Valve's The International 2015

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2015 - 10:55 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, esports, valve, DOTA, DOTA 2, asus, ASUS ROG

Each year, Valve Software puts on a giant DOTA2 tournament where teams compete for literally millions of dollars. As of this writing, the prize pool currently sits at $17.9 million USD, which is divided between a 6.5 million USD first place prize, down to just under $54,000 USD for 13th through 16th place. Granted, these are per-team prizes, so individual players and their organizations will split the earnings from there how they see fit. It will take place between August 3rd and end with the Grand Finals on August 8th.

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Last year, the event was broadcast on ESPN3. While it does not seem to be mentioned on the official website, although the online streaming WatchESPN is listed, ESPN's calendar has The International on its ESPN3 calendar for all six days. That said, you could always watch it online like you obviously watch every episode of the PC Perspective podcast. Right? Live and participating in the chat?

You can also check out an ASUS RoG contest at the JoinDOTA website. The top prize is an ROG G751 Gaming Laptop, a mouse with mousepad, and t-shirt. Second prize gets the mouse, mousepad, and t-shirt. Third and fourth place gets a different mouse (without a mousepad) and a t-shirt. Fifth place has been there, done that, but only gets a t-shirt.

And for the rest of us, maybe someone will snap a picture of a Valve workstation while they're aren't looking... again.

Source: Valve

PC Gamer Compares Mechanical Keyboards

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2015 - 10:26 PM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, Cherry MX, alps, topre, model m, model f

Purchasing an expensive gaming peripheral is a bit daunting, especially when it (mostly) comes down to how it feels. In these cases, we cannot resort to benchmarks or any other form of objective score. Instead, we need to classify and describe the attributes of each type of keyboard, letting our readers narrow down their choices by saying, “if you like this, choose from these”.

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A couple of days ago, PC Gamer published a breakdown of many types of switches, including a few different types of Alps-style brands. They have force curves for each featured switch, which is challenging to find outside of the Cherry MX brand (as few other companies publish their own that I know of). They also write a short paragraph for each switch to explain what type of use and user they are for, which (as I've said) is the metric that matters most.

For the Cherry MX switches, they have animations to show how they operate from the side, which will give you clues to how it operates. They have been floating around the internet for a while. KeyboardLover is claiming that “Lethal Squirrel” created them before 2011. These animations give a visual explanation for what linear, tactile, and clicky means, to help you imagine how these attributes feel.

Also, of course, we published our own article back in December. Our article includes our own Cherry MX switch animations. They're not quite as good quality as the other ones, but they include synchronized side-on and rear-on cycles. The animations were originally made for a Rosewill keyboard roundup back in early 2012.

Source: PC Gamer

Rumor: NVIDIA to Replace Maxwell GTX 750 Ti

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 1, 2015 - 07:31 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, gtx 960, gtx 950 ti, gtx 950

A couple of sites are claiming that NVIDIA intends to replace the first-generation GeForce GTX 750 Ti with more Maxwell, in the form of the GeForce GTX 950 and/or GTX 950 Ti. The general consensus is that it will run on a cut-down GM206 chip, which is currently found in the GTX 960. I will go light on the rumored specifications because this part of the rumor is single-source, from accounts of a HWBattle page that has been deleted. But for a general ballpark of performance, the GTX 960 has a full GM206 chip while the 950(/Ti) is expected to lose about a quarter of its printed shader units.

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The particularly interesting part is the power, though. As we reported, Maxwell was branded as a power-efficient version of the Kepler architecture. This led to a high-end graphics cards that could be powered by the PCIe bus. According to these rumors, the new card will require a single, 8-pin power connector on top of the 75W provided by the bus. This has one of two interesting implications that I can think of.

Either:

  • The 750 Ti did not sell for existing systems as well as anticipated, or
  • The GM206 chip just couldn't hit that power target and they didn't want to make another die

Whichever is true, it will be interesting to see how NVIDIA brands this if/when the card launches. Creating a graphics card for systems without available power rails was a novel concept and it seemed to draw attention. That said, the rumors claim they're not doing it this time... for some reason.

Source: VR-Zone

Corsair Updates Link to Support Windows 10

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 1, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, Corsair Link Digital, Corsair Link, corsair

Quick Note: This update does not support “the original Corsair Commander”. If your system uses that internal peripheral, then you should wait for a later version.

