Here's the summarised changelog (for v188.8.131.52811) from the version of Microsoft Launcher featured in my October article:
- Settings enhancements – including a transparent theme with visual effects and full control over opacity, etc. (think Fluent Design)
- Home App Grid – now you can create a grid with up to 12 columns and 12 rows, with a maximum of 36 icons offset by a 'half' relative to each other
- On the welcome page, you can import the layout from another Android launcher or restore a Microsoft Launcher backup.
- Redesigned fonts used for apps and folder names, changed the shape and look of folders on the home screen
- The dock now supports more than 5 icons (up to 7)
- The search bar can now be placed top or bottom
- Long pressing an icon now pops up options rather than having to guess where to drop the icon
- You can now let meeting attendees know you're running late from the calendar card
- Added support for Microsoft Intune’s data protection policies and viewing corporate data
- Added compatibility for Android 8 (Oreo)
- You can now select multiple items at the same time, across different pages, via the long-press pop-up menu. Move, remove, drag and drop or even create new folders with selected icons
- You can now turn the dock off completely if you like
- Extra animations - there's a lovely explosion as you exit the application drawer
- Improvements for notifications from Line, BBM, Instagram, Yammer, Textra and WhatsApp
- Fixes to the Weather / Time widget to improve refresh times
- You can choose which contacts to display on your People card
- You can now place widgets in the dock area
- You can pin an individual contact to the home screen
Some screens of the new version in action on my test device:
Interestingly, the Microsoft Launcher for Android has now reached a million active users - tiny compared to the wider Android market and much smaller even than people still actively using Windows on phones, but it's a start. And the pace of development is fast. I wonder how long it will be before a manufacturer does a deal with Microsoft to ship this launcher with phones out of the box?
If you have an Android phone kicking around then try all this for yourself - it doesn't need a powerhouse flagship and is readily available in the Play Store. If you do download it, you might as well grab Cortana too and have a play with that, it's very functional.
Don't panic - this is just a 'for interest' item. And now back to our regular Windows content....(!)