We are at the close of another week which means that it is time yet again to recap everything that happened in the Microsoft-verse in the past few days. This week, we have news related to Microsoft changing its Windows release cadence (again), a bunch of Patch Tuesday updates, and a new Dev Channel build for Windows 11. Let's dive into our digest for July 9 - July 15.
Windows 12 (?)
This week, we learned via a rather interesting report that Microsoft is switching its release cadence for Windows yet again. The company will apparently be moving back to the three-year release cycle with new features being spread out between big releases. What this also means is that Windows 11 version 23H2 (Sun Valley 3) is being scrapped and the capabilities planned for that release will be added to version 22H2 (Sun Valley 2) eventually. Then, in 2024, Microsoft will roll out a brand-new version of Windows. It's unclear at this point if it will be called Windows 12 or something else, but we do know that it's being referred to as "Next Valley" internally. Microsoft naturally hasn't confirmed any of the claims made in this report.
In related news, if you're an IT admin who wants to hand over the update deployment reins to Microsoft, you'll be happy to know that Windows Autopatch is now generally available. It's only been rolled out to Enterprise E3 and E5 customers and is pitched as a way to automate updates while empowering IT admins to ensure that endpoints are healthy and compliant through ring-based, staggered deployments. IT admins also have the ability to reverse updates easily if something does go wrong.
But if you're tired of all these Windows release shenanigans and are considering switching operating systems, Google may have something for you. The tech giant has made its cloud-first operating system Chrome OS Flex generally available for Windows and Mac users. The benefit is that you'll be able to run Chrome OS on your existing hardware (minus Android apps) with a lower power draw and an overall reduction in e-waste.
At the same time, if you are running an older version of Windows, such as Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and use Microsoft 365 Apps heavily, do consider upgrading to a newer version of Windows in order to receive security updates and support after January 10, 2023. A supported version of Windows will also become the requirement for new installs after the aforementioned date.
The second Tuesday of the month also occurred within the past few days, and that obviously means that we received a bunch of Patch Tuesday updates.
Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 received KB5015861 and KB5015874, respectively. The most notable change is present in the latter OS where Microsoft will start showing an End of Support (EOS) dialog box reminding users that Windows 8.1 will reach end of life in January 2023, while also urging people to upgrade to a newer version of Windows. Other changes across the operating systems include NTLM authentication improvements, AppLocker enhancements, and fixes for Wi-Fi hotspots. There are also quite a few known issues so do check out the details here.
Meanwhile, Windows 10's Patch Tuesday was distributed under KB5015807. The update primarily packs a bunch of security updates but there are also three known issues, so do be mindful of them impacting you if you upgrade. That said, all the bugs fortunately have workarounds.
Finally, Windows 11 netted KB5015814 which "addresses an issue that redirects the PowerShell command output so that transcript logs do not contain any output of the command. Consequently, the decrypted password is lost." There are also two known bugs with workarounds, but they are only applicable to IT admins.
Some people have been complaining about the Patch Tuesday build for Windows 11 introducing new bugs including boot loops, problems accessing the Start Menu, and the update itself failing to install. Microsoft is yet to acknowledge and officially comment on these problems.
And while it's not related to a specific Windows build, Microsoft has cautioned about some search issues in Outlook Desktop in Windows 11. There is a workaround though, if you are impacted.
Interestingly, back in July 2021, Microsoft broke print and scanning for customers using Smart Card authentication. Although the company issued some mitigations to fix the issue, it has now announced that it will be removing these mitigations on July 19. All organizations will be required to use compliant devices without fallback options.
Windows 11 Dev Channel build 25158
The Windows 11 Dev Channel received build 25158 in the latest drop. This is a relatively significant build because it packs a bunch of new features. That said, you should remember that the functionalities present in this build are not intended for general rollout in Windows 11 version 22H2, arriving later this year.
Some of the capabilities in tow include notification badging for Widgets, new Windows Search styles for the Taskbar, and lots of bug fixes.
Another interesting capability is support for DNS over TLS (DoT). This is an alternative for DNS over HTTPS (DoH) that is already built into Windows 11. This protocol could enable faster network performance in some use-cases but you'd also lose some of the flexibility offered by DoH.
Build 25158 is not all good news, though. There is a new bug that messes up weather information in the Widget. That said, minor issues like these are expected in pre-release builds and Microsoft has already confirmed that it is looking into the problem.
The Dev Channel as a whole has received a couple of apps updates too. The Media Player can now rip CDs, something which will likely be welcomed by the old-school crowd. Currently supported formats include AAC, WMA, FLAC, and ALAC. Meanwhile, the Camera app has been updated with some Windows 11 design aesthetics and support for QR code and barcode scanning.
Finally, the Release Preview Channel also received some love in the form of build 22000.829 (KB5015882). There are a lot of improvements in this build but there is also a known issue related to the Weather Widget (again), you can check out all the details here.
We'll kick off our latest gaming section with news about Epic Games confirming support for Microsoft DirectStorage in Unreal Engine 5. Although we don't have an ETA on when this will actually happen, a senior Epic Games executive noted that DirectStorage can help with Virtual Textures (VT) once the next-gen storage API gets proper support from Nanite, which is Unreal Engine 5's virtualized geometry system.
And talking about how innovations in tech are further enhancing gameplay experiences, it might please you to know that Minecraft on iOS can now be enjoyed with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. On the other hand, Age of Empires IV players can participate in Season Two which includes a new camera, map picking, and a lot more. Meanwhile, Halo Infinite players can finally dive into the co-op campaign playtest, which will end on August 1.
But if you're more interested in grabbing games on the cheap or claiming them via a subscription, you'll want to check out this week's Deals with Gold, headlined by Call of Duty and LEGO titles. Meanwhile, For the King, MLB The Show 22, and Tropico 6 are being offered via Xbox's Free Play Days, and Torchlight and Relicta are now free via Xbox Games with Gold.
But if you're a PC purist, don't miss out on this selection of deals from various storefronts, curated by our very own Pulasthi Ariyasinghe.
- Surface Duo with Windows 11 has received working Wi-Fi, Cellular, eSIM, and GPS
- Microsoft Teams will now allow meeting organizers to assign seats in Together Mode
- Surface Pro X (Wi-Fi) has received the July firmware update
- Microsoft will help Netflix to introduce a cheaper subscription tier with ads powered by the Redmond tech giant
- Microsoft PowerToys 0.60.1 has a fix for context menus in Windows 11
Under the spotlight
In his latest edition of Tech Tip Tuesday, Adam Bottjen - better known as "Warwagon" in the forums - wrote a handy tip about how you can use a shortcut to pin windows to your preferred side of the screen. If this sounds interesting to you, check out the details here.
Meanwhile, News Reporter Taras Buria penned a guide about how you can install the public beta for iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 on a supported device. If you're an iPhone or iPad owner who wants to check out the latest features (at your own risk) planned by Apple, do read the detailed guide here.
Our most interesting news item of the week is related to a joke screenshot about Microsoft working on "EdgeOS". While the fake screenshot is arguably funny, it's not that far from reality considering all the bloat (?) that Microsoft has been adding to its browser lately. It remains to be seen when Microsoft will announce EdgeOS as a full-fledged operating system... I kid, I kid.
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