Personal computer

Destiny 2 isn’t coming to Steam — it’s exclusive to Blizzard’s launcher

Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg introduced Blizzard chief Mike Morhaime to announce that Destiny 2 will be available on the PC via Blizzard’s Battle.net online service … an no one else.

“One community of gamers have never had an opportunity to have fun,” Hirshberg said. “Now that’s going to change, as PC gamers will now be able to play,” Morhaime, the CEO of Blizzard, said via satellite that Blizzard is “crashing a Destiny party” because Destiny 2 will be available on the PC via Battle.net,…

Is Now a Good Time to Buy a PC Monitor?

Whenever you plan a new purchase, you want to make sure you’re buying it at an ideal time—nobody wants to be the sucker who put a down payment on that brand new sports car a month before it was replaced with a new model. So it is with PC monitors…albeit on a slightly smaller scale. So, is now (summer 2017) a good time to purchase one or more for that perfect desktop setup?

Short answer: Yes! There are a lot of options right now, from small and serviceable to huge and high-resolution, with plenty of deals to be had in all segments. The next big leaps forward in monitor technology, 8K resolution and OLED panels, are still several years away from widespread adoption.

Monitor Prices Are Low and Stable

Monitors are always surprisingly fluid in price, even for consumer electronics. At the moment, there are plenty of new options to choose from, as well as older models (up to three years on the shelf) that can be found in new conditions for a discount. If even that’s not inexpensive enough, there’s a decent supply of refurbished options, though buying a refurbished monitor is more tricky than with other types of electronics, due to a higher likelihood of dead or “stuck” pixels on the display panel.

There’s a lot of competition in the monitor space, too. Dell and Samsung seem to be the perennial picks for the best models available, including a wide range of price points and premium options like 4K resolution, ultrawide format, curved panels, and extreme color accuracy. Even so, there are plenty of alternatives from brands like ASUS, Acer, LG, and HP, often priced competitively to move against the larger players. Shop around on deal sites and daily bargain pages and you’ll be amazed at what you find—even larger panels at up to 30 inches can be had for under $300 USD.

Remember, if you’re shopping for a multiple-monitor setup and you want to be able to use a custom stand or a permanent wall mount, you’ll want a monitor that’s compatible with a 100x100mm VESA mount.

Current Technology Serves the Market Well

At the moment there are monitors to fit just about every possible taste and application, from small and serviceable to big and bombastic….

Sea of Thieves is getting a tiny technical alpha test on Windows 10

Sea of Thieves E3 2016 02

I know how the song goes, but I’m not sure that a pirate’s life is really for me. It seems exciting, but I think sailing the seven seas would eventually leave me hankering for amenities like Wi-Fi and The Cheesecake Factory. So I think I’d rather go with something like Microsoft’s Sea of Thieves instead.

The Rare game studio responsible for the online multiplayer pirate simulator is planning a small test for the Windows 10 version this weekend. This is part of an effort to ensure Sea of Thieves will run well when it arrives later this year. On Saturday, Rare will invite approximately 1,000 PC players as part of this technical alpha to try the game’s mechanics, which include working together to sail vessels and to fighter other crews on other ships. The tiny test group will give the developer early feedback about aspects directly related to the PC release as opposed to the Xbox One version.

Microsoft…

What Is UEFI, and How Is It Different from BIOS?

New computers use UEFI firmware instead of the traditional BIOS. Both are low-level software that starts when you boot your PC before booting your operating system, but UEFI is a more modern solution, supporting larger hard drives, faster boot times, more security features, and—conveniently—graphics and mouse cursors.

We’ve seen newer PCs that ship with UEFI still refer to it as the “BIOS” to avoid confusing people who are used to a traditional PC BIOS. Even if your PC uses the term “BIOS”, modern PCs you buy today almost certainly ship with UEFI firmware instead of a BIOS.

What Is a BIOS?

BIOS is short for Basic Input-Output system. It’s low-level software that resides in a chip on your computer’s motherboard. The BIOS loads when your computer starts up, and the BIOS is responsible for waking up your computer’s hardware components, ensures they’re functioning properly, and then runs the bootloader that boots Windows or whatever other operating system you have installed.

You can configure various settings in the BIOS setup screen. Settings like your computer’s hardware configuration, system time, and boot order are located here. You can access this screen by pressing a specific key—different on different computers, but often Esc, F2, F10, or Delete—while the computer boots. When you save a setting, it’s saved to the memory on your motherboard itself. When you boot your computer, the BIOS will configure your PC with the saved settings.

The BIOS goes through a POST, or Power-On Self Test, before booting your operating system. It checks to ensure your hardware configuration is valid and working properly. If something is wrong, you’ll see an error message or hear a cryptic series of beep codes. You’ll have to look up what different sequences of beeps mean in the computer’s manual.

