About the author  ⁄ Suril Amin

Suril is a scientist, journalist and obsessive Microsoft observer. He holds an advanced degree in Biotechnology with minors in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology. Send him tips on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/surilamin

Undoubtedly Titanfall is the most highly anticipated game for the Xbox One.  In fact, in the short term, Microsoft’s success with the Xbox One  is dependent on the successful launch of Titanfall.  Microsoft hopes Titanfall will do for the Xbox One what Halo did for the previous consoles. Over the weekend Respawn lead engineer Richard Baker officially confirmed that Titanfall’s native resolution will be 792p on the Xbox One, or slightly higher than standard HD (high definition).  This shuts down rumors that Titanfall might have launched at 900p, or a resolution in between standard HD and Full HD [1080p]. “We’ve been experimenting with making [the resolution] higher and lower. One of the big tricks is how much ESRAM we’re going to use, so we’re thinking of not using hardware MSAA and instead using FXAA to make it so we don’t have to have this larger render target,” Baker stated. “We’re going to experiment. ...

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An update for the Metro Skype app for Windows 8.1 has been released.  With this update, if you have Skype running on multiple devices, your read chats and picked up calls will sync automatically.  This update finally address the major pain points of Skype when the decision was made to kill off Windows Live Messenger. Other devices will stop ringing when a call is answered - When you pick up a call on any device and your modern Skype is on, the incoming ring will stop much faster. Whether you have Skype on a mobile, in your Outlook.com inbox, desktop, tablet or 2-in-1, Skype calls will sync up wherever you choose to take the call from. Synced chats – Your chat history and read messages also sync automatically across devices. This way, wherever you are, you can continue the conversation you started. You can also send an IM while someone is offline ...

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We reported earlier this week that Microsoft had finalized Windows 8.1 Update 1.  The update is likely to be officially unveiled at the Build Conference in early April but the Redmond software giant has given no official date for a release.  Most of the features in the release have been known from earlier leaks for some time now. Links to download the final updates through Windows Update have been discovered.  The updates can be downloaded via a registry change or directly downloading the patches. (Update: it appears the registry hack does not work anymore) It appears that these links are intended for internal Microsoft employees have been testing or “dogfooding” Windows 8.1 Update 1. KB2919442: 32-Bit - 64-Bit - ARM *KB2939087: 32-Bit - 64-Bit - ARM KB2919355: 32-Bit - 64-Bit - ARM KB2932046: 32-Bit - 64-Bit - ARM *KB2938439: 32-Bit - 64-Bit - ARM KB2937592: 32-Bit - 64-Bit - ARM The files above with an asterisk (*) are optional.  The correct order to ...

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Sony has had a very successful launch of the PS4.  Early adopters of the PS4 have touted native full 1080p gaming as one of the many promises and early advantages of Sony’s new console. In a blog post last November Sony wrote in a blog post that Killzone Shadow fall features a “competitive multiplayer mode” that supports up to 24 players and “runs at native 1080p and 60 fps.” To put it nicely this isn’t quite true and gamers are furious. In single player mode, Killzone Shadow Fall runs at a full 1080p. In multiplayer mode, however, the native resolution drops significantly in order to bump the frame rate from 30 fps to near 60 fps. A brief explanation from CraveOnline: Killzone: Shadow Fall outputs at 1080p in single-player and multiplayer, but it isn’t native. It uses a unique processing method that blends 960 x 1080 images together. Therefore, the 1080p advertised on the ...

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End of life for Windows XP is approaching quickly. In addition to a pop-up notification that Win XP will hit end of life, Microsoft Security Essentials will now give prominent warnings to users running Windows XP. The next Security Essentials engine version, 4.5, is currently available in pre-lease form.  Officially version 4.5 is supported on Windows Vista & Windows 7, but it can be installed on Windows XP. (The product is built into Windows 8) When installed the user will now see a warning with the yellow bar in the image above or the yellow tray icon nearby. These yellow warnings stay up even if the product is completely updated and the system scan is clean. Microsoft released a statement to ZDNet “Windows XP customers already running Microsoft Security Essentials will receive version 4.5 when it ships.” It’s been over a decade, time to get off Windows XP. Source: ZDNet ...

