Categories
Computing

How to use clipboard history in Windows

The Windows clipboard history is a useful tool for looking back on something you copied and pasted not too long ago. Operating systems like Windows use the clipboard to help store text and images that you have copied in the past, and the clipboard history stores everything you’ve been working with recently. The clipboard can hold up to 25 of your most recent copies in its history, but the latest versions of Windows don’t make it very clear how to enable and use the clipboard history.

Here’s how to use the Windows clipboard history.

How to use clipboard history on Windows

Step 1: Using the search box in your Windows taskbar, search for “settings.” When the app appears in the results window, select it.

Step 2: Select System to continue.

Select System to continue.

Step 3: In the left-side menu, select Clipboard to show all the clipboard settings.

Clipboard Settings in Windows.

Step 4: Find the option to enable clipboard history and toggle it on.

Step 5: Now, whenever you are working, you can press the Windows + V keys on your keyboard. This will bring up a side window that will show you the last copies that you have made, in chronological order. Find the copy that you want, and select it to paste that content into whatever you are working on at the time.

Clipboard History Popup on Windows.

Step 6: When selecting copied content, you’ll see options to “pin” individual copied content (again, this will look a bit different depending on your version of Windows, but the menu is there either way). Pinning a copied bit of content will save it in your clipboard history for the long term. Then, even when you choose to clear your clipboard, the pinned content will stay, ready to be pasted whenever you need.

This important Windows shortcut is useful if there’s a certain template or similar block of information that you end up pasting very frequently. Pin that content so you’ll always have access to it when you need it.

Clipboard History Additional Menu.

Step 7: The clipboard settings section also has a few other options you may want to consider to make your work easier. You’ll notice there’s also a Share or Sync option you can use (depending on your version of Windows). This allows you to set up pasting from another device to the Windows computer you are using. In other words, you can copy something on your Surface laptop, then move to a desktop PC and paste it into a project you are working on. You just need to make sure that you are signed into the same Microsoft account. Note that if you choose the Clear all option, it will clear all content on either device.

If you want to save even more time working on Windows, you may be interested in our guide on Microsoft Word tips that can make your projects a lot easier.

Editors’ Choice




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Computing

Google just thwarted the largest HTTPS DDoS attack in history

Google has confirmed that one of its cloud customers was targeted with the largest HTTPS distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack ever reported.

As reported by Bleeping Computer, a Cloud Armor client was on the receiving end of an attack that totaled 46 million requests per second (RPS) at its peak.

Getty Images

The aforementioned figure means it’s the largest such attack in history — it’s more than double the previous record holder (up by nearly 80%, to be exact); a 26 million RPS attempt blocked by Cloudflare during June.

The latest incident commenced on June 1 with an initial goal of directing 10,000 RPS toward the HTTP/S Load Balancer. Within eight minutes, that number increased ten-fold to 100,000 RPS, triggering Google’s Cloud Armor Protection by creating an alert derived from traffic analysis data.

Once the ten-minute mark was reached, an unprecedented 46 million requests per second were being sent toward the victim.

These numbers may not mean much to those who aren’t familiar with the nature of HTTPS DDoS attacks, but for reference, Google stated that it was equal to receiving all daily requests Wikipedia receives in the span of 10 seconds.

With the target performing Cloud Armor’s recommended rule for this situation, its operations were able to continue without being affected.

A depiction of a hacker using a laptop.

The sheer amount of traffic that was being sent toward the cloud service lasted for more than an hour. “Presumably the attacker likely determined they were not having the desired impact while incurring significant expenses to execute the attack,” Google said in its report.

Researchers from Google detailed that traffic from the HTTPS DDoS incident was delivered via 5,256 IP addresses situated across 132 countries. And it wasn’t carried out by an amateur; due to the use of encrypted requests (HTTPS), devices involved in the operation could theoretically have been backed by powerful computing resources.

As for the specific type of malware connected to the attack, Google was unable to identify an exact name. That said, analyzing where the onslaught emerged from indicates the involvement of Mēris, which is a botnet behind two previous DDoS record holders (17.2 million RPS and 21.8 million RPS, respectively).

Prior to Google’s report on the new record, the largest ​​HTTPS DDoS attack in history — achieved via a botnet of 5,067 devices — was recorded by DDoS mitigation company Cloudflare.

DDoS assaults in general are on the rise, with Cloudflare reporting a 175% increase in such incidents during the fourth quarter of 2021 alone. Microsoft itself managed to prevent the largest DDoS attack ever (not to be confused with HTTPS DDoS), which reached 3.47 terabits per second.

Editors’ Choice




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Security

Hackers just launched the largest HTTPS DDoS attack in history

The largest ​​HTTPS distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack in history materialized last week, Cloudflare has confirmed.

Cloudflare, which specializes in DDoS mitigation, announced that it successfully prevented the record-breaking onslaught before it could inflict any real damage.

Getty Images

As reported by Bleeping Computer, the company revealed that it recorded a 26 million requests per second distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

It should be stressed that this is an HTTPS-based DDoS attempt as opposed to the more traditional, standard DDoS attacks. In any case, the intended target was a Cloudflare client utilizing the service’s Free plan.

Bleeping Computer explains that the perpetrator probably relied on hijacked servers and virtual machines due to the fact that the attack stemmed from Cloud Service Providers.

Interestingly, ​​whoever was behind the attack managed to concentrate all its firepower with a botnet of 5,067 devices, which is a relatively small number considering the scale of the assault. Every single device was capable of delivering around 5,200 requests per second (rps) at its peak.

“To contrast the size of this botnet, we’ve been tracking another much larger but less powerful botnet of over 730,000 devices,” said Cloudflare product manager Omer Yoachimik. “The latter, larger botnet wasn’t able to generate more than one million requests per second, i.e., roughly 1.3 requests per second on average per device. Putting it plainly, this botnet was, on average, 4,000 times stronger due to its use of virtual machines and servers.

A HTTP DDoS attack that was recorded during August 2021 saw around 17.2 million requests per second being generated. More recently, a mitigated 15.3 million rps attack that occurred in April 2022 saw around 6,000 bots being used in order to infiltrate a Cloudflare client who was running a crypto launchpad.

“HTTPS DDoS attacks are more expensive in terms of required computational resources because of the higher cost of establishing a secure TLS encrypted connection,” Yoachimik added. “Therefore, it costs the attacker more to launch the attack, and for the victim to mitigate it. We’ve seen very large attacks in the past over (unencrypted) HTTP, but this attack stands out because of the resources it required at its scale.”

Specifically, the botnet that was put to work in the unprecedented 26 million rps DDoS attack managed to deliver over an astronomical 212 million HTTPS requests within a period of just 30 seconds. This was achieved due to requests stemming from more than 1,500 networks located in 121 countries around the globe.

2022 in particular has seen hackers and threat actors intensify their DDoS attack efforts. Microsoft, for example, halted the largest DDoS attack ever recorded (3.47 terabits per second), while Cloudflare itself stated that this category of cybercrime is aggressively progressing.

Cyber criminal activity in general is on the rise across the board — ransomware gangs have found new ways to evolve their operations, zero-day hacks (described as “one of the most advanced attack methods”) are showing no signs of slowing down, and sensitive information is easily exposed and sold.

Microsoft has even launched an initiative as a response to the increasingly growing threat of cybercrime by offering its in-house security services to businesses.

Editors’ Choice




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Security

A series of patent lawsuits is challenging the history of malware detection

In early March, cybersecurity firm Webroot and its parent company OpenText launched a series of patent litigation containing some eye-opening claims. Filed March 4th in the famously patentholder-friendly Western District of Texas court, the four lawsuits claim that techniques fundamental to modern malware detection are based on patented technology — and that the company’s competitors are infringing on intellectual property rights with their implementation of network security software.

The defendants named in the suits are a who’s who of security companies: CrowdStrike, Kaspersky, Sophos, and Trend Micro are all named. According to OpenText, the companies are using patented technology in their anti-malware applications, specifically in the endpoint security systems that protect specific devices on a network. It’s a sweeping lawsuit that puts much of the security industry in immediate danger. And, for critics, it’s a bitter reminder of how much damage a patent troll can still do.

So far, endpoint security companies have shown fierce opposition to the very idea of the case. A Kaspersky spokesperson said that the company is “reviewing the issue” but did not offer any further comment on the case.

Sara Eberle, vice president of global public relations at Sophos, was more forthcoming, telling The Verge that the company would fight the lawsuit: “Sophos prefers to compete in the marketplace rather than in the courtroom, but we will vigorously defend ourselves in this litigation,” Eberle said. “We invite Webroot and OpenText to join the ranks of serious cybersecurity companies that are trying to solve problems rather than create them.”

Responses from Trend Micro COO Kevin Simzer and CrowdStrike’s senior director of corporate communications Kevin Benacci went further: both accused OpenText of “patent trolling” in statements sent to The Verge.

Made notorious by companies like Intellectual Ventures, “patent trolling” refers to the practice of buying up patents for use in litigation rather than research and development. The end result is a drag on anyone building technology — but it can be quite lucrative for companies who can play the game well.

But OpenText insists the lawsuits are about protecting intellectual property. In response to the defendants’ comments, OpenText’s chief communications officer Jennifer Bell said that the lawsuits were being brought to defend the company against unfair and unlawful actions from its competitors. “OpenText brings these lawsuits to protect its intellectual property investments and to hold these parties accountable for their infringement and unlawful competition,” Bell said. “These lawsuits allege that defendants infringe and unlawfully compete against aspects of the OpenText family of companies’ endpoint security products and platforms. OpenText intends to vigorously enforce its intellectual property rights.”

Charles Duan, a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University and specialist in intellectual property law, described possible outcomes that could range from financial redress to an effective ban on the infringing software should the plaintiff win the case.

“The court can issue a number of remedies here,” Duan said. “One of them is an injunction: they could say that all these other companies who are using the patented technology have to stop doing so. They can also issue money damages, basically saying that these companies have to compensate the company for using their patented technology.”

