An impending Windows 10 release, Azure playing nicely with Google, and a blast through BASIC in the browser. It’s the Microsoft round-up.
Windows 10 gets a new build and a new name
As the next version of Windows 10 lumbered ever closer to the desktops of everyday users, Microsoft announced that it would be called (drum roll) “the Windows 10 October 2018 Update”.
While the title may lack the whimsy of the Myerson era “Creators” series, it’s an improvement over “the one that won’t set fire to the world”, which is all we can hope for after the excitement of the April update.
Windows Insiders on the fast ring were gifted a nearasdammit complete version of the upcoming operating system (also known as 1809) at the end of last week in the form of build 17751.
The issues list is mercifully short, with the nasty Green Screen of Death (GSOD) on log-out or shutdown bug apparently dealt with by Redmond’s army of Windows developers. Gamers will be disappointed to learn that the performance visualisations (FPS and the like) introduced back in June has taken a bullet to the head in Microsoft’s drive to get Windows 10 out of the door.
With the disappearance of the build number watermark from the desktop, Microsoft are gearing up to ship the shiny new code. Shorn of fripperies such as Sets, the codebase will have enjoyed more focus on quality and polish. Those charged with supporting the thing can certainly do without a repeat of the delights of last April.
Office 365 perks for consumers and Windows Mixed Reality surges (not really)
While enterprise customers stared glumly down the barrel of a raft of price rises coming in October, consumers wedded to Microsoft’s productivity platform saw the number of individuals able to share a single Office 365 Home subscription increase from five to six.
As well as their own licence for the likes of Word and Excel, each of the special six will also get their own 1TB of OneDrive storage. Want more space? Best talk to Google instead.
Coming in at a gnat’s whisker under $100 per year, the subscription represents excellent value when compared to an equivalent perpetual licence purchase (in the short term at least.) When stacked up against something like LibreOffice which, frankly, does the majority of what a Home user needs, that value proposition is a little more whiffy.
While the world was agog at Magic Stumble Leap actually shipping a product, Microsoft’s Mixed Reality goggles (no, not the HoloLens, the other ones) celebrated its own milestone by cresting the seven per cent mark, according to Steam’s hardware usage statistics.
With the Lenovo Explorer now down to $132 (from an original $349), it seems the policy of practically giving the things away is having an effect.
Acer, at least, seems a bit more committed to the platform, using the recent IFA show in Berlin to announce an update that will see its current shiny blue product replaced by something a bit sleeker (and blacker.)
Google logins take a bow in Azure while Microsoft Authenticator pops up on Apple Watch
Alex Simons, boss of all things Identity at Microsoft had a busy week, announcing first that Apple’s pricey bangle would shortly see the arrival of Redmond’s authentication app and then that Google IDs were coming to Azure AD. Both as public previews.
Hopefully the poor chap was then able to take the weekend off.
For the Apple Watch, Microsoft Authenticator TestFlight users can get the current phone experience on their wrist via push notifications. Redmond reckons this still counts as two-step, since the Watch requires a PIN to unlock it, after which it normally stays on the user’s wrist.
Sadly, a similar app is unlikely to make its way to Microsoft’s own foray into the world of wearables as the dwindling group of Band wearers gather to celebrate the two year anniversary of the visit of Redmond’s hardware grim reaper.
As if to hammer home the point that Microsoft really just wants to play nice with everyone these days (so could you all forget about that Internet Explorer thing back in the day, m’kay?) the federated arrival of Google Gmail IDs into the world of Azure Active Directory will raise an eyebrow or two.
Microsoft is keen that users embrace Azure B2B Collaboration, but up until last week’s public preview insisted that customers had an Azure AD or Microsoft Account in order to collaborate over company boundaries. Such a requirement can result in a proliferation of credentials just to share a document. By supporting Google as an identity provider for Azure AD the theory is that users can bring along their own identities.
Assuming their Google account has the @gmail.com extension. So perhaps not that useful after all, for the time being at least, but still an undoubted step in the right direction.
Small is still beautiful
Also hitting public preview is an online version of Microsoft’s spare-time project, Small Basic. The language, aimed at inflicting BASIC on students, celebrates its 10th birthday in October and features a limited set of functions, while being surprisingly fun to tinker with.
Microsoft plans to eventually shift the entire project to Open Source, but in the meantime the online version provides a way into the wonderful world of BASIC for users unable to install the current desktop version of the tool.
El Reg had a quick crack at online incarnation, but our coding skills can best be described as… limited.