Xbox Chaturdays 54: Exciting new Xbox exclusives and Microsoft earnings

Join the conversation live!

For episode 54 of Xbox Chaturdays, we’ll be joined once again by video game industry analyst Benji-Sales. We’ll be discussing some exciting new Xbox-exclusive games, including a Monster Hunter-like from Certain Affinity and an ambitious survival title from Blizzard, dissecting the latest Microsoft earnings report for their gaming division, diving into what’s coming to Sea of Thieves in 2022, and so much more! If you’re excited to catch up on all the biggest gaming news of the week, tune into Xbox Chaturdays live every Saturday at 12 p.m. ET!

What is Xbox Chaturdays?

Xbox Chaturdays is our weekly Windows Central Gaming podcast. Every Saturday, we sit down with various Xbox developers, enthusiasts, and industry figures to chat about all things Xbox. We designed our show to provide exciting and engaging content for Xbox and PC players, highlighting what we love about gaming. From the best games on Xbox Game Pass to the titles we can’t wait to play, there’s always something fun to chat about.

With Xbox Chaturdays, we’ve built up a pretty incredible audience of live viewers who consistently keeps the show fresh and exciting with questions. Our show promotes community interaction, and we strive to immerse our viewers in the experience. If you haven’t caught an episode before, head on over to the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel to watch past episodes or on all your favorite podcast services including Spotify, iTunes, and Google Podcasts.

The best deal in gaming

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

From $1/month at Microsoft
$40 at Amazon (3-month subscription)
$15 at Amazon (1-month subscription)

Hundreds of games!

Xbox Game Pass just keeps getting better and better. With hundreds of amazing titles, this is certainly the best deal in gaming.

Xbox Chaturdays 54: Exciting new Xbox exclusives and Microsoft earnings

Azure stops biggest DDoS attack ever, according to Microsoft

Microsoft stopped over 350,000 DDoS attacks just in the second half of 2021.

What you need to know

Microsoft’s Azure DDoS Protection team mitigated an ‘unprecedented level’ of attacks in the second half of 2021.
At one point in 2021, Microsoft stopped an average of 1,955 DDoS attacks per day.
Microsoft mitigated an attack with a throughput of 3.47 Tbps in November, which is believed to be the largest attack of its type in history.

Microsoft saw an ‘unprecedented level’ of Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks in the second half of 2021. The company explains in an Azure blog post that both the complexity and frequency of DDoS attacks reached new levels during that time. In the second half of the year, Microsoft mitigated an average of 1,955 attacks per day. A total of 359,713 unique attacks were stopped by Microsoft in the final six months of 2021.

DDoS attacks essentially spam a website to prevent it from working properly. They are often used by gamers to harm other people’s networks to ensure victory. Last year, DDOS attacks targeted Blizzard games, Titanfall, Final Fantasy 14, and several other big-name titles. DDoS attacks can also be used for more malicious purposes, such as shutting down a retail website during the holidays.

A DDoS ransom attack uses the same methods as a traditional DDoS attack, but the malicious actor demands payment in exchange for allowing a site to work again.

Cloudflare has a video explaining and illustrating how DDoS attacks work.

The Microsoft Azure YouTube channel has a video on how to defend against DDoS attacks, though it doesn’t have cute animations like Cloudflare’s video.

Microsoft mitigated a DDoS attack with a throughput of 3.47 Tbps in November 2021. The company believes it to be the largest DDoS attack in history. The attack involved 10,000 sources from several countries, contributing to an offensive that lasted roughly 15 minutes.

While not quite as large as the November attack, Microsoft also mitigated 2.5 Tbps and 3.25 Tbps DDoS attacks in December 2021.

Microsoft’s blog post explains that Azure’s DDoS protection platform works by having pipelines that can “scale enormously.” This allows the platform to absorb even the largest of DDoS attacks.

Azure stops biggest DDoS attack ever, according to Microsoft

Microsoft Movies & TV needs to come to Android and iOS

Microsoft has a large library of mobile applications, but it still hasn’t made a Movies & TV app for iOS or Android.

Microsoft has apps for streaming games to phones and using a virtual desktop on tablets. The company also has a vast library of other apps on iOS and Android. But there’s one glaring hole in the company’s mobile lineup: the Microsoft Movies & TV app. If you purchase movies or TV shows through the Microsoft Store, you can enjoy them on your Windows PC or Xbox console. But if you want to watch the content you’ve purchased on a mobile device, you’re mostly out of luck.

I’m certainly not the first person to ask for Microsoft to bring Movies & TV to iOS and Android, but the app just seems past due. Microsoft invests heavily into its Android and iOS apps but has just left one consumer service off those platforms. Movies Anywhere works with Microsoft Movies & TV, but it has its limitations. For example, as a customer outside the United States, I can’t use Movies Anywhere.

I bought the content, so let me watch it

I purchase content through the Microsoft Store, so I want to be able to watch it wherever and whenever I want. I have Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ subscriptions, but when I want to watch a brand-new film or just want to have access to a piece of media forever, I purchase it through the Microsoft Store.

