Windows 10X Reportedly Won’t Ship in 2021 as Microsoft Shifts Priorities

Illustration for article titled Windows 10X Reportedly Won't Ship in 2021 as Microsoft Shifts Priorities

Image: Microsoft

Despite being announced back in the fall of 2019 and having already suffered from multiple delays, a new report is claiming that Windows 10X won’t ship in 2021 and possibly may never see an official retail launch.

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The latest on Windows 10X’s development comes from longtime Windows insider Brad Sams at Petri, who according to “people familiar with the company’s plans” claims Microsoft will not release Windows 10X this year, and that “the OS as you know it today, will likely never arrive.”

In the report, Sams says following a number of setbacks, Microsoft has shifted resources away from the development of Windows 10X and back to core Windows 10, citing renewed questions from within Microsoft about the need for a more lightweight offshoot of its existing OS.

It seems one of the biggest issues for Windows 10X is that based on early customer feedback, Windows 10X didn’t really address challenges people face today, with Windows 10X also potentially causing increased fragmentation within the Windows 10 ecosystem.

Originally, Windows 10X was intended for use on dual-screen devices like Microsoft’s Surface Neo, before it shifted gears to become a more stripped-down version of Windows 10 meant to compete with Google’s ChromeOS.

However, with the release of the Surface Neo still nowhere in sight and Microsoft facing increasing competition from a new generation of ARM-based devices—most notably Apple’s M1-based gadgets—it seems Microsoft has decided to refocus its attention on support for ARM in Windows, while also choosing to roll features planned for Windows 10X back into core Windows 10.

With Windows 10 coming up on its sixth birthday in July, Sams says Microsoft is focusing even more on Sun Valley, which is Windows 10’s next big update that looks to include some major visual refreshes to the Windows 10 interface, a revamped Start menu, increased gesture support for Windows 10’s tablet mode, and more.

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While Windows 10x may have now been put on the backburner, Sams says Microsoft is still planning to migrate a number of Windows 10X features into core Windows 10, with the most likely candidates right now being app containers and some of Windows 10X’s UI elements.

One of the biggest questions that remain is how the deprioritization of Windows 10 will affect more futuristic devices like the Surface Neo and Asus’ Project Precog, which were dual-screen laptops designed to leverage some of the new multi-display features built into Window 10X. However, without an OS to properly support their innovative designs, it’s likely that those devices will also get delayed until Microsoft can build similar functionality into standard Windows 10.

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But stepping back, with Microsoft originally saying “Windows 10 is the last version of Windows” prior to the OS’s initial launch in 2015, perhaps it’s quite fitting that Windows 10X never ends up seeing the light of day.

Microsoft Is Cutting the Adobe Flash Cord in July

Illustration for article titled Microsoft Is Cutting the Adobe Flash Cord in July

Image: Sam Rutherford

Adobe Flash officially reached end of life at the end of 2020, and now Microsoft is removing Flash from Windows 10 this summer.

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While Microsoft had already started to remove support for Flash from a number of its apps, including its Edge browser, there is still some native support for Adobe’s Flash Player built into Windows 10 itself, which Microsoft is now planning to remove via Windows Update KB4577586: “Update for Removal of Adobe Flash Player.”

In a recent update to a previous blog post on the matter, Microsoft said it will begin sending out the patch to remove Adobe Flash from Windows 10 starting in June, first to users who are part of Microsoft’s Preview program before the patch becomes a mandatory update in July. Microsoft says that going forward, all systems running Windows 10 version 21H1 or later will have Flash removed by default.

In addition to removing native Flash support from Windows 10, Microsoft is also planning on removing Flash from older versions of Windows as well, including Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Embedded 8 Standard. And in case you don’t want to wait for June, you can also remove Flash from Windows 10 manually by downloading and installing the KB4577586 update from the Microsoft Update Catalog here.

Adobe Flash has been on its way out for the past several years, so it makes sense for Microsoft to do a final pass and remove native support for Flash from Windows 10, thereby eliminating all the security issues often associated with Adobe’s outdated multimedia format.

However, for those feeling nostalgic about Flash games from days gone by, you can still play a number of titles using the Internet Archive. And if you don’t find the specific game you’re looking for, you can also try apps like BlueMaxima’s Flashpoint, which is essentially a multi-platform Flash emulator for Windows, macOS, and Linux PCs.

