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The semiconductor crisis is worsening and industries are clashing

Chip shortages breed contempt.

What you need to know

  • A global shortage of chips has hurt many industries, ranging from automobile makers to phone manufacturers.
  • Companies across these industries are trying to score each other's chip supplies, causing friction.
  • The U.S. government has been holding meetings with leaders in these sectors to see what the situation is and what, if any, amicable solutions are possible.

As the coronavirus' Delta variant rampages through Southeast Asia, causing chip factories in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia to delay production or intermittently shut down, companies across many industries are facing production pipeline problems.

According to The Washington Post, companies in entirely separate sectors are at each other's throats. Automakers want the chip supplies and resources that are currently going to smartphone companies, while smartphone companies argue that automakers can suffer for all they care and that it's not the smartphone industry's problem that automakers didn't plan accordingly for the coronavirus-stricken landscape.

"It's on industry to come up with the solutions here and to identify some of the path forward," said a Biden administration official about the situation, in the leadup to the Thursday (September 23, 2021) meeting between the White House and various industry leaders.

That's a general overview of the macro situation. On a micro level, the Kansas City Business Journal has an illustration of the immediate impacts of the chip shortage: Ford's and GM's Kansas-based auto assembly plants have seen sporadic shutdowns during 2021. Combined, these shutdowns affect nearly 10,000 employees directly as well as those at companies depending on Ford and GM.

That same report says the global automotive industry is primed to lose revenue to the tune of $210 billion in 2021 because of the shortage. The large figure is one example of how the chip shortage is affecting things beyond the availability of the best graphics cards, which are also being hurt by supply constraints.

Microsoft applies Internet-sized Band-Aid to stem Autodiscover leaks

It's a stopgap, not a fix.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft Exchange's Autodiscover protocol reportedly has a credential-leaking issue.
  • Microsoft acknowledged the situation but did not provide a clear outline of what it planned to do to solve the matter.
  • Now, a new report illustrates one method Microsoft is using to protect itself in the interim.

Microsoft has a lot of products and services, and with so much tech being released and maintained, bugs and vulnerabilities are bound to crop up. However, Microsoft Exchange, in particular, has had a suboptimal 2021, starting out with a large-scale Chinese hack and continuing through the year with a plethora of smaller issues. Much like Microsoft's PrintNightmare situation, Exchange woes don't seem to be going away anytime soon.

To summarize a long story, it was recently discovered that Exchange's Autodiscover protocol has been leaking Windows credentials due to improper implementation issues. These credentials are being shared with domains that should not have access to such information.

Now, it appears Microsoft is scrambling to register domains that could accidentally acquire leaked info, per a report by BleepingComputer. To be clear, this is not a solution for the implementation issue, but is something of a stopgap to stem the flow of the leaks and minimize the potential impact of the real problem.

At the time of BleepingComputer's report, Microsoft had registered a minimum of 68 domains to combat the Autodiscover problem. However, it's mentioned that Microsoft's likely registered far more than the immediately apparent 68. This method of leak prevention can be equated to taping up holes in a boat, in that it may prevent water intake to some degree but doesn't fix the root cause.

As always, we'll provide updates as the story develops, so keep checking Windows Central for the latest scoops on Autodiscover issues, PrintNightmare problems, and any other Microsoft products that succumb to Murphy's law.

Intel's two new Arizona chip factories have begun construction

The physical manifestation of Intel's war on chip shortages is here.

What you need to know

  • The world's chip supply chain is in disarray due to coronavirus, material shortages, and other factors.
  • Intel is committed to fighting said supply chain issues as well as re-establishing U.S. leadership in the chip space.
  • Its latest $20 billion investment in the chip race has officially begun construction.

The global semiconductor shortage has been impacting a variety of sectors, ranging from the auto and medical industries to PC gaming hardware manufacturing. Intel has been committed to combatting said shortage and, by extension, helping get tech companies back on their feet so that they can supply consumers with the best graphics cards and other useful hardware.

Months ago, the company spoke about putting $20 billion toward new chip factories (oftentimes referred to as fabs, a truncation of "wafer fabrication facilities") in Arizona, and now, construction has officially begun. Intel claims this marks the "largest private investment in state history" and serves as a reiteration of its focus on getting the U.S. semiconductor industry back into world-class shape. The U.S. falling behind in this department was a focus of Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger's during his appearance on the program 60 Minutes.

You can read more about Intel's investments in the two new Arizona fabs via the company's press release on the subject. And know that while Intel invests in the U.S.'s semiconductor sector, the same sorts of investments are happening with rival companies and countries.

For example, the ongoing chip war between the U.S. and China remains heated as companies such as SMIC work to ensure China's technological self-sufficiency and independence.

With regards to Intel's commencement of construction on its new Arizona fabs, don't expect these developments to fix shortage issues overnight. As many companies have said, it'll be a good year or so before there's a realistic chance of supply chains stabilizing.

