Xbox Console Streaming removes strict network test requirement

Check it out right now!

What you need to know

Xbox Console Streaming allows you to play games remotely.
It makes your own Xbox One into the server.
Beforehand, you needed the service to pass all network tests.
Now, Xbox Insiders can test Xbox Console Streaming even if they don’t pass all the network tests.

Xbox Console Streaming allows you stream games from your Xbox One to any Android device. You don’t need to use Project Cloud. Basically, your Xbox One turns into a local server that you can access games from when you’re away. It’s just going to play those game and streaming them from your local hardware.

Xbox Console Streaming is only available to select Xbox Insiders, and it was further limited because many Xbox Insiders failed all of the network connection tests. Today, Microsoft decided to remove that restriction and any Xbox Insider can try it out. You can find more details on Reddit.

If you’ve not yet experienced Xbox Console Streaming (Preview), follow these steps to setup your console and mobile device: https://t.co/z8AWCBPGVu The test will tell you what to expect based on your network.— Xbox Insider (@xboxinsider) April 30, 2020

Keep in mind that you can only stream games to Android devices as of now. It’s unclear when iOS will gain this functionality.

Xbox Console Streaming removes strict network test requirement

Does Assassin's Creed Valhalla have naval combat?

Best answer: There will be naval gameplay, but naval combat will be severally scaled down compared to what players have come to expect from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Odyssey. It may be more similar to Origins, where naval gameplay is almost entirely focused on traversal.

Sail the seas: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla ($60 at Best Buy)

What kind of naval gameplay will there be?

As expected from a game about Vikings, players will be able to control a Viking longship to sail between different settlements and locations across the map. This is one primary means of traversal. The longship also allows players to transport their Viking raid party because any fort you come across in the English channels can be plundered.

Will there be any naval combat at all?

There won’t likely be any major combat. Vikings didn’t exactly have cannons and guns at their disposal. They were more up close and personal, hand-to-hand combatants who preferred a melee style of attack on land. That doesn’t mean they just sat back idly while enemies attacked their ships though. Odds are you’ll be able to use some sort of offensive attacks while controlling your ship, but the scope of its naval combat won’t like that of Black Flag.

Creative Director Ashraf Ismail teased that there were surprises in store with the longship, but he did not elaborate.

Raid villages

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

$60 at Amazon
$60 at Best Buy
$60 at GameStop

Travel around the coast of England with a longship

Naval combat has always been a point of contention in the Assassin’s Creed series. Some love it, others hate it. Regardless, naval gameplay is in Valhalla in some form, but it focuses more on traversal and less on combat this time around. No pirate battles here like in Black Flag.

Does Assassin's Creed Valhalla have naval combat?

Windows 10 build 19041.208 now available on the Release Preview ring

This is intended to be the final build tested before the Windows 10 May 2020 Update rolls out to everyone.

What you need to know

Windows 10 build 19041.208 is rolling out to Insiders on the Release Preview ring.
This is meant to be the “final” test build ahead of the May 2020 Update’s release.
It includes a single fix and a handful of known issues.

Microsoft shipped another “final” build for the Windows 10 May 2020 Update out to Insiders on the Release Preview ring today. This release bumps the build number up to 19041.208, which is a slight uptick from the previous 19041.207 build. The update includes one fix that Microsoft says it wanted to be sure was included before the May 2020 Update eventually starts rolling out to everyone later in May.

“While we originally thought that Build 19041.207 would be the final build, we made the decision to take in one more fix we felt was important to have before making the May 2020 Update generally available,” Microsoft said in an updated blog post. “We believe that Build 19041.208 is the new final build and still plan on continuing to improve the overall experience of the May 2020 Update on customers’ PCs as part of our normal servicing cadence.”

The blog post notes that build 19041.208 includes all of the fixes released to the Slow ring from builds 19041.21 through 19041.207. It also includes all 20H1 features, along with the following fix:

We fixed an issue that fails to send NPLogonNotify API notifications from the credential provider framework.

