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Google Stadia Adds Support for 1440p Streaming In Chrome

This week Google Stadia added the option to stream games on chrome at 2560x1440 resolution so that users with QHD monitors can now stream games at their monitors' native resolution compared to just 1080p or 4k previously. To play in QHD resolution users will need an active Stadia Pro subscription, a network speed of 35 Mbps or greater, and a Windows computer or Chromebook with VP9 hardware decoding and a QHD monitor.

In other news, this week the Stadia Store gained two new games those being Jotun: Valhalla Edition, and Sundered: Eldritch Edition. Stadia Pro subscribers are also set to receive The Elder Scrolls Online for Free on June 16 along with the Morrowind Chapter as free content. Stadia players can enjoy crossplay support with PC, which means you'll be able to play with friends across Stadia and PC.

Sonarworks Releases SoundID Listen: Personalized Sound on your Computer

Sonarworks had caught our eye back at CES 2019, when they showed off their then-still-in-progress mobile app for personalized sound signatures called True-Fi. The Latvia-based company has credentials to back all their claims, and the in-suite demo was impressive to say the least. Getting it out in the real world meant that the company had to build up their database of compatible headphones to first normalize the sound signature, and then work on the best option for recuperating R&D costs without breaking any wallets. As it turns out, the company had more insight on this at CES 2020 but are only now ready to show their retail plans in the form of SoundID.

SoundID, as both a mobile app (iOS, Android) and the new desktop SoundID Listen experience, takes over from where True-Fi started. The interface is more colorful and user-friendly to the masses, and the mobile app in the current beta form is being marketed more for profile-creation than usage, although it has the option to plug into your Spotify library. The older A/B tests are retained here, and at CES 2020 the app only had the "Core" experience. As of May, the app has new features to coincide with the desktop client's release, and read past the break for more on both.

Original Xbox & Windows NT 3.5 Source Code Leaks Online

According to The Verge, source code for the original Xbox and Windows NT 3.5 has leaked online. The leak reportedly contains the kernel for the original Xbox OS, build environments, testing emulators, and internal development documents. This leak may help further emulation efforts for the original Xbox which as of now can only play ~40 of the over 900 games released for the console. This isn't the first time Microsoft has suffered a source code leak, with partial Windows 2000 and NT 4 source code leaking back in 2004 but given the age of the software this is unlikely to be of much significance. A Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge that "We're aware of these reports and are investigating".

Microsoft PowerToys Receives New Quick Launcher & Keyboard Mapper

Microsoft PowerToys is an open-source suite of utilities for Windows 10 power users to customize their Windows experience, inspired by the original Windows 95 project of the same name. The latest v0.18.0 release brings two new utilities to the suite; PowerTools Run a modernized quick search launcher and Keyboard manager a new quick and easy tool to remap keys and shortcuts.

The PowerTools Run launcher is designed to be fast and offer more features for power users without sacrificing on performance. The code for the launcher is completely open-source so anyone can improve or develop modules for the launcher. The launcher can be accessed via Alt+Space and will be updated over time to receive new features much like Apple's Spotlight search.

Windows 10 2004 May Update Brings Back Bluetooth Speaker Streaming

Windows 10 2004 May update is set to bring a heap of new features to the OS, along with performance improvements in the form of a fixed search indexer. According to the latest report form Windows Latest, we have information that the update version 2004 will reintroduce Bluetooth A2DP sink, a feature from Windows 7 era. The Bluetooth A2DP sink allows users to stream audio from their phones to PC speakers, using Bluetooth technologies. This is a useful feature is you want to play music via your phone on louder speakers connected to your PC, and we are sure users are going to appreciate this. The Bluetooth A2DP sink feature was present in Windows 7 OS, however, Microsoft has later disabled that in Windows 8 OS and it hasn't been available since. The Windows 10 May update is expected to roll out between May 26th and May 28th.
Windows 10 OS

MSI Updates Workhorse Laptops with 10th Generation Intel Core Processors & NVIDIA Quadro RTX Graphics

MSI has revamped its entire series logo for its ultimate mobile workstations, joining the iconic MSI dragon shield logo, the symbol of high performance! The iconic logo delivers the same promise of MSI Workstation! MSI is guaranteed to offer absolute professional experience with the certification of industry-leading ISVs and committed to providing the always first to the market and reliable device for the professionals. Now, MSI proudly launches a powerful lineup of mobile workstations, including the new WS75, WS66, WF75, and WF65 powered by up to Intel Xeon Processors or 10th Gen Intel Core i9 processors and NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 graphics. Driven by Intel's latest 10th i9 CPU, MSI's workstations are now capable of delivering a 15% boost to up to 50% performance enhancements compared to its predecessor.

