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Microsoft Weekly: Spying drivers, new features for Windows 10, and Patch Tuesday

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In this episode of Microsoft Weekly we look at a surprising new feature for Windows 10 in the latest preview update, Intel making seriously head-scratching changes in its GPU drivers, August 2023 Patch Tuesday updates, changes for the Microsoft Store, gaming news, and more.

Table of contents:

  1. Windows 11, removed features, and new stuff
  2. All sorts of updates
  3. Gaming News
  4. A blast from Microsoft’s past
  5. Random fact about Microsoft

Windows 11, removed features, new stuff, and Patch Tuesday

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.

Microsoft adds features to Windows 11 almost every week, letting Windows insiders preview new additions before shipping them to the general public.

However, Microsoft also sometimes removes stuff from its operating system. As discovered by enthusiasts, the latest Windows 11 Canary build removes several bits of the old Windows 10 taskbar and the notification area.

Windows enthusiasts also noticed that Microsoft is allegedly placing extra blocks to prevent users from installing Windows 11 on systems with unsupported hardware (mostly processors).

Although we do not have any confirmation from Microsoft, some Windows insiders can no longer update their preview builds on systems with old CPUs, such as the Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 and the AMD Turion P650. By the way, in case you missed it, Microsoft recently removed a bunch of Intel’s 8th Gen processors from the list of supported CPUs.

Those planning to upgrade to Windows 11 right now or after the upcoming Windows 11 version 23H2 release should note that they might experience some performance downgrades. A recently published YouTube video compared Windows 10 and 11, revealing that the latter is less snappy than its predecessor.

Windows 11 version 23H2 will also introduce a redesigned File Explorer, which could become a reason not to upgrade due to severe performance issues.

A photo of Windows 11s File Explorer with two tabs

On the more positive side, Microsoft announced the public preview of the Windows 365 Switch service. It lets you switch between your local computer and a cloud PC using the familiar Task View button on the taskbar. Besides, you can use keyboard shortcuts to navigate between virtual desktops and a cloud PC, trackpad gestures, or three-finger display swipe.

Patch Tuesday

This week brought traditional Patch Tuesday updates to all supported Windows 10 and 11 versions. Here are the details:

It is worth mentioning that this month’s Patch Tuesday updates enable a kernel vulnerability fix that could potentially break “something in your system.” Confusingly, Microsoft did not say what exactly could go wrong after installing the update. M in Microsoft is for mystery.

A big Windows Insider logo with Windows 11 Insider Preview on it

Windows Insider Program

A few things happened in the Windows Insider program this week. Microsoft finished the August 2023 Bug Bash, an event dedicated to bug-hunting and fixing issues before a public feature update release. Also, users discovered that the latest Canary build improves built-in color filters, allowing those with color blindness to adjust the filter intensity and color boost.

Here are the latest preview builds to test in every channel:

  • Canary Channel: 25926 with new features for Snipping Tool, a redesigned notification center button, and more. The build also contains a hidden settings page for managing system components. Check out this article to learn how to enable it.
  • Dev Channel: 23521 with taskbar improvements, File Explorer fixes, the same Snipping Tool update, and more.
  • Beta Channel: 22621/31.2191 with the Windows 365 Switch, HDR wallpaper support, Narrator improvements, and more.
  • Release Preview Channel:

    • 22621.2213 for Windows 11 22H2 with app default improvements, changes for the taskbar search, and multiple fixes.
    • 22000.2359 for Windows 11 21H2 with location improvements and bugfixes.
    • 19045.3391 for Windows 10 22H2 with notification badging, location improvements, and fixes.

And here are some notable new features available for testing in the latest preview builds from different channels:

  • The updated widget board in Windows 11 Dev and Canary now lets you keep Windows widgets and the news feed on the desktop above all other apps. This might not be what most users want Microsoft to do to Windows widgets, but at least the change makes that area slightly more useful and practical. The only thing we are not sure about is why Microsoft thinks it was a good idea to make the board always-on-top.

    A screenshot of the Widget Board in Windows 11
  • The new Windows Backup app is now available for those using Windows 10. The latest Release Preview build for Windows 10 surprised everyone with the new Windows Backup app. It allows you to back up files, folders, settings, and credentials to your OneDrive to make moving to another device much easier.

    A screenshot of the Windows Backup app in Windows 10

Updates of all kinds

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

Those using the fourth-generation Surface Laptop with Intel processors (13 and 15-inch configurations) can download the August 2023 firmware update with new network drivers. The latest release improves network stability, namely Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

The original and second-generation Surface Duo smartphones received a delayed firmware update with Android’s July 2023 security patches. Sadly, there are no device-specific improvements.

