Top 10 Articles of 2020

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It’s that time of the year, so here’s a quick rundown of the top 10 articles on that were written in 2020 based on engagement. Drum roll, please…

1. Microsoft Releases Windows File Recovery Tool

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By Paul Thurrott

“Microsoft has quietly released a new utility called Windows File Recovery for Windows 10 version 2004 or newer. But here’s the thing: Windows File Recovery is a command-line application. And it’s only available from the Microsoft Store.”

Yep. This was the most popular article on this year, and by a fairly wide margin. No, I can’t explain that.

2. Tip: Install Windows 10 Version 20H2 Right Now

By Paul Thurrott

“Now that Microsoft has finalized Windows 10 version 20H2 you can easily install it ahead of its general release to the public. Doing so is mostly non-problematic: Windows 10 version 20H2 is a minor upgrade over its predecessor with no major new features, and if you already installed that version of Windows, you can be done with this entire process in under 20 minutes.”

This makes a bit more sense to me: This is a great albeit time-limited tip—it was posted before the general release of Windows 10 version 20H2—and there was little reason to fear any negative side effects.

3. What’s the Xbox Series X Mystery Port? It’s for Expandable Storage

By Brad Sams

“A few weeks back, we got our first look at the backside of the Xbox series X. At that time, I believed the long-rectangular port between the HDMI and digital audio port was for diagnostics and I was incorrect. That port is for storage expansion, according to people familiar with the company’s plans, and offers the series X a work-around as games continue to expand in size.”

This is obviously better understood today, but this post is from February, over 10 months before the Xbox Series X was released.

4. Xbox Series S, Revealed

By Brad Sams

“We knew it was coming since 2018 but now we have our first look at the unannounced hardware. The Xbox Series S is expected to be announced sometime soon but this is your first look at the hardware.”

This one is particularly interesting because Brad had been writing about a second next-generation Xbox console for years and he got a lot of crap for it. On more than one occasion, I asked Brad if it was OK for me to lash out at these idiots, but he asked me to remain silent. Let’s just say that being right was probably the best comeback.

5. Google Offers a Free Android/Kotlin Developer Class for Beginners

By Paul Thurrott

“Google today announced a free new online course for people without programming experience to learn Android app development with Kotlin. Android Basics in Kotlin is a five-unit course in which you will learn the basics of building Android apps with the Kotlin programming language and develop a collection of simple apps to start your journey as an Android developer, Google says.”

As the patron saint of developer topics on, I’m happy to see this kind of a tip land so highly on the list. This was a great year for learning new skills.

6. Xbox Series X Hardware Shows Up Early

By Brad Sams

“The images [of the Xbox Series X] are authentic of the hardware, meaning this is not a fancy 3D printed model. And as I reported, the back of the hardware contains an optical audio port, two USB A ports, ethernet, power and a single HDMI port.”

This is the post referenced by Brad in the #3 story above. Brad spent much of the preceding year breaking news stories about the new Xbox consoles.

7. Microsoft Plots the End of Visual Basic

By Paul Thurrott

“Microsoft said this week that it will support Visual Basic on .NET 5.0 but will no longer add new features or evolve the language. What this means to VB developers is that they might be able to bring their existing codebases forward to .NET Core or, soon, to .NET 5.0, which will replace both the traditional .NET and the open-source and cross-platform .NET Core when it’s released in late 2020.”

This was a controversial one and it got me in a bit of hot water with Microsoft’s developer teams, since this is not the way they wanted to see this story communicated. I get it, but I feel like my take on Visual Basic is more accurate than the marketing spin.

8. Microsoft’s Updating Xbox Game Pass Branding

By Brad Sams

“For the past few weeks, we have seen a few changes to Xbox Live and now we can add Xbox Game Pass to the equation. Microsoft is rebranding Xbox Game Pass to simply Game Pass. This move distances the companies Game Pass subscription from being explicitly tied to its gaming console.

