Microsoft hopes to revive its Microsoft Store later this year

Microsoft had big hopes for the store that it integrated in its Windows 10 operating system. The Microsoft Store, as it is called nowadays, did not live up to its expectations, mainly because it could not attract enough developers and users. Microsoft removed entire sections from its Store since its launch, but it appears that the company is working on reviving its store in a major way.

Filed under rumor for now, because the news is not coming from Microsoft but from unnamed Windows Central sources. According to the report, Microsoft is planning to release a major Store update that introduces « new layouts, WinUI designs, iconography and fluid animations ». A redesign, as good as it may be, is not addressing the core issues that is keeping many users from using the Store though.

microsoft store old

The report suggests that Microsoft plans to make fundamental changes to the submission policies of the store. The big changes mentioned by Windows Central let developers submit unpackaged Win32 apps, e.g. exe applications, use custom content delivery networks for hosting and for updates, and use third-party ecommerce platforms in the apps.

The lifting of these restrictions make the store more attractive to developers, as it is no longer necessary to package Win32 applications as an MSIX or rely on Microsoft Store for updates and use Microsoft’s commerce platforms. Developers may make use of Microsoft’s platforms for updating and commerce, but they don’t have to.

The new policy makes it easier for developers to bring their applications to the Microsoft Store. The changes could be announced during the Build 2021 conference and be introduced in the second feature update of 2021, Windows 10 21H2. Windows Central reports that Microsoft plans to bring its major applications, including Teams, Office, Edge, and Visual Studio, to the Store when the changes land.

Closing Words

Microsoft’s Store has a lot of issues currently. If you browse it regularly, you will notice that app submissions are really low at this point. While you do get some major releases, especially when it comes to games, it is clear that many major applications are missing from the Store. The Store does have a copycat problem, as you will find unofficial ports of popular open source programs on the store, often listed as commercial applications that you have to pay money for.

The new polices could cause an increase of these submissions to the Store, unless Microsoft steps up its game and introduces better vetting options.

Major software companies could bring their applications to the store easily once the changes land. Will we see programs such as Firefox, Thunderbird or Avira in the Store in then future?

Now you: what is your take on this development?

Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post Microsoft hopes to revive its Microsoft Store later this year appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

KB5001330 Windows Update is reportedly causing performance drop in games, failed installs and bootloops

Microsoft released the KB5001330 Windows Update this Tuesday, which brought many security fixes. Unfortunately it also seems to have introduced some issues, at least on some devices.

KB5001330 Windows Update is reportedly causing performance drop in games, failed installs and bootloops
A handful of users on reddit have reported that the latest update causes performance drops in games. The troubles first surfaced in KB5000842, and has since reemerged in the latest patch. Well, you may say that Microsoft hasn’t fixed it yet.

The primary issue appears to be frame drops in games, and this appears to be related to the VSync setting. Other issues reported by users include lag spikes, i.e., a sudden massive slowdown or stutter that happens for a few seconds.

I’m familiar with the problem that the users are reporting, as I experienced a similar issue on this computer last year (especially in Rise of the Tomb Raider and Assassin’s Creed Origins). The lags were caused by the Nvidia 451.67 game ready driver, and this was delivered through Windows Update. I had to revert to an older video driver to fix the annoyances, so you could try a similar solution if you have such lags.

I wanted to check if I experience similar issues with the latest patch,  so I tested the KB5001330 update with my GTX 1650, and had no such troubles. Based on the comments from users, it is possible that the issue only affects newer GPUs like the NVidia 2000, 3000 and AMD R5 series. The thread also suggests an easy fix for the issue, you just have to uninstall the update. You can do so from the Settings > Update & Security > View Update History page.

So, if you’re a gamer and are experiencing poor performance, low frame rates in games that used to run flawlessly until a few days ago, it is likely that the KB5001330 Windows Update could be the culprit. Once you have gotten rid of it, your games should work as normal.

Digging deeper, I noticed that this wasn’t the only issue reported by users. Members at the Microsoft Community forums have stated that they have encountered issues with the KB5001330 Windows Update failing to install. The error code for this is 0x800f0984. Some groups say they got a different error, with the code 0x800f081f. This specific issue is related to Windows Update being unable to fetch the patch from Microsoft’s servers.

If Windows Update says that it cannot download the patches, the solution that has been recommended by a Microsoft moderator is to reset WSUS (Windows Update Service and Agent). Some users say they encountered a problem that is more serious, as they were greeted by bootloops with the stop code 0xc000021a after installing the update. A couple of others seem to have experienced screen flickering that happens when resizing Chrome or Edge windows.

