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Hier — 16 octobre 2021Microsoft

Which Techtober gadget are you most looking forward to?

Another year, another tech-themed October.

October is typically a big month for tech enthusiasts, as both events and fresh gadgets make a lot of noise around this time of the year. October 2021 is a particularly busy one. On the Microsoft side of upcoming goodies, we have everything from Surface madness and the impending arrival of the Surface Duo 2 to more niche items such as the Xbox Series X fridge, also known as the meme that became a real boy.

But there's more to tech than just Microsoft, contrary to what some may tell you! Techtober 2021 is also putting a spotlight on items like the iPhone 13 and Pixel 6. Are these the devices you're most amped for?

Which Techtober gadget are you most excited about?

Let us know what you're feeling most jazzed about, even if it's an item not on the list. Perhaps there's a tiny little Techtober treat not on the general public's radar that has you stoked. If so, vote that way and drop a comment detailing what everyone should be paying attention to. After all, there's no wrong answer when it comes to what gets you excited, contrary to what some might say when confronted with the notion of voting for the iPhone 13 over the Xbox Series Fridge on a site called Windows Central.

And if you want to focus on Techtober events instead of individual gadgets, go vote in Android Central's poll that asks which Techtober event readers are most excited about. AC gives an overview of what events are coming up in October from Apple, Google, Sony, and Samsung, and details when said events are going down.

Two polls, one jam-packed Techtober full of gadgets and events. Truly, an exciting time for mainstream tech enthusiasts and a scary time for wallets.

À partir d’avant-hierMicrosoft

Microsoft breaks down how it shrunk Windows 11 updates by 40%

You may need a few textbooks to understand the answer.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has revealed the secret behind its ability to shrink Windows 11 update sizes by 40% as compared to the size norms of previous operating system updates.
  • The methods employed by Microsoft are very technical.

Microsoft says its Windows 11 update sizes are 40% smaller than what the company's operating system updates used to be. Curious how the tech giant has managed such a feat? Well, after reading the explanation, you may have more questions than answers, as well as a desire to get an advanced computer sciences degree.

In the blog post where Microsoft reveals its methodology, we find out the secret sauce is "reverse update data generation." As to what that is? Well, you'll have to read the post yourself to find out, possibly in addition to some textbooks on data transmission. Here's a sample of Microsoft's explanation as to what would've constituted a non-viable approach in the pursuit of 40% size reduction:

Binary deltas utilize transforms and patching instructions to transform a file from its base version to a target version. While some patching and transforms that add data to a file are non-destructive, transforms and patches may delete data needed for a reverse delta. For this reason, a bidirectional delta would need to store the content added in the forward delta and the content deleted during the forward apply. Because the data in forward and reverse deltas are largely disjoint, little efficiency is gained from a bidirectional delta over paired forward and reverse deltas.

If none of those words make a lick of sense to you and you're not familiar with topics such as the hydration of target revisions, you may be out of luck. But for those who do get this stuff, perhaps Microsoft's post makes for an interesting read.

Windows is a ransomware magnet, according to a new VirusTotal report

Ransomware likes Windows — a lot.

What you need to know

  • VirusTotal released a report on ransomware activity.
  • It's loaded with statistics on ransomware, including freshness of attack samples, attack volume figures, and which operating systems are getting hit the most.
  • Windows was the target for 95% of the ransomware files VirusTotal evaluated in its October 2021 report.

Ransomware is becoming a bigger and bigger deal by the day. The U.S. government is focusing energies on cryptocurrency sanctions in large part to combat ransomware. The attack type has been at the core of national incidents. And now, there's a report on how the ever-expanding problem links back to Windows.

Based on the ransomware files VirusTotal analyzed for its October 2021 report, 95% of all of them are for Windows PCs. A hair over 2% go after Android, and every target of ransomware beyond those two makes up a micro percentage of the overall pie.

The report goes over loads of other ransomware statistics if you want to find out which countries are the most targeted by the threat (spoiler: Israel saw a big increase in attacks in 2021), how often new families of the software type are cropping up, and more.

This news may or may not come as a surprise to Windows users who constantly see reports of ransomware. Recently, there was LockFile, which targeted Microsoft Exchange servers. There was even the threat of ransomware when it came to basic Windows-based printing activities.

The threat isn't going away anytime soon, hence why it's even now being addressed by Microsoft in an insurance capacity. As the years stretch on, we may see more and more measures being taken by companies and governments to combat the form of cybercrime. Until then, take precautions to not get swept up in the growing ransomware storm.

