PiPO KB2 – A Folding Keyboard That’s Also Windows 10 PC!

People love small computers, the ability to sit and use your smartphone or a tablet to play games or write an essay while you wait for the bus or your order at a restaurant. So what about if you got a computer you could fold into your pocket? that’s the idea behind the PiPO KB2, one of a new series of PC’s hidden with keyboards.

The PiPO keyboards will be released in two batches, starting with the KB1’s which will be released soon. If you’re interested the KB1 will feature an Intel Atom x5-Z8300 (also known as a Cherry Trail) processor and  either 32GB or 64GB of memory to back up the 4GB Ram. If you didn’t want to spend so much, you could grab a KB1 with an Intel Atom Z3736F or Z3735 processor (from the Bay Trail series) with 2GB of RAM. With 2 USB ports, an ethernet port, microSD slot, a VGA connector and an HDMI port the inbuilt speakers, battery and touchpad are rounded off with Wi-FI and a battery.

If you want something a little more pocketable, you could wait until September and get the KB2 featuring the same storage options of 2/4GB of RAM, 32/64GB of storage and even the same Cherry Trail processor as the KB1 model. Going with the upgrade, the KB2 will feature a USB 3.0port, a micro USB port, and Bluetooth. For the added bonus of being able to fold and pocket the keyboard PC, you lose the touchpad, something which I’m sure people will compensate with their own travel mice.

With both devices running Windows 10, are you interested in being able to carry around a pocket PC to plug into your friend’s TV or do you think that you’ll stick with your laptop and tablets for now?

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!

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.

Phil Spencer Promises Windows Store Launches Will Improve

Microsoft’s attitude towards PC gaming has dramatically shifted in the past few months and they’ve become more open to releasing console exclusives on the platform. The company’s Universal Windows Platform is designed to reduce barriers and allow consumers to play against each other without restrictions. Arguably, Microsoft is doing this to help with Windows 10’s adoption rate and cater to an additional player base after experiencing poor sales on the Xbox One compared to its nearest competitor. In the past, Microsoft has taken the PC market for granted which explains their abysmal reputation among this particular demographic.

Games for Windows Live is the perfect example of Microsoft’s tomfoolery which angered a great number of people. This was one of the worst forms of DRM ever created and it’s the main reason why PC gamers have such a cynical attitude. On another note, promises have been made on a number of occasions about taking the platform seriously but these never came to fruition. Thankfully, Phil Spencer’s appointment has helped the company’s regain its gaming focus and communicate with fans in a much better manner.

Despite this, the UWP’s launch has been far from ideal and featured a number of bizarre omissions including mod support, VSync off, ability to use frame-rate monitoring software and much more! Also, major titles including Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Quantum Break run quite poorly. Even though the hitching issues in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition were resolved, it’s still not the kind of optimization I’d expect. Additionally, the PC release of Quantum Break is marred by terrible optimization which means users with a high-resolution monitor cannot acquire an acceptable frame-rate. Remedy might not even be able to fix some of these problems because they are to do with the game’s engine.

Clearly, UWP has had a rocky start and Phil Spencer admitted this when addressing a question on Twitter:

Phil Spencer also promised that future releases would improve:

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 Dev Says Bugs Likely Can’t be Fixed

Over the last week, it looks like Microsoft’s new Universal Windows Platform has claimed another PC game victim. Designed to unify the diverse Windows platforms and bring Xbox One exclusive to Windows 10, it’s turning out that UWP may only port over broken games. This is exactly what has happened with Quantum Break, with the developer Remedy claiming unresolvable problems with UWP and their Northlight engine.

So far, Quantum Break has been running like a dog, with inconsistent performance across all GPUs, especially Nvidia. Even the top end card are having trouble keeping above 30FPS and 60 seems impossible, even on 1080p. This is before you even consider the host of graphical and texture bugs which range from superficial to downright obnoxious. While Remedy promised to look into the issues, it seems like some are out of their hands.

