TIME windows 10

Windows 10 Reviews Are In—And People Love It

Despite some bugs, it's much, much better than Windows 8.

Microsoft has released their latest version of the Windows operating system. And a look around the Web has revealed a consensus: Windows 10 rocks.

From tech sites to PC users hoping for some kind of life from the Windows line of software, reviews have been largely positive for the OS. This bodes well for Microsoft, who have had to endure a wave of negativity over their latest earnings report and news they were laying off around 7,800 employees. Their last attempt, Windows 8, earned major minus points for their interface redesign, and with CEO Satya Nadella stating his goal was to hit 1 billion Windows-powered devices by 2019, the pressure was on to make their newest Windows iteration a success.

So far, so good. Some reviewers were effusive in their praise for Windows 10 (and couldn’t be happier to finally stop using Windows 8):

Geoffrey A.Fowler, Wall Street Journal:

I’ve been testing Windows 10 for three months on these computers and even on my everyday work laptop. It’s the best PC experience I’ve had since Windows XP. Here’s why: it’s familiar. The Start menu is back, and all your apps launch in your standard desktop view. Basically, if you know how to use Windows XP, you’ll have no problems with Windows 10. But even though it’s familiar, it’s also fresh… With Windows 10, your PC is actually useful again.

Tom Warren, The Verge:

Windows 10 is hugely exciting. I rarely touch my MacBook Air anymore as I find the combination of some good hardware (like the Dell XPS 13) and Windows 10 is a joy to use. I like the direction Microsoft is taking with Windows 10, accepting feedback and ideas from its customers along the way. It feels like the best way to shape Windows into something people enjoy using, rather than something they have to use… The best part of Windows 10 is that it ends the cycle of good and bad in favor of something great.

Devindra Hardawar, Engadget:

The best thing about Windows 10 is that it’s simply Windows, through and through. It’s as if Microsoft realized that devaluing the desktop in Windows 8 was akin to sacrilege, and Windows 10 is its penance. At its core, it’s a union of the best qualities of Windows 7 and Windows 8 – the desktop features of the former with some of the touch-friendly aspects of the latter. It’s no wonder Microsoft is calling it an operating system that’s both fresh and familiar.

David Pierce, Wired:

Before we go any further, let’s get this out of the way: You should upgrade to Windows 10. If you’re using Windows 8, 7, XP, ME, or 3.1, you should upgrade. Maybe wait a couple of weeks for the biggest bugs to be squashed, but do it. Why wouldn’t you? It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s a huge improvement on whatever version you’re using.

Some of the more seasoned tech reviewers were more reserved in their comments, due to some bugs they’ve found in the system:

Walt Mossberg, Recode:

The near-final build I’ve been testing proved surprisingly buggy. In particular, I had trouble with Windows 10’s sexiest new feature, the voice-controlled Cortana intelligent assistant — Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri — which has migrated from Windows Phones to the PC. Still, some of the new features are promising, the balance between old and new styles seems right this time, and — if the bugs get erased — Windows 10 would be a good choice for Windows devotees.

David Pogue, Yahoo Tech:

You really are going to love Windows 10. You’ll almost certainly want to upgrade your computers to it, especially since it’s free. But you might not want to do that tomorrow. I’d suggest you wait six weeks. By then, Microsoft will have swatted most of the bugs, and many of your favorite software companies will have released Windows 10-compatible versions.

Brian Chen, New York Times:

Combine the early bugs with the spottiness of Cortana and the fact that third-party app developers are still updating their Windows apps for Windows 10, and the operating system still has a little ways to go before it becomes a solid all-around upgrade. But the improvements to security, along with the familiar user interface, should be reasons to grab this upgrade sooner than later.

One reviewer, however, felt Windows 10 reflects a company caught in a transition:

Lance Ulanoff, Mashable:

Windows 10 is a reflection of a company at a crossroads. Microsoft desperately needs to drag Windows into the future (as a service or OS) and make it an integral part of both PCs and mobile devices. Microsoft clearly went too far for most users with Windows 8 and addressed many of the complaints with Windows 8.1, but more work was needed.

Users also took to Twitter to express a myriad of opinions on Windows 10:

 

TIME car age

Here’s Why Lots Of Cars On The Road Probably Still Have Tape Decks

Toyota Opens Hybrid Engine Factory
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The average U.S. vehicle age has hit a record

You know that slot in the middle of your center-console that you sometimes use as an iPhone holder? Well, that’s actually a tape deck—an ancient artifact once used to play cassette tapes. But what’s it doing in your car?