Depending on which install you choose and what OS you’re on, Flashpoint even comes with a library of more than 38,000 old Flash games (the total file size for Flashpoint Ultimate 9.0 is a whopping 532GB), providing you with a wealth of content from a previous generation of the internet.

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Flash is dead; long live Flash.

The Time Has Come for an Xbox Laptop

Illustration for article titled The Time Has Come for an Xbox Laptop

Image: Sam Rutherford/Andrew Liszewski

With the launch of the Xbox Series S/X, Microsoft has entered a new age of console gaming with support for ray tracing, 120Hz refresh rates, and more. But with continued expansion of Microsoft’s Surface family of PCs, I can’t help but wonder if the time for an Xbox gaming laptop has finally arrived.

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Now at this point there are probably a lot of people out there shouting, “But Xbox is for consoles you dummy!” Not so fast. Sure, the Xbox name may have first appeared on a console way back in 2001, but in the years since, Microsoft has expanded the Xbox umbrella to include a huge range of content, hardware, and services across devices, such as Xbox Play Anywhere, which allows you to buy a game once and get two versions of the title that you can play on an Xbox or a PC whenever you want.

There’s also Xbox Game Pass, which is a monthly subscription that lets you download a rotating selection of games, that once again can be played on both console and PC. And that’s before you even mention Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes the ability to stream games to a tablet or phone from servers in the cloud. Microsoft also created Xbox Remote Play, so even if someone in your home is hogging the TV, you can still stream your games locally from your Xbox to a nearby phone, tablet, or PC.

By creating an Xbox laptop with native support for the Xbox Wireless Controller, Microsoft could further cement its gamepad as the controller of choice on both consoles and PCs.

By creating an Xbox laptop with native support for the Xbox Wireless Controller, Microsoft could further cement its gamepad as the controller of choice on both consoles and PCs.
Photo: Sam Rutherford

On top of that, Microsoft has also worked to expand support for a number of Xbox-branded accessories for the PC, including headsets and gamepads, with recent Xbox controllers being so popular that they have essentially become the default wireless gamepad on PC. The Xbox name outgrew its humble console origins a long time ago, and will only continue picking up momentum.

But most importantly, Microsoft itself doesn’t even consider the Xbox brand to be a console-only thing. Xbox chief Phil Spencer has spoken publicly at length about how Microsoft considers Xbox to be a platform that spans a wide range of categories and devices. Spencer told the Guardian that “the primary outcome of all the work that we do is how many players we see, and how often they play,” while also adding that “putting our games on PC becomes a reason that somebody doesn’t have to go and buy an Xbox Series X. I’ll hold fast to this. We publicly disclose player numbers. That’s the thing I want us to be driven by, not how many individual pieces of plastic did we sell.”

Xbox is about providing access to Xbox features and games regardless of what device someone might prefer to play on. After the successful launch of the Xbox Series S and X, it feels like one of the best ways for Microsoft to expand the Xbox platform is to finally make a proper Xbox laptop (and I’m not talking about one of those one-off Xbox-in-a-suitcase contraptions.)

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Why not a Surface gaming laptop?

This comes down to branding, and while there isn’t really a wrong answer, there are several factors that make a gaming laptop from Microsoft fit better under the Xbox umbrella than as an addition to Microsoft’s existing Surface laptop lineup.

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The first major consideration is the Surface brand itself, which is largely comprised of systems designed for mainstream productivity and content creation. Nothing about the Surface family of devices really says gaming, and the fact that the cheapest Surface with a discrete GPU is the 13-inch Surface Book 3—which costs $1,700 for an Nvidia GTX 1650—highlights that if you want a gaming laptop, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere. Same goes for the 15-inch Surface Book 3, which starts at $2,000 for a barely faster Nvidia 1660 Ti GPU, while the new Surface Laptop 4 sadly doesn’t offer any configs with real graphics cards. Even the Surface Studio 2—which seems like an artist’s dream machine—maxes out with an Nvidia GTX 1070.