To be transparent, I don’t actually spend money on most of my movies. I rack up Microsoft Rewards points and exchange them for gift cards. But Microsoft seems fine with that setup and lets me buy all sorts of things. I have a growing library of my favorite shows and films, and sometimes I want to watch them on my phone.

In a world in which I can stream games to a phone, it’s just odd that I can’t stream movies and TV shows to all of my devices.

Competitors are on iOS and Android, so why isn’t Microsoft?

I first thought that there might be some sort of licensing limitation to having a Movies & TV app on iOS and Android. I don’t think that’s the case, however, since Vudu and other streaming services manage to have apps on mobile devices and other major platforms. I imagine that Microsoft might have to sort out some licensing agreements, but they have good lawyers. I’m sure they could get over any hurdles.

While the film and TV industries are different, Microsoft had Groove Music on mobile devices back when Groove Music Pass was a thing. That shows that Microsoft is capable of making content available across different platforms.

Movies Anywhere doesn’t help people outside of the United States

For customers in the U.S., Microsoft Movies & TV is just one of many services that works with Movies Anywhere. People can buy content from Prime Video, Vudu, Google Play, and many other services and then watch them across devices. That’s all fine and dandy if you’re in the U.S., but I’m not. In what might be news to Microsoft, there are, in fact, billions of people who are not in the United States.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Microsoft didn’t prioritize customers outside the United States. Many complain about Microsoft’s U.S.-centric approach. I hope that isn’t the case here, but it’s difficult to see it from another angle.

It’s 2022. What’s Microsoft waiting for? Just let me watch my content on all of my devices.

Microsoft Movies & TV needs to come to Android and iOS

Save $300 on the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 today at Best Buy

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 has dropped to $999.99 at Best Buy. This is a $300 discount off the laptop’s normal price at Best Buy. It is the featured Deal of the Day today, which means it could sell out and will definitely not be around tomorrow. A similar configuration is actually going for closer to $1,400 at the Microsoft store, so you’re definitely saving a lot here on Microsoft’s latest model.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 | $300 off

At a minimum, these laptops come with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, powerful SSDs, and Nividia GeForce graphics cards. You’ll get a super powerful machine and a special edition make of a fantastic mouse.

$999.99 at Best Buy

We reviewed the Surface Laptop 4 back in April last year and gave it 4 out of 5 stars with a Recommended badge. Daniel Rubino said, “What makes a Surface a Surface is Microsoft’s attention to detail and the sum of its parts… That holds especially true for the Surface Laptop, which is still one of the nicest, most enjoyable PC laptops available.”

This version of the Surface Laptop 4 includes an AMD Ryzen 7 Surface Edition processor, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB solid state drive. You also get a 15.6-inch display that’s a full touchscreen and has a 2496 x 1664 pixel resolution. It’s also designed to work with Windows Ink, which means you can use the Surface Pen accessory if you want.

Some of the other great features of the Surface Laptop 4 include a long-lasting battery life that can actually last for up to 17 hours. It also includes fast charging technology that can get you back up to 80% in just an hour. In addition to Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth for wireless connectivity, the Surface Laptop 4 also includes USB-C and USB-A ports for plugging in your favorite peripherals.

Save 0 on the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 today at Best Buy

Retro enthusiasts Hyperkin want to revive Microsoft's Zune (maybe?)

Retrotech is chic.

What you need to know

Hyperkin is an electronics company that typically make rad gaming accessories.
The company recently tweeted @Xbox that they’d like to revive Microsoft’s deceased music player, the Zune.
It might be a joke… but?

The year is 2006. The 90s haven’t quite fully dissipated yet, but they’re on the way out, as a new era of sleek new digital smart devices begin to proliferate across the globe. Apple’s iPhone was about to launch, as a big follow up to their wildly successful iPod music platform. The iPhone redefined digital media consumption as we know it, forever, and unfortunately for Microsoft, their Zune player was perhaps a little too late to the party.

While it got caught in the rapid death of the mp3 player, the Zune was a remarkable product for its time, with a sleek interface, powered by a great music service. The design language of the Zune would eventually get incorporated into Windows Phone, and disseminated across Windows itself in various forms. Even in Windows 11, some of its influence can still be felt.

Nowadays, most people simply use their smartphones coupled with a streaming music service like Spotify to get their music fix on the go, but some retro methods have been making a comeback. Vinyl records have begun outselling CDs for the first time since the 80s, as people seek a classic experience that digital mediums simply cannot replicate.

Spotify has found itself in hot water lately over the political content of some of the podcasts on its service, which has led to discussions across social media about the value of some of these streaming platforms and services. It’s no secret that Spotify and others pay artists absurdly low amounts for streaming their content, much of which go straight to record labels rather than creators themselves.

Could the humble mp3 player make a comeback? Probably not, although Apple still does sell the iPod, it’s practically the only one on the market that still does sell. Is there a timeline where Zune makes a comeback?

Hey @xbox what if we remade the ZUNE?— Hyperkin (@Hyperkin) January 27, 2022

Accessory manufacturer Hyperkin is known to Xbox fans for their revival of the classic Xbox OG Duke controller, and today, the team was caught tweeting @Xbox, about possibly reviving an old friend.

