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Seven high points of Windows 7

Today Microsoft issues its final free security update for Windows 7, putting an end to that operating system’s decade.

To remember that service – a retirement party but without the cloyingly-sweet cake and cheap gold watch – Computerworld selected seven highlights of Windows 7. While the seven do not pretend to trace Windows 7’s history, they illustrate the influence and impact of the OS.

Here’s to Windows 7. Raise a glass, for cryin’ out loud.

It salvaged Microsoft’s reputation after the Vista debacle

The numbers say it all.

Windows Vista, the 2006 replacement for Windows XP, topped out at 20% of all Windows versions in October 2009. Even though the OS it followed was long in the tooth – XP was nearly twice the age of a typical version when it was supplanted – Vista struggled to put a dent in its forerunner’s share.

Windows XP still accounted for 75% of all Windows activity when Vista peaked.

Windows 7 drove down Vista’s share toot sweet: In 18 months, Vista’s share of all Windows had fallen to 11.5%. Users couldn’t wait to rid themselves of Vista.

But then, what would you expect of an OS that fostered a class-action lawsuit?

The three-quarters-of-a-billion-dollar snafu

An oversight – so said Microsoft – with Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) cost the company €561 million ($732 million at the time) when the European Union’s anti-trust regulators fined the firm for omitting a browser choice feature.

The March 2013 decision by EU officials – the first time regulators there punished a company for shirking an antitrust agreement – ultimately stemmed from a 2007 complaint by rival Opera Software, which alleged that Microsoft manipulated the battle for browser share by tying Internet Explorer (IE) to Windows. Two years later, Microsoft agreed to show European users of Windows a “browser ballot,” a screen that displayed download links to other browsers, including Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox and Opera’s namesake.

But Microsoft failed to show that ballot to users of Windows 7 SP1 for some 14 months, from May 2011 until July 2012. More than 15 million users did not see the ballot as they should have, the EU charged.

In mid-2012, Microsoft admitted the goof and apologized, even as it downplayed the problem, saying it had been purely a “technical error” and blaming an engineering team.

Microsoft failed to disclose the snafu in the self-certified compliance reports it was required to submit to EU authorities.

In fact, Microsoft had ignored a user who reported the omission of the browser ballot in Windows 7 SP1. That user had queried support representatives in March 2011, a month after the launch of SP1 and two months before the start of the span during which regulators claimed Microsoft had scratched the ballot, saying, ” I do not see the options for the browser choice.” Although a support engineer replied to the user in the online forum, he paid no notice to the question of the ballot’s whereabouts.

SKU insanity

Microsoft tried to hang onto the netbook market for a while longer with Windows 7 Starter, one of a ballooning number of SKUs (stock-keeping units) segregating the OS.

Starter, which had been preceded by same-named versions on both Windows XP and Vista, was meant to service the netbook market, the name for the smaller, less capable, and most importantly, cheaper notebook computers that juiced PC sales after their 2007 debut. Windows XP Starter and Windows Vista Starter had been sold only in a small number of markets outside the U.S.; Windows 7 Starter was sold domestically, however.

(Microsoft kept calling these systems “small notebooks,” eschewing the “netbook” nomenclature for some reason.)

By the time of Windows 7’s late-2009 launch, netbooks were plainly converging with standard small and light notebooks and/or sub-notebooks (another name for another category, or sub-category). Microsoft acknowledged that, at least to some extent, by dropping the three-application-at-a-time restriction from Windows 7 Starter that had been imposed on XP’s and Vista’s versions.

Other omissions and limitations remained, however. Windows 7 Starter left out the “Aero” graphic user interface (GUI) that was Windows 7’s most visible feature, omitted support for DVD playback and did not provide the ability to change the desktop background. (What?)

Starter was also a signal that Microsoft still held a more-is-better belief when it came to fragmenting an OS into multiple versions, or SKUs. Windows 7, like its Vista forerunner, came in six: Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. (Vista had used Business rather than Professional.)

