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Microsoft Pulls Windows 10 October 2018 Update

Over the weekend Microsoft has stopped delivery of their latest Windows 10 October 2018 Update (Build 1809). Many user reported serious issues with the new version, with the biggest problem being the deletion of files in "My Documents". Some users have reportedly lost hundreds of Gigabytes of data, containing decades of their life's work. Another scary experience was that in an enterprise environment, where "My Documents" was mounted from a server, with shared subfolders, the update erased all the documents on the network server. Let's hope the affected people have backups. Reportedly copies on OneDrive aren't affected.

Other users are having issues with drivers not installing properly, or the system crashing during a driver install. Another Microsoft bulletin goes into detail that using an Intel Audio Device with the new update "may result in excessive processor demand and reduced battery lifemay result in excessive processor demand and reduced battery life".

Windows 10 October 2018 Update Starts Rolling Out

Microsoft began rolling out Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809) through its regular update channels. The update introduces several improvements to the operating system's user interface, expand on its Timeline features that let you pick up your work where you left off, and comes with a boatload of under the hood performance improvements relevant to PC enthusiasts and gamers. These include the latest update to DirectX that adds DirectX Ray-tracing API features (DXR), the latest version of WDDM, and native HDR standards management settings via Display Settings. To get it, simply make Windows check for updates.
The change-log follows.

Intel Gags Customers from Publishing Performance Impact of Microcode Updates

Much of the secret sauce that made Intel processors faster than AMD is going sour, as the cybersecurity community is finding gaping security vulnerabilities by exploiting features such as speculative execution. Intel's microcode updates that mitigate these vulnerabilities impact performance. Intel isn't too happy about public performance numbers put out by its customers, which it fears could blunt the competitive edge of its products. The company has hence updated the license terms governing the microcode update distribution to explicitly forbid its users from publishing comparative "before/after" performance numbers of patched processors.

The updated license for the microcode update has this controversial sentence (pay attention to "v"):
"You will not, and will not allow any third party to (i) use, copy, distribute, sell or offer to sell the Software or associated documentation; (ii) modify, adapt, enhance, disassemble, decompile, reverse engineer, change or create derivative works from the Software except and only to the extent as specifically required by mandatory applicable laws or any applicable third party license terms accompanying the Software; (iii) use or make the Software available for the use or benefit of third parties; or (iv) use the Software on Your products other than those that include the Intel hardware product(s), platform(s), or software identified in the Software; or (v) publish or provide any Software benchmark or comparison test results."

AsRock Confirms Z390 Motherboard in Its Support Pages

Via its support pages, AsRock has spilled the beans on at least five of their upcoming motherboards based on Intel's upcoming Z390 chipset in their Live Update & App services. The naming scheme of these motherboards is in-line with previous ASRock lineups, and there shouldn't be any confusion as to their tiering. The motherboards hence confirmed are the Z390 Extreme4, Z390 Pro4, Z390 Taichi, Z390 Taichi Ultimate, and the Z390M Pro4.

ASUS Releasing 9th Gen Core Supporting BIOS Updates

ASUS announced that it is releasing motherboard BIOS updates that add 9th generation Core "Whiskey Lake" processor compatibility for almost its entire Intel 300-series chipset motherboard family. This includes models based on H310, B360, Q370, and H370 chipsets, and not just the top Z370. Intel is expected to debut its 9th generation Core processor family with three SKUs later this year: the Core i9-9900K, the Core i7-9700K, and the Core i5-9600K. The tables below list motherboard models alongside the minimum BIOS version you'll need for "Whiskey Lake" compatibility. You'll find your BIOS in the "support" tab of the product page of your motherboard on ASUS website.

No Man's Sky NEXT Update Elevates the Game to What It Was Always Supposed to Be

Hello Games has released the definitive update to No Man's Sky: the one that shores up many of the game's weaknesses and delivers what we were promised nearly two years ago. The game has had a steady stream of incremental, evolutionary updates to its core systems, in the meantime. But none have been as comprehensive and game changing - immediately or for the way they prepare the future - as the 1.5 update, codenamed NEXT, that dropped today.