Windows 11 Build 22000.282 arrives for Release Preview and Beta Channels

Prepare for a laundry list of issue fixes.

What you need to know

  • Windows 11 Build 22000.282 is here for everybody in the Beta and Release Preview Channel.
  • It packs many, many fixes and improvements for various Windows 11 issues.

Insiders in the Beta Channel as well as those on the Release Preview track can now get Windows 11 Build 22000.282, which is jam-packed with new fixes for a plethora of problems that have been beleaguering users.

There are so many improvements, in fact, that they won't all be copy-pasted here, but rest assured: If you want the scoop on every last fix, you can check them all out at Windows Blog post dedicated to discussing build 22000.282. A sampling of the build's items are listed below.

  • We fixed an L3 caching issue that might affect performance in some applications on devices that have AMD Ryzen processors after upgrading to Windows 11 (original release).
  • We fixed an issue for a small number of users that prevents the Start menu from working and prevents you from seeing the updated taskbar design after upgrading to Windows 11 (original release).
  • We fixed a race condition that occurs during the early part of startup that might cause a stop error.
  • We fixed a regression that might cause stop error 0x38 on some machine configurations that use non-ASCII text in the registry.
  • We fixed an issue with the interrupt handling of certain processors that might cause devices to stop responding.
  • We fixed an issue that causes PowerShell to create an infinite number of child directories. This issue occurs when you use the PowerShell Move-Item command to move a directory to one of its children. As a result, the volume fills up and the system stops responding.
  • We fixed an issue that causes the Server Manager application to disappear after you use it to remove Hyper-V features. This issue occurs when you install Server Manager on Windows 11 (original release) clients using Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT).

We also have a post overviewing what's going on with the latest build of Windows 11 in the Dev Channel.

Surface Duo's October 2021 Android security update has arrived

It's as light as updates get.

What you need to know

  • The October 2021 Surface Duo security update is here.
  • It's 51MB in size.
  • It brings the version number up to 2021.913.25 for those in North America, 2021.913.26 for Europeans, and 2021.913.27 for locked AT&T device users.

Another month, another Surface Duo update. This time around, it's an extremely lightweight 51MB update that "addresses scenarios outlined in the Android Security Bulletin - October 2021." That's the entirety of Microsoft's update log for the month.

Here are the new version numbers:

  • 2021.913.25 (North America)
  • 2021.913.26 (Europe)
  • 2021.913.27 (AT&T Locked Device)

In short, it's not a grand update. What is a grand update is the Surface Duo 2, which will be getting the lion's share of Microsoft's attention from now on. It has a new camera setup and other improvements custom-built to improve upon the original Duo, which is still doing its thing and giving us a reason to post these monthly update logs.

Stay tuned for any major Android updates that may befall the original Surface Duo in the near future, be that in November or December. Or, if not by the end of 2021, then January or February. Basically, expect a big update at some point soon.

Thanks, Andrew R., for the tip!

Foldable fun

Microsoft Surface Duo

From $649 at Microsoft From $699 at Best Buy From $19/mo at AT&T

Duo dabbling

Even with the Surface Duo 2 set to replace the original, there are still many people enjoying the classic Duo experience. If you're interested in getting the original on the cheap (relative to the $1,499 sticker price of the Duo 2), now's not a bad time to buy. Especially since the OG Duo often goes on sale for under $400.

Splay, a portable display for every purpose, is now on Kickstarter

It's a Kickstarter project that's worth checking out.

What you need to know

  • Splay is both a portable display as well as a pocket projector device.
  • You can hook it up to just about any device that'll output via HDMI.
  • It's on Kickstarter right now, with estimated delivery dates of July 2022.
  • Pricing starts at $674 per unit.

Meet Splay. It's a small device that weighs 2.5 pounds and can unfold to provide a large screen anywhere, anytime, with minimal fuss or hassle. It has a four-hour battery life (that's the equivalent of 1.3 Christopher Nolan movies, for those of you crunching the numbers at home), outputs in 1080p, and can connect to just about anything, be it a phone, PC, Nintendo Switch, or Xbox Series X.

If the concept of a pocket projector that can unfold into a 24.5-inch screen on the fly is hard for you to visualize, don't worry: There's a video showing off what the device is and what it can do.

Before you get too excited, remember that this is a Kickstarter project. An exceptionally well-put-together Kickstarter project (in terms of presentation), but a Kickstarter project nonetheless, and those don't always have the best turnouts. In short, do your due diligence and know the worst-case risks before backing anything.

