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Xbox father Seamus Blackley says sorry, again, for ditching AMD in favor of Intel
by Sayan Sen
Xbox creator, Seamus Blackley, often lovingly called the Father of Xbox, took to Twitter yesterday and offered his apology to AMD and its engineers as it has been 20 years since the original Xbox was released back in 2001. That's because AMD was ditched by Microsoft in favor of Intel despite the former playing a key part during the console's development phase.
The launch version of the Xbox ran on a 733MHz Intel Pentium III processor alongside Nvidia GeForce 3-based graphics. Bizarrely though, the prototype Xbox hardware was actually running AMD chips. In fact, even the demo on stage for the Intel-inside Xbox launch variant was actually running on AMD hardware according to Blackley.
When a Twitter user quizzed him about the reason for the switch, Blackley hints that it may have had to do with the "Relationship" between Intel and Microsoft, and "Pure politics".
This isn't the first time though that Seamus Blackley has apologized to AMD regarding this matter as back in 2015, on IGN's Podcast Unlocked platform, the Xbox creator probably revealed this last-moment switchover incident publicly for the first time.
It is rumored that AMD was offering a K7 (Athlon) variant of the chip for the Xbox which at the time was a very competitive architecture. Its successor, the K8, in fact, easily bested the Pentium 4 in terms of performance-per-watt.
Source: Seamus Blackley (Twitter)
Xbox is giving away SpongeBob and Mutant Turtle consoles in competition
by Paul Hill
To celebrate the launch of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, Xbox has created two custom Xbox Series X consoles; one featuring SpongeBob SquarePants and another featuring Leonardo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The consoles are only being given away through a sweepstake but it’s really easy to enter and anyone over 18 can participate as long as they live in an Xbox Live supported region.
To join in the competition, you simply have to retweet the Xbox sweepstake tweet between now and 8:00 p.m. PT on October 24. At the time of writing, the tweet has received over 13,000 retweets so your chances of winning one of the prizes are slim, that said, the barriers to entry are very low and it literally takes ten seconds to enter so it’s worth doing.
Describing the two consoles, Marcos Waltenberg, Director, Xbox Global Partnerships, said:
If you’ve already got an Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One, you can buy Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl right now for the discounted price of $39.99 (RRP $49.99).
By Abhay V
Microsoft Weekly: Windows 11 launch edition
by Abhay V
With the passage of another week, it’s time to look at all the Microsoft-related news that happened. This week, the news cycle in the Redmond giant’s world was dominated by the release of Windows 11. The next-gen OS from Microsoft began rolling out in a staggered fashion and brought with it a barrage of news and interesting observations. Along with the rollout also came a few app updates, some gaming-related news, and an interesting report from the firm. All this and more in our weekly Microsoft digest for October 3 – October 9.
Windows 11 launch
As promised by the firm, Windows 11 began rolling out to select users starting October 5, depending on the geography. Interestingly though, documentation for the offering’s support lifecycle notes the start date as October 4. As was expected, the release is a staggered, measured one, meaning a small set of eligible users receive the upgrade as an optional package. With time, more users will begin being offered the OS. The firm has also started showing a banner on the Windows Update Settings page notifying users that their PC is compatible. Of course, users can force the upgrade using the Media Creation Tool (MCT) and the like. Additionally, the Redmond company also made Windows 11 available to businesses customers as a Cloud PC in the Windows 365 Enterprise subscription.
However, the OS did release with a few known issues, some that serve to be blocking bugs, meaning that the firm has placed a hold on rolling out the OS to devices that might be affected by the issues. This is why the firm also advises against installing the OS using the Installation Assistant or via the MCT to avoid any problems. However, those that upgraded to Windows 11 and wished to go back to Windows 10 can do so from within the OS itself. Refer to our handy guide that provides a walkthrough of that process.
Not all was well with the rollout, as some users began reporting errors while trying to install the OS, especially when using the Installation Assistant. The most common of them were 0x8007007 and 0x800F0830, which could mostly be fixed using a simple workaround. Users of Windows Mixed Reality were also treated to issues on upgrading to the OS, with some users reporting that setting up the feature before installing was the best way to get it to work.
