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Companies should prepare sooner rather than later when it comes to upgrading from Windows 7, even though there are years left before support ends. Mainstream support for Windows 7 ends in January 2015, while end of extended support is scheduled for January 2020.
The end of extended support of Windows XP seemingly caught many businesses off guard, as they were reluctant to bother upgrading to Windows 7 or 8/8.1. Moving forward, Gartner recommends users deploy Windows 8/8.1 on new PCs, in an effort to phrase out Windows 7 slowly overtime. If companies are planning to phase out Windows 7 - but don't show interest in Windows 8 - then be prepared to upgrade to the latest-generation version of Windows.
"Organizations that have already deployed some Windows 8 PCs, or that decide that Windows 8.1 Update 1 provides an attractive platform, should not shy away from deploying new devices with the OS," according to Stephen Kleynhans, Gartner Research VP, in a blog post. "However, we expect that by the time an organization is ready for a broad rollout, Windows 8.1 Update 2 will have entered the market. Shifting deployment to Update 2 should be relatively straightforward for most organizations, and in that case, Windows 8.1 Update 1 should be seen as a pilot for that ultimate deployment."
There's not much reason to be excited over DirectX 12 just yet, but Intel was showing off the performance and power benefits of DirectX 12 at SIGGRAPH 2014. Microsoft used its Surface Pro 2 with Intel HD4400 graphics, showing off some impressive performance improvements, with heavily refuced CPU power consumption.
Intel had a demo that was rendering an asteroid field with 50,000 unique asteroids, each equating to 50,000 draws per frame. Each asteroid then had a unique combination of vertices, textures, and constants. Intel's demo was able to switch between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 with a single key press, but it could also lock the frame rate in order to keep the workload on the GPU at a constant level.
The company was showing people the benefits of DX12, with massive power gains being unlocked from Microsoft's new API. Intel locked the frame rate of the demo, rendering it for a period of time on DirectX 11, and then switching over to DirectX 12. As you see in the graph above, the CPU power consumption was reduced by over 50% when DX12 was enabled, highlighting the fact that DX12-enabled games could offer some serious reductions in power consumption on our devices.
Valve is looking into 2015 with optimism, with its Steam Machines, Steam OS, Steam Controller, Steam Box and much more coming out next year. Between now and then, the Steam Database on Twitter (@SteamDB) has spotted the addition of a few interesting things in the latest beta of Steam.
SteamDB noticed films, TV series, video, plugin and music in the latest beta of Steam, with other users noticing Spotify mentioned in Steam code last year. This makes sense, as Valve is pushing Steam into the living room, with not only Big Picture Mode, but with all of its various services, hardware and even gaming systems coming out soon.
If Valve wants to compete against the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Apple, it's going to need to provide everything they do - movies, TV shows, music and much more. But with a kick-ass service like Steam behind it, could we finally see the living room become a proper, PC-based (but controllers on offer) gaming nirvana? I'm enthusiastic about it, with Valve having my total support for it - but this isn't Half-Life 3 confirmed just yet.
Microsoft has issued an update for the popular Office for iPad app that brings some new tricks for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The update brings several user requested features to the apps, with one of the big new features being the ability to export files as PDFs.
Each of the apps has also received new Picture Tools that allow users to the ability to crop to focus on the portion of the image that's important. All three of the apps also get support for third party fonts in the update.
Excel also gets improved support for external keyboards and support for "Flick to Select" so you can select data in a cell with a flick of your finger. The new features for Word include the Picture Tools, fonts, and PDF feature. PowerPoint received more improvements with a new Presenter View, new presenter tools for highlighting and drawing, and more.
Fans of Chrome for Windows have something new to check out on the beta channel for the software. The 64-bit version of Chrome for Windows is finally available to download and try. As a beta product, you can expect there to be issues with the software right now.
