Use the Windows Battery Performance Slider

The first stop on our battery-life betterment tour is the Windows battery performance slider, a recent addition to Windows 10. It aims to group all of the settings that affect battery life into a few easy-to-understand categories. The company that made your PC determines exactly which settings the battery slider controls. But in general, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • The Best Performance mode is for people willing to trade off battery runtime to gain performance and responsiveness. In this mode, Windows won’t stop apps running in the background from consuming a lot of power.
  • The Better Performance setting limits resources for background apps, but it otherwise prioritizes power over efficiency.
  • Better Battery mode delivers longer battery life than the default settings on previous versions of Windows. (It’s actually labeled “Recommended” on many PCs.)
  • Battery Saver mode, a slider choice that will appear only when your PC is unplugged, reduces the display brightness by 30 percent, prevents Windows update downloads, stops the Mail app from syncing, and suspends most background apps.

Microsoft joins the VR battle with Windows Mixed Reality today

Microsoft is launching its own answer to virtual reality today, taking on HTC and Oculus in the process. Windows Mixed Reality will be available in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, and headsets are now available to buy. Here’s everything you need to know about Windows Mixed Reality.


While Microsoft has picked the “Mixed Reality” naming for its initial headsets, they’re only capable of virtual reality experiences right now. Microsoft’s range of headsets are similar to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and many manufacturers are selling bundles that include touch controllers. The main difference between the Vive / Rift and Windows Mixed Reality is that the headsets do not require separate sensors.

Microsoft is offering movement tracking (six degrees of freedom) without the need for traditional external sensors placed throughout a room. Windows Mixed Reality headsets have cameras and sensors to track the motion controllers. This is great for plugging headsets into a laptop for taking VR to a friend’s house, but the lack of external sensors means Mixed Reality doesn’t do a good job of picking up movements in games where you place your hands behind your back.

Microsoft has picked the Windows Mixed Reality name because it believes the experiences of virtual reality and augmented reality (HoloLens) will eventually blend together. While the existing Windows Mixed Reality headsets don’t offer any augmented reality experiences or a passthrough mode like the Gear VR, more headsets will arrive in the future that are more capable.


Most of the main PC makers are creating Windows Mixed Reality headsets, and a number of them are available to purchase today. Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung are all creating headsets, and the cheapest will be priced at $299. Not all will come bundled with wireless motion controllers, and not all are created equal with the same comfort and specs. We’ll have a guide to the best in the coming weeks, but here’s an overview of all the headsets available to purchase.


Acer was the original developer headset for Windows Mixed Reality, and it’s also one of the more basic of the bunch at just $299. You get a resolution of 1440 x 1440 per eye, an LCD display, and a 95-degree field of view. It’s a combination of blue and black on the outside, and compact enough to place in a backpack.


Dell’s Mixed Reality headset improves on Acer’s with more comfortable padding, and an improved 110-degree field of view. You still get the same resolution of 1440 x 1440 per eye and an LCD display, but you’re paying a little extra for a better design and more adjustability and comfort.


HP’s headset is similar to Acer’s in terms of specs, but with a Tron-like design. HP is selling the headset as a bundle with the motion controllers for $449, although you can technically buy the development edition separately for $329. Just like Acer, it’s a resolution of 1440 x 1440 per eye, an LCD display, and 95-degree field of view.


Lenovo’s Explorer headset is one of the lightest Windows Mixed Reality headsets available. While it has a resolution of 1440 x 1440 per eye, Lenovo has pushed the field of view to 105 degrees on the LCD displays. It’s one of the more affordable and comfortable Windows Mixed Reality headsets available.


Samsung’s Windows Mixed Reality headset is one of the best ones available. While it’s not arriving until November 10th, it includes a better resolution of 1440 x 1600 per eye, 110-degree field of view, and an OMOLED display. Samsung has also built AKG headphones into the headset, making it a true Oculus Rift competitor. Samsung’s pricing does place it $100 above Oculus’ recently discounted Rift and Touch bundle, though.


You won’t need a high-end gaming PC to use Windows Mixed Reality. Microsoft has kept the minimum specs low for basic apps and VR experiences, but for the top games you’ll need a more powerful PC. For the basics, you’ll need a PC with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update installed, an Intel Core i5-7200U processor or better, 8GB of DDR3 RAM or better, 10GB of free disk space, an Intel HD Graphics 620 or DX12-capable GPU, and HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2, as well as a USB 3 port and Bluetooth for the controllers. This basic spec will provide 60 frames per second performance, and for 90 fps you’ll need a PC capable of the Windows Mixed Reality Ultra spec.

