Here is your weekly Microsoft news recap, bringing the most interesting and exciting stories from the last seven days. And with Microsoft's annual developer conference now over, there are a lot of things to review: new Windows 11 features and updates, AI everywhere, new tools for app developers, and many more. This time, we have quick links, so you can jump to the section that interests you the most:
- Build Announcements
- Windows Insider Program
During the Build 2023 conference (you can check out our complete Build coverage here), Microsoft unveiled many new features for developers and regular Windows 11 users. Many of them harness the power of artificial intelligence to deliver a better experience and previously unavailable features.
The biggest Windows 11-related announcement during Build was Windows Copilot—a feature to make "every user a power user." Windows Copilot is a new AI-powered assistant on your Windows 11 PC that will help you get things done, control various settings, get answers to complex questions, and more (consider it Cortana 2.0, but actually good, supposedly). Windows Copilot will be available for testing next month, and you can sign up for updates here.
Microsoft also announced a batch of smaller but necessary changes. Windows 11 will soon get taskbar labels and "never combine" mode (both features are already available for testing in the Windows Insider program), native RGB controls, support for more archive formats, such as RAR, 7-zip, GZ, TAR, and more. The latter is a significant change, especially for developers, but the WinRAR team says it is honored and a bit concerned with Microsoft's decision. And yes, there was a teaser of the upcoming File Explorer redesign.
Another long-anticipated change is the ability to remove news from Windows Widgets. Microsoft announced it would soon allow Windows 11 customers to switch between three modes: mixed, widgets-only, and news-only.
Developers will be happy to learn about the new Dev Home app tailored for app-makers. It is a storage volume with a file system focused on performance and security. Based on ReFS, it delivers up to 30% performance uplifts in various tasks. In addition, Dev Home features integrations with WinGet, GitHub, and more.
Let's kick off the Microsoft Store section with the Microsoft Store App Awards 2023 winners. It features winners selected by the community vote and honorable mentions picked by editors.
Moving on to the new features, the Microsoft Store will soon use AI to analyze reviews and generate summaries to help you learn what other customers think about the app or game without scrolling hundreds or thousands of reviews. The store will also get a dedicated AI hub to recognize apps that use artificial intelligence. And if you are a Windows app developer, Microsoft Partner Center will help you reach more people with AI-picked keywords for your project.
That is not all Microsoft announced for its app marketplace. Developers will soon be able to promote their applications in the Bing search results, and the store will feature a new ad spot. In addition, the recently launched Microsoft Store Ads program is expanding to more countries and regions.
And finally, Microsoft has prepared new features for progressive web apps and opened Android app submissions to all developers, allowing them to expand their audiences with Windows 11 customers.
Microsoft did not forget to treat its browser with a few upgrades. The browser will soon be redesigned with Mica and rounded corners, the Workspaces feature, and a dedicated mode for businesses and organizations.
- Improvements for Microsoft Designer and Bing Image Creator
- Improvements for Windows on ARM
- Microsoft Fabric—a new unified end-to-end analytics solution
- Public Preview of GitHub Advanced Security for Azure DevOps
As usual, this week, we received many software updates for apps, games, operating systems, firmware, and more. Microsoft announced the "Moment 3" update and later shipped it to those willing to get new Windows features as soon as they become available (make sure your PC meets the requirements). Check out our full review if you want to know what is new in the release. Here are the smaller Windows updates Microsoft released this week:
- KB5026436 for Windows 11 with fixes for SMB, LSASS, printers, and more
- KB5026435 for Windows 10 with notification and search box improvements
- Updated ISO files for Windows 11 and 10
Surface Firmware Updates:
Another noteworthy release this week is Microsoft's updated Windows 11 virtual machines. They are available for free during the evaluation period and provide access to various developer tools for making Windows apps. The VMs are available in four "flavors" for different virtualization software.
As usual, this week, we reported a few notable changes in Microsoft Edge's Canary Channel, where the company tests the waters for new features before shipping them to the general public. Users noticed a new gaming mode and the built-in VPN with an increased monthly data limit. In addition, an upcoming Edge update will introduce a taskbar-like sidebar you can permanently fix on the desktop.
- A big update for PowerToys with a new tool that lets you control several PCs with one mouse
- Changes in Google Chrome Canary that disable the recently introduced Mica material
- SwiftKe and Bing for Android with the latest Bing Chat features
- Authenticator Lite support in Outlook for iOS and Android
Not all updates were good: some users reported various issues with the latest cumulative updates for Windows 10, such as blue screens of death with the PROCESS1 INITIALIZATION FAILED error code. Check out Microsoft's recommendations on how to resolve the issue on affected systems. Also, Microsoft confirmed problems with copy/save on Windows 11 and bugs with 32-bit apps on Windows 10.
Microsoft treated insiders with many updates after a disappointing no_build week. Here are the latest Windows 11 builds to test:
- Canary: 25370 with TPM improvements, WPA3 support for Phone Link, and more.
- Canary: 25375 with Microsoft Endpoint DLP on WoA.
- Dev: 23466 with new features announced at Build 2023.
- Beta: KB5026440 with various fixes.
New and exciting features in the latest Windows 11 builds are rolling out gradually. If you do not want to wait to get them, check out our recent guides:
- How to enable taskbar labels and "never combine" mode
- How to enable Windows 11's new method to close apps and terminate processes
This week, we updated our list of the most anticipated games coming soon to the Xbox consoles in 2023, such as Mortal Kombat1, Layers of Fear, and others. Also, John Callaham published a look back at the original Xbox One unveiled ten years ago and its initial lukewarm reception. It is an interesting story showing how bad decisions and wrong priorities almost sunk Microsoft's ambitious project.
Microsoft continues making its games more cloud-friendly. This week, the company announced several titles for the Ukrainian-based cloud streaming service called Boosteroid. The initial list of supported games is a bit slim, but Microsoft promises to add more soon. And to back its promise, Microsoft released three more Xbox titles on NVIDIA's GeForce Now.
Cloud gaming is one reason the UK's CMA denied the approval of the Microsoft-ABK deal. To deal with the issue, Microsoft filed an appeal against the ruling.
In addition to releasing new games, Microsoft is constantly working on ensuring the platform is safe and friendly for all. The latest Xbox Transparency Report highlights Microsoft's proactive measures and moderation tools that prevent all sorts of nastiness from ruining the fun for gamers.
This week, I tested Microsoft's claim that enabling seconds on the system clock will make your computer consume more power. Check out this article for our findings.
Another noteworthy piece is the story about the cracked Windows XP activation algorithm. The OS released more than 21 years ago still generates a lot of interest from the community and leads to all sorts of interesting headlines.
And there goes another week in the world of Microsoft and everything around it. As usual, you can check out more news here and sign up for the Neowin Newsletter to get the latest stories regularly delivered directly to your inbox.