But simple economics suggest that the most likely outcome is a settlement: a fact that points to the incentives for bringing even flimsy patent suits and highlights the material basis for patent trolling.

“As a practical matter, a lot of these cases never actually get to that point [of judgment] just because the cost of litigation makes it not worth going through a whole trial, even if the patent is very questionable or it seems likely that the companies don’t infringe,” Duan said.

Though the lawsuit is being brought in 2022, a judgment would hinge in part on whether the techniques described in the patent were widely known at the time that the patent application was filed. One of the patents at the heart of the suit — US Patent No. 8,418,250, referred to as “the ‘250 patent” in the lawsuit — was granted in the United States in 2013 but first issued by the British patent office in 2005. Another, US Patent No. 8,726,389 or the ‘389 patent, was also issued in the UK in 2005 and granted in the US in 2014.

Even taking into account the age of the patents, some experts are clear that the techniques described in them are overly broad. Joe Mullin, senior policy analyst at Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), told The Verge that some of the features in the patent were potentially too abstract to be unpatentable:

“The ‘389 patent claims very basic behavior that could be performed with a pen and paper,” Mullin said. “It simply describes ‘receiving data’ then ‘correlating’ and ‘classifying’ the data, ‘comparing’ the data to other computer objects, and then classifying something as malware (or not) based on that comparison.”

“A core principle of patent law is that you can’t get a monopoly on an ‘abstract idea,’ because that would take away too much from the public and not represent a real invention by the patent holder. This patent should be found invalid because it concerns ‘abstract ideas,’” Mullin said.

But where critics see a broad patent, OpenText paints the case as an argument about the evolution of network security itself. In its complaint filed against Trend Micro, OpenText argues that where malware detection used to rely on a categorization of what a program is, the patented technology is based on analysis of what a program does. Instead of matching file data to a library of known viruses, modern endpoint security looks at actions performed within a computer system. As a result, this kind of malware detection can flag and contain previously unseen examples of malicious software. It’s a real shift in the way companies approach endpoint security. And, according to OpenText, the shift traces back to the patents listed in the case.

Opponents to these claims — including not only the defendants but also cybersecurity researchers who have criticized the lawsuits online — take issue with the broadness of the argument, alleging that the patented technology reflects general developments in the evolution of malware detection over time. (As a strategy, patent trolling relies on this kind of generality: according to EFF, an overworked US Patent and Trademark Office has issued “a flood of bad patents on so-called inventions that are unoriginal, vague, overbroad, and/or so unclear that bad actors can easily use them to threaten all kinds of innovators.”)

What’s more, opposition to the lawsuits may be based on the fact that OpenText was not involved in the research that created the patent: instead, through acquisition of Carbonite, which had previously acquired Webroot, OpenText came to own a number of patents that were assigned to the smaller cybersecurity firm. Having bought the company that controlled the original patents, OpenText now has valuable IP and a chance to extract value from it — regardless of skepticism over whether the techniques described in the patents can really be traced back to innovations developed by one group of researchers.

There are still some protections for defendants. Where patents are overly vague, the fight against them can happen in venues other than the courtroom — with one other option being an appeal to the patent office, Charles Duan explained. “There are proceedings that were created about 10 years ago, they go by the name of inter partes review or post-grant review, and these give companies the chance to argue to the patent office that when the office granted the patents they made a mistake,” Duan said. “That is probably an avenue that some of these security companies will be interested in pursuing.”

In a post-grant review process, companies attempt to convince the patent office that the techniques described in the patent should actually be considered unpatentable. If that argument is successful — and the patent office returns a decision before the trial date — then the basis for the lawsuit falls apart. But, since any delay could prove extremely costly, some companies can’t take the risk of waiting for that decision.

In the meantime, critics of the current patent system will see the OpenText lawsuits as exemplary of an intellectual property framework that stifles innovation rather than promoting it.

“What may be going on here is that [OpenText] is not really trying to stop these companies, and more that they’re signaling they will put up a fight before settling at some point,” said Duan.



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Categories
Game

The Fascinating History Of Nintendo

For those of you out there who might not recognize the name, you probably know him better as (one of) the creator(s) of Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. Though he can’t be showered with all of the credit for those games by himself, it was his contributions of concentrating on gameplay rather than high scores, and employing a non-linear approach, which eventually made those games into the groundbreaking classics they became.

He drew his inspiration from his experiences as a boy gallivanting around Kyoto, where he explored nearby fields, woods, and caves; each game he worked on embodies this sense of exploration.

“When I was a child”, Miyamoto said, “I went hiking and found a lake. It was quite a surprise for me to stumble upon it. When I traveled around the country without a map, trying to find my way, stumbling on amazing things as I went, I realized how it felt to go on an adventure like this.” 

To top off this experience, his family’s home with its maze of sliding doors provided the necessary inspiration for Zelda’s labyrinthine dungeons. (Via “The History of Zelda” accessed through Gamespot).

Speaking of groundbreaking… in all this excitement over iconic characters, we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves here. Let’s back up a little to take a look at the system which would give these creations a platform to truly shine…

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Categories
Game

The History of the Madden Curse

More than 20 years into the iconic franchise’s history, there’s almost no escaping the Madden Curse. Since Garrison Hearst broke his ankle in 1998 shortly after appearing on the cover of Madden NFL 99, most of the players who starred on the game’s cover have suffered an injury the following season. Of the 22 players who have been selected to grace the cover of Madden games, 16 have had troubling or abruptly shortened seasons following their cover debut — including several who suffered season-ending injuries shortly after their game hit shelves.

EA Sports continues to dismiss any serious talk of a curse hovering over its wildly successful franchise and attributed the rash of injuries and other negative, post-cover issues to an athlete’s natural regression after a season of peak performance. They’re probably right. Madden NFL 21 gave us another chance to test the curse. Lamar Jackson seemingly passed the test, but the injury bug has plagued the Ravens backfield a season later in the form of season-ending injuries to all their running backs.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes survived his first cover appearance in Madden NFL 20, but things haven’t looked too bright in the 2021/22 season. Madden NFL 22 marks the first time since Madden NFL 10 that two players shared the cover. However, Madden NFL 22 is the first game to feature two cover players who’ve been previously featured on Madden covers. Tom Brady appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 18, The Goat Edition. Brady also survived his Madden Curse. Instead, he was bitten with the Season MVP curse, an award that cost him Super Bowl wins against the Giants during the 07/08 season and the Eagles during the 2017/18 season.

Madden NFL 22

Cover athletes: Tom Brady (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Patrick Mahomes II (Kansas City Chiefs)

The road to the cover

Brady’s record-setting career speaks for itself. Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes is routinely inserted into the G.O.A.T conversation, often referred to as the “mini-goat.” There is no superstar combo more deserving of a shared Madden cover than Brady/Mahomes. Brady proved he wasn’t just a system quarterback as he led the Tamp Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win over Mahomes’ Chiefs. Meanwhile, Mahomes proved that nobody could keep up with the 2020/21 Chief’s offensive firepower. Both made their way onto the cover, but both are having very different seasons in 2022.

An evolving curse?

Their meeting in Super Bowl 55 culminated in Brady throwing three touchdown passes while Mahomes ran for his life in the backfield. It was here that, perhaps, the Madden NFL 20 curse finally bit Patrick Mahomes. Injuries to the Chief’s offensive line allowed Tampa Bay’s pass rush to have a field day against Mahomes. In the 2021/22 season, Kansas City has (so far) looked like a shell of their former selves. Mahomes (as of week 10) has the third-most interceptions in the league behind Joe Burrow and Sam Darnold. While physical injuries haven’t plagued the Chief’s superstar, his reputation as a magic-maker has taken a hit.

Meanwhile, in Tampa Bay, Brady’s favorite weapon has been dealing with a rib injury since week 3. Rob Gronkowski has had a career full of injuries, so his inconsistent playtime is something Brady is used to.

Madden NFL 21

Lamar Jackson on the cover of Madden 21.

Cover athlete: Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens)

The road to the cover

Lamar Jackson started his NFL career in 2018, selected as the 32nd pick of the first round of the 2018 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Serving as relief for starting quarterback Joe Flacco, Jackson eventually moved to the starting position once Flacco was injured. In his debut game as an NFL starting quarterback, Jackson rushed 117 yards, setting a franchise record for the Ravens.

Throughout the season into the next, Jackson set even more records, including being the youngest starting quarterback in a playoff game. Following the end of the season, the Ravens redesigned their offensive strategy, centering it around Jackson’s skill set. Flacco, who Jackson replaced, was traded to the Denver Broncos for the 2019 season.

Jackson’s 2019 season was even more impressive, earning a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in his opening game. Throughout the season, Jackson set a number of records, including being the first player in the NFL to pass more than 250 yards and rush 120 yards in a single game. At the end of the season, Jackson earned the title of MVP, being the only player other than Tom Brady to earn the title from a unanimous vote.

The curse doesn’t strike

Jackson has continued to frustrate defenses in the NFL and in Madden. The curse never bit Jackson by means of personal injury, but the 2021/22 Baltimore Ravens backfield was stricken with several season-ending injuries. They say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Tom Brady put the Madden curse in its place by making it to the Super Bowl that year. Perhaps the curse has found new and indirect ways to impose its will. Jackson’s appearance and Mahome’s most recent appearance indicate a “cover skip” trend brewing, similar to how certain traits can skip a generation.

Madden NFL 20

Patrick Mahomes on the cover of Madden 20.

Cover athlete: Patrick Mahomes II (Kansas City Chiefs)

The road to the cover

Selected as the 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes backed up Alex Smith in his rookie season. In the one game he appeared, he threw for nearly 300 yards. The Chiefs traded Smith to the Redskins following the 2017 season, opening the door for Mahomes to be the starter in Kansas City.

No one could’ve predicted the monster season Mahomes would have in 2018. In the regular season, Mahomes lit up defenses to the tune of 5,097 yards and 50 TDs to just 12 interceptions. Thanks to Mahomes’ keen accuracy and cannon of an arm, the Chiefs had one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL. He led the Chiefs to the AFC Championship game, where he played well but ultimately took the loss to the Tom Brady led Patriots.

