The week has given folks plenty to discuss, from a renewal of the Fable trademark, to upcoming OneDrive features and a possible Lockhart reveal in August. You can find that, as well as much more, below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of June 27 – July 3.
July is a pretty big month for Xbox, in no small part due to the first-party showcase, taking place on an as of yet undisclosed date. That has not stopped folks from feeding the rumor mill via various leaks and seemingly connected events.
The renewal of the Fable trademark was one such event, specifically its renewal to cover “USB drives; cell-phone charging solutions; cellphone chargers; portable speakers; earbuds; headphones; cables”. What’s particularly interesting about this renewal is that the international primary class remains 09 – one related to games, movies, and the like -, but also that under “Current Use” it’s marked as ‘No’, but it's an ITU application, i.e. it’s filed with intent to use. Given that a potential Fable sequel or series reboot in the works by the folks at Playground is one of Microsoft’s worst kept secrets, it’s not outside the realms of possibility that we’ll see it during the July first-party showcase.
Microsoft, or more accurately the Xbox division itself has decided to get involved with Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest initiative, and will host a series of Xbox One playable demos between July 21 – 27. Rumors suggest currently that the Xbox first-party showcase might take place during the week of July 20 - which this announcement may lend credence to -, but again, nothing has been announced yet. Also in the realm of currently not announced is the mysterious Xbox Series S, better known under its Lockhart name, which may or may not be revealed in August.
What has been announced though is that Dan McCulloch, head of Xbox Live since October of 2017, will be leaving Microsoft after a 15-year stint. He started in 2005 as a PM on various projects, but has as of yet not revealed his upcoming gig.
Flipping over to more games, the Xbox Game Bar Widget Store is now open, and Flight Simulator Alpha 5 is set to arrive on July 9, with a Closed Beta kicking off “soon”. On the Halo side, the PC port of Reach will be getting audio fixes, and Halo: Combat Evolved will receive a new customization system for its multiplayer section once Halo 3 launches into the Master Chief Collection. Exactly when that is, we don’t yet know.
Those who have an Xbox Live Gold subscription may now take advantage of WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship and Saints Row 2 as freebies, plus Coffee Talk, which is free to grab until July 16.
On the Game Pass side of the fence, Soulcalibur VI is available now, with Fallout 76, and CrossCode arriving on July 9. Bethesda’s latest Fallout game will be making its way to PC Game Pass on the same date, though Out of the Park Baseball 21 is already available to play.
As of July 15, you’ll have to say goodbye to Blazing Chrome and Dead Rising 4 on both console and PC, Metal Gear Solid V on console, as well as Timespinner, Unavowed and Undertale on PC. The good news is that you have a 20% discount if you wish to add these games to your library before they’re removed.
Lack of blocks
In late May, Microsoft released version 2004 of its latest OS – now on 7% of Windows 10 PCs -, otherwise known as the May 2020 Update. In case you’re one of the lucky folks who hasn’t had any issues, here’s how you can take advantage of hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling.
Among the unlucky folks were Surface owners, specifically of the Surface Laptop 3 and Pro 7, which were hit with a block that prevented these devices from getting the latest iteration of Windows 10. The block has now apparently been removed, though if you have any other device with an Always On, Always Connected network adapter, there’s no way of knowing whether you’re in the clear or not. This aforementioned adapter bug is one of many issues that cropped up as soon as v2004 hit GA – and which were undisclosed during Insider testing -, with Microsoft being pretty vague in terms of specific problem descriptions.
That kind of vagueness has thankfully been taken out of the structure of the Insider program – more or less -, as the ‘channel’ denominations have gone live this week. No more nebulous ‘Fast’ and ‘Slow’ rings with nary a link to the actual cadence and feature set of the builds released.
Speaking of, Server Insiders got to play with build 20161 and the accompanying SDK, ADK, and WDK, but as usual, no changelog was provided.
Not to be left out, the testers of the regular Windows 10 builds were greeted by 20161 too, which landed straight into the Dev channel bringing a refined design to the tiles, the ability to Alt + Tab between apps and sites, a personalized taskbar for new users, as well as improvements to notifications, Settings, and the tablet experience for 2-in-1 devices. If you’re interested in finding out more, do check out our hands-on.
As usual, there are fixes present, among which one for the bug check-inducing connected Xbox controllers, and the list of known bugs is pretty small. The update process hanging for extended periods of time is still on the list, so be aware in case you want to test this out.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Microsoft pushed out patches for two vulnerabilities in the Codecs Library. When exploited, these flaws allowed an attacker to execute arbitrary code on a victim’s machine, thereby gathering additional info. At this time, there are no known workarounds or exploits in the wild.
The edge of collections
Folks who aren’t simply content with running the standard – and very stable – version of Microsoft’s new Chromium Edge will no doubt opt for one of the trio of pre-release channels: Beta, Dev, or Canary.
Announced in May, Collections is a feature that allows you to collect links, images, and other content from the web and organize it into groups. Now, if you’re running either Dev or Canary builds, you should see an option to send these collections to OneNote. It looks to be a server-side rollout, so don’t worry if you don’t have this feature just yet.
There was a bit of a worrisome development this week regarding Edge, particularly as it relates to importing of data. A bunch of Reddit users discovered that the browser actually imports all of the data from Chrome or Firefox before you give it permission to. If you decline permissions, Edge goes on and deletes the data, an overall approach which did not sit well with folks.
In addition to all of the above, it’s worth noting that Edge Dev and Beta releases are being paused for a couple of weeks, so that they are better aligned with the Chromium Project’s release schedule, though we’ll still get daily Canary builds. New versions of Dev and Beta should arrive after July 13.
Finally, the rollout of Edge via Windows Update has been expanded to education and business devices. It’s important to underline the fact that educational institutions will see the legacy version of Edge replaced first, to “accommodate back-to-school timing”, and that enterprises making use of Windows Update for Business (WUfB) and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) will not be offered the browser in this manner.
- In case you’re interested in the Surface Book 3, be sure to check out our review.
- Microsoft Support now has a section dedicated to mobile devices.
- Office Insiders on iOS can now use split view in Excel, dark mode, and other new features.
- A Geekbench benchmark has leaked, showing a Surface Pro X with (possibly) a Snapdragon 8cx Plus.
- PowerToys 0.19 is out with a number of fixes.
- Microsoft Teams has gotten a bigger gallery view, meetings, increased participant limit, and more in June.
- New features for the Power BI Snowflake connector are now GA.
- Azure Digital Twins now has enhanced capabilities, in preview.
- Microsoft has paused ads on Facebook and Instagram.
We end this week’s overview with a bunch of features coming to OneDrive.
Mid-week, Microsoft announced that OneDrive will be getting better Teams integration, allowing you to create shareable links when sharing a file from the firm’s ‘chat-based workspace’ solution. Furthermore, the maximum file size has been increased from 15GB to 100GB, with the ability to turn off notifications for comments on specific files, as well as sharing of file URLs from the address bar. That last one is confined to business users only, though.
There are new file protection features, new family and group sharing features, as well as, finally, dark mode for OneDrive on the web.
Most of these are rolling out now, with the exception of file protection and certain others which are set to arrive later. No timeline has been provided though.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.