The age of Internet Explorer 11 is over for AWS

AWS is no longer taking Internet Explorer 11 into consideration.

What you need to know

Internet Explorer 11 is slated for retirement in 2022.
Ahead of its expiration date, some companies have decided it’s no longer worth catering to.
Amazon’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one such service that won’t take IE 11 into consideration anymore.

It’s widely known that Microsoft is ending support for Internet Explorer 11 in 2022. However, some companies are increasing the browser’s irrelevance ahead of 2022 by no longer factoring it in when developing new features for their sites, services, and tools. One such company is Amazon, which has made IE 11 persona non grata within the Amazon Web Services (AWS) ecosystem.

Amazon doesn’t mince words in its blog post announcing the end of AWS support for IE 11. If you’re using the AWS Management Console, Amazon Chime, Amazon Honeycode, AWS Marketing, AWS Support, AWS Marketplace, AWS Documentation, or just about anything else with AWS in the name, Amazon has a message for you: “It is time to upgrade to a more modern & secure browser such as Edge, Firefox, or Chrome.”

In that same blog post, Amazon breaks down the stages that will occur as it formally detaches AWS from IE 11.

July 31, 2021 – Effective today, we will no longer ensure that new AWS Management Console features and web pages function properly on IE 11. We will fix bugs that are specific to IE 11 for existing features and pages.
Late 2021 – Later this year you will receive a pop-up notification (and a reminder to upgrade your browser) if you use IE 11 to access any of the services or pages listed above.
July 31, 2022 – One year from today we will discontinue our support for IE 11 and you will need to use a browser that we support.

In summary, if you use AWS for any of your operations, it’s time to ditch IE 11 for good.

The age of Internet Explorer 11 is over for AWS

Grand Theft Auto 5 sales cross 150 million units sold

Nothing stops this life of crime juggernaut.

What you need to know

Take-Two Interactive shared its Q1 2022 fiscal quarter financial results.
As part of these results, Take-Two revealed that Grand Theft Auto 5 crossed 150 million copies sold.
A new version of Grand Theft Auto 5 is currently in development for Xbox Series X|S and PS5.

Take-Two Interactive reported its financial results for the first fiscal quarter of 2022 on Monday. Notably, the report contained an update on the sales of some of Rockstar Games’ massive titles. Grand Theft Auto 5 sales crossed 150 million units sold, up five million from 145 million sold last quarter and up 10 million from Take Two’s Q3 2021 results. Rockstar Games’ western adventure Red Dead Redemption 2 is also up a million copies sold since the prior quarter, reaching 38 million copies sold.

With Grand Theft Auto 6 still likely years away, these continued sales for Rockstar Games still aren’t likely to slow down, with an updated re-release of Grand Theft Auto 5 slated for November 11, 2021. This version will contain various improvements specifically for the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PS5.

Take-Two Interactive reported better than expected financial results for Q1 2022, which the company says was primarily driven by the continued success of Grand Theft Auto Online and Borderlands 3, the latter of which has now reached over 13 million copies sold.

During the accompanying conference call, CEO Strauss Zelnick also spoke on diversity, stating that committing to a diverse workplace is not a single day’s work but instead a culture created over time. Take-Two Interactive also confirmed that two unannounced “immersive core” games were delayed to later in fiscal year 2022.

High crime

Grand Theft Auto V

$25 at Amazon
$30 at Microsoft
$30 at Best Buy

Heists are waiting

Grand Theft Auto V is a massive game from Rockstar that allows players to live out their high-stakes criminal dreams. A huge campaign focuses on three very different men drawn together by circumstance, while GTA Online continues to grow with constant updates.

Grand Theft Auto 5 sales cross 150 million units sold

Skype for Business Online has been officially retired

It’s done.

What you need to know

Skype for Business Online’s extinction has been on the way for two years.
Microsoft released many reminders about its impending termination.
As of July 31, 2021, the service has been retired.

Skype for Business Online is no more. August 2, 2021, marks the first work week following the fallen service’s July 31 termination date. Only a handful of exceptional cases can now use it, and even that is temporary.

Microsoft’s going all-in on Teams, and part of that mission involves shedding some of its Skype-branded skin, notably in the form of Skype for Business Online. The one class of users protected from the eradication of the service includes organizations that have scheduled Teams upgrades set for after July 31. In other words, the only people still on Skype for Business Online are those who are actively slated to move off of it in the immediate future.

Microsoft explains the transitionary procedure in more detail on its blog post discussing the topic:

Organizations who haven’t made a full transition from Skype for Business Online will be scheduled for a Microsoft-assisted upgrade to help with the last-mile technical steps getting to ‘Teams Only’. Scheduling notifications are sent to tenant admins within the Microsoft 365 Message Center and Teams admin center 90 days before the date of the assisted upgrade. Even after scheduling, customers may self-upgrade prior to the assisted upgrade date to better control the timing of their upgrade experience.

With all that being said, Skype itself isn’t going anywhere (for now). Even though the Business Online end of it has ceased operations, the consumer-grade iteration of Skype and Skype for Business Servers persist. And, in an interesting note from Microsoft, “Skype for Business Online operated by 21Vianet (China Sovereign Clouds Instance)” remains active.

Microsoft Teams

Free at Microsoft
Free at App Store
Free at Google Play Store

Microsoft Teams is here for all the fans of Skype who see the writing on the wall and want to jump onto Microsoft’s newest platform before they’re shoved onto it. Teams is constantly updated and loaded with useful features, making it great for individuals and businesses alike.

Skype for Business Online has been officially retired

Here are the best racing games on Xbox right now

The video games industry is filled with countless genres and categories of awesome games to choose from, but some of the most popular are racing games. Driving a wide variety of vehicles at speeds ranging from glacial to hypersonic, meticulously tuning and customizing every ride to exact specifications, going head-to-head with other racers from all over the world, and exploring beautiful worlds and tracks are all part of what makes racing games special, and Xbox is one of the greatest places to find them. Here are the best racing games for Xbox right now.

Best Xbox racing games:

Forza Horizon 4
Forza Motorsport 7
DiRT 5
DiRT Rally 2.0
F1 2021
Project Cars 2
Burnout Paradise Remastered
GRID
The Crew 2
NASCAR Heat 5

An overview of Xbox racing games in 2021

Racing games is a pretty major genre, so dozens of companies and teams have attempted to tackle the space and deliver their vision of a premium racing experience, to differing degrees of success. Xbox is often considered to be one of the best places to play for racing fans, if only because Microsoft has two powerful forces in the genre under the Xbox Game Studios banner: Turn 10 Studios and Playground Games.

