Microsoft Expected to Release Cloud PC Service This Year
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Do you find yourself looking for more performance from your desktop or laptop, or just want to keep all your files, programs, and data in a single desktop no matter where you go? Cloud computing may be for you.
While software clients accessing hardware is nothing new (web hosting and virtual machines are a few existing examples), Microsoft’s suspected Cloud PC service is looking to make it mainstream and more accessible to everyday consumers.
Previously referred to as “Project Deschutes”, Microsoft’s new subscription service that is expected to drop this summer will allow users to access a Windows 10 PC over the cloud using Azure. With a single login, users will be able to access their cloud desktop from any computer, tablet, or mobile phone through an app or web client.
Similar to Xbox’s “Cloud Gaming” program, one of the main purposes of this program is to offer improved hardware performance to those who need it without the need to buy new hardware. However, it can also help employees working from home to keep everything in one place even when not in the office and allow work networks to be managed online instead of locally.
Other benefits of the Cloud PC service include regular updates and compatibility to keep the desktops secure as well as allowing users of other operating systems access to Windows-specific programs or run 32-bit apps on Windows 10X devices.
The subscription is expected to vary in price depending on the resources required, but would be on a per-user basis. More details are expected during Microsoft Build 2021 from May 25th to May 27th.
New Xbox Edge Browser Adds PC-Like Functionality
While recent Microsoft developments like Xbox Cloud Gaming have focused on bringing gaming to PCs and other devices, the recent update to Microsoft Edge on Xbox aims to do the inverse.
Console browsers have always been bare bones and more of an afterthought for console developers. Using thumbsticks to guide the mouse and provide keyboard input is clunky and most console browsers have been slow. But as the lines between gaming console and computer blur, Microsoft is embracing the versatile gaming console movement with a new Edge.
Available now on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S, the Chromium-based Edge browser includes many of the same features that the PC version does. With this update, users no longer have to switch between console and PC for daily activities – they’re both possible directly on Xbox.
Microsoft Edge on Xbox
Like the PC version of Edge, the Xbox version also takes advantage of cloud storage that allows you to sync your data between platforms. Favorites, history, passwords, and other account information are updated no matter where you start or finish your task. So what starts in the living room can be taken to any Edge-supported platform without the need to reconfigure your settings, transfer your data manually, or re-open tabs.
Browser-Based App Functionality
Web apps have always been difficult to use on a console browser, but thanks to the new Chromium-based browser, improved hardware, and mouse/keyboard support, you can do a wide variety of tasks directly in the console browser. Microsoft Office, Discord, online game emulators, and many other web apps are now accessible and perform well enough to make some PC gaming viable on the console.
Keyboard and Mouse Support
Nobody likes using anything other than a finger or mouse to interact with a web browser. Fortunately, the introduction of support for keyboard and mouse with Edge means that those days are behind you. Navigate your favorite websites, play clicking games, build a spreadsheet, type your research paper, and do just about anything you would do on PC.
Microsoft’s efforts to make the Xbox One and Series X|S more versatile machines come as no surprise as they fight to one-up Playstation and find further selling points for the console as cloud gaming slowly takes over.
It’s not likely to make a major impact on too many gamers, but for the select few who need another way to get online without their computer or phone, the new Microsoft Edge is a great option to consider.
Why Has PlayStation Been Outselling Xbox Every Console Generation?
At this point in gaming culture, no one is a stranger to the “console wars’ that ignite every new console generation. Fans go to work comparing every last detail like resolution and potential exclusives. You’ll usually find two sides to that debate: PlayStation and Xbox (Nintendo excluded since they outsell both companies every time). You might be surprised to find out that worldwide sales numbers aren’t as close as we might think. PlayStation has dominated the numbers between the two companies. Last generation the PlayStation 4 sold nearly 115 million units, over double the amount that the Xbox One did (51 million). Why is PlayStation beating out Xbox so badly?
The biggest reasons don’t have to do with hardware specs or minute differences. It’s partially a matter of preference in other parts of the world. You’ll find that here in the US there’s not as much of a difference. PS4 still outsold the Xbox One, but the gap was considerably smaller. Worldwide sales are where we start to see that huge gap. Over half of the Xbox One sales are from the United States alone. PlayStation’s sales in the US were only a quarter of its total sales. Xbox did significantly worse in Europe and West and East Asia. Part of that could be due to the higher concentration of JRPG’s available on PlayStation since it’s manufactured in Japan. Not to mention that most games on Xbox are targeted towards Western culture and don’t always catch the interest of an Asian market. This regional difference in game preferences spans all of the PlayStation and Xbox console generations excluding the Xbox 360 and PS3 generations where Microsoft almost beat Sony.
A Disastrous Launch
If we focus on the Xbox One’s launch, we’ll be able to zero in on why it sold so poorly compared to the PlayStation 4. If you were around for the launch of these consoles, you know that the Xbox One had an extremely rough start. Microsoft had a hard focus on its potential role as more than a game console and included a handful of features that people hated. First was that the Kinect would come with the console. People did not like the idea that the kinect could constantly hear you which made it a major concern for privacy. To make things worse, the console started out at $500, $100 more than the PS4.
The Xbox One would also require a persistent internet connection which would obviously be a problem where internet is slow and has spotty connection. There was also the question of why Xbox would even require such a thing.
To add onto the pile of things was the fact that players wouldn’t be able to play used games at all due to DRM.
Microsoft would roll back plenty of these “features” but it couldn’t “untarnish” the launch and sales suffered badly as a result. Now, Microsoft is still trying to repair its reputation. The Xbox Series X and S might just tell a different story though.
Windows 11 May Help You Get More Done with Focus Sessions
Looking to be more productive with your computer time? Windows 11 will have a convenient way for you to manage your schedule – Focus Sessions.
Focus Sessions is a feature that will be added to the “Clock” app’s base functionality, allowing the app to help organize your time. Users can easily create to-do lists, set timers, and set a soundtrack to their work thanks to Spotify integration.
When activated, Focus Sessions will suppress notification sounds, pop ups, and other distractions to help you stay focused for the entirety of your task’s time block. The timer starts at 30 minutes by default, but can be adjusted based on each individual task or period of time you plan to work. Each task can also have its own Spotify playlist, letting you choose the right tunes for the type of work you have to complete without causing a distraction.
Based on the Pomodoro Technique, the goal of the feature is that you’ll be able to work for a shorter but defined amount of time, focusing entirely on the task until your break comes up. You’ll be motivated by the upcoming break and don’t have to worry about managing your time or staying on schedule; when you hear the alarm, you’re done. This way you can better define work time and free time so that you don’t spend twice as much time working for the same result.
With the rise of working from home, organizational apps like Focus Sessions are an important tool to help you stay focused when you’re not in your work environment. Thanks to native integration on Windows 11, it’s easy to start working smarter instead of harder.