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December 2014



Windows Updates

31 December 2014


Microsoft has caused some confusion by releasing a new Nvidia Geforce driver via Windows Update which appears as an Important, and thus automatically installed, update for some Windows 8.1 users. Official details of what the driver update contains are not yet available, but user feedback such as this thread on the GeForce Forums indicates that it is an older 344.91 driver, and may be a bugfix release. On my system it appears as an Optional update. I don't recommend installing it if you are running a newer GeForce driver such as 347.09 until MS releases more information.



Site Update

28 December 2014


As 2014 draws to a close, I'd like to thank you for continuing to visit the site, and as I mentioned in a recent update, I'm planning to have some fresh new content and a revised layout for 2015. In any case, I hope you're enjoying a good break at the moment, and that next year is a happy and prosperous one for you and yours.


Since PC gaming has been a focus of this site since it began in 2004, I can't let the year end without highlighting its state of play in 2014. While PC gaming is more profitable than ever for online multi-player games (MMOs and MOBAs), in other genres the consoles still reign supreme in terms of sales. Actual sales figures are very hard to come by, but we do sometimes get a few scraps of useful information. For example, here's how some of the biggest games of 2014 performed: the PC version of Watch Dogs accounted for only 12% of total sales (including digital sales) globally; the PC version held 1.4% of total sales for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (excluding digital) globally; and for Assassin's Creed: Unity, in the UK, PC sales were only 2% (excluding digital).


Upon seeing these figures, your initial reaction might be that some of the data doesn't include digital sales. Fair enough, but this NPD Report notes that on average, 46% of PC gamers made digital purchases in 2014, and the Ubisoft data on Watch Dogs reveals that 70% of PC version sales were digital. So if we generously inflate the second and third set of data above to account for digital sales, they still fall well short of 10-15% of the whole pie.


Even if we completely ignore the issue of rampant and ever-rising piracy on the PC platform relative to the consoles, and assume that PC game sales are poor solely because PC gamers are more discerning than their console counterparts, the fundamental issue remains that PC game sales in the action/adventure/shooter genre seem very low. Why does this matter? Simple: as PC gamers we need to face the reality that developers will continue to aim their efforts at crafting a game for various consoles first, and PC last. It's just basic economics. No developer is going to expend 90% of their efforts for 10% of sales. Worse still, the next-gen consoles have added greater graphical complexity to the mix. All of this explains why, when recent games are ported to PC, they frequently exhibit odd issues - stuttering, shadow glitches, aggressive LOD pop-in - primarily due to a game being originally designed and coded for console architecture.


For my money though, PC is still the best platform for gaming. It offers the greatest flexibility in terms of graphics, customization and controls. Sure, we live in a console-centric gaming world, and thus we'll need to ride out this current wave of less-than-optimal next-gen games. But on the flip side, there are some positive signs. For starters, the arrival of the next-gen consoles has meant a new level of realistic-looking graphics. While some people lament the sponsorship of certain titles by Nvidia or AMD, the fact is that without such exclusivity deals, without GPU manufacturer intervention, recent games would exhibit very few PC-exclusive improvements. And although I've often complained about the lack of good games in recent times, I have had fun in 2014 with a handful of very satisfying games - South Park: The Stick of Truth, Alien: Isolation, and Far Cry 4 are my personal favorites this year.


Lastly, for those curious about my opinion of Windows 10, and where it's headed... well it looks like it's too early to tell whether Microsoft has completely grasped the concept that the PC needs a unique interface, not a unified desktop/mobile hybrid. There are signs that MS could make Windows 10 far less customizable, but for now I think people have enough options with Windows 7 or a modified Windows 8.1 that nobody should be in any hurry to update to Windows 10 when it arrives late next year.


All the best for 2015!



Nvidia GeForce 347.09 WHQL

24 December 2014


Nvidia has released the 347.09 WHQL certified graphics driver. This driver is for GeForce 400 and higher graphics cards under Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8. It is the same as the recent 347.09 Beta, but has now been WHQL certified.



CCleaner 5.01

19 December 2014


A new Version 5.01.5075 of the free CCleaner system cleaning utility has been released. Changes include a new Disk Analyzer tool, improved Firefox and Opera cleaning, optimizations, minor improvements and bug fixes.



Opera 26.0

18 December 2014


The Opera browser has been updated to Version 26.0.1656.60. The changes in this version include an updated Chromium, as well as bug fixes.