Google Chrome Beta Receives Tab Grouping Feature

There are two types of people in the world: tab minimalists who have just a few tabs open at a time and tab collectors who have...significantly more. For minimalists and collectors alike, we're bringing a new way to organize your tabs to Chrome: tab groups. This feature is available now in Chrome Beta. Now, with a simple right click, you can group your tabs together and label them with a custom name and color. Once the tabs are grouped together, you can move and reorder them on the tab strip.

Microsoft Begins Phasing Out 32-Bit Support for Windows 10

It seems Microsoft has begun the long process of phasing out 32-bit support for Windows 10 beginning with version 2004, all new OEM Windows 10 systems will be required to use 64-bit builds and Microsoft will no longer release 32-bit builds for OEM distribution. This will not affect those of you running 32-bit versions of Windows 10 who will continue to receive updates and Microsoft plans to continue to sell 32-bit versions of Windows 10 through retail channels for the foreseeable future. This is likely just the first step in what will probably be a multi-year project to gradually phase out 32-bit support as more consumers and businesses switch to 64-bit systems.

Unfixable Flaw Found in Thunderbolt Port that Unlocks any PC in Less Than 5 Minutes

Dutch researcher from the Eindhoven University of Technology has found a new vulnerability in Thunderbolt port that allows attackers with physical access to unlock any PC running Windows or Linux kernel-based OS in less than 5 minutes. The researcher of the university called Björn Ruytenberg found a method which he calls Thunderspy, which can bypass the login screen of any PC. This attack requires physical access to the device, which is, of course, dangerous on its own if left with a person of knowledge. The Thunderbolt port is a fast protocol, and part of the reason why it is so fast is that it partially allows direct access to computer memory. And anything that can access memory directly is a potential vulnerability.

The Thunderspy attack relies on just that. There is a feature built into the Thunderbolt firmware called "Security Level", which disallows access to untrusted devices or even turns off Thunderbolt port altogether. This feature would make the port be a simple USB or display output. However, the researcher has found a way to alter the firmware setting of Thunderbolt control chip in a way so it allows any device to access the PC. This procedure is done without any trace and OS can not detect that there was a change. From there, the magic happens. Using an SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) programmer with a SOP8 clip that connects the pins of the programmer device to the controller, the attacker just runs a script from there. This procedure requires around $400 worth of hardware. Intel already put some protection last year for the Thunderbolt port called Kernel Direct Memory Access Protection, but that feature isn't implemented on PCs manufactured before 2019. And even starting from 2019, not all PC manufacturers implement the feature, so there is a wide group of devices vulnerable to this unfixable attack.
Thunderspy attack

Codemasters Reveals DIRT 5 for PC, Xbox, Playstation & Stadia

As revealed during Microsoft's Inside Xbox show, Codemasters is delighted to announce DIRT 5, launching from October 2020 on Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, Windows PC (via Steam) and the current generation of Xbox and PlayStation consoles. A Google Stadia version will be released in early 2021. Whilst respecting the heritage and retaining the DNA of the franchise, DIRT 5 writes a new chapter in the legacy of DIRT - bolder and braver than ever before. DIRT 5 is more than relentless rallying, more than suspension-shaking jumps, more than hairpins and handbrakes. Join an energised world of off-road racing, and be part of a vibe that delivers big on epic action, pure expression, and unbridled style.

Microsoft Announces Surface Go 2, Surface Book 3, Surface Headphones 2 and Surface Earbuds

The way we work, connect and learn continues to change right in front of us. Our devices have become our window to the world - our office, our school and our social space. To help navigate the current environment people are turning to Windows PCs more than ever. In fact, over 4 trillion minutes are being spent on Windows 10 a month, a 75% increase year on year. It's not just the pull of the larger screen and better keyboard, but the versatility of a device that runs the software we need and games and entertainment we love, with cameras and mics built in to connect us to the people who matter most. This is what Windows PCs were built to do. This is what we design Surface for.

