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Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2015 - 01:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Qi, wireless power, Airfuel Alliance, Wireless Power Consortium
We have seen several solutions for wirelessly charging your mobile devices emerge recently which cause some to worry this would create an ecosystem of incompatible solutions. Today two of the major players in Wireless Power merged to form the Airfuel Alliance. Those two players were supported by Broadcom, Intel, Samsung and several others while the WPC is backed by big names such as Microsoft, Motorola, Philips and Qualcomm. WPC's branding is Qi, while AA's members use a mix of magnetic resonance and induction systems with Rezence being their widest known branding. Currently there are products such as the Apple watch which use Qi, with Intel prototyping charging stations using AA's solutions. With only two major players left there is much less chance of this particular market fragmenting and becoming frustrating for consumers. Read on at The Register for more.
"The battle for wireless power supremacy is now a straight fight between two groups following the merger of the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) into the Airfuel Alliance."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Food, water, batteries, medical supplies, ammo … and Windows 7 PCs @ The Register
- Firefox 42 brings souped-up private browsing for super-secret missions @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft confirms Windows 10 is harvesting more data than ever @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft's OneDrive price hike has wrecked its cloud strategy @ The Register
Subject: Graphics Cards | November 4, 2015 - 09:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers, geforce, game ready
In mid-October, NVIDIA announced that Game Ready drivers would only be available through GeForce Experience with a registered email address, which we covered. Users are able to opt-out of NVIDIA's mailing list, though. They said that this would provide early access to new features, chances to win free hardware, and the ability to participate in the driver development process.
Today's announcement follows up on the “win free hardware” part. The company will be giving away $100,000 worth of prizes, including graphics cards up to the GeForce GTX 980 Ti, game keys, and SHIELD Android TV boxes. To be eligible, users need to register with GeForce Experience and use it to download the latest Game Ready driver.
Speaking of Game Ready drivers, the main purpose of this blog post is to share the list of November/December games that are in this program. NVIDIA pledges to have optimized drivers for these titles on or before their release date:
- Assassin's Creed: Syndicate
- Call of Duty Black Ops III
- Civilization Online
- Fallout 4
- Just Cause 3
- Monster Hunter Online
- RollerCoaster Tycoon World
- StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void
- Star Wars Battlefront
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege
- War Thunder
As is the case recently, NVIDIA also plans to get every Game Ready driver certified by Microsoft, through Microsoft's WHQL driver certification program.
Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2015 - 07:32 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: roccat, gaming mouse
While it used to be next-to impossible to find ambidextrous mice with thumb buttons, it's fairly common these days. This is coming from a left-handed PC gamer. We now have several options, including a few options that are exclusively for south paws. This one is a little different, though. Roccat decided to make an ambidextrous mouse with removable covers for the thumb buttons. This change allows the user to convert the mouse from left-handed thumb buttons, to right-handed thumb buttons, to both, to neither.
Unfortunately, Roccat doesn't say exactly how many buttons there are. I'm looking specifically at the front middle. It looks like a simple scroll wheel with a single button behind it. Roccat calls the wheel a “2D Titan Wheel” but, as far as I can tell, and I've searched for quite a while about this, it's just their brand name for a high-quality, one dimensional scroll wheel. Physically speaking, a “2D scroll wheel” should have tilt, but it doesn't seem to. 2D is up, down, left, right; 1D is up and down; 0D is a point, which I guess would be a button?
Anyway, the customization feature sounds nice, but I'm not sure how useful it is in practice. It could be nice for a family, where some users are right-handed and others are left-handed. A single person is going to stick with a single handedness, though. This makes me consider other uses cases, where a single user would want to adjust their button layout for reasons other than handedness. Perhaps the user doesn't want to feel buttons under their pinky and ring finger when playing certain genres, but want it for some reason (DPI adjustment?) in other games. It's a struggle, but maybe there's a potential market for it.
This is the same mouse as above, just with its sides replaced.
