Chrome OS Set to Get Touch-Friendly Controls in Upcoming Redesign

Chrome OS on Chromebooks was initially not designed as a touch-friendly interface but after the introduction of support for Google Play apps, things were bound to change. It now seems like the operating system might soon receive a design overhaul that would focus primarily on support for touch-based controls.

A new video, shared by Google Chromium Happiness Evangelist Francois Beaufort, shows an app drawer just like Android with Google Search bar and some app icons that can be launched with a tap. Users can further get access to all their apps by swiping up on this app drawer. To enable, Beaufort notes users must enable the chrome://flags/#enable-fullscreen-app-list flag, restart Chrome, and press the Search key to see it in action.

With a simple tap, you can also perform voice search and the operating system will open the search result in a new Chrome window.

Chrome OS Set to Get Touch-Friendly Controls in Upcoming RedesignThe touch-friendly interface is already live in Canary versions of Chrome OS, which is essentially an alpha build of the OS. As it is an early build, you can expect bugs and glitches that still need ironing out by the company. Google added a ‘hybrid’ mode to the OS last year to space out the icons little more and make it easier to tap them, as pointed out in a report by The Verge. However, this seems to be one of the giant leaps towards making the operating system more touch-friendly than before.

As Samsung and Acer have been building Chromebooks with touchscreens for quite some time now, it appears that with this latest introduction, users will be able to do more touch-based actions with their portables than before.

Windows 10 Updates Are Failing on Some PCs, Leaving Them at Risk

Owners of computers based on Intel’s Clover Trail generation of Atom processors, released between late 2012 and mid-2013, are reportedly finding that they are unable to install the Windows 10 Creators’ Update, also known as Windows 10 v1703. Users have reported seeing a message saying “Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC” when trying to complete the Windows 10 update process. An error code displayed with the message points users to a note that suggests that software incompatibility is the reason that the automated process fails.

The devices affected include low-cost laptops, tablets and convertible 2-in-1s. There are four consumer Clover Trail CPUs; the Intel Atom Z2760, Z2520, Z2560 and Z2580. It is likely that a huge number of Clover Trail-based PCs from all the world’s major manufacturers have been sold. Many were originally shipped with Windows 8 or 8.1, but users were prompted to upgrade to Windows 10 for free when it was released – with Microsoft promoting the upgrade heavily.

Windows 10 Updates Are Failing on Some PCs, Leaving Them at RiskNeither Microsoft nor Intel has not yet published any information for affected users. However, an Acer support page surfaced by ZDNet.com seems to indicate that users were previously able to install the update but reported that text and icons were not showing up correctly on screen, or were appearing as solid blocks or bars. The Acer page goes on to state that Microsoft is working to create compatible drivers to address this problem, which indicates that the block might not be permanent.

This is the first known instance of old hardware becoming ineligible for a major Windows 10 refresh. Instead of a known end date for feature and security updates, Microsoft now promises to support Windows 10 for free in perpetuity, so long as a device is within its “lifetime”. However, that definition is vague, and depends on hardware compatibility, driver availability and OEMs’ support periods.

It is unclear whether affected Clover Trail PCs running the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which is as of now the latest supported version, will be eligible for security patches or other critical Windows updates. Microsoft officially supports each major Windows 10 release for 18 months, which means that the Anniversary Update falls outside this period in early 2018. Ars Technica points out that security updates for Windows 8.1 are guaranteed till at least October 2023, leaving users who upgraded to Windows 10 at a significant disadvantage.

Lenovo India Says Gaming PCs, Convertibles Will Drive Near-Term Growth

The note ban did have a slight impact on the adoption of technology and purchasing trends in the country but that phase is now over and gaming PCs, along with convertible laptops, will drive the next level of growth in the personal computers’ space, a top Lenovo India executive has stressed.

Saying that demonetisation cooled down the demand for PCs in India, market research firm Gartner said earlier this week that worldwide PC shipments saw a 4.3 percent decline in the second quarter of 2017. It added that the PC industry globally is in the midst of a five-year slump and this is the 11th straight quarter of declining shipments.