Though Microsoft did change the logos, it later said that the branding would not change. ““Xbox recently revealed a redesigned logo for Xbox Game Pass. While the logo is new, there have been no changes to the name of the service, it remains Xbox Game Pass,” it said.

9. Microsoft Teams Now Shows 9 People in Participant View

By Mehedi Hassan

“As you may know, Microsoft Teams used to only show 4 people in a call, but that’s obviously not enough. Today, Microsoft announced it’s increasing the number of participants shown in a call to 9, which should be a welcome upgrade.”

2020 was, among other things, the year that Teams exploded, not just in the number of users, but in the number of new features. This feels like it was just one of over 1,000 new features added to Teams this past year.

10. What’s New in Windows 10 Version 2004

By Paul Thurrott

“Version 2004, as it turns out, is a fairly minor release, and while it will still be delivered as a traditional—meaning potentially disruptive—feature update, and not as a cumulative update as was version 1909, it has much more in common with that latter release than it does with previous Windows 10 feature packs. Here are the new features and other changes that stick out most to me.”

This is kind of a bread-and-butter post for me, so it’s nice to see it making the list. Also, for all the terribleness of 2020, the two new Windows 10 versions, versions 2004 and 20H2, were not horribly disruptive from a new features perspective. And for that I’m grateful.

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Conversation 14 comments

  • ggolcher

    Premium Member
    29 December, 2020 - 3:14 pm

    <p>Hi Paul!</p><p><br></p><p>I'd love to ask if there were any posts of yours that you expected to be on the list and weren't.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      30 December, 2020 - 8:52 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#603799">In reply to ggolcher:</a></em></blockquote><p>These things often confuse me. But I don't have any articles in my mind that deserve to be on the list or whatever. I'm going through all of the posts from 2020 manually to pick out my own favorites or maybe favorite trends. It's kind of a slog.</p>

  • djross95

    Premium Member
    29 December, 2020 - 3:21 pm

    <p>File Recovery Tool piece #1? Wow, I never would have guessed that! </p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      30 December, 2020 - 8:51 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#603801">In reply to djross95:</a></em></blockquote><p>We were all confused by this.</p>

    • red.radar

      Premium Member
      31 December, 2020 - 8:55 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#603801">In reply to djross95:</a></em></blockquote><p>Perhaps the article title is close to a popular search term? I could see panicked people looking for any and all information to Undelete a file … only a guess </p>

  • Brad Sams

    Premium Member
    29 December, 2020 - 3:25 pm

    <p>I demand a recount! #4 crashed the site…we missed out on a lot of traffic lol</p>

    • SRLRacing

      29 December, 2020 - 5:14 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#603802">In reply to brad-sams:</a></em></blockquote><blockquote>There is obvious fraud happening here. Thurrott brought Mehedi in to sabotage the Sams Party's chances. </blockquote>

    • chrishilton1

      Premium Member
      30 December, 2020 - 5:51 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#603802">In reply to brad-sams:</a></em></blockquote><p>Voter fraud, story of the year. Engage the legal team. Who decides the outcome? All the networks! </p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      30 December, 2020 - 8:49 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#603802">In reply to brad-sams:</a></em></blockquote><p>Yes, this election was stolen. #fakenews</p>

  • pecosbob04

    29 December, 2020 - 3:35 pm

    <p>“Based on engagement” how do you define engagement? Apparently not via comment count.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      30 December, 2020 - 8:50 am

      <blockquote><a href="#603803"><em>In reply to pecosbob04:</em></a></blockquote><p>Pages views, comments, and average time spent reading.</p>

  • JimP

    30 December, 2020 - 9:04 am

    <p>That's hilarious that the top article is about a command line tool only available in the Windows Store.</p>

  • nbplopes

    31 December, 2020 - 4:40 am

    <p>Happy new year to all. May 2021 bring to all growth, prosperity and friendships in all areas of life.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      31 December, 2020 - 8:28 am

      Thanks! To you as well.

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