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By Abhishek Baxi
Meet Now: How to use the new built-in video conferencing feature on Windows 10
by Abhishek Baxi
As part of the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20221 released to Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel, Microsoft introduced a new feature for seamless video conferencing on Windows 10.
The new feature - Meet Now – sits as an icon in the Windows 10 Taskbar. It allows you to quickly start a meeting or join a scheduled one you’ve been invited to. This integration is powered by Skype.
The Meet Now feature itself is not new though. The feature arrived on Skype earlier this year to improve its video conferencing experience amidst, as many saw, Skype squandering its early-mover advantage in casual video conferencing to the likes of Zoom, and even Google Meet. The pandemic necessitated a lockdown and people around the world chose video calls to connect with their friends and family, as well as work colleagues.
Microsoft will hope that the integration of the Meet Now feature into Windows 10, with an always-visible icon in the notification area of the Taskbar, will help with the discovery of the capability as well as attract even the users who aren't on Skype.
How to use Meet Now on Windows 10
Meet Now allows Windows 10 users to connect with anyone and easily set up a collaboration space in just two clicks. It’s free, and no sign-up or download is required. Participants can then easily join meetings whether they have a Skype account or not, and from any device – mobile or desktop.
All you need to do to start a video call is click the Meet Now icon in the system tray, and click/tap Create a meeting. Meet Now will open a browser window to launch the meeting experience. You can edit the meeting name and share the meeting link with others. Once you're ready, turn your microphone and/or camera on as preferred, and click/tap the Start Meeting button.
Once you start the meeting, you’ll be greeted with the usual Skype meeting experience. There’s the ability to chat, react with emojis, or share your screen. Each call can last up to 24 hours, although the meeting doesn’t expire at all.
If someone’s sent you a meeting link, all you need to do is click the Meet Now icon, and then click/tap Join a meeting. Just paste the link (or the trailing code) in the browser window that opens, hit Join, and you’re on.
The link works in the browser directly as well (only Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome are officially supported at the time), which is how users on mobile or other OS can join in.
Meet Now - Skype The meeting experience is slightly different from Skype though (screenshot above). The ability to change the background effect is missing. On Skype, I could chat with my 'Friends' from Monica's apartment, for example. The ability to add 'Skype contacts' is obviously missing because the Windows 10 integration is independent of the messaging app, but you also cannot just start a chat-based meeting.
One of the awkward bits right now is that even if I have the Skype app installed on my computer, Meet Now initiates a new meeting in the browser only. And the meeting link opens in the browser if I go via Meet Now but if I paste the same link in the browser directly, it opens the Skype app.
Of course, before the feature debuts in a public Windows 10 release (and if it does), it might be altered in form or function.
At the moment, the feature has rolled out only to a subset of Insiders in the Dev Channel. Once Microsoft identifies and fixes any performance and reliability issues, it will be gradually rolled out to everyone in the Dev Channel.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft's Surface Pro X gets firmware updates with a whole bunch of improvements
by Rich Woods
Microsoft seems to be updating its Surface Pro X pretty regularly, with a new firmware update rolling out just a month ago. A new update is available, and in fact, this is the sixth update for the 10-month-old product.
This update is available for all Surface Pro X devices on Windows 10 version 1903 or higher; yes, that's all of them. And while there are a ton of fixes and improvements, this will only show up as a single firmware update, thanks to the nature of Windows on ARM.
There's a lot that's new though. Here's the full changelog:
Device Manager Name Version and Update Qualcomm Advanced Modem Subsystem Device 10400.1.77.0
Enables Mobile Operator self registration. Qualcomm(R) Bluetooth Radio Driver - Bluetooth
Improves BT connection reliability when the device resumes from sleep. Qualcomm(R) Bluetooth UART Transport Driver – Bluetooth
Improves BT connection reliability when the device resumes from sleep. Qualcomm(R) System Manager Device Extension
Enables Mobile Operator self registration. Qualcomm(R) Wi-Fi B/G/N/AC (2x2) Svc - Network adapters
Improves Wi-Fi connection reliability when the device resumes from sleep. Snapdragon (TM) X24 LTE Modem - Network adapters
Enables Mobile Operator self registration. Surface Hot Plug - System devices 126.96.36.199
Improves system stability, and addresses issues related to system bugcheck. Surface Light Sensor - System devices
Addresses issues related to system bugcheck. Surface Pro X Wi-Fi B/G/N/AC (2x2) Svc - Network adapters
Improves Wi-Fi connection reliability when the device resumes from sleep. Surface Touch Pen Processor - Human Interface Devices 188.8.131.52
Improves pen inking when palm is also on the screen. Surface UEFI – Firmware 3.527.140.0
Improves system stability, and addresses issues related to system bugcheck. Surface Dock 2 Firmware Update Driver Extension 184.108.40.206
Enables Surface Dock 2 update.
