Microsoft Translator Can Now Translate Text From Images

Isn’t it just annoying when you go away on Holiday or spot something and sit there for five minutes wondering what the text even says? Microsoft is looking to make it a little easier on us with a Translator that won’t just do text but can also translate text from images.

While it was available on the Windows Phone since 2010 and managed to provide quick and accurate translations from just looking at a menu. Now the feature is coming to Android (with iOS getting the feature back in February), giving you the ability to quickly load and understand any of the 21 languages the app supports.

The Android app is getting a few other boosters alongside the new feature, with inline translations giving you the ability to hover over text and translate to any of the 50+ online libraries while an additional 30 libraries bring the offline language count to 43 in total.

While Google’s translate app has had the feature since 2012, the fact that even more apps are getting translators built it, for both text and Skype getting to translate calls via its universal translator, it could be only a matter of time before languages online mean nothing but a setting on your PC.

Microsoft Ends Xbox 360 Production

Even we look forwards towards a potential Xbox One revision, Microsoft is turning over a page to their past. After nearly 11 years in production, Microsoft is finally ending Xbox 360 manufacturing. This means while Xbox 360s will continue to be sold and Xbox Live related services supported, once the stock runs out, that will be it for the console. Over its lifetime, the 360 sold at least 84 million units.

Like most consoles, the 360 went through a number of hardware revisions throughout the years. As we all remember, the original Xenon release ended up suffering from the infamous red ring of death. It wasn’t till 2 revisions later with the Falcon and a core die shrink that Microsoft finally got the situation under control. Since then Microsoft has continued to release upgraded versions till the most recent one in September 2014.

In concert with Xbox Live, the Xbox 360 changed the gaming landscape for consoles. In addition to allowing a unified online presence for consoles, the Xbox also ushered in easy streaming for Netflix. For now, continued support is expected till 2018 but for Microsoft’s backwards compatibility efforts may mean you can always play some retro games on the Xbox One. If you do want a 360 though, you’ll have to grab them quickly before they disappear.

Batman Arkham HD Collection Coming to Xbox One and PS4

When it comes to superhero video games, few did it as well as the Batman Arkham series, gripping fans as they explored the prison and then the city in the hopes of fighting crime in Gotham. If you enjoyed the games but miss being able to play them on your Xbox One or PS4 you may be in luck with leaked images showing the Batman Arkham HD Collection.

Leaked via an image sent by a reported GameStop employee, the images appear to show a release date of the 10th June, with preorders going live today (19th April). The collection will include both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City with “updated visuals optimised for Playstation 4 and Xbox One” while also letting you enjoy all the DLC that was previously released for both of the games.

With the last game in the Arkham series, Arkham Knight, giving you control over the Batmobile and a larger city, it didn’t take long before the technical problems scared people off of the game with many companies even offering refunds to anyone who had purchased it on PC. With the Arkham Knight being the last game made by Rocksteady for the dark hero, could this collection tide over fans while we await news about the next superhero series to grip our hearts?

Microsoft Edge to Gain Google WebM and VP9 Support

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer have long been panned as the red-headed stepchild among the various web browsers. The built-in Windows browser suffered from both a real and perceived lack of speed, features, and extension support. With Microsoft Edge, the company looks to be making sure their latest browser will keep up to date with current standards. As a result, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update will bring WebM and VP9 support to the Windows 10 browser.

VP9 is Google’s latest experiment with video codecs. After VP8 largely failed against H.264 due to patent issues and a delayed release, Google is hoping VP9 take hold. Together with Microsoft and the rest of the Alliance for Open Media, Google hopes VP9 will offer a royalty-free alternative to H.265. As 4K content hasn’t yet quite taken hold, VP9 still stands a good chance to become the industry standard. The WebM container format and Opus audio codec will also be added as well.

Unfortunately for those involved, VP9 doesn’t have widespread hardware acceleration support yet. This means devices playing back VP9 content will likely have to resort to the CPU instead of a more power efficient ASIC. For Microsoft Edge, VP9 support will be turned off by default unless hardware acceleration is detected. Even with this glaring fault, the extensive use of VP9 on YouTube may eventually sway hardware manufacturers. Let the codec wars begin!

DX12’s Bonuses Only Achievable by Dropping DX11 Says Hitman Dev

When new technology comes out it tends to take time for systems and developers to get to grips with them, with their advertised bonuses normally offered at some price, but is it too steep with Hitman’s developer saying that if you want to experience DX12’s bonuses only achievable by dropping DX11 support completely.

