. Now, there is yet another way to bypass this block, which we have detailed in our guide here. Big thanks to Neowin member warwagon for sharing with us the method.
Missed any of the previous columns? Check them all out at this link.
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Latest Ubuntu 21.10 blows the wind out of Windows 10 / 11 in certain performance tests
by Sayan Sen
Microsoft's next-gen Windows 11 OS is set to release publicly on the 5th of October which is about a week earlier than the release date for Ubuntu 21.10 (codenamed "Impish Indri"), the latter being on October 14. As a result, folks over at Phoronix were curious and wondered what the performances differences might be like between the two upcoming operating systems.
According to the benchmark results obtained in the comparison across several workstation applications, it seems Ubuntu 21.10 is quite a bit ahead by around 50%, or much more, in some of the tests especially those that involve more dependency on the CPU, indicating that the OS is probably better at utilizing the available CPU resources than Windows. GPU-based applications however have generally tended to favor Microsoft's OS, however, the performance gaps aren't as big in Windows' favor.
The test system used by the publication consists of:
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X GeForce RTX 3090 16GB RAM Windows 10 21H1 / Windows 11 Build 22000.168 Ubuntu 21.10
From the numbers, it is noticeable that Windows 11 doesn't really offer much of any significant improvement, if at all, over Windows 10, at least with this build version. The final image that shows WebP image encoding exhibits a certain anomaly as it is observed that the Windows 10 system is much faster than the Windows 11 one, possibly indicating some bug in the latter.
Overall, Ubuntu 21.10 appears to be ~10% faster than Windows 10 and slightly more so in the succeeding Windows 11 build. You can find the full performance review with a lot more benchmark numbers on Phoronix's website linked in the source link below.
Source and images: Phoronix