In the Asia-Pacific region, PC shipments witnessed a decline of 5.1 percent in the quarter and, in India, “the PC market was primarily affected by market dynamics coupled with the absence of a large tender deal compared to a year ago and higher PC prices brought about weak market growth,” Gartner said.

“The market is only looking up. Demonetisation was a blip and it created an instability for a short time — 15 days or a month. We were all surprised with the way the market has bounced back,” Rajesh Thadani, Executive Director-Consumer Business and Ecommerce, Lenovo India, told IANS.

“After the demonestisation, we saw that demand for premium devices (priced more than Rs. 50,000) doubled. The mainstream market – devices which are available for nearly Rs. 30,000 – is also growing,” Thadani added.

According to the latest “Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker” by market research firm IDC, Lenovo, with 17.7 percent market share, came third in India for the first quarter of 2017.

Globally, Lenovo shipped 12.1 million units in the second quarter of 2017 and recorded 19.9 percent market share to grab the second spot, according to Gartner.

Aiming to change these figures, Lenovo on July 19 unveiled new additions to its Yoga and Ideapad range of future-ready laptops.

With this, the Chinese technology major has targeted mainstream and premium segment customers with devices ranging from as low as Rs. 17,800 to a highest of Rs. 74,850.

“The consumers today are no longer satisfied with a basic PC and want more power in it. There is a small set of customers who are deal seekers and want value for money, but those who want New Age devices and have spending capacity are growing very fast. I think this is the trend we are witnessing in the Indian consumer industry,” Thadani noted.

Lenovo India Says Gaming PCs, Convertibles Will Drive Near-Term GrowthEven gamers are now shelling out more money to get a top-of-the-line experience.

“When the cash was going out of the system owing to the note ban, Lenovo changed the strategy and offered discounts on credit cards, EMI schemes and tied up with third-party vendors. This helped us create even more demand,” the Lenovo executive told IANS.

Thadani highlighted that in mature markets like Japan, the PC market is declining but when it comes to evolving markets like India where PC penetration is still low, the demand is growing.

Talking about GST, he said that the move has forced businesses to become more structured.

“We see a lot of opportunity because enterprises and traders are now joining the new tax regime. They would need infrastructure and this is where companies like Lenovo will benefit by providing them solutions,” Thadani said.

Going forward, the company is building products around Virtual Reality (VR) and new technologies where the devices will be Cloud-enabled.

“It’s still early to talk about, but this is something that we look forward to. With the technologies around Microsoft Cortana, Lenovo will come with devices that will fulfil the current and growing needs of the consumers,” Thadani said.

Windows Bug Bounty Program Announced With Payouts Up to $250,000

To ensure Windows 10 is secure and bug-free, Microsoft has announced a fresh round of Windows Bounty Programme that will reward the bug finders up to $250,000 (roughly Rs. 1.6 crores) if they are able to discover exploits in Microsoft’s Hyper V virtualisation software. Bounty payouts will range from $500 to $250,000.

Microsoft has been running the bounty programme since 2012 but the company is expanding it to cover more ground in Windows 10 – including all features of the Windows 10 Insider Preview.

According to a blog post on the company’s website late on Wednesday, any critical or important class remote code execution, elevation of privilege or design flaws that compromises a customer’s privacy and security will receive a bounty.

Windows Bug Bounty Program Announced With Payouts Up to $250,000“Security is always changing and we prioritise different types of vulnerabilities at different points in time. Microsoft strongly believes in the value of the bug bounties, and we trust that it serves to enhance our security capabilities,” the blog post read.

The other focus areas include ‘Mitigation Bypass’ (things that break Microsoft’s security sandboxing), ‘Windows Defender Application Guard’, ‘Microsoft Edge’ and ‘Windows Insider Preview’.

“If a researcher reports a qualifying vulnerability already found internally by Microsoft, a payment will be made to the first finder at a maximum of 10 per cent of the highest amount they could’ve received,” the company announced.