Here’s a look at the current known issues that Microsoft plans to address in “upcoming service releases:”

Windows Mixed Reality may not work correctly for many users on the May 2020 Update. If you regularly use Windows Mixed Reality, we recommend holding off taking the May 2020 Update via Release Preview for now. We are working on a fix which we hope to release in early May.
We are aware of an issue where using the DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) tool to repair corruption on systems running the May 2020 Update does not always report the correct status. This will be fixed in an upcoming servicing release.
Some apps utilize the ImeMode property to control the IME (Input Method Editor) mode for individual text entry fields to increase typing efficiency. This functionality does not work correctly currently in the May 2020 Update. For example, a number field will not automatically switch to a mode that is best optimized for Japanese numerical input. This issue will be fixed in an upcoming servicing update. To work around this issue in the short term, either manually switch the input mode when typing, or set the Compatibility ‘Use previous version’ checkbox for the impacted keyboard via Settings > Time & Language.

The current Release Preview build is only automatically rolling out via Windows Update to a select set of Insiders. However, anyone can manually request the update and install it by checking Windows Update. Microsoft hasn’t specified a firm release date for the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, but it’s widely expected that it will begin rolling out to the public starting on the next Patch Tuesday, which would be May 12.

Windows 10 build 19041.208 now available on the Release Preview ring

What can I get with the Assassin's Creed Valhalla Collector's Edition?

Best answer: The Collector’s Edition of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla includes the game and season pass, premium figurines, a SteelBook, a soundtrack, lithographs, and more.

Bonus benefits: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Collector’s Edition ($200 at Ubisoft)
Plain and simple: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Standard Edition ($60 at Best Buy)

What exactly is in the Collector’s Edition?

This is your pretty normal affair when it comes to Collector’s Editions. Here’s what your $200 will be getting you:

Ultimate Edition of the game (includes Season Pass, a bonus mission, Beserker Gear Pack, Beserker Settlement Pack, Beserker Longship Pack, and a Set of Runes)
Eivor figurine wielding an axe on the helm of a boat (30 cm)
Smaller Viking statuette of Eivor (5 cm)
Three lithographs
Game soundtrack
Exclusive SteelBook
Exclusive box
Certificate of authenticity

Where can I buy the Collector’s Edition?

It looks like the Collector’s Edition of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is available exclusively through Ubisoft’s online store. Like most Collector’s Editions, it’ll also likely only be available in limited supplies so get it while you can.

For hardcore fans

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Collector’s Edition

$200 at Ubisoft

One of everything

The Collector’s Edition comes with about everything you’d expect. You get the game and season pass along with some digital in-game goodies and physical items like a figurine, lithographs, and soundtrack. It’s definitely cool, but I don’t know if it’s $200 cool. To each their own.

For Odin

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Standard Edition

$60 at Amazon
$60 at Best Buy
$60 at GameStop

Without all the bells and whistles

If you don’t have an extra $200 to spend and only care about playing Valhalla, then getting the Standard Edition is the way to go. It doesn’t come with anything special, but it still promises an epic tale with backdrop of the Dark Ages. Sharpen your blades and get ready to spend dozens of hours in this sprawling RPG.

What can I get with the Assassin's Creed Valhalla Collector's Edition?

Microsoft opens registration for its free, online Build 2020 developer conference

Microsoft has now opened registration for the virtual edition of its online-only Build 2020 developer conference, which will take place from May 19 to 20.
Typically, the event draws more than 6,000 developers, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, that’s obviously not an option. In contrast to Google, which completely scrapped its I/O developer conference this year, Microsoft decided to go ahead with the virtual event. But this will be a very different kind of Build — and not only because it’s online-only.
Not only will the keynotes be shorter (though there will still be Day 1 and Day 2 keynotes), but in response to feedback from developers who have attended previous events, the Microsoft team also decided to focus solely on that audience. In previous years, Microsoft often used Build to announce consumer products, just like Google does at I/O. But that won’t happen this year. And instead of using the keynotes to put an early spotlight on features that won’t be available for half a year or more, the event will be more about providing content that’s immediately useful for developers and new products that are either immediately available or only a couple of months out from getting into the hands of developers.
That also likely means that even though Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will still keynote, there will be less talk about big-picture company philosophy and more about developer tools and APIs.
Some of the keynotes and demos will be live, some will be pre-recorded, but overall, the look and feel of the event shouldn’t be all that different from what developers who previously watched Build from afar experienced. But it will be shorter and more focused than in previous years, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Attendees sit in pods during the Microsoft Developers Build Conference in Seattle, Washington, U.S., on Monday, May 7, 2018. The Build conference, marking its second consecutive year in Seattle, is expected to put emphasis on the company’s cloud technologies and the artificial intelligence features within those services. Photographer: Grant Hindsley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Microsoft opens registration for its free, online Build 2020 developer conference

Rainbow Six Siege reverses Ying Candela buff following backlash

Rainbow Six Siege rolls back changes to Ying’s Candela count one week after the Y5S2.1 update.