Hitman was released earlier this year to favourable reviews, with an entire YouTube series putting people in command of Agent 47, including the likes of the chuckle brothers. The lead developer behind the game, Jonas Meyer of IO Interactive, has not stated that if you want the 20% CPU and 50% GPU bonuses that Microsoft promise with DX12 you will have to drop DirectX 11 support entirely. Hitman, on the other hand, was more of a port from the former framework to DX12.

With games getting released more and more often with DX12 at their core, such as the remake of the classic Gears of War games, suffering from less than amazing performances the new graphical library doesn’t look to show off as much as it was advertised just yet.

When asked about another low-level API for graphics, Vulkan, Meyer responded by describing the API as a “graphics programmer’s wet dream” but stated that they don’t have any plans to add Vulkan support to Hitman.

Microsoft Starting OneDrive Downgrade Process

Microsoft was once one of the best free cloud storage providers. With OneDrive, you could get 15GB of free storage that could be doubled if you installed OneDrive on your phone as well. That is all set to come to an end in July after Microsoft announced changes late last year. In an effort to smooth the storage capacity downgrade, Microsoft has started warning users about the July 13th deadline to either buy more space or migrate enough data so you are below the new 5GB cap.

When Microsoft first starting cutting storage space, the failure to grandfather current users led to widespread and vocal protests over the changes. In the end, Microsoft relented from the public pressure and allowed current users to keep their 15/30GB of free storage provided they filled out a form requesting as such. After the whole debacle, Microsoft admitted they had rushed things and screwed up. With the early warning to users, it looks like the lesson has been learned.

With a 5GB tier, OneDrive will have the same capacity as Apple’s iCloud free tier and 3GB more than what Dropbox offers. Still, it is less than what Google, Amazon and box all offer and much lower than the 40GB glory days when OneDrive was still SkyDrive. At least we know Microsoft will take user privacy seriously. For those of you who haven’t signed up to keep your free storage, be sure to migrate your data away or buy more storage before the July 13th deadline.

Next Generation of Consoles Could See “Imminent” Launch

Consoles come in stages, from the PS2, Gamecube and Xbox to the Ps4, Wii and Xbox One, consoles are always launched around the same time leading to a large hype in people’s purchases as new games and technologies are revealed to the gaming community. According to the COO of GameStop, the new consoles could see “imminent” launch.

The statement was made during GameStop’s 2016 Investors Day, the companies Chief Operating Officer said that the company was happy to see new technologies being introduced, stating that things like virtual reality may play a big part in the next generation of consoles. Even going so far as to say that the rumoured new console could see an “imminent” launch.

This news shouldn’t be overly large, with companies like Nintendo constantly hinting at the NX while rumours were spread about the Playstation 4 getting an upgrade to run 4K content. With no word from companies regarding when or what the next consoles would officially feature, all we have is rumours and suggestions from fans and “sources”, including ones that point to upgradable versions of the Xbox consoles hardware.

With the last generation of consoles being released back in 2013 featuring the Wii U, Xbox One and PS4, gaming and technology has come a long way since then with virtual reality and 4K content becoming more than just an occasional venture, leading people to hope that the latest steps in technology will soon be released to the console gaming market.

Short URL Addresses May Be Creating Easy Paths To Spy On Your Data

We’ve all seen those huge URL’s, be it for a website or a document you have saved in the cloud, they just seem to go on and on with no sign of ever stopping. Then you spot the tiny URL they offer you instead, short and sweet with only a few letters and numbers to copy and paste before you can open your document anywhere you want. Why not use it? well for starters that small URL may be creating just as easy a path to spy on your data!

Research conducted by Martin Georgiev and Vitaly Shmatikov suggest that looking at the abbreviated “short URL’s” used by companies such as Google, Microsoft, and even bit.ly, a company dedicated to creating and sharing short URL addresses, revealed that using a simple trial and error method they were able to gain access to your cloud storage files.

In particular, Georgiev and Shmatikov were able to find and access files shared through Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive with short URLs. If this wasn’t scary enough, someone could place malicious code in the files that had write permissions enabled, allowing them to infect and spread their effect all through one of your files stored in the cloud. Estimating that around 7 percent of the accounts on OneDrive and Google Drive they scanned were vulnerable to this flaw, it’s scary, to say the least.

More worrying may be companies differing responses to be being alerted about this result, with Google doubling the character length of their short URLs, while Microsoft stated that the vulnerability “does not currently warrant an MRSC case”, while quietly removing the short link function on OneDrive so not to expose others to the problem while they no doubt investigate.

