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Microsoft Weekly: Game streaming devices, vertical tabs, and Patch Tuesday
by Florin Bodnarescu
A game streaming stick from Microsoft, some nice vertical tab improvements, and even the usual Patch Tuesday updates were revealed or confirmed in the last seven days. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of June 6 - 12.
Game streaming devices
It’s not much a surprise that off the back of its rather successful hardware launch last year, as well as the debut of Xbox game streaming (formerly Project xCloud), Microsoft has been looking to expand its reach.
There were previous rumors of a Chromecast-like streaming solution that the firm was working on, but this week, the company came out and actually confirmed it. It mentioned that it’s working closely with TV manufacturers to integrate the “Xbox experience” into these devices, allowing folks to leverage their Game Pass subscriptions for cloud gaming.
Furthermore, echoing previously outlined ambitions, Microsoft wants to launch at least one first-party Xbox game every quarter. This is certainly possible with the gaming arm’s ever-increasing focus on first-party studios (which just this year officially grew to 23 thanks to the ZeniMax acquisition going through).
In terms of other bits of news, Project Acoustics 2.0 has been announced, which allows for the simulation of immersive acoustics in 3D environments, and integrates with engines like Unity and Unreal. Microsoft’s Project Acoustics 2.0 supports deployment across Windows, Xbox, Android, and macOS.
Moving onto game news, players making use of Fallout 76 Battle Royale mode will have just a few more months to enjoy this variant of the game, as it’s scheduled for shutdown in September. To prepare for this, you can go ahead and pick some of the games that are currently on sale, like Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War, GreedFall, and others, as part of the Deals with Gold initiative.
Last but not least, if you have any Game Pass installation errors, make sure to check for updates, as Microsoft has released an optional patch to fix the aforementioned issues.
We’ll be able to see what else the company has in store in terms of games later today, as the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase kicks off at 10AM PT.
For folks running the Chromium variant of Edge in the Beta channel, version 92 has begun rolling out, adding various improvements to vertical tabs. Among said improvements is the ability to turn the feature off for different open windows, as well as to hide the title bar when vertical tabs are enabled.
Those in the Dev channel got to play with Edge 93.0.910.5 which includes support for automatic HTTPS, font rendering improvements, improved inking experiences, and other enhancements targeted at those running the browser on a Mac.
As is tradition, the second Tuesday of the month has rolled around, signaling that it’s time for Microsoft to push out its usual set of patches to supported versions of its operating systems.
If you’re on Windows 10 v2004 (May 2020 Update), 20H2 (October 2020 Update) or 21H1 (May 2021 Update), you’ll be receiving the same update, KB5003637, with the build numbers changing to 19041.1052, 19042.1052, and 19043.1052, respectively. The revision number at the end is identical due to the three updates being built essentially on the same codebase.
The above contain mostly security and file management improvements.
Those running Enterprise, Education, or IoT Enterprise variants of 1909 (November 2019 Update) will receive KB5003635, bumping the build number up to 18363.1621 and containing mostly the same updates as the newer versions of Windows 10. There is one additional fix here though, for a bug which prevented folks from signing into some Microsoft 365 desktop apps after installing the May 11, 2021 update.
There are of course some other supported variants, like Enterprise and Education SKUs of 1809 (October 2018 Update) – receiving KB5003646 and bumping the build number up to 17763.1999 -, as well as the LTSC variants of 1607 (Anniversary Update) and 1507 (Windows 10 RTM). The latter two will get KB5003638 and KB5003687, bumping the build numbers up to 14393.4467 and 10240.18967, respectively.
Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 got their very own update in the form of the monthly rollup found under KB5003671 (with KB5003681 being the security-only update). Not to be forgotten, businesses paying for ESUs got KB5003667 (or KB5003694 for the security-only variant) for their Windows 7 SP1 and Server 2008 R2 SP1 systems. All the updates just mentioned carry the same known issues that have been there for months.
Last but not least, Microsoft pushed out build 21390.1000 to Dev channel users to test its servicing pipeline. The firm does this either when a new version of Windows is close to release, or, for this special case, when it wants to hold back the visuals of Windows codename Sun Valley (or Windows 11, or whatever it ends up being called) for the event on June 24. We’ll probably hear more on that date at 11 AM.
Windows Virtual Desktop is now Azure Virtual Desktop, and has added some has new features. Natural language queries and dictation have been added to Outlook on iOS. Microsoft Search will soon be able to go through Teams meeting transcriptions. OneDrive will run natively on M1 Macs later in 2021. A Teams bug caused users to be prompted to a select a certificate, an issue which has now been resolved. Those using the Teams Public Preview are now able to have two 7x7 video grid pages during calls. Logging off
We end things with a guide related to fonts, and a small reminder of what’s coming later today.
Whether it’s a Photoshop project that requires it, or a mere PowerPoint slide deck, a custom font can definitely spruce things up.
In case you’re looking to install such a font, our very own Usama Jawad has put together a guide, detailing the places you can go to obtain these fonts, the ways to install (or indeed uninstall them), as well as highlighting the fact that they can be installed on a per-user basis, among other things.
And since it’s June 13, we really should highlight that the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase will take place later today. It’s expected that we’ll see a brand-new look at Halo Infinite, as well as updates and new title announcements from across the Redmond giant’s 23 studios. We may even hear about some new studio acquisitions, if prior years are any indication.
The Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase kicks off today at 10AM PT (that’s 1PM ET, or 6PM BST).
