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Microsoft Weekly: Edgehog, a new antitrust investigation, fresh Windows 11 builds, and more

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In this issue of Microsoft Weekly: Microsoft's latest financial reports, new Windows 11 builds in the Canary, Dev, and Beta Channels, Edge's new cute mascot, an antitrust investigation in the EU, and a bunch of reviews.

Table of contents:

  1. FY23 Q4 financial report
  2. Windows 11—updates and new features
  3. Updates, people, updates!
  4. Gaming news
  5. Reviews, trivia, and more fun read
  6. Random fact about Microsoft

Financial report and a new antitrust investigation

This week, Microsoft announced its latest financial numbers (the fourth quarter of its 2023 fiscal year). The company's revenue rose 8% and reached $56.2 billion, with net income at $20.1 billion (20% up compared to the same period one year ago).

According to the report, almost all Microsoft divisions experienced healthy growth, with only the More Personal Computing part (Windows OEM, devices, and Xbox) going down 4%. You can find more details in our dedicated report.

Microsoft logo symbol (monochrome) on orange and light grey background

Another big Microsoft story from this week is about a new antitrust investigation by the European Commission, the EU's regulatory body. It has been rumored to happen for a long time, and now the watchdog is about to investigate if bundling Microsoft Teams with Microsoft 365 violates competition rules.

Windows 11—updates and new features

If you are still using Windows 10 and unsure if you should upgrade, Microsoft's free virtual machines may help you decide. The company has updated its Windows 11 development environment, a set of virtual machines available for free for 90 days.

Those VMs are available in four formats, and they allow previewing everything the operating system has in store (based on the latest feature and cumulative updates), plus its developer tools for creating Windows apps.

Windows 11's Start menu is a highly controversial piece many users openly hate (you can make it better using one of the apps I recommended in my "Top 10 apps to fix Windows 11's inconveniences" article), and the "Recommended" section is undoubtedly the biggest offender.

Although we still cannot disable the area without third-party apps, the company at least tries to make the feature more useful. In the latest preview build from the Dev Channel, users discovered a neat feature: hover the cursor over a recommended file to see its preview.

Build 23506 Recommended section shows file information on mouse hover

Another great addition to Windows 11 is improvements for virtual desktops. Microsoft has updated the release notes for build 23506 (released last week) to mention a new virtual desktop indicator and return of the "sliding animation" when switching between desktops.

Insiders can try AI-generated review summaries Microsoft announced earlier this year at the Build conference. The feature can spare you from scrolling through hundreds of reviews to learn what other people think about a specific program or game. AI-generated summaries are now available to insiders in every preview channel. Here is an example:

Users love Clipchamp for its ease of use and variety of editing tools. It's a great option for beginners and offers a lot of great features for social media content creation. Despite some glitches and issues, it is a solid editor for anyone getting started with video editing. Recommended for those who want to make simple to intermediate content for YouTube Shorts, Tik Tok, and Instagram.

Reviewers liked these features:

Easy, Variety, Social Media.

A screenshot of the Microsoft Store with a review summary generated by AI

Finally, Microsoft announced new payment methods coming to the Microsoft Store in more regions. Users in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, German, France, Spain, and Italy can use PayPal's buy now, pay later service and split their purchases into four interest-free payments over six weeks. Also, users in the United States will soon be able to use Venmo to purchase digital content in the Microsoft Store.

The last week of a month also means it is time for those willing to take a risk to install non-security cumulative updates for Windows 10 and 11. The following updates are now available for download:

It is worth noting that KB5027303 and KB5028244 introduced a bug causing problems with VC-1 and WVC1 codec playback on specific systems. However, Microsoft was able to identify the issue quickly and undo the damage using the Known Issue Rollback technique. Also, you may encounter problems opening the Start menu after installing KB5028254—Microsoft says the menu may not open on devices with some third-party UI customization apps, such as the updated this week ExplorerPatcher.

Windows Insider Program

Here is everything new in the Windows Insider program this week:

In addition to releasing new preview builds, Microsoft announced an upcoming Bug Bash, a special event for tracking Windows bugs. The next Bug Bash will start on August 2, 2023, signaling the forthcoming release of Windows 11 version 23H2.

Updates, people, updates!

Let's kick off the updates section with Surface firmware. This week, Microsoft updated several Surface devices, adding new features and critical fixes.

Sadly, things are looking grim for the Surface Duo, the only non-Windows device under the Surface brand. According to a recently published report, Microsoft discontinued the Surface Duo 2.

This means the company is no longer producing its quirky dual-screen smartphones, plus users should not get their hopes too high regarding software support. Chances are that the smartphone will remain stuck on Android 12L despite an extra year of support.

A photo of several Surface Duo 2 smartphones in various positions

Now to apps and new features in the latest updates. Microsoft announced a new set of keyboard shortcuts for selecting graphics in Word Online.

New shortcuts will make using the app more convenient, plus improve accessibility for those having trouble controlling their computer with a mouse or trackpad. As a reminder, check out this article covering eleven must-know shortcuts in Windows 11.

Another Office-related update is about Outlook: a newly published Microsoft 365 Admin Center message revealed Microsoft's plans to migrate some Mail & Calendar users to the new Outlook for Windows app. Initially, Microsoft wanted to replace the old app "before the end of 2024," but now some customers should prepare for a much sooner upgrade.

However, not all Outlook-related news is negative: Microsoft resolved an issue breaking links in Outlook this week. The problem has been fixed in KB5002427 and KB5002423.

Outlook for windows

This week brought us improvements for Bing Chat: the service is now available in Chrome and Safari, so you are no longer forced into Microsoft Edge (other browsers use tricky techniques to bypass the artificial limitation). Another great change is dark mode support, now rolling out to customers.