Some users that successfully installed Windows 11 on systems running AMD processors were also in for a surprise, thanks to an announcement by AMD acknowledging that there might be some performance issues caused by the L3 cache latency. The impact could vary from a drop in performance of anywhere between 3% and 15%. Additionally, another issue affects processors with eight or more cores caused by the inability to schedule threads on a processor’s fastest core. Thankfully, a fix is on its way for both these issues.
While all these impacted those that were available to download the new OS on their systems, Microsoft also posted an official workaround for bypassing the TPM requirements, albeit with a word of caution. There is no telling if unsupported devices will receive security updates in the long run as the company noted that it is doubling down on security. The company also reiterated its case for the TPM 2.0 requirement and VBS, advocating for the technologies and making them the default.
Lastly, Dev channel Windows Insiders got Windows 11 build 22471, which brought a bunch of bug fixes and no new features. These fixes are expected to eventually make it to the production version that was released this week. However, there is no word on when features like Android app support will make it to the offering.
While there wasn’t much in the way of news about Windows 10, the next feature update - version 21H2 – is on the horizon. Though there aren’t any major new features, we have put together a run-down of everything that you should know. Take a look at all that’s new with Windows 10 version 21H2 here.
However, if you are more interested in all that’s new with Windows 11, we have got you covered there are well. You can head to our detailed Windows 11 review here to learn about the new features, misses, and more.
New apps and updates
As is the case every other week, there was news of yet another app receiving a refresh. This time, it’s the good old Notepad app. The app is receiving a new Settings menu and – as expected – rounded corners. The offering joins the list of other classic apps that are being revamped, including the likes of Paint.
While not an app in itself, a new Feedback Portal is in the works that aims to replace Microsoft’s UserVoice. The portal will serve as the hub for gather feedback for the Microsoft 365 suite of apps Teams, and Edge. The portal will also add sections for Windows next year, but it is anybody’s guess if this means that the Feedback Hub will be replaced.
There was some news for Excel users as well, as the firm announced that it is bringing Smooth Scrolling to Excel on Windows – which it has been testing in the Office Insider channels. The firm added that integrating the feature was a challenge and that the ability to should now enhance the experience for those that use the spreadsheet tool extensively. Talking about Insiders, a new Office Insider Beta build fixes an issue with high CPU usage on Excel. The build also adds a few fixes for update problems, among others.
Rounding off the apps section is the weekly update to Edge. This week, the Dev channel build brought a few new features, including support for voice typing on Windows 11, improvements to moving tabs to a different profile, and more. As usual, there were a bunch of bug fixes.
New Xbox Game Pass titles, new limited-edition controllers, more
Headlining the gaming news this week is the list of new Xbox Game Pass titles for the first half of October. The list includes a couple of day-one releases such as Turtle Rock Studio's Back 4 Blood. The PC version of Destiny 2: Beyond Light expansion also makes it to the list, among others. In all, there are eight titles being added and six leaving the subscription. You can check out the full list here.
Along with the Game Pass titles came huge discounts for a bunch of titles via Deals with Gold. This week, there are discounts on games from the Battlefield and Lego franchises, along with a long list of other tiles. Some of the deals, however, are specific to just Xbox Live Gold members.
Additionally, Microsoft confirmed this week that it has completed upgrading all its Xbox Cloud gaming hardware to custom Xbox Series X consoles. The firm also added that it is working on a TV app to build game streaming right into TVs. This likely complements the dedicated streaming hardware that the firm is said to be developing.
Staying on the topic of hardware, the Redmond company announced the 20th-anniversary editions of the Xbox controller and Headset. The special edition peripherals launch on November 15 and can be pre-ordered for $69.99 each. The firm has also partnered with Razer for a limited edition Universal Quick Charging Stand. However, for those looking for expansion cards for their existing Series X consoles, a 512GB version was spotted at an American retailer, hinting at a launch sooner rather than later.
Moving on, we reviewed Alan Wake Remastered on Xbox Series X this week, sharing our thoughts on the story, performance and visuals, music, and lingering issues in the game. You can read through the entire review and our conclusion and share your thoughts in the comments.
