We are at the close of another week of March, which means that it is time to *drum roll* recap everything that went on in the world of Microsoft in the past few days! It was quite an exciting week with some unexpected news items related to Windows development and lots of gaming news. Find out more in our weekly digest for March 5 - March 11!
Although we are now up to Windows 11, people managed to find references to the unreleased and never-announced "Windows 9" in recent Dev Channel builds. It doesn't mean much, because it's basically just branding at this point, but it was still interesting to find mentions of Windows 9 and "Windows Blue", the latter of which is the codename for Windows 8.1. Apparently, these references have been present since Windows 10 Technical Preview build 9860, which was released in 2014.
There are multiple theories about why Windows 9 was never announced. A prominent one is that it caused programming-related issues with legacy applications that only checked the first digit of the Windows version, which means that Windows 95, 98, and 9 would have been treated the same. Another senior Microsoft executive later revealed a completely different reason for skipping Windows 9.
But coming back to the world of ground realities, we did get monthly Patch Tuesday updates for official and supported versions of Windows, you can find more details about the fixes in the dedicated articles below:
In related news, AMD PCs with Windows 10 and Windows 11 have been stuttering lately due to an fTPM bug, you can check out the temporary workaround here.
Secret File Explorer
Microsoft unintentionally stirred quite a bit of excitement this week by secretly including an updated version of File Explorer in its latest Windows 11 Dev Channel build. It features a tabbed interface, which we know that Microsoft unceremoniously shelved back in 2019. It was originally announced as "Sets" for Windows 10 in 2017 but was seemingly killed off without any public reasoning. Well, the good news is that it's apparently coming back, more on that in the Under the spotlight section of this piece!
But talking about the changes that Microsoft officially announced with Windows 11 Dev Channel build 22572, we have Microsoft Family and Clipchamp as inbox apps. The firm has made it simpler to access the legacy context menu too. Microsoft is also planning to roll out an updated Windows Search experience in the coming days.
The company released Windows 11 Dev Channel build 22572.100 (KB5012817), but that was just to test the servicing pipeline.
In more news related to Windows 11, Microsoft has updated Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) with improvements to hardware decoding, networking, MSAA, and input. Check out all the details here.
Recyclable Xbox consoles
Microsoft revealed some rather ambitious plans about how it plans to make gaming sustainable in the coming years. The company claims that all Xbox products will be 100% recyclable by 2030; this includes consoles, accessories, gift cards, packaging, and more. It is also integrating Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) resins in its hardware and enabling Energy Saver mode in Xbox consoles by default, which consumes 20 times less power in Standby mode.
In more gaming news, Microsoft will soon let you play titles on Xbox Cloud Gaming with a mouse and a keyboard. Not all games will work with these peripherals out of the box, but it's clearly something that developers can target if they feel that it's worth the effort. The company has rolled out a redesigned Xbox app for Windows too.
Meanwhile, the March 2022 Xbox update brings the ability to constantly pin two games to Quick Resume, an updated audio setup wizard, and a firmware update for controllers. Rumor also has it that Microsoft is working on a white Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2.
And when we are talking about Microsoft gaming, it is pertinent to note that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick's friends are being investigated by federal prosecutors for investing $108 million in company stock just days before Microsoft's official acquisition announcement. The personnel have denied any knowledge of inside matters when engaging in these transactions.
But on a lighter note, Metacritic has crowned Microsoft as the "Publisher of the Year" for 2021. And if you play Sea of Thieves, do check out the Sea Fort takeover challenges introduced recently.
- A design revamp for Office.com should now be available to all education and business customers
- Although Google has confirmed that Surface Duo will get an unforked version of Android 12L, enthusiasts who don't have it as their primary device can actually dual-boot Windows 11 on it too
- Edge DevTools' feedback hub is now a GitHub repository
Intel 126.96.36.1994 driver can boost the performance of Windows 11 Xe systems
Microsoft has plugged a critical "AutoWarp" vulnerability in its Azure Automation Service
Under the spotlight
At the start of the week, I talked about how a specific missing feature in Windows 11 annoys me a lot. I don't lose sleep over it, it just bothers me that Microsoft removed it without any apparent logical reason. You can find out what it is here.
I also did a roundup of the top 10 features that people are requesting for Microsoft Teams. It's a pretty interesting list and it's nice to see that Microsoft representatives are actively responding to feedback with mostly non-generic replies.
When it comes to the secret tabbed File Explorer in Windows 11 Dev Channel build 22572, I wrote a guide about how you can enable it and also published my thoughts on its current unfinished implementation that you can read here.
As we sign off, I would like to bring your attention to the fact that Google is quietly phasing out reverse image search in favor of Google Lens. However, Neowin co-founder Steven Parker has published a guide on how you can still leverage from Google reverse image search, and you can find all the details here.
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