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Sea of Thieves Season Two lands with Trade Routes, buyable resources, and more
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Rare's 20 million players strong pirate adventure game Sea of Thieves just kicked off the second season of its new content drive, and like the previous one, the latest installment comes with a swath of new features, battle pass unlocks, cosmetic rewards, quality of life improvements, and more.
Starting off with Season Two's special event, players can now find Forts of Fortune waiting for them in the Sea of Thieves, marked by a scarred Skull Cloud in the sky. These are a new kind of fort with even more challenging enemies than usual, and as rewards, pirates can claim some of the highest tier loot that is offered in the game.
Another piece of exciting content in the update is Trade Routes. Merchant Alliance Emissary players can now purchase Commodity Crates from the trading company to deliver them to another Outpost across the seas. The supply and demand of commodities are different across the world, so players can calculate their profits before undertaking these.
Also, players looking to set sail faster without having to stock up on resources manually can now purchase them directly from Outposts. Cannonballs, fruits, and wood crates are now available for Gold. However, there is a restriction to stop abuse, as pirates can only purchase one of each crate every three in-game days (one in-game day equals 24 real-world minutes.)
The Sea of Thieves free battle pass has been refreshed with 100 more items to unlock via progression too, which include themed items, Gold, premium Ancient Coins, and even the new Barrel Disguise Emote. As for the premium track, the Plunder Pass offers 11 additional items from the Pirate Emporium, including the snazzy sets seen below.
Head to the Season Two landing page set up by Rare to get a rundown of all the new features, while the patch notes for this update can be seen here. The servers are now back up and running after maintenance, so Sea of Thieves players on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox Game Pass subscribers can now jump back in to experience the new content.
By Usama Jawad96
Mouth-watering user concept of Windows 10 File Explorer has Reddit salivating
by Usama Jawad
File Explorer in Windows 10 is an essential program that is widely utilized by users of the operating system. While Microsoft updates it from time to time, the changes are usually minor, and related to icon redesigns. This is probably why user concepts of File Explorer surface frequently, re-imagining what the program could look like, should Microsoft decide to fully redesign it at some point.
Today, we are taking a look at a new and sleek user concept for File Explorer created by Reddit user u/Alur2020 that has hundreds of users salivating on the Reddit thread. Have a look below.
Click to enlarge The first of two images for the design presents a sleek File Explorer that embraces Fluent Design concepts while maintaining a minimalist look. Key points include the usage of Microsoft's new icons, as well as tags in the pane on the left. As can be seen, this can be utilized to mark and color-code your files and folders, making them easier to spot and presumably, group.
Similarly, another noticeable feature is the addition of tabs, which not only enhances productivity-focused scenarios but also gives it a more browser-based feel which most users will be comfortable with adapting to. It is important to note that Microsoft announced Sets back in 2017, which was supposed to be a new idea for tabbed interfaces in Windows 10. However, the project was shelved in 2019 and doesn't seem to be a part of the Sun Valley update for the operating system later this year too, based on current information.
Other interesting tidbits include minimalist icons, as well as the settings and profile buttons on the top. Overall, the look is familiar but enhanced to increase productivity and general sleekness.
Click to enlarge The second image deals with the UI you get when you open a folder. As can be seen, clicking on an item opens the options at the top where the user can decide what they want to do it with it. This uses the same minimalist icon design seen in the pane on the left.
Talking about the pane on the left, perhaps the most noticeable thing is nested folders. Essentially, users can click on a folder and get a view of the children folders in it. This is especially beneficial if you want to quickly shift between nested folders without having to go back to the root directory again and again.
Overall, the File Explorer user concept has received extremely positive response on Reddit with most lauding it as the best design that they have seen so far. With over 1,500 upvotes so far, many have also directed praise at how organized it looks and is not "blown up". Minor nitpicking is aimed at keeping the settings and profile buttons too close to the minimize button, but feedback has been generally positive and constructive so far.
It is important to note that while this is a user concept, it would be interesting to see if Microsoft takes inspiration from it and implement some of these features and UI enhancements at some point in the future, especially given the positive feedback seen so far.
