Microsoft News Roundup: Revamped Microsoft Edge, new File Explorer, and conservatives vs. Xbox sleep mode
This week we saw a range of news from wacky to sad.
If you blinked, you missed the entirety of January racing by. To cap off the first month of 2023, we saw plenty of news stories roll out over the last week. From exclusive reports about a reimagined Microsoft Edge to conservative politicians fighting against the Xbox's sleep mode, here are the biggest stories of the last seven days.
Edge rising from the ashes
Microsoft Edge could soon get a new look. First revealed by WalkingCat on Twitter, a project codenamed "Phoenix" is in the works at Microsoft. The reimagined Edge would feature a design that separates itself from other Chromium browsers while also adding features.
Microsoft has been working on Phoenix since summer 2022 and is building the browser in pieces. Some elements, such as split view, are already in testing within Edge Canary or other Insider channels.
In addition to a new look with rounded corners, Phoenix will integrate with Windows. One idea is to have Edge act as the password manager for all of Windows.
Our Senior Editor Zac Bowden noted that it's not clear if Microsoft will ship Phoenix in its entirety or pick and choose specific features to implement in the current version of Edge.
The reimagined Edge looks so good that Android Central's Senior Editor Andrew Myrick argued that Google should copy Microsoft's split screen feature.
Overhauling File Explorer
Sticking with future projects at Microsoft, our Senior Editor Zac Bowden shared images of the overhauled File Explorer that's on the way to Windows 11. Microsoft revealed its plans to update File Explorer a few weeks ago, but we now have internal mockups that provide more details.
Those images show a redesigned header with a modern file directory box, search box, and a new home button. The File Explorer home page will integrate with Microsoft 365, based on the mockups.
Larger thumbnails (shown above) will preview content with much more information than what's currently presented.
According to Bowden's sources, the revamped File Explorer is set to ship before the end of 2023, though plans are always subject to change.
Microsoft cuts VR team
Unfortunately, it wasn't all good news this week in the land of Microsoft. Following the news of the tech giant cutting 10,000 jobs, more details emerged about which employees were affected. The teams behind AltSpaceVR and the Mixed Reality Tool Kit were part of the cuts.
While Microsoft may still have plans for virtual reality, the recent job cuts do not paint a positive picture. The news comes after the departure of HoloLens chief architect Alex Kipman. Microsoft's HoloLens contract with the U.S. military has also run into issues of late.
Conservatives vs. Xbox sleep mode
In what may be the strangest news story of the week, a group of conservative politicians and news outlets chose to battle against the optional sleep mode of Xbox consoles.
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that in an effort to be carbon neutral, Xbox consoles will now default to full shutdown mode rather than standby sleep mode. The switch changes the default but does not remove any options that were previously available, meaning console owners can still use standby mode if they'd like.
Standby mode has become less important over the years thanks to Microsoft reducing boot times of its consoles. Additionally, newer consoles in shutdown mode can still receive system and game updates when switched off.
As pointed out by our Editor-in-Chief Daniel Rubino, this "sounds innocuous, but it hasn’t stopped a few attention-seeking grifters from trying to drag Microsoft into the so-called culture wars, pitting fellow citizens against each over in an attempt to further divide us."
Conservative outlet The Blaze wrote a piece headlined "Xbox will force gamers to power down to fight climate change, touting the first 'carbon aware console.'" Conservative politicians jumped in on the action as well.
"They want to take your guns. They want to take your gas stoves. And now they want to take your Xbox. What’s next?” asked Texas Congressman Troy Nehls.
Diablo 3's final season
For gamers, fans of Blizzard's hack-and-slash dungeon crawler Diablo 3 were treated to a comprehensive list of some pretty extensive gameplay changes as it enters a final season. Before the official launch of its sequel, Diablo 3 players will move into season 28, formally titled 'Rites of Sanctuary,' and it looks like the developers are going all-out as the third outing comes to a close.
Alongside a slew of class and item changes, a cosmetic reward item named the 'Wings of Terror' take the image of those worn by the game's titular demon, Diablo. It's an interesting move to implement such drastic changes in an online game in its final moments. Still, excited gamers can gain early access to the new content via a public test realm starting from January 31, 2023.
Our team of experts only reviewed one item this week, but it alone is worth a read. The remake of Dead Space earned a perfect 5/5 by our Samuel Tolbert, who called it a "love letter to the entire franchise."
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org (opens in new tab).
By Jez Corden