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By Jay Bonggolto
Google now opens Office files in Drive in editing mode on the web
by Jay Bonggolto
Google has begun rolling out a fresh update that changes how Microsoft Office files are opened in Drive on the web. Office documents now open in editing mode by default.
The latest change applies when you double-click on a compatible Office file. This includes documents with such file types as .docx, .doc, .ppt, .pptx, .xls, .xlsx, and .xlsm. However, you will be redirected to the “Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides” Chrome extension instead of Docs, Sheets, or Slides if that extension is installed. Password-protected files are exempted, though.
The new setting is turned on by default. However, if you want to keep its previous setting, Google still lets you use the preview mode by right clicking the document and then clicking "Preview".
It basically solves one pain point with Google Drive, which previously would open an Office document in preview mode with no way of editing the file. Although you could download the document in order to make some changes, that always required one more step than simply letting you edit it once opened.
These changes are rolling out now to Rapid Release domains. However, Scheduled Release domains are set to receive it starting on November 30. It will be available to those with personal Google accounts and business users.
By Abhay V
Some Edge Canary users can finally enable history and open tabs' sync
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft announced back in December of 2018 that it was moving its browser offering to one based on the Chromium open-source project. The firm began testing Edge builds in April 2019 before finally making it generally available in January 2020. However, it wasn’t until this June that the browser began replacing the legacy version automatically. The first version of Windows 10 to ship with Chromium-based Edge is the October 2020 Update (version 20H2).
However, one key feature that the Redmond giant’s offering has been missing since its inception is the ability to sync history and tabs, something almost all other rival products based on Chromium offer. Now, it looks like that feature is finally ready for testing, as some users have begun reporting on Reddit (spotted by WindowsLatest) that the setting to turn on tab and history sync is active in the Canary version of Edge.
Image credit: evdev (Reddit) The option to sync ‘History’ and ‘Open tabs’ is no longer greyed out for these users and can be turned on to enable syncing between different devices logged into the same profile. At least one user could enable the feature between their macOS and Windows 10 machines.
It looks like the feature is being enabled to only a small set of users running Edge Canary build 88.0.682.0 or newer. It is possible that more users begin seeing the capability enabled with future builds.
The appearance of the feature should not be a huge surprise, considering that the company recently revised the timeline for the arrival of this feature from next summer to November, which it announced as part of the feedback summary for last week’s Edge Dev build.
The addition of this feature will be a welcome one for those who have been holding out from moving to Microsoft’s offering due to the absence of the ability to sync history and open tabs between devices. That said, considering that the feature has just begun showing up on Canary, it could be a while before it makes it to the other channels, and eventually, the production builds.
Microsoft killing off Gears Pop! mobile game after less than two years
by João Carrasqueira
Microsoft is killing off its mobile game based on the Gears of War franchise, Gears Pop! The announcement was made through the game's official website.
The game's servers will be shut down on April 26, 2021, and until then, some of the events that have been available in the past are coming back, with Bounty rewards being increased and higher drop rates for Legendary Pins. However, in-game purchases are disabled effective immediately, and refunds will be issued for purchases made in the past 90 days.
Microsoft first announced that the Gears of War franchise would be making its way to mobile devices at E3 2018, and the game launched in May of 2019. It features many of the well-known characters in the franchise, but they're depicted with designs based on those of the Pop! figures by Funko. Many of those designs also turned into real-life figures shortly after the game launched.
As to why the game is shutting down, Microsoft simply says it's no longer feasible to keep maintaining the development of the game. Presumably, the title wasn't as big of a success as the company would have wanted.
By Abhay V
Microsoft says Xbox Series X and S will leverage "full" RDNA 2 capabilities
by Abhay Venkatesh
AMD took to the virtual stage today to unveil its next-generation GPU offerings based on RDNA 2 architecture that is built on the 7nm process. The firm announced a trio of Radeon RX 6000 series GPUs that aim to go against Nvidia’s latest RTX 30 series offerings, promising higher performance per watt. During the presentation, the company also mentioned that it worked with Microsoft to optimize the architecture with technologies like DirectStorage API and more.
Now, Microsoft has explained through a blog post how its next-generation gaming consoles, the Xbox Series X and Series S, will integrate with the RDNA 2 architecture to leverage all the capabilities announced by AMD today, to deliver a “level of power, performance and compatibility never before seen in console gaming, powered by AMD’s latest “Zen 2” and RDNA 2 architectures”. These benefits include hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing, Mesh Shaders, Sampler Feedback from the Xbox Velocity Architecture, and Variable Rate Shading.
The Redmond firm says that it has been working with AMD from the initial development phases of the Xbox Series X|S, and that it “chose to wait for the most advanced technology” from AMD before finalizing its architecture. It has worked to improved NPC intelligence and visuals through machine learning.
The firm is also working to bring ML-powered super resolution to the consoles as well, a possible rival to Nvidia’s DLSS 2.0 supersampling method, to the Xbox consoles. All these technologies, the company says, allows the consoles to achieve high quality, high fidelity visuals with realistic shadows and reflections.
Along with bringing these technologies and capabilities to the console, Microsoft says that it is also working with AMD to bring these benefits to the PC, which will provide developers a “common set of features” when developing games across the PC and console platforms. Other improvements from AMD such as Smart Access Memory - that allows full GPU memory access to Ryzen 5000 series CPUs - will further improve performance on the PC.
Microsoft’s post is interesting because the PlayStation 5 also features a custom RDNA 2 architecture-based GPU running alongside a Zen 2-based CPU. It will be fascinating to see what benefits the Xbox consoles can bring to overall performance thanks to the “full” hardware-level integration with the RDNA 2 architecture.
By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft hampers cyberattack on Munich Security Conference attendees
by Usama Jawad
Early last month, Microsoft cautioned that it has noticed increased activity from foreign hacker groups targeting U.S. elections. One of these groups was "Phosphorus" from Iran, which was primarily targeting POTUS' presidential staff accounts.
Today, the company announced that the same group has also been attacking attendees of the upcoming Munich Security Conference. The tech giant has hampered these malicious activities after they were picked up by Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Information Center (MSTIC).
Microsoft has stated that Phosphorus targeted over 100 high-profile individuals attending the Munich Security Conference as well as the Think 20 (T20) event in Saudi Arabia. For those unaware, the former is an annual gathering that has been taking place for the past 60 years in which heads of state discuss security whereas the latter is critical in shaping policy ideas for G20 nations.
The company says that Phosphorus sent out spoofed invitations containing almost perfect English to attendees of these events via email, offering remote sessions in light of the pandemic. It managed to compromise the accounts of several individuals including policy experts, academics, and former government officials.
This threat was first detected by MSTIC, which is responsible for tracking cybercrime groups. Microsoft went on to say that:
The Redmond tech giant has also shared the email addresses, domains, and subdomains used in this attack, and urged IT teams to have security perimeters in place in order to protect against similar malicious activities in the future. Microsoft believes that the purpose of this cyberattack was intelligence collection, and its investigations so far has indicated that it has no relation to the upcoming U.S. elections.