Thecus Expands Windows Storage Server Line-up with W2810PRO

Thecus had a lot of success with their Windows-based NAS devices and now they’ve expanded that series with the new W2810PRO NAS. The new NAS comes equipped with an Intel Celeron N3150 quad-core processor, the same that we recently saw the N2810PRO launch with, it comes with 4GB DDR3 memory, and uses an SSD as boot drive.

Linux-based NAS run more out of the memory than Windows does and as such the use of a real SSD over a flash module is something that will make a huge difference for such a system. The quad-core processor is powerful enough to drive 4K experiences and thanks to it being a Windows version, it comes with a familiar interface. Integrating Microsoft services such as Office 365 and Azure Cloud Service is as easy as it could be on these devices as they’re running Windows 2012R2 Essentials as the operating system.

“Adding to the success of the original Windows Storage server 2012 solutions from Thecus, the W2810PRO provides increased power and speed performance to users”, said Florence Shih, CEO of Thecus Technology Corp. “This new Thecus Windows Storage Server is an ideal solution for individuals and businesses that are comfortable and proficient with the Windows platform to safely protect and effortlessly manage their valuable data.”

The 60GB boot SSD is more than enough for Windows itself and plenty of apps while the two drive bays give you up to 16TB raw storage capacity when using 8TB drives. That is a lot of power and storage in a small form factor. Windows Storage Server Essentials offers a host of features and functionality for organizations of all sizes including Data Deduplication and Storage Spaces for efficiency and protection, native support for Active Directory, and remote access through the P2P application, Orbweb.me. Users can further customize the W2810PRO to specific business needs as it supports third-party Windows Server add-ins.

Connection-wise, you get both an HDMI port and DisplayPort for direct usage, an S/PDIF for an audio connection, three USB 3.0 ports, and dual Gigabit Ethernet network connectivity.

Feature Highlights:

  • Top Storage for 1-50 Employee Business
  • Office 365 & Microsoft Azure: Cloud Service Integration
  • Active Directory Domain Services: Scalable, Secure User Management
  • Data Deduplication: Performance Optimization
  • Enhanced Boot Drive: Embedded SSD
  • Windows License Included
  • Intel Celeron N3150 Quad-Core Processor
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM

The new Thecus W2810PRO NAS is available starting today and it is an update well worth it. It packs more than double the power of the previous model, the W2000+, which was based on an Intel Atom dual-core processor.

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.

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.

PS4 Update Sneaks in Key New Features

While most people know that the new firmware update for PlayStation 4 allows gamers to remote play via Windows PC (but not Windows 7, sadly), Sony managed to sneak through a number of appealing new features that didn’t make the headlines, including support for 4TB external drives.

Thankfully, A reddit thread has emerged, detailing all the “tweaks” introduced by the update, from those advertised by Sony to ones discovered by PS4 owners during their own investigations:

Detailed Tweaks:

  1. User Scheduled/Created Events;
  2. Play Together button – easily invite people in your party to the same game;
  3. Friend online notifications can be turned on or off on a person to person basis;
  4. Appear offline;
  5. Remote play on PC/Mac;
  6. Dailymotion Live Support for streaming, etc;
  7. Teens (13-17) can now create their own accounts with limited access to play offline games, rather than having to use a sub-account;
  8. Easier to search for communities by text, language, time zone;
  9. You can now share OTHER people’s activities so your friend’s can see it too;
  10. Tweaks to messaging – you can see short replies to messages without jumping to a different screen;
  11. You can TAG other players when sharing video and screenshots (if you have your FB/Twitter permissions enabled, the tags will carry over to the sharing on those sites);
  12. You can check the status of PSN (this is a feature? just use the website…);
  13. USB music player is back;
  14. Improvements to PS+ (improvements to managing online storage and ability to see friends who play the same games as you).

Unannounced Tweaks:

  1. You can disable the screenshot on-screen notification (in Settings under Notifications) allowing you to take multiple screenshots in a row without the screenshot taken pop-up. The sound indicating the screenshot was taken still functions as normal;
  2. Life From PlayStation Improvements:
  • There’s a search field on the game list now. Previously you had to use the “global” search, that’d return matches for everything (pre-recorded, videos, screenshots) and not just live streams;
  • You can pin up to three games that will stay on the top of the list. I watch Bloodborne and DS2 streams all the time, now I don’t have to scroll down every time to find them;
  1. You can set a party member limit now. From 2-8 people;
  2. Issue with early PS4s and >2TB HDDs has (probably) been fixed.