Turn 10 and Playground are two halves of the same coin: Forza. They work together on the ForzaTech game engine and the illustrious, established Forza racing franchise. Turn 10 handles the Forza Motorsport series, a more simulation-centric racer that features wide rosters of real race tracks from all over the world, while Playground handles the Forza Horizon series, an open-world arcade series that follows the fictional Forza Festival and lets players race wherever they want, however they want.

Beyond Forza, Xbox also offers a ton of other great racing games from third parties, including more long-running franchises like Need for Speed, F1, DiRT, and more. All in all, there’s no shortage of great choices, but quality tends to be inconsistent at times due to the surprising complexity and nuances of a good racing game. One of the few major racing franchises that Xbox misses out on is Gran Turismo, which is exclusive to Sony’s PlayStation consoles.

Not all racing games are created equal, and many cater to entirely different categories of players. Are you looking for the most realistic simulation racer possible? An off-roading adventure? How about a casual yet expansive open-world? There’s a lot to think about, so we’ve compiled the absolute best of the best for any racing game fan. Some of these games have even risen to be considered on our list of best Xbox games.

The games on this list are the best Xbox racing games right now, which means they can be available for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, and PC. Some of these games are also available through Xbox Game Pass and even Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud), making it easy to jump in and play.

Forza Horizon 4

Available on Xbox Series X|S (Optimized), Xbox One, and PC with Xbox Play Anywhere support, and through Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming

If any game deserves to hold the title of “best racing game ever,” it’s undoubtedly Forza Horizon 4. Set in an absolutely gorgeous open-world rendition of the UK, Forza Horizon 4 hands players the keys to a massive roster of over 700 officially licensed and high-quality vehicles from dozens of manufacturers, and tells them to go nuts. Playground Games and Xbox Game Studios have faithfully supported FH4 for three years with constant content updates and additional features, so the game has improved steadily since its release in 2018.

Forza Horizon 4 is an open-world arcade racer with simulation elements, so it’s far from the most realistic racer on this list. Still, you have a fantastic array of customization options to make your car look and perform exactly the way you want, and there’s a decent set of tuning tools to give you that extra edge in a race. FH4 is also consistent, so it’s easy to even novice racing fans to get into, and provides a ridiculous amount of freedom to play the way you want. Something about Forza Horizon games and their expansive open-worlds even draws in players that normally wouldn’t touch racing games.

If there’s anything that holds Forza Horizon 4 back (besides being more arcade-like than some players prefer), it’s the fact that Playground Games is gearing up to release Forza Horizon 5 later this year, which looks massively improved over FH4 in every single way. Even so, Forza Horizon 4 is still and will continue to be an excellent racing game, and continues to grow its already-impressive community of racers.

Pros:

An incredibly detailed open world
A huge roster of officially licensed vehicles
Tons of activities and different ways to play
A large community and extensive post-launch support

Cons:

A little closer to an arcade racer
Forza Horizon 5 is coming

Forza Horizon 4

$60 at Microsoft (Standard)
$80 at Microsoft (Deluxe)
$45 at Microsoft (Ultimate)
$40 at Amazon (Xbox)

Forza Horizon 4 released as one of the best racing games of all time, and it’s continued this trend with three years of solid post-launch support and a faithful, continually growing community. Forza Horizon 4 is still one of the best games on Xbox and PC, and is also available through Xbox Game Pass.

Forza Motorsport 7

Available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC with Xbox Play Anywhere support, and through Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming (until Sept. 15, 2021)

While open-world Forza Horizon games may capture a lot of player attention nowadays, the original Forza games are Motorsport, and they serve the audience that desires simulation and realism above all else. Forza Motorsport 7 is the culmination of years of expertise from Turn 10 Studios and Xbox Game Studios, and is a near-perfect racing game with hundreds of high-performance vehicles, meticulous upgrade parts and customization options, and dozens of detailed real-world tracks and locations.

Forza Motorsport 7 isn’t an arcade racer by any means, which means trading casual racing and an open world for realistic driving physics and actual circuits, all to fantastic effect. Turn 10 Studios is a master of their craft now, and FM7 is highly lauded as one of the best realistic racing games you can play, even nearly four years after its release. Unfortunately, FM7’s age is also a negative, as Forza Motorsport 7 is approaching its end-of-life date. Turn 10 Studios is currently working on a current-gen soft reboot of their premier racing franchise with Forza Motorsport, which doesn’t have a set release date yet.

After Sept. 15, 2021, FM7 and its DLC will no longer be available to purchase from the Microsoft Store. If you purchase the game between now and Sept. 15, however, you’ll own an excellent racing game forever, one that will continue to deliver a great experience for years to come. Forza Motorsport 7’s online functionality isn’t going anywhere, either. FM7 is enjoying some incredible discounts until it goes end-of-life, so be sure to take advantage.

Pros:

Dozens of meticulously recreated tracks and circuits
A massive roster of officially licensed high-performance cars
Polished and customizable driving mechanics and physics
Fantastic value with current sales, including on DLC

Cons:

Online multiplayer isn’t as busy anymore
Game is going end-of-life on Sept. 15, 2021

Forza Motorsport 7

$10 at Microsoft (Standard)
$15 at Microsoft (Deluxe)
$20 at Microsoft (Ultimate)
$33 at Amazon (Xbox)

Forza Motorsport 7 is absolutely one of the best racing games for track fanatics, as long as you’re able to pick it up before it goes end-of-life on Sept. 15. Take advantage of amazing discounts and pick up an excellent racing game that will last for years to come on Xbox and PC.

DiRT 5

Available on Xbox Series X|S (Optimized), Xbox One, and PC with Xbox Play Anywhere support, and through Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming

The Xbox Series X|S current-gen consoles are beacons of power and advanced gaming features, and they need games to show off what they can do. One of the earliest games to launch on the consoles was DiRT 5, a continuation of the popular DiRT franchise from Codemasters (now a part of Electronic Arts) that went in a different direction for the series but still manages to deliver lots of fun to players and fans of intense off-roading action.

As the name implies, DiRT games are all about taking highly modified cars off the beaten path to create new trails, and the franchise has appealed to a large variety of racing fans over the years. DiRT 5 is absolutely a different, more casual game than its predecessor, but this doesn’t hold it back for most players. The game is ridiculously fun, easy to get into, and features a wide variety of game modes and races with a non-linear campaign and player-made “Playgrounds.” There’s also a diverse range of environments, complete with dynamic weather, that spice things up even more.

If you’re looking for a more simulation-like, off-roading game, however, DiRT 5 is not that. The game is pretty simple and easy to get into, and even more serious difficulties probably won’t be an extreme challenge for veteran racers. Visuals in DiRT 5 are also slightly inconsistent, ranging from pretty good to kind of “off.” Finally, vehicles and vehicle customization are sadly lacking in DiRT 5, with the livery editor especially offering disappointing options and ways to design.