Among the additions - and trust me, these are grand in both number and scope - the NEXT update introduces a full multiplayer experience, near-unlimited base building, command of freighter armadas, a graphical overhaul, multiple quality of life improvements, revised systems and HUD, increased variance, even more procedurally-generated bits and pieces, third-person view support... it's a real expansion that's being distributed for free, and which stands to offer more than some game sequels ever managed to do. Look after the break for a rundown of the changes - then boot up the game, grab a cup of coffee, prepare your screenshot utilities, and enjoy the ride.

World of Warcraft Engine Updated to Support DX12, Adds 21:9 Cinematic Rendering

The folks at Blizzard have taken it into their hands to update the eons-old, but still running strong, World of Warcraft. Some back-end improvements have been made, and were essentially lost within the latest patch notes - as in, not even mentioned - that included this update to the latest API. The game now supports DX11 and DX12, but there's a caveat - only AMD users should use the DX12 implementation. Players using an NVIDIA graphics card will see an immediate performance hit from going to the more modern renderer. For now, the change is virtual - there doesn't seem to have been any particular work for performance improvements.

Other changes include ditching Exclusive Fullscreen (now only windowed and borderless windowed modes are available), improving the cinematic renderer for 21:9 ratio support, and changing graphical options. The performance presets of low, medium and high have been swapped with 1-10 sliders (a change prior to this patch), which allow for more granular control of graphics options - and improved performance, since more rendering variables are now affected. The game really does run extremely well nowadays, however; it seems a little counter intuitive to devote the resources to add DX12 support for barely any real improvement, so this could be the herald of future changes.

EVGA X299 DARK BIOS Update Includes In-BIOS Stress Test and OC Robot

A new BIOS Update is available now for the EVGA X299 DARK Motherboard which features several brand new exclusive features. This new update is further proof of EVGA's commitment to the enthusiast community, and these new features will also be standard on all future EVGA enthusiast motherboards.

Key Features of the New EVGA GUI BIOS:
  • Built in CPU Stress Test - Test your CPU overclock with the click of a button from directly in the BIOS! No reboot needed.
  • EVGA OC Robot - Automatically test and find a stable overclock for your system.
  • Gamer Mode - Set a conservative overclock in seconds.

Valve Disables CS:GO Lootboxes in Belgium & Netherlands

Following Valve's decision to disable trading in the Netherlands due to that country's legal statutes regarding gambling, the company is now taking other steps to comply with the country's Dutch Gaming Authority. Players in the Netherlands and Belgium "will be restricted from opening containers" following this week's patch, according to the patch notes. This will prevent players in those countries from even opening the lootboxes. As the "Miscellaneous" section of the patch notes reads:
  • Updated Steam and CS:GO account restrictions for users in Netherlands and Belgium:
  • Steam Trading and Steam Market features are now re-enabled for Steam accounts in Netherlands.
  • Customers in Netherlands and Belgium will be restricted from opening containers.

Intel Releases "Spectre" Hardening Microcode Updates for "Ivy Bridge" thru "Westmere" Architectures

Intel today released the latest round of CPU micro-code updates for its processors, which expand support for Intel processor microarchitectures ranging all the way back to 1st generation Core "Westmere," and "Lynnfield," and including "Sandy Bridge" and "Ivy Bridge" along the way, at various stages of roll-out (beta, pre-production, and production). This update probably features hardening against "Spectre" variant 4, and perhaps even RSRR (rogue system register read) variant 3A, chronicled in CVE-2018-3640.

AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.5.1 WHQL Drivers

AMD today released Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.5.1 WHQL drivers. These are the first WHQL-certified drivers from the company for Windows 10 April 2018 Update, complying with WDDM 2.4, and support not just AMD Radeon discrete GPUs, but also Ryzen "Raven Ridge" APUs with integrated Radeon Vega graphics. The drivers support Microsoft PlayReady 3.0 DRM on "Polaris" GPUs.

