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SHRT hits the fan for first-gen Surface Hub users: Jumped-up whiteboard can now be updated via dedicated tool

Also: Santa drops a final Windows Insider release, new PowerShell, Skype Together Mode

In brief As some Surface Hub 2 users continue to wait for Microsoft to deal with whatever has befallen the Windows update for their shiny wall decorations, the original Surface Hub can now pick up the new code via the Surface Hub Recovery Tool (SHRT).

Both the 55" and 84" first generation of Microsoft's jumped-up whiteboards are eligible, although as with its more modern sibling, the 2S, installing the update requires some manual work with the SHRT. A delivery via Windows Update or Windows Update for Business is not expected until the new year.

The update had been rolling out to Surface Hub 2S devices from October before Microsoft slammed on the brakes earlier this month, citing "post-install issues". Those who absolutely had to have the update ASAP had the option of a Bare Metal Recovery image. First-generation Surface Hub users were left out in the cold.

Now, however, the SHRT can do the business.

At least Microsoft didn't call it the Surface Hub Automated Recovery Tool...

Microsoft makes one last Windows Insider emission before taking the rest of the year off

The increasingly confusing world of the Windows Insider programme was given a little stir last week as Microsoft released build 20279 to Dev Channel Insiders still on the FE_RELEASE branch of the code. Because it seems that it cannot get enough of fiddling with its pipeline, the Insider team noted the build was "largely the same" as the previous build 20277 "but we wanted to test our ability to quickly follow-up a flight with another flight."

Or repair things should, heaven forbid, a rogue build leave PCs hopelessly borked.

Despite telling fans that things were not quite the same, Microsoft did not spell out what had actually changed this time around. Instead, the usual array of known issues were present and correct, including the mystery hanging during update and a problem that occurred when users attempted to use their Microsoft account to sign into apps.

For the latter, the helpful suggestion was a reboot. The old off-and-on-again soft-shoe shuffle.

Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc told those who had already updated to the RS_PRERELEASE branch that a new build would be offered "soon" but, alas, it looks like there might be a while to wait as the Windows Insider team continued its strong GIF game with a festive apology.

PowerShell 7.2 reaches Preview 2

Microsoft released a second preview of PowerShell 7.2 last week, warning that things continued to be .NET 5-based for the time being. The expectation is that the final release will perch atop .NET 6.

In the meantime, the code has continued to be tidied and bugs fixed, including a notable one around reparse points introduced in PowerShell 7.1 that caused problems with executables on drives that weren't NTFS volumes.

In terms of new functionality, an experimental feature called PSAnsiRendering has been added to make authoring with ANSI escape codes easier, simplifying text effects and potentially inflicting some truly grim colour choices onto the terminal world.

Thankfully, it is also possible to strip out all ANSI escape sequences if needed.

Teams Muppet Show Together Mode comes to Skype

Microsoft has brought some features from Teams to its venerable chat platform, Skype. Skype, which has been handily spanked by the eye-popping growth of Zoom during 2020, has gained some additional video meeting functionality in the form of a Large Grid mode, capable of displaying up to 49 participants, and Together Mode.

Together Mode was launched earlier this year for Teams in an effort to make meetings feel a bit less grim. Rather than leaving users to study what was behind participants and judge bookshelves, an AI attempted to pop the head and shoulders of attendees into a setting with seats.

It put this hack in mind of The Muppet Show of the 1970s, or maybe the BBC panel show Blankety Blank. ®

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