Microsoft Weekly: More Game Pass, 21H1 pre-release validation, and new Edge builds

Microsoft Weekly - March 21 2021 - weekly recap

The last seven days brought pretty big news – especially for Game Pass subscribers -, a welcome bunch of patches to fix the printer problems introduced via Patch Tuesday, and even some good news regarding the Exchange exploits. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of March 14 – 20.

More Game Pass

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main focus of this week’s gaming news has been Game Pass. Microsoft’s ‘Netflix for games’ subscription has gained and is set to gain a number of titles, including but not limited to, Nier: Automata, Yakuza 6, Undertale, Outriders (coming April 1), and more. In even better news for Game Pass subscribers on PC, EA Play has finally joined the subscription, after being delayed from its initial December launch window.

If you already have some Bethesda titles in your library, you’ll be happy to know that Fallout 4, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Prey, Dishonored: Definitive Edition, and Fallout 76 are now FPS Boost-enabled on the Series X|S consoles, with framerates nearly doubling from 30 to almost 60. This is entirely done on the API level, without touching the game code.

On the off-chance that none of the above interest you, there’s always the set of Games with Gold freebies, which now include Vicious Attack Llama Apocalypse and Port Royale 3, as well as the ever-present Deals with Gold, with Battlefield 1, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and Just Cause 3 being among the titles with the biggest discounts.

Switching to first-party news, the Aerosoft CRJ 550 and 700 are available as complex add-ons for Flight Simulator (priced at $50), Doom Eternal: Ancient Gods Part Two is also now available for PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Stadia, with Sea of Thieves celebrating its three-year anniversary and a 20 million player milestone.

In terms of showcases, there’s an Age of Empires IV gameplay showcase scheduled for April 10, as well as an ID@Xbox event scheduled for March 26, which is set to feature over 100 games.

And for folks looking to upgrade their listening experience on console, the Xbox Wireless Headset is now available for $99 in 30 markets – though it’s currently sold-out in the U.S.

21H1 pre-release validation

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We move on to some Windows news, and we open with a bunch of updates the Redmond giant has pushed out to fix the printer bugs introduced with this month’s Patch Tuesday patches.

The company initially released a set of updates for versions 1803 through to 20H2 (and even for 21H1 Insiders), though a number of users had trouble obtaining said updates via Windows Update (WU) itself. Grabbing them straight from the Update Catalog website though, worked without a problem.

The full set of out-of-band updates was however pushed to WU a couple of days later, and covers folks on both consumer and server variants of Windows 10 versions 1607, 1809, 1909, 2004, 20H2, as well as consumer variants of 1507 and 1803.

On the subject of updates, it’s also worth mentioning that Windows 10 Team version 1703 for the Surface Hub is now longer supported, and that Windows 10 21H1 is now available for pre-release validation following the release of build 19043.899 to the Beta channel, which removes the legacy version of Edge.

Regarding Insider builds, it’s also worth mentioning the fact that Microsoft pushed out build 21332.1010 as a cumulative update in the Dev Channel, followed swiftly by 21337, which brought virtual desktop re-arranging, Auto HDR, a more spaced-out default density in File Explorer, as well as the usual array of fixes and known issues. You can check out our hands-on with the build right here.

And finally, for those eager to get their hands on Windows 10X, Microsoft’s initially 'only for dual-screen devices' (and then not) operating system, its release seems to have been delayed again. The firm clarified that the experience is first coming to single-screen devices, but exactly when that’ll be is still up in the air.

New Edge builds

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To round off the trio of main sections, we’ll take a look at some Edge news, particularly the releases in the Dev and Beta channels.

For one, Edge 90 can now be downloaded by folks in the Beta channel, bringing with it a feature called Kids Mode. This is basically a sandbox that is designed for the 5-8 and 9-12 age groups, and uses Bing SafeSearch to protect kids by referencing a pre-defined website allow list.

Those in the Dev channel haven’t been forgotten either, with the first Edge 91 (91.0.825.0) build making its way to testers. It includes better Immersive Reader interaction with Wikipedia, improvements to Read Aloud, a new management policy to control if Quick Links are enabled in the New Tab Page, and more.

And for those, who want to hide the title bar when using vertical tabs, the relevant flag is now available in the browser under edge://flags/#edge-vertical-tabs-hide-titlebar.

Dev channel

Logging off

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We round off the Microsoft news of the week with some welcome developments regarding the ongoing Exchange exploits.

Following the public disclosure of the on-prem Exchange Server vulnerabilities near the beginning of the month, there have been numerous attacks from state-sponsored groups and malicious actors. The Redmond giant has released quite a few patches, tools, and guidances to help folks deal with the situation, but the firm is going a step further.

As of build 1.333.747.0 of Microsoft Defender Antivirus, there are mechanisms in place to allow the security product to break the Exchange attack chain covered under CVE-2021-26855, namely the server-side request forgery (SSRF) vulnerability and its related exploits.

Microsoft was however keen to point out that the best way to secure yourself against these exploits was to install the already-issued patches from the Redmond firm.

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


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