Mahomes gracing the cover shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. For his 2018 season, he won NFL MVP, NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and numerous other accolades. He’s one of the rising stars in the NFL and already one of the best quarterbacks in the league. We’ll see if he can keep the stat sheet filled and avoid the curse come football season.

The curse strikes, then it doesn’t

It looked like Mahomes may have been struck with the Madden Curse remarkably early. The Kansas City Chiefs announced on October 17 that Mahomes was out with a knee injury.

However, it did not end up being nearly as serious as Chiefs fans feared, and Mahomes would end up missing less than a month before returning to action. During his absence, the Chiefs only lost one game, and ultimately finished the season at 12-4. During 2019, Mahomes threw 26 touchdown passes and only five interceptions. His shortened season means he likely won’t be awarded the NFL MVP award, but he was still dominant on the field for much of that time.

Mahomes would eventually lead the Chiefs through the playoffs and into the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers. He started the game in poor form, missing several important passes and throwing two interceptions by the time the game ended. However, in the fourth quarter, he turned it into high gear, hitting several targets and staying alive in the pocket to keep drives going. The Chiefs ultimately defeated the 49ers 31-20 despite the early deficit, and Mahomes was named the game’s MVP. It’s arguable that he wasn’t actually the best-performing player in the game, especially when accounting for the first half, but his ability to come from behind was on full display.

Madden NFL 19

Antonio Brown on the cover of Madden 19.

Cover athlete: Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers)

The road to the cover

Antonio Brown originally began his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010 at a time when the team was loaded with other star wide receivers. Initially focused primarily on returning punts, he eventually found a place as one of the best receivers on the team, capable of playing a slot role like Hines Ward or a deep-threat role like Mike Wallace.

This versatility consistently made Brown one of the most popular targets for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and he ended the 2017 regular season with more receiving yards than anyone else in the NFL. He also happened to have nine touchdowns, with his ability to catch nearly impossible passes unrivaled in the league. Though he acts as a workhorse receiver for the Steelers, he continues to be a dangerous return threat.

Aside from his on-field dominance, Brown is also known for his dance moves. He has been penalized for excessive celebration after several of his touchdowns, though the relatively minor disciplinary action doesn’t seem to have any lasting effect on his willingness to shake his moneymaker in the endzone.

The curse doesn’t strike?

From a statistical standpoint, the Madden Curse didn’t strike Brown. He hauled in 104 passes for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns. The impressive season helped Brown continue his streak of 1,000 yard receiving seasons, which now stands at six.

Even though Brown had a good season,  Brown has had a bizarre offseason. He didn’t play in the final game of the 2018 regular season after reportedly being involved in a tense argument with Roethlisberger. Brown sat out from practice during week 17 and his tenure with the Steelers later came to an end. Brown requested to be traded during the offseason, eventually getting sent to the Oakland Raiders for draft picks that amounted to minimal compensation for the Steelers.

His tenure with the Raiders is off to an inauspicious start to say the least. After a Whole Body Cryotherapy treatment, Brown developed awful frostbite on his feet, which is extremely baffling. It’s also unfathomably ironic considering Madden runs on EA’s Frostbite engine.

Even worse: the NFL banned Brown’s preferred helmet this offseason. Apparently, he really, really likes his helmet, because he has threatened to retire if the NFL doesn’t let him wear it.

Since the Madden Curse is typically defined by performance and injury, Brown’s 2018 season doesn’t fit the criteria. But he was on the cover just last year and the ensuing offseason may sideline him for good. Not because of a serious injury — the frostbite looks worse than it is — but because of a helmet. If AB likes his helmet so much, why didn’t he wear it on the cover of Madden 19?

Madden NFL 2018

Tom Brady on the cover of Madden 18.

Cover athlete: Tom Brady (New England Patriots)

The road to the cover

Tom Brady’s now-legendary career started with humble beginnings. The former University of Michigan quarterback wasn’t picked by the Patriots until the sixth round of the NFL draft. At the start of his rookie season, Brady was the fourth quarterback on the Patriots’ depth chart, but took over as the starter midway through the following season and led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl win.

The victory was the beginning of a period of dominance that included three Super Bowl wins in four years. With Brady under center, the Patriots have been perennial Super Bowl contenders. In 2014, Brady collected his fourth Super Bowl ring, and last season, he became only the second player ever — and the first quarterback — to win five Super Bowls. Brady has amassed 13 Pro Bowl selections, three league MVP awards, and three Super Bowl MVPs.

His historic career has not been without some controversy, however. The Patriots have been involved in numerous investigations throughout his career, including the 2015 “deflategate” scandal, when Brady was accused of intentionally deflating footballs during the 2015 AFC Championship game. While some may view Brady’s legacy as tainted, on a pure numbers and accolades standpoint, Brady is the most decorated player to appear on the cover of Madden and is inarguably one of the greatest football players of all time.

The curse doesn’t strike

Before the season started, we said that if any player could defy the Madden curse, it would be Tom Brady. And guess what? Tom Brady did way more than avoiding injury or sputtering statistically, he laughed at the curse en route to one of his best seasons in the league as an 18-year veteran (he’s 40!). Brady rattled off more than 4,500 yards and 32 passing touchdowns while leading the Pats to an AFC best 13-3 record. His exceptional play earned him his third regular-season MVP award.

The all-time great continued his stellar campaign through the playoffs, including an epic comeback performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship. In Super Bowl LII, Brady threw for 505 yards and three touchdowns. Despite Brady’s great night, the Philadelphia Eagles came out on top in a thriller. While Brady’s season ended in disappointment, there’s no denying he avoided the Madden curse in a big way.

Madden NFL 2017

Rob Gronkowski on the cover of Madden 17.

Cover athlete: Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots)

The road to the cover

Injuries had been a recurring problem for prolific New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s career long before he graced the cover of Madden NFL 17, but he still managed to become one of the league’s most productive — and dominant — players at the position for several years leading up to the 2016-2017 season. A runner-up in the previous year’s Madden NFL cover selection process, Gronkowski finished the 2015-2016 season with 10 touchdowns and 1,018 yards on the season and helped lead the Patriots to the playoffs for yet another year. He capped off another excellent season by being selected to the Pro Bowl and the AP All-Pro team for the fourth time in his career.

The curse strikes

Gronkowski missed the first two games of the 2016 season with a lingering hamstring injury. He appeared sparingly in weeks three and four but didn’t start until week five against the Cleveland Browns where he racked up 109 receiving yards. He was productive in starts in the Patriots’ next five games, but in week 11 against Seattle, Gronk took suffered a pulmonary contusion after being on the receiving end of a huge hit from Seahawks DB Earl Thomas.

Gronk was kept out of the Patriots’ week 11 contest against San Francisco. He came back into the starting lineup the following week against the New York Jets, but he left the game early, before he had even caught a single pass, with a back injury. Gronk underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk, and was placed on injured reserve on December 3, 2016, where he would remain for the rest of the season. His season ended with 540 reception yards and three touchdowns on 25 catches. The superstar TE was forced to watch his Patriots win the Super Bowl from the sidelines.

Madden NFL 2016

Odell Beckham Jr. on the cover of Madden 16.

Cover athlete: Odell Beckham, Jr. (New York Giants)

The road to the cover

The 12th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. made his presence known late in the 2014 season with a memorable, one-handed touchdown reception during a Sunday night game against the Dallas Cowboys that was hailed as one of the greatest catches in NFL history.

Beckham went on to become one of the most accomplished rookie receivers in the league’s history, setting numerous records for both first-year players and veterans with a season that included 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns — all in just 12 games. He eventually beat out the New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski to adorn the cover of the next edition of Madden NFL, becoming the youngest player in the series’ history to be featured on the cover.

The curse doesn’t strike

The season after making the cover, Beckham’s season was marred by some on-field anger issues that resulted in the Giants’ receiver being suspended a game, but the incident had no discernible effect on his performance the rest of the season. Finishing the season with 1,450 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, Beckham actually recorded higher numbers than the year before and was named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl.

Madden NFL 2015

Richard Sherman on the cover of Madden 15.

Cover athlete: Richard Sherman (Seattle Seahawks)

The road to the cover

One of the league’s most dominant defensive backs in the league, Richard Sherman’s knack for shutting down offenses — and putting on a show after doing so — made him a popular (and polarizing) pick for the Madden NFL 2015 cover athlete. Capable of turning even the best wide receivers into mediocre performers, Sherman put his season on the line against the Madden Curse, going so far as to tell ESPN, “I don’t believe in curses. I believe in God.”

The curse doesn’t strike

Bucking the trend of cursed cover athletes, Sherman had another all-star performance during the 2014 season, leading Seahawks’ defense and helping Seattle return to the Super Bowl for the second consecutive season. Although the team lost against the New England Patriots in the championship game, it wasn’t due to any lack of effort — or performance — by Sherman, who recorded three tackles for the league-leading Seattle defense.

After the season, however, the Seahawks announced Sherman might need Tommy John surgery during the offseason to repair a torn ligament in his left elbow. However, Sherman later announced he would opt to heal naturally, rather than get surgery. In the end, he healed on his own in time to return to the starting lineup for the first game of the 2015 season.

Madden NFL 25

Adrian Peterson on the cover of Madden 25.

Cover athlete: Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings)

The road to the cover

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson earned Madden NFL cover honors when he returned to football after eight months of rehabilitation for an ACL and MCL tear during the 2011 season. Already a workhorse for the team before his injury, his prospects for a successful return seemed dim after he was carted off the field during a December 2011 victory over the Washington Redskins.

Peterson returned to the team in 2012 and proved all the doubters wrong by rushing for 2,097 yards throughout the season — the second-highest tally for any running back in the history of the league. His performance helped the team improve from a 3-13 record to a 10-6 finish, and earned him NFL’s Most Valuable Player award.