And speaking of Edge, Microsoft finally released a new feature for its browser to test in the Dev Channel. Edge 117 Dev is now available with various fixes and minor improvements. Also, Microsoft launched a promo campaign featuring a new Microsoft Edge mascot—Edgehog.

Edge's Twitter X account is now full of cute videos with a hedgehog roaming around the company's HQ. Some thought Microsoft is teasing a potential merger with Sega, but it is all just about the Edge browser.

On the third-party side, we have Rufus 4.2, an update for one of the most popular tools for creating bootable Windows media. The latest release adds ZIP64 support (you can work with images larger than 4GB), VHDX and FFU compatibility, plus several notable fixes to improve the experience on different platforms. Rufus 4.2 is now available for free on the official website.

A screenshot of the Rufus app and version number 42 next to it

Gaming news

In another jenius move, Elon Musk rebranded Twitter to just X, replacing the iconic bird logo with an unapologetically dull X logo. Xbox fans immediately spotted an impostor: the new "logo" looks too familiar to Microsoft's Xbox Series X badge. If you are an Android user, here is a guide describing how to get the old Twitter logo back.

Interestingly, X Corp may encounter legal troubles with renaming Twitter as the "X" trademark belongs to Microsoft and Meta. It seems that Elon will not be able to get away as easily as it was with taking away the @x profile on Twitter. Another weird side effect of the uncalled rebranding is Microsoft Edge thinking Twitter is now a website that tries to mislead its visitors by changing its favicon.

microsoft xbox series x

The controversial Twitter rebrand is not the only story that stinks: Microsoft revealed a special pizza-scented (insert a vomit emoji here) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles controller. For better or for worse, this limited gamepad is not on sale. Instead, you can win one by retweeting or reexing (???) an Xbox Game Pass post. The contest runs throughout August 13, 2023.

xbox teenage mutant ninja turtles controller

Like Windows, Microsoft's consoles have their preview program, allowing gamers to test early Xbox updates. This week, insiders in the Alpha and Alpha Skip Ahead rings received a substantial feature for mapping keyboard keys to controller buttons.

It is available for those using the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 and the Xbox Adaptive Controller. Upgrade your console to the latest preview version and head to the Xbox Accessories app to get started.

Those preferring stable Xbox updates also have an update to install: Microsoft started rolling out a revamped Home page design for Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles.

The new version features a quick-access menu for a faster way to browse your game library and access the Microsoft Store, Xbox Game Pass, Search, and Settings. Also, you will find recent Xbox apps and other content at the bottom of the Home screen. The redesigned Home page is now rolling out gradually. Microsoft says all users should get the update in the next few weeks.

Microsoft xbox home experience

Other notable gaming news includes a world update for Microsoft Flight Simulator and new Starfield-themed animated short videos. Microsoft Flight Simulator's latest update introduces improved Eastern Europe scenery, and The Settled Systems: A Starfield Animated Anthology series offers some backstory for the upcoming sci-fi RPG from Bethesda.

Microsoft Flight Simulator World Update XIV screenshot

As usual, finishing the gaming section with a bunch of freebies and discounted games:

It is worth noting that August 2023 is the final month for the Games with Gold program. Last week, Microsoft announced the end of the Xbox Live Gold brand, which the Xbox Game Pass Core tier will soon replace.

Besides console multiplayer, XGPC will provide access to a couple of dozen of games. However, gamers should kiss goodbye to the long-standing Games with Gold program.

Another thing Xbox users should kiss goodbye to is third-party emulators. A new report emerged about Microsoft blocking gamers with emulators installed on their retail Xbox consoles. If you do not want to get a 15-day suspension from Microsoft, you better delete those NES emulators from your console as soon as possible.

Reviews, trivia, and more fun read

Steven Parker published a review of the TerraMaster F4-423, the cheapest media-class 4-bay network-attached storage on the market. He praised the device's affordability, solid quality build and decent looks, dual 2.5GbE NIC, quiet operation, and more.

Naturally, no device is perfect, especially when you aim for the lowest price, so be sure to read the review to learn more.

terramaster f4-423

Steven also reviewed the GEEKOM AS 5, another mini-sized PC powered by AMD's fifth-generation mobile Ryzen processors. The computer offers plenty of power for its price and size, plus you get multiple ports and a well-designed chassis.

geekom as 5 Mini PC

This week's look back article is about Windows NT 3.1, the operating system Microsoft introduced on July 27, 1993. Windows NT 3.1 was the first operating system from the software giant to ditch MS-DOS and shift to the new NT architecture (NT stands for New Technology).

Initially, the OS was aimed at the enterprise and workstation market—the first NT-based Windows version for regular consumers arrived almost one decade later. Learn more about the now thirty-year-old Windows NT 3.1 in John's dedicated article.

windows nt 31

Random fact about Microsoft

Last week, we covered a story about Microsoft returning EPUB support to its browser. But did you know that Microsoft's experiments with e-book support on Windows date back to 2000? Twenty-three years ago, Microsoft released the Microsoft Reader app, a program for reading e-books in proprietary LIT format. Microsoft Reader was available for free on Windows PCs, Pocket PCs, and Windows Mobile smartphones (pre-Windows Phone 7 Series era). LIT (short for literature) was a variant of the Microsoft Compressed HTML Help format with support for DRM.

Notable features in Microsoft Reader included ClearType, a technology for improved text rendering, highlighting, note-taking, and plugin support, such as text-to-speech. Microsoft discontinued the Reader app in August 2012, almost one year after halting sales of LIT-formatted books on Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Several years later, during the Windows 10 era, Microsoft made another attempt to sell e-books in the Microsoft Store. However, the initiative failed, forcing the company to abandon it in 2019 as a part of streamlining the focus of the Microsoft Store.

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