Besides these features, Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.5.1 WHQL comes with optimization for "Ancestors Legacy," with up to 6 percent higher frame-rates at 1080p, measured with an RX Vega 56, and up to 13 percent higher frame rates on an RX 580 (8 GB) at 1080p. The update fixes HBCC not resetting to default value when "Restore Factory Defaults" option is used in Radeon Settings. It also addresses ReLive streaming to Facebook intermittently failing; Netflix users experiencing display corruption on "Polaris" multi-GPU systems, abnormally high game load times in "Destiny 2," and fixes for screen tearing observed on FreeSync displays with performance metrics enabled.
DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.5.1 WHQL

The change-log follows.

Intel Stops Development, Deployment of Spectre Microcode Update for Several CPU Families

Intel on their latest Microcode Revision Guidance Guide has apparently stopped development of mitigations for some of its processor families that still haven't been updated to combat the threat of Spectre. The odyssey for the return to form of security on Intel products has been a steep, and a slow one, as the company has struggled to deploy mitigations for speculative code execution on its processor families that run it. Updates for some families of products, however - such as Penryn, Wolfdale, Bloomfield and Yorkfield, among others - are apparently not going to get an update at all.

Upcoming Quake Champions Update Brings New Character and Game Modes

Quake Champions continues to grow and evolve in Early Access thanks to new content, features, and improvements driven by feedback from the community. Next Thursday, 15th March, id Software will roll out the next big free update for Quake Champions, delivering new ways to play and fun new looks. This will include the return of Instagib - the first new game mode added since closed beta - the introduction of 'No Abilities Mode' in custom games; a new 2v2 version of Ranked Play for competitive players and a variety of fresh seasonal cosmetics to commemorate the coming of Spring.

Microsoft Pushes New Software-Based Spectre, Meltdown Mitigation Patches

The Spectre/Meltdown road is long and pocked with lawsuits and security holes as it is, and Microsoft is one of the players that's trying to put the asphalt back to tip-top, Autobahn-worth shape. The company has already improved users' security to the Meltdown and Spectre exploits on its OS side; however, hardware patches, and specifically BIOS-editing ones are much harder to deploy and distribute by the PC chain. That may be one of the reasons why Microsoft is now again stepping up with software-based mitigations for Intel-based systems, specifically.

The new updates introduce a software-based CPU microcode revision update, and work at the OS-level to plug some security holes on your Intel processors that might otherwise remain unpatched. The reasons for them remaining unpatched can be many: either Intel taking even more time to deploy patches to the still vulnerable systems; your OEMs not deploying the Intel CPU microcode revisions via a BIOS update; or the good old "I forgot I could do it" user story. Of course, being software based means these Microsoft patches will have to be reapplied should users format their Windows system. The update can for now only be manually downloaded and installed, and can only be applied to version 1709 (Fall Creators Update) and Windows Server version 1709 (Server Core), but that's definitely better than the alternative of forcing less knowledgeable users to try and find their way through BIOS updates. Of course, that is assuming OEMs will ever push BIOS updates to their products.

Intel Finally Ready With Security Microcode Updates for Broadwell, Haswell

Via updated documents on its Microcode Revision guide, Intel has revealed that they have finally developed and started deploying microcode security updates for their Broadwell and Haswell-based microprocessors. The microcode update comes after a flurry of nearly platform-specific updates that aimed to mitigate known vulnerabilities in Intel's CPUs to the exploits known as Spectre and Meltdown.

While that's good news, Intel's patching odyssey still isn't over, by any means. According to Intel's documentation, the Spectre fixes for Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge are still in beta and are being tested by hardware partners, so that's two other architectures that still remain vulnerable. Of course, this discussion of who's vulnerable and isn't really can't be reduced to which architectures Intel has released its updates to. Users have to remember that the trickle-down process from Intel's patch validation and distribution through manufacturers to end users' systems is a morose one, and is also partially in the hands of sometimes not too tech-savy users. Time will tell if these flaws will have any major impact in some users or businesses.

Intel Deploys Microcode Update for Spectre Flaw on Skylake

In another step of our Spectre/Meltdown odyssey, Intel has started deployment of a fixed update for its Skylake processors, which aims to neuter chances of a malicious attacker exploiting the (now) known vulnerabilities. This update, which comes after a botched first update attempt that was causing widespread system reboots and prompted Intel to change its update guidelines, is only for the Skylake platform; other Intel CPUs' updates remain in Beta state, and there's no word on when they might see a final deployment.

