Valve to Sell Non-Game Software On Its Steam Platform

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 04:06 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, valve, steam, software, mac os x

Valve’s popular Steam digital game download service has been slowly expanding its software offerings. It has offered a Mac OS X client as well as a planned Linux client. Further, the service has started to offer software beyond games including game map editors, digital magazines, and videos.

According to a recent announcement by Valve, the company is going to even further expand its non-game software offerings starting September 5th. Whether this is in response to the Windows Store or if it has been planned for some time and the Windows Store is why Gabe Newell is irked by Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system is unknown.

steam_non_game_software.jpg

While the company did not mention any specific pieces of software that will be available at launch, users can look forward to software in categories ranging from creativity to productivity. Even better, some of the new software titles will be able to take advantage of Valve’s Steamworks service to offer cloud syncing of files and automatic updating (et al).

The new programs will start showing up on September 5th, and developers can start submitting their applications to Steam using its Greenlight service.

Valve’s Mark Richardson stated that “The 40 million gamers frequenting Steam are interested in more than playing games. They have told us they would like to have more of their software on Steam, so this expansion is in response to those customer requests.”

The automatic updating in particular is exciting, and it could well give Microsoft’s Windows Store a run for its money. If Valve brings the non-game software to all platforms–Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows–it could easily rival Microsoft’s Windows 8-only offering. What do you think about this announcement, would you use Steam for software other than games?

Source: Tested

Microsoft’s New Windows 8 Box Art Revealed

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 03:05 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, retail windows 8, microsoft, box art

Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is well on its way to retail availability, and that means retail packaging. Unlike the simple green boxes of previous operating systems (ultimate edition excluded), Microsoft has decided to overhaul its box art for the new OS in Windows 8 UI style. The new boxes feature a large and colorful tile-based Windows logo set against either a white or black background color. Windows 8 will get a white background with Blue text and Windows 8 Pro versions will feature the black background and white text. It is not a bad design as far as Microsoft box art goes. The simple design is fairly pleasing to the eye, though some might argue that the OS inside the box is not as pretty as the box itself.

Win8box.jpg

The Verge managed to get its hands on the image above of the two boxed Windows 8 versions. Reportedly, Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro will be the only two versions that are sold at retail. Further, the two boxes are for the retail (not upgrade) versions. While The Verge speculates that the upgrade versions of Windows 8 will look similar to the boxed versions of Windows 7, there is no way to know for sure until the box art leaks or Microsoft announces it officially.

What do you think of the new Windows 8 retail box art? Did Microsoft make a good move here?

You can find more of PC Perspective's Windows 8 coverage by following our Windows 8 tag.

Source: The Verge

Microsoft will chop bits off of Office on WinRT

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: arm, office 2013, winRT, lies

Microsoft has done an about face which is going to disappoint office workers who were planning on switching to ARM based hardware running WinRT, which includes Microsoft's Surface tablet/laptop.  Though this was promised to us, The Register now has heard that macros, 3rd party add-ons, and support for VBA will not exist on Office 2013 for ARM.  Since that removes any possible automation from Office as well as damaging the productivity of those users who depend on 3rd party add-ons the Surface suddenly seems a lot less attractive.  For those who fervently believe that PowerPoint is the only Office application there will likely be no effect whatsoever.

Steve-Ballmer-intros-Office-2013.jpg

"If true, it would be something of an about-face for the software giant. At a press event announcing the Office 2013 Preview in July, Microsoft honcho Steve Ballmer said that Redmond was committed to providing the full Office experience on Surface and other devices running Windows RT.

"You'll see this as we and our partners ship PCs and Surface devices with ARM chips in them," Ballmer said. "Full Word. Full PowerPoint. Full Excel. You give up nothing of the rich capabilities of Microsoft Office when you embrace a Windows 8 ARM device."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Deals for August 8th - 27-in Planar 1080p Display for $209

Subject: General Tech, Displays | August 8, 2012 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: deal of the day, planar, monitor

Today's deals are quite assorted but the highlight for me is the 27-in Planar PX2710MW 1080p monitor that you can grab for an impressively low price of $209.99!!

deal0808.png

Check out the other deals available today!