Sure, it’s most likely a joke… but what if?! Would you pick up a modern Zune to digitize your music collection? Are there enough Zune fans out there to justify it? Sound off in the comments, and who knows? Maybe Hyperkin and Microsoft will hook up on the most unlikely comeback this side of a new Windows phone.

Retro enthusiasts Hyperkin want to revive Microsoft's Zune (maybe?)

Here are the best resin options for your SLA/DLP 3D printer

Resin printing is a little more complex than standard filament printing. Not only do you need a few must-have 3D printing accessories, but you also need to pick the right resin. When faced with multiple colors and multiple types, it’s also easy to get turned around when choosing the right 3D printing resin. You want it to print quickly but stay strong without becoming brittle. We’ve used as many as possible to bring you some of the best 3D printer resin you can buy, but our favorite is Siraya Tech Fast, which prints smoothly and quickly.

Best overall: Siraya Tech Fast

I have been using Siraya Tech Fast for ages now, and it’s consistently the best resin I’ve used. Every print I have made with it so far has printed perfectly, and the resin seems to help smooth out layer lines that may appear. It’s perfect to create hollow prints since the resin maintains the part’s strength without being brittle.

It’s called “fast” resin for a good reason, too. Most resin prints with an exposure time of around nine to 11 seconds, with a first layer exposure in 60-70 seconds. The Siraya Tech can give you the same quality print at just six to eight seconds and the first layer in 40-45 seconds. Now I know those numbers don’t sound all that different, but when you print a model with 1,800 layers, shaving off a few seconds per layer makes a big difference.

Siraya Tech is a great company too. It works hard to make sure you are satisfied and are always happy to participate in community events. I would mention that the only issue is to be careful when you cure the white resin; it can yellow off if you cure it too much.

Pros:

No bad smell
Prints smoothly
Prints extremely quickly

Cons:

The white can discolor if over-cured

Best overall

Siraya Tech Fast

$37 from Amazon

Fast and smooth

I love the fast resin from Siraya Tech. It makes printing models stress free, and the models print quickly without being brittle.

Best bulk buy: Anycubic Plant-Based Resin

My Anycubic Photon Mono came with some standard Anycubic resin. It was pretty great, and when time came to replace it, I decided to try something different, so I picked up the plant-based resin instead in this green, and boy was I hooked. The plant-based resin had a significantly lower odor, and it didn’t get as thick in colder temperatures as the standard resin did, which worked better in my cold office. It isn’t the cheapest 1000ml resin, but it’s what I’d call an “everyday” resin, good enough at basically everything for a good price.

If you are going to buy in bulk, make sure you have a cool, dry place to put all the resin bottles, and make sure they are away from kids and animals. Resin is dangerous and should be treated like bleach or other toxic chemicals.

Pros:

Low price for a lot of resin
Beautiful clarity
Easy to print with

Cons:

Can appear cloudy if you don’t cure correctly

Best bulk buy

Anycubic Plant-Based Resin

$35 at Amazon

The more, the merrier!

Anycubic’s Resin printers are excellent 3D printers, and their plant-based photopolymer Resin is also high quality. It’s a little pricey but worth it for 1,000ml.

Best for miniatures: Phrozen Onyx Rigid Pro410

Using a resin 3D printer to make miniatures for tabletop games like Warhammer and Dungeons & Dragons is one of the most popular uses for the technology; however, not every resin performs well at such minute details. Phrozen’s Onyx Rigid Pro410 does though.

Whilst Rigid is in the name, don’t think this is brittle. Onyx Rigid Pro410 is both tough and durable with some flexibility. The flexibility in the resin means that dropping a mini doesn’t automatically shatter it into a thousand pieces. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend purposefully dropping any resin print, the laws of the universe are the same — something that is rigid with no give contains all the stresses. This little bit of flexibility makes it easier for the part to distribute the force.

Onyx Rigid Pro410 was engineered in collaboration with Henkel, the brand behind Loctite adhesives. Part of this is to be easy to print, bed adhesion is important, and having the right type of epoxy in the resin makes first-layer issues a thing of the past. A 1kg bottle of this is pretty pricey stuff, definitely not your everyday resin, but for those minis, maybe if you sell them, this will make itself back in no time.

Pros:

Designed with minis in mind
Great dimensional stability
Can survive drops on tile floors

Cons:

Expensive
Stinky

Best for miniatures

Phrozen Onyx Rigid Pro410

$70 from Amazon

Model-making perfection

Onyx Rigid Pro410 is perfect for making miniatures and has a little flex to help reduce the chance of swords snapping off skeletons!

Great all-rounder: eSUN General-Purpose Resin

eSUN general-purpose resin is, as the name implies, a general-purpose material for 3D printing using an SLA/DLP printer. It can be used to print cosmetic models — D&D miniatures look fantastic in it — or used to make more mechanical prints, like replacement parts or prototypes.

The general-purpose resin from eSUN is perfect for those who want to try different printing applications instead of drilling down into something specific. With its high tolerance to heat variances and seemingly magical ability to bring out details even when it’s overexposed, it gives you a chance to experiment without every print failing spectacularly.

