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Xbox Outsells PlayStation in the US by $200 million in June, Sets Hardware Sales Record

According to NPD data, Xbox just set a new hardware sales record the past month of June in the U.S., outselling PlayStation to the tune of a cool $200 million. The Xbox division cumulatively brought in a total $401 million dollars in the past month of June, marking a year-over-year (YoY) revenue growth to the tune of 112%. That large, $401 million number also marks a new record for Xbox and its Microsoft parent - the previous revenue record for the Xbox division was set way back in 2011. ten years later, it can be said that Xbox is better than ever before.

That same $401 million revenue from Xbox hardware clearly puts Sony's PlayStation in the rear-view mirror, as the company "only" achieved a $207 million revenue for June 2021 - a 1% decline YoY. That Microsoft managed to pull this off in the hardware shortage scenario we currently live in is impressive; and it does speak to the amount of pent-up demand that's still vying to enter the company's coffers. The record comes a month after Microsoft announced the deployment of Xbox Series X server blades to its xCloud programme, which occurred on June 26th. It appears likely that the company was distributing its Series X production capabilities between the retail sector and its own xCloud service before June 26th (with the additional time required for installation and all that entails), which would explain the sudden record in June. As Microsoft freed xCloud-bound capacity to the retail sector, the record thus ensued.

Microsoft DirectStorage Not a Windows 11 Exclusive

Microsoft DirectStorage API, a game-changing technology that seeks to lower game load times and improve performance, will not be a Windows 11 exclusive, but make it to Windows 10. Shortly following the Windows 11 announcement, it was learned that Microsoft might wall off DirectStorage to Windows 11, which no longer appears to be the case. The DirectStorage Developer Preview is now available, and it works on Windows 10 version 1909 (or later), letting game developers begin exploring the technology and consider integrating it with their current or ongoing game development.

DirectStorage lets a GPU directly stream compressed game assets from an NVMe SSD, where they are uncompressed using compute shaders; cutting out a significant amount of back-and-forth with the CPU, freeing up its hardware resources, resulting in a net gain from reduced game-loading times. This would give gamers on Windows 10 one more reason to remain on the OS until Windows 11 matures. The new OS, however, could have an advantage over Windows 10 on machines with hybrid CPU cores, such as the upcoming "Alder Lake" processors, as its scheduler purportedly has greater awareness of hybrid core topologies.

Microsoft Announces Windows 365 Cloud Streaming Service

Microsoft today announced Windows 365, a cloud service that introduces a new way to experience Windows 10 or Windows 11 (when it becomes available) to businesses of all sizes. Windows 365 takes the operating system to the Microsoft cloud, streaming the full Windows experience — apps, data and settings — to personal or corporate devices. Secure by design and built with the principles of Zero Trust, Windows 365 secures and stores information in the cloud, not on the device, providing a secure, productive experience for workers from interns and contractors to software developers and industrial designers. Windows 365 also creates a new hybrid personal computing category called Cloud PC, which uses both the power of the cloud and the capabilities of the device to provide a full, personalized Windows experience. The announcement represents a groundbreaking development as organizations around the world grapple with the best ways to facilitate hybrid work models where employees are both on-site and distributed across the globe.

PrintNightmare: Microsoft Issues Critical Security Updates for Multiple Versions of Windows

Remember that hideous, remotely exploitable vulnerability on Windows' Print Spooler service, which would enable remote attackers to run code with administrator privileges on your machine? Well, Microsoft seems to be waking up from this particular instance of PrintNightmare, as the company has already issued critical, out-of-band security updates (meaning that they're outside Microsoft's cadenced patch rollout) for several versions of windows. Since the Print Spooler service runs by default and is an integral part of Windows releases (likely since the NT platform development), Microsoft has even pushed out patches to OSs that aren't currently supported.