Splay is set to be delivered to backers in July 2022 if you put money forth during the current campaign, which has a minimum buy-in price of $674 per unit. That $674 buy-in is advertised as a 48% discount off a $1299 MSRP, so those who don't go the early bird route will seemingly have to pay a lot more.

It's a different take on the portable display category of devices, so check it out if you're interested. Whether you want a projector to host Smash Bros. tournaments with, or you just need a super-portable second screen for the best Windows laptops, Splay says it'll fit the bill.

You can check out Splay at its Kickstarter page.

Grab a Surface Pro Keyboard for $103 to go with your new Surface Pro 8

You don't have to shell out $180 to get the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard. In fact, you don't even need to fork over $140 to get the Surface Pro Keyboard. That's because the latter product is now down to $103, meaning you'll lose far less money than usual if you get in on the Surface goodness right now.

The Surface Pro Keyboard works with the Surface Pro 8, making it a slightly less insanely priced option for those who want the complete 2021 Surface experience for a few bucks off.

Surface Pro Keyboard

From $103 at Microsoft

From $103 at Best Buy

From $103 at Amazon

The Surface Pro Keyboard will play nice with the Surface Pro 8 as well as Pro X, so no matter which you have, it's worth considering this keyboard while it's discounted from its usual $140 tag.

If you've yet to dive into the Surface ecosystem, are still considering whether to get the Pro 8 itself, and aren't yet ready for talk of accessories such as the above keyboard, check out our Surface Pro 8 review. We gave it a 4.5 out of 5 stars, which puts it somewhere close to being within spitting distance of perfection (read the full review for the pros and cons, as star ratings alone will never tell you all you need to know).

In the event you want more than just our opinion, check out the Pro 8 review roundup. Many critics, experts, and professionals are happy with the device.

Finally: You don't have to consider the above keyboard. There are other options in life, such as the best Microsoft Surface keyboards. That's right, there's a whole lineup of alternatives if you're not feeling compelled to spend three figures on a keyboard. The only question is which of the less expensive options will be right for you.

Microsoft's $22 billion AR headset deal with U.S. Army gets delayed

The deal's still on, but it's going to need a bit more time.

What you need to know

  • In March 2021, Microsoft won a U.S. Army contract to produce up to $21.88 billion of soldier-attuned augmented reality headsets.
  • The deal still stands, though delivery times have been pushed back, with field units now expected by September 2022.

Microsoft's sizeable augmented reality headset deal with the U.S. Army, which was awarded in March 2021 to the tune of up to $21.88 billion, has had its dates adjusted. Deployment of the first Microsoft headsets (sometimes referred to as glasses, as those are a prominent component of the tech) is now expected to occur by September 2022.

As reported by Reuters, the previous date the U.S. Army was aiming for has already passed: September 30, 2021. The new date effectively gives the Army and Microsoft an extra year to get their affairs in order.

These headsets are based on Microsoft's HoloLens technology and will give soldiers numerous tactical benefits. These include enhanced night vision and thermal vision, in addition to other unspecified "situational awareness capabilities." And that's not all. The headsets, which have been dubbed IVAS (Integrated Audio Visual System), will also have sensors that enable soldiers to scope out threats before actually putting any lives in harm's way.

Not everyone at Microsoft is happy about the IVAS deal. Some employees have frowned at the idea of their company utilizing its resources to develop tools of war.

This isn't the only government-entangled deal Microsoft's faced opposition over. Its surveillance technology deals even managed to ruffle shareholder feathers not too long ago, hence why the company voluntarily agreed to cue up a third-party investigation to determine if its tech, stated corporate values, and general human rights were in opposition with one another.

Mark Cuban comments on Ethereum and Dogecoin, talks crypto benefits

Here's what Mark Cuban thinks about the current crypto landscape.

What you need to know

  • Cryptocurrency has been gaining high-profile allies in recent years.
  • One member of that aforementioned club is Mark Cuban.
  • He shared his thoughts on Ethereum's standing as well as Dogecoin's meme status.

Much like how Elon Musk recently weighed in on cryptocurrency and shared how he felt about it, Mark Cuban has done the same. Among other things, Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks as well as a popular member of the show Shark Tank and has, from his entrepreneurial perspective, given fresh insights into how he deals with cryptocurrency.

While talking to CNBC, he touched on Dogecoin, referring to it as something of an educational tool on crypto and something worth checking out for "fun." However, the cryptocurrency he gave a stronger endorsement to was Ethereum, saying it had the "most upside." He also commented that Bitcoin was "better gold than gold."