Because Windows XP also featured half a dozen SKUs – although the versions were different in several cases – Microsoft pushed six SKUs from 2001, XP’s launch, through 2017, Vista’s retirement. From 2012 on, however, Microsoft pared Windows to three with Windows 8 (four if you counted Windows RT, which no one should) and maintained that number, at least at the beginning, with Windows 10 (we’re counting Home, Pro and Enterprise). Since 10’s launch, though, Microsoft has loosened its belt, expanding the SKUs with options like Windows 10 Pro Workstation and Windows 10 S, even as it tightened said strip of leather by dropping something-for-everyone SKUs like Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise.

Belly up to the bar

Windows 7 boosted the size of the task bar and added several elements that remain to this day in its successor, 10.

Microsoft beefed up the taskbar’s vertical dimension by 33% – when using the by-default large icon and labels option – from Windows Vista, and also expanded the width of the active application tiles as well as the icons for pinned apps.

Features like jump lists – click on the taskbar icon for Word, say, and a list of recently-opened documents appears – pinning and thumbnails (admittedly introduced in Vista but made larger and interactive in Windows 7) have proven durable enough to last through multiple OS generations.

For a blast from the past, check out this blog about the Windows 7 taskbar that was posted almost a year before the operating system’s release. It was authored by Steven Sinofsky, at the time one of the development heads for the OS. (Later, Sinofsky became president of the Windows Division, where he became the public face of Windows 8, the heir to 7 that bombed.)

The end of an era

Windows 7 was Microsoft’s last stable OS.

For a bit more than a decade, Windows 7 remained fixed, steadfast, unvarying, enduring. According to Microsoft’s model, we’ll never see Windows like that again, not on personal computers. (Windows 10 LTSC may be meant to stay static for 10 years, but it’s not suited for general PC purposes.)

Windows 7 sported just a single service pack (SP), the cumulative roll-ups released at irregular intervals, that was issued in February 2011, about 16 months after the OS’s debut. But although Windows 7 SP1 contained some changes, they were all under the hood; nothing visible to users was altered.

Much the same could be said for a subsequent platform update, a February 2013 release focused on graphics and imaging components and including Internet Explorer 10 (IE10). Meanwhile, Windows 10 morphs every 12 months if enterprise customers are lucky (and the 2019 major-minor pattern continues), every six months if they’re not.

Post-retirement patches step into daylight

Microsoft believed commercial customers were so enamored of Windows 7 – and would hold onto the OS in such numbers – that for the first time the company publicly unveiled a program to provide post-retirement security updates. That was a significantly different approach than the company has used before as an OS nears it end times.

Called Extended Support Updates (ESU) and revealed in September 2018 – a year and a half prior to Windows 7’s expiration – the program focused on volume-licensing customers, its largest and most important patrons. Those businesses would be able to purchase support in one-year increments for up to three years, with prices doubling in the second year, doubling again in the third. Customers with subscriptions to Windows 10 would receive a discount.

(Near the last minute – in October 2019 – Microsoft caved to small businesses and said it would also sell ESU to customers who did not have existing volume licensing plans in place.)

What was remarkable about ESU wasn’t its existence, but that Microsoft was so public about it.

The firm has sold post-retirement programs before, notably when Windows XP neared its retirement. But those deals were clouded in secrecy, with mysterious – and negotiable – price points. Prior to Windows XP’s 2014 exit from support, Microsoft sold “custom support agreements,” or CSAs, to its larger customers. But buying CSA was a completely-behind-the-scenes process done on a company-by-company basis, with virtually no public information about the program nor price lists.

That allowed Microsoft to dramatically raise CSA prices in late 2012 and 2013, then turn around and slash them just days before XP’s retirement.

Don’t it always seem to go…, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone

The world-turned-upside-down shock of Windows 10 – its continual updating most notably – did more than anything else to elevate Windows 7’s long-term reputation. Faced with the jolt of Windows 10, its predecessor came off looking that much more composed.

At the risk of being rejoined with an “OK, boomer,” and knowing that nostalgia can backlight even incompetence with an artificial glow, Computerworld proposes that Windows 7 was what an OS should be, serviced as an OS ought to be, useful like an OS better be.

