These past seven days, we’ve seen Microsoft’s impressive Q4 results for its 2019 financial year, the confirmation of public testing of Project xCloud at gamescom, and the arrival of a bunch of updates. You can find that – as well as the usual little bit extra – below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of July 13-19.
Q4 FY19 results
One of the biggest bits of news this week was the reveal of Microsoft’s results for the fourth quarter of its fiscal year 2019.
The firm brought in $33.7 billion in revenue (up 12%), had an operating income of $12.4 billion (up 20%), and a net income of $13.2 billion (up 49%). Diluted earnings per share was $1.71, a 50% improvement.
When reporting these results, the Seattle-based company usually splits it into three categories: More Personal Computing, Intelligent Cloud, and Productivity and Business Processes. The change on this occasion is that Intelligent Cloud brought in more revenue than More Personal Computing.
Intelligent Cloud generated $11.4 billion in revenue (up 19% year-over year), More Personal Computing brought in $11.3 billion (a 4% increase), while Productivity and Business Processes brought in $11 billion (a 14% increase).
Starting with the first category mentioned in the previous paragraph, we see server products and cloud services growing 22% - on the back of Azure’s 64% growth. Server products themselves grew 5%, and Enterprise Mobility grew 41% to 116 million seats.
The second category kicks off with Windows OEM Pro revenue registering an 18% growth (with non-Pro revenue declining 8%). Windows Commercial products and cloud services growing 13%, with Surface revenue increasing 14% - the commercial segment being credited for this last one.
Gaming revenue declined 10% - with hardware revenue down 48% -, though Xbox software and services grew 3%, and Xbox Live monthly users grew 14% to 65 million.
The third category saw an increase in Office Commercial products and cloud services by 14% overall – on the back of 31% growth from Office 365 Commercial seats, and a 23% revenue increase per user. Regular Office Commercial products declined by 17%, Office 365 consumer subscribers grew to 34.8 million (up from 34.2 million last quarter), while Office consumer products and cloud services grew by 6%.
LinkedIn grew by 25%, with sessions growing 22%, while Dynamics products and cloud services were up 12% overall due to the 45% increase in Dynamics 365.
Lastly, because of higher revenue per search, the company’s search advertising revenue grew by 9%.
xCloud public testing
Regardless of your opinion on game streaming and its various limitations, companies are indeed dipping their toes in this market, with Stadia, and of course Microsoft’s Project xCloud being among the ones we know about right now.
As stated by Xbox Head Phil Spencer in a recent interview, the company’s streaming solution isn’t meant to replace consoles, but rather complement existing solutions. The exec further underlined that this is being built “for the next decade”, mentioning that there are many ways to approach this offer depending on what gamers want to do with it, whether they already own Xbox games, and so on.
Another tidbit in the aforementioned interview was the reveal of the Xbox One S-based server template (if you will) that xCloud will make use of. It’s interesting that the company isn’t using the One X as its base. With that said, Scarlett being a bit over a year away may explain why the One S and not the X is being utilized, with potential upgrades arriving once the new console launches.
Speaking of launching, Project xCloud is set to enter public preview in October, but Microsoft has already let folks present get hands-on previews at E3 2019 last month. It has confirmed it will do the same at gamescom in August this year, and that it will kick off the event at 5PM CEST/ 8AM PDT on August 19 with a special episode of Inside Xbox.
If you are inside of the Xbox Alpha ring, you can now start testing version 1908, specifically build 18362.6039 which adds a number of stability fixes and, as per Xbox PM Brad Rossetti, “fixes we need asap to measure build quality.”
Folks with an Xbox Live Gold subscription can now pick up Big Crown: Showdown and Meet the Robinsons for free, while Game Pass members can already play Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain on console, as well as Night Call and The Banner Saga 3 on both console and PC. A little later this month, on the 25, For the King and Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition will also arrive on the subscription on both platforms, with Resident Evil 4 only being available on console the same day.
