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Microsoft Officially Announces the Windows 10 "China Government" Edition

Remember that piece regarding Microsoft's Windows 10 for the chinese government? Well, Microsoft has just officially announced it in its Shanghai presentation today. In a joint-venture with China's government, CETC (China Electronics Technology Group), CMIT (a conglomerate of China-based manufacturers), and Lenovo, the Redmond-based company has apparently managed to deliver what they themselves thought impossible: a version of their operating system that doesn't spy on its users. Lenovo, as you might have guessed already, will be one of the first OEM partners to preinstall Windows 10 China Government Edition on new devices.

Based on Windows 10 Enterprise Edition, the Windows 10 China Government Edition ironically ticks all the boxes for what enthusiasts would like to see from their OS: it's a modular approach to Windows, where users (read, in this case, government entities) can remove features they aren't looking to take advantage of (like OneDrive), whilst giving the capability to "manage all telemetry and updates." Aren't those just great features to have?

WannaCry: Its Origins, and Why Future Attacks may be Worse

WannaCry, the Cryptographic Ransomware that encrypted entire PCs and then demanded payment via Bitcoin to unlock them, is actually not a new piece of technology. Ransomware of this type has existed nearly as long as the cryptocurrency Bitcoin has. What made headlines was the pace with which it spread and the level of damage it caused to several facilities dependent on old, seldom-updated software (Hospitals, for example). It's not a stretch to say this may be the first cyberattack directly attributable to a civilian death, though that has not been concluded yet as we are still waiting for the dust to settle. What is clear however is WHY it spread so quickly, and it's quite simple really: Many users don't have their PCs up to date.

QNAP Unveils the Industry-leading Thunderbolt 3 NAS: TVS-1582TU

QNAP Systems, Inc. today released the TVS-1582TU - a pioneering 19-inch rack-mountable Thunderbolt 3 NAS that is suited for moving vehicles and outdoor media editing environments. The TVS-1582TU includes four Thunderbolt 3 ports, two 10GbE ports, and can utilize its Thunderbolt 3 ports to have USB-C 3.1 Gen2 (10 Gbps) connections for high-speed data transfer and backups. The collection of high-speed connections provides an ideal 4K solution for SNG/OB van live productions in the fast-paced media industries.

"TV and film production and outdoor broadcasting require on-location recording and editing, and need their videos to be backed up immediately to prevent file loss," said David Tsao, Product Manager of QNAP, adding "The TVS-1582TU is designed for this environment, and its 19-inch rack form factor makes it especially usable for SNG/OB van live media production that requires frequent relocation."

Original Xbox Game Phantom Dust Re-Releases Today - Available for Free

The original Xbox's Phantum Dust was an original, striking game, which carved itself a cult following for its original gameplay. The re-release has had a troubled development, being downgraded from full remake towards a remaster of sorts, though Microsoft says the game's assets will scale up with your system up to 4K resolution. One interesting tidbit regarding this re-release is that the original game's source-code was apparently nowhere to be found, and Microsoft thus had to reverse engineer the engine so as to be able to carry this re-release torch forward. Interesting that Microsoft would go to all this work for a game it is now releasing for free. Looks like the Redmond company really is looking out after its image in gamers' eyes.

The game is now available for the Xbox One and Windows 10 platforms, through Microsoft's UWP. This might sour the release for some of you, but why not give it a go? It's free, and it's kind of a throwback Tuesday - and the game is only 3.4 GB in size, so you won't have to be staring at Microsoft's storefront for that long. Phantom Dust is an Xbox Play Anywhere title (with cross-play between Windows 10 and Xbox One,) complete with progression syncing and roaming in-app purchases (so, Microsoft is looking to recoup some of the investment made on bringing this game back from the dead.) The game's ability system revolves around deck building mechanics, with each card representing a different skill in your character's load-out, which you can customize as you see fit.

Source: Twitter

Microsoft to Launch First-Party Titles for Its Mixed Reality HMDs?