Nvidia GeForce 347.09 Beta

18 December 2014


Nvidia has released the 347.09 Beta graphics driver. This driver is for GeForce 400 and higher graphics cards under Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8. This is the recommended driver for Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Elite: Dangerous. It also contains updated SLI and 3D Vision profiles, as well as bug fixes. The driver package contains PhysX version 9.14.0702 and updates GeForce Experience to version 2.1.5.



Windows Updates

18 December 2014


Microsoft has released an Update for Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 7 and 8. Unfortunately the related KB article isn't up yet. It is available via Windows Update.


Update: The KB article is up now and shows that this update fixes modal dialog boxes not working correctly.



Site Update

13 December 2014


Long-time readers would know that I find most recent PC games generally uninspiring in terms of gameplay. So I've had little incentive to drop big bucks to replace my old system. However, I did recently upgrade it with a GTX 970. This card is one of Nvidia's best releases in years: relatively cheap, powerful and efficient. My only concern was that my 6 year-old i7 920/X58 platform would significantly bottleneck the card, but that doesn't seem to be the case. In recent games with known issues, such as Far Cry 4 and Watch Dogs, my system runs things smoothly at maximum settings. I should now be ready for GTA V in late January. Speaking of which, I've decided that I'm going to attempt to write a GTA V Tweak Guide. I also have plans to revamp this site with an updated layout and hopefully some new content in 2015.



Windows Updates

11 December 2014


A recent Windows security update has been identified by some users as causing problems. If you are experiencing issues such as unsigned driver prompts, unexpected UAC prompts and/or various program failures, go to Control Panel>Programs and Features>View Installed Updates, then search for and uninstall KB3004394.


Update: Microsoft has released a new Update which addresses this issue.



Chrome 39.0

10 December 2014


Google has released Version 39.0.2171.95 of the Chrome browser. This version updates the Flash Player, as well as providing security and bug fixes.



Microsoft Security Updates

10 December 2014


Microsoft has released its monthly set of Windows security updates which you can download individually from here or via Windows Update.



Flash Player 16.0

10 December 2014


Adobe has released Version 16.0.0.235 of the Flash Player plugin for browsers. Use Windows Update to update the built-in Flash Player in IE11 under Windows 8.



Adobe Reader 11.0

10 December 2014


Adobe has released Version 11.0.10 of the Adobe Reader software for viewing PDF documents, now known as Adobe Reader XI. This update contains security fixes.



AMD Catalyst 14.12 Omega WHQL

9 December 2014


AMD has released the official Catalyst 14.12 WHQL certified graphics driver, also known as Omega, for the HD 5000 series and above under Windows 7 and 8. This driver provides new features including Virtual Super Resolution, 5K monitor support, Alienware Graphics Amplifier, video playback enhancements, Frame Pacing enhancements for various games, OpenCL 2.0 support, as well as general performance improvements and bug fixes.



Skype 7.0

9 December 2014


A new Version 7.0.0.100 of the communications utility Skype has been released. This version adds video calling between Skype and Lync users, a new compact view, a show unread messages toggle, touch features, and bug fixes.



Opera 26.0

3 December 2014


The Opera browser has been updated to Version 26.0.1656.32. The changes in this version include the ability to share bookmarks, as well as bug fixes.



Skype 6.22

3 December 2014


A new Version 6.22.0.107 of the communications utility Skype has been released. A changelog is not available.



WinRAR 5.20

3 December 2014


The archival utility WinRAR has been updated to Version 5.20. Changes include automatic privileges escalation if required, Explorer-based enhancements, and extraction support for ZIP and ZIPX archives using XZ compression.



Firefox 34.0

2 December 2014


Mozilla has released Version 34.0 of the Firefox browser. The most significant changes include a switch to Yahoo as the default search engine for the US (along with a different version number of 34.0.5), the addition of the Firefox Hello built-in communication client, and the ability to switch Themes while in Customize mode.



3DMark 1.4

2 December 2014


Futuremark has released a 1.4.828 Patch for the latest version of the 3DMark benchmark. The patch updates the SystemInfo module, reduces hardware monitoring overhead, hides the Product key on the Help tab by default, and contains bug fixes.



Foxit Reader 7.0

2 December 2014


The free Foxit PDF Reader has been updated to Version 7.0.6.1126. This update adds DPI awareness, and provides bug fixes.



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