Other tech giants like Google, Facebook and Apple have also employed the same tactics to detect bugs and exploits.

Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop With 16GB RAM Launched in India: Price, Specifications

Acer on Monday launched its Nitro 5 gaming laptop with seventh-generation Intel core processors in India at a starting price of Rs. 75,990. The new Acer laptop is already available for purchase in the country from Flipkart as well as Acer Stores. The laptop has been built with the gaming in mind, it features a cooling system that helps keep the laptop’s temperature under control despite providing intense performance, the company said.

The Acer Nitro 5 sports a 15.6-inch full-HD (1920×1080 pixels) IPS display and is available with up to seventh-generation Intel Core i7 processor coupled with 16GB of RAM. In terms of graphics, the laptop comes with either Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 or GeForce 1050Ti GPU with 4GB GDDR5 RAM. Users get up to 128GB SSD paired with 1TB HDD storage.

Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop With 16GB RAM Launched in India: Price, SpecificationsThe Acer Dolby Audio Premium and Acer TrueHarmony features provide “incredible sound depth, wider bass, surround sound and crystal clear clarity to provide immersive experiences for gaming or watching movies,” the company said in its release.

Commenting on the Nitro 5 launch, Chandrahas Panigrahi, CMO and Consumer Business Head at the company said, “We are extremely excited to launch Acer Nitro 5 in India, the device is an unmatched combination of price and features. We thoroughly believe that every aspiring gamer deserves a great gaming device which lets them play advanced games while still be a great choice to do day-to-day tasks, hence, that’s where we thought to introduce Nitro 5 which is incredibly powerful with an unbeatable price.”

Acer Launches Chromebook 11 C771 Laptop With Rugged Body and Sixth-Gen Intel Processors

Acer on Wednesday launched its Chromebook 11 C771 laptop with sixth-gen Intel Core and Celeron processors that should deliver improved performance in comparison to some of the other Chromebooks available on the market. Notably, the new Chromebook 11 C771 laptop comes with a rugged body that has been tested for durability.

The Chromebook 11 C771 laptop comes with an 11.6-inch HD (768×1366 pixels) IPS display with both a touchscreen and non-touchscreen variant. The company claims that the Chromebook 11 C771 is capable of delivering an impressive battery life of up to 13 hours.

The connectivity options offered by the new portable include USB 3.1 Type C port, two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a built-in microSD card reader. The Chromebook 11 C771 also supports fast dual-band 2×2 MIMO 802.11ac/a/b/g/n Wi-Fi. The laptop is 21mm thick and weighs just 1.35Kg.

Acer Launches Chromebook 11 C771 Laptop With Rugged Body and Sixth-Gen Intel ProcessorsTalking about the device’s durability, the company said in its release, “The Chromebook is compliant with the stringent Military Standard US MIL-STD 810G that validates its ruggedness, durability and quality. In addition, the corner-shield structure and rubber bumpers surrounding the display and keyboard further protect the Chromebook, so it can tolerate drops from heights up to 48 inches (122cm).”

Starting this month itself, the company will make the Chromebook 11 C771 with Celeron processors, 4GB RAM, and 32GB built-in storage available in the US with both touchscreen and non-touchscreen variants. The touchscreen variant of the laptop has been priced by the company at $329.99 (roughly Rs. 21,100) while the non-touchscreen variant will be made available for purchase at $279.99 (roughly Rs. 17,900).

The variants with Intel Core i3 and Core i5 will be made available for purchase in the country starting September, as per the company’s release.

Microsoft Surface Devices Fail on Reliability, Finds Consumer Reports Survey

The breakage rate for Microsoft’s Surface devices is significantly worse than for other manufacturers’ laptops and tablets, Consumer Reports said, adding that it was removing its “recommended” designation for Surface products.

The non-profit publication surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found that an estimated 25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices would be presented with “problems by the end of the second year of ownership,” according to a study published on Thursday.

“If you are very concerned about how long your products are going to last, it might be better for you to go with a brand that has a higher predicted reliability,” Jerry Beilinson, electronics editor at the consumer goods testing publication, said in an interview.