Bash for Windows 10 Unfazed by Deadliest Linux Command

Linux Bash shell came to Windows 10 recently as part of the latest Windows Insider preview build. Immediately, people began to experiment, some to see how well the shell was implemented, while others went straight for a command capable of wiping the entire system on a Linux operating system “rm -rf /”.

For those not familiar with Linux and the Bash shell, the reason this command is so deadly can be broken down into its three parts. “rm” is the command for removing or deleting files. “-rf” contains the additional commands for recursive and force. In combination, this causes all files, folders, and subfolders to be removed, without providing any prompt for the user, even those which are write protected. Finally, “/” represents the root location of the file system, where all files and folders are stored and where the command will look for files to delete. Often usage of this command is restricted or generates a warning on modern Linux systems as, should it be executed, everything will be deleted.

This danger made it an obvious choice to try out on Windows 10’s Bash shell though you would hope it was tried from the safety of a virtual machine or throwaway installation. Fortunately (or unfortunately), this command doesn’t cause anywhere near the damage it does to Linux, although the Bash terminal itself is not so lucky, being reduced to a useless black window when started up.

https://twitter.com/shanselman/status/717846035515584512

Windows isn’t fully safe from misuse of the Bash shell, as if you run the terminal as administrator and target the /mnt/c directory, the C drive can be deleted. Although, with the lengths you have to go to in order to wipe your operating system, if it happens then it’s likely your own fault, and really, it’s no more dangerous than the command line already in Windows.

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.

Visual Studio Will Now Include Xamarin

Microsoft recently brought out Xamarin, software based on letting people create programs using C# and .NET operating systems which can then be ported to both iOS and Android. This meant that using the Microsoft based languages you could develop software for a variety of phones. It’s now been revealed that if you are interested in using the software, all you will need is Visual Studio.

With this announcement you can enjoy Xamarin for free as part of Visual studio, and not just any Visual studio but every single version of the development software. With Visual studio offering a free community edition you could soon find the development tools available as part of the free suite of tools, with no restrictions either.

With the original releases of Xamarin featuring a restriction on the free version of the software, limiting just how large the software you created could be before requiring a paid license. Enterprise-orientated features of Xamarin will be restricted to Visual Studio Enterprise subscription users.

If you were looking at using it for OS X or iOS development you’ll need to have access to an OS X machine. In another step for Microsoft, the Xamarin SDK will be made open source and released on Github for all to see and use, including the Xamarin Forms library for creating quick and easy user interfaces.

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.”

 

 

 

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.

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.

Microsoft Demo Linux Bash Terminal on Windows 10

At Build 2016, Microsoft showcased something almost unbelievable, the Linux Bash shell running natively on the Windows 10 operating system, using Ubuntu binaries. Kevin Gallo, director of the Windows Developer Platform ran the demonstration during the keynote he delivered at Microsoft’s developer conference. This functionality is born of a collaboration between the producers of Ubuntu Linux, Canonical, and Microsoft with the goal of allowing developers to make use of Linux-only tools even when working on Windows.

The Bash shell isn’t the only thing that is coming over to Windows 10 either, with a wide array of Linux GUI-less utilities also being made available to run on the bash terminal. According to Canonical’s Dustin Kirkland “most of the tens of thousands of binary packages available in the Ubuntu archives” will run, not only utilities like cp, find, grep, and ssh, but also aptitude, apache, MySQL, python, perl, ruby, php, gcc, tar and so on.” The whole thing works by translating the shell’s Linux system calls directly into Windows system calls in real time, which should yield impressive integration with the operating system.

Both Gallo and Kirkland see this move as strengthening the position of both of their platforms, with Gallo wanting to make Windows more accessible to developers while Kirkland sees it as extending the reach of Linux and Ubuntu, as well as the importance of open-source software over proprietary apps. The implications of this move by Microsoft could be quite extensive as the addition of the enormous array of open source software available on the Linux platform may, in fact, draw users away from using Windows-specific applications. However with the Microsoft Azure platform already making use of Linux and Microsoft SQL server, they may be starting to fully embrace the Linux OS and may just be a win for them in the end.

