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Microsoft Weekly: simple tricks to make File Explorer faster, OneDrive changes, and more

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In this episode of Microsoft Weekly we look at some unconventional methods to make File Explorer faster, weird changes in OneDrive, the latest Windows Insider builds, app updates, gaming news, and more. Also, we pay our respects to the original Surface Duo, which is no longer supported.

Table of contents:

  1. Windows 11, 10, Edge, and more
  2. Updates are available
  3. On the gaming side
  4. Reviews are in
  5. A blast from Microsoft’s Sony’s past
  6. Random fact about Microsoft

Windows 11, 10, Edge, and more

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.

Microsoft is working on new features for its browser. Some of them are great, like password categorization and notes, and some are less exciting. In fact, this one may raise some privacy concerns. The company is testing a new “Web preview” feature for improved copy-paste, and the problem is that it requires sending the links you copy to Microsoft. Developers have been testing it for quite a while, and there is no information if they will ship it to the public (for better or for worse).

A screenshot of the Web Preview feature in Microsoft Edge

A weird-looking feature in Edge is not the only reason to question Microsoft’s approach to privacy. Mozilla has been busy attacking the software giant for its vague phrasing and hard-to-understand changes in the updated Services Agreement. The maker of Firefox argues the new agreement makes it nearly impossible to tell if Microsoft uses your personal data to train its AI models or not.

On the less controversial (and a little funny) side, we have Windows 11 and File Explorer with performance issues. Users discovered a weird method to make the app faster: just use bugs. Switching in and out of fullscreen mode with the F11 key significantly improved load times.

This applies to the redesigned File Explorer in Windows 11 23H2 (we covered its performance downgrades in a dedicated article) and the current implementation in version 22H2 without the new XAML-based UI elements.

A photo of Windows 11s File Explorer with two tabs

Microsoft also published a support document explaining failing WinRE updates on Windows 11 machines. According to Microsoft, some PCs might not have enough storage space on the recovery partition to complete a WinRE update. That results in the error message claiming “Windows Recovery Environment servicing failed.”

To finish the Windows 11 section, here is a quirky video showcasing the wonders of nested virtualization. NTDEV, the creator of the tiny10/11 project, has published a video of Windows 7 running on Windows 8 running on Windows 8.1 running on Windows 10 running on Windows 11. Some sort of winception.

Last week, Microsoft revealed that business customers can no longer use unlimited storage in OneDrive. As it turned out, the company is not done with OneDrive-related announcements. According to a leaker, the company plans to make some big OneDrive announcements in a few weeks on October 3.

The Microsoft OneDrive Logo

Shortly after that, Microsoft confirmed it would host an event to showcase “the new enhancements to OneDrive” and “the benefits of faster file access, better organization, simpler collaboration, and improved file security.” Moreover, users will get a sneak peek at new AI-powered features for OneDrive.

Microsoft also started notifying OneDrive users about upcoming changes in how the cloud storage handles your photos. According to emails from Microsoft, data from images saved in your OneDrive Gallery and albums will count separately, resulting in the same pics taking twice the storage. The company claims the change aims to “improve your Microsoft 365 experience.”

The OneDrive event is not the only presentation Microsoft plans for the upcoming weeks. On September 21, the company will announce refreshed Surface devices (mostly CPU upgrades) and talk about new AI-based features for Windows 11. However, according to the latest rumor roundup, users should not expect any Windows “12”-related announcements. Although we expect Windows 12 to land somewhere next year (most likely in the second half), it is too early to talk about the next generation of Windows.

Surface Pro 8 Laptop Studio Go 3 Pro X and Duo 2 devices placed in a white background

Windows Insider Program

Now to the Windows Insider Program, where Microsoft lets everyone preview what is coming soon to Windows 11. As we get closer to the Windows 11 23H2 releases, changelogs in preview builds get slimmer and less exciting. However, there are still plenty of things to test.

