A bit of a printer mishap with Patch Tuesday, the ZeniMax acquisition now being official, and a farewell to Legacy Edge were all things that happened this week. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of March 7 – 13.
Patch Tuesday woes
To the surprise of perhaps very few, Microsoft pushed out the main set of security updates to its supported variants of Windows right on cue, on the second Tuesday of the month. If you’re on a Windows 10 system, these updates are:
- May 2020 Update / October 2020 Update (2004/20H2): KB5000802, builds 19041.867/19042.867;
- Known issue: The same user and system certificate bug that’s been plaguing these versions for a while;
- November 2019 Update (1909): KB5000808, build 18363.1440;
- Known issue: Same as the versions above;
- October 2018 Update (1809): KB5000822, build 17763.1817 – supported for Enterprise and Educations SKUs;
- April 2018 Update (1803): KB5000809, build 17134.2087 – supported for Enterprise and Educations SKUs;
- Creators Update (1703): KB5000812, build 15063.2679 – supported for the original Surface Hub;
- Anniversary Update (1607): KB5000803, build 14393.4283 – supported in the Long-Term Servicing Branch;
- Windows 10 RTM (1507): KB5000807, build 10240.18874 - supported in the Long-Term Servicing Branch;
It’s worth keeping in mind that for versions 20H2, 2004, 1909, 1809, and 1803 – so the supported feature updates for the years 2018, 2019, and 2020 -, you may experience an APC_INDEX_MISMATCH bugcheck (BSOD) when trying to use printers. Microsoft is aware of this issue and has provided a temporary workaround achieved via the Print Management console, though it is working on a more permanent fix.
Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 are still supported too – if you pay for Extended Security Updates in the case of the latter -, so here’s what folks on those systems need to be on the lookout for:
- Windows 8.1: KB5000848, KB5000853 (security-only) – addresses a range of security vulnerabilities, including CVE-2020-17049 and CVE-2021-1640.
- Known issue: The same “STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL (0xC0000A5)” error that’s been there for months.
- Windows 7 SP1: KB5000841, KB5000851 – includes broadly the same fixes as the Windows 8.1 set up updates.
- Known issue: Identical to the one in Windows 8.1.
That’s not to say that Patch Tuesday updates were the only things Microsoft released this week. There was also build 21327.1010 which landed in the Dev channel carrying no changes, and build 21332, whose claim to fame is that it removes 3D Viewer and Paint 3D on clean installs, much to the chagrin of the three folks out there that were using them. The apps aren’t going away, they just won’t be included with Windows by default anymore when you clean install the OS.
The build does contain a fair few fixes, but as you’d expect, also a number of known issues. That bug that sees the update process hang for extended periods of time is unfortunately still there.
To end the section on a high note, the company also released ISOs for the 21H1 preview version, namely build 19043 from the Beta channel. This is for those of you who would like to clean install the preview build for one reason or another.
Bethesda now with XGS
Earlier in the week, the EU gave the go-ahead for Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media. Initially announced on September 21, the day before Xbox Series S and X pre-orders went live, the $7.5 billion acquisition was subject to regulatory approval before being finalized. That was all wrapped up this week, with the SEC in the U.S. providing its approval on March 5.
As a result, the two companies hosted a roundtable event, where it was revealed that Game Pass would be gaining 20 Bethesda games – some of which will take advantage of FPS Boost -, and that future Bethesda titles (outside of existing contractual obligations) will be exclusive to platforms with Xbox Game Pass. In other words, going forward, you’ll see those titles on Xbox consoles, PC, on mobile devices via xCloud streaming, and any other platform that will allow Microsoft to push Game Pass. At this point, there’s a higher chance of hell freezing over than Game Pass landing on PlayStation, but weirder things have happened before.
It's also worth highlighting some other gaming news, such as the arrival of Forza Horizon 4 on Steam with Xbox cross-play (but not cross-save), the announcement that The Outer Worlds’ second story expansion, Murder on Eridanos will be available March 17, and that language labels have now been added to Xbox games on the Microsoft Store.