Microsoft has issued correctives for Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, a variety of supported versions of Windows 10, and even Windows 7. As per Microsoft, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2016, and Windows 10 Version 1607 products are still missing the security patches, but they're being actively worked on and should be released sooner rather than later. The security patches include mitigations for both the PrintNightmare issue (CVE-2021-34527), as well as another Print Spooler vulnerability that's been previously reported (CVE-2021-1675). The mitigations are being distributed via Windows Update, as always, and the relevant packages are KB5004945 through KB5004959 (depending on your version of Windows).

Microsoft Seemingly Looking to Develop AI-based Upscaling Tech via DirectML

Microsoft seems to be throwing its hat in the image upscale battle that's currently raging between NVIDIA and AMD. The company has added two new job openings to its careers page: one for a Senior Software Engineer and another for a Principal Software Engineer for Graphics. Those job openings would be quite innocent by themselves; however, once we cut through the chaff, it becomes clear that the Senior Software Engineer is expected to "implement machine learning algorithms in graphics software to delight millions of gamers," while working closely with "partners" to develop software for "future machine learning hardware" - partners here could be first-party titles or even the hardware providers themselves (read, AMD). AMD themselves have touted a DirectML upscaling solution back when they first introduced their FidelityFX program - and FSR clearly isn't it.

It is interesting how Microsoft posted these job openings in June 30th - a few days after AMD's reveal of their FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) solution for all graphics cards - and which Microsoft themselves confirmed would be implemented in the Xbox product stack, where applicable. Of course, that there is one solution available already does not mean companies should rest on their laurels - AMD is surely at work on improving its FSR tech as we speak, and Microsoft has seen the advantages on having a pure ML-powered image upscaling solution thanks to NVIDIA's DLSS. Whether Microsoft's solution with DirectML will improve on DLSS as it exists at time of launch (if ever) is, of course, unknowable at this point.

Pentagon Cancels $10 Billion Microsoft JEDI Cloud Contract

The Pentagon has recently confirmed that they have canceled the JEDI cloud-computing contract with Microsoft which could have been worth $10 billion. The JEDI contract was awarded to Microsoft in October of 2019 which prompted a slew of legal challenges from Amazon who were widely expected to win the contract claiming the decision was tainted by politics. The Pentagon is now planning to pursue a new Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability contract with Amazon and Microsoft with the potential for other large cloud providers such as Google, IBM, and Oracle to join. The new program appears to be an attempt to placate both companies and will last 5 years with an expected cost in the billions.
PentagonWith the shifting technology environment, it has become clear that the JEDI Cloud contract, which has long been delayed, no longer meets the requirements to fill the DoD's capability gaps.

Microsoft Replaces the Blue Screen of Death with the Black Screen of Death

Microsoft has updated the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) in the latest Windows 11 preview build to now be the Black Screen of Death. The Blue Screen of Death has been included since Windows 1.0 was released in 1985 and has received various changes over the years adding error codes, the sad face, and most recently in 2016 QR codes. The new Black Screen of Death was likely introduced to blend better with modern systems and is functionally identical to the previous version. Microsoft had previously introduced the Green Screen of Death for Windows Insider Preview Builds so if you are running the Windows 11 preview and want to enable the updated BSOD you can set the DisplayPreReleaseColor Variable to 0 in the registry editor (HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\CrashControl) and reboot.

GIGABYTE Motherboards Feature TPM 2.0 Function to Support Windows 11 Upgrade

GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd, a leading manufacturer of motherboards, graphics cards, and hardware solutions, announced that the BIOS of their series motherboards, including Intel X299, C621, C232, C236, C246, 200, 300, 400, 500 lineups, as well as AMD TRX40, 300, 400, 500 motherboards are TPM 2.0 function ready, which can pass the upgraded Windows 11 OS. verification.

Windows 11 is the latest operating system from Microsoft, and features dozens of exciting new functions and Android APP support to effectively improve productivity, system security, and gaming performance. However, most of the users might be confusing that Windows 11 requires TPM 2.0 support means they need a TPM module on board for Windows 11 upgrade.

