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Microsoft Weekly: Patch Tuesday, better Quick Resume, and productivity enhancements
by Florin Bodnarescu
In the past seven days, we’ve seen the usual set of Patch Tuesday updates, a number of productivity improvements for Teams, and even a confirmation from The Coalition that it’s working on multiple projects using Unreal Engine 5. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of May 9 - 15.
Microsoft, right on cue, decided to release its latest set of Windows updates. For some variants of Windows 10, it also means their last update before EOL. This would be the April 2018 Update (1803) which as of this week is no longer supported. For the October 2018 Update (1809), folks can still get updates if they’re in the Long-Term Servicing Channel, while the November 2019 Update (1909) is set to still be supported for those running Enterprise, Education, or IoT Enterprise flavors until May 2022.
Flipping over to versions still supported, we have 2004 and 20H2 (May 2020 Update and October 2020 Update, respectively), both of which get a cumulative update. Details for this can be found in KB5003173, with the update bumping the build numbers up to 19041.985 and 19042.985, respectively.
Home and Pro users of Windows 10 1909 (November 2019 Update) also got an update, more details for which can be found in KB5003169. It brings the build number up to 18363.1556 and like the other updates above, contains a number of security and Bluetooth enhancements.
Last but not least, we have updates for variants of Windows 10 supported in specific SKUs. These are:
October 2018 Update (1809): KB5003171, build 17763.1935 – supported for Enterprise, Education SKUs. April 2018 Update (1803): KB5003174, build 17134.2208 – supported for Enterprise, Education SKUs. Anniversary Update (1607): KB5003197, build 14393.4402 – supported in the Long-Term Servicing Branch. Windows 10 RTM (1507): KB5003172, build 10240.18932 - supported in the Long-Term Servicing Branch. Of course, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 (for those paying for ESUs) are still supported, so here’s what you need to be on the lookout for in terms of updates:
Windows 8.1: KB5003209, KB5003220 (security only) – contains a number of security updates, and the same known issue that’s been plaguing the OS for months. Windows 7 SP1: KB5003233, KB5003228 – contains a number of security and SMB enhancements, with the same known issues being present too. Microsoft also released Windows Holographic version 21H1, which added the Chromium-based Edge browser, among other features. Additionally, build 21382 made its way to testers in the Dev Channel of the Windows 10 Insider program, bringing HDR improvements for Photoshop, font, and folder icon updates, as well as a respectable list of fixes.
Last but not least, if you’re on either Windows 10 2004 (May 2020 Update) or 20H2 (October 2020 Update) and use 5.1 audio, you may hear a high-pitched noise if you have KB5000842 installed. This seems to only be affecting certain configurations, and is not present when using stereo. The firm stated that it’s working on a fix for this problem.
Better Quick Resume
When it comes to games, there’s been a pretty steady stream of news coming out of Redmond, and this week is no exception.
Starting with the platform updates, the Xbox May 2021 Update adds passthrough audio and improved Quick Resume on console, and coincides with the beginning of the rollout of Dolby Vision HDR on Xbox Series X|S. This is essentially in the testing phase, and is available to Xbox Insiders in the Alpha ring, with a global rollout targeted for later this year. Also available for Insiders are new accessibility features in Xbox Party Chat, including speech transcription and text-to-speech.
And since we’re focusing on games, it’s worth highlighting some of them, including Ace Combat 7, Asura’s Wrath, Halo 5: Guardians, Lost Planet 3, and others, all of which are part of the latest crop of Deals with Gold. Speaking of latest, the latest and greatest DLC for Minecraft Dungeons, dubbed Hidden Depths, is set to surface May 26 both as a standalone expansion and as part of the Minecraft Dungeons Season Pass.
Looking out a bit further than May 26, The Coalition has confirmed that it’s working on multiple next-gen projects, and is set to use Unreal Engine 5 for said projects. The studio emphasized that a move to a new engine is “a big undertaking”, and made it clear that no new projects will be announced for “some time”.
In the third major section of this column, I thought we should highlight some productivity improvements made to Microsoft products and services this week.
For one, if you use the Office app on Android, it now supports voice recordings with transcription. You do need to be in the beta program and running version 16.0.14026.20172 to be able to use the feature. In case any errors are made in the transcription process, you can edit the text after the fact.
And speaking of editing, Customer Key, a method for organizations to protect their data, - allowing for the development of personalized Data Encryption Policies -, is now generally available in Teams. Also hitting the GA phase are Teams Webinars, which allow for the creation of highly interactive Teams meetings with up to 1,000 attendees.
As far as features in the pipeline are concerned, Teams will soon let you restart a live event that accidentally stopped. The capability is in active development and is targeted for GA on both desktop and web clients globally in July.
Azure Blockchain Service will be shutting down in September. GitHub now supports video uploads. The May firmware update for Surface Studio 2 is now available. Microsoft Threat Vulnerability Management now has support for Linux. PowerToys v0.37.2 is out, fixing explorer.exe freezes, and more. The latest Edge Dev build is now out, adding a number of minor features, though not for Linux just yet. Edge Canary adds support for Coupons on Android. Logging off
We end this week’s column with a mix of good and bad news.
First off, the bad, as the Colonial Pipeline hack was allegedly caused by the company running an outdated version of Microsoft Exchange. As you may remember, on-prem Exchange Servers were the target of a widespread attack, which began being more widely publicized at the beginning of March. As the patches were released, an impressive number of servers were updated, but if the forensic report is to be believed, the unpatched Exchange server is partly to blame for Colonial Pipeline’s woes.