Much of that stems from the habits that Microsoft force-fed customers. Updates should be discrete so that individual patches can be postponed or rejected outright; feature additions should arrive only after years-long intervals to maximize learning “expense;” the OS should not transmit vast quantities of telemetric and diagnostic data to Redmond’s servers. And so on. But Microsoft upturned all of that in a single swoop, unlike the gradualism of Windows’ past.

No wonder there was resistance from enterprise customers, who on the whole valued continuity and tradition. But what they were objecting to was not Windows 10 per se – from the start the OS was widely praised on its merits – but instead Microsoft’s changing policies of servicing. Where features were extensively criticized – such as 10’s data hoovering – they were integral to those policies’ execution (at least in Microsoft’s mind), not integral to the OS as an OS.

That that has been the case can be confirmed by looking at the most substantial changes Microsoft has made to Windows 10 since its mid-2015 launch. Those changes have largely been made to the servicing policies, not to the OS itself.

For these reasons, Computerworld wagers that Windows 7 will be long viewed as peak enterprise OS and remembered, fairly or not, more fondly than if it had been succeeded by, say, Windows 9 in 2015.

(Where’s Windows 8 in all this? Invisible, frankly. That OS was an even bigger dud than Vista for corporate customers.)

Things have gone this way before, of course. Windows is famous, in fact, for its good-bad cadence of editions. Windows XP was good, Vista was not; Windows 7 good, Windows 8 not. Here, however, Microsoft has boosted Windows 7’s standing not by creating a sub-standard edition as follow-up but by changing practices and policies of that successor.

Microsoft recognizes what it has done. That’s clear from the modifications it’s made to Windows 10, such as lengthening the support lifespan and reducing the number of true feature upgrades; it’s shifted that operating system closer to the model of … Windows 7.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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High Quality Resin Printing for Anyone

Our verdict of the Elegoo Mars:
If you’re looking for a 3D printer, then the Elegoo Mars provides outstanding quality for a modest price. There are few reasons not to buy it!

If you’re looking for a resin 3D printer, then you may have heard of the Elegoo Mars. This elegant machine retails for under $300 and is capable of producing stunning 3D prints. It’s surprising how user-friendly this 3D printer is, which isn’t the case with every 3D printer we review. Read on to see our full analysis after the video.

After our review, we’re running a giveaway contest that you can enter to win a brand new Elegoo Mars 3D printer.

Elegoo Mars Features

The Elegoo Mars is a compact desktop 3D printer. This sleek unit works via a color touchscreen and the included USB flash drive. It’s compact enough to fit on your desk or into small spaces, and the UV-blocking cover is easily removed to allow quick access to the machine.

Elegoo Mars


  • 1-inch (2.5 cm) per hour maximum print speed
  • 100-micron layer height
  • 2560×1440 2K, 5.5 inch (13.97 cm) LCD
  • 3.5 inch (8.89 cm) color touchscreen
  • 4.72 x 2.68 x 6.1 inch (11.98 x 6.80 x 15.49 cm) build volume
  • 40W UV LED
  • Measures 16.14 x 7.87 x 7.87 inches (41 x 20 x 20 cm)
  • Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing technology

In a stylish dual-tone color scheme, the bottom third of the Elegoo Mars is brushed metal. It houses all the electronics, power input, and control panel. The top two-thirds contain the resin vat, Z-axis, and bed. The translucent orange cover lets you see how the print is shaping up but also serves to block ambient UV light from prematurely curing your resin and ruining an in-progress print.

The 2K display provides excellent X/Y resolution and is in theory twice as detailed as printers using a 1080P or lower resolution display. It’s not possible to control this printer from your computer or over the network, but the included flash drive comes with pre-sliced files ready to print. The 40W LED is powerful, but it’s on par with other resin 3D printers. The total build volume is tiny when compared to printers using fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology, but again, it’s equal to most other consumer resin printers.

Elegoo Mars display

Almost all the mechanical parts of this machine are metal, except for the resin vat thumbscrews and the bed release. It would be nice to see these in metal as well, but it doesn’t impact the quality of prints in any way. The bed is easily removed without any tools, as is the resin vat, which makes it quick and easy to get up and running.