Microsoft Acknowledges Severe, Unpatched, Actively Exploited Print Spooler Service Vulnerability "PrintNightmare"

Microsoft has acknowledged the existence of a severe and currently unpatched vulnerability in Windows' Print Spooler service (CVE-2021-34527). The vulnerability affects all versions of Windows, and is being actively exploited as per Microsoft. Poetically named "PrintNightmare", the vulnerability was published earlier this week as a PoC (Proof of Concept) exploit by security researchers, which believed the flaw had already been addressed by Microsoft at time of release (the company patched up another Print Spooler vulnerability issue with the June 2021 security patch). The code was made public and quickly scrapped when developers realized it gave would-be bad actors access to an unpatched way into users' systems - but since it's the Internet, the code had already been forked in GitHub.

The vulnerability isn't rated by the Windows developer as of yet, but it's one of the bad ones: it allows attackers to remotely execute code with system-level privileges. This is the ultimate level of security vulnerability that could exist. Microsoft is currently investigating the issue and developing a patch; however, given the urgency in closing down this exploit, the company is recommending disabling of the Windows Print Spooler service wherever possible, or at least disabling inbound remote printing through Group Policy. If you don't have a printer, just disable the service; if you do, please disable the Group Policy as per the steps outlined in the image below.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Update 5 Improves Performance Tremendously, Available July 27th

The upcoming Update 5 for the Asobo Studio-developed Microsoft Flight Simulator will be a welcome boon to any and all players of the simulator. The development studio has issued an update via YouTube describing the performance improvements they've seen with their latest work into the game engine, which has integrated DX 12 capability - taking advantage of its "closer to the metal" capabilities so as to improve performance.

The update is dropping on July 27th, the same time that the game will be made available on the Xbox family of consoles. One can easily construe a scenario where Update 5's DX 12 and performance optimizations were made mostly as a way to make the game perform better on Xbox console hardware - the game is absolutely capable of bringing the most powerful graphics cards in the world to their knees at high resolutions and highest quality settings. With the same hardware, quality settings and playable scenario, average performance went from 32-40 FPS before the update up to the 55-60 interval post Update 5 optimizations. The update sees CPU utilization dropping by 25%; memory usage drop by 50%; and GPU utilization climbs from 75% up to 100%. Look for the break for a video showcasing the latest version of Microsoft Flight Simulator - with Update 5 applied.

Windows 11 to Enable Dynamic Refresh Rate on the Desktop - A Hint of Support for Multi Chip Module GPUs?

Microsoft seemingly has one more trick up its sleeve to increase attractiveness of Windows 11. Via a Microsoft blog post, the company revealed that Windows 11 will introduce support for Dynamic Refresh Rate on the Desktop, the 2-D realm of work e-mails, personal accounting, and social media. This means that Windows will be able to dynamically change your screen's refresh rate to save power consumption - scaling it to the scenario at hand.

For example: if you are reading a TechPowerUp article, Windows will dynamically reduce the refresh rate down to 60 Hz while you do so to conserve power. However, should any user interaction occur, such as a mouse movement or other input (like moving the browser window down and revealing a TechPowerUp wallpaper), Windows will automatically restore the refresh rate to its user-defined value.

Microsoft Considers Tweaking Windows 11 TPM Requirement to Include Zen 1 and 7th Gen Core

In more reason why Microsoft's requirement for hardware trusted platform modules for its upcoming Windows 11 operating system is arbitrary, the company revealed that it is willing to tweak the hardware TPM system requirements to accommodate platforms from 2017, which include the very first generation of AMD "Zen" (Ryzen 1000 series), and Intel 7th Gen Core "Kaby Lake." In a Windows Insider blog posted dated June 28, Microsoft explained in brief why Windows 11 needs TPM 2.0 hardware, and that the "PC Health Check App," the software tool Microsoft is giving users to check whether their PCs measure up to Windows 11, has been temporarily removed from the website while they work on getting its accuracy right.
"The intention of today's post is to acknowledge and clarify the confusion caused by our PC Health Check tool, share more details as to why we updated the system requirements for Windows 11 and set the path for how we will learn and adjust. Below you will find changes we are making based on that feedback, including ensuring we have the ability for Windows Insiders to install Windows 11 on 7th generation processors to give us more data about performance and security, updating our PC Health check app to provide more clarity, and committing to more technical detail on the principles behind our decisions. With Windows 11, we are focused on increasing security, improving reliability, and ensuring compatibility. This is what drives our decisions.

