Builds aplenty, taking calls from the pub with Teams, and Edgy leaks: It's the week at Microsoft
Now with exclusive cult cinema references
Roundup In a week where macOS users got their first taste of Microsoft's Defender and certain vendors received a kick in the virtuals from Azure's cloudy desktop, the gang at Redmond kept on a-building and a-leaking.
When 'Release' and 'Candidate' are the hardest words
Microsoft demonstrated the impending 19H1 version of Windows 10 is nearasdamnit at Release Candidate quality by, er, flinging the code for build 18362 at Windows Insiders on the Slow Ring and discovering something is amiss with the installer.
Windows 10 users may remember the installer wobbling back in October 2018, when it hosed user files under certain circumstances. This time around, it apparently stalls at 7 per cent, has a good long think about its life choices then decides to end it all by restarting the PC, according to feedback from Windows Insiders.
Having been ignored for much of the 19H1 development process, Slow Ring insiders, who expect to receive more stable versions of the OS, have been peppered with builds. This one arrived just a couple of days after hitting the Fast Ring. It fixed the pesky bug that stopped Store apps from updating, but still struggles with gaming anti-cheat code, some SD readers and, of course, that Creative X-Fi sound card problem.
For the latter issue there is at least a solution apparently on the horizon. According to the wonderfully named Reddit user ThisPlaceIsHell, Creative has emitted a fix.
Now, if only it were possible to install the thing.
Teams celebrates its second birthday, hands out party bags stuffed with goodies. No cake
Microsoft's Slack-for-suits collaboration platform, Teams, celebrated its second birthday by trotting out a list of upcoming features.
As well as wheeling out figures to show off the growth of the platform – over half a million organisations using the thing and of those, 150 have 10,000 or more active users – Microsoft got into the nitty-gritty. What toys will we find in our party bags?
With background blur being so 2018, the gang is upping the ante a little and adding customisable backgrounds for video callers. The company reckons this will minimise distractions. Or at least conceal the fact that the caller is sat in the pub.
More useful will be the arrival of intelligent cameras to deal with those occasions when someone is standing in front of a whiteboard, armed with a marker. Naturally, support for the digital canvas of the Microsoft Whiteboard is also inbound for Microsoft Teams Rooms.
The latter is in public preview new, the others you'll need to wait a bit longer for.
Also "coming soon" is live captioning and subtitles (in English form), secure private channels, and the ability to throw up "Information barriers" to limit who can actually talk to who.
Already here is Live Events, allowing up to 10,000 participants, and something for compliance fans – the ability to "detect, automatically protect, and screen for sensitive information in chats and channel conversations".
But still no cake.
Windows Mixed Reality still not dead: HP prepares Reverb for April debut
In a week that saw Oculus's new VR idiot visor dribble out from beneath Zuckerberg's bathroom door, the plucky upstart tech of Microsoft's Windows Mixed Reality got a shot in the arm in the form of HP's Reverb Virtual Reality (VR) headset (PDF).
Coming in at around $600, the Reverb costs considerably more than the company's previous foray into Microsoft's vision of a virtual future, but also quite a bit less than something like a HoloLens.
Eye-catching, in the real sense of the word, is the resolution bump. A jump to 2,160 x 2,160 pixels per eye is quite the step up and while the move is unlikely to completely deal with the Screen Door Effect (SDE) that bedevils many headsets today, it is a skip in the right direction.
For those yet to sample the delights of these devices, SDE occurs when the user is able to perceive the pixel matrix that makes up the display.
The screens are also, alas, LCD rather than the OLEDs found in a devices such as those made by Samsung, but HP insists their displays will still deliver "ultra-sharp visuals".
We'll be the judge of that.
Being a Windows Mixed Reality device, there is no need for tiresome sensors around the room (something Oculus is catching up with) although you'll need some chunky hardware in order to run the thing – HP suggests something along the lines of an NVIDIA GTX 1080.
Windows Mixed Reality has thus far survived the Microsoft consumer axe, and is now flirting with a 10 per cent market share, according to game slinger Steam. While the headsets were conspicuous by their absence at the recent HoloLens 2 Barcelona shindig, fans of the tech will be delighted to see another high-end headset put in an appearance.
Internet Chrexplorer breaks cover. As you wish...
"Exclusive? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
Anonymous insiders within the bowels of Redmond followed the continual drip-feed of information about Microsoft's attempt to rescue its unloved Edge browser (by sticking Chromium in it) by leaking an actual build of the app in the last few days.
The response has mostly been, unsurprisingly, rapturous delight. To be fair, replacing Chrome's, er, chrome with the Edge wrapper is no bad thing. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has proclaimed "Privacy is a Human Right", which will be reassuring to those worried by Google's creepier tendencies. Right?
As for when those loyally signed up to Microsoft's Edge Insider programme will get to have a play? Not long. Although Insider supremo Brandon LeBlanc was quick to explain to aggrieved Windows Insiders that what was being trumpeted was simply seepage from Redmond's big bag of browser fun.
The Edge Preview isn't available yet. You're seeing leaks.— Brandon LeBlanc (@brandonleblanc) March 24, 2019
We can imagine the scene inside Microsoft. Either a celebration of a successful marketing "leak" or a witch-hunt along the lines of: "My name is Brandon LeBlanc. You leaked my browser. Prepare to die." ®