Inside the box, you’ll find almost everything you need to get started. Alongside the printer, power supply, and flash drive, you get a small tool kit, masks, gloves, a funnel, a plastic scraper, an instruction manual, and a measuring cup. No resin is included, and while this isn’t expensive or difficult to obtain online, a small sample bottle would be been nice to get started right away with.

How the Mars Works

The Elegoo Mars uses Stereolithography (SLA) to produce a solid model. The print bed is submerged into a vat of photosensitive resin. When this resin gets exposed to UV light, it solidifies. A modified LCD display and powerful UV LED work together to produce the shapes required for every layer, and this is what makes prints so accurate. There’s only one moving part in the form of the Z-axis.

Elegoo Mars resin

The resin vat has a clear film on the bottom, which is stretched out like a drum skin. This prevents the resin from leaking out and ruining your machine, yet allows the light to pass and cure the resin. It can be easy to damage this sheet, and over time they can wear out and go cloudy. The replacement process is easy and cheap, but no spares are included.

As this 3D printer cures resin using an LCD display, you can print massive objects in both the X and Y axis without any impact on the speed. If you want to print one or five models, they all take the same time. This is because the LCD can cure the whole bed at once, so it’s only vertical height which increases the print time.

Set up and First Prints

Running a 3D printer with a vat full of sticky resin plastic can seem daunting, but Elegoo makes this process extremely simple. This setup process far exceeds the standards set by the competition. It’s more work configuring a new mobile phone or games console than using this printer.

Elegoo Mars bed levelling

Before starting any prints you must level the bed. This doesn’t need doing often, but it needs doing at least once in the printer’s life. This involves undoing a screw, removing the resin VAT, and placing a piece of paper on the LCD. All the tools are provided where required. When you’re ready, you can begin the process through a button on the touchscreen. This machine handles the rest for you. It uses its sensors and motors to position the bed where it needs to be. This takes mere seconds, and when it’s done, you tighten up the screws and remove the paper.

This process is a joy to perform, and far exceeded my expectations of what you need to do before printing. Bed leveling can be the most frustrating aspect of a 3D printer, and having a machine that can handle this itself is a brilliant touch.

Once leveled you can install the resin vat, top up the resin, and place the UV cover in place. Insert the USB flash drive and begin the test print.

Elegoo Mars LCD display

This test print takes roughly four hours to complete, which is about average for this printer. High-quality prints are worth waiting for and with a speed of 1 inch per hour, you may wish to leave this printer running overnight.

After four hours, the test print emerges dripping from its resin bath, like some kind of swamp monster. It’s fascinating to watch, and this test print worked the first time.

ChiTuBox Slicer

All 3D printers need 3D models to be converted to machine-specific instructions, and the Mars is no exception. The process is called “slicing”, as it involves cutting the model up into smaller layers. This machine comes bundled with a free slicer called “ChiTuBox”. Boasting over 2,000,000 users, and designed for SLA 3D printing, this slicer is a dream to use. Its friendly interface lets you arrange print jobs, generate supports, adjust settings, and check final print layers. Not only this, but it’s very fast to slice and stable to use. Even with large files it rarely struggles or hangs.

Elegoo Mars Software

SLA 3D printers don’t support infill to save plastic, as is possible on FDM printers. This means that bigger jobs can use a lot of plastic as they must be solid. Various other 3D tools exist to “hollow out” models to save plastic, but ChituBox provides this feature for zero extra cost. This is another big benefit, and further solidifies this as the tool of choice for resin 3D printers.

If you’re not sure what purpose slicers serve, then take a look at our ultimate beginner’s guide to 3D printing

Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to 3D Printing

Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to 3D Printing

3D printing was supposed to be the new “Industrial Revolution.” It hasn’t taken over the world yet, but I’m here to talk you through everything you need to know to get started.
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, which covers the basics in great detail.

