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Microsoft Weekly: Ads in the Windows 11 Start menu, Visual Studio, and Microsoft 365

Microsoft Weekly graphic with Windows 11 logo with ads sticker on left and Microsoft 365 logo on the

We are at the end of yet another week as time keeps on flying by, racing towards the end of the calendar year. As we do each week, it is time to recap everything important that happened in the Microsoft-verse in the past few days. This time around, we have items related to some Windows 11 updates, enhancements for developers and power users, and a sprinkle of Microsoft 365 news for good measure. Find out more in the latest digest covering November 5 - November 11!

Ads in Windows 11 and other updates

The Start menu in Windows 11 22H2

It appears that Microsoft has started testing ads (or tips, depending upon how you view them) in Windows 11 once again. Some users have spotted ads being pushed in the Start menu in order to upsell Microsoft services such as OneDrive and signing up for a Microsoft account. The silver lining here is that this is only present in Dev builds for now, so Microsoft may not decide to roll it out publicly. However, if it's annoying you, even on a Dev build, follow the guide mentioned at the end of this piece to disable these ads.

Elsewhere, we received a couple of Beta builds for Windows 11 too. Build 22623.885 brought an expanded view for Widgets and Energy Recommendations while build 22623.891 introduced search capabilities and better theme support in Task Manager, among many other things. Meanwhile, Windows 10 22H2 Insiders netted Release Preview build 19045.2301 (KB5020030) with changes to Taskbar search and lots of other bug fixes. Unfortunately, a Dev Channel build was not flighted this week, but we can expect one in the next few days.

This week also hosted the second Tuesday of the month, which meant that it was time for Patch Tuesday. You can view our dedicated coverage below to find out what's new for each supported operating system:

The latest Patch Tuesday update also resolved a Spectre V2 vulnerability affecting AMD Ryzen PCs, so if you have an AMD system, you might want to install the updates as soon as possible.

As Microsoft seemingly starts to work on the "Moment 3" update for Windows 11, you should also know that if you're holding out on Windows 10 version 21H2 for whatever reason, that specific OS is running out of support in a month, so you should probably consider upgrading too.

Visual Studio goodness... and more

Visual Studio logo on a light background with purple stripes underneath

Developers and Windows power users received a bunch of good news this week. For starters, Visual Studio 2022 17.4 is now generally available. It is supported on 64-bit Windows PCs and Macs, and is also the first release to natively support Arm64. This should bring better performance on that architecture.

The latest release of Visual Studio also coincides with the rollout of .NET 7 which features better performance, enhancements to .NET MAUI, built-in container support for the .NET SDK, Microsoft Orleans 7.0, and observability integrations, along with updates to C# 11 and F# 7 to make them more developer-friendly. The Visual Studio update also contains a very nifty capability to roll back to a previous version of the IDE if you're encountering any issues during development.

In the same vein, the .NET 7-powered PowerShell 7.3 is now available too. It packs improved error handling, session and remoting improvements, tab completion improvements, and updated cmdlets. And if you're a regular consumer who likes to get a bit more out of their Windows installation in terms of productivity, be sure to grab the latest version of PowerToys for some bug fixes.

Finally, for individuals and organizations investing time, effort, and money in Microsoft Azure, the company has released two next-gen VMs leveraging AMD's latest 4th gen EPYC processors, along with stretched clusters for Azure VMware Solution.

Microsoft 365 updates

Microsoft 365 app icon with Office apps arranged on the sides

There are quite a few updates on the Microsoft 365 side of the fence, too. Perhaps, the highlight of this section is that Microsoft 365 is getting some significant limitations soon. After February 2, 2023, Outlook attachments will count towards your OneDrive storage - but Microsoft will give you 50GB of free storage for a year to get accustomed to the change - and from November 30, 2023, it will not be possible to associate new personalized email addresses to your Outlook account.

The Microsoft 365 Current Channel netted build 15726.20202 with tons of fixes a few days ago too, while the Office app for iPhone received an update with a "modern look", which basically improves performance through redesigned context menus and ribbons based on Fluent Design principles.