Microsoft’s ‘CaptionBot’ Adds Incorrect Captions to Your Favourite Pictures

Microsoft, as part of its new research into storytelling by artificial intelligence, has released CaptionBot, an AI designed to recognise images and add an appropriate descriptive caption. However, like its previous attempt at AI – chatbot Tay – CaptionBot isn’t entirely successful. As with Tay, though, the results are hilarious (and without any fascistic or incestuous overtones).

The accompanying academic paper, titled Visual Storytelling [PDF], describes how the Microsoft Sequential Image Narrative Dataset (SIND) applies value judgements to picture content, setting, composition, and human expression in an attempt to describe the scene. The paper adds:

“There is a significant difference, yet unexplored, between remarking that a visual scene shows “sitting in a room” – typical of most image captioning work – and that the same visual scene shows “bonding”. The latter description is grounded in the visual signal, yet it brings to bear information about social relations and emotions that can be additionally inferred in context.”

To set CaptionBot’s base level, 10,117 CC-licensed Flickr albums were ploughed through by Amazon Mechanical Turks, who assigned tradition captions to a series of pictures. An ‘average’ description of each picture was derived by the multitude of entries, and that average was reduced to an algorithm that CaptionBot could apply to fresh images in order to evaluate them.

“Captioning is about taking concrete objects and putting them together in a literal description,” Margaret Mitchell, lead researcher on the project, said in a Microsoft blog post. “What I’ve been calling visual storytelling is about inferring conceptual and abstract ideas from those concrete objects.”

Slick Fallout 4 Sports Car Added to Forza 6

When you play Fallout games and you walk past the countless charred husks of the pre-apocalypse cars, you can’t help but wish you could drive them. While it may not include being able to drift between the rubble of the wasteland, now you can, as the Chryslus Rocket ’69 is being added to Forza 6 as a playable vehicle.

The Rocket ’69 is one of the most strikingly beautiful vehicles from the Fallout series and a great example of the retro-futuristic style of the series world before it was bathed in nuclear fire. The addition of the fictional car has been a long time in the works too, with a collaboration between the Fallout and Forza series being announced all the way back in November, around the time Fallout 4 was released. The first result of the crossover was far less exciting, a rusted 1956 Ford F100 bearing a Vault Boy paint job, with the true prize of the collab, the Rocket, being stated as simply coming “soon”.

This car won’t be available for sale in-game, unfortunately, with only those who have logged time playing both Forza 6 and Fallout 4 while connected to Xbox Live being eligible to receive this fine vehicle. There may be a little longer to wait for those lucky players too, with Microsoft stating that “due to the millions of codes being sent, it can take up to seven days for codes to arrive.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YFUxFV0EP4

Chrome 50 Will Finally Drop Windows XP Support

One of the prices of great success is that they never go away even when you want them to. Microsoft has been dealing with this problem ever since they dropped Windows XP support back in 2014. Now, 2 years later and 15 years since launch, the OS is still very popular and ahead of all OSX computers combined. In what is happy news for Microsoft, Google is dropping Windows XP support with Chrome 50.

When Microsoft first took Windows XP off support, Google and Mozilla both promised their respective browsers would continue to support the OS for a year. After extending the deadline for a year, Google has decided enough is enough. Moving forwards, Chrome won’t install on Windows XP and things like sync and account sign in might not work even with current Chrome installations  once Chrome versions advance enough.

For those you who still insist on using Windows XP and want to browse, there is still Firefox 45 which supports the OS. How long Mozilla will continue supporting the OS remains to be seen. Given the fact that you’re running an unsupported OS, though, running an unsupported browser is likely the least of your worries. Perhaps, one day XP will truly die, at least for network connected devices.

Microsoft Is Suing The US Government Over Cloud Data Searches

Microsoft is but one of many technology firms that have recently moved their focus from internal hard drives to the cloud, allowing people to access their data from anywhere in the world given the right details. The problem is other people also have access to this information, both legally and illegally and Microsoft is suing the US government over their attempts to force companies to remain quiet on the matter.

Microsoft has now filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department stating that it’s not just wrong but it’s “unconstitutional” that companies should be forced to remain silent when they are asked to hand over any data you might store in the cloud. In their complaint, Microsoft says that section 2705(b) of the Electronics Communications Privacy Act “sweeps too broadly” and effectively gives the government the power to gag companies, regardless of the reasons they are investigating someone. Microsoft even went so far as to name the number of secrecy orders they’d received in the past 18 months, a huge number sitting at almost 2,600.