Windows Mixed Reality Ultra PCs will need an Intel Core i5 4590 (fourth generation), quad core or better, 8GB of DDR3 RAM or better, 10GB of free disk space, and an Nvidia GTX 960/965M/1050 or AMD RX 460 or greater graphics card. You can check to see if your PC is compatible by installing the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and running the Mixed Reality Portal app or by downloading Microsoft’s separate PC check app.


Microsoft is using a virtual Cliffhouse as its portal for games, apps, and holograms in Windows Mixed Reality. The Cliffhouse will let you launch content, watch movies, and pin holograms in a virtual environment. Think of it as your virtual home. Microsoft is supporting apps and games from its Microsoft Store initially, which means you’ll be limited to what’s available for Windows 10. You can also run your desktop PC in the virtual environment, and access Microsoft Edge for web browsing.

VR Games like Arizona Sunshine and Superhot VR are available today, alongside a Halo Recruit VR experience. Apps like Littlstar and Sliver.TV are also part of Microsoft’s Mixed Reality launch. Most of the games will come with SteamVR support. Microsoft is working with Valve to support this in Windows Mixed Reality, but this won’t be available in beta until the end of the year. If you’re opting for Windows Mixed Reality right now, you’ll be limited to the Microsoft Store and Microsoft’s built-in Windows 10 apps for now.

5 Ways to Keep Windows XP Running Strong

Windows XP has been out since 2001, and it’s still one of the most popular Microsoft operating systems (OS) in use today despite several upgrades, with the latest update being Windows 10.

Add More RAM

RAM is the memory that your computer uses to run programs, and the general rule of thumb is “More is Better.” Many XP computers, having been bought many years ago, will have 1GB (gigabytes) of RAM or even less (my father’s computer, for example, came with 512MB (megabytes), which is barely enough to run the OS).

It’s very hard to get anything done these days with that amount of RAM.

The practical limit on how much RAM a Windows XP computer can use is about 3GB. Thus, if you put 4GB or more in, you’re just wasting money. Adding any more than you have now (assuming you have less than 3GB) is good; getting to at least 2GB will make your computer much snappier.

Upgrade to Service Pack 3

Service Packs (SPs) are rollups of fixes, enhancements, and additions to a Windows OS. Often, the most important things in them are the security updates. Windows XP is at SP 3. If you’re on SP 2 or (hopefully not!) SP 1 or no SP at all, go download it right now. This minute. You can download it by turning on Automatic Updates; download and install it manually; or order it on CD and install that way. I strongly recommend turning on Automatic Updates in XP.

Buy a New Graphics Card

If you have an XP computer, it’s likely you also have a very old graphics card. This will affect your performance in a number of ways, especially if you’re a gamer. Newer cards have more RAM on board, taking much of the load off your central processing unit (you’ve probably heard abbreviated as CPU).

You can get a mid-grade card for little money nowadays, but the effect on your Internet experience, and in other ways, could be significant. A good place to start is’s PC Hardware/Reviews site.

Upgrade Your Network

Your home network may be ready for an upgrade. For instance, most homes use the wireless technology known as 802.11b/g to connect computers through a router. The upcoming standard is called Wi-Fi HaLow and will be an extension of the 802.11ah standard. The Wi-Fi Alliance intends to begin certifying HaLow products in 2018.

Download Microsoft Security Essentials

XP computers are more susceptible than other Windows versions to attack. In addition, spyware and adware — the computer equivalent of junk mail — can build up over the years and slow your computer to crawling-through-oatmeal speeds. Microsoft has an answer for that which wasn’t available when you bought your machine: Microsoft Security Essentials.

Security Essentials is a free program that guards your computer against worms and viruses, spyware and other bad stuff. It works very well, is easy to use, and highly recommended. It’s been protecting my computer for months, and I wouldn’t leave home (or my computer on) without it.

Eventually, you will need to get a new computer, since Microsoft will stop offering support for Windows XP, including security updates. But taking these steps will help you get the most out of the time you have left.