As always, there are a number of Deals with Gold to peruse for those looking to expand their library but don’t want to pay full-price for games.
No more old Edge
It’s no use dancing around the subject, ye olde Edge of 2015, otherwise known under it original codename of Project Spartan, is now no longer supported. As our very own Rich Woods has dubbed it, Dedge, due to being supplanted by the Chromium-based version - initially announced in 2018 and reached GA in 2020 – is now for all intents and purposes dead.
While EdgeHTML and Legacy Edge themselves are ending, support for WebView is not, and in fact has been enhanced via WebView2, supported in the latest variant of the browser. To draw a line in the sand, Microsoft will be removing Legacy Edge from Windows 10 systems with the April Patch Tuesday set of updates, provided you’re on version 1803 or newer. What’ll happen with 1607 and 1507 from the Long-Term Servicing Branches is as of yet unclear.
The firm isn’t waiting until April to move forward on certain platforms though, as Chromium Edge is starting to get rolled out to folks on Xbox, and the macOS version is ditching AutoUpdate in favor of the much more sane – and speedy – implementation that’s currently found on Windows.
Edge Dev 90.0.818.0 is also out, allowing folks to sort Collections, adding an option to disable the Dev Mode extensions popup, and more. Though coming later this year in version 92, Microsoft will also allow folks to sync the payment information across all signed-in devices, a feature set to debut after the ability to scan the Clipboard for relevant info, bulk password delete support, the expansion of the history search function, and more PDF improvements.
And finally, Microsoft has decided that four distinct channels really weren’t enough, so there’s now a fifth one. From most to least frequently updated we have Canary, Dev, Beta, and Stable, and joining the roster is now an Extended Stable channel.
All Chromium-browsers are set to adopt the four-week release schedule as outlined by Google, but the Extended Stable channel on Microsoft’s side is aimed at business, and will be updated every eight weeks. In essence, business customers will receive every other update and biweekly security updates.
- New firmware updates have been pushed out to the Surface Go and Laptop Go, with the Intel-powered Surface Laptop 3 getting some driver updates. In terms of new hardware, Microsoft is rumored to announce the Laptop 4 with last-gen Ryzen chips and current-gen Intel chips, as well as a new webcam this spring. For the few folks that were using it, the Cortana functionality in the Invoke speaker has now been removed.
- Dark mode for the unified Office app on Android is in the works, while Whiteboard is now in preview on the platform, but not for personal accounts. On the other end of the spectrum, the Microsoft Store for Business and Education may be killed off soon, while the company’s UserVoice feedback pages have already gone the way of the Dodo.
- Microsoft and Intel are collaborating with DARPA to help out with the Data Protection In Virtual Environments encryption project (otherwise known as DPRIVE), while the former has expanded its AccountGuard features to high-risk entities in 31 countries.
We end with a bit of news concerning the ongoing Exchange kerfuffle and some Microsoft event dates.
Let’s begin with the event dates, as a new video from leakster WalkingCat has seemingly revealed the dates for some of the company’s upcoming virtual gatherings. For one, there’s one that already happened, the March 2-4, 2021 variant of Ignite, then in chronological order Build (May 25-27), Ready (July 21-22) and finally, the fall version of Ignite (October 13-14).
The fact that the Build dates are listed as May 25-57, as well as the fact that fall Ignite is only two days have led to some folks speculating that these are merely placeholder dates. We’ll found out more in due time.
And speaking of time, Microsoft thought it was the time to release an advisory regarding the ongoing Exchange vulnerabilities.
For those not aware, this is concerning Exchange on-premises servers and there are numerous attacks taking place via exploitation of four vulnerabilities, either from state-sponsored groups or other bad actors.
Some reports state that over 30,000 organizations in the U.S. are affected, with Microsoft stating that of the 400,000 servers the company investigated on March 1, 300,000 had been patched by March 9, and that number rose to 318,000 only two days later. That still left around 82,000 exposed, but nevertheless, it’s still an impressive number to have patched in that short a time frame.
The Redmond giant is continuing to release patches and updates to its relevant blog posts, as well as guiding folks to make use of the CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) guidance.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.