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Microsoft

Windows 11 May Help You Get More Done with Focus Sessions

Chris Rausch

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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.

In my 4+ years as a professional tech copywriter, I've written about everything from laptops & routers to the software that facilitates billions in online sales each day. If it relates to, connects to, or belongs on the Internet, I'm in. Equipped with my Associate's in Computer Science and a computer I assembled myself (no big deal), I write about all things hardware, software, gaming, and digital tech to keep you up-to-date on important news, releases, and tips & tricks.

Microsoft

New Xbox Edge Browser Adds PC-Like Functionality

Chris Rausch

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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

Cross-Platform

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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Consoles

Why Has PlayStation Been Outselling Xbox Every Console Generation?

Jesse Hoyt

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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? 

Different Markets

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.

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Cybersecurity

How to Protect Your Windows PC from Ransomware Attacks

Tara Ragone

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It is fair to say that Windows applications are installed in more than half of all PCs, which means that devices with this software may be at a greater risk of contracting a virus or becoming the target of a ransomware attack compared to their opponents. The good news is that Windows systems are equipped with internal safeguards that can help you steer away from ransomware threats.

Adhering to the below recommendations should be helpful in your efforts to protect your Windows PC from malicious activity:


  • Staying up to Date: When updates become available the latest version should be downloaded. Restarting your computer at least one time a week ensures updates are consistently made.
  • Security: Windows offers a security feature that must be turned on in order to work (or Windows Defender Security in older versions). Windows 10 adds an additional layer of protection specifically for your folders that can be found at the end of the following chain of settings: update & security>windows security>virus & threat protection>virus & threat protection settings>manage settings>controlled folder access.
  • Back Up: Backing up your files is a wise move to make so that in the case a ransomware hacker gains unauthorized access you have an alternative method to reach your property.
  • OneDrive: Storing your files in OneDrive provides automatic protection against ransomware because it has the ability to detect such dangers and also has recovery tools in place. 

Ransomware attack susceptibility can also be majorly reduced by remaining vigilant about visiting unfamiliar websites, opening attachments/emails you were not expecting from someone or an organization that is not recognized, and clicking suspicious links on social media sites or other webpages. Furthermore, taking the time to self-educate on ransomware safety and performing backups on a daily basis are steps to take that may give you the upper hand if an unfortunate incident does affect you.

Sometimes leaning on external controls aside from the basics is necessary for sufficient protection against ransomware attacks, especially when highly important files and information are at stake.

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