There are a couple caveats to the software as well; one of those caveats is that the 64-bit version only works with Windows 7 and Windows 8 or higher machines. You will also need a 64-bit version of those operating systems.
The 64-bit version of the software brings some improvements to the mix that provide better performance and fewer crashes. "To try it out, download the 64-bit installer from our Beta download pages. The new version replaces the existing version while preserving all your settings and bookmarks, so there's no need to uninstall a current installation of Chrome," Google wrote in a blog post.
NVIDIA launches its kick ass new Shield Tablet today, and alongside it the company has launched its new GeForce 340.52 WHQL drivers. The biggest feature of the new GeForce 340.52 WHQL drivers is Shield Tablet support, as the company needs to update its drivers to bake in support for GameStream for its Shield Tablet.
The latest drivers are GameReady, which will include support for the upcoming Metro: Redux which arrives on August 26, and the Chinese launch of Final Fantasy XIV. There's not much else included in this release, other than the usual bugfixes. We do have WHQL goodness here, instead of a beta release that most people were running prior to the launch of 340.52 WHQL. You can grab the new drivers right here, or if you're like me, GeForce Experience will download them for you.
Microsoft has been peddling its OneNote note taking application to consumers on Android and other platforms for a long time now. The software giant has announced that it has now expanded availability for OneNote to the Amazon Fire smartphone and the Kindle Fire tablet.
The app for both devices hit the Appstore on July 24. The app is the same one that has been offered for Android devices in the past, the difference is that it is now available on the Amazon Appstore giving users on Amazon devices access.
OneNote is the only part of the Office suite that is available now for the Android platform. Other Office apps are expected to land for Android before the end of the year.
AMD has just released its new Catalyst 14.7 RC (beta) drivers, something that includes the usual bug fixes and performance improvements, and drops support for Windows 8 (WDDM 1.2) as the company expects you to have upgraded to Windows 8.1 (WDDM 1.3) for free if you want continued support.
Older version of Windows, such as Windows Vista and Windows 7 remain unaffected by this change. The latest Catalyst 14.7 RC drivers have all of the improvements that were baked into the Catalyst 14.6 RC release, but receive added CrossFire performance for Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, and improved CrossFire scaling at 4K for Assassin's Creed IV.
If you want to try them out (at your own risk since they're still a Release Candidate, and beta release) grab them right here.
NVIDIA has released its new R340 series of drivers, where it starts with the GeForce 340.43 beta drivers. The new R340 series doesn't introduce much in the way of new, with it being an iteration release with minor features, something we'll quickly jump into now.
We have x86 Miracast support, which is probably the standout feature of the new R340 series of driver. Until now, NVIDIA only supported Miracast through its Tegra 3 and later SoCs, but now it works on GeForce products running Windows 8.1. NVIDIA's new GeForce 340.43 beta drivers are also Game Ready for GRID: Autosport and the Battlefield: Hardline beta.
For older GeForce owners, beware: the R340 series will be the last driver series to support NVIDIA's Direct3D 10 generation GPUs - with the 8/9/100/200 and 300 series all not receiving support after the R343 series later this year. These GPUs will be shifted over to legacy status. Go and grab the new NVIDIA GeForce 340.43 beta drivers here.
Windows 8.1 Update 2 may not be the one to restore the fabled "Start Menu" to the operating system, according to a report from ZDNet.
It's not official but ZDNet's All About Microsoft blogger Mary Jo Foley claims multiple reliable sources, who have had "good track records" on Windows information, support the claim.
It was expected a version of the Start Menu would appear in a Windows update this year, but Foley's sources tell her it will be delayed until the Threshold release - the mysterious major update that may or may not be Windows 9.
Microsoft's Terry Myerson did say that the Start Menu will find its way into the "next iteration" of the Windows OS, however, it's not clear if that means a big overhaul or simply an update.
Either way, the buzz about a return to the start menu is perhaps indicative of nostalgia for the old, corner-loitering do-all button.