Microsoft Weekly: gamescom 2019, Win32 apps in S Mode for enterprises, and Edge Beta

With gamescom having taken place this past week, we got a fair few gaming news to go through – including an interesting one related to Minecraft -, plus the announcement of Edge Beta, and some optional Windows updates. You can find that – as well as the usual little bit extra – below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of August 17-23.

gamescom 2019

This past week was gamescom, one of the largest if not the largest gaming-related conventions, held each year in the second half of August in Cologne, Germany. As expected, there were a number of announcements to digest, one of which was quite surprising.

We’ll start with said surprising announcement, specifically the fact that Mojang and Nvidia have collaborated to bring ray tracing support to Minecraft. It will of course require an RTX card, and is set to arrive as a free update to the Bedrock edition of the game of Windows 10. Furthermore, the developer also announced that it would be implementing a new graphics engine for Minecraft Bedrock, Render Dragon.

In other gaming news, Moon Studios’ Definitive Edition of Ori and the Blind Forest is headed to the Nintendo Switch on September 27. No word yet on whether the sequel will also come to the hybrid console.

For folks who are fans of strategy games, especially of the venerable Age of Empires series, the Definitive Edition of the second one will arrive on November 14. It’s got 4K visuals, remastered audio, and a brand-new campaign. Priced at $19.99, it will land on both the Microsoft Store and Steam, with the latter employing a 25% discount for those who already own Age of Empires II HD Edition.

Moving on to weirder things, Gears POP! has launched this week with not much fanfare. The free-to-play title uses the Gears of War characters, though they’re replaced with Funko Pop figures – hence the name. It’s available on iOS, Android, and Windows 10, and supports cross-saves between different platforms.

Speaking of crossing, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is getting cross-play between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The relevant update is coming to public builds in early October.

Folks subscribing to Xbox Game Pass on either console or PC now have the opportunity to try out the latest batch of titles that have been added. For PC folks only, Age of Empires: Definitive Edition is available now, while for folks on console, Devil May Cry 5 and Stellaris: Console Edition can now be tried out. If you own either a PC or an Xbox, you can play Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Ape Out right now, with Bard’s Tale IV: Director’s Cut coming August 27, Blair Witch arriving on August 30, and Dead Cells making its way to the subscription on September 5.

Focusing a bit on the Xbox, there’s going to be a Disney+ app on the Xbox One once the service launches, while the Xbox app itself (on Windows 10) will be getting some enhancements of its own. For one, you’ll be able to find friends on Facebook and Steam and link accounts from YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Discord, and Reddit. In addition to this, you’ll also be able to choose filter options in the sidebar, choosing your destination drive to download a game will be made easier, and the Xbox Game Pass app will add support for Game Pass for PC. Though some features are available now in the Xbox (Beta) app, others are arriving in the coming weeks.

Finally, there are also two new controller designs, the Night Ops Camo and Sport Blue variants. Both are available for pre-order now for $69.99, with the Sport Blue peripheral being available September 17, while the Night Ops Camo one will get in the hands of consumers on October 8.

Win32 apps in S Mode for enterprises

Before we get to the titular story of this section, it’s worth noting that Microsoft has released a series of optional updates after Patch Tuesday – all for Windows 10. They arrived in two separate batches, the first of which covers the following versions:

  • October 2018 Update (1809): KB4512534, build 17763.720 – fixes an issue preventing Windows Hello facial recognition from working post-restart; allows Edge to print PDFs with landscape and portrait-oriented pages properly, as well as making sure the browser can correctly open PDFs configured to be open only once; fixes the issue preventing folks from downloading copyrighted media on certain websites via Edge and IE.
    • Known issues: Operations like rename, that are performed on files or folders on a Cluster Shared Volume may fail with error “STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL (0xC00000A5)”, which occurs when the CSV owner node doesn’t have administrator privilege; After installing KB4493509, some Asian language packs installed may receive error “0x800f0982 – PSFX_E_MATCHING_COMPONENT_NOT_FOUND; A small number of devices may start up to a black screen during the first logon; Apps and scripts that call the NetQueryDisplayInformation API or WinNT provider equivalent may fail to return results after the first page of data with error “1359: an internal error occurred”; Apps that were made using Visual Basic 6, macros made using VBA, and scrips, as well as apps, made using VBScript may stop responding or give out an “invalid procedure call” error. The last issue occurs in this update and all updates before June 18, 2019.
  • Fall Creators Update (1709): KB4512494, build 16299.1365 - fixes the issue preventing folks from downloading copyrighted media on certain websites via Edge and IE.
    • Known issues: Operations like rename, that are performed on files or folders on a Cluster Shared Volume may fail with error “STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL (0xC00000A5)”, which occurs when the CSV owner node doesn’t have administrator privilege.
  • Creators Update (1703): KB4512474, build 15063.2021 - fixes the issue preventing folks from downloading copyrighted media on certain websites via Edge and IE.
    • Known issues: Operations like rename, that are performed on files or folders on a Cluster Shared Volume may fail with error “STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL (0xC00000A5)”, which occurs when the CSV owner node doesn’t have administrator privilege.
  • Anniversary Update (1607): KB4512495, build 14393.3181 - fixes the issue preventing folks from downloading copyrighted media on certain websites via Edge and IE; patches an issue causing File Explorer to intermittently stop working.
    • Known issues: After installing KB4467684, the cluster service may fail with error “2245 (NERR_PasswordTooShort)” if the group policy “Minimum Password Length” is set to greater than 14 characters; Operations like rename, that are performed on files or folders on a Cluster Shared Volume may fail with error “STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL (0xC00000A5)”, which occurs when the CSV owner node doesn’t have administrator privilege; A small number of devices may start up to a black screen during the first logon; Apps and scripts that call the NetQueryDisplayInformation API or WinNT provider equivalent may fail to return results after the first page of data with error “1359: an internal error occurred”.
  • Windows 10 RTM LTSC (1507): KB4517276, build 10240.18308 – addresses an issue which could cause apps made in Visual Basic 6, macros using Visual Basic for Applications, scripts or apps that use Visual Basic Scripting Edition, to stop working. In terms of the latter malfunctioning, a potential error also received by users would be “Invalid procedure call”.
    • Known issues: Operations like rename, that are performed on files or folders on a Cluster Shared Volume may fail with error “STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL (0xC00000A5)”, which occurs when the CSV owner node doesn’t have administrator privilege.

