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Microsoft Weekly: Halo 4 finally on PC, more Fluent icons, and optional updates
by Florin Bodnarescu
The last week brought Halo 4 for the first time to PC players the world over, a Fluent Design upgrade for Edge icons showed up – as well as multiple new features -, plus some security fixes for a range of Windows 10 versions. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of November 15 - 21.
Halo 4 finally on PC
After much anticipation, the final title in the Master Chief Collection, aka Halo 4, has finally arrived on PC. Bringing cross-play support and a bunch of new enhancements, the game is now live on Steam, the Microsoft Store and Xbox Game Pass for PC. If you’re curious as to what exactly the title has to offer, do take a peek at the review that’s currently up, in which our very own Pulasthi Ariyasinghe calls the FPS a “satisfying conclusion to the Master Chief Collection”.
Continuing with the first-party news, Sea of Thieves has received its November update, complete with a range of bug fixes, upgrades to Treasure Vault voyages, performance improvements, and much, much more. The update comes in at 6GB on Windows 10, Xbox One X, and Xbox Series X, with the One S and Series S owners receiving a slightly smaller 5GB update. Steam owners are the luckiest with a measly 3.6GB required to download.
And since we mentioned it, before we get back to the game news, it’s worth interjecting with the fact that new Xbox Series S orders may arrive after the holidays. This is because, unsurprisingly, the Series S is out of stock.
Returning to first-party games, Minecraft has just gotten a new Star Wars-themed DLC, and if that’s not quite what you want to be playing this week, there’s always a bunch of Deals with Gold to browse, including ones for Code Vein, Dark Souls, Ace Combat 7, and much more.
Ending this section is a bit of gameplay from both the Xbox One X and Series X for CD Projekt RED’s upcoming open-world RPG, Cyberpunk 2077. Switching between the two consoles frequently, the video highlights interiors, exteriors, combat, and other NPC interactions.
More Fluent icons
Regardless of your opinion of the new Edge, one major change in comparison to the Legacy version is that the browser gets updated more frequently than before.
As such, everybody in the Dev and Canary channels can now start using the text comments in PDFs feature. If you haven’t gotten it yet, the Dev build is 88.0.702, in case you want to try out this capability.
There are also new features added to Edge this month, like an improved copy-paste experience, better integration with Bing rewards, new shopping features, and much more.
Staying on the subject of improvements, now when you open history, it will show a pop-up window which allows you to more easily navigate through your previously opened links. Furthermore, you’re now able to pin a history icon next to the address bar for easy access.
Microsoft was also eager to share the fact that Edge WebView2 is now available for .NET. This, for folks not aware, is the Chromium Edge equivalent of Project Spartan’s (old Edge) EdgeHTML-based WebView. Additionally, the Redmond firm also aims to stop Chromium browsers from launching with elevated privileges.
Finally, for those of you who wish the company would just stop for a second and update everything to its (for now) unified Fluent Design system, there’s good news. Chromium Edge is going to be getting a new set icons to bring the entire experience more in line with the company’s design aesthetic du jour. The first phase is currently being rolled out.
If you’ve been running Windows 10 for a while, you’ll be aware that Microsoft also releases optional updates from time to time, beyond its Patch Tuesday patches.
If you’re on 1809, or the October 2018 Update, you’ll get KB4594442, which bumps up the build number to 17763.1579 and addresses a security bug with Kerberos authentication and ticket renewal. If you’re running the Anniversary Update (1607), that same fix will come through for you as KB4594441, bumping the build number up to 14393.4048, while folks on the May 2019 Update (1903) and November 2019 Update (1909) will be getting KB4594443, with builds 18362.1199 and 18363.1199, respectively.
Finally, those on either the May 2020 Update (2004) or October 2020 Update (20H2) will receive KB4594440, with builds 19041.631 and 19042.631.
Microsoft was busy releasing even more builds however, so here’s what else you need to be on the lookout for:
May 2019 Update / November 2019 Update (1903/1909): KB4586819, builds 18362.1237 / 18363.1237 – fixes a bug that causes Edge to open in the background when the device is in tablet mode, as well as bugs with USB 3.0 hubs, Narrator, and WMR headsets running in lower resolution modes. October 2018 Update (1809) Enterprise, Education: KB4586839, build 17763.1613 – fixes the same bugs for the version above, as well as the issue which may cause the HDD to fill up in certain error situations. The known issues for all updates above remain the same ones outlined in the Patch Tuesday wave of updates.
