We are at the end of the first week of May, which means that it is time to recap everything important that happened in the Microsoft-verse in the past few days, through our latest issue of Microsoft Weekly. This time, we have some very interesting news items to discuss including a surprise appearance from Windows 3D Movie Maker, a leaked Outlook client, and some Defender woes. Find out more in our weekly digest for April 30 - May 6.
Windows 3D Movie Maker
This week, Microsoft surprised everyone by making Windows 3D Movie Maker open-source after a person requested it on Twitter. Microsoft's Scott Hanselman led this effort which saw the release of the 1995 software as an open-source GitHub repository.
The ancient software was released almost three decades ago to showcase the graphical prowess of Windows 95 and help children learn the basics of 3D animation. Although the project doesn't have a real-world use-case now, it may be fun to fork it and have at it with all sorts of whacky experiments and force it to run on modern hardware.
In terms of other open-source Microsoft software that received updates this week, we got version 0.58.0 for PowerToys. It doesn't contain any new consumer-facing features as the focus this time around is on " upgrading to new dependencies and building for native ARM64".
It appears that Microsoft Edge is gaining traction among more users too. According to the latest figures from StatCounter, Edge now commands a market share of 10.07%, which further solidifies its place as the second most popular browser available.
Leaked Outlook client
Although Microsoft has been talking about its "One Outlook" strategy to unify Outlook across all platforms through Project Monarch for some time now, we finally saw the fruits of that endeavor this week thanks to some screenshots from the leaked app.
The screenshots make it look almost identical to the web version, which makes sense because this is a web-powered app after all. It remains to be seen when Microsoft will start rolling out the new client publicly, but until that happens, feast your eyes on the gallery containing a bunch of screenshots from the leaked client. And if you're more interested in the current version of Outlook on Windows, you may want to know that there's a new place you can access your @ mentions.
Speaking of stuff that isn't public yet, a new report claims that the next feature update to Windows 11, version 22H2, may hit RTM this month. There have been conflicting statements on this matter from other unofficial sources too so it is important to temper your expectations accordingly. The jury's still out on when Windows 11 version 22H2 will start rolling out publicly too.
For now though, Microsoft has rolled out Windows 11 build 22616 to the Windows Insider Dev and Beta Channels. There are a bunch of fixes and improvements included in this release but the highlights are a fixed "Show hidden icons" flyout in the system tray and a preview of the Controller Bar to offer quick access to games.
But if you're not satisfied with the current state of Windows 11, Stardock's Start11 version has some improvements in the form of returning the seconds to the Taskbar clock and the pinning of Edge tabs to Start menu Search, among many other things.
Microsoft is also working on a fix for its KB5012643 optional Windows 11 update causing problems from .NET Framework 3.5 apps, but in the meantime, you can check out some workarounds here.
There's a new Windows Server Insider Preview release in the form of build 25110 too, but as usual, there's no changelog.
Ups and downs for Defender
Microsoft's Defender suite of products had an eventful week, to say the least. First, we received reports that multiple customers using Defender for Endpoint are experiencing high memory usage, black screens after logging in, and difficulties in opening apps. Then, AV-Test's latest results also revealed that Defender is a resource hog, the anti-malware service fared quite poorly in the latest rankings and barely received a "Standard" rating.
Microsoft did launch Defender for Business, though. It's an endpoint security solution that’s designed to fend off troublesome ransomware attacks and other cyber threats in small and medium business environments.
Speaking of security threats, beware of the Magniber ransomware being distributed through fake Windows update standalone files. Once the malicious files are installed, they go on to delete the backup volume shadow copy of the encrypted drives and creates a "README" HTML file that contains the ransom notes asking for 0.068 BTC (~$2,600), an amount that is set to double if the payment is not made within five days.
In the cybersecurity space, Microsoft, Google, and Apple have formed a partnership expanding support for a common password-less standard developed by the FIDO Alliance and the World Wide Web Consortium. In the same vein, Microsoft is once again asking customers to ditch passwords completely and shift to password-less solutions such as Windows Hello, Microsoft Authenticator, and security keys.
In this new section, we'll talk about gaming news primarily covering Microsoft and deals across multiple platforms.
Starting us off, we have the latest free offerings from Xbox Games with Gold from this month. Games currently included in the refresh are Yoku's Island Express (May 1 - May 31) and Hydro Thunder Hurricane (May 1 - May 15). You need to have either an active Xbox Live Gold subscription or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to claim these freebies. Speaking of the latter, you can even utilize Xbox Cloud Gaming to play Fortnite on any supported device.
But if you'd rather purchase games, do check out this week's Deals with Gold, which feature massive price cuts on major franchises such as Assassin's Creed and Battlefield. And if you game exclusively on PC, you might want to check out this weekend's deals curated by our News Editor Pulasthi Ariyasinghe here.
And if you're on Xbox Game Pass, you'll be pleased to know that a bunch of games have arrived on the service and more will be available in the next few days. These include Loot River, NHL 22, Trek to Yomi, This War of Mine: Final Cut, among many others.
The Xbox app received an update that introduced Stories and Xbox consoles were also treated to Quality of Service (QoS) tagging for reduced latency in the May 2022 update. Halo Infinite players can finally dive into Season 2 as well. The six-month season features new maps, modes, battle pass, and more.
If you live in Portugal and prefer Xbox as your primary gaming platform, Microsoft has introduced its Xbox All Access service in the region. There are two tiers: the first grants the buyer the Xbox Series S at €24.99/month. The second tier costs €32.99/month, offering the much more powerful Xbox Series X console. Both options come with 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate regardless of the selected console. The firm has also launched a pretty Deep Pink Xbox controller globally, it can be purchased from the Microsoft Store for $64.99.
And we already talked about this in our second section, but just for the purpose of restating in an equally relevant section, you can now try out a preview of the Xbox Controller Bar to have quick access to your games if you're on the latest Windows 11 Insider Preview build. Windows 11 itself now commands nearly 19% of the Steam market share, if Valve's hardware survey is anything to go by.
We'll end this section with a bittersweet news item. Multiple critical Xbox Live services experienced issues yesterday, but the good news is that almost all of them are now back up, so yay!
- Microsoft has updated the Surface app on Windows 10 and Windows 11 with improvements to Smart Charging
- Microsoft is deprecating Basic Auth for most protocols in Exchange Online in October 2022
- SwiftKey for Android now has a new swipe gesture
- Surface Pro 7 has received camera and pen improvements in the latest firmware update
Under the spotlight
This week, I published a piece providing some details about Microsoft's top 10 most popular open-source GitHub projects. These include Visual Studio Code, Windows Terminal, Windows Calculator, and a bunch of other interesting initiatives, and if you're interested in contributing to open-source software used by millions of users, this is definitely a listicle you shouldn't miss.
This week's most interesting news item is undoubtedly Beijing issuing an order that all government offices should replace foreign-branded PCs and their associated operating systems with domestic alternatives that can be locally maintained. This means that over the next two years, over 50 million PCs and Windows are on the way out with Lenovo hardware and Linux being the likely replacements, respectively. Check out all the juicy details here.
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