Microsoft disputed the study, saying the company’s return and support rates differ significantly from the Consumer Reports study.

“We don’t believe these findings accurately reflect Surface owners’ true experiences or capture the performance and reliability improvements made with every Surface generation,” the company said in a statement.

According to the Consumer Reports survey responses, the Microsoft devices were found to freeze, unexpectedly shut down or have issues with their touchscreens, Beilinson said.

Altogether, the reliability issues made Microsoft a statistical outlier compared with other brands. Apple Inc had the most reliable devices, Beilinson said.

Microsoft Surface Devices Fail on Reliability, Finds Consumer Reports SurveyMicrosoft entered the hardware market with its first Surface tablet in 2012. Since then, the company has released a series of new Surface tablets and laptops, including the well-reviewed Surface Pro, which launched in May.

The Surface devices serve as a face for the company and exemplify how Microsoft’s manufacturing partners can build hardware around the Windows 10 operating system. However, Surface is a small part of Microsoft’s overall revenue, and Surface revenue has declined year-over-year for the past two quarters.

“The reality is that Microsoft has very little experience in some of the newer categories it’s entering very rapidly, which may expose it to more risk of problems in manufacturing,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.

Consumer Reports has conducted its annual reliability study since 1952, starting with cars. The study is also used to determine the reliability of products like refrigerators, lawn mowers, televisions and more. In more recent years, the organization has added laptops and tablets.

Asus ROG Zephyrus Gaming Laptop With GeForce GTX 1080 Launched in India: Price, Specifications

Earlier this year, Asus launched its Asus ROG (Republic of Gamers) Zephyrus gaming laptop and described it as the “world’s slimmest gaming laptop with [an] Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080.” Now, the company has finally launched the laptop in India and priced it at Rs. 2,99,999 for the country. Notably, the laptop comes with seventh-generation Intel Core i7 (Kaby Lake) processor and as mentioned earlier, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics.

Before moving on to the specifications, it is necessary that we clarify that Asus ROG Zephyrus is aimed at gaming enthusiasts and not meant for casual gamers by any means. Moving now to the specifications, the Asus ROG Zephyrus comes with a 15.6-inch full-HD (1920×1080 pixels) display that has a frequency of 120Hz. The display supports Nvidia’s G-Sync technology that enables smoother gameplay as well. The gaming laptop runs Windows 10, which now includes Windows Game Mode with the latest Creators Update.

The Asus Aura RGB lighting further allows users with “dynamic and customisable lighting effects” over the entire keyboard. Notably, there are separately highlighted customizable effects for the WASD and QWER key groups, the company said in its release.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus supports up to 24GB of DDR4 RAM and offers 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB of M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD storage options. The ports on the new gaming laptop include a Thunderbolt 3 Type-C, four USB 3.1 Type-A, HDMI 2.0 (for VR), and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Asus ROG Zephyrus Gaming Laptop With GeForce GTX 1080 Launched in India: Price, SpecificationsThe new gaming laptop from Asus marks the debut of Nvidia’s Max-Q design technology that has been designed to provide a thinner frame for laptops without compromising on the performance.

“ROG Zephyrus is cooled by an exclusive Active Aerodynamic System (AAS) that runs cooler and quieter without sacrificing performance. AAS incorporates unique AeroAccelerator (AA) technology that increases the speed and efficiency of airflow through the laptop,” Asus said in its release. The company says that the fan’s 3D-curved surface cover and accelerator guides enhance airflow and moves the heat away from the components in a more effective way.

“When Zephyrus is opened, a portion of the bottom of the chassis flexes to increase the airflow volume by 20 percent and further increase air circulation. AAS maximizes system stability as well as gaming and thermal performance, and it allows full utilization of the CPU and GPU, so gamers can engage in marathon sessions without fear of interruption,” the company said.

With Asus ROG Zephyrus, Nvidia has also introduced its silent Nvidia WhisperMode technology, which is said to make laptops run much quieter while gaming. The new technology essentially paces the game’s frame rate while simultaneously configuring the graphics settings for optimal power efficiency, as per the company.

Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop Launched in India Starting Rs. 1,29,999

After first unveiling it at an event in New York earlier this year, Acer has now launched the Predator Helios 300 gaming laptop in India. The laptop is priced starting at Rs. 1,29,999 and is now available to buy exclusively on Flipkart.

Announced first during the Next@Acer global press conference in New York, the laptop features the company’s new AeroBlade 3D metal blade fans which is said to increase airflow by 35 percent without taking too much space. In the US, it is priced at $1,299 (approximately Rs. 88,300).

The Predator Helios 300 is made available in a 15.6-inch full-HD form factor. Specifications include a choice of a seventh generation Intel Core i5 (7300HQ) or Core i7 (7700HQ), an overclockable Nvidia GTX 1050Ti GPU with 4GB GDDR5, 8GB DDR4 RAM upgradeable to 32GB, a 128GB SSD, and a regular 1TB hard drive for storage. Acer has also fitted a compartment underneath the chassis to make it easy for the user to upgrade memory and storage components. The laptop also has Dolby Audio Premium for better quality audio.

Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop Launched in India Starting Rs. 1,29,999Ports on the Acer Predator Helios 300 include a Gigabit Ethernet port, USB 3.1 Type-C port, a USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a 2-in-1 card reader, and an HDMI 2.0 port as well. There’s also the wireless 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO technology to give you up to two times faster wireless speeds than 1×1 solutions and up to five times faster than traditional 802.11n 1×1 solution.

Commenting on the launch, Chandrahas Panigrahi, CMO and Consumer Business Head, Acer India said in a statement, “We are thrilled to bring in the new generation of Predator series to India. Predator Helios 300 combines innovative design and unbeatable features that are sure to delight the gaming enthusiasts. Predator will be a brand to beat in the Indian gaming market.”

The Core i7 processor variant is priced at Rs. 1,49,999 on Flipkart. Both the laptop variants are listedwith an exchange offer of up to Rs. 15,000, and an extra 5 percent off on Axis Bank Buzz credit cards as well.

Crackdown 3 Release Date Pushed Back to Spring 2018

Open-world action-adventure Crackdown 3 is not going to be out at the same time as the Xbox One X. Slated for a November 7 release date, the game for Xbox One, Xbox One X, and Windows 10 has been pushed back to next year.

“Crackdown 3 is a hugely ambitious game and we want to ensure we deliver the right experiences all the way through every part of the game, whether that’s campaign, co-op multiplayer or our competitive multiplayer mode, Wrecking Zone,” said Microsoft Publishing General Manager Shannon Loftis to Polygon.

The reason for the delay has been slated as getting all three game modes to work as they should.

“Getting the balance right between the three modes is important, and we are going to take the extra development time to ensure that. Gamers can expect Crackdown 3 in Spring of 2018,” Loftis said. After which she claimed the challenges faced by the development teams over the years include “immersive true 4K gameplay, cloud-computing competitive multiplayer and a sprawling and futuristic open world”.

Crackdown 3 Release Date Pushed Back to Spring 2018At E3 2017, Crackdown 3 got a live action trailer that had Terry Crews and will feature four player co-op. Earlier the developer of the game was said to be Reagent games, a studio run by Crackdown creator David Jones – and support from Dead Island 2 and Snake Pass developer Sumo Digital, the E3 2017 announcement had only Sumo Digital listed.

The Crackdown 3 delay deals a blow to the Xbox One X’s chances at regaining marketshare for Microsoft in a console race thats seeing both Sony and Nintendo prosper. For consumers, this was one rare exclusive title for the Xbox One family of consoles and a reason to bother with the Xbox One X. It’s not like there aren’t any options though. If you’re looking to scratch your open-world over the top action itch, there’s Agents of Mayhem that we found to be wildly entertaining.

Nonetheless, given how rough and choppy Crackdown 3 looked in recent videos, this could perhaps be the delay needed to ensure it ships at its best.