In other news, Microsoft will not release any optional Windows 10 cumulative updates in December. This applies to preview updates (so basically A, C, and D wave updates, rather the B wave ones which come with Patch Tuesday every month). This is due to “minimal operations during the holidays and the upcoming Western new year”.
Over in the Insider Dev channel, the company unleashed build 20262 with a number of fixes, as well as 20262.1010, the of which was simply a Cumulative Update to test out the servicing pipeline.
Polls in Teams meetings have now started rolling out. New Power Apps and Dataverse are now generally available for Teams. Photoshop Beta is now available for ARM-based Windows 10 and macOS devices. WinUI 3 Preview 3 is now out, featuring ARM64 support. Dynamics 365 Project Operations has been announced, aimed at service-based businesses in India. Microsoft 365 is now available from datacenters in Brazil. The November updates for Microsoft 365 include new Teams apps, among other features. Teams personal features are now rolling out on desktop and the web. The Surface Studio 2 has gotten new firmware updates to fix audio performance and stability, with the Go 2 and Book 3 now available for purchase in India. Logging off
We cap things off with a new security chip that Microsoft intends to introduce for Windows-based devices.
In what the firm will be dubbing Pluton going forward, Microsoft has announced essentially the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip equivalent, but integrated on the SoC.
Seen in other solutions like the Xbox consoles or Azure Sphere, this is basically an intersection of software and hardware to provide the benefits of TPM chips in terms of security, but (currently) none of the drawbacks. Specifically, since TPM is separate from the CPU, perpetrators are able to target the channel between the CPU and TPM chip with their attacks.
Working with AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm on the solution – with AMD being the first to use it -, Microsoft says that the Pluton chip will work with BitLocker and System Guard, and that information can’t be removed from the chip via malware or any other way.
Integrated with Windows Update in the same way Azure Sphere Security Service integrates with IoT devices, the chip will make sure that firmware updates come directly from Microsoft.
There’s currently no word as to when we’ll be seeing the chip’s debut in PCs.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.
By Abhay V
Surface Studio 2 updates now rolling out with audio performance and stability fixes
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft has released new updates to Surface Studio 2 PCs, just a few weeks after serving new firmware updates to its newer batch of devices – the Book 3, Laptop 3, Pro 7, and the Go 2. Just like for those devices, the Studio 2 updates bring fixes for audio issues and improvements to overall system stability.
As usual, these updates will be made available to devices running Windows 10 version 1903 (May 2019 Update) or newer. Considering that version 1809 (October 2019 Update) reached the end-of-support this month, most devices should be moved to version 1909 (November 2019 Update) automatically. However, if your device is still running 1809 or an older version of the OS, it is best to upgrade to a supported version.
Here is the complete list of fixes:
Windows Update History Name
Device Manager Name
Version and Update
Surface - Firmware - 532.3389.768.0
Improves system stability. Realtek Semiconductor Corp. - SoftwareComponent - 11.0.6000.92
Realtek Hardware Support Application - Software components
Improves audio performance while streaming content. Realtek Semiconductor Corp. - Media - 6.0.8936.1
Realtek High Definition Audio (SST) - Sound, video, and game controllers
Improves audio performance and resolves associated system bugcheck. Realtek Semiconductor Corp. - Extension - 18.104.22.168
Realtek High Definition Audio (SST) Extension - no Device Manager notes
Improves integration between system services. As with all such releases, the updates will be available via Windows Update. However, they roll out gradually to all users, so it might be a while before all devices receive the bits through Windows Update. Additionally, the firm notes that there are no known issues, which is always a good thing.
Microsoft recently also updated the Surface lifecycle information document, providing timeframes on driver and firmware support for its PCs. The Surface Studio 2 is slated to be supported until October 2022, adhering to the minimum four years of support that the company promises.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft Edge WebView2 now available for .NET and more
by Rich Woods
A month ago, Microsoft announced general availability of WebView2 for Win32 C/C++ apps. WebView2 is based on Chromium, just like Microsoft's new Edge browser. It's the successor to the EdgeHTML-based WebView. The Redmond firm was clear that there was more on the way, and it announced general availability of WebView2 for .NET 5, .NET Core, and .NET Framework WinForms and WPF apps on existing versions of Windows.
