Who needs 4th July fireworks when there's a new Windows 10 build?

Also: Service Fabric resumes rolling out. And for Insiders? One Hub to rule 'em all (kind of)

Crowd watches fireworks at night in the field. Photo by Shutterstock

Roundup While the US prepared to celebrate its escape from the clutches of British control – a USexit if you will – Microsoft continued its rich tradition of flinging out software and fixing bugs.

Eye-eye – it's another build of Windows 10

After the wholly unsurprising revelation that (1) Windows 10 19H2 would be a thing and (2) that thing would be little more than a jumped-up service pack, Microsoft's Windows gnomes remained hard at work on next year's OS with a release of 20H1.

Build 18932 is all about accessibility and Eye Control.

It's hard to see the Eye Control functionality in Windows 10 as anything other than A Good Thing, and Microsoft has continued improving the tech. Making an appearance in this release is an implementation of drag and drop and the ability to combine clicks and drags with the ctrl and shift modifier keys. The gang has also improved the pause experience and added switch support to augment the existing "dwell" method for clicking a button.

If enabled, Narrator will also start reading web pages when loaded, starting at the main landmark, as well as automatically reading emails when opened in Outlook or the inbox Mail app. Finally, on the accessibility front, the venerable Magnifier app now enjoys different zoom levels for light and dark modes.

The gang has also had a fiddle with notifications in Windows 10, adding inline options to turn off an app's notifications and, thankfully, making it simpler to mute the things.

Hubtastic Insiders

Microsoft's army of unpaid testers had further reason to rejoice last week as the company trumpeted the arrival of a web hub from whence the majority of its Insider programs could be found.

For those unaware, Microsoft's Insider programs allow users to get early access to preview versions of the company's software. The likes of Bing, Edge, Office and, of course, Windows all get a look-in as well as Xbox for those gamers with time on their hands.

Sadly, the page does not represent a rationalisation of the programs or a consistency of approach. It is instead merely a one-stop shop of links for those unable to use Google to find the Insider program of their choice.

Then again, when everyone's an Insider then surely no one is?

Microsoft loves Android (notifications)

Also trickling in before the company closed down prior to fireworks-and-tanks day was the integration of phone notifications with the Phone Screen function. The theory goes that clicking the notification will then fire up the Phone Screen on the Windows 10 desktop rather than having the user reach for the physical phone.

It's a neat feature but, alas, is only available to a woefully limited set of users. Not only do you need to have the Windows 10 May 2019 Update (or newer) installed, you also need a recent-ish Samsung phone running Android 7 or better (or a OnePlus 6 or 6T) and a PC with a bluetooth radio supporting that pesky low-energy peripheral role. So still quite a limited slice of the Insider pie.

If you're one of the many unable to use the Phone Screen feature, not to worry: clicking a notification will just dump you in the notification feed instead.

SMS and MMS continue to lurk in the messaging node of the Your Phone app regardless.

Still, there was some good news for those resolutely sticking with the April 2018 Update – the Notifications feature will be making an appearance for those hold-outs in Your Phone over the coming days.

A stitch in time saves version 6.5 (of the Azure Service Fabric)

After slamming the brakes on the rollout of release 6.5 of Azure Service Fabric back in June due to what Microsoft delicately described as "issues", the company has issued a "refresh".

At least one user reported that the original update resulted in name resolution problems in Docker, necessitating a hasty downgrade.

Indeed, for Docker Compose customers who had done the upgrade and were subsequently experiencing cluster availability issues, the gang asked that users get in touch for help in sorting things out. Otherwise a hop to the latest 6.4 version and then on to the shiny 6.5 Refresh Release was in order.

Only two bug fixes show up in the releases note, with one directly impacting Ubuntu involving an extra fabric:/ added to the application instance name. The bug "causes compose application creation to fail." And now, according to Microsoft, it doesn't. Hurrah!

Service Fabric, which will cheerfully run on Windows or Linux, is Microsoft's take on a microservices platform and lurks behind many of the company's cloud services. While the company is in the throes of shifting things to open development and has promised that code for version 7 will be published in the repo upon release in November, developers may be tempted by the charms of Kubernetes these days. Yanking the 6.5 release for hurried repairs will not have helped.

I bless the data down in Africa – MySQL, MariaDB and PostreSQL action for Azure

Having flung open the doors on its South Africa regions back in 2018, Microsoft has added MySQL, PostreSQL and MariaDB flavours of Azure Database. The databases are now generally available in South Africa North and South Africa West.

The move further strengthens Microsoft's cloudy grip on the region. Arch rival Amazon plans an AWS Region in South Africa consisting of three availability zones, but is not expected to flip the "on" switch until the first half of 2020.

Like Microsoft, Amazon reckons Sub-Saharan Africa could use the lower latency of something a little more local. Being able to stash data somewhere nearer to home will also make some customers happier.

Google's Cloud Platform currently has no public plans for a data centre in the region, focussing instead on South Korea, Indonesia and the US for its expansion. ®




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