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Microsoft Reconsiders: No More Forced Updates in Windows 10

One of the big no-nos for some users looking to upgrade do Windows 10 was the fact that Microsoft enforced constant, 6-month update cycles independent of whether users wanted them or not. This move was done to streamline the update process and keep all users at parity when it comes to important security and feature updates that Microsoft considered relevant. However, it seems Microsoft is now abandoning this practice, which means that users that like to know exactly what is being changed in their systems - and at a time of their convenience - now have one less reason to not upgrade.

Not only will Windows no longer push updates inadvertently, now home users will also have the ability to not only pause updates, but also remove them. There's a caveat, though - you won't be able to postpone feature updates forever. As it stands, Microsoft has an 18 month "end of life" period for major Windows 10 versions, which means that after your 18 months of postponing updates are up (and all of the kinks have been ironed out), you PC will still update to the latest version. There are some other details, which I will transcribe from the Microsoft blog post for your perusal.

Maxon Offers Cinebench R20 Direct Download -Microsoft Store Not Required

Originally Cinebench R20 was released to the Microsoft Store which as you can probably guess caused a bit of negative PR for Maxon due to the benchmarks popularity within the enthusiast community. What really seemed to fuel the fire was the fact it was always freely distributed just about everywhere even here on TechPowerUp. Fast forward to the latest release and with it being locked to a digital walled garden of sorts really didn't sit too well within the community. However, it did not take long for enterprising enthusiasts to discover you could make it standalone.

This prompted Maxon to request the hosted files be taken down which generated quite the discussion within our own forums both for and against the move. Yet in the end, Maxon's reasoning behind their decision still remains a bit perplexing and with little clarity. Even more so now as the company has released there very own standalone version. Which leads us to wonder why they went about doing things in this circuitous manner in the first place. Still, this standalone release will likely be met with much more fanfare, well that is if the download link pointed to the right files. Currently, the official download page will direct users to a Mac .dmg file, which seems to be a copy and paste mistake. We figured out the correct link, it's listed below.
Download: Maxon Cinebench R20

Maxon Sends Legal Threats to PC Enthusiast Websites Hosting Portable Cinebench R20 Downloads

Maxon last week week posted its Cinebench R20 CPU benchmark. Breaking convention, the company behind rendering software such as Cinema 4D R20, did not host the installer of Cinebench R20 on its own website. Instead, the software is being exclusively distributed through Microsoft Store (for Windows) and Apple App Store (for the MacOS platform). Several reputable PC enthusiast websites such as Guru3D and us, were bombarded by comments from their readers that they didn't like having to get their Cinebench R20 copy from "walled garden DRM platforms," and instead preferred portable versions of the software. Cinebench R20 is freeware, and so with good intentions, many PC enthusiast websites decided to build portable versions of Cinebench R20 that people can just unzip and run. Maxon did not take kindly to this.

Guru3D received legal threats from Maxon to take down their download hosting of Cinebench R20 portable. Facing these threats, Guru3D took down their download and amended their news articles with links to the Microsoft DRM store. The e-mail we received politely asked us to remove the "unauthorized download" but did include a threat that the company "reserves the next legal steps." We believe this behavior by Maxon is unfair, and will alienate a section of PC enthusiasts form Cinebench. No record-seeking PC enthusiast with an LN2 bench painstakingly set up has time to plug their machine to the Internet, launch the UWP store, evade attempts to get them to log in with a Microsoft account, and fetch Cinebench R20 with versions they have no control over. They'd rather install and run their benchmarks and tools off a flash drive, with control over versions, and the ability to keep their machines offline to stabilize their overclock. Many others simply hate DRM platforms for freeware. TechPowerUp has since taken down Cinebench R20 portable from its Downloads section. You can find it on Microsoft UWP Store.

Maxon Releases Cinebench R20 Benchmark

Maxon Tuesday unveiled its Cinebench R20 benchmark designed to test CPU performance at photorealistic rendering using the company's Cinema 4D R20 technology. The benchmark runs on any PC with at least 4 GB of memory and SSE3 instruction-set support, although it can scale across any number of cores, memory, and supports exotic new instruction-sets such as AVX2. Maxon describes Cinebench R20 as using four times the memory, and eight times the CPU computational power as Cinebench R15. The benchmark implements Intel Embree ray-tracing engine. Maxon is distributing Cinebench R20 exclusively through the Microsoft Store on the Windows platform.

