Microsoft Editor extension is now available on Edge and Chrome

Microsoft’s newest tool to improve your writing is available on Edge and Chrome.

What you need to know

Microsoft Editor is now available as an extension for Edge and Chrome.
Premium features require a Microsoft 365 subscription, but you can use Microsoft Editor for free.
Microsoft Editor was announced yesterday.

Just a day after Microsoft announced a major upgrade to Microsoft Editor, you can grab extensions for the service on Edge and Chrome. Microsoft Editor reviews your writing and checks for spelling and grammatical errors. If you have a Microsoft 365 account, it also gives you advanced grammar and style suggestions. A help and support page from Microsoft spells out all of the details.

Microsoft showed off Microsoft Editor in a new video and discussed it in an online briefing. Microsoft Editor is similar to Grammarly. It has a free version that you can use just by having a Microsoft account and premium features that you gain access to if you have a Microsoft 365 subscription.

Using Microsoft Editor is straightforward. Once downloaded, you log into your Microsoft account and get either free or premium features depending on your account. You can toggle settings for checking spelling, grammar, and suggesting refinements. You can also exclude sites from Microsoft Editor. Showing synonyms for spelling suggestions is off by default, but you can check a box to turn it on. You can also select if you want Microsoft to use data from your use of the service to improve Microsoft’s products.

Microsoft Editor

Get for Edge
Get for Chrome

Microsoft Editor checks your writing for spelling and grammatical errors. It also has advanced grammar and style suggestions if you have a Microsoft 365 account.

Microsoft Editor extension is now available on Edge and Chrome

Sonic the Hedgehog, Bad Boys for Life launch on the Microsoft Store

Stuck inside with nothing to do? There are a couple of new movies to check out on the Microsoft Store.

What you need to know

Sonic the Hedgehog and Bad Boys for Life are now available to watch on the Microsoft Store and other digital stores.
Both movies first hit theaters in recent months.
You can pick up Sonic the Hedgehog and Bad Boys for Life for $20 at the Microsoft Store now.

With many people staying home and practicing social distancing, new movies are getting more attention as they launch on digital stores. Last week, we saw Bloodshot and Birds of Prey hit digital stores a little early, and this week the biggest movies to launch are Sonic the Hedgehog and Bad Boys for Life.

Both movies are now up for grabs in the Microsoft Store starting at $20 each, and they’re both very different flicks. Bad Boys for Life caps off the long-running buddy-cop series featuring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Sonic the Hedgehog, meanwhile, brings Sega’s speedy blue rodent to film, and it only first hit theaters in mid-February.

Sonic and Bad Boys are both available in 4K, and you can watch them via your Xbox One or PC if you pick them up in the Microsoft Store. If the Microsoft Store isn’t your jam, they’re also up for grabs on Amazon and iTunes.

Are you digging into any new movies or TV shows this week? Let us know what’s on your radar in the comments.

Sonic the Hedgehog

$20 at Microsoft
$20 at Amazon
$20 at iTunes

Sonic the Hedgehog stars Jim Carrey alongside Sega’s speedy rodent in the game’s first film entry.

Bad Boys for Life

$20 at Microsoft
$20 at Amazon
$20 at iTunes

Bad Boys for Life sees Martin Lawrence and Will Smith reprise their roles as buddy cops in one last adventure.

Sonic the Hedgehog, Bad Boys for Life launch on the Microsoft Store

Review: Elgato's Multi Mount should be in every streaming setup

If you create content and you’re tight on space, this should be at the heart of your setup.

Elgato is a brand that gamers the world over are familiar with. Now part of the Corsair family, Elgato’s product lineup continues to grow and has, in recent years, branched out from the traditional gamer-focus to encompass all kinds of content creators.

I’ve reviewed a couple of such items in the past, like the Green Screen and the Key Light, and these are both great examples of the strength of Elgato’s ecosystem. The latest to cross my path is the Multi Mount, which to look at isn’t remotely glamorous. But could be absolutely game-changing for your setup.

Simplicity

Elgato Multi Mount

Bottom line: Pretty hard to fault and if you’re a streamer, in particular, looking for a space-saving way to mount a camera, this is it.

