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Microsoft

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: the Best New Features (theverge.com) 189

A year after the release of Windows 10, Microsoft is gearing up for Anniversary Update, the first major update to the company's desktop operating system. Ahead of the public release of Anniversary Update on August 2, Microsoft provided media outlets with the Anniversary Update, and their first impressions and reviews are out. The Verge has listed the big changes Windows 10 Anniversary ships with. From the article: Windows Ink: Windows Ink is without a doubt the best part of the Anniversary Update. It's essentially a central location to find built-in or third-party apps that work with your stylus. You can use the new sticky notes to note down reminders, and they'll even transform into true reminders as Cortana understands what you write.
Microsoft Edge extensions: If you're a fan of Chrome extensions, then you'll be glad to hear that they're heading to Microsoft's Edge browser. The Anniversary Update brings support for extensions, and it's now up to third-party developers to fill the Windows Store with their add-ons.
Cortana improvements: Microsoft's digital assistant, Cortana, debuted on Windows 10 last year, and the software maker is bringing it to the lock screen with the Anniversary Update. You'll be able to ask it to make a note, play music, set a reminder, and lots more without ever logging in. Cortana is also getting a little more intelligent, with the ability to schedule appointments in Outlook or options to send friends a document you were working on a week ago.
Dark theme and UI tweaks: You can switch on what I call even darker mode in settings, and it will switch built-in apps that typically use a white background over to black.
Other improvements include things like Windows 10's ability to set your time zone automatically, and opening up of Windows Hello, the biometric feature to apps and websites. Additionally, the Xbox One is getting Windows apps. The Verge adds, "It feels like a promise that was made years ago, but it's finally coming true with the Anniversary Update. As Windows 10 now powers the Xbox One, Microsoft will start rolling out an update to its console to provide support for Cortana on Xbox One and the new universal apps." Microsoft is also adding Bash, the Linux command line to Windows with the new update. It's an optional feature and users will need to enable it to use it. Users will also be able to "project to PC," a feature that will allow one to easily find a PC to project to from a phone or another PC. There's also a new Skype app, and syncing of notifications between PC and phone is getting better.
Going by the reviews, it appears Windows 10 Anniversary Update is substantially more stable, and has interesting new features. You can read the first impressions of it on ZDNet, and review on PCWorld.
Microsoft

Microsoft Cuts Xbox One Price To $249 - Would You Buy or Recommend One? (theverge.com) 120

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge: Microsoft is cutting the price of its Xbox One console to $249. The new price marks the third price cut in less than two months, ahead of the new Xbox One S launch on August 2nd. 500GB versions of the Xbox One are now $249, and this includes bundles with games like Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Quantum Break, Forza Motorsport 6, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Rare Replay. Retailers like Best Buy and Amazon will be selling Microsoft's Xbox One console at the new $249 price point immediately, and the software giant says the consoles will be available at $249 "while supplies last." Microsoft's aggressive Xbox One pricing follows a sales gap between its console and Sony's PlayStation 4. Sony has sold more than 40 million PS4s, but it's not clear exactly how many Xbox Ones have been sold as Microsoft hasn't provided sales figures for quite some time. EA previously revealed Microsoft had sold 19 million Xbox One consoles back in January.
Open Source

Linux Kernel 4.7 Officially Released (iu.edu) 56

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The Linux 4.7 kernel made its official debut today with Linus Torvalds announcing, "after a slight delay due to my travels, I'm back, and 4.7 is out. Despite it being two weeks since rc7, the final patch wasn't all that big, and much of it is trivial one- and few-liners." Linux 4.7 ships with open-source AMD Polaris (RX 480) support, Intel Kabylake graphics improvements, new ARM platform/board support, Xbox One Elite Controller support, and a variety of other new features.
Slashdot reader prisoninmate quotes a report from Softpedia: The biggest new features of Linux kernel 4.7 are support for the recently announced Radeon RX 480 GPUs (Graphic Processing Units) from AMD, which, of course, has been implemented directly into the AMDGPU video driver, a brand-new security module, called LoadPin, that makes sure the modules loaded by the kernel all originate from the same file system, and support for generating virtual USB Device Controllers in USB/IP. Furthermore, Linux kernel 4.7 is the first one to ensure the production-ready status of the sync_file fencing mechanism used in the Android mobile operating system, allow Berkeley Packet Filter (BPF) programs to attach to tracepoints, as well as to introduce the long-anticipated "schedutil" frequency governor to the cpufreq dynamic frequency scaling subsystem, which promises to be faster and more accurate than existing ones.
Linus's announcement includes the shortlog, calling this release "fairly calm," though "There's a couple of network drivers that got a bit more loving."
Classic Games (Games)