On the other hand, Roccat plans to release “3D print support”. Maybe the draw was never intended to be the four included panels. Perhaps the goal is to provide a platform for users to create their own sides, and the ambidextrous nature was just the default for non-enthusiasts (or until the user gets around to making their own)?
Pricing and availability have not been announced on their website, but Tom's Hardware seems to think it's $49.99, and available November 27th. It's probably in a newsletter or press release that I missed.
Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2015 - 07:05 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Windows 8.1, windows 8, Windows 7, windows 10, microsoft
Officially, the only version of Windows that you can purchase standalone is Windows 10. Sales of Windows 7 ended on October 31st, 2013, and retail availability Windows 8.x ended on September 1st. Unofficially, you can find SKUs available on Amazon and elsewhere for both of these versions, and in several different editions.
PCs with Windows pre-installed follow their own calendar, though. Almost two years ago, Microsoft announced that Windows 7 PCs will be available until October 31st, 2014, with an extension for Windows 7 Professional that will be at least 12 months after... whenever they decide to announce the date. They announced the date a few days ago and, you guessed it, it's 12 months from then: October 31st, 2016. They also announced that PCs with Windows 8.1 pre-installed will have the same end of sales date.
So basically, you can only purchase Windows 10 now, and PCs will only have it pre-installed after October 31st, 2016... officially.
Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2015 - 09:22 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: sound blaster 16, Sound Blaster, pc gaming, Creative, audio, ad lib
About two weeks ago, we highlighted a video by “The 8-Bit Guy” about the earliest computer audio implementations. It focused on the engineering side, how a series of channels, made up of square waves, triangles waves, noise, and occasionally PCM recordings, could be mixed to generate sound.
This video discusses a similar era from a slightly different perspective. Beep is a documentary video and book series that started on Kickstarter. This segment is an interview with Rich Heimlich, the person behind the company Top Star. They did third-party QA for video game companies. He was approached by Martin Prevel, a professor at Université Laval in Quebec, who had the idea of an add-in sound card. It used the Yamaha YM3812 sound chip, which you might remember from The 8-Bit Guy's video.
The interview delves into the more business aspects of the industry, though. For example, one of Ad Lib's biggest issues was that PCs did not have a lot of room for expansion. It was difficult to convince the consumer to give up a whole ISA add-in slot for audio. Heimlich remembers a strong consumer backlash against dedicated audio that they needed to overcome. Gamers needed to choose between sound, clock, storage, and so forth. Beyond that, the PC, with software like LOTUS 123, brought hardware that wasn't just considered “a toy” into the home. It brought a huge wave of hardware in, but it wasn't considered a serious gaming platform until titles like Myst came out for them.
At some point, Creative noticed this whole situation. They contacted Rich Heimlich and showed them the “Killer” (later “Sound Blaster”) card. The switch in power from Ad Lib to Creative was interesting, which Heimlich says had nothing to do with the digital audio feature, since that was not even used until two years after Creative surpassed Ad Lib in market share. He attributes it to the initial problem, which is a lack of add-in card real estate. The Sound Blaster had a GamePort, which let users justify filling that socket with both audio and a joystick port, which would be two sockets with Ad Lib's solution. It was also cheaper than the Ad Lib.
The interview goes on to discuss the Ad Lib vs Creative war to their next-generation product, Ad Lib Gold vs Sound Blaster 16. He alleges that, since Creative had better connections within Yamaha, they kept Ad Lib's card out of certification until Sound Blaster 16 was in the market. It then continues to talk about reverse-engineering “Sound Blaster-compatible” and so forth. It then continues for a while, even talking about OS/2 at the end of it.
It is definitely worth a view.
Subject: Graphics Cards | November 3, 2015 - 02:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Strix GTX 950 DC2OC, strix, gtx 950, factory overclocked, asus
At $165 currently the ASUS Strix GTX 950 DC2OC sports the same custom cooler higher end Strix cards use and is overclocked by 141MHz right out of the box. That cooler helped Bjorn3D get the Boost Clock on the card up to 1425MHz and the memory to 6900MHz effective, not too shabby for such an inexpensive card. The real question is if that boost is enough to allow this card to provide decent performance while gaming at 1080p. See if it can in the full review.
