Microsoft Weekly: More updates, better productivity, and the launch of Flight Simulator

It’s been a rather big week, especially for Flight Simulator enthusiasts, since Microsoft’s latest entry in the series was officially made available. Furthermore, updates to Windows 10 and Edge popped up too, as did some Office enhancements. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of August 15 - 21.

More updates

As is often the case, Microsoft can’t quite stop itself from updating Windows 10, so folks running versions 1809, 1903, and 1909 have received a bunch of mid-stream updates this week. One of the more important aspects of this wave of updates is the backporting of the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2) to versions 1903 and 1909, a feature previously exclusive to the May 2020 Update (version 2004). Either way, here’s what you need to look out for if you’re running any of the three versions mentioned previously:

  • May 2019 Update/November 2019 Update (1903/1909): KB4566116, builds 18362.1049 (1903)/18363.1049 (1909) – contains updates for the issue which caused the HDD to fill up in certain error situations, updates time zone info for Yukon, Canada, fixes error 15612 with Microsoft Gaming Services, and more. Luckily, there are no known issues.
  • October 2018 Update (1809): KB4571748, build 17763.1432 – pretty much identical changelog to the versions above, with the exception of the fix for the HDD filling up and the Microsoft Gaming Services bug.
    • Known issue: After installing KB4493509, devices with some Asian language packs installed may receive the error “0x800f0982 – PSFX_E_MATCHING_COMPONENT_NOT_FOUND.”; After installing KB4550969 or later, when using Edge Legacy, you might receive the error “0x800704006. Hmmmm…can’t reach this page” when attempting to reach websites on non-standard ports. Any website that uses a port listed in the Fetch Standard specification under bad ports or port blocking might cause this issue.

There was some activity in the Insider Program too, with Microsoft stating that Windows 10 20H2 is ready for commercial testing, which suggests ISOs may arrive soon.

As far as the other Insider channel is concerned, testers got to play with build 20197 of the vNext branch, which brought a very early (and very rough) Disk Management capability to the Settings app. There’s naturally a very long list of fixes to go with the arrival of the build, including fixes for issues with ALT+Tabbing to a browser tab or bugchecks citing a hyperguard violation. Quite a few known issues remain.

There is however some good news for those eager to grab the May 2020 Update, as more blocks have been lifted, which should allow many more people to finally install version 2004. In even more good news, Microsoft has just fixed a security flaw first reported in 2018.

Better productivity

Folks using Microsoft's various productivity apps, in other words the Office suite, and Office-adjacent offerings like Teams, have gotten some updates to play with this week, too.

First and foremost, the suggested replies feature for Outlook on the web has gotten a suggested attachments option, which does exactly what it says on the tin. These are suggested files that the service pulls from OneDrive, and it chooses what to recommend based on the content of the email.

Staying on the web but switching apps, we arrive at Excel, which now has Workbook Link support. This allows users to paste direct links to data from other workbooks, just like the native applications, but without needing to fall back to them.

Last but not least is Teams, which now has 3x3 grid view support for iPads, and allows you to customize the sidebar by choosing which apps you’d prefer to have pinned. You can search for apps you want to pin, and you can also pin apps beside the formatting options for your messages.

The launch of Flight Simulator

We couldn’t have ended the week without taking some time to acknowledge the launch of Microsoft Flight Simulator, sans a number. This is the first entry in the series in nearly a decade and a half – not counting the ill-received and rather lackluster 2012 Microsoft Flight game -, so it’s cause for celebration.

Arriving from French dev Asobo Studio, and published by Xbox Game Studios, Flight Simulator seeks to be, much like Halo Infinite, a platform of sorts, with content constantly added throughout its lifespan. The sim debuted on August 18, but did have some known issues and download problems. Despite this, the game managed to hit a very respectable 92 rating on Metacritic, with much of the praise directed towards its incredible visuals and array of gameplay settings and tweaks.

Following the release, the first public SDK was made available, as was a new Partnership Series update – highlighting Bing Maps -, as well as the first episode of the Around the World Tour series.

As this is published by Microsoft, it’s of course available via Game Pass (though only in its Standard flavor), along with Spiritfarer, Battletoads, Darksiders: Genesis, Crossing Souls, Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, and New Super Lucky’s Tale, on PC. Also on PC, coming August 27 is Tell Me Why: Chapter One and Hypnospace Outlaw, followed by Wasteland 3 and Double Kick Heroes on August 28, Crusader Kings III on September 1, and Resident Evil 7 Biohazard on September 3.

Switching to the console subscription, Spritfarer, Battletoads, Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, and New Super Lucky’s Tale can be played now, with Tell Me Why: Chapter One, Hypnospace Outlaw, Wasteland 3, Double Kick Heroes, and Resident Evil 7 Biohazard dropping on the same days as their PC counterparts.

It's worth highlighting the games leaving the subscription too. On both Xbox and PC, you’ll say goodbye to Creature in the Well on August 31, while Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams – Director’s Cut, Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3 HD, Metro: Last Light Redux, and The Jackbox Party Pack 3 will also be leaving the console subscription on the same day.

On September 1, NBA 2K20 will leave the console subscription, as will Red Dead Redemption 2, but the latter will do so on September 7.

In more first-party news, Sea of Thieves now has a new summer update focusing on live events, Halo 3: ODST Insider testing has gone live across PC and Xbox One, and Minecraft now has a new Jurassic World DLC.

Flipping over to services, Microsoft has shown off the new software experience for the Xbox Series X, which will also translate across phones, PC, and the Xbox One, while also reportedly gearing up to add multi-device login support to Xbox Live.

Lastly, it’s probably prudent to mention that the Monster Energy and Halo Infinite promo that’s set to start September 1 may have leaked the price of the Series X. There are 200 first prizes awarded, at $599.99 each. That includes both the Series X and a copy of Halo Infinite, and by subtracting the $59.99 for the game, we arrive at $540. That said, it’s unlikely Microsoft will settle for this as the final price, since it’s a bit of a random number.

Dev channel

Logging off

As has been the case for a couple of weeks before, we’re ending the column with a bit of news regarding Edge, while also throwing in some IE-related developments for good measure.

For one, folks in the Edge Dev channel should by now be familiar with this week’s build, namely 86.0.608.2, which adds improved dark mode support for default form controls like dropdown menus and calendars (in the webpages that use them). Naturally, custom form controls will not be affected.

On the Canary side, you’re now able to sort your Collections in alphabetical order, or by date, if you so prefer. Collections, for those not familiar, are essentially repositories for links, notes, lists, images, and whatever else you find relevant to well, collect from the web. Exporting to Word, Excel, and even OneNote is also possible.

Last but not least, we should touch upon the faith of the old version of Edge, as well as Internet Explorer 11. Support for UWP Edge, Spartan Edge, regular Edge, or as Microsoft calls it, Legacy Edge, will cease on March 9, 2021. By that point, everybody should have Chromium Edge, as it’s set to ship with Windows 10 20H2 later this year.

Also later this year, namely on November 30, web-based Office services like Teams will stop supporting IE11. The rest of Microsoft 365 is set to stop supporting the browser altogether on August 17, 2021. The presence of IE Mode in the new Edge browser is likely why Microsoft has decided to just drop support for IE entirely.

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

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