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Microsoft Weekly: Windows 11 criticism, Edge improvements, and app updates

Microsoft Weekly promo with Windows 11 and programmer clipart on the left and Edge logo on the right

We are at the start of September and it's the end of yet another week of 2022, which means that it's time to sit back, relax, and read Microsoft Weekly. This is our regular digest of news meant to bring you up to speed on everything that went on in the world of Microsoft in the past few days. This week's edition includes lots of news related to Windows 11 (as always), and some about Microsoft Edge and cybersecurity. Find out more in our latest digest covering August 27 - September 2!

Windows 11 criticism

Start menu in Windows 11

We'll start this section off with Microsoft's former User Design chief being "shocked" at the company's implementation of the Start menu and the associated Windows Search functionality. These comments were publicly made on Twitter by Jensen Harris, who left Microsoft in 2014 after a tenure of 16 years. Harris pointed out some glaring inconsistencies and claimed that an ad for Bing Wallpaper on top of the search bar actually looks like a virus. His criticism of the software and Microsoft's current design practices is quite lengthy, but you can find out all the details here.

Even if Microsoft is allegedly faltering in the design front, the company is making some gains on the backend. A Microsoft engineer recently talked in detail about how SMB compression is being significantly improved in Windows 11. And if you're prepping for version 22H2 of the OS on an Intel PC, don't forget to grab the latest Wi-Fi drivers too.

Speaking more about Windows 11, Oracle VirtualBox finally supports it as a host OS in its latest version. If mixing and matching operating systems is your thing, you might also be interested to know that Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) recently received its August 2022 update - as version 2207.40000.8.0. The update includes improvements to the Amazon Appstore and bug fixes for the app restart issue, among many other things.

Another thing that may catch your interest is the unearthing of an old Windows 10 build which contains indications of how long Microsoft had been planning Windows 11's strict hardware requirements.

To cap this all off, several Insider builds were rolled out this week too. The Windows 11 Dev Channel received build 25193 with Xbox subscription management in Settings, along with lots of improvements to File Explorer and the Start menu. Meanwhile, the usual hidden and A/B testing features also include the restoration of the new tablet UI and the half-baked tray area.

The Beta Channel also netted build 22621.590 / 22622.590 with enhancements to File Explorer, OneDrive, and Robocopy. Finally, Windows Server vNext Preview Build 25192 is available too, but as usual, there is no changelog.

Microsoft Edge builds

An illustration of developers working on improving the Edge browser

It wasn't just Windows which received all the builds, Microsoft Edge got some updates in this week too. Version 105 of the browser landed on the Stable Channel this week. It's not a particularly big update but it includes some improvements to Cloud Site List Management experience for IE mode as well as some security enhancements.

A Dev build landed in the form of version 106.0.1363.0 too. It's a nifty update that includes enhanced policies for Efficiency mode and fixes a bunch of bugs too.

In terms of the latest browser market share numbers, Edge remained mostly stagnant. There was an increase of 0.05 percentage points, but that is well within the margins of error. Overall, Microsoft Edge is still a very distant second in the browser race with its market share of 10.91%. Google Chrome leads the pack with 67.33%.

Talking about browsers, it's also worth knowing about all the features in Microsoft Excel in August 2022. This includes multiple platforms, including web, Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.

App updates and cybersecurity

A logo for Microsoft Exchange with a laptop and a grim reaper icon

Microsoft disclosed a TikTok bug this week, obviously after privately sharing it with ByteDance first and getting it fixed before publicly announcing it. The Android version of TikTok was affected and allowed attackers to access user accounts with a single click and without their knowledge. Fortunately, the vulnerability has now been plugged.

Another interesting thing that happened is that Microsoft announced that it will allow IT admins to re-enable Basic Authentication for Exchange Online until the end of this year. This is in contrast to its previous announcement where it said that Basic Auth will be disabled in a staggered manner for everyone starting from next month and everyone would have to migrate to Modern Authentication (OAuth 2.0) by then without exception.

