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By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft Weekly: Browser Wars, Office revamp, and Windows Ugly Sweater
by Usama Jawad
We are at the end of yet another week, which means that it is time to recap what happened in the world of Microsoft in the past few days. This week was quite eventful, especially if you're interested in news related to Microsoft Edge, Windows 11 builds, and a festive Windows Ugly Sweater. Read on to to check out the weekly digest for the week of November 28 - December 3.
If you were wondering if you had traveled back to the early 2000s this week particularly when it came to your browser choice, that'd be understandable. Microsoft went a bit on the offensive this week by showing native prompts to consumer when they attempt to download Google Chrome via Microsoft Edge.
These prompts refer to Chrome as a "so 2008" browser, and say that users should stick with Edge because it is apparently more trustworthy. While the messages shown by Microsoft are very casual and tonally light, it's got many of our readers as well as other people on social media forums wondering if the company is being too desperate.
When it comes to allowing people to change the default browser in Windows 11 itself, Microsoft seems to be testing an easier process with build 22509 in the Dev Channel.
Users can now utilize a single button to change the default browser for some extensions simultaneously. This is in stark contrast to the current generally available method in which you have to painstakingly change the default browser for each extension. It's not a massive improvement, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. That said, we don't know when, or if, this change will be made available to the general public.
In related news, Edge Canary got a couple of decent features this week too. Tab search is now enabled by default, and those who utilize Xbox Cloud Gaming will be pleased to know that they can test a new capability called Clarity Boost during their streaming sessions. As the name suggests, this visually upgrades some aspects of the game-streaming experience and is only available on Edge Canary for now.
Teams is Essential(s)
Microsoft rolled out a new offer for small businesses who utilize Teams for online collaboration and communication. Dubbed Teams Essentials, this enables the target audience to use a variant of Teams that is more feature-rich than the free version with capabilities like meeting timings going up to 30 hours, 10GB of cloud storage, and the ability to host 300 people in a group called. Priced at $4 per user per month, Microsoft is calling Teams Essentials the "most affordable all-in-one solution", but on paper, it does sound like a difficult sell against Microsoft 365 Business Basic that offers even more advanced capabilities and software at the cost of $5 per user per month.
That's not all in the world of Microsoft's Office-based offerings though. The company has started rolling out the Office visual revamp to more users. As it stands, the redesign is available for 50% of Current Channel users on Windows 10 and for everyone on Windows 11. It brings in some minor UI changes like Fluent Design and Dark Mode, but Microsoft plans on enabling other elements like the Mica background effect soon. You can trigger this revamp by clicking on the megaphone icon on the top-right corner of the title bar of your Office app and then switching on the toggle in the Coming Soon pane. The same toggle can also be used to return to the existing UI.
Finally, if you use OneDrive on the web to manage photos, you'll be happy to know that the ability to add filters is now available. Another capability that will be coming later this month is the ability to annotate and markup photos.
Windows Ugly Sweater and Windows 11 enhancements
If you're a fan of Microsoft-branded merchandise, you should probably check out this year's Windows Ugly Sweater. The apparel is based on Minesweeper and retails for $74.99, excluding shipping costs. As a part of this holiday celebration, Microsoft is also pledging $100,000 to AbleGamers - a charity aimed at combating social isolation, foster inclusive communities, and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.
In other news, Windows 11 Insiders on the Dev Channel were treated to build 22509. This is a relatively major update that addresses some issues related to the Start menu and the Taskbar. New layout options have been added to the former while the ability to display the date and time on secondary monitors has been added to the latter. Other changes also include the migration of more Control Panel capabilities to the Settings app and tons of other bug fixes. Check out the complete change log here.
Paint on the Windows 11 Dev Channel received an update too. It brings some UI elements more in line with the OS' design language and also fixed issues related to text boxes, languages, and more.
In news related to Windows 11, AdDuplex survey data shows that the OS is now on 9% of PCs. This is a significant increase over the 5.1% figure reported back in October. That said, if you're utilizing Windows 11 and are not happy with some of the changes, do check out ThisIsWin11 which features a bunch of utilities for customization.
PowerToys introduced a presentation mode utility in version 0.51.0, which was then followed by a stability update version 0.51.1 Halo Infinite campaign, Aliens: Fireteam Elite, and much more are coming to Xbox Game Pass this month Sea of Thieves Season Five is now live with loot burying, cannon rowboats, and much more Under the spotlight
This week, I argued that Windows Update should show more information about patches by default. As it stands, users are forced to find Microsoft's KB articles and change logs, or rely on third-party news outlets like Neowin to find out what's new in each update. This information should be natively integrated - but still optional to view - into Windows. Check out my thoughts on the topic here.
