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Microsoft itself hints at possible October Windows 11 launch
by Sayan Sen
The release notes of Intel's graphics driver version 126.96.36.19984, which launched back in July, contained a crucial bit of information that hinted at the possible Windows 11 launch date. According to the notes, it was looking like Microsoft was planning for an October release for the brand new OS. And today, we have even more evidence suggesting that the finding could indeed be true as even Microsoft's own Windows Hardware Compatibility Program (WHCP) blog post hints towards that.
Spotted by Windows Latest, Microsoft posted this article back in June titled "Now accepting Windows 11, version 21H2 submissions". Basically, it appears that the Redmont Giant has requested all of its partners to submit drivers compatible with Windows 11 21H2 update by "September 24, 2021". Here's what the full statement reads:
So as it stands, the September 24, 2021 date essentially appears to be the deadline for the final submission of Windows 11 compatible drivers for Microsoft's partners. This means Windows 11 could indeed release in October or somewhere around that window.
When inquired, Microsoft also clarified in the comments that this Windows Hardware Certification submission request was indeed for Windows 11 21H1 and not related to Windows 10 21H1.
Source: Microsoft via Windows Latest
By Steven P.
How to switch to the Beta Channel in Windows 11 Insider Preview
by Steven Parker
With the rolling out of Windows 11 build 22000.100 to the Windows Insiders Beta channel last week, there are once again two paths of development for Windows 11. Live fast and loose with the latest relatively untested builds in the Dev channel, or opt for the more stable builds in the Beta channel. When we say relatively untested, this is somewhat untrue, Microsoft does put all builds through some internal testing before releasing them to the Dev channel, which can mean that builds get delayed or pulled after the fact if blocking bugs are discovered.
Today we are going to show you how to switch to the Beta channel so that you only receive builds that have already been tested by Microsoft, and Windows Insiders in the Dev channel. The build may have even received a cumulative update that fixes issues found in the Dev channel, either way, it will be a much more stable experience.
First of all, click on Start > Settings, alternatively you can right-click on Start and select Settings from the context menu, now select Windows Update in the left pane and then Windows Insider Program, as shown in the image above to open it.
You will see the current build you are on, in this case, we're on the latest 22000.100 build delivered through the Dev channel of the Windows Insider Program. Go ahead and click on Dev to expand it.
Here you can opt to move to the Beta Channel, which is what we have done and is shown to be recommended as well. It is currently not possible to switch to the Release Preview Channel, as no such build of Windows 11 exists yet.
Windows 11 does not prompt to restart upon changing Insider settings, and moving between other Settings pages and back to Windows Insider Program confirms that the change was made.
In certain conditions, such as those people who modified the registry in order to enroll for Windows 11 Insider updates back in June, you may experience a "blank" Windows Insider Program settings page, or find you can't switch channels. To fix this, simply head to the official Windows Insider website (on the same machine) and check that your device is registered. In our case, although our Virtual Machine was receiving new builds through Windows Update, we were shown as not being registered as a Windows Insider; upon registering on the Windows Insider Program page in Windows 11 it updated to show that we were in the Dev Channel which allowed us to make the above changes to the Beta Channel.
Does the availability of the Beta Channel mean you might now opt into Windows 11 on your main devices? Let us know in the comments below.
Microsoft Weekly: Flight Sim on console, Windows updates, and Q4 earnings
by Florin Bodnarescu
As yet another set of seven days has gone by, it’s time we take a look at the news that popped up during this time, including the landing of Flight Simulator on console, a series of updates for Windows, and the Q4 earnings report for Microsoft’s 2021 fiscal year. You’ll find info about those subjects and more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of July 25 – 31.
Flight Sim on console
As promised, on July 27, Microsoft Flight Simulator landed on Game Pass and the Xbox Series X|S. This is the first time the title has made its way to console, with Xbox One users presumably being able to enjoy it via Xbox Cloud Gaming, where possible.