Ethereum has been a popular topic in the tech world for numerous reasons, one being that it has helped strain supplies of the best graphics cards to their limits. In the first quarter of 2021, it was estimated that 25% of all GPUs went to scalpers and crypto miners.

With that said, crypto mining is not the sole cause of worldwide GPU shortages right now. Numerous factors are at play in producing that end result, including the worldwide chip crisis that has caused entire industries to battle each other for chip supplies.

However, it's hard to argue that gamers wouldn't have a slightly easier time competing for the tech they wanted if crypto enthusiasts weren't in the picture. And on the other hand, it's hard to blame said enthusiasts for wanting mining hardware for themselves. After all, cryptocurrency is becoming a more normalized form of tender every day. Just look at AMC, which is set to open its wallets to crypto in exchange for movie tickets.

Microsoft kills LinkedIn in China after censorship complications

Friendship with LinkedIn is over. InJobs is the new best friend.

What you need to know

  • LinkedIn has operated in China for years.
  • In March 2021, LinkedIn got in trouble with the Chinese government for not properly censoring itself.
  • Now, Microsoft is killing off LinkedIn in China, having decided it's not worth the hassle anymore.
  • InJobs, an app devoid of social feeds or potentially troublesome article sharing, will replace LinkedIn.

LinkedIn's time in China is over. While it had managed to persist there for over half a decade (having launched there in 2014), March 2021's censorship debacle seems to have helped pave the way for Microsoft to finally pull the plug. In LinkedIn's stead, new app InJobs will be released by the end of 2021.

LinkedIn has known since day one that it would have to operate within specific parameters to fit the Chinese government's rules and regulations. However, in March 2021, it got slapped by Chinese internet regulators for not properly censoring certain political content being facilitated on the site. Sign-ups for LinkedIn were suspended for a month and LinkedIn had to undergo review.

A few months later, some journalists found themselves walled off from China's LinkedIn (via The Guardian). It was a contentious moment for the platform, given growing concerns about censorship.

Now, Microsoft has officially thrown in the towel. LinkedIn's China operations are shutting down, to be replaced with InJobs, which LinkedIn told Axios is all about "helping China-based professionals find jobs in China and Chinese companies find quality candidates." Here's the twist: InJobs won't have social feeds or allow for article sharing or posting.

LinkedIn said the changes have come about because of "a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China." InJobs is designed to limit liability and risk while still accomplishing core job board functions.

Though not an identical situation by any measure, recall that Microsoft's Windows 11 has also had a hard time integrating with the Chinese market due to the country's rules.

Microsoft to undergo third-party review regarding its surveillance products

The findings of the review will be published in 2022.

What you need to know

  • In June 2021, Microsoft investors questioned whether the company's surveillance products and stated corporate values were mutually exclusive.
  • Said questioning took the form of shareholder proposals.
  • Now, Microsoft is proceeding with a third-party review to assess its products' human rights impacts.

A stir was created in June 2021 over Microsoft's surveillance technology's applications and their seemingly diametric opposition to the company's stated values. This conflict was brought to the public's attention in large part by shareholder proposals. Now, Microsoft has confirmed it's having a third-party review done to assess whether its products and values are misaligned.

Said proposal situation has been defused and shareholders have withdrawn their motions, according to a Bloomberg report that also states Microsoft is undergoing a third-party review to assess what impact its surveillance technology is having on human rights. Here is Microsoft's statement:

In response to shareholder requests, Microsoft Corp. will commission an independent, third-party assessment to identify, understand, assess, and address actual or potential adverse human rights impacts of the company's products and services and business relationships with regard to law enforcement, immigration enforcement, and other government contracts. The assessment will include consultation with BIPOC communities, including immigrants, and other groups representing communities most impacted by Microsoft's surveillance products, law enforcement and government contracts.

The findings of this review are expected to drop in 2022, indicating it will be some time before answers are given regarding whether human rights are being violated or negatively impacted by Microsoft's surveillance technology deals with police and government agencies.

This is far from the first time Microsoft's shareholders have asked hard questions. Recently, Microsoft and the "right to repair" movement had a big moment as a result of shareholder activity.

Windows 11 updates arrive on unsupported PCs (for now)

The mystery around unsupported PCs and Windows 11 updates is closed.

What you need to know

  • During the buildup to Windows 11's release, Microsoft kept its wording vague regarding whether unsupported PCs would get Windows 11 updates.
  • Microsoft confirmed that users on unsupported devices would not be entitled to updates, though whether they'd receive any wasn't clarified.
  • Now, with Windows 11 having received its first slew of Patch Tuesday security updates, it's now confirmed that unsupported PCs running the operating system can stay up to date (for now).