Certain "Special Purpose Systems" Variants of Windows 11 Ship Without the TPM 2.0 Requirement

Perhaps the most controversial system requirement of the upcoming Windows 11 operating system is the need for a hardware trusted platform module that meets TPM 2.0 specs. Most modern computers fulfill this requirement using fTPM (firmware TPM) solutions built into their processors; and those that don't, have TPM headers for add-on TPMs, which scalpers have their eye on. It turns out, that Microsoft is designing special variants of Windows 11 for special contracts Microsoft will execute.

Computers sold under the scheme will be marked "special purpose systems," and the Windows 11 version running them will do away with the TPM 2.0 requirement. These systems are very likely to be Government or Military; or perhaps even variants Microsoft exports to countries like China and Russia, which have their own specialized cybersecurity policies and dictate software to be written a certain way to be sold in the country.

NVIDIA and Global Partners Launch New HGX A100 Systems to Accelerate Industrial AI and HPC

NVIDIA today announced it is turbocharging the NVIDIA HGX AI supercomputing platform with new technologies that fuse AI with high performance computing, making supercomputing more useful to a growing number of industries.

To accelerate the new era of industrial AI and HPC, NVIDIA has added three key technologies to its HGX platform: the NVIDIA A100 80 GB PCIe GPU, NVIDIA NDR 400G InfiniBand networking, and NVIDIA Magnum IO GPUDirect Storage software. Together, they provide the extreme performance to enable industrial HPC innovation.

Thanks to Windows 11, Scalpers Buy Out Add-on TPM 2.0 Modules

Most modern PC platforms include an fTPM (firmware trusted platform module) of some form. Those that don't, have a TPM 2.0 compatible header on the motherboards. Microsoft's requirement of a hardware TPM for Windows 11 has scalpers go after add-on TPMs, which are typically priced around $20, but now marked up to $100, according to price-tracking by Shen Ye, a senior HTC VIVE exec, who has been tracking prices of add-on TPMs on Twitter.

Scalpers possibly anticipate a rush of ill-informed buyers out for add-on TPMs, who haven't spent 5 minutes digging through their UEFI setup programs for the fTPM toggle. Below is a screenshot of a Ryzen 7 2700X-based machine, paired with an AMD B450 chipset motherboard (a platform from 2018), with its fTPM toggle turned on. The PC now meets Windows 11 system requirements. Windows 11 uses hardware TPMs for secure storage of credentials. "Microsoft, can you not impose a TPM requirement during a silicon shortage? Especially considering most desktop motherboards support TPM only as a purchasable accessory," Shen Ye tweeted.

AMD FSR FidelityFX Super Resolution is Coming to Xbox Consoles

Just a few days ago, we have reviewed AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution technology, which represents an answer to NVIDIA's Deep Learning Super Sampling technology used to upscale images t certain resolutions. As the review predicted, AMD's presence in consoles like PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S must result in the integration of the technology in that field, not only the PC space. And today seems to be the day that Microsoft and AMD join forces to bring AMD's FSR technology to consoles. In the latest Xbox Game Development Kit preview, Microsoft is shipping AMD's FSR tech, giving game developers an easy way to integrate it into the games and thus manipulate resolution to give us the best possible frame rates.
Jason Ronald (Twitter)Excited to continue our close partnership with @AMD and see what game developers can do with FidelityFX Super Resolution, available to preview in our GDK today for @Windows, @Xbox Series X|S and #XboxOne consoles.

Microsoft Announces Windows 11 is Coming as a Free Upgrade Over Windows 10

Yesterday, we reported the launch of Microsoft's next-generation Windows 11 operating system. Featuring a broad range of improvements that include the new and redesigned UI elements, 40% smaller updates, layouts, widgets, and a bunch of other stuff, existing Windows 10 users are wondering how and when they will be able to experience the new OS. The OS is coming later this year, with some preview beta builds supposed to arrive in the coming weeks. That means that a large portion of people is interested in trying out even the beta version. However, there is an important note about the new OS. When it officially comes out, all of the existing Windows 10 users can upgrade to Windows 11 for free, by just performing the software update.