The new Surface Go 2, Surface Book 3, Surface Headphones 2, Surface Earbuds and accessories are designed to help you do what you need, from anywhere - a concept that has taken on new weight since we first started working on these products. Instead of planes, coffee shops and offices, we're moving from home office to kitchen table to couch, but our need for devices that keep us productive and connected has never been greater.
Microsoft Surface products Microsoft Surface Go 2

Windows 10 Market Share Drops Between March and April

Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system has historically been rising in market share thanks to the slow depreciation of Windows 7 OS, and Microsoft's efforts to push it as only Windows OS available for desktop users. However, according to the information by NetMarketShare, a company providing statistics about the market share of Internet Technologies (browsers and OSes), Windows 10 has seen a decrease in market share. This news is a surprising discovery, given that the OS is expected to be gaining new market share slowly, given that Windows 7 has reached the end of life in January.

From 57.37% of market share in February, Windows 10 got down to 57.34% in March and 56.08% in April. While this may seem just like a few percentage decrease, given the massive amount of PCs available, it can be counted in thousands. What could be the reason behind this is the current COVID-19 related pandemic and slower demand for office PCs, as everyone is working from home now. This was a big growth sector for Windows 10 as the previous version of Windows, the 7, was very popular in office space before its EoL. Of course, this is just a speculation which you should take with a big grain of salt. Some of the interesting things to point out is that Ubuntu, a Linux kernel based operating system, has massively increased its market share from 0.27% in March to 1.89% in April.
Microsoft Windows 10

Valve Removes SteamVR Support on macOS

Valve has announced that SteamVR will drop support for the macOS platform so that development teams can focus on Windows and Linux support. SteamVR users running macOS who wish to continue using SteamVR will need to opt-in for legacy macOS builds from the "Beta" tab under SteamVR properties. This measure will probably stop functioning relatively quickly as new hardware and software changes appear. This move doesn't come as much of a surprise as the macOS platform isn't known for its VR activity, in the long-term macOS users will have to migrate to an alternate operating system or dual boot if they wish to continue accessing SteamVR.

Microsoft Revises End of Service Date for Windows 10, version 1809

Microsoft has today announced that they will delay the scheduled end of service date for Windows 10 October 2018 Update, version 1809 from May 12, 2020 to November 10, 2020. This is in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a bid to lessen the burden on consumers and enterprise. The following is Microsoft's statement on the matter:

"We have been evaluating the public health situation and understand the impact this is having on many of our customers. To help ease some of the burdens customers are facing, we are going to delay the scheduled end of service date for the Home, Pro, Pro Education, Pro for Workstations, and IoT Core editions of Windows 10, version 1809 to November 10, 2020. This means devices will receive monthly security updates only from June to November. The final security update for these editions of Windows 10, version 1809 will be released on November 10, 2020 instead of May 12, 2020."

Microsoft Shifting Near-Term Focus away from Windows 10X Dual Screen Solutions, Surface Neo delayed

Microsoft has decided to shift its focus away from Windows 10X dual-screen laptop solutions in the near term, according to the report from ZDNet. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has happened recently, Microsoft's Chief Product Officer Panos Panay internally informed his team that Microsoft will not be focusing its efforts on delivering the Windows 10X based dual-screen laptops this year. However, Microsoft is committed to that idea and will not shift away from it completely, it is just taking a rest for now. This is bad news for everyone that was hoping to get Surface Neo dual-screen laptop that was meant for the Holiday season of 2020. In addition to Surface Neo not shipping this year, Microsoft isn't enabling any new Windows 10X dual-screen device to ship this year either.

What Microsoft is focusing on, however, is to get Windows 10X firstly on single-screen devices. That means that regular laptops should be getting the Windows 10X treatment sometime this year so vendors can launch products to compete with Chromebook devices, based on Google's ChromeOS.
Microsoft Surface Neo

x86 Lacks Innovation, Arm is Catching up. Enough to Replace the Giant?

Intel's x86 processor architecture has been the dominant CPU instruction set for many decades, since IBM decided to put the Intel 8086 microprocessor into its first Personal Computer. Later, in 2006, Apple decided to replace their PowerPC based processors in Macintosh computers with Intel chips, too. This was the time when x86 became the only option for the masses to use and develop all their software on. While mobile phones and embedded devices are mostly Arm today, it is clear that x86 is still the dominant ISA (Instruction Set Architecture) for desktop computers today, with both Intel and AMD producing processors for it. Those processors are going inside millions of PCs that are used every day. Today I would like to share my thoughts on the demise of the x86 platform and how it might vanish in favor of the RISC-based Arm architecture.