"Naturally NVIDIA wants to cover all price points so they did a snip and clip on the GM206 Maxwell core and trimmed 256 Cuda cores off the GTX 960 leaving 768 Shaders on the GTX 950. You still have the same 2GB GDDR5 running across a 128-bit bus and 32 ROPS but GTX 960 gets 85 TMUs while GTX 950 gets 64 and those are really the hardware trade offs NVIDIA had to do to field a $160 video card."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- NVIDIA GTX 950 SLI @ eTeknix
- MSI GeForce GTX 980 Ti Lightning 6GB @ techPowerUp
- 4K AMD/NVIDIA High-End GPU Comparison On SteamOS @ Phoronix
- Are The Open-Source Graphics Drivers Good Enough For Steam Linux Gaming? @ Phoronix
- Intel Broadwell/Skylake Graphics Performance For Steam Linux Gaming @ Phoronix
- AMD Radeon Software Crimson Editon Technology @ TechARP
- AMD’s New Radeon Software: Crimson @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD Radeon Fury X PCI-Express Scaling @ techPowerUp
- XFX R9 380 4G Double Dissipation Black Edition @ Bjorn3d
- XFX R9 390X Double Dissipation Core Edition @ [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 3, 2015 - 01:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: PSU, Toughpower, thermaltake, ToughPower Grand 1200W, modular psu, 80 Plus Gold
The Thermaltake Grand series has been around for quite some time and has just been refreshed with a new model and a new price. The PSU has a single 12V rail, capable of delivering 100% of the wattage at 100A which makes sense for a kilowatt class PSU which has eight 6+2 PCIe connectors. It is rated at 80 Plus Gold which [H]ard|OCP's testing showed was essentially accurate, their test bed just snuck under the rating at 100% load. With a 7 year warranty and a $240 price tag it is right in the middle of the pack for PSUs of this power, not perfect but certainly OK.
If you don't need a 1000+ watt PSU then you should revist Lee's review of the Thermaltake Toughpower DPS G 850W PSU.
"Thermaltake is back with a new 1200 watt fully modular PSU. We have used Thermaltake power supplies on our test bench literally for years with excellent results. However the Toughpower line has not always been the best value out there, but today we see a 1200 watt PSU with revised pricing."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Thermaltake Toughpower DPS G 650W @ [H]ard|OCP
- Thermaltake ToughPower Grand Platinum 850W Power Supply Unit Review @ NikKTech
- Zalman ZM1000-EBT 1000 W @ techPowerUp
- EVGA SuperNOVA 650 P2 @ Kitguru
- EVGA SuperNOVA 650 G2 @ techPowerUp
- Chieftec SFX 500GD-C 500w @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2015 - 12:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, Microsoft Store, windows 10, Windows Universal Apps
Microsoft is really opening up their app store for people to develop software for users to pick up with what they are calling Windows Universal Apps. These apps will run on any Windows device and are not locked into the infamous tile interface once known as Metro. Even more interesting is that you will not need Visual Studio to develop these, you can use assets imported from other available resources to build your app. They also have a simulator to allow you to run your app in full screen while still in development mode as well as allowing you to manage the contents of an app collection without committing a change, giving you a chance to screw up by the numbers without negatively affecting anything outside of your test environment. This could really help grow the Microsoft Store app ecosystem with interesting new applications and of course the inevitable detritus which clutters any and all app stores. Check out the full story at The Inquirer.