Games with Gold: Hard Corps: Uprising and Truck Racing Championship are now free
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
The Games with Gold program of Microsoft is back with the second round of April games for Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members. As part of the subscription, members can now claim Truck Racing Championship for Xbox One and Hard Corps: Uprising for Xbox 360.
As usual, these older titles come with backward compatibility support, allowing newer generation consoles to also claim and play them. Truck Racing Championship is available to Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S owners, while Hard Corps: Uprising is up for grabs across the Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
Use the direct links below to claim the games while being logged into a Gold-enabled Microsoft account:
Truck Racing Championship (Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One)
Hard Corps: Uprising (Xbox 360, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One)
For those who missed it from earlier this month, the Xbox One game Vikings: Wolves of Midgard is still available as a Gold freebie, with it going away on April 30 to make way for the May games.
Keep in mind that Xbox 360 games claimed via a Games with Gold promotion will continue being available even if the Gold subscription is discontinued. However, claimed Xbox One games are only playable while the account has an active subscription.
By Usama Jawad96
All major Microsoft services will exclusively use SHA-2 from next month
by Usama Jawad
Secure Hash Algorithm 1 (SHA-1) is a 25-year-old method of generating hashes using a cryptographic function. Google successfully managed to demonstrate the weaknesses of the algorithm in 2017 and major browsers also began to block websites using SHA-1 certificates. Similarly, Apple dropped support for it in 2019.
Microsoft has announced that all its major services and processes will be exclusively using SHA-2 from next month.
Background image of micro circuit with binary code via Shutterstock As the name suggests, SHA-2 is an enhanced version of SHA-1, and is more secure and performant. As such, Microsoft will allow the SHA-1 Trusted Root Certificate Authority (CA) to expire, and all major processes such as TLS certificates, file hashing, and code signing will exclusively use SHA-2 from May 9, 2021 at 4PM PT.
This move is not particularly surprising considering that in 2019, Microsoft enforced Windows updates signing via SHA-2 and deprecated SHA-1 signed content from the Download Center in late 2020 too.
Microsoft says that the expiration will only impact SHA-1 certificates that are linked to the associated Root CA. However, certificates that are manually signed using SHA-1 by enterprises themselves will not be impacted. That said, it is obviously recommended that organizations migrate to SHA-2 as well.
Overall, the Redmond tech giant considers the move to be quite "uneventful" as it says that it has done full-fledged testing of major applications and potential issues. Regardless, if organizations face problems, they are recommended to peruse Microsoft's dedicated support article or reach out to the firm's technical teams.
Microsoft is winding down another Windows 10 feature, the Timeline
by João Carrasqueira
Microsoft seems to be winding down on yet another Windows 10 feature that it made a big deal out of a few years ago. The company released a new Windows 10 build to Insiders in the Dev channel today, and with it came the announcement that it will no longer be possible to upload Timeline data from a Windows 10 PC, meaning it won't be accessible on other devices.
The Windows Timeline feature was introduced about four years ago at Build 2017, though it wasn't until the following year that the feature would ship in a feature update for Windows 10. Timeline was a pretty significant change, as it let you access your recently open files and websites from the past 30 days, including the ability to sync that history across devices. Microsoft even brought the Timeline to smartphones some time later, emphasizing the focus on continuity between devices.
However, things went pretty quiet after that, and the writing has been on the wall for some time when it comes to Timeline. In November of last year, the Timeline section was removed from the Microsoft Launcher preview, which was the only endpoint for the feature on Android.
With today's Insider build, Microsoft's focus on continuity between devices seems to grow even weaker, though Microsoft correctly points out that many browsers already offer features like history and open tabs syncing, including its Chromium-based Edge browser. Recent Office files can also be found in the Office and OneDrive apps on different devices, but Microsoft is shying away from the all-encompassing implementation it had before.
To be clear, your recent files and tabs on your current device will still be listed in the Timeline interface, at least for now. Microsoft hasn't outright said that it's discontinuing the feature, either, it just won't be able to sync across devices.
The situation bears some resemblance to what's happening with the focus on 3D in Windows 10. Around 2017, Microsoft introduced the Paint 3D app and wanted it to be the one-stop-shop for 3D creation, but the app was recently removed from new installations of Windows 10 for Insiders, and the 3D Objects folder was also removed from File Explorer.