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Microsoft Patent Describes a Persistence of Vision Augmented Reality Display

Microsoft has filed a patent for a new type of mixed-reality head-mounted display (HMD) called a Persistence of Vision Augmented Reality Display. The display uses movable screens to simulate a 360 degree field of view. These screens can rotate back and forth, spin around a user's head, or spin in front of the user's eyes. The device isn't guaranteed to ever see the light of day, but hopefully some of the ideas make it into other products.

Microsoft's patent FIG. 4A below illustrates a movement based display device with a movable member configured to rotate about a user's head; FIG. 4B illustrates a movement based display device with a movable member configured to reciprocate in front of user's eyes; FIG. 4C illustrates a movement based display device with movable members configured to spin in front of the user's eyes

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 22, 2019 3:17 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Announces Microsoft Defender ATP for Mac

Microsoft Defender ATP for Mac brings the same robust protection from Windows Defender to the Mac platform. Microsoft has created a "cross-platform next-generation protection and endpoint detection and response coverage" heterogeneous solution that will help Microsoft reach its goal of securing users and data wherever they are. Core components of Microsoft's unified endpoint security platform, including the new Threat & Vulnerability Management will now be available for Mac devices. The cloud-delivered, real-time protection antivirus solution is currently in preview.

We've been working closely with industry partners to enable Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) customers to protect their non-Windows devices while keeping a centralized "single pane of glass" experience. Now we are going a step further by adding our own solution to the options, starting with a limited preview today. As we bring our unified security solution to other platforms, we're also updating our name to reflect the breadth of this expanded coverage: Microsoft Defender ATP.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 21, 2019 3:06 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Criticizes FCC Broadband Report

According to a recently spotted FCC report, Microsoft thinks that the government is a little generous when it comes to their analysis of broadband availability. Based on their own analysis, some areas that supposedly have access to speeds of over 25 Mbps really don't have much access at all, and they suggest that the FCC should draw on a "broader array of data" in the future. Microsoft told MediaPost "This draft report simply doesn't reflect the state of things on the ground," and that "The agency is badly in need of better data and a more honest assessment of the state of broadband deployment."

"In some areas the Commission's broadband availability data suggests that Internet service providers ... have reported significant broadband availability (25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up) while Microsoft's usage data indicates that only a small percentage of consumers actually access the Internet at broadband speeds in those areas..." Microsoft weighed in with its concerns several days after advocacy group Free Press said the draft report was partially based on faulty data provided by the internet service provider BarrierFree. That company erroneously reported in a December 2017 filing that it offered fiber-to-the-home and fixed wireless service at speeds of nearly 1 GB to Census blocks containing almost 62 million people, according to Free Press. The incorrect information resulted in "a massive over-statement of the change in broadband deployment at the national level during 2017," Free Press told the FCC.

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Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 10:03 AM (CDT)

Microsoft Announces Variable Rate Shading Support for DX12

Variable Rate Shading (VRS) is a powerful new API that gives the developers the ability to use GPUs more intelligently. Shaders are used to calculate the color of each pixel in a screen. Shading rate refers to the resolution at which these shaders are called (which is different from the overall screen resolution). A higher shading rate means better visual fidelity at the cost of using more GPU power. All pixels in a frame are affected by the game's shading rate. VSR allows developers to choose which areas of the frame are more important and increase the visual fidelity, or set parts of the frame to have lower fidelity and gain extra performance. Lowering the fidelity of parts of the scene can help low spec machines to run faster. There are two tiers of support for VRS. First of all the VRS API lets developers set the shading rate in 3 different ways: per draw, within a draw by using a screenspace image, or within a draw, per primitive. The hardware that can support per-draw VRS hardware are Tier 1. There's also a Tier 2, the hardware that can support both per-draw and within-draw variable rate shading. VRS support exists today on in-market NVIDIA hardware and on upcoming Intel hardware. AMD is rumored to be working on support for the feature.