"MICROSOFT HAS RELEASED a major update to the Windows App Studio which will allow users to become developers without a lick of code, and without going via Visual Studio."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- WoW! Want to beat Microsoft's Windows security defenses? Poke some 32-bit software @ The Register
- Microsoft's Surface Book laptop is almost impossible to repair @ The Inquirer
- Huawei cooks own PCIe SSD: Flash IP in a flash @ The Register
- An Introduction to Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW) @ Linux.com
Subject: Displays | November 3, 2015 - 12:22 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: XB271HU, XB271HK, variable refresh rate, Predator XB1, monitor, ips, gaming monitor, g-sync, acer, 27-inch, 100% sRGB
Acer has expanded their Predator gaming monitor lineup with two new 27-inch displays featuring NVIDIA G-Sync technology.
The Acer Predator XB271HU
First up is the XB271HU:
"The new Predator XB271HU touts a zero-frame edge-to-edge design with a WQHD (2560 x 1440) IPS panel that supports 100% of the sRGB color gamut as well as NVIDIA® ULMB™ technology(1) to reduce motion blur by delivering sharp edges in fast-paced gaming environments. It has a fast 4ms gray to gray response time, 350 cd/m2 brightness and up to a supercharged 165Hz overclocking refresh rate that speeds up the frames per second for delivering ultra-smooth gameplay."
And if WQHD resolution just isn't enough, there is also a 4K/UHD option, model XB271HK:
"The 27-inch Acer Predator XB271HK touts spectacular picture quality with a 4K UHD (3840x2160@60Hz) panel boasting 300 cd/m2 brightness and 1.07 billion colors. This stunning monitor also provides a high 100 percent sRGB color accuracy and reproduction.
Rendering fast-moving actions and dramatic transitions without smearing or ghosting, the Acer Predator XB271HK’s IPS display offers a quick 4ms response. It also provides wide viewing angles with accurate colors up to 178 degrees horizontally and vertically."
The monitors feature Acer’s GameView technology, “which allows gamers to swiftly toggle between three customizable display profiles to tweak settings in-game without the need to navigate through an OSD menu”, dark boost black level adjustment, and Acer’s Eye Protect Technology “with flicker-less, blue-light filter, ComfyView and low-dimming technologies to help safeguard the eyes from blue light emissions and decrease eye fatigue during long gaming sessions”.
The stands on the new Predator XB1 monitors feature tilt, pivot, and height adjustment, and the monitors are VESA compliant. Connectivity consists of HDMI, DisplayPort v1.2 and a 4-port USB 3.0 hub, with sound provided by 2W stereo speakers.
The Acer Predator XB271HK
The Predator XB1 Series monitors will be available this month, and the MSRP’s are $799 for the Predator XB271HU, and $899 for the Predator XB271HK.
Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2015 - 07:30 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: onedrive, microsoft, cloud storage
They apparently want, at most, 1TB of it.
Last year, almost to the day, I wrote about Microsoft upgrading their 1TB OneDrive offer to unlimited. Granted, I was about a week late in my reporting of their announcement, but the November 2nd publish date is still amusing none-the-less. Regardless, they have reverted this decision. Unlimited plans will be reduced to 1TB, and free plans will be reduced from 15GB to 5GB. The 15GB “camera roll” bonus will also be removed. These changes will take effect in “early 2016”.
Officially, the change was prompted by users who stored whole movie collections and DVR recordings to the cloud, using up over 75TB of storage. Interestingly, they say that this is “14,000 times the average”. This means that “the average” user stores about 5.4GB of data on OneDrive. Granted, mean values are somewhat skewed by outliers, as the 75TB example suggests. If 14,000 users were on the service, of which only one person used it at all, but that one person put 75TB on it, then the average would be the same. It's a data point nonetheless, though.
After these changes occur, you will have about 12 months before Microsoft will force you to cull the storage that you are using. You just will not be able to add to it until then. Afterwards? Well, I'm not sure how Microsoft will know what is most important to delete. Probably best to do it yourself.