According to PR rep Thomas Puha, texture pop-in are due to the quirks of the Northlight engine and graphical ghosting “just a result of the temporal reconstruction. Just the way we render things”. With the bugs baked into the engine, it begs the question how this game got approved to ship for PC. On the flip side, the game runs perfectly fine on the Xbox One. It seems like UWP just isn’t ready to port games over from the Xbox One over to PC just yet.

Hopefully, the issues that can be fixed will be resolved eventually and future UWP play titles won’t have as many issues. In the end, a console port still is a console port even if it uses the fancy new UWP.

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?

Windows 10 Surpasses Windows 7 on Steam HW Survey

Microsoft’s continued efforts to push Windows 10 have proven fruitful yet again. After revealing earlier in the week that Windows 10 has reached 270 million active users, the new operating system has surpassed it predecessor, Windows 7, on the Steam Hardware Survey. This makes Windows 10 the most used operating system on among Steam users.

Given the free nature of the OS and the efforts Microsoft has gone to push, it is not surprising to see 10 post such good numbers. Compared to last month, the OS jumped 2.96%, pushing it up to 36.97%, just enough to push it past Windows 7 which fell 1.22% to 32.99%. Both numbers are for the 64bit versions respectively. The growth also shows the allure of DX12 and UWP games for gamers as Windows 10 is the portal to access those features.

Of course, there are some variations to be expected month to month for the hardware survey but these changes are outside the expected monthly variance. After all, March saw an increase in share for Vista when that OS has been falling for the longest time now. The only nagging question is if Windows 10 users are more likely to participate in the hardware survey. Given that one of the reasons to not upgrade to the latest Windows is due to the reduced privacy, this may very well skew the statistics. Even considering that, Windows 10 is on track to be Microsoft’s most widely and quickly adopted OS yet.

Microsoft Brings Android Notifications to Windows 10

At Build 2016, Microsoft has announced quite a few interesting new features for Windows 10, one of which is related to Android notifications. That’s right, it looks like Microsoft is making an effort to bring Android and Windows 10 together by allowing users to receive Android notifications on Windows 10 PCs. The feature will be based on Microsoft’s Cortana app for Android, and as long as users will have this app installed on their phones, Cortana will store all of the device’s notifications in the cloud and will send them to the user’s Windows 10 devices, including PCs, laptops or tablets.

The best part is that you’ll be able to respond to these notifications directly from your PC, and you will also be able to dismiss them easily. Obviously, those who are using Windows 10 Mobile devices will also be able to enjoy this feature, but those with iOS-based gadgets will not, as Microsoft simply doesn’t have enough access to iOS notifications. Even though we don’t know exactly when this new feature will be implemented, it’s entirely possible that it will be a part of the operating system’s Anniversary Update. If that’s the case, Microsoft will likely update the Cortana Android app soon.

Will you be activating Android notifications on Windows 10?

Microsoft Will Control Mods for UWP Games

UWP, otherwise known as Universal Windows Platform, is big news for PC gamers. By bringing by the Xbox One and Windows 10 closer together, Microsoft has enabled for more Xbox exclusive to be brought to PC. However, the cost of that is using the Unified Windows Platform and casting away Win32. According to Microsoft’s latest statements, UWP may spell the end of unbridled modding for PC games.

As expected of a unified model for both Windows 10 and mobile devices, UWP is more restrictive than regular Win32 or .NET applications. When Microsoft first revealed their plans for games built on their new model, there was some concern about what that would mean for modding. While Microsoft has allayed some concerns, it looks like modding will have to go with a curated model, with approval from Microsoft needed.