Unless you have a particular use case for your resin — metal casting, for example — then the general-purpose resin is an excellent choice for all your needs.

Pros:

Even coloring
Prints smoothly
Bottle is airtight

Cons:

Can be a little brittle
The edges can pale if over-cured

Great all-rounder

eSUN General-Purpose Photopolymer Resin

$34 from Amazon

Amazing prints

The eSUN general-purpose resin has made an almost perfect print every time we’ve used it. For 500ml, the price is excellent too.

Best budget resin: Elegoo 3D Rapid Resin

I’ve been using a lot of the Elegoo resin recently to reduce my outlays. It’s super cheap and gives a great overall model. Some of the details may be lost, but you can tune it pretty well to provide you with an overall high-quality product. I particularly like the gray as it shows any print issues very clearly, allowing you to fix the print easily.

I would use the Elegoo for those large models without too many fine details, as you’ll save quite a lot of cost. It’s also for those prints you are thinking of post-processing — sanding and painting these prints works quite well.

Pros:

Great value for money
Consistently good quality
Great for post-processing

Cons:

Some definition can be lost
Very brittle

Best budget resin

Elegoo 3D Rapid Resin

$20 at Amazon

Cheap and cheerful

Elegoo is the cheapest resin out there, and the quality is pretty good. Buy this if you plan to post-process your models.

Best for toughness: Siraya Tech Tough (Blu)

There is a lot of reason to choose Siraya Tech (Blu) as your resin of choice. Firstly the blue is gorgeous — it looks like tropical water on a clear day — but more importantly, it’s tough. Resin can be extremely brittle once it is cured, making it unsuitable for anything other than model making.

As 3D printing enthusiast Chris Russell shows in this picture, you can even make parts for other 3D printers using the Siraya Tech tough resin, and they will look beautiful and be strong as heck.

The Siraya (Blu) is extremely tough and can withstand impacts — even high falls and drops — much better than any resin I’ve used before it. This makes it useful for building cases and objects that are more useful than just pretty models to sit on a shelf.

Siraya Tech also recommends mixing a little Blu with its Fast resin as well. This is helpful because it lets you use the cheaper resin with just a splash of the more expensive but tougher Blu, saving you money without sacrificing rigidity.

Pros:

Impact-resistant
So pretty!
Good for tough jobs

Cons:

Expensive

Best for toughness

Siraya Tech Tough (Blu)

$50 from Amazon

Extra tough

The biggest issue with resin printing is the fragility of the finished product. This resin is extra sturdy and droppable!

Bottom line

The Siraya Tech Fast is the best resin out there right now. It’s straightforward to use and very forgiving if you do mess up the settings. It lives up to its Fast name as well, allowing you to print what you need in a much shorter time limit.

I use the Siraya Tech every day, especially when reviewing printers like the Peopoly Phenom. If you want a resin that balances value for money and exceptional results, then this is the right resin for you.

If you are looking to print as many prints as possible, though, you may want to look at the Anycubic 1-liter options. They seem to offer the best deals on bulk buying, and if you are new to resin printing, you will need all the resin you can get! Also check out our list of must-have 3D printing accessories to help with your prints.

Here are the best resin options for your SLA/DLP 3D printer

Windows 11 has many optional features — here's how to manage them.

Here are the steps to manage optional features on your Windows 11 installation.

On Windows 11, you can add or remove many “optional features” to extend your computer’s functionalities. For example, you can configure features such as Windows Subsystem for Linux, Windows Sandbox, Microsoft Defender Application Guard, Hyper-V, Windows Hello Face, Windows Developer Mode, Print Management, and many more.

Some of these features can be enabled directly from the “Windows Features” page since the components are available on every installation, and others, you can only download through the Settings app since they are not part of the default setup.

Also, a lot of these features are advanced and won’t apply to most users, as turning them on can potentially make the system vulnerable or cause performance issues if not configured correctly. However, they can make Windows 11 even more capable in the right situation.

In this Windows 11 guide, you will learn the different ways you add and remove optional features on your computer.

How to manage optional features via Settings
How to manage optional features via Control Panel

How to manage optional features via Settings

On Windows 11, the Settings app lets you install additional features to extend the system’s functionalities. You will need an internet connection to download these features since the components are not stored in the default installation.

Add optional features

To download and install optional features through the Settings app, use these steps:

Open Settings.
Click on Apps.
Click the Optional features page on the right side.

Click the View features button for the “Add an optional feature” setting.

Select the feature to install on Windows 11.

Quick tip: Click the down-arrow button to see more details about the feature. You can select multiple features at one time.
Click the Next button.
Click the Install button.

Once you complete the steps, the feature will install without restarting the computer (in most cases).

Remove optional features

To remove features from the “Optional features” settings, use these steps:

Open Settings.
Click on Apps.
Click the Optional features page on the right side.

Under the “Installed features” section, select the feature to remove and click the Uninstall button.

After you complete the steps, the feature will be removed from the installation.