Subject: General Tech | November 3, 2015 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming
Games Done Quick, a charity that speedruns games on video for donations, has just published their list of submissions for their upcoming session. The PC is well represented with its exclusive titles and ports from other platforms. Awesome Games Done Quick 2016 will take place in early January, from the 3rd to the 10th, and raise money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
The list of “green” games is quite diverse, from Mirror's Edge to Alien Swarm, Shovel Knight, Super Meat Boy, Tony Hawk's Underground 2, and Half Life 2. The previous event, Summer Games Done Quick 2015, supported Doctors Without Borders and brought in $1,233,844.10 USD. The Winter events tend to do a little better, though. Maybe this one can cross $2 million?
If you're interested, check out the list.
Subject: Motherboards | November 3, 2015 - 04:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Z170A SLI PLUS, X99 SLI PLUS, sli, msi, motherboard, crossfire, black PCB
MSI has announced their third PRO Series motherboard, the all-black Z170A SLI PLUS.
"MSI, leading in motherboard design, completes the PRO Series motherboard line-up with the launch of the all black Z170A SLI PLUS motherboard. Inheriting DNA from the critically acclaimed X99A SLI PLUS motherboard, the Z170A SLI PLUS is powerful, packed with features and styled with class."
While not lacking in stealthy looks from the black PCB to the matching RAM slots and heatsinks, the specifications of this new SLI PLUS board place it firmly into the premium category.
Features include Intel Gigabit LAN, MSI’s DDR4 Boost technology (which isolates memory traces on the board), Turbo M.2 (and U.2) with speeds up to 32 Gb/s with NVMe SSDs, and the Steel Armor PCI Express slots. And while SLI is right there in the title, there is also support for AMD Crossfire with those super-strong PCIe slots.
The board is fabricated with MSI’s Military Class 4 components including super ferrite chokes and all solid capacitors, and also offer a “EZ Debug” LED and overvoltage protection. In addition to support for the fastest internal storage standards (M.2, U.2, and SATA Express), the Z170A SLI PLUS offers full USB 3.1 Gen2 support for transfers up to 10 Gb/s for compatible devices.
- Supports 6th Gen Intel Core / Pentium / Celeron processors for LGA 1151 socket
- Supports DDR4-3600 Memory (OC)
- DDR4 Boost
- USB 3.1 Gen2
- Turbo M.2 32Gb/s + Turbo U.2 ready + USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C + SATA 6Gb/s
- Steel Armor PCI-E slots; Supports NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire
- OC Genie 4
- Click BIOS 5
- Audio Boost
- Military Class 4
- EZ Debug LED
- Overvoltage Protection
- 4K UHD Support
- Windows 10 Ready
Pricing and availability were not specified with this morning’s announcement.
Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2015 - 09:56 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft
According to NetMarketShare, Windows 10 now makes up around 7.94% of all desktop PCs. For comparison, all versions of Mac OSX combined total about 8% on this survey. It is behind Windows 8.1 and Windows XP though, which sit at 10.68% and 11.68% respectively. Windows 7 is still the overwhelming majority at 55.71%.
The OS has a few controversies associated with it, though. Some are warranted, some are not, and still others lay between. The first issue is that the reservation application has been known to download Windows 10, even without permission to do so (and redownload the several-gigabyte file if removed). This isn't counted on the market share survey of course, since the OS isn't actually installed, but it can be annoying for users will small main drives or metered internet connections. For people with satellite broadband, this will probably ruin your whole month.
Microsoft has also just announced that Windows 10 will be pushed to Windows Update for Windows 7 and Windows 8.x at some point in 2016. It will not automatically install, you will need to accept the EULA, but it will automatically download. Intentionally.
There's also some (many) concerns about privacy and data collection policies. Part of it is because Microsoft is pushing a free operating system without a clear business model, which leaves a lot of room to speculate what the value actually is. Many of these concerns aren't really possible, if only because too many people would need to be involved for the lack of leaks, but some level of concern is useful. For instance, there has yet to be a sufficient explanation of what “AutoLogger-Diagtrack-Listener.etl” does, precisely and specifically. Does it pipe everything you do to every advertiser and government acronym in the world?
No. Of course not.