Pros:

Space-saving design
Well built
Standard 1/4″ screw
Hefty clamp
Optional extras make it insanely flexible

Cons:

Base height is perhaps too high for some
Tough to get hold of right now

£50 at Amazon UK

Simple idea with solid execution

So what is the Multi Mount? Put simply, it’s a monopod that clamps to your desk. Really, that’s it. It’s so simple it makes me wonder why there isn’t more of this sort of thing about. The Multi Mount is basically the pole portion of the Key Light, with the exact same clamp and the exact same ball head with standard 1/4″ screw.

It’s a chunky thing, yet it isn’t particularly heavy and the quite massive clamp keeps it firmly attached and any unwanted movement in check. And that’s with my Sony A7 mounted to it carrying a fairly weighty lens. There’s no wobble or instability of any kind, it’s ridiculously sturdy.

Like with the Key Light, it’s height-adjustable between 55cm (22 inches) and 125cm (49 inches), and the lower limit is probably the only criticism I have with it personally. When trying to use a camera as a webcam, it’s quite high up still, or at least compared to the combined height of my chair and I. If it were even 5cm lower at its shortest it would have been perfect. The ball head makes for easy adjustment, but the camera is still looking down a little.

That’s a personal thing though. Otherwise, it’s a pretty faultless product. There’s not much to it to pick fault with anyway! It’s even fairly reasonably priced, especially compared to tripods or monopods.

Made stronger by its add-ons

The real beauty to the Multi Mount is the other stuff you can pair with it. It’s the heart of a pretty flexible mounting system and while cameras are going to be one of the primary use cases, it doesn’t end there. For example, if you just want to elevate your phone, perhaps for some Instagram Live broadcasts or, say, to view your stream chat on when streaming, just pop on a smartphone holder.

The Flex Arm kit is the real gem, though. I don’t have one handy to test, but it’s essentially made up of four tubes that can all be angled in different directions in order to get the position of your camera/light/phone/tablet or whatever you have attached absolutely perfect.

This articulating kit can be manipulated any way you like, with one popular example allowing for a camera to be pointing perfectly straight down. Ideal to show off a keyboard while gaming or maybe to shoot a good old-fashioned unboxing video.

The weighted base you can add makes the whole thing mobile, too. Most folks will just mount this system to a table and leave it there, but the weighted base means you have even greater flexibility over how you use it.

Perfect addition to your streaming setup

The most immediately obvious target audience for this are streamers and paired with Elgato’s own Cam Link (or a regular capture card if you have a spare) you’ve got a safe, sturdy way to use a proper camera in place of a webcam. And with the extras available for more advanced requirements, it’s really easy to recommend.

The biggest issue, like with many Elgato products from time to time, is availability. It’s not uncommon to see stock shortages, indeed as of this review the official retailer for the U.S. Amazon, isn’t able to sell you one. If you can get hold of it though, it’s a really easy and effective way to up your content creation game.

So simple

Elgato Multi Mount

£50 at Amazon UK

A simple idea that can make such a difference

It’s so simple it’s a wonder it hasn’t been done more, but this essentially adds a monopod to your desk and makes mounting a proper camera so much easier and so much neater.

Review: Elgato's Multi Mount should be in every streaming setup

Moons of Madness for Xbox One review: When Lovecraftian horror isn't enough

This game wants to be unique, but it’s just a retread of the same old tropes.

Lovecraftian games have been making a bit of a comeback in the past few years. We’ve had The Sinking City, Bloodborne, Call of Cthulhu, Sunless Sea, World of Horror, and a seemingly limitless list of indies. The works of H.P. Lovecraft are a prime trove for those looking to make a horror title in any medium, so it makes sense that many would try to create their own interpretation of the writer’s work.

The results, however, have been hit or miss. It’s easy to make a game with Lovecraftian elements (indecipherable mystic languages, unknowable creatures, and a descent into madness are just some examples). Still, it’s more complicated to make a game that understands cosmic horror and what makes it so terrifying. Most games that try to channel that horror ends up becoming retreads of familiar tropes.

