Windows 10 S Mode release date, news and features

Windows 10 S Mode was first unveiled as a standalone operating system back in May 2017. However, after some mixed reception, the slim OS has been evolving ever since. Most of this criticism came down to the restrictions it places on anyone trying to install any programs not found on the Windows Store.

Windows 10 S Mode will limit you to apps found on the Microsoft Store, rather than just letting you install what you want. Luckily for any PC traditionalists out there, you can shift out of it whenever you want for free, so you don’t have to use it. But, Windows 10 S Mode still makes sense for the right kind of user and device – something like the Microsoft Surface Go.

Windows 10 S Mode also takes advantage of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. Along with a handy new ‘Your Phone’ app that lets you sync your Android phone with your PC, you’re also getting a cloud-connected clipboard, which should be awesome for anyone that works on multiple Windows 10 S devices.

Windows 10 S Mode is a core part of the Windows ecosystem these days, so we’re going to dive in and explore everything you need to know about the lightweight OS. Be sure to keep this page bookmarked, as we’ll keep it updated with all the latest Windows 10 S Mode news.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Windows 10 without x86 and x64 apps
  • When is it out? Available now
  • What will it cost? Free to all schools using Windows 10 Pro

Windows 10 S release date

Windows 10 S first launched on May 2, 2017, with devices using the OS trickling out over the following months. And, now, Windows 10 S is bigger than ever, a fact that we expect Microsoft to celebrate with new Surface devices at Tuesday’s press event – these lower-spec Windows 10 devices are more versatile than ever before.2

Microsoft has plans to allow users to switch out of S Mode through a simple UI switch, but that’s not quite ready yet. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way out of S Mode, just head to the Windows Store on your device and search for ‘switch out of S Mode’. As for when the switch will get implemented, no one knows, but Microsoft may sneak it in at a later date – we don’t think it’ll be in the October 2018 Update, though.

Now, as for the reveal of Windows 10 S itself – Microsoft’s event invitation was titled ‘#MicrosoftEDU’, making no misgivings about its aims with the new OS. While Windows 10 S is not for individual sale, it is issued to IT administrators in education as well as laptops found in stores and online.

It’s no coincidence that Windows 10 S is focused on the education sector, where Google’s Chromebooks are experiencing outlandish success.

Windows 10 S price

Windows 10 S essentially doesn’t cost a dime. The cost of the lightweight OS is more than likely subsidized by hardware makers, assuming they’re not getting it for free. Basically, you don’t really pay for Windows 10 S Mode, instead you’re paying for the hardware running it (with, again, whatever Microsoft is charging its partners to license the software).

Save for premium devices like the original Surface Laptop, you can find devices running Windows 10 S Mode starting at just $189 (about £146, AU$251) and cap out around $299 (about £239, AU$396). PC makers across the board, including Dell, HP, Asus, Acer and Lenovo all have Windows 10 S Mode-powered devices in their stables.

But, now that Windows 10 S Mode is a thing, it’s a toggle that doesn’t cost anything extra. Both Windows 10 Home and Pro S Mode users are able to go to the Windows Store and opt out of S Mode, though the conversion only works one way – out of S Mode – right now. Though, there will be a switch in the settings app of a future build, that will let users go back and forth.  

What is Windows 10 S?

Microsoft intends Windows 10 S to serve as a lightweight, more secure version of Windows 10 for lower-end devices. While in “S Mode,” Windows 10 will only support apps that are downloaded from the Windows Store.

This talk of a version of Windows that can only download Microsoft-approved apps is familiar, isn’t it? Microsoft believes it has mastered this approach since the turbulent days of Windows 8 RT and Windows 8 with Bing – both of which tried to position Microsoft as the sole provider of apps through curation.

The good news is that this allows for a startup time of under 5 seconds as opposed to the 30 – 40 second startup time of Windows 10 Pro. Not only that, but configuring settings (such as Wi-Fi, webcam, etc.) across an entire classroom of students is as easy as inserting a USB stick in each of their laptops.

Being in competition with Google’s Chrome OS, Microsoft has, of course, also positioned Windows 10 S as a more secure PC operating system. However, its resilience to viruses is mostly a side-effect of the inability to install apps not approved by Microsoft. Historically, Windows viruses have tended to erupt from untrustworthy internet downloads.