It is an area that Microsoft, and basically all of their competitors, should improve upon, though.
Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2015 - 08:39 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: treyarch, call of duty, Activision
It's always good when a major franchise decides to add (or re-add) mod support. This time it's Call of Duty. Treyarch, who developed just under half of the titles in the main series, will bring the feature to Call of Duty: Black Ops III for the PC. An unranked dedicated server will also be available, because ranking players using modded content is not exactly... fair... for any reasonable mod tool set, across all possible creations.
They intend to allow custom maps and game modes, which leaves a few open questions. Are custom assets a part of “custom maps and game modes”? What sort of scripting options will be available? Does this mean that users cannot add custom weapons (or even vehicles)? Then you can get into more specific questions, like HUD possibilities and such. Thankfully, we have enough options for “Total Conversion” mods these days, with Unreal, Crytek, Unity, and others letting just about anyone access top-tier tools, in a variety of languages and platforms.
Treyarch is planning to release a closed alpha of the mod tools in March.
Subject: Displays | November 2, 2015 - 05:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, ASUS ROG, ROG Swift, swift PG27AQ, ips display, 4k, 60hz
The 165Hz G-SYNC compatible ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q was recently on the PCPer review bench, garnering a Gold Award for its performance. Kitguru recently wrapped up a review of a slightly different model, the ROG Swift PG27AQ. Like the other model it is a 27" IPS display which supports G-SYNC, however only to 60Hz as it is a 4K (3840×2160) monitor. The bandwidth required to provide adaptive refresh at higher than 60Hz on a 4K display just isn't really available yet, so you have to make a choice between a high resolution or a high maximum refresh rate. Next year we will see monitors capable of this as the DisplayPort interface is updated. For now take a look at the review to see which you prefer between resolution and refresh rate.
"The ROG Swift PG27AQ is a 4K gaming monitor from Asus that supports Nvidia G-Sync up to 60Hz. It’s a 27-inch IPS display with a 4ms response time and a 10-bit colour panel. Add on a flexible stand with pivot, tilt and rotate support, with a redesigned software interface, and it could be a contender for the best gaming display on the market."
Here are some more Display articles from around the web:
- LG 34UC87C 34" Curved Monitor Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Philips 227E6EDSD 22-inch IPS @ Kitguru
- Philips BDM4065UC 40 4K @ eTeknix
- Philips Brilliance 241P6EPJEB IPS @ Kitguru
- Acer Predator XB280HK 4K display with Nvidia G-Sync @ Kitguru
Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 2, 2015 - 02:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: enermax, ETS-T40Fit-RF, air cooling
If you are using a motherboard with very little clearance between the CPU socket and the DIMM slots then you have to choose your CPU cooler with care. Enermax has designed a cooler specifically for those motherboards, the ETS-T40Fit-RF which is 140x67x165.5mm (5.5x2.6x6.5") which should be thin enough for even the tightest of spaces. [H]ard|OCP tested the coolers performance and were not particularly impressed by the cooling ability, however the cooler is very quiet and at $45 it is a decent choice for a low cost system which will be situated in a place where quiet performance is needed. Check out their full review here.
"Enermax is back again today with a new CPU air cooler that looks to conquer size and noise once again. Enermax calls this a "Compact side flow air cooler for 100% RAM compatibility." Does a fan size bigger than the heatsink surfaces and its "side flow air" give us better performance than those we have seen previously?"