  • Canary Channel: 25947 with fixes for typing and other improvements.
  • Dev Channel: 23541 with File Explorer crashes and other fixes.
  • Beta Channel: 22631/21.2271 with minor changes. Note that the update will turn off the latest Windows Ink improvements that let you input handwritten text into any text field. Microsoft said it had to temporarily disable the feature to resolve some bugs.

Another neat update available for Windows Insiders is a new background removal tool for Paint. Now you can remove the background of any image with just a single click, leaving a smooth cutout of the subject.

Microsoft Paint Background Removal feature

In addition to the new tool for Paint, Microsoft released a small update for the Microsoft Store. The latter now features a dedicated page for PC Game Pass, allowing you to explore and subscribe to Microsoft’s highly successful gaming service.

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.

This week’s updates section starts with big news affecting printers connected to modern Windows versions. Microsoft announced its plans to end servicing of third-party printer drivers via Windows Update. The company wants printer manufacturers to adopt the Microsoft IPP Class Driver and Mopria certification to improve performance, reliability, and compatibility. Since the change will affect millions of customers and companies across the globe, Microsoft plans to implement it over a few years.

A printer emoji with a Windows 10 wallpaper

There are also good news for those with MSI 600/700 Series motherboards suffering from a bug causing blue screens of death with the UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR error code. Intel has released a new set of BIOS updates to resolve the issue and provided more details about what software/hardware combinations cause systems to crash with the UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR code. If you have a PC with an MSI motherboard for 12th and 13th Gen Intel processors, time for some maintenance. Later on, Intel clarified that the problem has nothing to do with Windows updates.

On September 2, 2023, Google Chrome, the world’s most popular browser on desktop and mobile, turned 15. To celebrate the milestone, Google unveiled a massive redesign based on the Material You design language. The new UI will be available for all users in a few weeks.

new chrome design

Finally, let us all hit F in the comments to pay our respects to the original Surface Duo. This quirky dual-screen smartphone has reached its end of life on September 10, 2023. Microsoft will no longer ship firmware and software updates, meaning users now must resort to unofficial ROMs.

Surface Duo, closed, with Slim Pen and Surface Earbuds

And here are other noteworthy app updates:

  • Windows Subsystem for Android 2308 is now available to those participating in the preview program. The latest update adds clipboard improvements, kernel fixes, and other under-the-hood enhancements.
  • WinPaletter 1.0.8.0 is out with new sounds, reduced memory use, wallpaper, screen saver, and other improvements. For those unaware, WinPaletter is a free Windows tool that enables deeper and more radical UI personalization.
  • Microsoft has revealed more details about the new Outlook app for Windows. In a new video, Microsoft’s PMs discuss improvements and features the new app will bring and provide more information about the release timeframe.
  • Skype Insider received new writing tools powered by Bing AI. Microsoft’s messenger now has built-in utilities for rewriting messages with different tones. Although only Skype Insiders can test them right now, it should not take too long for Microsoft to push the update to the stable channel.

New drivers released this week include the following:

  • Intel Arc Beta 31.0.101.4672 with a temporarily increased package size to “significantly reduce” loading times in Starfield. The driver also features other Starfield-related bug fixes and improvements. Interestingly, despite Intel’s efforts to optimize its drivers for the latest hit from Bethesda, the studio said the Arc A770 GPU does not meet Starfield’s minimum hardware requirements.
  • AMD Radeon Software 23.9.1 WHQL with support for the Radeon RX 7700 and 7800, Radeon Anti-Lag+, AMD Radeon Boost, and more.

On the gaming side

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

Let us start with some good news for Final Fantasy fans: Square Enix has confirmed that the studio is working on porting Final Fantasy XVI to PC. Although there is no information on when the game will land, Square Enix will reveal more details by the end of this year.

Electronic Arts has updated Star Wars Jedi: Survivor with a proper 60FPS mode on consoles and DLSS support on PCs with compatible graphics cards. Thanks to CPU and GPU optimizations, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 can push 60FPS, albeit without ray tracing.

