Microsoft Weekly: Edge of the menu, the build that got away, and redesigned gaming

This week has been a bit more quiet than usual, with the exception of a leaked 20H1 build that shouldn’t have been available to the public, an announcement of a redesign for the Xbox dashboard, and some more tidbits about Edge. You can find that – as well as the usual little bit extra – below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of July 20-26.

Edge of the menu

Whether you were fond of the name or not, there’s no denying that the Edge browser – specifically the one codenamed Project Spartan -, hasn’t exactly taken off in terms of user adoption. That said, Microsoft has been working on its Chromium-based version of Edge for a while, which naturally prompted the question of whether Spartan Edge would be replaced by Chromium Edge. This week, we got a bit of an answer in this regard.

As tested on build Windows 10 build 18362.266 in the Release Preview ring, when the OS detects that you have Chromium Edge installed, it’ll simply hide Spartan Edge from the Start menu. This is most likely a bit of a stopgap solution until old Edge is removed – likely when Microsoft is satisfied with the number of features ported over.

If you’ve decided Chromium Edge is good enough to use day-to-day, you’ll be happy to know the weekly Edge Dev build is out, specifically version 77.0.233.0. Among the smorgasbord of improvements, there’s now an option to clear browsing data when exiting the browser.

As you may remember, a couple of weeks ago, folks were able to make IE Mode work in Chromium Edge by enabling the relevant flag. That option is now gone, as according to Sean Lyndersay, a PM on the Edge team, this is an enterprise feature.

We end this section with a bit of good news though, as according to a new commit to Chromium, a button will be added to show or hide your password when you type it in. The earliest time we’d be able to see it implemented across Chromium-based browsers (so Edge Chromium too) is probably version 78 that’s scheduled to land in September.

The build that got away

Unlike what Microsoft would’ve wanted to have happened, this past week an internal build was accidentally pushed to Insiders, revealing an interesting visual change for the Start menu. Until we get into that one though, let’s take a look at a couple of additional patches pushed out to the October 2018 Update and May 2019 Update, respectively. These are:

  • May 2019 Update (1903): KB4505903, build 18362.267 – patches a Windows Hello face recognition bug, enhances Edge PDF handling, fixes colour display on 10-bit panels, fixes issues with display brightness after resuming from Sleep or Hibernation, improves Bluetooth audio quality, improves Window-Eyes screen reader compatibility, and simplifies the Windows Ink Workspace menu.
    • Known issues: Windows Sandbox may fail to start with “ERROR_FILE_NOT_FOUND (0x80070002)” on devices on which the OS language has been changed during the install process; Devices that start up using PXE images from WDS or SCCM may fail to start with error “Status: 0xc0000001, Info: A required devices isn’t connected or can’t be accessed”; Devices that are connected to a domain configured to use MIT Kerberos reals may encounter problems – do not install on such devices at this time.
  • October 2018 Update (1809): KB4505658, build 17763.652 – includes a fix for the IE freezing issue when you drag out a tab to create a new window, fixes newly installed or updated apps not appearing in Windows search, makes sure the Save and Save As options in Office 2010 work as intended in High Contrast mode, fixes an issue related to application file, folder, and device settings management, improves Window-Eyes screen reader app compatibility, fixes an issue with app permissions not carrying over when resetting a device, and finally, it improves the upgrade experience from Windows 10 1703.
    • Known issues: Operations like rename may fail when performed on files or folders within a Cluster Shared Volume (STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL 0xC00000A5); After installing KB4493509, devices with some Asian language packs may get error “0x800f0982 – PSFX_E_MATCHING_COMPONENT_NOT_FOUND.”; A small number of devices may experience startup to a black screen during first logon – restarting the system should fix the problem; Devices that start up using PXE images from WDS or SCCM may fail to start with error “Status: 0xc0000001, Info: A required devices isn’t connected or can’t be accessed”.

As alluded to in the first paragraph, Microsoft accidentally rolled out build 18947 to all rings of the Insider program, pretty much to everybody’s surprise. The reasonably concerning bit of news related to this leak was that 18947 was (or rather, is) in fact a canary build – meaning it hadn’t been even tested internally prior to the leak.

Even though the build was pulled quite quickly from Windows Update, we did get to have a look through, which unveiled a brand-new Start menu layout. Given the look, this is likely to be what Windows Lite (or whatever it ends up being called) will use. Not to worry, the current layout is still available, at least for now. If you’ve accidentally gotten this build, here’s how you can roll back.