Hullabaloo surrounding the Windows 11 update situation was ceaseless up until October 12, 2021, with many users wondering if they'd get updates while running Microsoft's newest operating system on unsupported devices. Microsoft's wording didn't help matters, only ever stating that unsupported devices weren't entitled to updates. But that didn't clarify whether users would be getting them regardless of entitlement status.

Now, with unsupported devices having survived Windows 11's first Patch Tuesday, it's confirmed that machines running Windows 11 got the chance to update, even if said devices weren't explicitly on Microsoft's good list. Reports on Reddit verify that unsupported devices were able to get in on the cumulative update goodness. Windows Central can also confirm that October 2021's cumulative updates appear on unsupported PCs.

For some, this development is a non-starter, since it was widely speculated Microsoft was wording things the way it was simply for legal protection purposes and didn't plan to withhold updates from people. However, many others weren't sure. For them, seeing was believing, and all that was being seen was a clear-cut lack of clarity from Microsoft.

The mystery of support can be put to rest for now, but there's no telling how long Microsoft will keep this up. It could cut updates for unsupported devices whenever, so keep an eye on what's what each time Patch Tuesday rolls around.

Outlook is losing big Internet calendar subscription feature, say reports

New features are born, and old features are culled.

What you need to know

  • Outlook has given users the ability to subscribe to external calendars and stay up to date via synchronized online calendar perusing.
  • The ability to subscribe to external calendars and stay synced appears to be disappearing, according to multiple user reports.
  • A Microsoft support thread confirmed the feature is being deprecated.

If you're a big fan of Outlook's online, external calendar subscription feature that enables you to stay effortlessly synchronized with someone else's calendar, bad news: You'll now have to settle for calendar importation, as subscribing's best days are over.

This development came to light as a result of multiple Microsoft Community posts reporting that calendar subscriptions were no longer working as intended, which were spotted by Dirk Hoffmann (via WinFuture). Across the posts, one managed to net an actual confirmation from a Microsoft agent. It goes as follows: "It has been confirmed that the calendar can no longer be subscribed. At this point, we would recommend that you import the calendar as follows instead."

The Microsoft agent then outlined how to import a calendar, which, as one can imagine, is not what the affected users in the forum cared about.

English language Microsoft forums report the same situation, signaling that Microsoft appears to have given the subscription feature the deprecation treatment.

There's no statement on why this is happening, and outside of a Microsoft agent's confirmation, there aren't any official blog posts or news blasts indicating that it is happening in the first place, though lots of user reports are bringing that fact to light in the meantime. Whether the situation is all a big misunderstanding or something equally peculiar that results in the feature being properly re-implemented remains to be seen, but based on the currently available information, it appears Outlook calendar subscribers are out of luck.

Microsoft Emissions Impact Dashboard hits general availability

Carbon emissions are being tracked more closely than ever.

What you need to know

  • The Microsoft Emissions Impact Dashboard previously went by the name of the Microsoft Sustainability Calculator.
  • It lets you know what the greenhouse gas impact is of Microsoft cloud services.
  • It debuted in January 2020 and is now hitting general availability.

Microsoft has finally let its Emissions Impact Dashboard (formerly known as the Microsoft Sustainability Calculator) enter general availability, so any organization interested in learning about its carbon emission output with relation to its Microsoft cloud services usage can now be informed and better tackle sustainability challenges.

This tool from Microsoft has been around since January 2020, though it's been expanded between then and now, allowing it to do more and, by extension, offer users more valuable insights and data with which to help organizations in their sustainability planning. Here's how Microsoft describes its tool:

The Emissions Impact Dashboard provides transparency into greenhouse gas emissions associated with using Microsoft cloud services and enables a better understanding of the root causes of emissions changes. Organizations can measure the impact of Microsoft cloud usage on their carbon footprint, and they can drill down into emissions by month, service, and datacenter region. The tool also enables customers to enter un-migrated workloads and get an estimate of emissions savings from migrating to the Microsoft cloud.

You can learn more about the Emissions Impact Dashboard over at Microsoft's blog post discussing the service's move to general availability. Microsoft has a history of focusing on how its cloud operations, and those of other organizations, affect sustainability efforts, hence why it has released offerings such as its Cloud for Sustainability package.

Many of Microsoft's operations rely on the cloud, especially as it's the foundation of key partnerships with giants including Mars and Wells Fargo. The company's calculator and other assorted tools are measures to keep an eye on all those initiatives' overall ecological impact.

Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel: A Surface Laptop Studio alternative to consider

The convertible form factor isn't Microsoft-exclusive.

What you need to know

  • Acer's ConceptD 3 Ezel is getting the RTX 3050 Ti treatment.
  • It's Acer's 2-in-1 convertible laptop offering, which happens to share a form factor with the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio.
  • It's coming to EMEA territories in October, starting at 2,099 euros, as well as China for 13,999 RMB.

Acer has a series of products hitting shelves soon, including items in the Predator line for gaming enthusiasts and environmentally friendly (well, friendlier than most of the competition) laptops such as the Aspire Vero. But among its lineup of Windows 11 machines is one that strikes a remarkable similarity to the recently debuted Surface Laptop Studio.

The latest iteration of the ConceptD 3 Ezel packs refreshed specs and maintains its convertible form factor, allowing you to slim it down or fold it up however best suits your needs. And this time it's coming packed with the latest operating system from Microsoft.

Category ConceptD 3 Ezel
Operating System Windows 11
Display 15.6" IPS display, UHD (3840 x 2160), 16:9
Processor 11 Gen Intel Core i7
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
Memory 16GB (up to 32GB)
Storage 512GB SSD / 1TB, PCIe Gen4
Connectivity Intel Wireless WiFi 6 AX201
Wireless LAN
Dual Band
2x2 MU-MIMO Technology
Bluetooth 5.1
Audio DTS X:Ultra Audio
Battery 13-17 hours (config dependent)
Dimensions 358 (W) x 249 (D) x 18.7/20.99 (H) mm
Weight 1.7kg

You can get the ConceptD 3 Ezel via standard methods such as Newegg if you're a U.S. shopper, though Acer's website will also point you in the direction of other retailers if and when applicable. For those in the EMEA territories, expect purchase options to be available in October for 2,099 euros (or more, depending on your config). China also gets the Concept 3 Ezel in October starting at 13,999 RMB.

Acer announced a lot more than ConceptD refreshes at its 2021 Global Press Conference. Check out the rest of its lineup in case you want eco-friendly PCs or even a new gaming desk.

Convertible computing

ConceptD 3 Ezel

Starting at $1656 at Acer

Portable possibilities

You want an RTX 3050 Ti and Windows 11, and you want this power couple in a 2-in-1 form factor that converts to your needs on the fly wherever, whenever. That's where the ConceptD 3 Ezel comes into play.

Megatron gets a tune-up courtesy of Microsoft and NVIDIA

The world's largest language model is brought to us by Microsoft and NVIDIA.

What you need to know

  • Megatron-Turing NLG 530B is a language model.
  • Microsoft and NVIDIA teamed up to train it and make it the largest, most powerful AI language model.
  • The companies admit their work is nowhere near finished as issues such as systemic bias remain embedded in the model's core.

Megatron-Turing NLG 530B (MT-NLG), the AI language model succeeding the Turing NLG 17B and Megatron-LM, has been described by NVIDIA and Microsoft as the "world's largest and most powerful generative language model."

To give a very brief primer on what language models are: They're tools used to anticipate word choice. This sort of tech can help the services you use to identify spam in an email inbox or figure out what word was spoken in a video, all so that you don't have to. As you can imagine, crafting these AI language models is no small feat given the complexity of the task at hand. That's why NVIDIA and Microsoft are proud to present Megatron-Turing NLG 530B. The companies say that MT-NLG has unmatched accuracy in the following areas:

  • Completion prediction
  • Reading comprehension
  • Commonsense reasoning
  • Natural language inferences
  • Word sense disambiguation

With that being said, it's not perfect. The language model isn't devoid of bias, which is derived from the data it uses to learn how to perform its tasks. Similarly, the model is also influenced by toxicity, according to NVIDIA's report on the creation.

If you can put those pitfalls aside, it's still worth noting that MT-NLG remains "the largest and the most powerful monolithic transformer language model trained to date, with 530 billion parameters," as stated by the NVIDIA report. Think about Megatron the next time you let an email write itself for you. And don't mistake it with Pegatron.

TWiT discusses Windows 11 and the Surface Laptop Studio with Daniel Rubino

If you want a podcast to listen to, TWiT's got the Windows-themed goods.

What you need to know

  • This Week in Tech (TWiT) is a weekly podcast show discussing all things tech, as the name implies.
  • This week (in tech), Windows 11 and Microsoft's Surface devices were points of discussion.
  • Windows Central's very own executive editor Daniel Rubino hopped on TWiT to weigh in on the topics.