For example, foveated rendering, rendering the most detail in the area where the user is paying attention, and gradually decreasing the shading rate outside this area to save on performance. In a first-person shooter, the user is likely paying most attention to their crosshairs, and not much attention to the far edges of the screen, making FPS games an ideal candidate for this technique. Another use case for a screenspace image is using an edge detection filter to determine the areas that need a higher shading rate, since edges are where aliasing happens. Once the locations of the edges are known, a developer can set the screenspace image based on that, shading the areas where the edges are with high detail, and reducing the shading rate in other areas of the screen.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 18, 2019 7:07 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Will Pester Windows 7 Users to Upgrade to W10 with Pop-Up Notifications

Microsoft has come up with another way to convince users to upgrade to Windows 10: corporate vice president Matt Barlow explained in a blog post this week Windows 7 users would be subjected to regular pop-up messages urging them to update to the latest version of the OS. That may not be the worst idea, as support for W7 officially ends January 14, 2020.

This is a courtesy reminder that you can expect to see a handful of times in 2019. By starting the reminders now, our hope is that you have time to plan and prepare for this transition. These notifications are designed to help provide information only and if you would prefer not to receive them again, you'll be able to select an option for "do not notify me again", and we will not send you any further reminders. Just as software has changed over the years, so has hardware.

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Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 5:00 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Proves the Critics Right: We're Heading toward a Chrome-Only Web

Chrome’s total dominance of the web is becoming more of a reality by each passing day, and Microsoft, whose Edge browser will soon be powered by Chromium, has become a clear contributor to that dark future: the company has released a new version of Skype for Web, but despite legitimate improvements such as HD video calling and recording, the service will not work on non-Chromium browsers such as Firefox and Safari. Users have managed to sidestep this by changing their user agent, which suggests laziness on Microsoft’s part, or something worse.

There's perhaps also some irony in that the Skype app is built with a framework designed to foster cross-platform development, between devices, desktop, and the Web. For those who can use the Web app, it looks extremely similar to the desktop apps, which also look very similar to the mobile apps. That's because it's built using ReactXP, Microsoft's layer on top of Facebook's React and React Native frameworks. These let you use Web technology to build applications not just for the Web but also the desktop and smartphone platforms.

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Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 3:45 PM (CDT)

Supernova Buys Shadow Warrior Developer

Flying Wild Hog released Shadow Warrior 2 back in 2016, but we haven't heard much from the series' developer since then. However, the studio just announced that they were acquired by an investment firm. Game studios don't always fare well once they're bought out, but Supernova Capital was founded by members of Splash Damage, who worked on Dirty Bomb and the multiplayer components of Batman: Arkham Origins, Doom 3, and multiple Gears of War games. With their newly acquired pile of cash, the developer is opening a brand new studio in Poland, and given how crazy Shadowrun was, I can't wait to see what they come up with next. Thanks to cageymaru for the tip.

Flying Wild Hog is thrilled to announce an opening of a third studio in Rzeszow, Poland. We welcome on board a team of almost 30 veteran developers, who had worked on such titles as: Sniper: Ghost Warrior, Enemy Front, Lords of the Fallen, along with award-winning VR titles. We are sure this tight-knit team will enhance our upcoming projects with hard-earned expertise and fresh perspective. Marcin Kryszpin, Head of the FWH branch in Rzeszow, is excited to join Flying Wild Hog in such a crucial moment: Rzeszow's team built their renown working on dynamic, action-packed projects and we quickly have found a common ground with Hogs, who pride themselves with an unparalleled enthusiasm towards action games. We are sure that what we bring to the table will excite gamers. - he adds.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 15, 2019 12:26 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Reveals Project xCloud: a Vision for Game-Streaming

Microsoft has revealed Project xCloud: its vision of the future of game-streaming. As long as there is a client for the device, the service enables gamers to play the games that they want on the device that they want. Just like music where you have a choice to listen at home, on the commute to work, at work, or at a cafe; Project xCloud seeks to do the same for gaming. The only requirement is a good internet connection and the previously mentioned client, as the Microsoft Azure datacenters will take care of the heavy work of rendering and remotely streaming the exact game experience that the game's creators intended onto the gamer's device. Public trials start this year.

While our vision for the technology is complementary to the ways in which we use consoles today, Project xCloud will also open the world of Xbox to those who may not otherwise own traditional, dedicated gaming hardware. True console-quality gaming will become available on mobile devices, providing the 2 billion-plus gamers around the world a new gateway to previously console- and PC-exclusive content. We can achieve this vision with the global distribution of Microsoft's datacenters in 54 Azure regions and the advanced network technologies developed by the team at Microsoft Research. We're excited about our ability to deliver a best-in-class global streaming technology.

