Xbox One wireless controller adapter now supports Windows 7 and Windows 8.1

xbox one wireless adapter for windows
After undertaking what was presumably a herculean effort, Microsoft has lifted the seemingly-arbitrary “Windows 10 only” restriction on its Xbox One wireless controller adapter and released proper Windows 7/8.1 drivers. Dongle fans, rejoice.

You might ask why Microsoft didn’t release Windows 7/8.1 drivers day-and-date with launch, considering it took them almost two years to even get this adapter to market. In response, I would point you to the increasingly annoying near-daily pop-ups now urging me to “UPGRADE TO WINDOWS 10 NOW” before my computer lights on fire/the Earth explodes/I show up to work with no pants/the government kills my family/an old ex-girlfriend calls me up to break up with me a second time/Adam Sandler gets to make another movie.

Relax, Microsoft.

The point is, for $25 you—meaning the hypothetical Windows 7/Windows 8.1 user reading this article—can now experience the joys of a wire-free controller for the first time in almost a decade, given that Microsoft stopped selling the equivalent Xbox 360 adapter quite a long time ago.

No word yet on whether the wireless adapter’s box will continue to be festooned with a conspicuous black bar that says “Windows 10,” though I guess Microsoft at least showed a measure of foresight by not branding the box with “Windows 10 only.” Almost like they knew Windows 7/8.1 support was on the way the whole time.

Age of Empires: World Domination Launched for Android and iOS

Age of Empires: World Domination, the second touch-based release of the popular video game franchise, has finally seen the light of day and is now available to the public after being announced over a year ago. It is available for both Android and iOS, via the respective stores in select regions.

The game comes from Singapore-based developer KLab Games and is produced in collaboration with series owner Microsoft. You can choose from eight civilisations – namely Britons, Celts, Chinese, Franks, Huns, Japanese, Saracens, and Vikings – and decide to “relive” famous historic battles, engage in empire building and so forth. With the availability limited to select regions, the game has been ‘soft-launched’, and wider availability can be expected at a later date.

The Age of Empires franchise is undoubtedly one of the most popular real-time strategy (RTS) games – alongside Starcraft – having sold 20 million copies worldwide over the years.

Just like the original PC adventure, you will have “technology trees” to advance your civilisation. World Domination also expands on the “Hero” roster afforded to its earlier click-based ventures: Joan of Arc and King Arthur are among a hundred other special characters available in the mobile game.

AoE_World_Domination_Hero.jpgIf you’re new to the RTS genre and the world of touch gaming, AoE: World Domination has “guide missions” to teach you the basics. But it departs from the highly successful PC iterations in what can possibly be a bid to appeal to a newer and therefore younger crowd. You have the option to enable “auto mode” in the game and let the AI (read computer algorithms) take over.

And as has become the norm in mobile gaming, KLab has taken the “freemium” approach – free-to-play with the option to spend real money in game in exchange for virtual goods – with Age of Empires: World Domination. In-app purchases, which range from Rs. 300 to Rs. 6,200, will allow you to buy “gems”: a form of virtual currency that can speed up building a granary to increasing a Hero’s level without sending them into battle.

That is in line with the earlier spin-off undertaking – Age of Empires: Castle Siege – which was released on iOS in July this year, following a soft-launch in May.

Being a collaboration with Microsoft, you would expect to see a Windows 10 Mobile release. There is no word from the developer if that is even on the cards, and it is only available on Android and iOS devices for now.

Windows 10 November Update Resets Settings to Re-Enable Data Collection: Reports

Several Windows 10 users are complaining that the November update, which Microsoft released last month, has overwritten their previously saved privacy settings. As a result of this, many who had altered telemetry, error reporting, or any other privacy centred feature that come as part of Windows 10, have been re-enabled.

Users have taken it to Reddit to note that after installing Windows 10 on their systems, data collecting features that Microsoft enables by default in the new operating system get re-enabled. Some note that this is because the company is “literally re-installing Windows 10” on their computer as opposed to upgrading it.