About two weeks ago, I decided to purchase and install a Corsair H100i GTX cooler in my system. While it runs quiet and keeps temperatures decently low by default, the device supports Corsair Link to re-balance the fans and pump, as well as change the color of the LEDs in the Corsair logo. For the record, my cooler will be staying on default white, although I can see people with existing color schemes wishing to match or contrast them, and it is great that Corsair provides that functionality.

corsair-logo.jpg

At the time, it was not compatible with Windows 10. The operating system blocked the application's attempt to run, and even pushed notifications to my desktop to let me know it can't do that, Dave... I mean Scott. I changed the file name and was able to get the system tray notification to work, but entering the windowed interface caused it to crash.

As of July 28th, Corsair released a fixed version that runs on Windows 10. Corsair Link 3.2.5676 is available from their website, but it did not seem to get much publicity. Part of this might be because, by the time the general public got a hold of Windows 10, which started the next day, Corsair already had functional software out. Still, if you were a Windows Insider and you are still waiting for a compatible version? It came out last Tuesday.

Source: Corsair

Iris Pro on Linux

Subject: Processors | July 31, 2015 - 03:37 PM |
Tagged: iris pro, Broadwell, linux, i7-5775C

The graphics core of new CPUs used to have issues on Linux at launch but recently this has become much less of an issue.  The newly released Iris Pro on the 5770C follows this trend as you can see in the benchmarks at Phoronix.  The OpenGL performance is a tiny bit slower overall on Linux, apart from OpenArena, but not enough to ruin your gaming experience.  With a new kernel on the horizon and a community working with the new GPU you can expect the performance gap to narrow.  Low cost gaming on a Linux machine becomes more attractive every day.

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"Resulting from the What Windows 10 vs. Linux Benchmarks Would You Like To See and The Phoronix Test Suite Is Running On Windows 10, here are our first benchmarks comparing the performance of Microsoft's newly released Windows 10 Pro x64 against Fedora 22 when looking at the Intel's OpenGL driver performance across platforms."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: Phoronix

NVIDIA SHIELD; Feeling Hot! Hot! Hot!

Subject: General Tech | July 31, 2015 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, shield tablet, recall

NVIDIA SHIELD tablets which were sold over the past 12 months are being recalled by NVIDIA as there is a risk that the battery could overheat, possibly posing a fire hazard and of course proving they should never be used on a re-entry vehicle.  You will need to ensure that your SHIELD is running the newest OS, if not you will need to run the tablet long enough to update as older OS versions do not report the serial number, which you need to enter if you want a free replacement from NVIDIA.  Visiting www.nvidia.com/support/tabletrecall will give you the steps to request a replacement if you want one.  So far there do not seem to be any reports of flaming NVIDIA users but you should probably not risk it.

NVIDIA-SHIELD-Tablet-2.jpg

"NVIDIA today announced a voluntary recall of its SHIELD 8-inch tablets that were sold between July 2014 and July 2015, which the company will replace. NVIDIA has determined that the battery in these tablets can overheat, posing a fire hazard. The recall does not affect any other NVIDIA products."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: NVIDIA

Microsoft Rolls Out Windows SDK for Build 10240

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2015 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 10, visual studio

July 29th started the official roll-out of Windows 10 and, for Windows Insiders, was pretty much “Wednesday”. We already had everything of relevance by Monday on the OS side of things, and not even a security patch landed in our Windows Update queue. It was not the only thing that Microsoft launched today, though. While Visual Studio 2015 was released last week, it said that it was not compatible with pre-10240 SDKs and would delete them during the installation process and you will be unable to develop SDK apps until the one for 10240 launches on July 29th.

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So, coincident with the OS release, Microsoft finally published the 10240 Windows SDK. Now, if you run Visual Studio 2015's installer, it will install the new SDK directly. You do not need to download it from a secondary source. These headers and libraries are placed in the “Windows Kits” folder of your 32-bit Program Files directory... ironically, without deleting the previous SDKs that it threatened to, when run before July 29th. Go figure.

Also, even though DirectX 12 has been in the Windows SDK for quite some time, Microsoft has, also, finally released code examples and they put them on their GitHub page. These samples teach you how to do things like draw a triangle, manage DirectX 11-era contexts alongside DirectX 12 ones in your application, and create an n-body gravity simulation. They welcome pull requests for fixes, although they might appreciate new samples as well.