Laptops

17.3" Alienware M17x Core i7-2670QM 2.2GHz Quad-core 1080p Gaming Laptop w/4GB RAM, 750GB HDD, 2GB Radeon HD 6970M for $1,449 with free shipping (normally $1,849 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).

17.3" HP Pavilion dv7t-7000 Quad Edition Core i7-3610QM 2.3GHz Quad-core Laptop w/8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, Blu-ray & GeForce GT 630M for $800 with free shipping (normally $1000 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).

15.6" Samsung Series 3 AMD A63420M 1.5GHz Quad-core Laptop w/4GB RAM, 500GB HDD for $400 (normally $530).

15.6" Toshiba Satellite L750D AMD A6-3420M 1.5GHz Quad-core Laptop w/4GB RAM, 320GB HDD for $400 (normally $550).

15.6" HP ProBook 4535s AMD E2-3000M 1.8GHz Dual-core Laptop w/4GB RAM, 320GB HDD & Windows 7 Professional for $430 (normally $550).

Desktops

Dell Vostro 470 Core i5-3450 3.1GHz Quad-core Mini Tower w/4GB RAM, 500GB HDD & Wireless-N, Bluetooth for $529 with free shipping (normally $679 - use coupon code W9D06J14FX10WM).

Acer Predator AG3610-UR10P Core i7-2600 3.4GHz Quad-core Desktop w/8GB RAM, 2TB HDD, 2GB GeForce GT 530 for $900 (normally $1,050).

23" HP Pavilion 23-1000z AMD A6-5400K 3.6GHz Dual-core 1080p All-in-one PC w/4GB RAM, 500GB HDD for $630 with free shipping (normally $750 - use coupon code 20LOGICBUY).

Monitors

27" Planar PX2710MW 1080p 2ms LCD Monitor w/ HDMI & 3-year warranty for $210 with free shipping (normally $470 - use coupon code D84NDZ3JCT3K3K).

27" ASUS VE278Q 1080p LED-backlit LCD Monitor w/ DisplayPort for $300 with free shipping (normally $330 - use coupon code SOD68788).

22" Dell E2213 1680 x 1050 LED-backlit LCD Monitor w/3-year warranty for $151 with free shipping (normally $199 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).

Peripherals

EVGA GeForce GTX 460 2Win (Fermi) 2GB GDDR5 Dual GPU Video Card for $170 with free shipping (normally $250 - use this form).

4TB (2 x 2TB) Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 Network Storage Cloud Edition for $325 with free shipping (normally $469.99 - use coupon code USMEDALS).

240GB SanDisk Extreme 2.5" SATA III SSD (SDSSDX-240G-G25) for $170 with free shipping (normally $230).

120GB Kingston HyperX 3K 2.5" SATA III SSD for $80 with free shipping (normally $150).

Sony Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard (VGP-BKB1) for $70 with free shipping (normally $99).

Targus Meridian II 15.6" Roller Laptop Case for $75 with free shipping (normally $90).

Dell 1355cn Multifunction Color Printer for $237 with free shipping (normally $300).

Tablets

10.1" Toshiba Excite 16GB Quad-core Tegra 3 Android 4.0 Tablet for $384 with free shipping (normally $399 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).

10.1" Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700T 32GB Tablet + Dock Bundle for $608 with free shipping (normally $650).

Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard Case (iPad 2) for $44 with free shipping (normally $60 - use coupon code).

Gaming:

GUNNAR Call of Duty MW3 Gaming Eyewear for $50 with free shipping (normally $100).

Devil May Cry Collection (360/PS3) for $30 with free shipping (normally $40).

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (360/PS3) for $30 with free shipping (normally $40).