The new microcode is being distributed to industry partners, so that they can include it in a new range of firmware updates that will, hopefully, end the instability and vulnerabilities present in current mobile and desktop Skylake implementations. Users of other Intel architectures will still have to wait a while longer before updates for their systems are certified by Intel, distributed to industry partners, and then trickle to end users via firmware updates.

MSI Outs Socket AM4 Motherboard BIOS Updates for "Raven Ridge" APU Support

MSI is among the first motherboard manufacturers to release BIOS updates for its entire socket AM4 motherboard lineup, to enable support for Ryzen 3 2200G and Ryzen 5 2400G APUs, based on the "Raven Ridge" silicon. With the two chips installed, you will finally be able to use the DVI, D-Sub, HDMI or DisplayPort connectors on the rear-panel of your socket AM4 motherboards. Motherboards based on AMD's upcoming 400-series chipset, will come with support for "Raven Ridge" APUs out of the box, among other chips, such as the company's upcoming 12 nm "Pinnacle Ridge" processors.

Among MSI's 300-series chipset socket AM4 motherboards to receive "Raven Ridge" support, are the X370 XPower Gaming Titanium, the X370 Gaming M7 ACK, the X370 Gaming Pro Carbon, the X370 Gaming Pro, X370 Gaming Plus, X370 SLI Plus, X370 Krait Gaming; the B350 Tomahawk Plus, the B350 Tomahawk, the B350 Tomahawk Arctic, B350 PC Mate, B350M Gaming Pro, B350M Mortar, B350M Bazooka, B350M Pro-VDH, and A320M Gaming Pro. You'll find the BIOS ROM files in the downloads section of your motherboard's product page on MSI website.

TechPowerUp GPU-Z v2.7.0 Released

TechPowerUp today released the latest version of GPU-Z, the popular graphics subsystem information and diagnostic utility. Version 2.7.0 comes with a handful of important bug fixes and updates to its internal modules. To begin with, we've updated the NVFlash module that lets GPU-Z extract video BIOS from graphics cards, the newer NVFlash supports BIOS extraction from some of the newer NVIDIA graphics cards such as the GTX 1070 Ti. We've also fixed incorrect video memory amount reading on AMD Radeon RX Vega graphics cards. TMU and ROP counts, and OpenCL status on AMD "Polaris 21" GPUs is fixed, as is incorrect labeling of a memory clock sensor on NVIDIA GPUs. GPU-Z will no longer prevent system shutdowns and reboots on Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.
DOWNLOAD: TechPowerUp GPU-Z 2.7.0

The change-log follows.

Intel Issues Updates to Protect Systems From Security Exploits

Intel has developed and is rapidly issuing updates for all types of Intel-based computer systems -- including personal computers and servers -- that render those systems immune from both exploits (referred to as "Spectre" and "Meltdown") reported by Google Project Zero. Intel and its partners have made significant progress in deploying updates as both software patches and firmware updates.

Intel has already issued updates for the majority of processor products introduced within the past five years. By the end of next week, Intel expects to have issued updates for more than 90 percent of processor products introduced within the past five years. In addition, many operating system vendors, public cloud service providers, device manufacturers and others have indicated that they have already updated their products and services.

Dragon Bones DLC Coming Soon to The Elder Scrolls Online

Zenimax Online Studios has revealed details on the first major update of 2018 for The Elder Scrolls Online - a two-dungeon DLC Game Pack called Dragon Bones, and Update 17, a free addition for everyone which includes a slew of new features and upgrades that make ESO better than ever. Dragon Bones and Update 17 are expected to launch in February.

The Dragon Bones DLC Game Pack will include two new dungeons - Scalecaller Peak and Fang Lair - available in both normal and veteran modes, with a veteran Hard Mode for each final boss. These new dungeons pit players against new and returning enemies, including plague-ridden ogres, powerful sorcerers and their undead creations, and even the reanimated bones of an ancient dragon.

