What kind of 2022 did Microsoft test? The company has made some big moves this year, including a massive acquisition of nearly $70 billion — mired in controversy — and also brought its first major feature update to Windows 11. Let’s take a deep look at how Microsoft has performed across the software, hardware, and gaming interfaces over the past year.
Windows 11’s Big Update (And the Annoying Updates)
Windows 11 is still relatively new, arriving in late 2021, and the biggest thing that happened to the operating system this year was the appearance of its first major update. (Remember, there will only be one feature update per year now, instead of twice a year as in the past.) Windows 11 2022 Update (unofficially known as 22H2) rolled out in September, with a lot of polish applied, along with some major and useful changes to the interface. We were also treated to a new system of “moments,” Microsoft’s fancy terminology for smaller updates that are applied more flexibly as needed outside of the big annual feature upgrade.
Some notable improvements included the introduction of tabs for File Explorer, allowing multiple folders to be opened in a single File Explorer window, in the same way there are multiple tabs in a browser. It marked the introduction of a long-awaited feature from Microsoft. The taskbar has also received a lot of attention, with the advent of the taskbar override panel, and after much yelling from a large number of Windows 11 users, drag-and-drop functionality has finally been returned to the taskbar.
In fact, something of the year seems to be that Microsoft is listening more to user feedback and needs, as someone else complained a lot about an aspect of the taskbar — the removal of the option to ungroup apps on the ribbon, part of existing functionality in Windows 10 — seems to be ready for treatment. Or at least that facility was there in testing with Windows 11, and it should be here soon, with fingers crossed, for those who don’t want multiple instances of the same app tucked away on the taskbar.
It still feels like Windows 11 is a work in progress, with Microsoft needing to do quite a bit of refining and revamping to give different parts of the interface a better look (and remove old, cluttered corners of the UI) — plus the frustrating bugs I still encounter.
Throughout 2022, while there wasn’t any show stopping in the way of Windows 11 bugs (as we’ve seen with Windows 10 in the past), we reported plenty of glitches, and some of them are bad enough. Like printers that have been stripped of a lot of their functionality, for example, and gremlins that have lowered performance levels in various ways, players have come under fire from some seriously annoying bugs, too. The flaws in File Explorer seemed particularly prevalent as well, which is concerning given that this is a mainstay of the user interface (the files and folders you work with every day).
Perhaps the real acid test we can use to measure the success of Windows 11 in 2022 is to look at how many people have migrated to the operating system (or bought a new PC with it installed, of course). According to Statcounter numbers (as of November 2022, the latest version available at the time of writing), 16% of all Windows users are using Windows 11. That’s not great for an OS that’s been out for over a year now, especially considering Consideration Windows 7 commands nearly 10% of the market share. In other words, a completely outdated operating system is not far behind.
Moreover, a year into its reign as Microsoft’s leading operating system, Windows 10 has garnered nearly 30% adoption, nearly double what Windows 11 managed. That said, Windows 11 is somewhat hampered by the fact that some people can’t upgrade, since their PCs don’t meet the more stringent requirements (especially on the security front), so Microsoft expected the migration to be slower when they stock these. in the design of the operating system.
Overall, Windows 11 has made reasonable progress in implementing important interface changes, sure, but we’d like to see more progress still, especially a better effort at fighting bugs, with a long-overdue overhaul of Microsoft’s quality assurance processes in our opinion.
Just like every other year, another batch of updated Surface devices came out.
In June, we got our first glimpse of the Surface Laptop Go 2, which wasn’t massively different from the original laptop, but made some useful improvements, and is still a great option for a compact laptop.
Then in October, at a major Microsoft event, we saw the unveiling of the Surface Pro 9 and Surface Laptop 5, along with the Surface Studio 2+.
This hasn’t been the best crop of Surface hardware for Microsoft, unfortunately. For starters, the Surface Laptop 5 fails to impress us, turning out impressively middle of the road. Not terrible, but it’s hampered by performance issues, and certainly not worth the laptop’s hefty asking price.