Microsoft has been slowly building up its mixed reality endeavor, by baking in support for the platform in its latest Windows 10 updates, as well as the recent announcements of actual HMDs from hardware partners like HP and Acer. Acer's solution, their Mixed Reality HMD, will ship to developers and customers with a $400 price-tag for both the headset and a pair of 6 DoF controllers, which easily remind users of HTC's Vive and Oculus's Rift controllers. Microsoft's implementation, however, makes away with the Rift's and Vive's ouside-in trackers, only needing to be within "sight" of the sensors on the front of the HMD to which they're connected, thus making them truly world-scale (if at the expense of some sweet swordplay moves, but I digress.)

Google Project Zero Finds Windows Vulnerabilty, "Worst in Recent Memory"

Google's Project Zero has found yet another critical Windows Vulnerability, this time going so far as to call it "Crazy Bad" in a lone tweet by Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy. Tavis went on to elaborate that the vulnerability "works against a default install, [you] don't need to be on the same LAN, and it's wormable."

Sounds like the stuff of nightmares from a security perspective, right? The good news is Google's policy is to give companies 90 days to patch bugs like this before revealing the exploits details. The idea is to pressure developers to fix vulnerabilities before the reveal, so users remain protected and companies are forced to act rather than adopt a "wait and see" approach. Microsoft however, does not have the best follow-up reputation, having left at least two major security bugs unpatched for the entire 90-day security-flaw reveal window as recently as this year.

Meet Microsoft's New Take on Windows: The Windows 10 S

The "RT" ghost is still alive in people's minds, as is particularly fluent on people's tongues whenever someone brings up Microsoft's new Windows 10 S OS. The one that limits the scope and variety of applications you can run on your own system. That forces you to go through Windows' still lackluster Store (sorry, but I've never seen such bad flow, bugs and hiccups on an app as I do in that one.)

It's only right, really - the reduced compatibility and walled-garden approach is there still, even if this one OS now isn't limited to ARM - or to x86, for that matter. This new approach now allows both UWP apps and Win32 apps which have been ported using Desktop Bridge from the store to work. However, expect Win32 apps with a native, non-ported installer to fail. Not all is bad, though: Windows has an amazing backlog for legacy hardware, software and applications, but that same legacy means it's more opened up to security vulnerabilities, and even applications which can wreak havoc on the system with excessive permissions, and unpatched issues.

Microsoft Announces the New Generation Surface Laptop

Earlier today, we shared our vision for empowering today's students and teachers to create the world of tomorrow. This is a vision that resonates deeply with us on the Surface team because it taps directly into why we created Surface - to empower people to bring their ideas to life. To bring hardware and software together to transform the way people learn and create. This is what Surface has always been about. We built Surface Laptop to do two things: refresh the classic laptop form factor that our customers, especially college students, have been asking for; and make a Surface that works seamlessly to showcase the best of Windows 10 S.

The result is the most personal and balanced Surface we've ever made. This Surface perfectly blends fabric and function, power and portability, beauty and performance. It does all of this without compromising on the things we know are important to higher education students: battery life, display quality, storage, and portability.

NVIDIA to Support 4K Netflix on GTX 10 Series Cards

Up to now, only users with Intel's latest Kaby Lake architecture processors could enjoy 4K Netflix due to some strict DRM requirements. Now, NVIDIA is taking it upon itself to allow users with one of its GTX 10 series graphics cards (absent the 1050, at least for now) to enjoy some 4K Netflix and chillin'. Though you really do seem to have to go through some hoops to get there, none of these should pose a problem.

The requirements to enable Netflix UHD playback, as per NVIDIA, are so:
  • NVIDIA Driver version exclusively provided via Microsoft Windows Insider Program (currently 381.74).
  • No other GeForce driver will support this functionality at this time
  • If you are not currently registered for WIP, follow this link for instructions to join: https://insider.windows.com/
  • NVIDIA Pascal based GPU, GeForce GTX 1050 or greater with minimum 3GB memory
  • HDCP 2.2 capable monitor(s). Please see the additional section below if you are using multiple monitors and/or multiple GPUs.
  • Microsoft Edge browser or Netflix app from the Windows Store
  • Approximately 25Mbps (or faster) internet connection.