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A new report claims that then Cloud EVP Satya Nadella, Tony Bates, along with Bill Gates and the Microsoft board all initially opposed Steve Ballmer’s plan to acquire Nokia.  Nadella would later change his mind but Bates remained vehemently opposed. Tony Bates is no longer with the company, Gates stepped down as chairman, while Ballmer is now on the board and Satya Nadella is currently CEO. If this report is indeed true, I have a deepened respect for Steve Ballmer. Bloomberg reports: Ballmer’s relations with the board hit a low when he shouted at a June meeting that if he didn’t get his way he couldn’t be CEO, people briefed on the meeting said. The flare-up was over his proposed purchase of most of Nokia Oyj, and part of an ongoing debate: Should Microsoft be a software company or a hardware company too? Several directors and co-founder and then-Chairman Bill ...

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A filing with the FCC reveals Microsoft has been working on an accessory currently called the Surface Wireless Display Adapter.  The accessory is an HDMI dongle which allows mirroring to a tv or other external monitor from a Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2.  According to the FCC filing the dongle supports dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n and may hit the market as early as August.  It is possible a demo may be shown at the Build Conference in a few weeks. It should be noted the Surface 2 currently supports the Miracast standard which allows you to mirror your screen to another Miracast capable display wirelessly. Source: FCC via Engadget ...

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A new report claims the Xbox One Twitch app will have 1280 x 720 streaming video compared to the PS4′s 960×540. This gives Xbox One the advantage of streaming high definition 720p video while the PS4 stream at a resolution slightly better than standard definition. Neowin reports: A Reddit post from user “rotj” links to a stats page for the Xbox One Twitch app, which recorded information from the stream of Microsoft’s own Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb. The stats show that the Xbox One Twitch update will stream live gameplay at a resolution of 1280×720 compared to 960×540 for the current PS4 version. In addition, the bitrate for the Xbox One is close to 2.7Mbps, compared to 1.7Mbps for the PS4. Both display at 30 FPS.  The Twitch app release will conincide with the highly anticipated launch of the FPS Titanfall. Source: Neowin ...

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Beginning today more than 92,000 music videos to Xbox Music.  Whether you are listening to a new playlist, create a Radio stream based on your favorite artist or pick a random track from your collection with Xbox Music on Xbox One, and if the song has a music video, watch it play automatically in HD on your TV. Only one step is required to play a music video. Find your playlist, say “Xbox Play,” and watch the videos appear on screen. I think this will be a highly useful feature, especially for social gatherings. Source: Xbox ...

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The Outlook and Skype teams jointly announced today that Skype for Outlook.com has rolled out worldwide. Changes include: Mac & Safari support HD video calling for PC users No more Ringing on other devices after the call has been picked up  To get Skype for Outlook.com simply download the plugin and visit your Outlook.com to chat or video call.   With Skype for Outlook.com, you can easily connect with your Skype friends right from your Outlook.com inbox, so you can go from chat or email to a video call with just one click. If you haven’t had a chance to it check out, getting started is easy. Just download the plugin, link your Skype account to find your friends and start a video call or send an instant message without having to leave your inbox! The latest version of the plugin now has Mac support for Safari, so you have even more ways ...

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One hypothesis I frequently promote is that the media loves to criticise Microsoft and will take any opportunity to do so.  The high negative anti-microsoft sentiment in the tech blogs often bubbles its way into the mainstream press.  Newly minted Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently promoted Mark Penn to Chief Strategy Officer.  Mark Penn is the mastermind behind the Scroogled campaign. Previous to Microsoft, Mr. Penn was a high level democratic political consultant who eventually worked on Hilary Clinton’s political campaign.  Mr. Penn has always received pretty favorable press coverage especially from more center-left leaning publications as the New York Times. But it seems now that Mark Penn works for Microsoft he has fallen out of favor with the press. And the Times has published a fairly negative hit piece on Mr. Penn.  Here is an excerpt from the NYT article with some of the spin taken out: Mark Penn ...