Surface Laptop 4 press images showing various colors

On August 7, 2023, the AI-powered Bing turned six months old. To celebrate the milestone, Microsoft published a lengthy post detailing all the features, such as Bing Image Creator, chat history, SwiftKey integration, Windows Copilot, third-party browser support, Visual Search, dark mode, and Bing Chat enterprise. There is a bunch of stats, so be sure to check out the article.

Here are this week’s app updates with their new features and improvements:

Another update worth mentioning is not about a specific app or service. It is about an upcoming update for the Microsoft Services Agreement. The document governs your use of Microsoft consumer online products and various services, and the latest revision adds a new section about Microsoft’s artificial intelligence-based services, such as Bing Chat, Windows Copilot, Microsoft 365 Coliot, and more.

Good driver updates and not-so-much

This part of the Microsoft Weekly series frequently covers driver updates. However, you may not like this one, especially if you use Intel’s GPU drivers. Users noticed that the latest Intel driver now collects all sorts of telemetry data. And the worst part is that the change is opt-out, enabled by default, forcing those not paying enough attention to share their data with Intel and its partners.

On the gaming side

Check this section to learn about upcoming game releases, Xbox rumors, new hardware, software updates, and more.

Let’s kick off the gaming section with the updated list of the most anticipated games coming soon to Xbox Series X|S and PCs. If you plan on Microsoft’s consoles, check out this article covering Robocop: Rogue City, Starfield, Mortal Kombat 1 (check out its latest trailer), and more. Those playing on Windows computers can click here to learn about The Lamplighters League, Counter-Strike 2, Payday 3, and more.

It is probably safe to say that Starfield is currently the most anticipated game for modern Xbox consoles and PCs. Those eagerly waiting for the release on September 6, 2023, should already prepare their SSDs, as Amazon revealed (accidentally or not) that the game will soon be available for preload. Click here to learn when.

Starfield screenshot

Activision, the company Microsoft has so much trouble purchasing (things are finally moving much faster, and New Zealand has joined the list of companies giving Microsoft the green light), has announced the release date for its upcoming shooter, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. The game will land in the stores on November 10, 2023. Here is a teaser:

Those playing games on Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S can finally buy the highly acclaimed cat adventure game, Stray. It was previously available only on PlayStation and PC, but now you can purchase it for your Xbox console.

Another gaming story from this week is all about hardware. According to a report, Microsoft could introduce a new Xbox Series X variant without an optical drive. There are no specific time frames, but the story adds that Microsoft has plans for “other hardware in 2025.”

A concept image showing Xbox Series X without an optical drive
A mockup of a disk-less Xbox Series X

Microsoft also continues tweaking its Game Pass service. The latest change lowers the $1 Xbox Game Pass Ultimate trial period from one month to only 14 days. This offering is only available for new customers—prices and service terms are unchanged for existing subscribers.

Now to discounts and freebies, everyone’s favorite part. Here are the latest Deals with Gold and Spotlight Sale discounts letting you save up to 90% on the BioShock franchise, Borderlands 3, Cities Skylines, FarCry, Forza Horizon, and more. For PC gamers, Epic Games Store is giving away Europa Universalis IV and Orwell. Finally, here are our regular Weekend PC Game Deals series covering notable discounts for PC games, such as Resident Evil, Assassin’s Creed, Wolfenstein, and more.

A blast from Microsoft’s past

Our fellow John Callaham provides weekly insights into Microsoft’s past, with multiple look-back articles providing interesting trivia about the company’s past products, partnerships, mishaps, and successes.

John Callaham’s “Look back” article this week covers the controversial cooperation between the software giant and Apple. Twenty-six years ago, at the MacWorld event in Boston, Steve Jobs announced a new partnership with Microsoft involving an investment of $150 million from the latter. Apple needed that money to jumpstart its new ventures after purchasing NeXT.

bill gates and steve jobs

Random fact about Microsoft

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

Windows 3.0, released in May 1990, was the first operating system version to support virtual memory. The feature allows a computer to use a portion of its hard drive (or SSD in modern PCs) as extra memory after running out of physical RAM, enabling customers to work with larger and more complex applications and files.

Although contemporary Windows 10 and 11 computers have access to significantly larger amounts of memory, the feature remains a vital part of memory management, ensuring productive and seamless multitasking.

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