Amazon's Lumberyard Game Engine Receives Beta 1.12 Update, 400+ Updates

Amazon might soon be caught in the crossfire between Crytek and Cloud Imperium Games over alleged unlawful usage of Crytek's intellectual property - and CryEngine - in the making of Kickstarter stars Squadron 42 and Star Citizen. However, that isn't stopping the company from further updating and increase ease of use of its game engine, which it licenses for free to would-be game developers - nor should it.

Software solutions such as SpeedTree 8, EMotionFX, and ScriptCanvas look to make sure that developers have access to a multitude of tools that allows them to populate their worlds with believable environments, characters, and scripting events, with the least amount of work and repetition possible. Cloud Gems is Amazon's Lumberyard cloud-connected features, which allows developers to build cloud-connected systems in their games, such as voice recognition, or even procedural voice generation for thousands of NPCs in an MMO - through the power of the Cloud. Starter Game is a way for would-be users of Lumberyard to acquaint themselves with the engines' capabilities, offering 500+ free assets and systems for those training wheels-required sessions. Read up on some of the new Lumberyard Beta 1.12 capabilities after the break, and feel free to follow the source links to download the engine - and maybe tinker with it.

EVE: Valkyrie - Warzone's Winter Update Brings Holiday Cheer to Players

Today, CCP Games is excited to launch the Winter Update for EVE: Valkyrie - Warzone - the acclaimed multiplayer first-person spaceship shooter set in the gritty-but-glorious universe of EVE - across PlayStation4 and PC, including all high-end VR headsets (PlayStationVR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive). This update introduces highly requested community tools and Spectator Mode designed for player-run tournaments, along with a new EVE Online: Lifeblood-themed map, plus support for TrackIR and Tobii delivering head-tracking for non-VR players.

First is the long-awaited addition of Custom Matches. No longer will you have to wait for a specific game mode, now you can set up your own matches on EVE: Valkyrie - Warzone's official dedicated servers. You can also control the lobby through passcodes, private invites and a public server browser. Additionally, you'll find options for map rotation, game mode and a ton of other settings to tweak the game for maximum enjoyment (…or carnage, depending on your preference).

Quake Champions to Receive Largest Update to Date

id Software has continued to update and improve Quake Champions throughout Early Access based on the feedback and requests of the player community. This week on Dec. 14, Quake Champions will receive one of its largest updates to date, delivering new content and features including a new Champion, Keel, who returns from Quake 3 Arena and Quake Live; a new arena for Duel and 2v2, Vale of Pnath; Ranked Play and Leaderboards; plus a ton of festive, holiday-themed gear and maps for a limited time.

New 'Arms Race' Update Expands Gameplay Experience for EVE Online F2P Players

Today, CCP announced the launch of the Arms Race update for EVE Online, their in-depth and uniquely player-driven spaceship MMO game, which introduces even greater accessibility and wider gameplay variety to players with free-to-play accounts, known as Alpha Clones. Introduced in last year's Ascension expansion, Alpha accounts enable players to permanently join hundreds of thousands of established users in EVE Online's massive space sandbox for free. Now, CCP Games has opened up the ability for Alpha pilots to train many more skills, fly more impressive spaceships and equip more advanced weaponry.

"There has never been a better time to join the universe of EVE and begin your own unique space adventure, or re-join and continue your journey," said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CCP's CEO. "The increased flexibility and depth of the free Alpha Clone experience means that EVE is more accessible than ever. EVE players can return and fly their favorite ships for free, re-uniting with old corpmates or continue forging their own destiny to make their mark on the universe."

The Division Update 1.8 Drops Tomorrow with Free Weekend & Free DLC Week

Today, Ubisoft announced that "Resistance," Update 1.8 for Tom Clancy's The Division will launch simultaneously on PlayStation4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One and Windows PC platforms tomorrow, December 5th. Coinciding with the release of Resistance, The Division Free Weekend is coming to all platforms from December 7th to December 10th. Additionally, all The Division owners will have free access to all of the expansions included in The Division's Season Pass (Underground, Survival, and Last Stand) from December 5th to December 10th. "Resistance," Update 1.8 is the largest free update thus far for Tom Clancy's The Division and expands the game map with a new area accessible to all players: West Side Pier.
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