Microsoft Teams' VaxApp is here to help employees share vaccination status

Teams wants to know if you've been jabbed.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft Teams' new VaxApp has arrived on GitHub.
  • It's a means for employees to share whether they've been vaccinated.
  • It exists to help companies comply with the U.S. government's mandate that organizations with over 100 employees must show that their employees are vaccinated or regularly test negative for COVID.

Microsoft Teams is constantly expanding its services to address every kind of workforce need under the sun, and it has now stretched to cover one more sector: Government vaccination mandates. Teams now has VaxApp, a tool with which employees can attest to having had a vaccination.

VaxApp comes in response to the U.S. government's new rule that employers with over a hundred employees need to verify that their workers have been vaccinated or are testing negative for COVID on a weekly basis. Now, organizations utilizing Microsoft Teams have an easy, PowerApp-based way to get their employees' statuses accounted for.

You can check out VaxApp over on GitHub, where you'll also find the full deployment guide for how to jab it into your organization's Teams infrastructure. These are the key features of VaxApp:

  • Submit an Attestation: Easily submit an attestation for yourself or on behalf of another person.
  • View Attestations: Easily review your history of attestation submissions.
  • Admin Console: Export attestation data for simplified reporting.

Microsoft's already made its own stance on vaccinations clear, so the company's rollout of technology to help monitor the situation can be seen as an extension of its existing policy.

Microsoft Teams

Free at Microsoft Free at App Store Free at Google Play Store

Microsoft Teams is now in the business of making sure your teammates are jabbed. With VaxApp, it's easy to confirm whether you've been vaccinated and are helping your employer comply with new policies and rules.

Chip shortage draws Microsoft, Intel, and others to White House meeting

The Biden administration wants chip updates just like the rest of us.

What you need to know

  • The global chip shortage has strained many industries' technology supply chains for much of the past two years.
  • The Biden administration has expressed interest in not only staying on top of the situation, but helping alleviate problems where possible.
  • Microsoft, Intel, TSMC, and others were set to attend a virtual meeting today to update the Biden administration on the state of the shortages.

Though not every industry has felt the chip shortage with equal impact, if you've been brave enough to attempt buying one of the best graphics cards anytime in the past year or so, you know full well that many people in the PC world are being starved of the tech they want due to the ongoing semiconductor crisis.

That's one of the many reasons why major companies and countries are taking extensive measures to combat the shortages. Parties impacted by a lack of chips range from automobile manufacturers to PC part makers, hence why entities from those industries and many others have gathered at a virtual White House meeting today (via Reuters).

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is on the list of attendees, as are Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung personnel, as well as representatives for chipmaking behemoths such as TSMC. The meeting is set to address the coronavirus Delta variant's chip supply impact, as well as how producers and consumers can improve communication during the strained period.

Though the U.S. Senate passed a bill not too long ago greenlighting $52 billion to semiconductor funding, it'll be a while before that money, or today's meeting's consequences, trickle down to consumers in the way of heightened supplies. So until the global situation starts to get better, keep your fingers crossed and keep that shiny RTX 3060 Ti on your watch list.

The new MSI PRO AP241 All-in-One PC has launched, is under $1,000

It ships with Windows 10 Pro.

What you need to know

  • The new MSI PRO AP241 All-in-One (AiO) PC has been announced and is now officially available on Amazon for $949.
  • That particular config features an Intel Core i5-11400, 8GB of RAM, and a 250GB SSD.
  • MSI notes that other configs of the MSI PRO AP241 AiO are also available, that scale up to include components such as the Intel Core i7-11700 processor and 64GB of RAM.

MSI has a new all-in-one (AiO) PC on the loose: The MSI PRO AP241 AiO. If you want the fun of a desktop and monitor smushed into a single device, that's where this new release and the best all-in-one PCs come into play.

Here's a bit of the press release to help set the stage for the PRO AP241 AiO: "The All-in-One PC features powerful processors, eye care technology, and an IPS panel for a wide viewing angle and enhanced viewing experience. The PRO AP241 includes the desktop-grade H510 chipset with new 11th Gen Intel Rocket Lake CPU, a major step up from other All-in-One PCs on the market, which utilize mobile-grade processors."

To reiterate: These are MSI's words (including its claim about competing machines' processors). MSI says the PC supports up to an Intel Core i7-11700 in the processor department and up to Intel UHD Graphics 750 for visuals, as well as a max of 64GB of RAM. However, the listing available on Amazon right now for the MSI PRO AP241 AiO features 8GB of RAM, an Intel Core i5-11400, and no specifics on graphics. It also ships with Windows 10 Pro (as opposed to Windows 11). This version of the machine will set you back $949.

You can stay on the lookout for the maxed-out config via MSI's site, though for right now, it seems the weaker version is what's available to spend money on, and even that's "temporarily out of stock," according to Amazon.

The everything machine


$949 at Amazon

All-in-one action

If you want a 23.8" FHD IPS LED non-touch monitor built right into your PC (or vice versa), MSI has the machine for you. Sporting an Intel Core i5-11400 and 8GB of RAM, it isn't the most powerful PC on the market, but it's a convenient one given its form factor.

