A new entry in the franchise: Microsoft Windows and the Goblet of Meh

Good news for Windows on ARM64 users in this week's round up

Roundup The Microsoft gang managed to find time away from breaking Bing and trashing Teams last week to emit new Windows and update Visual Studio Code.

Another Windows 10 Fast Ring Insider build, another sip from the goblet of 'Meh' for all but ARM64 users

A typically exuberant social media emission from Microsoft's Windows Insider team heralded the arrival of a fresh Fast Ring edition of Windows 10 in the form of build 19559, some of the content of which may, or may not, turn up in general release.

Sadly, "exuberance" was a tad misplaced as, yet again, the build shipped with very little in the way of the exciting new features Insiders have hoped for.

As a reminder, the Slow Ring (which has been getting a little dusty of late) is where more stable builds live and is currently host to Windows 10 20H1, aka 2004. The Fast Ring is where all the whizzbangery should happen but, alas, the improvements list remains uninspiring for the majority of users.

The one exception to that is those users who own an ARM64 device, such as a Surface Pro X. In that case, the new Fast Ring build could be very exciting indeed. Enterprise or Pro users can now get access to Hyper-V features, which is a rather big deal for developers using the hardware and has been a very long time coming, considering the Pro X debuted in 2019.

Sadly, however, the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2 connection problem of the previous build remains a thing, despite the pace at which the WSL gang worked at fixing the issue. Lead developer on the project, Ben Hillis, told the increasingly heated GitHub thread on the issue that 19559 lacked the fix: "the build snapped before it was ready."

Senior program manager for the Windows Insiders gang, Brandon LeBlanc, concurred and told fans that the fix was indeed ready and would be "included in an upcoming flight."

And no, "certain devices" still won't go the fsck to sleep on idle, although a fix is incoming. In the meantime, LeBlanc advised users experiencing the problem on the preview build to "manually" trigger sleep.

We find a baseball bat with nails in it works just as well.

Chromium Edge comes to ARM64

Those not brave enough to inflict preview code on their shiny Surface Pro X devices were thrown a bone over the weekend as Microsoft finally shipped the ARM64 version of the Chromium Edge browser, more than two weeks after the x86 version was released.

It is quite a milestone, since those wishing to stick with stable versions of Chromium Edge have had to endure x86 emulation, which even the most drooling apologist would baulk at defending. A natively compiled incarnation will run at quite a clip, certainly if our experience with the Dev version (which turned up late last year) is anything to go by.

Windows on ARM64 fans should see version 80 slither down via the usual update channels over the coming days and weeks, or can manually install the thing if waiting isn't an option.

Although, frankly, if you've been using Chromium Edge in x86 emulation, waiting for things will be an all too familiar experience.

Microsoft tweaks Surface Dock firmware update for Surface Pro X

The days of simple hardware hubs are long gone and last year Microsoft unleashed the Surface Dock Firmware Update to allow those wanting the company's answer to a perceived paucity of ports on its fondleslabs to quietly update the Surface Dock firmware while running in the background.

"It will," the company proclaimed, "update any Surface Dock attached to your Surface device."

Er, no it doesn't, protested users of the Surface Pro X. The Pro 7 and Laptop 3 both worked ok, but it appears the Dock team didn't get the message about that whole Arm thing. Users of the flagship fondleslab were treated to the error: "This installation package is not supported by this processor type. Contact your product vendor."

There is now some good news. It has taken a few months, but the gang has completed "the additional engineering work" needed to make ARM64 gear work and will be rolling out a new version in "the coming weeks."

A shame that the team didn't consider the Surface Pro X and its well-heeled users in the first place.

Visual Studio Code hits 1.42 with workbench tweaks, editor improvements and a sneaky timeline preview

The breakneck pace of development of Microsoft's cross-platform developer darling, Visual Studio Code, has continued with the arrival of version 1.42 (aka the January 2020 release).

The changes continue to refine the experience of using the thing, with simple tweaks arriving such as the move from the usual "Untitled" to the first line of the document for an untitled editor. Untidy editor hounds will also find useful the ability to control how many editors may be open at once (with the oldest, saved, editor automatically closed) as well as preview of the changes that a Rename will do.

There is also better handling for save conflicts (when a file has been saved that has changed outside of VS Code) with an Overwrite button to permit the stomping all over someone else's work, and extensions that take a while to save (for example, those that tidy up formatting) can now be manually cancelled, rather than allowing VS Code to time-out and cancel the operation itself.

We were also pleased to note improvements in debugging, particularly in the Debug Console, which now uses the language mode of the current active editor.

However, for the brave, there were previews of some real treats, not least of which was the arrival of Timeline. It is, to be frank, not the most stable thing in the world (and the VS Code team is at pains to emphasise that it is not ready for release) and you'll need to be on the Insider version of the editor, but it is worth taking for a spin.

Timeline, as the name suggests, is a view for visualising time-series events (such as Git commits.) Choosing an entry in the list (again, a commit) opens up a diff view of the changes. The plan is for extensions to contribute their own sources.

It is very early days, and could be abruptly dropped, but this developer found it a handy thing, certainly more so than the equivalently named feature in Windows 10. The Reg will have more on the VS update later today.

The other item of note in the preview was a new debugger for Node.js and Chrome, which will automatically debug commands run in JavaScript Debug Terminal. ®

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