“The mods where we’ll probably have some discussion, is… if I go in and change the executable in a way—if I actually go in and reorder the code or inject code paths the developer didn’t originally intend, [then] the problem is, [we] don’t know if that modification is to fix a broken game, or to add some kind of phishing tool to the game so that now it’s capturing my passwords as [your’re] typing them into Chrome…”

This sounds a lot like Steam Workshop where mods are somewhat curated and are limited in their functionality. This means while skins or character mods might be allowed, more hardcore ones like what Skyrim has seen might not be allowed. Simply put, modifying the executable and changing any code paths won’t be allowed. This severely curtails what mods can do. Honestly, Microsoft has two incompatible goals with a wall-gardened store in UWP and good old open Win32. If Microsoft wants to truly cater to PC gamers, it’s probably best to restrict UWP games to games that are Xbox exclusives and let the rest of us mod as usual.

Windows Phone Is Now ‘On Hold’

Microsoft has been keen on promoting their “one platform for all premise”. This meant that no matter what device you were using, be it your computer, a tablet or a phone, you would experience the same system. The concept of Windows Phone has recently been put in doubt, with major projects such as the porting of Android Apps to the platform being stopped and sales constantly decreasing. It would seem now that Windows Phones won’t be making any big steps anytime soon as the system is declared all but ‘on hold’.

Microsoft held their Build keynote on Wednesday, explaining all their big steps and their phones didn’t even get a mention. The reason it would seem is that, according to Windows chief Terry Myerson, it’s just not the right time for the “4-inch screen”. In his explanation, Myerson goes to say that “there will be a time for it to be our focus” and saying that while it is “a part of the family” the phones are not “the core of where I hope to generate developer interest over the next year”.

With the news that not all Lumia phones would be receiving the update to Windows 10 as previously promised among the collection of “updates not delivered” for Windows phones, it’s hard not to see the signs that the mobile OS will change from its new on hold status to something you’ll see anytime soon.

Are you a Windows Mobile user? Were you thinking of getting a Windows Mobile at any time? Having previously used one, I enjoyed it until the lack of support and apps meant that the experience was all but as thrilling as first advertised. Leave us your thoughts in the comments below about what Microsoft needs to do to make their mobiles as catchy as their PC’s and laptops.

Microsoft UWP Will Help More Xbox Exclusives Arrive on PC

Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP) program – an effort to unify Windows PCs with Xbox One, amongst other platforms – may have been branded a “sneaky manoeuvre” by Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney, but the company has revealed that its new UWP ecosystem will mean more Xbox One games will see concurrent release for PC.

During the keynote at the annual Microsoft Build conference, Xbox Chief Phil Spencer told the audience that the shared UWP code between PC and Xbox One will allow games developed for either platform to be ported to the other with ease.

“We’ve said from the start, we want Xbox One to be a great place for games, and also a great place for developers of all sizes, so you can create new games and application experiences,” Spencer said.

The Universal Windows Platform effectively means that writing code for one UWP platform automatically makes a game, app, or piece of software compatible with any and all systems that fall under the UWP banner. Windows 10 and Cortana have already started to roll out for Xbox One, while Quantum Break is due to hit both Windows 10 and Xbox One next week, which seems to be just the start of Microsoft’s overarching plan.

“With the Universal Windows Platform we’re able to drive it at 4K and 60 frames a second, the highest fidelity we’ve ever delivered,” Chris Tector, Senior Software Architect for Turn 10, said later. “The universal aspect that’s a real true promise for us is the ability to write our code once. We’re still going to tailor that experience so that it’s the best thing you can get on Xbox, the best thing you can get on PC.”

“But what it means is it’s reduced the development time for us and that really surfaces not only in the code that we write, but also the toolset that we get to use,” Tector added. “And that’s the thing that’s going to grow the most over time. Our goal as a first party is to make sure that platform that everyone’s running on is the best one they can deliver games on.”

Turn 10 Creative Director Dan Greenawalt agreed with his colleague, saying, “The Universal Windows Platform is great for the game developers and gamers alike. It’s going to become even more powerful as a way of delivering amazing experiences across all of the devices in the Windows ecosystem.”