“The November (Fall) Update literally reinstalls the entire operating system, which is why program defaults and a lot more end up reverting and disabled things may come back,” the top most popular comment reads. “Yeah, and what’s weird is they removed it from being pre-packaged with the ISO for a clean install. Which is like offering SP1 for Windows 7 but not slipstreaming it into a new build,” another user chimed in.

Some users of a third-party application, which lets users disable all data-harvesting features in Windows 10, have posted screenshots to reaffirm that November update has indeed reverted the settings. Understandably some users who use third-party apps to block automatic Windows updates are also facing a similar issue. A developer discovered that the settings of the application were resetting several times a day.

It is not clear exactly how valid these claims are, but a growing number of complaints do add some weight to it. We’ve reached out to Microsoft for a comment and will update the article when we hear back from them.

Panasonic HX-A1 Wearable Action Cam Launched

Panasonic India has launched the HX-A1 rugged wearable action camera at a retail price of Rs. 19,990. The camera weighs just 45 grams and is shockproof, waterproof, dustproof, and freezeproof. The main highlight of the HX-A1, which sets it apart from traditional action cameras, is its 0lux night-vision mode. This lets you record in pitch darkness, provided there is an infrared light source illuminating the scene.

The HX-A1 packs in a 3.5-megapixel, 1/3-inch MOS sensor with an f/2.8 aperture. It has the ability to shoot full-HD resolution videos at 30fps, HD slow-motion videos at 60fps or 480p video at 120fps. You can add more storage of up to 128GB through a microSD card slot. The camera has IP68 certification, built-in Wi-Fi to control it remotely, and can be mounted onto goggles, bags, helmets, or a tripod. You can even add other optional accessories like a handlebar mount, extended battery, a clip mount or a head mount.

The HX-A1 works with Panasonic’s accompanying smartphone app, which lets you preview your pictures and share them instantly. You can also use Wi-Fi to pair it with its 2015 range of camcorders for a twin-cam setup or connect it to your computer and use it as a webcam. The loop recording mode lets you continuously record for more than an hour by retaining the most recent scenes and deleting the older ones. It can do this by managing the video in two-minute segments.

System Shock 3 Teased by OtherSide Entertainment

After years of speculation, it seems we are one step closer to a third entry in the System Shock franchise. On Tuesday, US developer OtherSide Entertainment tweeted out a link to a website which teased the reveal of System Shock 3 via a countdown that is set to expire over four days from now – indicating a Monday announcement.

The developer was in the news earlier this year after it successfully crowdfunded Underworld Ascendant, which will serve as a sequel to Ultima Underworld – a critically-acclaimed 1992 first-person role-playing video game (RPG) – which has come to be regarded as the ancestor to all modern day three-dimensional RPGs such as the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series.

System Shock’s own sequel – the 1999 System Shock II produced by Looking Glass Studios – was itself a critical hit. Although it failed to perform commercially, it has achieved cult status with fans clamouring for a sequel ever since. But after Looking Glass’ parent company went down in 2000, the rights to the franchise had been stuck in a legal battle between Electronic Arts (EA) and an insurance group that had acquired all assets of Looking Glass, including System Shock.

But in November this year, Night Dive Studios – a company known for obtaining rights to classic video games – released an “enhanced edition” of the original 1992 game and said then they had acquired rights to the franchise.

For now, it’s unclear if they have any connections with OtherSide Entertainment who teased a reveal of System Shock 3 on Tuesday. Fans will be happy to know though that the founder of OtherSide is Paul Neurath, a veteran in the video game industry, having overseen titles such as Thief, Flight Unlimited, and of course Ultima Underworld.

But there has been no mention of Ken Levine, Warren Spector or Doug Church; three individuals who were not just vital to the success of the franchise but have been crucial to the world of video gaming itself.

