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ASUS Announces Availability of Windows Mixed Reality Headset HC102

ASUS today announced the ASUS Windows Mixed Reality Headset HC102. Its unique and innovative design, featuring a beautiful 3D pattern and a comfy weight-balanced construction with premium antibacterial cushioned materials, means it's not only stylish but also supremely cool and comfortable for extended use.

Unlike other headsets, the ASUS Windows Mixed Reality Headset HC102 doesn't need any external sensors, making initial setup incredibly easy - users will be ready to play in less than 10 minutes. What's more, the headset supports over 20,000 Windows apps and more than 2,000 Steam VR titles, so users can watch immersive 360° videos, play games like never before or get on with important work or school projects. And importantly, the headset is also compatible with a wide range of affordable PCs. The ASUS Windows Mixed Reality Headset HC102 is the revolutionary, easy-to-use and affordable way for users to explore their imaginations.

Sea of Thieves System Requirements Outed by Developer

Sea of Thieves is one of the more interesting games coming from Rare since it's been bought by Microsoft. The company, which was previously almost locked in into developing games for the Kinect system, was felt by many as being creatively constrained and underappreciated by Microsoft's management. Well, Kinect is officially dead as a gaming peripheral, and as such, Rare has started developing games outside the Kinect box. Sea of Thieves is the first such, a pirate game with heart, and the company has just outed their system requirements for the game on Windows 10 PC's.

The system requirements are pretty extensive in the amount of configurations you can have for some preset experiences. The game can even be played on Intel's integrated graphics, according to Rare - at 540p with minimum details, though, so I doubt that's what gamers will be looking for as an actual gaming experience. For 1080p and 60 FPS play, Rare is quoting systems with at least an i5 4690 or an AMD FX 8150 (so, an Intel quad core or an AMD "octa-core"), 8 GB RAM, and a graphics card with at least 4 GB of VRAM. A GTX 770 or an AMD Radeon 380X are set as the graphics card requirement,s which Rare is putting on equal footing to the more recent, "modern" GTX 1060 or RX 470. The system requirements seem to scale pretty well with resolution and graphics settings, up to a 4K 60 FPS experience requiring the current top of the line graphics cards in the form of the GTX 1080 Ti or AMD's RX Vega 64.

Microsoft Ends Windows 10 S as Standalone Product, Integrates With Ecosystem

Well, that didn't take long. Microsoft's Windows 10 S push as a "lite, free" version of its Windows 10 OS that would be available for education environments free of charge has been thoroughly abandoned as a standalone product. instead, Microsoft is now looking to integrate it into existing Windows 10 versions (Home and Pro) as a sort of sleeping, to-be-activated "S Mode" which has access to updates, but only has the same features as Windows 10 S currently does - the most important, limiting of which is that the OS only runs UWP (Universal windows Platform) apps. Thus, this mode will basically limit the Operating System to a version which, according to Microsoft, enables better security and a more friendly environment for the typical usage scenarios of such lite operating systems.

Naturally, Microsoft will still offer users the chance to upgrade to full Windows versions within S Mode - at a price. Moving from Windows 10 Home S to regular Windows Home will be free, but Pro S users who want to switch to the full version of Windows 10 Pro will have to pay $49. There will be Pro S commercial versions for Value, Entry, and Small Tablet models, but not Core+ and Workstations. There has been no official word from Microsoft on these software changes, though these will likely take place on the next partner pricing change announcement hailing form the Redmond company.

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.

Windows 10 Finally Surpasses Windows 7 in Global Market Share - StatCounter

According to web analytics company StatCounter, January 2018 was the year of the OS world's "flippening" - where Windows 10 finally surpassed the old, trusty Windows 7 in users' systems. According to the firm, Windows 10 in January was present in 42.78% of the worldwide desktop market share, just a hair above Windows 7's 41.86%. Windows 8.1 stands as the ugly duckling, with only 8.72 percent of the market still holding on to that OS.