Pros:

Great, fun casual rally racing
Lots of variety and ways to play
Solid performance on current-gen consoles
Supports Xbox Play Anywhere, Game Pass, and Cloud Gaming

Cons:

Visuals and customization are just okay
Not as “real” as its predecessor
May be a little bit too easy for some

DiRT 5

$60 at Microsoft (Standard)
$24 at Microsoft (Year One)
$56 at Amazon (Xbox)

DiRT 5 may have taken the series in a different direction versus its predecessors, but it doesn’t stop Codemasters from delivering an excellent casual off-road racer with a ridiculous amount of content, tons of variety in environments and weather, and surprising levels of support for player-centric Xbox features (for a third-party Xbox game).

DiRT Rally 2.0

Available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC

For those who desire a hardcore off-road racing experience with no holds barred, there’s really only one good choice: DiRT Rally 2.0. The Rally half of the DiRT franchise is more simulation-focused than its non-Rally counterparts, and aims to test the skills of even the most experienced off-road drivers. Players should expect an authentic rally challenge when they step behind the wheel of a DiRT Rally 2.0 vehicle. with little-to-no handholding.

DiRT Rally 2.0 makes its claim to fame with excellent driving mechanics and physics, including surface degradation on tracks and tire wear, blisteringly difficult AI opponents and simulation-like racing, class-leading audio, and a decent selection of rally-grade vehicles to drive on through six countries. DiRT Rally 2.0 still more than holds up today, especially with a ton of post-launch DLC and additional cards, and is a great choice for any rally fan looking for a challenge.

It’s not all perfect, of course. DiRT Rally 2.0’s tracks can become repetitive over time, with a pretty limited number of options to choose from, and that simulation-like racing and difficulty would be forgivable if not for the lack of tutorials to ease newer players into the series and the genre. DiRT Rally 2.0’s single-player campaign, as well, leaves a little to be desired. Pick up the Game of the Year Edition if you want access to DiRT Rally 2.0’s extensive DLC collection at a compelling price.

Pros:

Authentic and challenging rally racing
Great driving mechanics and physics
Tons of additional DLC content and expansions
Visuals, audio, and performance are great

Cons:

Tracks can become repetitive and boring
Single-player campaign is shallow
Game may be too challenging for newcomers

DiRT Rally 2.0

$30 at Microsoft (Xbox Standard)
$12 at Microsoft (Xbox GotY)
$45 at Microsoft (PC GotY)
$29 at Amazon (Xbox)

DiRT Rally 2.0 is still the premier simulation rally experience, and is a great game all around for rally fanatics who love tearing tracks apart. However, the game goes from “challenging” to “inaccessible” with a lack of tutorials, and can become a little repetitive over time.

F1 2021

Available on Xbox Series X|S (Optimized) and Xbox One

Another entry from racing champions Codemasters and their newfound parent EA, F1 2021 is the latest installment in another long-running racing franchise that revolves around the global and well-known Formula One racing series. Featuring real drivers, teams, sponsors, and high-performance formula race cars across a wide variety of meticulously recreated real-world tracks and circuits, F1 2021 is the culmination of years of expertise from Codemasters handling Formula One.

Their newest game follows the aptly named F1 2020 and delivers a mostly familiar Formula One racing experience with better visuals and customization than ever before. F1 2021 even includes a full-fledged campaign mode that will likely keep players interested and engaged for hours to come, even if it likely won’t win any rewards for storytelling. If you love the idea of driving a formula race car in any sense, there’s seriously no better option than the officially licensed F1 series, and the best of the bunch is F1 2021.

F1 2021 will likely only cater to those who are interested in racing formula race cars, but it does feature a ton of options, customization, and ways to tinker the experience to be as real as you want it to. Of course, F1 2021 will never quite approach what real Formula One racing is like, since the game is limited by its “E for Everyone” rating, and Codemasters has followed their traditional F1 formula, for better or worse.

Pros:

Class-leading Formula One simulation racing
Excellent visuals, customization, and features
Solid single-player campaign

Cons:

Very similar to F1 2020
Not quite as intense as real F1 racing
May be missing some tracks and content

F1 2021

$60 at Microsoft (Standard)
$75 at Microsoft (Deluxe)
$60 at Amazon (Xbox)

Choices are limited for fans of Formula One, and the F1 series is the only real option. It’s a good thing F1 2021 is a fantastic racing game from every angle with fantastic driving mechanics, visuals, and a single-player campaign. Similarities to previous F1 games aren’t enough to hold F1 2021 back.

Project Cars 2

Available on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One

It may seem strange to have Project Cars 2 on this list without its successor, Project Cars 3, but for many players the older game is the clear winner. While Project Cars 3 stripped a lot of its features and realism, losing most of its identity in the process, Project Cars 2 continues to be a generally excellent simulation racer — and a solid competitor for Forza Motorsport.

Project Cars 2 features a ton of gorgeous, officially licensed vehicles and a huge variety of different tracks, complete with impressive visuals (that still hold up today) and dynamic weather effects. There’s even a decently robust single-player campaign, which will take players through multiple events and race types. In many ways, especially for fans of simulation racers, Project Cars 2 comfortably beats its successor and still remains competitive with more modern racers.

While Project Cars 2 does feature pretty decent tutorials for newcomers, many may still find this game a little too challenging. A smaller car list and a lack of customization for vehicles are big negatives when compared to Project Cars 2’s biggest competitor, Forza Motorsport 7. If you’re looking for another great racing game, though, Project Cars 2 makes a solid case.

Pros:

Solid tutorials and great single-player campaign
Still-gorgeous visuals with dynamic weather effects
Great driving mechanics on a huge number of tracks

Cons:

Can be too challenging, even with tutorials
Small car list compared to other racing games
Lack of customization or livery editor for vehicles

Project Cars 2

$60 at Microsoft (Standard)
$90 at Microsoft (Deluxe)
$11 at Amazon (Xbox)

Project Cars 2 continues to be a great simulation racing game, even after its sequel dropped the ball, and features visuals that still look awesome today. The game may struggle to shine in Forza Motorsport 7’s shadow, but it’s definitely one of the better racing games on Xbox.

Burnout Paradise Remastered

Available on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One, and through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate via EA Play

Many people may think of the legendary Need for Speed franchise when they think “casual arcade racer,” but the Burnout series was equally as infamous back in its prime. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a proper addition to the Burnout franchise since the incredible Burnout Paradise, which paired Burnout’s glorious crashes and intense arcade races with an open world. Over a decade later, EA let players return to Paradise City with the arrival of Burnout Paradise Remastered, and it’s one of the best racing game remasters.

Everything that was great about the original Burnout Paradise remains great in the remastered version, but EA of course modernized the visuals with support for up to 4K, better and more stable performance, upgraded textures and lighting, and much more. Players still get to drive around a beautiful open world and engage in several different race types all over the city. Crashes and collisions are still immeasurably satisfying, and are miles above many of the top racing games available today.