Moons of Madness, developed by Rock Pocket Games and published by Funcom, is yet another attempt to create a Lovecraftian horror game. It’s a first-person mystery where you play Shane Newehart, an astronaut who’s a part of a secret mission on Mars to investigate mysterious signals and artifacts. You solve puzzles and explore your base to uncover what’s being hidden from you, how this ties in with your traumatic childhood, and how this affects the entire universe.

It does have a unique twist: instead of setting the game in New England, where most of these works are based, the developers move it to Mars. It weaves sci-fi and legends of ancient alien races into a larger cosmic tale about trans-dimensional beings looking to escape and devour all of reality (fairly typical by Lovecraft standards). This makes Moons of Madness appealing on paper, but when you dig deeper, you don’t find more terror. You just find more tropes.

Lovecraftian snoozefest

Moons of Madness

Bottom line: Lovecraft fans will have to look elsewhere. While Moons of Madness has some exciting ideas and goes a long way on its premise alone, the story is too dense, and the gameplay is too simple to make it worth your time… unless you need to kill five hours.

Pros:

Only five hours long
Interesting premise
Some cool setpieces

Cons:

Puzzles are too simple
Movement feels like a chore
Story is too dense
Xbox One version has performance issues

$30 at Microsoft Store

What I liked about Moons of Madness: The small details

Moons of Madness is a deceptively simple game. In the very first scene, Shane wakes up in his room and ends up in a nightmare. This is the tutorial level, where the player learns almost everything they need to know. You can walk, you can interact with items, and you can put them in your inventory. In later sections, you learn that you can sprint and that you have a device on your wrist that you can use to scan the environment and keep track of your objectives.

Moons of Madness is a deceptively simple game.

This is the extent of gameplay. The developers combine the limited mechanics to create puzzles, which serve as the main interactivity point for the player. Most involve walking around looking for pieces and then correctly combining them to activate the next phase of the game. Occasionally, you have to sprint to get away from creatures that are chasing you, but as I’ll get into in the next part, these are simple and short segues, mostly used to get you from one section to another.

Since there isn’t any combat and gameplay is limited in most other capacities, it is easy to get a hold of what you need to do quickly. Since the game is only five hours long, keeping things simple was necessary to keep it from being too dense (whether the game succeeds is another story). Plus, it also means there’s more room to pay attention to tiny details, specifically with the story and animation. There are moments, for example, where Shane has learned something horrible or seen something traumatic, and his hands shake or interact with objects in a more panicked manner. Another small story moment that I appreciated was when another character, Declan, joked about there being witches on Mars to Shane. Later, when you come across his journal, you find out that he’s terrified that a witch is watching him. It’s a small character moment that shows there’s more depth to what’s being presented than you might realize.

Some elements drive home what kind of game the developers wanted this to be. It’s tough to tell sometimes what tone Moons of Madness are going for, but there are bits scattered around the game that give you some clues. The company Shane works for is called Orochi — a legendary eight-headed beast from Japanese folklore, which gives you some idea of what kind of company this is. Some of these points border on lazy — like how Shane graduated from Miskatonic University — but there’s a cheekiness to the writing that gives it personality. This is very welcome, considering that the rest of the game doesn’t have much to offer.

What I didn’t like about Moons of Madness: The bigger picture

While Moons of Madness takes the extra step of setting itself apart by being a Lovecraftian game set on Mars, it’s not enough to make it an essential play for horror fans or people looking for another Lovecraft story. It doesn’t offer anything new for the genre, doesn’t present cool or challenging gameplay, doesn’t do anything with the tropes presented, and gets caught up in its own story.

Even worse than the game being bland is how it doesn’t work as it should.

For one, while the decision to keep the gameplay basic was a good one, not much is done with it. Puzzles mostly consist of finding items across massive levels with little to guide you but a scanner that will point you in the direction of the objective, but only works half the time and is little help when a lot of the levels look the same. Then, you typically have to turn it to the proper setting before putting it in the correct space. Other times you have to scan a piece of tech and complete a pipe puzzle to “hack” it. None of the puzzles are challenging, usually just relying on you knowing what red and blue are, or following a diagram put in front of you. It all then feels like a chore as you go through the motions, but don’t rely on your brainpower. It doesn’t also help that movement feels slow and heavy, which slows everything down even more.

