At a Glance: Origin Millennium Hard Line Vice Edition Review


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Over the years America has seen its fair share of memorable decades in fashion. We’ve had the roaring twenties, the golden era following the end of WWII, disco, and so on. A lot has changed since then, but in nostalgic reverence for the 1980s and Miami Vice, Origin has designed its customized Millennium Hard Line Vice Edition gaming desktop with lots of classic neon flair.

Design

At first glance, you’ll either love or hate this case. The right side features some retro artwork with “Origin Vice” emblazoned across it. I’m fairly sure I had a Nintendo game that looked like this before.

The left side of the case features a tempered glass panel with additional artwork. The system inside looks immaculate and it glows like an actual neon sign.

Origin built this system with a hard tube liquid cooling system. Clear cooler blocks are mounted over the CPU and on two Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards. These blocks glow blue and the hard tubes connecting them together glow purple. The RAM also features specialized head-spreaders designed by Origin that have been topped off with blue and purple LED lights.

Benchmarks

With two RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards in SLI and an Intel Core i9-9900K processor, this system is overkill for a gaming system. Our sister site, PCMag, benchmarked one of these systems against some of the fastest computers the site has ever tested.

 

The Core i9-9900K inside of the Millennium Hard Line doesn’t come overclocked. As a result, it came in second place behind the Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 when tested with the CPU focused Cinebench R15 benchmark.

 

As RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards are fairly new, and the Origin Millennium Hard Line Vice has two of them overclocked with a water cooler, the system easily surpassed the competition in almost every test that takes advantage of the GPU.

 

PCMag did some additional testing with a custom built system with two RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards and an Intel Core i7-8700K. Testing against this system showed the Millennium hard Line Vice occasionally fall into second place despite its faster processor and superior thermal solution.

Conclusion

If you’re holding onto fond memories of the 1980s and love the looks of this case you can order the system directly from Origin, but you best also have deep pockets. The system carries with it an exuberant price tag of $6,557. Although it does offer exceptional performance, high-end parts, and an expensive thermal solution in addition to the customized aesthetic look, at this point we’re venturing into used car money. Actually, I’ve owned just four cars in my life and the first three of them together just cost roughly half what this case does.

Realistically no one needs this level of performance. And if you aren’t a fan of the 1980s, like myself, then you aren’t going to like this case. But to be fair, this system isn’t targeted as a sensible high-performance solution. It’s intended to be a showpiece for someone that really digs its vibe. The system appears to be well made and performs well, so if you absolutely love the case I’d recommend buying it.

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Intel Walks Back Apollo Lake CPU Recall


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Last week, Intel published a PCN (Public Change Notice) on its QDMS website declaring that certain Apollo Lake processors had flaws and would be discontinued. The initial notification the company published was straightforward: An issue had been identified with the Low Pin Count (LPC) Real Time Clock (RTC) SD Card interface on Intel Celeron N3350, J3355, J3455, and the Intel Pentium N4200 processors. According to Intel, this issue results “in degradation of these signals at a rate higher than Intel’s quality goals after multiple years in service.”

Original-Notification

Apollo Lake is the 14nm Goldmont-powered follow-up to Intel’s Bay Trail platform from several years ago. The Goldmont architecture provides a significant performance uplift compared with the old Silvermont architecture, and it pairs the newer CPUSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce design with Skylake Gen9 graphics. It’s since been succeeded in-market by its own refresh, Gemini Lake. Goldmont / Apollo Lake parts first shipped in 2016. The original plan was to replace the old B1 stepping of these parts with a new F1 stepping.

Then, after sites had begun to pick up on the announcement, it vanished. The company has now replaced it with a new PCN and different instructions for end customers.

Intel-Notification-Revision2

According to this new document, customers who do not need “Intel IOTG Long Life Product Availability” can continue to rely on the B1 stepping parts without any worry. Only customers who need a guarantee under this program, it’s implied, may need to switch from B1 to F1 steppings. The F1 parts, meanwhile, are confirmed to still match all PC hardware requirements.

There are a few more pieces to this puzzle to consider. First, Intel dealt with a very similar problem to this back in 2017, when it announced it would set up a reserve fund for repair costs related to issues with the Atom C2000 family. These parts, codenamed Avoton, had exactly the same issue — Circuit degradation can lead to early product failure.