EA Origin Dropping Pre-Windows 7 Support

As many users undoubtedly learned the hard way with Windows XP, software support doesn’t last forever. This is doubly true of regular software which can often just drop support without much warning and stop working. Luckily, this is not the case with EA, which has announced plans to drop support for Origin on systems that are using any OS prior to Windows 7, mainly Windows XP and Vista.

Improved the way Origin handles outdated operating systems, and reduced support for Windows XP and Windows Vista.

As part of the transition, EA is already dropping some features when they are updating Origin. After August though, Origin users on Windows XP and Vista will no longer be able to download/install games, not utilize the shop. Luckily, installed games and updates will continue to work, meaning those of you planning to stay on an older OS can pre-download any games you want to keep playing on the old system.The biggest problem will be with older games that aren’t quite compatible with newer operating systems.

This whole issue begs the question as to why EA is dropping support for XP and Vista. Afterall, the whole point of Windows is to run older software and Vista is pretty much the same as 7. Perhaps, EA wants to move Origin to newer development models which XP and Vista don’t support. With the two operating systems having less than 3% marketshare according to Steam, similar to the numbers for OSX, EA probably won’t be losing much sleep over any lost customers. With the numbers Windows 7 has, there is still plenty of breathing room for those of you on that OS, so rest easy for now.

QNAP Launches TDS-16489U Dual Xeon E5 Double Server

QNAP’s newest server, the TDS-16489U, is an amazing one that sets itself apart from the rest in so many ways. I want one so badly even though I have absolutely no need for this kind of power. This must be how a normal person feels when they see a Bugatti Veyron. But let us get back to the new QNAP dual server.

The TDS-16489U is a powerful dual server that’s both an application server and storage server baked into on chassis for simplicity and effectiveness. It is powered by two Intel Xeon E5 processors with 4, 6, or 8 cores each while supporting up to 1TB DDR4 2133 MHz memory with its 16 DIMM slots. These are already some impressive specs, but this is just where the fun begins.

The dual server has 16 front-accessible drive bays for 3.5-inch storage drives as well four rear-facing 2.5-inch drive bays for SSD cache. Should this not be enough, then you can expand that further by use of NVMe based PCI-Express SSDs too. The system has three SAS 12 Gb/s controllers built-in to couple it all together.

There are just as many connection options as there are storage options in the TDS-16489U. It comes with two normal Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as four SFP+ 10Gbps ports powered by an Intel XL710. Should that not be enough, then you can use the PCI-Express slots to expand with further NICs of your choice. The system supports the use of 40 Gbps cards too. It also comes with a dedicated IPMI connection besides the normal networking. The PCI-Express x16 Gen.3 slots can also be used with AMD R7 or R9 graphics cards for GPU passthrough to virtualization applications. A true one-device solution for applications, storage, and virtualization.

The TDS-16489U combines outstanding virtualization and storage technologies as an all-around dual server. With Virtualization Station and Container Station, computation and data from the guest OS and apps can be directly stored on the TDS-16489U through the internal 12Gb/s SAS interface. Coupled with Double-Take Availability to provide comprehensive high availability and disaster recovery, backup virtual machines can support failover for the primary systems on the TDS-16489U whenever needed to enable data protection and continuous services. QNAP Virtualization Station is a virtualization platform based on KVM (Kernel Virtual Machine) infrastructure. By sharing the Linux kernel, GPU passthrough, virtual switches, VM import/export, snapshot, backup & restoration, SSD cache acceleration and tiered storage.

“Software frameworks for Big Data management and analysis like Apache Hadoop or Apache Spark can be easily operated on the TDS-16489U using virtual machines or containerized apps, and with Qtier Technology for Auto Tiering the TDS-16489U empowers Big Data computing and provides efficient storage in one box to help businesses gain further insights, opportunities and values,” said David Tsao, Product Manager of QNAP.

With all the above, we shouldn’t forget that it still also runs QNAP’s QTS 4.2 operating system that provides everything you know and love from that. Included is the comprehensive virtualization applications that we’ve also seen on our consumer models, but this is where you truly can take advantage of what QNAP created and run multiple Windows, Linux, Unix, and Android-based virtual machines on your NAS. All the backup solutions and failover, from local to other NAS or the cloud. You can do it all. Share files to basically any device anywhere is made as easy as possible.

