Tag: Microsoft

Microsoft Xbox At E3 2018: New Console And Games Coming

Microsoft’s got a new Halo for you.

The hit Xbox action series starring the superhuman Master Chief in his latest adventure to save the galaxy was teased Sunday during the company’s press conference here at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of Xbox, said it will be the character’s “greatest adventure” yet, though the company didn’t say much more than that, nor when it will be released.

The game will be called Halo Infinite.




The new Halo was just the tip of the spear. The day also brought announcements on some 50 games and 20 exclusives designed to show the world the Xbox is the gaming device to buy, even if it’s not the most popular.

To emphasize that, the company wowed attendees at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles with a series of announcements about plans for its most popular franchises, including the Gears of War space shooting epic and its hit Cuphead and Ori adventures games.

And if that’s not enough, Microsoft also dropped hints about its next Xbox console, saying teams are “deep into architecting” the next device, though it didn’t give a timetable for a release.

The company also said it’s building a new streaming service designed to allow gamers to play on an Xbox, PC or phone.

The message throughout all of it: Microsoft wants fans to know it hears them.

The company has been criticized for its lack of compelling and exclusive new games, something Nintendo and Sony have been successful at over the past few years.

The top recently released games list on game-review aggregating sister site Metacritic, for example, include Sony’s God of War epic and Nintendo’s update for Donkey Kong.

While Microsoft does have some popular exclusive games of its own, such as Halo and Gears of War, the criticism has grown louder.

That includes exclusive games made by Microsoft. “We always tell our teams to focus on the gamer,” he added. “If fans ask us for exclusives and first-party titles, that’s where we’re going to focus.”

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Pass it on: Popular Science

What Is Private Browsing And Why Should You Use it?

Since 2008, January 28th has been set aside for Data Privacy Day. The goal: “to create awareness about the importance of privacy and protecting personal information.

It’s the perfect time to take a look at one privacy feature that’s right in front of you: your web browser’s private browsing mode. Just what is it that makes private browsing private? Let’s take a look at the major browsers and see.




Google Chrome

Google Chrome calls it Incognito Mode, and you can tell you’re using it by looking for the “secret agent” icon in the top left corner of the window.

Chrome also shows you a big, bold new tab page when you open an Incognito window. That’s it at the top of this post.

In Incognito Mode, Chrome won’t keep track of the pages you visit, the data you enter into forms, or any searches you submit.

It won’t remember what files you download, but those files will stay on your computer after you close the Incognito window. You’ll have to manually delete them if you want them gone. The same goes for bookmarks you create.

Internet Explorer and Edge

Internet Explorer and Edge feature InPrivate browsing. The same caveats apply: temporary internet files like cookies, browsing history, form data) are not saved.

Downloaded files and bookmarks stick around even after you close the InPrivate window.

Microsoft’s browsers also disable any third-party toolbars you might have installed when you start an InPrivate session.

Firefox

Mozilla welcomes you to Firefox’s Private Browsing mode with a nice, clear explanation of what it does and doesn’t do.

The list pretty much lines up with Chrome, IE, and Edge: browsing/search history and cookies are not saved, downloads and bookmarks are.

Mozilla also gives you an additional setting that can make Private Browsing a little more private:tracking protection. Turn it on and Firefox will attempt to prevent sites from gathering data about your browsing habits.

Safari

Safari’s private browsing mode also removes temporary files when you close the window. Browsing history, form data, and cookies are all wiped by default.

Opera

Opera is noteworthy because its private browsing mode offers one truly unique feature. You can turn on a VPN connection to add another layer of secrecy to your browsing activities.

It’s not a bulletproof VPN solution and it still doesn’t keep your activities totally private, but it does provide additional protection.

It may also technically be considered a proxy and not a true VPN, but that’s a discussion you can leave to the more technically-inclined folks.

Beyond the VPN, Opera’s private browsing mode works like Chrome’s.

How Private Is It?

The short answer is not very, regardless of which browser you use. On the computer, tablet, or phone you’re using, yes, your temporary browsing data is removed.

It’s still very possible to see what you’ve been doing. Routers, firewalls, and proxy servers could be keeping tabs on your browsing activities, and private browsing mode won’t get in the way of that.

If you’re thinking private browsing will keep your activities hush-hush at the office, for example, you’re probably wrong.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Microsoft’s Cortana Falls Behind Alexa And Google Assistant at Consumer Electronics Show

The annual Consumer Electronics Show is always a good opportunity to get an early look at devices coming throughout the year.

It’s also a reasonable gauge on the health of an ecosystem, or emerging platforms. At this year’s CES it was all about Alexa vs. Google Assistant.