One of the issues for the Xbox Wireless Headset on PC is that it only supports Bluetooth connectivity, so if you want higher quality audio you have to buy Microsoft’s $25 wireless adapter. But on an Xbox laptop, Microsoft could include support for the Xbox’s wireless protocol natively and save you from the hassle of buying the dongle.

One of the issues for the Xbox Wireless Headset on PC is that it only supports Bluetooth connectivity, so if you want higher quality audio you have to buy Microsoft’s $25 wireless adapter. But on an Xbox laptop, Microsoft could include support for the Xbox’s wireless protocol natively and save you from the hassle of buying the dongle.
Photo: Sam Rutherford

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Now it might seem like a weird strategy for Microsoft to leave a hole in the Surface portfolio for gaming, but if you take a step back, that omission begins to make sense. With the Surface line, Microsoft is focusing on core computing needs, while also stealing a page out of Apple’s playbook by catering to digital artists that might normally gravitate toward a Mac.

Every Surface has a touchscreen, with most also featuring handwriting and stylus support, which are definitely nice features to have, but aren’t exactly core features for a modern gaming laptop. Same goes for the kind of screens Microsoft uses in its Surface gadgets, which are more focused on providing rich hues and strong color accuracy instead of fast refresh rates. Frankly, if Microsoft released a relatively high-performance Surface laptop for gaming, it would feel out of place and might even scare off less adventurous, non-gaming folks.

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On the flip side, you have the Xbox brand, which has become synonymous with gaming—not just on consoles, but across multiple platforms, thanks to all the features Microsoft has added to Windows 10 like the Xbox Game Bar and the ability to chat with your friends on Xbox using a PC or phone.

But more importantly, by slapping an Xbox logo on a new gaming laptop, Microsoft could focus more on including features that matter to gamers: displays with fast refresh rates, more powerful GPUs, and a wider selection of ports. Microsoft could even add native support for the Xbox’s proprietary wireless audio signal to an Xbox laptop, which would help ensure users get the same hi-def audio experience on both devices. (By default, when connected to a PC, the Xbox Wireless headsets reverts to Bluetooth, instead of the higher quality wireless audio signal is uses when synced to an Xbox.)

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There’s just so much room for Microsoft to make a purpose-built gaming laptop with deep Xbox integration that extends across multiple platforms, and I’m honestly surprised Microsoft hasn’t made one.

What would an Xbox laptop look like?

From a design standpoint, there are a million different directions Microsoft could take an Xbox laptop, but the kind of system that would make the most sense would be a hybrid between a Surface Laptop 4 and something like a Razer Blade 15 or an MSI Stealth 15m. Imagine a relatively thin 15-inch system (15-inch systems are still the most popular size for laptops) with an aluminum or magnesium body, a miniLED or LCD display with a high refresh rate (and maybe even touch support for good measure, though it’s not essential), lots of ports, and the same keyboard Microsoft already uses on Surface machines, but with RGB backlighting as a small nod to gamer aesthetics. I’ll leave the inclusion of Alcantara up to Microsoft, though I suspect even fancy microfiber cloth won’t stand up to Dorito dust and spilled Dew very well.

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Look, I’d make an Xbox laptop myself, but this is the best I can come up with.

Look, I’d make an Xbox laptop myself, but this is the best I can come up with.
Photo: Sam Rutherford

Microsoft could even tweak the 15-inch chassis it already uses on larger models of the Surface Laptop 4 to be a bit thicker and better accommodate a discrete GPU and the requisite cooling. And while Razer sort of has a lock on black and green when it comes to gaming laptop colors, Microsoft could easily shift to a two-toned black-and-white design to better fit the current look of the Xbox Series S and X.

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To really drive home that Xbox synergy, Microsoft could also include support for HDMI 2.1 and at least a 120Hz (or possibly even 240Hz) display, to best replicate the high-refresh gaming experience you’d get from a Xbox Series X. And of course, there’d also be a range of current-gen CPUs and GPUs from Intel, AMD, and Nvidia, so that even when you’re on the road in a place with bad cell service or weak wifi, you can still play AAA games at relatively high settings.

If Microsoft builds in native wireless support for the Xbox Wireless Controller and the Xbox Wireless headset, the company could bundle those accessories for $100 (normal retail price for both totals $160) and entice buyers with a discount. Heck, Microsoft could even pull the same move it does for the Xbox Series and package an Xbox laptop alongside a 24-month sub for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and make it part of the Xbox All Access program. This way, you wouldn’t even need to pay up front for a shiny new Xbox gaming notebook.

