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Microsoft joins fight against North Carolina transgender ‘bathroom bill’

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Microsoft, along with 67 other companies has signed an amicus brief from the Human Rights Campaign in support of the U.S. Department of Justice’s effort to block parts of North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2, also known as the “bathroom bill.” The DOJ is seeking to temporarily stop a part of the law that bans transgender people from using restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

“HB2 is a law that forces transgender persons to deny, disclaim, and conceal their gender identity, particularly whenever they wish to use single-sex restroom facilities on state or local government property,” said Theodore B. Olson, the former U.S. solicitor general who wrote the brief. “In so doing, it forces transgender people to deny a fundamental feature of their character and personhood in the name of safety concerns that are wholly illusory and a slap in the face to all transgender persons who are simply trying to live their lives consistent with who they really are. That so many in the business community are willing to stand up in opposition to HB2 underscores the immeasurable and irreparable harm the law is doing to the transgender community and to North Carolina’s economy.”

The bill has received alot of backlash lately, with estimates concluding that it could cost the state thousands of jobs (like when PayPal cancelled plans to expand into the state) and half a billion dollars in investments.

“At Microsoft, we believe everyone should be welcomed, respected and valued. Ultimately, diversity is good for our people, our business, and the economy,” a company spokesperson said about Microsoft’s participation in the brief.

To read more about the bill and see which other companies have signed the brief, click here.

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Exclusive: First look at Microsoft’s plans for Messaging Everywhere in Skype UWP

skype-uwp

Recently, Microsoft announced that the company will not be releasing Messaging Everywhere for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Instead, the company will integrate it into the Skype UWP app for Windows 10. Following the announcement, a lot of Windows 10 fans weren’t happy. Now, it seems like Microsoft will be able to deliver SMS syncing in Skype UWP pretty soon. We got our hands-on some internal concepts for SMS syncing in the Skype UWP, which show off how Messaging Everywhere will (kind of) look in Skype UWP. As you can see from the screenshots above and below, the SMS syncing integration in Skype UWP is very similar to the implementation from the Messaging + Skype app.

skype-uwp-2

As shown in the above screenshot, Skype UWP will have a dropdown menu near the reply box, where you will be able to switch between Skype and Phone — just like the previous Messaging + Skype app. In addition to this, you will also be able to set the Skype UWP app as the Default SMS app on your Windows 10 Mobile device.

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Microsoft is expected to roll out the new SMS syncing in the Skype UWP app in the near-future, and Insiders will probably get it within the next few months. Microsoft will most likely release SMS syncing as an app update for the Skype UWP app to Windows 10 Anniversary Update users, but it isn’t yet known if the company plans to keep this for Redstone 2 — which is expected to arrive in 2017 to the public.

Keep in mind that these are just internal concepts of how Microsoft wants to implement in SMS syncing in Skype UWP, and the “real” feature will probably look slightly different than the above screenshots. Nevertheless, tell us what you think of SMS syncing on Skype UWP in the comment section below.

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Facebook and Google are why LinkedIn sold to Microsoft

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Microsoft’s announcement of its LinkedIn purchase may have shocked many media readers over the past week, but for LinkedIn, the purchase was something inevitable.

In an interview with CNBC, LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman said the following “Once you get into a public company, if you’re not throwing a lot of ability to do R&D, and to progress your technology at a very fast rate, then it’s difficult to compete with [Google, Facebook]. I think start-ups compete with them, I think private companies compete with them. I think the question is, as a public company you’re held to, ‘OK, what is your quarterly earnings? How does that growth look like?’

What this means is that the firm found it hard to compete with the larger tech giants like Google and Facebook. While neither company competes directly, LinkedIn’s performance is often compared with the other tech giants and found wanting in terms of profits and innovation.

For his company, he decided that they would be better off competing as a part of Microsoft, rather than competing with Microsoft and other giants from without.

He stated tat Microsoft adds a lot of reach – especially internationally to the business network’s operation. For Microsoft, this means a lot more integration with LinkedIn – hints of which we’ve already seen with Windows 10 and Cortana’s LinkedIn integration.

That’s just the highlights/cliff notes version, you can read the full interview at CNBC from the source link below for the whole story, and tell us what you think in the comments.