Microsoft Edge has new features designed to save you time and money

Microsoft Edge has some new tricks up its sleeve.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft Edge has new features built around the idea of saving you time and money.
  • These features include express checkout and easy access to customer reviews of products you may be considering.
  • Edge will also now provide suggestions for what you should check out while traveling (if you want Edge's advice on the subject).

Like other browsers vying for your attention and adoration, Microsoft Edge is constantly overhauling itself with new features and functions, attempting to make itself the most compelling package possible. So to ensure you don't wander off to Google Chrome, or Firefox, or Opera, or Brave (or you get the point), Edge has these new lures: Features designed to save you time and money.

You can now get instant access to customer reviews of products just by clicking the blue tag in the search bar, in case you want writeups from trusted sources on the fly to help inform your buying decisions. And, with Edge's new express checkout feature, you also have the means to save guest checkout info so that future purchases across any online retailer will be faster and easier.

But wait, there's more! If you're planning your next getaway within the Edge browser, there'll be a notification in the search bar up top that can give you tips on what places are worth checking out. If you want Edge to help plan your big trip to El Salvador or the Maldives, you can effectively sit back and let it do some of the work for you.

And we're not done yet: Microsoft Edge also packs Tab Groups to ensure you're organized and not strapped for space due to having a hundred stray tabs roaming around.

You can get a more in-depth look at all the latest Edge features over at Microsoft's blog.

Microsoft Edge

Free at Microsoft Free at Microsoft (Beta) Free at Microsoft (Dev) Free at Microsoft (Canary)

Microsoft wants to help you save time and money, but it can only do that if you use its Edge browser. There's a good chance it's already on your machine, if you want to check it out.

Microsoft Exchange feature issue results in Windows credential leak

This appears to be an Autodiscover bug and not an Autodiscover feature.

What you need to know

  • The Autodiscover feature of Microsoft Exchange is reported as having been improperly implemented.
  • Said implementation issues have resulted in the leaks of nearly 100,000 Windows credentials, including logins and names.
  • Microsoft has acknowledged it is investigating the matter and is unhappy the issue wasn't shared with it before reaching the media.

The Autodiscover feature in Microsoft Exchange is resulting in a bit more information being exchanged than users likely hoped for. In short, Guardicore reports that the Autodiscover protocol's improper implementation has led to "96,671 unique credentials" being leaked (via BleepingComputer).

Here's an aggressively simplified overview of how the leaks happened: Imagine an Exchange user signs into a mail client (Outlook, for example). Said client will try to ensure Exchange Autodiscover URLs are legitimate. That user's login details are then sent to the URLs in question.

However, because of the procedures of some mail clients, the Autodiscover protocol results in untrusted domains receiving authentication attempts. And that means that the untrusted domain's owners can collect the data they wrongly received and do whatever they want with it.

That's how the leak occurs, and how 96,671 credentials have gone places they shouldn't have. You can read Guardicore's full report for the nitty-gritty details, but that's a general summary of the situation.

When BleepingComputer reached out to Microsoft about the issue, this was Senior Director of Communications Jeff Jones' response:

We are actively investigating and will take appropriate steps to protect customers. We are committed to coordinated vulnerability disclosure, an industry standard, collaborative approach that reduces unnecessary risk for customers before issues are made public. Unfortunately, this issue was not reported to us before the researcher marketing team presented it to the media, so we learned of the claims today.

Microsoft has repeatedly reminded everyone to play it smart with Exchange, though in this particular instance, it's not clear how exactly users can do anything on their end for added protection. We'll update the story if the company updates its guidance regarding the current situation.

Surface and Windows 11: Experts weigh in on Microsoft's ecosystem prospects

Here's the scoop on the interconnectivity of Microsoft's ecosystem.

We've reached something of a turning point for the MCU, otherwise known as the Microsoft Computational Universe. It's when the Windows 11 experience overlaps so heavily with Microsoft's Surface device ambitions that the two separate endeavors join forces for one glorious team-up launch on October 5, 2021 and are thereby inextricably linked from one another in the minds of consumers forevermore.

But there's more to it than that. Microsoft and its Chief Product Officer Panos Panay seem intent on bringing the differing facets of the company together to produce a more cohesive package. What are the implications of such actions?

Is Microsoft building a tight, all-encompassing ecosystem? Is it just trying to take a page from Apple's book without going to those extremes? We asked experts to weigh in.

Surface 2021, Windows 11, and the MCU

Microsoft didn't skimp with its 2021 Surface lineup. Not only did we get the rumored, leaked, and highly coveted Surface Duo 2 reveal, but also a whole host of other devices and hardware. And one thing was constant throughout all of these devices (barring the Duo 2): A love of Windows 11. Was this a sign that Microsoft has finally embraced a unified, ecosystem-minded approach for its products?

"I think Microsoft realizes it's fundamentally different from Apple," said Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst J.P. Gownder. "It's an ecosystem of partners."

As to what that ecosystem meant on a practical level, Gownder explained the different parts.