Also in 2017, Intel extended the expected platform life for its IoT products, from seven years to 15. It may be that this is the “Intel IOTG Long Life Product Availability” that the company referred to in the text above. What Intel is saying, we think, is that only customers who expect to need platform support for the full 15 years are going to have anything to worry about. Customers who are planning to use the hardware for a length of time that corresponds to the typical PC lifecycle, on the other hand, won’t need to replace equipment.

As for why Intel pulled this PDN and replaced it with a different one, the company is likely sensitive to the idea that any of its products have reliability issues. The fact that this problem seems to be repeating — Apollo Lake chips from 2016 are having problems in 2019, just as Avoton chips launched in 2013 started having issues in 2016 — is not a positive. Hopefully, the new F1 steppings resolve this issue, once and for all.

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Upcoming AMD UEFI Update Will Improve Ryzen Boost Clocks


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One ongoing question reviewers have been digging into for the past few weeks is the expected behavior of AMD 7nm Ryzen CPUs at high boost clock versus the actual, measured behavior. AMD promised to update the user community today, September 10, as to the expected behavior of its CPUs and what changes would be incorporated in upcoming UEFI revisions.

To briefly recap: Reports in late July showed that some AMD CPUsSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce were only reaching top boost clock frequency on a single CPU core. Last week, overclocker Der8aurer reported the results of a user survey showing that only some AMD 7nm Ryzen CPUs were hitting their full boost clocks (the exact percentage varies by CPU model). Late last week, Paul Alcorn of Tom’s Hardware published an extensive test of how different AMD AGESA versions and UEFI releases from motherboard impacted motherboard clocking. AGESA is the AMD Generic Encapsulated Software Architecture — the procedure library used to initialize the CPU and various components. Motherboard vendors use the AGESA as a template for creating UEFI versions.

What THG found was that different UEFI versions and AGESA releases have shown subtly different clocking results. Later releases have hit slightly lower boost clocks compared with the earlier versions that were used for reviews. At the same time, however, these later versions have also frequently held their boost clocks for longer before down-throttling the CPU.

There’s also evidence that the throttle temperatures have been subtly adjusted, from 80C initially down to 75 before creeping back upwards to 77. These changes would not necessarily impact performance — the CPU is boosting a bit lower, but also boosting longer — but it wasn’t clear what, exactly, AMD was trying to accomplish. During its IFA presentation last week, Intel argued that these subtle variations were evidence that AMD was trying to deal with a potentially significant reliability issue with its processors. THG was unwilling to sign on to that explanation without additional information.

Ryzen-Master-AMD

AMD’s Ryzen Master tweaking and monitoring utility

While all of this was unfolding, AMD notified us that it would make an announcement on September 10 concerning a new AGESA update.

AMD’s Update

The text that follows is directly from AMD and concerns the improvements that will be baked into updated UEFIs from various motherboard manufacturers. I normally don’t quote from a blog post this extensively, but I think it’s important to present the exact text of what AMD is saying.

[O]ur analysis indicates that the processor boost algorithm was affected by an issue that could cause target frequencies to be lower than expected. This has been resolved. We’ve also been exploring other opportunities to optimize performance, which can further enhance the frequency. These changes are now being implemented in flashable BIOSes from our motherboard partners. Across the stack of 3rd Gen Ryzen Processors, our internal testing shows that these changes can add approximately 25-50MHz to the current boost frequencies under various workloads.

Our estimation of the benefit is broadly based on workloads like PCMark 10 and Kraken JavaScript Benchmark. The actual improvement may be lower or higher depending on the workload, system configuration, and thermal/cooling solution implemented in the PC. We used the following test system in our analysis:

AMD Reference Motherboard (AGESA 1003ABBA beta BIOS)
2x8GB DDR4-3600C16
AMD Wraith Prism and Noctua NH-D15S coolers
Windows 10 May 2019 Update
22°C ambient test lab
Streacom BC1 Open Benchtable
AMD Chipset Driver 1.8.19.xxx
AMD Ryzen Balanced power plan
BIOS defaults (except memory OC)
These improvements will be available in flashable BIOSes starting in about two to three weeks’ time, depending on the testing and implementation schedule of your motherboard manufacturer.