According to IHS Automotive, a consulting firm that provides insight into the automotive industry, the average age of vehicles in the U.S. has reached an all-time high of 11.5 years. Cars have become much more reliable throughout the years, so they can endure the road for a significantly longer period of time. With new smartphones and other devices being released every couple of years, cars far outlive the technology that comes with them; thus, tape decks.

IHS has been tracking this data since 2002. The average car age has gradually increased each year, with an even more dramatic boost during the recession due to a 40% drop in new car sales from 2008 to 2009. The climb has since slowed, and it has started to plateau. IHS predicts that the number will reach 11.6 in 2016 and remain stagnant until 2018, when the company thinks it will hit 11.7.

In case you’re wondering, the last new car to be factory-equipped with a cassette deck in the dashboard was a 2010 Lexus, according to the New York Times.

And here’s one caveat about owning and older car: make sure it has electronic stability control, and side curtain airbags — two key safety features introduced a little over a decade ago.

TIME Social Media

The Lion-Killing Dentist Is Getting Totally Savaged Online

Zimbabwe Lion Killed cecil
Paula French—AP In this frame grab taken from a Nov. 2012 video made available by Paula French, a well-known, protected lion known as Cecil strolls around in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe. `

The backlash after killing of a beloved animal has been fierce

Minnesota dentist Walter James Palmer may regret his encounter with Cecil the lion. Reviews are coming in fast and furious on Yelp a month after the killing and since the hunter’s identity was revealed. As Fortune reported July 28, negative reviews were being posted to River Bluff Dental’s practice in droves. Today, the reviews number nearly 7,000.

Palmer, who traveled to Zimbabwe and killed the beloved beast for a reported $50,000 fee. The lion had been part of a 13-year Oxford University study and was popular among animal lovers visiting Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Palmer, along with a group of hunters, killed Cecil with a bow and arrow.

As Fortune noted:

Until Tuesday, Palmer’s dentistry, River Bluff Dental, seems to have had few reviews. At one point late Tuesday afternoon, though, the dentistry had 25 pages of comments–totaling hundreds of posts–even as Yelp commenters noted that Yelp was deleting comments that weren’t entirely related to Palmer’s dental prowess.

Many of the reviews aren’t for the faint of heart. Here’s a round-up of some of the most damning as of July 29:

– “Here’s what I look for in a healthcare professional: a disgusting and thorough lack of compassion, sociopathic tendencies, a vile propensity for torture of the innocent, a bombastic self-importance, a demented and narcissistic sense of fun, a self-serving and egocentric disposition, a knack for betraying others’ trust, a history of lying to officials, a criminal record, and most of all a smug mug. I found all that in Dr. Walter Palmer at River Bluff Dental!”

– “Went in for a clean up. Left without a head,” wrote another, referring to the animal’s reported beheading.

“This dentist enjoys killing innocent, protected and endangered wildlife as a hobby. By continuing to visit this dentist you [are] endorsing horrific behavior!!! I am angry, disgusted and sad. I hope this man is hunted at the same capacity as he has hunted these innocent animals!!!!” wrote a third.

Palmer has defined himself despite the torrent of comment online. “I hired several professional guides, and they secured all proper permits,” Palmer said in a recent interview. “To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled. I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt,” he added. “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”

TIME cybersecurity

Hackers Can Change This Sniper Rifle’s Target

Hackers can gain access when the gun's computer is connected to Wi-Fi.

Sniper rifles have gotten pretty fancy these days, but it’s those high-end gadgets that help expertly guide shots that could also be their biggest weakness.

TrackingPoint self-aiming rifles work by using a computer connected to wi-fi, which helps the shooter to more accurately aim and hit its target. However, two security researchers found that the $13,000 rifle can be compromised, allowing a hacker to recalibrate the scope’s calculation so the shots land away from the intended target. A cyber attacker could even disable the gun altogether.

The researchers, married couple Run Sandvik and Michael Auger, plan to present the results at the Black Hat hacker conference in two weeks, but gave Wired magazine a demonstration ahead of time. In the video, you can see the two dial in changes to the scope’s targeting system that sends a bullet straight to their own bullseye instead of the original target.

“You can make it lie constantly to the user so they’ll always miss their shot,” Sandvik told Wired.

TrackingPoint has sold more than a thousand of its rifles since it launched in 2011. Founder John McHale said the company would release a software update to patch the vulnerability.

Read more at Wired.com.

TIME Gaming

You Can Make $50,000 a Year as a Video Game Coach

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ColorBlind Images—Getty Images

They can make as much as a minor league baseball coach

As the world of e-sports heats up, and players battle for prize money that can reach into the millions, the activity has given rise to a field of coaches who want to cash in on training these keyboard-using champions.

