Windows 11 monthly updates have killed Sun Valley 2 before it even released

Since Windows 10, Microsoft has had a consistent plan of updating Windows every six months with bug fixes and updates. This carried on for Windows 11 until Microsoft's recent event when it announced a bunch of features, such as tabs in File Explorer.

Four months into 2022, we've already seen two major updates. Normally, these would have arrived six months apart, usually named '2H22' to help reference the major update for that time.

There's been constant speculation on a big update to Windows 11 called Sun Valley 2. All these current updates, however, make us wonder if we should still expect a major update with a codename for Windows, or if “Sun Valley” is now irrelevant.

Sunset for the Valley

Back in the days of Windows XP and Windows Vista, major updates would be called 'Service Pack', with new features and a collection of bug fixes that would arrive a couple of years after the original Windows release, and that would be it.

However, the way we use PCs in recent years has prompted Microsoft, and other companies, to refine their software over time, often in response to customer feedback, and also to make some features more prevalent than they once were.

Microsoft had been following a six-month timeline for major updates in Windows 10, and then a yearly schedule for Windows 11. But it's telling that we're already seeing rumored features for Sun Valley 2 already arrive now.

Tabs in File Explorer

(Image credit: Microsoft)

While we've reached out to the company to see whether the timeline of major updates has changed, it already looks to be happening. If you were waiting for a significant update to arrive, it's most likely coming in a smaller update in the coming weeks or months, instead.

It's a method that would be great for Apple to follow, as well. The era of yearly updates on macOS from WWDC has little meaning for anyone. Having a constant stream of minor updates could help users gain new features while keeping developers in the loop of what's coming up.

More incremental updates that are larger than the bug and relatively minor changes Apple delivers throughout the year could help Apple developers more effectively adapt their apps to these updates, as well. Otherwise, they're left scrambling to ready major changes in time for the typical September releases of the new macOS or iOS versions.

Such a change would be a good thing for Apple fans. On the Windows side, it's an adjustment in perspective. Sun Valley 2 has no meaning anymore – the new Windows 11 updates are either here already, or they're already in the Windows Insider program, which allows you to test features under development that may arrive in an official capacity.

It looks to be a new standard for Microsoft and Windows 11 as a whole, and we're all for it. Your move Apple.

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Windows 11 monthly updates have killed Sun Valley 2 before it even released

Since Windows 10, Microsoft has had a consistent plan of updating Windows every six months with bug fixes and updates. This carried on for Windows 11 until Microsoft's recent event when it announced a bunch of features, such as tabs in File Explorer.

Four months into 2022, we've already seen two major updates. Normally, these would have arrived six months apart, usually named '2H22' to help reference the major update for that time.

There's been constant speculation on a big update to Windows 11 called Sun Valley 2. All these current updates, however, make us wonder if we should still expect a major update with a codename for Windows, or if “Sun Valley” is now irrelevant.

Sunset for the Valley

Back in the days of Windows XP and Windows Vista, major updates would be called 'Service Pack', with new features and a collection of bug fixes that would arrive a couple of years after the original Windows release, and that would be it.

However, the way we use PCs in recent years has prompted Microsoft, and other companies, to refine their software over time, often in response to customer feedback, and also to make some features more prevalent than they once were.

Microsoft had been following a six-month timeline for major updates in Windows 10, and then a yearly schedule for Windows 11. But it's telling that we're already seeing rumored features for Sun Valley 2 already arrive now.

Tabs in File Explorer

(Image credit: Microsoft)

While we've reached out to the company to see whether the timeline of major updates has changed, it already looks to be happening. If you were waiting for a significant update to arrive, it's most likely coming in a smaller update in the coming weeks or months, instead.

It's a method that would be great for Apple to follow, as well. The era of yearly updates on macOS from WWDC has little meaning for anyone. Having a constant stream of minor updates could help users gain new features while keeping developers in the loop of what's coming up.

More incremental updates that are larger than the bug and relatively minor changes Apple delivers throughout the year could help Apple developers more effectively adapt their apps to these updates, as well. Otherwise, they're left scrambling to ready major changes in time for the typical September releases of the new macOS or iOS versions.

Such a change would be a good thing for Apple fans. On the Windows side, it's an adjustment in perspective. Sun Valley 2 has no meaning anymore – the new Windows 11 updates are either here already, or they're already in the Windows Insider program, which allows you to test features under development that may arrive in an official capacity.

It looks to be a new standard for Microsoft and Windows 11 as a whole, and we're all for it. Your move Apple.

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Google Chat is starting to look even more like Slack

Keeping in touch with your colleagues around the world could soon be a lot easier thanks to a new update to Google Chat.

