Following the slight decrease in the volume of news due to Thanksgiving week, the pace has picked back up in the run-up to Christmas. This week saw the release of a number of games to Microsoft’s Game Pass subscription, the release of a new Feature Experience Pack on Windows 10, and more. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of November 29 – December 5.
Control on Game Pass
After being teased a few days ago, the day has finally arrived when Remedy’s Control has debuted on Game Pass.
Among the titles already added are the aforementioned Control (on Android phones via xCloud and Xbox), Doom Eternal on PC, Haven on Xbox and PC, Rage 2 on Android via xCloud, Slime Rancher on Android and Xbox, Va-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action on PC, as well as Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – DE on Xbox and PC.
Moving on to forthcoming titles, you’ll be able to play Call of the Sea on Android, Xbox, and PC starting December 8, with Monster Sanctuary making its way to Android and Xbox, and Starbound to PC on the same day.
December 9 will bring Unto The End to Xbox and PC, with the day after that making Assetto Corsa available on Android and Xbox, Gang Beasts on the same two platforms, GreedFall on Android, Xbox, and PC, and Superhot: Mind Control Delete on Xbox and Android.
Finally, landing on the same day across all three platforms is also Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair.
If you’re on the PC version of Game Pass, EA Play for PC is being integrated into the subscription starting December 15.
There are of course some games leaving the subscription, including eFootball PES 2020 from Xbox on December 11. On December 15, Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker and Untitled Goose Game will be leaving the console subscription, with Infinifactory and Metro: Last Light Redux being taken off the PC subscription. Additionally, Age of Wanders: Planetfall, MudRunner, Pathologic 2, The Turning Test, and Ticket to Ride will all be taken off both the PC and console subscriptions.
It's also worth mentioning that the $1 for three months of Game Pass Ultimate offer is in full swing, but it’ll be available for a limited time.
In case the above titles just aren’t enough, there’s Doom Eternal on the Switch, The Rave Remastered and Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell as freebies with Games with Gold, next-gen enhancements and a Lethal difficulty mode for State of Decay 2, a new battle pass coming to Sea of Thieves in 2021, and more.
In terms of platform features, the November 2020 Xbox Console Update has started rolling out, adding more dynamic backgrounds, a new tag in the Guide to denote Auto HDR games, a new badge for Series X|S optimized games, and more. There’s also a new Xbox Insider Hub app, coupled with a Report a problem app, and the fact that Microsoft has acquired Smash.gg, an esports platform for gaming tournaments. Let’s hope the latter ends up in a better place than Mixer.
We’ve seen builds of Windows 10 that brought new features, we’ve seen those that have brought only fixes, now it’s finally time to get the features without needing to go to a new build.
Specifically, this is done via Microsoft’s Windows Feature Experience Pack. If you’re in the Beta channel, you’ll see Feature Experience Pack version 120.2212.1070.0 come through, which adds the ability to use Snip & Sketch (Windows+Shift+S) to create a screenshot and paste it directly into a folder in File Explorer, which is then going to save the screenshot in that location. Additionally, a split keyboard mode is available for the touch keyboard if you use it in the portrait orientation on a 2-in-1 device.
As far as the folks in the Dev channel are concerned, build 20270 was pushed out to them, adding the same split keyboard feature from the Beta channel Feature Pack, as well as fixing a couple of UI issues. There are of course still some known issues, like the update process hanging for extended periods of time.
Last but not least, there’s the cumulative update for those on Windows 10 v2004 (May 2020 Update) or 20H2 (October 2020 Update). Found in the Knowledge Base under KB4586853, this one bumps the revision number to 19041.662 for v2004 and 19042.662 on 20H2. It is in fact the same cumulative update released to Insiders, including an impressive range of fixes related to UI, IMEs, and more.
Keep in mind that the update above does have two known issues, one relating to the Japanese and Chinese IMEs, and one to user certificates. It is however optional, so you can choose to not install it until it gets rolled into the mandatory Patch Tuesday update.
Various Insider builds
Besides Windows, Microsoft of course has Insider programs for pretty much everything under the sun (and then some).
If you’re using Edge in the Dev channel, build 88.0.705.9 came out this week with improvements to the History menu, the ability for the browser to generate new passwords, Picture in Picture support on macOS, a new policy to allow vertical tabs and much more.
For Insiders using Your Phone, there’s now the ability to delete device photos directly from the app, with the possibility to access your contacts from the app – via dedicated tab – coming a little later.
As far as Office Insiders on iOS are concerned, the Presenter Coach feature has made its way to PowerPoint, allowing folks – as of version 2.44 / build 20112905 – to practice presentations while being given tips and guides on how to keep attendees interested. Support for animated GIFs is also now present in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel, with Outlook getting support for Play My Email on iPadOS and the unified Office app gaining the ability to filter content on the home page by type.
- Microsoft has highlighted key items that the COVID-19 vaccine management platforms should include.
- The Redmond giant has teamed up with Code.org to teach students how AI works.
- Microsoft has surfaced all the features added to Teams in November, with CarPlay support also being announced.
- Due to privacy concerns, Microsoft is changing its Productivity Score.
- If you buy a year of Microsoft 365, Amazon is giving away a $50 gift card.
- The ability to automatically configure template app installation is now supported by Power BI.
- You can now pin shared folders in OneDrive to ‘My files’.
- UNICEF and Microsoft have announced the anti-violence tool Primero X.
- Possible Surface Laptop 4 and Pro 8 benchmarks have been spotted.
- Excel now gives you the option to create custom functions with LAMBDA.
- Cortana now has a new File skill.
- Microsoft has announced its new data governance platform, Azure Purview.
- The Redmond firm has highlighted some of the innovative ways in which ElectionGuard is being used.
- New firmware and driver updates have been released for the fifth and sixth-gen Surface Pros as well as the Laptop 1 and Laptop 2.
We end the column with a new holiday commercial from Microsoft.
Although video embeds are usually eschewed for this column, this time we can make an exception, seeing as the whole point of it is to be seen rather than described. The ad features scenes from Minecraft, Flight Simulator, a cameo from the Chief, as well as an array of furry friends. And yes, for XP fans, Bliss makes an appearance as well. Check it out below:
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.