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Microsoft Windows Sandbox Securely Runs Suspicious Apps in Isolation

In an always-online world having the ability to test unknown programs or .exe files on PC has required the use of extra software which has always come with issues of its own or the more in-depth use of a virtual machine. In order to eliminate the fear of running unknown programs along with the desire to make testing them easier, Microsoft has announced the development of their Windows Sandbox. This new feature will be coming to Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise next year and as you may have guessed it allows for the creation of a temporary desktop environment. This work environment is made to be secure and disposable meaning you can run an app in the sandbox check for compatibility, possible issues, malware, etc and once done just delete the entire sandbox. Thus keeping your real operating system free and clear of any potentially hidden nasty surprises.

The entire system works by using Microsoft's Hypervisor to create an entirely separate kernel isolated from the host PC. Each time its run it creates a pristine installation of Windows as nothing persists between uses. More importantly, the prerequisites for its use are quite low, with systems currently at the minimum needing Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise Insider build 18305 or later, virtualization capabilities enabled in the BIOS, 4 GB of memory, 1 GB free disk space and 2 CPU cores. Recommended specifications include a CPU with four threads, 8 GB memory, and an SSD, which in this day and age is quite minimal all things considered. While this feature is not likely to be a game changer for the average consumer it should make the lives of IT personnel a bit easier.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Coming to PC, Early Build Filmed?

"Red Dead Redemption 2" (RDR2) is arguably 2018's biggest game release, and is dominating sales on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 platforms it debuted on. Developer Rockstar Games is now eyeing the PC platform, and is ready with an early console port to Windows. A video surfaced on YouTube by "Mrdc kll" recording menus for the PC build of RDR2 with a mouse. The number of graphics settings on offer, particularly setting such as FXAA could only point to the possibility of a PC build, rather than someone who got keyboard/mouse to work on an Xbox One. We can also vaguely make out the build number 1118.8. When this release comes to being is anyone's guess. Rockstar has, in the past, taken anywhere between a 12 to 18 months to port its flagship games to PC, and the original "Red Dead Redemption" never got a PC release.

Could Microsoft and Steam be Looking Into Enabling Crossplay Between Services?

Crossplay has become an interesting point of contention for the industry, with some very popular games and companies advocating for a unified, non-fractured player audience enjoying their games across different media consumption screens, and even gaming platforms. Microsoft has been pushing this kind of capability for some time now, launching their Xbox Play Anywhere initiative which aims to bring PC, Xbox (or both) gamers to parity - acquiring a game on one platform equals having it on both, with all game data being synced.

A new update in the Steam beta update code explicitly refers to Xbox, with an "Xbox_pairwise_id" being present, which could point towards exploration of a future feature. Microsoft adding keyboard and mouse support to their Xbox consoles, news of a new streaming-based console for Microsoft's xCloud efforts, and Steam already offering controller support are some of the little details that could make this a winning bet for both companies.

Future Microsoft Office Versions Look to be Subscription Only

A job listing posted by Microsoft is being hailed as sign of subscription-based times to come to the company's Office 365 and Windows products. Honestly, I believe this to be a matter of time - Subscription services have been increasing at an alarming rate, Microsoft has already tasted the advantages of such a model on their bottom line with their Xbox Live and Games Pass systems, and of course, there're always the ever-giant Spotifys and Netflixes of this world.

Windows and Office as a service is nothing out of the ordinary, really. The job listing for a "Product Manager, M365 Consumer Subscription - Modern Life & Devices (MLD)", which has a job description along the lines of "market a great new Microsoft 365 Consumer Subscription" doesn't come as a surprise. Going from this Office 365 consumer subscription to a Windows one is a bit of a stretch on the basis of the job posting alone, but it is in the foreseeable future for Microsoft's strategy to safeguard Windows and its updates behind a monthly payment, ensuring that one-off purchases are no longer a thing - and guaranteeing a predictable revenue stream.

Intel Introduces Universal Windows Drivers (UWD) Compliant Software

Microsoft is changing the way that hardware drivers work on the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), Windows 10 (and later), and Microsoft Windows Server 2019 (and later). Hardware running on these operating systems can use Windows Modern Drivers (also known as Universal Windows Drivers - UWDs). Note that Microsoft requires the use of Windows Modern Drivers for Windows 10 1809 (RS5) and later. Intel will begin distributing Windows Modern Drivers for its products beginning in November 2018.

As of November 2018, any driver updates for Intel products on these operating systems will be the Windows Modern Drivers. After a driver has been updated to a Windows Modern Driver, it's possible to roll back to a legacy driver. However, rolling back isn't recommended as it involves a complex process that could result in system instability. This system instability is especially pertinent to graphics drivers. You can find more information on this subject.

DOWNLOAD: Intel UWD-compliant Graphics Driver for Windows 10 v25.20.100.6444

Microsoft Halts Windows 10 October Update Rollout Yet Again, Affects Only Some Intel Users

Microsoft has blocked rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update on systems using Intel Integrated Graphics with specific driver versions. Apparently audio playback, when using a monitor connected to the IGP, will no longer work after the upgrade to October Update.