The best part of almost 2.6 thousand secrecy orders, was that over two-thirds would never run out thanks to them containing “no fixed end date”. The end result is clear, Microsoft wants section 2705(b) ruled as unconstitutional and removed, a judgment that would affect every technology company based on the internet these days thanks to the broad range of uses that the cloud is utilized for.

Recently Reddit removed their Warrant canary, giving users a legal warning that the government had requested access to at least some of their information (possibly). While other companies, such as Apple has been arguing with the FBI over who and where the line should be drawn for gaining access to devices and the steps they can make companies provide to open the door for them.

Fable Legends Has Now Officially Closed

Fable: The Lost Chapters received a great deal of critical acclaim for its memorable characters, exceptional dialogue and gorgeous environments. It spawned a very successful series which is remembered fondly by RPG fans. Fable II launched as an Xbox 360 exclusive and managed to emulate the magical formula which made the original so enjoyable. In contrast to this, there’s varying views regarding Fable III and I’ve never really been able to play it to the latter stages. Rather bizarrely, Lionhead Studios decided to move into the MMO circuit instead of creating another traditional Fable title.

This was a fairly big risk given the cost of development and uncertainty about the appeal of a Fable MMO. I was fortunate enough to be given access to the closed beta and really enjoyed my time exploring Fable Legend’s world. In a shock twist, Microsoft announced the closure of Lionhead Studios and Fable Legend’s development. Despite this, there was some hope that their work could be saved and acquired from another company. However, I received an e-mail today confirming the game’s current status which reads:

“As announced last month, Fable Legends has now been closed and can no longer be accessed.

Refunds are currently being processed, you can find further information on the Lionhead Forums.

From all of us here at Lionhead Studios, we would like to thank you for participating in the closed beta and being a part of the game’s development. All stories have to end eventually, but the memories of Heroic triumphs and Villainous plots will last forever. Thank you for your support – you are all Legends!”

This is a real shame because Fable Legends never got the chance to be publicly released. While there were some concerns with the cash shop, these could have been resolved in the future. Of course, Microsoft owns the Fable IP and it’s unlikely that we’ll see another game using the Fable name ever again.

Windows XP Still Powers 181 Million PCs

Microsoft XP is the operating system that just won’t die it seems. Even now, two years after support for Windows XP finally ended, it has been found that 181 million PCs around the world still use the dated operating system from 2001.

Whether 181 million PCs is a lot in a world where computers seem to be everywhere seems to be hard to measure, but US-based analytics vendor Net Applications released some metrics to put it into perspective. They found that these Windows XP machines made up as much as 11% of all personal computers and 12% of all Windows-running PCs. This difference is due to Windows’ share of the PC market being 91.5% and not 100%. This also means that Windows XP has a larger user-base than all versions of Apple’s Mac OSX, by as much as 40%. XP was also found to be the fourth most used version of Windows to this day, only falling behind Windows 7 at 861 million,  Windows 10 at 235 million and Windows 8/8.1 at 199 million.

While XP usage in the US is fairly low with a market share of only 3.2%, other countries have a much bigger XP problem, most notably China. Numbers on the exact usage of this outdated version of Windows in China seem to vary, its usage is between 26.2% and 31.6% depending on the source.

At its current rate of decline according to Net Applications, Windows XP is set to drop into single digit percentages for usage by as soon as May, but we could be waiting until March 2017 before it finally falls below 5%, almost 3 years since it was ended. Windows XP migration is tough at this point. For those still using XP, the OS is incapable of upgrading to the newest Windows 10 OS, requiring 7 to be a stepping stone along the way. The easier option is simply purchasing a new PC with a newer version of Windows, but for many this isn’t an option.

FCC Filing Points to New Xbox One Design at E3

With Sony pretty much confirmed to launch a new PS4K/4.5 later this year, the pressure is on at Microsoft to respond. It’s no surprise then that rumours have been consistently popping up about a new Xbox One being in the works. Through digging in the FCC filings, one crafty and intrepid fan has found information that points to a new revision of the Xbox One that Microsoft submitted back in March.

According to the filings, there are two separate devices that might be Xbox Ones. These are part numbers 1682 and 1683. 1683 has an NDA that lasts till June 25th, just a week or so after this years E3. This suggests we may see a reveal at E3 with the launch to come in the weeks to follow. 1683 seems to point towards a slimmed down variant of the Xbox One with improved 802.11ac support added on.