A new crop of HP laptops flip or spin, and run Windows, Chrome or Android

HP announced a versatile lineup of PCs and PC-shaped things on Monday (Taipei time) at Computex, embracing the new normal in the world of PCs—which is, nothing’s normal.

hp computex primary copy

A year ago, the PC diversification drive was just getting started, but now it’s in full swing. You want a laptop that can flip over with a 360-degree display hinge? HP’s got one. What about a laptop that can split in half? HP’s got one. Or maybe it looks like a laptop, but it runs Chrome or Android—HP’s got some of those as well. It’s also got plain ol’ Windows laptops and PCs, but that’s not where the excitement is anymore.

Let’s start with the hottest trend, which is notebooks that can flip all the way over to turn into a tablet, following the lead of Lenovo’s Yoga series. HP debuted the Pavilion x360 with a full-rotation hinge at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Now it’s got more fleshed-out specs, plus a fancier version that will carry HP’s Envy moniker.

The Pavilion x360 will have a 13.3-inch touch display and your choice of graphics-oriented AMD A6, A8, or A10 CPUs, or more battery-efficient Intel Core i3 or Core i5 CPUs. Speaking of battery life, HP specs it at up to 8.25 hours with the Intel chips, but up to only 6.25 hours with the AMD chips.

The Pavilion x360’s memory will run up to 8GB, and hard-drive storage will range from 500GB to 1TB. The Pavilion x360 will weigh about 4.3 pounds and come in red or silver case colors. The AMD versions will cost $630 and be available on July 9, while the Intel-based models will cost $600 and be available July 20.

The Envy x360 will be physically bigger than its Pavilion cousin, sporting a 15.6-inch display, a heavier 5.8-pound weight, and Intel Core i3-i7 processors. It’ll be configured with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage, including a hybrid option. Silver will be its sole case coloring. HP says the battery will last up to 7 hours. HP did not specify a ship date, but the price will be $680.

HP built several improvements into the new Split x2 hybrid, including a fanless design. Thanks to the advent of thinner hard drives, HP was also able to shift the main storage from the keyboard side to the tablet side, so users won’t be separated from their data regardless of the mode.

The Split x2 configurations will offer Intel Bay Trail and Haswell CPUs, 4GB to 8GB of RAM, and up to 500GB of hybrid storage. The 13.3-inch tablet side weighs 2.45 pounds, but the full unit with keyboard attached weighs 4.3 pounds. The tablet alone lasts 5.25 hours per HP’s spec or 7.75 hours with the keyboard (which has its own battery) attached. Colors will include white, silver, and red. The Split x2 will be available July 16th for a starting price of $600.

Less than a year after HP debuted the Chromebook 11 (with 11.6-inch display) it’s giving the line a look more similar to that of its Chromebook 14 cousins (with 14-inch display). Gone are the shiny white and classic black of the original version, designed in collaboration with Google. The new Chromebook 11 will come in Ocean Turquoise or Snow White.

The specs remain simple: a Samsung Exynos 5250 CPU, up to 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of local storage. It will weigh a pleasant 2.69 pounds, and HP says the battery will last up to 6.25 hours. HP set the price at $249, but a ship date has yet to be announced.

PC-shaped Android devices popped up at Computex in 2013, and a light trickle of models has come out since then. A recent roundup of Android AiOs shows how vendors are still experimenting with this fairly new concept.

HP introduced its Slate line of Android products last year, starting with a tablet and an All-in-One. This year, a new SlateBook delivers the Android experience in a clamshell design whose black and “sweet yellow” accents make me think it should be called SlateBee. The 14-inch Full HD touchscreen device will be driven by an Nvidia Tegra 4 chip and contain up to 2GB of RAM, and up to 64GB of storage. It will weigh a toteable 3.71 pounds. HP says the battery will last up to 9.25 hours. The new SlateBook will ship on August 6 for a starting price of $429.

I’ll give HP credit this year. It’s been playing catch-up in developing products for a new generation of users. The products it’s unveiled at Computex show that it’s assertively developing even fairly new product lines like the Slate Android devices. It hasn’t given up on its Windows business, but it’s responding to users’ restless search for more versatile form factors and tablet-like talents.

What do you think—is HP innovating, or is it straying too far from its PC roots? Let us know in the comments.

Correction: Due to erroneous press information, the price of the HP SlateBook was corrected from $399 to $429. PCWorld regrets the error.