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By Jay Bonggolto
Microsoft is rolling out News and Interests on the Windows taskbar in the coming weeks
by Jay Bonggolto
Earlier this year, Microsoft began testing a new feature on the Windows taskbar with Windows Insiders on the Dev channel. It's called News and Interests, which is basically a widget where you can glance at personalized content including weather updates and the latest news based on your interests.
Today, Microsoft announced that it's rolling out the new feature to some consumers over the next few weeks. A wider rollout is also scheduled in the coming months. The feature allows you to quickly gain access to news, sports, traffic, and stocks from various sources. And if you hover over the weather icon, you'll see the latest weather info in your area without having to open your browser or launch an app.
The widget sits in the taskbar and it's automatically updated. This means all topics of interest to you will show up in the taskbar without you manually finding these pieces of information in disparate places.
You can also choose what type of information appears in the widget. To personalize your content, you can pick the topics you'd like to see or select the sources you trust. You can also adjust the weather update display type as either an icon only or an icon with text. There's an option, of course, to disable the icon.
Microsoft previously released improvements and fixes to the News and Interests widget as part of the Windows 10 Insider Preview build 21292 a few days after putting it to the test.
FPS Boost arrives in 13 EA games, up to 120FPS supported on Xbox Series X|S
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
FPS Boost support is expanding to include quite a few older Electronic Arts-published games, offering Xbox Series X|S owners access to hugely improved frame rates that weren't possible in last-gen consoles.
Today's additions bring hits like the three most recent Battlefield entries, Star Wars Battlefront games, and the Titanfall franchise over to the "up to 120FPS" camp over from their original up to 60FPS states in last gen. The sole game that only sees a bump up to 60FPS is the EA Originals title Sea of Solitude. See the complete list of newly FPS Boosted games below:
Battlefield 1 Battlefield 4 Battlefield V Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 STAR WARS Battlefront STAR WARS Battlefront II Titanfall Titanfall 2 Unravel 2 Sea of Solitude Note that FPS Boost will not be enabled by default on some of these experiences, and needs to be turned on in the Compatibility Options manually.
All 13 EA games introduced today to FPS Boost are also included in the EA Play subscription, which means Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members with an Xbox Series X or S can jump in and try out the updates right now.
With the latest arrivals, FPS Boost is now available on 23 games, including the original batch of five titles added in February and the five Bethesda games from March.
Office LTSC and Office 2021 for Mac are now available for commercial preview
by João Carrasqueira
Microsoft has announced that the next "perpetual" version of Office, called Office Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) for Windows and Office 2021 for Mac, is now available for commercial preview. Microsoft announced the next version of the perpetual license version of Office back in February and promised a commercial preview in April, so things are lining up well.
The Office LTSC releases are different from Microsoft 365 (previously Office 365), because they require a one-time purchase, but that also means they never get any new features until the next perpetual license release. Additionally, you get five years of mainstream support, but after that, it's over, while Microsoft 365 subscribers get continuous support and new features added as long as their subscription is active.
Office LTSC/2021 will add some features that have been showing up in Office 365 over the past couple of years, though a full list isn't finalized. Microsoft has already revealed some highlights, though, like support for Dynamic Arrays and the new XLOOKUP function in Excel, Line Focus in Word, and the ability to record a slideshow with narration in PowerPoint.
Another major change from previous releases is that the next Office LTSC version will ship with Teams as part of the installed features, rather than Skype for Business, but Teams is treated differently than other Office apps. Unlike the others, it will continue to get updates continuously over time, but you also only get access to the free version of Teams, since the premium version is licensed separately. You can learn more about managing the free version of Teams here.
If you're interested in trying out the latest release, you can follow the instructions on this page to install the preview.
Microsoft Lists is now available on iPad and supports InTune APP configuration
by João Carrasqueira
The iOS version of Microsoft Lists now supports the iPad, bringing an improved interface for the large-screen display of Apple's tablet lineup, Microsoft announced today. As you'd expect, the iPad version of the app makes better use of the available space to show more items and more details for lists.
On the home screen favorites, recent lists, and search are all easily accessible, with tabs at the bottom for different sections of the app. Once a list is opened, the items in it can be sorted and filtered at will, and you can change what information is listed in each column by tapping the header. The experience is similar to the web version of Lists, but with UI elements that fit better into iOS.
In addition to adding support for iPad, Microsoft is also making it so that the iOS version of Microsoft Lists can now be configured in the InTune app protection policy (APP) through the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center. Additionally, it now supports conditional access to be deployed in the Azure admin portal.
Finally, Microsoft has made it so that you can restore lists deleted from the iOS app using the recycle bin of the site Lists is tied to. If you're confused, Microsoft Lists is part of SharePoint, which is why it's a business-only tool. You'll need to be a commercial Microsoft 365 customer with a subscription that includes SharePoint to use it. If you're interested in other Lists improvements, Microsoft announced some more significant ones at its spring Ignite event in March, including list versioning enabled by default and more.
UK's Met Office and Microsoft sign supercomputer deal
by Paul Hill
Microsoft has announced that it has signed a multimillion-pound agreement with the Met Office – the UK government’s meteorological service – for the provisioning of a new supercomputer that will improve weather and climate forecasting.
According to Microsoft, the new supercomputer will be in the top 25 supercomputers worldwide and will be twice as powerful as any of the other supercomputers in the UK. As the planet continues to heat up, the new supercomputer will be able to help the country prepare for the more severe storms, floods, and snow that is expected in the coming years.
Commenting on the agreement, Penny Endersby, Chief Executive of the Met Office, said:
Microsoft and the Met Office plan to have the new supercomputer up and running sometime in the summer of 2022. Over the 10-year lifespan of the agreement, financial benefits are expected to reach up to £13 billion.
As with all supercomputers, this one will be energy-intensive. Microsoft said that it will be powered by 100% renewable energy and will take advantage of energy efficiency methods. It’s expected that these efforts will save 7,415 tonnes of CO2 in the first year of operational service alone.