Source: Microsoft

Podcast #360 - Intel XPoint Memory, Windows 10 and DX12, FreeSync displays and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2015 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Intel, XPoint, nand, DRAM, windows 10, DirectX 12, freesync, g-sync, amd, nvidia, benq, uhd420, wasabi mango, X99, giveaway

PC Perspective Podcast #360 - 07/30/2015

Join us this week as we discuss Intel XPoint Memory, Windows 10 and DX12, FreeSync displays and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

Powercolor has a soundcard; check out the Devil HDX

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2015 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: devil hdx, powercolor, audio, sound card, opamp

Yes, PCIe soundcards are still being made and Powercolor's Devil HDX is up for review on Overclockers Club.  As with most new cards this one features three OPAMPs which can can be removed and swapped with another to change the sound that is sent to your headset or speakers.  On the back are a 124db rated 6.3mm headphone jack, left and right RCA jacks, Coax output, and an optical output.  The daughtercard sports 5 standard analog 3.5mm jacks to give you 7.1 surround sound support if you have the speakers for it.  It is about $160 so make sure you have ears that are good enough to deserve high end sound, for many users this might be a bit of overkill.

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"Setup as a stand alone solution, the Devil HDX gets to play in the best of both worlds with 124dB rated performance from the parent card and the option of running 7.1 sound through the addition of the daughter card. Here is my only beef with the Devil HDX. I know these are options that add cost, but when cultivating a brand it would just add to the package."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Happy Sysadmin Day, now put Win10 on my work lappy immediately

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2015 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: windows 10

You are nowhere near as fed up with Win10 stories as you will be in a week or so sit down and get reading.  So far the biggest new issue has been those who have over 512 apps in their Start menu, not inconceivable but certainly not common.  Over at The Register a story has been put up covering Win10 by a person who admits to having 4,000 open browser tabs and sending the machine into hibernation in that state.  Their experiences show that Win10 doesn't care and even likes this sort of abuse as long as it is on an SSD.  That is not to say all is good, for there is still the technicolour yawn which is the new Start menu and the disturbing tendency for the OS to call on mom more often than Norman Bates.  Read the full article to see the good, bad and bothersome.

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"It's Windows 10 day. That means it's time for a completely biased and in-no-way-even-remotely-objective assessment of Windows 10."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Another look at the Gigabyte Champion Series X99-Gaming 5P

Subject: Motherboards | July 29, 2015 - 05:14 PM |
Tagged: X99-Gaming 5P, LGA2011-v3, Intel X99, Haswell-E, gigabyte

It has been a few months since Morry's review of the Gigabyte Champion Series X99-Gaming 5P and its funky LED enhanced backplate was posted so it seems time for a second opinion from The Tech Report.  The i7-5960X they used was not as forgiving as the one Morry tested, their overclocking topped out at 4.1GHz, while still decent it is a reminder that overclocking results can vary widely on similar equipment.  Read their full review here for a reminder of what this board can do and see if it garnered a recommendation.

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"Gigabyte's X99-Gaming 5P gives buyers a full-featured Haswell-E board with a gaming twist. We dug into its features and ran it through our testing gauntlet to figure out what makes this premium motherboard tick."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

 

How exactly does one kickstart a Battlemech?

Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2015 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Mechwarrior, battletech

BattleTech is coming back baby!  Harebrained Schemes who have successfully rebooted the Shadowrun RPG system on PC and who are in the final steps of releasing the third game in that world have just announced plans to start a new Kickstarter campaign.  This time it will be a trip to the world of Battletech, the details are slim but we can expect to see both the larger view of the Battletech galaxy and the Houses that populate it as well as mech management and combat.  From what Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN were told this will be turn-based, not the FPS style of the Mechwarrior series of old.  No matter, this news is still exciting so keep your eyes peeled for more information.

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"Harebrained Schemes is pleased to announce their return to Kickstarter this Fall to partner with backers in co-funding the creation of BATTLETECH. Jordan Weisman, the creator of BattleTech and MechWarrior, is back with the first turn-based BattleTech game for PC in over two decades."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Stagefright not causing butterflies anymore

Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2015 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: google, stagefright, security

The Stagefright media player vulnerability on Android powered Nexus devices which allowed the possibility of running remotely execute code via an MMS containing a specially crafted media file.  It made headlines everywhere even though it is incredibly unlikely the bug was ever used in an attack.  Regardless, you no longer need to worry as Google has crafted a patch and has released it to the carriers.  You should keep an eye out this week and next for the update and if you do not see it apply you should reach out to your carrier.  More at The Inquirer.