Now, granted, one analytics company does not a trend make; there are a myriad of factors that might explain discrepancies between different companies' estimates. however, the fact remains that this is the first time Windows 10 is reported to have surpassed Windows 7 in terms of pure number of live systems. Also to take into account is that even in analytics firms that don't display these results, Windows 10 is clearly gaining traction against Windows 7 - one needs only look at the trendlines for both OSes on NetMarketShare, for instance, to see that there's a clear, positive momentum for WIndows 10 when compared to Windows 7. It's only a matter of time until all firms report the same, really. Still, this news comes years later than what Microsoft had hoped for with Windows 10; adoption of the OS hasn't been quite as predicted by the company. Still, Microsoft's ongoing work on the software, clear roadmap and support efforts seem to be paying off.

AZIO Now Shipping Bluetooth version of the AZIO Retro Classic

AZIO, a well-known keyboard manufacturer, has started shipping a Bluetooth version of its well-received Retro Classic Keyboard. Originally released via a Indiegogo funding campaign as a way to increase the product's visibility, AZIO has now put a few more dollars into the keyboards' development, and included a Bluetooth model. Not so retro now, I'd say, as wires are part of a retro product's flair.

Pioneer Launches Brand New USB Type-C Series Products

After years of experience in the optical disc, computer equipment, auto and industrial markets, Pioneer has recently made the leap into the consumer electronics market and launched its all-new USB Type-C Series which include a docking station, multiport adapter, and external Portable SSD and more.

Versatile Docking Station helps build a super powerful personal workstation
The docking station features a simple design, intuitive use, and perfect compatibility with MacBooks and Thunderbolt computers. Only the USB-C terminal is required to connect all devices to significantly improve work efficiency. It supports Windows dual-screen output, having the complete expanding capability for the A/V output. It is flexible, easy to use and charges your device to greatly enhance your work efficiency.

Microsoft Halts Meltdown-Spectre Patches to AMD PCs as Some Turn Unbootable

Microsoft late-Monday halted Meltdown and Spectre security patches to machines running AMD processors, as complaints of machines turning unbootable piled up. Apparently the latest KB4056892 (2018-01) Cumulative Update causes machines with AMD processors (well, chipsets) to refuse to boot. Microsoft has halted distributing patches to PCs running AMD processors, and issued a statement on the matter. In this statement, Microsoft blames AMD for not supplying its engineers with the right documentation to develop their patches (while absolving itself of any blame for not testing its patches on actual AMD-powered machines before releasing them).

"Microsoft has reports of customers with some AMD devices getting into an unbootable state after installing recent Windows operating system security updates," said Microsoft in its statement. "After investigating, Microsoft has determined that some AMD chipsets do not conform to the documentation previously provided to Microsoft to develop the Windows operating system mitigations to protect against the chipset vulnerabilities known as Spectre and Meltdown," it added. Microsoft is working with AMD to re-develop, test, and release security updates, on the double.

Update (09/01): AMD responded to this story, its statement posted verbatim is as follows.

Kensington Pushes Productivity to the Max with New Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station

Businesses need a technical infrastructure with the flexibility to support a dynamic and increasingly mobile workforce while meeting the demands for mobile computing performance across various job functions. Which is why Kensington, trusted worldwide to support the most advanced technology for business and home office professionals, developed the game-changing SD5200T Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station for Windows and macOS.

The Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station was engineered and tested for optimal performance with both macOS and Windows users. The cross-platform compatible dock is the hyper-productivity solution for power users and was specifically designed to support mixed-computing environments with high transfer-speed requirements.

Google, ARM, Microsoft Issue Statements Regarding Discovered Security Flaws

After Intel and AMD's differing statements on the same issue, now is the time for Google, ARM, and Microsoft to release statements regarding the recently discovered (and still in the spotlight) security flaws that impact almost all Intel CPUs from the last decade. Google is the company that originally alerted Intel to the existence of the security vulnerabilities, and mentioned some reservations regarding AMD and ARM's immunity as well. Microsoft, as the maker of the world's most recognized and widely-used OS, has also issued a statement. The ARM statement follows, with both Google and Microsoft's statements transcribed after the break.