The online collaboration service is now allowing users to create group chats (known as Spaces) within Google Chat that you can then share with others in your organization.

Much like Slack, once a new custom Spaces group has been created, you'll be able to share it with whoever you choose, with participants able to join by clicking on a custom link. 

Google Chat or Slack?

“With this launch, Spaces are no longer restricted to only people added to the conversation,” Google said in a Workspace blog post announcing the news.

The company says the update will be particularly useful for creating and sharing “topic-based conversations” within your business, such as team discussions, how-to guides and mentoring opportunities. 

Google Chat spaces share

(Image credit: Google Workspace)

The change could also help leaders or admins share organizational and policy updates, or gather together a particularly interested or skilled group, such as when investigating an outage. Or, it could be great for just finding those with similar interests to yourself, allowing for custom groups to celebrate anything from sports to cooking.

Spaces will only be able to be shared with those inside your organization, and will have to be entirely new groups created from this date forward.

The feature is available and rolling out now to all Google Workspace customers, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers.

The news is the latest change to Google Chat to bring it more in line with some of its rivals, offering tools such as in-line replies and native content search, bringing Google Chat closer in line with services like Slack and Teams.

Google Chat officially replaced Google Hangouts earlier this year, with all enterprise and business users on “Classic Hangouts” having been upgraded to the new service by March 22, 2022.

The company says the move will ensure all Google Workspace customers are using the same platform, with anyone trying to access Hangouts being redirected across to Google Chat.

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Wix and Amazon team up to make online delivery even faster

Top website builder Wix has upgraded its SaaS platform with the integration of Amazon’s Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) for ecommerce merchants to deliver orders within one to two days.

Using Amazon’s order fulfillment services, the redeveloped platform will now allow Wix ecommerce merchants in the US to download the Amazon MCF app to their Wix store and hopefully lower fulfilment costs.

Wix merchants will also be able to automatically see shipping speed options and real-time delivery dates from Amazon.

Wix Multi-Channel Fulfillment 

Wix says the integration has also been introduced to reduce the complexities ecommerce website owners face fulfilling orders on their own.

“We’re constantly improving our platform to accommodate rising needs of business owners and to help them increase their Gross Payment Volume (GPV),” said Arik Perez, Head of Wix ecommerce.

“Today, seamless shipping and delivery are essential for businesses to succeed. In partnering with Amazon MCF, Wix merchants can be assured that top-of-the-line packing, handling and fast shipping is at their fingertips, which ultimately boosts the potential growth of their business.” 

Some of the other key benefits for Wix ecommerce merchants using the Amazon MCF app include fulfilling orders 24/7 with fast shipping, leveraging Amazon MCF’s fulfillment network with over 200 fulfillment centers and automatic inventory placement.

“We’re continually listening to merchants and working backwards from their needs to develop solutions that help them delight more customers,” said Gopal Pillai, Vice President of Amazon Fulfillment and Distribution Solutions.

“The new Multi-Channel Fulfillment app easily integrates with Wix stores to help merchants make critical improvements to their customer experience, such as providing shoppers accurate delivery dates at checkout, automatic tracking emails, and on-time, low-cost delivery.

“With Multi-Channel Fulfillment, we make fulfilment so easy and seamless that merchants can focus more time on the growth and success of their business.”

Available now, the integration with Amazon’s MCF network will mean that Wix merchants will pay for fulfilment and storage, but not for commitment or app installation.

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Wix and Amazon team up to make online delivery even faster

Top website builder Wix has upgraded its SaaS platform with the integration of Amazon’s Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) for ecommerce merchants to deliver orders within one to two days.

Using Amazon’s order fulfillment services, the redeveloped platform will now allow Wix ecommerce merchants in the US to download the Amazon MCF app to their Wix store and hopefully lower fulfilment costs.

Wix merchants will also be able to automatically see shipping speed options and real-time delivery dates from Amazon.

Wix Multi-Channel Fulfillment 

Wix says the integration has also been introduced to reduce the complexities ecommerce website owners face fulfilling orders on their own.

“We’re constantly improving our platform to accommodate rising needs of business owners and to help them increase their Gross Payment Volume (GPV),” said Arik Perez, Head of Wix ecommerce.

“Today, seamless shipping and delivery are essential for businesses to succeed. In partnering with Amazon MCF, Wix merchants can be assured that top-of-the-line packing, handling and fast shipping is at their fingertips, which ultimately boosts the potential growth of their business.” 

Some of the other key benefits for Wix ecommerce merchants using the Amazon MCF app include fulfilling orders 24/7 with fast shipping, leveraging Amazon MCF’s fulfillment network with over 200 fulfillment centers and automatic inventory placement.