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This Weekend’s PC Gaming Deals

MSPU PC gaming deals July08

It’s Friday again, so it’s time to list this week’s PC gaming deals. As it’s often easy to get lost looking for (and through) sales, we gather some of the best deals and list them here every Friday. This week is a bit of a weak one as the Steam Summer Sale just ended on Monday, and it’s going to take a while for sales to get back up to a regular level.

Steam deals

As mentioned above, there’s far fewer games on sale than usual right now. Steam’s only deal in the featured box right now is Broforce, which is highly recommended (and a game I’ve recommended on here before). It’s definitely worth the $6 if you don’t have it already. Additionally, TinyBuild has released yet another game for free. This game is called Boid, and it its main DLC is a single player campaign. The game’s multiplayer is completely free, and it might be worth checking out.

Recommended games on sale:

  • Elite Dangerous: Arena ($0.00) – Yes, you read that right. $0.00. Arena is the PVP component of Elite Dangerous, and is normally sold on its own for $7.49. Owners of Elite Dangerous get it for free already, but the free offer for everybody else ends on Monday. Add it to your library once, keep it forever.
  • Two Tribes Pack ($2.99) – Two Tribes is a company that develops some really relaxing games. Their focus is on puzzle games, but each one of those puzzles games is packed full of variety. You can also buy each game in this pack for a low price individually, and the original Toki Tori (which is $0.49) is especially recommended.
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ($20.09) – This is one of the few visual novels on Steam I’ll recommend. It’s more than just reading text, and solving crimes is always enjoyable.

GOG deals

GOG has far more games on sale than usual right now, and there’s some really good ones in there.

Recommended games on sale:

  • Celestian Tales: Old North ($4.39) – Celestian Tales is a turn based RPG that tries to act old school. It definitely has some flaws (with some of these being sprites that look alike), but I enjoyed it. It’s worth the price.
  • Slave Zero ($1.49) – Slave Zero is a classic game that’s aged amazingly well. It’s an enjoyable third person shooter where you control a biomech, and it’s just as satisfying in 2016 as it was in 1999. The GOG release contains compatibility fixes for modern Windows that the Steam release doesn’t have, so definitely buy it here.
  • Tropico 5 Complete Collection ($15.99) – At its core, Tropico 5 is more of the same. It has plenty of improvements and additions you won’t find in previous games in the series, like the dynasty system, but it’s still Tropico. More of the same isn’t always bad, though. If you enjoyed Tropico 3 or 4, 5 is definitely a game you’ll also like.

Other bundles and sales

There’s always going to be some good deals around the web that don’t fall into the previous categories, and this week is no different from any other in that regard.

  • Humble Store XCOM Weekend Sale – The XCOM games are great strategy games, and you can pick up the modern entries in the franchise for good prices here.
  • Action Heroes 2 Bundle ($2.99 for 9 games, $4.99 for 17) – Bundle Stars’ Heroes line of bundles are usually pretty good, and this one is no exception.

Have any deals you want to share? Post them in the comments below!

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Alto’s Adventure lands on Windows 10

Alto's Adventure

Alto’s Adventure has just arrived on Windows 10. Alto’s Adventure is a 2D snowboarding game that’s plays like an endless runner, and the visuals look fantastic. You can check out the game’s trailer below.

Alto’s Adventure originally released back in 2015 for mobile devices, and it looks like it will work fairly well on the PC. The game has Xbox Live integration, too, which is always nice.

The game’s features, taken from its store page, are also below.

  • Fluid, graceful and exhilarating physics-based gameplay
  • Procedurally generated terrain based on real-world snowboarding
  • Fully dynamic lighting and weather effects, including thunderstorms, blizzards, fog, rainbows, shooting stars, and more
  • Easy to learn, difficult to master one button trick system
  • Chain together combos to maximize points and speed
  • Test your skills with 180 handcrafted goals
  • Discover six unique snowboarders, each with their own special attributes and abilities
  • Challenge your friends. Compete for best high score, best distance, and best trick combo!
  • Acquire the wingsuit from Izel’s workshop for an entirely new gameplay dynamic
  • Beautifully minimalist and evocative visual design

Alto’s Adventure is a great looking game, and it’s available for free right now in the Windows Store, where it can be found here.

WP-Appbox: Alto’s Adventure (Free, Windows Store) →

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