We are at the end of the week and it is time yet again to recap everything that went on in the world of Microsoft in the past few days. This weekend’s edition includes everything from Windows updates to Windows issues, and a sprinkle of browser-related news for good measure. Read on for our weekly digest of August 13 – August 19!
After announcing a private preview back in May, Microsoft finally released Dev Box as a public preview this week. For those unaware, this managed service offers developer-ready workstations hosted in the cloud. These integrate with Azure Deployment Environments, Intune, and Endpoint Manager, so you can get up and running in no time with existing project templates. The idea is to reduce the headache of infrastructure management for IT teams while also allowing developers to spin up environments with pre-installed tools to hit the ground running when building solutions.
Meanwhile, Windows 11 Dev Channel Insiders all over the world were treated to build 25182. It contains some fixes for the File Explorer and Start menu, but also has a few known issues. Interestingly, the secret Taskbar animations introduced in build 25179 last week have been removed too.
Similarly, Release Preview Insiders on Windows 11 netted build 22000.917 (KB5016691) with improvements for file compression, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, and more. Insiders on the same ring, but for Windows 10, got build 19044.1947 (KB5016688) with tons of improvements. On the other hand, those on Windows Server 2022 received build 20348.946 ( KB5016693) with similar enhancements to those offered on Windows 11.
And if you’re on the edge of your seat waiting eagerly for Windows 11 version 22H2 to become generally available, expect it to land next month. In the meantime, you should know that Microsoft is rolling out a new Web Experience Pack that enables Windows 11 Widgets to send you notifications on the Taskbar. It doesn’t seem like they can be disabled, for now at least.
Finally, if you’re looking to spice up your PC with some new colorful wallpapers, maybe have a look at these “Windows 12” images generated by AI.
As is common almost every week, some new Windows issues emerged in this one as well. After KB5012170 caused some problems for Secure Boot DBX last week, the same update has resulted in issues for people utilizing BitLocker. After installing the update, Windows 11 asks users to enter the recovery key on the BitLocker recovery screen, which is a bit of an annoyance, to say the least. Fortunately, Microsoft has acknowledged the issue after widespread reports and is working to fix it, while also issuing some temporary workarounds.
Speaking of issues, it’s probably worth knowing about some cybersecurity concerns that have arisen in recent days. Microsoft has published an advisory about the SEABORGIUM phishing campaign where attackers befriend you through fake profiles before delivering your malicious URLs and attachments that can steal your credentials. As always, it is important to be cautious and keep your guard up when opening unknown URLs and files.
Meanwhile, those who are engaged in tech support scams are also sending USBs supposed to contain installations and keys of Microsoft software such as Office. It seems that these threat actors are also putting in a lot of effort to make the packaging look legitimate. However, when a target plugs in the USB, you start getting fake warning messages and pop-ups about your PC being infected and a Microsoft tech support number that you can reach out to. This is obviously the contact number of the scammer and triggers the regular scamming process for unsuspecting victims.
At times like these, it is important to keep your anti-virus systems and related monitoring solutions up to date. Microsoft has rolled out version 14.0 of Sysmon that can block processes from creating .exe or similar executable files – this is useful to impede malware. Microsoft Defender has scored quite well in its latest AV-TEST rankings too.
However, all defensive measures fall apart if the weakest link in the chain is the human themselves. This is kind of what happened when Microsoft employees accidentally leaked credentials of an Azure tenant to GitHub. You can check out the details here.
This week, Microsoft Edge received another update to version 104 in the Stable Channel. Version 104.0.1293.63 introduces policies to take advantage of new sidebar features including the ability to access games, Outlook, Office, and much more. However, it is worth noting that this is a controlled rollout which means you may not immediately find the sidebar upon updating.
Those who prefer UX consistency in the software that they utilize will also be happy to know that Microsoft Edge Canary received an update that finally fixed the missing dark mode support in one of the browser’s context menus. Now, when you switch Windows and Edge to dark mode, the window frame context menu also changes its theme. No more light context menus when using the operating system and browser in dark mode.