Should you find a must-have app that isn't available in the Microsoft Store in Windows 10 S you can switch from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Home or Pro by just going to the Windows Store and searching for “switch out of S Mode”. Microsoft used to charge a fee for this service, but now it’s free for everyone.

Microsoft will also allow users that upgrade to Windows 10 Pro to move back down to Windows 10 S. And, now that Microsoft is rumored to be working on a Windows 10 Lean Mode, which will be even more lightweight and locked down. 

Oddly enough, the shiny new Surface Laptop 2 now ships with Windows 10 Home, not in S Mode like the previous.

That said, what can you expect to see included in devices running Windows 10 S? Well, the Edge browser, OneNote and Windows Ink are all givens. The standard Movies and Groove Music apps, as well as Maps and Mail and Calendar are shoo-ins, too. 

Of course, we won’t see x86/x64 program support on a Windows 10 cloud operating system until 2019 when the aforementioned Polaris is expected to touch down and implement a ‘virtualization container’ for each of your favorite legacy applications. That means that, yes, should everything work out perfectly, there will be a Windows 10 cloud OS that can emulate the .exe’s of the past.

Despite its constraints, Windows 10 S still features File Explorer, and although many of the laptops that come with the lightweight OS pre-installed may ship with smaller capacity SSDs, Microsoft’s forthcoming introduction of OneDrive Files On-Demand will make it so files can be stored in the cloud, but still viewed the same way as locally stored content.

All things considered, there are still questions looming around in regard to the viability of Windows 10 S. Fortunately, as new developments emerge to (hopefully) address those criticisms, you can count on us to cover them right here on this page.

Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

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AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation release date, news, and rumors

Now that AMD has revealed its its first 7nm Ryzen 3rd Generation processors, what will the future look like for Threadripper 3rd Generation – its next line of HEDT processors?

Now that AMD Ryzen is nearly two years old at this point, and we’ve seen Team Red come out with winning CPU after winning CPU, we’ve been asking ourselves where things go from here. 

AMD announced its 7nm Zen 2 architecture at CES 2019, and it should dramatically improve performance, while keeping power consumption low. This is definitely exciting news for the Ryzen 3rd Generation processors, but we’re here specifically for the next line of Threadripper chips.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? AMD’s next line of HEDT processors 
  • When is it out? Likely Summer 2019
  • What will it cost? TBD

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation release date

While AMD hasn’t come out and announced the release date for its next Threadripper chips, the last two Threadripper generations have been pretty consistent, so we have a basis for speculation. 

Both the original Threadripper and Threadripper 2nd Generation launched in August of 2017 and 2018, respectively. We’re fairly sure that AMD is going to follow the same general release schedule this time around, but, obviously we don’t know that for sure. 

AMD showed off its Zen 2 architecture at CES, launching mid-2019, likely in Q2 or Q3, in the form of consumer-focused Ryzen chips. AMD didn’t have any information regarding Threadripper, but we still think that Threadripper will at least be teased at Computex 2019, with a release date showing up sometime this summer.

We’ll update this article as soon as we hear more substantial rumors about the release date.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation price

Now, so far ahead of AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation’s launch, we don’t have any official pricing information, but we can look at past generations to get an idea of what AMD’s next HEDT chips will cost. 

The original lineup of Threadripper topped out with the $999 (£999, AU$1,439) AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, but the second generation introduced surprisingly lower priced replacements. There were also two higher specced – and higher priced – additions. We believe Threadripper 3rd Generation will follow the latter model.

The prices of AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2nd Generation chips are as follows: 

  • Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX: $1,799 (£1,639, AU$2,679)
  • Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX: $1,299 (£1,159, AU$2,039)
  • Ryzen Threadripper 2950X: $899 (£809, AU$1,415)
  • Ryzen Threadripper 2920X: $649 (£583, AU$1,019)

AMD could very well surprise us and introduce an even higher-end SKU, but we don’t think that’s likely. Stay tuned, and we’ll update this page as soon as we hear any Threadripper 3rd Generation price information.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation specs

With AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation, we expect to see a huge bump in core counts, efficiency and per-core performance with Threadripper 3rd Generation. If you need a refresher on last year’s Threadripper lineup’s specs they’re as follows:

  • Ryzen Threadripper 2920X: 12-cores, 24-threads, clocked at 3.5GHz to 4.3GHz
  • Ryzen Threadripper 2950X: 16-cores, 32-threads, clocked at 3.5GHz to 4.4GHz
  • Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX: 24-cores, 48-threads, clocked at 3.0GHz to 4.2GHz
  • Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX: 32-cores, 64-threads, clocked at 3.0GHz to 4.2GHz

We’re sure that with the move to 7nm, AMD is going to massively improve specs. But, with Threadripper 3rd Generation, or Castle Peak, rumors are thin on the ground. However, there is plenty of buzz about the AMD Ryzen 3000 series, not to mention the 64-core AMD Epyc server CPU.