Going forward, it’s important to understand how our boost technology operates. Our processors perform intelligent real-time analysis of the CPU temperature, motherboard voltage regulator current (amps), socket power (watts), loaded cores, and workload intensity to maximize performance from millisecond to millisecond. Ensuring your system has adequate thermal paste; reliable system cooling; the latest motherboard BIOS; reliable BIOS settings/configuration; the latest AMD chipset driver; and the latest operating system can enhance your experience.

Following the installation of the latest BIOS update, a consumer running a bursty, single threaded application on a PC with the latest software updates and adequate voltage and thermal headroom should see the maximum boost frequency of their processor. PCMark 10 is a good proxy for a user to test the maximum boost frequency of the processor in their system. It is expected that if users run a workload like Cinebench, which runs for an extended period of time, the operating frequencies may be less than the maximum throughout the run.

In addition, we do want to address recent questions about reliability. We perform extensive engineering analysis to develop reliability models and to model the lifetime of our processors before entering mass production. While AGESA 1003AB contained changes to improve system stability and performance for users, changes were not made for product longevity reasons. We do not expect that the improvements that have been made in boost frequency for AGESA 1003ABBA will have any impact on the lifetime of your Ryzen processor. (Emphasis added).

Separately from this, AMD also gave information on firmware changes implemented in AGESA 1003ABBA that are intended to reduce the CPU’s operating voltage by filtering out voltage/frequency boost requests from lightweight applications. The 1003ABBA AGESA now contains an activity filter designed to disregard “intermittent OS and application background noise.” This should lower the CPU’s voltage down to 1.2v as opposed to the higher peaks that have been reported.

New Monitoring SDK

Finally, AMD will release a new monitoring SDK that will allow anyone to build a monitoring tool for measuring various facets of Ryzen CPU performance. There will be more than 30 API calls exposed in the new application, including:

Current operating temperature: Reports the average temperature of the CPU cores over a short sample period. By design, this metric filters transient spikes that can skew temperature reporting.
Peak Core(s) Voltage (PCV): Reports the Voltage Identification (VID) requested by the CPU package of the motherboard voltage regulators. This voltage is set to service the needs of the cores under active load but isn’t necessarily the final voltage experienced by all of the CPU cores.
Average Core Voltage (ACV): Reports the average voltages experienced by all processor cores over a short sample period, factoring in active power management, sleep states, VDROOP, and idle time.
EDC (A), TDC (A), PPT (W): The current and power limits for your motherboard VRMs and processor socket.
Peak Speed: The maximum frequency of the fastest core during the sample period.
Effective Frequency: The frequency of the processor cores after factoring in time spent in sleep states (e.g. cc6 core sleep or pc6 package sleep). Example: One processor core is running at 4GHz while awake, but in cc6 core sleep for 50% of the sample period. The effective frequency of this core would be 2GHz. This value can give you a feel for how often the cores are using aggressive power management capabilities that aren’t immediately obvious (e.g. clock or voltage changes).
Various voltages and clocks, including: SoC voltage, DRAM voltage, fabric clock, memory clock, etc.

Ryzen Master has already been updated to give average core voltage values. AMD expects motherboard manufacturers to begin releasing new UEFIs with the 1003ABBA AGESA version incorporated within two weeks. As we wrote last week and despite rumors from Asus employee Shamino, AMD is not portraying these adjustments to clocking behavior as being related to reliability in any way.

As for AMD’s statements about the improved clocks, I want to wait and see how these changes impact behavior on our own test CPUs before drawing any conclusions. I will say that I don’t expect to see overall performance change much — 25-50MHz is only a 0.5 to 1 percent improvement on a 4.2GHz CPU,SEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce and we may not even be able to detect a performance shift in a standard benchmark from such a clock change. But we can monitor clock speeds directly and will report back on the impact of these changes.

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With its Kubernetes bet paying off, Cloud Foundry double down on developer experience – gpgmail


More than fifty percent of the Fortune 500 companies are now using the open-source Cloud Foundry Platform-as-a-Service project — either directly or through vendors like Pivotal — to build, test and deploy their applications. Like so many other projects, including the likes of OpenStack, Cloud Foundry went through a bit of a transition in recent years as more and more developers started looking to containers — and especially the Kubernetes project — as a platform to develop on. Now, however, the project is ready to focus on what always differentiated it from its closed- and open-source competitors: the developer experience.