The April 2018 Update was conspicuous in its absence from that first batch, although it did get its own patch a mere three days later:

  • April 2018 Update (1803): KB4512509, build 17134.984 – fixes an issue that removed Windows Hello credentials, as well as addressing bugs causing Settings from working properly or default applications from being set correctly. It also fixes the issue preventing folks from downloading copyrighted media on certain websites via Edge and IE.
    • Known issues: Operations like rename, that are performed on files or folders on a Cluster Shared Volume may fail with error “STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL (0xC00000A5)”, which occurs when the CSV owner node doesn’t have administrator privilege; A small number of devices may start up to a black screen during the first logon.

Getting back to the subject at hand, the Redmond software firm pushed out a build to the Slow ring – hosting the 19H2 branch – to enable a rather useful enterprise feature. As it happened previously, two builds were pushed out. The lower-numbered one (18362.10014) has the new features turned off, while the higher-numbered one (18362.10015) has them turned on. And again, if you’re just joining the Slow ring, which one you’ll get is still up to chance.

Perhaps the headline feature of this release is the ability for enterprises to add Win32 apps to devices in S Mode via Microsoft Intune. While folks were able to get Win32 apps from the Store itself in S Mode, this is the first time said apps can be added via Intune.

In addition to the aforementioned feature, Windows Defender Credential Guard has been enabled for ARM64 devices and File Explorer has been enhanced with the ability to show web-powered suggestions in addition to the locally indexed files on your PC. Furthermore, Narrator and other assistive technologies can now read and learn where the FN key is, as well as detecting whether it’s locked or unlocked.

Fast ring testers were also treated to a build of their own, which brought more granular control over how Windows restarts apps once you sign back in. Build 18965 also brought a few tweaks to the Feedback Hub UI pertaining to searches, similar feedback, and Insider achievements.

In terms of bugs addressed, the taskbar should no longer unexpectedly hide when launching the touch keyboard, “managed by your organization” should no longer appear for some Insiders when simply updating Windows, and background tasks should work properly now. As far as known issues are concerned, beyond the already expected ones there’s also the inability for some WSL distros to load, DWM using an unexpectedly high amount of resources, and lsass.exe crashing.

A day later, Microsoft also pushed out build 18965.1005, a cumulative update with no new features, meant to test the servicing pipeline for larger updates.

Edge Beta

After much speculation and questioning, as well as a leak of the alleged stable variant, the beta version of the Chromium-based version of Edge is now finally available. It will be updated every six weeks, with folks being able to download the current version – 77.0.235.9 – for Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, and macOS.

Sticking to the confines of the Edge Insider program, the Collections feature is now available for Edge Canary, as is a fix for the administrator mode bug. Furthermore, the ability to sign in from work and school accounts is now available for all branches of the Edge Insider program.

If you’re on the Dev channel, build 78.0.249.1 is already out, bringing password syncing to everyone, as well as the ability for websites to detect whether they’re running on Windows in S Mode. There are of course a bunch of stability fixes – a lot of them for IE mode, as well as fixes for a number of UI and feedback bugs.

Microsoft has also announced what features are coming to Edge in October, like inking on PDFs, better profile handling, the ability to search in the extensions store, ClickOnce deployment for Windows apps from web pages, and more.

A number of features from the older version of Edge are also on their way, though one of them is decidedly not: the ability to read ePub e-books. Since the company shut down its Books section in the Microsoft Store, the axing of this feature is an unfortunate, though not unexpected, side effect. It’s unclear currently if the feature will be removed from the Chromium-based Edge too.

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

We end the column with a bit of news concerning icon changes, as well as some rather interesting Surface discounts.

At the top of the week, new icons for the Mail and Calendar apps leaked online, courtesy of Aggiornamenti Lumia. Said icons did however seem to be identical to the new Outlook app – being essentially the Outlook icon deconstructed -, which was a tad weird.

A few days later, a new Icon for the Camera app was leaked, sporting a familiar shade of blue. Curiously, the screenshot also featured different icons for Mail and Calendar as compared to the ones leaked before. It’s quite possible that Microsoft is testing different versions of these icons and hasn’t exactly settled on a final design – the same thing that happened to the File Explorer folder colours in Windows 10’s early days.

Finally, if you’re in the market for a new PC, Microsoft is offering an assortment of discounts for its various Surface devices, with certain configurations knocking up to $500 off the asking price. You can track all these via the venerable Notepad, which is now available in the Microsoft Store.

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

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