Editor’s note: Barry Sanders also appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 25, but only the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 releases. He was retired at the time, though, and he’d already served his Madden Curse sentence after appearing on the Madden NFL 2000 cover.

The curse strikes

While Peterson’s start to the 2013 season looked good with a 78-yard rushing touchdown on the first carry of the game, he struggled for the first half of the season with a nagging foot injury. He ended up playing only 14 games, and the team’s record dropped back down to 5-10-1 after he was declared done for the season in December due to the same, aggravated foot injury.

Madden NFL 2013

Calvin Johnson on the cover of Madden 13.

Cover athlete: Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions)

The road to the cover

Calvin “Megatron” Johnson already held nearly every record a wide receiver could have in the NFL before being named the cover athlete for Madden NFL 2013, with the former Georgia Institute of Technology standout living up to every bit of the hype that surrounded his first-round selection in the 2007 NFL draft. Johnson even managed to put up gaudy numbers during Detroit’s notorious 0-16 season in 2008, during which he led the league in receiving touchdowns and finished among the top five in receiving yards.

The curse doesn’t strike

Probably the best case against the Madden Curse, Johnson’s 2012 season was one of his best overall and featured countless records falling by the wayside as he went on to record 1,964 yards receiving throughout the season — a new NFL record that beats the previous record held by Jerry Rice.

Johnson also set or tied NFL records for 100-yard games and receptions during 2012, proving that not even an appearance on the cover of Madden NFL 2013 can stop him from being one of the best wide receivers ever to play the game.

Madden NFL 2012

Payton Hillis on the cover of Madden 12.

Cover athlete: Peyton Hillis (Cleveland Browns)

The road to the cover

A former fullback turned running back, Peyton Hillis came off the bench for the Cleveland Browns in 2010 to smash his way to 1,177 yards rushing and 477 yards receiving in a surprising season that put all eyes on the otherwise unheralded bruiser.

By the end of the season, Hillis — who had only rushed for 397 yards over two seasons in the NFL before this breakout year — was in elite territory with the likes of Marshall Faulk and other dual-threat rushers who terrorized opponents with both their catching and running abilities. In the contest to determine the Madden NFL 2012 cover athlete, Hillis was chosen over Ray Rice, Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers.

The curse strikes

Hillis’ troubles began well before the 2011 season, with heated contract disputes leading to trouble in the Cleveland clubhouse, then physical troubles that included a bout with strep throat and an injured hamstring that had him missing games all season and generally failing to get in sync with the team.

He ended up playing only 10 games that season, accumulating just 587 yards rushing in a significant letdown from his highlight-filled 2010 performance. The Browns declined to resign him following the season and he left the team as a free agent.

Madden NFL 2011

Drew Brees on the cover of Madden 11.

Cover athlete: Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)

The road to the cover

Pass-happy New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was named the Madden NFL cover athlete after his record-breaking 2009 season that had him lead the Saints to Super Bowl XLIV and defeat the Indianapolis Colts in a wild shootout. Brees set a new NFL record for completion percentage during the season, and gave the Saints their first championship in franchise history. He was named the Super Bowl MVP and received numerous other accolades during the season, including the honor of being named Sports Illustrated‘s Sportsman of the Year.

The curse strikes

While the 2010 season wasn’t a terrible disappointment overall, Brees had one of his worst seasons to date. The usually accurate passer threw twice as many interceptions as he had in previous years, and the team’s generally lackluster performance led to a playoff defeat in the first week of the postseason. The loss was especially disappointing given that New Orleans lost to Seattle, the first team in NFL history to make it into the playoffs with a losing record.

Madden NFL 2010

Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu on the cover of Madden 10.

Cover athletes: Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals) & Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers)

The road to the cover

The cover of Madden NFL 2010 marked the first year that two athletes were featured on the same cover of the game, and much like in previous editions, the athletes chosen seemed to be relatively safe choices. Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had earned praise as one of the best pass-catchers in the NFL well ahead of his Madden NFL cover debut, with a Super Bowl appearance and multiple single-season and franchise records already in hand by the time EA Sports approached him.

Similarly, Troy Polamalu was already a multiple Pro Bowl selection as a safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers before his debut on the Madden NFL cover and had helped the Steelers win several Super Bowls, including the most recent one against Fitzgerald and the Cardinals the previous year.

The curse strikes

Fitzgerald is one of the first clear-cut examples of the Madden Curse generally missing its mark, as the wide receiver set several personal records throughout the 2009 season. He had a slight letdown in 2010 (due to the exit of longtime quarterback Kurt Warner) but still managed to put up impressive numbers both seasons. If there’s any effect of the curse to be seen, it’s that Fitzgerald was unable to play in the 2010 Pro Bowl due to a rib injury.

On the other hand, Polamalu seemed to take the full brunt of the Madden Curse. The defensive all-star sprained his medial collateral ligament (MCL) in the first half of Week 1 of the 2009 season and was forced to miss the next four games. He then played in three more games later that season, only to injure his posterior cruciate ligament in November. The Steelers would miss the playoffs that year and finish 9-7.

Madden NFL 2009

Brett Farve on the cover of Madden 09.

Cover athlete: Brett Favre (Green Bay Packers)

The road to the cover

EA Sports hoped to honor the career of one of the league’s greatest quarterbacks by putting Green Bay Packers veteran Brett Favre on the cover of Madden NFL 2009 after the celebrated passer announced his retirement from the league. The honor capped off one of the quarterback’s most accomplished seasons in the league as he broke multiple career milestones and solidified his legacy in the NFL record books with a phenomenal 2007 season. EA Sports announced its plans for the cover of the upcoming Madden NFL after a tear-filled retirement speech from Favre in March 2008.

The curse strikes

No sooner had the Madden NFL cover debuted with Favre in his Green Bay jersey than the quarterback suddenly decided that he wasn’t done with the league after all. Favre eventually signed with the New York Jets and had a relatively decent season — marred by off-field issues more than anything on the field — only to sustain an injury to his right shoulder late in the season that would plague him for the remaining three seasons leading up to his retirement (again) in 2011.

Madden NFL 2008

Vince Young on the cover of Madden 08.

Cover athletes: Vince Young (Tennessee Titans) & Luis Castillo (San Diego Chargers)

The road to the cover

After winning the BCS National Championship in stunning fashion for the University of Texas, Vince Young carried over his college success to the NFL with a fantastic rookie season that had him break just about every record a first-year quarterback could possibly break. The fleet-footed signal-caller led the Titans to multiple come-from-behind victories and was eventually named Offensive Rookie of the Year and later chosen for the Pro Bowl that season.

For the Spanish-language release of Madden NFL 2008, Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo was chosen as the game’s cover athlete after two seasons making a name for himself as one of the NFL’s fastest rising stars on the defensive side of the ball.

The curse strikes

Before either Young or Castillo being named as the cover athlete for Madden NFL, San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson was approached to be on the game’s cover. After a contingent of vocal Chargers fans initiated a campaign to keep him off the cover due to their fear of the Madden Curse, Tomlinson declined the offer from EA Sports, citing failed contract negotiations for his likeness. The developer than approached Young and Castillo.

After scoffing at the Madden Curse when he made the announcement on late-night television, Young had a slow start to the 2007 season, only to injure his quadricep in Week 6. He would miss the following week’s game — the first time he had ever missed a game due to injury. He would return later in the season only to reinjure himself in the final game of the season, opening the door for backup Kerry Collins to take the reins.

Young’s transition to a backup role was cemented the following season when he injured his knee in the first game of the 2008 season and Collins was named the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.

Proving that even the alternate versions of the game are subject to the Madden Curse, Castillo missed a significant portion of the 2007 season several months after being named the Madden NFL cover athlete. Sidelined by a knee injury, he only played in 10 games that season.

Madden NFL 2007

Shaun Alexander on the cover of Madden 07.

Cover athlete: Shaun Alexander (Seattle Seahawks)

The road to the cover

Already an accomplished rusher and one of the primary cogs in the Seattle Seahawks offense, Shaun Alexander took his game to the next level in 2005 when he became the first running back in NFL history to record 15 touchdowns in five consecutive seasons and broke the franchise record for rushing. He also became the first player in NFL history to score 19 TDs rushing or receiving in only 10 games.

As if that wasn’t enough, he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player that season, and led the Seahawks to an appearance in Super Bowl XL. Oh, and he also had the honor of becoming the first Seahawks player to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, too.

The curse strikes

Seemingly indicating that the effect of the Madden Curse might be in direct proportion to your accomplishments, Alexander’s 2006 season was derailed by a broken foot in Week 3 — just a few months after being named the Madden NFL cover athlete. The season would become his first without 1,000 yards rushing since he became a starter for the Seahawks.

Alexander’s abbreviated 2006 season was followed by an injury-plagued 2007 season that had him suffer a fractured wrist, sprained knee, and sprained ankle. The result was an even worse season, and Alexander was cut from the team’s roster in 2008. In the wake of all the injuries following his cover appearance, Alexander even addressed the Madden Curse, saying in a 2007 interview: “Do you want to be hurt and on the cover, or just hurt?”

Madden NFL 2006

Donovan McNabb on the cover of Madden 06.

Cover athlete: Donovan McNabb (Philadelphia Eagles)

The road to the cover

The former Syracuse quarterback led the Philadelphia Eagles to multiple conference championships during his first five years in the NFL, and found success despite a less-than-stellar supporting cast of wide receivers for several of those seasons. (The 2003 Eagles have the dubious distinction of being the only NFL team in the modern era to go two months without a wide receiver catching a touchdown pass.) A dual threat running and passing, McNabb had led the Philadelphia Eagles to the team’s second Super Bowl in franchise history in 2004, earning him the nod for the upcoming Madden NFL cover honor.

The curse strikes

McNabb was on track for a huge year in 2005 when his season was derailed by a groin injury that sent him to the injured reserve list for the remainder of the season. He never quite recovered the following season, and in Week 11, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus in his right knee and was once again sidelined for the remainder of the season. The remainder of his time in the NFL would be marked by inconsistent performances and turmoil on and off the field, culminating in the end of his football career in 2011.