Perhaps you're tired of consuming your tech news and editorials via the written word and want it spoken in your ear over the course of two and a half hours. That's where podcasts and talk shows come into play, such as the This Week in Tech (TWiT) show.

While Windows Central has its own podcast you can check out whenever you want, it's worth noting that our staff crop up on other shows quite frequently. Take, for example, Windows Central Executive Editor Daniel Rubino, who recently showed up on This Week in Tech to discuss Windows 11 and Surface news. Want to hear his experience with Bloomberry ice cream, thoughts on Windows 95, and insights on other can't-miss topics? This is where you go.

In all seriousness, there's a lot of timely discussion in the podcast amidst the lighter subjects, such as talk about Surface device benchmarks, what the Surace Laptop Studio brings to the table, the new Microsoft Store, and Windows 11's scope as an update to Windows. So if you want expert takes and banter served to you over a runtime that'll give Christopher Nolan movies a run for their money, check out TWiT. You can see Rubino's appearance in TWiT episode 844.

Alternatively, stick around Windows Central for written takes on all of the aforementioned topics, including editorials from Rubino on subjects such as whether an eGPU and Surface Laptop Studio are a match made in heaven or bad pairing.

October 2021 Patch Tuesday brings Windows 11 and 10 updates to all

It's that time of the month.

What you need to know

  • October's Patch Tuesday lineup is here.
  • Updates are available for Windows 11 and Windows 10.
  • As is usually the case, the updates are predominantly security-focused.

If you want Windows 11 and Windows 10 as secure as possible, you're going to want to keep them updated with the latest patches from Microsoft, which tend to roll out on the second Tuesday of every month. This October's Patch Tuesday slate is more of the usual, with the bulk of updates being focused on security.

Windows 11 got cumulative update KB5006674. It helps smooth over some compatibility issues W11 was suffering with Intel's and Dell's network optimization software. It also contains routine security updates to keep your system secure. You can see the full lineup of updates for Windows 11 via Microsoft's post, though the optimization issue is the highlight.

Meanwhile, Windows 10 (21H1, 20H2, and 2004) got KB5006670. That update is headlined by a notice that version 2004 is hitting its end of service date on December 14, 2021.

In addition to the usual service stacking updates, there's one highlight regarding Windows 10 feature fixes:

  • Addresses an issue that prevents some applications, such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Reader, from opening or causes them to stop responding. This occurs on devices that are subject to Microsoft Exploit Protection for Export Address Filtering (EAF).

Beyond that single item, this month's Patch Tuesday humbly offers the standard mammoth lineup of security updates. For a full read on all the threats that have been addressed or are being flagged by Microsoft as of October 2021's patches, check out the security update roundup.

That's it until November's Patch Tuesday rolls around. Grab your security updates and sit tight until a more jam-packed set of monthly updates rolls around.

EKSA E910 5.8GHz wireless gaming headset review

Quality can be heard, missteps can be seen.

There's no doubt about it: EKSA's E910 5.8GHz wireless gaming headset is a good device in the sense that you're going to get quality jams from its cups. There's a solid balance to the audio output so that no elements overpower one another, the wireless functionality lives up to its promises, and the actual design of the headset is bold without being gaudy.

However, a series of minor nitpicks chip away at the E910s. It's not a "death by a thousand cuts" scenario, but it's also not far off. A so-so microphone, questionable compositional resilience, and some annoying quirks hold the E910 back from greatness.

EKSA E910 5.8GHz wireless gaming headset

Bottom line: If you want good sound (why else would you want headphones?), the E910 headset does the trick. However, it's going to annoy you in a few choice ways in exchange for strong audio.

The Good

  • Balanced sound
  • Stylish headset design
  • Retractable microphone
  • Works with PC and consoles

The Bad

  • So-so mic quality
  • Seems fragile
  • Lives and dies by the dongle

$90 at EKSA

EKSA E910 5.8GHz wireless gaming headset: What I like

Let's get it right out of the way: The EKSA E910 headset has good audio. The 5.8GHz wireless experience is solid and balanced. Don't expect boosted bass or overpowered treble; everything is exactly as it should be in a headset pitching itself as a quality all-around audio experience. However, this does hurt it when it comes to bass-heavy music, wherein sometimes certain frequencies can be low enough that the E910s won't fully acknowledge them.