 

 

 

Microsoft Releases Project Centennial Windows 10 UWP App Converter

Not content to just let developers create new apps for Windows 10 from scratch, Microsoft announced last year a program to allow current Win32 applications to be ported to the Unified Windows Platform. Dubbed Project Centennial, the app converter has finally been released to the public at this years BUILD, one year after its reveal. Project Centennial will turn existing Win32 and .NET apps into the UWP AppX format.

Microsoft has remained mum on the specifics but it seems like the Centennial App Converter will simply wrap around the existing program and offer the clean install and uninstall of UWP. The Centennial App Converter sounds sort of like the App-V app virtualization offered to enterprise customers. The app remains unbound by the UWP sandbox and is free of the restrictions imposed on native UWP apps.

All of that makes it seem like UWP doesn’t have to be as restrictive as it currently is. Perhaps, the best way forward for game developers is to create a normal Win32 game then package it in the UWP using the Centennial App Converter. This allows both the flexibility and power of traditional Win32 applications while providing a more unified and simpler platform through the Microsoft Store.

By converting existing apps easily with the Centennial App Converter, Microsoft is hoping to address the biggest concern with their UWP store, the lack of applications. By moving current Windows applications to UWP, the Windows system will also become more integrated and unified. There is no word yet when the App Converter will actually launch but expect it soon.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update to Bring More GPU Features to UWP Games

While the release of Xbox exclusives to Windows 10 under the UWP program is undoubtedly a positive, there are still many questions about the Unified Windows Platform. Due to the limitations on UWP and making it universal and more sandboxed, certain features common to games are unavailable. Fortunately, it looks like Microsoft will be adding some of these features to UWP with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

According to Microsoft, the changes to UWP are due to the negative feedback when Microsoft first released games based on the platform. Firstly, modding and overlay capability will be added. This will allow PC gamers to mod to their heart’s content hopefully, one of the highlights of PC gaming. Overlays will bring back the ability to have Afterburner or other apps run alongside the game to provide extra functionality.

More importantly, AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia GSync support will be added. The adaptive refresh rate technology from the two graphics firms has been one of the biggest improvements to gaming in recent years and support should have been built-in from the get-go. While these moves go some way to alleviating some of the more prominent problems, the question remains if UWP is the way to go for future PC games due to their more restrictive and closed down nature.

Minecraft Command Blocks Coming to Mobile and Windows 10

Minecraft is a popular block-based game, featuring everything from building a little house to designing a giant industry. With the desktop version featuring a variety of features beyond what Minecraft for mobile and Windows 10 offer, people are often left waiting for more. Some of those additional features will soon be coming to mobile and Windows 10.

One of the additional features that will soon be coming to Minecraft includes command blocks. Command blocks let you perform a variety of abilities, from changing the weather to teleporting all with a forward slash from the chat window and a little programming experience.

Players on the desktop version enjoy the flexibility to include custom mods to their gaming experience, yet another one of the features that will soon come to the mobile versions of Minecraft. With schools looking forward to the creation of Microsoft Edu, a version of the game built for schools to help teach everything from teamwork to programming, the ability to add mods and additional content to their versions could let you go from teaching programming to simulating chemical reactions or exploring ancient civilizations all from the classroom.

Do you play Minecraft? What platform do you play the game on and do you play it with any mods? Share with us your biggest creation in the comments below.

Microsoft Windows 10 Hits 270 Million Active Users

Happily for Microsoft, Windows 10 adoption is chugging along quite nicely. In fact, according to Microsoft, Windows 10 has achieved the fastest adoption yet, beating out Windows 7 and 8. Since the last update at the end of 2015, Windows 10 has added an additional 70 million users, bumping the total to 270 million, quite impressive overall. However, the numbers have slowed after the new OS hit 75 million in the first month and 110 million by the second.

The biggest reason Windows 10 has seen such growth is due to the free nature of the OS. Microsoft has allowed users to upgrade for free from Windows 7 and 8.1, driving a lot of the adoption. Microsoft has also pushed hard to get users to upgrade, with controversial methods like forced upgrades, misleading options and even slipping Windows 10 ads into security updates. The unique count of users rather than installed devices is also a difference in how Microsoft is counting installs, with the graphic above being void of labeled axis.