When your computer boots—and after the POST finishes—the BIOS looks for a Master Boot Record, or MBR, stored on the boot device and uses it to launch the bootloader.

You may also see the acronym CMOS, which stands for Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor. This refers to the battery-backed memory where the BIOS stores various settings on the motherboard. It’s actually not accurate anymore, since this method has been replaced with flash memory (also referred to as EEPROM) in contemporary systems.

Why the BIOS Is Outdated

The BIOS has been around for a long time, and hasn’t evolved much. Even MS-DOS PCs released in the 1980s had a BIOS!

Of course, the BIOS has evolved and improved over time. Some extensions were developed, including ACPI, the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface. This allows the BIOS to more easily configure devices and perform advanced power management functions, like sleep. But the BIOS hasn’t advanced and improved nearly as much as other PC technology has since the days of MS-DOS.

The traditional BIOS still has serious limitations. It can only boot from drives of 2.1 TB or less. 3 TB drives are now common, and a computer with a BIOS can’t boot from them….

Desktop Users Can Now Upload To Instagram Without The App – Here’s How

Can We Pop The Silicon Valley Bubble?

A recent update to Instagram’s website has just enabled a feature which users of iPads and desktop PCs everywhere have been crying out for since the start. You can now upload images directly from a browser without the need to use the Instagram app and it’s trivially easy for Chrome users.

You can now upload photos to Instagram using Chrome
You can now upload photos to Instagram using Chrome

Paul Monckton

You can now upload photos to Instagram using Chrome

Now if you want to upload images directly from a PC, a Mac or even a Chromebook, you can do so without having to first transfer the pictures to your phone. It’s also great news for iPad users who, until now, have had to use an ill-fitting iPhone version of the app to access the service from their devices.

Recently added support for photo uploads from mobile browsers makes Instagram accessible to more users worldwide by removing the reliance on expensive mobile devices and app downloads where mobile data may not be cheaply available.

However, there are still several features missing from the mobile browser-based interface, such as live video, stories and the ability to apply filters, all of which are highly popular Instagram features.

Furthermore, Instagram isn’t fully embracing the idea of uploading from the desktop just yet, as it’s only the mobile version of the website which currently supports image uploading. Using Instagram from a normal desktop browser won’t provide any image upload capability unless you do a little trick first.

If you want to upload from a desktop browser, you’ll have to manually select…

Why Paladins needed to come to PS4 and Xbox One

Sure, Overwatch has made $1 billion dollars, but it isn’t the only team-based shooter that you should check out.

Paladins is Overwatch’s free-to-play counterpart. And while it may not be the giant success story that Blizzard’s team-based shooter has been since its May 24 launch, Paladins has still had more than 8.5 million downloads on PC. And its player base is about to grow thanks to Paladins’ recent open beta launch on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Paladins has been in closed beta on PC since November 2015, but the open beta started last September. Millions have played it despite it not being an official release yet. It’s a big success for Hi-Res Studios, which also created the free-to-play shooter Tribes: Ascend in 2012 and the free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) Smite in 2014.

GamesBeat interviewed executive producer Todd Harris about why Paladins’ console expansion, combating the Overwatch comparisons, and he believes so strongly in the free-to-play model.

Above: Kiki?

Image Credit: Steam

GamesBeat: Your open beta only started this week. How’s it’s going?

Todd Harris: It just started [May 3] on console. We’ve been in open beta now since September on the PC, but we just launched open on Xbox One and PS4 yesterday. So far so good. We’ve had great inflow of new players. We’re adding servers and waiting for community feedback. So far we’re pleased.

GamesBeat: You’ve been in closed beta for months now. Have you noticed any difference in the way console players play the game?

Harris: Not really? Retention in closed beta has been really strong. Our closed beta activity was probably around 25,000 daily active users on each platform. Enough to get a meaningful population. Response has been good. No significant differences from the PC.

GamesBeat: Was this always on the road map, to do the PC first and then move on to console versions?

Harris: In this case it was planned from the beginning. It’s different from our experience with Smite. In the case of Smite, our action MOBA game, we started with the PC version, and once it found success we looked at a console version. That meant doing a different user interface for the console and a few other things that were specific to the console that we hadn’t planned the first time around.

But with Paladins, being a first-person shooter — console audiences traditionally enjoy first-person shooters. We designed it with the idea that it would be multiplatform from the beginning. That includes having a common user interface between PC and console. Also, when it came to the design of champions and the feel of gameplay using a controller, we had console in mind from the beginning.

We just tend to start on the PC, because we’re very community-driven and iterative in our approach, especially in closed beta. PC lets us patch very frequently without requiring certification. We start on the PC until the gameplay finds itself, but then we release multiplatform. That was the goal from the beginning with Paladins.

Above: Paladins’ champions pack some serious firepower.