"So I think it's a bit of a return by Surface to its origins as a demonstration product to galvanize the OEM partner ecosystem by showing off Windows 11, while also honoring that Surface will continue to be its own robust, independent product line," he said. "But it's not an Apple-style closed ecosystem."

He noted that Enterprise customers still have practical needs that Dell, HP, and Lenovo are better equipped to satisfy than Surface devices are, highlighting one more piece of evidence behind the claim that Microsoft's approach to ecosystems truly is focused on casting a broader net than Apple by emphasizing the partner element.

Not an Apple

Whether it's deliberately not trying to be or just can't manage the task, one thing's for certain: Microsoft is not Apple.

"Yes, Microsoft has been trying to build an OS + hardware ecosystem," said Gartner Research Director Mikako Kitagawa. "The lack of a phone OS is their weakness compared to Apple's ecosystem, so Duo is their effort to fill the gap. Still, there are many users with iPhone and Windows devices, meaning that having a phone OS does not necessarily increase the number of Mac users."

Gownder made similar comments with regards to the Duo not quite being the one-size-fits-all solution Microsoft may be hoping for. "I think Microsoft would love to become a player in high-end Android phones but they have a long way to go based on the 1.0 Duo device," he said. "It's more of an aspiration than an empire at this point!"

Caveats aside, there was an acknowledgment of a carefully crafted ecosystem, even if not all branches of it were viewed as winning the world over just yet. The one thing that experts across the board agreed on was that Microsoft's efforts were resulting in a unique interpretation of the interconnected technology concept.

"I do agree that Microsoft appears to be trying to create a more tightly integrated ecosystem that could be considered to be more like what Apple has created with iOS and MacOS," said Moor Insights & Strategy Senior Analyst Anshel Sag. "However, I think the thing to consider here is that Microsoft's goals across the board are to enable rapid creativity and productivity. I think Microsoft's vision is to remove barriers to productivity and creativity with this Surface experience and to give it the premium feel that Surface has always had."

Sag stated that he thought Microsoft's approach for Surface was ambitious, given the wide variety of users it was trying to win over.

Microsoft Surface strategy, in summary

At the end of the day, only Microsoft knows what its long-term plans are for Surface and Windows. But the evidence exists to suggest that the MCU is a real goal for the company and that it's intent on people loving its hardware as much as its world-dominating software.

While the company cares very much about Azure and its cloud efforts, it appears Windows and Surface are both getting a renewed sense of focus and attention from Redmond. This is resulting in a more cohesive picture of how all of Microsoft's endeavors relate to each other. Time will tell whether said relations grow tighter or if the net is truly being cast as wide as possible.

Surface Laptop Studio, Go 3, and Duo 2 now at Best Buy

A trio of Surface products just appeared at Best Buy.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft unveiled a lot of Surface devices and hardware today.
  • Three of said devices, the Surface Laptop Studio and Surface Duo 2, are now available at Best Buy.
  • Both the Laptop Studio and Duo 2 can carry a $1,599 price tag, depending on the config you opt for. Meanwhile, the Surface Go 3 starts at $399.

If you haven't been keeping up on the news, here's the scoop: Microsoft recently unveiled a lot of new Surface devices. And two of the hottest announcements from the lineup, the Surface Laptop Studio and Surface Duo 2, are now available to preorder at Best Buy. The Surface Go 3 is also available if you're interested in the budget tablet offering.

Pricing for the Duo 2 starts at $1,499 if you want the 128GB version, with the cost jumping up to $1,599 for the 256GB iteration. Meanwhile, the Surface Laptop Studio comes at a variety of costs depending on what kind of specs you want. One comfy default Best Buy offers is the $1,599 config, which features an Intel 11th Gen Core i5 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. But if you feel the need to spend more money in exchange for a better PC, rest assured, Microsoft has left that option open. You can spend over $3,000 on the thing with ease if you opt for a 2TB SSD, 32GB of RAM, and an Intel 11th Gen Core i7.

If you want to spend far less, the Surface Go 3 starts at $399 and scales up from there if you want a faster processor, more storage, or LTE, though the price ceiling doesn't ever hit astronomical heights relative to the Go 3's Surface peers.

You can still get the devices directly from Microsoft, but perhaps you have a few Best Buy gift cards lying around or just prefer BB's online retail setup. Whatever the reason, know that you have options.

We'll update our coverage as more Surface items become available at Best Buy.

Surface Laptop Studio

From $1,599 at Microsoft From $1,599 at Best Buy

The Surface Laptop Studio aims to reinvent how 2-in-1s work. With a pull-to-transform build, haptics, and 120Hz display, the machine has a lot going for it.

Surface Duo 2

From $1,499 at Microsoft From $1,499 at Best Buy

The Surface Duo 2 looks to realize the promise the Duo 1 held inside its tiny little folded frame. With a better processor, camera setup, and plenty of other improvements, the Duo 2 is set to be a better experience all around.

Surface Go 3

From $399 at Microsoft From $399 at Best Buy

The Surface Go 3 is a tablet. If you want the fun of the Surface line without the usual four-digit price tag, you can opt for this device.

