Windows 10 Version 2004 Likely Finalized

Microsoft has probably finalized the introduction of Windows 10 version 2004, also called Windows 10 20H1, earlier this year.

The general public launch, however, won’t happen sooner than the next spring, as per the company’s typical release schedule for Windows 10 feature updates. The version number suggests the update may go love production devices based on the usual calendar in April or May.

Microsoft hasn’t commented around the current development stage of Windows 10 version 2004, however it did, however, drop some hints this update has a minimum of moved very close to the RTM phase.

Captured, sources acquainted with Microsoft’s plans established that Windows 10 version 2004 was scheduled to be finalized after December. Microsoft would then concentrate on fixes and performance improvements for the next three or four months, these folks said, because it desired to further polish the feature update before the public rollout started.

RTM build ready

Previous reports indicated the update was scheduled to be signed off on December 17. By the design of things, this did happen.

Zac Bowden of WindowsCentral says Microsoft finalized Windows 10 version 2004 earlier this month. Most likely, the RTM phase was reached as scheduled on December 17 or even earlier, however, no announcement in connection with this was made.

Then, Microsoft itself dropped a hint version 2004 was near to completion. Builds shipped to users signed up for the Windows Insider program no longer featured the preview watermark around the desktop. Microsoft specifically mentioned in the release notes of preview builds this wasn’t an indication version 2004 was finalized.

“The build watermark at the lower right-hand corner of the desktop is no longer contained in this build. This doesn’t mean we’re doneā€¦” the organization said.

However, the software giant removed this mention in the latest Windows 10 preview release – build 19536 published on December 16 for that Fast ring. Probably, Microsoft will soon begin testing Windows 10 20H2 builds within the Fast ring in first weeks of 2020, with 20H1 to get further polishing in anticipation of its spring launch.

The brand new Xbox Game Bar adds a brand new layer to gaming on Windows 10

The Xbox features in Windows 10 have been fairly simple, with quick tools for capturing game footage and sharing it. That’s changing today, soon after the launch of the Windows 10 May 2019 Update.

Now, the Xbox Game Bar includes extra overlay options for social features, audio, Spotify and much more. Microsoft presented the details within an Inside Xbox announcement.

Before, pressing “Windows Key + G” while gaming would open an easy overlay with tools to start recording, capture screenshots, broadcast to Mixer and other tools associated with capturing your gameplay. While those tools continue to be contained in the new Xbox Game Bar, you’ll now be able to pull-up other players’ streams while you game. And, those features enjoy a much more company to make the Game Bar increasingly useful.

The audio tool will serve as a volume mixer so that you can balance the audio coming through different apps. The Xbox Social and Xbox Chat tools will let you easily connect with and chat with your Xbox friends. And, a Searching for Group feature can help you find other gamers to play with.

Microsoft has also integrated Spotify in to the Game Bar, so you can control streaming music playback within the overlay. And, finally, no gaming overlay is finished without a system performance monitor to determine the way your CPU, GPU along with other parts will work when you game.

A crowded field

The Xbox Game Bar’s new features may be on point, however they are entering a space that already has competition. Steam has its own overlay, as does Ubisoft’s uPlay and EA’s Origin. The popular voice chat app Discord also offers an in-game overlay.

And, for capturing features, Nvidia’s GeForce Experience is readily accessible on computers with recent Nvidia graphics cards.

Microsoft might have one key advantage, though. As the other overlays require specific software to become running to use them (or hardware and software in the case of GeForce Experience), the Xbox Game Bar comes in the OS level.

Any computer running Windows 10 may have the Xbox Game Bar available across almost any game. It should use games from Steam, Origin, uPlay and much more.

That ubiquity could be a strong reason for favor from the Xbox Game Bar, but limitations like streaming via Mixer only could hold it back for now. We’ll have to see if Microsoft has more in store for that tool at E3 2019.

Windows 10 gets DTS Sound Unbound app to create virtual surround for your old stereo headphones

Windows 10 users can now download the DTS Sound Unbound app, and enjoy the advantages of DTS:X and DTS Headphone:X technology, following a public launch of the application around the Microsoft Store.

The app was previously only accessible to Windows 10 testers, but could certainly be grabbed by anyone with the caveat that you need to be running the most recent form of Windows – the May 2019 Update.