That's not all though. Another thing that was promised and is being delivered today is WebView2 Fixed Version distribution mode. Most WebView2 elements will be updated regularly, just like Chromium is. In fact, Chromium and Edge are updated every six weeks, and the SDK is planned to have the same cadence.
But you might want to have a specific version for your app, whatever the reason may be. With the Fixed Version distribution mode, you'll be able to do exactly that, and it won't be automatically updated.
Microsoft said that moving forward, it's goong to continue to update the SDK every six weeks. You can find the latest release notes here, and find new announcements here.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft releases Edge 87 with shopping features and more
by Rich Woods
Today, Microsoft released Edge 87 to the stable channel. It's right on schedule, arriving six weeks after Edge 86 came out. Being a major update, there are a bunch of new features.
One thing that's new is that if you're using Internet Explorer, sites that are incompatible will automatically redirect you to Edge. Once in Edge, users will then find that they can use IE mode to run sites that are only compatible with Internet Explorer.
You'll also find that new shopping features are on by default now. Edge will find and give users coupons for things that they're shopping for, and help you to find better prices.
That's not all though, because there's a new Enterprise New Tab Page (NTP), which gives you work-related feed content. It's based on your organizations Office 365 content, and Microsoft Search for Business powered by Bing.
Here's everything that's new:
As always, you can manually update your browser by going to Settings -> About Microsoft Edge. If you don't do that, your browser will be automatically updated in the background.
November updates to Microsoft 365 include new Teams apps and more
by João Carrasqueira
We're just over halfway through the month of November, but that isn't stopping Microsoft from sharing its monthly roundup of updates made to the Microsoft 365 suite of apps and services. In the blog post published today, the company has highlighted the many improvements to Teams, along with some updates to other products.
One of the big news for Teams is the introduction of new apps for meetings, which were announced earlier this week. There are apps from a variety of providers, including Asana, Monday.com, SurveyMonkey, and more. Microsoft itself has some new apps for Teams, starting with Forms, which lets users create users before, during, and after a meeting, with all the capabilities of Microsoft Forms. This capability is rolling out now.
Another new Microsoft app for Teams is Power Automate, which lets users create automation templates for specific tasks to be performed without user interaction. Microsoft has also released Power Apps and Power Virtual Agent apps for Teams, allowing users to create chat bots in the app, and they run on the low-code Dataverse platform.
Rounding the features for Teams, real-time noise suppression is now rolling out to all users, so background noise isn't as much of a distraction during meetings.
Moving on to other apps, the OneNote feed is rolling out to users. This lets users easily access their most recent notes from OneNote, Sticky Notes, and even the Samsung Notes app in one place. The OneNote feed is available in Outlook on the web, so you can reference certain information or drag and drop notes into an email. It's also rolling out in OneNote for Windows 10 and on the web.
On the topic of Office, you can now have Word documents read aloud to you on Android devices, both in the standalone Word app and the unified Office app. Microsoft has added new voices so reading sounds more natural and pleasant.
Over on OneDrive, the iOS app has received a facelift with a new home page that surfaces memories from past years on the same day, as well as recent files you may want to open. Microsoft also recently rolled out family and group sharing in OneDrive on the web.
Yammer is getting a bunch of new features in November, including support for Yammer Q and A insights in Microsoft Productivity Score and an updated topics and hashtags experience. The Yammer tab in Teams is also getting upgraded with features like pinning, cover photos, and live events. Additionally, Yammer announcements and mentions will show up in the Teams activity feed if you have the Yammer Communities app.
Edge has also received a couple of new features this month, starting with web captures that let users take screenshots of web pages and annotate them. There's also a new customizable news feed that can be added to the new tab page for enterprise users. These features are currently available in Edge 87 in the Beta channel, but the update should roll out to everyone soon.
Moving on to features aimed at IT professionals, Microsoft has announced the general availability of Endpoint Data Loss Prevention, which was in public preview since July. Finally, Microsoft has added support for Visio to create diagrams for Amazon Web Services (AWS) solutions so you can visualize the structure.