The Surface Go 3 packs improved processors into a familiar build

Microsoft's third go-around is almost here.

What you need to know

  • The Surface Go 3 has been announced and is available for pre-order ahead of its October 5 release.
  • The Wi-Fi version of the device will start at $399, with LTE models coming in December for the U.S. and Canada and early 2022 for other markets.
  • The leaked Surface Go 3 processor specs have turned out to be accurate.

Microsoft's latest line of Surface products has been officially revealed, following a short burst of leaks prematurely revealing items such as the Surface Duo 2's existence and the Surface Go 3's processor details. As it turns out, the latter have been confirmed by Microsoft's formal announcement of the third installment in its Surface tablet line.

The Surface Go 3 features the Intel Pentium GOLD 6500Y and Intel Core i3-10100Y processors that were namedropped in association with the device over on Geekbench not too long ago, with 4GB or 8GB of RAM attached respectively. Storage-wise, you can go as low as 64GB of eMMC memory, while Commerical Channels will get up to 256GB SSDs. Here's the complete spec list:

Category Surface Go 3
OS Windows 11 Home in S mode (consumer)
Windows 11 Pro (commercial)
Windows 10 Pro (commercial)
Processor Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y
10th Gen Intel Core i3-10100Y
Graphics Intel UHD 615
Storage 64GB eMMC
256GB SSD (commercial)
Display 10.5 inches
220 PPI
3:2 aspect ratio
Ports USB-C
Surface Connect
3.5mm audio
microSD card reader
Nano SIM (LTE models)
Audio Dual 2W stereo speakers
Dual far-field studio mics
Connectivity Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5
Snapdragon X16 LTE
eSIM support
Nano SIM support
Camera Front-facing 5MP (1080p)
Rear-facing 8MP (1080p)
IR camera
Keyboard Type Cover
Not included
Touchpad Precision
Pen MPP compatible
Not included
Security IR camera
Firmware TPM (consumer)
Hardware TPM 2.0 (commercial)
Battery Up to 11 hours
Dimensions 9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 inches
(245mm x 175mm x 8.3mm)
Weight Wi-Fi: 1.2 pounds (544g)
LTE: 1.22 pounds (533g)
Color Platinum

As can be seen on the table, consumers will receive Windows 11 Home S. It's fitting given that Windows 11 is having its own launch on October 5, the same day the Surface Go 3 releases to the public. Again, the device will start at $399 but can get more expensive depending on what internals you opt for.

Surface Go 3

Specs Price
Intel Pentium, 4GB RAM, 64GB, WiFi $399.99
Intel Pentium, 8GB RAM, 128GB, WiFi $549
10th Gen Intel Core i3, 8GB RAM, 128GB, WiFi $629.99
Intel Pentium, 4GB RAM, 64GB, LTE $499.99
10th Gen Intel Core i3, 8GB RAM, 128GB, LTE $729.99

LTE models will come in December 2021 for the U.S. and Canada, with other markets having to wait until early 2022.

Surface surprise

Surface Go 3

Starting at $399 at Microsoft

Third time's the charm

If you want entry to the Surface family of devices for one of the lowest possible prices, the Surface Go 3 tablet is an option to consider. For now, it's a Wi-Fi device, though LTE options are on the way.

Getting Windows 11 on unsupported PCs may require risk acknowledgment

Microsoft wants you to know what you're doing.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has been unclear regarding the state of security updates for those who jump to Windows 11 on unsupported devices.
  • The company has made it clear users who put the OS on unsupported devices won't be entitled to updates but hasn't specified whether they will receive updates, regardless of entitlement.
  • Now, Microsoft may be requiring those upgrading to Windows 11 to sign a waiver acknowledging that if their machine is beneath the requirement floor, they're on their own.

Microsoft's latest and greatest operating system, Windows 11, is almost upon us, arriving on October 5. Between now and then, though, questions linger, such as one that's haunted those with CPUs just below W11's requirement cutoff: "What happens if I upgrade on an unsupported device?"

Based on a report from The Verge, it seems that attempting to upgrade an unsupported machine to the new operating system may prompt Microsoft to serve you with a waiver. Said waiver explicitly states what you're doing is not recommended by Microsoft, falls outside your device's manufacturer warranty, and means you're not supported or entitled to updates.

While the wording is vague regarding whether unsupported Windows 11 PCs will receive updates (which is nothing new from Microsoft over the past few weeks and months), the fact the company appears to be reiterating this uncertainty via a waiver that demands acknowledgment does not bode well for those who plan to go the distance with the operating system on rigs below the hardware cutoff.

If more news about this reported waiver appears, we'll update our coverage. Until then, check out the updated PC Health Check app to see if you're all set for Windows 11 or will have to tempt fate and confront Microsoft waivers.

Oracle takes issue with DoD's perceived preference for Microsoft and Amazon

The U.S. DoD's contract handling is being brought into question... again.