DTS Sound Unbound promises better and much more immersive sound for games and movies via DTS:X, while DTS Headphone:X offers to deliver 3D audio and spatial positioning with any group of stereo headphones. And that may offer you quite a benefit in games like shooters, when it comes to better locating opponents based on the in-game noises they’re making.

Spatial stumbling block

There are caveats here though, even though the eventual aim would be to cater for any set of headphones, the tech doesn’t use 44.1KHz-capable headphones at the moment (as a result of limitation with Microsoft’s Spatial Sound framework, which this app is built on, as well as other third-party virtual surround solutions). DTS says it’s working with Microsoft to beat this specific hurdle.

At the moment, DTS Headphone:X is tuned for over 450 different types of headphones when it comes to delivering its virtual surround tricks, and additional support is going to be arriving time, with the intention being to eventually cover practically all wireless and wired headphones out there.

So this is pretty cool stuff, even though the DTS Sound Unbound app is a download free from the Microsoft Store on the face of it, be aware that it’s just a trial version.

Unlocking the entire power of the app will require dipping to your wallet, but a minimum of you can use the trial to suss out any potential compatibility issues, and provide the tech a spin.

Windows 10 May 2019 Update brings AMD performance boost

The Windows 10 May 2019 Update has taken some good additional features to Windows 10, but perhaps the best change is a that didn’t get much fanfare – as AMD-powered PCs will now perform better using the update installed.

It is because Windows 10 version 1903 – also known as the May 2019 Update – changes how the Windows scheduler tool works together with AMD hardware. Previously, the Windows scheduler was causing problems that impacted the performance of AMD Ryzen processors.

The improvements originate from Microsoft and AMD working together to improve Windows 10 performance on AMD hardware – as well as an acknowledgement from Microsoft that Intel no longer dominates when it comes to PC hardware.

Performance gains

AMD also showed off slides that demonstrate the PCMark 10 app launches 6% faster with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, thanks to Ryzen optimizations. There’s also a remarkable 15% improvement in Rocket League when played at 1080p.

As the second AMD slide shows, these changes can reduce latency because of how process threads are handled by a single core – while also allowing Windows 10 to utilize a noticeable clock speed boost to create improvements to some PC’s performance.

The update should also bring faster clock speed ramping, and AMD’s Ryzen CPUs will be more responsive when clock speeds are changed – before the update, speed changes took 30ms, but that’s now been cut to just 1-2ms.

Microsoft reveals much more about the following major Windows 10 update

Microsoft has revealed what we should can get in the next major Windows 10 update, codenamed 19H2, so that as we expected, the update will concern itself more with improving performance and general tweaks than adding any headline-grabbing additional features.

Although this might be disappointing with a people, the move is sensible. Microsoft continues to be releasing two major Windows 10 updates a year for some time now – with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update (Windows 10 19H1) only recently launched – and while each new update added lots of new features, they also brought along the odd bug or two.

Microsoft taking a small breather and concentrating on getting Windows 10 running as well as possible, and fixing any outstanding issues, is a good idea in our view.

Easy upgrade

Windows 10 19H2 will – according to Microsoft – focus on improving performance, in addition to making general quality improvements and adding enterprise features. The update is going to be serviced for 30 months, by that time we expect Microsoft to have released several additional Windows 10 updates.

Microsoft is also making the entire process of installing the Windows 10 19H2 update easier. PCs running the Windows 10 May 2019 Update will get the 19H2 update much like a standard monthly update, which means it downloads and installs without anyone’s knowledge.

The concept would be that the installation process is going to be less disruptive for users. Windows 10 19H2 Build 18362.10000 will be released to Windows 10 Insiders (those who have signed up to try out early versions of future Windows 10 updates) – and Microsoft claims that this new update uses “Controlled Feature Rollout (CFR) [which is] a method to progressively rollout additional features by gradually enhancing the audience in a controlled manner.”

Hopefully this will make getting future Windows 10 updates fast and convenient in the future.

Microsoft accidentally reveals redesigned Windows 10 Start menu

Microsoft’s iconic Start menu is a bone of contention for fans since Windows 10 released, prompting the software giant to survey its testers specifically on the User Interface (UI) feature.

The outcomes of that survey could mean a new look and layout of the Windows 10 Start menu, as a leaked test version of the operating-system discovered by The Verge shows a complete redesign.

Build 18947 from the Windows 10 operating system was accidentally given to testers in the Windows Insider program who were using 32-bit systems – this particular build was just meant for internal staff focusing on Xbox development.