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"GOOGLE HAS SAID THAT THE STAGEFRIGHT PROBLEM is well in hand, and that it rushed to sort out the Android OS jitters before anything bad happened."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Maybe stick with last years Pebble Steel for now?

Subject: Mobile | July 28, 2015 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: pebble, pebble time, smartwatch

The Register tried out the new Pebble Time which features a colour e-paper Gorilla glass screen for better visibility outdoors, a battery which will last a full week, waterproofing to 90' and all for a $200 price tag.  With over 8000 apps for the device it offers most of the functionality of the Apple watch for a fraction of the price.  Certain features it lacks such as a heart rate monitor or GPS can be added by using Smartstraps, which not only allows the watch to stay on your wrist but also adds functionality as well.  The improvements were noticeable but The Register preferred last years Steel but if you are in the market for a smartwatch you might be wise to hold on as the new Pebble Time Steel is due out in the near future.

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"I love what Eric Migovsky has done with the Pebble by creating an antidote to modern smartwatches. The two generations of Pebble so far have been useful, durable and practical – qualities which elude the over-specced and costly Apple and Android kit."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

 

Source: The Register

Breaking: Intel and Micron announce 3D XPoint Technology - 1000x Faster Than NAND

Subject: Storage | July 28, 2015 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, non-volatile RAM, micron, memory, Intel

Everyone that reads SSD reviews knows that NAND Flash memory comes with advantages and disadvantages. The cost is relatively good as compared to RAM, and the data remains even with power removed (non-volatile), but there are penalties in the relatively slow programming (write) speeds. To help solve this, today Intel and Micron jointly launched a new type of memory technology.

XPoint.png

XPoint (spoken 'cross point') is a new class of memory technology with some amazing characteristics. 10x the density (vs. DRAM), 1000x the speed, and most importantly, 1000x the endurance as compared to current NAND Flash technology.

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128Gb XPoint memory dies, currently being made by Intel / Micron, are of a similar capacity to current generation NAND dies. This is impressive for a first generation part, especially since it is physically smaller than a current gen NAND die of the same capacity.

Intel stated that the method used to store the bits is vastly different from what is being used in NAND flash memory today. Intel stated that the 'whole cell' properties change as a bit is being programmed, and that the fundamental physics involved is different, and that it is writable in small amounts (NAND flash must be erased in large blocks). While they did not specifically state it, it looks to be phase change memory (*edit* at the Q&A Intel stated this is not Phase Change). The cost of this technology should end up falling somewhere between the cost of DRAM and NAND Flash.

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3D XPoint memory is already being produced at the Intel / Micron Flash Technology plant at Lehi, Utah. We toured this facility a few years ago.

Intel and Micron stated that this technology is coming very soon. 2016 was stated as a launch year, and there was a wafer shown to us on stage:

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You know I'm a sucker for good wafer / die photos. As soon as this session breaks I'll get a better shot!

There will be more analysis to follow on this exciting new technology, but for now I need to run to a Q&A meeting with the engineers who worked on it. Feel free to throw some questions in the comments and I'll answer what I can!

*edit* - here's a die shot:

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Added note - this wafer was manufactured on a 20nm process, and consists of a 2-layer matrix. Future versions should scale with additional layers to achieve higher capacities.

Press blast after the break.

Source: Intel

RTM? Satya don't need no steenking RTM

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2015 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

With not many hours left until launch, Windows 10 is still very obviously a service that is sill being serviced and the pressure is on at Microsoft.  NVIDIA users have discovered that having a clearly drawn display is not something they are likely to have by launch day, much to the amusement of us AMD users.  Until this week those used to uninstalling programs with the Control Panel as opposed to the new procedure of heading to Settings -> System -> Apps & features will find they are punished for their temerity with a Windows Explorer crash, certainly an interesting choice to reinforce the new behaviour.  Less common, though still frequent enough for The Register to make note of and for a patch to be released yesterday is a similar crash if you were to disable an active network connection manually.

