Roundup New builds, new cadence, new code editors and a new browser (for some) defined much of last week at Microsoft.
19H1 creeps closer to release
While Redmond does not like to use such old-fashioned phrases as RTM nowadays, it is clear the next version of Windows 10 is almost upon us as the Insider team flung out two builds in quick succession for brave Fast Ring testers, with one also headed to the more cautious world of the Slow Ring.
Though both were light on new features, build 18351, which arrived on 5 March, contained a raft of changes, including a fix for an odd bug that left the Windows Sandbox showing a different time to the host.
The "Make Sandbox Work" theme continued into the second 19H1 Fast Ring build, in the form of 18353, which showed up on 8 March. As well as a truckload of Sandbox changes (including synchronising the time zone with the host), Microsoft also confirmed that the issue stopping the Chinese version of multiple games had also been dealt with in this version.
Slow Ring insiders received build 18351 six days after their Fast Ring pals, in the form of 18351.7. The "7" indicating that Microsoft had included the tweak from 18353 to allow those pesky Chinese versions of some games to work. The shrinking gap between Slow and Fast is an indicator that a release cannot be far away.
Unfortunately, the Green Screen of Death (GSOD) that occurs in some games with anti-cheat software remains present, and the Insider gang also warned that there were problems with the new build and VMware. But there's always Hyper-V, right?
And yes, if gaming is your thing, Microsoft remained really, really keen for Insiders to swat some zombies as more slots for testing State of Decay opened up once again.
But wait, there's more!
The hardworking Insider team also lobbed out a fresh version of 20H1 to Skip-Ahead testers, in the form of build 18850, which, as well as some of the fixes seen by the those left behind in the 19H1 Fast Ring, also saw the momentous news that a new version of the screen-shotting tool, Snip & Sketch, was being rolled out. Copy-and-pasters of the world, rejoice.
A fond farewell to Semi-Annual updates. For System Center 2019, at least
Microsoft blinked last week and, recognising the admins really don't like the whole six-monthly cadence thing, quietly confirmed that Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) updates for System Center would be the way forward, from the 2019 incarnation at least.
Lurking at the end of an announcement trumpeting the imminent arrival of System Center 2019 (due to hit some time this month) Microsoft responded to customer feedback and stated that the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) was for the chop. Customers, the software giant said, preferred the LTSC "as the update cycles are longer and more stable".
LTSC releases get five years of mainstream support and five years of extended support. Update Rollups (UR) deal with fixes and updates.
There is, however, no sign of Microsoft stepping back from six-monthly releases in other parts of the business, notably Windows 10, which has suffered a little in the quality department over the last two releases.
The team also confirmed that System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) would continue to receive a release three times a year.
Windows devs shouldn't have all the fun, so here's preview 3 of Visual Studio 2019 for Mac
While its bigger Windows cousin tends to grab much of the attention, those developers toiling away in the macOS version of Microsoft's code wrangler were rewarded with a first glimpse of a brave new C#-editing world.
The new editor, which you'll need to manually enable, is quite an improvement on the existing interface. Intellisense is faster, typing is more responsive and, for a Windows Visual Studio user, the thing simply feels a lot more familiar.
Microsoft stated that the back-end is shared with the Windows incarnation, which should see the two further synchronise over time, while retaining the macOS UI feel to keep things from getting too jarring.
Oh, and the new editor also features Emoji support. Imagine it – Emojis in developer comments. What a time to be alive.
Away from the in-your-face improvements in the editor department, the gang has made it possible to launch multiple instances of the IDE via a right-click on the app icon in the dock. The Unity debugger now shares a core engine with Visual Studio for Windows, and "reliable" Git support is included.
Finally, as well as overall stability and performance tweaks, build times for Android apps in Xamarin have dropped by up to 29 per cent and deployment times by up to 50 per cent.
Internet Chrexplorer? Edgomium?
Rounding out last week's shenanigans was a support article noted by arch Windows-botherer The Walking Cat, who spotted some documentation on Microsoft's upcoming Edge replacement.
Helpfully archived for posterity, the support article points to an imminent Insider build of the new browser, to be known as, er, Edge.
Internet Chrexplorer had a nicer ring to it.
The first version of the browser looks to be 64-bit, Windows 10 only, which shouldn't be surprising. Windows 7 or 8 users, or those in a 32-bit world, need not apply for the time being.
As for when users might get their hands on the thing, while the browser will no longer be tied to the operating system in quite the same way, the first Insider build of Windows 10 19H2 seems logical. Failing that, Microsoft's Build event is less than two months away. ®