E3 2017: Alienware and Dell announce PC gaming systems powered by Windows 10

Today at E3, Alienware and Dell announced new PC gaming systems and components, including Alienware gaming desktops with new multi-core processor options, and a full range of performance gaming monitors and peripherals. Powered by Windows 10—the best version of Windows for gaming— these new devices are built specifically for the needs of gamers, including native live game streaming through the Game bar with Mixer, Game Mode, connection to your gaming community through the Xbox app, DirectX 12 and more.

Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop launches at E3

Dell introduced the first gaming desktop in its growing Inspiron Gaming line at Computex and will start shipping it in the US tomorrow. The new Inspiron Gaming Desktop is built for gamers seeking a competitive advantage at an affordable price and incorporates the latest AMD multicore Ryzen processors featuring SenseMI, thermally-optimized airflow routing, Polar Blue LED Illumination, easy component access and power supply options up to 850 watts for supporting dual discrete Ready for VR graphics from AMD and NVIDIA. Available in the U.S. starting today, from $599.99 USD.

Alienware Area-51 updated with new multi-core processors

Intel and AMD’s new multi-core processors available in two new versions of Alienware Area-51, for the best experiences geared towards gamers who create or creators who game.  Each are excellent choices for Megatasking, streaming gamers as well.  If you can picture yourself gaming, recording and broadcasting your game while running a render or deeply immersed in VR or with multiple 4K displays running concurrently, these are the gaming PCs for you.  They’re powered by Intel’s Core™ X-Series or AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper – marking Alienware’s first 16-core/32-thread Area-51. The Area 51 Threadripper Edition will be available to order on July 27 and the Area 51 featuring Intel Core X-Series will arrive on August 22, with pricing to be announced soon.

Alienware 15 to offer NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 with Max-Q design

Alienware will offer the new GeForce® GTX 1080 with Max-Q technology starting June 27 with their award-winning Alienware 15 notebook.  Alienware’s adoption of Max-Q technology provides the highest performance possible in a 15.6” notebook and continues our tradition of designing outstanding products tailored specifically for gamers. The Alienware 15 also features a full complement of input/output connections for popular gaming peripherals and VR headsets. Available in the U.S. June 27, with pricing to be announced soon.

Alienware debuts high-performance monitors, keyboards & mice

MonitorsThe Alienware 25” gaming monitor, with either NVIDIA G-SYNC (AW2518H) or AMD FreeSync, (AW2518HF), offers fast, responsive gameplay with virtually no input lag, at an extremely rapid 1 ms panel response time, and a native 240Hz refresh rate for sharp, clear graphics. With AlienFX lighting (AW2518H only), three preset display modes, full adjustability, single-diecast stand legs, and a seamless panoramic multi-monitor view with ultra-thin bezel, the Alienware 25” gaming monitor is perfect for any gamer. Available in the U.S. June 13, concurrent with E3: monitors ($499-699 USD).

 Alienware Advanced Gaming Keyboard

Alienware Advanced Gaming Keyboard – The Alienware Advanced Gaming Keyboard with optional palm rest delivers a premium gaming experience at an affordable value. Featuring mechanical keys with brown switches, with more precise, responsive and consistent key strokes and five keys dedicated for macro commands that give gamers a competitive edge. Available in the U.S. June 13, concurrent with E3: Advanced Gaming Keyboard ($89.99 USD).

Alienware Pro Gaming Keyboard

Alienware Pro Gaming Keyboard – The Alienware Pro Gaming Keyboard with optional palm rest exemplifies all the essential design components of the Advanced Gaming Keyboard, and elevates the engineering innovation with dedicated volume roller, onboard memory, 15 macro commands and 13 zone-based RGB backlit lighting options. Available in the U.S. June 13, concurrent with E3: Pro Gaming Keyboard ($119.99 USD).

 Alienware Advanced Gaming Mouse

Alienware Advanced Gaming Mouse – The Alienware Advanced Gaming Mouse offers multiple configurations with 3 on-the-fly DPI (dots per inch) levels to switch between precision and speed style gameplay.  Outfitted with nine unique buttons for in-game customization. Available in the U.S June 13 ($49.99 USD).

 Alienware Elite Gaming Mouse

Alienware Elite Gaming Mouse – Additionally, the Alienware Elite Gaming Mouse leverages advanced custom ability innovation with swappable grips, up to 13 programmable buttons, adjustable palm rest and four variable levels of weight adjustment providing ultimate control over cursor precision and movement speed to dominate opponents. Available in the U.S. June 13 ($89.99 USD).

To learn more about everything Dell announced today, visit Dell.com/Gaming!