What you need to know

  • The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recently put its JEDI litigation headaches behind it by canceling the contract.
  • However, even though the fight between Team Amazon and Team U.S. government & Microsoft is over, Oracle is not satisfied.
  • Oracle argues the DoD is repeating the same mistakes all over again, simply under the guise of a new contract.

Though the matter's been formally wrapped for some time now, the U.S. Department of Defense's JEDI contract conundrum is still fresh in terms of the lineage of Pentagon-authorized cloud contracts. And now, Oracle is arguing the DoD's new Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract is repeating the JEDI cycle all over again, just under a new name.

For context, to summarize the lengthy story of JEDI: Microsoft was awarded a cloud contract by the Pentagon. Amazon sued, claiming that it was unrightfully discriminated against in the awarding process due to interference by the Trump administration. The battle stretched on for years until late in 2021, the Pentagon announced it was killing the JEDI contract altogether. It was then announced that the JWCC contract would replace JEDI and have room for both Microsoft and Amazon, precluding either party from claiming they'd been unfairly excluded.

However, Oracle says the JWCC's seemingly built-in inclusion of Microsoft and Amazon unfairly excludes it, stating that the DoD has not clarified what makes those two cloud providers eligible for the contract and justifies seemingly cutting out other companies from a shot at the deal.

Oracle's view of the matter is that the same misconduct that led to Amazon suing the U.S. is the same misconduct happening with the JWCC, just with a few of the players' positions on the chessboard rearranged (via The Register). Ergo, the case that started with JEDI should live on, and the DoD's award selection procedures should remain under scrutiny and require more clarity in requirements so that Oracle isn't left wondering why it seems to be teetering on the verge of being preemptively excluded.

Limited edition SteelSeries Ghost collection mouse and keyboard are here

SteelSeries has the ghostliest of accessories available right now.

What you need to know

  • SteelSeries' Ghost collection is now available for purchase for a limited time only.
  • The two items currently for sale in the collection are the Apex 7 TKL Ghost Edition keyboard and Aerox 3 Wireless Ghost Edition mouse.
  • The mouse will set you back $99, and the keyboard will cost $149.

SteelSeries' Ghost collection is here to make your gaming a bit more ghoulish, just in time for the month of Halloween. On offer are the Apex 7 TKL Ghost Edition keyboard and Aerox 3 Wireless Ghost Edition mouse, both of which will cost you a pretty penny.

The keyboard has a detachable magnetic wrist rest, a built-in OLED Smart Display, and per-key RGB illumination. It also sports a Series 5000 Aircraft-grade aluminum frame. It'll cost you $149. Take note that a lot of its features are what you'll find in the best gaming keyboards.

As for the mouse, it has a 200-hour battery life (in Bluetooth mode) and supports fast charging via USB-C. The mouse can wirelessly connect with your PC via Bluetooth or 2.4 GHz mode. It's also resistant to dust and water. The mouse retails for $99.

In short, if you want both of these items for the full Ghost setup, you'll be paying $249 total. The items are limited edition, and there's no telling when they'll be gone.

Spectral mice

Aerox 3 Wireless Ghost Edition mouse

$99 at SteelSeries

Ghostly gaming

If you have $99 floating around and need to up the aesthetic value of your gaming station, this mouse is one way to do it.

Clickable keyboarding

Apex 7 TKL Ghost Edition keyboard

$149 at SteelSeries

Illuminated typer

If you want a snazzy means of typing, this keyboard fits the bill. Between its OLED Display, wrist rest and glowing keyboard, there's a lot to like here.

The HP Spectre x360 16-inch 2-in-1 laptop arrives this October

For those who liked HP's top-rated Spectre x360 14 but wished it had a bigger display (and more powerful CPU), the new Spectre x360 16 checks the right boxes.

What you need to know

  • The HP Spectre x360 16-inch 2-in-1 laptop arrives in October 2021.
  • It features a 16-inch 16:10 3K display with a powerful 35-watt Intel H-series CPU.
  • The 2-in-1 has a starting price of $1,639 and ships with Windows 11.

HP's fall 2021 slate is jam-packed with new devices, and one particularly high-profile item is the HP Spectre x360 16-inch 2-in-1 laptop. It's set to go on sale on HP's website starting in October of this year, though you can also expect to see it at Best Buy sometime later in the fall.

Based on the specs we've seen thus far, you can expect storage options such as a 512 GB Intel PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD, and other top-tier inclusions like a 3072 x 1920 display, 11th Generation Intel Core i7-11390H CPU, and Windows 11. But that's not all.

The 16-inch Spectre x360 also packs Bang & Olufsen audio with quad speakers, up to 18 and a half hours of battery (depending on what you're doing), and an HP True Vision 5MP IR camera with a shutter, temporal noise reduction, and integrated dual array digital microphones.

And that's not all the camera has going for it. Here's what HP has to say about its inclusion of the Spectre x360's GlamCam: "With HP GlamCam, an intelligent 5MP camera that provides features like lighting correction, auto frame and beauty mode, you can keep your focus on what you're saying, not what you look like."