Microsoft Releases FY17 Q3 Earnings - Azure Revenue Increases 93%

Microsoft just reported earnings for the last quarter, with the company reporting non-GAAP revenue of $23.6 billion and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.73. YoY, Microsoft reported increased earnings per share of $0.11, from $0.62 in last year's quarter. Microsoft's "Intelligent Cloud" business hit $6.8 billion this quarter, up 11 percent from last year's $6.1 billion, and on its way to Microsoft's estimated $20 billion run rate by 2018. Azure revenue was up a staggering 93 percent, driven both by increased demand for the core Azure compute services as well as Azure's premium services. Azure's annual run rate is now $15.2 billion, which puts it on track to hit the $20 billion run rate Microsoft expects to achieve by 2020.

NSA's Windows Exploit "DoublePulsar" Being Actively Utilized in the Wild

The "DoublePulsar" exploit exposed recently as part of the leaked NSA-derived hacking toolkit posted online, is set to become one of the more significant issues related to the leak. Not because it is unpatched, because it has been patched for roughly a month, but rather because according to a threatpost.com report, few users are as up to date as they should be.

Microsoft Advises Against Installing The Creators Update Manually

Apparently, Microsoft is alerting would-be Creators Update takers that doing so manually (as in, before its automatic update roll-out through Windows Update itself) may result in a bad first experience. Microsoft is therefore suggesting that the majority of Windows 10 users should wait for the Windows Update version of the (ahem) update, due to concerns with some hardware compatibility problems.

In a blog post, Microsoft give the example of a user who reported issues between a Bluetooth connectivity accessory (Broadcom-based) for their PC and Windows 10 Creators Update, which resulted in Microsoft blocking all machines with similar hardware from being able to update until issues are solved. I for one must say I manually updated my system on April 7th and found nothing wanting, so these really do seem like hardware-specific snags. Microsoft is apparently doing everything in its power to make sure adopters of the latest version of Windows find a hassle-free experience on the other side of their screens, which is commendable. This does seem like a sensible solution to the problem, with power users (or simply users who don't care about warnings and are confident on their success and hardware compatibility) still being able to update, while less tech-savy customers are left waiting for a proven version for their hardware configuration. Here's hoping that doesn't take long, since the 3D-version of Paint really brought back childhood joy (for some of us, at least.)

Source: Blog.Windows.com, Tom's Hardware

Windows 10 Creators Update Still Activates with "old" Windows 7/8 License Keys

Although Microsoft officially stopped offering free upgrades to Windows 10 back in the summer of 2016, it seems loophole after loophole keeps being discovered for those with a bit of computer knowledge to upgrade anyways. This latest loophole, which comes in the form of activating via an older Windows 7 or 8 key, is not exactly new. This method of upgrading was first released to ease free upgrades to Windows 10 during the official upgrade period, but was never switched off in the summer of 2016 as one would've expected. Nor was it switched off with the Anniversary Update, and now again, Microsoft seems content to leave it enabled even with its latest Creators Update.

Microsoft Confirms Windows, Office 6-Month Update Cycle

Microsoft has been steadily increasing stability, features and, the company hopes, attractiveness of its latest Windows 10 operating system. Recently, its Creator's Update has brought, among other features, a performance-boosting Game Mode, a 3D version of the popular and (respectably ancient) Paint app, as well as increased privacy control, something users clamored for. Now, the Redmond company has confirmed that it's looking towards a six month update cycle for Windows 10 (thus aligning it with Office 365 ProPlus), looking to streamline and increase predictability of its support.

Microsoft released the Windows 10 Anniversary Update in August 2016, and the Creators Update made its public debut on April 11 2017, which is already close to the six-month update cycle the company is now confirming (seven months, in this case.) Now the company has confirmed that it plans to release its next step on the Windows 10 operating system on September 2017. From then on, updates should arrive in a steady cadence, on every subsequent March and September. Each Windows 10 feature release will be serviced and supported for 18 months, as is currently the case, and the company has also added that its System Center Configuration Manager will support this new aligned update model for Office 365 ProPlus and Windows 10, "making both easier to deploy and keep up to date."

Source: Blogs.Windows.com, Tom's Hardware

Unigine Superposition 1.0 Benchmark Released

(Re)member that dazzling-looking Superposition benchmark from Unigine - the one that was supposed to have arrived late 2016? The one that apparently wasn't good enough for Steam? Well it has been released, and you can now gobble up all of those realistic graphics for yourself and your GPU of choice. Some standout features include the ability to scale rendering resolution all the way up to 8K, so... Go on ahead, click that link below, make your graphics cards scream, and elbow one another for the top result. I will be with you in a little while. Go on after the break for some more features and a little teaser on what the benchmark is all about.