How to manage optional features via Control Panel

The features available through the “Windows features” interface can also help you to extend the functionality of Windows 11. However, since these components come on every setup, you don’t need an internet connection to enable them.

Add optional features

To turn on Windows features, use these steps:

Open Settings.
Click on Apps.
Click the Optional features page on the right side.

Under the “Related settings” section, click the More Windows features setting.

Check the Windows 11 feature to install.

Click the OK button.
Click the Restart button.

Once you complete the steps, the computer will restart to finish applying the feature.

On Windows 11, you can add a number of optional features, depending on your edition, since the Pro edition has more advanced components than the Home edition.

Here are the Windows features you can turn on or off on Windows 11 Pro:

.NET Framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0): Runs app built using Microsoft .NET software framework version 3.5 or older. You can safely enable this older support, but usually, it’ll enable on demand when needed.
.NET Framework 4.8 Advanced Services: Required for apps built with version 4.8 of the framework.
Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services: Adds Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) support for directory-enabled apps. This is an alternative to Windows Active Directory. Typically, you’ll have to turn on this feature in specific corporate network scenarios.
Containers: Provides services and tools to create and manage Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V containers.
Data Center Bridging: This is an IEEE standard that enables converged fabrics in a data center, where network, storage, clustering, and traffic managements share the same Ethernet network infrastructure. Data center bridging is only useful in corporate networks.
Device Lockdown: Adds services and tools for a more controlled experience, such as when setting up a kiosk or temporary workstation.
Guarded Host: Creates an environment to provide stronger protection for virtual machines to prevent tampering and theft by malicious individuals and malware.
Hyper-V: Virtualization component to create and manage virtual machines on Windows 11.
Internet Information Services: It’s known as “IIS,” and it’s a service that allows to set up an FTP server or a server to host websites with management services.
Internet Information Services Hostable Web Core: Creates an environment to host apps on the web.
Legacy Components: Adds support for old components, including DirectPlay, a feature formerly part of DirectX.
Media Features: Allows you to add or remove the classic Windows Media Player app. This option is also part of the “Optional features” settings page.
Microsoft Defender Application Guard: Creates up an isolated virtualized environment to test apps and browse untrusted sites to prevent old and newly emerging attacks on the physical machine.
Microsoft Message Queue (MSMO) Server: Enables apps to run correctly on unreliable networks by queuing messages instead of sending them as they’re generated.
Microsoft Print to PDF: Allows printing to a PDF file instead of a physical printer.
Microsoft XPS Document Writer: This is an old Microsoft feature similar to PDF. You can still print documents to XPS, but PDF is a format that’s more widely supported.
MultiPoint Connector: Allows you to monitor and manage a computer using MultiPoint Manager and MultiPoint Manager Dashboard applications.
Print and Document Services: Adds printing services to Windows 11, including scan, fax, and network printing.
Remote Differential Compression API Support: Provides synchronization algorithm that intelligently compares two files that are about to be synchronized and only updates the differences between them. Only specific apps can use this feature.
Services for NFS: Provides file access using the Network File System (NFS) protocol. For example, when you need access files on Network Attached Storage (NAS).
Simple TCPIP Services (i.e., echo, daytime, etc.): Adds support for additional TCP/IP protocol services, including “Echo,” “Character Generator (CHARGEN),” “Daytime,” “Discard,” and “Quote of the Day (QUOTE).”
SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support: Adds support to configure file and printer sharing for previous versions of Windows, including Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 R2.
SMB Direct: Allows the use of network adapters with Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) capability to improve file-sharing support using SMB 3.x.
Telnet Client: Enables command-line utility to connect to other devices, such as routers and switches, running a Telnet server. This network protocol isn’t secure, and you shouldn’t use it outside of your network.
TFTP Client: Enables command-line utility to upload and download files using Trivial File Transfer Protocol. This protocol isn’t secure, and you shouldn’t use it unless required.
Virtual Machine Platform: Add platform support for virtual machines, and you can leverage this feature to create MSIX app packages for App-V or MSI. You must enable this option to set up the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2).
Windows Hypervisor Platform: Enables the virtualization components to run the Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor.
Windows Identity Foundation 3.5: This may be needed for apps created with older .NET technologies.
Windows PowerShell 2.0: Enables or disables PowerShell scripting command-line application on Windows 11.
Windows Process Activation Service: Installs services that may be required when using IIS web services.
Windows Projected File System: Also known as (ProjFS), this feature allows an app (provider) to present hierarchical data from a backing data store into the file system, making it seem like files are in the file system.
Windows Sandbox: Creates a lightweight virtual machine to test applications and navigate untrusted web pages in an isolated environment. When you close the sandbox, everything will be deleted. The next time you open the app, a new sandboxed instance will be created.
Windows Subsystem for Linux: Installs the platform to install and run Linux distros alongside Windows 11.
Windows TIFF iFilter: Allows the system to index and search Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) using optical character recognition (OCR), but it typically uses more system resources than traditional file indexing and searching.
Work Folders Client: Allows file synchronization with network file servers.

Other features like RIP Listener, RAS Connection Manager Administration Kit (CMAK), and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) are now part of optional features through the Settings app.