Since the release of System Shock 2, Levine has gone on to write and create BioShock and BioShock Infinite. Spector meanwhile was the brains the award-winning Deus Ex, and Church has worked with EA and is now at Valve.

System Shock 2 garnered over a dozen awards the year it came out, with seven “Game of the Year” prizes among them. There is understandably heavy excitement then for its sequel, and you can expect a lot of fans to be waiting with bated breath for Monday morning to arrive.

Playing 3D Video Games Can Boost Memory Formation: Study

Are you hooked to 3D video games? Well, if yes, that may not be too bad as new research reveals that playing 3D video games, besides being lots of fun, can also boost the formation of memories.

Along with adding to the trove of research that shows these games can improve eye-hand coordination and reaction time, this finding shows the potential for novel virtual approaches to helping people who lose memory as they age or suffer from dementia.

For their research, University of California-Irvine neurobiologists Craig Stark and Dane Clemenson recruited non-gamer college students to play either a video game with a passive, two-dimensional environment (Angry Birds) or one with an intricate, 3D setting (Super Mario 3D World) for 30 minutes per day over two weeks.

Before and after the two-week period, the students took memory tests that engaged the brain’s hippocampus, the region associated with complex learning and memory.

They were given a series of pictures of everyday objects to study. Then they were shown images of the same objects, new ones and others that differed slightly from the original items and asked to categorize them.

Recognition of the slightly altered images requires the hippocampus, Stark said.

Students playing the 3D video game improved their scores on the memory test, while the 2D gamers did not.

Memory performance increased by 12 percent, the same amount it normally decreases between the ages of 45 and 70.

“First, the 3D games have a few things the 2D ones do not. They’ve got a lot more spatial information in there to explore. Second, they’re much more complex, with a lot more information to learn,” said Clemenson.

Either way, we know this kind of learning and memory not only stimulates but requires the hippocampus,” he added.

The study appeared in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Netgear Nighthawk X8 Wi-Fi Router With Active Antennas Launched

Netgear Inc, a US-based global networking company, on Wednesday launched the Nighthawk X8 Wi-Fi router in India. The company claims the router to be the industry’s first to feature ‘Active Antennas’ to increase wireless range. It is set to hit shelves starting next month, priced at Rs. 27,000.

The Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Smart Wi-Fi Router (R8500) as mentioned by the firm delivers combined Wi-Fi speed of up to 5.3Gbps (1000Mbps + 2166Mbps + 2166Mbps). The quad-stream, tri-band router is said to come powered by a 1.4GHz dual core processor and support six Gigabit Ethernet ports. Two of the six ports can be “aggregated to double the gigabit connection to a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device,” adds Netgear.

The router features Smart Connect functionality that automatically segments “slower and faster devices into the most appropriate Wi-Fi band.” Users can also segment traffic based on devices or application. It recognises each application and the device it is running on to monitor their network traffic accordingly using the Dynamic QoS feature. The company says the Nighthawk X8 includes a total of eight antennas, which include four internal and four patent-pending external Active Antennas. The role of Active Antennas is to amplify the Wi-Fi signal within the external antenna for long-range connectivity.

“Nighthawk X8 is the next wave in Wi-Fi and is for people who crave the absolute best networking experience possible today. Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Wi-Fi helps provide sufficient bandwidth for the increasing number of devices in the home and cutting-edge Wave 2 AC provides the best Wifi performance” said Subhodeep Bhattacharya, Regional Director, India & SAARC, and Netgear during the launch.

iPad Pro, New Apple TV Price in India and Availability Details

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Apple is ready to release the iPad Pro in India. While Apple has not made an official announcement, The Quint outed the prices on Wednesday.

Gadgets 360 has independently verified from sources in the supply chain that the iPad Pro starts at Rs. 67,900 for the 32GB Wi-Fi only model. The 128GB Wi-Fi model will cost Rs. 79,900, while the 128GB Wi-Fi + cellular model will be priced at Rs. 91,900. Official Apple retailers in India are receiving iPad Pro stock this week.