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And as long as we’re talking about far-out features, Microsoft could even tack on a slot that supports the Xbox Series’ storage expansion card, allowing people to potentially use those storage cards interchangeably on both their console and laptop. I admit that’s kind of a stretch, but I can dream.

In the end, regardless of whether you think a Microsoft gaming laptop fits better among the Surface or Xbox families, when you look at Microsoft’s larger gadget lineup—which includes laptops, 2-in-1s, tablets, giant touch displays, game consoles, and even phones thanks to the Surface Duo—it’s actually kind of silly that gaming laptops are one of the few categories Microsoft hasn’t really touched. With the continued expansion of Microsoft’s gaming division, slapping an Xbox logo on the lid of a new gaming laptop and cramming some Xbox DNA inside seems like really natural fit.

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Xbox Games Will Be Playable On PC and iOS Starting Tomorrow—If You Score an Invite

Illustration for article titled Xbox Games Will Be Playable On PC and iOS Starting Tomorrow—If You Score an Invite

Image: Microsoft/Xbox

Xbox announced this morning its cloud gaming platform is nearly ready for Edge, Google Chrome, and Safari browsers. Starting tomorrow, the company will send out a limited number of invites to Game Pass Ultimate subscribers in 22 countries to take part in the beta.

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Game Pass Ultimate subscribers invited to take part in the beta will have access to any Xbox cloud-enabled game on PC or iOS. It also seems possible macOS users will be able to access Xbox games via the cloud using one of those browsers.

Those invited will be able to visit xbox.com/play starting tomorrow with a compatible browser. Beta invitees will also need a compatible Bluetooth or USB-connected controller to play Xbox games in their browser. Alternatively, those on iOS can use custom touch controls on games with that option enabled—currently, more than 50 games do.

Following in the footsteps of Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Google Stadia, and Amazon Luna, Xbox Cloud Gaming is the last major cloud gaming platform to become available to users via web browser. It’s also the first time anyone will be able to play Xbox games on an Apple device, an especially important milestone.

While Apple allows cloud gaming apps on its app store, it requires each game supported by the app to be individually submitted for review even though the games themselves aren’t downloaded directly to the device. Making the platform work from within popular internet browsers is the only alternative option. If Microsoft does it right, Xbox Cloud Gaming could run as smooth as Stadia on iOS.

There’s no official launch date for Xbox Cloud Gaming on Windows 10 and iOS, but Xbox it says its plan is to “open up to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members in the coming months.” There’s also no reason to expect Xbox Game Pass for PC will go away. Cloud gaming is heavily dependent on a good internet connection, and without it, playing on a local machine (PC or console) is the only way to run those games without all the lag, jitter, packet loss, and other downfalls that comes with trying to play games over the cloud with an unstable internet connection.

But while the number of games available on Xbox Game Pass for PC compared to Xbox Cloud Gaming is nearly identical, not all of the same games are available on both. For instance, classics like Banjo-Kazooie and Fable 2 are only available via Xbox Cloud Gaming. With the platform expanding to Edge, Chrome, and Safari, PC games not available though Xbox Game Pass will now be playable via a desktop or laptop instead of just a mobile device.

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Update 4/19/21 2:15 PM ET: A Microsoft spokesperson clarified that Xbox Cloud Gaming via browser will only focus on controller support, and keyboard and mouse support is still being explored. Additionally, Microsoft said the Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) browser experience is “currently optimized for Windows 10 PCs and Apple phones and tablets,” so it’s still not clear if or how well it will work on Safari for macOS.

Use These Apps to Make Windows 10 Feel Like a Chromebook

Nothing against Windows 10, but if you want to simplify it a bit by giving it the Chromebook treatment—tweaking various settings and UI elements to make them a bit easier to deal with, or simply integrating some of a Chromebook’s more useful features directly into Windows 10 itself—nobody is going to give you any grief. It’s your PC, you can do whatever you want with it.