Madden NFL 2005

Ray Lewis on the cover of Madden 2005.

Cover athlete: Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens)

The road to the cover

One of the most feared defensive players in the league, Ray Lewis anchored a team that repeatedly won with its defense — and more specifically, with him leading the defense. The team had already won a Super Bowl in 2000, and Lewis was one of the primary reasons for the Ravens’ success, with seven seasons of more than 100 solo tackles to go along with multiple sacks, interceptions, and record-breaking defensive performances.

The curse strikes

While Lewis’ season following his debut as the Madden NFL 2005 cover athlete wasn’t exactly terrible, the usually reliable linebacker failed to record a single interception in the 2004 season — the first time that had ever happened in his long career. The Ravens also failed to make the playoffs for the first time in several years, and in Week 6 of the following season, Lewis tore his right hamstring, forcing him to end his season abruptly.

Madden NFL 2004

Michael Vick on the cover of Madden 2004

Cover athlete: Michael Vick (Atlanta Falcons)

The road to the cover

One of the most electric players in the league, Michael Vick redefined the quarterback position during his early seasons, setting records for rushing yards by a quarterback while also setting a high standard for completion percentage and passing yards. While other quarterbacks had success running the football before Vick joined the league, the former Virginia Tech star raised the bar for mobile quarterbacks with almost 3,000 yards passing and 777 yards rushing during the 2002 season. He also led the Atlanta Falcons to an unexpected playoff victory that year.

The curse strikes

Just a short time after it was announced that Vick would be the cover athlete for Madden NFL 2004, Vick fractured his right fibula during a preseason game. The injury forced him to miss the first 11 games of the season.

Madden NFL 2003

Marshall Faulk on the cover of Madden 2003.

Cover athlete: Marshall Faulk (St. Louis Rams)

The road to the cover

Already a Super Bowl champion and a multiple-time winner of the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award, Marshall Faulk was the centerpiece of an offense dubbed “The Greatest Show on Turf” when he was named the cover athlete for Madden NFL 2003. He had led the Rams to a second Super Bowl just a season earlier and now held a cornucopia of rushing, receiving, and combined yardage records, and seemed poised to make another championship run in 2002.

The curse strikes

The season that unfolded after Faulk appeared on the Madden NFL cover would prove to be the beginning of the decline for one of the NFL’s most prolific running backs. The 2002 season would end up being the first he was unable to rush for more than 1,000 yards, and his yardage totals continued to decline in subsequent seasons. He eventually missed the entire 2006 season due to surgery on his knee, and never returned to the league.

Madden NFL 2002

Daunte Culpepper on the cover of Madden 2002.

Cover athlete: Daunte Culpepper (Minnesota Vikings)

The road to the cover

Former University of Central Florida star Daunte Culpepper found quick success in the NFL after being named the starting quarterback for the Vikings ahead of the 2000 season. He immediately led the team to an 11-5 record and the conference championship game on the strength of passing for almost 4,000 yards and rushing for nearly 500 yards. He was selected to the Pro Bowl, and began the 2001 season as one of the most celebrated young quarterbacks in the league, leading to his selection as the Madden NFL 2002 cover athlete midway through the season.

The curse strikes

Just a few months after being named the Madden NFL cover athlete, Culpepper suffered a knee injury during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and had to miss the rest of the 2001 season. His performance deteriorated the following season when he threw 23 interceptions to only 18 touchdowns.

This would be one of the first years that the notion of the “Madden Curse” was widely referenced when discussing a player’s unexpectedly poor performance after being featured on the game’s cover.

Madden NFL 2001

Eddie George on the cover of Madden 2001.

Cover athlete: Eddie George (Tennessee Titans)

The road to the cover

The Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State University earned a reputation as one of the most reliable workhorses in the NFL during his nine-season career, and he entered the 2000 season saddled with high expectations after his team was defeated by the slimmest of margins in the previous year’s Super Bowl. George had rushed for over 1,200 yards in each of his four seasons thus far, and averaged over 3.7 yards per carry to lead the team.

The curse strikes

The ever-reliable George seemed like a safe bet to break the curse when he was named the Madden NFL 2001 cover athlete, and the jinx seemed destined to end when the Titans entered the playoffs as one of the most dominant teams in the NFL with George in the midst of a record-breaking season.

Nevertheless, a rare bobbled pass by George late in the fourth quarter of a playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens led to an interception and a touchdown that ended the Titans’ otherwise stellar season. While George would remain in the NFL for four more seasons, he never ran for more than 1,200 yards in a season again and averaged less than 3.4 yards per carry for the remainder of his career.

Madden NFL 2000

Barry Sanders on the cover of Madden 2000.

Cover athletes: Barry Sanders (Detroit Lions) & Dorsey Levens (Green Bay Packers)

The road to the cover

Widely regarded as one of the greatest running backs of all time, Barry Sanders was voted to the Pro Bowl every season he was in the league, and in 1997 he became one of only three players to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season. He also became the first player to rush for over 1,500 yards in four consecutive seasons and finished the 1998 season with the third-highest career rushing yards in NFL history.

In contrast, Green Bay running back Dorsey Levens was a relative newcomer to the NFL spotlight before appearing on the Madden NFL cover. With only two seasons rushing for over 1,000 yards, Levens was a surprising choice for the game’s cover, but his appearance in the 1997 Pro Bowl after a 1,400-yard season had earned him recognition as one of the league’s fastest rising stars.

The curse strikes

Not too long after he was named the cover athlete for Madden NFL 2000, Sanders announced his retirement from the NFL in a surprise move that left fans — and the league, by most accounts — reeling. While it’s not the most obvious evidence of a “curse,” Sanders’ unexpected exit from the league left a huge void in the Detroit roster, and there remains quite a bit of controversy (and mystery) surrounding the scenario that ended the career of one of the league’s greatest players.

With Sanders’ sudden departure, EA Sports promptly organized another cover starring up-and-coming player Levens, who had helped lead the Green Bay Packers to numerous playoff runs in recent seasons. The season after appearing on the cover would turn out to be his last on the starting roster; however, as an irritating and relentless injury restricted him in 1999 and Green Bay experienced their poorest record since Brett Favre joined the team as their quarterback in 1992. The Packers eventually discharged Levens in 2001.

Madden NFL 99

Garrison Hearst on the cover of Madden 1999.

Cover athlete: Garrison Hearst (San Francisco 49ers)

The road to the cover

Upon joining the 49ers in 1997, the former University of Georgia running back established franchise records in 1998 for yards in a single season and collective rushing/receiving yards. He also is known for accomplishing one of the most longspun runs in NFL history. During this historical moment, Hearst earned the game-winning touchdown in overtime as the 49ers faced the New York Jets during the first game of the 1998 season.

The curse strikes

After he claimed the title of the first-ever cover athlete for the forthcoming edition of Madden NFL, Hearst led his team straight to the playoffs. Sadly, he suffered a terrible broken ankle in the second-round game versus the Atlanta Falcons. Post-surgery complications led to one of his foot bones dying, and early diagnosis showed that he might never return to the field again. Hearst missed the following two seasons while he was recovering from his unfortunate injury.

Editors’ Choice






Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Game

Switch Online Expansion Pack’s Pricing Ignores History

I don’t pay for online services anymore. Not frequently, anyways, since almost all of my online gaming is done on my PC. If I’m getting a new co-op game or multiplayer shooter, it’s exclusively going to end up in my Steam library, because I don’t have to shell out a single extra cent to properly play the game.

But I can still at least acknowledge that some online services are worth the $60 they charge each year. Xbox Gold gives players free games, and so does PlayStation+. Nintendo Switch Online, on the other hand, has never felt worth the $20, and now Nintendo’s asking players for $50 for the service’s upgraded version, Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack. I’m not sure if the company has been listening to its users for the past three years.

When Nintendo Switch Online was initially announced, I remember being somewhat excited. The service hardly cost anything, and users would get access to online multiplayer and an ever-growing library of old NES games. Sure, those games aren’t anything new, but it would be fun to play them on a mobile console. The exclusion of multiplayer voice chat was strange, but I figured it wasn’t a surprise, since I wasn’t going to be playing any games that required it on the Switch.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was the first time I realized how underwhelming Nintendo Switch Online was. The game’s multiplayer was atrocious, and since it was the only game I was really using Nintendo’s online service for, I couldn’t help but Ask myself, “is this really worth $20?” Other Nintendo fans were getting tired of the retro game library’s slow (and often unexciting) growth. Players wondered why Nintendo wouldn’t add games from other systems to the service, like Game Boy Advance or GameCube titles.

Some of those features were finally announced for Switch’s online service with Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack. The new service includes Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games, along with Animal Crossing: New Horizon‘s latest DLC. Sure, that’s not exactly what fans were looking for, but it is enough to get people excited again.

The announcement that access to those games will cost players $50 for an individual plan or $80 for the family plan, though, comes from an ignorant standpoint. Simply put, a curated selection of Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games isn’t worth an extra $30 a year. For years, subscribers have hoped that the company would add content, making the relatively inexpensive service one of the best around. Instead, Nintendo took some of the games fans were hoping for and locked them away behind a paywall. That now includes Super Mario 64, which the company was selling as part of the Super Mario 3D All-Stars bundle. That bundle is no longer available, as it was, for some reason, and is only available until March 31, 2021.

It makes sense from a business standpoint. But for a company that used to pride itself on consumer friendliness (a department it’s been lacking in for a while now), it’s sad that well of goodwill is quickly drying up.

The content coming with Switch Online’s more expensive version is still lacking, and I also just don’t have a reason to trust that Nintendo will expand on it in a meaningful way. The Expansion Pack’s library of Nintendo 64 and Genesis games will grow, just like the base version’s stale buffet of games has. If I’ve learned anything over the course of the past three years, it’s that players are going to ask for specific games and won’t get what they ask for. That’s the trend that Nintendo’s set up to this point, and there’s no reason to believe it’ll do anything different.