E3 2017: Halo Wars 2: Awakening the Nightmare comes to Windows 10 and Xbox One this fall

Today at E3, we announced Halo Wars 2: Awakening the Nightmare, a full DLC expansion coming to Xbox Play Anywhere title Halo Wars 2 in Fall 2017 that sets the stage for an epic conflict between the Banished and – that’s right – the Flood!

Halo Wars 2: Awakening the Nightmare promises to expand on the epic story from the main game, where players will battle through a brand-new series of campaign missions from the perspective of the Banished and experience their desperate struggle against the terrifying Flood.

Halo Wars 2: Awakening the Nightmare is more than just a story expansion though; it is jam-packed with new content that also includes new multiplayer maps (available for all Halo Wars 2 players), gorgeous Blur cinematics, exclusive new multiplayer Leaders and Terminus Firefight, a unique game mode in the expansion set on a dynamic map where players build bases and armies to defend against waves of enemy forces. In this tower-defense style firefight mode, you can build various types of walls, mini bases, and turrets to protect your Terminus from every enemy unit imaginable including new mini bosses!

Head over here to read more about today’s announcement, and be sure to stay tuned to Halo Waypoint and Xbox Wire for all the latest news with Halo Wars 2: Awakening the Nightmare.

E3 2017: A classic returns to Windows 10 in Age of Empires: Definitive Edition

Since its launch on PC in 1997, the Age of Empires franchise has explored early human civilization all the way up to Colonial America, and has even examined legendary creatures and lore. Fast forward 20 years to today and we’re proud to announce Age of Empires: Definitive Edition is coming exclusively to Windows 10, with a closed beta starting soon.

We created Age of Empires: Definitive Edition as an homage to the fans of the series and to PC gamers everywhere. Fully remastered with beautifully enhanced graphics that support up to 4K resolution, entirely re-orchestrated soundtrack, brand-new narrative, major gameplay improvements, Xbox Live support for multiplayer, and achievements — the Definitive Edition brings back the original Age of Empires and its Rise of Rome expansion with 16 civilizations to explore in time periods ranging from the Stone Age all the way to the Roman Empire.

Developed by Forgotten Empires, Age of Empires: Definitive Edition will highlight the original classic at its best, exclusively for Windows 10 and available for purchase from the Windows Store. Can’t wait for launch? Check out the trailer above for what to expect in Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, and sign up for the closed beta at AgeOfEmpires.com to play soon! We hope it will excite loyal PC gamers, as well as encourage a new generation to experience this classic.

E3 2017: Everything you need to know about what Xbox shared at the PC Gaming Show

It’s the third year for the PC Gaming Show at E3. I love it at E3; new and re-imagined games are announced, trailers run at every corner, new tech debuts, and fans get a glimpse at what’s next for their favorite gaming passions. As a gamer, this is what it’s all about. And as a PC gamer, I’m personally excited because this year is also packing a PC gaming punch.

Here’s a closer look at what Xbox shared at this year’s PC Gaming Show.

Adam Isgreen, creative director for Microsoft Studios Publishing, celebrated the 20-year anniversary of Age of Empires, by announcing Age of Empires: Definitive Edition coming exclusively to Windows 10. The Definitive Edition modernizes the classic game with fully remastered graphics that support up to 4K resolution, entirely re-orchestrated soundtrack, brand-new narrative, major gameplay improvements, Xbox Live support for multiplayer, and more. Adam also announced that gamers can sign up today for the closed beta that’s coming soon at ageofempires.com.

Forza Motorsport Creative Director, Bill Giese, introduced Forza Motorsport 7, the most comprehensive racing game on Windows 10 with more than 700 ForzaVista™ cars to collect, race and customize, 30 racing environments with over 200 ribbons, a massive campaign mode, dynamic weather, unprecedented tuning, new assists, and mods to suit player of all skill levels. Thanks to the Forza Racing Championship esports league (ForzaRC), enhanced spectating modes and Mixer integration, everyone can now compete.

As PC Design Lead for Sea of Thieves, the highly-anticipated shared-world pirate adventure, Ted Timmins brought the spotlight to Rare Ltd.’s first Windows 10 PC game. Ted announced that the game will support 4K at 60fps, unlocked framerate, and 21:9 ultrawide aspect ratio. For more information on Sea of Thieves, gamers can join the Insider Programme at seaofthieves.com.

Windows 10 is the best version of Windows ever for gaming and keeps getting better, including native live game streaming with Mixer, DirectX 12 powered performance, Game bar, Game Mode, and GameDVR, and integrated Xbox Live. We’re  building outstanding experiences that are made for the PC, enabling 4K support, uncapped frame- and refresh rates, 21:9 aspect ratio, and more, with the customization PC gamers expect.