Remove optional features

To turn off Windows features, use these steps:

Open Settings.
Click on Apps.
Click the Optional features page on the right side.

Under the “Related settings” section, click the More Windows features setting.

Clear the Windows 11 feature to install.

Click the OK button.
Click the Restart button.

After you complete the steps, the feature will no longer be available on Windows 11.

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

Windows 11 on Windows Central — All you need to know
Windows 11 help, tips, and tricks
Windows 10 on Windows Central — All you need to know

Windows 11 has many optional features — here's how to manage them.

The Linksys Atlas Pro Wi-Fi 6 mesh network system is on sale for $180 today

You can find a 3-pack of the Linksys Atlas Pro AX5300 Wi-Fi 6 mesh networking system down to a low price of $179.99 at Best Buy today. That’s a huge discount and $320 off according to Best Buy. While this particular model is unique to Best Buy, which can make price comparison difficult, there are other versions like this one at B&H still going for around $500. It’s hard to beat this price on a 3-pack like this that can truly cover your whole house and works with pretty much any internet. Grab it while you can though because there’s no telling how long the deal will last.

Linksys Atlas Pro Wi-Fi 6 mesh system | $320 off

Not only can you make sure your entire house is covered in Wi-Fi, but you can also make sure that Wi-Fi is as fast as you can handle since it is Wi-Fi 6. The system supports more than 30 devices per router, too.

$179.99 at Best Buy

Mesh Wi-Fi is so good. It’s just great at covering every bit of your home. No one likes those random weak spots around the house or even dead zones because the router just can’t reach that far. The three nodes you initially get with this mesh networking system are enough to not only cover your home in Wi-Fi but also include outdoor smart home gear and things like that. Even if it’s not enough, because you live in a mansion the size of Texas or something, you can add more nodes later to keep extending the size.

You’ll get Wi-Fi speeds up to 5.4 Gbps with six-stream connectivity using the Atlas Pro. It even gives you access to the 160MHz channels on the 5GHz band, which are some of the least congested and therefore offer some of the strongest connectivity around. With DPS tech you get access to even more channels, which your router can use to help you avoid interference.

The system is super easy to set up and control, too. All you need is the free Linksys app on your smartphone. It can walk you through everything you need to know, and long after you’ve set up the network you can use the app to manage it. Access your settings from anywhere, priotize which devices need the best Wi-Fi, and more all within the app itself.

The Linksys Atlas Pro Wi-Fi 6 mesh network system is on sale for 0 today

Microsoft Teams' device trade-in program is now live

One more incentive to lure you in.

What you need to know

Microsoft has been doggedly pursuing Teams growth for the past few years.
It recently crossed the milestone of having over 270 million active monthly users.
Microsoft has now launched a Teams device trade-in program to further incentivize the adoption of its communications platform.

In a quest for the whole wide world to join Teams, Microsoft isn’t settling for its current crew of over 270 million active monthly users. It needs more people to sign on. And what’s one of the best ways to lure ’em in? Money.

Enter: The “Device Trade-In for Microsoft Teams” program. In partnership with Network-Value, the corporate power duo will buy back your conferencing gadgetry at “market competitive prices” and help you dispose of aging tech. Here are the selling points of the trade-in program, as described by Microsoft:

Competitive pricing: obtain maximum value for your eligible used devices when upgrading to new technology
Convenience: all trade-in and recycling logistics are coordinated by Network-Value, saving you valuable time
Global coverage: Network-Value accepts trade-ins from your offices worldwide

There you have it. Worldwide coverage, logistics assistance, and competitive pricing. What more could you ask for? Oh, Teams Room tech, you say? Well, wouldn’t you know it, Microsoft has a convenient roundup of all the goodies you can buy with that sweet, sweet trade-in cash.

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For the first time in a decade, I feel optimistic for Blizzard's future

Being a Blizzard fan has been tough lately.

Over the course of the past few years, being a Blizzard fan has been increasingly harder. I wrote an article all the way back in 2016 titled “Is Activision devouring Blizzard?” noticing an uptick in corner-cutting, rushed deadlines, and other annoyances that seemed more reminiscent of the notorious annualized Call of Duty dev cycle, rather than the quality Blizzard was previously known for. “Soon™” was a Blizzard meme, in reference and reverie to the fact they took their time to release games finished and polished, or at least as close to it as possible. Alas, over the years, that image has been gradually whittled away for various reasons, with similarly varied severity.

Last week, Microsoft announced its megablockbuster $70 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard King, giving them control of everything from Call of Duty to Candy Crush. The news was met with mixed feelings across the spectrum, with some decrying industry consolidation, and others concerned over the fate of historically multiplatform franchises. In the Blizzard fan camp, the acquisition has been met with cautious optimism from what I can see, particularly so among the PC-first franchises like World of Warcraft, StarCraft, and even Heroes of the Storm.

I count myself among those cautiously optimistic fans of Blizzard PC games, and hope that this whole deal turns a page in what has proven to be a bit of a dark era for what is one of the most beloved and celebrated publishers in the industry’s history. Microsoft has a lot to prove, even as it turns a page on its own murky relationship with PC gaming. Still, here’s why I think there’s plenty of room for optimism for better days ahead, both for fans of Blizzard games, and more importantly, Blizzard developers and staff.