“We’re continually listening to merchants and working backwards from their needs to develop solutions that help them delight more customers,” said Gopal Pillai, Vice President of Amazon Fulfillment and Distribution Solutions.

“The new Multi-Channel Fulfillment app easily integrates with Wix stores to help merchants make critical improvements to their customer experience, such as providing shoppers accurate delivery dates at checkout, automatic tracking emails, and on-time, low-cost delivery.

“With Multi-Channel Fulfillment, we make fulfilment so easy and seamless that merchants can focus more time on the growth and success of their business.”

Available now, the integration with Amazon’s MCF network will mean that Wix merchants will pay for fulfilment and storage, but not for commitment or app installation.

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Google Sheets are about to become even more chaotic and unwieldy

A new era of gargantuan Google Sheets could be coming thanks to a new change made by the company.

In a Google Workspace update blog, the company revealed that it was increasing the cell limit in its spreadsheet software from up to five million cells to up to ten million cells.

The new limit isn't just for newly-created files either, with Google noting that it will also be available for existing and imported files, meaning you can expand to your heart's content. 

Giant Google Sheets

“Over the course of the last four years, we’ve been steadily increasing the cell limit in Google Sheets: from 2 million to 5 million in 2019 and now to 10 million,” the blog post read. “We hope this and future increases give users the ability to work with their data on a much greater scale in Google Sheets.”

The update is rolling out now to all users, and won't require any special admin control or action to activate. It's available to all Google Workspace customers, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers.

The feature is the latest in a series of recent updates to Google Sheets as it looks to boost its offerings for hybrid workers.

This includes the recent addition of intelligent formula suggestions based on the data in question and the user’s initial input, taking much of the heavy lifting out of complex formulae.

The software itself also recently saw a cosmetic overhaul to make Google Sheets better for users with smaller screens. The changes saw the menu bar, as well as the right-click menu shortened to better fit on a smaller screen, and to prevent menu items from being hidden off-screen.

Some features were also reorganized and moved to “more intuitive” locations. For example, freezing a row or a column can now be done directly from the right-click menu. Menu items also received new icons, while the descriptions of some items in the menu are shorter.

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Microsoft Teams might even help you find a new job now

Hunting for jobs in today's crowded market could soon get a lot easier thanks to a new Microsoft Teams update.

The video conferencing service will be adding local job market trends to its Career Coach Microsoft Teams app, letting users find out what opportunities are on offer from employers near them.

The trends will come directly from LinkedIn, with the Microsoft-owned social media network providing the latest information for job hunters everywhere.

Microsoft Teams Career Coach

According to the official entry on the Microsoft 365 roadmap, the update is still in development, but should be rolling out to Teams users across the world before the end of February 2022.

The tool will be available to faculty and staff license holders alike, presumably meaning that the target for the update will be university and college-level students.

Career Coach already looks to assist students in identifying career goals aligned with their passions, interests, and strengths, as well as allowing them to make connections with alumni, peers, and faculty who can support them on their career path.

The news is the latest in a long series of updates and upgrades for Microsoft Teams as the company looks to ensure it is as useful for users as possible.

In a similar vein to today's news, Microsoft recently revealed that it is working on a new feature that will allow LinkedIn profiles to be displayed in Teams.

The information will be displayed in personal chats, meaning colleagues can find out more about their co-workers, for example when planning for a project or looking to help with onboarding.

Microsoft Teams continues to go from strength to strength, with the latest figures from the company showing that the service now boasts over 270 million monthly active users (MAUs).

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Office and Microsoft Teams are getting even closer

Using Microsoft Teams apps will soon be possible across Office.com and the Office app for Windows as the company looks to widen the reach of its video conferencing service even further.

A new entry in the Microsoft 365 roadmap notes that users will soon be able to add apps built for Microsoft Teams to both Office platforms.

This should help improve the user experience for Teams customers around the globe, meaning there's now no need to switch between platforms in order to use specific apps.

Microsoft Teams Office

The roadmap entry notes how the feature could be a key selling point for many Office users frustrated by the current constant switching process.

“Users will be able to acquire and use these updated Teams apps (with personal tabs) without leaving Office.com and Office app for Windows,” the entry notes.

Microsoft Teams offers a wide variety of apps for users looking to enrich their video calling and collaboration experience, with options such as task management, polls and even mindfulness and good behavior tools available.

The update is available in preview now for certain Microsoft Insider users as the company looks to test the software and iron out any kinks. A wider global release is currently set for December 2022 across all web and desktop Office users across the world.

Microsoft Teams has enjoyed a rolling schedule of updates and upgrades in recent months as the company looks to ensure its platform remains on top of its game.