In case simulators are not quite your thing, there’s currently an Xbox Ultimate Game Sale, featuring deals for Assassin’s Creed games, Call of Duty titles, and others, and if you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription, Darksiders III and Lost Planet 3 are now free to claim.
In first-party news, Forza Motorsport 7 is set to be removed from storefronts in September (having initially been released in October of 2017). Those who currently own the game will be unaffected though, as they get to (obviously) keep their copies.
And ending with another first-party game, Halo Infinite’s first Insider test is now live, and runs until August 2, at 10AM PT. Do be warned that Microsoft has accidentally leaked Infinite campaign details, so you’ll need to be cautious if you don’t want to have plot points spoiled.
Much like taxes, Windows updates are a given, and this week, there were definitely some interesting such updates.
For one, Microsoft released the first Windows 11 build to the Beta channel, last week’s Dev channel build, 22000.100. As you’d imagine, it contains broadly the same number of fixes as the Dev build, only this one has a couple more known issues added. As is the case with Windows 11 going forward, Teams is quite tightly integrated with the OS, so here’s our hands-on with said Teams experience.
In additional news about changes, Microsoft is set to retire semi-annual Windows Server updates in favor of LTSC (Long-Term Servicing Channel) releases. The next LTSC variant, set to drop this year, will still be based on Windows 10.
And speaking of, KB5004296 was pushed out by the firm, bumping up the build numbers for Windows 10 versions 2004, 20H2, and 21H1 to 19041.1151, 19042.1151, and 19043.1151. The list of fixes is a little longer than usual, and contains everything from fixes for bugs with WFP (Windows Filtering Platform) to System Integrity memory leaks, and more.
Last but not least, to end the talk about versions and version numbers, Windows 10 21H1 is now on 26% of PCs, with Windows 11 (the Insider flavor) grabbing 0.9% of the market.
Q4 FY21 earnings
It’ll come as no shock to those who follow Microsoft that the Redmond giant has now posted its quarterly earnings for the fourth quarter of its fiscal year 2021, which ended June 30.
Microsoft brought in $46.2B in revenue (up 21% Year-over Year). Operating income landed at $19.1B (up 42%), with net income being $16.5B (up 47%). Diluted earnings per share was $2.17 (up 49%).
Of the three sections that Microsoft’s earnings are split into, Productivity and Business Processes brought in $14.7B (up 25%), Intelligent Cloud contributed the most with $17.4B (up 30%), and More Personal Computing accounted for $14.1B of the total sum, a 9% increase year-over-year.
In the first category, Office Commercial products and cloud services grew 20% in terms of revenue – off the back of a 35% increase in Office 365 Commercial revenue. Consumer Office earnings grew 18%, with Microsoft 365 consumer seats increasing to 51.9 million. Revenue from LinkedIn and Dynamics grew 46% and 33%, respectively.
In the Intelligent Cloud bracket, Azure revenue grew 51%, with revenue from cloud services and server products being up 34% (accounting for $3.9B). The Enterprise Mobility install base grew 19% (to over 190 million seats), and Premier Support – as well as Microsoft Consulting services - grew by a respectable 12%.
Under More Personal Computing, there was strong Search advertising revenue growth, with Windows Commercial products growing 20%, and OEM Pro (as well as non-Pro) revenues dipping 2% and 4% (respectively), which happened due to supply chain constraints. The other effect of said constraints was a 20% fall in revenue for the Surface unit.
Gaming revenue was up 11%, with a 172% increase in hardware revenue (year-over-year). Xbox content and services were down 4%, and Search advertising was up 53%.
Because this is also the end of the fiscal year, Microsoft shared the overall FY21 figures, with revenue landing at $168.1B (up 18%) and net income being $61.3B.
The final Edge Dev 93 build (93.0.961.2) is now out with an improved Settings layout. Outlook on the web now has a ‘My Day’ pane for easy access to Calendar and To Do. New phishing protections are now live in Teams. Teams now has nearly 250 million monthly active users. Logging off
We end the column by highlighting a software transition that took place earlier this week.