Doubling down on Windows PC

Microsoft’s namecheck of StarCraft in its initial announcement was absolutely no mistake. Microsoft gaming CEO and Xbox lead Phil Spencer stated in multiple interviews in the past week that he intends to look at dormant Activision franchises, even going as far to mention things like Guitar Hero.

Much of the discourse revolving around this acquisition focuses on Xbox versus PlayStation, and whether Call of Duty will go exclusive — and sure, that is part of the whole puzzle — but it’s my firm belief that Microsoft did this primarily to grow its footprint on Windows, a platform it ironically owns, but has effectively lost control of when it comes to gaming.

Windows is an open platform, meaning third-party companies like Valve with its Steam store or Tencent with its mammoth franchises like League of Legends, can build and maintain businesses on Windows without Microsoft seeing a single penny. And that’s as it should be, frankly, given that Windows itself is effectively an OS monopoly. But since Phil Spencer came on board, they spoke of using Xbox to drive positive sentiment across the entire Microsoft ecosystem, in much the same way Apple did so with iTunes and music. Xbox’s presence on PC is growing and gaining traction, but primarily so on Steam, which of course, Valve takes a big cut of.

Microsoft has its own PC gaming store, which isn’t particularly great, depending on the endpoint you’re using. What is pretty great, however, is PC Game Pass, and the value it represents. The app for PC Game Pass may be terrible (that’s a topic for another time), but if the value is there, people may put up with a terrible launcher to access Microsoft’s ecosystem.

This acquisition gives Microsoft control of Battle.net, which, love it or hate it, is at least a competent launcher, unlike the lumbering and slow Frankenstein Xbox app, which uses Skype as its messaging back end, and the hated Windows Store for its app package delivery. With Battle.net, Microsoft has an opportunity to build a better relationship with PC gamers, and games will naturally be a huge part of that investment.

Growing Game Pass, however, means tackling and catering for every PC gaming niche imaginable.

PC Game Pass brings value, Battle.net brings a stable PC social ecosystem, and Activision Blizzard, ZeniMax, and Xbox Game Studios bring the games. Growing Game Pass, however, means tackling and catering for every PC gaming niche imaginable. As a platform curator, Microsoft’s goals will be wholly different from Activision’s leadership, which only really sought to chase prevailing trends to appease shareholders. This was naturally to the detriment of games like StarCraft, which reside in a genre that isn’t as mainstream as it perhaps once was. Microsoft has shown that it is interested in the genre, though, reviving Age of Empires from a years-long slumber.

Indeed, the focus might be on how this deal affects Xbox and PlayStation, but a huge part of this for Microsoft is fending off Tencent, a company most gamers aren’t even aware of. Tencent is the biggest gaming company by revenue, owning almost 50% of the Unreal Engine and Fortnite, alongside League of Legends, Valorant, and other Riot properties. Having games that can stand up to the PC footprint of Tencent is perhaps in some ways an even bigger mountain to climb for the engagement-hungry Microsoft, which sees the tech giant as an existential threat across various aspects of its business, beyond gaming itself.

Thought, at the end of the day, who cares about trillion-dollar corps and their concerns? What matters ultimately is how consumers benefit. If Microsoft intends to reach the world’s 3 billion gamers with its all-encompassing Xbox Game Pass/PC Game Pass subscription service, hitting every niche is absolutely in their remit. This bodes well for everything from Overwatch, to Heroes of the Storm, to StarCraft, as well as spinoffs in those beloved universes. Where subscription engagement is king, building good content and curating positive ongoing sentiment is absolutely key, and few communities are as passionate as Blizzard’s.

Xbox is shielded from shareholder meddling

Another reason I think the future is bright for Blizzard is that Xbox is shielded from shareholder scrutiny in a way that Activision itself wasn’t.

Microsoft posted revenues upwards of $50 billion dollars for the quarter yesterday, and analysts and investors didn’t ask a single question about the Activision Blizzard acquisition during the earnings call. Microsoft’s bread and butter is cloud, and business-to-business mega deals, like its enormous $20 billion deal with the U.S. military for HoloLens.

Azure powers hundreds of businesses across the globe, which forms the basis of its operating income. Azure dwarfs many of Microsoft’s historical business segments, including Windows licensing on PCs and Xbox itself, allowing some of Microsoft’s “smaller” divisions to avoid some of the meddling we see occur at companies like EA, Take-Two, and Activision.

I feel like some of the big video game publishers do this weird dance where they lurch from pissing off fans with aggressive monetization plans, then falling back on more popular projects to rebuild lost trust. We’ve seen it from EA with its handling of BioWare and DICE, and we’ve seen it from Take-Two with its GTA Trilogy remake, and its apparent abandonment of Red Dead Online.

Warcraft has lost millions of players over the years, due to a decline in quality.