Even with some good numbers to share, Microsoft may be starting to get worried as the June deadline for free upgrades nears. For those users who hold back, they may never move on till Windows 7 and 8.1 finally leave support at the end of the decade. Hopefully, Microsoft will get the message and stop forcing upgrades on those who don’t want them.

How To Disable Windows 10 Lock Screen Adverts

Windows 10 has caused a debate amongst users, both those who have adopted the new operating system and those who have decided to stay with the older operating systems. One of the most contested things about Windows 10 was its adverts, including those found in its start menu. They even added adverts to solitaire (shown above). People aren’t too keen on the adverts and if you don’t like the ones that appear on your lock screen you can disable them by following the guide below.

It should be noted that the adverts that have appeared on users lock screens only appeared earlier this year, advertising Windows or Xbox games from the Windows Store. People dislike the ads for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that they appear as if they are just normal apps you have on your PC, they don’t even look like advertisements most of the time. The adverts are provided as part of Spotlight, a feature designed to customise your lock screen. If you prefer you didn’t get adverts, you can follow the guide below to remove them.

First things first, you need to go to the settings page and find the option titled Personalization (should have a monitor icon next to it). Once you get to the options you need to select Lock Screen on the left-hand side, something will open that looks innocent and gives you the option to change your lock screen image. Selecting Picture is all you need to do to disable the adverts.

Seems simple right? The catch is that when Microsoft have another ad for you in a weeks time, by default when it’s pushed to your computer Spotlight will re-enable (see why people are getting annoyed yet?).

To disable the recurring Spotlight you need to disable the “Get fun facts, tips, tricks, and more on your lock screen” option that can be found at the bottom once you’ve changed your selection from windows spotlight.

Thanks to Digital trends for pointing out these tips to everyone, and even going so far as to point out that if you check out the start tab of the Personalization screen, you can even disable the Start menu ad’s by disabling the “occasionally show suggestions” option.

Microsoft isn’t making many friends with their decisions to include ad’s (intrusive ones included) in their operating system and isn’t helping it by hiding the choice to disable them behind obscure names and enabling features whenever they want.

Windows 10 Mobile Will Not Come to All Lumia Phones as Promised

With news that Windows 10 Mobile will be coming to the Lumia line of phones, people were eagerly awaiting the update after what could only be considered a lackluster of support and empty promises for windows 8 mobile. Sadly not everyone will be able to enjoy this as it has now been revealed that windows 10 mobile will not be coming to all the Lumia phones as it was previously promised.

What does this mean? If you are one of the unlucky ones you will end up with a phone that will permanently stuck on Windows Phone 8. If you own one of the following phones, you will be given the option to update to windows 10 sometime soon on your phone:

  • Lumia 1520
  • Lumia 930
  • Lumia 830
  • Lumia 730
  • Lumia 735
  • Lumia 640
  • Lumia 640XL
  • Lumia 635 1GB
  • Lumia 636 1GB
  • Lumia 638 1GB
  • Lumia 540
  • Lumia 535
  • Lumia 532
  • Lumia 435
  • Lumia 430

While the age of some Lumia phones may seem like a good reason to stop supporting them, the pressure to get their mobile platform correct seems to be building with expectations that Windows 10’s united platform would help save a platform that many consider almost invisible on the modern market.

The real problem people have is the broken promises that seem to be spewing from Microsoft. Firstly there is a long list of phones running Windows Phone 7 which were never upgraded to 8, leaving them with a broken and unsupported mobile OS and doing the same to Windows Phone 8 users question if the mobile system is as dead as it’s been reported.

Microsoft Will Now Support Windows 7 and 8.1 For New Processors

Technology changes, that is an inevitable fact. As we produce more and more powerful designs and techniques we create new pieces of hardware and sometimes this causes trouble for those who aren’t quite ready to move on. Microsoft announced previously that those wanting to use the latest in Intel’s processors, the Skylake series, they would need to use Windows 10. It would appear they’ve changed their tone and are now looking to offer support for Windows 7 and 8.1 for the new processors.