This most recently includes the ability to control calls using Bluetooth devicescombine work and business accounts and access screen-sharing controls across all clients.

Microsoft Teams continues to go from strength to strength, with the latest figures from the company showing that the service now boasts over 270 million monthly active users (MAUs).

Recent data collected by software firm StarLeaf found almost all (97%) businesses say that tools such as Zoom, Webex and Teams are now essential to their operations.

More than half (57%) of the 2,000 UK-based respondents claim their company would not be able to operate for more than an hour without access to their communications tools, while 27% admitted they would struggle to function for even 30 minutes.

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WhatsApp for Windows 11 is making emoji even easier to use

It would be fair to say that it is the mobile versions of WhatsApp that tend to get the most love and receive new and exciting features fastest. But that is not to say that the web and desktop versions are ignored; far from it.

An excellent case in point in the brand-new update that's currently rolling out to users of the Windows 11 and Windows 10 version of WhatsApp who are signed up to take part in the beta program, and introduces exciting new emoji-related features.

At the moment, you will be familiar with the process of inserting emoji in your message by making use of the emoji picker. This is somewhat different to when you're using WhatsApp on your mobile, where you can switch to an emoji keyboard and also easily access frequently used emoji.

But with this latest update, there is a new option at your disposal: emoji shortcuts. This is very much what it sound like – a quick and easy way to insert emoji that should enable you to compose messages faster than ever. And for anyone who is a touch typist, it will come as a real boon.

Accelerated emoji insertion

The shortcut works when you type a colon followed by a few letters. For instance, type: hello, and a pop-up emoji selection bar will give you the option of quickly selecting the waving hand emoji to insert. As with all forms of auto-complete/text suggestion, you do not have to type a full emoji name in order for it to appear; as soon as you type the letter h, WhatsApp will show you the matching emoji it thinks you might want to use.

If all of this sound familiar, it could well be because you have used the web version of WhatsApp where the feature has been available for a while already. The arrival of this feature in the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app helps to bring about platform democracy, and reduces the number of differences you'll see when switching between WhatsApp on different platforms.

To enjoy the new feature, you need to be taking part in the WhatsApp beta testing program, and also ensure that you are fully update. Make sure that you have version 2.2206.1.0 of the Universal Windows Platform app installed, and you should be good to go!

Via WABetaInfo

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Windows 11 Settings app to get even better with Sun Valley 2

Microsoft continues to improve parts of Windows 11 in the run-up to its first major update, with the Settings app gaining new icons, a more colorful look, and the handy Storage Spaces tool moving over to the app.

Since the release of Windows 11 in June 2021, we’ve seen plenty of refinements that have modernized iconic apps such as Paint and the return of Windows Media Player.

After the  launch of Windows 98, Control Panel became the go-to in finding the right settings for your PC, whether it was for changing the display resolution or checking user accounts. However, Microsoft has recently focused on replacing Control Panel with the Settings app, first introduced in Windows 10.

While Storage Spaces is moving over to Settings, the move from Windows 10 to 11 has seen colorful icons to better showcase which options are available, alongside rows in each section that better explain how you can use the accessibility options for example.

But with more updates coming to the app, it gives the impression that Settings is almost ready for Sun Valley 2, the next major update for Windows 11.


Analysis: Making life easier in Windows 11

Microsoft appears to be aware that parts of Windows are starting to show their age, such as Task Manager and user interface elements in Explorer. There’s been a renewed effort to redesign apps to better fit in with Windows 11’s new look, as well as introducing and improving tools to help you better manage your workflow, thanks to the newly-renamed Focus feature, previously called Focus Assist.

Changing settings on a Windows PC has always been confusing for some people. Back in the days of using Windows XP to Windows 10, you would click on the Control Panel app in My Computer or My PC, and be greeted with loads of icons, not knowing where to go for your query.

Windows Control Panel

(Image credit: Future)

But Settings is already a step in the right direction, and the coming improvements in Sun Valley 2 look to go further. This is the first major update to Windows 11, similar to the six-month updates that would appear with Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft is aiming for a big yearly release with Windows 11, showcasing a better Task Manager, better controls for the taskbar, and much more.

Small touches such as splashes of color, refreshed icons for the sidebar, and more prominent descriptions of the settings you’ve selected to manage will be a big help for everyone, and this also gives the app plenty of room for more settings to move over from the Control Panel app in the future.

While we’re also going to see stickers to place on your wallpaper for some reason, all of these refinements are a step in the right direction. With Sun Valley 2 tentatively scheduled for the second half of 2022, we may still see more improvements to existing apps and Settings in the coming weeks and months.

Via WindowsLatest

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