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Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 10:44 AM (CDT)

Microsoft Announces DX12 Support for Windows 7

Blizzard Entertainment added Windows 10 DX12 support to its MMO World of Warcraft (WoW) and fans of the game responded with a warm welcome to new features such as multi-threading. Blizzard Entertainment contacted Microsoft about bringing the same improvements to WoW gamers that remain on Windows 7. Microsoft responded to feedback from Blizzard Entertainment and has now ported the user mode D3D12 runtime to Windows 7. "This unblocks developers who want to take full advantage of the latest improvements in D3D12 while still supporting customers on older operating systems." With the latest patch, WoW now supports DX12 on Windows 7! Microsoft is now working with other developers to port their D3D12 games to Windows 7.

How are DirectX 12 games different between Windows 10 and Windows 7? Windows 10 has critical OS improvements which make modern low-level graphics APIs (including DirectX 12) run more efficiently. If you enjoy your favorite games running with DirectX 12 on Windows 7, you should check how those games run even better on Windows 10!

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 12, 2019 7:33 PM (CDT)

Microsoft HoloLens Was the Star of MWC

Mobile device manufacturers released a slew of new handsets and MWC this year, but Forbes' Patrick Moorhead thinks that Microsoft's HoloLens 2 was one of the most impressive devices at the show. The new headset doubles the field of view of the original Hololens without sacrificing pixel density, and features eye-tracking hardware that makes AR feel "more natural." Microsoft also worked on some of the original Hololens' smaller but glaring flaws. The new headset, for example, uses carbon-fiber to keep weight down, is far more comfortable than its predecessor, and works with glasses. Microsoft also introduced some cloud services that supposedly help compensate for Hololens' relatively low-power processors, though how well a cloud rendering service will work for such a latency sensitive device remains to be seen.

Microsoft says it will enable developers to design MR apps capable of mapping, designating, and remembering precise "points of interest" that are accessible not only in HoloLens but in Android and iOS devices. In my controlled demo, I used iOS and Android devices to work on the same object at the same time as HoloLens 2. The second, Remote Rendering, is designed to render high-quality 3D models on MR and mobile devices, without the need to simplify the models for the hardware. It functions by rendering the content in the cloud and streaming it to edge devices in real-time. Think about rendering 100M polygons versus a million. I'm not too sure what WiFi wireless capabilities are built in, but they will need to be high quality to ensure low latency streaming of Remote Rendering content. It's all about the ecosystem, Microsoft totally gets it, and currently leads the pack in AR. HoloLens is getting more and more real. The second iteration takes what was good about the first headset, and makes it even better - bigger, more vibrant display, more comfortable, and more immersive. It's not perfect, but it doesn't have to be. The PC wasn't perfect when it was invented; it only needed to be better than the typewriter and calculator. HoloLens 2 represents another leap forward for mixed reality, and then potential use cases are mind-boggling. Congratulations Microsoft.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 08, 2019 11:32 AM (CST)

Highlights of the Microsoft HoloLens 2 Presentation at Mobile World Conference

CNET has released a highlights video of the Microsoft HoloLens 2 presentation at the Mobile World Conference. The video shows some of the forward thinking solutions that Microsoft engineers have been working on for years to make working with holograms feel like interacting with objects in the real world.

Microsoft says the new and improved HoloLens 2 makes manipulating holograms feel like interacting with objects in the real world.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 06, 2019 7:51 PM (CST)

Microsoft Announces the Open Sourcing of Windows Calculator

Microsoft has announced that it has open sourced the Windows Calculator on GitHub under the MIT License. Microsoft is seeking more community contributions and ideas in the development of Windows Calculator. Reviewing the Windows Calculator code will allow developers to learn how to work with Microsoft technologies.

Reviewing the Calculator code is a great way to learn about the latest Microsoft technologies like the Universal Windows Platform, XAML, and Azure Pipelines. Through this project, developers can learn from Microsoft's full development lifecycle, as well as reuse the code to build their own experiences. It's also a great example of Fluent app design. To make this even easier, we will be contributing custom controls and API extensions that we use in Calculator and other apps, to projects like the Windows Community Toolkit and the Windows UI Library.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 06, 2019 7:12 PM (CST)