An e-sport coach can make anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 a year, which is pretty much in line with a minor league baseball coach, according to The Wall Street Journal.

One assistant coach of a group called Team Liquid, which competes in the “League of Legends” tournaments, told the paper he makes in the mid-$30,000s annually plus a performance bonus and health insurance. That’s not too shabby when you consider that the annual income for all coaches and scouts in 2012 was $28,360, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Coaches get paid good money primarily because their players have the potential to pull in large payouts, ranging between $35,000 and $120,000 a year depending on how good they are, and which games they play. The annual income doesn’t include the additional team winnings and benefits.

Read more about the world of e-sports at The Wall Street Journal.

TIME Innovation

These Scientists Just Fired The World’s Most Powerful Laser

But only for a fraction of a second

Researchers at Osaka University said Monday that they successfully fired the world’s most powerful laser beam.

The energy captured in its concentrated beam was equal to 1,000 times the world’s electricity consumption, reported the Asahi Shimbun. The laser emitted a 2-petawatt, or 2-quadrillion-watt, output.

It was able to achieve that highly-concentrated energy by consolidating the power to a blast lasting one pico-second, or one-trillionth of a second. The researchers at the Institute of Laser Engineering used a massive LFEX, which stands for Laser for Fast Ignition Experiments, which uses four sets of devices within itself to repeatedly amplify the laser.

The researchers aren’t done, yet. Junji Kawanaka, an associate professor at the university, said they plan to increase their output to 10 petawatts.

TIME Video Games

Microsoft Is About to Make PC Gamers’ Dreams Come True

CHINA-US-COMPUTERS-GAMES-INVESTIGATION
Johannes Eisele—AFP/Getty Images A control of a Microsoft's Xbox One game console is pictured in a shop in Shanghai on September 29, 2014.

Eventually you'll be able to play PC games on your Xbox One

We’ve known for a while that Xbox One owners can stream games from their console to their PC once they upgrade to Windows 10. But could they ever reverse the stream, letting players enjoy PC games on their Xbox One console? Microsoft’s Xbox division head Phil Spencer certainly thinks so.

“Those are absolutely in scope of things that we want to do,” he revealed to the Verge on Wednesday.

But the feature will take some coding before gamers can get their hands on it. Spencer cautioned that it could be a “little more challenging” than getting Xbox One games to stream to the PC. “But challenge is good,” he added. In other words, they’re working on it.

Read more: 10 Reasons Gamers Should Upgrade to Windows 10

[The Verge]

TIME lexus hoverboard

Here’s When Lexus Will Reveal Its Insane New Hoverboard

SLIDE ANNOUNCE Hoverboard_PR Image 2 WITH LOGO
SLIDE ANNOUNCE Hoverboard_PR Image 2 WITH LOGO The Lexus Slide.

We can go back to the future in August

Anyone who has ever dreamed of following in Marty McFly’s hover-steps will be one step closer come Aug. 5.

That’s the day when Lexus says it will unveil its new hoverboard, dubbed the Slide. In preparation for the launch, the luxury vehicle division of Toyota has come up with a trailer, complete with professional skateboarder Ross McGouran and loving pictures of the steam-emitting, made-from-bamboo hoverboard. You can view the video on the company’s official site, or watch the short teaser below.

In mid-June, Lexus confirmed details of a project that has spanned the last 18 months, involving teams in Germany and London, according to Gizmodo. The hoverboard utilizes magnetic levitation to achieve the magical above-the-ground effect, with liquid nitrogen and permanent magnets combining to make the high-tech gadget made famous in Back to the Future come true.

However, fans who are hoping to take a ride on the Slide will probably have to wait much longer. There’s no word on whether the hoverboard will go on sale — if ever — and it only works on metallic surfaces, according to Engadget. That means you’ll have to take more conventional transportation to parties that will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future on Oct. 21.

TIME Video Games

10 Reasons Gamers Will Love Windows 10

Or if you need just one reason, it's called DirectX 12.

Whenever I think about Windows 10, I hear Russell Watson belting the Star Trek: Enterprise theme song: “It’s been a long road, getting from there to here…” The muchballyhooed new iteration of Microsoft’s flagship operating system is indeed here, available July 29 for anyone bold enough to make the leap.

It’s a compelling proposition on paper: A free upgrade for anyone running Windows 7 or 8, and an interface overhaul rife with snazzy new features and tantalizing curiosities, many of them aimed squarely at gamers.