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Michael Perrigo over at Chrome Unboxed has an excellent guide for bringing the best of the Chrome OS experience into Windows 10. I won’t steal his thunder by rehashing all of it, but I did want to call your attention to a handful of apps that you might want to consider installing, regardless of your feelings towards Google’s operating system. Some of these are Michael’s suggestions, and others are ones that I’ve stumbled across.

Chrometana Pro and EdgeDeflector

You’ll want to grab this combination of a Chrome extension and a Windows 10 app in order to redirect your Start Menu searches to Google instead of Bing. (Nothing against Microsoft’s search engine; we’ve just always had a better experience with Google, despite a whopping zero rewards for using it.)

Use the extension to redirect all Bing and Cortana searches to Google (in the browser). You can then install EdgeDeflector to redirect Windows 10 any time it tries to open a website in Edge or Edge Chromium instead of Chrome. Really, it deflects these requests to whatever you’ve set as your default browser in Windows 10, so make sure you’ve adjusted that correctly.

Finally, you can make sure that you’re opening Windows Searches in EdgeDeflector, rather than a browser. You should see a pop-up the next time you click on a web result from a Start Menu search.

If you’d rather redirect these searches to Mozilla’s Firefox browser, you’ll want to use the similarly named Foxtana Pro extension instead of Chrometana Pro.

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Twinkle Tray

This one’s easy: Install this little utility from the Windows Store and you’ll be able to control the brightness level of any DDC/CI-compatible monitor directly from an icon in your tray. You’ll never have to fuss with your monitor’s annoying buttons ever again.

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TaskbarX

Second verse, same as the first: This app takes all your left-aligned taskbar icons and centers them, and you can then make the entire taskbar transparent to give it more of a Chrome OS look and feel. (And if that’s all you want, with no centered icons, give TranslucentTB a try.)

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Windows 10 Auto Dark Mode / Luna

Both of these apps basically do the same thing: They give you the (sorely needed) option of scheduling times for light and dark mode on your Windows 10 system. I suppose you could also do this via the Task Scheduler, but it’s a lot more work.

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WinDynamicDesktop

This useful utility borrows a page from macOS, not Chrome OS, to give you the ability to set up dynamic wallpapers that change based on the time of day. Perhaps you want something a little darker in the morning, followed by a brighter wallpaper around lunchtime. Whatever your preference, having a little extra pizzazz for your Windows wallpaper never hurt.

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Cortana Is Dead on Android and iOS Today

Illustration for article titled Cortana Is Dead on Android and iOS Today

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images (Getty Images)

Normally April 1 is a day for jokes and pranks, but this year it also marks a funeral of sorts: the death of Cortana on mobile devices.

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Following Microsoft’s decision to shut down Cortana on smart speakers, including the Harman Kardon Invoke earlier this year, Microsoft is now pulling support for the Cortana app on Android and iOS devices.

As of yesterday, March 31, Microsoft will no longer support the Cortana app, which means things like reminders and lists in the Cortana app will no longer function, though Microsoft said those features can still be accessed using Cortana on a Windows PC. For anyone who relied heavily on Cortana to keep track of lists and tasks, those items are also automatically synced with Microsoft’s To Do app, so you’ll still have a way to manage them on a mobile device.

While Microsoft is pulling support for Cortana across a range of devices, the company isn’t killing off Cortana altogether. Instead, Microsoft seems to be transitioning away from it use as a general purpose digital assistant and turning Cortana into a more focused productivity tool, though we’ve yet to see what that really looks like.

Microsoft said it’s going to remove support for the current version of Cortana on the original Surface Headphones later this year and replace it with a new version of Cortana that can be accessed through Outlook, so you can still use voice commands to ask Cortana to check your calendar or your emails using the Play My Emails feature. This new productivity-focused version of Cortana will be available on first-gen Surface Headphones, along with the second-gen Surface Headphones and the Surface Earbuds.

Sadly, for an AI assistant that was once envisioned as a rival to Siri and the Google Assistant with dreams of powering speakers, smart displays, and other devices, it seems Cortana just couldn’t compete with Apple or Google’s assistants and is now pivoting to a second life as an assistant designed to better support Microsoft’s business and enterprise offerings. Perhaps that’s a promotion. Personally, I’m just hoping that Cortana doesn’t eventually turn into the second coming of Clippy.

