Microsoft releasing Android 12L to the Surface Duo lineup, Steam breaking usage records, and a glimpse of the new Xbox dashboard are just some of the stories that broke this week. With so much news to go around, it's easy to miss a few things. That's where our weekly roundup comes in.
Windows Dev Kit 2023 launches
While the Surface Pro 9 and Surface Laptop 5 were the biggest hardware announcements from Microsoft this fall, the company also launched the Windows Dev Kit 2023. The mini PC, which was formerly known as Project Volterra, runs on a Snapdragon 8cX Gen 3 paired with 32GB of RAM and 512GB. It costs just a hair under $600.
That relatively low price would normally stack up the PC against the Mac mini, but Microsoft did not choose to position it that way. As its name suggests, the Windows Dev Kit 2023 is built for developers looking to optimize their apps to run on Windows on ARM. That being said, anyone can purchase one. Our senior editor Zac Bowden did just that and went hands-on with the device.
Android 12L rolls out to Surface Duo
Microsoft also shipped Android 12L to the Surface Duo 2 and original Surface Duo this week. The update brings a refreshed interface to the folding phone, bringing it more in line with Windows 11. It also adds a new Pen menu feature and improves the phone in several areas.
Android 12L is aimed at large-screen devices or those with folding displays. Microsoft has worked to optimize it for the Duo lineup for quite some time, and according to our recent hands-on video, it shows. Blur effects, animations, and gestures all seem to work better following the update.
While it's not officially available, Android 12L for Surface Duo also includes a secret cloud-based Continuum mode.
Here's the changelog for the update:
- Upgrades the Android operating system to Android 12L for foldable devices. For general information about Android 12, see Android 12 (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab).
- Addresses scenario outlined in the Android Security Bulletin—October 2022.
- New Fluent UI—redesigned Quick Settings and Settings, refreshed Microsoft feed design, new acrylic system effects.
- Windows accent color styles and dynamic theming based on chosen wallpaper.
- New Windows inspired wallpaper.
- Pen menu for Surface Slim Pen 2.
- Transfer Microsoft Teams meeting through the Time widget.
- Optimize battery usage and performance for Microsoft Teams through hardware offloading.
Joe Belfiore leaving Microsoft
Microsoft Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore announced that he will leave the company. The CVP has been with Microsoft for 32 years and currently heads the Office Group. Belfiore will continue to serve as a senior advisor and coach until summer 2023 to help the transition.
Belfiore has held many major roles at Microsoft, but our readers likely remember him most for his time in charge of Windows Phone and Windows 10. He has always shown a passion for his work and has shared that at keynotes, presentations, and interviews over the years.
New Xbox dashboard is full of ads
Microsoft released a new Xbox dashboard to Xbox Insiders this week. Unfortunately, the new look earned criticism from several across the web. Our games editor Jez Corden summarized some of the biggest flaws with the design:
"The new design pushes up the tiles layout further to the top of the page, obscuring view of whatever theme you've opted for. If that wasn't annoying enough, just below the fold, we have rows upon rows upon rows of Xbox Game Pass content, which cannot be customized in any way."
The new Xbox dashboard on the Alpha Skip Ahead basically looks like a mirror of the Game Pass app for TVs. Does Microsoft NOT LISTEN to feedback here? What's the point of dynamic backgrounds with this design?Microsoft: There exists an Xbox outside of Xbox Game Pass. pic.twitter.com/Y6Q4vqpiY5October 27, 2022
Microsoft was criticized for not listening to user feedback and pushing ads for Xbox Game Pass onto the Xbox dashboard.
Since the new dashboard is still in its testing phase, Microsoft could tweak it before releasing it. That being said, the company has shown a shift toward pushing Game Pass, so a completel overhaul of the dashboard without those ads seems unlikely.
Windows PC sales are down
Microsoft earnings came out this week for FY23 Q1. The company reported $50.1 billion in revenue, including Surface devices and revenue improving by 2%, but it wasn't all good news. Windows OEM was down 15%, which indicates that demand for PCs and laptops has dropped. Microsoft predicted a decline in the "high single digits," so a decline of 15% is significant.
While PC demand was down in the quarter, Microsoft saw double-digit growth across Azure, LinkedIn, Office 365 Commercial, Office consumer products, and Dynamics.
Steam sets record for concurrent users
Steam hit a milestone for concurrent users last weekend. The popular gaming platform had over 30 million users during a 24-hour window, which was up from the previous high-water mark of 29,986,681. Steam usage has gone up consistently since the platform launched, but it took a dramatic turn upward when the global pandemic began.
Figures have bounced up and down each month but generally trended upward over the years. With colder weather on the way in the northern hemisphere, more people will likely hop onto Steam, setting new records.
In addition to covering the latest news, our experts review hardware, software, and gadgets each week. Over the last seven days we took at look at the AMD-powered Lenovo Slim 7i Pro, Resident Evil Village: Shadows of Rose, and much more.
- Resident Evil Village: Shadows of Rose review – A heartfelt descent into madness
- Lenovo Slim 7i Pro X review: AMD wins the price war, but Intel performance is undeniable
- ASUS ROG Strix Maximus Z790 Hero review: A great motherboard for 13th Gen Intel
- Resident Evil Re:Verse review – A massive miss for Capcom
- Dragon Ball: The Breakers review – Janky, unattractive, and infectiously fun
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 (opens in new tab).
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