Even other sections where you run away from monsters feel monotonous. Usually, just holding down the sprint button will get you out of its way, and most chases are too short, so any tension dissipates quickly. The “fun” of cosmic horror is that it makes the audience feel claustrophobic and completely at the mercy of something larger than themselves. The game doesn’t quite understand this, especially when it makes enemies so easy to run away from and gives you the tools to dispose of them easily.

Despite it being a simple game, there’s still too much going on. Around three separate stories are being told here, and the game can’t settle on one or figure out the proper way to combine them. The result is a lot of exposition dumps, whether it’s with villains monologuing or in computer files, you find around the base. Unfortunately, the bulk of the explanations you uncover are in text form, so you spend a long time looking at blocks of text on unappealing screens. This, in turn, translates into a lore-heavy and confusing story with too many competing elements and not nearly enough time to digest it all. This becomes especially exhausting in the game’s final hour since a lot of the story is thrown at you towards the end.

Throughout the game, you’ll encounter several sci-fi elements in conjunction with the weird, mystical aspects: clones, androids, a capitalist corporation that has no regard for human life, mad scientists, and even more. Few of these get the attention they deserve and are often introduced and discarded without any fanfare. How do the clones relate to the cosmic, trans-dimensional beings? Who created the androids, and why are they a nuisance for a whole section of the game but never brought up again? The game doesn’t spend the time to give them the space to breathe, and therefore, it’s hard for the audience to give them the attention to matter.

Even worse than the game being bland is how it doesn’t work as it should. I played it on the Xbox One and continuously ran into embarrassing bugs, slow loading times, and frame rate drops. If I died in the game, for example, I would go to the kill screen and click to restart from the last checkpoint. However, it would take on average five seconds (I counted) for the input to go through. Then it would take around a minute — maybe longer — to load back into the game. There were times when the game would even enter a loading screen in the middle of a cut scene, which is unfortunate when that’s also while a character is speaking.

Bottom line: Should you buy Moons of Madness?

Moons of Madness tries to do something unique with a basic Lovecraftian premise. By taking familiar tropes and characters and moving them to Mars, the audience is immediately out of their depth. By combining sci-fi with fantasy in this way, there’s a lot of room to create something new, or at the very least, surprising. We’ve all heard a story about a detective who gets in over their head with a cult, or the researcher who uncovers a mystical tome filled with ancient secrets. Since we have no idea how the Lovecraftian elements tie in with what’s happening on Mars in this universe, there was so much room for an engaging game.

2
out of 5

Unfortunately, that’s not what we got. The game squanders an intriguing premise by trying to pile in too many story elements and presenting boring gameplay. There are still exciting elements in here that lift up the game slightly, but not enough to make it worth any more than a cursory glance. The fact the game is also a mess on the Xbox One makes it even more exasperating to play.

It is only five hours long so that it wouldn’t be a huge commitment either way, but you’re better off looking elsewhere to get your Lovecraft fix.

Looking for some horror?

Moons of Madness

Sci-fi meets mystical horror

If you’re looking to kill five hours and need your Lovecraft fix, Moons of Madness is here. It gives you a typical cosmic horror story but on Mars.

$30 at Microsoft Store

Moons of Madness for Xbox One review: When Lovecraftian horror isn't enough

MAINGEAR launches RUSH desktop with absolutely insane hardware options

MAINGEAR’s latest desktop tower packs powerful internals into a customizable package.

What you need to know

MAINGEAR announced the RUSH desktop tower today.
The desktop is available with incredibly powerful processors from AMD and Intel, including the Intel 10980XE and the Ryzen Threadripper 3990X 64-core chip.
The MAINGEAR RUSH is available now starting at $1,899.

MAINGEAR just announced the RUSH desktop tower, an incredibly powerful PC. The RUSH can have up to two NVIDIA RTX Titan GPUs or four GPUs to focus on productivity if requested. You can get the RUSH chips from Intel or AMD, including the Intel 10980XE and the Ryzen Threadripper 3990X 64-core chip. The RUSH is available from MAINGEAR starting at $1,899.

