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Windows 10 build 21376 is now available with a new font and other improvements
by João Carrasqueira
Following on last week's release of build 21370, Microsoft is sticking to a Thursday release for this week's Windows 10 build in the Dev channel, build 21376. Like the past few releases, this one is from the co_release branch, which would usually indicate that Microsoft may be getting ready to wrap up development on the next feature update for Windows 10.
This build is fairly light on news, but it does include a new Segoe UI Variable font, which is designed to scale better across different display sizes, specifically larger ones. The original Segoe UI font was designed to optimal at 9pt sizes, but this variant should adapt better to different displays.
Not every part of the UI will be using Segoe UI Variable right away, though, so you may not see changes in all elements of the OS.
Aside from that, the build mostly consists of smaller improvements, including a new icon for the Connect app. Here's what else is new:
The focus right now seems to be on bug fixes, and there's a lengthy list of them to look forward to in this build. Here's everything that's been fixed:
As Microsoft moves to focus on stability, the list of known issues keeps shrinking, and this time it's the smallest we've seen in quite a while. Here's what you need to be aware of before installing this one:
Since builds in the Dev channel are no longer tied to a specific Windows 10 feature update, it's hard to say when general users may be able to try out the improvements made in the past few builds. The next feature update, version 21H1, is a simple enablement package without much in the way of new features. We're expecting to see a more significant update in the second half of the year, though, and it could include some of these changes, but that remains to be seen.
New Windows 10 concept shows us a new Start menu and flyouts
by João Carrasqueira
Over the years, there's been no shortage of user-created concepts that try to depict what Windows 10 could look like, and that partly happens due to the number of inconsistencies across the OS, and how long it usually takes for changes to be made. A few weeks ago, a Reddit user focused on the File Explorer, but today, we have a new concept from Twitter user vGLAD, whose concept design is called Project Acrylic and focused on the Start menu and a couple of system flyouts.
Starting with (of course) the Start menu, we can see that the concept has it undocked from the taskbar and using rounded corners, something we're already expecting based on Sun Valley leaks from earlier in the year. However, there's a lot more going on here, starting with the dual-tone look thanks to the left-side pane using Acrylic transparency effects and the main area being a solid color. The All Apps list has been removed in favor of quick shortcuts to user folders and also some system settings like Disk Management, personalization, and connected devices.
Tiles are also done away with, and instead, a set of commonly-used apps and websites headlines the right-side section of the Start Menu, similar to how the Windows 10X Start menu looks in the preview builds we've had access to. However, below that you'll see Quick Access, which is usually a page in File Explorer, now more readily available. Users can pin folders and documents to this area, too. At the bottom, a button can take the user to the All Apps list.
You can also see the File Explorer in this screenshot, but it's not a big focus for this concept. It features a dual-tone design similar to the Start menu, and the ribbon has been removed, with core actions like renaming or deleting a file having new shortcuts near the top right corner. Some of the icons have also been redone.
Moving on to the next image, the concept focuses on the volume flyout and a new 'Devices' flyout, too. Both also use rounded corners, along with Acrylic transparency and solid colors to help highlight certain UI elements, and offer quick access to certain controls. In this image, you can also see updated icons and spacing for the system tray icons.
The sound flyout allows users to switch input and output devices on the fly and control music playback directly from the flyout, while the devices flyout offers a quick overview of devices plugged into the PC or connected wirelessly, with shortcuts to manage their files in the File Explorer.
The concept has garnered praise by other Twitter users, but of course, it's unlikely Microsoft will implement these concepts anytime soon. Microsoft has made some notable changes to the design in Windows 10 builds in the Dev channel, but they aren't this thorough, and they may take a while to be available to the general audience.
by Razvan Serea
StartIsBack++ restores original Windows 10 start menu with all its features: search, pinned and recently used apps, fully customizable settings. Start button and Start menu look and behave exactly as they used to in Windows 7.
StartIsBack is lightweight and secure: it does not require administrator rights to install, consumes minimal amount of system resources, does not run additional processes or services.
What's hot about StartIsBack on Windows 10 now:
Live badges for modern apps on taskbar and Start menu! Ability to reduce resource usage by disabling newer Start menu and Cortana processes from prelaunching Ability to use adequately sized (32x32) large icons and larger start menu button on taskbar Modern icon glyphs on Start menu right hand pane Modern blur, drop shadow and immersive context menus for start menu Fully dynamic DPI aware start menu and configuration app New modern style with round user picture Lots of new minor additions and tweaks Changes in StartIsBack++ 2.9.12:
Improved stability and compatiblity with other customization apps
Download: StartIsBack++ 2.9.12 | 1.4 MB (Free to Try, $3.99 to Buy)
View: StartIsBack Home Page
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Microsoft is fully removing Flash from Windows 10 in July
by João Carrasqueira
Microsoft has announced a new phase in its journey to purge Flash Player from Windows 10, following its end-of-support date on December 31, 2020. A blog post from September was updated recently (via BleepingComputer) to add an indication that the Flash component will be fully removed from Windows 10 with a cumulative update coming in July.
