Microsoft Weekly: An unlikely partnership, 1903's impending GA, and patches for all

Another week’s gone by, so let us once more look back at what’s happened with various Microsoft-related things these past seven days. Beyond the expected Patch Tuesday updates and the relatively minor May 2019 Update cumulative update, there was also an unexpected partnership with Sony that got unveiled. Be sure to find all that, and the usual bit extra, in your Microsoft digest for the week of May 11-17.

An unlikely partnership

While the May 2019 Update for PC hasn’t yet been made generally available, as we’ll see below (spoilers), folks with an Xbox One have been luckier. Though minor, the update does now allow you to see which platform your friends are playing on, brings message requests, and better sorting with “a”, “an”, as well as “the” not being taken into consideration in titles. As such, games like The Witcher will appear under W, not T.

If you’ve managed to get into the Skip Ahead subsection of the Alpha ring, you should now be getting a new 19H2 build, specifically 18362.7113 which brings improvements to the download queue. Now, you’ll be able to see how much time is left until the download finishes, as well as gaining the ability to move items up and down the queue.

In case you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription – which is likely if you game on Microsoft’s console -, you may want to check out The Golf Club 2019 featuring PGA Tour and Comic Jumper, both of which are free as part of Games with Gold.

As far as unreleased games are concerned, Gears 5 may be coming out in September, according to a leak. The anticipated release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection on PC, which was supposed to begin testing in April initially, now seems to potentially be headed for testing after E3, if 343 Industries community director Brian Jarrard’s comments on Reddit are any indication.

Adding to the pile of as of yet unreleased games, Mojang decided to celebrate Minecraft’s tenth anniversary with its own announcement of Minecraft Earth, a free-to-play, mobile augmented reality (AR) title. Available for iOS and Android, it’s supposed to kick off the closed beta sometime this summer.

Finally, I’ve left arguably the best for last, as reports have come in that pigs have started flying. And why is that, you ask? Well, Microsoft and Sony announced a “strategic partnership” whereby the two companies would jointly develop “future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure”, with Sony, in particular, exploring the use of “Azure datacenter-based solutions” for its own streaming offers. These streaming offers don’t just include entertainment like TV shows and movies, but also, most interesting in this case, games.

The partnership even extends to AI solutions, imaging sensors, and semiconductors, which is arguably the less interesting bit given the upcoming release of the Xbox Scarlett family of consoles and the PlayStation 5, all of which are expected to drop next year.

As Sony is absent from this year’s E3, and Microsoft’s Xbox Briefing is a little over three weeks away, this is definitely a surprising announcement.

1903’s impending GA

The May 2019 Update (or 19H1, or version 1903 if you prefer) has been in testing in the Release Preview ring for over a month, an approach which Microsoft took in light of the horrendous initial rollout of 1809.

Nevertheless, both the company and third-party partners are prepping for the imminent general availability of 1903, with AMD pushing out version 19.5.1 of its driver, and Intel releasing version 26.20.100.6861 of its DCH driver for Windows 10.

Besides AMD and Intel, Microsoft itself issued a cumulative update, as build 18362.113 made its way to both Insiders in the Slow and Release Preview rings. This one includes protections for MDS vulnerabilities, patches for the issue that caused IE’s performance to decrease when using roaming profiles, as well as a fix for the cell size bug with MS UI Gothic and MS PGothic fonts. This build also comes with a known issue in regards to Windows Defender Application Guard and Windows Sandbox, both of which may spit out error "0x800705b4" upon launch after installing this update.

Since 1903 was not made generally available on Patch Tuesday this past week, it’s likely that either the 21st or the 28th are the most likely candidate dates, with the 28th, in particular, being very probable. This is due to Microsoft’s “late May” phrasing on availability. Until then, you may want to check out our spotlight of the features that 1903 brings to the table.

Patches for all

As this week was the second Tuesday of the month, all supported versions of Windows received patches. Starting with Windows 10, these are:

  • October 2018 Update (1809): KB4494441, build 17763.503 – enables “Retpoline” by default if protections for Spectre V2 are present; adds protections against Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) vulnerabilities; adds “uk.gov” to the HTTP Top Level Domains (HSTS TLD) in Edge and IE; patches issue which caused “Error 1309” when installing certain .msi or .msp files on a virtual drive; fixes the issue which prevented Visual Studio Simulator from starting; provides security updates for Edge, IE, the Scripting Engine, App Platform and Frameworks, Graphics, Storage and Filesystems, JET Database Engine, and more.
    • Known issues: PXE boot issues on devices with WDS servers configured to use Variable Window Extension; Operations like rename may fail when performed on files or folders within a Cluster Shared Volume (STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL 0xC00000A5); Some Asian language packs installed may receive error 0x800f0982 after installing KB4493509; Attempting to print from Edge or a UWP app will give you this error: “Your printer has experienced an unexpected configuration problem. 0x80070007e”.
  • April 2018 Update (1803): KB4499167, build 17134.765 – broadly the same changelog as 1809, save for enabling Retpoline.
    • Known issues: PXE boot issues on devices with WDS servers configured to use Variable Window Extension; Operations like rename may fail when performed on files or folders within a Cluster Shared Volume (STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL 0xC00000A5).
  • Fall Creators Update (1709): KB4499179, build 16299.1146 – same changelog as 1803.
    • Known issues: Operations like rename may fail when performed on files or folders within a Cluster Shared Volume (STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL 0xC00000A5).
  • Creators Update (1703): KB4499181, build 15063.1805 – same changelog as 1803 and 1709.
    • Known issues: Operations like rename may fail when performed on files or folders within a Cluster Shared Volume (STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL 0xC00000A5); Some gov.uk sites that don’t support HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) may not be accessible through IE11 or Edge after this update.
  • Creators Update Mobile (1703): KB4500154, build 15254.566 – identical changelog to the desktop equivalent.
  • Anniversary Update LTSC (1607), Server 2016: KB4494440, build 14393.2969 – the same changelog as versions 1803, 1709, and 1703.
    • Known issues: PXE boot issues on devices with WDS servers configured to use Variable Window Extension; Operations like rename may fail when performed on files or folders within a Cluster Shared Volume (STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL 0xC00000A5); In addition, there are two other ones: one relates to the ‘2245 (NERR_PasswordTooShort)’ error after installing KB4467684, while the other relates to SCVMM being unable to enumerate and manage local switches on the host post-update.
  • Windows 10 RTM LTSC (1507): KB4499154, build 10240.18215 – broadly the same changelog as the ones above, with the exception of the fixes in Excel for cell size when using MS UI Gothic or MS PGothic, as well as improving performance for case-insensitive string comparison functions like as_stricmp().
    • Known issues: Operations like rename may fail when performed on files or folders within a Cluster Shared Volume (STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL 0xC00000A5).

Folks on Windows 7 and 8.1 were treated to some updates as well, and these are:

  • Windows 8.1, Server 2012 R2: KB4499151 – essentially identical to the 1607 and up changelogs. The security-only updates is KB4499165.
    • Known issues: PXE boot issues on devices with WDS servers configured to use Variable Window Extension ; Operations like rename may fail when performed on files or folders within a Cluster Shared Volume (STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL 0xC00000A5); Microsoft and McAfee have identified an issue on devices with McAfee Endpoint Security (ENS) Threat Prevention 10.x or Host Intrusion Prevention 8.0, or VirusScan Enterprise 8.8 which causes the system to start up slowly or become unresponsive at restart.
  • Windows 7 SP1, Server 2008 R2: KB4499164 – along with the patches for MDS vulnerabilities, the cell size fix in Excel, the patch for Visual Studio Simulator, as well as a number of security updates, there’s also a fix for an issue which prevented applications that rely on unconstrained delegation from authenticating after the expiration of the Kerberos ticket-granting ticket. The security-only update is KB4499175.
    • Known issues: Microsoft and McAfee have identified an issue on devices with McAfee Endpoint Security (ENS) Threat Prevention 10.x or Host Intrusion Prevention 8.0, or VirusScan Enterprise 8.8 which causes the system to start up slowly or become unresponsive at restart.

Besides the regular versions of Windows, Insiders in the Fast ring picked up an update too, with build 18898 of the 20H1 branch dropping last Wednesday. It includes a small, though reasonably useful change which now makes Task Manager’s Performance Tab display the type of storage you have, be it SSD or HDD.

The number of fixes amounts to three, with issues causing high hitting DWM crashes and high hitting explorer.exe crashes due to pcshell.dll, as well as those which caused updated Japanese IME settings to never be applied to certain apps now being a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, the list of known issues is longer, and it includes the perennial favorites like anti-cheat software causing problems and the Realtek SD card readers not functioning properly, while also adding things like search results not being visible in an enhanced session remote desktop VM, or Night Light not turning on if the device has fast startup enabled. Again, this update is slated to arrive early next year, so there’s plenty of time for these things to be ironed out.

Devs may want to check out the new SDK preview which dropped, namely build 18894. Despite not bringing much to the table besides a few API additions, it’s worth having a gander at for those interested.

The Fast ring

Hot corner

Hot corner is a section of The Fast ring dedicated to highlighting five Microsoft-related stories that haven’t been covered over here, but might be of interest.

Logging off

Ending this column is a bit of news concerning Windows 10 on Chromebooks, something which seemed to be close to reality, but is apparently not happening.

Developed under the Project Campfire codename, the feature would’ve been called Alt OS and would’ve required about 40GB of storage to enable dual boot. Changes the Chromium Gerritt – the code collaboration tool in use – have indicated that Alt OS has been deprecated, so it’s unlikely that Google is completely dedicated to it.

The lack of mention during even the company’s I/O 2019 conference further cements that the likelihood of this surfacing is very low. That said, it could be that the firm may be working on a different implementation.

Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.

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