We are at the end of yet another week, which means that it’s time to round up all the news related to Microsoft from the past few days. In this week’s edition, we have news related to Windows security, a leaked OneDrive client, and changes to Office apps and services. Without further ado, let’s dive into our weekly digest for July 2 – July 8.
A few days ago, Microsoft issued a warning about a worm called Raspberry Robin that is infecting enterprise Windows networks. This has been labeled as a high-risk threat that spreads via infected USB devices which contain a .LNK file. As soon as a user clicks on it, the malware contacts command and control servers and installs a bunch of malicious DLLs. While the worm doesn’t do anything more malicious right now, Microsoft is still warning companies about it because the DLLs do have the ability to modify Windows security settings and leverage the exploit to gain access to sensitive information or deploy ransomware.
On the other hand, security firm AV-TEST has revealed the results of its Advanced Threat Protection Test Against Ransomware for February 2022 and walked away very impressed with Microsoft Defender. The security solution was able to detect ransomware infection in the initial access phase in almost all cases and performed admirably in other areas too.
And this might be surprising news, especially for people involved in the enterprise cybersecurity domain but Microsoft has decided to quietly roll back its decision to block internet macros in Office applications by default. This is strange because the Redmond tech giant has been talking about the positive effects of this change for quite some time and reverting the default behavior – especially on such short notice – exposes companies to an easily accessible attack surface. The move has faced a lot of criticism but Microsoft has informed Neowin that the change is only temporary and it does plan to re-introduce default blocking behavior as soon as it makes some usability enhancements. However, it has not provided a time frame for this yet.
Moreover, if you use Chromium-based browsers such as Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome, make sure to update them ASAP as Chromium is affected by a high severity 0-day exploit, a fix for which is now available.
Earlier this week, a preview build of the updated OneDrive client for Windows 11 leaked. Although there are no new functionalities in the app, we can spot new controls, navigation, and overhauled visuals in the style of Windows 11. It is important to note that Microsoft has not announced when this revamped app will be publicly available, but it should happen sooner rather than later.
In related news, Outlook Lite is coming to Android devices later this month too. This variant of the app is designed for low-spec devices with speedier performance and a smaller download size being the priorities. Meanwhile, Microsoft is also making it easier for Teams organizers to host Q&A sessions by directly integrating the functionality in the app. Currently, this process involves installing a dedicated Teams app for this purpose but it’s not entirely clear how, and if, the two offerings will differ. People who use the regular version of Outlook for Windows should also keep an eye out for a new Notifications pane coming soon. It will allow them to choose which types of notifications you wish to receive, including email and document @mentions, travel updates, deliveries, and more
Coming over to Microsoft Edge, we learned that Microsoft is hard at work
making its browser into a dedicated OS bringing some features of the Windows Photos app to its browser. Edge Canary now offers a built-in photo editor that enables users to crop a picture, adjust various sliders (brightness, exposure, etc.), apply filters, and annotate with different tools. But if you prefer a more relatively more stable version of Edge that has more features than the generally available version, you can give Edge 104 a try in the Beta channel right now. That said, the latest build only includes some new policies for enterprise use-cases.
Furthermore, Office version 2206 has fixed a bunch of crashing and freezing issues affecting Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Workarounds have also been provided for Office 2019 and Office 2021. Finally, Microsoft PowerToys users can give version 0.60 a swing as well. It focuses on stability and usability enhancements including a new PowerToys Run plugin for OneNote.
Windows 11 updates
We’ll start off this section by talking about Microsoft updating its free Windows 11 virtual machines. These machines contain evaluation versions of Windows 11 with development tools, since they are intended primarily for developers. Although they do not require immediate activation, they do expire after a short time. The latest virtual machines are only valid until September 11, 2022.
Microsoft also rolled out two builds to the Windows 11 Beta Channel. Build 22621.290 has new features turned off whereas build 22622.290 has them lit up. What new features, you ask? Well, they include Suggested Actions and OneDrive storage alert and subscription management in Windows Settings. There are a bunch of fixes and general improvements present in both builds too. As it currently stands, people who are seeded build 22621.290 (features off) can choose to install build 22622.290 (features on) through Windows Update.
