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By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft Office 2021 is coming on October 5, LTSC available today
by Usama Jawad
Back in February, Microsoft announced upcoming updates to two variants of Office, namely Office Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) and Office 2021. Both are quite similar in nature with a key difference being that the former is meant for organizational use and the latter is intended for consumers. Both offer five years of mainstream support via a one-time "perpetual" license purchase, but that also means that they won't get any new features or updates until the next perpetual license release. They are primarily intended for organizations and consumers who can't migrate to the cloud to take advantage of Microsoft 365, which gets updated way more frequently.
Microsoft announced a commercial preview of its LTSC releases in April, and now it has announced that Office LTSC has become generally available (GA) to organizations starting today while Office 2021 will hit GA on October 5, which is the same date as Windows 11's general rollout.
Microsoft has emphasized that Microsoft 365's subscription-based system is its preferred direction for the future, it understands that in some scenarios, organizations can't migrate to the cloud or connect certain services to the internet. As such, LTSC releases has more value for them. Although this LTSC release contains performance enhancements and improved accessibility, Microsoft has noted that it cannot take advantage of cloud-driven hybrid security capabilities, AI automation, and real-time collaboration. The company has noted that it will be making "investments" to make it easier for LTSC customers to shift to Microsoft 365 in the future.
Another major change from previous releases is that Office LTSC ships with Teams as part of the installed features, rather than Skype for Business, but Teams is treated differently than other Office apps. Unlike the others, it will continue to get updates continuously over time, but you also only get access to the free version of Teams, since the premium version is licensed separately. You can learn more about managing the free version of Teams here.
Office 2021 is the consumer version of "perpetual" Office and will replace Office 2019 on October 5, 2021. It will be available on Windows and macOS just like Office LTSC. If you're an IT admin at an organization looking to upgrade to Office LTSC generally available today, you can go through Microsoft's deployment instructions here.
By Steven P.
Windows 11 build 22000.194 adds update block for Virtual Machines in Beta channel
by Steven Parker
Microsoft is today releasing a Beta channel build. While the Dev channel got Windows 11 build 22458 yesterday, the beta channel is being served a cumulative update, bumping up the build number to 22000.194. This is to be expected since the version heading to the Beta channel is in its final stages of development, being made ready for the October 5 release. However, the version will continue receiving cumulative updates with bug fixes post-release, especially since the release is a staggered one.
As for the fixes themselves, there's a few that are listed below, but readers might need to be aware that this build also introduces the TPM requirements in Virtual Machines, meaning updates will be blocked if you are running Windows 11 in anything but VMWare Workstation Pro or Hyper-V Manager that is included in Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise editions of Windows.
The build, however, contains a the exact same list of known issues as the previous one, released a week ago. It is anybody’s guess if these issues will be fixed in time for general availability, or if the OS ships with a few known issues, something that has happened in the past with certain Windows 10 versions.
Here is the complete list of issues:
As usual, Beta channel users can check for updates via Windows Update to pull the build. It will not be surprising to soon see Windows 11 builds head to the Release Preview channel for consumers since they have already begun being made available for commercial testing.
By Usama Jawad96
Closer Look: Default apps settings in Windows 11
by Usama Jawad
We are inching closer to the general release of Windows 11, which is almost three weeks away. Although we have already discussed some of the OS' main features, we dive into some of the smaller capabilities in more detail twice a week in our ongoing Closer Look series.
So far, we have taken a look at Search, Widgets, the Start menu, Snap Layouts and Snap Groups, the Taskbar, quick settings and notifications, Virtual Desktops, and power and battery settings in Windows 11. In light of some recent developments, we feel that it is only fitting that we discuss default app settings available in the OS.
For the purpose of this hands-on, we'll be taking a look at Windows 11 build 22000.184 that was released to the Beta Channel a week ago versus a publicly available and up-to-date Windows 10 (version 21H1 build 19043.1237). As usual, it is important to note that the OS is still under active development so it's possible that some of the features we talk about may change by the time of Windows 11's general availability.
Default apps settings in Windows 10 Before we analyze what's on offer in Windows 11, we will first take a look at similar capabilities present in Windows 10. Fortunately, the ability to set default apps in Windows 10 is fairly straightforward. You get categories like Email, Maps, Music player, Photo viewer, Video player, and Web browser, and you can click on any of them to choose your default app. When being displayed a list of possible apps to choose from, you also get a label with the text "Recommended for Windows 10" below Microsoft apps like Microsoft Edge, Groove Music, and more. Microsoft apps are shown at the top of the list but there isn't anything more blatant beyond that.
Choosing default apps by file type in Windows 10 Of course, you can also choose default apps by file types and protocols, and have the ability to set defaults by app. It's quite a useful interface and utility, especially for power users who have a lot of software installed on their machine and want to customize how they want to open each of their files.
Default apps settings in Windows 11 When we come over to Windows 11, the situation is completely different, and not in a good way. While Microsoft has added a couple of useful search bars that should make it easier to sift through file extensions and associations, the first thing you'll notice is that the company has completely done away with the productivity categories. Instead, that space has been taken up by the "set defaults by app" UI, through which you can click on specific apps and then choose their association.
Setting default file types or link types by app in Windows 11 What this essentially means is that if you want to set Google Chrome (or any other browser, for that matter) as your default web browser, you will have to individually set it as the default for each and every extension and link, as can be seen above. In fact, when you attempt to switch a default app from a Microsoft-recommended one to another of your choice, Microsoft will show you a notification about how you're making the biggest mistake of your life (okay, I'm exaggerating that a bit).