Sega Announces Two New Sonic Games That Seek To Recapture The Glory Days (gamespot.com) 45

An anonymous reader writes: In celebration of Sonic the Hedgehog's 25th anniversary, Sega has announced two new Sonic games at Comic-Con in San Diego. The first game is called Sonic Mania and it's a 2D platformer that features visuals and gameplay reminiscent of the classic Genesis games. "It revamps zones and acts from Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic and Knuckles, in addition to introducing new ones into the fold," writes Mat Paget from GameSpot. The second game has no title [besides "Project Sonic 2017"], but it does have a holiday 2017 release date for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo NX consoles. It reportedly features both classic and modern versions of Sonic, similar to 2011's Sonic Generations. Sega made two additional announcements. "Mobile game Sonic Dash has passed 200 million downloads and will receive a special in-game event that adds the Green Hill Zone and Classic Sonic as a playable character," reports GameSpot. "The event only lasts a week, but players can unlock both the classic level and character for use after the event." The second additional announcement is that the animated Sonic Boom series will be renewed for a second season. "Sonic Mania was born out of our fans' love of the classic Sonic 2D platform games,â said Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka. "This type of collaboration is a first for Sega and we hope everyone will be both surprised and delighted by this title. Sonic Mania has been a passion project for the entire team and we look forward to sharing more details about it later this year. Having the game actually playable at the event itself tonight was testament to the dedication of the team behind it.â
PlayStation (Games)

Sony Is the Only Remaining Obstacle To PS4-Xbox Cross-Play (kotaku.com) 57

In March, Microsoft announced native support for cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10. At the time, the company also added that this support could be extended to "other console and PC networks," something which led people to wonder if truly cross-platform gaming, on any platform, was next. When asked, Sony did say that it was open to the idea. "PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002. We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross-platform play." But since then, it appears that Sony has had a change of heart, which has resulted in developers asking the company for an update. Kotaku reports: In recent days, the developers behind Rocket League and The Witcher 3 have both called for Sony to break down the walls separating PlayStation Network and Xbox Live and allow cross-platform multiplayer. What's changed in the last few days are developers making an open call for Sony to make good on having that conversation with publishers and developers. In an interview with IGN, Psyonix president Jeremy Dunham explained how the Rocket League developer had already taken care of the technical side of things. "We're literally at the point where all we need is the go-ahead on the Sony side," said Dunham, "and we can, in less than a business day, turn it on and have it up and working no problem. It'd literally take a few hours to propagate throughout the whole world, so really we're just waiting on the permission to do so." In another statement to IGN, CD Projekt RED CEO Marcin Iwinski supported Psyonix.
XBox (Games)

Microsoft's New Xbox One S Will Go On Sale On August 2 -- Will You Buy One? (betanews.com) 108

Microsoft announced on Monday that its new Xbox One S console will go on sale on August 2. To recall, the Xbox One S is 40 percent smaller than the original Xbox One (also the power supply packed in the console itself), and has the processing muscle to stream video in 4K Ultra HD with HDR. BetaNews reports: August 2 is the big date which also sees the release of Windows 10 Anniversary Update. The Xbox One S also features up to 2TB of storage. In all, three versions of the console are available. It's the 2TB model that's grabbing the headlines and the attention of keen gamers, and this model will launch in "limited numbers" priced at $399. The console will launch in Australia, Canada, UK and United States among several other regions. For anyone looking for a slightly cheaper option, the 1TB model will cost $349, while $299 will get you a 500GB version. If you want to add to the single Xbox Wireless Controller included as standard, this will set you back a further $59.99.Are you planning to purchase one of these?
Microsoft

Microsoft: Windows 10 Won't Hit 1 Billion Devices By Mid-2018 (zdnet.com) 104

Despite Microsoft's aggressive efforts to get everyone to upgrade to Windows 10 by mid-2018, the company says it is unlikely to meet its self-imposed deadline. In a statement to ZDNet, the company said: Windows 10 is off to the hottest start in history with over 350M monthly active devices, with record customer satisfaction and engagement. We're pleased with our progress to date, but due to the focusing of our phone hardware business, it will take longer than FY18 for us to reach our goal of 1 billion monthly active devices. In the year ahead, we are excited about usage growth coming from commercial deployments and new devices -- and increasing customer delight with Windows. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley writes: Microsoft Windows and Devices chief Terry Myerson made the original claim at Build 2015, noting that the 1 billion figure would encompass all kinds of devices that would run Windows 10 in some variant, including desktops, PCs, laptops, tablets, Windows Phones, Xbox One gaming consoles, Surface Hub conferencing systems, HoloLens augmented reality glasses and various Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Officials said at that time that the majority of those 1 billion devices would be PCs and tablets. But Windows Phones running Windows 10 Mobile also were expected to help Microsoft reach that total by mid-2018.Since April 2015, the bottom has fallen out of the Windows Phone market, with Microsoft officials conceding that Windows Phone isn't much of a focus for Microsoft in calendar 2016.
XBox (Games)