Rounding off gaming news is an interesting partnership. Xbox and Rockstar Energy Drink have partnered to offer Halo Infinite-themed collector’s edition cans. The cans also come with a code that can be redeemed for 2XP and entries for a chance to win Halo Infinite, Xbox bundles, a Razer Raptor 27” monitor, a Razer Kaira Pro Halo Infinite headset, the Jeep Gladiator grand prize vehicle and other in-game rewards.
Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services will be generally available from November 1 Everything you should know about Windows 11 IoT Enterprise that is now out Microsoft announces the next phase of its plans for a decentralized identity system Microsoft agrees to expand "right to repair" options following shareholder pressure Russia poses the greatest cybersecurity threat to governments, says Microsoft Logging off:
We continue our detailed coverage of Windows 11 with the Closer Look series. This week, we dove deeper into the new, unified Snipping Tool experience that combines the old Snipping Tool and the Snip & Sketch experience from Windows 10. We compare it to the Windows 10 versions and list everything that is good and aspects that can be improved. Take a complete look.
Missed any of the previous columns? Check them all out at this link.
If you’d like to get a daily digest of news from Neowin, we have a Newsletter you can sign up to either via the ‘Get our newsletter’ widget in the sidebar, or through this link.
By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft agrees to expand "right to repair" options following shareholder pressure
by Usama Jawad
Back in June, As You Sow, a watchdog that oversees the environmental impacts of e-waste filed a shareholder resolution urging Microsoft to adopt environment-friendly policies when it comes to product repairability. This is just a portion of the increasing pressure on big tech firms to encourage "right to repair" practices for customers. Now, it appears that Microsoft has finally bowed to this pressure, and agreed to expand repairability options for customers.
In a statement to Neowin, As You Sow proclaimed that it has agreed to withdraw its shareholder resolution on three conditions. The first is for Microsoft to facilitate independent third-party studies about the environmental impact of increasing access to repair options for Surface and Xbox devices. The second condition is to increase the availability of documentation and parts needed to repair Microsoft products beyond the existing Authorized Service Provider network. Lastly, the Redmond tech giant will "initiate new mechanisms to enable and facilitate local repair options for consumers". All three conditions have been accepted by Microsoft.
Kelly McBee, waste program coordinator at As You Sow, had the following to say about the matter:
It is important to note that the U.S. Government has already asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create new "right to repair" policies. Even the European Commission (EC) has advanced a law that enforces the standardization of technology hardware to reduce e-waste and increase interoperability.
20th Anniversary editions of the Xbox Controller and Headset announced
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
The new line of Xbox peripherals that kicked off with the launch of the Xbox Series X|S has been steadily expanding since last year with new controller variants, headsets, and more. Today, Microsoft revealed more expansions to the lineup, and these arrive celebrating Xbox's 20th anniversary coming up on November 15.
The new 20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Wireless Controller touts a similar look to the original Xbox Debug kit, featuring a translucent black case that lets the silver innards peek through. Meanwhile. the brand's iconic green color can be found on the Xbox button, back grips, and around the D-pad.
Connecting this controller to an Xbox Series X|S will also grant an exclusive 20th Anniversary dynamic background for use on the console, and there doesn't seem to be a limit on how many times the unlock can be used. However, switching over to another background will remove the exclusive variant until the controller is paired to the console again.
The 20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Wireless Controller has a November 15 launch date attached to it, with pre-orders available now for $69.99 in eligible markets both at retailers and online. To pair the controller with a matching charging stand, Microsoft has partnered with Razer for a limited edition Universal Quick Charging Stand.
Microsoft also revealed the 20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Stereo Headset today, a new variant of the wired headset the company announced in back in August.
Much like the Xbox controller, this features a translucent black body and silver internals. The bright green splashes are across the earcups (both in and out) and the boom mic this time. The dials are customized too, with the left sporting a 20th Anniversary logo in green while the right has the usual Xbox logo.
The 20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Stereo Headset also launches on November 15, and pre-orders are available today for $69.99 in eligible regions. Aside from hardware, Microsoft is introducing T-shirts, hats, and more with the 20th Anniversary Collection over on its Xbox Gear Shop.