ARM
This method requires malware running locally and could result in data being accessed from privileged memory. Our Cortex-M processors, which are pervasive in low-power, connected IoT devices, are not impacted.

Resident Evil 7 Down to $24 on Steam

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is one of the top-rated games in the Resident Evil franchise with a 86% Metacritic score. The game was released in January 2017 with a $59.99 price tag on Steam. It has gone to sell over 4.1 million units. Now, exactly one year later, the standard version is down to its all-time low of $23.99 in the Steam store. The Gold version, which includes the base game and the Season Pass, is discounted to $45.34 as well.

Zorloo Announces Their Second-Generation Portable USB-DAC

Zorloo is pleased to introduce its second-generation portable USB-DAC product, ZuperDAC-S, today. It builds on its wildly praised ZuperDAC to enable computers or mobile phones an unprecedented HiFi music experience. Today, computers and mobile phones are powerful enough to handle different audio protocols. However, the last but most critical step in the entire digital-to-analog conversion process, i.e. turning musical data 0 and 1 into audible sound waves, always sucks. Constrained by the limitation of this internal conversion process, audio may also have to be re-sampled to fit the pipeline.

Bypassing the internal conversion with ZuperDAC-S drastically improves sound quality to a new level. It supports up to 192kHz sampling frequency and 24-bit depth, which eliminates unnecessary sample rate and bit depth conversion. The music output from ZuperDAC-S is exactly what was recorded. ZuperDAC-S uses the ESS Sabre 9018 audiodac and delivers a stunning 120dB SNR and 0.0005% THD+N performance. It delivers a balanced, clear and articulated sound in a wide soundstage. The integrated headphone amplifier output can connect directly to headphones, or go through the amplifier systems.

World of Tanks to Receive a Major Visual Makeover in March 2018

Wargaming is excited to announce major game enhancements for its flagship title World of Tanks. Coming March 2018, Update 1.0 will overhaul the game's underlying technological base with an advanced CORE graphics engine. Together with this major uplift, over 25 World of Tanks maps are getting redesigned to meet modern graphical standards. Each map will have a distinguished flair and provide even deeper immersion thanks to dynamic music, authentic soundtracks, and atmospheric ambience.

'Update 1.0 is a true game-changer,' said Milos Jerabek, World of Tanks Development Director. 'Though the spirit of the game remains the same, the introduction of the new graphics engine leads to a far greater boost in image fidelity than a simple resolution increase. It's a staggering difference from the game as you know it, and we can't wait for players to get hands-on with it.'

Steam Winter Sale 2017 Deals

It's that happy time of the year again when gamers break their piggy banks and sharpen their credit cards to purchase PC games for dirt-cheap prices on Steam. Just like every year, the Winter Sale is filled with thousands of discounts on new and classic games for Windows, Mac and Linux. The sale runs through until Thursday, January 4, 2018 at 10pm Pacific time. Why not spoil yourself this Christmas with a few games? Or send a gift to that special someone and make their day. Here are some of our recommendations.

Targus Launches Their Lightning-Fast Thunderbolt 3 DV4K Docking Station

Targus, the industry leader that introduced the first universal dual-video docking station, has broken ground again, introducing the Thunderbolt 3 DV4K Docking Station with Power (DOCK220USZ). "We're thrilled to add a new dock to our lineup that's a brand new Thunderbolt 3 dock," says Andrew Corkill, Vice President of Product Marketing for Targus. "Unlike any other Thunderbolt 3 dock on the market today, DOCK220USZ works with any platform, including macOS and Windows. It's designed to work in Mac environments like design studios and video agencies as well as in mixed-laptop-inventory environments."

The DOCK220USZ gives designers, animators, engineers, and more the best of both worlds - speed and 4K-sharp resolution. Outfitted with one USB-C and two USB-A ports to accommodate workspace peripherals like a mouse and keyboard as well as combo audio, the Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station allows you to listen to music or use an integrated mic with ease. The dock delivers 4K views and combines power delivery and ease-of-use in a compact form factor to help creative professionals stay connected, powered, and productive.

