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07/03/2020   PC World Latest News

In the beginning, there was an ocean. Vast and unbroken, it stretched from one end of the horizon to the other, the blue of the sky barely distinguished from the blue of the sea.

Then there was a pier, dredged up from the nothingness below the sea, a stone-and-sand bulwark battered by waves. The not-ocean grew, the pier becoming a harbor, then an island, and on that island grew houses—in white and red and purple and teal. Cottages and ranch homes, warehouses and monolithic apartment blocks, until ocean gave way to a town.

This is how the story goes in my head, at least. I’ve spent much of the last two days playing (or toying with) Townscaper, and so far I’ve learned I never needed the “Sim” part of SimCity after all.

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07/03/2020   PC World Latest News

How hot is your PC’s graphics card temperature? During normal operations, your GPU temperature shouldn’t matter much—your graphics card should simply drive monitors and play games without overheating and shutting down. But if you have an older PC, or if you want to try your hand at graphics card overclocking, being able to monitor your GPU temperature is vital.

The good news? Checking your PC’s graphics card temperature is dead simple, especially now that Windows finally includes a native way to keep tabs on temps. All sorts of free GPU monitoring tools are also available, and many of them can help you check your PC’s CPU temperature, too.

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07/03/2020   PC World Latest News
Support for every audio-streaming protocol and service you can think of, prodigious connectivity options, upgradeable firmware, and sweet sound make for a best-in-class audio component.
07/03/2020   PC World Latest News

When I say an Xbox Game Pass for PC subscription is the best deal in gaming today, that’s no idle recommendation. I have a deep-seated hatred of today’s subscription culture. Yes, many streaming and subscription services are worth every penny, but in general, I hate that everything from Microsoft Office to Adobe’s Creative Cloud to freaking underwear tries to tie you up with monthly payments. So when I say Game Pass is worth it, I really mean it. Step aside, Humble Bundles.

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07/02/2020   PC World Latest News
Leviton is expanding its range of smart home switches and outlets with the Decora Voice Dimmer, a new Wi-Fi dimmer switch with Amazon Alexa built in.
07/02/2020   PC World Latest News

It’s the end of the line for our favorite bang-for-buck Android phone. Google’s superb Pixel 3A and 3A XL are now discontinued, as rumors of an imminent Pixel 4a launch swirl.

“Google Store has sold through its inventory and completed sales of Pixel 3a,” a Google spokesperson told Android Police, after the site noticed the phone switched to “Unavailable” status on Wednesday. “For people who are still interested in buying Pixel 3a, the product is available from some partners while supplies last.”

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07/02/2020   PC World Latest News

Can Microsoft Word read to me? Yes, it can. There are three ways to accomplish this task: The Speak and Read Aloud features in Word, or the Narrator feature in Windows.

The Speak feature was incorporated into Microsoft Office (Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, etc.) back in version 2003. It was called Text to Speech (TTS) then, and it functioned much the same as it does now. Fortunately, it’s a very simple procedure to set up and use, so you can get started immediately.

Add the Speak button to the Quick Access Toolbar

1. Click the Customize arrow on the Quick Access Toolbar.

2. From the dropdown menu, select More Commands.

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07/02/2020   PC World Latest News

We're just gonna say it—you're crazy to take your Galaxy S20 out in public without something to protect it. With prices starting at $1,000 and going all the way up to $1,600, it's one of the most expensive phones ever made. It's also the biggest, with the S20 Ultra tipping the scales at a whopping (and eminently droppable) 6.9 inches. So check out these picks and stop playing chicken with your phone.

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07/01/2020   PC World Latest News

Antivirus software is nearly as crucial as a PC’s operating system. Even if you’re well aware of potential threats and practice extreme caution, some threats just can’t be prevented without the extra help of an AV program—or a full antivirus suite. 

You could, for example, visit a website that unintentionally displays malicious ads. Or accidentally click on a phishing email (it happens!). Or get stung by a zero-day threat, where an undisclosed bug in Windows, your browser, or an installed program gives hackers entry to your system.

We’re not suggesting that PC security software is fool-proof. Antivirus software often can’t do much to stop zero-day exploits, for example. But it can detect when the undisclosed vulnerability is used to install other nasty bits, like ransomware, on your machine. Anyone who actively uses email, clicks on links, and downloads programs will benefit from an antivirus suite.

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07/01/2020   PC World Latest News

Major Internet service providers are scheduled to end their quarantine benefits soon, once again subjecting Americans to data caps and removing protections if they are unable to pay their bills. On July 1, data caps returned to some major ISPs.

The FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge also expired on June 30. Companies initially agreed to the pledge and rushed to add benefits. ISPs like CenturyLink, T-Mobile, Verizon, and many others said they would not discontinue service or charge late fees for those unable to pay because of the coronavirus. They also agreed to open their Wi-Fi access points for free. So far, the FCC has not publicly said that it would extend the pledge.

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07/01/2020   PC World Latest News

Microsoft released a major new Windows 10 Insider test build on Wednesday afternoon, offering dramatically different versions of the Start Menu and Taskbar, and even a revamped Alt+Tab experience with Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft released the new updates as part of Windows 10 Insider Build 20161, part of the new Dev Channel. Essentially, the Dev Channel is the new Insider Fast Channel—code that Microsoft is not tying to any future Windows 10 feature release. These are experiments, and Microsoft is making these features available to just a subset of the Dev Channel, too.

The experimental UI changes are fairly profound. The Start menu now includes the Fluent Design icons that Microsoft began rolling out earlier, and does away with some of the colored backgrounds that have made up the traditional Start menu. The Taskbar, too, has been redesigned in a purpose-built manner, optimized more for an individual user’s needs. Finally, the Alt+Tab experience now includes individual Edge tabs, and not just the app as a whole.

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07/01/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft's latest Dev Channel/Fast Ring Windows 10 test build, No. 20161, adds a number of new features which ultimately may or may not make it into Windows 10 21H1.
07/01/2020   PC World Latest News

Microsoft said Wednesday that it’s making OneDrive file sharing more manageable, adding a convenient way to share folders and files with friends, while giving business users more control over a file as it moves through an organization.

“Sharing” a file or folder seems simple, but it’s really not—not when you (or your company) needs to decide who has access, and what happens when things move locations. Negotiating all of those requirements is the foundation for the OneDrive changes Microsoft announced Wednesday.

New OneDrive consumer controls

Microsoft already allows you to right-click a file within OneDrive for the web and share it with specific contacts, with permissions that include edit controls, passwords, and the like. What Microsoft calls “family and group sharing” will arrive on OneDrive for the web later this month, with general availability coming in July. Essentially, Microsoft seems to think that configuring each folder or file is too time-consuming, so it’s allowing you to predefine a “family” group or circle of friends beforehand.

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07/01/2020   PC World Latest News

Microsoft says it has patched a bug that may have prevented some of its most recent Surface devices from receiving the Windows 10 May 2020 Update. And as of July 1, our Surface devices in our review stable are receiving the May 2020 Update as a result.

In its list of issues associated with the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, Microsoft notes that it recently deployed patch KB4557957, which addresses the “Errors or unexpected restarts for some devices using Always On, Always Connected.” 

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07/01/2020   PC World Latest News

Microsoft began offering more customization for Windows 10's Xbox Game Bar on Wednesday, including a new “widget store” complete with a dedicated Destiny 2 widget that tracks your game progress. Microsoft also added some long-wanted transparency controls to help reduce the Game Bar screen clutter while you’re gaming.

When it was first added, Microsoft’s Game Bar (which can be triggered with Win + G, even when a game isn’t running) gave gamers on-screen shortcuts to take screenshots, record video, and the like. Over time, Microsoft has continued to add functionality, including performance monitors and specific widgets for streaming controls and other functions.

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07/01/2020   PC World Latest News

Over the past week, both Nvidia and AMD released fresh graphics cards drivers that unlocked “hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling,” a new feature introduced in the Windows 10 May 2020 Update. Now, Microsoft has revealed what that setting does, and it turns out that the innocuous-sounding, opt-in feature actually represents a fundamental redesign in how the Windows Display Driver Model works. You probably won’t see any significant performance changes from activating it now, however.

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07/01/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
As of June 29, Microsoft is no longer putting a hold on certain Surface devices that were blocked from getting the May 2020 Windows 10 Update. The change should kick in starting this week.
07/01/2020   PC World Latest News

Windows 10 Professional isn’t just for cubicle dwellers who have no choice in the matter. While users who own a “professional” PC like the Surface Book 2 will automatically be upgraded to this higher-end version of the OS, smaller businesses and PC enthusiasts may also weigh the benefits of the Pro version vs. Windows 10 Home. PCWorld also has a cheap update deal going on which eliminates many of the cost concerns.

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07/01/2020   PC World Latest News

Switching to a solid-state drive is the best upgrade you can make for your PC. These wondrous devices obliterate long boot times, speed up how fast your programs and games load, and generally makes your computer feel fast. But not all solid-state drives are created equal. The best SSDs offer solid performance at affordable prices—or, if price is no object, face-meltingly fast read and write speeds.