Long before Docker popularized containers for application deployment, though, Cloud Foundry had already bet on containers and written its own orchestration service, for example. With all of the momentum behind Kubernetes, though, it’s no surprise that many in the Cloud Foundry started to look at this new project to replace the existing container technology.


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Life, the Universe, and Math: 42 Proven to be the Sum of 3 Cubes


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The problem of 42 — at least as it relates to whether the number could be considered the sum of three cubes — has finally been solved. The question of whether every number under 100 could be expressed in this fashion has been a long-standing puzzle in the world of mathematics. Now, two mathematicians, Andrew Sutherland of MIT and Andrew Booker of Bristol, have jointly proven that 42 is indeed the sum of three cubes.

For years, mathematicians have worked to demonstrate that x3+y3+z3 = k, where k is defined as the numbers from 1-100. By 2016, researchers had demonstrated that this theory held true in all cases except for two unproven exceptions: 33 and 42. The formal theory, as expressed by Roger Heath-Brown in 1992, is that every k unequal to 4 or 5 modulo 9 has infinitely many representations as the sum of three cubes. By closing this particular gap, we’ve now proven that all numbers below 113 fit this theory.

Earlier this year, Andrew Booker of Bristol was inspired by a Numberphile video to begin working on a solution. We’ve embedded that video below:

Booker came up with a new, more efficient algorithm to search for a solution to the problem for these two values. The solution for 33 took about three weeks to find once the problem was run through a supercomputer at the UK’s Advanced Computing Research Centre. 42 proved a tougher nut to crack, so Booker paired up with Andrew Sutherland, who is an expert in massively parallel computation in addition to being a mathematician. The two enlisted the help of the Charity Engine, a distributed computing project that allows PCs to make money for charities through the donation of computing time.

Over a million hours of computation later, the team had its solution. In the equation x3+y3+z3 = k, let x = -80538738812075974, y = 80435758145817515, and z = 12602123297335631. Plug it all in, and you get (-80538738812075974)3 + 804357581458175153 + 126021232973356313 = 42. And with that, we’ve found solutions for all the values of k up to 100 (technically, up to 113).

“I feel relieved,” Booker said. “In this game, it’s impossible to be sure that you’ll find something. It’s a bit like trying to predict earthquakes, in that we have only rough probabilities to go by. So, we might find what we’re looking for with a few months of searching, or it might be that the solution isn’t found for another century.”

It may not prove that 42 is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, but Douglas Adams clearly made the case for that solution in the mathematical and philosophical textbook, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Efforts to understand the Ultimate Question remain mired in disgruntled physics equations regarding the intrinsic difficulty of building planet-sized supercomputers with molten iron for a central core.

Top image credit: Martinultima/Wikipedia 

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Microsoft Releases First Windows 10 PowerToys Add-Ons


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In an earlier technological era when desktops ruled and laptops were briefcases, Microsoft released a suite of Windows 95 extensions called PowerToys. Despite a committed fan base, PowerToys faded away in newer versions of Windows, but Microsoft announced some months back that it was reviving PowerToys in Windows 10. Now, the first PowerToys utilities are available for download. 

For those who have forgotten (or are too young to remember), PowerToys debuted in Windows 95. These free add-ons extended the capabilities in Windows 95, and many of them became default features in newer versions of the operating system. The original batch of tools included starting a command prompt from an Explorer folder, auto-launching CD-ROMs, and moving window focus automatically with the mouse. In Windows XP, Microsoft experimented with batch image resizing in IE, file/folder synchronizing, and a more powerful calculator. Microsoft retired PowerToys following the release of Vista. 

It’s taken four months, but the first two PowerToys add-ons for Windows 10 are live on Microsoft’s GitHub. To get started, download the PowerToys installer and launch it. PowerToys lives in the system tray, allowing you to enable or disable each tool. Currently, there are two PowerToys available in the client: FancyZones and Shortcut Guide. 