Ubisoft has deployed an unexpected patch to Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, reversing changes made to Ying with last week’s Y5S2.1 balancing patch. The controversial update brought major reforms to several Operators earlier this month, despite widespread community concerns over their impact on the tactical shooter. That included substantial changes to the Hong Kong attacker, quickly perceived as overpowered in the days that followed.

The midseason patch introduces three shakeups to Ying, increasing her Candela count to four, switching claymores for smoke grenades, and buffing her T-95 LSW light machinegun. While the latter adjustments remain present in the game, Ubisoft has now reversed the added Candela to improve balancing. That follows widespread backlash among the community, with a combination of four Candelas and two smoke grenades quickly clouding defender vision.

The update also introduces a daily level XP cap for the Training Grounds (formerly Terrorist Hunt) mode, where Ubisoft hopes to reduce the presence of bots and “smurfs” across the game’s level-locked Ranked playlist. We see receive a fix for a former MMR bug, which incorrectly displayed the MMR rollback values in the presence of a cheater.

We’re rolling out updates today for some of the issues addressed in our top issues blog https://t.co/bMouTSZL67? Daily level XP cap for PvE? MMR rollback popup bug fix? Ying’s Candelas Reduced from 4 to 3PC OnlyTime: 9:00 EDT/13:00 UTCDowntime: 20 Minutes pic.twitter.com/CAEQmHgEgK— Rainbow Six Siege (@Rainbow6Game) April 30, 2020

The hotfix is now live on PC, impacting players with copies purchased via Steam, Uplay, and the Epic Games Store. Ubisoft frames today’s update as “PC Only,” with Xbox One and PlayStation availability likely to follow over the days ahead.

Breach and Clear

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege

Addictive, challenging shooter action

Ubisoft’s hit shooter is hotter than ever, touting tense tactical gameplay, and regular free updates. Entering 2020 with millions of players, Rainbow Six isn’t slowing down.

$30 at Best Buy

Rainbow Six Siege reverses Ying Candela buff following backlash

Is Assassin's Creed Valhalla an RPG?

Best answer: Yes. Like Odyssey before it, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be an RPG. It is set to feature dialogue choices and branching narratives, along with the ability to forge political alliances, grow your own settlement, and customize your character in a variety of ways.

Fight for your honor: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla ($60 at Best Buy)

Why wouldn’t it be an RPG?

The Assassin’s Creed franchise didn’t start out as RPGs. Earlier entries in the series focused more on stealth with typical action/adventure elements. There were no dialogue choices, no branching narratives, and character customization was simplified compared to what we have now.

Origins introduced dialogue choices into the fray and Odyssey took the series into full-blown RPG territory. If you’ve played Odyssey, that’s the type of experience you can expect in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

What sort of RPG elements can we expect?

Aside from dialogue choices and branching narratives, Ubisoft is giving players more options than ever to shape their experience. Players will be able to grow their own settlements, including building and upgrading various shops and invite new warriors into your clan. There will also be options to customize the hair, tattoos, war paint, and gear of the playable character, who can either be male or female.

You’ll even be able to forge political alliances that will affect the trajectory of your story and influence the events around you. If you want to protect your home and future, Ubisoft says you’ll need to choose wisely.

Can I pick my own character?

Yes! Players can choose between a male or female Eivor, the leader of your Viking clan. It’s unknown whether or not the character you don’t choose will still be an NPC in the game similar to how Assassin’s Creed Odyssey handled it. If you’ve played that game, you’ll know that the character you didn’t play as was your sibling in-game, and grew up to be a formidable adversary.

When does Assassin’s Creed Valhalla release?

Ubisoft expects to release Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Holiday 2020 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (Epic Games Store and Uplay), and Stadia.

Viking raids

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

$60 at Best Buy

Conquer new lands for glory and honor

After endless wars ravage Norway and resources are scarce, you’ll lead your clan to the shores of England in the hopes of finding a new home. But not everyone is keen on having Vikings around, and King Alfred of Wessex will do all he can to keep you from settling.

Is Assassin's Creed Valhalla an RPG?