Home Entertainment:

47" LG 47LD950C 1080p 240Hz 3D LCD HDTV for $700 (normally $849 - use this form).

46" Westinghouse LD-4680 120Hz 1080p LED HDTV for $570 with free shipping (normally $800).

46" Sharp LC-46SV49U 1080p LCD HDTV for $480 with free shipping (normally $600).

46" Samsung UN46D6000 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV for $827 with free shipping (normally $1,099).

32" Proscan PLED3204A720p LED HDTV for $190 (normally $250 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).

Personal Portables & Peripherals:

Sony In-Ear Headphones iPod/iPhone Remote for $80 with free shipping (normally $99).

12MP Canon PowerShot SX230 HS Red Digital Camera for $194 with free shipping (normally $229 - use coupon code Learn2SaveBG5).

14MP Olympus Tough TG-320 Digital Camera Bundle for $131 with free shipping (normally $159).

Source: LogicBuy

DayZ becoming stand-alone. You and what ARMA?

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 01:05 PM |
Tagged: DayZ

The developers from Bohemia Interactive are developing DayZ into a retail standalone game. The pricing structure will be similar to Minecraft with rapid pre-release versions and progressively decreasing discounts as the game reaches closer to release.

Much like their defeated NPCs – developers are Bohemia Interactive are pushing DayZ(s) a second time.

Originally and still currently a mod for ARMA 2, DayZ combines the open world genre with the zombie apocalypse. The survival horror is taken seriously with numerous factors necessary to remain alive and many others attempting to end you. You will be hungry, you will be thirsty, and you may even break a bone. You will also likely swear here and there.

PC Gamer picked up a recent announcement that Bohemia Interactive, developer of the ARMA 2 base game, are in development of a standalone DayZ game with the original mod developer as project lead.

DayZ.jpg

Who wants to bet that we’ll see a DayZ in Plants vs. Zombies?

The original mod will continue to be maintained alongside the retail release. While I am typically skeptical when a company claims something like that, since Bohemia Interactive makes a sale regardless of whether you purchase ARMA2 for DayZ or you purchase DayZ outright it seems at least plausible. Current players of the DayZ mod might not need to be concerned at least for quite some time.

Also announced is the pricing model which DayZ will follow. Releases will come early and often. Much like Minecraft, earlier adopters will pay less as the cost will slowly increase closer and closer to release.

One last little small note: it appears as though the developer has given the DayZ trademark to Bohemia Interactive according to their legal notice. Personally, I would have expected that he could have negotiated to keep it for security in case this turns into another Trauma Studios incident.

If you are interested, be sure to check out the new website for the standalone game.

Source: PC Gamer

For G's a jolly good L ohhh... which 20 years can't deny.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 7, 2012 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: Siggraph, opengl, OpenGL ES, OpenGL 4.3, OpenGL ES 3.0

OpenGL turned 20 as of the start of this year. Two new versions of the API have just been released during SIGGRAPH: OpenGL 4.3 and OpenGL ES 3.0. Ars Technica put together a piece to outline the changes in these versions – most importantly: feature parity between Direct3D 11 and OpenGL 4.3.

As much attention as Direct3D gets for PC gamers – you cannot ignore OpenGL.

Reigning in graphics hardware is a real challenge. We desire to make use of all the computational performance of our devices but also make it easy to develop for in as few times as possible. Regardless of what mobile, desktop, or other device you own – if it contains a GPU it almost definitely supports either OpenGL or OpenGL ES.

Even certain up-and-coming websites utilize the GPU to break new ground.

opengl_logo.jpg

The Khronosgraph says 20 years.

Two new versions of OpenGL were recently published: OpenGL 4.3 as well as OpenGL ES 3.0. For the first time OpenGL allows programmers to access compute shaders which makes it easier to accelerate computations which do not work upon pixels, vertices, or geometry without bringing in OpenCL or some other API. Unfortunately this feature does not appear to carry over to OpenGL ES 3.0.