Image Credit: Steam

GamesBeat: You guys have experience releasing a free-to-play game on consoles with Smite, but the free-to-play market is newer there than on PC. Did the experience with Smite help you with launching Paladins on console?

Harris: It did. We’re definitely helping pioneer free-to-play on…

Minecraft, Mario, and FIFA dominate E3 buzz on Facebook

Ahead of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Facebook is measuring what people are talking about in the console and PC game markets. During April alone, 36 million people talked about their favorite games — including those coming at E3 — more than 100 million times.

E3 takes place in mid-June in Los Angeles, and it is the industry’s biggest trade show in the U.S. It generates huge buzz on social media every year.

“With E3 just over a month away, we wanted to shed light on how gamers are talking about the games they love with the people and brands they care about,” said Franco De Cesare, global head of console and online gaming at Facebook, in a statement. “Games and gaming — from mobile/social games to PC & console — inspire an organic, always on conversation on our platform, and this data unearths a community that discovers, shares and plays the games they love everyday on Facebook. We’re excited to watch this conversation unfold as we near E3, as players take to the platform to watch and react to the gaming content we’ll experience next month from LA.”

Below is a list of the top PC and console games talked about…

What Is Windows S, and How Is It Different?

Windows 10 S is “the soul of today’s Windows”, according to Microsoft. It’s a new version of Windows intended for school PCs, but available to everyone. It’s designed to be more simple and streamlined, so it only runs applications from the Windows Store—unless you spend another $50 to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.

Microsoft announced that Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung, and Toshiba will ship Windows 10 S education PCs starting at $189, starting this summer. Microsoft is also releasing a $999 Surface Laptop, which runs Windows 10 S.

How Is Windows 10 S Different?

The biggest difference in Windows 10 S is that can only run apps downloaded from the Windows Store. These apps are checked for security and run in a secure container. This ensures that applications can’t mess with your registry, leave files behind, or cause problems with the rest of your PC. You can get the same benefits by running those new Universal apps from the Windows Store on a Windows 10 PC. But unlike normal Windows 10, you won’t have the option of downloading other apps that aren’t available in the store.

Thankfully, full versions of Microsoft Office 365 applications—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote—are coming to the Windows Store soon. They’re packaged using Microsoft’s Project Centennial, which allows traditional Windows desktop applications to be run in a secure container and placed in the Windows Store. The application’s developer just has to package the application and submit it to the Store. Hopefully, Windows 10 S will give more desktop application developers the push to do so.

As Microsoft noted at its May 2 event, “Windows 10 S can run any web browser in the Windows Store”. That just includes Microsoft Edge right now, but Microsoft clearly wants Google and Mozilla…

How to Improve Handwriting Recognition on Your Windows 10 PC

Windows 10 lets you use handwriting input in any application, and many applications include full support for inking. Windows automatically attempts to learn your unique handwriting style when you write with a pen, but you can also train it manually to improve the system’s handwriting recognition.

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Turn Automatic Learning On or Off

Automatic learning is enabled by default. To check whether it’s still enabled, , click the “Advanced settings” link at the left pane of the Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region > Language window. Under Personalization data, ensure the option is set to “Use automatic learning (recommended)” so the system automatically attempts to learn your handwriting.

As this interface notes, all this data is stored on your PC and no information is sent to Microsoft when you use automatic learning. Windows won’t do as good a job of recognizing your handwriting if you select “Don’t use automatic learning and delete all previously collected data”.

Train Windows 10’s Handwriting Recognition

This option is still available in the old Control Panel interface. To find it, head to Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region > Language. Click the “Options” button to the right of the language you use.

Click “Personalize handwriting recognition” under Handwriting to…

Accenture: Preference for watching TV shows on televisions plummets from 52% to 23% as PCs take over

The percentage of people who prefer watching TV shows on televisions plummeted 55 percent from 52 percent to 23 percent in the past year, according a survey by Accenture.

Laptops and desktops have overtaken TVs as the preferred devices for watching TV shows, according to Accenture’s 2017 Digital Consumer Survey. That’s an astounding change in sentiment in just one year, and it reflects a years-long trend toward digital “anytime, anywhere” viewing. Accenture released the survey at the start of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas.

Above: TV show watching on TVs has plummeted.

The global online survey of 26,000 consumers in 26 countries revealed that consumers increasingly prefer to watch TV shows on devices such as laptop and desktop personal computers and smartphones. More than four in 10 consumers (42 percent) said they would rather view TV shows on a laptop or desktop, up from 32 percent in last year’s survey. 13 percent said they prefer watching TV shows on their smartphones, compared with 10 percent last year.

The decline in TV viewing over the past year is part of a four-year trend. As recently as 2014, the survey revealed that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of consumers preferred the TV set for viewing TV shows.

Above: Computers have overtaken TVs for watching TV shows..

The most-recent findings show that only one in five consumers (19 percent) now prefer to watch sports games on their TVs, down…