Print Quality and Cleanup

Prints produced by this machine are mind-blowing, and this is the biggest benefit of an SLA printer. Layer lines are almost invisible, and microscopic details that would be impossible for an FDM printer to produce come out clear and sharp.

Elegoo Mars test print

Due to the limited bed size, this printer is best suited to smaller models, or those with intricate fine details. Not only does the test model feature intricate castle turrets and fine text, but it also contains miniature stairs produced to a very high level of detail for such a small size.

This 3D printer shines producing wargaming minis. The fine detail reproduction lends itself to the intricate details required by mini-figures and terrain. Tiny details such as rings, mustaches, belts, boots and more are perfectly produced.

Elegoo Mars mini print

As all prints are submerged in a bath of uncured resin they need cleaning up after printing. This isn’t difficult, but you’ll need to buy even more equipment not included in the box. Prints need excess uncured resin washing off with rubbing alcohol, and then they need to finish curing, either in the sun or with a cheap UV curing station such as those found in nail salons. You need to wear gloves and a mask when cleaning your parts.

Elegoo Mars prints on bed

Should You Buy the Elegoo Mars?

The Elegoo Mars is a stunning resin 3D printer and while the price tag of around $300 seems a little steep when compared to the plethora of affordable FDM 3D printers, it represents an excellent entry point into ultra-high detail 3D printing. Machines such as the Formlabs Form 3 cost several thousand dollars, and so an affordable competitor is a welcome alternative.

Resin 3D printing is not for everyone. It’s slow, and the build volume can be limiting. Uncured resin smells, and every part needs cleaning up afterward. It’s not difficult to do this, but if you lack the space or inclination to do so, you may be best served by a different style of 3D printer.

Elegoo Mars

This Elegoo Mars is a dream to use. It requires little maintenance, has only one moving part, and is almost “plug and play”. You no longer have to worry about printer maintenance, rather, you can focus on designing cool 3D models to solve your problems (or print wicked little figures and trinkets).

Our friends at Elegoo have given us a brand new Mars LCD 3D printer which we are giving away for free. All you have to do for a chance at winning it is enter our contest below.

Enter the Competition!

Elegoo Mars Giveaway

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Use a Digital Projector for High Impact, Low Effort Halloween Effects – LifeSavvy

two spooky children standing in an abandoned manor

If you want all of the wow-factor this Halloween but none of the Geppetto-like effort to bring your spooky visions to life, use a digital projector to create awesome effects with little effort.

So how does it work? You combine a digital projector with a special effects video loop, and then, depending on what kind of video loops you’re using, you then project it onto anything from pumpkins to mesh screens to the windows of your house to create some eye-catching and spooky effects. The industry leader in this arena is AtmosFX—there’s no other company that comes close to the quality of their products—they have incredibly cool loops that range from fun-for-all-ages to downright spooky.

I’ve written a detailed guide to the process over at our sister site How-To Geek, but if you want a summary of how the process works, check out this little video:

And if that caught your eye, I’d definitely encourage you to check out their entire YouTube channel—it’s packed with helpful how-to videos as well as trailers for all their products. Whether you want to set up pumpkins that sing and laugh or dancing skeletons that seem to float in the air, they’ll show you how to do it.

Then, once you’ve wasted an entire workday secretly obsessing over just how cool these special FX loops are, you can head over to the AtmosFX website and grab a loop or ten to decorate your house in style.

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The 7 Best Sites to Download Very High Resolution Wallpapers

Changing your wallpaper is a simple computer adjustment, but it can have a huge effect on your mood and productivity. And with today’s impressive displays, using a high resolution wallpaper is a must.

Whether you want to build up a collection of high quality wallpapers or just replace the generic default that came with your computer, here are the best wallpaper sites full or high-quality images.

A Note on High-Resolution Wallpapers

Before we begin, we should briefly explain what’s considered “high-resolution.”

Computer displays, as well as digital images, are generally measured by width and height in pixels. For example, a 1080p display is 1920px wide by 1080px tall. Because 1080p is considered “full HD”, this is our baseline for high-resolution wallpapers. We’ll only include sites that have plenty of wallpapers in 1920×1080 and above, like 4K wallpapers.

