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Microsoft Weekly: Windows 12 rumors, Microsoft Store updates, and more

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In this episode of Microsoft Weekly, we look at new Windows "12" rumors, Microsoft's plans to develop custom AI chips for Bing Chat and its components, fresh Windows 11 preview builds, taskbar changes, app updates, and many more.

Table of contents:

  1. Windows 11 news
  2. Updates are available
  3. Gaming news
  4. Reviews are in
  5. A blast from Microsoft's past
  6. Random fact about Microsoft

Windows 11

Here we talk about everything happening around Microsoft's latest operating system in the Stable channel and preview builds: new features, removed features, controversies, bugs, interesting findings, and more. And of course, you may find a word or two about older but still supported versions.

Let us start the Windows 11 section of Microsoft Weekly with a fresh stats drop from Statcounter and Valve. Statcounter's latest findings show that less than 24% of all PC users run Windows 11. The operating system's growth has slowed down slightly, leading to it maintaining a relatively unchanged market share for eight consecutive months.

Things are slightly better on the gaming side: Valve claims Windows 11 has more than 37% on Steam. However, its market share decreased compared to the previous month. The Windows 11 Moment 4 update may help the operating system get more users. Still, you should not expect many changes for at least two more months since the broad availability is anticipated only in November 2023. Until then, the Moment 4 update remains an optional non-security update. You can click here to learn how to install it right now.

One of the changes introduced in the Moment 4 update is the new Windows Backup app. However, it is not exclusive to Windows 11—Microsoft also released it for Windows 10 users, leading to a mixed reception from IT admins. To calm the enraged crowd and make it put pitchforks down, Microsoft released a statement claiming the company would release an update to prevent the Windows Backup app from appearing for Azure Active Directory or Active Directory users. At the same time, the company clarified that the app is a system component, so you cannot remove it.

A screenshot of the Windows Backup app in Windows 11

The previous Microsoft Weekly covered a story about missing Windows Copilot in the EU due to the Digital Markets Act. As it later turned out, it might be for better: Windows 11 users with AMD graphics cards complained about their systems losing overclocking and tuning profiles after each reboot. And the funniest part is that turning off Windows Copilot resolved the problem for some.

But there is more! KB5030310, aka the "Moment 4" update, is also messing with Wallpaper Engine, a popular third-party app for animated desktop backgrounds. And as a cherry on top, you now get ads when using Copilot in Windows 11Microsoft gotta pay somehow for those expensive GPUs powering the thing.

Interestingly, Microsoft might soon have a solution for that problem. According to newly published reports, the company will reveal plans to introduce its own generative AI processors to power Bing Chat, Bing Image Creator, Copilot, and other AI-powered developments requiring astronomical amounts of horsepower. Per latest rumors, Microsoft will share more details during its Ignite 2023 developer conference scheduled for November 14-17.

An AI-generated picture of a CPU
This is how Bing Image Creator imagines a Microsoft-made processor for powerful AI computing.

Next week will mark the end of support for several Windows versions. On October 10, 2023, Microsoft will stop issuing security updates and patches for the original Windows 11 release, also known as version 21H2, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2. If you use one of those operating systems, it is time to consider updating to something more recent to avoid potential security risks.

With Windows 11 entering its third year of service and rumors pilling up on the next release, users are getting increasingly agitated about Windows "12." This week, a report emerged about Microsoft potentially making its next-gen operating system subscription-based, sparking a heated customer dispute. However, it later turned out those rumors were false.

Still, that does not mean Windows "12" is not coming. An Intel executive revealed in interview that the upcoming "Windows refresh" in the second half of 2024 will help the company sell its chips.

A Windows 12 concept image

Windows Insider Program

Here is what is new in the Windows Insider Program this week:

Updates are available

This section covers software, firmware, and other notable updates (released and coming soon) delivering new features, security fixes, improvements, patches, and more from Microsoft and third parties.