Editors’ Choice




Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Computing

The Most Important PCs in History, Ranked

Forty years ago this week, the iconic IBM PC made its debut, cementing the personal computer as a mainstream product category to be reckoned with. Within a few years, America — and the world — went computer wild, with home computers suddenly the province of ordinary people.

But which desktop computers go down as the most influential of all time? Here are 10 that changed the game.

#10. Microsoft Surface Studio

The Surface Studio is likely to be the most controversial pick on this list. It’s also by far the newest computer, debuting in late 2016, with a successor, the Surface Studio 2, coming along two years later. Like Apple’s iMac, the Surface Studio is a sleekly minimalist all-in-one. Unlike the Mac, it didn’t become a massive hit whose continued existence is all but assured. So why does it make the list? Simply put: Because personal computers are changing.

The line which delineated personal computers from surrounding product categories has always been slightly blurred, but never more so than they are in 2021. Today, most PC enthusiasts build their own computers, making chipsets far more important than individual PC model numbers. Furthermore, the tasks once carried out on personal computers can now be done on touch-based devices like tablets and smartphones.

The Surface Studio is an attempt to reconcile the new role of the PC: A blend of touchscreen interface, gorgeous quality monitors, and traditional PC functionality. Nothing about the progression of personal computers feels inevitable. But the Surface Studio is as good a glimpse as you could hope for of the future.

#9. Apple Lisa

The Lisa is one of those strange computers on this list: A major flop at the time, which nonetheless paved the way for the undisputed future of computing. Thanks to a deal between Apple and Xerox PARC, the Lisa came with Apple’s version of the WIMP (windows, icons, mouse pointer) interface. Apple had honed this technology, however, and was the first to introduce it to the masses.

At a launch cost of $9,995 in January 1983 (that’s $27,000 today), those masses weren’t exactly, well, masses. But the Lisa paved the way for the Macintosh one year later. And it came advertised with a great TV spot featuring a very young Kevin Costner.

#8. iMac G3

The 1998-era translucent, colorful iMac G3 was one of the most memorable designs of its day. “It looks like it’s from another planet,” said Steve Jobs, the Apple CEO who had just returned to the company he co-founded after more than a decade in the wilderness. “A good planet. A planet with better designers.” That designer was Jony Ive, the man who would go on to design the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and countless other Apple products over the following two decades.

As far as innovations go, the iMac G3 eliminated the floppy disk drive and leaned into the kind of simple, out-of-the-box usability that Apple remains known for. This was the machine that announced to the world that, after a painful few years of decline, Apple was once again a force to be reckoned with.

#7. The beige box

Yes, this one is a cheat, but how can you not acknowledge it? By the 1990s, the era of the beige box computer was underway. Aside from Apple, few other companies made their own distinctive machines but rather used off-the-shelf, generic components to assemble affordable personal computers for an ever-growing market.

Were these machines boring, though? Far from it. They may often have looked bog-standard, but they nonetheless laid the groundwork for the way PCs have developed: Modular machines that can be assembled to fit the whims and requirements of their owners. Missing the beige box off a list like this is like missing The Beatles’ White Album off a list of great albums because it doesn’t have eye-catching cover art.

#6. Xerox Star

Digibarn

Not every computer on this list set the world on fire in terms of sales. Some of the greatness of these machines is more about retrospect than their reception at the time. None more so than the Xerox Star: A personal computer that, 40 years ago, in 1981, brought the world a bitmapped display, graphical user interface, two-button mouse, Ethernet networking, email, and a plethora of other innovations.

Unfortunately, an eye-watering price of $16,500 with software (the equivalent of $48,000 today) was one contributing factor for its dismal marketplace performance. Nonetheless, without the pioneering work of Xerox PARC, which the Star owes its existence to, computers today would look very different.

#5. MITS Altair 8800

MITS Altair 8800 microcomputer, the first such system to sell in large numbers (5000 in the first year).
Michael Hicks

Pinpointing exactly when the personal computer revolution started is difficult. But for those trend-spotters who got in on personal computers before most of the world had even heard of them, the MITS Altair may be ground zero. Kickstarting a revolution, the MITS Altair 8800 (to use its full name) appeared on the front cover of Popular Electronics magazine in 1976.

Compared to the room-filling or, at least, fridge-sized computers found in corporations and large universities at the time, the kit-based Altair was small enough to fit on a desk. It was far less powerful than the big commercial computers of the time, of course, but it was also a huge step up from what most hobbyists had access to. It was powered by Intel’s then-new 8080 microprocessor.

A couple of unknown student-entrepreneurs named Bill Gates and Paul Allen (wonder what happened to them!) used the Altair to create a version of BASIC. It became the first product Microsoft ever launched.

#4. Apple II

Apple II Computer
Rama/Creative Commons

The clue that this wasn’t Apple’s first computer was in the name, but make no mistake about it: The Apple II was the computer that launched Apple to the world. Unlike other personal computers of its year, the 1977-era Apple II was capable of displaying color. It was designed by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, with its iconic industrial design by Jerry Manock looking more like a household appliance than a geeky piece of hobbyist tech.

Apple continued producing Apple II models of some stripe all the way into the 1990s, showing incredible longevity. In all, the Apple II laid the foundations for not just Apple, but the mass-market personal computer industry as a whole.

#3. Commodore 64

Commodore64 con monitor 1701.
Francesca Ussani (WMIT)

If commercial performance was the only metric that mattered, Eagles: Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) would be the best album ever produced, Avatar would be cinema’s greatest movie, McDonald’s would be the pulling in Michelin stars like there’s no tomorrow — and the Commodore 64 would be the easy winner on this list.

Released in January 1982, the Commodore 64 was a veritable sales juggernaut, selling an estimated 17 million units. It boasted some great graphics for its time, a programmable sound chip, and a dazzling 1MHz CPU, and 64 KB of RAM. Helping the Commodore 64’s success was the fact that, like a games console, it could be easily plugged into a TV. It also sold far more widely, in non-specialist stores, compared to many computers of its day. The Commodore 64 wasn’t quite as revolutionary as some of the entries on this list, but its incredible claims to fame can’t be ignored.

#2. Macintosh 128K

The first generation Macintosh, launched in 1984 with a spectacular Super Bowl commercial directed by Ridley Scott, was massively underpowered. It also failed to sell in quite the numbers that Apple hoped it would. Nonetheless, it was an utterly revolutionary machine that remains an iconic piece of computing history and design approaching 40 years later. It took Apple a few more iterations to get a Mac that lived up to the promise the original hinted at (it had more or less figured it out by the late 1980s), but this remains one of history’s most important personal computers.

#1. IBM PC

IBM PC XT with green monochrome phosphor screen and 10MB full height 5,25" hard disk drive.
Ruben de Rijcke

Ask your average person on the street to name a computer company in 1981 and, virtually without exception, they’ll name IBM. But IBM’s computers were almost exclusively large room-filling behemoths owned by giant corporations. That changed in 1981 when IBM introduced the IBM Model 5150, better known as the IBM PC. Based on the Intel 8088 microprocessor and utilizing Microsoft’s MS-DOS operating system, the IBM PC made personal computers a mainstream commodity in both homes and businesses.

In the months that followed its release, an ecosystem of software and peripherals sprang up around the IBM PC, while other manufacturers rushed to release their own clone versions. Unlike a company such as Apple, IBM’s reign as a top personal computer hardware maker didn’t last too long. However, the impact of the IBM PC cannot be understated. The combination of long-term impact and immediate commercial success give it the number one spot on this list.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Computing

The Catastrophic GPU Shortage: A Chronological History

It’s a bad time to build a gaming PC. Although building a PC yourself can usually net you hundreds of dollars in savings, a continued rise in the cost of components makes it nearly impossible to put together a machine at a reasonable price. And the main reason why is the ongoing GPU shortage.

Rising prices aren’t anything new for PC components. GPU prices ebb and flow with demand and RAM prices rock up and down like a roller coaster, and those two components alone can represent a significant portion of your build price.

This time is different, though. A perfect storm of constrained supply, overwhelming demand, and market expansion would lock buyers out of finding a graphics card for more than a year. And although things are getting better, the problem is far from over.

To understand how we got here, here’s a history of the GPU shortage.

A dose of context

Before getting into the GPU shortage that’s currently going on, it’s important to look back. This isn’t a new problem for the GPU market. The difference today isn’t the shortage, but the fact that various factors have extended and worsened it.

The market experienced a similar shortage in 2017 with Nvidia’s GTX 10 series and AMD’s RX 500 series graphics cards. The shortage stemmed from increased demand due to rising Ethereum prices, which is an alternative to Bitcoin that is still contributing to the shortage today.

Graphics cards are especially vulnerable to shortages and price volatility compared to many other PC components.

Similarly, the Asia-Pacific region saw a shortage of GTX 980 and GTX 980 Ti graphics cards in 2015. The main culprit at the time was an issue with GPU supply chains, which was furthered by increased demand in the region. Prices rose about 15% in parts of the world, though they quickly returned to normal.

Graphics cards are especially vulnerable to shortages and price volatility compared to many other PC components. The two main GPU companies, Nvidia and AMD, don’t actually manufacture that many graphics cards. Instead, they provide the designs that add-in board partners (AIBs) license to build and sell their own versions.

This model does a lot of good, including offering users various card options for different types of computers. You could, for example, choose a liquid-cooled card for a high-end gaming PC or a slimmed-down card that doesn’t require external power for a stealthy build.

It carries some issues, however. Nvidia and AMD are free to set a target price for their graphics cards, but the final price depends on how much components, logistics, and taxes cost for AIBs. That makes the target price largely irrelevant, especially when the cost of components is high. This is important to keep in mind when looking at the GPU shortage happening today.

The few first-party cards that AMD and Nvidia make sell out immediately after launch. AIB cards come in after the fact and normalize supply, as well as provide more options to the market.