Both AMD and Intel as producer, and millions of companies as consumer, have invested heavily in the x86 architecture, so why would x86 ever go extinct if "it just works"? The answer is that it doesn't just work.

Microsoft Azure Traffic Surges 775% Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing service, has seen a huge uplift in traffic/usage in the past few days amid the COVID-19 outbreak. In the places where the outbreak happened and people are enforcing social distancing, Microsoft reports that there has been a 775% traffic uplift compared to the previous situation. As everyone capable of working from home needs a communication tool, Microsoft Teams is a popular choice, and it has seen some amazing usage as well. The users of Teams service have generated over 900 million meetings and calling minutes on Teams daily in a single week, resulting in high server usage. The demand for Windows Virtual Desktops has tripled as well.

OWC Unveils the Newest Iteration of its Wildly Popular Mercury Elite Pro External Storage Solution

OWC a leading zero emissions Mac and PC technology company and one of the world's most respected providers of hard drives, SSDs, Mac & PC docking solutions and performance upgrade kits, today announced the latest edition of its legendary Mercury Elite Pro external storage system for Mac, PC, Linux machines, Smart TVs, and PS4 and Xbox consoles. The 3.5-inch USB 3.2 5 Gb/s hard drive system is a modern day workhorse, delivering real-world performance up to 283 MB/s and capacities up to 16 TB to keep pace with the demands of everything from video editing projects, critical business data, and irreplaceable personal content to expanding PS4/Xbox One game storage and enjoying music/video content via a Smart TV.

The Essential External Storage Solution for Everyone
The Mercury Elite Pro kicked off OWC's rich, storied history of storage solution innovations nearly 20 years ago, and it has successfully stood the test of time by continuing to offer an incomparable blend of performance, quality, and value in a single HDD storage solution.
OWC Mercury Elite Pro OWC Mercury Elite Pro

Microsoft Freezing Optional Windows Updates Amidst COVID19 Pandemic

Microsoft yesterday announced that they would be freezing any release for optional Windows 10 updates whilst the world still reels from the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision by the company comes after they decided to keep delivering security updates for the Fall Creator's update (version 1709 of the OS).

Both these decisions by Microsoft stem from the company trying to reduce the impact of Windows 10 updates on businesses - reducing update requirements to security updates means there is fewer chances of an optional update shipping that could negatively impact productivity - of which very little bit is required right now for some businesses to even keep afloat. When the crisis has passed, all updates will be resumed.

Microsoft Redesigns Windows 10 Icons

Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system has been a mix of old and new designs since its launch, however, Microsoft decided to modernize its UI look by providing a fresh set of icons. If you are a user of Microsoft Office suite, then you already know how the new icons look for Office applications like Excel and Word. The material design present on those apps is now transferring to the rest of Windows 10 stock applications like Calendar and Calculator. In the effort to modernize the look of Windows 10 and end the Windows 7 inspired UI, Microsoft will be pushing the updated icon set over few following months. The updates icons are already available for Windows 10 Insiders, and specifically for Preview Build 19569. Regular users can expect to get the update in the coming months.

Microsoft Enables Hyper-V Support for Windows-on-ARM Devices

Microsoft is determined in its goal to move away from x86-64 dominance it had in the personal computer space for many decades. In the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 19559, Microsoft has enabled Hyper-V support for ARM64 devices, such as Surface Pro X. Hyper-V is a Windows native hypervisor and it is Microsoft's virtualization technology that allows running other OSes on top of Windows. Being a low-overhead solution, it is more efficient than a virtual machine and allows for better performance of OS that is running on top of Windows.

With the Insider Preview Build 19559, Microsoft is enabling this feature on a Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise customers. It is important to note that by adding more features like this, Microsoft is expanding the software ecosystem of ARM64 devices, which should result in wider adoption of PCs like the Surface Pro X.