One of the biggest news on the updates side is OneDrive 3.0, a big update for Microsoft's cloud storage. The latest update features a fancy new UI and plenty of new capabilities, such as a new "For you" area with AI-powered file recommendations (because everything nowadays needs AI recommendations), context-based file organization, a new page for shared files, various customization features, better integration with various apps, and more.

onedrive home

Microsoft officially killed 32-bit Windows editions in 2021 with the release of Windows 11. The company's latest operating system is 64-bit only, and third-party developers are slowly ditching 32-bit Windows support. This week, Discord announced plans to discontinue its 32-bit version on December 1, 2023. Although the service will continue operating on 32-bit Windows versions, developers will not release new features or security updates. Therefore, Discord will stop working on your 32-bit Windows PC at some point.

The recently announced Surface Laptop Studio 2 and Surface Laptop Go 3 are now available. If you plan to buy or already received one, make sure to check Windows Update and install available updates. Microsoft has released a set of day-one patches to improve your user experience. Although there are no specific details about what exactly the updates enhance, their changelogs contain plenty of new drivers, so be sure to get them.

A picture of the Surface Laptop Studio 2

By the way, check out a neat Easter egg when setting up your new Surface devices. Users noticed that the onboarding experience (OOBE or initial setup) now lets you play the Surf game while the operating system prepares itself for work. For those unfamiliar, Surf is a game Microsoft developed for the Edge browser, and you can play it by visiting the edge://surf link. It commemorates the legendary SkiFree game from the Microsoft Entertainment pack from 1991.

In addition to updating Surface Laptop Studio 2 and Surface Laptop Go 3 firmware, Microsoft released new patches for the Surface Studio 2+ and Surface Pro 8. The update improves wireless connectivity and overall system stability.

The Microsoft Store received several updates this week. The Windows 11 app now features redesigned pages for Windows 10 and 11 license pages with consistent visuals and comparison tables between various editions to help customers select the right license. The company also rolled out a new apps.microsoft.com website with fresh looks and new features to match the app on Windows 10 and 11.

microsoft store

Finally, here is the latest issue of our Microsoft 365 Roadmap Weekly, a series where we cover all the upcoming changes and new capabilities for Microsoft Teams, Office apps, OneDrive, and other services from Microsoft. The latest edition mentions performance improvements for OneDrive for the web, iCloud account support in the new Outlook app for Windows, and new capabilities for Microsoft Teams Rooms.

A few interesting reports emerged about Bing this week. For starters, at some point, Microsoft was willing to pay Apple as much as $15 billion per year to make Bing the default search engine on iPhones and iPads. In addition, Satya Nadella offered to hide Bing's name and respect Apple's privacy policies, all just to remove Google from iOS devices. According to a report, Nadella has been trying to replace Google with Bing (which cost Microsoft about $100 billion to develop) as the default search engine on Apple devices since becoming Microsoft's CEO in 2014. As we all know it, his attempts never yielded any result.

Here are other notable software updates released this week:

  • PowerToys 0.74.1 with fixes for FancyZones, SVG viewer, Quick Accent, and more.
  • VeraCrypt 1.26.7 with bootloader, memory encryption, and plenty of other improvements for the popular encryption app.
  • Microsoft Edge 119.0.2132 Dev with new notifications, flags, bug fixes, and more.

And here are the new drivers released this week:

  • Intel Arc with support for Forza Motorsport and Assassin's Creed Mirage, plus performance improvements for DirectX 11 and 12 titles.

On the gaming side

Learn about upcoming game releases, Xbox rumors, new hardware, software updates, freebies, deals, discounts and more.

Microsoft is finally on track to close its ever-going Activision-Blizzard purchase. A new report emerged this week claiming Microsoft is ready to finalize the merger on October 13, 2023. After numerous back-and-forth with the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the UK's CMA, the company finally has the green light to proceed with its humongous $69 billion acquisition.

