Lots of news out of Redmond this week, especially the company earnings report for Q4 and fiscal 2017. There was also plenty of news about Windows 10, including it now being the most installed Microsoft OS in the world. And if you plan on watching the Super Bowl tomorrow in the United States, Xbox One gamers can dream about their own version of a winners' ring.
Let's get started. Here's the Microsoft news for the week of January 27 to February 2.
Microsoft paid a lot of attention to its apps for mobile devices this week, namely iOS and Android (sorry Windows Mobile users). Android's Microsoft Launcher, previously the Arrow Launcher, got plenty of customization improvements in its newest update, while Launcher beta testers now get a chance to play with Cortana. The digital assistant was just added to the newest beta build.
Here's a breakdown of the different apps that got some love, by platform:
iOS and Android
- Office got a big update, including real-time co-authoring.
- Microsoft Edge will finally support iPads starting next month.
- OneDrive got its biggest update yet
If you are at all interested in the financials of Microsoft, then you were probably tuned in to its earnings call earlier this week. Revenue was up 12% in Q4 from the same period last year. Gaming revenue and Windows OEM was up 8% and 4% respectively, while Dynamics was up 10% as well. Most of the other divisions also saw growth, except for poor Windows Mobile, which we know is on its deathbed. The latest earnings report listed revenue for the product as "immaterial."
Other big corporate news this week was the company's purchase of PlayFab, a cloud gaming service. The move looks to bolster Microsoft's cloud strategy, previously just related to the more business-oriented Azure. How Microsoft will actually use the acquisition in the gaming space is still unclear, but we can expect the company to give us more details when it knows how it will use the service.
Finally, while this isn't exactly related, those in the boardroom are probably happy to know that Windows 10 is now the #1 installed Microsoft OS worldwide as of January, surpassing Windows 7, according to statistics analysis group StatCounter. While the United States, the UK, Oceania, and Europe are firmly Windows 10, Asia, Africa, and a few other regions still aren't budging from the Windows 7 camp. However, the shift continues toward Windows 10, which is good news for Redmond.
Windows 10 was active this week, with build 16299.214 seeing its official release. It was a cumulative update for those running the Fall Creators Update. Most of it had to do with fixes for Spectre and Meltdown, and was the third version of 1709 to come out since January's Patch Tuesday.
Along the same lines, MS released an optional update last weekend aimed at users who have Intel processors. If you had updated with Intel's first fix, this patch rolled that fix back, as Intel asked vendors to stop patching the processor until it fixed a flaw related to the last update. Got that?
The first Bug Bash for Redstone 4 - aka the next Windows 10 update - kicked off yesterday, and users had to create an S Mode for Windows 10 Home. There has been an S Mode for Pro, and one was announced for Enterprise, but one for Home was new. However, the quest didn't work right, so it may have been an error.
Other Windows 10 related releases this week included the IoT Core and SDK preview build 17083, while Microsoft also confirmed that it would not be releasing ISOs for build 17074, meaning no clean install of Redstone 4 with the latest build.
And in a continued show of support for Windows 10, the support window (heh) for Enterprise and Education versions 1607, 1703, and 1709 was extended an extra six months to allow businesses a chance to properly upgrade.
Finally, if you want to use Office 2019 when it comes out, you better have Windows 10, as that is the only OS that will be supported by the upcoming suite of products when it launches later this year.
- Xbox Insiders got a new build - this one 16299.5097 - which now shows installation progress in the guide. A system update (1802.180125-1923) rolled out to Insiders two days earlier, fixing numerous issues.
- Shadow Warrior and Split/Second are now free through Games with Gold.
- The Darkness II, Spec Ops: The Line, and The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom are all now backward compatible on Xbox One.
- Plenty of Deals with Gold that Xbox Live Gold members can still take advantage of.
- The new Xbox Wireless Adapter is finally available for $24.99, or bundled with a controller for $79.95
- Tired of scareware? Microsoft is, too. Windows Defender will soon start removing those cleaners and optimizers.
- A new variant of the Surface Book 2 has appeared in the Microsoft Store for $1,199. This is coupled with a Core m3 variant of the Surface Laptop that also appeared this week for $799.
- Speaking of the Surface, if you have the Pro 4, you may be experiencing some screen flickering issues that can be temporarily fixed by putting the device in the freezer. (I know, right?)
- Microsoft Research is collaborating with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia to try to bring Cortana to the next level of awareness.
- If you use Windows Template Studio, you should now have version 1.7.
- Windows 10 developers can now offer ARM packages on Windows 10 desktop devices.
- Microsoft Teams now has a new app store and got a massive update to its functionality.
- Insiders get a look at an updated camera app with a Fluent Design flourish.
- Groove Music got an equalizer on the release preview ring, as well as its own Fluent Design elements.
- If you like to dream, you can take a look at what could have been for the Xbox Watch or what Windows RT 8.1 would have looked like on a Lumia 640 XL with proper GPU support.
- And finally, the Azure cloud platform now has an event grid that is available for general use.
There are plenty of things we could have used to close out the column this week, but there is something about a $10,000+ Super Bowl-style ring going to a random Madden NFL 18 streamer that just seemed to scream "Put me in the spotlight!"
Yes, indeed, the Xbox team has created a ring with 188 diamonds and 46 green tsavorite stones in a white gold setting. Some lucky individual who streams a winning game of Madden on Mixer will get chosen at random for the prize. If you didn't know about this, you can still fire up your Xbox One and try to win a multiplayer game while streaming until the night of February 5, when everything will end.
Good luck, and TTFN.
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