1682 has its own NDA that lasts until July 29th, which means it likely won’t be associated with E3. Interestingly, July 29th is the same day as the Windows 10 1 year anniversary and the drop of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Perhaps this Xbox One model might have something to do with Microsoft’s push on UWP. As we’ve noted before in our analysis of UWP, the new programming paradigm allows console like optimization for several different hardware platforms at the same time. The move to UWP would make a Xbox One revision much easier to develop for and ease the burden of having multiple consoles/platforms to target. It will be interesting to see what Microsoft will have for us on July 29th, with so many things happening at the same time.

Host of Potential Yahoo Buyers Emerge – Major Companies Linked

Yahoo is up for sale, and some of the major players in media and technology are keen to pick over the bones of the once-great company, with Microsoft, Google, Verizon, Time, and the Daily Mail all indicating an interest in future bids.

“Media companies, such as the Daily Mail and Time Inc., are reportedly thinking of making an offer,” reports CNN Money. “A Daily Mail spokesman confirmed to CNN Money that the company is looking at bidding for Yahoo.”

Yahoo is currently valued at around $34b – a shadow of its value in late-2000, when the company was worth closer to $255b – with the company’s Asian stock accounting for the bulk of that valuation, indicating that the company’s internet business is practically worthless.

Google and Microsoft have also been linked with purchases of pieces of Yahoo’s business, though the former is unlikely to make any such deals over concerns of breaking antitrust laws. Microsoft, however, already has a close relationship with Yahoo, and previously attempted a $45b takeover of the company back in 2008.

“Verizon could also be a player,” CNN Money adds. “It owns Yahoo rival AOL and other media assets, and the company has publicly expressed interest in taking a look at Yahoo. AOL is like a mini version of Yahoo, with a sizable digital advertising and online content business. Verizon bought AOL last year for more than $4 billion.”

“Private equity firms General Atlantic, TPG and KKR are also widely reported to be considering buying Yahoo,” CCN Money reveals.

Former Vice President of Google Product Search Marissa Mayer was appointed CEO of Yahoo in 2012, tasked with changing the fortunes of the ailing business. After a promising start, Mayer soon proved impotent in her efforts to stop the rot that had already decimated Yahoo, with her cost-cutting measures of sub-division closures and staff redundancies designed to keep the company ticking over until it could find a new owner.

Microsoft Announces Luxurious Surface Pro 4 Cover

Microsoft’s first Surface model received a fairly mixed reception due to the hefty restrictions on the Windows RT operating system. For example, you could only install applications from the Windows store, and there wasn’t any support for third-party Win32 software. In theory, there is a workaround but this isn’t officially supported. Thankfully, Microsoft realized this lack of flexibility was limiting the device’s appeal and eventually supported Win32 applications in later models. The company’s latest flagship laptop/tablet hybrid, entitled the Surface Pro 4 is probably the most impressive hardware launch I’ve seen from Microsoft. The device’s premium finish and powerful internal components makes it a superb device for demanding users on-the-move.

Clearly, the Surface Pro 4’s ingenious cover design is a great asset and looks stunning. Today, Microsoft launched a new “signature” Surface Type Cover featuring an Alcantata fabric “unlike anything you’ve ever experienced,”. This is a bold claim to make but there is a great deal of truth behind it. Alcantara is used on premium headphones, expensive steering wheels and a host of other products. It feels incredibly soft and there’s a certain level of satisfaction when brushing your hands against the finish.

The Signature Type Cover incorporates a large glass trackpad and improved spacing between each key to enhance comfort. In terms of pricing, Microsoft have set a retail price of $159.99 which is $10 cheaper than Apple’s “Smart” iPad Pro keyboard. If you’re interested in the item, it should be available today from Microsoft’s store. It seems Microsoft is trying to employ a similar tactic to Apple and cater towards users wanting fashionable hardware they can proudly display. I’m not entirely convinced the company has the same appeal as Apple when it comes to producing desirable pieces of fashion. This perception is a shame because the Surface Pro 4 oozes build quality.

Microsoft Releases Roadmap for Windows 10

When Microsoft released Windows 10 there were mixed opinions, with many saying that the unstable and unsupported features it presented meant that upgrading came at a risk. People then raised issues when they found that there were no Windows 10 update notes, a decision they eventually changed. Most recently they’ve come under fire due to the UWP, a system that’s been used in both their current releases and has even raised a developer to question their commitment to gamers. In order to help ease our questions, Microsoft has now released a roadmap showing what has, and what is to come.

In development is the ability to use a Windows or Android phone to store remote credentials to unlock your Windows 10 PC’s and use an app to unlock anything that runs Microsoft’s passport or Windows Hello systems. This will then be expanded with companion devices like the Microsoft Band 2 being used in two-factor authentication to unlock your PC’s.