While we’ve seen speculation that suggests a 16-core Ryzen 3000 processor, that hasn’t been confirmed. What has been confirmed, though, is a new 8-core Ryzen processor that matches the Intel Core i9-9900K’s Cinebench score, getting 2,023 points.

AMD also showed off the system power in its test, the whole system ran at just 130W during the Cinebench run, compared to the Intel system’s 180W. We don’t know what frequency this chip was running at, but this high performance combined with the high efficiency is promising for whatever Threadripper chips come from Zen 2. 

What’s more, the chip AMD showed off revealed that 8-core chiplets are smaller than the IO die. What this means for Threadripper is many more cores in the same amount of space. It’s possible that we could see a 64-core Threadripper chip in 2019.

It wouldn’t even be the first 64-core processor in AMD’s lineup. AMD recently showed off its latest Epyc processors, based off its Rome microarchitecture, with up to 64-cores. 

If AMD is able to bring those high core counts to Castle Peak HEDT processors, we could see AMD absolutely dominate Intel’s Basin Falls Refresh. And, if Intel can’t answer with anything but 14nm silicon, AMD might claim the HEDT throne like it did when it topped Intel’s mainstream sales.

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How Roccat built the Titan switch inside the brilliant Vulcan keyboard

Gaze upon our list of the world's best keyboards right now, and you'll find the Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo near the top (as of this writing). Roccat's latest mechanical keyboard is largely thanks to its new Titan mechanical key switch that makes a powerful impact upon first glance.

Unlike just about any other keyboard in existence, the keys are only capped at the top, thus revealing the intricate inner housing beneath. Not only does that give the Vulcan 120 and its brethren a unique visual edge, but it also allows the vibrant RGB LED lights to shine through the transparent switch in a way that adds a unique, singular glow. 

Roccat's overall aesthetic here is more industrial than in-your-face (although maybe a bit sci-fi, as well), and the end result is one of the best-looking keyboards we've ever laid eyes on.

But looks aren't everything; in fact, if the keys don't feel and act right, then looks mean nothing at all for a keyboard. Luckily, Roccat's Vulcan is the complete package featuring the company's new proprietary mechanical Titan switches. Built to find the middle ground between the two most popular types of Cherry MX switches, albeit, with speedier responsiveness, the end result is a keyboard that's great for gaming, typing and essentially anything else.

And it all started with those Titan switches. To find out how Roccat designed the tech inside our new favorite keyboard, we spoke with product head and Roccat Studios Taipei general manager Thaddäus Tetzner about building a mechanical switch that looks good, feels right, and delivers a new sweet spot that's ideal for all types of computing.

Roccat fuel

When Roccat first began the project about three years ago, they had a multipronged plan of attack. First, they wanted to highlight the Titan switch itself within the keyboard design, and not have that integral part be buried behind a bulky keycap. After all, it's the defining feature of a mechanical keyboard. Why hide it?

"We didn't really like that the mechanical keyboard switch is always treated like an internal, mechanical part—not something that you show or that's visible, so it's not part of the cosmetics of the products," said Tetzner. Many internal parts aren't made to be beautiful simply because they'll never be seen by consumers. Roccat's team thought that they could find a better way and highlight the Titan switch without hiding it. "It was not apparent for us why it has to be ugly," he added.

Visually, there's nothing quite like the Roccat Vulcan. Mechanically, however, the company didn't start entirely from scratch with the Titan switch; it's more refinement than revolution, unlike Razer's recent Optomechanical hybrid switch.

Instead, Roccat and partner TTC tried to find a middle ground in type feel between two of the most common Cherry switches, Brown and Red. The speedy, linear Red switches are considered best for pure gaming purposes, while the tactile Brown switches allow for more diverse usage, such as typing articles and papers. Roccat saw an opportunity to bridge that gap and create an even better all-around typing experience.

