Party like it's 2004: Almost a quarter of Windows 10 PCs living with the latest update

Also: A hat-trick of Windows previews, new Azure emissions, and researching HoloLens 2


In brief While Microsoft has yet to release official figures, the latest incarnation of Windows 10 has picked up steam. The May 2020 update is now on 24.1 per cent of PCs, going by the 150,000 systems surveyed by AdDuplex.

It's quite a jump from the 11.6 per cent of the previous month, and seems mostly at the expense of last year's 1903 update, which dropped from 43.6 per cent to 33.5 per cent. The Update of the Damned (aka 1809) also continued to recede, with the (initially) file-munching release only accounting for 2.4 per cent of Windows 10 PCs surveyed.

Microsoft has resolved several of the issues afflicting its latest and greatest in the last month or so, likely making the release available for more systems via Windows Update. Bugs remain – most recently one that requires some WWAN LTE modem users fiddle with airplane mode to coax their hardware to function after waking from sleep or hibernation.

Developers yet to make the leap to Windows 10 2004 can also take solace in the whizzy Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 being made available on Windows 10 1909 and 1903.

A triptych of Windows previews

Microsoft emitted a trio of Windows previews, eliciting a "meh" from those playing with its desktop operating system and an "ooh, shiny" from those brave souls sampling Windows Server vNext.

Shunted into the Dev Channel (formerly the Fast Ring), build 20201 brought little in the way of new toys for the company's unpaid testers. A fix was rolled out for Microsoft Store games protected by anti-cheat code, another for stuck min/max/close buttons on apps using the doomed-oh-no-it-isn't UWP framework, and one for HDR monitors appearing black when HDR was enabled.

And the wonderful new Settings app aimed at managing disks and volumes announced last time around? The gang is investigating reports of it crashing. So back to the venerable MMC snap-in for you. This is preview code, after all.

The team also released an update (build 19042.487) into the wild, with a swathe of "non-security" tweaks for the impending Windows 10 20H2 release. Those cursed to maintain decades-old code will be delighted to note fixes aimed at Visual Basic 6 apps running on Windows 10, including those using the ListView control from MSCOMCTL.OCX. Those were the days, eh?

The preview of the Windows Server vNext Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) build did, however, contain goodies aplenty.

As well as the arrival of the MsQuic transport protocol, the release also included TCP and UDP performance improvements as well as Direct Server Return (DSR) load balancing support for Containers and Kubernetes.

In addition, SMB support for AES-256 Encryption arrived as well as compression to speed network performance. Server Core container images were also 20 per cent smaller.

The Versioning of the Blob and other Azure Updates

Blob versioning went generally available last week, giving Azure users the ability to automatically maintain previous versions of an object and slap it with a version identifier. Enabling the feature is free although the additional storage it will undoubtedly burn through is, surprisingly enough, not.

The update was joined by the arrival of Azure Private Link support in Azure Data Factory to keep things private between endpoints in a Virtual Network (and so not exposed to the public Internet), and a preview of Windows Virtual Desktop for Azure Government Cloud users.

HoloLens 2 gains Research Mode

As well as promising that at least some whinges regarding its nerd goggles might be dealt with in future updates, Microsoft has tweaked the original Research Mode for HoloLens 1 to take advantage of the kit available in its second-generation headset.

Available for Windows Insiders only at present ("and soon in an upcoming release of Windows 10 for HoloLens"), Research Mode provides access to sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer as well as APIs for articulated hand and eye tracking.

While a bunch of video streams (also in IR) are also on offer for boffins researching things to make and do with the device, raw eye-tracking camera images are not available due to privacy concerns. Gaze direction is instead offered up to researchers.

Microsoft expects that the access to data possible with the Research Mode will see its headset become "a potent computer vision research device". ®


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