Enjoy viewing your screen somewhere else? Microsoft is currently working on streaming Continuum-compatible devices to any screen connected to a Windows 10 PC while another feature they list is the ability to stream your entire PC experience to another PC. With Picture in Picture mode and the remote display experience also in the works, a key focus seems to be sharing the Windows 10 experience on a variety of devices.

With nothing achieved or cancelled at the moment, it will be interesting to see how these projects go and which ones come alive in the future. You can check out the roadmap here  to see the long list of potential and upcoming features for yourself.

Microsoft Contemplating QR Codes for Windows 10 BSOD

One of the biggest complaints about the infamous Windows Blue Screen of Death is the lack of information it provides. Prior to Windows 8, the BSOD screen would show a nigh indecipherable error code that proved nearly useless. With Windows 8 and 10, things didn’t get much better, with the error code being replaced with new error description of the fault. In an effort to better enable troubleshooting, Microsoft is reportedly trying out QR codes with Windows 10 BSODs.

Starting with the latest Windows 10 Preview builds, Microsoft is adding a QR code that will provide more troubleshooting information specific to the BSOD. Right now QR code only points to windows.com/stopcode but in the future, it will be specific to the problem. The hope is that this will allow users to easily use a secondary device to find solutions since their main device is presumably BSODing.

There are two main problems to this, the first being that BSOD screens are ridiculously fast and disappearing shortly, meaning there might not be time to catch the QR code. Secondly, the whole idea presumes that Microsoft can present relevant troubleshooting information. I suppose with the constant updates for Windows 10, the QR code could be updated to reflect changes. It will be interesting how this pans out for the wider Windows 10 user base if it hits RTM.

Quantum Break is Microsoft’s Fastest Selling Game This Generation

Quantum Break is a third-person action adventure game which incorporates episodes from a live-action television programme. These episodes contain segments which showcase the impact of any decisions you make. This is a revolutionary concept which greatly enhance the narrative’s immersion factor. The game was developed by Remedy Entertainment, the studio behind iconic classics including Max Payne and Alan Wake. It’s not all been good news though because the PC version barely functions and suffers from horrendous optimization.

This is surprising given Remedy’s PC background and love for the platform. Not only that, the PC edition opts for the same form of temporal reconstruction as the Xbox One. Unfortunately, a lot of the problems are to do with the game’s engine and Remedy isn’t confident that they will be able to fix these widespread issues. On a more positive note, Quantum Break has rapidly become Microsoft’s fastest selling exclusive this generation outperforming other giants such as Halo 5, Ori and the Blind Forest and Sunset Overdrive for the opening week period. On another note, the Xbox One version became the UK’s best-selling boxed game and just pipped DIRT Rally. This is great news for Microsoft and Remedy Entertainment.

Annoyingly, this isn’t going to be any consolation for PC gamers struggling to play Quantum Break on high-resolution monitors with extreme hardware. Microsoft might feel the console version has been a resounding success but this isn’t the case on the company’s Universal Windows Platform initiative. Honestly, the evidence is pointing towards the PC version being made at a very late date which was rushed for release.  This is a shame and I would have preferred to see a delayed PC release with improved optimization. Whatever the case, we should applaud Remedy for creating such a successful game, and I really hope the PC version is sorted out in the future.

Microsoft Has 3 Surface Phones for 2017 But Nothing Till Then

Even as Microsoft continues to work on their Windows 10 Mobile OS, the hardware side has been lagging behind. After acquiring Nokia’s handset business for a massive sum 2 years ago, Microsft really hasn’t done much with it. In fact, according to the latest rumours, it looks like the first set of new Microsoft phones won’t be coming till 2017. This also comes as Lumia, Nokia’s brand, has seen new handset releases grind to a halt.

According to the source, the new Windows phones coming in 2017 will take up the Surface branding from their popular line of tablet PCs. Microsoft is trying to take the time to get the hardware right and re-enter the phone space with a fresh lineup. The 3 new Surface phones will target the Consumer, Enterprise and Prosumer market segments respectively. This is in line with Microsoft’s simplification of their hardware to better target customers.

For now, Windows 10 Mobile fans will have to content themselves with OEM handsets. The delay will give OEM partners a chance to test out the waters without any first-party hardware to worry about. On the flip side, if OEMs don’t jump into the game, Microsoft may lose even more marketshare and face a much tougher jump back into the market.