Should you still not have enough storage in this impressive unit, then you can expand with up to 8 of the QNAP enclosures and reach a seriously impressive 1152 TB raw storage capacity controlled by this single 3U server unit. The CPU power, dual system capabilities, virtualization options and impressive storage option will let you deploy an impressive system with a very tiny size and total cost of ownership compared to traditional setups.

Key Specifications

  • 16-bay, 3U rackmount unit
  • 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 Family processor (with 4-core, 6-core and 8-core configurations)
  • 64GB~1TB DDR4 2133MHz RDIMM/LRDIMM RAM (16 DIMM)
  • 4 x SFP+ 10GbE ports
  • hot-swappable 16 x 3.5″ SAS (12Gbps/6Gbps)/SATA (6Gbps/3Gbps) HDD or 2.5″ SAS/SATA SSD, and 4 x
  • 2.5″ SAS (12Gbps) SSD or SAS/SATA (6Gbps/3Gbps) SSD;
  • 4 x PCle slots;
  • 4 x USB 3.0 port

The new QNAP TDS-16489U dual-server is now available.

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 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’s Edge to Test Browser Extensions

In this day and age, people enjoy customizing their experience with everything. The same goes for their experience when browsing online and with the likes of Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome offering countless extensions Microsoft’s latest browser, Edge, seems to be lacking the feature. That looks to change with Microsoft looking to test browser extensions for Edge soon.

The revelation comes from a change on their Edge extensions website, giving us an idea about now just what’s going to happen with their extensions but also what the first three will be.

First up will be a translation tool, followed by an extension for Reddit and finally an extension based on mouse gestures. If this doesn’t interest you the next part may, with the extensions compatible with Chrome as well.

Given their recent decision to end porting of apps from Android to Windows phones, the ability to use the same app’s on Edge and Chrome could entice people to explore the browser a little more, even if it does come with Windows 10.

Using extensions may have to wait though with the feature looking to be inserted into a future insider preview meaning that those of you who want to keep running a “stable” operating system may have to stick to Firefox or Chrome for that personal web feeling.

Microsoft Estimate Around 8000 Companies Looking To Try SQL Servers On Linux

Microsoft recently announced their interest in providing their SQL server software for Linux operating systems. It would seem the news has been well received, with over 8000 companies looking to try SQL servers on Linux.

Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Cloud and Enterprise, stated that by his estimates around 8000 companies were already signed up to try SQL Server 2016 on Linux, with at least 25% of that being fortune 500 companies.

Given that companies like Amazon and Oracle offer similar services, the fact that so many are interested in what Microsoft could provide shows the reputation their software has for businesses. With the move showing that Microsoft is serious not only about the open source community that is commonly found using Linux but also offering alternatives to the cloud for companies to use.

While the cloud offers scalable solutions and choices for companies all over the world, many companies are hesitant to take it on board due to the fact that they lose control over its security and access. Being able to run SQL servers on Linux, using Microsoft’s software would help businesses keep their servers in-house, offering that little bit of choice that companies are often forced to forgo in exchange for cheaper rates.

Epic Games Founder Declares War on Microsoft’s UWP Initiative

Earlier this week, Microsoft unveiled its Universal Windows Platform (UWP) initiative, which intends to unify Windows PC and Xbox One under one homogenous strategy, but also forces game publishers to submit to the company’s distribution model. An influential member of the games industry, however, thinks the program could prove a disaster for consumers, and one that must be fought.

Tim Sweeney, founder of Epic Games, developer of the Gears of War series, thinks that UWP is Microsoft’s attempt at monopolising the PC gaming ecosystem, at the expense of developers, publishers, and distributors alike.

“In my view, this is the most aggressive move Microsoft has ever made,” Sweeney writes in a op-ed piece in The Guardian. “While the company has been convicted of violating antitrust law in the past, its wrongful actions were limited to fights with specific competitors and contracts with certain PC manufacturers.”

“This isn’t like that,” he adds. “Here, Microsoft is moving against the entire PC industry – including consumers (and gamers in particular), software developers such as Epic Games, publishers like EA and Activision, and distributors like Valve and Good Old Games.”

“Microsoft has launched new PC Windows features exclusively in UWP, and is effectively telling developers you can use these Windows features only if you submit to the control of our locked-down UWP ecosystem. They’re curtailing users’ freedom to install full-featured PC software, and subverting the rights of developers and publishers to maintain a direct relationship with their customers.”

