Microsoft Weekly: Release branches, Halo 2 again on PC, and available Surfaces

Patch Tuesday rolled around, we got to see the May 2020 Update being made available via MSDN, as well as finally being able to purchase a bunch of the new Surface devices. You can find that, as well as much more, below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of May 9 – May 15.

Release branches

You may remember that back in December of last year, Microsoft turned the Fast ring into what essentially amounts to a perpetual testing ring, with builds coming from the rs_prerelease branch. There was a change related to this the past week, but we’ll touch upon that later. First off, let’s take a look at the Patch Tuesday builds.

If you’re running any of the Windows 10 versions besides 1511, you should have gotten or should shortly be getting a patch (depending on settings). Here’s what you need to look out for:

  • May 2019 Update / November 2019 Update (1903 / 1909): KB4556799, build 18362.836 (1903), 18363.836 (1909) – contains security updates for IE and Edge, as well as enhancements for using devices like a mouse, keyboard, or stylus. Furthermore, it improves security when using Microsoft Xbox, performing basic Windows operations and using Office products, as well as when storing and managing files and verifying usernames and passwords.

  • October 2018 Update (1809): KB4551853, build 17763.1217 – identical highlights to the versions above.

    • Known issue: After installing KB4493509, devices with some Asian language packs installed may receive the error “0x800f0982 – PSFX_E_MATCHING_COMPONENT_NOT_FOUND.”

  • April 2018 Update (1803) Enterprise, Education: KB4556797, build 17134.1488 – contains security updates for IE and Edge, as well as enhancements for using devices like a mouse, keyboard, or stylus. Furthermore, it improves security when using Microsoft Xbox, performing basic Windows operations, as well as when storing and managing files.

  • Fall Creators Update (1709) Enterprise, Education: KB4556812, build 16299.1868 – identical highlights to version 1809.

  • Creators Update (1703) for Surface Hub: KB4556804, build 15063.2375 – contains security updates for IE and Edge, as well as enhancements for using devices like a mouse, keyboard, or stylus. Furthermore, it improves security when performing basic Windows operations, as well as when storing and managing files.

  • Anniversary Update (1607) LTSC, Server 2016: KB4556813, build 14393.3683 – identical highlights to version 1703.

    • Known issue: After installing KB4467684, the cluster service may fail to start with the error “2245 (NERR_PasswordTooShort)” if the group policy “Minimum Password Length” is configured with greater than 14 characters.

  • Windows 10 (1507) LTSC: KB4556826, build 10240.18575 – identical highlights to version 1703.

Patch Tuesday of course means some of the other supported operating systems also get patches, such as Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 (the latter only if you are a business paying for ESUs). Here’s what’s in store for folks running either of these:

  • Windows 8.1, Server 2012 R2: KB4556846, KB4556853 (security-only) – updates the 2020 start date for DST in the Kingdom of Morocco, addresses an issue with offline file syncing in mobsyc.exe, as well as including a number of security updates for everything from IE to the JET Database Engine.

  • Windows 7, Server 2008 R2: KB4556836, KB4556843 (security-only) – very similar changelog to the OS above, with the addition of a fix for apps being unable to install using GPO and the bug which incorrectly reported the connection state of a network interface.

    • Known issue: After installing this update and restarting the device, you may receive the error “Failure to configure Windows updates. Reverting Changes. Do Not turn off your computer” and the update might show as Failed in Update History.

In other Windows news, the SDK for version 2004 (or the May 2020 Update for Windows 10) is now generally available, as is the feature update itself to MSDN subscribers. In addition, build 19041.264 has been pushed out to both Slow and Release Preview rings, meaning we’re not too far off from general availability. As previously rumored, this very well could be May 26. Given this, Microsoft has also updated the processor requirements for this soon to be released feature update, with only the Ryzen 4000 series of processors from AMD being added.

Rather interestingly, and as alluded to in the opening paragraph of this section, the company also pushed out a new build to the Fast ring, namely 19628. While this has been traditionally part of the nebulous vNext series of builds, the particular build string pointed to rs_prerelease, whereas with this one, it’s from mn_release.

This usually happens closer to the release of a feature update, although that isn’t the case, as the team merely wanted to test branch switching. And while ‘mn’ is indicative of Manganese, the codename for 20H2, this isn’t part of the release from the second half of this year. That’s because like 19H2 before it, 20H2 will simply have a small enablement package.

Lastly, if you’re an Office Insider on Windows, and part of the Monthly Channel (targeted), you’ll get a slew of new features, like a refreshed Outlook calendar, and an updated save dialog for OneDrive, among others.

Halo 2 again on PC

Folks on PC got to experience Halo 2, as right on cue, the Anniversary edition of the game hit the Master Chief Collection. An Xbox One exclusive until earlier this week, the remake has hit PC for the first time. The original was released in 2004, with the PC port arriving in 2007. As you’d expect, the new one brings support for uncapped frame rates and mice, FOV sliders, and even the Theater mode announced previously.

It’s available via Microsoft Store or Steam for $39.99 if you purchase the Master Chief Collection in its entirety (which will give you the rest of the games as well) or $9.99 for the individual game. If you’re a Game Pass subscriber on PC, you’ve already got this in your library.

Flight Simulator Alpha 3 was also released this week, more specifically build 1.3.9.0. The update adds the Boeing 747-8i, although there are some known issues with the aircraft – to be fixed soon. Improvements have been made to existing airplanes though, as well as how alterations in weather are reflected. Unexpectedly, a version 5.01 of the Development Roadmap was also made available.

And to end, if you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription, you can now claim Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr and Overlord II for free, with V-Rally 4 from the previous promotion being available to claim until May 31.

Available Surfaces

As indicated when they were announced, the Surface Go 2 (starting at $399.99), Surface Earbuds ($199.99) and Surface Headphones 2 ($249.99) have all been made available as of May 12, bringing various improvements over the previous generation, from more colours to bigger screens.

If you decided to pick up the Go 2, the little device got a day-one driver update containing connection reliability improvements.

The ever-elusive Surface Duo will reportedly come with a Snapdragon 855, 6GB of RAM, and either 64GB or 256GB of storage. As far as the camera is concerned, that will be 11MP. There will be no expandable storage, and we already know that the device will sport dual 5.6-inch screens, in 4:3 and a resolution of 1800×1350. Furthermore, these will both be AMOLED, and the battery capacity will be 3,460mAh.

What as of yet unknown is the price and release date, with previous rumors suggesting it could be as early as this summer. Remember, this is the smaller, Android-based device, with the larger one (Neo) being delayed.

The Fast ring

Logging off

To round things off, we should mention that the session catalog for Microsoft’s Build 2020 virtual event is now live. Remember, this will take place May 19-20, so keep your schedule clear on those dates if you want to tune in.

What is clear as well is that Microsoft is slowly starting to phase out support for 32-bit versions of the operating system. To this end, the minimum hardware requirements have been updated to reflect that starting with Windows 10 version 2004 (May 2020 Update), you will need to have a 64-bit processor to run it. This shouldn’t be any problem as modern PCs already have 64-bit processors.

Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.