Thurrott Daily: May 6

Thurrott Daily: May 6

I’m flying home from a very quick trip to Seattle today. Here are some tech tidbits from around the web.

5/6/2016 3:49:31 PM

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Forza Motorspot 6: Apex Beta is available now for Windows 10

I wrote about this last week, but the Forza Motorspot 6: Apex Beta is available now on Windows 10. Do yourself a favor, however, and don’t make the mistake I made: This game will not run on most mainstream laptops or PCs, as it requires DirectX 12-compatible graphics. You can find the minimum, recommended and ideal specs here. Otherwise, you can waste time downloading 15 GB and then get this message.


(I did later get to try the game on Rafaels’ PC. It’s impressive looking. But I’m not sure racing games are all that compelling.)

Microsoft no longer allows administrators to block Windows Store access in Windows 10 Pro

Mary Jo reports on a weird retroactive change to Windows 10 Pro.

Microsoft has retroactively removed the ability of companies to turn off access to the Windows Store in its Windows 10 Pro version.

Up until a month ago, admins could use Group Policy to shut off employees’ access to Windows Store if they were running Windows 10 Pro. Controlling this access is a requirement for some businesses.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the change, noting that businesses who need to shut off Store access have no recourse other than Windows 10 Enterprise. The official statement:

“Microsoft is focused on helping enterprises manage their environment while giving people choice in the apps and devices they use to be productive across work and life. Windows 10 Enterprise is our offering that provides IT pros with the most granular control over company devices. Windows 10 Pro offers a subset of those capabilities and is recommended for small and mid-size businesses looking for some management controls, but not the full suite necessary for IT pros at larger enterprises.The ability to block access to the Windows Store is typically for organizations who want more control over corporate-owned devices. This fits into the value of Windows 10 Enterprise.

It’s unclear how this fits within the “intended behavior” category. Instead, it seems that Microsoft is simply moving to make Windows 10 Enterprise (and thus its volume licensing schemes) more valuable to businesses. And doing so at the expense (literally) of those who had adopted Windows 10 Pro instead.

CNBC offers hope for Microsoft in mobile … but offers little in the way of proof

I appreciate the positive tone of this CNBC article about Microsoft’s mobile efforts. But it doesn’t really offer anything in the way of actual evidence that Microsoft can ever be successful in mobile. Also, it mixes up market share and usage share, which aren’t the same: Windows phone’s market share is under 2 percent. Anyway, if you’re looking for some good news where there is none, you’ll want to read this.

In mobile computing, the struggle is real, and Microsoft is an afterthought.

Yet there’s a quiet but growing group of Nadella fans that sees Windows 10 differently.

The new and improved operating system, advocates say, is part of an evolving Microsoft, a company that two years into a management overhaul is embracing openness, simplifying development and encouraging innovation from outsiders.

There are … anecdotes pointing to early success.

Which is of course the problem: There are only anecdotes. Still, Windows 10 can only have a positive impact on mobile. Let’s see how this develops over the next year or so.

The next Battlefield game will take place in WWI

And yes, you read that right: World War I, not World War II. This is interesting on a number of levels, but for me it’s means I’ll actually give this one a shot whereas I might have simply ignored a Battlefied 5. Anyway, Polygon reports:

An image from Battlefield 5 — or Battlefield 1, as another leak seems to confirm — seems to confirm long-standing rumors that DICE’s shooter will take place during the First World War, or an alternate-history version of that conflict.

Artwork apparently from the new Battlefield shows a soldier armed with an early 20th century pistol, a rifle and a spiked trench club. He also appears to be standing in front of a zeppelin, an airship that was used during World War I.

If accurate, Battlefield 5’s time period would stand in stark contrast to rival Call of Duty, which is venturing far into the future and deep space with this year’s Infinite Warfare.


Netflix now lets its user decide how much mobile data they use … on Android and iOS only

Netflix has come under fire for allegedly throttling data usage—and thus video quality—when users stream content from mobile devices. So now the service is taking a different approach: It will let users decide how much bandwidth they consume. Netflix explains:

Today, we are offering a new tool to help you better control how much data you use when streaming on cellular networks.

The default setting will enable you to stream about 3 hours of TV shows and movies per gigabyte of data. In terms of bitrates, that currently amounts to about 600 Kilobits per second. Our testing found that, on cellular networks, this setting balances good video quality with lower data usage to help avoid exceeding data caps and incurring overage fees. If you have a mobile data plan with a higher data cap, you can adjust this setting to stream at higher bitrates. Our goal is to give you more control and greater choice in managing your data usage whether you’re on an unlimited mobile plan or one that’s more restrictive.

To set your cellular data usage, make sure you have updated your Netflix app on iOS or Android to the most recent version, select “App Settings” from the menu, and pick “Cellular Data Usage.” There you can switch off the automatic default and select a higher or lower data usage setting that works with your mobile data plan, including an unlimited option.

The Netflix Help Center has more information. Like you, of course, I’m curious when this change is coming to Windows 10 and whether we’ll see it at all on Windows phones.

Apple blamed for deleted a customer’s music collection

This week, Vellum’s James Pinkstone accused Apple Music of deleting 122 GB of his own music—-and in some cases, literally his own music in that some of it was his own creations—and provided a ton of detail about what went wrong. There’s just one problem: Many have documented that what he describes could not have happened and that Pinkstone must have deleted those files himself because he misread a dialog box. iMore explains:

Apple Music was never designed to delete Pinkstone’s source library, and it won’t delete yours. That’s simply not how the service works on your primary Mac. But if you’re not aware of how iCloud Music Library stores copies of tracks, you may delete your local copies to save space, thinking you can get them back — and get screwed as a result.

Whatever the reason, there’s a happy ending: Pinkstone had a recent backup of his music and was able to recover his library, including his own creations.

So the point of this story is that backups are important. Duh, I know. But I bet most people need a disaster before they figure this out.

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