You can use a wallpaper that’s smaller or larger than your monitor’s output if you want. But if it’s too small, the image will stretch to fit your display and look distorted. And there’s not much point to using a higher-resolution wallpaper, as you’ll have to either downsize or crop it to fit your display.

See our overview of high display resolutions

How 4K TV Resolution Compares to 8K, 2K, UHD, 1440p, and 1080p

How 4K TV Resolution Compares to 8K, 2K, UHD, 1440p, and 1080p

What is 4K TV? Would you prefer 2K or 8K resolution? Here’s what you need to know about HDTV resolutions and the number of pixels.
Read More

for more info on this.

InterfaceLIFT Wallpapers

Photos of the Earth’s landscape make great desktop wallpapers, and you’ll find thousands of them here. InterfaceLIFT automatically detects your display resolution and shows high quality wallpapers at that size. However, you can click the dropdown box under a wallpaper to change it.

Simply click the Download button next to an image to grab a copy of it. If you’re interested, you can also see information about the image provided by the photographer.

By default, the site sorts images by date. If you’d prefer, use the Sort by line at the top to sort by the number of downloads, rating, or even randomly instead.

Wallhaven Wallpapers

Wallhaven makes its way onto many lists of the best wallpaper websites. And while it’s not specifically known for high resolution wallpapers, we found that nearly all the images on offer were 1080p or above.

Start by browsing the homepage or using the Latest, Toplist, or Random buttons at the top. Once you find one you like, Wallhaven makes it easy to find similar images. Use the Tags on the left sidebar, select Search for similar to display comparable images, or even choose a color from the image to search by.

If you want to download a wallpaper in a different resolution, choose Crop & Scale under Tools to resize or crop it.

3. Reddit

Reddit Wallpaper Subreddit

It’s no surprise that Reddit has several subreddits dedicated to wallpapers. You’ll find several active communities with new wallpapers posted all the time.

The most popular is /r/wallpaper, which boasts one million members. Most wallpapers are at least 1920×1080. If you don’t find what you’re looking for on that subreddit, give /r/wallpapers a look.

These are similar communities, and many people cross-post to both subreddits. But it’s worth scouring both for the maximum amount of cool wallpapers.

Finally, if you’re looking for higher resolution wallpapers, have a look at /r/WQHD_Wallpaper. WQHD (wide quad HD) is a term for the 2560×1440 resolution, also known as 1440p. Thus, these wallpapers are a good fit for 1440p and 4K displays.

Simple Desktops Wallpapers

If you find the offerings on other sites too cluttered, try Simple Desktops. This site offers clean and minimal wallpapers that are still attractive to the eye.

It’s also a pleasure to browse—click an image you like and you can save it. There are no annoying full-screen ads or other nonsense to deal with.

The site asks that all uploaded wallpapers are 2880×1800, meaning they meet the hi-res wallpaper criteria. And because they’re so simple, you can easily crop them to fit smaller displays.

WallpaperStock Wallpapers

WallpaperStock has a huge amount of desktop wallpapers for all purposes.

Use the categories on the right side of the page to search by categories like Cars , Animals, and World. If you like, you can select a desired resolution on the left side. However, this is unnecessary, as you’ll see all available resolutions once you visit a wallpaper’s page.

Because the site detects your display resolution, you can simply click on a wallpaper to open it in the matching size. From there, saving it is easy, as usual.

HDwallpapers Website

As evidenced by the name, this is another site offering HD and above quality wallpapers. Like what we’ve seen so far, you can look through the various categories in addition to checking what’s new or popular.

If you don’t want to download a wallpaper in your native resolution, pick from the Available Resolutions on an image’s download page. The only downside with this site is that you must wait 10 seconds before downloading a wallpaper. Thus, it might not be the best choice if you’re looking to download many at once.

Wallpapers Wide

If you’re still searching for the perfect wallpaper, WallpapersWide can hopefully provide it. It contains the elements you’ve come to expect, making it one of the best websites to download HD wallpapers from.