Given the past several launches, a GPU shortage was inevitable. The difference this time was that the PC gaming market was growing at an alarming rate, and a pandemic was about to shut people inside for over a year.

It’s a pandemic

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially classified the coronavirus as a pandemic. California implemented the first mandatory stay-at-home order on March 19, and by May 31, 73% of U.S. counties had a stay-at-home order in place.

With an exodus from the office, the demand for computers grew. In 2020, the PC market grew by 13.1%, which is the largest growth the market had seen since 2010 when it grew by 13.7%.

A PC build setup.
Balkouras Nicos/Unsplash

Ryan Reith, an employee at market research firm IDC, said that the “growth centered around work from home and remote learning needs.” Reflecting on the boom, Reith said “the pandemic not only fueled PC market demand but also created opportunities that resulted in a market expansion.”

At the same time, the semiconductor industry started having some problems. Semiconductors are the building blocks of most modern electronics. In short, they can conduct manageable current through an electronic circuit, which is useful for everything from building a digital alarm clock to building a graphics card.

Semiconductor companies require long lead times, so companies like AMD and Nvidia usually request a certain allocation of manufacturing capacity months or even years in advance. The pandemic, as well as the rise in demand for computers, threw this delicate system out of balance.

In 2020, the PC market grew by 13.1%, which is the largest growth the market had seen since 2010 when it grew by 13.7%.

Decreased demand for cars in early 2020 caused many automakers to reduce their order size, only to try and increase their order size when the car market rebounded later in the year. Meanwhile, demand for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chips skyrocketed, all while the tools essential for creating them decreased in supply.

Those are only two examples of issues the semiconductor industry faced in 2020. The important thing to remember for the GPU shortage is that semiconductor companies were operating at full capacity, all while the pandemic disrupted supply chains and grew the entire computing market.

Ampere arrives … for some

Nvidia CEO holding RTX 3090.
Nvidia

Nvidia launched the RTX 3080 on September 17, 2020, kicking off the Ampere range and the GPU shortage. Unsurprisingly, the cards sold out immediately only to be marked up by secondhand sellers. That’s not out of the ordinary for the graphics card market.

At the time, short-term shortages were blamed on increased demand. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said that “the 3080 and 3090 have a demand issue, not a supply issue” during a press event at the company’s GPU Technology Conference. Huang said that there wasn’t “a real problem to solve,” chalking the issue up to “just a phenomenon.”

That wasn’t the case, though. Nvidia chose the Samsung 8nm node for the Ampere range, and sources blamed the shortage on the poor yields of the node. Essentially, the manufacturing process produced fewer usable chips than expected. Nvidia later acknowledged the problem and changed its stance, pointing some of the blame at Samsung.

At the same time, DRAM prices started to rise due to limited supply, which is still affecting the market today. These memory modules are essential to multiple PC components, including graphics cards.

Between industry-wide issues, poor yields at Samsung, rising DRAM prices, and, of course, the pandemic, Nvidia had to fight an uphill battle to get cards built and shipped. These factors lead to a limited supply of Ampere cards at launch, which would have posed an issue regardless of the pandemic.

Because of the pandemic, the shortage came faster, lasted longer, and got more out of hand than any previous one.

Enter the scalpers

Scalpers were quick to capitalize on the limited supply and high demand. Almost immediately after launch, scalpers started sharing their winning strategy for buying up GPUs: Bots. One user reported grabbing 42 cards, while others said they scored 30 or more.

The pandemic helped fuel the success of bots. Instead of a physical launch, the supply of Ampere cards was limited to online retailers. By scanning multiple retailers and exploiting the checkout processes, bots were able to buy up cards faster than any human could. And without a way to buy a card in person, the available stock quickly dwindled.

Reports of bot use mainly came from social media posts, so it’s hard to pin down just how many cards scalpers claimed at launch. However, the power of hindsight confirms that the reports were at least somewhat accurate. In 2020, scalpers sold around 50,000 Nvidia RTX 30 series graphics cards, totaling $61.5 million in sales.

GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics cards.
Nvidia

It was clear that bots were able to grab and, at least for a short period of time, control the market. Shortly after the launch of the RTX 3080, Nvidia announced it would delay the launch of the RTX 3070 to make “more cards available on launch day.” To stem the bleeding further, Nvidia partnered with Best Buy for exclusive distribution of Founders Edition cards in the U.S.

Given the pandemic, retailers like Best Buy resorted to selling the cards exclusively online. However, some retailers, such as Micro Center, moved to in-store sales shortly after launch. Even months later, hopeful buyers continued to camp out for hours at Micro Center locations around the country.

During this time, graphics card maker EVGA introduced a queue-based notification system for graphics cards to combat bots. This remains one of the most effective ways to buy a GPU at list price, providing buyers a window of eight hours to purchase a graphics card when their name comes up in the queue.

Despite these measures, bots grabbed much of the available stock, and, given the yield issues, that stock wasn’t immediately replenished. Online retailers like Newegg implemented anti-bot measures and order limits, but it was too late. The cards were already gone and it would be a slow process to get them back.

Under the thumb of a trade war

Across the Pacific, there were more problems brewing in the semiconductor industry. On September 26, 2020, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed restrictions on SMIC, China’s largest semiconductor company. That pushed U.S. business to chipmakers TSMC in Taiwan and Samsung in Korea, and they were already operating at full capacity.

The trade war between the U.S. and China began in 2018 when tariffs were imposed on solar panels and washing machines. A flurry of restrictions and tariffs came in the following years, but the restriction placed on SMIC came at the worst possible time.

It’s important to remember that the issues facing the semiconductor industry were ongoing at this point, and the restrictions on SMIC came only nine days after the RTX 3080 launched. Stock was already low before the restriction, and with big clients looking to buy up capacity, the GPU shortage would go from bad to worse.

AMD gets cocky with RDNA 2

Lisa Su, the CEO of AMD, pictured holding an AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT graphics card.
AMD

AMD announced the RDNA 2-powered RX 6800 XT, 6800, and 6900 XT on October 28, 2020. Competing with Nvidia on performance and offering ray tracing for the first time on AMD hardware, the cards looked like an answer to the GPU shortage.

It looked like that was AMD’s view, too, as the company’s Chief Architect of Gaming Solutions and Marketing suggested it wouldn’t be a “paper launch” like Nvidia’s Ampere range.

It was, though, as all available units sold out within minutes of going live. Originally, AMD said it would meet the demand in the weeks following the launch. However, the cards remained out of stock at retailers and prices surged on the secondhand market, following the pattern that Nvidia’s Ampere cards experienced a few months earlier.

AMD faced some unique challenges compared to Nvidia, however. In addition to three new graphics cards, the company launched a series of new processors at the same time, as well as provided the framework for the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. And AMD chose TSMC as its chipmaker for all of them.

AMD entered the market as the GPU shortage started to come into focus. Multiple product launches drove up demand at semiconductor companies above their already high levels and the pandemic continued to disrupt the global economy. Although AMD’s cards sold for less on the secondhand market, they were still selling for much more than their suggested price.

Crypto booms

Going into the end of 2020, a boom in cryptocurrency prices would further extend the GPU shortage. Although the boom happened in December, demand from crypto miners has been constant throughout the shortage and the last several GPU launches.

It’s hard to tell just how many cards went to crypto-miners, but the number is high.

Shortly after launch, photos started circulating of mining rigs housing dozens of Nvidia and AMD graphics cards. Similarly, Nvidia’s specially designed mining cards drew in $155 million in revenue in the first few months after launching. This isn’t new for the GPU market either. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang even recognized the issue publicly when a spike in Ethereum prices increased demand in 2018.

However, a massive increase in the value of Bitcoin and Ethereum in December 2020 drew the attention of industrialists to jump on the mining train. On December 1, 2020, Ethereum sold for around $590 per coin and Bitcoin sold for around $18,900 per coin. By the end of January, Ethereum was up $1,500 and Bitcoin was up to $35,000.

The rise caused more large-scale mining operations to pop up, like one set up by one of Russia’s largest oil producers, entirely powered by oil.

It’s hard to tell just how many cards went to crypto-miners, but the number is high. In the first part of 2021, while the crypto boom was continuing to happen, miners accounted for around 25% of all GPU sales. Like other factors contributing to the shortage, demand from crypto-miners isn’t solely responsible. Given the context, however, it continued to make GPUs extremely difficult to find.

Companies couldn’t ignore the shortage anymore, which is why rumors started circulating that Nvidia was reintroducing the RTX 2060 to combat demand. MSI eventually reintroduced the GT 730, a seven-year-old GPU, to provide an option for builders without integrated graphics, too.

MSI's reintroduced GT 730, a seven-year-old GPU.

Newegg also set up a raffle-style system called Shuffle, where the company would randomly select participants for a chance to buy high-demand products. The program is still going today, but Newegg often bundles cards with other PC components, bloating the price.

Out of the penalty box — tariffs

At the start of 2021, the GPU market continued to struggle as supply remained low and demand continued to rise. The aforementioned trade war with China was still in full swing, with tariffs taxing goods imported from the country. Originally, graphics cards were given an exception to the trade plan, but that expired at the beginning of 2021.

PC components aren’t normally subject to an import tax, but under the “list 3” trade action that taxes about $200 billion worth of products from China, graphics cards were subject to a 25% import tax.

Cards didn’t immediately jump 25% in price, and given the limited inventory at retailers, the list price of GPUs didn’t matter much. However, some graphics card makers passed the extra cost onto customers. For example, Asus said that it would update its MSRP to reflect “increases in cost for components, operating costs, and logistical activities plus a continuation of import tariffs.”

This is where AIBs come into play. They’re the main source of graphics cards on the market, especially after the initial launch window. Nvidia and AMD are free to set whatever price they want for their cards, but AIBs ultimately have to set a price based on the cost of components, logistics, and any taxes or fees they may be subject to.

At the end of 2020 and into the start of 2021, the price of AIB units grew to unprecedented levels. This is why graphics cards continue to sell for as much as twice their MSRP at retailers, matching the prices on the secondhand market. In other parts of the world, retailers were selling cards for more than triple MSRP.