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Bitfenix Alchemy 2.0 Magnetic LED Strip Review: Modding Made Even Easier at Modders-Inc
- Noctua NH-L9x65 Low-Profile CPU Cooler Review @ NikKTech
- EKWB Predator 240 AIO Review @ Hardware Canucks
- In Win 503 @ techPowerUp
- Akasa MAX MT Fanless NUC Chassis @ eTeknix
- anidees AI6v2 @ techPowerUp
- Streacom FC5 Alpha Fanless Chassis Review @ Madshrimps
- NZXT S340 By Razer @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2015 - 12:31 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, market share
Of the total PC market Windows holds just over 90%, Linux 1.57% and Mac around 8% which is about what it was a year ago. The release of Windows 10 has not created a surge in Microsoft users, nor has it caused the migration to Linux that so many claimed they would do after the EoL of Windows XP. Worse news for Microsoft is that there are more people using Windows 7 than there were 12 months ago, 55.71% compared to 53.05%. Even Windows 8 users are not shifting in any significant amount, 13.22% compared to 16.8% last year. Even with the dearth of new hardware to spur an upgrade cycle the numbers show that consumers have little to no interest in updating to Microsoft's newest platform. Perhaps the negative press surrounding some of the contentious features which Microsoft introduced in the new OS have harmed the upgrade cycle in addition to the lack of a driving reason to do a full system upgrade. For more on these interesting times in the PC market you can check the original story at The Inquirer.
"Things are almost stagnant elsewhere, which is a worry because it seems that, although Windows 10 is gaining ground, very slightly, it doesn't seem to be at the significant expense of anything else."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft scares the bejesus out of Skype users with x12 price hike @ The Register
- Linus looses Linux 4.3 on a waiting world @ The Register
- Mega Giveaway #7 : LEAGOO Elite 4 Smartphone @ Tech ARP
Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2015 - 09:45 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Warner Brothers, Warner Bros Games, steam, refund, console port, batman arkham knight
In a move that does nothing to inspire confidence in the future of console ports to PC, Warner Bros. has issued a statement apologizing for the continuing issues with Batman: Arkham Knight, announcing the availability of full refunds for anyone who purchased the game on Steam through the end of this year.
The refund offer has no restrictions on play time, allowing those who purchased the game at any time to get their money back. This unprecedented move, coming after the removal of the PC game for sale on Steam and subsequent re-release last week, dooms the PC port of Batman: Arkham Knight. With the announcement Warner Bros. Games appears to be withdrawing support, as they previously had been promising fixes for the problems plaguing the game.
It remains to be seen if Warner has simply decided to cut their losses and rely on console sales for the latest entry in the Batman franchise. The question going forward will be whether Warner attempts to port the next installment to the PC at all after this disastrous release.
Subject: Graphics Cards | November 2, 2015 - 08:00 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon software, radeon, driver, crimson, catalyst, amd
For as long as I can remember, the AMD (previously ATI) graphics driver was know as Catalyst. The Catalyst Control Center (CCC) offered some impressive features, grew over time with the Radeon hardware but it had more than its share of issues. It was slow, it was ugly and using it was kind of awful. And today we mourn the passing of Catalyst but welcome the birth of "Radeon Software" and the first iteration if it, Crimson.
Starting with the next major driver release from AMD you'll see a major change the speed, design and usability of the most important interface between AMD and its users. I want to be clear today: we haven't had a chance to actually use the software yet, so all of the screenshots and performance claims are from an AMD presentation to the media last week.
Let's start with new branding: gone is the AMD Catalyst name, replaced by "Radeon Software" as the overarching title for the software and driver packages that AMD releases. The term "Crimson Edition" refers to the major revision of the software and will likely be a portion of the brand that changes with the year or with important architectural changes. Finally, the numeric part of the branding will look familiar and represents the year and month of release: "15.11" equates to 2015, November release.
With the new brand comes an entire new design that AMD says targets simplicity, ease of use and speed. The currently available Catalyst Control Center software is none of those so it is great news for consumers that AMD has decided to address it. This is one of AMD's Radeon Technology Group SVP Raja Koduri's pet projects - and it's a great start to a leadership program that should spell positive momentum for the Radeon brand.
While the Catalyst Control Center was written in the aging and bloated .Net coding ecosystem, Radeon Software is designed on QT. The first and most immediate advantage will be startup speed. AMD says that Radeon Software will open in 0.6 seconds compared to 8.0 seconds for Catalyst on a modestly configured system.