Microsoft Teams for iOS picks up background blur in video calls

Now you can bring that sweet, sweet background blur on the go.

What you need to know

Microsoft Teams for iOS now includes the ability to blur your background on video calls.
This feature has been present on the desktop versions of Teams for some time.
There’s no word yet on whether Teams for iOS will support custom backgrounds.

Microsoft Teams on iOS is finally getting a feature its desktop brethren have had for some time: background blur. In a post recapping new features launched for Teams in April, Microsoft revealed that background blur for video calls is now rolling out for iPhones and iPads.

“Keep the focus on you and not what’s behind you on your mobile device! We are excited to bring this frequently utilized feature from the desktop to your iPhones and iPads,” Microsoft said in the blog post. “Rolling out now.”

Background blur does exactly what it says on the tin. Using a bit of AI magic, it isolates you from your background, blurring out what’s behind you and keeping you in focus on your calls. If you have a messy background, or just want to stay in focus, it’s a handy feature to have.

The background blur tech is also what Microsoft uses as a basis for its new custom backgrounds feature that started rolling out in recent weeks on desktop. It’s unclear if the iOS app will get a similar custom background feature in the future.

As of this writing, the release notes for the iOS Microsoft Teams app have not been updated to reflect the addition. However, it should be making its way to everyone soon via the App Store.

Microsoft Teams

Free at App Store

The Microsoft Teams app enables you to stay in communication with your teams, participate in video calls, and more while on the go on iPhone and iPad.

Microsoft Teams for iOS picks up background blur in video calls

These great Dell laptops all cost less than $500

Dell makes some of the very best Windows laptops money can buy. From the Alienware gaming machines to the incredible XPS 13 and XPS 15 and beyond, there’s a lot to choose from. But laptops like these are also very pricey. Not wanting to spend thousands shouldn’t exclude you from having a great laptop, and in the case of Dell, you can get something good for under $500 like the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1.

Best overall – Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 5481

In keeping the cost of a laptop low, there are always compromises to be made. But in the case of the latest Inspiron 14 2-in-1, those compromises are minimal. For one, you’re getting an 8th Gen Intel Core i3 and up to 8GB of RAM for under $500. It’s only a dual-core i3, but it does have four threads, at least.

What’s also astonishing about this affordable laptop is that Dell has NVMe SSD storage in all configurations, even the cheapest. Superfast storage is a massive bonus since there are still plenty of low-cost laptops out there using a slow HDD or eMMC for their storage choices.

As it’s a 2-in-1, you also get a touch display, albeit only an HD resolution one, and it folds all the way around so you can use it as a tablet, or just prop it up when you want to watch a movie. It’s incredibly versatile, and while it’s a shame you can’t get one with a Core i5 for under $500, it’s still the best of the bunch.

Pros:

Superfast NVMe SSD storage
Convertible touch display
Great looking design
Convertible

Cons:

Low-resolution display
Chunky bezels

Best Overall

Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 5481

From $460 at Dell

Well made and well equipped

It’s crazy you can get NVMe SSD storage for under $500, as well as a convertible touchscreen and four-thread CPU.

Runner-up — Dell Inspiron 15 5000

The Inspiron 15 5000 is incredibly well equipped for a sub-$500 laptop. Part of that is down to what’s inside it, and you are limited at this price point to the 10th Gen Intel Core i3, but it’s still a solid laptop for the money.

You get a Core i3-1005G1, though you’ll have to spec it with only 4GB of RAM to keep it under budget, but you do get a 128GB PCIe SSD included. That’s not a problem, though, as Dell left it easily upgradeable, so you can add an SSD and some more RAM if what comes included isn’t enough for you.

The Core i3-1005G1 is a solid budget laptop processor, too. It’s got excellent single and multi-core performance and is much better than we’d be seeing in a laptop this affordable even a couple of years ago. It’s well built, too, and ultimately a lot of PC for not a lot of money.

Pros:

10th Gen Intel processor
PCIe SSD storage
Great build quality
Upgradeable RAM and SSD

Cons:

No touchscreen
Chunky bezels
Limited to 4GB of RAM in budget

Runner-up

Dell Inspiron 15 5000

From $470 at Dell

Excellent performance for a fantastic price

The one to get is the Core i3 powered version, but with solid performance and PCIe storage, it’s no slouch.

