How did Microsoft experience 2022? The company has made some big moves this year, including a massive acquisition of close to $70 billion – which sparked controversy – and also brought the first major feature update to Windows 11. software, hardware and gaming fronts over the past year.
Windows 11 major update (and bad updates)
Windows 11 is still relatively new since it was released in late 2021, and the biggest thing to happen to the operating system this year was the release of its first major update. (Note that there will only be one feature update per year now, not twice a year as in the past). Windows 11 2022 Update (known unofficially as 22H2) came out in September, applying a lot of polish along with some important and useful changes to the interface. We’re also interested in a new ‘Moments’ system, which is fancy Microsoft jargon for smaller updates that are implemented more agilely when needed outside of the big annual feature upgrade.
Some of the notable improvements included the introduction of tabs for File Explorer, which allowed multiple folders to be opened in a File Explorer window, just as there are multiple tabs in a browser. This represented the delivery of a long-promised feature from Microsoft. The taskbar has also received a lot of attention with the introduction of a taskbar overflow panel, and after much fuss from many Windows 11 users, drag and drop functionality is finally back to the taskbar.
Indeed, Microsoft listening more to feedback and user needs seems to be the theme of the year, there has been a lot of complaints about another aspect of the taskbar – removing the option to ungroup apps from the bar, a piece of functionality in Windows 10 – it looks like it will be fixed. Or at least this facility was present in testing with Windows 11, and it should be here soon for those who don’t want multiple instances of the same app popping up on the taskbar.
Windows 11 still felt like a work in progress, as Microsoft needed to do a lot of sharpening and refreshing to better shape various parts of the interface (and clean up cluttered old corners of the UI), as well as create annoying bugs. It was still a problem.
Throughout the year 2022, we reported a large number of glitches and some of them bad enough, although there were no barriers to Windows 11 bugs (as seen in Windows 10 in the past). For example, printers that have lost most of their functionality, as well as gremlins and gamers who have lowered performance levels in various ways, have come under fire for some seriously annoying bugs. Flaws in File Explorer also seemed particularly common, which is a concern given that it’s a pillar of the UI (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, of course, bought a new PC with it installed). According to Statcounter’s figures (the latest number available at the time of this writing, as of November 2022), 16% of all Windows users are using Windows 11. Windows 7 has almost 10% of the market. In other words, a completely outdated operating system is not far behind.
Also, one year after its reign as the cutting-edge operating system for Microsoft, Windows 10 achieved nearly 30% adoption, almost twice what Windows 11 achieved. However, Windows 11 was a bit of a hindrance because some people can’t upgrade because their PCs don’t meet the stricter requirements (especially on the security front), so Microsoft will have expected the transition to be slower while baking these items. to the design of the operating system.
Overall, Windows 11 has made reasonable progress in implementing major interface changes, but we think with a belated overhaul to Microsoft’s QA processes, we would like to see more progress and a better effort especially in tackling bugs.
Just like in other years, a number of refreshed Surface devices have surfaced.
Back in June we got our first look at the Surface Laptop Go 2, which isn’t much different from the original laptop, but has made some useful improvements and remains an excellent choice for a compact laptop.
Then in October, we saw the Surface Pro 9 and Surface Laptop 5 reveal alongside the Surface Studio 2+ at a major Microsoft event.
This wasn’t the best Surface hardware product for Microsoft, unfortunately. For starters, the Surface Laptop 5 failed to surprise us and turned out to be spectacularly middle of the road. It’s not terrible, but it’s hampered by performance issues and it’s definitely not worth the high price pinned to the laptop.
The Surface Pro 9 turned out to be a better device, with some commendable strides from the Pro 8. The Intel processor version, the former is a great option for some (e.g. business people on the go), but ARM-related gremlins are in the works. The Pro 9 remained expensive, but overall it’s an undeniably slick device and a good upgrade over its predecessor in terms of performance.