I use Windows for high-end PC gaming and that’s it. If you share that conception of Windows — as the beating heart of a souped up, console-shaming, uber-gaming powerhouse — you’re in good company.

But should gamers upgrade right away? To break that down and explore some of the less well-known angles, I spoke with Stardock CEO (and Windows insider) Brad Wardell, the guy behind recent PC games like Galactic Civilizations III and Sorcerer King, as well as up and comers Offworld Trading Company, Ashes of the Singularity and Servo. Here’s what he told me.

The number one reason gamers should consider Windows 10

DirectX is how games talk to your computer, the crucial “application programming interface” that rests like a byzantine traffic signal between the way a studio wants a game to look and play and the hardware under the hood. DirectX has been with us since Windows 95, and Wardell says DirectX 12, the dozenth iteration of the toolset, is as crucial a rethink as Windows 95 itself was when it debuted two decades ago.

“DirectX 11 and before were all made before we had multicore CPUs,” say Wardell. “So at the end of the day, all your games were talking to your video card via one core.” That, for modern CPUs now readily sporting four, six or eight cores, creates an enormous bottleneck. However fast your video card might be, that single-core limitation means games often wind up log-jammed by the CPU. It’s a head-scratcher Wardell says Microsoft’s finally solved with DirectX 12.

“In DirectX 12, every single one of your cores can talk to your graphics card simultaneously,” says Wardell. “So in our benchmarks, going from DirectX 11-optimized games, we’re seeing between 85% and 300% performance boosts.” Those kinds of leaps, any way you want to slice them, are huge.

Mind you, the game has to be written for DirectX 12, something you won’t see much of as Windows 10 launches. In fact Wardell believes his upcoming Kurzweilian homage, Ashes of the Singularity, a real-time strategy game and potential genre-upender that can juggle thousands of units simultaneously, will be the first. It’s due to be playable via Steam Early Access next month (It’s also, incidentally, the first game with a DirectX 12 benchmark, adds Wardell.)

But it’ll likely have company very soon. Wardell says it’s “not hard” to go to DirectX 12, and that his developers made the shift with relative ease. “These high-end games, like Unreal Engine or CryEngine, you know, your first-person shooters and such, they will probably have DirectX 12 versions very shortly. And when they arrive, we’re talking about a pretty huge, instantaneous performance boost.”

The older your system, the more DirectX 12 matters

It sounds counterintuitive, but Wardell told me the performance gains with DirectX 12 will be greater the slower your CPU is. That, to put it simply, is just a reflection of how big a deal activating all those idle cores turns out to be.

“The older your box, the better Windows 10 is,” says Wardell. “So if you have like a Core i5 [Intel’s mid-range CPU series] with a decent video card, you’ll actually see a bigger gain than if you have some monster Core i7 high-end CPU.”

Again, the game has to be DirectX 12 aware to benefit, but it’s a fascinating, hugely ironic Windows 10 wrinkle that its chief beneficiaries may be gamers running older multicore hardware.

DirectX 12 uses a lot less power

“Because it’s using all your cores, DirectX 12 uses a lot less power,” says Wardell. “Whenever you max out a core, you’re using a lot more power overall than if you’re distributing the load across multiple cores. So that means big power savings, especially for laptop gamers where battery life becomes a vital factor.”

The unanticipated flip side of this, Wardell tells me, is that DirectX 12’s core repurposing could actually harm extreme-end overclocked PCs. “Here’s a sneak preview of the first scandal,” jokes Wardell. “All these people who overclocked their machines could in theory wind up frying their computers, because with all those cores going all out, your PC’s going to run way hotter.”

Windows 10 turns your single video card PC into a twofer

How many video cards do you have in your PC? Think carefully (I didn’t, and told Wardell, who asked me the same question, just one). Wardell reminded me most modern PCs have at least two (not counting extremely high-end systems with cards run in tandem, in which case the number would be three or more).

“Everyone forgets about the integrated graphics card on the motherboard that you’d never use for gaming if you have a dedicated video card,” says Wardell. “With DirectX 12, you can fold in that integrated card as a seamless coprocessor. The game doesn’t have to do anything special, save support DirectX 12 and have that feature enabled. As a developer I don’t have to figure out which thing goes to what card, I just turn it on and DirectX 12 takes care of it.”

Wardell notes the performance boost from pulling in the integrated video card is going to be heavily dependent on the specific combination—the performance gap between integrated video cards over the past half-decade isn’t small—but at the high end, he says it could be as significant as DirectX 12’s ability to tap the idle cores in your CPU. Add the one on top of the other and, if he’s right, the shift at a developmental level starts to sound like that rare confluence of evolutionary plus the letter ‘r’.