Streamers Get Best Of Both Worlds With Xbox Live Support For PC Twitch Streaming (neowin.net) 12

An anonymous reader shares a Neowin article: Microsoft is making life easier for Twitch streamers who rely on capture cards to stream Xbox One games, by adding support for capture cards on Xbox Live. Up until now if you wanted to stream an Xbox One game, you had a couple of choices: either rely on the Twitch app and benefit from Xbox Live integration, but make do with lower-quality graphics; or rely on a capture card and stream from your PC, but lose the Xbox Live features. Now Microsoft is giving its users the best of both worlds, by working together with Twitch to support streaming from PCs via capture cards , like an Elgato, but also using Xbox Live features. All streamers need to do to take advantage of this is connect their Twitch account with Xbox Live.
XBox (Games)

Microsoft Xbox Project Scorpio Puts Out 6 TFLOPs On Par With Current Gaming PCs (hothardware.com) 162

MojoKid quotes a report form HotHardware: Microsoft is hoping to usher in a new era in console gaming just over a year from now. While the company is just a month away from launching the Xbox One S refresh in the U.S., Project Scorpio is the console that really has gamers talking. During E3, Microsoft provided scant details on the console, only cluing us in to the fact that it would support virtual reality, 4K gaming, and push 6 TFLOPs of computing power. Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz, CD Projekt Red's Principal Narrative Designer, had a few things to say about that last bullet point regarding compute performance. If you recall, AMD's newly introduced Radeon RX 480 offers peak performance of 5.8 TFLOPs, which puts it in close proximity of Microsoft's Project Scorpio. But of course, trying to compare consoles to PCs using this stat alone isn't exactly apples to oranges, though Tomaszkiewicz explains, "For sure [Scorpio] will have better looking games," Tomaszkiewicz said. "If this was available when we were working on Wild Hunt, I would expect similar quality that we have on PC right now or even better maybe." HotHardware's report goes on to mention that once new console hardware is introduced, it's frozen for years at a time without any updates. Therefore, it would only be a short while before PCs would completely outcompete it in terms of performance. Also, given the fact that Project Scorpio is not arriving until late 2017 at the earliest, the 6 TFLOPs of power won't seem like much when compared to the new cycle of high-end GPUs with far superior performance. Tomaszkiewicz agrees, adding, "New graphic cards are being released very often and more often than the new consoles being released. So I think it will put Scorpio on par with the PC is that we have at that point. But I think PC is growing so fast that it'll outpace [Scorpio]."
Microsoft

Microsoft Is Giving Students a Free Xbox One With Surface Pro 4 Purchases (theverge.com) 52

Microsoft on Wednesday announced a sweet deal for any student on the fence on purchasing the Surface Pro 4. The company has said that it will be taking $300 off when students purchase a Surface Pro 4 and Xbox One. In a statement to The Verge, Terry Myerson, head of Windows and devices at Microsoft said, "So basically a free Xbox One with the purchase of a Surface Pro 4." The deal is only running at Microsoft's retail stores in the United States. The deal goes live today and will last until August 14.
The Almighty Buck

RIP Xbox Fitness: Users Will Soon Lose Access To Workout Videos They Bought (arstechnica.com) 115

insitus quotes a report from Ars Technica: Xbox users who purchased training videos through the Xbox Fitness app probably thought they were buying a workout program they'd be able to use regularly for the life of the Xbox One, at the very least. Instead, those videos will soon be completely unavailable to those who paid for them up front, according to a "sunset" plan announced by Microsoft yesterday evening. Xbox Fitness first launched in late 2013 with the console, offering a Kinect-powered health app that uses the 3D camera to evaluate users' form as they perform the exercises demoed by on-screen video trainers. The app, which provided 30 basic routines for free with an Xbox Live Gold account, will be coming to an end on December 15. The paid content associated with the app will also no longer be available for purchase, and those who purchased it previously will be able to use it for over one more year before the app becomes completely unavailable to download or use on July 1, 2017. What some have found especially upsetting with the news is that Microsoft has yet to announce any plans to compensate users who have paid for content or to provide downloadable versions of paid workouts that can be used after the phase-out date. Thus, many upset users have taken to the sunset announcement post and various other outlets to speak their mind on the situation. "I bought 140$+ worth of content just this year... I don't want a refund, I want to be able to continue to use what I PAID for !!!!!!!!!!!" Xbox Live user QuickSilver wrote.
Businesses

