Among other things, we found out this week exactly when the Xbox next-gen pre-orders start, what new features folks can look forward to in Edge, and on which day the next Surface event may be. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of September 12 - 18.
We start the column this week with a set of optional updates for folks running the October 2018 Update, May 2019 Update, or the November 2019 Update. These are:
- May 2019 Update / November 2019 Update (1903/1909): KB4577062, build 18362.1110 / 18363.1110 – adds a notification for IE11 users that Flash will reach end of support in December, as well as fixing an issue causing apps to go into unwanted repair cycles, 4K HDR content being darker than expected, lowering the likelihood of having missing fonts, reducing Windows Mixed Reality HMD distortions and aberrations, and fixing an issue that causes a device to stop after using a pen for several hours.
- October 2018 Update (1809): KB4577069, build 17763.1490 – contains the same IE11 and missing font fixes from above, but also fixes for East Asian character input and Korean IME-specific issues.
- Known issue: After installing KB4493509, devices with some Asian language packs installed may receive the error “0x800f0982 – PSFX_E_MATCHING_COMPONENT_NOT_FOUND.”
In other Windows news, Microsoft has pushed out build 20215 from the vNext branch to the Dev channel, with a number of fixes and quite a few known issues. The noteworthy small addition is the fact that Windows search now supports dark mode, but that’s only server-side, meaning it’s not technically part of this build.
And while we’re on the subject of builds, 19042.508 landed in the Release Preview channel, signaling that Microsoft is prepping for the release of 20H2, or what’ll most likely be the October 2020 Update. Like 1909, this is an enablement package, so it’s a rather small download.
New features present in 20H2, which are already included in version 2004, include the new Start Menu transparency effects, the replacement of Legacy Edge with the new Chromium Edge, and a couple of other small tweaks.
The update is rolling out to seekers in the RP channel, meaning those who go to Windows Update and opt into receiving it.
Xbox pre-order details
Since we’re on the eve of a new console generation, it’s worth noting that both Sony and Microsoft have now been pretty forthcoming in terms of both price and pre-order availability.
Unlike Sony though, Microsoft has set September 22 as the day it opens pre-orders for the Series S and Series X – something it had announced last week. This week however, the company also revealed the time at which pre-orders will begin. This will happen on September 22 at 8AM PT in the States, 8AM AEST in Australia, 8AM BST in the UK, 8AM PT in Canada, 9AM NZST in New Zealand, and 9AM CEST across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
As far as Xbox All Access is concerned, it will be available to opt for at the same times in the countries already listed, with the addition of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, all of which will have All Access ready for you starting at 9AM CEST on September 22.
In more service news, Game Pass subscribers can now play Company of Heroes on PC, Destiny 2: Shadowkeep and Forsaken on Android and console, as well as Halo 3: ODST on Android and PC starting September 22. On September 24, you’ll be able to play not only Warhammer: Vermintide 2 on Android and Xbox, but also Night in the Woods on Android, Xbox, and PC.
Leaving the subscription on September 30 are Panzer Dragoon Orta, Westerado: Double Barreled, and Yooka-Laylee on console, plus Bad North, DiRT Rally 2.0, and Dishonored 2 on both PC and console. Don’t forget that if you have Game Pass Ultimate, you already have access to the newly-launched Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming service on Android at no additional cost.
For folks who have Xbox Live Gold, Book of Unwritten Tales 2 plus Armed and Dangerous are now free to claim, and if you’ve had your eye on Borderlands 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, or others, Deals with Gold has you covered.
Xbox One owners have a few things to look forward to next week, as Mafia: Definitive Edition is set to hit stores – among other games, of course -, though be advised that the already launched Crysis Remastered does have some serious performance and visual issues on Xbox One X.
Switching to first-party games, Flight Simulator got its second patch with a ton of fixes, as well as a new development roadmap, SDK update, and much, much more. On the console side, more details have been revealed about Gears Tactics, including the arrival of a bunch of new features set to coincide with the release on console.
Lastly, while we’re on the subject of the console, Microsoft has updated its privacy settings on Xbox, and will now no longer be collecting voice data.
In case you’ve already switched to the new Edge browser on Windows, the good news is that if you have an iOS-based device, you’ll be able to set Edge as your default browser starting with iOS 14.
For folks in the Dev channel, as of version 87.0.637.0, the browser has a password generator feature that can suggest strong passwords. This is also present in the Canary channel, which in addition supports an upcoming feature dubbed Sleeping Tabs. You are now essentially able to suspend inactive tabs (and thus save resources), though enabling a flag with the same name is required for this to work.
Lastly, if you’re on a Mac and have been experiencing ‘Error code 6’ crashes, the company is working on a fix.
- Microsoft’s bid for TikTok’s U.S. operations has been rejected by ByteDance.
- As a result of Project Natick, the Redmond giant has found underwater datacenters to be reliable and effective.
- The C++ extension for Visual Studio Code is now at version 1.0.
- Outlook on both iOS and Android has gotten a number of fixes and improvements in the latest update.
- Reactions are rolling out globally for both Yammer on the web and mobile.
- Microsoft and bp have partnered on Azure to advance sustainability.
- There’s now an open-source bug finding tool from Microsoft, called Project OneFuzz.
- Microsoft has announced new Threat Protection APIs, with the platform being ‘integration-ready’.
- Azure Files now has NFS 4.1 support, in preview.
- The ability to hyperlink shapes to pages, copy diagrams into other files, and more have come to Visio on the web.
- Azure NetApp Files now has cross-region replication support.
- Your Phone will receive a new Contacts tab, UI tweaks, and more.
- Skype 8.64 brings in message reaction customization, share sheet updates on iOS.
- Spotlight, the ability for folks to lock select video feeds in Teams, is now rolling out.
- The Redmond software giant has detailed features and enhancements made to OneDrive in August.
To end the week, and of course the column, we take a look at a smattering of Surface news, including a possible date for Microsoft’s next hardware event.
Kicking things off with existing devices, owners of both Surface Laptop 1 and 2 should be presented with a bunch of firmware updates that, above all else, will improve charging reliability. Also receiving firmware updates are the Surface Book, Surface Pro (5th-gen), and Pro 6, as well as the first-generation Surface Go.
In terms of what the future may bring, Microsoft is reportedly refreshing the Surface Pro X with new colours and a new SQ2 SOC. The SOC will be based on the second-gen Snapdragon 8cx, while the device itself should now also come in the traditional platinum colour of Surface devices.
As to when we could see all this revealed, according to reputable leakster WalkingCat on Twitter, the company could hold the next Surface event on October 1 or September 30 (depending on the time zone you’re in). This of course lines up with previous hardware events from the company which have – for the most part – been in October.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.