The last seven days saw the arrival of a rather impressive Q3 FY21 earnings report, the implementation of a bigger cut for PC game devs, and even a fix for the update that caused all sorts of gaming performance issues. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of April 25 – May 1.
More money for PC game devs
We should open with what is perhaps the bigger news of the week – at least in terms of gaming -, namely that Microsoft will be lowering its cut from 30% to 12%. This will impact PC game devs specifically, and is set to take effect starting in August. Not just that, the firm is also promising “improved reliability and faster download speeds” are coming, with the Microsoft Store proper set to receive a UI update too.
Adding yet another piece to the strategy puzzle above is Halo Infinite, which is set to feature cross-play and cross-progression between Xbox and PC when it arrives later this year. It could be argued that so is the rumored exclusive AAA fantasy game that Hitman developer IO Interactive is putting together for Microsoft.
Staying on the subject just a tad longer, there’s now something called Xbox Academy, meant to inspire UK kids to get into game development. If you’re in the UK but are not a kid though, EE has a new deal whereby you get Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and unlimited data for £10 per month.
For folks looking forward to playing Fall Guys on Xbox consoles, the party game has been delayed out of summer, though there are a number of Deals with Gold to keep you company until the game releases, as are the May Games with Gold titles like Armello, Lego Batman – both of which are available to claim now – Dungeons 3, and Tropico 4 to take a peek at.
An update fix
Perhaps not surprising, as it’s been the case for quite a while, Microsoft released its usual set of Patch Tuesday updates on April 13. That said, one of these updates caused a number of issues related to performance while gaming, causing even Nvidia to recommend that folks uninstall the pesky latest patch.
Happily however, Microsoft has released what it calls a Known Issue Rollback or KIR update that essentially disables the code of the offending update, thus mitigating the problem.
In addition to this, the firm also released a set of optional updates for those on Windows 10 v2004 and 20H2, which brought the News and Interests feature to these variants of the OS. It bears repeating that these are optional, i.e. you’ll need to search for and install them. While Microsoft did say it would bring this capability to Windows 10 1909 and above, as per AdDuplex, more than 80% of users are already on the two latest versions of the OS, hence why the optional set of updates was made available in this way.
Insiders in the various channels also got some builds to play with, as the Redmond giant pushed out build 21363.1011 to the Dev channel to test the servicing pipeline, followed by 21370 which ushered in improvements to Bluetooth audio management.
For multi-monitor users, a bug that’s been around since times immemorial has been confirmed to have been fixed. What happens is that when you have an external monitor connected, and your device goes to sleep, all the windows you had moved to your second (external) monitor move to your primary device (laptop, 2-in-1, or whichever other device you have). As per Michelle Xiong, PM of the Graphics Team, the issue has been addressed as of preview build 21287 and newer.
Another change is the one that hit the Beta and Release Preview rings in the form of Feature Experience Pack v120.2212.3740.0, which removes “nonfunctional hyperlinks from the Input Method Editor (IME) candidate window.”
And speaking of the various channels, the Windows 10 May 2021 Update, otherwise known under its 21H1 development codename, is now available in the Release Preview channel, sporting build 19043.962. If you want to get your hands on it right now, here’s how.
A very strong quarter
Right on cue, Microsoft released its earnings report for Q3 of its fiscal year 2021 – the quarter ending March 31. The firm posted a very impressive $41.7B in revenue (up 19%), with operating income rising 31% to $17B, and a net income of $15.5B (up 38%).
The three business categories, Productivity and Business Processes, Intelligent Cloud, and More Personal Computing brought in $13.6B (up 15%), $15.1B (up 23%), and $13B (up 19%), respectively.
