Microsoft Weekly: Skipping way ahead, updates everywhere, and more games

The end of yet another seven day cycle brings us neatly to the regular recap of the Redmond giant’s doings over the aforementioned period of time. The Insider Program saw a rather surprising addition this past week, and the usual pack of updates and gaming news was present too. Find all that - and the usual little bit extra – in your Microsoft digest for the week of February 9-15.

A hop and a skip to the next update

Over on the preview side of Microsoft’s software offerings, Tuesday brought with it the release of build 18334 of the Windows 10 SDK, which like previous iterations, doesn’t highlight any major changes. Two features called out are the Luminosity blend mode for AcrylicBrush, and a few changes to the Message Compiler – both present in previous builds. What is different is the absence of the PushNotificationChannelsRevokedEventArgs class, which was previously available.

Carrying the same number, a new preview of Windows Server showed up, fixing issues with in-place upgrades, CPU spikes, ADFS Request errors, and expired DHCP lease reuse. Another change worth noting is that the Server Core App Compatibility Feature on Demand (or FOD) now supports the Task Scheduler. In terms of issues, scheduled startup tasks may fail to run, self-service users are unable to install FOD packages or Language Packs via WSUS, SCCM or Autopilot, and attempting to do a system image recovery via network share may also fail with “A specified logon session does not exist. It may already have been terminated” as an error in tow.

In a bit of a plot twist for the Skip Ahead ring, users started receiving builds from the 20H1 branch – yes, that’s two updates ahead -, with the one from this week carrying number 18836. Because 20H1 isn’t meant to come out until the first half of next year, the feature set will be pretty much identical to that of 19H2 – which will take the place of 19H1 in the regular Fast ring – for the foreseeable future. 18836 fixes a number of minor design inconsistencies, as well as the Virus & threat protection bug.

There are issues of course, like anti-cheat software in games still triggering a bugcheck, Realtek SD card readers not functioning properly, and File Explorer hanging when trying to rename, delete, or even move MKV files.

Also worth noting, since you’re skipping ahead two feature versions, don’t plan on regular Fast ring and Skip Ahead aligning anytime soon.

Folks testing out 19H1 via the Slow ring will soon get their first ever build from this development branch. While this particular section of the Insider Program has pretty much been left alone for a while, a candidate build should arrive first to the Fast ring, after which it’ll be pushed to Slow ring users. Exactly when that is going to happen is still a guessing game at this point.

Tuesday of the patch variety

This past week was Patch Tuesday – which comes through every second Tuesday of the month -, so here’s what you need to be on the lookout for if you’re on Windows 10:

  • October 2018 Update (1809): KB4487044, build 17763.316 – along with the security updates for various components like the Microsoft Scripting Engine, Edge, and Server, there’s also a fix for the issue which allowed folks to bypass the HoloLens lock screen, and the Access 97 file format bug. Edge being unable to load a webpage using a local IP address is a known issue which the company says it will fix in a future update. In the meantime, you need to add the affected address to a zone (in Internet Options > Security > Trusted Sites), which should fix the issue upon browser restart.
  • April 2018 Update (1803): KB4487017, build 17134.590 – largely identical changelog, except the absence of a fix for Windows Hello for Business Hybrid Key Trust sign-in, present in the patch for 1809. The same Edge issue is also present, as is the inability to pin a web link to either the Start menu or the taskbar.
  • Fall Creators Update (1709): KB4486996, build 16299.967 – identical changelog to version 1803, with the same Edge issue present.
  • Creators Update (1703): KB4487020, build 15063.1631 – the changelog is the same, as is the presence of the aforementioned Edge bug.
  • Anniversary Update (1607) Enterprise, Education, LTSC, Server 2016: KB4487026, build 14393.2791 – beyond the changes listed above, the Edge issue in versions above is fixed, as is the bug with Outlook search, and the one which caused certain taskbar icons to appear incorrectly. As far as known issues go, SCVMM cannot enumerate and manage logical switches deployed on the host post-update, Windows may fail to start on Lenovo laptops with less than 8GB of RAM (after installing KB4467691), and the NERR_PasswordTooShort error is still there.
  • Windows 10 RTM (1507) LTSC: KB4487018, build 10240.18132 – adding to the changes described above, this patch also fixes the issue around 802.1x WLAN access point and hotspot authentication, the inability for some apps to display the Help window correctly, as well as a couple of bugs with date and time formats. There are no known issues.