There you have it. Beauty mode will clean you up no matter what you look like, so long as you look clean and professional. Here are the specs for the default config HP shared with us:

Category HP Spectre x360 16
OS Windows 11 Home
Processor 11th Gen Intel
Up to Core i7-11390H
Four cores
Up to 5.0GHz
RAM 16GB to 32GB DDR4-3200MHz
Graphics Intel Iris Xe
Storage 512GB to 1TB
32GB Intel Optane
Display 16 inches
3072x1920 (3K)
Touch, IPS
400 nits, 100% sRGB
91% screen-to-body ratio
Flush Glass, Anti-Reflection, micro-edge
Pen HP Rechargeable MPP 2.0 Tilt
Ports Two Thunderbolt 4
3.5mm audio
HDMI 2.0b
Audio Quad speakers
Bang & Olufsen tuning
Connectivity Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210
Bluetooth 5.2
Camera Front-facing 5MP
IR camera
Camera shutter
Keyboard Backlit
Touchpad Precision
Security Fingerprint reader
IR camera
Camera shutter
Battery 83Wh
90W AC adapter
Dimensions 14.09 x 9.66 x 0.78 inches
(358mm x 245mm x 20mm)
Weight 4.45 pounds (2.02kg)
Color Nocturne blue
Nightfall black
Material Aluminum

This new HP Spectre x360 16 features a similar 16:10 display to its smaller sibling, the excellent Specter x360 14, but instead of a 15-watt U-series processor, this 16-inch model rocks a more powerful 35-watt H-series one. HP doesn't, however, stick in more powerful graphics, making this effectively just a bigger version of the Spectre x360 14 for those who want a larger screen.

You also benefit from that new massive 5MP front-facing camera making this laptop ideal for those who spend a lot of time on video calls. HP also gives you two color choices with Nocturne blue and Nightfall black, similar to its other Spectre laptops.

The 16-inch x360 will have a starting price of $1,639 though you may be able to scale that up or down based on needs. You'll find out soon enough, though, when the 2-in-1 goes on sale at in October and later in the year over at Best Buy.

In addition to this laptop, HP announced the ARM-based HP 14-inch Laptop PC, 11-inch Tablet PC, and ENVY 34 all-in-one with a 5K display.

HP goes with a touchscreen for its affordable ARM-based 14-inch Laptop PC

HP's new affordable laptop is your answer for those who liked the Samsung Galaxy Book Go but wanted a touchscreen.

What you need to know

  • The HP 14-inch Laptop PC arrives at Walmart in October 2021.
  • It's packing Qualcomm-based 7c Gen 2 graphics and processing power.
  • Pricing is unknown and will be disclosed "closer to availability."
  • It features a touchscreen, optional 4G LTE and ships with Windows 11.

HP, never one to waste words, is releasing its straightforward HP 14-inch Laptop PC this October. The PC, which is most assuredly coming in a laptop form factor, will be available at Walmart. There's no word on whether other retailers will be getting it.

Until more becomes known about the 14-inch lap topper, here's what you can expect for internals: A Qualcommm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 processor, a Qualcomm Adreno 618 GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of eMMC storage. If you're a work-from-home-aholic and need a personal machine with a camera, HP's latest will include a Wide Vision 720p HD camera with temporal noise reduction and integrated dual array digital microphones. The laptop will also pack Windows 11 Home.

Category HP Laptop 14
OS Windows 11 Home
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c G2
Eight cores
Up to 2.4GHz
Graphics Qualcomm Adreno 618
Storage 128GB eMMC
Display 14 inches
1920x1080 (FHD)
IPS, touch
250 nits
Ports USB-C
3.5mm audio
microSD card reader
Audio Stereo speakers
Connectivity Qualcomm Atheros Wi-Fi 5
Bluetooth 5
Camera Front-facing 720p
Security Fingerprint reader
Battery 32Wh
45W AC adapter
Dimensions 12.75 x 8.31 x 0.67 inches
(324mm x 211 x 17mm)
Weight 2.65 pounds (1.2kg)
Color Natural silver

The laptop looks like a direct competitor against the new Samsung Galaxy Book Go, which features the same processor, 14-inch full HD display, and also 128GB of storage. But unlike Samsung's laptop this one does have a touchscreen.

HP also refers to this laptop as its "first ARM-powered mainstream Windows laptop with 4G LTE (optional)," which is a unique milestone.

Pricing for the HP 14-inch Laptop PC remains to be seen, though you can make your best guesses in the comments below. We have these clues: The specs, as listed above, and the fact the device is releasing at Walmart with no other retailers specified. What's your wallet's spider sense saying?

We'll update our coverage when more concrete details from HP become available.

HP 14 inch Laptop PC

Coming Soon

The HP 14 inch Laptop PC is a budget-friendly clamshell laptop powered by Qualcomm's affordable Snapdragon 7c Gen processor. While no price is given, it should be less than $500 and available later in October with Windows 11.

The new MURAL app is here to enhance visual teamwork in MS Teams

If a picture's worth a thousand words, then MURAL is worth even more.