Start. pic.twitter.com/3QvWGPdQW9July 24, 2019

As mentioned, the leaked build contains a new stripped-back Start menu design, as observed in the above mentioned tweet from Twitter user @NTAuthority. The redesign eliminates Windows 10 Live Tiles – a rather contentious feature seemingly brought to make the UI more friendly for tablets and touchscreen devices.

Since January we’ve heard word that Windows Lite will adopt such a design, with a more minimalistic method of compete with Google’s ChromeOS, even though this isn’t an official announcement from Microsoft, it could be indicative of the stylistic direction the organization will take.

Windows 10 update will come with laptop life of the battery boost

Microsoft has pushed out a pair of Windows 10 preview builds for the big update due later in 2019 (19H2), one of these has all of the new features turned off – and those tweaks include some interesting moves, such as the promise of better battery life for laptops running certain processors.

So what is going on here regarding the overall rollout? Windows 10 19H2 testers in the slow ring are getting two different preview builds: 18362.10012 and 18362.10013, which will be sent to those found on 18362.10005 and 18362.10006 respectively.

The main difference is that the former build has all of the additional features turned off automatically, and the latter has them turned on. This is Microsoft’s new system of a controlled preview rollout, whereby merely a subsection of testers actually obtain the new features live, with increased being shifted over as time progresses.

Essentially, it’s much like when the updates actually go live, for real, with Microsoft monitoring how the features will work (or otherwise), getting good feedback on them, before pushing them more broadly.
Thanks for visiting the preview lottery

If you’re just joining the slow ring of preview build testers now, Microsoft notes that it will be a 50-50 ‘virtual coin toss’ whether you get the brand new features enabled, or otherwise.

People following a development of Windows 10 closely will recall that 19H2 isn’t about introducing major features, anyway, but smaller changes including quality-of-life improvements and gratifaction tuning.

There’s certainly some of the latter using the new build 18362.10013, with Microsoft proclaiming that: “We have made general life of the battery and power efficiency improvements for PCs with certain processors.”

So hopefully, which means some laptops might find better battery longevity, and Microsoft may be working to push further about this front because the update comes closer to deployment later this year.

Another hardware-related change comes for CPUs which have ‘favored’ cores. Windows 10 has been tuned to utilize a “rotation policy that distributes work more fairly of these favored cores,” that ought to provide better performance and reliability.

These are the sort of under-the-hood tweaks we can expect from Windows 10 19H2, with this particular build also seeing adding extra debugging capabilities for newer Intel processors (for hardware manufacturers to make use of, not end-users, mind).

There are a few minor tweaks towards the interface within this build, however, including making the navigation pane around the Start menu expand when it’s hovered over and done with the mouse. For the full list of changes, check out Microsoft’s blog post.

Next Windows 10 Version 1909 Cumulative Update Likely to Fix File Explorer Bug

The search feature in File Explorer is broken on the quantity of devices upgraded to Windows 10 version 1909 (Windows 10 November 2019 Update), but through the looks of things, Microsoft already includes a fix within the pipeline and this might be released as part of the next cumulative update.

Specifically, the problems encountered on Windows 10 version 1909 break down searching by freezing the search box altogether. This is most likely caused by the new preview feature that’s bundled in Windows 10 November 2019 Update and which should technically allow users to preview search results because they type.

Furthermore, users have been complaining that right-clicking within the search box, which is sometimes necessary for pasting content, can also be disabled after upgrading their devices to Windows 10 version 1909.

Next cumulative update due in January

Microsoft has included fixes for these bugs in the latest preview builds shipped to users in the Windows Insider program, meaning production devices ought to be providing them with rather earlier than later. Probably, the following round of cumulative updates for Windows 10 version 1903 and Windows 10 version 1909 includes the fixes – don’t be surprised them at the end of December as optional downloads as well as in mid-January as part of the next Patch Tuesday rollout.

“We fixed an issue enabling you to get into a state where it wasn’t easy to set focus to File Explorer’s search box in order to type your query,” Microsoft says in the release notes of Windows 10 build 19013, that was first provided to the short ring on October 29.

“We’ve updated the brand new File Explorer search experience to help you remove previous searches via an option should you right click the entry within the dropdown. We fixed an issue inducing the first character of your query getting dropped when “automatically type in to the search box” File Explorer setting was enabled,” Microsoft adds within the changelog of Windows 10 build 19536, which landed on December 16.