Those on Windows 7 and 8.1 haven’t of course been forgotten, as these two operating systems are still very much supported. If you have either as a main OS, here’s what you need to be on the lookout for:

  • Windows 7 SP1, Server 2008 R2 SP1: KB 4486563 – the Access 97 file format bug has been fixed, top-level domain support for HSTS Preload on Edge and IE11 has been added, and a number of components like Windows App Platform and Frameworks, Graphics, Wireless Network, and JET Database Engine have gotten security updates. The known issue here concerns VMs, which may fail to restore successfully if they has been saved and restored before. The error code is 0xC0370027 and it affects the AMD Bulldozer Family 15h, Jaguar Family 16h, and Puma Family 16h CPUs. As a workaround for now, you need to shut down the VM before restarting the host, and a fix will be delivered “by mid-February”. The security-only update is KB4486564 and has the same known issue.
  • Windows 8.1, Server 2012 R2: KB4487000 – same changelog, same known issue. The security-only update is KB4487028.
  • Server 2012: KB4487025 – similar changelog (save for the IE11 and Edge HSTS support), and same known issue. The security-only update is KB4486993.

Games, games, and games some more

Fans of Microsoft’s first-party offerings will be happy to know that Crackdown 3 finally came out on Friday on PC and Xbox One, as well as part of Game Pass. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support multiplayer parties at launch, something which is a tad disappointing given its multiple delays.

On the bright side, you can now get Super Bomberman R on the Xbox One and Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy on both current and last-gen Xbox consoles for free if you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Also available, at long last, is the Xbox Onesie, which you can pre-order for $74.99 in black only, or $89.99 if you want the Fallout 76 edition. There’s no hint of when the white variant will be available to buy, and the clothing items are currently available just in the U.S. and Canada.

Speaking of the Xbox, version 1902 is now being rolled out to everybody, bringing improvements to FastStart in some titles. Version 1904 – said to arrive in April – will be a more feature-packed update, as 1902 was focused more on fixes.

Finally, the Backward Compatibility list grew by two additional titles, i.e. Orcs Must Die!, and The King of Fighters XIII, both of which are purchasable from the Xbox Marketplace if you happen to not own them. The total number of Backward Compatible games now sits at 567.

The Fast ring

  • Microsoft has patented a dynamic UAV delivery system.
  • Microsoft Teams will reportedly give you the ability to swap out your background by the end of 2019.
  • Teams now has dark theme support, the ability to record and send audio messages, and more on Android.
  • To-Do on Windows 10 and iOS has recently added more emojis and the ability to connect your Office 365 or Outlook account to Cortana.
  • A preview for Forms Pro is currently listed as rolling out on the Microsoft 365 roadmap.
  • A virtual launch event for Visual Studio 2019 will be held on April 2.
  • The new version of OneDrive for iOS has fixed a typo and brought a number of interface improvements.
  • Surface Pro 6, Laptop 2, Go, and Book 2 are all available with various discounts in the Microsoft Store.
  • Microsoft has patented a ‘toxicity shield’ meant for use in multiuser environments.
  • You can now see both your in-call chat and contact list at the same time in the Skype desktop app.

Hot corner

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.

  • A cheat sheet for better understanding SQL Server Backup to URL is available.
  • Third-party keyboards not being blocked via the Intune App Protection policy on iOS is a known issue, and there’s a workaround available.
  • Microsoft has made a number of enhancements to SharePoint pages, like the ability to customize title region, or the ability to add distinct section backgrounds.
  • Support for Windows 10 1709 and 1803 (in addition to 1809) has been added to the MSIX Packing Tool.
  • Roadmap will soon be enabled by default in the Office 365 Admin Center.

Logging off

We close things off with a couple of tidbits about the next iteration of HoloLens. While the upcoming variant would technically be version 3 – Microsoft didn’t release what would’ve been version 2 -, the HoloLens 2 is looking very likely to be announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

While MWC takes place February 25-28, the Redmond giant has released a teaser whose title contains “2.24.19”, which means that the next-generation HMD will be unveiled the day before this event starts. The video, while short and a tad cryptic – as most teasers are -, reveals what looks to be a woven material, with TheCyberKnight in the comments stating that it might be hinting at a carbon fiber weave.

The likelihood of an announcement is further compounded by a pair of patents related to better eye tracking and a wider field of view. Both will be implemented in a way that eschews traditional methods so as to not add to much bulk to the HMD (head-mounted display).

Regardless, we’re less than a week away from the big reveal, so there isn’t too long of a wait involved.

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

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