Latest Windows 10 Update Is Causing Some Printers to Crash PCs

Illustration for article titled Latest Windows 10 Update Is Causing Some Printers to Crash PCs

Screenshot: MitrandirLK /Wikipedia (Other)

The latest Windows 10 update isn’t playing nice with some printers.

According to Digital Trends, the issue is affecting printers from Kyocera, Ricoh, and Zebra. When a user sends a file to print, instead of actually printing, the entire PC will crash, showing the dreaded Blue Screen of Death along with the error code “APC_INDEX_MISMATCH for win32kfull.sys.”

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This type of message usually appears when there’s incompatible hardware or drivers, and in this case it’s the latter. The KB5000802 update is causing Windows 10 to think those printer drivers aren’t installed or linked to the actual devices. So if someone tries to print from Word, Notepad, or another program, the PC immediately crashes to a BSOD.

The issue has been affecting multiple versions of Windows 10, both on the client side and server side, including: Windows 10 version 20H2, 2004, 1909, 1809, 1803, and Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019 and Windows Server 2019.

Microsoft is aware of the problem, but has not provided a permanent fix at this time, as the company only recently became aware of the issue.

“We are presently investigating and will provide an update when more information is available,” the company said on its support page.

A Microsoft employee has posted a temporary fix on the sysadmin subreddit, which involves enabling direct printing and applying a fix with the Application Compatibility Toolkit.

Another option is to completely roll back the Windows 10 March 2021 update, but doing so could also put your PC’s security at risk, because the KB5000802 cumulative update came with some security fixes. However, one Reddit user pointed out that KB5000802 seems to have been removed. I checked this on my own PC and that seems to be the case, but cumulative update KB5000808 is still available for Windows 10 version 1909, which can also cause similar issues with the same brands of printers.

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If you do want to uninstall any of these updates, type Windows Update into the search bar, click on View Update History, and then Uninstall Updates at the top. A new window will pop up, and you should see the update listed as Security Update for Microsoft Windows KB5000802 or KB5000808.

Mesh Is Microsoft’s Vision for Sending Your Hologram Back to the Office

Illustration for article titled Mesh Is Microsoft’s Vision for Sending Your Hologram Back to the Office

Image: Microsoft

Today at Microsoft’s annual Ignite conference, the tech giant revealed a bold glimpse at the future of digital collaboration with Mesh, a new mixed reality experience set to shape how people work and socialize online.

Powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and designed to run on a range of devices, including Microsoft’s Hololens headsets, traditional VR goggles, phones, and more, Mesh is Microsoft’s vision of an evolution in current online work tools, which for most people generally consist of a bunch of shared documents, email, a messaging app (Teams, Slack, etc.), and a seemingly non-stop lineup of video meetings.

With Mesh, Microsoft is hoping to create a virtual environment capable of sharing data, 3D models, avatars, and more—basically, the company wants to upgrade the traditional remote-working experience with the power of AR and VR. In the future, Microsoft is planning for something it’s calling “holoportation,” which will allow Mesh devices to create photorealistic digital avatars of your body that can appear in virtual spaces anywhere in the world—assuming you’ve been invited, of course.

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By taking advantage of things like eye-tracking, facial-monitoring, and more, Microsoft says it’s hoping to add an extra level of immersion and realness to virtual collaboration, with holoportation even mimicking your expressions and eye contact. Meanwhile, by using outward-facing cameras and object tracking, Mesh will allow people to share and interact with virtual objects across various mixed-reality environments in a more natural way.

Microsoft says the end goal is that Mesh “will also enable geographically distributed teams to have more collaborative meetings, conduct virtual design sessions, assist others, learn together and host virtual social meetups. People will initially be able to express themselves as avatars in these shared virtual experiences and over time use holoportation to project themselves as their most lifelike, photorealistic selves.”

During its presentation, Microsoft demonstrated Mesh’s ability to project a 3D model of a car in real space, allowing engineers to view a life-size AR rendering in a shared virtual space. And while Microsoft didn’t announce any concrete timelines for integrating Mesh with Microsoft Teams or its Dynamic 365 productivity suite, Microsoft is already planning to add support for Mesh-enabled apps in future versions of its enterprise collaboration software.

