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By Jefferson Mangubat
Alexa for Windows 10 adds Drop In support for video calls, fresh design, and more
by Jefferson Mangubat
Amazon has rolled out a new update for its Alexa app for Windows 10 that introduces an entirely new look and a bunch of new features that expand capabilities for users. The updated app has added support for Drop In during a video call to let you connect with friends and family more quickly, among other features.
The latest release brings with it a few improvements for the app's hands-free experience. If you're constantly listening to music via Spotify, Alexa for Windows 10 now allows you to play soundtracks in the music streaming app using your voice.
In addition, the app has gained a fresh music landing page that comes in handy if you search for new songs. The Click-to-Talk button has also moved to the top left of the screen and the Wake Word button is now found on the top right.
Of course, you will need to update to the latest version of the app in order to use the new Drop In experience. The refreshed Alexa app is available to download from the Microsoft Store.
Source: Windows Central
By Abhay V
Microsoft releases manual update packages for removing Adobe Flash from Windows
by Abhay Venkatesh
Back in September, Microsoft reminded users about the removal of Flash from the Edge browser and Windows, stating that the company will release an optional update for the latter this fall that will remove Adobe Flash Player completely from the OS. As promised, the Redmond giant has made that optional update available for download through the Update Catalog (spotted by BleepingComputer).
The knowledge base article is KB4577586 and the update is called “Update for Removal of Adobe Flash Player” followed by the version number of the OS for which the package is designated for. You can head to the Update Catalog here to download the update package for your preferred version. The packages are available for all currently supported Windows versions – including LTSB versions – and the related Windows Server versions.
It must be noted that the package can currently be downloaded only via the Update Catalog for manual installation. The Redmond firm noted in the announcement earlier this year that it will begin releasing this very update via other channels such as Windows Update as a recommended update after Flash Player reaches the end of support on December 31, 2020.
Additionally, users that currently install KB4577586 manually do not have an option to uninstall or roll back the update and will have to perform a clean installation of the OS to be able to reinstall Flash. The company has also stated that it will be removing all APIs, group policies, and interfaces that are used for managing Flash later next summer.
Image credit: BleepingComputer Interestingly, folks over at BleepingComputer noticed that installing the update did not get rid of Flash both on Edge and in the OS. The publication has reached out to Microsoft to request clarification. It is not clear if the firm will release another manual update package before serving it to all users through the usual channels.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft earnings: $37.2B revenue with big Surface and gaming growth
by Rich Woods
Today, Microsoft announced its earnings for the first quarter of its 2021 fiscal year. Overall revenue grew by 12% (12% in constant currency) over the same quarter last year for a total of $37.2 billion. That's broken up into Productivity and Business Processes with $12.3B revenue and 11% (11% CC) growth), Intelligent Cloud with $13B revenue and 20% (19% CC) growth, and More Personal Computing with $11.8B revenue and 6% (6% CC) growth.
In the Productivity and Business Processes department, it was led by 9% increase in Office Commercial products and cloud services, including 21% (20% CC) growth in Office 365 Commercial. The other piece of products and cloud services, the products, declined 30% as more businesses move to the cloud.
For consumers, Office products and cloud services revenue grew by 13%, and Microsoft 365 Consumer subscribers are now at 45.3 million, a 27% increase. LinkedIn revenue grew by 16%, and sessions grew by 31%. For Dynamics, products and cloud services revenue grew by 19% (18% CC), driven by Dynamics 365 revenue, which grew by 38% (37% CC).
As usual, Azure drove the growth in the Intelligent Cloud section. All Server products and cloud services grew by 22% (21% CC), and that includes a 48% (47% CC) growth in Azure. Server products actually declined 1%.
For More Personal Computing, Windows OEM revenue actually declined by 5%, but that actually includes 31% growth in non-Pro revenue, so there was also a 22% decline in Pro revenue. Windows Commercial products and cloud services grew 13% (12% CC).
Surface revenue saw a big boost, with a 37% (36% CC) increase. For this and the increase in Windows non-Pro revenue, Microsoft attributes increased PC demand. Gaming revenue increased by 22% (21% CC), including a 30% increase in Xbox content and services. Finally, search advertising revenue, excluding traffic acquisition costs, was down 10% (11% CC).
By Abhay V
Microsoft posts a workaround for the 'Reset this PC' bug plaguing some Windows 10 PCs
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft offers an in-built solution to reset a Windows 10 PC through the Settings app if users choose to do so due to a corrupt build or issues with the operating system. The tool also gives users the choice to keep their files and only reset the OS settings to factory default. However, the feature might not be working as expected for some users running Windows 10 version 2004.
The company today posted a support article acknowledging the issue with the ‘Reset this PC’ feature that causes the tool to fail and prompt an error that reads “There was a problem when resetting your PC. No changes were made". The company also posted a workaround for users who are unable to use the feature and are experiencing the said error.
Here is the workaround as shared by Microsoft:
The workaround involves using the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool to attempt to fix the issue. However, Microsoft does not mention any timelines on when a permanent fix for the problem is expected.