Latest Steam Client Beta Introduces Shader Pre-Caching for Games

The latest update for the Steam software brought with it an important new addition for the quality of life of gamers under the Linux or Windows suns everywhere: persistent shader caches for games. In the latest change-log, users are treated to the following message: "New feature: Shader Pre-Caching. Whenever possible, depending on hardware and driver support, Steam can download pre-compiled shaders for your specific video card. This reduces load times and in-game stuttering during the first few launches of OpenGL- and Vulkan-based games on supported hardware. This feature may use a small amount of additional bandwidth as Steam uploads and analyzes a shader usage report after each run of the game. The feature can be disabled via a new entry in the Settings dialog.

Under Steam Settings, you'll find a new Shader Pre-Caching item. The description reads as follows: "Shader Pre-Caching allows Steam to download pre-compiled GPU shaders matching your system configuration. This allows Vulkan and OpenGL games to load faster and improve framerate stability during gameplay. If enabled, Steam will collect shaders from your system when needed. Enabling this feature may slightly increase disk and bandwidth usage."

Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional2 Lands in Europe for £259.99 / €289.99

Fujitsu subsidiary PFU (EMEA) Limited is launching its Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional2 (HHKB Pro2) in Europe. Designed with programmers in mind, it can be a great asset for anybody in search of an excellent typing experience. The innovative and minimalistic high-quality keyboard uses a reduced layout with far fewer keys and offers an extremely satisfying and rapid typing experience.

Compact and minimalistic
The HHKB Pro2 is not just another gadget for computer enthusiasts, but is the result of systematic research and a co-operation with Professor Eiiti Wada, a renowned Japanese computer scientist. The 60 key compact build means that hands can stay on the home row which is good for speed, efficiency, and comfort. Due to a number of easy to learn function-layers the reduced layout is actually more ergonomic than traditional keyboards, winning it many fans over the last 20 years.

Magewell Ships the Pro Capture HDMI 4K Plus LT

Magewell - an award-winning developer of innovative video interface devices - is now shipping the Pro Capture HDMI 4K Plus LT, the latest member of the company's popular Pro Capture family of PCI Express capture hardware. The new model extends the powerful feature set of the previously-released Pro Capture HDMI 4K Plus with HDMI signal loop-through connectivity to simplify wiring and workflows.

Like the earlier model, the Pro Capture HDMI 4K Plus LT captures video up to 4096x2160 at 60 frames per second over an HDMI 2.0 input interface, enabling high-quality Ultra HD acquisition for markets and applications including broadcast, medical imaging, gaming, streaming, surveillance, and virtual reality (VR) production. The new loop-through connection reduces workflow costs and complexity by enabling source signals to be sent simultaneously to additional displays or equipment without the need for an external HDMI splitter.

Fallout 4 VR is Out for the HTC Vive

We're pleased to announce that Fallout 4, the legendary post-apocalyptic adventure from Bethesda Game Studios and winner of more than 200 'Best Of' awards, is available now worldwide in virtual reality on the HTC VIVE. Fallout 4 VR is a true, full-length open-world game, offering an unparalleled amount of VR content for players, including the complete core game with all-new combat, crafting, and building systems fully re-imagined for virtual reality.

As the sole survivor of Vault 111, players enter a world destroyed by nuclear war and must rebuild the Wasteland and determine the fate of its residents. Within the massive world, players can interact with hundreds of locations, characters, and quests, all while collecting, upgrading, and building thousands of items in the most advanced crafting system ever. In addition, an all-new graphics and lighting engine brings the Wasteland to life like never before. From the blasted forests of the Commonwealth to the ruins of Boston, every location is packed with dynamic detail.

Capcom Announces Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection for May 2018 Release

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the world's most popular video game series of all time, Capcom has announced the ultimate tribute to the Street Fighter arcade legacy in the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Windows PC coming in May 2018. The collection highlights the series' past in this anthology of 12 iconic titles with arcade-perfect balancing, including the original Street Fighter, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II: Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Street Fighter III, Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact and Street Fighter III: Third Strike.

