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Microsoft: The Universal Windows Platform is a fully-open ecosystem

By: Derek Strickland | More News: Software | Posted: Mar 4, 2016 4:32 pm

According to Microsoft, Epic Games co-founder Tim Sweeney has it all wrong: Redmond's push into Windows 10 PC gaming isn't the beginning of an oppressive regime, but a "fully open ecosystem" that taps the freedom of the platform.




In a recent op-ed piece for The Guardian, Epic's Tim Sweeney called Redmond out for its new invasive push to utterly dominate PC gaming. The developer, who has had a long-running relationship with Microsoft with its Gears of War franchise, says that Microsoft is "curtailing users' freedom to install full-featured PC software, and subverting the rights of developers and publishers to maintain a direct relationship with their customers." Sweeney is calling for gamers, developers, and publishers to fight this move.


Microsoft has delivered an official response to Sweeney's statements, saying that the Universal Windows Platform--which powers Windows 10 PC gaming--is quite open. "The Universal Windows Platform is a fully open ecosystem, available to every developer, that can be supported by any store," said Kevin Gallo, corporate vice president of Windows. "We continue to make improvements for developers; for example, in the Windows 10 November Update, we enabled people to easily side-load apps by default, with no UX required."

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New Radeon Crimson drivers enables Crossfire for XCOM 2, The Division

By: Derek Strickland | More News: Software | Posted: Feb 25, 2016 6:34 pm

AMD has just released its latest Radeon Crimson Software 16.2 drivers, bringing Crossfire support to games like XCOM 2 and The Division while boosting performance across the board.




Apart from new Crossfire profiles, the Crimson 16.2 drivers tweak and improve quality for Rise of the Tomb Raider, and adds in the first DirectX 12 benchmarking software for Ashes of the Singularlity. Be sure to check out our DX12 benchmarking analysis to see when happens when NVIDIA and AMD cards work together.


Other highlights include the announcement that Radeon R9 390, Nano and Fury GPUs have achieved VR Recommended status via Valve's SteamVR Performance Test, and multi-GPU setups are showing "significant performance uplifts" over single GPUs in SteamVR benchmarks.

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Windows 3.x Showcase lets you try out early 90s software again

By: Sean Ridgeley | More News: Software | Posted: Feb 12, 2016 12:09 am

Creator of the Malware Museum Jason Scott already has another project out: The Windows 3.x Showcase. Featuring 49 pieces of emulated software from the early 90s, it's intended to show off the wide, wonderful range of products developers were putting out in those early days.




Most of it is games: Ski Free, WinRisk, Win Pool, the Ms. Pac-Man knock-off Ms. Chomp, and the like, but some intriguing non-game software is on display, too: a Windows benchmark by PC Magazine, a MIDI music program, a resource monitor, a Windows 95 demo, and more.


You can try it all out for yourself via the source link below. Only your browser is required.

AMD will talk about its new GPUOpen initiative at GDC 2016

By: Derek Strickland | More News: Software | Posted: Feb 2, 2016 9:31 pm

AMD recently launched a new open-source initiative called GPUOpen, a new philosophy backed by optimized software that's specifically designed to let developers harness more graphical power regardless of platform--PC or console. Team Red will discuss GPUOpen at GDC 2016 in March, and open up about the new project and how it'll shake up the world of gaming.




GPUOpen is essentially AMD's answer to NVIDIA's GameWorks, and will give devs more power over GPU integration and provide them with a wealth of tools, effects, SDKs, and a huge collaborative network of open-source software and connections with other developers. AMD also wants to use GPUOpen to remove the hardware limitation disparity between PC and consoles by giving "open and unrestricted access" to graphics hardware.


"GPUOpen is a new philosophy spearheaded by AMD that aims to bridge the gap between console and PC game development by allowing optimal access to the GPU for developers," reads a statement provided by AMD. "GPUOpen is a portal to effects, SDKs, libraries and tools that provides various levels of GPU access and functionalities for real-time graphics and content creation. GPUOpen marks the beginning of a new era where developers are able to achieve their artistic and technical vision via open and unrestricted access to the GPU."

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New AMD Crimson drivers add CrossFire to Fallout 4, Tomb Raider

By: Derek Strickland | More News: Software | Posted: Feb 2, 2016 7:12 pm

AMD has just rolled its new Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.1.1 drivers, bringing performance optimizations and long-overdue CrossFire support to a number of games.




The new Crimson drivers add CrossFire profiles for Fallout 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider, allowing both games to leverage the power of multi-AMD video cards. Just four days ago AMD promised hotfix optimizations for Rise of the Tomb Raider, and it's great to see they've delivered.