OpenGL ES is also important, not just for native mobile development as it is intended, but also because it is considered the basis of WebGL. It is likely that a future WebGL revision will contain the OpenGL ES 3.0 enhancements such as many rendering targets, more complex shaders, and so forth.

But it seems like the major reason why these two revisions were released together – apart from their timing aligning with the SIGGRAPH trade show – is because OpenGL and OpenGL ES have been somewhat merged. OpenGL ES 3.0 is now a subset of OpenGL 4.3 rather than some heavily overlapping Venn diagram. Porting from one specification to the other should be substantially easier.

So happy birthday, OpenGL – just don’t go down the toilet on your 21st.

Source: Ars Technica

Windows 8 Users Can No Longer Boot Straight To The Desktop, Must Start With Metro

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 7, 2012 - 02:07 PM |
Tagged: windows 8 style ui, windows 8, windows, operating system, microsoft, Metro

The Windows 8 RTM leak has coincided with numerous articles around the Internet that detail the new features and the Windows 8 Style UI once known as Metro. It seems that a new setup process and the removal of Aero Glass were not the only big aesthetic changes. With the new build came several alleged tweaks by Microsoft that prevent several methods for automatically booting to the desktop. Group Policy tweaks and a autorun shortcut were two such methods–that worked on early beta builds but no longer work on the RTM–to skip past the Metro/Windows 8 Style UI Start Screen, according to Rafael Rivera of Windows 8 Secrets.

Previously, users could login and be automatically taken to the desktop. They would still see the Metro screen, but only for a split second. Now, users wanting to do this are back to square one, and will have to manually launch the desktop each time they login to their computers.

Windows_8_RTM_Metro_Start_Screen.jpg

It is not all bad news, however (well, at least not as bad). If you drag the desktop Metro Windows 8 Style UI tile to the top-left corner, as soon as you login, you can hit the Enter key to go to the desktop. It is a less automatic way than has been previously possible, but it is better than nothing.

You can find more information about the alleged changes to the RTM here, as well as more PC Perspective Windows 8 coverage by following the windows 8 tag.

Some speculation and opinion follows:

It seems that Microsoft is taking a very firm position on Windows 8’s new Start Screen interface and full screen applications. While it is likely that developers and enthusiasts are working on new tweaks to get to the desktop automatically again, I foresee this being a drawn out tit-for-tat battle between Microsoft and its users. Beyond the new interface, this stance of working against customization is something I have not seen before on this level, as previous operating system have had numerous tweaking utilities and Microsoft did not seem to have a problem with them. My only guess is that they believe by forcing users to use Windows 8 Style UI as much as it possibly can, it will get users used to, and accepting of, the interface faster (essentially trying to get users over the radical interface change as quickly as possible–ike ripping a bandaid off). And if I let the cynical side get the best of me, Microsoft does have a vested interest in keeping users on the Metro/Windows 8 Style interface as much as possible as they want users to buy Metro apps and not use traditional applications. They are selling the upgrades for $40 and likely want to “make up” the money (compared to selling prices of previous versions) by taking a cut of Windows Store app purchases. The company’s insistence on forcing usage is only going to hurt them, I fear, as people who are on the fence about Metro–but who are interested in the other improvements–likely want to come to the new interface on their own terms (if at all). Actively working against users trying to use and customize their operating systems may well cost them a few sales. It would seem to me that Microsoft should be welcoming anyone that wants to use Windows 8, even if they do not want to stay in (or use at all) the Metro interface but that's just my opinion and apparently Microsoft is of a different mind.

Whether you love, hate, or feel somewhere in-between on Windows 8 Style UI, options are not a bad thing. I do think that more people would be willing to give Microsoft’s new interface a chance if it was more optional than it is. What do you think?