Burnout Paradise Remastered still features many of the same annoying menu and UI quirks of the original, which may be frustrating for some players. The cars are generic semblances of real-world vehicles, as Burnout Paradise lacks the official licensing of other racers, but they still look and drive great. Especially for fans of the original, though, Burnout Paradise Remastered is an excellent facelift and one of the best open-world racers right now.

Pros:

Intense racing and awesome collisions
A faithful and proper remaster of the original
An expansive open world with lots of personality

Cons:

Annoying menu and UI quirks remain
Cars are not officially licensed
Visuals still don’t compare to newer games

Burnout Paradise Remastered

$5 at Microsoft
$20 at Amazon (Xbox)

Burnout Paradise Remastered definitely isn’t going to compete with Forza Horizon 4 in the visuals department, but it is a faithful remaster of an excellent racing classic, and lets players return to Paradise City with a myriad of upgrades. Many flaws of the original still remain in the remastered version, however.

GRID

Available on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One

Codemasters has managed to place a ridiculous number of games on our list of best Xbox racing games, and now we’re adding another one. Another classic racing franchise was brought into the modern gaming world with GRID, one of the finest racing experiences you can currently play. While GRID may leave behind some aspects of the originals that made players fall in love, the new and improved GRID can still stand toe-to-toe with the best racers today.

GRID looks absolutely fantastic, and shares a similar vibe with DiRT 5 in that it’s an excellent and incredibly fun casual racer to pick up and play at any moment. The difference is that GRID takes a decent collection of carefully chosen and well-known vehicles and puts them on a wide variety of road-based tracks. There’s also a non-linear single-player campaign here, and it all exists to help players jump in a race exactly the way they want to.

As a casual racer, GRID is all about casual, sheer racing fun, and it mostly delivers. However, you may need to splurge for the Ultimate Edition, as it includes a ton of additional content that makes the base game feel slightly empty. If you’re looking for a vibrant and varied multiplayer scene in GRID, you’re not going to find it. Overall, though, GRID is a gorgeous and detailed casual racer, and the Ultimate Edition does include a ton of content for players to enjoy.

Pros:

Gorgeous visuals and details
Simple, fun gameplay
Easy to jump in and out of

Cons:

Lack of content in base game
Lack of online and multiplayer content

GRID

$30 at Microsoft (Standard)
$10 at Microsoft (Ultimate)
$33 at Amazon (Xbox)

GRID rebooted a classic racing franchise and was a return to arcade racers for Codemasters, true experts in their field. GRID stands out with insanely fun gameplay that’s easy to jump in and out of, but you’ll likely want to splurge for the Ultimate Edition for more content and races.

The Crew 2

Available on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One

There’s a relative shortage of proper competitors for Playground Games’ genre-leading Forza Horizon series, but Ubisoft took a crack at the title with The Crew 2, an open-world racer that encompasses a shrunk-down version of the United States of America and a wide variety of different vehicles to drive — and players aren’t limited to just cars.

At its core, The Crew 2 is about cars and a casual arcade racing experience, and in this aspect it mostly delivers with a decently sized roster of vehicles and pretty fun gameplay. However, Ubisoft wanted to deliver a more ambitious and encompassing experience than Forza Horizon, often to its detriment. It does mean that, if players desire, they can get behind the wheel of a bike, plane, or boat, in addition to all the traditional cars.

The Crew 2 is gorgeous, as one would expect from an open-world Ubisoft game, and it is a joy to explore this version of the USA that Ubisoft has built. However, The Crew 2 suffers from feeling too ambitious and ends up becoming messy and occasionally frustrating. If you’re looking for another open-world racer that’s a little bigger and a little more arcade-like than Forza Horizon, though, The Crew 2 can still offer hours upon hours of fun.

Pros:

Beautiful open-world version of the USA
Lots of vehicles to choose from
Mostly great arcade racing

Cons:

Feels messy and unfocused at times
Planes, bikes, and boats feel out of place
More arcade-like than Forza Horizon

The Crew 2

$50 at Microsoft (Standard)
$60 at Microsoft (Special)
$18 at Microsoft (Gold)
$21 at Amazon (Xbox)

The Crew 2 aims to be a more arcade and more ambitious version of Forza Horizon, and it does deliver in some aspects, with a fantastic open world to explore, superb visuals, and mostly fun racing. However, the game feels too big for its own good, resulting in a messy experience.

NASCAR Heat 5

Available on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One

NASCAR is one of the biggest racing championships around, but many racing games leave the stockcars behind in favor of other vehicles and more variety. For NASCAR fans, there’s only one great option and that’s NASCAR Heat 5, the best stock car racing game and one of the better racing games on Xbox right now. NASCAR Heat 5 is the complete package for NASCAR fans, and features officially licensed real-world cars, teams, brands, and tracks, complete with a long career mode and plenty of options.

NASCAR Heat 5 also looks pretty great, even if it’s not going to best some of the other best racing games out there (and lacks enhancements for more powerful consoles). Driving feels great, and you have a ton of circuits to choose from, which all look amazing and detailed. There’s also a lot of options for assists and settings, and a test mode to ease you into driving a new car, learning a new circuit, or taking control of a new team.

Where NASCAR Heat 5 falls apart is how it differentiates itself from its predecessor. NASCAR Heat 4 players will likely find very little reason to purchase the new game, as Heat 5 only includes a few relatively minor improvements and remains mostly the same in visuals, performance, and physics. However, for newcomers to the franchise, especially NASCAR fans, there’s definitely no better option than NASCAR Heat 5.

Pros:

Looks and plays great
Officially licensed drivers and circuits
Lots of options for players

Cons:

Nearly identical to its predecessor
Not likely to win over non-NASCAR fans

NASCAR Heat 5

$30 at Microsoft (Standard)
$40 at Microsoft (Ultimate)
$16 at Amazon (Xbox)

It may not be the first pick for “best racing game” on most people’s lists, but NASCAR Heat 5 is absolutely top of the pack when it comes to racing stock cars around NASCAR circuits. Not just because it’s practically the only choice, but because Heat 5 is a genuinely good game, despite similarities to the game that came before it.

Xbox makes it easy to love cars

When it comes to racing games on Xbox, it’s obvious fans of the genre have plenty of options to choose from. It might seem unclear at first glance what the best among the best racing games are, but Turn 10 Studios and Playground Games have proven their expertise and greatness repeatedly with the Forza franchise. Whether you’re looking for a simulation-like arcade racer in Forza Horizon 4 or an in-depth simulation racer like Forza Motorsport 7, Forza is indisputably the king of Xbox racing games.