Star Wars jedi Survivor teaser image featuring Cal and BD-1

Minecraft fans playing the game on Microsoft’s modern consoles got excited to learn that a dedicated version for Xbox Series X|S might be in the works. Ditching the current backward-compatible version for an optimized and modernized variant will make game utilize the latest architectural advancements and features to improve your cubic experience and enable some of the previously missing features, such as ray tracing. Sadly, Microsoft quickly shot down rumors, claiming new ratings board listing are “not indicative of any new version.”

Playground Games, the studio behind Forza Horizon 5, unveiled details about the next free update coming soon to the popular racing game. The upcoming release will bring Event Lab 2.0, allowing you to create even better custom maps with more props and better tools. Also, there will be a dedicated space called Event Lab Island, a 2×2 km platform in the middle of the ocean, to let you unleash your creativity with more freedom and props. The update will be available on September 12, 2023.

Forza Horizon 5 EventLab 20

Not so long ago, Microsoft announced PC Game Pass titles coming soon to NVIDIA’s GeForce Now cloud streaming games. Earlier this week, 16 new titles made it to the catalog, 8 of which are directly from PC Game Pass. Spoiler alert: Starfield is not there, a big sad for those wanting to try Bethesda’s latest massive RPG without spending too much money on powereful PC hardware.

Xbox One and Series X|S owners can download the latest software update for their consoles to get their hands on the latest features and improvements. The release adds Discord integration, a new My Rewards section, better VRR controls for compatible displays, and new notifications to let you know that a game from your wishlist is now available in Xbox Game Pass.

xbox discord

With Valve’s Steam Deck and ASUS’ Rog Ally getting more popular, gamers wonder if Microsoft has something in store for the handheld gaming market. According to a recently published report, Microsoft was prototyping a cloud-focused Xbox handheld with a lightweight version of its Xbox operating system. However, the company scrapped those plans and pivoted toward the TV streaming app found on many modern TVs from Samsung. Sadly, it seems like you should not expect a handheld Xbox any time soon.

Asus ROG Ally

We have also updated our picks for the most anticipated games in 2023. Check out our articles covering games for Xbox Series X|S and PC.

Deals and freebies

Free and discounted games, everyone’s favorite part! The Epic Games Store is giving away Spelldrifter, a fantasy RPG developed by Free Range Games. The game is up for grabs until September 14, 2023.

spelldrifter

Also, here is the latest installment of our Weekend PC Game Deals series with discounts from Focus Entertainment, stealth bundles, and free heists. Those playing on consoles should check out this week’s Deals with Gold and Spotlight Sale featuring Madden NFL 24, Dead by Daylight, Metro, Resident Evil, and more.

Reviews are in

Steven Parker is back with another mini PC review. Although Intel recently killed its NUC department, that will not stop manufacturers from producing small desktop computers that can fit in your palm. This time, Steven reviewed the Beelink SER6 Max with AMD’s seventh-generation Ryzen 7, 32GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, Windows 11, and plenty of IO. The computer has a great design, solid materials, and plenty of performance for its price tag.

beelink ser6 max

A blast from Microsoft’s Sony’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.

Usually, this part of Microsoft Weekly is about things from Microsoft’s past. However, this time, we look at Sony, the company’s main rival in the gaming market. The original Sony PlayStation, a smashing console hit, turned 29 on September 9. Check out John Callaham’s look-back article detailing the PlayStation’s specs, capabilities, popular games, and more.

sony playstation one

Random fact about Microsoft

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

Microsoft Edge has a special IE Mode for working with websites unoptimized for the modern web. But did you know Edge was not the first Microsoft browser with a dedicated compatibility mode? Internet Explorer 6, the infamous browser from two decades ago, featured “Quirks Mode,” which allowed it to emulate the behavior of its predecessors. Quirks Mode was fairly smart—it worked silently in the background and did not require manual activation. Internet Explorer would fire Quirks Mode upon encountering an old or poorly-coded website with missing parts or other “quirks.”

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