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GDC 2014 - Microsoft has announced DirectX 12 with some of its closest partners, NVIDIA, AMD, Intel and Qualcomm, showing off the new DirectX gaming API at the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco today.
DirectX 12 will deliver some major improvements for developers to all of Microsoft's platforms: Xbox One, Windows Mobile, and of course, PC. The new gaming API will enhance graphics efficiency for modern games as it allows developers to spread tasks across multi-core CPUs, all the while reducing CPU bottlenecks that usually reduce performance, even sucking performance away from what a powerful GPU would usually deliver.
We will see "closer to the metal" access to developers, something that AMD's Mantle technology does, and to showcase this, the Redmond-based software giant teamed up with Forza Motorsport 5 developer Turn 10 Studios to show off a version of the game running on DirectX 12. The demo used a PC powered by an NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN Black, running at 1080p and a silky smooth locked 60FPS.
Until now, developing with Unreal Engine was an expensive affair, easily costing hundreds of thousands of dollars for some developers. Well, Epic Games has announced that Unreal Engine 4 is taking a very different approach.
The maker of Unreal has introduced a new model that costs just $19 per month, and a 5% cut of any gross revenue made from a commercial product. What this means for most, is that anyone can get into working with Unreal Engine 4 because of the low costs, but if you make money with your game, you'll owe Epic Games a 5% cut of it.
Tim Sweeney, Epic Games' founder, when showing off a demo called Tappy Chicken, said: "It's not a shooter engine anymore, it's for whatever you want to build."
One of the cool things about Mac computers for people that can't go without a Windows PC is that the Mac can run Windows as well. This is thanks to compatible hardware and a bit of software called Boot Camp. That software lets you dual boot into OS X or Windows.
In the past Boot Camp has supported older versions of Windows including XP and Windows 7. Users of the new Mac Pro that launched late last year have been stripped of the ability to use Windows 7. The Mac Pro now only supports Windows 8 and higher.
That is irritating if you have your eyes on a new Mac Pro and needed Windows on it. You will need to buy a new version of Windows rather than using the older version you might have lying around the house or office.
Apparently, the older versions of Boot Camp still support older versions of Windows. However, the move to supporting only Windows 8 in the new Mac Pro is a clear indication that you will need Windows 8 on new Mac computers unveiled from now on.
A little over 10 years ago, Microsoft released its revolutionary note-taking program, OneNote, and today the service is hitting a new mile stone. Today Microsoft announced that it has released the Mac version of OneNote and is offering it to all Mac users for free. OneNote for Mac features the same interface and functionality as its Windows counterpart, but the programs UI design is just a little different to better align with other Microsoft programs featured on Mac.
Microsoft has also released the Windows, Web, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone versions of the application for free as well in hopes of becoming the number one note taking app in the world. There will be a premium version that offers integration with SharePoint and Outlook though, but all of the software's core features are free. Additionally, Microsoft has released a new cloud API that will enable developers to integrate OneNote into their apps easily.
Microsoft has been offering its online version of Office called Office 365 for a while. Microsoft first envisioned this as a way to get people to pay for constantly updated productivity programs rather than buying a copy of Office once and never upgrading.
Microsoft announced this week that it was cutting the price of Office 365 for individual users. That subscription is called Office 365 Personal. Currently Microsoft Office 365 Premium for households sells for $9.99 monthly and lets users access the service on up to five computers.
Some people don't have that many computers or that money people needing access. Office 365 Personal will cost a bit less at $6.99 per month or $69.99 annually for one user. Office 365 Home Premium is getting a name change to Office 365 Home.
Valve has just released the source to ToGL, which is its translation layer to support a subset of the Direct3D 9 API on OpenGL systems. ToGL works with Valve's own Source engine, so this could be an interesting thing going into 2014.
ToGL doesn't support the full Direct3D 9c API, but instead an undefined "limited subset" that is focused on specific requirements of Source. ToGL can also support shader programs from Direct3D's HLSL bytecode to OpenGL's GLSL. As it stands, Valve's ToGL isn't useful to most, with its reference files not included in the package.
What ToGL will be useful for, is when developers want to migrate Direct3D engines to run on the open-source OpenGL API. This could be interesting as we move into the year, with SteamOS being based on Linux, so an open-source API like OpenGL and a translator could shift quite a few games under Direct3D over to OpenGL.
Beats Music is catching up on its competitors Rdio and Spotify by making its API public. Up until this point, the company only gave its API out to a few select partners so that they could create integrations with compatible devices.
Now that developers have access to the API, they have access to Beats' catalog of over 20 million tracks, as well as metadata, artist and album art, personal recommendations, and the company's own curated content. The curated content is what Beats believes will make its service stand out against the streaming music crowd.
Opening up its API has Beats in a more competitive nature, as it will allow developers to get elbows deep in its code, making the service available on more platforms.
Some people are impatient, and don't want to wait for their torrent to download before they want to click the play button, so Popcorn Time has released a piece of software (that is still currently in beta) that should have you smiling.
Popcorn Time is an app that works on Windows, Mac and Linux that lets you search the web for torrents, and watch them right away. The software will choose the best version of the content you want, and then begin streaming. Of course, torrents are illegal in most countries, so this news is for those who live in countries where this might not be illegal. You've been warned!
Valve released its Steam Family Options in January, but has just now unshackled Steam Family Sharing from its long-standing beta run, making it available to all Steam users.
If you haven't heard of Steam Family Sharing until now, let's run through it. Steam Family Sharing allows those with blood ties to you to freely share access to retail PC, Mac and Linux game releases through Steam. Valve's official description of Steam Family Sharing reads: "Players who share computers can now also share their available libraries with one another, each earning their own achievements and saving their own game progress to the Steam Cloud. It's all enabled by authorizing shared computers and the familiar accounts that log into them".
The FrostWire BitTorrent client has integrated bitcoin donation payments into its latest client build, opening the door to artists, content holders, and others to be rewarded for broader content distribution.
PayPal has remained a popular payment method for online file sharers, but bitcoin - and it's supposed increased layers of anonymity and security - and accepting a wider variety of currencies help spur donations from spontaneous contributors.
Thousands of companies and retailers accept bitcoin as a payment option, though there is continued concern related to value stability and legalities. However, services looking to receive donations and financial support should not have a problem receiving bitcoin, such as FrostWire's decision to accept payment.