Codemasters, now under EA, certainly gives the Forza duo a run for their money, however, with a wide range of excellent racing games that cater to a variety of audiences. From casual arcade racers like DiRT 5 and GRID to simulation racers like DiRT Rally 2.0 and F1 2021, Codemasters is certainly a master of their craft. Of course, you can’t go wrong with any of the racing games on our list of best Xbox racing games, as every title here has something to offer for lovers of cars and high speeds.

A catalog of racers

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

From $1/month at Microsoft
$45 at Amazon (3-month subscription)
$15 at Amazon (1-month subscription)

All your gaming needs, in one subscription

Is the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate the best value in all of gaming? It’s possible. Ultimate bundles your Xbox Live Gold subscription, an Xbox Game Pass subscription for both Xbox consoles and Windows PCs, and Xbox Cloud Gaming for on-the-go. Many of our favorite Xbox racing games are also available on Xbox Game Pass, including Forza Horizon 4.

Here are the best racing games on Xbox right now

Microsoft Azure Space director to head National Space Council

Azure is going to the moon.

What you need to know

The U.S. National Space Council just got a new executive secretary.
Chirag Parikh will fill the role.
Parikh served as a senior director for Microsoft’s Azure Space.

In case you didn’t know, Microsoft has Azure Space, which is, as the title would imply, a series of space-focused services and products all utilizing the power of Azure. There’s Azure Orbital, Azure Modular Datacenter, Azure Orbital Emulator, and more. Microsoft works with partners such as SpaceX to put these tools to use.

Chirag Parikh is one of the people who led Microsoft’s Azure Space initiatives, becoming its senior director in January 2020. Now, he’s going to be the executive secretary of the United States National Space Council. The White House said the council’s first meeting will be this fall, lead by council chair and U.S. VP Kamala Harris.

This isn’t the first time Parikh has helped the U.S. government with its space strategy. During the Obama administration, he was the National Security Council’s director of space policy.

Though the link is indirect, this is far from the only overlap Microsoft and its services have with the U.S. government. Azure was recently at the center of another security-focused initiative with the Pentagon’s cloud computing JEDI contract. However, thanks to prolonged litigation from Amazon, that contract was canceled. Microsoft is also actively working with the U.S. Army to produce special HoloLens headsets for soldiers.

Given the web of Microsoft and U.S. government entanglements, it’s not a wild curveball that Microsoft’s Azure Space senior director is being tasked with a major role within the National Space Council. This appointment happens not too long after Jeff Bezos reminded the general public that space is the next frontier for commercial travel (an achievement that a Microsoft employee beat him to, coincidentally).

Microsoft Azure Space director to head National Space Council

You can now enable WSL 2 on Windows 10 with a single command

Installing WSL 2 onto Windows 10 used to be a long process, but that’s a thing of the past.

What you need to know

You can now install WSL 2 onto Windows 10 with a single command.
Previously, you had to enable it, download components for it, and go through a setup process.
To use the new setup process, your PC needs to be on the Windows 10 May 2020 Update (version 2004) or newer.

It’s now significantly easier to install WSL 2 onto Windows 10 than before. People can now just enter wsl –install into PowerShell to use WSL. The Windows Dev Docs team announced the change on Twitter. To use this new method to set up WSL, your PC has to run the Windows 10 May 2020 Update (version 2004) or newer.

WSL 2 is a newer version of the Windows Subsystem for Linux. It provides full system compatibility on Windows 10 PCs, but its setup process has historically been more complex.

With WSL 1, all you had to do was enable it and reboot your PC. Setting up WSL 2 was more complex, at least until now. Our guide on how to install Linux WSL2 on Windows 10 shows how much effort was needed before.

The WSL install page has been one of our most viewed topics. While we hate to see that traffic decrease, we’re happy to announce that on Windows 10 versions 2004 and newer, you now just enter:wsl –install with PowerShell/CMD to get started with WSL! pic.twitter.com/YPdd3mSNHS— Windows Dev Docs (@WindowsDocs) August 2, 2021

The new installation method streamlines the process of getting into WSL 2, allowing developers and anyone else to get started quickly.

Fancy terminal

Windows Terminal

Microsoft’s new modern, open-source terminal application.

Whether you’re into theming or just want to run a bunch of different shells side-by-side, the Windows Terminal application can do it all.

Free at Microsoft

You can now enable WSL 2 on Windows 10 with a single command

Review: The ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6) gets a lot right after a big refresh

With a new 16:10 display, Intel Evo certification, Thunderbolt 4, presence detection, and 5G, the X1 Yoga (Gen 6) moves back into place as one of the most modern convertibles on the market.

In last year’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 5) review, I noted that it was mostly a performance refresh as well as a way to get Wi-Fi 6 into the mix. The laptop was sound, but there wasn’t really anything major that would move people to upgrade from a recent version. I also noted that it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see some fairly big changes coming with the sixth generation of the convertible laptop. It’s now here, and it indeed has some new and welcome features, including a 16:10 aspect ratio for the display, Intel Evo certification, human presence detection, and more. I’ve been using the X1 Yoga (Gen 6) for a week to see just how well Lenovo implemented the changes and, ultimately, whether or not it’s worth a buy.

Change is good

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6)

Bottom line: With new display options, faster performance, better battery, presence detection, and a bunch of other premium features key to the ThinkPad line, the X1 Yoga (Gen 6) has never been better. It’s the best convertible PC Lenovo has to offer, as well as one of the best convertibles on the entire market today.

Pros

New 16:10 display options are tops
Keyboard and wider touchpad are excellent
Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6, optional 4G/5G
Human presence detection
Overall flawless convertible design

Cons

Camera could be 1080p at this price
No SD card reader
RAM not upgradeable

From $1,320 at Lenovo

$2,219 at Amazon

$2,100 at Newegg

Jump to:

Price, availability, specs
Design and features
Display
Performance and battery
Competition
Should you buy?

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6): Price, availability, and specs

Lenovo supplied Windows Central with a review unit of its sixth-generation ThinkPad X1 Yoga. Compared to the fifth generation, it has been upgraded with 11th Gen Intel Core processors (CPU) and Intel Evo certification, a taller 16:10 aspect ratio for the display, dual Thunderbolt 4, human presence detection, and a wider touchpad.

The X1 Yoga (Gen 6) isn’t as pricey as its design and features might suggest, at least as long as you shop with a generous Lenovo discount.

My review unit has inside an Intel Core i7-1185G7 vPro CPU, Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 16GB of dual-channel RAM, a 512GB M.2 solid-state drive (SSD), and a 14-inch touch display with 3840×2400 (UHD+) resolution. This exact configuration costs about $2,242 (after a common but generous discount) at Lenovo. If that’s a bit steep, introductory models with Core i5-1135G7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD, and FHD+ touch display costs about $1,320 at Lenovo. That’s much easier to swallow, especially for this grade of PC. You can also find more expensive models at Amazon and Newegg, though you will have fewer configuration options if you’re not shopping at the official site.