Back in October, Microsoft released KB4577586 as a manual update, allowing users to remove Flash from Windows 10 themselves, but it hasn't been rolled out to users automatically yet, even though Flash hasn't been supported for a few months. In June, this update will be rolled into the cumulative update preview, which is typically rolled out in the third and fourth weeks of each month, for Windows 10 version 1809 or newer, removing Flash from the install.
If you opt not to get the preview update, KB4577586 will also be included with the July cumulative updates as part of Patch Tuesday, and every cumulative update after that. On top of that, if you install the Windows 10 May 2021 Update, or version 21H1, KB4577586 will also be installed, so you may end up removing Flash a bit earlier than that.
Flash was infamous for its frequent security issues, so now that it's no longer useful, it makes sense for leftovers of the technology to be removed. If you don't want to wait for it to happen automatically, you can still download KB4577586 from the Microsoft Update Catalog and remove it right now. This update is also available for Windows 8.1.
Microsoft Weekly: More money for PC game devs, an update fix, and a very strong quarter
by Florin Bodnarescu
The last seven days saw the arrival of a rather impressive Q3 FY21 earnings report, the implementation of a bigger cut for PC game devs, and even a fix for the update that caused all sorts of gaming performance issues. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of April 25 – May 1.
More money for PC game devs
We should open with what is perhaps the bigger news of the week – at least in terms of gaming -, namely that Microsoft will be lowering its cut from 30% to 12%. This will impact PC game devs specifically, and is set to take effect starting in August. Not just that, the firm is also promising “improved reliability and faster download speeds” are coming, with the Microsoft Store proper set to receive a UI update too.
Adding yet another piece to the strategy puzzle above is Halo Infinite, which is set to feature cross-play and cross-progression between Xbox and PC when it arrives later this year. It could be argued that so is the rumored exclusive AAA fantasy game that Hitman developer IO Interactive is putting together for Microsoft.
Staying on the subject just a tad longer, there’s now something called Xbox Academy, meant to inspire UK kids to get into game development. If you’re in the UK but are not a kid though, EE has a new deal whereby you get Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and unlimited data for £10 per month.
For folks looking forward to playing Fall Guys on Xbox consoles, the party game has been delayed out of summer, though there are a number of Deals with Gold to keep you company until the game releases, as are the May Games with Gold titles like Armello, Lego Batman – both of which are available to claim now – Dungeons 3, and Tropico 4 to take a peek at.
An update fix
Perhaps not surprising, as it’s been the case for quite a while, Microsoft released its usual set of Patch Tuesday updates on April 13. That said, one of these updates caused a number of issues related to performance while gaming, causing even Nvidia to recommend that folks uninstall the pesky latest patch.
Happily however, Microsoft has released what it calls a Known Issue Rollback or KIR update that essentially disables the code of the offending update, thus mitigating the problem.
In addition to this, the firm also released a set of optional updates for those on Windows 10 v2004 and 20H2, which brought the News and Interests feature to these variants of the OS. It bears repeating that these are optional, i.e. you’ll need to search for and install them. While Microsoft did say it would bring this capability to Windows 10 1909 and above, as per AdDuplex, more than 80% of users are already on the two latest versions of the OS, hence why the optional set of updates was made available in this way.
Insiders in the various channels also got some builds to play with, as the Redmond giant pushed out build 21363.1011 to the Dev channel to test the servicing pipeline, followed by 21370 which ushered in improvements to Bluetooth audio management.
For multi-monitor users, a bug that’s been around since times immemorial has been confirmed to have been fixed. What happens is that when you have an external monitor connected, and your device goes to sleep, all the windows you had moved to your second (external) monitor move to your primary device (laptop, 2-in-1, or whichever other device you have). As per Michelle Xiong, PM of the Graphics Team, the issue has been addressed as of preview build 21287 and newer.
Another change is the one that hit the Beta and Release Preview rings in the form of Feature Experience Pack v120.2212.3740.0, which removes “nonfunctional hyperlinks from the Input Method Editor (IME) candidate window.”
And speaking of the various channels, the Windows 10 May 2021 Update, otherwise known under its 21H1 development codename, is now available in the Release Preview channel, sporting build 19043.962. If you want to get your hands on it right now, here’s how.