The RUSH is aimed at gamers who want the most power out of their system. It has APEX liquid cooling, is ASUS ROG certified, and has top-end internals. Wallace Santos, the founder of MAINGEAR, describes the PC, stating, “The MAINGEAR RUSH is a powerhouse system designed to push the limits of what hardcore gamers can achieve.” He also adds, “We have married best in class gaming hardware, from today’s leading brands such as ASUS, with our custom-engineered APEX liquid cooling solution. Every element of the RUSH was designed to deliver unbelievable performance and efficiency.”

The RUSH is the first system to have the APEX liquid cooling system. MAINGEAR explains the cooling system, stating, “The next generation of APEX merges a custom quiet pump, pressure regulated cooling, a flow rate sensor, and a high-capacity reservoir with additional custom parallel GPU and radiator bridges for improved cooling and overclocking potential.” The APEX liquid cooling system is made from solid blocks of clear acrylic, which enhances the look of the system.

You can get the RUSH with up to 128GB of DDR4 RAM and up to 2 m.2 NVME SSDs. Here’s a complete spec rundown.

Category
MAINGEAR RUSH

Processor
Up to AMD RYZEN 9 3950X 16-Core 3.5 GHz (4.7 GHz Max Boost)Up to AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X 64-Core 2.9 GHz (4.3GHz Max Boost)Up to Intel Core i9 9900K 8-core 3.6GHz (5.0GHz Max Boost)Intel X299 – Up to Intel Core i9 10980XE 18-core 3.0GHz (4.6GHz Max Boost)

Graphics
Up to 2 x GeForce Titan RTX 24GB GDDR6Up to 2 x Radeon VII 16GB HBM2

Motherboards
AMD RYZEN – Up to ASUS ROG CROSSHAIR VIII FORMULAAMD Threadripper – Up to ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme AlphaIntel Z390 – Up to ASUS ROG MAXIMUS XI FORMULAIntel X299 – Up to ASUS ROG Rampage VI Extreme Omega

Memory
Up to 128GB DDR4-3600 4x32GB (Dual Channel)AMD Threadripper – Up to 256GB DDR4-3200 8x32GB (Quad Channel)Intel Z390 – Up to 128GB DDR4-3600 4x32GB (Dual Channel)Intel X299 – Up to 128GB DDR4 -3200 8x16GB (Quad Channel)

Storage
Up to 2 m.2 NVME SSD (motherboard dependant)Up to 7 x 2.5″ Sata SSD or 4 x 3.5″ Sata HDD (configurations may vary)

Optical
8X ASUS External Slim DVD+/-RW Drive12X Asus® Blu-ray Burner External USB 3.0 with playback software

Power supply
Up to 1600W EVGA® SuperNOVA P2 80 PLATINUM Certified Fully Modular PSU

Cooling
Closed Loop – Up to EPIC 240 SuperCoolerRegular Open Loop – Custom Liquid Cooling for CPU and GPU with 920mm total Radiators, High Airflow Fans and Distilled Deionized Non-Conductive Liquid

Weight
Average weight 80 lbs (36.3kg)

Dimensions
20.2″x18.5″x11.2″

In addition to its powerful internals, MAINGEAR highlights the RUSH’s looks. The company calls it a piece of art and offers several ways to customize its look. You can control its integrated RGB lighting with ASUS’s Aura Sync software and select one of MAINGEAR’s custom painted finishes and MARC designs.

MAINGEAR RUSH desktop tower

From $1,899 at MAINGEAR

This desktop power combines top-end internals, RGB lighting, and options for custom painted externals to make a powerful and attractive PC.