"We felt that between the Red and the Brown types, between linear and tactile, there was still an opportunity to have," Tetzner explained. "We felt that the gap was too big and the compromises of making a Brown tactile type faster or just making a Red type faster, and not the sweet spot we perceived in the middle of that – between those two. Nobody really went there."

Feeling it out

That's a fine goal, but making that happen was no easy feat. The sensation felt when pressing a key is such a subjective thing, especially when you consider the different applications of a keyboard. That's even true just within gaming, as different games reward different kinds of inputs and reaction speeds. "A hardcore Quake Champions player will have a very different opinion on the best switch than maybe a PUBG player," said Tetzner.

Extensive user testing was needed to try and quantify the ambiguous concept of type feeling, and ensure that they were getting the kind of result that they wanted. Lengthy reliability testing was also necessary to determine that the new switches could hold up to potentially years of usage and not give up the ghost too soon – something that could derail the entire product line if left unchecked.

When it came to making the keys feel so speedy and responsive, Roccat opted against significantly shortening the distance to actuation – that is, how far the key can be pressed before registering the input. That's a straightforward way to do so, of course, but Tetzner and his team felt like the end result would be compromised. You'd feel the difference right away, so Roccat stuck with a 1.8mm actuation point. That is shorter than the Cherry standard of 2.0mm, but not dramatically so.

More importantly, Roccat focused on minimizing contact bouncing and tweaking the debounce rate. When the metal plates inside of a switch make contact, they bounce and vibrate – so manufacturers use a brief debounce delay and then check again for contact, ensuring that one key press doesn't count as two or more. However, that metal can wear down a bit over time, and many manufacturers use a longer debounce rate to ensure that their keyboards remain effective over the longer haul. It's a trade-off.

But for the Titan switch, Roccat refined its components to trim down the bounce as much as possible and used a faster debounce rate to ensure that keystrokes feel speedy and precise without needing to trim the physical travel distance.

"We wanted to give you the same benefit of speed without touching that part that makes, in our opinion, the switch not feel as good," said Tetzner. "Basically, the idea is: instead of making it too short, we save the time somewhere else and still keep typing feeling good."

A true titan

According to Tetzner, development of the Titan Switch proved to be a relatively smooth process, with their core aims holding true all the way through manufacturing. Only the internal makeup of the switches saw any significant overhaul during the testing process, as they had to solve new ways to assemble the key components to ensure both reliability and attractiveness. "The traditional way is something that basically destroys the aesthetics but is easy to manufacture," he said.

It was clearly worth the effort. As our review and best gaming keyboards list placement both suggest, the Vulcan 120 Aimo – Roccat's current top-tier keyboard wielding the Titan switch – is one of the best keyboards you can buy today. And that certainly won't be the last we see of the Titan \switch.

The current version is dubbed the Titan switch tactile, and Tetzner suggests that other variants could be coming based on demand, including versions that are more akin to Linear or Clicky switches from other makers. He's also thinking ahead to second- and third-generation editions of the Titan Switch. There's still room for improvement and innovation in this market, Tetzner said, both from Roccat and competitors, but he can't help but hope that the Titan Switch itself ends up influencing followers.

"We do believe that the Titan switch will create a new kind of trend," he surmised, noting its balance between mechanical and industrial design. "The love and the detail, for even something like the debounce rate, is also something that will hopefully leave its mark on the industry."

  • If you liked this, you're going to love our look behind Razer's Optomechanical switches

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Microsoft moves further into healthcare with new partnership with Walgreens

Microsoft is moving further into the healthcare space with a new partnership with the Walgreens Boots Alliance, the parent company of the Walgreens, Duane Reed and Boots pharmacy chains and the healthcare products company Alliance Healthcare.

The aim of the seven-year agreement between the companies, detailed in today's announcement, is to “develop new health care delivery models, technology and retail innovations to advance and improve the future of health care.”

Microsoft and the Walgreens Boots Alliance will work together on research and development to build new healthcare technologies and the two could even possibly operate joint R&D centres in the future.

Starting this year, Walgreens Boots Alliance will also pilot in-store digital health corners under its new partnership with Microsoft.

Countering Amazon

The deal is another example of Microsoft countering Amazon which has also moved into healthcare space recently through a partnership with JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to bring new healthcare solutions to all three companies' employees.

Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella appeared on CNBC alongside Wallgreens Boots Alliance's CEO Stefano Pessina and explained that discussions between the two companies started three years ago, saying:

“They went through a pretty rigorous process of really finding the right partner who can bring both world-class technology, but also that trust, in order to be able to help them build this ecosystem. Because ultimately, this is about broad partnerships that need to be harnessed by Walgreens in order to deliver the services that they are envisioning. They needed to find a partner who on the technology side has the capability to do that ecosystem orchestration and is trusted.” 

Walgreens Boots Alliance will also migrate the majority of its IT infrastructure to Microsoft's Azure cloud platform and will rollout Microsoft 365 across its global network of stores and 380,000 employees.

Via GeekWire

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The best Instagram image downloader 2019

Instagram is all about sharing: you take photos and share them online with your followers. But what about when you want to save photos and videos you encounter on the image-based social network?

There are hacks you can use to download images directly from Instagram without the need for additional tools, but you'll find things much easier if you turn to a dedicated utility

 This may take the form of a website that can grab the images you point it at, a browser plugin that lets you download photos on the fly, or it could be a standalone program that you can use to download single images or entire collections. Here we take a look at five such tools so you can find the one the best suits your needs.

When you start using these downloaders, just try to be considerate of other people – many images will be subject to copyright, so keep that in mind. 

1. Image Downloader for Instagram

If you tend to browse Instagram on your computer rather than your phone, and you're a Chrome, Firefox or Opera user, this extension could be just what you've been looking for. Image Downloader for Instagram does exactly what the name suggests, making it incredibly simple to grab images you like.

The extension adds a download button to all Instagram images, and clicking this will automatically download an image to your default download location. Only the highest resolution versions of images are downloaded, so there's no need to worry about poor quality pictures. There are no settings for you to fiddle with, but a toolbar button gives you the option of toggling the extension on an off if you want.

Image Downloader for Instagram works very well, but it is simple. Not only are there no options to configure, but it is only capable of downloading one image at a time, and it can't download videos. Still, for those with basic needs, it is ideal.

2. Free Instagram Download

DVDVideoSoft has a history of providing tools for downloading content from various website – including YouTube and Skype – so it comes as little surprise that it is also responsible for an Instagram downloader.

Free Instagram Download is incredibly simple to use. Just copy the URL of an image or video, paste it in to the program and you can start downloading. You can download images one by one, or build up a download list and grab them en masse. There are also options available that mean that once you paste a URL into the program, the download will start automatically.

If you upgrade to the paid-for version of the software you will enjoy better performance, and there is the promise that the ability to download everything from a user account at some point in the future. 

3. DownloadGram

It may well be that you don't download Instagram images often enough to warrant installing a dedicated piece of software – so you may be interested in using a website to take care of your downloads instead. And this is exactly what DownloadGram is.

This is a website designed with the sole purpose of downloading Instagram images in mind. All you need to do is copy the address of an image or video, and you'll be given the chance to save it to your hard drive.

To save you from having to keep visiting the site, you have the option of installing a bookmarklet to your browser toolbar which will enable you to download images and videos with a quick click of a toolbar button. It's simple and no-frills, but that's often all you need!

4. 4K Stogram

4K Stogram is a standalone program for Windows, Linux and macOS that makes it easy to download anything you want from Instagram, or – as the developer points out – to back up your own account.

The tool works by enabling you to 'subscribe' to an account, hashtag or location (these are essentially constantly updated searches. You can then browse and download images and videos, but you are limited to subscribing to two searches in the free version of the program.

If you're willing to pay for an activation code for 4K Stogram – $9.99/£9.54 (about AU$18) for a three-computer license – you'll gain access to a handful of extra capabilities. Paying for a license will enable you to not only subscribe to an unlimited number of users, but also to download Stories. But even if you stick with the free version of the tool, it's a pretty capable piece of software.

5. Free Instagram Downloader

Another website that enables you to download from Instagram, using the descriptively-named Free Instagram Downloader means there's no need to install any software to grab photos and videos from the social network.

Unfortunately there's no browser bookmarklet available, so you'll have to visit the site every time you want to download something, but this is small price to pay. The process of downloading is very simple – just enter the name of the user you are interested in, and you'll be presented with all of the images that have been uploaded. You can then opt to download individual images, select several pictures, or download everything as a zip file. It's a simple tool, but it does what you need, so there may be no need to look any further.

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