To run the new OS, Microsoft lists a few new requirements like 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, 1+ GHz dual-core processor, and Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0. The TPM 2.0 needs to be physically present, however, it is often turned off in BIOS, so future users need to enable it in BIOS as well. For more details, please head over to Microsoft website to find greater details on the upgrade.

Microsoft Account and Internet Connection Mandatory for Windows 11 Home Setup

Windows 11 Home setup will require you to have a Microsoft account and a working Internet connection handy. "Windows 11 Home edition requires internet connectivity and a Microsoft Account to complete device setup on first use," lists Microsoft as part of the operating system's requirements. In addition, all editions of Windows 11 will require Internet connection to receive updates, and a Microsoft Account for some tasks. "For all Windows 11 editions, internet access is required to perform updates and to download and take advantage of some features. A Microsoft account is required for some features," it adds. The requirement for Internet makes sense as Microsoft will be using Windows Update as the main medium of distributing Windows 11. It will be offered as a free upgrade for existing Windows 10 users.

Microsoft Launches Windows 11 Operating System

Microsoft is today holding a virtual Windows Event to showcase what is next for Windows. As we have made reports earlier in the past few weeks, the Redmond giant has shown-off the next-generation Windows 11 operating system, which will make a major improvement compared to Windows 10 both internally and as far as looks are concerned. We were live-blogging all of that, and at exactly, 11 am Eastern Time. You can find the whole live blog below, and check out the new Windows 11 OS features.

14:43 UTC: The event is about to start...

Microsoft Joins the Very Exclusive $2 Trillion Valuation Club

Microsoft on Tuesday achieved another milestone on its road as a publicly traded company - the $2 trillion valuation milestone, that is. Microsoft may have felt slightly stung when Apple crossed that threshold first in 2020, but slowly and surely sure does pave the way. Microsoft crossed the $2 trillion valuation mark after its share rose by 1.2%. The company is currently having some of the best quarters in its history, with the latest quarter bringing in revenue increases of around $41.7 billion, and a clean, tidy, enormous $15.5 billion in profit during the same time.

Microsoft's shares have increased some 20% YoY already, and the acceleration from its $1 trillion market cap is nothing short of grandiose. The company took 33 years from its IPO (Initial Public Offering) to reach the $1 trillion valuation in 2019 - and it took them less than two years to double that to $2 trillion. COVID, of course, has its microscopic toes in this success, but so does Microsoft's increased investment and returns in gaming, as well as the lift-off of its cloud business.

Philips Momentum, The World's First Monitor Designed for Xbox

[Editor's note: This press release comes from the US division of Philips, so the news is more relevant to the USA.]

Envision Peripherals, Inc. (EPI), an affiliate of TPV Technology Limited (TPV) Philips' monitor license partner, announces the release of the world's first Designed for Xbox console gaming monitor. Philips Momentum Designed for Xbox console gaming monitors are built from the ground up to provide the ultimate experience for Xbox fans. These Designed for Xbox console gaming monitors set the standard for Xbox gaming. The inclusion of the new HDMI 2.1 spec now enables next-gen console gaming with 4K resolution and faster 120Hz refresh rates for ultra-clear and ultra-smooth gaming performance. Taking it the next level, TPV partnered with Xbox to tune these "Designed for Xbox" displays to deliver the optimal validated Xbox Series X performance from the moment you plug it in.

Unlike televisions, Philips Momentum gaming monitors are built for console gaming, with low latency and low lag as priorities to provide a much smoother, more realistic gaming experience. The series' low input lag is a great advantage when playing twitch-sensitive video games, allowing the input to register on the screen faster. The flagship 55" Philips Momentum (559M1RYV) will include a specially designed speaker enclosure from the engineers at Bowers & Wilkins, the British loudspeaker company globally renowned for their innovative designs and sound engineering, that completes the experience.