The style and interface look to be drastically improved with well defined sections along the top and settings organized in a way that makes them easy to find and address by the user. Your video settings are all in a single spot, the display configuration is on its as well, just as they were with Catalyst, but the look and feel is completely different. Without hands on time its difficult to say for sure, but it appears that AMD has made major strides.
There are some new interesting capabilities as well, starting with per-game settings available in Game Manager. This is not a duplication of what GeForce Experience does in terms of adjust in-game settings, but it does allow you to set control panel-specific settings like anti-aliasing, texture filtering quality, vertical sync. This capability was around in the previous versions of Catalyst but it was hard to utilize.
Overdrive, the AMD-integrated GPU overclocking portion of Radeon Software, gets a new feature as well: per-game overclocking settings. That's right - you will now be able to set game-specific overclocking settings for your GPU that will allow you to turn up the power for GTA V while turning things down for lower power consumption and noise while catching up on new DLC for Rocket League. I can see this being an incredibly useful feature for gamers willing to take the time to customize their systems.
There are obviously more changes for Radeon Software and the first iteration of it known as Crimson, including improved Eyefinity configuration, automatic driver downloads and much more, and we look forward to playing around with the improved software package in the next few weeks. For AMD, this shows a renewed commitment to Radeon and PC gaming. With its declining market share against the powerful NVIDIA GeForce brand, AMD needs these types of changes.
Subject: Systems | October 31, 2015 - 01:56 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: x5-Z8500, windows 10, PC, mini-pc, Kangaroo, intel atom, InFocus, computer, Cherry Trail
InFocus has created what they are calling “the world’s smallest personal, powerful, portable PC”, and the Kangaroo is certainly an impressive-looking device that looks even better when you consider the $99 price tag.
The Kangaroo is looks like a 2.5-inch external hard drive, and inside the sleek housing it offers a quad-core Intel Atom (Cherry Trail) x5-z8500 processor with a nominal speed of 1.44 GHz (turbo up to 2.24 GHz), along with the usual 2 GB RAM and 32 GB eMMC storage. Add dual-band 802.11ac wireless and a built-in fingerprint reader, and this becomes a quite the full-featured mini-PC. And the best part might just be the battery, as the Kangaroo can operate for up to 4 hours of “casual use” without wall power, according to InFocus.
Here are the full specifications from InFocus:
- OS: Windows 10 - Home edition
- CPU: Intel Atom x5-Z8500 Processor (2M Cache, up to 2.24 GHz)
- Graphics: Intel Processor Graphics Gen8
- Video Memory: Sharing System Memory
- Memory: 2GB LPDDR3
- Hard Drive: 32GB eMMC
- Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11 A/C (Dual Band) / Bluetooth 4.0
- Expansion Slot microSD
- Security: Fingerprint reader
- Battery Life: 4 hours (casual use)
- Dimensions: Computing module : 80.5 x 124 x 12.9mm / Base : 80.5 x 46.9 x 12.9mm
- Weight: 200g (without adapter & power cord) / 470g (including adapter & power cord)
- Ports: (Computing module) microSD, Micro USB (charge only); (Base) USB 2.0 x 1, USB 3.0 x 1, HDMI x 1, DC-IN
- Audio: Supported through HDMI
- Cloud: OneDrive
- Power Adapter: Input: 100V-220V ~ 1A, 50-60Hz / Output: 12V/3A
- Accessories included: Software - OS Link (requires USB cable), dock, power supply, cables
There’s even more versatility available for the Kangaroo user when you add the OSLinx iOS app to the mix, essentially allowing you to use the tablet as a monitor:
“Your iPad is all you need to have to enjoy the benefits of your Kangaroo PC on the go. OSLinx Windows Monitor turns your iOS device into a primary display of your Kangaroo PC. It connects to a PC through a Lightning-to-USB cable and works with OSLinx Server installed on the Kangaroo PC. OSLinx Windows Monitor supports mouse as well as multitouch gestures.”
The Kangaroo is available now, and currently being sold on Newegg.com for that $99 MSRP.