Starting with the first one, we see an increase of 14% in Office Commercial products and cloud services revenue, a 22% increase in Office 365 Commercial revenue, and 15% increase in seats. For the non-cloud offerings, there was a decline of 25%, while LinkedIn revenue grew 25%, and Dynamics products and cloud services grew 26%. Dynamics 365 revenue itself grew by an impressive 45%. It’s also worth mentioning that Teams, the firm’s ‘chat-based workspace’ solution has crossed the 145 million daily active user threshold.
Moving onto the second category, Intelligent Cloud, server products and cloud services revenue increased by 26% off the back of a very impressive 50% growth in Azure revenue. For the on-premise and hybrid service solutions revenue there was a 3% increase, while the install base for Enterprise Mobility grew by 30%, crossing the 174 million seat mark.
Last, but most certainly not least, More Personal Computing saw an increase of 10% for Windows OEM revenue, with non-Pro revenue seeing a 44% uptick (offset by a 2% downturn in Pro revenue). Windows commercial products and cloud services revenue did however increase by 10%. Windows 10 itself is now on more than 1.3 billion active devices.
Additionally, Surface revenue grew by 12% to more than $1.5B, while Search adverting revenue was up 17%.
The gaming side saw increases too, with revenues growing by 50% as Xbox hardware revenue rose by 232% due to Series X and S demand, while Xbox content and services revenue – which includes first-party titles, third-party titles, and Game Pass subscriptions – was up 34%.
- Microsoft Defender is now able to use Intel’s CPU-based machine learning to detect cryptojacking.
- Microsoft’s Viva Learning platform is now in public preview.
- The Redmond firm has published an advisory regarding the importance of keeping Exchange Server up-to-date.
- A new ad has been released for Surface Laptop 4, which pokes fun at the MacBook Air, while owners of the Surface Pro X with SQ2 processors have gotten a bunch of firmware updates. Staying a little longer on the subject, the firm is also rumored to be working on a dedicated app for its Modern hardware accessories.
- Coursera and Microsoft are now offering new Azure specializations and scholarships.
- A new Power BI On-premises data gateway update has brought PowerShell enhancements, among other features.
- Microsoft has unveiled a new effort to help people with disabilities find jobs in the UK.
- Bytecode Alliance has welcomed Microsoft, Google, and others to its ranks.
- PowerToys v0.37 is now out with a number of improvements.
- Skype for Web now supports Safari on the desktop and on iOS.
- Microsoft has detailed the various new features added to Microsoft 365 apps in April, including those for Teams, Excel on the web – including the Show Changes feature. Remaining in the same space a little longer, Office Insiders on iOS now have the ability to merge PDFs via the unified Office app.
- GitHub has added an HTTP header to block Google’s FLoC, while version 2.8 of GitHub Desktop has added improvements to diffs, among other changes.
We end the week with an assortment of news, from Edge, to a new default font in Office, to the Build conference.
Let’s start with Edge, the Canary variant of which now allows you to send tabs and links to other devices, while Edge Dev has just been made available to folks on Android, more specifically build 91.0.864.11.
This is perhaps a little interesting in terms of timing, as the Beta channel has just gotten Edge 91 – complete with built-in theming support -, while the Dev channel proper has moved on to the first Edge 92 build, 92.0.873.1.
Moving on to another Microsoft solution, namely Office, the firm is looking to replace Calibri as the default font for the productivity suite. Replacing the previous default, Times New Roman, Calibri has been around since the introduction of Office 2007.
The company feels that it needs to be replaced, and it announced that it’s commissioned five different fonts – Tenorite, Bierstadt, Skeena, Seaford, and Grandview – out of which the new default will be chosen. As for the actual process of choosing, this will be done via Microsoft 365’s Twitter profile, with the most popular of the five fonts being crowned as the new default typeface.
Although the timing of the availability for the new font isn’t quite clear, what is clear is that registrations for the Build 2021 conference are now open. Set to take place May 25 through 27, the event will likely showcase a number of developer-focused announcements and, possibly, the “next generation of Windows” and the Sun Valley visual refresh as teased by Panos Panay for the second half of this year.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.
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