Mojang has partnered with NERF to release the NERF World Minecraft DLC. It is now available on supported platforms, allowing you to play with NERF guns solo or with your friends in several areas. Shoot mobs to earn Nerf bucks to later spend on new blasters, including the Ender Dragon blaster.

minecraft nerf world

The first wave of October 2023 additions to the Xbox and PC Game Pass catalog is here. It includes the new Forza Motorsport, From Space, Like A Dragon: Ishin, and more. Note that several games, such as Eville, Overwhelm, Shenzhen I/O, and more, will leave the subscription soon.

Speaking of games leaving Xbox and PC Game Pass soon, Microsoft is working on a new notification system to remind users that the game they are about to play will soon be delisted from the catalog. The new notification is now available for testing in the Xbox Insider program in the Alpha Skip-Ahead, Alpha, and Beta Channels.

NVIDIA also has a catalog of games playable on its cloud platform, GeForce NOW. In October 2023, 60 different games will be available to play, including Microsoft's newest Forza Motorsport, Alan Wake 2, Cities Skylines 2, Metro: 2033 Redux, Surviving Mars, MudRunner, and many more. However, it is worth noting that you must own the titles you want to play. Unlike Xbox Game Pass and Microsoft's Cloud Gaming, NVIDIA only gives you access to hardware, requiring you to bring your own games to the party.

Finally, Microsoft announced a new Special Edition Xbox Wireless Controller. It is called Gold Shadow, and it features a blacked-out case with a two-tone golden front panel. The new gamepad is now available for pre-order at the Microsoft Store, with availability scheduled for October 17, 2023.

A picture of the Gold Shadow Special Edition Xbox Wireless Controller

Freebies and discounts

The Epic Games Store is giving away a satirical sci-fi restaurant sim Godlike Burger, where you manage a burger joint in outer space. Cook, serve, and satisfy various species from different galaxies. However, there is a surprising twist: the secret ingredient in your burgers is... your customers. Lay traps, slay visitors, chop them, and deal with police in this satirical game, available for free until Thursday.

Also, check out our Weekend PC Game Deals series covering discounts on various bundles, exciting storytellers, and several free events across different PC gaming storefronts.

Reviews are in

Check out the latest hardware and software reviews published on Neowin during the last seven days.

This week, we reviewed the TerraMaster F2-212, a two-bay network-attached storage or NAS. Released earlier this year, the NAS offers easy setup, compact casing, and an extremely affordable price tag. However, you will also have to accept some trade-offs, such as no SSD support, an Ethernet port limited to only 1 Gbps, and mediocre hardware transcoding.

terramaster f2-212

A blast from Microsoft's past

John Callaham's weekly "Look back" series provides throwbacks into the past, detailing the company's products, partnerships, mishaps, and successes from years ago.

This week's look-back article is about Windows Home Server and its quirky promo campaign. In 2007, Microsoft unveiled Windows Home Server, a special Windows edition for backing up all home PCs and storing your media in one location, available even when you are away from home. To promote the new Server SKU aimed at home users, Microsoft created a weird children's book called Mommy, Why is There a Server in the House?

Windows home server

Sadly, the idea did not took off, even though some vendors backed it up with dedicated hardware. In 2012, Microsoft discontinued Windows Home Server.

Random fact about Microsoft

And here is a randomly selected piece of trivia about the company, Windows, and other Microsoft-made things.

A screenshot of the Microsoft Critical Update Notification app from Windows 98This week's random fact about Microsoft or its products comes from the @wowstartsnow Twitter user. Modern Windows versions are infamous for constant update notifications, nagging users to install the latest patches and new features. Did you know that Microsoft introduced Windows Update notifications in 1998?

Windows 98 users could download the Critical Update Notification Tool and receive messages about available updates with a link to guide them through the update process. It also allowed postponing notifications for 24 hours by clicking a "Notify Me later" button. Microsoft later renamed it Critical Update Notification Utility and made it a system component, part of Windows 2000, released in 1999.

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You can find other issues of the Microsoft Weekly series using this link. Also, you can support Neowin by subscribing to our Newsletter to get regular news recaps delivered directly to your email.

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