Microsoft Weekly: dead Surface, dead Cortana, not dead Windows 7, scared WinRAR, and more

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The week of May 29, 2023, was less jam-packed with Microsoft news than the one filled with announcements before it. Still, we had a few significant developments, exciting stories, app updates, preview builds, broken releases, and all the other good stuff happening in the Microsoft world 24/7/365. Let's catch up with the news in the latest Microsoft Weekly issue.

Windows 11 rises as its performance improves.

As usual, the last seven days were packed with Windows 11 news. Microsoft revealed performance improvements in the latest feature update, giving users one more reason to move from Windows 10 to 11. In addition to the "Moment 3" update, the company pushed a configuration update to make your Windows 11 PC run faster.

A Windows 11 logo surrounded by thumb up emojis

To help you monitor those sweet performance gains, Microsoft released a new set of Windows Widgets. They let you track CPU, GPU, RAM, network, and other performance-related metrics without launching Task Manager or Game Bar. Learn how to enable the new performance-monitoring widgets in Windows 11 in our guide.

A screenshot showing how to add performance monitoring widgets in Windows 11

Valve and Statcounter published monthly reports showing Windows 11's latest developments and the ever-growing market share. Valve claims 34% of Steam customers already run Windows 11, while Statcounter's data show a more modest picture and less-impressive gains on the global market.

RIP, Cortana

Microsoft is finally ready to put its ill-fated voice assistant to its final rest. A note on the official Microsoft Support website reveals that the Cortana app for Windows will reach its end of life in late 2023. However, the assistant will continue living as a digital assistant in Outlook and Microsoft Teams on mobile.

microsoft cortana logo in black and white

Microsoft is getting ready to ship Windows Copilot, so there is no more place for Cortana. Rest in peace!

Surface moment.

Last week marked the end of support for the second-generation Surface Book. Released in late 2017, this weird laptop-tablet combo introduced two screen sizes, better internals, and other hardware improvements. The end of support means the device will no longer receive new drivers, security fixes, and firmware updates. Still, the Surface Book 2 will continue getting Windows 10 and 11 updates.

Two Surface Book 2 next to each other with Surface Dial and Surface Pen

Besides ending support for its second-gen Surface Book, Microsoft released new firmware for the original Surface Duo and its successor. Like the most recent releases, the May 2023 update is boring and does not contain new features or device-specific changes. However, there is an unexpected twist: users noticed that installing the update causes their dual-screen smartphones from Microsoft to reboot randomly.

Apps, end of support, updates, and more.

Firefox and Windows 7 kick off the apps section with some good news: those unable to move on from Windows 7/8/8.1 can still access the internet using a supported browser. Firefox finally revealed the final end-of-support date for its browser on now-dead operating systems, giving users more than one year of security updates.

Those using Microsoft Teams for work-related communications should prepare for a notable change: Microsoft revealed that the revamped Teams 2.0 would soon become the default Teams client on its modern Windows versions. The new Teams does not support all the classic features, so Microsoft waits for the feature parity to update the default experience on Windows 10 and 11.

New Microsoft Teams

Another notable first-party app update is Microsoft Edge: the browser was updated to version 114 with support for the recently announced Workspaces feature. And although Microsoft continuously updates its browser with new features, its market share, according to Statcounter, remains somewhat stalled.

The news about Microsoft implementing RAR support natively in File Explorer could not go unnoticed by WinRAR. The company recently revealed it is honored by Microsoft's decision, but a later tweet with the "this is fine" meme showed that the company is concerned, to put it mildly. By the way, RAR is not the only archive-related news this week: Microsoft has added ZIP install support to winget, Windows 11's built-in package manager.

It is also worth mentioning the release of 64-bit tiny10 23H1. It is modified with ISO with unnecessary components removed, resulting in a slim, easy-on-resources installation with support for updates and the core components.

Windows 10s original stock wallpaper with tiny10 superimposed

Here are other notable app updates from the last week:

On the less-exciting news side, users discovered another stock Windows 11 app infected with ads. This time, the Get Help program fell victim to Microsoft's ongoing ad campaign. Need help? Here's a Microsoft Teams ad.

Windows and other insiders

Let's discuss Microsoft's insider programs and the updates they offered this week.

Windows Insider:

This week's honorable mention goes to Paint and the feature it finally received after two years of waiting: dark mode. Microsoft is finally rolling out the long-promised dark mode support and improved zoom controls.

Microsoft Paint dark mode

Edge Insider:

Xbox Insider:

Games, games, games.

We had a few notable gaming stories worth recapping. Xbox Game Pass, for example, received a fresh drop of games. You will soon get access to The Bunker, Car Mechanic Simulator, Farworld Pioneers, and more.

Xbox Game Pass June wave 1

Also, Microsoft revealed new games for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. Those two titles are Adios and The Vale: Shadow of the Crown. But that is not all for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. If you pay for multiplayer on your Xbox console, check out this week's deals with gold that slash 90% off Assassin's Creed Origins and other fantastic games.

No week goes by without news about the ever-going and troublesome Microsoft-ABK deal. This time, South Korea approved the merger, joining the other instances from other countries willing to give the purchase the thumbs up. Another report revealed that Microsoft's appeal of the CMA's deal-breaking rejection could happen in late July.

A few words about AI

Like the Windows Insider program, every week brings news about Microsoft's latest AI developments and Bing Chat improvements. In addition to preparing the promised plugin rollout, Microsoft is getting ready to allow third-party browsers access to Bing Chat. Currently, you can only access the service from Microsoft Edge.

A Bing Chat logo next to Microsoft Edge Logo

Also, the company increased Bing Chat's daily turns to 300 and in-session turns to 30, allowing customers to speak with the AI-powered thingy more. Also, the built-in Image Creator now supports two extra modes: Precise and Balanced.

It is worth reminding that AI magic requires immense and ever-growing amounts of computing power, so Microsoft continues investing in the infrastructure. According to a report from CNBC, the company has signed a deal with CoreWeave to ensure that OpenAI's ChatGPT has enough juice to continue operating.

More interesting read and trivia.

Last week, Fiza Ali published an editorial detailing the importance of evaluating Microsoft's AI-related claims and addressing potential concerns that rise higher as we move into the AI-driven future (it is now officially "taking our jerbs!"). John Callaham made another look-back story dedicated to the legendary Intel 8088 CPU launched 44 years ago.

Intel 8088 processor

Speaking of AI, someone has finally put the power of artificial intelligence to good use: check out these AI-generated wallpapers, finally revealing what is beneath the Windows 11's stock wallpaper.

Logging off

Intel NUC 13 Pro

Neowin's co-founder and head-honcho posted up a review on Monday taking a look at the Intel NUC 13 Pro, which he found to be a great device. If you aren't interested in wading through ten pages of benchmark graphs and scientific analysis then you should definitely give this a look.

Until next week, toodle-oo folks.

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That is all for this week's Microsoft Weekly. You can check out previous episodes of the series and subscribe to our newsletter to get news and other stories delivered to your inbox.

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