Unlike its predecessor, Cinebench R20 lacks a GPU test. The CPU test scales by the number of CPU cores and SMT units available. It consists of a tiled rendering of a studio apartment living room scene by Render Baron, which includes ray-traced elements, high resolution textures, illumination, and reflections. The number of logical processors available determines the number of rendering instances. The benchmark does indeed have a large memory footprint, and rewards HTT or SMT and high clock-speeds, as our own quick test shows. A 4-core/8-thread Core i7-7700K beats our Core i5-9400F 6-core/6-thread processor.

Update (11th March): We have removed the portable version download at Maxon's request.
DOWNLOAD: Maxon Cinebench R20 (Microsoft Store)

Square Enix Puts Final Fantasy XV Up for Pre-order and Releases Benchmark Tool

Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition will be released on March 6, but hardcore fans can pre-order the game now through Steam, Origin, or the Microsoft Store. The $49.99 price tag remains the same independent of the place of purchase. However, the preorder bonus differs hugely. Consumers who pre-order through Steam will receive the "FFXV Fashion Collection" which contains a collection of four t-shirts with different buffs for Noctis to wear. The buffs include strength enhancement, HP recovery rate acceleration, critical hit rate boost, and maximum HP increase. Microsoft Store preorders, on the other hand, come with a "FFXV Powerup pack" that provides players with a sleek Dodanuki sword which reduces enemy defense with each slash, 10 phoenix downs, and 10 elixirs. Origin seems to draw the short straw this time around. The Origin preorder bonus is the "FFXV Decal Selection" comprised of different decals to modify the cosmetics of the Regalia car.

Square Enix has graciously released a benchmark application to help future Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition players configure the game to get the best performance out of their systems. The zip file weighs around 3.37 GB and is available for download right here at TechPowerUp, or, if you don't like our servers for some unfathomable reason... from the developer's website. The benchmark only runs on 64-bit versions of Windows and requires Microsoft .NET Framework 4.6 to be present on the system. Users also need to have a graphics card that supports DirectX 11 and a monitor with a minimum resolution of 1280 x 720. Unfortunately, NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire configurations are not supported at this time. The application lets users choose between the Lite, Standard, and High quality presets and resolutions from 1280 x 720, 1920 x 1080 to 3840 x 2160. The entire run takes around 6 minutes and 30 seconds. The score and performance evaluation are provided at the end of the run.

Microsoft to Introduce Telemetry Data Viewer for Windows

Remember all that talk and noise regarding Microsoft's "automagical" telemetry data collection, and how that spurred the company to create a "telemetry-less" version of its Windows 10 operating system for the Chinese market? It seems Microsoft is keen to keep giving users more information on exactly what information is gathered and when - slowly but assuredly striving for greater transparency, and looking to garner increased trust from consumers and enterprises alike.

The much awaited capability is being baked in to the next major Windows 10 release, and Microsoft is giving Windows Insiders an early preview of the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer utility. Adding to this new utility are some changes to the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard that will enable users to see and manage more data associated with their Microsoft accounts. Available to everyone in the Microsoft Store, the Diagnostic Data Viewer is separate from the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard, and "allows you to see, search, and take action with your diagnostic data." It's not clear yet what sort of telemetry features users will be able to stop Microsoft from collecting, if any. However, at least now you'll be able to look at exactly which processes and services are collecting data form your system. The diagnostic data that will be viewable in the new utility follows.

Injustice 2 Available for $50 on Steam and Windows Store

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment today announced that the top-selling and critically acclaimed videogame Injustice2 is available now for PC via Steam and the Microsoft Store. Originally developed by NetherRealm Studios, Injustice2 has been adapted for PC by QLOC and will allow PC players to experience the super-powered hit game featuring Justice League characters Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg, as well as other iconic DC characters such as Harley Quinn and Green Arrow.

All DLC currently available for Injustice2 on consoles (Red Hood, Sub Zero, Starfire, Black Manta, and Raiden) are available now for the PC version through the PC Injustice 2 Ultimate Edition, Injustice 2 Ultimate Pack, or Fighter Pack #1 and Fighter Pack #2. The latest Hellboy DLC, released today for PlayStation4, Xbox One X, and Xbox One, will be available at a later date.
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