Surface users may have noticed new firmware arriving to mitigate some of the compatibility issues Windows 10 testers have used, though there is not that much time left to test them en masse, the fact that the tablets were built by Microsoft should help ensure the updates are stable and useful.  Not so much for other tablets as The Register shows in this story.

Creating a new version of an OS is a non-trivial task and for the most part Windows 10 should be ready for a consumer release this week.  Microsoft have changed a lot about the look and function of Windows and made even more changes to their business model and licensing.  The real hurdle is Enterprise, the huge customer base that ignored Windows 8(.x) and to a lesser extent Windows 7.  With the stability and functionality of the OS already in question, will the poorly communicated changes to the licensing models of Windows 10 mean that we will once again see extremely slow or non-existent adoption in Enterprise and even SMB for that matter?

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"Build 10240, which was released to the Windows Insider program two weeks ago, is widely considered to be the "release to manufacturing" (RTM) build, even though Redmond itself says the RTM concept doesn't apply in its brave new world of Windows as a Service."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Something is cooking in San Francisco

Subject: Storage | July 28, 2015 - 11:26 AM |
Tagged: Intel, micron, flash

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...stay tuned!

You have a 4K monitor and $650USD, what do you do?

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 27, 2015 - 04:33 PM |
Tagged: 4k, amd, R9 FuryX, GTX 980 Ti, gtx titan x

[H]ard|OCP have set up their testbed for a 4K showdown between the similarly priced GTX 980 Ti and Radeon R9 Fury X with the $1000 TITAN X tossed in there for those with more money than sense.  The test uses the new Catalyst 15.7 and the GeForce 353.30 drivers to give a more even playing field while benchmarking Witcher 3, GTA V and other games.  When the dust settled the pattern was obvious and the performance differences could be seen.  The deltas were not huge but when you are paying $650 + tax for a GPU even performance a few frames better or a graphical option that can be used really matters.  Perhaps the most interesting result was the redemption of the TITAN X, its extra price was reflected in the performance results.  Check them out for yourself here.

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"We take the new AMD Radeon R9 Fury X and evaluate the 4K gaming experience. We will also compare against the price competitive GeForce GTX 980 Ti as well as a GeForce GTX TITAN X. Which video card provides the best experience and performance when gaming at glorious 4K resolution?"

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

If you aren't into the hefty ones, check out the Noctua NH-L9x65

Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 27, 2015 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: noctua, NH-L9x65, low profile cooler

Morry likes big coolers and Noctua is one of his preferred brands when he wants to test the tensile stregth of a motherboard.  Not all of Noctua's coolers are up to his preferences, such as the slender NH-L9x65, a waif-like 413g with the fan attached and a cute 95x95x79mm in size with a 14mm lift from that fan.  TechPowerUp's testing shows that the fan is quite quiet even when spinning at full speed but even still the temperatures of the i7-4770K it was cooling were the highest on the charts.  If you are cooling a CPU with a lower TDP in a small case, or even a 4770K then check out this review, the NH-L9x65 is a little expensive but certainly usable.

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"Noctua's new NH-L9x65 is a low profile, small form-factor cooler. When I say small, I mean tiny as it is only slightly larger than the Intel stock heatsink, which is surprising and begs me to question its maximum potential. While performance most likely won't be its strong point, there is a chance this pint-sized offering will have a few surprises in store"

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: techPowerUp

Don't want Win10 patches? We have a patch for that

Subject: General Tech | July 27, 2015 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft's decision to push out updates to non-enterprise Windows 10 without user intervention or even notification has been a bit of a hot topic recently.  While those of us who have been supporting machines for a while have all seen a bad Windows update or 10 which render machines unusable, however we have also seen machines over 100 updates behind that are completely riddled with malware, trojans and other nasties which would have been blocked if those updates had been applied.

Whichever side of that debate you fall on, thanks to the nosy reporters at The Register you now can have a choice.  They've posted a link to the "Show or hide updates" troubleshooter package in this recent article, a tool from Microsoft which would allow you to hide certain updates before they were installed and ensure that they are not installed in the future.  Patch Tuesday is gone but there will still be people keeping track of which updates are released so that if you encounter an issue you can roll back and hide that update.  Of course, that assumes you enabled System Restore, which is has been disabled by default in Windows 10.

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lifted from securityaffairs.co

"MICROSOFT HAS QUIETLY released a tool to stop Windows 10 downloading and installing everything it finds in Windows Update."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register