A very strong quarter
Right on cue, Microsoft released its earnings report for Q3 of its fiscal year 2021 – the quarter ending March 31. The firm posted a very impressive $41.7B in revenue (up 19%), with operating income rising 31% to $17B, and a net income of $15.5B (up 38%).
The three business categories, Productivity and Business Processes, Intelligent Cloud, and More Personal Computing brought in $13.6B (up 15%), $15.1B (up 23%), and $13B (up 19%), respectively.
Starting with the first one, we see an increase of 14% in Office Commercial products and cloud services revenue, a 22% increase in Office 365 Commercial revenue, and 15% increase in seats. For the non-cloud offerings, there was a decline of 25%, while LinkedIn revenue grew 25%, and Dynamics products and cloud services grew 26%. Dynamics 365 revenue itself grew by an impressive 45%. It’s also worth mentioning that Teams, the firm’s ‘chat-based workspace’ solution has crossed the 145 million daily active user threshold.
Moving onto the second category, Intelligent Cloud, server products and cloud services revenue increased by 26% off the back of a very impressive 50% growth in Azure revenue. For the on-premise and hybrid service solutions revenue there was a 3% increase, while the install base for Enterprise Mobility grew by 30%, crossing the 174 million seat mark.
Last, but most certainly not least, More Personal Computing saw an increase of 10% for Windows OEM revenue, with non-Pro revenue seeing a 44% uptick (offset by a 2% downturn in Pro revenue). Windows commercial products and cloud services revenue did however increase by 10%. Windows 10 itself is now on more than 1.3 billion active devices.
Additionally, Surface revenue grew by 12% to more than $1.5B, while Search adverting revenue was up 17%.
The gaming side saw increases too, with revenues growing by 50% as Xbox hardware revenue rose by 232% due to Series X and S demand, while Xbox content and services revenue – which includes first-party titles, third-party titles, and Game Pass subscriptions – was up 34%.
Microsoft Defender is now able to use Intel’s CPU-based machine learning to detect cryptojacking. Microsoft’s Viva Learning platform is now in public preview. The Redmond firm has published an advisory regarding the importance of keeping Exchange Server up-to-date. A new ad has been released for Surface Laptop 4, which pokes fun at the MacBook Air, while owners of the Surface Pro X with SQ2 processors have gotten a bunch of firmware updates. Staying a little longer on the subject, the firm is also rumored to be working on a dedicated app for its Modern hardware accessories. Coursera and Microsoft are now offering new Azure specializations and scholarships. A new Power BI On-premises data gateway update has brought PowerShell enhancements, among other features. Microsoft has unveiled a new effort to help people with disabilities find jobs in the UK. Bytecode Alliance has welcomed Microsoft, Google, and others to its ranks. PowerToys v0.37 is now out with a number of improvements. Skype for Web now supports Safari on the desktop and on iOS. Microsoft has detailed the various new features added to Microsoft 365 apps in April, including those for Teams, Excel on the web – including the Show Changes feature. Remaining in the same space a little longer, Office Insiders on iOS now have the ability to merge PDFs via the unified Office app. GitHub has added an HTTP header to block Google’s FLoC, while version 2.8 of GitHub Desktop has added improvements to diffs, among other changes. Logging off
We end the week with an assortment of news, from Edge, to a new default font in Office, to the Build conference.
Let’s start with Edge, the Canary variant of which now allows you to send tabs and links to other devices, while Edge Dev has just been made available to folks on Android, more specifically build 91.0.864.11.
This is perhaps a little interesting in terms of timing, as the Beta channel has just gotten Edge 91 – complete with built-in theming support -, while the Dev channel proper has moved on to the first Edge 92 build, 92.0.873.1.
Moving on to another Microsoft solution, namely Office, the firm is looking to replace Calibri as the default font for the productivity suite. Replacing the previous default, Times New Roman, Calibri has been around since the introduction of Office 2007.
The company feels that it needs to be replaced, and it announced that it’s commissioned five different fonts – Tenorite, Bierstadt, Skeena, Seaford, and Grandview – out of which the new default will be chosen. As for the actual process of choosing, this will be done via Microsoft 365’s Twitter profile, with the most popular of the five fonts being crowned as the new default typeface.
Although the timing of the availability for the new font isn’t quite clear, what is clear is that registrations for the Build 2021 conference are now open. Set to take place May 25 through 27, the event will likely showcase a number of developer-focused announcements and, possibly, the “next generation of Windows” and the Sun Valley visual refresh as teased by Panos Panay for the second half of this year.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.
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