Many SSDs come in a 2.5-inch form factor and communicate with PCs via the same SATA ports used by traditional hard drives. But out on the bleeding-edge of NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) drives, you’ll find tiny “gumstick” SSDs that fit in M.2 connections on modern motherboards, SSDs that sit on a PCIe adapter and slot into your motherboard like a graphics card or sound card, futuristic 3D Xpoint drives, and more. Picking the perfect SSD isn’t as simple as it used to be.

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07/01/2020   PC World Latest News
The new Premium Duo plan sits between Spotify’s existing individual and six-person family plans.
07/01/2020   PC World Latest News

We’ve been reviewing Avira Antivirus Pro for a few years now and wondering why it was worth purchasing when the free version of Avira offered so much. At the time, Avira’s top-level offering, Prime, was just too expensive. Those days are over, however, and Avira Prime is now available at a competitive price.

Note: This review is part of our best antivirus roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.

Prime is the company’s one-stop shop for antivirus, web protection, ad blocking, privacy protection, and system maintenance. It includes access to Phantom Pro, the company’s VPN, as well as system tune-up options, a secure file shredder, and more.

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07/01/2020   PC World Latest News
This monolithic smart lock successfully brings two worlds together.
06/30/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft will start expanding the pool of people getting its Chromium-based Edge browser via Windows Update starting in the weeks after July 30.
06/30/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft is readying a new learning app -- a preview of which is coming later this year -- that will be part of its Teams service. It will help users access and manage their learning content in a single place.
06/30/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft is making available its learning content, certifications, and job-seeking tools to try to help the estimated 25 million people worldwide whose jobs have been impacted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
06/26/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
After 11 years, Microsoft is throwing in the towel on its physical retail stores and is refocusing its retail sales efforts around its online/digital store.
06/25/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft's Power Platform, its set of low-code/no-code tools plus Power BI business-intelligence offering, is at the heart of a new KPMG framework for workplace re-entry.
06/24/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft has made a change, acknowledged publicly this week, in how manual deferral of Windows 10 feature updates will be handled by business users starting with the May 2020/2004 update.
06/24/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Java is important to Microsoft in developing many of its own products and services, as well as to its customers. That's why it's bringing OpenJDK to Windows 10 on Arm.
06/23/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft is trying to bring feature parity to its Skype for Windows 10 clients and is now making its former Skype UWP app an Electron app in the process.
06/22/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft is shutting down its three-year-old Mixer live streaming service after being unable to grow it enough to compete with Amazon's Twitch and Google's YouTube.
06/22/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft is kicking off the preview of its promised new Teams features for consumers using its mobile Teams apps.
06/22/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft is continuing with its strategy to invest $5 billion over four years on IoT with its acquisition of IoT security vendor CyberX.
06/18/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft is acquiring ADRM Software and plans to combine its Azure compute and storage technology with its large-scale vertical data models.
06/17/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
The optional cumulative 'C' and 'D' week Windows 10 updates, which Microsoft paused in March, are coming back with new names and in new ways.
06/17/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft is rolling out to its 'bleeding edge' testers the first new Windows 10 build, 20150, that may end up including features from the 'Iron' branch.
06/16/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft has been making lots of under-the-covers changes to how it runs its cloud services, including Azure-based Teams, to meet demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the details.
06/16/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft will deliver a minor, cumulative-update-style Windows 10 feature update this fall, which will come with the new Chromium-based Edge browser.
06/15/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers in the U.S. now can get the 'Money in Excel' add-in, which enables spending-tracking and management.
06/15/2020   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft is changing the way its Windows Insider testing rings will work. It's also giving the rings new names, in keeping with the recently changed Office Insider ones.
06/10/2020   InfoWorld Insider
The coronavirus crisis has shaken up business as usual, with some IT strategies and tools rising to the occasion and others in line for a rethink or tough recovery post-pandemic.(Insider Story)
06/09/2020   InfoWorld Insider
Call center operations have increasingly gone remote, but the pandemic has accelerated the WFH CX support trend, as IT leaders at T-Mobile and American Express attest.(Insider Story)
06/05/2020   InfoWorld Insider
Once a company focused on cloud-based file-sharing, Box now offers features to support remote productivity and teamwork. CEO Aaron Levie talks about his company's evolution – and how the workplace continues to change. (Insider Story)