If you were hoping to see more Cortana-powered devices, they were nowhere to be found. With the exception of the Cortana-powered thermostat (announced last year), no new Cortana devices were unveiled at CES this year.

In comparison, Alexa is arriving on headphones, smartwatches, cars, and many more TVs this year, and will even be able to directly control ovens and microwaves.




Google introduced a new Smart Display platform with its Assistant, and Google Assistant is also coming to more TVs, headphones, and even Android Auto.

Google made it clear it was ready to fight Alexa, but Microsoft stayed silent.

Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant has been largely limited to Windows 10 PCs, after originally launching on Windows Phones back in 2014.

Microsoft may have missed the hardware scenario for a dedicated Cortana device, but the company has invested in pushing Cortana on Windows 10.

Despite a claim of 141 million monthly Cortana users, Amazon looks set to even challenge Microsoft in this area.

HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer all plan on integrating an Alexa app on upcoming Windows 10 machines this year, providing a challenge to Cortana on the desktop.

Microsoft has been convincing PC makers to integrate far-field microphones in their devices, and now Amazon is tempting them to use that hardware for Alexa.

Microsoft has previously shown how Cortana can work in speakers, cars, fridges, toasters, and thermostats, but we’ve only seen one dedicated Cortana speaker so far and a single thermostat.

With a lack of hardware supporting Cortana, Microsoft is instead promising that more will come in time.

In fact, Microsoft says it’s playing the long game with Cortana, something it also unsuccessfully attempted with Windows Phone.

It’s a long journey to making a real assistant that you can communicate with over a longer period of time to really be approachable and interesting and better than the alternative,” explains Andrew Shuman, corporate vice president of Cortana engineering, in an interview with GeekWire.

“That is our journey, to make some make some great experiences that shine through, and recognize that long haul.”

Microsoft has announced new partnerships with Ecobee, Geeni, Honeywell, IFTTT, LIFX, and TP-Link, but we now need to see the hardware evidence of Microsoft’s long haul.

While Alexa and Google Assistant appear on more and more devices, Cortana is being left behind. Microsoft’s Cortana isn’t the only digital assistant being left behind, though.

Apple’s Siri, which debuted long before Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant, has remained firmly on the company’s iPhone devices.

Apple has been pushing its HomeKit platform instead of Siri, but there are signs this isn’t working for Apple’s ecosystem.

As analyst Ben Bajarin points out, Apple usually has an indirect presence at CES, but this year it was Alexa and Google Assistant dominating the platform wars.

Apple delayed its HomePod speaker to “early 2018,” and we’re waiting to see if the company will ever create a Siri platform outside of its own devices.

While HomeKit has broad support for smart home devices, it’s clear that millions of people are using voice-activated smart speakers to control smart home devices, music playback, and access online information like weather forecasts.

It’s a segment that’s growing, and both Apple and Microsoft are both far behind the competition.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Microsoft Paint To Be Killed Off After 32 Years

MS paint

Long-standing basic graphics editing program, used throughout childhoods since the 1980s, has been marked for death.

Microsoft’s next Windows 10 update, called the Autumn (or Fall in the US) Creators Update, will bring a variety of new features.But one long-standing stalwart of the Windows experience has been put on the chopping block: Microsoft Paint.




First released with the very first version of Windows 1.0 in 1985, Paint in its various guises would be one of the first graphics editors used by many and became a core part of Windows.

Starting life as a 1-bit monochrome licensed version of ZSoft’s PC Paintbrush, it wasn’t until Windows 98 that Paint could save in JPEG.

With the Windows 10 Creators Update, released in April, Microsoft introduced the new Paint 3D, which is installed alongside traditional Paint and features 3D image making tools as well as some basic 2D image editing. But it is not an update to original Paint and doesn’t behave like it.

Now Microsoft has announced that, alongside Outlook Express, Reader app and Reading list, Microsoft Paint has been signalled for death having been added to the “features that are removed or deprecated in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update” list.

Falling under the deprecated column for apps that are “not in active development and might be removed in future releases”, Microsoft Paint’s ticket has been called and now it’s only a matter of time before it is removed like your favourite piece of old furniture from your childhood home.

Paint was never one of the most capable apps, and was limited to the bitmap (BMP) and PCX formats until 1998, but if you wanted to scribble something out using your mouse or make a quick cut and paste job, Paint was always there, even on work computers.

When Microsoft Paint will officially be removed from Windows has yet to be confirmed, while a precise date for the release of the Windows 10 Autumn Creators Update is equally up in the air.

Whether, like Clippy, Windows users will celebrate or decry Paint’s removal, it will be a moment in the history of Windows as one of its longest-standing apps is put out to pasture.

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Pass it on: Popular Science