DirectX 12’s benefits are going to be greater for PCs than consoles

Microsoft’s Xbox One is supposed to get Windows 10 at some point yet this year, but Wardell says DirectX 12’s benefits are mostly PC-centric. “This is going to make the PC pull away from the consoles quite a bit,” says Wardell. “It’s not that Windows 10 is so great, by the way, but that Windows 8 and below were nerfed. When the benchmarks start showing up in a week or so, it’s going to be so extreme, I think a lot of people are going to think they’re fake.”

It boots much faster than Windows 7

Windows 8 gamers—the small percentage who made that leap, anyway (Wardell says it’s around 23%)—you can just skip this one, because you’re already enjoying lightning-fast Windows boot times. But if you’ve been living on Windows 7 all this time, Windows 10’s startup times are slightly faster than Windows 8’s, and dramatically faster than Windows 7’s.

It handles windowed gaming much better than Windows 7

In the old days, PC games ran full screen or bust. Attempts to allow windowed gaming were slow or outright glitchy. Not so in Windows 8, and now, for those who’ve been biding their time running Windows 7, Windows 10.

“One of the things that’s a little subtle and not super-sexy, but I care about it, is that with Windows 10, and this is also a Windows 8 thing, you can run your game in a window and enjoy it with full performance,” says Wardell. “That’s a big deal for me, because let’s say I’m playing a game that’s not an action game, I can run the game as a full-screen window and just alt-tab and just instantaneously you’re on the desktop.”

You can stream Xbox One games to Windows 10 PCs

This one works day one, letting you pipe Xbox One games to a Windows 10 PC using Microsoft’s new game streaming technology (and also, like the Xbox One, capture your gameplay DVR-style in compatible games, then upload it to video sharing sites). Microsoft has also announced it’s working on the reverse, letting gamers stream PC games to the Xbox One console.

“I would totally be into that,” says Wardell. “I mean can you imagine what Fallout 4 for the PC is going to look like? Assuming [Fallout 4 developer] Bethesda doesn’t intentionally nerf it, the difference between the PC and console versions should be massive.”

You can see all your Xbox Live stuff

I have mixed feelings about this as a reason to upgrade, because it’s really just a social networking add-on: the option to scan your Xbox Live profile, gamerscore, achievements and so forth using the new Windows 10 Xbox Live app, as well as chat with your Xbox Live friends from your Windows 10 PC.

The downer, at least for me, is that it reinforces the distance Microsoft’s fallen from its lofty, now bygone Games for Windows push, back when the company boldly aspired to merge its Windows and Xbox ecosystems. Steam, at this point synonymous with PC gaming, pretty much eliminated hopes of Windows games feeding achievement stacks and gamerscores. Windows 10’s arms-around-the-Xbox-One strategy is still, in the end, about peering into the latter’s vibrant ecosystem from the outside.

It’s free

I’ve saved the most obvious and broadly hyped perk for last: If you own Windows 7 or Windows 8, upgrade versions or full, you can pick up Windows 10 for nada, so long as you do so by the end of July 2016 (it’s free to Windows 7 and 8 users for one year, in other words).

TIME Video Games

The PlayStation 4 Is Getting a Very Old-School Accessory

Hori
Hori Hori

The Tactical Assault Commander 4 comes out in October

Gaming blogs are buzzing about the newest accessory for Sony’s PlayStation 4: a keyboard and a mouse.

At least the product has a cool name: the Tactical Assault Commander 4. Made by the Japanese gaming hardware company Hori, the set is an update on the Tactical Assault Commander 3. And while the product is from a third-party seller, it’s officially licensed by Sony and has, right on the keyboard, a PlayStation-logo button. Among its 18 buttons and D-pad, there are designated keys for functions like “walk,” “quick,” and even “snipe.”

If the set reminds you of a PC, well, that’s the point. According to Hori’s product description, the set is “designed to replicate PC style gaming.” The mouse features a scroll-wheel in the middle, plus two small buttons on top and four other buttons on the side.

As sites like Polygon have noted, the Commander 4’s October 9 release date appears timed to align with the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, the next in a wildly successful shooter series.

The product is currently listed on Amazon UK, but not in the U.S., and has a pre-sale price of $86.35 pounds, or $135.04 USD. That may seem steep for a keyboard and a mouse that connects to the PS4 via USB cable, but if gamers determine the set enhances gameplay, expect it to be the new must-have item. It also works with PS3.

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