The Surface Studio 2+ has only received a minor upgrade from the 2+ (instead of 3), but Microsoft has implemented some drastic changes, if nothing particularly exciting. That sums up what’s happening on the Surface front in general: nothing bad by any means – certainly not with the Surface Pro 9 – but not great either.
game for one purchase
In January, Microsoft took action to acquire game giant Activision Blizzard in a massive acquisition close to $70 billion. Yep, that’s Activision – which has series like Call of Duty, Diablo, Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and many other big-name games in its barn.
The size of this deal cannot be underestimated, meaning future Xbox Game Pass owners can get the next Call of Duty blockbuster for free as part of that subscription (whereas PlayStation fans will have to save up cash, and we’re all familiar with the teary prices of games these days).
In fact, the volatility of this deal is still going on right now, as at the time of this writing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit to block Microsoft’s acquisition on the grounds that it could suppress Microsoft’s Xbox console rivals.
Naturally, Microsoft has given us a lot of reassurances about how it won’t uncompetitively shed its weight after snatching Activision, but there are plenty of doubts and the FTC points to Microsoft’s past history and ZeniMax’s (Bethesda) acquisition. In this case, while promises are made from rival consoles that the games will not be stopped, the FTC observes that games such as Starfield, Redfall and Elder Scrolls 6 have been made exclusive to Xbox after the acquisition.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision could potentially still be a cropper in recent hurdles.
Advertising museum – but with a glimmer of something positive?
While you might expect to see advertisements in a web browser, you wouldn’t in your operating system. Because, you know, when it comes to Windows, you paid good money for that OS (or good money for the machine it came from, and that was part of the bill).
However, ads in Windows menus or panels became a concern again in 2022, as Microsoft tested – and remember, these were only experiments that didn’t come to the release version of Windows 11 – OneDrive ads in the user session (shutdown) menu. And even more frustrating, the company also briefly flirted with ads in File Explorer, a pillar of the Windows interface. Even those waters tested really a concern.
All of this might make you think that ads are going to be a scourge for Windows 11 users in the future – this is nothing new of course, especially given Microsoft’s past form – but instead, another possibility has emerged as of late. year.
That is, the idea that Microsoft might turn to low-cost PCs that are sold by subscription, relying on cloud services, and supported by ads (to make them cheaper—so in this case, it would be a benefit). This was just a rumor, acquired (in November) through a Microsoft job listing, but earlier this year in July, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talked about adding ads to their products.
There were obvious groans at this possibility, but as we’ve observed, in a cost-of-living crisis where not everyone can afford to buy a new PC, this could be a good thing to make Windows computers more accessible to those in distress. With money.
Mind in the air
Speaking of cloud services linked to cheap ad-supported computers, this is an area where Microsoft is going to get stronger in 2022. Cloud revenue has been strong since the start of the year, followed by Microsoft’s Q1 2023 financial results in October. While the Windows division faltered – and indeed fell 15% this year, in part due to a drop in PC sales – it showed cloud revenue increased 24% compared to the same quarter of 2021.
If you have any doubts about where the future lies to bloat the software giant’s coffers, Microsoft made $25.7 billion in just one quarter — more than half of its total revenue for the period.
With the PC crash, it wasn’t the best year for Microsoft – but cloud revenue clearly stood out, and judging from these various experiments with advertising in Windows 11, the company may have plans to increase profits in a different way in the future. low-cost ad-supported systems.
2022 has been a pretty mundane year for Surface hardware, despite some solid upgrades for some devices. And Windows 11 was essentially a similar situation where some reasonable progress was made, despite the thorny edges in the form of bugs. However, a standout feature with Windows 11 was seeing Microsoft listen more to user feedback, but arguably, some promotions based on popular demand needed to be handled more quickly.
This huge Activision Blizzard acquisition remains something to watch, as it will have potentially huge ramifications for the gaming industry next year if it continues; but it still feels like there is a possibility of derailment.