We are at the end of the last week of January 2023 and it’s time yet again to revisit all the important Microsoft stories from the past few days in the latest edition of Microsoft Weekly. This time, we have news regarding the Redmond tech giant’s financial numbers, some more Windows 11 updates and bugs, and a bunch of upgrades to other software. For all this and more, join us in our Microsoft Weekly digest covering January 22 – January 27!
Earlier in the week, Microsoft shares its latest financial numbers covering its FY23 Q2 period ending on December 31, 2023. Although it posted a revenue of $52.7 billion – which is a growth of 2% compared to the same quarter last year – with strong figures in the cloud and its enterprise products, it faced significant declines across consumer categories like Windows, Xbox, and Surface.
Windows OEM and Commercial revenue was down by 39% and 3% respectively, Xbox content and services shrunk by 12%, and Surface devices revenue fell 39%. Microsoft cited multiple macroeconomic and execution challenges for these declines and hinted at similar results in its ongoing quarter too. Its consumer categories are expected to shrink even further with revenue to decline a bit to $50.5-51.5 billion.
Despite these challenges, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella highlighted the company’s strength in AI. This was further underlined by an announcement extending the partnership agreement between Microsoft and OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT. Although Microsoft didn’t go into specifics, its latest investment is said to be around $10 billion with a return benefit being that OpenAI models will be deployed soon in various enterprise and consumer products.
That said, another challenge that Microsoft may be experiencing soon in the enterprise space is another antitrust probe from the EU regarding the bundling of Teams in the Microsoft 365 suite of services. The root of the probe is a complaint filed by Slack in 2020 in which it stated that Microsoft hides the “true cost” from enterprise customers when it bundles Teams with the Microsoft 365 suite of products and forces it to be installed on machines. The statement of objections from the regulator regarding Microsoft’s alleged anti-competitive practices is expected soon.
Windows 11 updates, bugs, and fixes
This week saw the release of build 25284 in the Dev Channel with a new Messenger widget and tons of bugs fixes for Taskbar, system tray, windowing, and more. This was followed by the availability of the Phone Link widget as well. It also introduced a bug for VPN users but thankfully, Microsoft has already issued a temporary workaround. Beta Channel users netted build 22623.1245 to fix ReFS and file copy bugs, and more. And as usual, we got a Windows Server release with the same Dev Channel build number too.
But moving away from Insider builds, an optional non-security cumulative update was also made available as KB5022360 for Windows 11 version 22H2. Speaking of this version, you may soon be upgraded to it automatically if you’re still on the original release of Windows 11, that is version 21H2. This has also led to Microsoft pushing out a compatibility update for Windows 11 version 22H2 devices.
In terms of what’s next for Windows 11, it seems like Microsoft is readying bootable support for Resilient File System (ReFS). There’s a new File Explorer in the works too and it reportedly has better visuals along with deeper and tighter integration with OneDrive and Microsoft 365, among many other things. Additionally, Microsoft is also working on improving its driver evaluation processes, which should hopefully result in higher quality graphics and audio drivers for both Windows 10 and Windows 11. That said, if you simply can’t wait for Microsoft to roll out enhancements to the software you use daily, perhaps it’s worth checking out this free app which modernizes the volume and brightness sliders in Windows 10.
Lastly, when it comes to bugs and their fixes, AMD has rolled out version 23.1.2 of its driver, fixing a launch failure in Windows 11 version 22H2. In the same vein, Microsoft has also patched an issue with Remote Desktop in Windows 11. However, some more issues in launching the Start menu and UWP apps across both Windows 10 and Windows 11 have now cropped up. The good news is that Microsoft has identified the root cause and a fix is expected soon.
Teams, Edge, and OneNote upgrades, oh my!
We’ll kick this section off with some good (?) news for Teams customers. Microsoft is working on integrating insights such as birthdays, career changes, and pending meeting invites in Teams profile cards. These are expected in March 2023.
On other spectrums of Microsoft 365 – which also experienced a major outage a few days ago -, we have an update for PowerPoint that introduces the ability to export slides as animated GIFs on the iPad. Additionally, Microsoft is also testing better navigation experiences for OneNote Insiders.
There are quite a few updates on the Edge front too. Apparently, Microsoft has been working on a secret version of Edge called “Phoenix”, where it tests quirky and new features internally before eventually making them available in Edge. It also features a comparatively modern interface, but it’s currently unknown if this browser will ever see the light of day in terms of public release. For now though, Edge Insiders can leverage Split View in Canary and some minor improvements in Dev. Meanwhile, those utilizing Edge on Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 will continue getting security updates until October 10, 2023.
In terms of other app updates, Snipping Tool now offers the ability to pause screen recordings, WinGet 1.4 has zip extraction, Windows Terminal Preview 1.17 packs Mica support and process restart, and EverythingToolbar now officially supports Windows 11.
This was a big week for gamers who prefer Microsoft’s platforms, primarily due to the company’s Developer_Direct showcase. We got gameplay trailers for Arkane’s Redfall, Forza Motorsport, and Minecraft Legends. But perhaps the best news of all was the surprise release of Hi-Fi Rush from Tango Gameworks, the creators of The Evil Within. The rhythm action game is now available via Xbox Game Pass along with other titles like GoldenEye 007, Age of Empires II on console, and more.
There was other good news for gamers who leverage Microsoft’s platforms too. Some early testing has shown that the Redmond tech firm’s DirectStorage technology does wonders for the only PC game it supports right now, that is Forspoken. And if you’re a fan of 343 Industries, you’ll be pleased to know that the development of Halo will remain with the studio, despite previous speculation suggesting otherwise.
On the Xbox side of things, the January update for the Xbox app on Windows has a sidebar upgrade on Windows and tons of bug fixes. Similarly, Xbox console gamers in the Beta ring can also utilize customizable power settings, along with other patches.
Finally, when it comes to deals, Assetto Corsa Competizione, Lawn Mowing Simulator, and Train Sim World 3 are on offer via Xbox Free Play Days. But if you’re exclusively a PC gamer, you’ll want to check out this Weekend’s PC Game Deals, curated by our News Editor Pulasthi Ariyasinghe.
Under the spotlight
During this week, we published a couple of handy guides. The first is by Neowin co-founder Steven Parker in which he explains how to stop Microsoft Edge from repeatedly creating desktop shortcuts.
The other guide is a Tech Tip Tuesday piece from forum member Adam Bottjen and it details the process to prevent a thief from disabling your iPhone’s tracking.
Our most interesting news item of the week relates to a research listin g the most impersonated brands when it comes to phishing. Yahoo tops the list with a 20% share but there are several other notable names in the list too, including Microsoft, LinkedIn, Google, Netflix, WhatsApp and more. Check out more details here.
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Missed any of the previous columns? Check them all out at this link.