Latest Windows 10 Preview Adds Dark Mode and New Emojis

After revealing their latest Windows 10 Preview at BUILD 2016  last week, the latest OS update has now become available. Ina addition to the headline native Bash support, there are also a number of other new and notable changes. The new Build 14316 is just a part of the massive changes Microsoft will be introducing with Windows 10 later this year with the Anniversary Update.

First off, we’re getting a new and improved Cortana. With the latest update, Cortana will work seamlessly across multiple Windows devices. This means when Cortana on your phone notices your phone has a low battery, Cortana on your PC will notify you to charge your phone. By making the transition between devices more seamless, Cortana becomes that much more useful.

Another area we have seen an update to is to the emojis. Microsoft has redesigned their Windows 10 emojis to better align with the Microsoft Design Language. The people emojis also feature skin tone support to ensure multiple skins tones can be displayed.

Finally, we have a new dark/night mode that changes the Windows theme to be darker. The OS, system apps and any other UWP apps that choose to respond to theme changes will all change based on the dark or light theme choice. Lastly, Windows Update will better display the update progress, showing more information about what is exactly is being updated.

What do you think about this update?

Computer Paints ‘New Rembrandt’ From Data Analysis

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is regarded as one of the most imaginative and talented European artists during the baroque era. As with any iconic artist, it’s always important to showcase their finest work in art galleries to inspire people to take up a creative hobby. The incredible advancements in modern technology allow us to take this one step further and employ data analysis to create new pieces. Recently, a team of engineers working alongside Microsoft managed to create a 3D printed painting in the style of Rembrandt. The end result is absolutely breathtaking and uses the same texture as an authentic oil painting. Emmanuel Flores, director of technology on the project told the BBC:

“We really wanted to understand what makes a face look like a Rembrandt,”

Information about Rembrandt’s previous works were compiled and computers discovered key patterns to gauge his artistic style. For example, it recognized how he would shape a subject’s eyes or other facial features. Machine learning algorithms were developed to create a new piece which accurately mimicked Rembrandt’s signature brush strokes. Flores also added:

“We found that with certain variations in the algorithm, for example, the hair might be distributed in different ways,”

“Our goal was to make a machine that works like Rembrandt,”

“We will understand better what makes a masterpiece a masterpiece.”

To limit the number of possibilities, the computational equations revolved around a portrait of a Caucasian male between the ages of 30 and 40 sporting a fashionable beard. Furthermore, details about the individual’s clothing ensured that the final result could be narrowed down using strict parameters. After being verified with digital tagging, humans selected algorithms based on their efficiency and allowed the computer to create the final piece. Once this was complete, a 3D texture was applied to correspond with the height and depth of paint used on typical Rembrandt works.

For more information about this intriguing project, please visit “The Next Rembrandt” website.

Microsoft Shows How Easily Chrome Extensions Can Be Added to Edge

Last month, Microsoft revealed that they had been working on the ability for their struggling Edge web browser to support the vast array of extensions that are available for Google’s Chrome. At an Edge developer summit earlier this week, Microsoft showed off just how far this technology had come already, with many popular Chrome add-ons being able to be made Edge-compatible with a simple change to one or two lines of code.

Edge’s support for extensions is already implemented, at least in the beta versions of the software that have been made available to Microsoft Insiders. Currently, Microsoft has around eight add-ons available for their browser, including the popular ad blockers, AdBlock and AdBlock Plus, which may be the ad blocking that Microsoft plans to implement in Edge. Currently, all Edge extensions must be manually side-loaded into the browser, but will be available through the Windows Store when fully released.

According to Rory Fairweather, a program manager working on Edge, extensions have been the most requested feature for Edge since its release alongside Windows 10, especially as they are a popular feature that many other browsers have had for many years. The amazing thing about Edge’s extensions is just how easy it is to port existing Chrome extensions to Edge instead of having to develop a version especially for Microsoft’s browser. Developers will be able to employ a tool from Microsoft to convert their extension, or, like Fairweather, change a couple of lines of code. This is possible due to Edge having equivalent addon APIs to its rival browsers, but will also have potentially powerful APIs that are exclusive to it including icon changing, cross-component messaging and networking.

Whether this will bolster Edge’s market share and pull lost users back to Microsoft’s browsers is hard to tell as many still see Edge as just the same as the often infamous Internet Explorer. At the very least, it is impressive to see how far Microsoft have gone to make it easy for extension developers to develop for their browser alongside others, as well as encourage the developers of existing apps to support Edge as well through an easy conversion process.