One major optional configuration you might be interested in is 4G or 5G connectivity with eSIM support. There also seems to be PCIe 4.0 SSD support listed in some reference documents, though there doesn’t seem to be an option to add it on the official website. The system should have no issues supporting it, so you could upgrade with a PCIe 4.0 drive after purchase if you can’t get one from the factory. Check out our collection of the best SSDs for some top upgrade options.

Following are the specs as found in the review unit Lenovo sent, with some optional specs mentioned for good measure.

Category
Spec

OS
Windows 10 Pro

Processor
11th Gen IntelCore i7-1185G7 vPro4 cores, 8 threadsUp to 4.8GHz

RAM
16GB LPDDR4-4266Dual-channel (2×8)Soldered

Graphics
Intel Iris XeIntegrated

Storage
512GB M.2 PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD

Display
14 inches3840x2400 (UHD+)16:10 aspect ratioTouch, IPSAnti-reflectiveAnti-smudgeLow blue lightDolby Vision

Ports
Two Thunderbolt 4Two USB-A 3.2 (Gen 1)HDMI 2.03.5mm audio

Audio
Dual 2W speakersDual 0.8W speakersDolby Atmos

Connectivity
Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201Bluetooth 5.24G/5G (optional)

Camera
Front-facing 720pIR camera (optional)

Keyboard
Backlit

Touchpad
PrecisionTrackPoint

Security
Human presence detection (optional)Webcam shutterKensington Nano lock slotdTPM 2.0Fingerprint readerPrivacyGuard (display, optional)

Battery
57Wh65W AC adapter

Dimensions
12.38 x 8.78 x 0.59 inches(314.4mm x 223mm x 14.9mm)

Weight
From 3 pounds (1.35kg)

Color
Storm Grey

Material
Aluminum

All-around beautiful build

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6): Design and features

The X1 Yoga (Gen 6) is certainly familiar, though there are some changes to the overall design. Chassis dimensions have been tweaked ever so slightly. The Gen 6 model isn’t quite as wide as Gen 5 (314.4mm vs. 323mm), but it is just a bit deeper (8.78mm vs. 8.5mm) and a hair thinner (14.9mm vs. 15.2mm). The color has changed a bit, going with Storm Grey this time instead of Iron Gray. The chassis is no longer listed as having any magnesium, but the removable bottom panel is suspiciously light. The laptop has undergone MIL-STD-810H durability testing to ensure it’s built to last.

The X1 Yoga is the top convertible Lenovo has to offer. It really looks the part.

Despite how thin this laptop is, ports have remained mostly the same. You still get two USB-A 3.2 (Gen 1), HDMI is up to version 2.0, and Thunderbolt 4 is now the standard for the two USB-C ports. One is reserved for charging, though when your battery is topped up it can be used for anything. One port that has gone missing is the proprietary Ethernet extension port. You’ll have to use a different type of dongle if you want wired internet, otherwise you’re stuck with Wi-Fi 6 or optional 4G and 5G connectivity. You can also connect one of the best Thunderbolt 4 docks for even better connectivity. An SD card reader would go a long way here; if you’re working with removable storage, you will need a dongle or dock.

The X1 Yoga’s keyboard feels as good as ever during long typing binges. The large keycaps are slightly curved, and they have sufficient travel and a soft bottom. I appreciate the navigation keys — including Home, End, Insert, Delete, Pg Up, and Pg Down — having their own dedicated keys. Not everyone uses these all the time, but having to hit Fn first to access them can be very annoying. I also appreciate the arrow keys all being the same size. Keys are backlit with the standard white light, and the TrackPoint system with red nub sits firmly in the middle. The Precision touchpad feels wonderful when clicked, and it’s wider than ever.

Flanking the keyboard on either side is a 0.8W tweeter. This is a move from the previous orientation between the keyboard and display, and I think it works much better. I like the look of the grille on either side of the keys, and audio is better balanced. The bottom of the laptop also has two 2W woofers to help fill out the sound. You get unmuffled audio whether you’re in tent, stand, or tablet mode, and the sound is quite decent for a laptop this size. Four far-field microphones live along the top edge of the lid.

The camera is still set at 720p, but the picture seems better than on the Gen 5 model. I could be off the mark here, but I feel like it deals way better with low-light situations. Nevertheless, a jump up to 1080p at this price wouldn’t go unnoticed. There’s an IR camera included (it’s optional), and there’s a tiny webcam shutter for added privacy.

Another big addition to the Gen 6 models with an IR camera is human presence detection. The X1 Yoga can detect when you arrive at your PC and when you leave your PC, unlocking or locking appropriately without you having to touch anything. It’s a great addition for anyone who often works in public, and it can be disabled if you’re just hanging around the house. All models come with a fingerprint reader built into the power button (now above the keyboard instead of on the side), dTPM 2.0 chip, and Kensington Nano lock slot.

Overall, this laptop looks phenomenal. It’s thin, it’s balanced, and it makes good use of space on the inside. It’s also brimming with extra features that make it fun to use. The X1 Yoga is the top convertible that Lenovo offers, and it really looks the part.

A screen you’ll love

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6): Display and inking

One of the biggest changes to the sixth-gen X1 Yoga is the new 16:10 display aspect ratio. The previous generation had a rather large chin that was looking outdated; it’s now the same size as the top bezel for some added uniformity. You get more display area for productivity work, and it just looks a whole lot better overall. Lenovo is offering four different displays here, three at FHD+ and one at UHD+ resolution.

This being a convertible laptop, you get touch functionality and a built-in active pen for inking no matter the display you choose. The pen lives in a silo on the side of the laptop, keeping a charge for whenever you need it. It is the thinner pencil design with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, making it best suited for notes and sketches.

The new 16:10 aspect ratio is just what the X1 Yoga needed.

Instead of going with a glossy finish like many touchscreens, Lenovo chose instead to offer either an anti-glare or anti-reflective finish for the four screen choices. The basic FHD+ option is anti-smudge and anti-reflective, it has 400 nits brightness, and it has a low power draw. For about $30 more, you can get an anti-glare finish, 400 nits brightness, and low power draw. Next is the UHD+ model with anti-smudge and anti-reflective finish, 500 nits brightness, and Dolby Vision. Finally, for the most money, there’s an FHD+ option with anti-glare finish, 500 nits brightness, low power draw, and Privacy Guard to keep people from looking over your shoulder.

The review unit has the impressive UHD+ screen. It’s crisp, contrast is spot on, and there’s no noticeable backlight bleed during everyday use. Testing color reproduction with a SpyderX Pro colorimeter, I got back 100% sRGB, 91% AdobeRGB, and 97% DCI-P3. These are stellar results, and you should have no issues dealing with color-sensitive tasks like photo editing. As for brightness, the screen gets down to 12 nits and goes as high as 510 nits. I had no issues working outdoors with this laptop.