Download Link: Unigine Superposition Benchmark 1.0Can I just say I love me some Nicola Tesla on the walls?

AMD Releases Balanced Power Plan for Windows; Optimized for Ryzen Processors

In another Community Update from Robert Hallock, some more developments on the platform have been announced, after the last one's commitment to upcoming updates. AMD has done good on their promise for an optimized power profile for Windows systems that better leverages Ryzen's design and features.AMD's SenseMI technology allows the processor to fine-tune voltages and frequency on-the-fly, with a much higher granularity and lower latency than any software-based solution - such as Windows 10's power plans. These transitions between frequencies and voltages are governed by "P-States", which are frequency/voltage combinations requested by the operating system.

It so happens that Windows 10's Balanced power plan delays changes towards faster P-states - which bring increased frequency and voltage and hence, power consumption - so as to save more power. However, this means that there is an increased delay (latency) between the moment more processing power is required of the Ryzen processor and the moment the processor is allowed to change P-states to deliver it. Add to this the fact that Ryzen takes a significant performance hit with core-parking enabled, and Windows 10's balanced power plan attempts to park all logical processors beyond the first 10% whenever possible means that most of Ryzen's cores will have to be unparked before they can process any kind of workload - and this in itself incurs in an increased latency and, therefore, performance penalty.

Windows 10 Creators Update to Feature New Levels of Privacy Control

Developing on the latest Creator's Update release version of Windows 10 being available from Microsoft's Update Tool, there is a feature that needs further addressing: the new privacy settings. Microsoft is well aware (as well it should be, given the public outcry at its telemetry features) that Windows users were not happy with the fact that the company seemed to be trading their privacy for increased information - and ad revenues - in their new "Windows as a service" approach. Even though some of this telemetry and usage reports are essential towards achieving a good user experience in later updates, the general opinion was that Microsoft collected too much, with too little information being shared with users about what, when, and why. Now, Microsoft is looking to clean up its act without the obfuscation of hiding privacy setting in endless sub-menus.

There are now three levels of diagnostic information collecting being done at the OS level: Basic, Enhanced, and Full. Notice the absence of an "off" mode, which is something Microsoft likely will never budge on this new "Windows as a service" approach. However, the Basic mode now collects almost half of all the information that was previously collected. Users installing new versions of Windows will see a screen upon the configuration stage where they will be able to toggle privacy settings with a more refined filter than before, and your privacy settings will now (finally) carry over between major Windows updates, which means they won't reset without your knowledge. The same will happen with users that simply upgrade their Windows version with the new Creators Update.

Source: Windows Blogs, Tom's Hardware

Windows 10 Creators Update Available for Download

Even though the awaited Creators Update for Windows 10 is only set to arrive on April 11th, users who want to get ahead of the launch - and maybe themselves - can now update their version of Windows. Through the Windows 10 Update Assistant, Microsoft has made it possible for users to update to the latest version of windows ahead of time. After downloading and running the tool from Microsoft's website, it should display that Build 15063 is available - the official build number for the Creators Update.

The most awaited feature for the upcoming Windows update should be the Game Mode, though Beam live-streaming (which some say is better than Twitch) from the Game Bar, a PiP (picture-in-picture) mode for streaming videos while working on those pesky Excel budget .xlxs, and improved privacy settings (which aren't at the same level as the special edition built for the chinese market, though.) Microsoft's Edge is also seeing performance and security improvements, and Windows will now integrate a night mode that reduces blue light emissions - and thus the strain in your old eye globes. You can now also lock your Windows 10 PC at a distance through Windows Hello on your smartphone of choice, and can partake on some crazy Paint marathons with its improved 3D tool, which should elevate it to new, never before seen heights - maybe in the next update you can use the new Paint with Mixed-Reality products?

Source: Tom's HardwareSource: Microsoft Blogs

Windows 10 Creators Update Officially Launching April 11th

Microsoft has officially pegged its much-vaunted Creators Update for an April 11th Release (it's actually been available in its "RTM gold" state for some time via leaks on the web and even briefly via their own update tool, but there will surely be security patches between now and the release).