You are able to download the latest builds in the Windows Insider program by enrolling the short ring to obtain these fixes.

Chromium Microsoft Advantage on Its Method to Windows 10 on ARM

The new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge is slowly but surely approaching the launch date for production devices, but simultaneously, Microsoft is also working on other fronts for its browser.

At this time, Microsoft Edge can be placed on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and macOS, and the upcoming stable release will target these platforms exclusively. Linux support can also be coming, but no ETA can be obtained just yet.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is also pushing Microsoft Edge towards ARM devices, and today the organization announced the very first build supporting these chipsets within the Dev channel.

“For our ARM enthusiasts, we’re bringing our native ARM64 builds to the Dev channel today! These builds will be in Canary for the last couple weeks, and we’ve ironed out the majority of the major issues during that time. There’s still one known issue though: certain DRM video on some websites doesn’t play properly,” Microsoft explains.

An ARM version of Microsoft Edge has a long series of benefits, including performance optimizations that would permit the browser to consider advantage of the available processing power without a significant impact on life of the battery. X86 emulation, however, sometimes reduces battery life dramatically, so a native ARM version resolves this problem.

Microsoft Edge on Windows

While work on this ARM version has already started, don’t hold your breath for that public launch. The development process will take some time, and also the ARM version won’t obviously prepare yourself prior to the January 15 launch of the stable Microsoft Edge browser.

Microsoft Edge will replace the current browser in Windows 10 because the new default, and Microsoft will use Windows Update to push the brand new version to any or all devices. The organization can also be offering a toolkit to bar Chromium Microsoft Edge on Windows 10.

How to Block Chromium Microsoft Edge on Windows Update

Microsoft is rebuilding its Edge browser according to Chromium, the same engine that powers Google Chrome along with a series of other browsers, such as Vivaldi.

The job about this project started captured, and users are now able to download Canary, Dev, and beta builds from the browser on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and macOS.

The closer we get towards the release of the stable version of Microsoft Edge, the greater information emerges on how Microsoft intends to release the browser to Windows 10, where it’s going to switch the existing build from the browser because the new default.

In other words, the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge will end up the brand new default browser in Windows 10, and Microsoft states that it will use Windows Update for the task. This means the new browser will be shipped via Windows Update to devices where Edge happens to be installed, and certain data is going to be automatically migrated towards the latest version.

“The next form of Microsoft Edge features more frequent and more flexible updating capabilities. Because browser releases aren’t bound to the Windows major releases, changes will be designed to the operating-system to make sure that the next form of Microsoft Edge fits seamlessly into Windows. As a result, feature updates is going to be released on a 6-week cycle (approximately.) Security and compatibility updates will be shipped as needed,” Microsoft explains.

However, users is going to be supplied with a so-called Blocker Toolkit that allows them to block Microsoft Edge from on offer on Windows Update, which virtually means they’d stick to the old form of the browser.

Chiefly targeted at companies whose applications were built for the initial version of Edge, but at the same time, home users can turn to this toolkit as well to block the new browser on Windows Update.

The toolkit offers two different ways to block Microsoft Edge from being offered through Windows Update.

First of all, it’s a CMD script that produces a registry key and sets a value to block or unblock the update from being offered. The registry key is the next:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\EdgeUpdate\DoNotUpdateToEdgeWithChromium

Of course, you may also manually create this registry key using the built-in Windows Registry Editor – enter value 1 to block the update and value 0 to permit it.

There’s also a Group Policy template that makes it possible for system administrators to control the service on their devices. Once imported, the policy is situated at:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Microsoft Edge (Chromium-based) Blockers

“This registry setting isn’t stored in a policies key and is considered a preference. Therefore, when the Group Policy Object that implements the setting is ever removed or the policy is set not to Configured, the setting will remain. To unblock distribution of Microsoft Edge (Chromium-based) by using Group Policy, set the policy to Disabled,” Microsoft explains.

What you need to know is the fact that despite while using toolkit, users can still manually install the brand new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser, as it only blocks the distribution from the browser via Windows Update. Furthermore, once Microsoft Edge is installed, the testing builds of the browser could be deployed alongside it, including here Canary, Dev, and Beta versions.

Microsoft is projected to begin the rollout from the new Edge in January. The Blocker Toolkit won’t expire, so the changes that you make on a device are permanent and just need to be reapplied in case the operating system or even the system is reset. Automatic updates must be enabled for the browser to become offered on Windows Update.