If you’re a fan of Gears of War and are specifically looking forward to the fifth installment, the title’s Tech Test took place on July 19. If you missed the first round don’t worry, as the second test will take place July 26. It must be said that access to the Tech Test is given to those who have either pre-ordered the title, or are Xbox Game Pass subscribers.
Folks interested in Rare’s cartoony pirate adventure Sea of Thieves should have a look at the 2.0.5 update. This marks the return of the monthly feature updates and adds Black Powder voyages which task players with finding explosive barrels which can then be traded in for reputation with the various factions. The update comes in at 6.4GB on console, and 5.5GB on PC.
Finally, if none of that piqued your interest, there’s also the Xbox Super Game Sale, which is on for the next nine days and knocks 50% off all Forza Horizon 4 editions, 20% off Cuphead, 75% off Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, and more.
Despite last week being Patch Tuesday, long gone are the days when Microsoft would only release updates on the specific second Tuesday of the month. As such, some of the Windows 10 variants out there have gotten a few optional patches at the top of the week. They are as follows:
- April 2018 Update (1803): KB4507466, build 17134.915 – includes updates for issues preventing a device from recognizing a Microsoft account until the user signs out and back in, various bugs related to application file, folder, and device settings management, improved compatibility with the Window-Eyes screen reader, and the preservation of App permission settings when resetting a device.
- Known issues: Operations like rename may fail when performed on files or folders within a Cluster Shared Volume (STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL 0xC00000A5); A small number of devices may experience startup to a black screen during first logon – restarting the system should fix the problem; Devices that start up using PXE images from WDS or SCCM may fail to start with error “Status: 0xc0000001, Info: A required devices isn’t connected or can’t be accessed”.
- Fall Creators Update (1709) Enterprise, Education: KB4507465, build 16299.1296 – includes patches for bugs related to application file, folder, and device settings management, and improves compatibility with Window-Eyes.
- Known issues: Operations like rename may fail when performed on files or folders within a Cluster Shared Volume (STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL 0xC00000A5); Devices that start up using PXE images from WDS or SCCM may fail to start with error “Status: 0xc0000001, Info: A required devices isn’t connected or can’t be accessed”.
- Creators Update (1703) Enterprise, Education: KB4507467, build 15063.1955 - includes patches for bugs related to application file, folder, and device settings management, and improves compatibility with Window-Eyes.
- Known issues: Operations like rename may fail when performed on files or folders within a Cluster Shared Volume (STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL 0xC00000A5).
- Anniversary Update (1607), Server 2016: KB4507459, build 14393.3115 - includes patches for bugs related to application file, folder, and device settings management, and improves compatibility with Window-Eyes.
- Known issues: SCVMM cannot enumerate and manage local switches deployed on the host; After installing KB4467684, the cluster service may fail to start with error “2245 (NERR_PasswordTooShort)” if group policy “Minimum Password Length” is configured to more than 14 characters; Operations like rename may fail when performed on files or folders within a Cluster Shared Volume (STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL 0xC00000A5); Devices that start up using PXE images from WDS or SCCM may fail to start with error “Status: 0xc0000001, Info: A required device isn’t connected or can’t be accessed”.
In addition to the optional updates above, the Insider program got a few new entries too, like 19H2 build 18362.10006, which landed in the Slow ring on Thursday. Among the changes in this build there’s more flexibility in terms of configuration of ink latency based on hardware capabilities, key-rolling and key-rotation for password recovery, the ability to run mismatched Windows containers, and the enabling of access for third-party digital assistants above the Lock screen.
For its part, the Fast ring got build 18941 from the 20H1 branch, which updates the Korean IME, right after the Chinese and Japanese IME updates from before.
As for fixes, explorer.exe should no longer crash when you start a search from the OneDrive folder in File Explorer, folks shouldn’t experience large amounts of lag anymore, and Settings should now work as expected when clicking the microphone section under Privacy Settings – instead of crashing. Additionally, searching for advanced Windows Update settings should now direct you to the proper place rather than the main Windows Update page.
