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Microsoft at Gamescom 2018: Where's the Heart of Gaming After All?

We stopped by Microsoft's booth at Gamescom 2018 in Koln, Germany, to see what the behemoth company was pushing for its Xbox family of products - and, of course, Windows 10. However, the company's presence lacked most of its heavy-hitters - Halo was absent, Gears of War was as well. In fact, Microsoft's presence at this years' Gamescom was limited to Forza Horizon 4 and Ori and the Will of the Wisps, when it comes to in-house exclusives. Though that McLaren does look great over there, doesn't it? Oh my.

Valve Apparently Working on Compatibility Tools Allowing Windows Games to be Played on Linux

Keen-eyed Linux and Valve uses have noticed what could seemingly be a big reveal and shake-up to games' compatibility with the Linux platform. If you're a die-hard Linux fan, or even if you're just a curious dabbler in that operating system, you know that there aren't many concerted efforts of bringing game experiences to that operating system. A good port requires many more hours than game developers are willing to put into it - let alone compiling a native implementation of their game for that OS.

However, Valve, being the most important digital games distributor through their Steam platform, know there's an untapped source of income in that part of the market. And if developers won't do it themselves, then Valve seem to be willing to take the matter into their own hands. This speculation arises from Steam's GUI files, which when looked at with SteamDB's Steam Tracker, include a hidden section with unused text related to an (as of yet) unannounced Steam Play system, which "(...) will automatically install compatibility tools that allow you to play games from your library that were built for other operating systems."

AMD 2nd Gen Ryzen Threadripper MCM Configuration Confirmed, More Details

Tech Day slides leaked to the web by Kitguru provide a confirmation of how AMD is wiring out the additional two dies on the 24-core and 32-core Ryzen Threadripper 2000-series MCMs on the socket TR4 platform. We had speculated that because the quad-channel DDR4 memory and PCIe interfaces are wired to two diagonally-opposite dies on AMD X399 chipset motherboards; in the interest of backwards compatibility, AMD could wire out memory and PCIe from just two out of four dies on the multi-chip module, and have the two additional dies seek memory and PCIe over the InfinityFabric interfaces.

The obvious trade-offs with this design choice is that latencies to the dies with indirect memory/PCIe access are higher, and that reflects heavily in AMD's own performance figures for comparing the 32-core 2990WX with the 16-core 2950X from the same generation. The 2990WX is "only" up to 64 percent faster than 2950X at Cinebench R15 nT, despite having double the number of cores. To its credit, the 2950X has higher clock-speeds (3.50 GHz nominal with 4.40 GHz boost) than the 2990WX (3.00 GHz nominal with 4.00 GHz boost). The presentation also puts out interesting bits of information such as AMD's own performance numbers showing 10-15 percent performance gains between the 2950X and the 1950X; and performance gains of the 2990WX over Intel Core i9-7980XE.

Riding on Strong Azure Performance, Microsoft Crushes Estimates, Jumps 4% in Stock Valuation

Following Microsoft's Earnings report last Thursday, the company enjoyed a smooth uphill with its stock value in after-hours trading. Riding on the strong of greater than expected Microsoft Azure Cloud earnings, Microsoft beat all estimates by a margin: earnings per share were announced at $1.14, versus $1.08 expected (GAAP), and revenue was declared at $30.1 billion, versus $29.2 billion expected. That's an extra billion dollars in revenue for all intents and purposes - and stock pricing increased by more than the additional revenue did, with investors expressing confidence on "strong guidance".

Productivity and Business Processes, with Microsoft Office, was up 13% from the year-ago period, to $9.7 billion. Intelligent Cloud, which encompasses the Microsoft Azure cloud-computing platform and related technologies, was up 23%, to $9.6 billion. And More Personal Computing, which includes Windows, the Xbox, and the Surface hardware business, was up 17%, to $10.8 billion (7% up in the Windows business alone). The Azure folder was the one with the most growth, by far: it saw revenue growth of 89% from the same period in 2017. LinkedIn revenue went up 37% from the same time last year, and gaming revenue saw a 39% increase - a boost not related to hardware, but Xbox software and services, which accounted for 36% of that figure. The Surface business is up 25% from this time last year, something Microsoft credits to both a strong hardware lineup this year and a less than stellar 2017 performance.

Microsoft Announces the Surface Go Convertible at $399

Today, Microsoft announces Surface Go: the most portable and affordable Surface product yet. Many of us play different roles throughout the day, moving from work or school to home and everywhere in between. Our team designs every Surface to adapt to that dynamic lifestyle, to strike a balance between performance and versatility, form and function. Our products don't do just one thing because people don't do just one thing.

We pioneered categories like the 2:1 to provide the mobility of a tablet with the performance of a laptop, inspiring new ways of creating. As you pursue your passions, connect with friends and family, and work with your team, the products you're able to take on the go with you are the ones that can keep up with the huge range of things you want to accomplish.