Gadgets 360 understands the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard will not launch in India right now due to supply constraints that have impacted their availability across the globe.

The iPad Pro comes with a 12.9-inch 2732×2048 pixel display, giving you more than 5.6 million pixels to play with. It is powered by a new “desktop class” A9X chip, which is 1.8X times faster than its predecessor in CPU tasks. Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President Worldwide Marketing at Apple claimed at the tablet’s launch back in September that the iPad Pro is faster than majority of the PCs that shipped in the last six months. Apple says the new iPad Pro is powerful enough to edit three 4K streams at once.

New Apple TV

We also have information about the India price of the new Apple TV, which, Gadgets 360 understands, is already in stock with several Apple dealers across the country. The new Apple TV with Siri costs Rs. 13,500 for the 32GB model and Rs. 17,900 for the 64GB variant.

The new Apple TV comes with an app store and a voice-controlled remote control with support for Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant.

Assassin’s Creed Travels to 19th-Century India in January

We knew Ubisoft was going around the world when it released the first Assassin’s Creed Chronicles in March this year, it’s the side-scrolling spin-off to its popular and varied open-world stealth video game franchise.

In an official blog post on Tuesday, the publisher announced that the two yet to arrive chapters in Chronicles – India and Russia – have release dates. The Indian chapter will release on January 12 next year, followed by the Russian one a month later. Both will be released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

The first episode was set in 16th century China during the Ming Dynasty. Moving forward three hundred years for the Indian episode, Ubisoft is taking us to 1841 – more than a decade before the revolt of 1857.

Players will be dropped right in the midst of the “tension between Sikh empire and East India Company”, Anne Lewis, Communication Specialist at Ubisoft wrote in the blog. You will get to play as Arbaaz Mir, a character that was first introduced in Assassin’s Creed: Brahman, a graphic novel published in 2013. With the series’ final instalment set in Russia, we jump to 20th century with Nikolai Orelov who also appeared as part of two comic publications, Assassin’s Creed: The Fall, and Assassin’s Creed: The Chain over four years ago.

The story is as follows: Nikolai’s affiliation with the Brotherhood is coming to an end and in his last mission he must escape with the princess of the Tsar family. Over in India, Arbaaz “must protect his friends and lover while trying to recover a mysterious Assassin item”. As usual, both chapters continue the Assassins’ century-spanning fight with the Templars. If you didn’t catch the first episode and would rather play it all in one go, you will also be able to buy the entire series altogether on February 9 – same day as the release of the Russian episode – as a bundle.

And if you’re the unlucky one among your friends with a PlayStation Vita, you’re in luck. The trilogy bundle will arrive on the portable console on April 5.

Free Online Multiplayer on the PS4 This Weekend

Last generation, one of the biggest reasons to own a PlayStation 3 (PS3) was the fact that you didn’t have to pay to play games with online multiplayer. This time around though, you have to pay Sony for the privilege of doing so on the PS4. With so many games sporting an online multiplayer component, it’s hard not to imagine anyone without a PlayStation Plus (PS Plus) subscription. Even if you aren’t the sort to play online regularly, it’s well worth it for the games you get access to each month.

Nonetheless, Sony wants to let those without a PS Plus subscription to realise what they’re missing out on. The company announced that from December 11, 12:01am PST (1:31pm IST) to December 13, 11:59pm PST (December 14, 1:29pm IST), all PS4 owners can play online multiplayer for free.

“To get started, log on to PlayStation Network during the free weekend period, launch your favourite multiplayer game, and you’ll instantly have access to multiplayer with your friends,” said Andy Lum of Sony Computer Entertainment America on the PlayStation Blog.

“There’s no membership commitment required to try out online multiplayer during this period.”

Considering that popular shooters like Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Star Wars Battlefront have seen most of their user base on the PS4, it appears that Sony wants to go for the jugular and ensure all PS4 users get to check out the benefits of online play.