Sweeney closes his piece with a call to arms, to both gamers and developers: “As the founder of a major Windows game developer and technology supplier, this is an op-ed I hoped I would never feel compelled to write. But Epic has prided itself on providing software directly to customers ever since I started mailing floppy disks in 1991. We wouldn’t let Microsoft close down the PC platform overnight without a fight, and therefore we won’t sit silently by while Microsoft embarks on a series of sneaky manoeuvres aimed at achieving this over a period of several years.”

Image courtesy of UploadVR.

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?

Rise of the Tomb Raider Was Running in DX12 at Xbox Showcase

Microsoft has been eager to show off new screenshots from Rise of the Tomb Raider, but what’s interesting is that these screenshots were not from the Windows 10 version of the game, but the Xbox One version. To make matters even more interesting, Microsoft has now confirmed that what they revealed was the DX12 version of the game running on the Xbox One.

The demo was shown at the Xbox Showcase Media Event, and Rise of the Tomb Raider was playable at the Xbox Spring Showcase while running in DirectX 12. This is great news for gamers, as more DX12 software is working its way to market, but adds further fuel to the fire that a DirectX 12 patch will be coming to the PC in the near future. Nothing has been confirmed officially, but you can be certain that it’s coming.

“DirectX 12 Showcase: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Ashes of the Singularity, King of Wushu – Square Enix, Snail, and Stardock showcased their latest DirectX 12 enhancements for Rise of the Tomb Raider, King of Wushu, and Ashes of the Singularity on Origin PCs, iBUYPOWER Revolt 2, and Maingear PCs. Ashes of the Singularity is taking advantage the DirectX 12 multi-adapter technology, allowing PCs to use multiple GPUs, even from different manufacturers. Rise of the Tomb Raider was playable for the first time at the Xbox Spring Showcase running DirectX 12.” said Microsoft.

https://youtu.be/kAQRwtfhtFU

What games are you hoping to play in DirectX 12 on PC and even on Xbox One? Are you hoping they get updated to support the new API or are you more interested in upcoming releases? Let us know in the comments section below.

Microsoft’s Unified Gaming Platform Hits More Trouble

Microsoft has long been keen on repairing what can only be described as a damaged relationship with the PC gaming community. After a slew of initial releases, Microsoft’s game for Windows Live has soured many experiences of games the company is directly involved, made worse by the lack of features (and sometimes playability at all) when the service was taken down. Windows 10 looks to save them from this past but the initial signs all point to trouble.

One of the key selling points of Windows 10 is DirectX12, a new system designed to make games run not only faster but smoother with all the benefits of the latest generation of software. With “apps” being downloaded through the Windows 10 App store, sometimes with exclusive releases of big games like Gears Of Wars: Ultimate Edition, the limitations on these releases suddenly becomes frightening for PC gamers.

According to recent reports from Guru3D, when testing the latest Ashes of the Singularity beta disabling the vsync setting wouldn’t actually disable the feature. This is because of the technology used to display games in Windows 10, the windows display driver model 2.0.

You may not notice the problem though as programs downloaded from the store don’t expose an executable file, something that a lot of software uses to help mold their experience. Ever use Steam’s big picture mode or Fraps? They both use executable files from your programs to run, meaning using them with Windows 10 games may be more difficult than expected.

Microsoft has said how much they want to bring PC gamers back to trusting their development and platforms. With items like this happening and the quiet (and disastrous) release of Gears Of War Ultimate Edition on their store, they may be harming rather than helping their reputation with the gaming community.

Microsoft: Windows PCs ‘Do More’ Than Macs

The PC Vs Mac debate has been hotly discussed and analysed for what seems to be since the dawn of time. Over the years, there’s been various arguments which outlines the benefits and drawbacks of both systems which makes for an interesting topic. In the past, Mac users proclaimed Windows was an unstable operating system with poor security. However, Alex Stamos of iSec Partners claimed this was incorrect back in 2011 and said that Mac OS X is “significantly more vulnerable” than Windows 7 when it comes to network-based attacks. On the other hand, David Morgenstern from ZDNet dismissed these theories and believes:

“Searching through F-Secure’s Monthly Security Updates for 2013, I could only find one solitary mention of a Mac or iOS vulnerability, and it was for Microsoft Outlook for Mac. There has be something Windowsy behind it.”