Microsoft Releases Statement on Xbox neXt Rumor

Yesterday, we reported on a rather interesting development regarding an undisclosed project entitled Xbox neXt. This information was acquired from David Gardner’s LinkedIn profile, the Visual Design Leader at Xbox. Of course, whenever any evidence comes to the forefront, it’s important to not jump to conclusions and wait for official confirmation. This hasn’t taken long and a Microsoft spokesperson told IGN:

“Xbox neXt was an old internal team name for a group that worked on releasing Xbox One and is not related to a future console,”

“We have nothing further to share.”

This clearly debunks any suggestions that the Xbox neXt is a recent phenomenon and Microsoft’s attempt to create an updated Xbox One with enhanced power. Saying that, just because the Xbox neXt refers to an early phase in the Xbox One’s development, it doesn’t mean Microsoft isn’t working on new hardware. Whenever a console is released, research and development starts on designing the next console. Phil Spencer has clarified Microsoft’s intentions to stick with the Xbox One, and release a big update in the form of a brand new system. It’s unlikely that they’ll offer a hardware revision apart from redesigning the fairly clumsy housing and opting for a slimmer frame.

On another note, Sony is apparently producing the PlayStation 4.5K due to the technical demands of virtual reality. The company is really wanting to push PlayStation VR and the current PlayStation 4 isn’t powerful enough. In contrast to this, Microsoft hasn’t really shown any interest in virtual reality technology for this console generation. Perhaps, this is due to the incredible Hololens or they believe it’s going to be a considerable amount of time before VR becomes affordable. Whatever the case, at least Microsoft has clarified the situation in a very clear manner and addressed concerns regarding the Xbox neXt project.

Microsoft Will “Never Force” Gamers to Compete Cross Platform says Phil Spencer

It is a growing trend amongst games to consider the inclusion of cross-platform play between PC and the current consoles. Even Microsoft’s own Windows Universal Platform and potential plans to make the Xbox One upgradable is making the line between the PC and console fuzzier than ever. Despite this, the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer wants to make sure that there are differences between the platforms.

Speaking at Microsoft Build’s keynote, Spencer explained that just because a number of games are coming to both the Xbox and the PC, doesn’t mean that there will be any kind of requirement forcing all games to be multi-platform between the PC and Xbox. He also explained that he wants to make sure that players using different control methods for their game won’t be forced to play against others using a different method.

“I’ll never force somebody in our games whose playing with a controller or a mouse and keyboard to play against somebody with a different control scheme,” he said. “Mouse and keyboard rotation speed is faster than controller. We know that, you’ll lose.”

That said, he wants to leave it up to the developers in regards to the available control methods and cross-platform support in their games. Exactly how these cross-play restrictions will be placed based on control scheme is currently hard to tell, with controllers already an option for many PC games and the Xbox One already confirmed to be getting support for mouse and keyboard controls in the future.

Microsoft is Apparently Creating ‘Xbox neXt’

There’s been an assortment of rumors circulating regarding Sony’s plans to release a new PlayStation 4 with increased technical capabilities. Furthermore, the information has come from numerous sources including mainstream publications which gives credence to this theory. Allegedly, the PS4K will feature a GPU with twice the processing power compared to the standard model which runs at a higher clock speed. The CPU could be improved but this would have a marked impact on the retail price. If true, this would be an unprecedented move for the console industry and a significant move away from longer generations.

According to Crave Entertainment, Microsoft could be planning a similar strategy. Here we can see a LinkedIn profile for David Gardner, the visual design lead at Microsoft. Notice the current projects section describing something called the Xbox neXt. To be perfectly clear, this might have nothing to with a 4K variant of the Xbox One and simply refer to dashboard improvements or other innovations. Saying that, its not beyond the realm of possibilities that the Xbox neXt is either Microsoft’s next console or an updated model of the Xbox One.

Even though Phil Spencer originally seemed open to the idea of hardware upgrades, it looks likely that he’s had a change of heart. In an interview with GameInformer, Phil Spencer said:

“If we’re going to move forward, I want to move forward in big numbers.”

“For us, our box is doing well. It performs, it’s reliable, the servers are doing well. If we’re going to go forward with anything, like I said, I want it to be a really substantial change for people – an upgrade.”

Therefore, this quashes the idea that the Xbox neXt is an improved version of the Xbox One. Additionally, the main reason Sony is probably considering a much more powerful PlayStation 4 is due to VR and the hefty requirements involved. On the other hand, Microsoft hasn’t shown much of a keen interest in this technology for the Xbox One. If I had to make any sort of prediction, I’d image the Xbox neXt is Microsoft’s successor to the Xbox One. Also, you have to remember that developement for the next hardware launch begins right after the current model is released to the public.