The technical reasons provided was that offering support for the older operating systems would be too much given that the new system would be optimised for windows 10. Some people considered this as a push though for businesses to stop using the older operating systems and instead use Windows 10 if they wanted to get new equipment.

Microsoft has now recanted on that and will offer support for the older operating systems, offering companies the chance to upgrade to windows 10 at their own pace if they use Skylake devices. To help this the security updates for the older operating systems will also be addressed to PC’s running Skylake systems till January 14th, 2020 for Windows 7 users and January 10th 2023 for Windows 8.1 users.

Are you happy to hear about this? Are you looking at Skylake processors but would prefer to keep an older OS for the time being? You can see Microsofts tech blog outlining all the changes here.

Microsoft Denies Windows 10 Is Self-Installing

For obvious reasons, Microsoft is pushing hard to get their users onto Windows 10. While spamming advertisements and making the upgrade free have done wonders, it seems like that is still not fast enough for Microsoft. According to some users, Microsoft has begun to stealthily self-install Windows 10 onto their Windows 7 and 8/8.1 computers. Of course, Microsoft has denied any such acts, not that they would admit if they were.

Microsoft had this to say in a statement:

We shared in late October on the Windows Blog, we are committed to making it easy for our Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers to upgrade to Windows 10. As stated in that post, we have updated the upgrade experience to make it easier for customers to schedule a time for their upgrade to take place. Customers continue to be fully in control of their devices, and can choose to not install the Windows 10 upgrade or remove the upgrade from Windows Update (WU) by changing the WU settings.

Despite Microsoft’s claims, many users have experienced their machines somehow autonomously upgrading to Windows 10. Obviously, the biggest culprit is when Microsoft started pushing Windows 10 as a recommended update. Due to the fact that Windows will by default automatically install all recommended updates, many users are undoubtedly feeling their systems are out of control when it somehow upgrade overnight. While this is not as nefarious as actually forcing an upgrade, this as close as it gets to that, since automatic updates actually hides which updates it will be doing, pretty much ensuring users won’t know they will be upgrading to the new OS.

With such desperate measures like sneaking in Windows 10 advertisements in security updates, Microsoft really has gone too far with their push for Windows 10. As it stands, there are still many issues remaining. Maybe Microsoft should just sit on their already massive install base and let users be. Then again, when has Microsoft truly listened without first being burned?

Microsoft Ends Bitcoin Support

Just over a year on from its introduction, Microsoft has quietly pulled Bitcoin support from the Microsoft Store. While the company has not made an official statement regarding the news, nor has it explained why it took the decision, the Windows Store no longer supports the cryptocurrency for Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile purchases.

“Microsoft Store doesn’t accept Bitcoin,” an update to the Windows Store FAQ reads. “You can no longer redeem Bitcoin into your Microsoft account. Existing balances in your account will still be available for purchases from Microsoft Store, but can’t be refunded.”

Despite this quiet reveal, a page on the Microsoft website entitled “Add money to your Microsoft account with Bitcoin” still exists.

The move marks an unexpected U-turn for the company which, when it introduced Bitcoin support to its store at the end of 2014, proclaimed the digital currency as a growing market.

“For us, this is about giving people options and helping them do more on their devices and in the cloud,” Eric Lockard, Corporate Vice President of Universal Store at Microsoft, said (courtesy of a cached Microsoft blog post, seemingly now deleted). “The use of digital currencies such as Bitcoin, while not yet mainstream, is growing beyond the early enthusiasts. We expect this growth to continue and allowing people to use Bitcoin to purchase our products and services now allows us to be at the front edge of that trend.”

Image courtesy of BetaBoston.