On the Activision side, we’ve seen World of Warcraft expansions lose unique features over time, in favor of cheaper, rehashed versions of previous systems emerging repeatedly while writing quality took a big nosedive. We saw Warcraft III: Reforged, which should’ve been celebrated, launch in this half-finished state, with fewer features than the original client. The Diablo II remaster was a rare win for modern Blizzard thankfully, but we’ve also seen Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft get abandoned in the process. We’ve seen Activision lay off hundreds of people arbitrarily too over the years, only to re-hire them after quarterly earnings were posted.

Xbox Game Pass has given Microsoft a perspective shift that allows for more creative risk.

This isn’t to suggest Microsoft has no capacity for pissing off fans, of course. Microsoft is a business, not a charity, and still wants Xbox to be profitable. In general, though, I think Xbox Game Pass and Microsoft’s status as a platform holder allows for more creative risk than Activision does.

Tying the success of the division to Xbox/PC Game Pass growth effectively incentivizes quality, creativity, and unique games that perhaps sit outside of prevailing trends. Microsoft also derives value from positive sentiment across its brand and ecosystem in a way that Activision doesn’t. We’ve seen Microsoft invest in studios that are essentially known for sitting outside of the mega-hit mainstream, such as Double Fine, and inXile. We’ve seen Microsoft greenlight creative and smaller games, such as Grounded from Obsidian. A lot of the projects I see coming out of Xbox Game Studios are titles I would never expect modern EA, Activision, or Take-Two to greenlight, outside of their indie incubators.

Ultimately, as long as Azure keeps doing the big numbers to appease the establishment shareholders, the gaming division at Microsoft essentially gets to put its emphasis on gamers, creativity, and quality, in a way that Activision, EA, and others, often can’t apparently.

Healing Blizzard

Over the past year, revelations about Blizzard’s working environment rocked the image of the studio, with victims of harassment, abuse, and maltreatment coming forward with their experiences. It painted a grim picture of a studio that at one point in time seemed invincible. It also put a spotlight on CEO Robert Kotick’s hands-off leadership style, treating the company like a piggy bank as opposed to the respect it really deserved.

Former Blizzard lead J. Allen Brack took the fall for a lawsuit kicked off by California into these revelations, although I’ve spoken to sources at Blizzard who believe he was scapegoated, ultimately, to save Robert Kotick. Kotick and the board of directors made their attitudes towards the lawsuit and staff apparent when it first emerged, with Kotick cowering behind subordinates rather than addressing the allegations directly.

Last year, it felt a bit like there was no way for Blizzard to emerge from this dark period. It seemed as though Kotick and the rest of the executive level team were going to stay put, resisting calls to resign, essentially keeping the structures in place that allowed these things to occur.

Last year, Blizzard staff walked out in protest.

We saw an exodus of staff at every level, dissatisfied with Kotick’s deflections and inability to take responsibility. Just last week, Kotick gave an interview where he essentially blamed his developers with the delays of Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV for Activision’s sliding share price, rather than the high-profile lawsuit that battered the company’s image in the mainstream non-gaming press.

Kotick absolutely must be fired, and the leadership team cleared out, and one can only assume they will be. New leadership is needed to truly turn a page on the company’s darker days, and hopefully, hefty compensation packages for those affected by the allegations. It falls to former Xbox Corporate Vice President Mike Ybarra to lead the ship forward. Thus far Ybarra has been transparent about improving the company culture and rebuilding trust both within and outside the company.

Holding Microsoft to account

Indeed, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the most important aspect of this whole thing is positive outcomes for Blizzard, and all Activision staff. Acquisitions are a scary time, speaking somewhat from experience, given that Windows Central itself used to be an independent blog. You don’t know how the new company will impact your culture, you don’t know what restrictions may be placed on your ability to create and ultimately enjoy your job. You don’t know whether friends or colleagues may be moved to other departments, or even laid off. Thankfully, our acquisition has been relatively smooth sailing and somewhat allowed us to focus a bit more on delivering content (even if I do despise our company-mandated Google Apps).

Of course, Activision Blizzard joining Microsoft is on an entirely different level of complexity and stressors than what I’ve experienced here. In purchasing Activision Blizzard King, Microsoft takes on responsibility for employees who may still be hurting and need support. They inherit departments typically outside of their usual wheelhouse, like the esports MLG organization Activision owns. They inherit the lawsuits, and the task of rebuilding trust both within the company and beyond.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that World of Warcraft is one of my most beloved games, and has been an important force in my life. With over 10,000 hours played, friendships I’ve made in WoW endure over 15 years later. There’s no game that means more to me, in terms of the impact it has had on my life.

I only hope that this whole deal provides a reality of a brighter future.

Even though I don’t currently play, I feel this sense of admiration and appreciation towards Blizzard, whose worlds helped me deal with what ended up being quite a dark period in my life. I know dozens of Blizzard fans who have similar stories about all of their games. Built families and relationships through people they’d met in WoW, or found careers through the passion their games stir in people.

For the developers and all affected staff, I only hope that this whole deal provides a reality of a brighter future where Blizzard can return to what it’s known for first and foremost: amazing worlds, cherished characters, and incredible games, with staff that are paid well, in an environment that is nurturing and safe.

For the first time in a decade, I feel optimistic for Blizzard's future