March 27 Latest Microsoft News: Cloud services price hike, Israel layoff, Windows 12 rumors, more

March 27, 2023

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Here are all the latest news and stories about Microsoft and its products and services.

Microsoft Cloud services price hike

Starting April 1, organizations in Europe will experience price increases in the Microsoft Cloud services they are using.

“The Microsoft Cloud continues to be priced competitively, and Microsoft remains deeply committed to the success of its customers and partners,” Microsoft said. “We will continue to invest to enable customers to innovate, consolidate and eliminate operating costs, optimize business performance and efficiency and provide the foundation for a strong security strategy that customers around the world have come to rely on.”

The hike differs per country, but it is expected to hit up to 15%. Customers that are affected by this include those in Denmark, Norway, and countries in the Eurozone. The United Kingdom, meanwhile, will receive a 9% hike. According to Microsoft, it will review the US dollar exchange rate and the local currency pricing twice a year in the future to determine the pricing adjustments that should be made for its cloud services.

Layoffs in Microsoft Israel

As part of its global layoff affecting 10,000 employees, Microsoft is expected to axe some workers in Israel. According to Business Insider (via Calcalist), this layoff will affect the cyber team in Israel’s R&D Center. The place currently has 2,700 people, with half of them working as part of the cybersecurity team. According to the report, the software giant plans to eliminate around 10% of the said workforce, resulting in hundreds of job cuts.

UK watchdog partially has a change of heart over Activision merger

After months of expressing solid doubt over Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion merger, UK’s Competition and Markets Authority recently dropped one of its main concerns. On Friday, the watchdog finally agreed to the explanations Microsoft has repeatedly been stating about the irrationality of removing Call of Duty from PlayStation.

The CMA has received a significant amount of new evidence in response to its original provisional findings. Having considered this new evidence carefully, together with the wide range of information gathered before those provisional findings were issued, the CMA inquiry group has updated its provisional findings and reached the provisional conclusion that, overall, the transaction will not result in a substantial lessening of competition in relation to console gaming in the UK.

Despite this, the CMA continues to express concerns about other areas of the merger, such as its effects on cloud gaming.

“Our provisional view that this deal raises concerns in the cloud gaming market is not affected by today’s announcement,” the CMA said. “Our investigation remains on course for completion by the end of April.”

After this news, Activision Blizzard’s share surged on Friday.

Rumored Windows 12 requirements

Recently, reports about Meteor Lake-S desktop chipset supporting the rumored Windows 12, AKA “Next Valley,” made more people believe that Microsoft is already making huge progress in its development. After this, German Windows news outlet Deskmodder (via Neowin) claimed that the requirement for RAM could increase to 8 GB in Windows 12, while the TPM 2.0 requirement would stay.

Microsoft clarifies Arkane dev’s PS5 Redfall comment

Arkane creative director Harvey Smith recently shared in an interview that Microsoft’s acquisition of Zenimax “was a change with capital C” and that the team was told,”‘No PlayStation 5, we’re focusing on Xbox, PC and Game Pass.'” This led to speculations that the Redmond company scrapped the original plan for a PlayStation version of Redfall.

The news came as Microsoft continues to convince different regulators about its proposed megadeal merger, with some concerns focusing on possible foreclosure strategies Microsoft might do when the deal closes. With this, the software giant addressed it and made clarifications, though it didn’t directly stress whether there was indeed a PlayStation version of Redfall. In a statement to Eurogamer, the company said:

We haven’t pulled any games from PlayStation. In fact, we’ve expanded our footprint of games that we’ve shipped on Sony’s PlayStation since our acquisition of ZeniMax, and the first two games we shipped after closing were PlayStation 5 exclusives. We did the same thing since our closing of Minecraft as we extended the reach of that franchise.

All of the games that were available on PlayStation when we acquired ZeniMax in March 2021 are still available on PlayStation, and we have continued to do content updates on PlayStation and PC. We have always said that future decisions on whether to distribute ZeniMax games for other consoles will be made on a case-by-case basis.

New games coming to Xbox

Here are the new games coming to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows, and Game Pass this week.

Runbeam Galactic – March 27 (Optimized for Xbox Series X|S / Smart Delivery)

Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator – March 28 (Optimized for Xbox Series X|S / Smart Delivery)

Kingdom Rush Frontiers – March 28 (Xbox Play Anywhere)

MLB The Show 23 – March 28 (Optimized for Xbox Series X|S / Xbox Game Pass, Available on day one with Game Pass)

Sifu – March 28 (Optimized for Xbox Series X|S / Smart Delivery)

Dredge – March 29 (Optimized for Xbox Series X|S / Smart Delivery)

Lunark – March 29 (Optimized for Xbox Series X|S / Smart Delivery)

Palindrome Syndrome – March 29 (Optimized for Xbox Series X|S / Smart Delivery)

Saga of Sins – March 29 (Optimized for Xbox Series X|S)

Tales of the Neon Sea – March 29

Aery: Calm Mind 3 – March 30

Formula Retro Racing: World Tour – March 30

Guns N’ Runs – March 30

Infinite Guitars – March 30 (Xbox Game Pass, Available on day one with Game Pass)

The Last Worker – March 30 (Optimized for Xbox Series X|S)

Rally Rock’ N Racing – March 30 (Optimized for Xbox Series X|S / Smart Delivery / Xbox Play Anywhere)

Automatic bullet formatting in PowerPoint for the web

Microsoft finally brought automatic formatting for bulleted lists to PowerPoint for the web. In a recent post to Microsoft 365 Insiders, the company said it should now be available to all users of PowerPoint for the web. 

“Previously, you had to set up a bulleted list: switch to the ribbon, choose the type of bullet you wanted, and then select the desired bullet icon style,” said Lakshay Gupta, a Product Manager on the PowerPoint for the web team. “Now you can create bulleted lists without having to lift your fingers off the keyboard or break your editing flow.”

Xbox Game Pass $1 trial offer is no longer available

Microsoft stopped offering its $1 trial for Xbox Game Pass. The company confirmed this but said it is “evaluating different marketing promotions for new members in the future.” It is unknown what future promotions Microsoft would offer in place of the removed $1 trial, but the move is expected to boost the image of its Game Pass Friends & Family subscription plan, which, although still unavailable in the US and UK, is much cheaper than Xbox’s individual subscription offerings. 

20/200 Bing Chat limit

Microsoft said it conducted a test last weekend, which aimed at further increasing the chat limit of Bing. Now, the updated Bing Chat shows 20 chats per session. According to Michael Schechter, Vice President of Microsoft Bing’s Growth and Distribution team, the test also bumped the daily chat limit of Bing to 200.

Microsoft warns companies violating Bing search index contract

Microsoft reportedly warns two companies using Bing’s search data for their AI chat products. According to a report from Bloomberg, these companies violate the search index contract terms. Microsoft warned that it could terminate the licenses of these companies, which could soon end their access to the Bing search index. Though not named, the report shared three companies currently relying on Bing, including DuckDuckGo (DuckAssist), (YouChat), and Neeva (NeevaAI).

Updated Windows 10 Snip & Sketch and Windows 11 Snipping Tool

Microsoft addressed the Acropalypse flaw in its two tools recently by updating them. Now available on Microsoft Store, Windows 10 Snip & Sketch and Windows 11 Snipping Tool are now at version 11.2302.20.0 and version 10.2008.3001.0, respectively. The issue allows the tools to keep the data of the removed parts of cropped features instead of completely removing them after overwriting the original file. However, Microsoft considers it a low-severity vulnerability due to the specific conditions that must be met.

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