Microsoft Weekly - February 28, 2021 weekly recap

The week that’s just about to end has brought with it news about one of Windows 10’s special folders, details about productivity solutions Microsoft is planning on implementing, and even some gaming news. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of February 21 –27.

No more 3D Objects folder

Windows logo on purple and light grey background

Let us begin our trek up the hillock of news that surfaced this week by talking about one of the default folders in Windows 10, the 3D Objects folder.

Cast your mind back to 2016 when Windows 10 was a year old, and Microsoft was keen to introduce folks to all the great things that could be done via the fancy new Paint 3D – as an extension to its HoloLens / Windows Holographic unveil. As such, the company also introduced the 3D Objects special folder in File Explorer.

Much to the chagrin of the three people who actually use the folder, it will soon no longer be shown inside File Explorer. Microsoft has begun de-emphasizing it via its latest Dev channel build, 21322, but says that it should still be accessible in the user folder – by typing %userprofile% in File Explorer – or via the Navigation Pane > Show all folders option in the ribbon’s View tab. Whether this change will be implemented soon or “Microsoft soon™” is still unclear.

In Beta channel news, the company also pushed out the Windows Feature Experience Pack version 120.2212.3030.0. Available to all insiders in this channel, it improves the reliability of the handwriting input panel, and should come through Windows Update.

You can catch our discussion about the various Insider and preview builds released this week in the latest episode of the Neowin Podcast.

As far as the non-insider part of OS servicing is concerned, the Redmond firm also pushed out an optional cumulative update for those running 2004 (May 2020 Update) or 20H2 (October 2020 Update), the two latest versions of the OS.

Detailed under KB4601382, the update will bring folks running 2004 to build 19041.844, and those on 20H2 to build 19042.844. As usual, the major build number differs, but the revision number is identical.

The cumulative update, although optional, includes a rather impressive array of fixes, covering the OOBE (Out of Box Experience), HDR display functionality, IMEs, language and locale issues, printers, and more.

There are two known issues to keep in mind, one being the loss of system and user certificates after updating, and the other being the input of incorrect Furigana characters in the Japanese IME. The former has been an issue for a while and impacts a certain subset of upgrade types, specifically relating to cumulative update integration when upgrading via install media or different install source.

With 21H1 on the horizon, and the update set to be an enablement package like 20H2 before it, the updates received by the most recent supported Windows 10 variants should be identical. That’s pretty convenient, since as per AdDuplex, Windows 10 20H2 has climbed to 20% market share, though version 2004 (May 2020 Update) is still the most used at 41.8%.

And speaking of release, the Windows 10 Team 2020 Update made its way to Surface Hub 2S users last week in Germany and The Netherlands, with global availability being switched on earlier this week. This same week also saw the release of this update to the original Surface Hub, either for the 55 or 84-inch model – so long as full telemetry was enabled.

Mailbox throttling

Outlook logo (monochrome) on blue and light grey background

Moving on to more productivity-focused news, Microsoft has stated that as of April 2021, it will begin enforcing an upper limit for received emails to avoid any service disruptions.

Now this isn’t some sort of ploy to prevent you from getting your much sought-after newsletters and other important communication, but rather an attempt to lessen the service impact from so-called “hot recipients”. This is a term used for folks who receive in excess of 3,600 messages per hour. Although this has been a bit of a soft limit previously, it will start to be enforced come April this year.

The change will be incremental, in order to allow admins to better adapt to the change, and is being enforced due to the fact that the aforementioned “hot recipients” were and are causing the service to be disrupted for regular customers. The sheer volume of emails causes delays everywhere else in the system due to network resources being diverted to operate those very high-volume inboxes.

As we’re on the subject of limits, the number of languages supported by Microsoft Translator has gone up by nine: Albanian, Amharic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Khmer, Lao, Myanmar, Nepali, and Tigrinya.

Another limit-related bit of news concerns Microsoft To Do, which now lets you share lists between your personal and work accounts. Keep in mind this does not go both ways, so work lists won’t be shareable to personal accounts.

In a bid to increase productivity, Microsoft has also added the ability for Word on the web to generate PowerPoint presentations from text files, made PowerPoint’s Presenter Coach available for Mac Office Insiders, and revealed plans to roll out support for text predictions in Word starting next month.

Also worth noting is the fact that Pinterest content can now be embedded in both OneNote and Word on the web, and that the company’s chat-based workspace solution, Teams, is set to soon use AI to suggest polls to users based on a meeting’s purpose.

Halo insider flights

Xbox logo (monochrome) on green and light grey background

As per 343’s promise, the first Halo: MCC Insider flight of 2021 is now live, under session version 1.2159.0.0. It’s available across console and PC (both Steam and the Microsoft Store) and brings two new maps to Halo 3 (Waterfall and Edge), added from the now defunct Halo Online initiative.

Cosmetic content for Season 6 and community-requested features (like FOV sliders for consoles) are also being tested in this build, with the custom server browser scheduled for a later update.

If that’s not quite your thing, there are always Deals with Gold to peruse, covering the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Apex Legends, Dishonored 1 and 2, Kerbal Space Program, and more.

And if not even those are to your liking, you can nab Metal Slug 3 and Warface: Breakout (part of the Games with Gold March wave, with Port Royale 3 and Vicious Attack Llama Apocalypse available later), as well as some of the February titles like Gears 5, Resident Evil, Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition, and Lost Planet 2.

Dev channel

  • Microsoft and MSCI have joined forces to deliver Investment Solutions as a Service. No, really.
  • Intel, the BBC, and Microsoft have formed a coalition to combat misinformation.
  • Microsoft has begun selling removable SSDs for Surface Pro 7+ only, and only for commercial customers.
  • Edge Dev 90.0.803.0 is now out, featuring minor improvements.
  • LinkedIn experienced an outage earlier this week, affecting service access via both mobile and desktop. It has since been resolved.

Logging off

We wrap things up with some IT pro and dev-relevant news.

Microsoft logo symbol (monochrome) on orange and light grey background

For one, the Remote Desktop app on iOS has received some connection bar updates, including the ability to hide it, dock it to the left or right edge of the screen on larger-screen devices, a new zoom slider, and more. There’s also a couple of name-related bugs that have been resolved in this update, which bumps the app version to 10.2.4.

Speaking of updates, the February update for Power BI On-premises data gateway is now live, bringing a name change to the DocumentDB connector – now Azure Cosmos DB -, the immediate discontinuation of gx64krb5 support for Kerberos SSO when creating SAP BW data sources, and more.

In the aftermath of the Solorigate cyber attack, Microsoft, VMware, and other affected vendors began investigating the attack, with the Redmond giant now concluding its investigation. Microsoft stated that no customer data was compromised, but that a subset of Azure, Intune, and Exchange code files were accessed. To further help out with the ongoing investigations, the company has open-sourced its CodeQL queries, which it used for system-wide querying during the investigation.

We end with Ignite, which is just around the corner (starting March 2). Thanks to the company’s approach centered on holding only digital events until July 2021, Ignite was split in two, and this is its second part. The session catalog is now live, containing the usual Nadella keynote on the first day, as well as in excess of 340 sessions covering Windows, Edge, AI, and more.

Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.