Halloween approaches and the veil between worlds wears thin – the Windows 10 October 2020 Release walks among us

Also: Darkness beckons for Dev Channel Insiders, TypeScript 4.1 beta arrives, Xbox swallows Bethesda


In Brief Release Channel Windows Insiders were treated to Build 19042.508 of Microsoft's flagship operating system last week as Microsoft readied the OS for an October release.

"We believe," said Insider bigwig Brandon LeBlanc, "that Build 19042.508 is the final build," although the company admitted it would "continue to improve the overall experience" via those never-ending patches we've all come to know and love over the years.

One can but hope there won't be a repeat of the issues seen by Microsoft's last major emission, Windows 10 2004, otherwise some users of Windows tablet computer Surface might have to wait until 2021 before the company's latest and greatest slithers onto their devices. Since the October 2020 Update is little more than a jumped-up cumulative update of May's fun, one would hope things will run a little more smoothly.

Unless, of course, one is a Windows Subsystem for Linux user, in which case the dread "Element not found" error could await. Microsoft reckons it has tracked down the source of the issue and plans to include a fix in a future servicing release.

While Release Preview Channel users will need to go looking for the build via Windows Update, those in the Beta Channel and already on 20H2 will receive it automatically.

Hello darkness, my old friend

While the more cautious of the Windows Insider community prepared for October's Halloween swag bag of candied Windows 10 delight, braver souls in the Dev Channel (formerly known as the Fast Ring) glimpsed a darker future in the form of dark theme search results in the "Windows 10 search experience".

The sombre appearance was not a direct result of build 20125, having been set at the server side.

While distinctly light on features, the build did include a number of fixes, including one to make Voice Typing more reliable and others aimed at the Windows Security app, which has a habit of hanging and falling over when a large number of exclusions have been set up.

This being preview code, there remained a long list of issues that could catch out the unwary. Office apps might crash or disappear, and the install process could hang for extended periods of time. Certainly, we found this one a little on the flaky side, and Windows insisted on a good few disk integrity checks before deigning to allow a login to be attempted.

Problems also persist with the Windows System for Linux 2. The vEthernet adaptor can mysteriously disconnect and some distros simply fail to start, showing a "The remote procedure call failed" message on startup. Other errors can also occur when using wsl --install.

TypeScript 4.1 beta

Microsoft emitted the TypeScript 4.1 beta last week, aimed at the more courageous of those using the JavaScript superset, or those simply curious with regards to what the future had in store.

The modifications this time around are relatively minor: template literal string types (like JavaScript literal strings, but used in type positions) are a handy tweak to the syntax, as is key remapping. Conditional types can now reference themselves within their branches, affording recursive type references, and new jsx compiler options exist for support for React 17's jsx and jsxs factory functions.

There is also more support for JSDoc with the implementation of the @see tag.

There are also, alas, breaking changes. Notable ones include abstract members can no longer be marked as async and resolve's parameters are no longer optional in Promises. Those taking the beta out for a spin should be prepared for the odd surprise error or two.

The first release candidate is expected next month. In the meantime, editor support is available in Visual Studio 2017 and 2019, as well as Visual Studio Code.

Xbox slurps Bethesda

Finally, Microsoft celebrated the eve of its Ignite shindig by hopping aboard the acquisition train.

Its Xbox tentacle announced the acquisition of ZeniMax Media, parent company of game slinger Bethesda, for $7.5bn. Bethesda is the company behind the recent incarnations of Doom and Wolfenstein, as well as the Fallout and The Elder Scrolls series.

The move, likely aimed at bolstering the appeal of Microsoft's Xbox gaming service and impending Series X and S consoles, raised a few eyebrows (not least because Bethesda has also put in an appearance in the list of Sony PlayStation-exclusive games).

It's all fun and games in the acquisition world. Sadly, El Reg has yet to receive word of our own multibillion-dollar takeover offer, but we continue listening hopefully. ®

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