We also discussed the top 10 changes that people are requesting for Windows 11 on the Feedback Hub. Most are related to the Taskbar and the Start menu, but one demands to remove the TPM requirement too. We have also outlined Microsoft's responses to all the feedback items. It's definitely an interesting list and you should check it out here.
Our most interesting news item of the week is not related to Microsoft but is definitely worth highlighting. Eccentric entrepreneur Elon Musk has seemingly taken a leaf out of Apple's book and announced a $50 "Cyberwhistle". The collectible item is made of stainless steel and its design is inspired by Tesla's Cybertruck. The Cyberwhistle went out of stock hours after Musk's Twitter reveal but you can still check out the dedicated product page here.
If you’d like to get a weekly digest of news from Neowin, we have a Newsletter you can sign up to either via the ‘Get our newsletter’ widget in the sidebar, or through this link.
Missed any of the previous columns? Check them all out at this link.
By Usama Jawad96
Here are the top 10 changes that Windows 11 needs, according to the public
by Usama Jawad
Since it's been almost two months since Windows 11 started generally rolling out, we thought it would be interesting to see what feedback the public has for the OS so far. We have discussed the feature-set in detail through our Closer Look articles, and I have also detailed my personal thoughts on which features I love and hate in Windows 11. So it's only natural that we review what the general public wants from the OS too.
For this purpose, we have collected the top 10 most-voted pieces of feedback from Microsoft's own Feedback Hub, along with the current official response from the company. You can also navigate to the respective feedback item yourself and upvote it or provide your own feedback. Without further ado, here goes:
Bring back the ability to move the taskbar to the top and sides of the screen on Windows 11 (25,732 upvotes)
Microsoft response: We'll be continuing to evolve Windows 11 and its features based on feedback like this, so thank you so much for taking the time to give us your feedback! Bring back right-click for Task Manager option on taskbar in Windows 11 (16,439 upvotes)
Microsoft response: Thank you so much for giving us your feedback. While we'll continue to use your feedback to guide the future of features like this, currently on Windows 11, you can right-click the Start menu button to quickly open the Task Manager. In addition you can also press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC to open Task Manager directly Update the Windows 11 Start menu to support putting pinned apps into groups / folders (11,115 upvotes)
No response from Microsoft yet. Update the Windows 11 taskbar to support dragging and dropping files onto the app icons to open them in / transfer them to that app (10,855 upvotes) Microsoft response: Currently, dragging a file onto an app in the taskbar to open it in that app is not supported in Windows 11, but we appreciate all your feedback, and we'll continue to use it to help guide the future of features like this. You can start to drag, press ALT+Tab, open the window you wanted to drag to, and drop inside it to still open your files more quickly. Thank you!
Update the Windows 11 taskbar to support never combining app icons and showing labels (10,064 upvotes)
No response from Microsoft yet.
Update the Windows 11 taskbar to support using small icons option that Windows 10 had (8,797 upvotes)
No response from Microsoft yet.
I want the taskbar clock in Windows 11 to be available on all my monitors and not just my primary monitor (8,436 upvotes)
Microsoft response: Thank you for your feedback! We made it possible to display the date and time on secondary monitors with Build 22509, now available in the Dev Channel.
Remove the TPM requirement in determining Windows 11 eligibility (7,801 upvotes)
Microsoft response: Thanks for taking the time to reach out about this. Please read the following blog post which includes more information about the reasons for this change.
I would like to be able to turn off the Recommended section in the Start menu and have the whole area disappear in Windows 11 (7,787 upvotes)
Microsoft response: Thanks for taking the time to reach out. It is not currently possible to have the whole area collapse or disappear, however your desire to have this functionality has been shared with the team. We'll let you know if there are any updates. What is currently possible is hiding the content, if you are concerned about it displaying. To do this, go to Settings > Personalization > Start and turn off the Show recently added apps and/or the Show recently opened items in Start, Jump Lists, and File Explorer. This will turn those off in jump lists too.
UPDATE: We made a new layout for Start that will let you reduce the size of the Recommended section. Right-click on Start to quickly access Start settings and choose the More pins layout option to show an extra row of pins with Build 22509, now available in the Dev Channel.
I want to have the option to turn off news in Widgets so they no longer display there (7,481 upvotes)
No response from Microsoft yet.
Well, there you have it. These are currently the most requested suggestions that people have regarding Windows 11. While Microsoft hasn't provided a detailed response to some feedback items, it's still encouraging to see the company actively responding to most and updating their status as well. We have seen the firm addressing some of the problems that people have with the Start menu and the Taskbar with build 22509 that recently started rolling out to the Dev Channel, and while we don't know when and more importantly, if, these changes will be made generally available, it's nice to see that at least some feedback is being listened to.