Staying on the subject of Microsoft services but this time switching to the desktop version of Outlook, a bug surfaced earlier this week which prevented users from seeing email contents. As per the Redmond giant, the issue was isolated and a fix deployed within hours of the issue being observed.
Moving onto the good news, Microsoft has partnered with Darktrace to help folks combat cyber threats via the use of AI. This is especially helpful given the increase in high-profile cyber attacks in recent times.
In case you’re passionate about tech, and you’re looking to cover subjects like those above, we’re hiring! Make sure to head on over to this post for more details.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.
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Windows 10 update causing high-pitched noise issues
by Subir Kathuria
Ever since Microsoft released the KB5000842 update for Windows 10, it has been causing more problems than it fixed. First, it caused game performance issues along with update KB5001330. Now, Microsoft has released another advisory that "A high-pitched noise might be heard when using 5.1 audio with certain settings". Affected platforms include consumer versions of Windows 10 version 20H2 and Windows 10, version 2004. The issue does not occur when stereo is used.
Microsoft says it's aware of the issue and is investigating the same. Till a fix is released, Microsoft has provided two temporary workarounds:
Microsoft says it's working on it at the moment but has not provided any timeline for a proper fix.
Source: Microsoft via BleepingComputer
Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 21382 with HDR improvements for Photoshop
by João Carrasqueira
Microsoft has released another weekly build of Windows 10 to Insiders enrolled in the Dev channel, this time bringing the build number up to 21382. As per usual, this build comes from the co_release branch, not the rs_prerelease branch, and it's part of a future Windows update, not the upcoming version 21H1 that's already available in the Beta and Release Preview channels.
Much like other recent builds, there isn't a whole lot that's new in this release, but there is an improvement that's likely to be welcomed by creative professionals. Apps that use ICC display color profiles will now be able to use the full color gamut of HDR displays and retain color accuracy:
That's pretty much it in terms of new features, but there are some other changes and improvements, like the new Segoe UI Variable font now being available on the touch keyboard:
Of course, the build also comes with the usual array of bug fixes:
And finally, there are still some known issues in this build, though the list has been shrinking significantly with the past few builds. Here's what you need to look out for:
On that note, Microsoft announced earlier this week that it's bringing back its Bug Bash events, so if you'd like to help improve the quality of the next Windows 10 release, you may want to file any issues you find during this period. There are also a number of quests available in the Feedback Hub to help users find specific issues Microsoft may be looking for. The event has already started and it will last until May 17.
By Steven P.
Microsoft PowerToys version 0.37.2 fixes explorer.exe freezing and more
by Steven Parker
Almost two weeks ago, Microsoft released PowerToys version 0.37 that brought with it a bunch of improvements to the suite of tools, removing the legacy settings app and moving the Keyboard Manager into an independent process as well as the ongoing process to ready the Video Conference Mute tool for a stable release. Today, the firm is releasing a minor update to fix a few issues in the tools, bumping up the version to 0.37.2.
The company says that the patch aims to fix two regression bugs in 0.37.0 they deemed important for stability based on user feedback.
Here is the complete list of fixes (it's a short one), along with links to the corresponding issue trackers:
PowerRename is a Bulk Renaming tool for Windows 10 If you want the Video Conference Mute utility, you'll need to install the experimental version which was released in the middle of April.
As usual, this release can be downloaded from the GitHub page here, or directly through the tool. It must be noted, however, that users running the experimental version will not receive this update. The next release for those users will contain all the fixes made to the tools in version 0.37.2.
Microsoft releases Windows 10 builds 19042.985, 18363.1556 - here's what's new
by João Carrasqueira
Yet another month has passed, and Microsoft is once again releasing its set of Patch Tuesday updates for all supported versions of Windows, including a multitude of Windows 10 versions. For regular users with Windows 10 Home or Pro, only versions 20H2, 2004, and 1909 are getting updates today, and even then, support for version 1909 ends today, so this is the last update you'll get unless you have an Enterprise or Education SKU.
For Windows 10 version 2004 and 20H2, the cumulative update is the same, and it's labeled KB5003173, which you can download manually here. This will bring the build number up to 19041.985 and 19042.985, depending on which version you have, and it includes these highlights:
The full list of fixes is below:
If you're still using Windows 10 version 1909, this is the last update you'll get if you have Windows 10 Home or Pro, and you may want to consider upgrading to a newer version to stay secure going forward. The update is KB5003169 and it brings the build number up to 18363.1556. You can download it manually here, and the highlights of the update are:
And here are the additional fixes and improvements included:
Finally, there are a bunch of updates for versions of Windows 10 that are only supported in specific SKUs or servicing channels. Here's a quick rundown of everything else being released today:
Version KB Build Download Support 1809 KB5003171 17763.1935
Update Catalog Enterprise and Education SKUs 1803 KB5003174 17134.2208
Update Catalog 1607 KB5003197 14393.4402
Update Catalog Long-Term Servicing Branch 1507 KB5003172 10240.18932
Update Catalog For Windows 10 versions 1803 and 1809, these are also the final updates for Enterprise and Education SKUs. Version 1809, however, will live on in the Long-Term Servicing Channel alongside the other two LTSB releases.
As usual, these updates are mandatory and they'll be installed automatically sooner or later. You can download them manually using the links above to avoid surprises.