Meanwhile, KB5014668, which was supposed to fix an issue in Windows 11 where new updates failed to install ironically fails in installing itself. The update is being offered in the Release Preview Channel but many are complaining that it fails to install. That said, some are saying that they are able to install the problematic update after multiple reboots, so if you’re facing the same issue, give this workaround a go.
Continuing with the topic of Windows updates, Microsoft confirmed that a Dev Channel 23H2 build will not be flighted this week as the company is busy resolving a presumably important bug. However, if you’re gearing up for Windows 11 22H2 instead and don’t want to use your Microsoft Account in the setup process, you may want to check out Rufus 3.19, now available. Meanwhile, if you’re an enterprise customer and are really confused by how Microsoft’s Windows Autopatch fits in your Windows update delivery landscape, check out this helpful PSA which explains the differences between Autopatch, Endpoint Manager, and Windows Update for Business very succinctly.
And if you use Windows 11 but are bummed by the botched Calendar and Clock flyout in the Taskbar, give this app a go. It attempts to fix Microsoft’s implementation but there are a few caveats to be aware of, which are natural because this is not a native implementation.
Those who use Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) on their Windows 11 machine will be pleased to know that the July update has added AV1 support, and updated Settings app, and more.
Finally, this might be interesting to some but system builder Puget Systems says that its testing has revealed that Windows 11 has received several performance improvements since launch and at least manages to keep up with Windows 10 now. That said, it is still hesitant in declaring it a clear winner against Windows 10.
On the gaming side of things, Microsoft quietly sent out emails to Xbox Live Gold customers, saying that it will not be offering Xbox 360 games via the subscription from October as it has “reached its limit” to do so. Only Xbox One games will be offered after the aforementioned deadline. It’s important to note that Xbox 360 games claimed via the service are yours to keep even if your subscription expires, which means that if you’re a long-time subscriber, you should probably have a massive library of Xbox 360 games already.
It’s become even more evident that Xbox Game Pass should be the preferred choice for most gamers as Gold is likely being kept around for legacy reasons and for customers who can’t upgrade to Game Pass due to financial reasons. Talking about Game Pass, that service received a bunch of Yakuza games at the start of the month with more titles to become available throughout July.
If you have an Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, don’t forget to check out this week’s Free Play Days promotion, packing Saints Row IV, Assetto Corsa Competizione, and The Crew 2. All of these titles can be played for free until Sunday and can be nabbed at massively discounted prices during the same duration.
But if you’d rather play classic games, you’ll be happy to know that Microsoft has brought previews of Wolfenstein 3D and The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall for Xbox Insiders on PC. The intention is to bring them to the Microsoft Store for everyone once they have been tested thoroughly by Insiders.
On the other hand, if you were eager to get your hands on the latest piece of PC gaming technology, you’re in for some bad news as Forspoken, the first game to leverage Microsoft’s DirectStorage implementation has been delayed yet again, this time to January 24, 2023.
Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard is now being probed in the UK too (it was already being investigated in the U.S.). The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is inviting feedback on the topic until July 20 with an initial decision expected by September 1.
And as usual, if you’d like to grab some PC games at significantly reduced prices, don’t miss out on our Weekend PC Game Deals piece, a handpicked collected of discounted games compiled by Neowin News Editor Pulasthi Ariyasinghe.
Under the spotlight
This week, forum member Adam Bottjen – better known by the alias Warwagon – wrote a handy guide about how you can change the default homepage in Microsoft Edge. While this may be a relatively simple procedure for some of our readers, the guide is very useful for people who are not that familiar with Edge or using Windows PCs in general.
Meanwhile, News Reporter Sayan Sen wrote a detailed guide that should make it easier for people to decide which GPU to purchase, if they are building a gaming PC on a budget right now. Sayan’s write-up contains price and performance comparisons so you can figure out where you are willing to make some tradeoffs to keep the cost as low as possible.
Our most interesting news item of the week relates to Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk finally filing to terminate his $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter. Musk has cited multiple reasons including Twitter’s failure to provide him data on bot activity on the social media platform as well as firing a third of its talent acquisition team and key executives. Twitter is not pleased with Musk backing off and its shares have started to tumble too. Twitter board chairman Bret Taylor has announced that the company will be taking Musk to court and ensure that the transaction is completed. That said, it remains to be seen how prolonged this court battle will be.
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