Microsoft Slips Ad Generator Into Windows 7/8.1 Security Update

Microsoft has been getting more brazen every day as  they continue to try to get users to upgrade to Windows 10. After making Windows 10 a recommended update for Windows 7 and 8.1 systems, Microsoft may have gone too far with their latest step. If Microsoft’s own documentation is to be believed, the latest Internet Explorer 11 Security update for Windows 7 and 8.1 bundles in an ad generator that urges users to upgrade to Windows 10.

KB 3139929 is the latest cumulative security update for Internet Explorer 11, bundling in a number of security fixes. Digging into the documentation, you find KB 3146449, an update that “adds functionality to Internet Explorer 11 on some computers that lets users learn about Windows 10 or start an upgrade to Windows 10“. According to some users, this pops up a blue banner when a user opens a new IE11 tab with the message, “Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 10”.

While it is understandable that Microsoft wants to get as many users as possible on Windows 10 and is trying to spread the message, bundling a non-security update into a security update is simply unacceptable. Is is misleading to users and raises the question as to how trustworthy and legitimate Microsoft’s limited Windows 10 update notes are. Along with moves like the bundling of third-party apps into Windows 10, Microsoft may still reach their Windows 10 install goals, but only at the cost alienating users and undermining trust.

Windows 10 Mobile Update Might Finally Arrive This Month

Whether Windows 8 mobile users have waited patiently for the update to Windows 10 or not is something the upgrade numbers will show, but up until now they haven’t had any other choice than wait. At least, if they wanted to keep their current Lumia phones powered by the older operating system. At first the update was promised to arrive in December last year, then it was January before being pushed to February, only to be postponed again.

The newest reports indicate that those were the last delays and that Windows 8 users will get the ability to upgrade to Windows 10 this month, after the monthly service update is completed for the Lumia 950 models. I should, however, point out again, that this isn’t officially confirmed information, at least not yet.

Microsoft plans to roll-out the update as an opt-in upgrade, allowing the users the choice to upgrade or not. At least at first. Once it has been verified that there aren’t any critical bugs or trouble with the upgrade, it will be pushed to compatible phones automatically.

With smartphones being as vital a component in people’s live these days, it is good to see that Microsoft takes its time to polish the operating system and make sure that everyone will get a great experience out of it instead of trying to stick to deadlines and then release a buggy product. It’s not something they can afford to do and the won’t.

It is an update that is well worth waiting for as I can say first hand that Windows 10 is an awesome mobile operating system. It takes a little time to get used to, as any change, but after a day, you won’t be missing any previous system. That is at least if you use your phone for communication where you’ll find all the popular instant messengers and similar things, but you might not find your favourite game on there yet.

NVIDIA Release GeForce 364.47 WHQL for The Division & Need for Speed

NVIDIA has released the 364.47 WHQL Driver for its GeForce graphics cards, bringing with it Game Ready optimisation for Tom Clancy’s The Division, Hitman, Need for Speed, Ashes of the Singularity, and Rise of the Tomb Raider, plus fixes for many known issues with Windows 10.

The release notes are as follows:

Game Ready

This driver provides the optimal experience for Tom Clancy’s The Division, Hitman, Need for Speed, Ashes of the Singularity, and Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Gaming Technology

This driver provides support for the Vulkan 3D API.

Application SLI Profiles

Added or updated the following SLI profiles:

  • Hitman – SLI profile added
  • The Technomancer – SLI profile added
  • Zui Zhong Bing Qi (Ultimate Weapon) – SLI profile updated

3D Vision Profiles

Added or updated the following 3DV profiles:

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops3 – Not recommended
  • Far Cry Primal – Not recommended
  • Just Cause 3 – Not recommended
  • Need for Speed – Not recommended
  • StarWars Battlefront (2015) – Not recommended
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider – Updated to 3DVision Ready

3D Compatibility Mode Profiles

These games must be run in DirectX 10/11 mode to see improvements and are not compatible with 3D Vision Surround mode.
Added or updated the following compatibility mode profiles:

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops3 – Excellent
  • Just Cause 3 – Excellent