Meanwhile, Edge Dev 106.0.1349.1 introduced the ability to give nicknames to passwords and filter by dates in the browser history. On the other hand, Edge 105 in the Beta Channel was a pretty quiet affair with policy updates and enhancements to IE mode management.
Speaking of IE, it is worth knowing that Microsoft will be disabling TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 protocols by default in Internet Explorer and EdgeHTML from September 13. However, those intent on using outdated technologies in legacy browsers can still re-enable support for these protocols via Group Policy and browser settings.
We’ll kick this section off by talking about a big news item: Death Stranding is landing on PC Game Pass on August 23. The title originally launched as a Sony PlayStation-exclusive in 2019 before arriving on PC in 2020. Now, subscribers to Microsoft’s PC Game Pass service can grab it at no additional cost from the coming week. For now, they can nab Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein 3D, An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire, Quake 4, and other classics right now.
Xbox Game Pass subscribers haven’t been left out in the cold either, they can grab Immortals Fenyx Rising, Commandos 3, Immortality, and more within the next few days. However, a bunch of titles are leaving the service too, check out the list here. On the other hand, Games with Gold subscribers can grab Monaco and ScourgeBringer right now.
When it comes to individual titles, those who pre-order Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II on Xbox will be able to play the campaign early, a full week ahead of launch. Multiplayer beta dates have been revealed too. And those who prefer more fantastical adventures should check out the new “A Hunter’s Cry” limited-time event in Sea of Thieves; it lasts until September 1. And gamers who prefer the skies rather than the water might want to consider the $14.99 Beechcraft Bonanza in Microsoft Flight Simulator.
In terms of Xbox updates, the latest invite-only Alpha-Skip Ahead Ring update offers improved settings with a clearer explanation of how to set a Home console, along with dashboard performance enhancements.
Finally, those on the lookout for gaming deals should check out this week’s Deals with Gold headlined by Borderlands and Grim Dawn. Meanwhile, the latest Xbox Free Play Days promotion has Just Die Already, Outriders, and The Elder Scrolls Online available to play for free this weekend, along with massive discounts. And as usual, PC purists shouldn’t forget to take a gander at this Weekend’s PC Game Deals, curated personally by our News Editor Pulasthi Ariyasinghe.
Microsoft and Canonical are bringing native .NET 6 to Linux starting with Ubuntu 22.04 LTS
PowerToys is soon getting an OCR utility to extract text from images
Microsoft is replacing Teams Rooms Premium with cheaper “Pro” and offering the “Basic” plan for free
To Do for Android now has a rich text editor and widgets customization
Microsoft has updated Surface Pro 6 and Pro 5th Gen with new drivers and security enhancements
Under the spotlight
As he does every week, forum member Adam Bottjen (better known as “Warwagon”) wrote a guide for his Tech Tip Tuesday series. This time, it’s related to how you can search inside specific websites through Google Search with ease.
Similarly, News Editor Paul Hill published a guide on how you can set up end-to-end encryption for your emails, if you’re a Mozilla Thunderbird customer.
Meanwhile, News Reporter Taras Buria authored a couple of guides this week as well. The first is about how you can create a bootable Windows 11 USB using a utility called Rufus. If this is something that fits your wheelhouse, check it out here.
The other guide is about how you can set up Encrypted Client Hello in Microsoft Edge to improve your privacy posture.
Taras also penned a list of the top 10 features and changes that Windows 11 users are requesting from Microsoft when it comes to Widgets. The list is quite interesting, especially if you have a strong opinion on Widgets.
Our most interesting news item of the week relates to a Microsoft engineering detailing a rather interesting bug from the olden days on Windows XP which caused PCs with 5400RPM hard drives to crash if the music video of Rhythm Nation by Janet Jackson was played. This happened due to the song’s resonant frequencies which caused hard drives to malfunction and even caused PCs in the vicinity to crash.
Although OEMs raced to fix the issue by adding filters for the problematic frequencies, the MITRE Corporation has deemed the issue to be an official exploit with a CVE ID and everything. It sounds crazy considering that the bug was discovered and supposedly fixed by OEMs almost two decades ago, but it could still be used as a side-channel exploit on legacy hardware and software that is still in use (for whatever reason).
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