Slightly above average

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6): Performance and battery

The X1 Yoga (Gen 6) is available with four different CPUs: Core i5-1135G7, Core i5-1145G7 with vPro, Core i7-1165G7, and Core i7-1185G7 with vPro. The review unit has the i7-1185G7 with four cores, eight threads, and up to a 4.8GHz Turbo speed. It’s paired with 16GB of speedy dual-channel LPDDR4x-4266MHz RAM that’s soldered to the board. You can get up to 32GB from the factory, so be sure you get what you need since it’s not upgradeable. And while the system does support PCIe 4.0 storage, the laptop ships with PCIe 3.0 storage. In this case it’s a 512GB SSD from SK hynix.

You get fairly strong CPU and integrated GPU performance here, and the SSD is rather fast for PCIe 3.0. The Intel Evo system isn’t going to blow you away, but it’s certainly going to be able to tear through just about any given task save truly intensive specialized work. I used it for Photoshop work without any issues, and it will even handle some light gaming after hours.

Here’s a look at how the X1 Yoga (Gen 6) performance compares to a bunch of other laptops we’ve recently tested.

I tested battery life with about 250 nits of screen brightness and the Windows 10 power profile set to “Better Performance.” The laptop lasted nine hours and three minutes, a significant improvement from last year’s model. Under the same conditions, the X1 Yoga (Gen 5) lasted eight hours and two minutes. Note that this is the UHD+ model; going with FHD+ would no doubt add a bit of life to a charge.

The back panel comes off rather easily, giving full access to the laptop’s performance hardware. The X1 Yoga (Gen 6) has moved to a dual-fan system from the single fan in the previous model. They’re both small fans, but they do a good enough job of keeping the CPU cool. Unlike the ThinkPad X1 Nano and its antiquated cooling system that has the exhaust on the right side, the X1 Yoga’s exhaust is on the back edge of the laptop.

The M.2 SSD is easily accessible, and there’s another M.2 slot for the WWAN module. Wi-Fi 6 is soldered onto the board. It doesn’t appear that the laptop comes with the proper 4G/5G antenna if the laptop doesn’t have the WWAN module from the factory, so be sure to configure it properly if that’s a route you’re looking to go.

Convertible countdown

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6): Competition

When it comes to high-end 14-inch convertible laptops, the HP Spectre x360 14 is at the top of our list of the best Windows laptops. It has a taller 3:2 touch OLED display with 3000×2000 resolution, it comes with a pen (though it’s not integrated with its own silo), it has quad speakers, and the typing and pointing are excellent. It does not, however, offer optional 4G or 5G connectivity, it doesn’t have as good of port selection, and it’s lacking a bunch of the premium security and business features that come with a ThinkPad. It’s a more stylish choice with its gem-cut style, but it weighs more than the X1 Yoga. Models start at about $1,200.

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 9310 is another high-end competitor if you want something just a bit smaller. Its 13.4-inch touch display has a 16:10 aspect ratio, and it’s available in FHD+ and UHD+ resolutions. Performance hardware is similar, and the keyboard and touchpad are excellent. Like the Spectre x360 14, this is a laptop better cut out for a cafe than a busy office, especially if you’re sometimes looking at heading out on the road. It doesn’t have the same durability testing and doesn’t have all the same security features as the X1 Yoga. The XPS 13 2-in-1 9310 starts at $1,127.

If you’d like to stick with Lenovo but don’t want to pay as much, the ThinkBook 14s Yoga is another solid choice. Port selection is generous, you get upgradeable RAM and SSD slots, 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs run cool, and the build is still high-quality aluminum. The speakers could be better, the display options won’t measure up, and you don’t get the ThinkPad keyboard, but you can save some money. Models start at about $994.

Be sure to have a look at the best Lenovo laptops for more options.

Should you buy the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6)?

Who it’s for

Anyone who wants a convertible PC with extra business and security features
Anyone who wants the ThinkPad keyboard and TrackPoint system
Anyone who has more than $1,300 to spend on a laptop
Anyone who wants a built-in active pen for inking

Who it isn’t for

Anyone with less than $1,300 to spend
Anyone who doesn’t want to pay for extra business and security features
Anyone who doesn’t plan on using their PC as a tablet

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6) received a sizable refresh this time around, moving the system into a more modern stage that helps it reclaim its spot as one of the best convertibles on the market. The new 16:10 displays are a major step forward, with the UHD+ version I tested offering full color reproduction, tons of brightness, and not a lot of glare. The fact that you can rotate the screen around, pull out the integrated active pen, and jot down some notes adds a ton of versatility to a laptop that’s already quite agile.

4.5
out of 5

Typing and pointing on the X1 Yoga are anything but frustrating. This is a laptop built with productivity in mind; it will not stand in your way. Port selection has been updated (although the Ethernet extension adapter is gone and there’s no SD card reader) with Thunderbolt 4, performance hardware is faster than ever, battery lasts longer, and zero-touch login has the laptop ready to go almost instantly. Optional 4G and 5G connectivity add just a bit of extra appeal for anyone who needs to remain in touch at all times.

Not only is the laptop packed with secure and practical features, but it also has the looks to fit in just about anywhere. The aluminum body doesn’t have the usual black touchpad finish which some purists may dislike, but the Storm Grey is a nice middle ground for a laptop that wants to be both a reliable business partner and a nimble Ultrabook. If you’re shopping around for a premium convertible PC that sits on both sides of that fence, the X1 Yoga (Gen 6) is an easy recommendation.

Change is good

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6)

Sixth-gen updates to the ThinkPad X1 Yoga move it back into place as one of the best convertible PCs on the market. If you want security, durability, and practicality, it should be seriously considered.

From $1,320 at Lenovo

$2,219 at Amazon

$2,100 at Newegg

Review: The ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6) gets a lot right after a big refresh

SolarWinds hack compromised U.S. attorneys' offices' Microsoft 365 accounts

The hackers behind the SolarWinds attack gained access to data from 27 U.S. Attorneys’ offices.

What you need to know

The U.S. Department of Justice shared information on the scope of the SolarWinds attacks.
27 U.S. Attorneys’ offices had at least one employee with a compromised Microsoft 365 account.
At least 80% of employees working in the Eastern, Northern, Southern, and Western Districts of New York U.S. Attorneys’ offices had accounts compromised.

The U.S. Department of Justice shared details regarding how the SolarWinds attack affected federal offices. 27 U.S. Attorneys’ offices had at least one employee with a Microsoft 365 account compromised in connection to the SolarWinds attack. Compromised data includes sent, received, and stored emails, as well as email attachments.