As you can see, there’s still varying opinions on this subject, as people try to defend their purchasing habits. On a personal note, I’ve used Macs, PCs, and even completed a few Hackintosh projects. Both operating systems have their own merits, but I really struggle to understand how easily Apple sells computers with such a low specification for the price point. Furthermore, Apple has a very restricted ethos which revolves around control and prevents the end-user from performing major tweaks. Linux is probably the best option for advanced users wanting total control, but Windows isn’t too shabby in this particular field.

Yesterday, Microsoft unleashed an advertising campaign with the slogan, “PCs do more”. In these videos we see The Bug Chicks teach children about insects using Windows 10 software. As always, these marketing adverts are fairly cringe-worthy but it’s always great to see Microsoft outline the benefits of the PC platform. This is bound to spark a lively debate between PC and Mac users. Here is a complete list of the released videos so far:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6SVsf0k2i0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHoHKjjttvQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ln5LU532GuY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOV1tQpgAs8

Image courtesy of A New World Society.

Baidu Apps Leak Sensitive Information Online

People love their apps, from playing a quick game to doing your shopping while on the move or at work we all have them. Apps are designed to make your life easier, but sometimes things come along that make them more complicated. Apps are just like every other piece of software and with them come security risks, with companies like VTech finding out how bad a hack can be for their reputation and customers. Net giant Baidu has recently found this out as well as  security researchers claim that Baidu Apps leak sensitive information online.

The research conducted by security experts, Citizen Lab, at the University of Toronto state that millions of people could have been affected by everything from their search terms and visited sites to the unique ID numbers of their devices online. The risk comes from a software development kit that people can use to make apps for Android phones and even programs for your windows PC’s. Citizen Lab reported their findings to Baidu back in November and report that some of the bugs have been fixed, with poor encryption still putting people’s data at risk.

With digital security being a big issue these days and large companies being found short on both their knowledge in the area and their responses to threats, Baidu have at least started to fix the problems and Citizen Lab have proven that with a little help we can get somewhere closer to being able to protect our information.

Batmobile Coming to Rocket League

Come March, you can be the hero that Rocket League deserves with the release of the new Batmobile DLC. The new vehicle is an official tie-in with the forthcoming DC sequel – and Justice League precursor – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which pits Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight against the Henry Cavill’s reprised Man of Steel, a battle that eventually unites them with Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and The Flash against emergent antagonists Lex Luthor and Doomsday.

“Fans of Rocket League will soon take control of the iconic Batmobile from the highly anticipated Warner Bros. film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice!” the Rocket League blog reads. “Available Tuesday, March 8, the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Car Pack will put players behind the wheel of the world-famous crime-fighting vehicle, which has been faithfully re-created in Rocket League, to mirror Batman’s ride in the upcoming film.”

“In addition to the Batmobile itself, the Car Pack will also include three exclusive Antenna Flags enabling players to show their allegiance to World’s Finest Trinity: Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman,” it adds. “Priced at $1.99 USD (or regional equivalent), the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Car Pack is officially licensed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and will release on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC via Steam, on March 8!”

Windows 10 Mobile Preview Updated

Microsoft is keen on producing a unified front for their operating systems, both their laptop and PC OS and the one they’ve deployed for Windows 10 Mobile phones. With the Pentagon upgrading their computers to Windows 10 to the operating system becoming a recommended update, we’ve heard only a little about the mobile OS, that was until the latest preview.

The latest preview features improvements to both the Edge browser, the spiritual successor to Internet explorer, to Cortana’s music playing features. Like many apps you can now download, Cortana can listen to music and search for the name and artist of the song, which means no more remembering or noting down lyrics for that google search later in the day.

Edge has been updated with several usability upgrades and fixes, but one of the biggest changes was the download prompt has been “improved”,  meaning you now have a better chance of cancelling those unwanted downloads.

The latest build does come with a small known issue, the voicemail notification and delivery system doesn’t actually work. While you can still check your voicemail, you will have to do so manually.

With fixes addressing everything from phone rebooting errors to not being able to hide the navigation bar in certain 8.1 phone apps, the latest build seems to be a step forward in order to at least make people interested in the mobile OS as a choice when buying a new phone.