Microsoft News Roundup: Activision Blizzard deal approved by EU, Bing Chat changes, Mortal Kombat 1, and more
Catch up on the highs and lows of this week's Microsoft news right here.
Another week has whizzed by. That means more Microsoft news to catch up on. This week the EU approved Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard, Bing Chat got some major upgrades, and Windows 11 users gained access to iMessages through the Phone Link app. We also saw the announcement of Mortal Kombat 1 and Overwatch 2's co-op PvE mode get canceled.
Here are all of this week's biggest stories, plus a collection of our reviews, editorials, and deals we covered.
EU approves Microsoft purchase of Activision Blizzard
It seems like major news about Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard drops every week. Just a few days ago, the European Commission approved the $69 billion deal. The governing body had previously shared concerns about the acquisition, but it is satisfied with the remedies provided by Microsoft. Namely, Microsoft offered a free license for users in the EEA, which includes the EU and other countries, to stream current and future Activision Blizzard titles.
"The European Commission has required Microsoft to license popular Activision Blizzard games automatically to competing cloud gaming services," said Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith "This will apply globally and will empower millions of consumers worldwide to play these games on any device they choose.”
With the EU on board, a magnifying glass was placed on the UK CMA blocking the deal. UK parliamentary oversight committee posed several tough questions to CMA, which has doubled down repeatedly on its decision. Our Managing Editor Jez Corden recalled the key points of the saga and added insight on the situation.
Bing Chat changes and improvements
A ton of changes rolled out to Bing Chat this week, and even more are on the way. Bing Chat can now be used without a Microsoft account, though you are limited to five turns per conversation unless you sign in. Microsoft also added a new way to share messages from Bing Chat, including downloading them as text files, PDFs, or Word documents.
Several features that Microsoft announced earlier this month are now live. Charts, graphics, and improved formatting should make Bing Chat a more visual experience, helping people absorb additional information.
On the mobile side of things, Microsoft is rolling out an update to the Bing app that adds a widget for the application. That means you can pin Bing to your home screen on iOS and Android to quickly jump into a search. The ability to continue conversations across devices also shipped with the update, as did improvements to multilingual chats.
The Edge mobile apps on iOS and Android received a major update as well this week. It adds contextual capabilities that let Bing view the contents of the webpage you're on. The search engine can then respond to questions about what's on the site you're visiting.
Microsoft Bing | Free at Google Play
Bing has taken the power of ChatGPT and GPT-4 in partnership with OpenAI and enhanced it with real-time information and citations.
Overwatch 2 co-op PvE mode canceled
Blizzard announced that its originally planned PvE campaign mode in Overwatch 2 has been canceled during a livestream. The news surprised many, which is understandable given the fact that visions of the mode have been shown since 2019. Instead of a single PvE release, Blizzard will make co-op experiences part of its roadmap. The updated Blizzard roadmap shows PvE story missions as part of Overwatch 2 Season 6.
Following the confusion regarding the status of PvE content, Overwatch 2 Executive Producer Jared Neuss said:
"A clarification that I wanted to make is that, while we made the decision to cut Hero Mode + Talents, we have a lot of great PvE content coming this year," wrote Neuss. "Big story missions, new cinematics, co-op events and single player Hero Mastery missions are all on the way."
The news shocked gamers and others in the industry. Our Brendan Lowry shared feelings that are likely shared by many in the community:
"There's really no beating around the bush here: this is a massive disappointment, and I'm genuinely shocked that Activision Blizzard would cancel its plans for Overwatch 2's dedicated PvE campaign experience. Not only was it used to advertise the game, but a vertical slice was even put into player hands at BlizzCon 2019.
I'm at least glad that Blizzard isn’t completely scrapping co-op and will blend new missions into Overwatch 2's live service content updates. But it's still heartbreaking to know that we'll never get the deep PvE gameplay with exciting hero upgrades and progression systems that was promised years ago. There's a massive amount of potential here that’s not being capitalized on, and that sucks"
Surface Duo with stock Android
Microsoft's Surface Duo and Surface Duo 2 currently run Android 12L, not the newer Android 13 or Android 14. That fact has caused quite a bit of frustration, and it feels like Microsoft has left the Surface Duo line behind. A former Microsoft engineer has taken it on themselves to get a more recent version of Android onto the Surface Duo.
Thai Nguyen posted a video on Twitter of the Surface Duo running stock Android. Impressively, the operating system recognizes the postures of the Surface Duo, which isn't something Android does out of the box.