At the time of the announcement, Shortcut Guide was the only tool Microsoft had fleshed out. The version we have now is indeed similar to what the company demoed in May. This tool helps you use all those Windows key shortcuts you probably don’t use. Simply hold the Windows key for a moment, and an overlay appears on the screen to remind you of features like managing virtual desktops, launching taskbar apps, and various setting shortcuts. 

The other PowerToys module, known as FancyZones, is a bit more advanced. This tool lets you create custom window layouts for more efficient multitasking. For example, you might want to split your monitor into three columns instead of the two zones you get with snapping in Windows 10. Alternatively, you might just want windows floating in a particular area of the screen. Just create a layout or choose one of the templates, and then hold Shift while dragging to drop windows into one of your custom zones — they’ll snap right into place. You can also choose to override the Windows Snap hotkey (Win + arrow) with FancyZones. 

This is only the first release, and Microsoft plans to release a lot more tools. If the new PowerToys is anything like the old one, it may give us a glimpse at features that will come bundled in future Windows builds.

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At a Glance: MSI GE65 Raider Review


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MSI is one of the most active companies in the gaming laptop market. With a half-dozen ongoing product lines and multiple products in each, MSI’s approach is to flood the market with tons of choices for gamers to choose from. In general, this is great, as it often helps to have plenty of options. But it can also create some confusion as to which system is best, and some laptops such as MSI’s GE65 Raider get left without a clear position in the market.

Design

In terms of its size and design, the GE65 Raider sits directly between MSI’s more compact GS65 Stealth and more powerful GT63 Titan notebooks. Aesthetically the Raider looks like the Titan’s little brother, with the two systems looking quite similar overall. The Raider at 26.9mm thin is significantly smaller than the Titan (39.8mm), giving it a clear advantage in portability. The Raider, in turn, is considerably thicker than the 17.9mm-thin Stealth.

So far then the Raider looks to be targeted as a solution between these other two systems, but this doesn’t hold true when we and components into the mix. All three systems support processors up to Intel Core i9 9th Gen, but the best GPU you can get in the Raider is an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070. Both the Titan and the Stealth support RTX 2080 graphics cards though, which gives them an advantage in their top-tier configurations.

The Raider does have one advantage over the Stealth, however: It features better cooling hardware, thanks in part to its larger form factor.

Test Model & Benchmarks

Our sister site PCMag got hold of one of MSI’s GE65 Raider notebooks and tested it against several other systems including the aforementioned Stealth. The system tested came equipped with an Intel Core i9-9880H processor with eight CPU cores and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card as well as 1080p 240Hz display. As configured, this system sells for $2,699. The rest of the system specs, as well as the specs of the other tested notebooks, can be found in the chart below.

As the only octa-core processor in the group, the MSI GE65 Raider blows everything else out of the water when tested with Cinebench R15.

We see the same results when testing with Photoshop CC. It’s clear that these six-core processors simply can’t stand up against the bigger eight-core CPUs in a head to head competition.

This trend continues when we turn our attention to synthetic gaming benchmarks. Although the GPU in the MSI GE65 Raider is outclassed by the GPUs inside of the Acer Predator Triton 500 and the Gigabyte Aero 15-Y9, the Raider still pulls ahead in these tests thanks to its more powerful processor. It’s possible that the Raider’s thermal solution is also helping to improve the notebook’s performance relative to the other systems, but we don’t have sufficient evidence to know this for sure.

What’s even more surprising is that the RTX 2070 inside of the Raider continues to run laps around the RTX 2080s inside of the Acer Predator Triton and Gigabyte Aero 15-Y9. This is especially noticeable on Rise of the Tomb Raider, which shows the Raider with between a 13 and 31fps lead over the Acer Predator Triton 500.

Conclusion

According to PCMag, while performing these tests the CPU and GPU maintained average temperatures of 83C and 80C, respectively. At the same time, the GPU reportedly maintained an average core clock of 1,630MHz, which is significantly higher than the RTX 2070’s stock clock speed of 1,440MHz. This indicates it has been factory overclocked by MSI to improve performance. Clearly the thermal solution also performed exceptionally well during these tests, as thermal throttling was not a noticeable issue.

Thanks to its exceptional performance against the competition as well as its high-end specs, I’d recommend the MSI GE65 Raider as an excellent solution for those in need of a powerful gaming laptop. You can get it now from Amazon for $2,699.00.