NVIDIA's GeForce Now Service is Launched - And You Can Stream Games for Free

NVIDIA today has finally launched its GeForce Now streaming gaming service, and users can enjoy partial amounts of free gaming under the business model. There are two tiers of users on offer: Free, and Founders. The free tier, which you may give a go to check the streaming infrastructure and if it's something you would enjoy paying for, is limited to 60-minute play sessions. This means that after the clock has stopped ticking (with potentially intrusive pop-up notifications reminding you of how much time you have left every 10 minutes), you'll be forced to quit the game, and submit yourself to a playing queue until your next 60-minute window is up. RTX isn't available in this tier, though - so if you also wanted to see for yourself what the raytracing talk is all about, you'll have to pay $5 (monthly subscription) to cross that particular river.

Founder-tier members, however, will be able to enjoy the latest RTX-enabled games. The only ones listed on the service, for now, are Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Call of Duty: modern Warfare, Metro Exodus, and Deliver Us the Moon, which NVIDIA has recently started bundling with select RTX graphics cards). There is still a catch though: play sessions will be limited to 6 hours, after which time you'll be brought back to a gaming queue (though you'll have precedence over Free tier accounts, should there be many Founders-tier players in the queue, you might have to wait a while). There's a limited-time 90-day introductory period of which you can take advantage while subscribing for the Founders tier right now, which means you will only be billed after that 90-day grace period is over. Remember - you have to own a digital copy of the game you want to play in any of the more popular storefronts, such as EPIC and Steam, before you can game - but it's still a nice way to experience RTX should you currently own a non-RTX-enabled graphics card.

The new Microsoft Edge Browser is out of Preview and now Available for Download

A little over a year ago, we announced our intention to rebuild Microsoft Edge on the Chromium open source project with the goals of delivering better compatibility for everyone, less fragmentation for web developers, and a partnership with the Chromium community to improve the Chromium engine itself. At Ignite, we unveiled our new vision for the web and search, our colorful new icon, and how Microsoft Edge + Bing are the browser and search engine for business — and we are thrilled by the growing excitement we've heard from all of you who've tried it out and sent feedback!

From this incredible momentum, today I'm pleased to announce the new Microsoft Edge is now available to download on all supported versions of Windows and macOS in more than 90 languages. Microsoft Edge is also available on iOS and Android, providing a true cross-platform experience. The new Microsoft Edge provides world class performance with more privacy, more productivity and more value while you browse. Our new browser also comes with our Privacy Promise and we can't wait for you to try new features like tracking prevention, which is on by default, and provides three levels of control while you browse.

Khronos Group Releases Vulkan 1.2

Today, The Khronos Group, an open consortium of industry-leading companies creating advanced interoperability standards, announces the release of the Vulkan 1.2 specification for GPU acceleration. This release integrates 23 proven extensions into the core Vulkan API, bringing significant developer-requested access to new hardware functionality, improved application performance, and enhanced API usability. Multiple GPU vendors have certified conformant implementations, and significant open source tooling is expected during January 2020.

Vulkan continues to evolve by listening to developer needs, shipping new functionality as extensions, and then consolidating extensions that receive positive developer feedback into a unified core API specification. Carefully selected API features are made optional to enable market-focused implementations. Many Vulkan 1.2 features were requested by developers to meet critical needs in their engines and applications, including: timeline semaphores for easily managed synchronization; a formal memory model to precisely define the semantics of synchronization and memory operations in different threads; descriptor indexing to enable reuse of descriptor layouts by multiple shaders; deeper support for shaders written in HLSL, and more.

Microsoft's Windows 7 Reaches End-Of-Life

Today, on January the 14th, Microsoft is officially ending support for Windows 7 operating system. After more than 10 years since its launch, Windows 7 has remained a primary operating system on many PCs, especially OEM PCs manufactured before 2015, when Windows 10 came out. The user transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10 has not been an easy task for Microsoft, however, by declaring that the product has reached End-Of-Life, Microsoft is trying to make millions of users pull the trigger and embrace the new operating system.

When January 14th arrives, Microsoft will stop giving Windows 7 users technical support, software updates with new features, and most importantly security updates. The official recommendation from Microsoft is to upgrade to the latest version of Windows, meaning Windows 10. As some of the older PCs may have compatibility issues with newer OS, it is also recommended to check your PC specifications. If you are a customer of the Extended Security Updates (ESU) program, you will continue to see further support in the future, however, for regular users, the support period is over.
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