There's not a lot else to say. Microsoft has added a couple of nifty search bars but stripped away the very useful ability that enables even laymen and people who are not tech-savvy to set their default app. This is strictly in contrast to Microsoft's boasts of accessibility in Windows 11. This UI and process is not accessible at all to someone who is not well-acquainted with tech. There's no other way to say it.
At best, this is a terrible design decision that has to be overturned at some point in time. And at worst, it's a very intentional move by Microsoft to promote its own default apps and make it difficult for people to set their own choice of apps as the defaults. I'm almost certain that it's the latter scenario given the fact that it strips away usability without offering a proper replacement.
This change does not only impact end-users, but app vendors as well. Now, they have to rely completely on the user to go and manually change the default app for each file association. There has been massive backlash on this decision from rival companies too. It has even led to Mozilla reverse-engineering Microsoft's own code for Edge in order to set Firefox as the default browser in Windows via a single click initiated by the user. Other developers are building tools that forces Windows to bypass default apps, especially when it comes to web browsers. I'm pretty sure that other Microsoft competitors will follow suit too unless Microsoft decides to either enhance its UI or plug this option entirely. If it does the latter, I can see rival firms taking it to court over antitrust issues.
All in all, there is nothing positive to say about the default apps settings in Windows 11. I won't mince words, it's absolutely terrible and counter-intuitive to human-centric design. I sincerely hope Microsoft rethinks the cost of what it's doing here. Moves like this erode public trust, as we have seen in the past with Windows updates and telemetry debacles in Windows 10.
Take a look at the section here or select from the links below to continue exploring Windows 11 in our ongoing "Closer Look" series:
Closer Look: Search in Windows 11 Closer Look: Widgets in Windows 11 Closer Look: Start menu in Windows 11 Closer Look: Snap Layouts and Snap Groups in Windows 11 Closer Look: Taskbar in Windows 11 Closer Look: Quick settings and notifications in Windows 11 Closer Look: Virtual Desktops in Windows 11 Closer Look: Power and battery settings in Windows 11
Windows 11 build 22458 for the Dev channel brings a 'Sign-in options' link to the power menu [Update]By Abhay V
Windows 11 build 22458 for the Dev channel brings a 'Sign-in options' link to the power menu [Update]
by Abhay V
Microsoft today released a new Windows 11 Dev channel build from the rs_prerelease branch. The build brings just one UI change in the form of a new 'Sign-in options' link to the power menu in Start. There are, as expected, a bunch of bug fixes and known issues accompanying the single new feature.
While the company has been releasing Dev and Beta channel builds simultaneously, it does not seem to be the case today, as there is no Beta channel build in sight yet. Surprisingly, there was no cumulative update for the OS either yesterday as part of the Patch Tuesday updates. As for Dev channel builds themselves, major new features slated for release in the next version will eventually start appearing in these releases.
Generally, the firm releases servicing updates when builds head to the Beta and/or Release Preview channels, which is the case with Windows 11 since it is now available for commercial customers in the Release Preview channel. With Windows 11 slated to begin rolling out to eligible users starting October 5, it is surprising to see the bulk of bug fixes heading to Dev channel builds. The firm does note that it will bring "some fixes" from these Insider builds to the stable version after it releases. It is anybody's guess if these features will come in the way of day one updates.
Here are the fixes made as part of build 22458:
As is expected with development builds, there are a bunch of known issues that users should be aware of. This includes the taskbar bug that misaligns the Start menu and the app icons, resulting in some icons being cut off. Here is the complete list of known issues:
Lastly, Microsoft is also announcing a refreshed Tips app for Windows 11, complete with UI refreshes and the ability to serve "100+" tips for users. The OS is also receiving the ability to serve tips across the OS showing off new capabilities and features added, such as widgets, the new touch-focused improvements, and much more.
Update: As pointed out by our readers, which was also confirmed by Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc, the 'Sign-in options' link has been present in the Dev channel since last week's release. The addition was not mentioned in last week's release notes.
By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft: Running Windows 11 on M1 Macs is not a supported scenario
by Usama Jawad
Around a month ago, Parallels announced that its Desktop 17 software supports running Windows 11 on both Intel and M1 Macs. However, users would only be able to emulate the Windows on ARM variant of the OS. It is important to note that in order to get Windows on ARM up and running on virtualization software like Parallels, you have to grab and utilize a virtual hard disk file from a Windows Insider Preview build, as noted by XDA.
That said, in a statement issued to The Register recently, a Microsoft spokesperson has confirmed that running Windows 11 on M1 Mac devices isn't a "supported scenario". What this means is that while you can install the OS via Parallels on an M1 Mac, if you run into any issue, Microsoft isn't responsible for providing a workaround or a fix. Furthermore, if at any point in the future, Microsoft makes changes to the OS that renders this virtualization impossible, people who paid for software like Parallels Desktop will be left out in te cold.
It is important to understand the importance of this caveat as a Windows 11 Dev Channel build recently starting throwing errors related to hardware compatibility on M1 Macs, and although Parallels was able to update its software to resolve the issue, there might be a future scenario where a quick fix is not possible. Interestingly, Thurrott does say that a source told him that Windows on ARM for M1 Macs would be officially supported by Microsoft in September. However, this seems to be very unlikely to happen now, in light of the recent statement.