Codemasters Releases Official Screenshots for F1 2018 - Better Graphics, Expanded Career Mode

With the 2018 F1 Season going on in full swing (with some unexpected troubles for Mercedes' leadership this past weekend), gamers are about to get another taste of what it feels to drive some of the most advanced cars in the world. Codemasters are at it again, with some improved visuals over the previous iteration of the game, and my god - would you look at those beautiful Alfa Romeo Saubers?

The game has been announced for release on August 24th - so if nothing else for this summer, you'll be able to race at breakneck speeds. Follow the break for the full press release, where an expanded career mode and more classic cars are mentioned - but only after you've gorged your eyes on the screenshots below.

Upcoming Windows 10 Task Manager Update to Show Power Usage, Power Usage Trend per Process

One nifty new feature currently being deployed to Windows 10 Fast Ring users is the ability to see exactly how much power a given process is consuming in your system's hardware (CPU, GPU & Disk). The new feature, which appears as two additional Task Manager tabs, showcases the instantaneous power usage of a given process, but also features a trend calculator that covers a two-minute interval. This should be pretty handy, if the measurement process is close enough to the real power consumption. This could even be used as another flag for cryptomining malware or scripts in a given webpage. You can check the source for the additional updates that have been brought to build 17704 of the Windows Insider Program.

Microsoft Releases Updates for Older Windows 10 Builds

While not much happened during June's Microsoft Patch Day, the company is now pushing out updates for earlier builds of Windows 10, namely for the Anniversary Update (1607), Creators Update (1703), Fall Creators Update 1709). There is no updates for the latest Windows 10 April 2018 Update (1803).
The change logs are below. You will receive those updates via Windows Update.

Synology Releases Virtual Machine Manager Pro

Synology Inc. announced the official release of Virtual Machine Manager Pro to cater to professional users with services suitable to their needs. VMM Pro enables Synology NAS to run multiple virtual machines like Windows, Linux, Virtual DSM. It assists users to integrate and manage multiple Synology NAS via its virtualized cluster, flexibly distributes hardware resources, migrates virtual machines between hosts without any interruption, and conducts regular snapshots and replications to back up virtual machines, for the ultimate goal of building a efficient and safe virtualization environment.

Synology is dedicated to making powerful yet intuitive solutions for users. "Virtual Machine Manager has garnered wide acclaims with its latest version, and more than 130,000 Synology NAS have downloaded and installed it over the course of one year. This clearly shows how this product has been endorsed worldwide, which is very motivating to our development team. With the extremely flexible cluster in Virtual Machine Manager Pro, we are able to help IT personnel to easily build a professional and efficient virtualization environment on NAS servers. As this application improves your work efficiency, it protects critical virtual machines, as well." said Chen Feng Wang, Product Manager of virtualization at Synology.

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 398.11 WHQL Drivers

NVIDIA today released GeForce 398.11 WHQL software. These drivers come game-ready for "Vampyr" and "Jurassic World: Evolution." The drivers also officially introduce G-SYNC HDR, requiring G-SYNC capable HDR displays. It also adds or improves SLI support for "Warhammer: Vermintide 2." It fixes an issue with "Hitman" in DirectX 12 mode, where the game crashes if the in-game HDR mode is enabled and Windows HDR setting is "off." Also fixed is an issue with "Call of Duty: WWII" in which the center display in 3D Vision Surround setups can go blank.
DOWNLOAD: NVIDIA GeForce 398.11 WHQL

The change-log follows.

Matrox G200 - Celebrating 20 Years of Graphics Excellence

Matrox Graphics Inc. is pleased to announce the 20-year anniversary of its Matrox G200 graphics chip. The milestone celebrates two decades of dedicated, active software development and support for multiple technology nodes across countless Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Developed for 2D, 3D, and video acceleration, the G200 powered a number of industry-first, graphics and multi-monitor-based product lines that delivered unprecedented image quality across one or more displays. Today, G200 is and remains the trusted and preeminent integrated graphics solution of choice for the majority of baseboard management controllers used in servers worldwide.

Codemasters Announces Release Date for F1 2018

Codemasters and Koch Media today announced that F1 2018, the official videogame of the 2018 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, will immerse players into the world of Formula 1 more than ever before. F1 2018 will release onto PlayStation 4 computer entertainment system, the Xbox One family of devices including the Xbox One X and Windows PC (DVD and via Steam) worldwide on Friday 24th August 2018, the weekend of the FORMULA 1 2018 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps Circuit.

