July has been relatively quiet, but Microsoft has been working to finalize Windows 10 20H2 with some interesting and unexpected changes. Additionally, there’s lots of Edge news and information about a new cloud service for low-end and thin client PCs.
The Microsoft 365 roadmap portal now includes information about Microsoft Edge features that have launched or that are in development. Microsoft added Edge to the Microsoft 365 roadmap portal after receiving feedback from enterprise customers that they needed more visibility into the feature roadmap and release schedule. More visibility helps enterprises plan deployments and prepare for feature changes.
This month, Microsoft also changed the release schedule for releases in the Edge Beta and Stable Channels, which you can find here.
This year’s Inspire event for partners was digital only. At the event, Microsoft made several announcements about Edge. Starting in August, Edge will join the FastTrack Ready Partner program. FastTrack offers deployment guidance for eligible customers and compatibility support through the App Assure program. App Assure provides a guarantee that if your organization’s web apps and sites work in Internet Explorer 11, Google Chrome, and legacy Edge, then those apps and sites should work in the new version of Edge. If that’s not the case, then you can approach Microsoft for support.
Microsoft Edge now supports Endpoint Data Loss Protection (DLP) in public preview. Microsoft Endpoint DLP extends Microsoft Information Protection (MIP), which prevents data loss in Microsoft 365 apps, to endpoint devices. DLP policies can be created one time in the Microsoft 365 compliance center and then applied to Microsoft 365 apps and now endpoints.
Endpoint DLP provides three main features: native protection, seamless deployment, and integrated insights. Microsoft says that Endpoint DLP is native to Windows 10 and the new version of its Edge browser. No additional software is required. Endpoint DLP is available to customers with Microsoft 365 E5 and A5 subscriptions.
Microsoft also announced this month multitasking improvements for Edge. In a recent Windows Insider build, Microsoft has changed the default behavior of Alt+Tab to include Edge browser tabs. In the updated Alt-Tab, Edge browser tabs are mixed with apps based on recency. For example, if you have just switched through a set of open tabs, they will appear first in Alt-Tab. This differs from CTRL+TAB in the browser where you scroll forwards through open tabs, regardless of recency.
For more information, check out Edge Browser Gets Alt Tab Integration in Windows 10 Insider Preview Build on Petri.
Edge users on the Windows 10 May 2020 Update were supposed to get improved memory management with a new feature in Windows for Win32 apps called segment heap. But Google’s Chromium team decided to disable segment heap support after an engineer at Intel discovered increase CPU usage. A Google engineer also investigated and found the performance impact could be up to 13 percent.
The Chromium team has decided to disable the feature for now but hope it won’t be for long. Microsoft says that in the short term, segment heap is ‘a good trade off of one resource for another as memory/commit usage is a significant pain point for browser users’.
Microsoft Edge version 84 was released this month to the Stable Channel. It contains minor improvements to Collections, the PDF reader, and Progressive Web Apps (PWA). For more information on the release, see Microsoft’s website here.
As Brad Sams wrote earlier this month, Microsoft has apparently dropped Win32 app support from Windows 10X, it’s stripped down version of Windows 10 that was due to be released later this year. The container technology used in Windows 10X to provide Win32 app support, VAIL, has been removed from the latest Windows 10X builds because it affects performance too much on low-end devices.
Microsoft plans to launch Windows 10X on low-cost devices in 2021. Windows 10X will compete with ChromeOS, and now that VAIL is gone, it should be possible to run Windows 10X on devices with ARM processors. But VAIL might come back in the future, specifically for dual-screen PCs after 2021. That could change again though, as everything is in flux. But in the short term, Windows 10X will be for low-end devices, with support for high-end experimental devices being added at some point in the future. For everything in between, Microsoft still expects OEMs to use current versions of Windows 10.
ZDNet and Petri’s Mary Jo Foley reported this month that Microsoft is readying a new desktop-as-a-service solution, based on Windows Virtual Desktop, called Cloud PC. A job posting revealed: “Microsoft Cloud PC is a strategic, new offering that is built on top of Windows Virtual Desktop to delivering Desktop as a Service. At its core, Cloud PC provides business customers a modern, elastic, cloud-based Windows experience and will allow organizations to stay current in a more simplistic and scalable manner”.
Cloud PC is aimed at low-end and thin client devices. Foley goes on to report: “Microsoft is planning to make Cloud PC a Microsoft-365-powered experience that is managed by Microsoft and sold for a flat per user price, the job description says. This pricing piece is key. Windows Virtual Desktop pricing revolves around Azure consumption. Cloud PC sounds like it will be available for a set subscription fee.” The new offering could appear next year.
Thurrott.com’s Paul Thurrott reported in July that Microsoft is delaying WinUI3. WinUI3 is the main component of Project Reunion, Microsoft’s replacement for the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). Project Reunion aims to merge the APIs and capabilities of UWP apps to make them available for all Windows developers. Thurrott reports that: “Microsoft now expects to ship Preview 3 “this fall” (possibly during Ignite, I guess). Second, the final release has been pushed back several months to “Spring 2021.” There’s no further news on that beyond the fact that it clearly needed more time in development.”.
Seemingly, Microsoft is making a renewed investment in Windows 10 and you should see some interesting UI changes over the next couple of feature updates. Theme-aware tiles in the Start menu were first announced in Build 20161 in the Dev Channel. The new Start menu design removes the solid color backplates from tiles and instead uses a partially transparent background to match the Fluent Design icons.
Build 20161 also included support for Edge Alt+TAB integration. The build contains a more personalized taskbar for new user accounts on a device, with content and customization based on user and device signal. Notifications are also updated. Notifications now get a logo, so you know where they came from, and an X in the top right corner to dismiss them. Focus Assist notification and summary toast are turned off by default.
Some Insiders on Dev Channel Build 20175 got an early preview of an improvement to pinned sites in Microsoft Edge. Clicking a pinned site on the Taskbar displays all the open tabs for that site across open Edge windows. At this stage of the preview, to see this new feature, users will need to repin sites to the taskbar.
Later in the month, Beta Channel Build 19042.421 (20H2) included all the features I mentioned in Build 20161. That was a bit of a surprise and it means that Windows 10 20H2 should be a more interesting release than expected.
That’s it for another month!