Switching over to app updates, you should know that Microsoft To Do is now rolling out to Outlook for Windows. Meanwhile, Office for iOS now supports PowerPoint slides in portrait mode as well as a toggle option for dark mode in Word. The Redmond tech giant is also rebuilding Stream mobile app from scratch with a beta now available.

Over on the cloud side, Microsoft has agreed to alter its license terms to allow more competition from smaller cloud providers in the European Union (EU). Its Azure virtual machines powered by Ampere Altra ARM processor have begun rolling out too.

Finally, there are some hardware-related upgrades to talk about as well. A new report has suggested that Microsoft could be merging its Surface Pro and Surface Pro X into a single lineup. In the same vein, promotional photos of the new keyboard, mouse, and pen for the upcoming Surface Studio 3 have leaked as well. Finally, the Surface Duo 2's source code has indicated that Microsoft may have been considering a Wi-Fi-only model for the hardware. The cellular-less Surface Duo concept is yet to become a reality though.

Git gud

A graphic showing Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard

Microsoft faced a bit of a setback this week when the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) raised quite a few concerns about its mega acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The regulator has cited the potentially anti-competitive nature of the deal, saying that Microsoft needs to satisfy its concerns within a couple of days or face a more detailed "Phase 2" investigation from an independent panel of experts.

Another bad piece of news that landed in Microsoft's camp in the past few days is that couch co-op has been canceled entirely and Season 3 has been delayed to March 2023. You can check out the updated roadmap here.

Switching gears to some good news now though. The Xbox Game Pass Friends & Family plan is now official. It allows up to five members to share the benefits of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate at a price of €21.99/month in Ireland, which is great bang for your buck offer considering an individual membership costs €12.99/month.

If you enjoy streaming Xbox games from the cloud, you might be happy to know that Windows 11 Insiders can now launch cloud-streaming games directly from the controller bar. In related news, Microsoft has announced that it is moving to Linux distro CBL-Mariner to host its Xbox storefronts across all platforms due to the clear long-term roadmap of the OS. Windows 11 is the OS that is becoming popular among gamers though, it now has a 24% market share according to Steam's latest hardware survey.

Wrapping up this section, we have the latest Deals with Gold headlined by Bioshock and Cities: Skylines, September's Games with Gold featuring Thrillville and Gods will Fall, and as usual, this Weekend's PC Game Deals handpicked by News Editor Pulasthi Ariyasinghe.

Dev Channel

An image combining light and dark macOS Ventura wallpapers

Under the spotlight

iode screenshots

Neowin co-founder Steven Parker gave a re-purposed Galaxy Note10 from a company called iodé. The product has a rather interesting pitch where it offers you your privacy back by essentially "de-Googling" you. It's a rather intriguing option if you're privacy-conscious, check out Steven's thoughts here.

Picture of the QNAP TS-233 power supply box and Ethernet cable

Meanwhile, Neowin's Christopher White reviewed the QNAP TS-233, which he described as a two-bay NAS for "modest" needs. If you're tech-savvy and looking for cheap, local storage solutions, give Christopher's piece a read here.

Tech Tip Aero Shake

Finally, Neowin's forum member Adam Bottjen - also known as "Warwagon" - wrote a guide on how you can enable Aero Shake on Windows 10 and Windows 11. It may be a handy capability for some, find out if you are one of those people by taking a gander at Adam's piece here.

Logging off

Microsoft Teams and no internet logo on a China flag

Our most interesting news item this week is quite unusual. Microsoft has announced that Teams users in China may face a degraded experience throughout the entire month of September. This is due to a maintenance window in which Microsoft is upgrading the dedicated network that Teams users in China use. In the meantime, Teams users in the region will have to rely on the regular internet infrastructure used by all of China, which may result in performance degradation. There is one rather odd workaround, you can find out what it is here.

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Missed any of the previous columns? Check them all out at this link.

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