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.
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Here's how to catch the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase today
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
With E3 in full swing, Microsoft is almost ready to take to the stage for showing off upcoming gaming products for Xbox consoles and Windows. This will also be the first chance the company has gotten to present what's next from its latest acquisition of Bethesda studios.
The Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase goes live at 10am PT / 1pm ET today, and it will be a 90-minute-long conference. Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and the various regional channels of Xbox across the globe will be broadcasting the show in 1080p at 60FPS. Microsoft was quick to point out that 4K 60FPS versions of trailers will be made available right after the live session via YouTube.
Moreover, versions of the broadcast with American Sign Language (ASL) and Audio Descriptions (AD) will be happening right alongside the main YouTube stream.
Without giving much away Microsoft is simply saying the show will present the latest games — from its studios and partners — that'll be releasing this holiday, even more Xbox Game Pass announcements, and other reveals.
343 Industries is sure to bring out Halo Infinite here, possibly with more than one trailer to show off what's improved since the last showing and perhaps multiplayer. Bethesda Game Studios' next RPG Starfield is another game that should have a big presence. Considering there are 23 studios under the Xbox flag now, and there are massive goals to hit, expect to have a packed show.
There have already been some leaks and rumors about Xbox Game Pass arrivals as well , with the remaining Bethesda games, Back 4 Blood, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon being the prime suspects to hit the service soon. This is also the show to catch for those waiting for Battlefield 2042's gameplay unveiling, while Far Cry 6 is supposed to be there in some capacity.
AMD's next-gen RDNA 3 performance jump rumored to be absolutely insane
by Sayan Sen
AMD's second-generation RDNA architecture (RDNA 2) was generally praised by reviewers for the performance and power efficiency gains it was able to achieve despite being on the same 7nm node as RDNA. However, this was AMD's first time implementing hardware-accelerated ray tracing (RT), and the results for this, compared to Nvidia's RT capabilities, were far less impressive. That is all set to change according to a report by RedGamingTech (RGT).
The report claims that AMD's RDNA 3 ray tracing performance will get a significant uplift and will be very competitive with what Nvidia offers. It also adds that RDNA 3 will be utilizing a next-gen, "smarter" Ray Tracing IP 2 that could enable it to even leapfrog Nvidia's RT performance. The architecture will also feature new Machine Learning instructions.
AMD hasn't forgotten about the rasterization performance of RDNA 3 either as a leakster on Twitter alleges that Navi 31, Navi 32, and Navi 33 will respectively offer 2.8x, 2.2x, and 1.5x times the performance of AMD's current best, the Radeon RX 6900 XT.
Unknown at this point is how exactly AMD could be achieving this uplift. Whether the performance claims purported here mean the company will be adding more compute units (CUs) to the 80 units on the 6900 XT, or if the improvement is purely based on per CU architectural and clock gains. Or perhaps it's a combination of all of them.
That said, it is important to note that this is all based on speculation and unconfirmed reports for now, so it is advisable to take these rumors with a grain of salt.
Source: vegeta (Twitter) via RGT (YouTube)
Rainbow Six Siege is gaining crossplay and cross-progression support in waves
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
With Operation North Star on the horizon, Ubisoft dropped another piece of Rainbow Six Siege news at its Forward conference today, revealing that crossplay and cross-progression are finally coming to the 70 million players strong tactical shooter. The features won't be supported across all platforms but will roll out in waves to different clusters.
The game is launching on the Google Stadia cloud gaming platform on June 30, and starting from that date, PC, Stadia, and Amazon Luna players will all be in a single group of servers sharing queues and progression.
Meanwhile, the Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5 players will be on a separate cross-play group entirely, likely to avoid the mouse and keyboard advantage PC players would have if they got in too. Unfortunately, this release is much further away, with Ubisoft planning to launch the capability in early 2022.
The good news is that when this update rolls out next year, cross-progression will then be enabled across every platform, including PC, cloud, and consoles.
Siege will be getting the new Operator, Thunderbird, Favela rework, and other major changes and fixes next week when the Operation North Star content update lands. The Rainbow Six franchise got expanded today at the Ubisoft Forward event as well, with the cooperative experience Extraction finally getting a full reveal and a release date.
Riders Republic gets a September 2 release date, beta sign ups open
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
The massively multiplayer extreme sports game Ubisoft announced last year before quickly being delayed, Riders Republic, got its first confirmed release date during the E3 Forward presentation by the company today. Players will now be able to go biking, skiing, snowboarding, wing suiting, and rocket wing suiting starting on September 2.
Ubisoft also shared a deep dive trailer at the show, catch it below, that gives a look at the Riders Ridge social space for the first time. This is where players will be heading into for learning to do tricks, managing their career, showing off their in-game creations, and jumping into the various multiplayer modes available.
Similar to Steep, another Ubisoft extreme sports game, Riders Republic throws together a large group of players — somewhere over 50, Ubisoft wasn't clear — into a massive environment made out of mashed together American National Parks like Bryce Canyon and Yosemite Valley. 6v6 tricks-focused matchups, a versus mode for racing amongst friends, and free for all races are also included alongside a single-player career mode.
The mass races are only for new generation platforms and PC though, with older consoles getting around 20 players instead for their multisport races at maximum capacity.
The cross-generational title is coming to PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, as well as Stadia and Amazon Luna. Those who can't wait until the September release can sign up to take part in the Riders Republic beta program by heading over here.