“The Department is responding to this incident as if the Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) group responsible for the SolarWinds breach had access to all email communications and attachments found within the compromised O365 accounts,” says the U.S. Department of Justice.”

It’s believed that attackers had access to compromised accounts from approximately May 7 to December 27, 2020.

The U.S. Department of Justice shared a long list of offices that had one or more employees with Microsoft 365 accounts compromised in connection to the SolarWinds attacks:

Central District of California
Northern District of California
District of Columbia
Northern District of Florida
Middle District of Florida
Southern District of Florida
Northern District of Georgia
District of Kansas
District of Maryland
District of Montana
District of Nevada
District of New Jersey
Eastern District of New York
Northern District of New York
Southern District of New York
Western District of New York
Eastern District of North Carolina
Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Middle District of Pennsylvania
Western District of Pennsylvania
Northern District of Texas
Southern District of Texas
Western District of Texas
District of Vermont
Eastern District of Virginia
Western District of Virginia
Western District of Washington

Microsoft President Brad Smith said that the SolarWinds attack was probably “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen.” The attack targeted private businesses and government agencies. Attackers were able to exploit vulnerabilities in the SolarWinds Orion software to gain access to data.

Previously, Microsoft identified 40 of its customers that were targeted by the SolarWinds attack. The U.S. Department of Justice has accused Russia of being behind the attack.

SolarWinds hack compromised U.S. attorneys' offices' Microsoft 365 accounts

Cloud infrastructure market kept growing in Q2 reaching $42B

It’s often said in baseball that a prospect has a high ceiling, reflecting the tremendous potential of a young player with plenty of room to get better. The same could be said for the cloud infrastructure market, which just keeps growing with little sign of slowing down any time soon. The market hit $42 billion in total revenue with all major vendors reporting, up $2 billion from Q1.
Synergy Research reports that the revenue grew at a speedy 39% clip, the fourth consecutive quarter that it has increased. AWS led the way per usual, but Microsoft continued growing at a rapid pace and Google also kept the momentum going.
AWS continues to defy market logic, actually increasing growth by 5% over the previous quarter at 37%, an amazing feat for a company with the market maturity of AWS. That accounted for $14.81 billion in revenue for Amazon’s cloud division, putting it close to a $60 billion run rate, good for a market leading 33% share. While that share has remained fairly steady for a number of years, the revenue continues to grow as the market pie grows ever larger.
Microsoft grew even faster at 51%, and while Microsoft cloud infrastructure data isn’t always easy to nail down, with 20% of market share according to Synergy Research, that puts it at $8.4 billion as it continues to push upward with revenue up from $7.8 billion last quarter.
Google too continued its slow and steady progress under the leadership of Thomas Kurian, leading the growth numbers with a 54% increase in cloud revenue in Q2 on revenue of $4.2 billion, good for 10% market share, the first time Google Cloud has reached double figures in Synergy’s quarterly tracking data. That’s up from $3.5 billion last quarter.
Image Credits: Synergy Research
After the Big 3, Alibaba held steady over Q1 at 6% (but will only report this week) with IBM falling a point from Q1 to 4% as Big Blue continues to struggle in pure infrastructure as it makes the transition to more of a hybrid cloud management player.
John Dinsdale, chief analyst at Synergy, says that the big three are spending big to help fuel this growth. “Amazon, Microsoft and Google in aggregate are typically investing over $25 billion in capex per quarter, much of which is going towards building and equipping their fleet of over 340 hyperscale data centers,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile Canalys had similar numbers, but saw the overall market slightly higher at $47 billion. Their market share broke down to Amazon with 31%, Microsoft with 22% and Google with 8% of that total number.
Canalys analyst Blake Murray says that part of the reason companies are shifting workloads to the clouds is to help achieve environmental sustainability goals as the cloud vendors are working toward using more renewable energy to run their massive data centers.
“The best practices and technology utilized by these companies will filter to the rest of the industry, while customers will increasingly use cloud services to relieve some of their environmental responsibilities and meet sustainability goals,” Murray said in a statement.
Regardless of whether companies are moving to the cloud to get out of the data center business or because they hope to piggyback on the sustainability efforts of the big 3, companies are continuing a steady march to the cloud. With some estimates of worldwide cloud usage at around 25%, the potential for continued growth remains strong, especially with many markets still untapped outside the U.S.
That bodes well for the big three and for other smaller operators who can find a way to tap into slices of market share that add up to big revenue. “There remains a wealth of opportunity for smaller, more focused cloud providers, but it can be hard to look away from the eye-popping numbers coming out of the big three,” Dinsdale said.
In fact, it’s hard to see the ceiling for these companies any time in the foreseeable future.

With a $50B run rate in reach, can anyone stop AWS?

Cloud infrastructure market kept growing in Q2 reaching B

Halo Infinite's beta has PvP multiplayer for a limited time

Forget the bots. Bring on the players!

What you need to know

The first Halo Infinite technical preview began on July 29 and is scheduled to run until August 2, 1 PM ET/10 AM PT.
As a final addition to the test, 343 Industries has enabled PvP multiplayer matchmaking until 12 AM ET/9 PM PT.
Players will be able to compete against one another in 4v4 Arena across the Live Fire, Recharge, and Bazaar maps.

The first run of the Halo Infinite beta is ending soon, and as a final test, 343 Industries has chosen to briefly enable 4v4 Arena multiplayer in the game. This gives players an opportunity to try out the multiplayer against other players instead of bots, which is no doubt something that many have been waiting for.

Like the matches against bots, players will be able to duke it out across three different maps in PvP: Live Fire, Recharge, and Bazaar. All three maps have unique layouts and plenty of weapons and equipment pieces to use, and it’ll be exciting to see how well the Halo Infinite sandbox holds up in a PvP environment. Note that the PvP will only run for a short time according to 343 Industries; it’s planned to close at 12 AM ET/9 PM PT on August 1.

In my Halo Infinite hands-on preview, I said that the game’s weapon and equipment sandbox was a joy to engage with while playing against bots. Hopefully this holds true in the PvP environment as well.

Are you excited to jump into PvP? How are you liking Halo Infinite so far? Let us know. For more on the Halo Infinite beta, don’t miss our list of the Halo Infinite beta known bugs and launch issues, our Halo Infinite equipment guide, and our complete Halo Infinite weapons list. Also, check out our roundup of some of the Halo Infinite beta’s strange and goofy quirks for a good laugh. If everything goes well, these beta tests will help 343 Industries shape Halo Infinite into one of the best Xbox games ever.

The next adventure in the saga

Halo Infinite

$60 at Best Buy
See at Microsoft
See at Steam

A new Great Journey awaits

Halo Infinite is sure to be an incredible game filled with wonder, adventure, and more. Based on the beta and what was seen at E3 2021, we can’t wait for the full release.

Halo Infinite's beta has PvP multiplayer for a limited time