AMD FSR Supporting 7 Games at Launch, 12 More Games to be Added in the Near Future

AMD's DLSS competitor FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) is going to be launched in a mere five days, on June 22nd. When AMD announced the technology last month, they used Godfall as a showcase for the improved performance characteristics of the technology, which should aid (particularly) in raytracing.enabled games. Being open source, AMD's FSR also supports NVIDIA's graphics cards, meaning that any game that bakes in support for the technology can be taken advantage of by PC players irrespective of GPU brand.

In the meantime, the launch titles for FSR have become known, and there are seven of them, though they're relatively small hitters (Anno 1800 is one of the supported games at launch). However, support for FSR is expected to launch in the near future for 12 more games, including heavy-hitter Baldur's Gate III, DOTA 2, Far Cry 6, Myst, Resident Evil Village and Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodhunt. Besides these closer-to-the-horizon games, a number of developers have announced they're working on integration FSR on their workflows, including Crystal Dynamics, Focus Home Interactive, Capcom, Ubisoft, Unity, Electronic Arts & Dice... A total of 44 developers in all, Of course NVIDIA's DLSS supports much more games - but remember it has two years in the market going for it, and remember that DLSS 1.0 wasn't all that good. So comparisons with NVIDIA's solution and claims of failure or disappointment on AMD's technology might be slightly too early judgments, especially considering how this tech has also been announced to be supported by Microsoft's Xbox Series X|S consoles.

Microsoft Acknowledges Windows 10 Taskbar Text Clarity Issue

Microsoft has recently acknowledged the blurry text issue encountered with the News and interests button in the taskbar. The issue was introduced with update KB5001391 and affects users with certain monitor configurations. This can affect users running Windows 21H1, 20H2, 2004, and 1909 and Microsoft has confirmed that they are working on a solution to be released in a future update. The only "solution" currently available is to disable the News and interests text and icon.
MicrosoftAfter installing KB5001391 or later updates, the news and interests button in the Windows taskbar might have blurry text on certain display configurations.

Windows 11 ISO Leaks to the Web, New Start Screen, Mac-like Centered Dock, Rounded Edges

Alleged screenshots of Microsoft's upcoming operating system, the Windows 11, were leaked to the web ahead of its June 24 unveiling. The screenshots reveal a user interface that has several tie-ins with the current Windows 10, although enough is there to set it apart. For starters, the Start "menu" (if you can call it that), looks less like a menu, and more like a pop-out window with icons and actions, much like the macOS Finder. Icons pinned to the taskbar or open, are centered. The clock and system tray is still where it should be.

Windows Explorer features a familiar ribbon-type user interface, although there are changes to the icons. It's laid out exactly like in Windows 10. A thing to notice here is the window theme itself, which is single-tone, and with rounded edges. The "News and Interests" menu that surfaced in the recent Windows 10 update is more full-featured. User interface is only a fraction of what makes up a Windows major version, and Windows 11 is said to feature major under-the-hood changes, such as a new scheduler that's better suited for the upcoming hybrid x86 core processors from Intel and AMD.

Microsoft Clears Way for Windows 11: Windows 10 Support to End October 14th, 2025

Microsoft has revealed the date when support for Windows 10 is going to end - effectively confirming that their original vision of Windows 10 being "the last Windows OS ever" is now dead. The information comes from Microsoft's own update to Windows 10's support life cycle page, which the company has amended with the final resting date set for October 14th 2025 for both Home and Pro versions of the operating system. Previously, the support life cycle page listed end of support dates for various release versions of Windows 10 - not the entire OS.

Adding this to the announcement that Windows would get a new, "next-gen" update; the related teaser art which omits the shadow of the window crossbar, making the cast shadow look either basically unrealistic (some Raytracing seems to be needed by Microsoft's art personnel) or, infinitely more likely, the omitted shadow serves to approximate the cast shadows as much as possible to 11. No official announcement by Microsoft, but usually 1 + 1 = 2.
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