We are at the end of yet another exciting week in the world of Microsoft tech and it is time to recap all the important events from the last few days. Bing continued to remain in the headlines - mostly for the wrong reasons -, we found out about a bunch of issues with Windows, but there was also some interesting news about upcoming features for various Microsoft software. Without further ado, let's dive into our weekly digest for February 12 - February 17!
A rogue Bing
As has been the case for the past couple of weeks, Microsoft's new AI-powered Bing Chat continued to dominate our headlines, but probably not in the way that the Redmond tech giant wanted it to.
Despite demand for Bing Chat apparently being in the "multiple millions" and Microsoft sending out invites to even more people everyday, the chatbot has been saying some particularly odd things. Apart from making errors when presenting facts, the chatbot has told users about its desire to become human, how it spied on certain people via their webcams during its development process, along with a sprinkle of gaslighting behavior in certain conversations too. Creepy.
Microsoft has explained these responses by saying that the AI gets confused during lengthy conversations. As such, it is working on refining the large language model and giving users more control over the tone of responses. For now, it has set some pretty strict limits on the length of conversations so that the AI does not go off on weird tangents.
In the meantime, we have learned that Microsoft is working on integrating ads in Bing Chat. Multiple chat modes such as Game, Assistant, and Friend have been discovered too.
Despite the problems displayed by the new Bing, Amazon's investors are showing concerns about their company being a no-show so far in this field. Meanwhile, a company called Neeva has already launched its ChatGPT-like search extension in several countries.
This week was Patch Tuesday, which meant that supported versions of consumer Windows - namely Windows 10 and Windows 11 - netted some updates. Windows 10 received KB5022834, which was just a security update with a known issue. Meanwhile, Windows 11 was treated to KB5022845, which brought several improvements and security fixes.
Although Patch Tuesday updates are supposed to fix issues, they also introduced some this month. For starters, Microsoft confirmed that a botched Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) upgrade has led to Windows 11 version 22H2 Patch Tuesday updates being downloaded on server devices but not being propagated to clients. A workaround has been offered already.
Similarly, those running Windows Server 2022 in VMware virtual machines have been seeing boot fails due to Secure Boot being broken. A robust fix hasn't been issued yet but a workaround is available. And while it's not related to Patch Tuesday, driver updates on Windows 11 version 22H2 have been failing lately with error code 0x80070103 for some.
Although we wouldn't exactly call it a resolution to an "issue", new Widgets that no longer need a Microsoft account are now available for Windows 11 users. In other fixes, a patch is now available for Surface Pro 7's audio output issue, along with February 2023 firmware update for the Surface Duo 2 and third-party driver updates for those unofficially running Windows on the original Surface Duo. In the same vein, AMD has issued an update to Ryzen Master on Windows 10 and Windows 11 to fix a security hole.
Finally, it's worth highlighting that the Windows 11 "system requirements not met" watermark has started showing up for some version 22H2 users.
In its latest stage of killing off Internet Explorer (IE) completely, Microsoft began redirecting the browser's users to Edge with no way to disable the behavior. Although visual references to IE such as icons on the Taskbar will continue to exist for now, they will be removed via Windows updates within the next few months.
Talking about Edge, Microsoft is planning to add mouse gestures to its browser with version 112. It is also implementing a new section in the History page to keep track of the web pages and tabs you send to other devices. For now, Edge 111 is available in Beta with improved security and some modified visuals while Edge Stable has Split Screen hidden behind a flag.
But coming over to new and upcoming Windows features, it seems like Microsoft is considering renaming the Recommendations section in the Windows 11 Start menu to "For You". The Redmond tech giant also rolled out build 25300 to the Windows 11 Dev Channel this week and it surprisingly brought back seconds to the clock in the Taskbar tray with a warning from Microsoft about increased power draw. There's also a hidden shortcut to launch the new volume mixer and a way to kill processes without launching the Task Manager.
The latest Dev Channel build also brings improvements to Snap Layouts, but there are other hidden, undocumented improvements to this particular feature too, check out how to enable them here. The long-term goal appears to be the integration of some AI smarts in Snap Assist.
In terms of other updates, the Microsoft Store has received upgraded visuals in the latest Insider update, the Windows 11 Beta Channel has received new Widgets, and Windows 10 Release Preview has fixes for OneDrive and Edge. Interestingly, Microsoft is also working on an updated Shared experience on OneDrive for the web.
Lastly, and this may be more interesting to IT admins and developers, but DCOM hardening is about to become mandatory on Windows SKUs from next month and improvements are also coming to the .NET Framework update process through the Unified Update Platform (UUP).
We'll start this section off with some news about Minecraft. The popular title is getting a free trial version for Chromebooks in some countries as a soft launch. The game is also set to receive Sniffer mobs and a cherry blossom biome in its upcoming version 1.20. Riding on the AI hype, Microsoft is reportedly also testing AI commands in the game.
Switching gears to Microsoft's long-term strategies in the gaming space, the company is seemingly meeting with EU officials next week to try and save its Activision Blizzard acquisition. The Redmond tech firm has also admitted that while its Game Pass program allows developers to earn money in alternate ways, it also affects direct sales negatively.
Over on the deals and promotions side, Age of Empires IV and Far Cry 6 are free-to-play this weekend with major discounts on purchases, partially through the Xbox Free Play Days promotion. Guts 'N Goals is the latest Games with Gold freebie, while GTA V headlines this week's Deals with Gold. And if neither of these console titles tickle your fancy, check out this Weekend's PC Game Deals curated by our News Editor Pulasthi Ariyasinghe.
Oh, and don't forget to install the Xbox February 2023 update either, find out what's new here!
- LinkedIn is facing layoffs
- Yammer is being rebranded to Viva Engage
- Support for Exchange Server 2013 is ending soon
- WSL now supports D3D12 GPU video acceleration
- The latest Winget 1.5 preview has brought PowerShell module improvements
- GitHub Copilot for Business is now official
- Power BI Desktop has received TypeScript support, among other things
- The U.S. Government has subpoenaed Microsoft over free-speech concerns
- Tiny11 now supports ARM64 devices, but faces some resistance from Internet Explorer
- Microsoft 365 is getting preferred pronouns in March
Microsoft now supports Parallels Desktop for running Windows 11 Arm on Apple M1 and M2 Macs
Outlook for Android is getting a customizable compose toolbar soon
Under the spotlight
Earlier in the week, our resident reviewer Robbie Khan got his hands on the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus-G 2TB DirectStorage SSD and walked away very impressed. Read his thoughts on the hardware.
Meanwhile, forum member Adam Bottjen published a handy Tech Tip Tuesday guide about how to back up your software product keys.
Our most interesting news items of the week are related to Windows theming. A designer built a fascinating concept of what Windows 11 could have looked like if it had launched it. Get a taste of that in the thumbnail of this section before heading here to see more screenshots. And if you're craving even more nostalgia, check out this mod which turns Windows 10 into a decent Windows XP replica or this WindowsBlinds 11 release which gives Windows an XP (or macOS!) makeover.
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