Reference links: 1, 2

If you haven’t updated to KB5001330 yet, and want to avoid this particular patch, you can pause Windows Updates for a week or two. I usually create a restore point before installing major updates just to be on the safer side, maybe that is something that you could find helpful.

Have you experienced problems with the KB5001330 update? Share your experience and fixes with other users.

Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post KB5001330 Windows Update is reportedly causing performance drop in games, failed installs and bootloops appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

Windows 10’s upcoming Device Usage feature is unfortunately not very spectacular

Microsoft is working on a new feature called Device Usage that it plans to integrate in future versions of the operating system. Device Usage is available in the latest Insider builds for testing.

When it was discovered initially by Twitter user Albacore, its scope was not clear immediately. The description revealed some information, that Windows would use the information to create personalized experiences, such as « customized suggestions for tools and services », but some hoped that Microsoft would turn device usage into more than just basic categories for its tips service.

device usage

Found under Settings > Personalization > Device usage, it turns out that Device usage is not a very spectacular feature. All it does, in essence, is to give users an option to select how they plan to use the device. The operating system uses the information to display recommendations to the user.

The Insider version lists six different categories, from gaming and family, to entertainment and business. Users who enable the feature and check the options may get suggestions based on the selection, e.g. the checking of gaming could result in Microsoft Store game recommendations, or the selection of Creativity, that the Paint 3D app is now found in the Store and no longer included on the device.

All the feature does, at least at this point in time, is to display tips to users about tools and services that fall into one of the selected categories. The nature of the tips is unclear at this point; it is possible that it will include suggestions to use Microsoft services and tools, or Microsoft partner apps.

It appears that Microsoft won’t use the information to provide useful customizations, e.g. by adding tools or services to the operating system by default, optimizing the system for specific uses by applying tweaks, or even removing some tools or services that fall into a group that has not been checked by the user.

Closing Words

I can’t see Device Usage becoming a particularly useful feature for Windows 10 users. It may prove useful to Microsoft, but users may want to keep it turned off or skip it during setup, if it is displayed there, as it is likely that it won’t be of much use.

Now You: what is your take on Device Usage? Would you use it?

Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post Windows 10’s upcoming Device Usage feature is unfortunately not very spectacular appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

Microsoft Paint and Snipping Tool are now on the Microsoft Store

Microsoft announced plans some time ago to move some of Windows 10’s applications to the Microsoft Store. It moved the popular plain text editing app Notepad to the Microsoft Store in 2019, and announced in 2017 that Microsoft Paint would be moved to the Store as well.

It took Microsoft four years since the initial announcement to move Microsoft Paint to the Microsoft Store.

With the release of a new Insider Build, version 21354, comes the confirmation that Microsoft has moved Microsoft Paint and the Snipping Tool to the Microsoft Store.

MSPaint is now updateable via the Microsoft Store outside major OS updates. It also has a new icon and has been promoted out of the Windows Accessories folder to its own place in the Start menu.

Snipping Tool is now updateable via the Microsoft Store outside major OS updates. It has been packaged together with Snip & Sketch so we can deliver updates for both at the same time. It has also been promoted out of the Windows Accessories folder to its own place in the Start menu.

Both applications can be updated separately in the future and pushed to user systems without having to wait for operating system updates to release the updates.

Both applications are no longer listed under Windows Accessories but as individual apps in the Start Menu.

In the case of the Snipping Tool, things are a bit more complicated, as Microsoft decided to combine Snip & Sketch and the Snipping Tool. Snip & Sketch is an upgraded version of the Snipping Tool; both apps may be installed on the Windows device, or only one of the apps.

For Insiders who have not installed Snip & Sketch, Snipping Tool will be removed after the installation of the latest build. Users need to install Snip & Sketch from the Store to get it back according to Microsoft.

Here are the links to the Microsoft Store:

Administrators who have uninstalled the applications may reinstall them through the Store. Paint is currently not available for download while Snip & Sketch can be downloaded already.

Paint won the fight against the newer Paint 3D application. New Windows 10 installations won’t include Paint 3D anymore going forward.

Windows 10 users who don’t use the Store won’t receive the application updates as these are driven by the Store in the future. Feature updates may still update these applications when they are installed.

Now You: what is your take on Microsoft separating application updates from operating system updates?

Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post Microsoft Paint and Snipping Tool are now on the Microsoft Store appeared first on gHacks Technology News.