The Surface Pro 9 definitely turned out to be a better device, taking some commendable steps forward from the Pro 8. It also made an interesting move in having two flavors: a 5G model with a Qualcomm SQ3 (ARM) CPU, and a version with an Intel processor, The former is a great option for some (mobile entrepreneurs, for example), albeit with ARM-related gremlins in the works. The Pro 9 remains pricey, but it’s a great device overall, and a decent upgrade from its predecessor in the performance stakes.
The Surface Studio 2+ only received a minor upgrade, as the 2+ indicates (instead of the 3), but Microsoft implemented some solid changes, though nothing particularly exciting. Which sums up what happened on the Surface front overall: nothing bad by any means — certainly not with the Surface Pro 9 — but nothing great, either.
In January, Microsoft decided to buy gaming giant Activision Blizzard in a massive acquisition for nearly $70 billion. Yes, Activision – the game that has franchises like Call of Duty, Diablo, Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and many other big name games in its stable.
The size of this deal cannot be underestimated, which means that in the future, Xbox Game Pass owners can get their next hit Call of Duty game for next to nothing as part of that subscription (while PlayStation fans will have to collect the cash, and we’re all aware of the cost). amazing for gaming these days).
In fact, the ripples from that deal are still being run now, because at the time of this writing, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing to block a Microsoft acquisition on the grounds that it may suppress competitors to the Xbox console.
Of course, Microsoft has given us a whole host of assurances about how it won’t throw its weight around in an anti-competitive manner after taking over Activision, but there are plenty of skeptics, and the FTC points to Microsoft’s earlier history and ZeniMax (Bethesda). While in this case, promises were also made that games would not be withheld from competing consoles, the FTC noted that titles such as Starfield, Redfall, and Elder Scrolls 6 have become Xbox exclusives.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision could still come to a head in the final hurdles, then, most likely.
Ads nauseating – but with a flicker of something positive?
While you might expect to see ads in your web browser, you don’t in your operating system. Because, you know, you paid good money for this OS, in the case of Windows anyway (or good money for the hardware it came in, and that was part of the bill).
But ads that take up real estate in Windows menus or panels are again becoming a concern in 2022, as Microsoft — and note that these were just experiments that didn’t make it into the Windows 11 release — advertises OneDrive in the user’s session (shutdown) menu. Even more troubling, the company was briefly flirting with ads in File Explorer, too, that central pillar of the Windows interface. That those waters were equal tested It’s a concern, really.
All of this might have you thinking ads would be a thorn in the side for future Windows 11 users — especially given Microsoft’s previous look, which is nothing new, of course — but instead, another possibility has emerged late in the year.
Which is the idea that Microsoft could move toward lower-cost PCs that are subscription-based, cloud-based, and ad-supported (to make them cheaper — so there would be a benefit in this case). This was just a rumor, picked up (in November) by Microsoft’s job listing, but earlier in July this year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talked about integrating advertising into its products.
There were clearly audible groans at the prospect, but as we’ve noted, in a cost-of-living crisis where not everyone may be able to afford a new PC, this might be a good thing to make Windows PCs more affordable for those who are struggling with money.
Head in the clouds
Speaking of cloud services associated with cheap ad-supported computers, this is an area where Microsoft has gone from strength to strength during 2022. Cloud revenue has been strong since the beginning of the year, and then in October, Microsoft’s financial results for the first quarter of 2023 showed that While the Windows division faltered — and was down 15%, in fact, due in part to a slump in PC sales this year — cloud revenue was up 24% compared to the same quarter in 2021.
Microsoft made $25.7 billion in just one quarter — more than half of its total revenue for that period — if you were in any doubt about where the future lies for the software giant’s bulging coffers.
With PCs in decline, it wasn’t Microsoft’s best year – but cloud revenue was a definite highlight, and doing these different experiments with advertising in Windows 11, the company may have future plans to monetize in a different way, with low-cost ad-supported systems. .
2022 was a great year for Surface devices, albeit with some solid upgrades for some devices. And Windows 11 was a similar case of some reasonable progress being made, in the main, albeit with thorny aspects in the form of bugs. One of the highlights of Windows 11, however, was seeing Microsoft listen more to user feedback, though arguably some of the introductions that were made based on popular demand should have been addressed more quickly.
This acquisition of giant Activision Blizzard is still something to watch, as it will have huge ramifications for the gaming industry in the coming year if it continues; But there still seems to be a definite possibility of a derailment.