According to Microsoft, the underlying reason for the issue is that "Intel inadvertently released versions of its display driver [...] to OEMs that accidentally turned on unsupported features in Windows."

If you want to work around this, then check your Intel driver version using GPU-Z. If you see "24.20.100.6344" or "24.20.100.6345", just upgrade your graphics drivers and you should be good to go.

Microsoft Resumes Rollout of Windows 10 October 2018 Feature Update (1809)

Originally Microsoft shelved the Windows 10 October 2018 feature update after a data-destroying bug among other problems was detected just days after its initial rollout. Now with more than a month has passed they are finally re-releasing the update after having "thoroughly investigated and resolved" the issues, according to Microsoft's John Cable, director of Program Management for Windows Servicing and Delivery.

The decision to re-release the update was reached after the careful study of diagnostic data from millions of Windows Insiders showed no further evidence of data loss. Currently, the update is only available via media and manual updates, automatic updates will be coming later. This is because Microsoft is taking a slower more methodical approach to their updates. Taking more time for careful study of device health data in order to improve the overall user experience. This new approach will take problems like application incompatibility among other things into account in order to make sure future updates do not automatically install unless known issues have been resolved. This should help reduce the frequency of problems end users encounter.

Microsoft Investigating Bug that Deactivates Windows 10 Pro Licenses

As if the missing files bug with Windows 10 version 1809 was not enough, Microsoft has more on their plate to tackle with some reports coming from consumers that their Windows 10 Pro digital license was suddenly showing up as deactivated. This was reported by multiple Reddit users first, in an account that seemed to not be restricted to any specific region either. Indeed, many of the affected got further notices by the OS that the license was for Windows 10 Home instead, and that they had to now install that specific variant.

To their credit, Microsoft were quick to take notice of this obvious bug and one of their support team members went on to say that "Microsoft has just released an Emerging issue announcement about current activation issue related to Pro edition recently. This happens in Japan, Korea, American and many other countries. I am very sorry to inform you that there is a temporary issue with Microsoft's activation server at the moment and some customers might experience this issue where Windows is displayed as not activated. Our engineers are working tirelessly to resolve this issue and it is expected to be corrected within one to two business days." This was followed up by a statement from Jeff Jones, a senior director at the company, who went on to say "A limited number of customers experienced an activation issue that our engineers have now addressed. Affected customers will see resolution over the next 24 hours as the solution is applied automatically. In the meantime, they can continue to use Windows 10 Pro as usual."

If you happen to have this issue, try out the activation troubleshooter to see if the update was applied, and that should help resolve the bug.

Linux Won't Boot on New MacBook Air: Apple's T2 Security Chip Prevents It

The new MacBook Air with Retina display is overall a nice upgrade from the old versions of these laptops. There's one caveat, though: the new T2 chip that manages Touch ID's Secure Enclave, APFS storage encryption or UEFI Secure Boot validation will make it impossible to boot with a Linux distribution. Apple's T2 documentation (PDF) explicitly covers how the support for booting Linux is not available: the Microsoft Corporation UEFI CA 2011 certificate used also by Linux distributions isn't trusted at this moment, so the T2 chip will make it impossible to boot from Linux distributions. Only Windows is allowed to boot via Boot Camp at the moment.

Apple's Secure Boot support page shows how the new 'Startup Security Utility' can be used to disable Secure Boot, but some people have tried to boot Linux through this method and even with that change it's impossible to boot Linux. The problem extends to the rest of machines including the T2 Security Chip, like the Mac mini, the iMac Pro or the MacBook Pro 2018, for example. Apple hasn't made any comments on the issue.

Two Months After Proton Over 2,500 Windows Games Work On Linux Through Steam Play

Proton is a new tool released by Valve Software that has been integrated with Steam Play to make playing Windows games on Linux as simple as hitting the Play button within Steam. Underneath the hood, Proton comprises other popular tools like Wine and DXVK among others that a gamer would otherwise have to install and maintain themselves. This greatly eases the burden for users to switch to Linux without having to learn the underlying systems or losing access to a large part of their library of games. Proton is still in its infancy so support is inconsistent, but regularly improving and the list of supported Windows games is growing each day.

In fact, this project has announced that it has now over 2,500 Windows games (2,663 at the time of writing) that work on Linux with Proton and Steam Play. Beyond those supported "whitelisted" games, there are several others that although not-whitelisted are supported and "play just as well as on Windows". Some examples are "No Man's Sky", "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt", "Wolfenstein: The New Order" or "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim". Any user can contribute and report about the titles in his game library thanks to ProtonDB.

Party Like It's 1998: Winamp to See New 2019 Release With Modern Features

I myself never used Winamp - I was a Windows Media Player kind of guy back then, yeah - but I'm well aware of its cult status among users of that times' PC's. The app's latest official version was released back in 2013, but a new version (release 5.8) will hit the scene soon - at first, with bug fixes and removal of Pro features for a more cohesive package.