Robot Pizza Company 'Zume' Wants To Be 'Amazon of Food' (bloomberg.com) 208

kheldan writes: Do you want robots making your pizza? Alex Garden, co-founder and executive chairman of Mountain View startup Zume, is betting you will. Garden, the former president of Zynga Studios, was previously a general manager of Microsoft's Xbox Live. Garden launched Zume in stealth mode last June, when he began quietly recruiting engineers under a pseudonym and building his patented trucks in an unmarked Mountain View garage. In September, he brought on Julia Collins, a 37-year-old restaurant veteran. She became chief executive officer and a co-founder. Collins was previously the vice president and CEO of Harlem Jazz Enterprises, the holding company for Minton's, a historic Harlem eatery. The company consists of an army of robot sauce-spreaders and trucks packed full of ovens. "In the back of Mountain View's newest pizzeria, Marta works tirelessly, spreading marinara sauce on uncooked pies. She doesn't complain, takes no breaks, and has never needed a sick day. She works for free." The pie then "travels on a conveyer belt to human employees who add cheese and toppings." From there, "The decorated pies are then scooped off the belt by a 5-foot tall grey automation, Bruno, who places each in a 850-degree oven. For now, the pizzas are fully cooked and delivered to customers in branded Fiats painted with slogans, including: 'You want a piece of this?' and 'Not part of the sharing economy.'" Garden says, "We are going to be the Amazon of food. [...] Just imagine Domino's without the labor component. You can start to see how incredibly profitable that can be."
Security

Hacker Taunts Blizzard After Knocking Gamers Offline (csoonline.com) 99

Reader itwbennett writes: A person nicknamed AppleJ4ck, who has been previously been linked to Lizard Squad, a group notorious for DDoS attacks against gaming platforms, including the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, has taken credit for server outages affecting gaming giant Blizzard (Alternate source: ZDNet) Monday morning. The outages led to authentication lockouts for gamers attempting to access Overwatch, Hearth Stone, World of Warcraft, Diablo, Heroes of the Stone, and others. During the outage, AppleJ4ck said Monday's problems were just a test, promising more outages in the future.
E3

Microsoft Announces Xbox One S, Project Scorpio Gaming Consoles (engadget.com) 144

Details of Microsoft's rumored new console have dropped ahead of the company's conference at E3 tradeshow Monday. It appears the long-anticipated smaller and more powerful variant of company's current console is real. According to a leaked press render, Microsoft will be announcing the Xbox One S (where S stands for Slim) at the gaming event. The Xbox One S will be 40 percent smaller than the Xbox One, and pack in more powerful processing and graphics muscle. According to the render, the Xbox One S will come with a 2TB hard drive, and feature support for 4K video playback and High Dynamic Range. According to separate reports, the Xbox One S is likely to be priced at $399 for the 2TB variant. Update: 06/13 16:58 GMT by M : Microsoft has officially taken the wraps off the product. It will be available for purchase starting August. AnandTech has more details.Also at its event, Microsoft announced Xbox Play Anywhere. The Verge reports: It lets you buy participating cross-platform games once, and own them on both platforms. If you buy a game on Xbox One it will simply appear in your Windows 10 library, and vice versa, and your saved games, achievements, and other information will carry over between the two versions.Microsoft also unveiled "Project Scorpio", a high-powered Xbox One launching next year that is capable of supporting 4K content as well as virtual reality headsets. "We are creating more choice in your gaming experience than ever before," said Xbox chief Phil Spencer to open Microsoft's E3 conference. No word on its pricing yet.
XBox (Games)

Microsoft Mistakenly Sold Fallout 4 For Free On Xbox (polygon.com) 260

On Thursday the $110 Deluxe Edition Bundle of Fallout 4 appeared in the Xbox store priced at $0.00. The Escapist reports that "The mistake went viral, and there's no telling how people were able to take advantage before the error was corrected..." An anonymous reader shares their report: If you grabbed Fallout 4 for free on Xbox One, it will be disappearing from your account... Microsoft has confirmed that any copies obtained due to the error will have their license revoked, and the games will disappear from the user's Xbox One library.
Now Microsoft is telling affected users that "your free download will no longer work. For the inconvenience we will deposit $10 by the end of June in your Microsoft Account."
Sony