What you need to know

  • The new MURAL app specializes in helping facilitate visualization teamwork.
  • The app is now integrated with Microsoft Teams, meaning teammates can draw, use sticky notes, create diagrams, and more with ease.

Microsoft Teams constantly receives new updates, features, fixes, and apps. One such recent app of note is MURAL, which now has integration with Teams. MURAL is designed to make visual collaboration easy, allowing teammates to use helpful visual objects to explain themselves, share information, and clarify their points.

The new app's integration with Teams comes after its integration with Zoom and Webex. Here's some of what the company behind the app had to say in its press release:

Building upon the existing integration, the MURAL App for Microsoft Teams gives users the ability to bring a shared digital canvas directly into any channel, chat, meeting invite, or live video meeting where all attendees can collaborate visually using digital sticky notes, images, drawings, diagrams, and more. When working in Teams, the MURAL integration adds a new visual dimension to collaboration that increases team creativity, engagement, and alignment, regardless of whether they are working in-person, remotely, or both.

MURAL isn't limited to Microsoft Teams, though. It's already made its way to a host of other Microsoft products. There's an official MURAL app for Windows 10 (no mention of Windows 11... yet), integrations with GitHub and Bing, and the app also has a home on Azure, for the benefit of creative collaborators computing in the cloud. But right now, the spotlight is on the new app coming to Teams.

Microsoft Teams

Free at Microsoft Free at App Store Free at Google Play Store

Microsoft Teams' emphasis on collaboration can't be understated; after all, it's in the name. But with the MUSE app, you can get even more constructive teamwork out of your Teams teamups.

Microsoft and Google top 2021 vulnerability charts

The names Microsoft and Google and the word "vulnerabilities" go hand in hand.

What you need to know

  • According to Atlas VPN, Microsoft and Google have had the most amount of vulnerabilities in tech during the first half of 2021.
  • Google rocked a whopping 547 total vulnerabilities, putting it as the pack leader of exposed companies.
  • Microsoft came in second with a still-noteworthy 432 vulnerabilities thanks to situations such as this year's Exchange server chaos.

If you thought all those stories earlier this year regarding Microsoft's various earth-shattering product vulnerabilities weren't going to net it some sort of award by the end of 2021, you thought wrong: Microsoft has officially scored Atlas VPN's silver medal for the most recorded vulnerabilities in the first half of 2021, topped only by gold medalist Google.

You can check out Atlas VPN's post for all the nitty-gritty details on who landed where outside of the podium placements (spoiler: Apple only managed eighth place with an embarrassing 67 vulnerabilities, not even getting close to Microsoft), but we're going to focus on the big winners of the awkward race: Google and Microsoft.

Google came out on top with 547 noted vulnerabilities in the first half of 2021, which Atlas reminds us directly endangers the over three billion Chrome users out there. And, though typically not one to be outdone, Microsoft has only managed a distant second to Google this time around, racking up 432 instances of unwanted exposure. The strong 432 figure was made possible in part by the Microsoft Exchange chaos that gobbled up most of early 2021's news cycle.

Microsoft has made it clear that it's not a fan of being vulnerable and even has various bounties active for those who want to make a buck quashing blindspots for Redmond. It appears more resources will be needed to keep itself off future Atlas VPN lists.

HyperX has a gaming mouse that plays extra nice with NVIDIA Reflex

Gamers, rise up.

What you need to know

  • HyperX's Pulsefire Haste gaming mouse is officially compatible with NVIDIA Reflex tech.
  • NVIDIA Reflex is designed to combat in-game latency in titles such as Rainbow Six Siege.
  • HyperX's mouse will now allow for accurate measurement of latency in conjunction with NVIDIA Reflex.

HyperX has a big announcement targeted squarely at "elite gamers," in the event you connect with such a title. The news is that its Pulsefire Haste gaming mouse is now compatible with NVIDIA Reflex tech, meaning when you combine the two technologies, you'll have the ability to measure latency as well as combat it in all your favorite games, including the ever-popular Rainbow Six Siege.

Here's a relevant snippet from HyperX's press release to give you a better idea of the benefit this mouse's new capability brings to the table: "The NVIDIA Reflex Analyzer is a system latency measure tool in new NVIDIA G-SYNC Reflex displays. The tool detects clicks coming from the mouse and then measures the time it takes for the resulting pixel to change on screen. Now with Reflex, gamers can start a match with confidence, knowing their systems is operating exactly as it should be."

So there you have it. If you happen to have NVIDIA tech lying around like G-SYNC-imbued monitors and the best graphics cards made by Team Green, and you want to invest in a $50 mouse to kick your online gaming experiences up a notch (when it comes to analyzing and combatting latency), now's your chance.

Mighty mouse

HyperX Pulsefire Haste gaming mouse

$49 at HyperX

Reflex radar

Measure and chop down on latency with your assortment of NVIDIA products and HyperX's Pulsefire Haste gaming mouse, the latter of which is now compatible with NVIDIA Reflex.