Moving swiftly onto builds that the Insider team actually meant to push out, folks in the Fast ring got to play with build 18945, which brought in a new Cortana app, enhancements to accessibility and WSL2, as well as the improved Windows search experience.

As far as fixes go, those mostly revolved around better reliability, and, presumably on a related note, there’s a new Provide Feedback option when right clicking a process in the Details tab in Task Manager. Additionally, install failures with code c1900101 should no longer take place.

The list of known issues is identical to previous builds – including the Realtek SD card bug, the anti-cheat software bug, Tamper Protection potentially being turned off, etc. – so there’s not much to say there.

If you’re an Insider and make use of the Your Phone app, you can now also take advantage of the newly added dual SIM support.

For their part, Microsoft To-Do users in the Fast ring got a new feature dubbed the rich entry bar – which no, you don’t need to be well-off to use. It’ll work in a similar to way to the mini toolbar that pops up when selecting something in an Office app, allowing you to set reminders, choose a due date, and more. In case you’re using the beta version of the app on Android, you can now add task list groups, and tasks that were assigned to you now appear in the sidebar.

Closing off this section is preview version 1907 of Windows Admin Center – previously Project Honolulu -, which unlike 1903, is more of an iterative release. Version 1907 includes better Performance Profiles, renaming of VMs during the import process, the ability to tag VMs in clusters, and better integration with Azure cost estimates. Among the known issues there are potentially issues with folks accessing Admin Center via Chrome.

Redesigned gaming

One of Microsoft’s user-facing components that has received arguably the most tweaks across its time in the market has been the Xbox One Dashboard. From its Windows 8-inspired beginnings to the current, more Fluent Design-influenced appearance, it’s been through its fair share of design tweaks. For fans of this sort of thing, there’s another design tweak on the way.

As revealed by Xbox’s Brad Rossetti, the tabs at the top – called Twists – will be ditched in favor of simple buttons for Game Pass, Mixer, the Xbox Community and the Store. The ability to use Cortana voice commands through your headset will also be going away, and all this will hopefully translate into increased performance. The new experience has already rolled out to about 50% of Insiders in the Alpha ring via build 18362.6049, and 50% of Skip Ahead insiders via build 18363.7046. Everybody will most likely be able to use it this fall.

Keeping the theme of design, Microsoft is set to also release a purple Fortnite-themed controller on September 17, which will cost $64.99, and there are cosmetic microtransactions coming to Sea of Thieves. Exactly when these premium cosmetics will land hasn’t been shared yet.

Moving onto game releases, the second Gears 5 Tech Test is now in full swing, and you’ll be able to participate until July 29 if you have Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass. Moving on to another (now) first-party title, Pillars of Eternity, Obsidian’s acclaimed cRPG, is coming to the Switch on August 8 as Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition.

Lastly, two bits of re-release news. First off there’s the re-release of the first three Doom titles, which will are now available on all consoles as well as mobile platforms. Second, there’s Two Point Hospital, which is headed for release on all current-gen consoles in late 2019.

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

The end of the column brings with it a bit of a weird change to the online Office offerings, an interesting duo of patents, and an unreleased Windows phone.

We begin with Office Online which will no longer be called that, but instead it’ll just be Office. In some ways it makes sense that Microsoft is rebranding Word, PowerPoint, and Excel by ditching the ‘online’ suffix, as those three were the only ones to use that naming scheme out of their entire offering. OneNote, for example, was simply that. OneNote. Either way, the Redmond giant will seek to not make things confusing at all by referring to what was formerly Office Online as Office on the web.

In slightly more exciting news, Microsoft has patented a multi-dimensional sensor for wearables, which is possibly odd, given that it dropped its wearable efforts back in 2016. The company has however stated that whatever comes of this patent could integrate with consumer-level devices like wearables and phones. Given the use cases of the HoloLens, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the next generation made use of aspects described in this patent too.

Another patent the firm has filed is in regards to what’s called an intelligent file targeting system. This is allegedly meant to improve user interaction and could no doubt be used in content suggestion, much in the way autocomplete works for bookmarked links in browsers.

And lastly, recently leaked pictures have showed off a cancelled Windows phone from HP, allegedly the Pro x3. Given its specs, it seemed to be a lower-end variant of the Elite x3, though it doesn’t really matter now, as the OS is well and truly dead at this point.

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

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