In this episode of Microsoft Weekly, we look at a bit new Windows 11 preview build with some interesting features, the confirmed release of Windows 11 version 24H2, many first and third-party app updates, troublesome Xbox news, and more.
Table of contents:
- Windows 11 news
- Windows Insider Program
- Updates are available
- Gaming news
- A blast from Microsoft’s past
- Random fact about Microsoft
Here we talk about everything happening around Microsoft’s latest operating system in the Stable channel and preview builds: new features, removed features, controversies, bugs, interesting findings, and more. And of course, you may find a word or two about older but still supported versions.
Windows 11 version 24H2 is now official. The exact release date and a list of new features are currently a mystery, but at least the company confirmed that 24H2 is coming as this year’s annual update. This aligns with the recent claim from Qualcomm’s CEO about the next-gen Windows release in the second half of 2024.
That is not the only update Windows 11 will get this year. The smaller “Moment 5” update is coming as soon as this month. Still, we are pretty far from Windows 11 version 24H2, so let’s talk about the current releases and their fixes, known issues, and quirks.
Microsoft published a fix to resolve desktop icons jumping from one display to another when using Copilot on multi-monitor systems. That means affected Windows 11 users can finally update to version 23H2 and use Copilot. However, Windows 10 users are still waiting for a similar patch.
What will not be patched is the inability to activate Windows 10 and 11 with older keys. And if you are using a local account, reinstalling Windows 10 or 11, activated previously with a Windows 7/8/8.1 license, will most likely fail miserably. The best course of action is to sign in with a Microsoft Account and link your activation before it is too late and you are forced to purchase a new key.
This Spring, Microsoft is expected to hold its annual developer conference called Build. Although the company has yet to announce it officially, we already have alleged dates. The Walking Cat, a prolific Microsoft leaker, said the main developer event would happen from May 21 through May 23.
Here are the new builds and fresh features Microsoft announced for Windows Insiders this week:
Build 26052 with a lot of new features, such as sudo, Copilot actions, enhancements for hearing aid, a new tool for testing microphones, and more.
Important: Build 26052 contains a severe bug, which breaks and wipes Dev Drives during rollbacks. Back them up before returning to previous builds.
|KB5034851 with a new home for the Copilot button, new features for the Start menu, and more.
|Nothing in the Release Preview Channel this week.
As usual, we took a closer look at some of the most interesting features, changes, and updates released in the Windows Insider Program and the latest builds:
It is also worth noting that build 26052 is the first Windows 11 version without Windows Mixed Reality support. These headsets no longer work with Windows 11 version 24H2 and onward, so you better stick to version 23H2 if you want to keep using them. As a reminder, Microsoft plans to end Windows Mixed Reality support in November 2026.
To finish the Windows section, here is an interesting story about high-speed trains from Germany that are still running with the help of Microsoft’s 30-year-old operating system. Moreover, Siemens still needs administrators capable of managing this ancient piece of code, so maybe you can put your old-school OS skills to some good use in Europe.
Some tinfoil hats are also spreading ridiculous hoaxes about Microsoft disabling computers for users sharing “non-mainstream content,” but that nonsense has nothing to do with reality.
This section covers software, firmware, and other notable updates (released and coming soon) delivering new features, security fixes, improvements, patches, and more from Microsoft and third parties.
Plenty of apps received updates this week. Apple, for one, updated its entire suite of apps for Windows 10 and 11. Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Devices are now out of beta. In addition, iCloud for Windows has been updated with a new design and fresh features.
Brave joined the list of browsers optimized for Windows on ARM. You can now download this privacy-focused browser on your Surface Pro 9 5G or another Windows computer with an ARM processor and enjoy improved performance, better energy efficiency, and other benefits of natively running apps.
On the first-party side, Microsoft quietly released its PC Manager app for all users globally. This app promises to improve your computer’s performance, clean it from unnecessary files, and give access to various convenient tools. However, users also noticed some odd stuff inside, such as questionable optimization methods and affiliate links to third-party websites. Think twice before adding this app to your Windows maintenance toolset.
Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now available on Windows 10 and 11, allowing users with eligible subscriptions to switch from the “regular” Copilot to the one for business customers. Microsoft also announced a bunch of new Copilot features, namely for the image generator, as the service marked its first birthday. In addition, Windows users can make the Copilot window larger if they want to enjoy more screen real estate when having conversations with AI.
And if you thought Microsoft was not serious about its AI efforts, here is the official commercial the company will show during this year’s Super Bowl. It is all about AI, all about Copilot.
There was also some good news for those missing the old Windows Mail app. Without any announcement, Microsoft brought back the ability to toggle between the new Outlook and the old Mail app (and even run them side-by-side). With that said, the latter is still on its way out, with Microsoft planning to shut it down on December 31, 2024.
Here are the new drivers released this week:
Other updates released this week include the following:
Learn about upcoming game releases, Xbox rumors, new hardware, software updates, freebies, deals, discounts and more.
The gaming section kicks off with a review of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. The game has a fun story spiced up with Suicide Squad’s chemistry and good jokes. However, there are also repetitive missions, a bit uninspiring boss fights, and a few questions performance-wise. Check out our full review here.
The ill-fated Forza Motorsport, which was launched in 2023 in a rather undercooked state, will soon get improved car progression. Turn 10 plans to ditch the locked part mechanic feature, meaning users will be able to upgrade their cars from level 1. In addition, the studio will let you purchase car points for in-game credits.
On Monday, Xbox fans suddenly felt a great disturbance in the force when a leak revealed that Microsoft would allegedly bring its Xbox exclusives, such as Starfield, the upcoming Indiana Jones game, and more titles to PlayStation 5. Shortly after that, Phil Spencer said the company would reveal its “vision for the future of Xbox” next week. A flood of bittersweet Windows Phone jokes followed immediately. Now, we are waiting.
This week’s additions to the Xbox and PC Game Pass catalogs include Resident Evil 3 remake, Madden NFL 24, PlateUp, and other titles. Check out the full list here. Speaking of Xbox Game Pass, US-based Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can get 30 free days of Paramount+.
New games are also coming to Nvidia’s GeForce NOW cloud streaming service. Look out for The Inquisitor, Aragami 2, art of rally, dotAGE, and more.
Valve launched Steam Next Fest, a regular event during which Steam users can play hundreds of demos of upcoming PC games. Those who missed it still have one day to participate and try some of the future titles.
Deals and freebies
This week’s Weekend PC Game Deals series covers plenty of discounted games and bundles, so be sure to visit it here if you are looking for something new to play. Those who do not want to spend money on new games but do not mind adding something to their collections can try Doki Doki Literature Club Plus from the Epic Game Store. This psychological horror is now available for free until the next Thursday.
Here are other gaming-related stories from this week:
Here is hardware and/or software we reviewed this week
Robbie Khan published a review of the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. The smartphone has an amazing display, outstanding battery life, good cameras, and solid customization. However, there are some minor irritations, such as soon-to-be-paywalled features and slow charging. Those looking to upgrade to Samsung’s latest flagship should check out Neowin’s review here.
John Callaham’s weekly “Look back” series provides throwbacks into the past, detailing the company’s products, partnerships, mishaps, and successes from years ago.
February 5, 2024, marked 23 years since the official announcement of Windows XP, one of the most beloved and famous Windows releases. Almost one-quarter of a century later, Windows XP still has a decent user base (for better or for worse), so here is our look back article commemorating this legendary operating system and its launch 23 years ago.
The second look-back article from John this week is about gaming, namely the infamous Rings of Death on Xbox 360. With the dark clouds gathering over the Xbox divisions, we decided to look back at the problem that nearly tanked Microsoft’s young gaming division back in 2006.
And here is a randomly selected piece of trivia about the company, Windows, and other Microsoft-made things.
Did you know that during the Windows 95 development, a Microsoft engineer drove to a local Egghead store and purchased one copy of every program available? The aim was to ensure Windows 95 was compatible with existing apps, so the development manager invited every member of the team to take up to two applications and check if they worked well with the operating system.