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13 Jun 2018
Valve's Steam software has been around for almost 15 years and has arguably come a long way from its somewhat humble beginnings. In fact, the company just announced a complete overhaul to its built-in chat client, now available via the beta channel, foreshadowing some marked improvements over the fundamentals currently offered. Now, there's another big change set for Steam on the horizon, impacting users of older versions of Windows.
In an announcement posted on the Steam website, Valve said:
"Starting on January 1 2019, Steam will officially stop supporting the Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems. This means that after that date the Steam Client will no longer run on those versions of Windows. In order to continue running Steam and any games or other products purchased through Steam, users will need to update to a more recent version of Windows."
The primary reason cited for the cessation of Windows XP and Vista support was attributed to the "embedded version of Google Chrome, which no longer functions on older versions of Windows". In addition, future versions of the Steam client will need access to security updates and features that only exist in Windows 7 and later editions of the operating system.
If your gaming rig is still running Windows XP or Vista then you've still got the best part of six months before the client will stop working on your system. While you will still be able to launch games from your library in the interim, new enhancements such as the upgraded Steam Chat experience, will not be made available.
As of the most recent Steam hardware and software survey published for May 2018, a meagre 0.22% of participants were running the 32-bit edition of Windows XP with no entries whatsoever for Windows XP 64-bit, Vista 32-bit, and Vista 64-bit.
15 Jun 2018
The high-priority notification feature is one of the updates unveiled by Google when it announced a major redesign to Gmail last April, and it's now rolling out to the Gmail app for iOS.
Using machine learning and artificial intelligence, the new capability is designed to notify you only when important messages arrive on your Gmail inbox. Google first launched high-priority notifications on Inbox, another email service from the tech giant announced in 2014.
You can turn on the new feature by heading over to the settings menu of the Gmail app and selecting "High priority only" under the Notifications drop-down. While the update is available to iOS users as of now, Google says an Android version is coming soon.
The feature comes in handy especially when Gmail's overload of push notifications from your social media accounts, forums, and even promotional alerts are becoming an annoyance to you.
14 Jun 2018
The AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.6.1 driver is now available, and promises additional performance enhancements for Warhammer:Vermintide 2. AMD claims that this driver represents a ten percent boost in performance for the co-op title when using a Radeon RX 580 (8GB) graphics card than with the previous 18.5.2 drivers at 2560x1440 (1440p), with a nine percent boost arriving for the RX Vega 56 (8GB) graphics card.
Here are the bugs that AMD has managed to resolve with the 18.6.1 driver:
Subnautica™ may experience a black screen on launch or during gameplay.
Sea of Thieves™ may experience a crash or hang while playing in the Cannon Cove area.
Desktop may not be visible or may appear out of the display area when using 8K resolution on Radeon Pro Duo.
World of Tanks™ may experience square corruption on some ground textures in multi GPU system configurations.
Middle Earth: Shadow of War™ may experience flickering in some game menus or when configuring displays when using multi GPU system configurations.
World of Warcraft™ may experience flickering on the mini map in multi GPU system configurations.
And here are the known issues:
Some games may experience minor stuttering during gameplay when the Radeon ReLive Instant Replay feature is enabled and FRTC is also enabled.
Radeon Overlay may not show all available features when some games are run in borderless fullscreen mode.
The Witcher™ 3: Wild Hunt may experience stuttering during gameplay.
Corruption may be experienced with OGL or Vulkan™ API applications on some Hybrid Graphics system configurations.
Sea of Thieves™ may experience corruption on ship sails or ropes while standing on a boat.
Radeon Chill may experience lower than expected minimum frame rates if a game is left idle with Radeon Chill enabled for extended periods of time.
Footnotes (specifically for the 10% performance boost):
(1) Testing conducted by AMD Performance Labs as of June 12, 2018 on the 8GB Radeon RX Vega 56, on a test system comprising of Intel i7 7700X CPU (4.2 GHz), 16GB DDR4-3000 Mhz system memory, and Windows 10 x64. PC manufacturers may vary configurations, yielding different results. With extreme preset settings on Warhammer: Vermintide 2, at 2560x1440, the Radeon RX Vega 56 scored 66.4 FPS with Radeon Software 18.5.2, whereas the Radeon RX Vega 56 scored 72.2 FPS with Radeon Software 18.6.1. Comparing FPS between software versions, Radeon Software 18.6.1 has 9% faster performance in Warhammer: Vermintide 2. Performance may vary based on use of latest drivers.
(2) Testing conducted by AMD Performance Labs as of June 12, 2018 on the 8GB Radeon RX 580 (8GB), on a test system comprising of Intel i7 7700X CPU (4.2 GHz), 16GB DDR4-3000 Mhz system memory, and Windows 10 x64. PC manufacturers may vary configurations, yielding different results. With extreme preset settings on Warhammer: Vermintide 2, at 2560x1440, the Radeon RX 580 (8GB) scored 48.0 FPS with Radeon Software 18.5.2, whereas the Radeon RX 580 (8GB) scored 53.0 FPS with Radeon Software 18.6.1. Comparing FPS between software versions, Radeon Software 18.6.1 has 10% faster performance in Warhammer: Vermintide 2. Performance may vary based on use of latest drivers.
The Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.6.1 driver is available for download through the Radeon Settings interface, or via the links listed for Windows 10, and Windows 7 on 32- or 64-bit systems in the official release notes here.
13 Jun 2018
Extensions are part and parcel of a modern browsing experience, and Google had just made a move to improve transparency in the installation experience.
The firm will now require all Chrome extensions to be installed through the Chrome Web Store as opposed to the current status quo where websites can install Chrome extensions directly without needing to navigate away from the site.
The move will take place in three phases as per the Chromium blog:
Starting today, inline installation will be unavailable to all newly published extensions. Extensions first published on June 12, 2018 or later that attempt to call the chrome.webstore.install() function will automatically redirect the user to the Chrome Web Store in a new tab to complete the installation.
Starting September 12, 2018, inline installation will be disabled for existing extensions, and users will be automatically redirected to the Chrome Web Store to complete the installation.
In early December 2018, the inline install API method will be removed from Chrome 71.
Google is advising extension developers who allow direct installations to instead link to their Chrome Web Store page (and create one should they not have already).
One of the advantages of this is the elimination of malicious extensions which appear on spammy sites or what Google calls "confusing or deceptive uses of inline installation on websites." By forcing all extensions to reroute to the Chrome Web Store where some form of vetting or accountability is present (though not foolproof), Google likely hopes to reduce the incidence of the above and improve the Chrome experience for all.