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Game

Microsoft helps game devs pull more performance from the Xbox Series S

Frustrated that games don’t run as well on the Xbox Series S as you’d expect given the 1440p-capable hardware? Microsoft might have a fix. The Verge has learned the company’s recently highlighted June Game Development Kit gives programmers more access to memory, freeing up “hundreds of additional megabytes” of RAM for their games. That can improve graphics performance in titles where limited memory is a problem, Microsoft said.

This move won’t put the entry-level console on par with the Xbox Series X, which uses the same CPU but packs a more powerful graphics processor. However, it might reduce bottlenecks that sometimes force developers to run games on Series S at lower resolutions and frame rates. While the Series X has 16GB of RAM (about 13.5GB of it usable), its lower-end counterpart has just 10GB — in practice, devs have just 8GB to themselves. Creators talking to Digital Foundry have complained about the limitations.

If this sounds like a familiar strategy, it should. Microsoft gave more power to Xbox One coders in 2014 when it let them disable Kinect features in games that didn’t need the motion controller. In both cases, Microsoft is tweaking available system resources in response to gripes.

It will take time for developers to optimize games, and there’s no guarantee this will affect many titles. Don’t expect patches that improve the graphics on all your favorite releases. Still, this is a welcome move that could make the Xbox Series S a more viable option if you’d rather not splurge on its pricier counterpart.

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Tech News

Google threatens to pull out of Australia over controversial news law

Google said that it could pull its search services from Australia if the country passes its debatable law that requires big tech companies to pay media organizations for listing their content.

In a Senate hearing, and later in a video, Google Australia’s Managing Director, Mel Silva, said that the proposed media law “would break how Google search works.”

In a blog post, Silva said this law will hinder unrestricted linking of webpages and the company will have to stop its search service in the country:

Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk if this version of the Code were to become law it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.

All of this started in 2019 when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) began to form a voluntary code to bring parity between media organizations and tech companies such as Google and Facebook. Last year, the federal government ordered ACCC to draw up a mandatory version of it. 

The Australian government’s argument is that big tech benefits from surfacing news links on their platforms. While Google says it just displays news links and leaves it to the user to choose which site to visit.

In response to Google’s threat to leave the country, the Prime Minister said that the company has to play by the laws:

Let me be clear. Australia makes its rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our Parliament. It’s done by our government and that’s how things work here in Australia and people who want to work with that in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats.

The search giant has repeatedly said and it’s already ready to accept a code that doesn’t break user search and pay media organizations under the Google Showcase program. The company claims to serve over 19 million Australians every year, and the company’s pullout would have a sizable impact on the country’s internet. It’s time for the government and the corporate to work together for user interest.

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