But remote work isn’t the only application Microsoft has in mind for Mesh, and at Ignite, Microsoft partnered with Niantic and OceanX to present demos for how gaming and educational experiences might look in Mesh, right to down cute AR Pokemon roaming the world.

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For Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman—who is one of the leads behind Mesh and helped demo Mesh today at Ignite—the potential power and adaptability of Mesh has always been some of its most tantalizing aspects.

“This has been the dream for mixed reality, the idea from the very beginning, you can actually feel like you’re in the same place with someone sharing content or you can teleport from different mixed reality devices and be present with people even when you’re not physically together,” Kipman said.

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That said, much of Mesh’s potential lies in how Microsoft can take these concepts and turn them into reality, and even with a number of convincing demos shown today, it’ll probably be some time until they become a core part of our daily lives.

Currently, Mesh is available in preview form on Microsoft’s expensive Hololens headsets, which will allow users to collaborate remotely, and as part of a new version of AltspaceVR with support for hosting virtual meetings and gatherings.

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But even as a loose framework for what’s to come, Microsoft’s Mesh is certainly a bold dream for upgrading our remote working capabilities. A number of companies, including Facebook, Apple, and others, are thinking along similar lines, so it looks like the push to create grand and rich shared virtual spaces may end up being one of the next great tech races.

Microsoft’s New Headphones are Made for (Xbox) Gamers

Illustration for article titled Microsofts New Headphones are Made for (Xbox) Gamers

Screenshot: Microsoft/YouTube

If you’re dying to pick up an Xbox Series X or S but have been out of luck so far, Microsoft has a new device to tide you over. The $99 Xbox Wireless Headset, available next month, is a pair of gaming headphones in the style of the new Xbox with a few noteworthy features.

The headphones promise 15 hours of battery life and have a retractable microphone with auto-mute that reduces ambient noise during chat sessions. They also offer spatial sound using the Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos, and DTS Headphone: X standards. Because the headphones come straight from the Redmond mothership, they work seamlessly with your new Xbox but can be paired with PCs and mobile devices. Microsoft claims you can move the headphones seamlessly from your Xbox to your Windows 10 machine without reconnecting them.

Illustration for article titled Microsofts New Headphones are Made for (Xbox) Gamers

Photo: Microsoft

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Gaming headsets have to be light—most of us wear them for hours—and Microsoft promises that these will be comfortable and unobtrusive. These weigh in at 11 ounces, on par with similar gaming headsets.

“We’ve learned that gaming is a deeply social activity. Especially nowadays, given the state of the world, gaming and communicating with others is a critical need. The team took a human-centered approach to design a headset that removes the unnecessary distractions so that players can focus on the game and their friends,” Microsoft senior design researcher Scott Wang said in a statement announcing the new device.

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Given that first-party accessories are usually superior—after all, Microsoft engineers know the ins and outs of the Xbox audio codecs—these low-priced cans might be a good investment. They’re available for preorder now.

Here’s Your Windows 10 Set-Up Checklist

If you’ve finally upgraded your PC’s software or unboxed a new machine and are getting started with Windows 10 for the first time ever, there are a few things you need to know.

First, hop into your settings and log in with your Microsoft account to both sync your previous settings from earlier Windows versions and make sure the settings you adjust in the future are also synced. If you’ve never created a Microsoft account before, we recommend doing so now. Then, go ahead and install whatever updates are available. There may be more than a few, so it’s best to get it over with now.

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From Settings, you’ll also be able to join the Windows Insider Program. This is fun if you want to get a sneak peek of the beta features Microsoft is testing, but if you don’t like to live on the edge, you can skip it.

Now it’s time to start personalizing your OS with a couple of basic tweaks. First, go to Display and toggle on Night Light mode so the color temperature of your screen will adjust at dusk and sunrise. Then, go to Notifications and Alerts to turn off pesky Microsoft tips on getting the most out of Windows or whatever. Hop on over to Storage and toggle on Storage Sense to keep your system clean. After you install your essential apps, click on Taskbar settings and select “Select which icons appear in the taskbar” to keep things looking organized. Under Apps, select Startup to choose which apps launch automatically when you boot up your machine (keep this to a minimum for obvious reasons).

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Check out the video above to let us walk you through this process.