As usual, you can grab this update, which will be called 'Microsoft Corporation - System Hardware Update', via Windows Update.
Surface Laptop 3 gets firmware updates to address display and keyboard issues
by João Carrasqueira
Microsoft has released a new set of driver and firmware updates for the Surface Laptop 3, in addition to the separate set of updates for the Surface Pro X. The Surface Laptop 3 comes in Intel and AMD-based variants, and the set of updates arriving today is only for the versions with Intel processors. For reference, that's the 13.5-inch version of the Surface Laptop 3, or any variant of the Surface Laptop 3 for Business.
The updates address a number of issues with different aspects of the device, including automatic brightness adjustments and an issue where the keyboard might register multiple keystrokes. Here's the full list of updates:
Windows Update History Name Device Manager Name Version and Update Surface - Firmware - 220.127.116.11 Surface UEFI - Firmware 18.104.22.168
Addresses issues related to the automatic brightness adjustment at low brightness. Surface -Firmware - 14.310.139.0 Surface System Aggregator - Firmware 14.310.139.0
Improves device stability and battery reliability. Surface - System devices - 22.214.171.124 Surface Integration Service Device - System devices 126.96.36.199
Improves reliability related to the Surface App experience. Surface - Firmware - 188.8.131.52 Surface Keyboard - Firmware 184.108.40.206
Resolves keystroke repeat issues. As usual, the updates are available for users running Windows 10 version 1903 - the May 2019 Update - or newer, which should apply to everyone, considering the Surface Laptop 3 released in late 2019. The updates should install automatically through Windows Update, but you can always check for updates yourself if you're not in the mood to wait.
If you have an AMD variant of the Surface Laptop 3, the latest set of updates was released earlier this month, and it fixed a number of issues with that particular version.
O&O ShutUp10 1.8.1414
by Razvan Serea
O&O ShutUp10 a small portable utility that provides access to almost 50 privacy-related tweaks, most of them hidden or not easily accessible to the average computer users. Using a very simple interface, you decide how Windows 10 should respect your privacy by deciding which unwanted functions should be deactivated. Using ShutUp10 you can easily disable Windows Defender, turn off telemetry, disable peer-to-peer updates, turn off Wi-Fi Sense, disable automatic Windows updates, turn off and reset Cortana and more.
ShutUp10 allows you to create a System Restore point before you apply any changes, so that you can revert your system at any time if you run into problems.
O&O ShutUp10 is entirely free and does not have to be installed – it can be simply run directly and immediately on your PC. And it will not install or download retrospectively unwanted or unnecessary software, like so many other programs do these days!
O&O ShutUp10 1.8.1414 changelog:
FIX: NCSI setting upgraded to critical, as it can lead to problems under Windows 10 2004
Available in German, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Chinese (simplified)
Download: O&O ShutUp10 1.8.1414 | 1.3 MB (Freeware)
View: O&O ShutUp10 Home Page
Get alerted to all of our Software updates on Twitter at @NeowinSoftware
Windows 10 version 20H2 is coming - here's what you need to know
by João Carrasqueira
For the past few months, Microsoft has been working on the next feature update for Windows 10, the one to follow up the May 2020 Update. We’ve covered the changes in every Windows 10 feature update since the May 2019 Update, so of course we're also going to go over the next one. But before we do, if you missed any of the previous updates, you can use these links to check the additions from the past few releases:
Windows 10 May 2019 Update (version 1903) Windows 10 November 2019 Update (version 1909) Windows 10 May 2020 Update (version 2004) Moving on to the next update, Microsoft is changing the way it designates new versions of Windows 10, so instead of being version 2009 or 2010, Microsoft is calling it version 20H2, with a more friendly name being October 2020 Update. Instead of indicating the month the update was finalized in, the version now just indicates whether the update was released in the first or second half of the year. This should help alleviate some questions users have had, since the month indicated in the version number was almost always different from the month used in the friendly name.
Windows 10 version 20H2 is a relatively small feature update, just like version 1909 was last year. If you’re running version 2004, this update will simply be an enablement package, essentially turning some features that are already baked into version 2004, but turned off. Because of that, users on version 20H2 will get all the same monthly cumulative updates as version 2004. This also means there’s not a lot of new features, but there are some notable ones nonetheless. Let’s take a look.
Easily the most immediately noticeable change in this release is in the Start menu, especially if you have tiles pinned to it. Microsoft has added theme-aware tiles, which means they’re now using a transparency effect instead of being a solid color. Not only that, they will now follow your system theme – light or dark – instead of always being colored, so you can have monochrome tiles to help app icons pop. You can also enable color for the Start menu in Settings -> Personalization -> Colors, and tiles will be colored while retaining the transparency effect.