There are a few updates for Microsoft Edge too. Microsoft has started testing a new touch mode for its browser in the Canary channel. It increases the size of some UI elements so that they are easier to interact with using a finger. Meanwhile, Edge also has a new Dev build in the form of version 109. It brings a new toggle for Internet Explorer mode, the option to open Sidebar games in a new tab, and several improvements for WebView2.

On the Teams side of things, the PWA version of the app is now officially supported on Linux. And if you can't spot the Teams meeting option in the Outlook desktop app, fret not because it's a known issue and Microsoft has published a workaround for those affected.

Finally, Microsoft has also launched an early preview of the Microsoft Create website. The Redmond tech giant touts it as the "ultimate creator launchpad" for making creative videos, graphic design documents, presentations, and more. There's no word yet on when the service will graduate from its preview stage.

Git gud

xbox controller on top of Windows 11

On the gaming front, a new survey from Microsoft indicates that the company is exploring options for users to lower graphical output in order to save energy during gaming sessions on the Xbox and Windows PC. The company hasn't officially confirmed that it is investigating this domain, so it's possible that this initiative doesn't see the light of day.

In a similar vein, Microsoft has rolled out DirectStorage 1.1 that further optimizes loads through GPU decompression. Nvidia has also released version 526.86 of its driver to offer improved support for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. On the other hand, Forza Horizon 5 now supports DLSS, FSR 2.2, and enhanced raytracing on PC.

Meanwhile, the European Commission (EC) seems to be on the warpath against Microsoft too, claiming that the Activision acquisition could harm competition in gaming. An in-depth investigation into the business deal is currently underway. Speaking of competition, Sony is seemingly readying a slimmer version of the PlayStation 5 to not only improve the current design, but also put up another SKU against the latest Xbox hardware.

In a bit of important news, Microsoft has finally acknowledged gaming performance issues with Windows 11 version 22H2 (also known as the Windows 11 2022 Update) on Nvidia GPUs. A compatibility hold has been applied in order to block the update on affected systems as the company works on a fix.

On the gaming deals side of things, you might be interested to know that Samsung is bundling three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and an Xbox Controller with select TVs. And if you'd like to grab some Xbox games on a discounted price, take a gander at the latest Xbox Free Play Days promotion with Overcooked! All You Can Eat, Just Die Already, and Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 on offer. Finally, if you're a PC gamer, don't miss out on this Weekend's PC Game Deals curated personally by our News Editor Pulasthi Ariyasinghe either.

Dev Channel

A glass computer running Windows 11

Under the spotlight

Virtual Desktops in Windows 11

Recently, our News Reporter Taras Buria penned an editorial saying that even though he loves the concept of virtual desktops as a way to enhance productivity, he thinks their implementation in Windows 11 is pretty awful. You can view his thoughts and reasoning for this stance here.

Task manager

Meanwhile, forum member Adam Bottjen published a guide explaining what to do if Windows randomly decides to become buggy and stop you from dragging and dropping apps on the Taskbar.

Bing Maps

Next, we have two guides from News Reporter Hemant Saxena. The first is about how you can restrict Windows from automatically updating offline maps, read it here.

FaceID lock for Notes app

Meanwhile, the other guide details the process to set up FaceID lock for the Notes app on your iPhone if you're particularly conscious about security and privacy.


Finally, Neowin co-founder Steven Parker published a very handy guide explaining how you can change the size of closed captions on your smart TV if you think that they're too big or too small for comfortable viewing.

Logging off

The FTX logo

Our most interesting news of the week relates to crypto exchange FTX filing for bankruptcy due to liquidity issues and mishandling of customer funds. Sam Bankman-Fried has stepped down as CEO, with John J. Ray III taking over his role. In terms of next steps, FTX Group's assets will be reviewed and monetized to benefit global stakeholders, which means that those with frozen assets could get some of their funds back. "Many" employees will retain their role during this transition period, but it's clear that this is a sinking ship and most will likely be looking for opportunities elsewhere.

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