As was announced by Microsoft two years ago, Skype for Business Online was retired on July 31, 2021. The replacement is of course Teams, and the company is so confident in its latest chatting endeavor that it’s not extending the EOL date of Skype for Business Online.
For folks who have not moved to Teams completely (or at all), there will be Microsoft-assisted upgrades (starting in August). Until the upgrades are completed, users will be free to continue their chats and calls via Skype for Business Online.
Missed any of the previous columns? Check them all out at this link.
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By Abhay V
Microsoft releases the first Windows 11 build for the Beta channel
by Abhay Venkatesh
It’s a new week, which means it’s time for a new Windows Insider build. However, this time, it's Beta channel users who are receiving a new update in the way of Windows 11 build 22000.100. This is the first Windows 11 build being released for the Beta channel, giving users of that channel the first official way to run the latest generation of Windows.
The build heading out today is the one that was released to the Dev channel last week, which means that along with the complete new OS, users will be receiving all the fixes that have been made through the course of the Dev channel releases. These include tweaks such as the improved UI elements in the taskbar and other areas to better align them with the Windows 11 design language, a search box in the Start Menu, and more. This is to be expected since Beta channel releases are considered more stable.
It must be noted that the new Teams chat experience will not be enabled for Beta channel users yet. However, that should be enabled for those users soon. You can take a look at all the new Windows 11 features in our run-down here.
In addition to all the bug fixes and improvements, the build contains a bunch of known issues, some of which have been added since build 22000.100 was released. We have listed only the new known issues that the firm is adding to the latest build based on feedback from those running these builds – which happen to be close to 1% of the total number of Windows machines:
With the OS now being promoted to the Beta channel, it is a hint that the company is hitting a certain threshold of stability since Beta channel builds usually are more reliable. The company also notes that Dev channel users who wish to stay on more stable builds should move to the Beta channel now. However, this does not mean that the builds are ready for daily use on main machines since anything can go wrong with test versions.
Additionally, Dev channel builds aren't exactly tied to specific versions, so those who jumped onto the Dev channel just to try out Windows 11 have this so-called magic window to jump to a more stable channel to continue testing builds a step away from the bleeding edge. As for Dev channel users, the firm confirmed via a tweet that there will not be a new build this week.
By Abhay V
AdDuplex: Windows 10 version 21H1 is now on over 26% of PCs, Windows 11 makes its debut
by Abhay Venkatesh
After a gap of a couple of months, AdDuplex has released its Windows version usage report for the month of July. The report is collected from 5,000 Microsoft Store apps that are running the AdDuplex SDK v.2 or higher, and around 60,000 Windows PCs were sampled for this report. This month’s highlight is the debut of Windows 11, which was formally announced in June. As for Windows 10, version 21H1 that was released in May is now running on over 26% of Windows machines.
Just like the October 2020 Update, the Windows 10 May 2021 Update was an enablement package that light up new features in the OS. The underlying codebase for 21H1, however, is identical to versions 20H2 and 2004, meaning that the three most recent versions are serviced with the same cumulative updates. It is, therefore, not surprising to see that the rollout of the latest version has been faster than the previous versions has seen. This is only expected to increase as version 2004 begins to reach the end of support for consumer SKUs.
With Windows 10 21H1 now on more than 26% of PCs, the three latest versions of the OS account for close to 88% of usage share. The title for the most famous version of Windows 10 is retained by version 20H2 at 36.3%, followed by version 2004 at 24.6%. Windows Insiders running Windows 11 in the Dev channel account for close to 1% of total devices.
Windows 10 version 21H2 is also slated to be an enablement package. However, with Windows 11 expected to begin rolling out later this year, it will be interesting to see how the usage share changes, since there are still questions about the pace of the rollout and what the final hardware specifications will be.