The known issues are for the most part identical to the previous build, apart from a new issue with the Japanese IME, and a workaround for boot loops with error code c1900101. You can check out the workaround at the end of this post.
The Redmond giant also released its roadmap for the new Edge for businesses, and as expected, it includes IE Mode, cross-platform support, standards compliance, and more. Support for Group Policies is included, as is enterprise-grade PDF support, Mobile Device Management through Intune and third-party offerings, as well as other features. It’s no surprise that given how important stability is in a business environment, Microsoft wants companies to use the currently most stable branch available, Edge Dev.
If you do use Chromium Edge (or Edgium) for your day-to-day browsing needs, there’s better Windows 10 integration on the way. Because Microsoft is a contributor to the Chromium project and it just made available the modern printer panel for Chrome Canary, it’s safe to say this capability could arrive to Edge Canary quite soon.
Those of you on Edge Dev (188.8.131.52) on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 can check out dark mode, which is available right now. And yes, global media playback controls seem to be on the way for Edgium, mirroring Google’s efforts with its browser.
In other news, Dynamics 365 Layouts has gotten improved HoloLens 2 support, locked layouts, improved localization support, and more. Joining it on the improvements front is OneDrive for iOS, which has a new header, updated UI, improved Recents view, an enhanced PDF annotation experience, signature-friendly updates, refreshed file picker, and a clearer Settings page.
Sticking to mobile devices, Outlook may be getting a dark mode, if leaked renders are to be believed. For its part, the OneNote beta on Android has started the transition to dark mode, though not in its entirety. It’s only available to a select few testers, and it doesn’t currently change the colour of the notebook pages.
Last but not least, Skype SMS Connect will be retired on August 30, with Microsoft suggesting you switch to the Your Phone app.
The Fast ring
- Microsoft has detailed the improvements it is making to Azure reliability.
- Microsoft, Lenovo, and Nvidia have partnered to create digital distribution centers.
- Microsoft Exchange now has a Fluent Design icon.
- The Cortana – Beta app from the Store now works for Insiders.
- The Surface Laptop 2 is available up to $300 off – depending on the config - until July 28.
- The Surface Hub 2 camera and pen have showed up in the Microsoft Store.
- AT&T and Microsoft have signed a multiyear deal revolving around cloud, AI, and 5G.
- ElectionGuard, the Redmond giant’s voting system has been demoed, and the pilot program is launching next year.
- There are now new ways to train custom language models with Microsoft’s Video Indexer.
- Some Office 365 are apparently getting an offer of three months of Adobe CC Photography.
Hot corner is a section of The Fast ring dedicated to highlighting five Microsoft-related stories that haven’t been covered over here, but might be of interest.
- Version 1.57.0 of the Storage Migration Service WAC extension is now available.
- Multi-protocol access for Azure Data Lake Storage is now available in preview.
- Microsoft currently has a promotional price in place – $0.018/hour – for the Basic plan of Azure App Service for Linux apps.
- Azure Monitor for containers that use Prometheus is now available in preview form.
- You can now check out the preview of the Direct Line Speech channel in the Azure Bot Service without the need to sign up for access.
We end with a bit of May 2019 Update news concerning both users on older versions of Windows 10 regardless of device, and those with a Surface Book 2.
Starting with Book 2, folks may see that the May 2019 Update (version 1903) has been blocked on their device due to a GPU bug. Until the issue is resolved – in a future update, as stated by the company – all Book 2s are being blocked from receiving 1903 due to compatibility.
If however you are running Windows 10 1803 and have a different device, Microsoft will start auto-updating you to 1903. This is happening because 1803 will no longer be supported starting November 12, and as such, the company wants you to be on a supported variant of the OS. Even so, you’ll still be able to pause the update for up to 35 days regardless if you’re on Windows 10 Home or Pro.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.