There are also some improvements to the All Apps list, though. App icons are no longer forced to fit into colored squares, so not only are the icons themselves bigger, but the list as a whole looks a lot cleaner. Plus, there’s a new icon for folders, which falls much more in line with Microsoft’s design language.
Moving down to the taskbar, there’s a small change for new accounts, which may now see some different apps pinned to the taskbar when they login for the first time. Usually, Windows 10 pins Edge, File Explorer, Microsoft Store, and Mail icons to the taskbar out of the box. With this change, you may see some different ones, like the Your Phone replacing Mail if you have linked an Android phone to your Microsoft account, or the Xbox app if you have a gaming PC. This won’t affect you if you’re just updating Windows 10, though, only new users starting with this version, such as with a clean install.
Image credit: Windows Blogs There are also some changes for 2-in-1 devices and the tablet experience, as Microsoft continues to deprecate the traditional tablet mode. When you detach a keyboard or rotate it behind the screen, you’ll no longer see a prompt to switch to tablet mode proper, and instead you’ll see a new experience for tablets, which increases spacing between some items and adds a touch keyboard button to the taskbar to make the touch experience better.
This tablet experience was already available in Windows 10 version 2004, but unless you had a Surface device, you’d still see the tablet mode prompt, and saying no would take you to the new tablet experience. You can re-enable the prompt in Settings -> System -> Tablet if you want to use the classic tablet mode.
On this note, there are a couple of other changes. If your device doesn’t have a touch screen, the Action Center will no longer show the tablet mode button so you don’t enable it by accident. Microsoft has also improved the logic so when you turn on the computer, it will deliver the right experience based on whether you had tablet mode enabled at the last shutdown and if there’s a keyboard attached.
Another thing that’s new in this update is that it’s the first version of Windows 10 to ship with the new Chromium-based Edge, though you’ve been able to install it for a while. However, with the new Edge being bundled into the operating system, there are some new features to improve the integration between the two.
On the taskbar, there are some improvements to pinned sites. If you pin websites to the taskbar using Edge, the taskbar icon will now let you keep track of all the tabs you have open for that website, even if they’re in different Edge windows. The feature requires version 86 of Edge, which is currently only available in beta, but it should be promoted to the stable channel by the time Windows 10 version 20H2 is generally available.
Another Edge-related improvement is in the task switcher, which you access with Alt+Tab. If you have multiple Edge tabs open, you’ll now see each one individually listed in the task switcher, so you can more easily switch to it. By default, up to five Edge tabs will be visible, but you can change this in Settings -> System -> Multi-tasking, so you can see just three tabs, every tab, or only open windows.
Microsoft has made some notable improvements to the way notifications are presented in this update, which makes them a lot easier to understand. For one thing, the name of the app and its icon are now shown at the top, whereas the previous design only showed the app name in small text under the notification content (and even that only appeared for some apps). On top of that, there’s a new X button to immediately dismiss notifications. Before, you’d only be able to hide the notification into the Action Center, and then dismiss it from there, but now it can be dismissed directly from the notification toast.
Old style New style You’ll also notice that the gear button to adjust the notification settings has been replaced with a three-dot button, albeit only in notification toasts and not in the Action Center itself.
On the topic of notifications, Microsoft has also disabled notifications for when Focus Assist is turned on by an automatic rule. Focus Assist mutes incoming notifications automatically during certain scenarios, such as gaming or when using apps in full screen, but when this happened in previous versions of Windows, there would be a notification in the Action Center to indicate that Focus Assist had turned on automatically, as well as a notification when Focus Assist turns back off, letting users know what they missed. Both of these notifications are now disabled by default, but you can re-enable them in Settings -> System -> Focus Assist.
A smaller change can be found in the Settings app, specifically in System -> About. Microsoft has made this the default experience for viewing system information, replacing the equivalent page in the old Control Panel. Links to additional settings can be found here now, and there’s a new button to copy your system information in case you need to share it with someone.
Finally, for businesses and IT administrators, the Modern Device Management (MDM) experience for local users and groups now allows for granular control of policies for groups, just as you would on devices with on-promises Group Policy management.
The Windows 10 October 2020 Update, or version 20H2, was recently brought to the Release Preview channel of the Insider program, and Microsoft is getting ready to release it to general users in the near future, though a date isn't set yet. As usual, feature updates won't install automatically, but it should show up as an optional update in Windows Update, and you can install it manually. For devices running older versions of Windows 10, which might be nearing the end of support, then the update will eventually be pushed to your device so you can keep getting security updates.
What's your favorite change in this release? Will you be installing it as soon as possible? Let us know in the comments!