MAINGEAR launches RUSH desktop with absolutely insane hardware options

Microsoft launches Edge Zones for Azure

Microsoft today announced the launch of Azure Edge Zones, which will allow Azure users to bring their applications to the company’s edge locations. The focus here is on enabling real-time low-latency 5G applications. The company is also launching a version of Edge Zones with carriers (starting with AT&T) in preview, which connects these zones directly to 5G networks in the carrier’s data center. And to round it all out, Azure is also getting Private Edge Zones for those who are deploying private 5G/LTE networks in combination with Azure Stack Edge.
In addition to partnering with carriers like AT&T, as well as Rogers, SK Telecom, Telstra and Vodafone, Microsoft is also launching new standalone Azure Edge Zones in more than 10 cities over the next year, starting with LA, Miami and New York later this summer.
“For the last few decades, carriers and operators have pioneered how we connect with each other, laying the foundation for telephony and cellular,” the company notes in today’s announcement. “With cloud and 5G, there are new possibilities by combining cloud services, like compute and AI with high bandwidth and ultra-low latency. Microsoft is partnering with them bring 5G to life in immersive applications built by organization and developers.”
This may all sound a bit familiar, and that’s because only a few weeks ago, Google launched Anthos for Telecom and its Global Mobile Edge Cloud, which at first glance offers a similar promise of bringing applications close to that cloud’s edge locations for 5G and telco usage. Microsoft argues that its offering is more comprehensive in terms of its partner ecosystem and geographic availability. But it’s clear that 5G is a trend all of the large cloud providers are trying to tap into. Microsoft’s own acquisition of 5G cloud specialist Affirmed Networks is yet another example of how it is looking to position itself in this market.
As far as the details of the various Edge Zone versions go, the focus of Edge Zones is mostly on IoT and AI workloads, while Microsoft notes that Edge Zones with Carriers is more about low-latency online gaming, remote meetings and events, as well as smart infrastructure. Private Edge Zones, which combine private carrier networks with Azure Stack Edge, is something only a small number of large enterprise companies would likely to look into, given the cost and complexity of rolling out a system like this.

Google Cloud goes after the telco business with Anthos for Telecom and its Global Mobile Edge Cloud

Microsoft acquires 5G specialist Affirmed Networks

 

Microsoft launches Edge Zones for Azure

Xbox Games with Gold for April include Fable Anniversary and Project CARS 2

Let’s see what the other games are.

What you need to know

Xbox Live Gold grants you access to multiplayer and free games.
Project CARS 2 and Fable Anniversary are now available for free.
It’s unclear what the other free games for April are because Microsoft hasn’t announced them yet.
Xbox Live Gold is part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Microsoft hasn’t revealed the Xbox Live Games with Gold for April 2020, but it seems like they’re already available for download. Today, many gamers on Reddit and Twitter noticed that Project CARS 2 and Fable Anniversary were free with the service. You can download them right now through the Microsoft Store in a browser or your console.

According to Slightly Mad Studios, Project CARS 2 is the thrill of intense racing action in beautiful cars at stunning venues. Authentic and intuitive handling, truly dynamic weather, and a wealth of game modes delivers racing fun for everyone.

According to Microsoft, Fable pioneered every player’s choice having a consequence. With Fable Anniversary, a spectacular remaster of the original Fable, players will be reminded of why the franchise is so special and unique. All-new textures and models, an entirely new lighting system, a slick new interface, achievements, and all of the content from “The Lost Chapters,” make Fable Anniversary the definitive Fable experience.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we know what the other games for the month are. Your guess is as good as mine.

Best of the best

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold in one

Xbox Game Pass gives you access to over a hundred games for one monthly fee. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also adds Xbox Live Gold to the package so you can play online with your friends.

$45 at Amazon $45 at Best Buy

Xbox Games with Gold for April include Fable Anniversary and Project CARS 2

Microsoft News Bar is a news ticker for your desktop, now available in beta

Get the headlines right on your desktop.

What you need to know

Microsoft News Bar is a new app available from the Microsoft Store.
The app adds a news ticker directly to your desktop with links to the latest headlines.
Microsoft News Bar is available in beta now for anyone to test.

Microsoft launched a new app for newshounds on the Microsoft Store today, dubbed Microsoft News Bar. The app is essentially a persistent news ticker for your desktop, serving up the latest headlines as they happen. There’s also a fair bit of customization to get the right fit for your desktop setup.

On launch, News Bar takes up a portion of the right side of your screen with a list of images for each news story. Hovering over each image will give you a preview of the story’s headline and a bit of text. If you see something you want to read further, you can click through to open the full story in your browser.

Microsoft’s News Bar (beta) is an interesting idea. Could also be an anxiety bar for some ?Seems like a throwback to the Vista widgets days. Doesn’t make sense for laptops really (though it works), but desktops and multi-monitor setups? Sure. pic.twitter.com/d3MdoZR4uq— Daniel Rubino (@Daniel_Rubino) March 30, 2020

However, if the default setup isn’t for you, you can customize things a bit further. If you’d rathe see the headlines at a glance, there’s an option to have them overlaid on top of the images. You can also reposition the bar on to be on the left side, top, or bottom of your screen.