Players will be able to take the fight online in four of the classic titles for even more gameplay options, including Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II: Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Street Fighter III: Third Strike. Players can recreate the classic arcade gaming experience by competing against the CPU while waiting for friends in online battles where they can put their fighting skills to the ultimate test. Lobbies support up to four players waiting to climb up the ranks through Ranked Matches. Each title will also have their own Global leaderboards and the "rewind" tech ensures low-latency online battles.

Battlestate Games Announces Special New Year Event for Escape from Tarkov

Battlestate Games announces the final stage of the technical preparations for the Open Beta Testing of Escape from Tarkov. Thuswise, starting December 28 and over a few weeks, developers will conduct load testing of game servers in order to adjust processing for a large number of new players at the start of the OBT in the beginning of 2018. For this purpose, the studio has planned a New Year event, which will give free access to the game to a part of users who are registered on the official website of the project, but are not playing yet. 7-day access to the game will be granted to a part of the players, who will be picked randomly among the total number of subscribers, with bias for those who have been registered earlier.

Dying Light is Getting a PvP Expansion in 2018

As a response to numerous fan requests for a Player-vs-Player approach to Dying Light, and the recent popularity of the battle royale genre among the survival horror fans, today Techland unveiled its new standalone expansion - Dying Light: Bad Blood. While retaining the core of what made people fall in love with Dying Light in the first place, Bad Blood will offer violent and dynamic online matches that blend PvP and PvE styles of gameplay.

"Our aim is both to satisfy players' demands for competitive PvP gameplay and to explore new directions for Dying Light's multiplayer experience," said Tymon Smektala, Producer at Techland. "Since Bad Blood was inspired by fan requests, we want player feedback to be an integral part of our development. That's why we're inviting Dying Light fans to take part in our Global Playtest. They can play the expansion early and share their thoughts, knowing their feedback will have a major influence on Bad Blood's development."

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds 'Miramar' Desert Map Has Been Revealed

The PUBG Development and Community Team has shared the name of the game's upcoming desert map along with some additional details on its regions. The map is called Miramar, and according to the developers, it deviates a lot from the existing Erangel map in terms of terrain and overall setting. Miramar is located in a harsh desert environment populated by different urban areas. Therefore, players are encouraged to develop new tactics to get the upper-hand on their opponents. The PUBG team also revealed some of the more noteworthy landmarks that are located in Miramar. The map will be available with the 1.0 update.

Shuttle's SZ270R9 Gaming and VR Cube Comes with Overclocking on Demand Function

Shuttle Computer Group, Inc., one of the world's leading designers of small form computers, announces a new and powerful cube-sized computer, its SZ270R9, designed for advanced home and portable gaming, along with virtual reality applications. Unlike other PCs, once set, users can overclock with the Turbo button for the quickest, most realistic action. In spite of its small size, it has an impressive expansion capability and storage capacity. With lots of interior space, the SZ270R9 supports large-format dual-slot graphics cards; users can install up to four 2.5" or 3.5" hard drives and two m.2 bays. It also supports Intel's new Optane Memory to improve data processing and system speed.

"This is the ultimate gaming PC, power packed with an external design that looks like you're ready for battle," said Robert Garcia, channel manager, Shuttle Computer Group. "And when you press the overclock button, watch out! You'll be the winner for sure."

ClockStone Software & Valve Come Together to Make Bridge Constructor Portal

We welcome all lucky applicants to Bridge Constructor Portal with our new vehicle-based test chambers, Quantum Tunnels and patented Aperture technology! For the last year we've been secretly working in our underground labs on the next iteration of the million-selling Bridge Constructor series. This new stand-alone title will release on PC, MacOS, Linux, mobile devices, and console, and fully embraces the Portal license, one of the most beloved video game franchises of the last decade.

Bridge Constructor Portal will blend the laws of structural engineering and technology straight from Aperture Laboratories into an exciting new game experience, all under the demanding gaze of GLaDOS. Bridge Constructor Portal will be released on December 20 2017 for Windows, MacOS and Linux as well as for mobile devices. The console versions will follow in early 2018.
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