Radionomy, the company that purchased Winamp back in 2014, has announced via its CEO, Alexandre Saboundjian, that "There will be a completely new version next year, with the legacy of Winamp but a more complete listening experience." This means eventual added support for modern features that have become quintessential to our consumption of audio media, such as playlists, podcasts, streaming radio stations, and others. The new release is pegged for a 2019 launch, though details are scarce in the fields for now.

Microsoft Starts new Rollout of October 2018 Update, Says Flaws are Fixed

Microsoft has begun shipping an updated version of the dreaded October 2018 Update, that deleted some users' files. In a first phase, the new version of Windows 10 1809, using build number 17763.17 is now available to Windows Insiders. For users who already have October Update installed, a patch is available in the form of KB4464330.

Microsoft's John Cable, Director of Program Management, Windows Servicing and Delivery said: "We have fully investigated all reports of data loss, identified and fixed all known issues in the update, and conducted internal validation."
The company also shed some light on what really happened when users lost their files:

Microsoft Pulls Windows 10 October 2018 Update

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

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

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 416.16 WHQL Drivers

NVIDIA released its first GeForce software suite since Windows 10 October 2018 went official. The new GeForce 416.16 WHQL drivers add full support for the new operating system, including WDDM 2.5, and DirectX Ray-Tracing (DXR), which are essential for NVIDIA RTX to work. The drivers also add SLI profiles for a large number of games, including "Battlefield V," "Basingstroke," "Divinity: Original Sin II," "Immortal: Unchained," "Jurassic World Evolution," "Phoenix Point," and "Seven: The Days Long Gone." 3DVision profiles are added for "The Elder Scrolls: Online."

A small number of bugs are also fixed with this release. "Pascal" GPUs running "Quake HD remix" no longer experience black square glitches. Temporal AA sharp drops in performance with GeForce GTX 1060 running "Rainbow 6: Siege" has been fixed. Driver errors on TITAN Xp when waking up from S4 sleep have been fixed. Lastly, an issue found with "Turing" GPUs not exposing Netflix 4K mode to displays connected over USB-C, has been fixed. Grab the driver from the link below.
DOWNLOAD: NVIDIA GeForce 416.16 WHQL

The change-log follows.

The Power of Ryzen in Rackmount NAS - QNAP Introduces the TS-x77XU Series

QNAP Systems, Inc. (QNAP), a leading storage, network and computing solution provider, unveiled the high-performance TS-x77XU rackmount NAS series. This series features the 8-bay TS-877XU-RP, 12-bay TS-1277XU-RP, and 16-bay TS-1677XU-RP. Utilizing the blazing-fast AMD Ryzen processor family with high core/thread counts, the TS-x77XU series has been significantly boosted to meet the most-demanding virtualization needs of enterprises.

The TS-x77XU series is available with Ryzen 3 1200, Ryzen 5 2600, and Ryzen 7 2700 processors, all of which demonstrate astonishing processing power for versatile applications and scenarios (including desktop and server virtualization, on-the-fly video transcoding/streaming, and private cloud infrastructure). Four PCI Express (PCIe) slots are available in all models, allowing users to expand NAS functionality with network adapters (40GbE, 10GBASE-T/NBASE-T), USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) cards, M.2 SSD cards, and graphics cards. The TS-1677XU comes with a 500 W power supply unit (PSU) to support a graphics card that requires additional power. Models with redundant power supplies are also available.

MSI Announces New P65 Premium Notebook Designed for Content Creators

MSI, a world leader in high performance computing hardware, today announces its new notebook designed specifically for content creators and professionals, the P65. The P65 is a powerful system with a stylish design featuring high-end specs, beautiful thin-bezel display and long-lasting battery life. MSI will have the P65 on display at IFA 2018 at Booth number 107.

The P65 provides everything a content creator or business professional needs to work quickly and efficiently. Creators are constantly on the move and need to have desktop-grade power in a form factor they can easily carry around. With a potent processor and dedicated graphics, the P65 gives users more than enough power to edit raw HD or 4K video, create motion graphics and fly through complicated spreadsheets on the go. The P65 also features a full suite of ports including an SD card reader, USB Type-C, USB Type-A, HDMI, micro-DisplayPort and an ethernet jack. The P65 will be available this September.

AMD Releases Radeon Adrenalin Edition 18.8.2 BETA Drivers

AMD today released version 18.8.2 Beta of their Radeon Adrenalin drivers. This driver version brings with it support for Strange Brigade, so if you're planning on partaking in some gaming over that title's waters, you should have this driver suite. Apart from that, there are just some known issues with this driver release: minor corruption on Strange Brigades' Vulkan renderer on Windows 7 systems; application hangs on V-Sync and FreeSync (at the same time) enabled systems (also on Windows 7); and Radeon Overlay's functioning in multiple-GPU configurations under the Vulkan renderer. Grab these drivers from the link below.
DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.8.2 Beta

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.
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