Sony Confirms It's Making a 'High-End PlayStation 4' With 4K and Richer Graphics (ft.com) 142

Sony has confirmed it is working on an upgraded version of its PlayStation 4 gaming console (could be paywalled; alternate source). The company says that the upcoming console dubbed Neo is intended to sit alongside and complement the standard PS4. Touted as the "high-end PS4", the gaming console will support ultra-high definition 4K resolution and richer graphics, and will certainly cost more than PlayStation 4's $350 retail price.

The move might upset many PlayStation 4 owners, especially the ones who have purchased the console in the recent months. One of the perks of purchasing a gaming console from Sony and Microsoft is knowing that neither company will launch an upgraded version of their respective console for around six to seven years. Sony realizes that it is playing with fire here, so it assured that all forthcoming games -- including the VR ones -- must support the older version of the console as well. The company says that the new PS4 console won't be unveiled at E3 tradeshow next week, however.
XBox (Games)

Microsoft Isn't Adding a TV DVR Feature To Xbox One Anymore (theverge.com) 76

The much-anticipated TV DVR feature isn't coming to Xbox One ... at least not in the immediate future. The company has confirmed to The Verge that it has put the plans to add this functionality to its current generation gaming console on hold. From the report: Microsoft had originally planned to let Xbox One users schedule recordings on the go, and stream or download shows to mobile devices and other Windows 10 PCs. The DVR feature would have only been limited to free-to-air TV, and Microsoft had released digital TV tuners in Europe and the US that would have supported it. After Microsoft killed off Windows Media Center in Windows 10, the company still doesn't have a viable alternative.
Microsoft

Microsoft Could Turn Every PC Into an Xbox (theverge.com) 255

For the past few years, Microsoft has been trying to mold Xbox One system's user interface and functionalities to resemble that of Windows 8 and Windows 10's Modern UI. But the company has also hinted that we will be seeing a closer integration in the coming months. It is expected to unveil some of that at E3 tradeshow next week. Long-time Microsoft watcher Tom Warren reports for The Verge: Microsoft is currently working on a secret project internally, codenamed Helix. Kotaku originally reported on the Project Helix name, and the work is designed to more closely combine Xbox and Windows 10. Some of that work has started, but more of it is due later this year and next year with future upgrades to Windows 10. Microsoft wants to enable features like streaming PC games to the Xbox One, but sources familiar with the company's plans also tell us there are greater ambitions to make Xbox One games playable on a PC without needing a console for streaming. Part of this could involve bringing the full Xbox One UI and system directly into desktop versions of Windows 10. The latest Xbox One dashboards are built on top of Windows 10, so most of the work involved would be customizing the interface towards keyboard and mouse. Bringing the Xbox One UI over to Windows 10 machines would effectively turn every PC into an Xbox One, especially if they're also capable of running the latest console games.
XBox (Games)

Xbox One Update Adds Cortana (theguardian.com) 99

Microsoft announced on Monday that its Xbox One console is due for a big software update this summer. Cortana, the digital voice assistant will be made available to Xbox One users, the company said. If you're part of the Xbox Preview program, you will be able to test the feature starting this week. The Guardian reports: To communicate, players simply have to say "hey Cortana" -- a sentence that Microsoft claims is easier for the system to pick up than the old "Xbox" prompt. Players won't need Kinect, as any Xbox One headset with a microphone will suffice. Players will also be able to ask Cortana what their friends are doing on Xbox, and it's possible to invite friends into a Party chat via Cortana voice controls.
XBox (Games)

Smaller Xbox One Coming This Year, More Powerful Xbox One In 2017, Says Report (kotaku.com) 82

Keza MacDonald and Jason Schreier, reporting for game blog Kotaku: Microsoft is preparing at least two new Xbox models for release in the next two years, sources tell Kotaku. Later this year we'll see a cheaper, smaller Xbox One, and next year Microsoft will release a more powerful version of their premiere console. The 2017 Xbox, which is codenamed Scorpio, will have a more powerful GPU. We hear that it will also be technically capable of supporting the Oculus Rift and that Microsoft is pursuing a partnership with Oculus. As for 2016, sources have told us there's at least a more compact version coming by year's end. One source believed it will include a larger 2TB hard drive, double the capacity of the most spacious current model. We're expecting Microsoft to announce the more compact machine at E3 next month.

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