Which of the aforementioned suggestions regarding Windows 11 do you agree with? What other feedback do you have regarding the OS? Let us know in the comments section below and highlight it in the Feedback Hub too!
A welcome change on Windows 11, choosing a default browser gets a bit easier with build 22509
by Sayan Sen
Microsoft has recently been in the middle of a lot of controversy regarding its Edge web browser. The company has been trying hard to promote Edge to more users and one may argue that its approach hasn't been the most astutely planned one.
However, the company is not relentless in this method, it seems, and is also considering user feedback while on this path. For example, choosing the default browser on Windows 11 is currently a tedious process for many as it requires selecting the default browser for the file types one by one. There was a lot of backlash and criticism from other major browser vendors regarding this.
Microsoft has taken in this negative feedback and has amended this process of default browser selection with the recent Dev Channel Insider build 22509. There is a new "Set default" option present in it the Default Apps settings. The company also made some interesting Start menu changes too. Read all about the new build here.
The default browser selection change was first highlighted by Microsoft MVP Rafael Rivera on Twitter.
The Before/After images slider below shows how the new "Set default" option works:
As you may have noticed above, for now at least, the Set default option works with .htm and .html files and does not universally select a browser as the default for all file types, but that may change in the future.
That said, it is important to note that Dev Channel builds are not tied to a specific version of the OS so there's no knowing when, or if, these changes will become generally available.
Intel fulfills its promise, releases Windows 11 driver for long-dead Kaby Lake G with Vega M
by Sayan Sen
Yes, Intel has kept its promise that it would bring Windows 11 support to its now-discontinued Kaby Lake G processors. Last week the company launched its new graphics driver version 30.0.13025.1000 for Kaby Lake G which now adds support for Microsoft's shiny new OS.
The new driver is based on AMD Adrenalin 21.10.1 which introduced Windows 11 support on AMD's graphics products. Intel has erroneously mentioned in its release notes that the driver is built upon the 21.10.2 driver but that's likely not the case since no optimization in the latter is reflected in this release.
For those that don't remember, Kaby Lake G with RX Vega M was an interesting product from Intel as it married its own Kaby Lake processors with Radeon Vega graphics using cutting-edge technologies like Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB). The parts offered much better graphics performance than what Intel could do at the time.
It was, however, discontinued by the company in October 2019. AMD's driver team continued to provide drivers for Kaby Lake G for a while before it too called it quits on the product support in June last year.
The new 30.0.13025.1000 driver also brings new feature support and game optimizations.
As usual the new driver has a few known issues too and they are given below:
Intel has also mentioned a couple of known issues from older driver releases which are not reproducible with the latest driver:
All the five Kaby Lake G SKUs, namely, i7-8705G, i7-8706G, i7-8709G, i7-8809G, and i5-8305G are supported by this driver update. To download the driver, head over to Intel's offcial website via this link.
By Usama Jawad96
Visual revamp for Office desktop apps on Windows now available for more users
by Usama Jawad
Back in June, Microsoft announced that it is revamping the Office desktop apps for Windows. The idea was to bring the apps in line with Windows 11's design language, even on Windows 10. In the following weeks, the company began rolling out the refresh to those on the Beta Channel, and in September, this extended to Current Channel users, but only as a preview. Today, Microsoft has announced that it is speeding up the pace of rollout.
If you're on Windows 10 and running Office version 2110 and build 14527.20226 or later, there's a possibility that the visual update will be available to you. This is because Microsoft has made the update automatically available to 50% of all users on the Current Channel. Meanwhile, if you're on Windows 11, the revamp will necessarily be available to you. In both cases, you might need to restart your Office apps to receive the visual refresh.
As a recap, the visual revamp includes Office themes that now match with your Windows theme (including Dark Mode) with the Quick Access Toolbar hidden by default to make the interface simpler. You'll also notice Fluent Design elements. You can simply click on the megaphone icon on the top-right corner of the title bar of your Office app and then switch on the toggle in the Coming Soon pane to enable the visual updates. The same toggle can also be used to return to the existing UI.
The Coming Soon pane is available for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. If you enable the new UI via any of the aforementioned apps, it will also become available in Access, Project, Publisher, Visio, and Outlook. Although the dedicated Coming Soon pane is also present in the Outlook app, it doesn't really do anything.
The revamp is currently available automatically to 50% of Current Channel users running Microsoft Office Home & Student 2021, Microsoft Office Home & Business 2021, Microsoft Office Professional 2021, or Microsoft Office Personal 2021. Here are the known issues:
Microsoft has requested users to submit feedback about the refresh via Help > Feedback and to use the #OfficeRefresh hashtag so that it's easier for the company to spot your feedback.