You can check out an on-demand view of the PC Gaming Show here, and read more about everything announced today over at Xbox Wire!

Windows 10 Tip: Browse books in the Windows Store with the Windows 10 Creators Update

Did you know that with the Windows 10 Creators Update, we’ve added a new digital category in the Windows Store called books,* joining games, apps, movies/TV, and music?

With books in the Windows Store, you can discover and read e-books from your favorite authors across genres you love – from sci-fi to thrillers, to children’s books, and everything in between.

Here’s how to get started:

To get started, open the Windows Store from the Start menu or by searching, then click on “Books” at the top to start browsing.

Open the Windows Store from the Start menu or by searching, then click on “Books” at the top to start browsing. Books is available across Windows 10 devices, from laptops to 2-in-1s, desktops, and mobile.

Once you’ve purchased a book from the Windows Store, you can start reading immediately with Microsoft Edge, which supports offline reading without an internet connection. What’s more, in Microsoft Edge you can easily personalize your reading experience with custom font sizes, layouts, and themes. Microsoft Edge has integrated Learning Tools accessibility features like Read Aloud and text spacing to make it easier for everyone to read, including people with learning differences like dyslexia and English Language Learners.

Have a great week!

*US only

E3 2017: ORIGIN PC announces thin and light EVO15-S laptop powered by Windows 10

Today at E3, ORIGIN PC gave a sneak peek of their all-new thin and light EVO15-S laptop powered by Windows 10—the best version of Windows for gaming.

Measuring only .73 inches thick and weighing only 4.3 pounds, the all-new EVO15-S redefines the thin and light gaming notebook by supporting up to NVIDIA’s latest GeForce GTX 1070 desktop-class graphics; providing gamers with an unprecedented level of performance and power efficiency for games, 4K gaming and VR experiences. For Windows 10 gamers, this device is equipped with native, live game streaming through the Game bar with Mixer, Game Mode, their gaming community  through the Xbox app, DirectX 12 support, and more.

The EVO15-S lights up the best of the Windows 10 Creators Update, including the all-new Paint 3D app and Remix3D.com community, Windows Defender Security Center, Night light, mini view and more. It also arrives built-in with Microsoft Edge for fast and secure browsing, your digital personal assistant Cortana* and comprehensive protection with Windows Defender.

Features of the new EVO15-S include:

  • Windows 10 Creators Update
  • 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ Processor
  • Optional 15.6” 4K-UHD (3840×2160) or a FHD (1920*1080) HD IPS display
  • Up to an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5 VR-Ready GPU
  • Up to 1 x 2TB m.2 PCIe and 1 x 2.5” 4TB HDD/SSD
  • Up to 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 2666MHz Memory
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
  • Built-in HD Webcam
  • Sound BlasterX Pro-Gaming 360˚
  • 2x USB Type C 3.1, 3x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, and a 6-in-1 Push-Push Card reader
  • Backlit multi-color keyboard and optional custom paint
  • Includes free lifetime 24/7 US-based tech support

To learn more about the new EVO15-S High-Performance Thin & Light Laptop actual release date and price, please visit originpc.com, subscribe to their newsletter, or follow them on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook via @ORIGINPC.

*Cortana available in select markets.

Getting VM Memory Usage and Demand Programmatically

A couple of people have recently asked me how to get virtual machine memory usage and memory demand programmatically.  What I am referring to is the information that we display here in Hyper-V Manager:


I have blogged about this in the past – but things have changed a bit since then – so I thought I would post an updated code sample.  Right here:

There are two main things to call out about this sample:

  • This information is all exposed on Msvm_SummaryInformation – which is documented here.
  • Memory demand is actually reported as a percentage of the used memory in the underlying API.  So to get the same information as is displayed by Hyper-V Manager – you have to do some math (included in the sample above)


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Microsoft ReFS tuned for Hyper-V, but be aware of hazards

While Microsoft’s New Technology File System has long served as the cornerstone of endpoint and server-side data…


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storage, the venerable technology is showing its age in the face of evolving compute and data storage demands.

In Windows Server 2012 and later releases, Microsoft added the Resilient File System (ReFS) to overcome some of the limitations with NTFS. Microsoft ReFS can increase resiliency and performance for storage volumes, but there are some drawbacks.

Microsoft ReFS isn’t fully compatible with NTFS — this can leave some enterprise utilities, services and workloads without proper support at the storage volume level. Measure the benefits and drawbacks to Microsoft ReFS before deploying this file system on storage systems.