Mouse over an image and click the arrow that appears to jump right to the download screen at your current resolution. Alternatively, you can select an image to see tags and review all available resolutions.

Aside from this, the site lets you filter by aspect ratio or resolution in the bottom-left corner. With thousands of images available, you’re sure to find something you like.

High Resolution Wallpapers Galore

You don’t have to stay stuck with the handful of wallpapers included on your computer. Have fun going through these high quality wallpaper sites to find dozens of fresh desktop backgrounds. They’re a good way to express yourself to anyone walking by your computer, and a fun collection to build up over time.

For something more unique, have a look at some neat live wallpapers for Windows

8 Fascinating Live Wallpapers for Your Windows Desktop

8 Fascinating Live Wallpapers for Your Windows Desktop

A live wallpaper can help you relax, improve your mood, or even get you hyped ahead of a big event. We show you the best animated wallpapers you can get on your Windows desktop.
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, or how to create dynamic wallpapers on your Mac

The 3 Best Mac Dynamic Wallpaper Sites (And How to Make Your Own)

The 3 Best Mac Dynamic Wallpaper Sites (And How to Make Your Own)

Love the dynamic wallpapers in macOS but want more options? Here’s how to create and download Mac dynamic wallpapers.
Read More


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Microsoft set to close licensing loopholes, leave cloud rivals high and dry

Microsoft this fall will begin closing loopholes in its licensing rules that have let customers bring their own licenses for Windows, Windows Server, SQL Server and other software to rival cloud providers like Google and Amazon.

The Redmond, Wash. company laid down the new law in an Aug. 1 announcement, the same day it previewed Azure Dedicated Host, a new service that runs Windows virtual machines (VMs) on dedicated, single-tenant physical servers.

“Currently, our outsourcing terms give on-premises customers the option to deploy Microsoft software on hardware leased from and managed by traditional outsourcers,” Microsoft said in a statement. “The emergence of dedicated hosted cloud services has blurred the line between traditional outsourcing and cloud services and has led to the use of on-premises licenses on cloud services.”

That, Microsoft continued, triggered its licensing changes. “We’re updating the outsourcing terms for Microsoft on-premises licenses to clarify the distinction between on-premises/traditional outsourcing and cloud services and create more consistent licensing terms across multi-tenant and dedicated hosted cloud services.”

In plainer English, Microsoft drew a line in the sand. On-premises licenses should stay on the premises, not wander onto the cloud.

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What Was The First Arcade Game To Record High Scores?

Geek Trivia

What Was The First Arcade Game To Record High Scores?

Space Invaders

Speed Race

Which Of Our Solar System Neighbors Would Fit Into Russia?

A promotional arcade flyer for Space Invaders
Taito Corporation

Answer: Space Invaders

Although quite simplistic by modern standards, Space Invaders broke a whole lot of ground back in 1978. It was the first game that featured enemies that fired back at the player, the first game where players were given multiple lives, and the first game to feature a continuous background soundtrack. While all of those are notable and certainly influenced future games, the real innovation that kept players coming back was the high score board.

Space Invaders was the first video game to record high scores between plays and allowed players to immortalize themselves by signing their high scores. As such, it gave players a reason to return to the game, check the scoreboards, and attempt to reclaim (or further cement) their status as a high scorer. Persistent high scores coupled with a leader board proved to be enormously popular and the practice has persisted over time both in the arcade and with home video games.

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Windows by the numbers: Finally, the 7-to-10 migration kicks into high gear

Now we’re talkin’.

A month after Windows users took a break from dumping Windows 7 for Windows 10, in July they put shoulders to various wheels and … shoved.

According to web metrics vendor Net Applications, Windows 7’s share of all personal computers plunged precipitously last month, falling 3.6 percentage points – the second-largest amount in a single month for the aged OS – to end July at 31.8%. Meanwhile, Windows 7’s portion of only those PCs running Windows also plummeted, falling to 36%, a number not seen since late 2011 when the operating system was barely two years old and busily nibbling away at Windows XP.

(The second number is larger than the first because Windows does not power every PC; in July, Windows ran 88.5% of the world’s machines. All but a tiny fraction of the rest ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS.)