"We were delighted by the reception that the highly-acclaimed F1 2017 game received, and are extremely excited to be able to further build on such a strong starting point with F1 2018" said Paul Jeal, F1 Franchise Director at Codemasters. "Over the past few years we have engaged heavily with our fan-base to understand what is important to them and we cannot wait to unveil more details on features we know our fans will love. Career mode has been further expanded to immerse players even deeper into the world of F1 than before, with the return of a highly requested feature back into the franchise. We are also adding more classic cars, again listening to our fans as to which of the historical F1 cars they would most like to virtually drive next. Outside of those headline additions there are many other great enhancements to be revealed before the game launches."

Rare's Sea of Thieves Now Launched For Xbox, Windows 10

Rare's latest (and first in a long time) original, full fledged video game has just been made available. Done under the umbrella of Microsoft, Sea of Thieves promises to bring back the fun in games, with a ludicrous setting and an entire design philosophy that just speaks "fun". The first-person, multiplayer co-op and player vs. player game has both sea and land fights, treasure and player hunting, so there's enough there to sate the tastes of different players altogether.

Sea of Thieves is part of Microsoft's Game Pass subscription, which means that for $9.99 monthly, users have the chance of trying out the game and playing it, no holds barred, with no additional payment (you can always purchase it for the usual asking price of $59.99/£49.99/€69.99 - and don't you just love the price differences across currencies?) This "Games as a Service" is being hailed as one of the solutions for triple-A game development, bringing companies like Microsoft steady streams of revenue they can then re-inject into their in-house game studios. Furthermore, Sea of Thieves is part of Microsoft's Play Anywhere program - meaning a digital purchase on either Xbox or PC will grant you the ability to play it on both platforms. So go out there and walk the plan, drink rum, shoot some cannons, and drink some gallons of salt water, you old sea dog!

OWC Launches Their Mercury Elite Pro Quad External Storage Solution

OWC, a leading zero emissions Mac and PC technology company, is making drive juggling a thing of the past with the new OWC Mercury Elite Pro Quad. The new external storage solution offers four drive bays to provide massive amounts of storage from a single USB-C connection, with the flexibility to be utilized in Mac, PC and mixed Mac/PC environments. Designed for users who require high capacity storage with fast transfer speeds, the Mercury Elite Pro Quad is ideal for use by post- production firms, photographers, creative agencies, higher education programs, and small businesses.

Vuzix Begins Mass Producing the dynaEdge AR100 Smart Glasses for Toshiba

Vuzix Corporation, a leading supplier of Smart Glasses and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies and products for the consumer and enterprise markets, is pleased to announce that the company has begun mass production of the world's first Windows-based smart glasses. First production shipments are expected to be delivered within approximately 30 days.

Vuzix entered into a development agreement with Toshiba in February 2017 to create a customized Window-based USB-C Type C AR smart glasses for Toshiba, which is a derivative product of the Vuzix M300 Smart Glasses. Over the past year the team at Vuzix created an entirely new Vuzix product for Toshiba, has delivered hundreds of engineering and development units and has begun volume manufacturing for Toshiba to fulfill the initial purchase order received by Toshiba as part of 3-year supply agreement, that has an expected minimum of $5,000,000 in purchases in the first 12 months, and which was previously announced by Vuzix in December 2017.

Khronos Group Announces Free and Open-Source MoltenVK for macOS and iOS

A Vulkan-compatible driver for macOS and iOS, MoltenVK, is now available free of charge and open-source. Having invested into its development for more than a year, Khronos Group has sponsored The Brenwill Workshop to donate MoltenVK for inclusion in the Vulkan graphics ecosystem.

We've also continued our efforts with LunarG who is today releasing a corresponding update to deliver macOS support to the Vulkan SDK. Also as a result of that work, Dota 2 will soon be updated to target Vulkan on macOS. It's been almost four years since we started contributing to Vulkan's goal of becoming a cross platform solution. With support for Windows, Linux, and Android crossed off the list, this latest set of updates checks off one of the largest remaining targets, giving developers an easy yet robust way to also target their Vulkan-based engines and titles to run on macOS and iOS. By making the code to MoltenVK freely available and open-source, the goal is to enable developers to bring their games to macOS and iOS with minimal development cost.

Intel to Bring 5G to Mobile PCs by 2019

Today, Intel announced it is collaborating with Dell, HP, Lenovo and Microsoft to bring 5G connectivity to Windows PCs with Intel XMM 8000 series commercial 5G modems. Intel expects the first high-performing 5G-connected PCs to surface in the market in the second half of 2019.

Mobile World Congress (MWC) attendees will get a first sneak peek at a concept 5G-connected PC - a detachable 2 in 1 - connected by an early 5G modem and powered by 8th Generation Intel Core i5 processors. At MWC, Intel will showcase the power of 5G on a PC by livestreaming video over the 5G network. This concept is one of many stepping stones for moving the industry forward in what's possible for 5G-enabled PCs.

5G is not just another generation of wireless connectivity. It promises new opportunities for technology innovation across the computing and connectivity landscape from the cloud to the network and the client.

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.
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