Microsoft will add free Project xCloud gaming to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

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Microsoft’s Project xCloud remote-gaming service has faded somewhat as the world has retreated indoors. This September, however, Project xCloud will become part of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service for no additional cost.

Microsoft began calling for people to help test its Project xCloud service last September, and we went hands-on with Project xCloud soon after. Project xCloud works in two ways: You can either stream games that reside on your local Xbox at home, or else use Microsoft’s own servers as a virtual game host. There don’t appear to be any limitations on the technology, either, including how much you can use it.

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Microsoft Teams adds ‘Together mode’ in massive update

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Microsoft today said that it’s shaking up online Teams video meetings with a new “Together mode” that places participants in a virtual auditorium. It’s all part of a redesigned Teams experience that capitalizes on some of the promises Microsoft has been making for years. There’s even a pair of Teams smart displays.

On Wednesday, Microsoft said the company has spent much of the last few months rethinking the way in which video meetings were conducted. About 60 percent of those Microsoft surveyed said they felt less connected to their colleagues due to the coronavirus, so Microsoft’s new Teams update tries to make nonverbal communication a priority.

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Acer’s $999 Swift 5 could be the first Tiger Lake ultralight laptop

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Acer’s Swift 5 appears to be the first laptop containing Intel’s expected “Tiger Lake” microprocessors, which is in turn Intel’s first chip to bring its “Xe” graphics to PCs.

Acer didn’t formally identify the Swift 3’s microprocessor as “Tiger Lake,” though referring to it as being powered by the “next-gen Intel Core processors with powerful integrated graphics based on Intel’s new Xe architecture” is a tipoff—Intel announced Tiger Lake last year, in conjunction with the Xe graphics technology. 

Acer announced the new Swift 5 at its “next@acer” event Tuesday morning, which was livestreamed due to COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions. The company didn’t reveal many details about the new ultralight laptop, though it will be available in North America for $999.

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Windows 10’s Linux subsystem gets GPU compute and an easier install in new preview

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Microsoft released improvements to its Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL) in a Windows 10 preview build on Wednesday, with features benefiting newcomers and developers alike. As part of the update, WSL2 can now perform GPU compute functions, including using Nvidia’s CUDA technology. 

The new additions deliver on the promises Microsoft made at May’s Build 2020 conference, where the company also teased graphical user interface support for the Windows Subsystem for Linux. We’re still waiting on those capabilities. 

WSL’s improvements are part of Windows 10 Build 20150, part of the Dev Channel of Insider builds. Formerly known as the Fast Ring, the Dev Channel is devoted to testing new features which aren’t necessarily tied to any upcoming Windows 10 feature release.

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Windows 10’s May 2020 Update borks pooled Storage Spaces

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If you’re a fan of Windows 10’s Storage Spaces technology, Microsoft offered you a piece of advice on Wednesday: don’t update to the Windows 10 May 2020 Update yet.

Storage Spaces is a feature that was introduced years ago, dating back to Windows 8.1. The nifty storage technology takes a collection of internal and external hard drives and/or SSDs and creates a shared “pool” of storage between them. It essentially offers some RAID (Redundant Array of Disks) protections, mirroring content on one drive to another to help save it in case it fails.

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Microprocessor guru Jim Keller unexpectedly leaves Intel

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Jim Keller, an Intel senior vice president who has helped design several high-profile CPUs for various companies, has left Intel for undisclosed personal reasons, Intel said Thursday.

Keller’s departure was revealed in a blog post from Intel that described changes in Intel’s Technology, Systems Architecture and Client Group, in which Keller previously worked. The post said that Keller would advise the group for the next six months, though he will not be a formal employee of Intel.

“Intel appreciates Mr. Keller’s work over the past two years helping them continue advancing Intel’s product leadership and they wish him and his family all the best for the future,” Intel said, announcing Keller’s departure.

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Intel announces its first new ‘Lakefield’ chips for the thinnest, lightest PCs

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On Wednesday, Intel officially announced two “Lakefield” chips, otherwise known as the 9-watt “Intel Core processor with Intel Hybrid Technology” chips, which will be showcased in thin-and-light PCs like the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Book S

Intel’s Lakefield (originally announced in January 2019) is something entirely new: a hybrid chip that has Core-class cores for when performance is required, as well as low-power Atom-class cores for when battery life becomes a priority. And yes, they’re truly odd: each has five cores (and five threads), rather than four, or six—and Intel’s not saying how many Core or Atom chips are being used.

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Video: Google Meet’s ‘denoiser’ noise filtering is shockingly good

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Google showed off a live demo of its new noise-cancellation feature for Google Meet on Monday, and well, it’s just amazing.

Unfortunately, consumers won’t see it anytime soon. Google said in late May that the company would be rolling it out to G Suite Enterprise and G Suite Enterprise for Education customers first, starting with web users and later, mobile users. Google hasn’t said when, or if, its other messaging apps would receive it.

Serge Lachapelle, G Suite director of product management, demoed the new feature in a video posted to YouTube on Monday (embedded below). He also detailed how the technology worked in a separate interview with VentureBeat. 

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Intel has big plans to optimize Bluetooth and create all-wireless PCs

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Intel’s networking ambitions go beyond the high-profile purchase of Rivet Networks and its Killer Networking lineup, which should beef up its Wi-Fi quality. Intel also plans to optimize Bluetooth and connect everything on your desk wirelessly.

Eric McLaughlin, vice president of the Intel Client Computing Group and general manager of its Wireless Solutions Group, told PCWorld what the company’s plans were for the new Killer technology. But, he added, Intel was also working to solve a pair of problems that hadn’t yet been satisfactorily solved by the PC industry.

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Gmail-like text prediction is due soon for Outlook on the Web

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Microsoft is adapting one of the more interesting features of Gmail, predictive text, and bringing it to the online version of Outlook.

Recently, Microsoft updated its publicly available Microsoft 365 roadmap, and text prediction is now listed as one of the upcoming features scheduled to roll out in May. “Using smart technology, Outlook will predict text while you type,” Microsoft’s description says. “Just use the Tab key to accept the text prediction.”

Microsoft has already included predictive text within Windows for months, though the implementation has been lousy. The text prediction Microsoft associates with your hardware keyboard opens up a small window above what you’re typing and forces you to select the word manually. (It’s off by default inWindows 10’s Settings > Devices > Typing menu, probably because it’s so bad.) The online text prediction in both Gmail and apparently now the web version of Outlook appears to be far more useful; suggestions will be enabled via the tab key, and (hopefully) by other shortcuts as well.

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