Source: CNET

A different kind of 3D transistor

Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2012 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: trigate, 3d transistors

In case you were worried that Intel was the only one successfully researching and implementing 3D transistors, this research from Hokkaido University in Sapporo will cheer you up.  Whereas Intel went with 22nm process SOI high-K gates utilizing Hafnium, this process creates nanowires made of indium gallium arsenide at around 10nm, though the process does not necessarily translate directly.  NanoTechWeb's article mentions that some of these transistors have 6 edges, which if all could be successfully utilized means a doubling of density compared to Intel's design, though they do not mention what the thermal impact of the increased gate count would be.  It would seem that Intel is already aware and interested in this technology; for building CMOS chips as opposed to CPUs however.

NTW_Tomioka.jpg

"Gate structures in silicon-based transistors will have to evolve in the future as these devices become ever smaller. Researchers in Japan have made an important advance in developing these next-generation architectures by successfully fabricating vertical transistors from semiconducting nanowires on a silicon substrate. The wires, made from indium gallium arsenide, are surrounded by 3D – rather than planar-shaped – gates and the finished devices have extremely good electronic properties."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: NanoTechWeb

Deal for August 7th - EVGA GTX 460 2Win for $169

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 7, 2012 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: deal of the day, evga, gtx 460, 2win

Do you remember when we posted our review of the EVGA GeForce GTX 460 2Win graphics card?  Just last year it retailed for $409 and rivaled the performance of the GTX 580.  Well now you can pick one up for just $169 after a mail-in rebate!

4602win1.jpg

This card features a pair of GF104 GTX 460 GPUs on a single PCB running in a semi-permanent SLI configuration.  And considering a GTX 580 card will still cost you over $400 online today, the GTX 460 2Win from EVGA for $169 is a fantastic deal!!

Click here to get the EVGA GTX 460 2Win for $169!!

Source: LogicBuy

AMD Launches Professional FirePro APU for Workstations

Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2012 - 10:41 AM |
Tagged: FirePro APU, APU, amd, a320, a300

AMD announced today that it is extending the professional FirePro brand to its Accelerated Processing Units–APUs. Aimed at the professional market, AMD is hoping to get its APUs into workstations that perform computer aided design (CAD) work as well as multimedia content creation and editing. Thanks to the APU’s built-in VILW4 graphics, it can be used with GPU-accelerated software to speed up workloads.

AMD FirePro APU.png

Currently, there are two FirePro chips planned–the A300 and A320 APU. Both processors are based on the company’s consumer Trinity APUs. They feature four Piledriver CPU cores and a VLIW4 GPU architecture with 384 stream processors and dedicated UVD video decoding hardware. The A300 is clocked at a 3.4 GHz with a turbo speed of 4 GHz. On the other hand, the A320 has a base clockspeed of 3.8 GHz and a turbo clockspeed of 4.2 GHz. The A320 is even unlocked, which would allow open overclocking.

APU Model TDP CPU Cores CPU Clockspeed (base/max turbo) Stream Processors GPU Clock Unlocked
AMD FirePro A300 65W 4 3.4 GHz/4 GHz 384 760 Mhz No
AMD FirePro A320 100W 4

3.8 GHz/4.2 GHz

384 800 MHz Yes

 

The new FirePro APUs differ from the consumer lineup in that AMD has put them through more testing to ensure reliability and compatibility with industry software.

Features include:

  • AMD Eyefinity Technology support
  • AMD Turbo Core
  • Display resolutions up to 10,240 x 1600 for multi-monitor setups
  • Discrete Compute Offload support that allows the pairing of the APU graphics and a discrete GPU to accelerate GPGPU software.
  • 30-bit color support
  • Dedicated UVD hardware for media encoding

It is an interesting move for AMD to get into the workstation and professional design market. The company has been putting out dedicated graphics cards aimed at professionals for a long time, and now with the company betting its future on HSA and APUs, it was only a matter of time before they started aiming APUs at the professional market as well. The A300-series APUs will be available in various workstation integrators (OEMs for workstations) starting this month. Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or whether the processors will be sold individually or not. You can see the full press release on the AMD website.

Source: AMD