As one Microsoft Windows product hauls itself out of the grave, others tumble in
'Twas the night before Ignite and the October 2018 Update is stirring
As much of the Microsoft world packed up and headed for Ignite, new builds and a surprising resurrection filled a busy week in Redmond.
Windows Insider build pace hints at imminent release, if not for that pesky Task Manager
The gap between releases for fast and slow Windows Insider rings continued to narrow last week as build 17763 of the operating system arrived for both platoons of volunteers within two days of each other.
There were no new features to excite the fans, which is not unexpected this close to release, although the clean slate of known issues was polluted with a couple afflicting the Windows Task Manager. One was a failure to report accurate CPU usage. Based on recent incidents, simply setting the CPU to 100 per cent and leaving it there would probably do that trick.
Microsoft, which continues to insist that the removal of the build watermark "doesn't mean we're done", squashed a few more bugs this time around, including OneDrive munching through the battery and Flash elements crashing an Edge browser tab after being poked with a couple of digits.
Two-finger salute jokes aside, perhaps it is time to create a new thought experiment for the Windows 10 era: if a browser tab crashes, but no one ever uses it, did it really crash?
As well as new builds for Redstone 5, or the October 2018 Update, Microsoft also emitted build 18242 for those signed up to the Skip-Ahead release – aka 19H1. There were no exciting new features to tickle Insiders hopeful for a return of Sets, although Task Manager is just as broken here as elsewhere.
Wileyfox resumes Windows Phone production
As Microsoft continues to play whack-a-mole with Windows Phone functions and apps carry on quietly vanishing from the Microsoft Store, budget UK smartphone maker Wileyfox announced that it would be resuming production of a device based on Microsoft's spectacular mobile misstep.
According to a report, the firm, snapped up by STK back in March after running out of cash in February, has resumed production of the Pro, a Windows 10 Mobile device, although it remains resolutely "sold out" at £79.99 on the company's website.
Who would want such a thing? For one, enterprises who bought into Microsoft's vision of a tile-based future, which will welcome the arrival of new devices to buy themselves time to migrate toward something a little more Googly now that HP Inc has run for the hills. Or perhaps the odd morbidly curious consumer.
The Register contacted Wileyfox to find out how long this stay of execution might last but has, as yet, received no response.
Stockholders see an increase in dividends
The good news train rolled in for Microsoft stockholders as the company announced the dividend it was paying was to increase by 4 US cents (or 9.5 per cent) to $0.46 per share after the latest financial results bonanza. Yay? Maybe not, according to observers including Seeking Alpha's Bill Maurer.
Maurer noted that while the increase was the highest in the last three years, from 2011 to 2015 the average was 17.7 per cent. With plenty of cash in the company and less money being spent on share buybacks "there's a case to be made for more dividends".
Microsoft's Windows hit list confirmed
Finally, as Redstone 5 tiptoes towards its October finish line, Microsoft has firmed up the list of features either disappearing or being put on notice in its operating system. Phone Companion and the Hologram app are both for the high jump, while limpet.exe, a tool used to access TPM for Azure connectivity, is going open source.
The Trusted Platform Module (TPM) has also gone, its content now available in the Windows Defender Security Center, and Business Scanning (aka Distributed Scan Management) is no more because, er, no one makes a device that supports it.
Lack of support is also about to do for the companion device framework, which allowed wearables or other devices to unlock a PC. Last year's Dynamic Lock, which uses Bluetooth to detect a user and do the locking fandango, rendered the framework pretty much unnecessary. That, and the fact that Microsoft's third-party providers took one look and said "nah", has left the framework staring into Microsoft's pit of forgotten tech. And it is a deep, deep pit.
Also seeing the end of the development line (although still present in the OS for the time being) is the OneSync service, replaced by a service in the Outlook app to synchronise data in the Mail, People and Calendar apps. The Snipping tool, for grabbing screenshots, is due to be replaced by Snip & Sketch. ®