Interestingly, this is not the first time that the problem with the ‘Reset this PC’ feature has been acknowledged. A security update back in February introduced a similar issue and affected Windows 10 versions all the way back to version 1809. The update was then pulled by the company. While today’s documentation only mentions the May 2020 Update, it is not clear if the problem has been fixed for the earlier versions.
Source: Microsoft Support via BleepingComputer
By Abhay V
Here's how you can install the Windows 10 October 2020 Update right now
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft began rolling out the Windows 10 October 2020 Update this week, bringing a few new features such as a refreshed Start Menu design that is now theme-aware, improvements to the notifications interface, Alt+Tab multitasking enhancements for the Edge browser, and more. You can read through the complete list of features here.
The update is not a major one since the features are already baked into the May 2020 Update (version 2004). The 20H2 release, just like version 1909, is an enablement package that lights up the hidden features in the OS – which installs just like a monthly cumulative update – unless you are upgrading from a release older than version 2004. However, as is the case with recent releases, Microsoft is performing a staggered rollout of the update, so not all users will receive the update immediately.
If you want to check if the update is being offered to you, or install it regardless if it isn’t, here are some ways you can go about downloading and installing the October 2020 Update.
Through Windows Update
The way most users update their PCs is through Windows Update. Unlike older versions, feature updates are no longer force installed until the currently installed version reaches the end of support. To check if the October 2020 Update is ready to be installed through Windows Update, perform the following steps:
Head to Settings (via the Start Menu or the Win + I shortcut) Click on Update & Security Click on Windows Update Click on Check for Updates If the feature update is available to install, a card with a Download and install now prompt will be available (example screenshot below) For users running version 2004, the update package will be a quick download. However, those on older versions of the OS will go through the full-fledged download and install process that will take much longer. Since Microsoft is gradually rolling out version 20H2, not many people will see the update show up right away, including those running the May 2020 Update – even though the two versions are technically the same.
Users upgrading from older versions could be blocked from being served the update owing to incompatibilities such as driver version conflicts or more. The known issues and update blockers are documented here. These users will be prompted for an upgrade when their devices are “ready”.
For those that do not see a prompt in Windows Update, there are a couple of other options to install version 20H2. However, it must be noted that forcing an update through these methods could cause problems due to incompatible drivers, so it is advised that you go ahead with these methods only if you are aware of the risks and are familiar with rolling back feature updates, in case something goes wrong. It is always a good idea to perform a backup of your data as well.
Using the Update Assistant
The Update Assistant allows users to perform an in-place feature update through a wizard. It must be noted, however, that the tool downloads the entire OS package regardless of what version you are on. So even if you are upgrading from the May 2020 Update, the tool will perform the complete installation process instead of applying the enablement package.
The tool also checks for major compatibility issues and can block the user from updating to the latest version of Windows 10 if there are any major issues. You can head to the download page here and click on the Update Now button to download the Update Assistant. Then, perform the following steps to initiate the update:
Download and open the Update Assistant and hit Update Now Though the company updated the naming convention for the version number starting with this release, the tool specifies a certain "version 2009", which is nothing but the October 2020 Update (20H2) Hit Next if the tool certifies your PC as compatible Let the tool complete the download and initialization process for the update The tool will then prompt for a restart Unlike Windows Update, it is possible that dismissing the restart prompt could immediately trigger a restart and the wizard might not obey your pre-set active hours. It is best for you to keep an eye on the progress and save all your work beforehand. The system will then restart multiple times and then boot into version 20H2.
Using the Media Creation tool
Users that are upgrading from older versions of Windows 10 or those who want to perform a clean installation can also use the media creation tool. You can head to the download page here and click the Download tool now button under the Create Windows 10 installation media section. The tool lets users perform an in-place update for their own system or create bootable media for use on other PCs or virtual machines. The installation media can also be used as a means to install Windows 10 on new, custom-built machines or bricked devices.
For this guide, we will cover the steps needed to be performed to initiate an in-place upgrade for users’ own machines. Here are the steps to be performed:
Download and open the Media Creation tool Accept the license terms If you want to upgrade your PC, choose the Upgrade this PC now option Let the tool download and run the update process Follow further instructions to restart the system Just like with the Update Assistant, the system should go through a series of restarts for the update to be installed. If you want to create an installation media for backup purposes or creating a bootable disc for another PC, here is how you do it:
Under the What do you want to do? step, choose the Create installation media… option Either use the recommended option or select the desired language, edition, and architecture Choose the kind of media you want to create Do note that a USB flash drive must be 8GB in capacity or larger. You can save the ISO file locally if you wish to use it to set up Windows 10 on a virtual machine.
If you are not offered the update via Windows Update and are facing hiccups with getting through the compatibility checks in either of the tools, it is best to give it some time. The Redmond company constantly serves cumulative updates to fix bugs and remove update blocks and will offer the update to compatible devices when it deems the configuration ready.