Step aside Pixel Fold, we have a real foldable in the house. Pixel Experience on Surface Duo, with posture support!Test build soon! pic.twitter.com/Hayp20FVsBMay 15, 2023
The project is still in its early days, but it looks promising so far. If work on stock Android on the Surface Duo continues to progress well, it could be a way to give life to the forgotten foldable.
Mortal Kombat 1
Last week we exclusively revealed details about Mortal Kombat 1, a full reboot of the iconic franchise. This week, the game was officially announced, confirming our previous reports and giving us a glimpse of what's to come. While no gameplay of Mortal Kombat 1 was shown off, the announcement trailer set the stage for the reboot.
The plot of Mortal Kombat 1 centers around the events at the end of Mortal Kombat 11, so make sure you're up to date on that or expect to be spoiled in the announcement trailer.
If all this talk of a reboot makes you nervous, fear not. Based on the trailer, Mortal Kombat 1 will be as gory and violent as its predecessors that made the games unique.
Preorders for Mortal Kombat 1 go live on May 19, 2023. Those that get the Premium Edition will get early access on September 14, 2023. The game will then launch for everyone on September 19, 2023.
Mortal Kombat 1
A new era of NetherRealm Studios' iconic fighting game franchise begins with Mortal Kombat 1. Call upon Kameo Fighters to aid you in battle, experience an epic single-player story mode, and defeat your foes in arduous online and offline tournaments to become the Mortal Kombat Champion.
Pre-order at: Xbox
iMessage on Windows 11 PCs
Windows 11 PCs just gained the ability to send and receive iMessages. The new functionality came courtesy of an update to Microsoft Phone Link. That update also added the ability to send and receive calls and to see iPhone notifications on a PC.
While the new features are a welcome addition, there are several limits on Phone Link when connected to an iPhone. Most notably, you will not be able to see a full chat history of your iMessages. Group chats through iMessage are not supported either. As a result, Phone Link is much less capable when connected to an iPhone compared to when used with an Android phone.
Phone Link | Free through Microsoft Store
This app allows you to connect your smartphone and PC to send and receive messages and calls. It now works with iPhones, though functionality is limited when compared to connecting your PC to an Android phone.
Our experts love to get their hands on gadgets, gizmos, and games. This week our team looked at the Dell UltraSharp 6K monitor, the Syntech 6-in-1 docking station for the Steam Deck, and much more.
- FlexiSpot BS11 Pro review: Breathable mesh makes this ergonomic office chair a dream
- Review: The GameSir T4 Kaleid would be perfect — if it worked with Xbox
- Review: Astro A30 Wireless — good enough, but far from a great headset
- Syntech 6-in-1 docking station review: An ultra-budget Steam Deck dock with unusual quirks
- Dell Ultrasharp 32 6K Monitor (U3224KB) review: All the pixels and a fantastic 4K UHD webcam make this one AMAZING display
- Redmagic 4K Gaming Monitor review: This Mini-LED monitor is magnificent for gaming
- Razer Nommo V2 Pro review - The PC speakers that take you from 'That's just a game' to 'IT'S. ABOUT. TO. GO. DOWN
Deals of the week
Tech is great. Spending a ton of money on it isn't. That's why we scour the web for deals and discounts. Here are some of the most popular sales from the past week that are still live.
Samsung Odyssey Ark 4K gaming monitor |
$3,499.99 $1,999.99 at Amazon
If you'd like a huge curved 4K panel with exceptional visuals, multi-view functionality, a vertical "Cockpit Mode," and more, look no further than the Odyssey Ark. Samsung's CES 2022 show-stealer is insanely expensive, but thanks to this deal, you can get it for $1,500 less for a limited time.
MSI Mech Radeon RX 6700 XT |
$369.99 $319.99 at Newegg
Offering performance that falls between NVIDIA's RTX 3060 and 3070 for a great price, the RX 6700 XT is an awesome GPU for 1440p gaming at high settings. Right now, you can get MSI's version of the card for $50 off.
Razer Boba Fett Xbox Controller |
$179.99 $108.11 at Amazon
Disney and Microsoft licensed Razer to make a Boba Fett-themed Xbox Series controller and charging stand, and the manufacturer definitely didn't disappoint. This is a must have for Xbox gamers that love Star Wars, especially now that it's on sale for a huge 40% discount.
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at email@example.com.