Microsoft created ReFS to address the performance and integrity issues that have plagued the NTFS.

Microsoft created ReFS to address the performance and integrity issues that plagued NTFS. For example, disks formatted with NTFS require an administrator to manually run the chkdsk utility to check and repair disk errors. The reality of modern multi-terabyte storage arrays makes it impractical to take storage resources offline for granular, time-consuming troubleshooting sessions. Enterprises on storage hardware that use NTFS have adapted to its shortcomings by purchasing systems that provide data protection, integrity checking and redundancy.

Microsoft ReFS includes native features, including automatic integrity checks and data scrubbing. A system that runs on ReFS takes corrective action before an error manifests; it’s particularly effective when businesses use ReFS on mirrored (RAID 1) or parity (RAID 5 or RAID 6) volumes. These self-healing properties eliminate the need to run disks through a chkdsk maintenance schedule.

Microsoft ReFS works in conjunction with Storage Spaces — the software-defined feature that builds storage pools — to duplicate data during disk writes for better data resilience without a separate copy process. Microsoft ReFS supports long paths and file names, and it adds better support for storage virtualization and pooling — critical for software-defined data centers.

In addition to the protection measures, Microsoft ReFS received several enhancements to improve storage performance in Windows Server 2016, which include high-speed redeploying, reordering and cloning of blocks between files. Block cloning is particularly effective for virtualization to supply faster provisioning, file merges and storage performance tiering.

Microsoft ReFS in Windows Server 2016 includes parallelization, monitoring of unallocated space and a redo log for synchronous disk writes. The 2016 version collects small random writes and commits them to disk as a single larger write, which is far more efficient on I/O, targeting highly virtualized systems that can compete for storage I/O.

Limitations of Microsoft ReFS

ReFS can help organizations with large storage volumes improve resilience and performance.

ReFS handles a maximum volume size of 1 yobibyte — equivalent to 1.2 trillion terabytes — and supports a maximum file size of 16 exbibytes — or 1.1 million terabytes. Despite these advantages over NTFS, administrators should be aware of some limitations before Microsoft ReFS enters production.

Windows cannot boot from a ReFS volume. A Windows Server 2016 system needs an NTFS volume to boot and then uses the ReFS volumes for workload storage. ReFS also abandons some commonplace NTFS features such as traditional 8.3 filename structures, compression, Encrypting File System, extended attributes and disk quotas.

ReFS does not use data deduplication and Microsoft only added support for alternate data streams up to 128 KB with Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. ReFS is also unsuitable for removable storage devices.

A Microsoft ReFS volume could become inaccessible in certain scenarios. For example, a thin-provisioned ReFS volume can fail when used with Storage Spaces if the physical disks are near capacity. Also, because Storage Spaces handles blocks and ReFS handles files, ReFS might not reliably recover file errors.

Microsoft designed ReFS without tools for ReFS volume repair or recovery. If a fault occurs, the only option is to restore from a backup.

ReFS might not suit all data center tasks. Workloads or utilities that depend on NTFS capabilities might not work properly on ReFS volumes. For example, Windows Deployment Services requires NTFS to operate.

Microsoft ReFS future and appropriate uses

Until Microsoft can add key functionality, such as the ability to boot into Windows with an ReFS volume, ReFS might remain a niche technology. Administrators can use it for storage tasks where the file system’s unique benefits, such as resiliency and performance improvements, would be most effective — especially for virtual machines.

Currently, Microsoft ReFS is perhaps the best match for deployment scenarios that use Storage Spaces Direct, a feature in the Datacenter edition of Windows Server 2016 to build high-availability clusters with local direct-attached storage. Highly virtualized environments that use Hyper-V would benefit from using ReFS because of the performance optimizations for virtual hard disk and VHDX VMs.

While ReFS can be a solid foundation for many workload deployments based on Hyper-V, the lack of deduplication support might cause some organizations to avoid ReFS. In a VDI deployment that needs storage deduplication, expect to use NTFS.

The data integrity features of ReFS suit archival storage well. ReFS coupled with Storage Spaces provides even greater resiliency for critical, long-term data storage tasks.

ReFS isn’t a fit for everything. It doesn’t work on domain controllers; Microsoft does not recommend using a ReFS volume to store an Active Directory database, log files or the sysvol folder that resides on each domain controller within the domain. SQL Servers administrators can’t run tools such as DBCC CHECKDB or generate snapshots.

Next Steps

Is Microsoft ReFS a replacement for data backup?

The administrator’s essential guide to Windows Server 2016

Storage Spaces Direct is an inexpensive storage option

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