Gamers instantly noticed the absence of CrossFire support in both games upon release, especially Crystal Dynamic's performance-demanding Rise of the Tomb Raider. Based on our Rise of the Tomb Raider PC analysis, AMD cards pushed their own muscle against NVIDIA's GPUs, despite the fact the game's engine was built with Team Green hardware.

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Firefox 44 launches with push notifications after you close it

By: Jeff Williams | More News: Software | Posted: Jan 27, 2016 12:52 am

The latest Firefox build, now up to 44, can give you push notifications even after you close the browser. They've also removed support for the RC4 encryption cipher and added some very powerful, and easy to use, developer tools.




The push notification feature lets you receive all notifications from any website that you give permission to, and if it's not loaded in a tab you'll still get the notification through Firefox itself. Mozilla says it's a useful feature for getting dynamic updates about weather and even your social network feed.


They've also stopped support for the aging RC4 cipher that's used for HTTPS connections. It was originally designed in 1987 and is incredibly weak by today's standards. It doesn't take long to crack a this cipher with today's compute power. So if a website uses that as their method of connection, then you'll get a warning page and you won't be able to connect. Modern SSL certificates don't make use of that anyway, so it shouldn't be too much of an issue. And those developer tools? Very slick.

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Donald Trump gets a programming language, doesn't follow logic

By: Jeff Williams | More News: Software | Posted: Jan 25, 2016 4:01 pm

Some astute individual went ahead and taken everything that Presidential candidate Donald Trump has said throughout this past year, and has created programming language that follows all those statements and rules. And the language doesn't follow any sort of logic whatsoever.




The language was created by two Rice University students during a hackathon, Chris Brown and Sam Shadwell, and it's based on Python. This appropriately named TrumpScript uses the basis of his Presidential campaign philosophy as the groundwork for how it operates. So you can't play with floating point numbers that are smaller than 1 million and users from China or Mexico can't use it either.


There're a lot more little nuggets of humor floating inside this semi-usable language, and you can play with it right now by heading over to the github page. But even in this incomplete state, it's a lot of fun to play with and you can even add your own audacious logic to it if you'd like.

Insider Program for Microsoft Office lets Mac users get early access

By: Jeff Williams | More News: Software | Posted: Jan 22, 2016 10:01 pm

Microsoft's Office Insider Program used to only be for Windows users, letting you download beta updates that let you preview experimental upcoming features. Now Apple users can get in on the fun with a preview program of their own.




The Mac Preview Program lets Office 365 subscribers opt into the program by checking the appropriate box from inside the Microsoft Auto Update tool. It's simple and generally the features that get pushed to the insider program don't cause Office in general to be unstable.


The blog post announcing the insider program didn't specify anything Mac users can look forward to, though it's not too much of a stretch to think that whatever features come to the Windows version will also find their way to the Mac version as well.

NVIDIA had a Vulkan developer day, getting very excited about it

By: Jeff Williams | More News: Software | Posted: Jan 20, 2016 10:28 pm

NVIDIA and the Khronos group had a developer day yesterday on the 19th where they talked about the proper application of Vulkan in games.




During the talk, Neil Trevett, who is the president of Khronos and a key employee of NVIDIA, went over how the open-standard API can be be used for some fantastic graphical effects. As you know, it's a low-level API with far less CPU overhead, that essentially spawned off of AMD's Mantle. Vulkan allows for greater access to the GPU than ever before, which is something that only consoles enjoyed previously.


Programming for Vulkan, and DirectX 12, is a different beast than DX11 or OpenGL. You can have explicit control over GPU functions and especially of multi-threading, which is a huge advantage that can lead to increased performance, or much better looking scenes at the same performance. So at this dev day, NVIDIA talked about how they're committed to the open-source API and how they want to help optimize their driver for it, to welcome it into the gaming world.

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Coding coming to British Columbia, Canada school curriculum

By: Sean Ridgeley | More News: Software | Posted: Jan 19, 2016 8:27 pm

The government of British Columbia, Canada will be adding computer coding into its school curriculum over the next three years across all grades, including kindergarten. The new lessons will be integrated into mathematics and science programs, and apart of a new "applied design, skills, and technologies" (ADST) component. At the kindergarten level, it will be designed to encourage "exploratory and purposeful play" and stimulate ADST aptitude; older students will learn about computational thinking and programming in general; by the time grade 9 is over, students will be able to code on a basic level; high school students will be able to specialize in a particular area of technology.




The move serves as a pointed decision to address BC's technology skills shortage -- though the industry employs more than the forestry, mining, and oil and gas industries combined (86,000), there's traditionally been a much bigger focus on serving those now suffering industries instead. The government last month put up $100 million in funding for tech startups, so this is part of a broader plan. Google has put its money where its mouth is, too: its Codemakers program aims to bring programming to 100,000 Canadian children.

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