At the same time, Windows 10’s share jumped by 3.1 percentage points to 48.9% of all personal computers and 55.2% of those running Windows. The monthly increase was the second-largest ever for Windows 10 (first place went to March 2019), while both percentages were records for the OS.

So, did millions suddenly drop Windows 7 and switch to Windows 10? (Net Applications’ data and Computerworld‘s calculations pegged the leaving-Windows-7 number at 61 million, the moving-to-Windows-10 number at 51 million.) Unclear. The change rate wasn’t implausible – other measurements have gone up, or down, just as dramatically and been proven to be accurate if not exact – and the time before Windows 7 falls off the support list is very short.

Earlier hints of Windows 10 acceleration were telling

Last month, Computerworld highlighted the quickening of Windows 10 growth by showing the difference between the 6- and 12-month averages. The sudden addition of another 3+ points in July only skewed the numbers further toward that acceleration. Also telling are the new forecasts that July’s Windows 10 upswing – and Windows 7’s downturn – generated.

Windows 7’s future – based, as always, on the operating system’s 12-month average change – must now be more palatable to Microsoft, which earlier had to have been concerned about the operating system’s stubbornness. Computerworld‘s latest calculation says that in January 2020, when Windows 7 exits support, its user share should stand at 30.7%, a whole five points lower than our prognostication of the month before. That’s a lot fewer PCs stranded without security updates.

Meanwhile, Windows 10 should account for approximately 62% of all Windows installations when the older OS drops off support, an increase of four points from the month-ago forecast. A year later – January 2021 – Windows 7 and Windows 10 will be at 20% and 76%, respectively.

Of special note is that the 30.7% currently forecast as Windows 7’s user share at support expiration is very close to the 29% of all Windows PCs running Windows XP five years ago when it left support. For the last two years, the comparison between Windows XP’s actual vanishing act and Windows 7’s predicted performance always put the latter in the worst light; the data proclaimed that users were reluctant to give up Windows 7.

Not in July. In July, millions apparently didn’t need anyone to pry the 10-year-old OS from their cold hands. They gave it up without a fight.

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Duolingo Helps You Learn How to Speak High Valyrian

With the final season of Game of Thrones currently airing on TV, there has never been a better time to learn how to speak High Valyrian. And thanks to Duolingo, you can do just that. Which may prove useful if Daenerys Targaryen ends up on the Iron Throne.

High Valyrian is the language spoken by the nobility of Essos and Westeros. As with so much in Game of Thrones there’s a real-life equivalent, with the nobility of Europe speaking Latin in the Middle Ages. Latin may be dead, but High Valyrian is alive and well.

Learn to Speak High Valyrian Using Duolingo

Duolingo first launched its High Valyrian course in 2017. This was made possible by David J. Peterson, the linguist who invented the language for the TV show. He worked with Duolingo to create the course, which has grown more popular along with the show.

Now, to coincide with Game of Thrones Season 8, Duolingo has updated the High Valyrian course. The latest version adds new words and phrases and, for the first time, voice recordings which let you hear High Valyrian being spoken out loud.

Peterson himself recorded the audio, which means you’re hearing High Valyrian being spoken by the person who invented the language. George R.R. Martin only created a few words and phrases for the books, with Peterson creating the rest for the HBO show.

At the time of writing, 1.2 million people are learning how to speak High Valyrian. In the UK alone 100,000 people are keen to learn this fictional language. Which, according to Duolingo, means more people can speak High Valyrian than can speak Gaelic.

Star Trek Fans Can Learn Klingon Instead

It may seem odd to learn a fictional language rather than a language people speak in the real world. But it’s just a way for Game of Thrones fans to up their geeky credentials. And if you’re more Star Trek than Game of Thrones, Duolingo lets you learn Klingon

You Can Now Learn to Speak Klingon Using Duolingo

You Can Now Learn to Speak Klingon Using Duolingo

That’s right, folks, you can now learn to speak Klingon from the comfort of your own couch. Just go easy on the Rokeg blood pie and bloodwine while doing so.
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as well.

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