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Razer’s Upcoming Intel-Powered Switch 13 Will Offer 25W Switchable TDP


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When Intel took the lid off of Ice Lake, we noted that the performance data for the CPU was complex. On the GPU side of things, Ice Lake is a huge leap forward, with substantially higher performance than anything we’ve seen from Intel integrated graphics before. The CPU, however, was a rather mixed bag. When restrained to a 15W TDP, Ice Lake CPUs weren’t necessarily faster than the Coffee Lake chips they are intended to replace and were often somewhat slower. If you give the CPU additional headroom, this problem resolves — but of course, giving the chip more power to play with has a negative impact on heat and battery life.

When Intel invited reviewers to test Ice Lake, the test systems it offered had a toggle switch to flip from 15W to 25W envelopes. That’s how PCMag and other publications were able to test the laptop in both modes, as shown below:

Users don’t usually have this kind of option. TDP ranges are typically pre-defined by the OEM and are not something that the end user can modify, for obvious reasons — cranking up laptop TDP is a good way to overheat the system if you don’t know what you’re doing and if the laptop isn’t specifically designed to run at the higher power level. To the best of our knowledge (until today), no consumer laptop could actually change its TDP values on the fly. At the Ice Lake testing event, Intel told reviewers that the Ice Lake laptops sold at retail wouldn’t have this option, either.

There appears to be at least one exception to this rule, however. The Razer Blade 13 will have an adjustable TDP that can be configured through Razer’s Synapse software. Supposedly this capability has always existed, going back to the original Razer Blade. If this is true, it’s not something the company previously seems to have highlighted — Google doesn’t bring up any results referring to an adjustable TDP on previous versions of the Razer Blade,SEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce unless you count the fact that the laptop would down-clock under load in some circumstances. To be clear, the ability to run the CPU in a lower power envelope under load isn’t the same thing as being able to voluntarily put it in a higher TDP mode and operate it with additional power headroom.

Given that Intel had already told reviewers not to expect adjustable TDP ranges as a major laptop feature, this raises the question: Is this specific to Razer, or will we see more laptop manufacturers taking advantage of these new capabilities? Will Intel make adjustable TDPs a feature that high-end customers can shell out for if they want the option?

Razer’s website for the new Blade states that the system will use a 25W Ice Lake CPU, but does not mention anything about the system being adjustable within a 15W versus a 25W power envelope.

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Microsoft: Latest Windows 10 1903 Update Can Cause CPU Spikes, Break Desktop Search


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Earlier this week, reports surfaced that some Windows 10 users are having problems with Windows 10 1903. The latest cumulative update released for the OS, KB4512941, can cause CPU usage to surge to 30 percent or even as high as 100 percent. Separately from that, some users are also reporting that Windows Desktop Search is completely broken.

According to Microsoft, the broken search issue only affects systems which have disabled the “Search the web” functionality embedded in desktop search. I admit, this kind of acknowledgment always makes me a bit grumpy, mostly because I’ve never understood why anyone would want web-search functionality integrated into desktop search in the first place. If I’m searching my desktop, I’m definitionally not searching the World Wide Web. Cluttering my results with data from locations that aren’t going to contain what I’m looking for isn’t a value-add, it’s an active detriment to the entire point of using a desktop search as opposed to a web search.

MS-Search-Problem

Separately from these issues, Windows 10 1903 is still grappling with a laundry list of problems. The company still doesn’t recommend installing 1903 on Surface Book 2 models with a discrete GPU because the update can break discrete GPU functionality. Some Qualcomm and Realtek device driver versions aren’t compatible with the update. Some users with an Intel Audio Driver have reported faster-than-expected battery drain, and the company hasn’t fixed an issue causing problems with gamma ramps, color profiles, and night light settings. This one produced some spectacular (and puzzling) visual results while we were testing the 5700 and 5700 XT for AMD’s Navi launch back in July.

In most of these cases, Microsoft has “mitigated” the problem by blocking affected products from updating to Windows 10 1903 automatically. The problem with that approach, however, is that it doesn’t address the issues of people who updated to 1903 already and didn’t discover it was the cause of their issues until the rollback window had already passed. It’s easy to remove a single Windows Update, like the cumulative KB4512941 that’s causing the new issues with CPU usage, but rolling back the entire 1903 installation is something you have to do within 30 days.