Software Modules

  • NView – version 147.00
  • HD Audio Driver – version 1.3.34.4
  • NVIDIA PhysX System Software – version 9.15.0428
  • GeForce Experience – version 2.10.2.40
  • CUDA – version 8.0

Windows 10 Fixed Issues

  • Discrete GPU remains on by default, even if no app is running. [200172650]
  • Flickering is seen on the LVDS, but not an external monitor, when clone mode is set with G-SYNC enabled. [200170772]
  • [364.07, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate] With ShadowPlay enabled, game crashes at launch pointing to nvwgf2um.dll. [200168443]
  • [361.14] System hangs during driver installation. [200149074]
  • [361.91] Stutter in DirectX 9 games when AA forced override is used. [1731438]
  • TDR on Adobe Illustrator CC 2015 with drivers after Release 353. [1726408]
  • The Twitch broadcast game title does not match Twitch’s game library. [1708975]
  • [SLI] Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate needs an SLI profile. [1666227]

Windows 8.1/Windows 8/Windows 7/Windows Vista Fixed
Issues

  • [361.91] Stutter in DirectX 9 games when AA forced override is used. [1731438]

  • [361.75, GK104] Call of Duty Black Ops III: volumetric light corruption. [1724810]

  • [SLI] Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege shows corruption when Alt+Tab used in fullscreen mode. [1724562]

  • [SLI] Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate needs an SLI profile. [1666227]

  • [SLI] 3D Surround does not work in Titanfall. [1545116]

The 364.47 GeForce WHQL Driver can be downloaded here.

 

Windows 10’s First Redstone Update Will Arrive in June

As you’re probably well aware by now, Microsoft aims to release a series of regular updates for its Windows 10 operating system, and while some of these updates will have a minor role, some of them will be considerably larger and more important. The first major update for Windows 10 is codenamed RS1, and it is scheduled to arrive in June. Early versions of this update are already being tested by Windows Insiders, but the complete version will have considerably more features than it does now. So what is RS1 all about? Well, it was designed to unify different platforms such as PCs, Xbox consoles and smartphones, and it will bring about the launch of the Windows Store on Xbox One.

In an effort to further improve cross-device functionality, Microsoft’s developers will also issue an update to the PC version of Cortana that will warn users when the battery on their phones reaches low levels, for example. RS1 could also add extension support for Microsoft Edge, which could potentially increase the browser’s popularity. A second update is also in the works, but sources indicate that it won’t arrive sooner than spring 2017 even though it was originally aimed for Q4 2016. The question is: will you actually be using any of the new features included in the upcoming Redstone update, or are you just going to try to disable as many as you can and go about your business as usual?

Quantum Break to Require Internet Connection

Quantum Break is set to be one of the biggest games to grace Windows 10 this year, and with the game using directX 12 (DX12) you will have to buy it through the app store. This may be a problem for some as those who purchased the rather silently released Gears Of War Ultimate Edition found that the game was more than lacking in terms of performance and stability. It may come as a shock to some then that the next nail in the Windows 10 gaming experience is the constant online connection that you will require for Quantum Break.

Why is this a big deal you may ask? The problem people will have with this is that the game is a single player game, requiring an online connection means that should your internet drop out or you want to play on the go you won’t be able to. The reason given by Microsoft is  that you will require a high-speed internet connection to enjoy the cutscenes in the game, which is considered story heavy.

It was recently revealed that the Xbox One version of the game will be 44.09GB in size, a whole 8GB more than the 36.18GB. It now seems that the size difference is because Xbox one will be downloading the video content as well, requiring only PC gamers to have a constant online connection. With the Xbox One video being limited to 1080p video files, a mere shade of the 4K content the PC will enjoy, some people will argue that for a single player game, downloading the video at a lesser quality may be worth saving the hassle of an always online connection.

First a bad release for Gears Of War and now the news that always online single player games are Microsoft’s hope for Windows 10 games, are you likely to pick up the game and if so do you think that Microsoft has done the right thing?