But that's a nitpick for bass enthusiasts; those wanting good balance are in for a treat. Similarly, those who like gaming headsets that don't look flat-out stupid are also in for a good time. The EKSA E910 isn't exactly subtle, but its cups' glow and triangular, Deus Ex-y aesthetic is neat, and the all-black build looks slick. The retractable mic is also a convenient addition and helps minimize the "gamer"-ness of the headset. And for those of you who care about animal life (as we all should), the faux leather on the cups is great.

The range of the wireless functionality extends such that you can have the dongle plugged into a PC in one room and travel a few rooms over and still receive sound, which isn't bad by any measure. And the battery life will last the majority of a standard workday, though not much longer. Still, combine all these perfectly solid results and functionalities, and you end up with a compelling package for both PC and console usage.

Here are the E910's specs, to put some hard figures behind all those compliments up above:

  • Driver diameter: 50mm
  • Connection method: 5.8GHz Wireless
  • Transmission distance: 10m/33 feet (360°)
  • Speaker sensitivity: 115dB ± 3dB
  • Frequency range: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Speaker impedance: 20Ω±15%
  • Mic sensitivity: -42±3dB

EKSA E910 5.8GHz wireless gaming headset: What I don't like

This headset does not feel like it can take a notable accident, or be grabbed at the wrong angle (it has two external cords), and remain perfectly intact. Now, for full disclosure, I have not tried slamming the headset into the ground or deliberately yanking it at an angle that'll make a cup snap off, but the feeling of fragility is there. And for the price, that's not a great drawback. The cups' fabric is thin as well, meaning it's unclear how long they'll last before tearing and wear start to become apparent.

The headset can be a little snug, even with its height adjustment capabilities. This can make for an unpleasant experience if you are sensitive to headphones with a bit of grip. And the lack of amplified bass or sound customization options, while not an objective flaw, is worth noting for those who treasure deep rumbles and buzzes. Speaking of sound: Audio controls between your device and the headset don't always sync up right away, sometimes requiring an on/off reset. Don't keep your device volume at 100 while syncing with these cans on your head or you'll risk going deaf (tune first, then wear).

The microphone could also be a dealbreaker for some. It doesn't reach very far from its retractable hole, so if you have a wide jaw, that could be an issue. Some colleagues and friends have told me the E910's mic sounded fuller and richer than my laptop's built-in mic, but more described it as fuzzier and less clear, implying that the fullness and fuzziness being described are the same phenomena with different results depending on the listener's speakers. TL;DR: The E910's mic, overall, isn't great. Serviceable if you need it, but not the universal ideal.

EKSA E910 5.8GHz wireless gaming headset: The competition

Given its price bracket, the EKSA E910 may not hold up against the best PC gaming headsets in the same price range. It has the edge on the HyperX Cloud II Wireless cans simply due to cost and the fact they're both reliant on a dongle (no Bluetooth). But if you don't prize the dongle-bound cordless experience, the wired options on that roundup are worth checking out as cheaper, and potentially more durable, alternatives with better mics.

Still, so long as you're looking for a gaming headset and not something Bluetooth-friendly to go outside with, the E910s are decently versatile, which is more than a lot of the wireless competition can say. They can rock out on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One (no mention of the Xbox Series X, unfortunately), and the Nintendo Switch.

EKSA E910 5.8GHz wireless gaming headset: Should you buy?

You should buy this if ...

  • You want a balanced sound experience.
  • You adore wireless headphones.
  • You want to look cyberpunk-y around your house.

You should not buy this if ...

  • You detest dongle-reliant headphones.
  • You want wireless cans with the longest possible battery life.
  • You're afraid of breaking hardware.

When playing Lost Judgment (PS4 version) with these on, I was able to hear great sound design details lesser speakers or headphones wouldn't have delivered nearly as crisply, if at all. The subtle breeze of the wind, rustle of leaves, and background jabbering of school kids were all distinct and appreciable. It was a sumptuous overall experience, even if virtual 7.1 surround sound remains a bit of an industry-wide ruse that the E910 continues to promulgate.

4 out of 5

I enjoy playing games and listening to music with these headphones, and that's ultimately the most important thing. But it remains uncertain as to how long the cans will hold up. That, coupled with the headset's dongle-based wireless limitations and mic quality, means the E910 is worthwhile for a specific niche of sedentary folk who love singleplayer games and jamming out. Those who need to communicate on the regular for video calls or competitive team-based gaming may want to keep looking.

EKSA E910 5.8GHz wireless gaming headset

Bottom line: EKSA's E910 headset is certainly a better value than a lot of what's on the market. However, given its wireless functionality's limitations, an average battery life, and other assorted items that hold it back, it's not a universal recommendation.

$90 at EKSA