As far as features go, this update focuses a lot on features that Microsoft says enable users to "Unleash Creativity." This includes an update to the paint application that enables 3D functionality, improved support for Mixed Reality, a new "Game Mode" to dedicate resources to games, and a lot of features relating to broadcasting. Outside of the "creativity" theme, Microsoft claims it brings "new features to Microsoft Edge, additional security capabilities and privacy tools, and so much more."

ADATA Announces the i-Memory AI920 Jet Black Flash Drive

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of high performance DRAM modules, NAND Flash products, and mobile accessories today launched the i-Memory AI920 Jet Black Flash drive for iOS devices. Featuring Lightning and USB 3.1 in one slim 6.9mm device, the AI920 delivers 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacity and up to 150MB/s read. The Jet Black color scheme has been added in order to better complement Apple devices with an exact color match with iPhone 7, giving consumer more choice. The AI920 is also Apple MFi certified, making it an official iOS accessory.

AMD Sends Required Patches for Vega Support in Linux

AMD has recently sent out around a hundred patches, which amount to over 40 thousand lines of code, so as to allow developers to integrate support for its upcoming Vega GPU architecture under Linux. The new code is essential towards baking support for Vega under Linux, considering the many changes this architecture entails over AMD's current-generation Polaris 10 (soon to be rebranded, if sources are correct, to the new RX 500 series.) Also of note is the existence of seven different device IDs for Vega-based products, though this really can't be extrapolated to the amount of SKUs under the Vega banner. For now, that really is just a number.

AMD Releases the Radeon Software Crimson ReLive 17.3.2 Beta Drivers

AMD today released the 17.3.2 Beta version of its Radeon Software Crimson ReLive. This release features official support for the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda space opera, and a 12% performance boost in the game for RX 480 graphics cards compared to results obtained under the previous driver release.

This driver release also sees some fixed issues with texture corruption on some surfaces of The Division under DX12. In addition, this driver release features a fix for what could only have been a rare issue with texture flickering while task-switching on For Honor, considering it only affected 4x Multi-GPU system configurations. This release also features long lists of Known Issues, which you can take a look at after the break.

As always, you can grab the drivers right here at TPU, through our revamped downloads section. Just follow the link below.
DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 17.3.2 Beta

ADATA Releases the SD600 External 3D NAND SSD

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of high performance DRAM modules, NAND Flash products, and mobile accessories today launched the SD600 external SSD, which uses high quality 3D TLC NAND to offer 256GB and 512GB variants. The drive reaches speeds of 440MB/s read and 430MB/s write, easily outpacing external HDDs. It weighs a mere 90g for convenient portability, and works driver-free with Windows PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Android. The SD600 is available in all-black and red-black color schemes, and employs impact-resistant materials in its sporty design to support active lifestyles.

Microsoft Distances Itself from Intel - Announces ARM Cloud Server Platform

Microsoft is looking to reduce costs in its Azure cloud computing platforms for tasks like search, storage, machine learning and big data. And after having developed a version of Windows for servers that use ARM processors, in a joint work with Qualcomm and Cavium, Microsoft seems to also be looking forward to leave its dependency on Intel products as nothing but a memory. Microsoft's ARM server design, dubbed Project Olympus, looks to hardware innovations so as to reduce costs, boosting competitiveness and flexibility in regards to other big players in the cloud space, like Amazon and Alphabet. That the design is open source is also a boon to other businesses and Microsoft partners.


Though the design isn't "deployed into production yet (...) that is the next logical step," said Jason Zander, vice president of Microsoft's Azure cloud division. "This is a significant commitment on behalf of Microsoft. We wouldn't even bring something (...) if we didn't think this was a committed project and something that's part of our roadmap."

Team Group Announces the All New Compact & Solid L5 LITE Solid State Drive

Team Group, the world's leading memory brand, today announces the launch of the all new L5 LITE solid state hard drive. Using SATA III 6Gbps transfer interface, L5 LITE solid state hard drive is both lightweight and has a powerful read/write performance. The sequential read/write speed is up to 500 and 400 MB/s. It can help you improve your work efficiency quickly by save time and storage space, so your purpose for upgrading can be perfectly satisfied. L5 LITE offers consumers the best solution in entry level solid state drives. It not only greatly improves the performance of the computer, but also the best bargain for upgrading your desktop computer or laptop.
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