As for the broken desktop search functionality, that’s an issue I’ve actually run into before with earlier Windows 10 updates. When I updated my desktop to Windows 10 1809, it broke desktop search. I rolled the update back as a result, even though I wasn’t impacted by the data-deletion bug that affected some users.

Affected users should try uninstalling KB4512941. Users who still can’t install 1903 should wait to see if Microsoft will be able to resolve any of these issues before 1909 comes out. Microsoft has made significant changes to how it tests future Windows builds in the Windows Insider program. The result of these changes should be a longer overall test cycle and hopefully updates that will break less code moving forward, but 1903 was released before these changes had gone into effect. We may not see the impact of these changes until Windows releases its 2020 updates.

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Atlassian launches free tiers for all its cloud products, extends premium pricing plan – gpgmail


At our TC Sessions: Enterprise event, Atlassian co-CEO Scott Farquhar today announced a number of updates to how the company will sell its cloud-based services. These include the launch of new premium plans for more of its products, as well as the addition of a free tier for all of the company’s services that didn’t already offer one. Atlassian now also offers discounted cloud pricing for academic institutions and nonprofit organizations.

The company previously announced its premium plans for Jira Software Cloud and Confluence Cloud. Now, it is adding Jira Service Desk to this lineup, and chances are it’ll add more of its services over time. The premium plan adds a 99.9% update SLA, unlimited storage and additional support. Until now, Atlassian sold these products solely based on the number of users, but didn’t offer a specific enterprise plan.

As Harsh Jawharkar, the head of go-to-market for Cloud Platform at Atlassian, told me, many of its larger customers, who often ran the company’s products on their own servers before, are now looking to move to the cloud and hand over to Atlassian the day-to-day operations of these services. That’s in part because they are more comfortable with the idea of moving to the cloud at this point — and because Atlassian probably knows how to run its own services better than anybody else. 

For these companies, Atlassian is also introducing a number of new features today. Those include soon-to-launch data residency controls for companies that need to ensure that their data stays in a certain geographic region, as well as the ability to run Jira and Confluence Cloud behind customized URLs that align with a company’s brand, which will launch in early access in 2020. Maybe more important, though, are features to Atlassian Access, the company’s command center that helps enterprises manage its cloud products. Access now supports single sign-on with Google Cloud Identity and Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services, for example. The company is also partnering with McAfee and Bitglass to offer additional advanced security features and launch a cross-product audit log. Enterprise admins will also soon get access to a new dashboard that will help them understand how Atlassian’s tools are being used across the organization.

But that’s not all. The company is also launching new tools to make customer migration to its cloud products easier, with initial support for Confluence and Jira support coming later this year. There’s also new extended cloud trial licenses, which a lot of customers have asked for, Jawharkar told me, because the relatively short trial periods the company previously offered weren’t quite long enough for companies to fully understand their needs.

This is a big slew of updates for Atlassian — maybe its biggest enterprise-centric release since the company’s launch. It has clearly reached a point where it had to start offering these enterprise features if it wanted to grow its market and bring more of these large companies on board. In its early days, Atlassian mostly grew by selling directly to teams within a company. These days, it has to focus a bit more on selling to executives as it tries to bring more enterprises on board — and those companies have very specific needs that the company didn’t have to address before. Today’s launches clearly show that it is now doing so — at least for its cloud-based products.

The company isn’t forgetting about other users either, though. It’ll still offer entry-level plans for smaller teams and it’s now adding free tiers to products like Jira Software, Confluence, Jira Service Desk and Jira Core. They’ll join Trello, Bitbucket and Opsgenie, which already feature free versions. Going forward, academic institutions will receive 50% off their cloud subscriptions and nonprofits will receive 75% off.

It’s obvious that Atlassian is putting a lot of emphasis on its cloud services. It’s not doing away with its self-hosted products anytime, but its focus is clearly elsewhere. The company itself started this process a few years ago and a lot of this work is now coming to fruition. As Anu Bharadwaj, the head of Cloud Platform at Atlassian, told me, this move to a fully cloud-native stack enabled many of today’s announcements, and she expects that it’ll bring a lot of new customers to its cloud-based services.  


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