Stones, meet glass house: Mind behind Windows 8 GUI disses Windows 10 over leak

Also: Your Phone sees double, Mac fans get Visual Studio love, and more

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Roundup Of course there was a lot more going on at Microsoft last week other than accidentally inflicting an untested version of Windows 10 on its loyal army of Insiders. But first...

Person responsible for Windows 8 GUI pours scorn bucket on Windows 10 leak

Former Windows supremo Steven Sinofsky lobbed a few stones from his glass house at Microsoft's discomfiture over the accidental spurting of an internal build of Windows 10.

Those lucky enough to get the thing installed before Microsoft indulged in some panicked plug-pulling noted some interface ideas being bounced around by the Windows team in the form of a redesigned Start Menu.

Mocking the boilerplate "it was an error" statement from Microsoft, Sinofsky wondered if the Windows giant was referring to the design or release.

Remind us again who was in charge of Windows 8, Steven?

Windows Insiders step back a few builds with a fresh Fast Ring emission

Having accidentally dropped build 18947 from its Insider orifice, Microsoft rounded out the week with build 18945, aimed at Fast Ring insiders.

While the odd-looking Start Menu seen in the unplanned release does not feature this time around, more interesting changes are present including a much-requested fix in the company's new Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2.

WSL 2, which put in a surprise appearance at the company's Build event, upped the ante from the previous version by utilising a tuned Linux kernel rather than a translation layer. The performance increases for some applications were impressive, but there were some downsides.

The biggest whinge was the need to use an IP address to access local Linux apps. With the latest cut of the preview code, Linux networking apps can now be accessed from Windows via good old localhost.

Additional modifications include the ability to set a global configuration for WSL and a nifty method to select a custom Linux kernel if the 4.19 version shipped with Windows just won't cut it.

Outside of the niche of WSL 2 developers, Microsoft has also begun rolling out a "new Cortana experience" in beta form for some US Windows Insiders. The unloved assistant has singularly failed to set the world alight, and this time around Microsoft is trying a chat-based approach with natural language queries.

As a gimmick, it is quite fun, although lacks some of the features the dozen or so Cortana users might be used to. If you haven't made your Windows Insider PC think it's in the US then Cortana will show up "at a later date".

Windows Terminal

The Year Of Linux On The Desktop – at last! Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 brings the Linux kernel into Windows


The File Explorer changes that began a hesitant rollout in build 18894, bringing a Windows Search-powered "experience", have also made their way to all Fast Ring Insiders. It's a handy tweak, with the searching occurring as the user types, thus bringing the File Explorer shell kicking and screaming into the modern era of search.

Microsoft has also fixed a few issues, including one that stopped Insiders from installing earlier builds thanks to a storage driver compatibility bug. And yes, Windows Defender is now Microsoft Defender "to reflect our cross-platform approach".

Office Online no more

The rebrandogun was also turned on Office last week as the company decided to delete the "Online" from its take on Google Docs. In a move that will in no way confuse users, "Office Online" is now "Office", "Word Online" is "Word", "Excel Online" becomes "Excel" and so on.

The justification is that in the wonderful cross-platform world of productivity apps, "it no longer makes sense to use any platform-specific sub-brands".

Er, except it does, as anyone who has experienced the lurch in interface and functionality between, say, Windows and iOS would agree.

As such, the company admits it might call it "Office for the web", or perhaps "...on the web", or maybe " a browser".

And just to keep things extra consistent, there are no plans to point the rebrandogun on the likes of Project Online.

As for the change, we'd suggest something like "Orifice Online", or "are we too cheap to just have the proper Office apps?"

Perhaps not quite so snappy.

Skype SMS connect on the way out while Your Phone fizzes

With Skype SMS Connect – the ability to send and receive text messages from the desktop – confirmed as being turned off on 30 August, Microsoft has continued fiddling with its spiritual successor: Your Phone.

Development on the connector has been progressing well over the last few months (if you're an owner of a recent-ish Android phone, that is). Having integrated phone notifications with the Windows 10 notification centre, the team has added the ability to make inline replies to those pop-ups in the preview version of the app.

The update was followed with a significant improvement to SIM support. Dual-SIM phones are essential things in some parts of the world, and support for messaging using either SIM will be welcomed.

Visual Studio tweaked on Mac and .Net Core inches ever closer to release

Those choosing to develop on macOS in Visual Studio were treated to an update last week. Version 8.2 builds on the C# editor introduced previously with IntelliSense Type Filtering to only include the types a developer is searching for and the ability to import items in to the completion list.

The gang has also added a new editor for XAML and AXML files. As with the C# editor, the addition is the same as that enjoyed by Windows fans, but uses Cocoa APIs to make things a little more native.

Users of the new editor will also get access to the XAML Language Service as well as IntelliSense and auto complete improvements for those unable to keep every conceivable tag and element in their skull at any given time.

The team has also added support for Microsoft's latest and greatest in the form of the .NET Core 3.0 Preview.

.NET Core 3.0 also saw a release last week as the cross platform framework took a bow in the form of Preview 7.

As things creep closer to release, the updates are going to be light on features and heavy on quality, according to program manager Richard Lander. Preview 7 is no exception, with the only change of note being an impressive reduction in size of the SDK and Docker Images.

Microsoft reckons the thing can be used in production, although we'd advise caution because, well, "Preview". However, the team at Redmond are confident enough to run the .NET Site on the code and plan to move to preview 8 "in a couple of weeks". ®


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