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Steve Ballmer joined his old college friend Dean Peter Tufano at the Saïd Business School for a question and answer session.  This is among Steve Ballmer’s first public appearances since Satya Nadella was named CEO of Microsoft and Ballmer officially retired. The relatively informal question and answer session deals very little with the future of Microsoft and mostly discusses higher level business inquiries such as innovation, failure, and management.  Personally I really miss Steve Ballmer, nobody had the energy & passion he had for the company and it’s quite apparent after watching this q&a session. (Talk starts at around 5:30) A few choice quotes from the talk that were tweeted by a senior Verge reporter: Ballmer answers question on what he’d want on his grave stone once he’s dead. “He was a great father and a great husband.” Ballmer says the number one best thing about being rich is “I can ...

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Information continues to trickle out of the recently leaked Windows 8.1 Update 1 build.  A report by WinBeta shows a variation of the popular Aero Glass theme can be enabled in the build: It also appears Microsoft may be working on a return of the highly popular Aero Glass theme. From what can be enabled in the recent Windows 8.1 Update 1 leak, looks like a variation of the Glass theme can be enabled. In this build, it’s extremely buggy and doesn’t work as intended to. Dragging windows with Glass enabled lags and leaves many UI errors. So this is definitely a work in progress. The primary reason cited for the removal of Aero Glass was the impact on battery life.  Do you want Aero Glass to come back? Update, Tom Warren reminds us: Sigh. Aero Glass in Windows 8.1 Update 1 is not news. HideBlur is always there in beta and milestone builds. Was same in ...

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Scott Guthrie, well known among developers for his red polo shirts, has been promoted to EVP of Cloud & Enterprise. This is now CEO Satya Nadella’s old position. eWeek snagged his first interview since his promotion. Scott talks about Windows Azure, how they worked with Dev division for lots of integration, competing with Azure, unique position Microsoft holds in this game and more. Here is an excerpt from it. How does all this added together set you up to compete with AWS? I think we’re in a good place right now. The team is executing in Agile. We did a bunch of mobile service announcements. It’s kind of nice because it is kind of rapid and it has the team on its toes. And the quality bar goes up. The biggest thing for us is with the things like BizTalk and Active Directory, it shows us getting very pointy with a ...

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An update late last night by VLC’s twitter account revealed they are re-submitting their app to the Window 8/8.1 Store “soon.”  It seems they are close to squashing whatever bugs that caused their app to be rejected last week. Now I believe the original plan was to get VLC working on full Windows 8 first and then WinRT due to some minor api differences.  Hopefully if the team is able to submit the app tomorrow we may be able to download the app within a week’s time. Just a quick refresher on the timeline: VLC asks for funding via Kickstarter in late November of 2012 By late December 2012 VLC has raised nearly $75,000 Update on 90% completion in early April 2012 Update on unforeseen challenges in early June 2012 Further updates in Oct & Dec 2013 of Audio Bug Audio stack re-written in January 2014, UI revamped Failed submission ...

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The VLC team has faced another setback in their efforts to publish a comprehensive video player in the Windows 8 Store.  After an initial wave of enthusiasm in a successful kickstarter campaign the team has faced setback after setback.  The VLC decided to take an unorthodox approach in developing their Win8/WinRT app which would allow them to maintain much of their old code base.  The last update we heard from the VLC team was that they ended up rewriting their entire audio stack. A update from their Twitter account on February 1st revealed that their latest app submission had failed again.  The team is unsure why, but have said they are working on fixing any problems and will re-submit the app.  This may give the team some more time to work on the UI and make it look even closer to the Zune player. The VLC team has stated an ...

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