Nvidia combats crypto miners

Nvidia GeForce RTX Gaming Setup with Monitor and PC build.
Nvidia

Toward the end of February, Nvidia came up with a new plan to combat the GPU shortage: Lite Hash Rate (LHR) graphics cards. Coinciding with the launch of the RTX 3060, Nvidia announced that it would halve the Ethereum hash rate — how much cryptocurrency the card can mine — through a driver.

At the same time, Nvidia announced Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP) cards, which don’t have video outputs and are built specifically for mining. The two steps together were, according to Nvidia, meant to “ensure GeForce GPUs end up in the hands of gamers.”

But they didn’t work. Nvidia released a beta driver shortly after the launch of the RTX 3060 that disabled the mining limiter, and because the fix was only issued through software, users were able to download and distribute the driver to make the limiter obsolete.

When pressed for a similar response, AMD responded with “no.” Following the launch of the RX 6700 XT, an AMD rep said the company’s response was no response at all, saying “we will not be blocking any workload, not just mining for that matter.”

The beginning of 2021 was when the chip shortage that contributed to the GPU shortage started to become clear. Intel’s CEO warned that the chip shortage would last into 2022, and Nvidia said that it expected demand to exceed supply throughout 2021. It seemed the only way out of the shortage was to wait it out.

CPU Computer Chip being placed with tweezers.
Krystianna Wrocki/Getty Images

Nvidia wasn’t down and out, though. The company reintroduced the LHR concept to the rest of the Ampere range to deal with crypto-mining demand. This time, however, Nvidia didn’t solve the issue through a driver update. Instead, it introduced new GPU cores that would limit the Ethereum hash rate at a hardware level.

This was the first step from graphics card companies to get the market back on track, and in the months that followed, a number of factors would help improve GPU supply, if only by a bit.

A shift in strategy

In May, Nvidia launched the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3070 Ti, but the launch plans were a little different. Using its partnership with Best Buy, Nvidia released the RTX 3080 Ti exclusively in Best Buy stores, helping deal with bots and the chaotic checkout process that comes with new launches.

Meanwhile, the Ethereum Foundation said it would move from a proof-of-work model — like Bitcoin uses — to a proof-of-stake model. In addition to lowering the energy consumption of mining the coin, the shift would remove GPUs from the mining equation. In its quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nvidia said the move could increase “aftermarket resales of our GPUs and may reduce demand for our new GPUs.”

On top of that, the prices for Bitcoin and Ethereum started to drop, and China, which held the lion’s share of Bitcoin miners, imposed new restrictions on crypto-mining. Although none of these steps ended the GPU shortage, they helped steer the market back toward normalcy.

And Nvidia was quick to capitalize. Following all of the shifts in the GPU market, a report circulated that Nvidia was taking the RTX 2060 back out of production to focus on production of the latest cards.

The current state of the GPU market

And MSI GPU in neon lights.
Martin Katler/Unsplash

The GPU shortage isn’t over, but it’s in a much better spot. With tools like EVGA’s queue system, Newegg Shuffle, and in-store restocks at Micro Center, it’s possible to find a new graphics card in the U.S.

The situation is improving in other parts of the world, too. Recent months have brought an increase in GPU supply in European countries, driving down the price. In Germany, prices have dropped as much as 50% from their peak at the beginning of 2021.

Still, the GPU market is recovering — it hasn’t recovered. Tariffs and the increased cost of components have pushed AIBs to sell cards far above the marks Nvidia and AMD set. This is the biggest issue with the GPU market right now, especially as Nvidia pushes out updated LHR versions of its cards. For example, some updated RTX 3060 models — which should retail for $329 — are selling for close to $1,000 brand new.

Looking forward, all the GPU market needs is time. Scalpers have become less effective as more cards make it onto the market, and demand from crypto-miners has dropped thanks to falling prices and new regulations. Supply chain issues, which arguably kicked off this shortage, remain the main constraining factor, and it could be years before they’re worked out.

The biggest issue now is overcompensation. As Nvidia points out, it may need to place “non-cancellable inventory orders significantly in advance of our normal lead times, pay premiums or provide deposits to secure normal and incremental future supply.” Manufacturing capacity is valuable at the moment, and companies generally need to buy that capacity well in advance.

With the pandemic winding down in most parts of the world, the computing market expansion may wind down, too. That could lead to companies ordering parts they can’t reasonably sell, which could crash the GPU market.

In that case, at least hopeful buyers wouldn’t have to worry about overpaying for a graphics card.

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Computing

Happy Birthday, Windows 10: The History and the Future

The future at Microsoft is Windows 11. But our recent past was all Windows 10 — and if you can believe it, that history started six years ago today.

On July 15, 2015, Windows 10 hit manufacturing (known as RTM) for preinstall on new laptops and tablets. That was then followed by a public retail release on July 29. In those six years, Windows 10 has managed to make its way onto 1.3 billion devices, and the number one desktop OS in the world — but it wasn’t easy.

There were a lot of lessons learned throughout the illustrious history of Windows that informed the direction of Windows 10, and even to Windows 11 today. Happy sixth birthday, Windows 10. Here’s a little look back at your journey.

Windows 10 past

Windows 10 was born at a time when Microsoft faced a lot of fallout from the release of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Windows 7 was still quite popular around 2015, and many people did not like the full-screen Start Menu in Windows 8.1. Changes like the Charms Bar, Live Tiles, and other touch-first design elements coming with the new “Metro UI” alienated people used to a desktop-style interface.

Windows 10 was the operating system that promised to change that. It brought back the single-row Start Menu seen in Windows 7 but also blended the Live Tiles and customization options from Windows 8. Even the aero effects from Windows 7 were back, helping make the OS look a bit more modern at the time over Apple’s OS X 10.10.

Microsoft also introduced a digital assistant, Cortana, to take on Siri (though Cortana was short-lived.) And, it hid the controversial tablet features into “tablet mode” area that only appeared if and when you detached your keyboard or turned your 2-in-1 over.  Other new features include Windows Hello login to a PC (using just your face) and the new Microsoft Edge browser.

More importantly, Microsoft improved the lousy app store from Windows 8.1 by introducing Universal Windows Platform apps — apps that can run with a single code on Windows 10 Mobile phones, Xbox, Surface, and even HoloLens headsets. Windows 10 Mobile is an entirely separate story, but it got big updates compared to Windows Phone 8, with the codebase for the mobile operating system being based on desktop Windows 10.

For Microsoft, Windows 10 was a brave new venture and the chance to reconnect with Windows users who are familiar with desktop experiences. That’s why the operating system was a free update. Anyone with a valid Windows 7 or 8 license could get Windows 10 for free.

The controversial update tactics and “Get Windows 10 ads” aside, it was a bold new move for Microsoft, which usually charged full price for installing its desktop operating systems on existing hardware.

With the goal of having Windows 10 on 1 billion devices within three years of release, Microsoft was on a bold venture, but things would still get messy.

Windows 10’s evolution to Windows 11

Windows 10 Start menu open on the desktop.

As more and more people updated to Windows 10, Microsoft started selling Windows 10 as a service. That meant that (as one Microsoft employee put it) Windows 10 could be the “last version of Windows.” It would get yearly “featured” updates, without the need to pay. Buy in and get Windows 10 once, and you’re good for all future updates as long as Windows is supported. It’s what Apple did with MacOS Mavericks back in 2013.

Those updates meant that Windows 10 continued to evolve based on the feedback of Windows users. Microsoft pushed out yearly “featured” updates for Windows 10 up until 2016. The Windows 10 November Update and Windows 10 Anniversary Update introduced new performance features and major revamps for inking, Windows Hello, gaming, Cortana, and more.

After 2016, Microsoft shifted the way Windows 10 updates worked. It now got twice a year updates (spring and fall), which we still have today. Releases included the Creators Update, Fall Creators Update. Starting in 2018, updates got named for the month released — see the October 2020 Update and May 2021 Update as examples.

The rush of updates meant that Windows 10 would evolve. Microsoft constantly improved Windows with new features. They even addressed privacy concerns, putting users in control with new settings toggles. Other new features include Windows Mixed Reality headsets, the Fluent Design visual revamp, Xbox Game Bar, Dolby Atmos, a people app, improved file sharing, and more.

Later releases even introduced cross-platform features like the Your Phone app to sync up Android phones with Windows PCs. And more recently, the new Chromium-powered Edge browser, and a revamped visual update for the Start Menu.

But the big updates eventually stopped coming. After issues with the Windows 10 October 2018 update caused user’s files to be deleted, Microsoft went back to the drawing board with Windows Updates in 2019 — to get us where we are today. Since then, Windows 10’s twice-a-year updates were focused on adding smaller features and patching bugs.

Microsoft slowed down the pace of development of Windows to the point where it fell behind massive visual redesigns introduced in MacOS Big Sur, and Chrome OS. There even was a shakeup internally at Microsoft, with Panos Pany taking charge of things in a new team known as Windows + Devices. The Windows Insider program also saw changes, with “rings” being discontinued in favor of “branches.” It all shaped up things to where we are today.

The future of Windows

Heading into the future, Windows 10 will continue to be supported by Microsoft through the year 2025. It’s been confirmed multiple times, and it’s even listed on the current support page.

But don’t forget, Windows 10 was initially supposed to evolve into a flavor of Windows 10X. The pandemic shifted those plans and that ended up becoming Windows 11 instead.

As far as we know, Windows 10 will now live alongside Windows 11. It is rumored that Windows 10 will still get twice-a-year updates, too. The next update is said to be Windows 10 21H2, as mentioned in three separate support documents for Windows Hello, Windows IT Pros, and Windows Autopilot.

But Windows 11 is the future. Windows 11 brings many changes that fans long requested in Windows 10. A sweeping visual redesign, new Start Menu, Android apps in the Microsoft Store, are just some of the changes. It’s a free update for select Windows 10 devices, and it’s all thanks to six years of Windows 10.

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