When placed at the top of bottom of your desktop, News Bar switching to a scrolling bar of headlines without images. If you still want images, however, you can turn them back on through the app’s settings. Finally, the whole thing can be minimized when you want a break from the constant stream of stories.

It’s an intriguing concept for an app, and it will be interesting to see how Microsoft expands on the idea throughout the beta. If you want to give the app a shot, you can download the News Bar beta now from the Microsoft Store.

Microsoft News Bar

Free at Microsoft

Microsoft News Bar brings all of the latest headlines directly to your desktop with a streaming news ticker.

Microsoft News Bar is a news ticker for your desktop, now available in beta

Learn at home with over 1,000 courses on StackSkills Unlimited for just $59

While you’re bored and stuck inside over the next few weeks, there are plenty of great ways to put your extra free time to good use. If there was ever a topic you wanted to learn more about, now’s one of the best times to get started.

With StackSkills Unlimited, you can gain lifetime access to over 1,000 courses that you’ll be able to use and learn from whenever you’d like, and thanks to a limited time sale at the Android Central Digital Offers store, the subscription is down to just $59 right now. That saves you nearly $250, though there’s not much time left as this deal is only set to last through tomorrow.

StackSkills will help you master some of the most in-demand skills you could have these days. That will be extremely helpful once it’s safe to go back out in the world again, and you might even be able to put some to use while you’re stuck at home. StackSkills can teach you important skills in IT, graphic design, finance, business, marketing, web design, and so much more, and all you really need to get started is internet access. The site makes it easy to track your progress and best of all, new courses are added on a consistent basis so you’ll never run out of new material to learn. StackSkills even provides course certifications for some courses.

Another awesome feature of StackSkills is its ability to be used either on a desktop computer or your mobile phone. That means there’s really no excuse to not be learning in your free time, since you’ll be able to take StackSkills with you practically anywhere you go.

If you’re curious to see a full list of StackSkills Unlimited’s courses before signing up, be sure to take a look at this course list for a complete guide.

Learn at home with over 1,000 courses on StackSkills Unlimited for just

Microsoft will keep Skype apps despite the rise of Microsoft Teams

Microsoft will keep the Skype app around even as Microsoft Teams grows in popularity for consumers.

Microsoft’s announcement of Teams for consumers due later this year has some people wondering about the future of Skype as a standalone app. As it is, the calling and video feature for Microsoft Teams is effectively Skype, making the two apps and services perhaps slightly redundant.

The good news is Microsoft has told us that the standalone apps for Skype will continue. The report makes sense, as those that do use Skype (including the recently announced 40 million daily active users) may not need all that Microsoft Teams functionality.

Microsoft Teams for consumers is the same Teams app those in enterprise and schools use today. The difference will be the ability to switch to a more consumer-friendly set of features within the app. Those who use Teams professionally can switch to a “family” version with a click. Those who never use Teams for business can use Teams for consumers through Microsoft 365 with all the new features.

Microsoft Teams, however, is a superset of features compared to Skype. Group chats, calendar, direct tie-ins to OneDrive, SharePoint, Office, and third-party services make Microsoft Teams ideal for companies or families who want an all-in-one communication repository.

Microsoft’s new Family Safety feature (left) and Teams for families (right).

Although Skype is being challenged recently by companies like Zoom, WhatsApp calling, and Google Hangouts, its popularity is still high. Skype is the de facto video calling app for TV and media, as anyone who has recently watched the news may have noticed.

Because of those reasons, it makes sense for the Skype standalone apps to continue to exist (even if recent betas suggest Microsoft is still not done tinkering with the app platform, unfortunately).

At least for now, Skype’s increasing importance and legacy will keep it around for the foreseeable future. Microsoft Teams for consumers, however, may become a more common tool for groups, schools, families, and businesses going forward. At the least, it’s safe to say that Microsoft sees Teams as the future and its recent surge only confirms that.

For more information about the consumer Microsoft 365 program you can read our coverage here.

Microsoft will keep Skype apps despite the rise of Microsoft Teams