We are at the end of the last week of July, and it’s time yet again to walk through all the recent important news items from the world of Microsoft. This week, we are going to talk about a bunch of Windows builds, various software issues, as well as some growing threats in the cybersecurity space. Find out about these and more in our weekly digest for July 23 – July 29.
We’ll start off with news about build 25169 landing in the Dev Channel. This contains an interesting feature called “multi-app kiosk mode” where an IT admin can configure a device to run a selection of apps and block all other functionalities. If you’re wondering what the use-case for this would be, it’s more to do with frontline and retail workers, or those in the education sector sharing a single machine. That said, there are other improvements that are geared more towards regular consumers too in this build too, such as enhancements to Windows Spotlight and the Settings app.
Meanwhile, the Beta Channel got some love in the form of builds 22621.440 and 22622.440. As usual, the former has new functionalities toggled off, while the latter has them enabled. The main difference this time around is that one build has the Taskbar overflow while the other does not. The shared feature-set includes dynamic Widgets content on the Taskbar and a bunch of other fixes and general improvements.
The Release Preview Channel wasn’t forgotten, either. It actually received builds for two versions of Windows. Windows 11 got build 22621.317 (KB5015885) with some fixes, whereas Windows 10 got version 22H2. If you’re wondering how to get the latter, check out the linked guide in the Under the Spotlight section of this article.
We also heard some further confirmation that Windows 11 version 22H2 is set to launch in September and that Microsoft plans to launch 10th anniversary Surface devices in October. This is in addition to Microsoft’s first in-person event, Ignite, since the pandemic began.
Meanwhile, Windows Server vNext received preview build 25169 too, but as usual, there’s no changelog.
And if you’re a Mac user looking to dip your toes into the world of Windows, you might want to check out the recently released VMwareFusion 22H2 Tech Preview. This virtualization software now allows you to run Windows 11 next to macOS, with support for Apple Silicon and Intel. Similarly, if you’re a Rufus user, you’ll want to have a look at the beta update that introduces the option to create a local offline account and copy regional settings from the current Windows installation.
We’ll start this section off by talking about Microsoft confirming that a KB5014666 for Windows 10 – released late last month – breaks printing… again. In essence, it causes Windows 10 to display duplicates of a single printer with a “Copy1” suffix. More importantly, applications referring to a specific printer by name cannot print a document. While Microsoft is still investigating the issue, it has published some workarounds.
There is also a problem in Edge Collections where it does not sync across devices. Microsoft is working on the issue and has committed to solving it in the next release of Android and as well as Edge 104 next month. In related news, the Redmond tech firm has also talked about how it is fixing performance issues in its Edge browser with cache compression.
Talking about fixing issues, Microsoft is working on reducing the cold boot time on Xbox consoles as well. This is being done by reducing the length of the startup animation by five seconds, which should result in an overall boost of up to 25% when it comes to boot time performance. That said, these changes will only take effect when you’ve set your console to Energy Saver mode. Those on Standby mode will not be able to benefit.
Google is taking another matter into its own hands when it comes to Windows’ default app configuration. The Chrome-maker clearly believes that Microsoft’s process to switch the default browser is a bit tedious. It is working on a new tool which allows users to do the same for Chrome through a one-click process, just like Mozilla’s implementation for Firefox.
Finally, the latest Windows 10 KB5015878 update has fixed some DirectX 12 problems and has improved the overall OS upgrade experience. So, if you’re on Windows 10, check out the changelog here before installing the update.
Coming over to news about cybersecurity, Microsoft published some details about how it is preventing a new strain of malware called Knotweed infecting Windows devices in financial and law sectors. It revealed these details to highlight the threat posed by private firms selling cyberweapons. In this case, Knotweed’s origin has been tied to Austrian firm DSIRF, which, according to its website, is a security and analytics company.
In related news, security researchers have also reported on a new threat in which LockBit ransomware actors are abusing Windows Defender to load Cobalt Strike beacons as payloads. You can find more details here.
Meanwhile, if you’re an Azure customer, you might find it interesting to read about how Microsoft handles and protects against security threats on the cloud. The company has outlined its process at a high level, which should be a fascinating read for those involved in this space or considering becoming an Azure customer.
Talking about Azure, Ubuntu Confidential Virtual Machines (CVMs) are now available on Microsoft’s cloud platform. Ubuntu 20.04 is the only Linux distribution to support CVMs at this point in time, so make sure to select it if you’re spinning up a new VM on Azure and require the enhanced security offering.
Finally, if you’re an iCloud for Windows user, you’ll be happy to know that the app can now generate two-factor authentication (2FA) codes directly on Windows.
Microsoft has revealed its next Games with Gold offerings, and you can see them in the graphic above. At this point, it is important to once again highlight that Microsoft is getting rid of Xbox 360 games in this offering in October. Make sure that you claim any games you’re interested in as they become available in the next couple of months.
That said, there are quite a few deals going around on Xbox storefronts if you’re looking to purchase games. This week’s Deals with Gold offerings are headlined by Jurassic World and Assassin’s Creed franchises. There’s also an Xbox Ultimate Game Sale going on that significantly knocks off some of the price of Call of Duty, Final Fantasy, and more. Then there’s the Xbox Free Play Days featuring WWE 2K22, Generation Zero, and Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker.
Last but not least, our PC purist readers will once again want to check out this weekend’s PC game deals, curated by our News Editor Pulasthi Ariyasinghe.
Under the spotlight
This week’s edition of Tech Tips Tuesday explains how you can check PayPal for old “active” payments. It’s an important thing to know for users of the service, so make sure to have a look at forum member Warwagon’s guide on the topic.
Meanwhile, our News Reporter Taras Buria has been extremely busy with guides lately. His first guide explains how you can get Windows 10 version 22H2 right now. The update is extremely minor, but if you’re a sucker for those pesky build numbers, you might be interested in installing it.
Another guide talks about how you can enable the Taskbar overflow in Windows 11, a feature which hit the Beta Channel just this week. It’s useful to know about, especially if you keep a lot of apps open.
There’s also a guide on how you can enable the new Windows Spotlight theme offered by the latest Windows 11 Dev Channel build 25169. You would need this information if you’re on the Dev Channel and have not been automatically offered this capability.
Finally, Taras also wrote some of his thoughts about a third-party MyPhone utility that allows you to make phone calls directly from your PC, regardless of whether you’re using an Android, iOS, or Windows Phone (!!!) device. Check out the details here.
This week’s most entertaining news item is undoubtedly about a Filipino politician looking to brand the art of ghosting as a criminal offense. According to the ludicrous bill submitted to the Philippines House of Representatives, ghosting is an “emotional cruelty” that happens “for no apparent justifiable reason but solely to cause emotional distress to the victim”. There’s little chance of the bill being passed as law, but if it does, the politician has previously hinted that the punishment for ghosting could be community service.
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