Best Budget Convertible – Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1

This little 2-in-1 is a highly-portable laptop with an 11-inch 1366×768 resolution display that folds around to be used either as a tablet or to be propped up when you want to watch a movie. The entry-level model comes with 32GB of eMMC storage and 4GB of RAM, but you can spend a little more and get 128GB of storage.

eMMC and not SSD is a little disappointing, but it’s a credit to Dell that you can even get a decent convertible laptop for this kind of money. It uses AMD hardware inside, though here you’ll find the AMD A9-9420e dual-core APU with Radeon R5 graphics. It’s not as good as Ryzen, but in a small laptop like this and for everyday computing, it’s fine, and since it’s passively cooled, it’s also quiet.

And even though it’s small, it’s still well equipped with ports. You get a full-sized HDMI output, microSD card slot, even USB 3.1. That’s fantastic to see on a budget laptop.

Pros:

Great price
Convertible with touch display
Quiet operation

Cons:

Older AMD APU
eMMC storage is slow

Best Budget Convertible

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1

Small touch-friendly PC on a budget

It’s not without its flaws, but that you can get a decent convertible for this price is a remarkable achievement in itself.

From $294 at Dell

Best for Kids – Dell Inspiron 11 3180

The Inspiron 11 3180 is a good choice if you’re hunting for a laptop for the little ones in your life. It’s compact, affordable, and, most of all, durable. Because you know it’ll get banged and dropped and need to feel confident it’ll survive.

You get excellent battery life, a decent 11-inch 1366×768 resolution display, and a robust build quality that can take the kind of abuse kids deal out. And at 11 inches, it’ll fit in their bag just great for the trips to and from school.

The latest versions have all switched to AMD APUs, specifically the 7th generation A6 or A9, with 32GB or 128GB of eMMC storage and 4GB of RAM. Sadly, the storage is a little slow, but at the price you can buy it for it’s not much of a complaint.

Pros:

Great price
Durable construction
Small enough for a school bag

Cons:

Older AMD APU
eMMC storage is slow

Best for Kids

Dell Inspiron 11 3180

A good laptop for the little ones

A compact, durable laptop that looks pretty good, has decent hardware, and a brilliantly low price perfect for the little ones’ school work.

$249 at Amazon

Conclusion

Dell’s expensive XPS and gaming laptops might make the most noise, but it’s certainly not the case that you have to spend megabucks to get a good laptop from the company. The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is proof of that. Sure, the display resolution is a compromise, but everything else about it is top quality, especially seeing the superfast NVMe storage in a sub-$500 laptop.

And while unflattering, perhaps, that’s why it’s the best choice. It’s the least compromising in areas that make a significant difference to user experience. We’d all love to gaze at a gorgeous high-resolution display all day, but it’s simply not going to happen under $500. By knocking a little bit off and taking it down to 768p, it still looks decent at 14-inches but allows Dell to invest more in areas that will really matter.

Fast storage, a good processor, and a good amount of RAM means the actual business of using this laptop will be far better than the others on this list. With the added bonus that it’s still got a touch screen.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Richard Devine Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you’ll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming.

Daniel Rubino is the executive editor of Windows Central. He has been covering Microsoft since 2009 back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Xbox, and future computing visions. Follow him on Twitter: @daniel_rubino.

These great Dell laptops all cost less than 0

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered launches on Xbox One and PC

Replay the classic campaign.

A few weeks ago, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered appeared on the PlayStation Store in Germany. Gamers were able to play it and seemed like they were having a blast. Well, it turns out that the PlayStation 4 version was a timed exclusive, but the game is finally available on Xbox One and PC for $20.

However, Xbox One X owners are in for a treat. According to the Microsoft Store, the game runs at 4K resolution on the system, and it should look crisp and smooth. The frame rate is also 60 frames per second, so that should enhance precision. With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered, you can relive the epic single-player campaign from the 2009 blockbuster. It has been fully remastered with improved textures, animations, physically based rendering, high-dynamic range lighting, and more.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t include the multiplayer component. Activision wants you to focus on Call of Duty: Warzone or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

The classic returns

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered

You’ll have to wait a while

The campaign picks up immediately following the dramatic events of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the ground-breaking title that earned worldwide critical acclaim. Modern Warfare 2 is the epitome of gripping and heart-racing action.

$20 at Microsoft Store

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered launches on Xbox One and PC