Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

Windows 10 includes an Xbox app and other Xbox-related features. Many of these features are useful even if you’ve never owned an Xbox in your life, and one of these features is even useful for Windows 10 users who never play games.

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Microsoft allows anyone to download Windows 10 for free and install it without a product key. It’ll keep working for the foreseeable future, with only a few small cosmetic restrictions. And you can even pay to upgrade to a licensed copy of Windows 10 after you install it.

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Microsoft is clashing with the PC gaming community again, with everyone from PC gamers to the CEO of Epic criticizing Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform. Microsoft doesn’t have a lot of goodwill left in the PC gaming community, thanks especially to the disastrous “Games for Windows LIVE” service from a few years back…and they’re worried history will repeat itself.

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Migrating your files, settings, and programs to a new PC can be a little intimidating, especially if you’re not completely organized. These tools and simple tips will help you get started.

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PC gamers have to set a myriad of graphics options to balance performance with graphics quality. If you don’t want to tweak them by hand, both NVIDIA and AMD provide tools that will do it for you.

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Applications can use Windows 10’s location services to view your physical location. You’ll see a system tray icon that reads “Your location has recently been accessed” or “Your location is currently in use” when this happens, and it can get a little annoying.

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AgileBits is trying to wean people off of this feature, but–unfortunately–it hasn’t provided any equivalent functionality. You can still gain web access to your 1Password vault by changing a few settings, and it will continue to function as long as you don’t migrate to the new database format.

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Need a file from an old Windows backup on your Mac? Macs can read Windows drives, but Time Machine won’t help you recover files from a Windows backup. You have to extract files from the backup manually, and it’ll take a bit of work.

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Much like Microsoft’s Xbox-to-PC streaming, Sony’s PlayStation 4 can stream games to a few of Sony’s Xperia smartphones and tablets. However, with a small tweak, you can stream your PlayStation 4 games to nearly any Android device.

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The Windows Store included with Windows 10 could be a one stop shop to find all the software you’re looking for. But it isn’t. A few desktop applications, like Kodi and Evernote, are now available–but most aren’t.

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Any purchase you make within an app–rather than in Google Play itself–is an in-app purchase. Google Play tracks these in-app purchases. Some are permanent and can be recovered on a new device, but others are used up after you buy them.

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When you install a major Windows 10 update, you may reboot to find some of your programs missing. Yes, Windows 10 may remove your programs without asking you–but you can get them back pretty easily.

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Everyone loses data at some point in their lives. Your computer’s hard drive could fail tomorrow, ransomware could hold your files hostage, or a software bug could delete your important files. If you’re not regularly backing up your computer, you could lose those files forever.

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Ever want to watch a video on your phone or tablet without wasting its storage space? Or maybe you just need to view a file your friend gave you. Most modern Android devices support standard USB drives, so you can plug in a flash drive just like you would on a computer.

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This only applies to purchases you make within apps. If you purchased a paid app from the App Store, you can just revisit the App Store and reinstall the app. As long as you’re signed in with the same Apple ID you purchased the app with, you’ll be able to install it again on any device.

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Is your Android device low on space? If your phone has a MicroSD card slot, you can use it to expand your space for music, movies or even apps, thanks to the improved SD card features in Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

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File History is Windows 10’s main backup tool, originally introduced in Windows 8. Despite the name, File History isn’t just a way to restore previous versions of files–it’s a fully-featured backup tool.

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With Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Google added more than just Doze. It added a feature named App Standby, which is designed to prevent apps you never use from draining your battery. It’s less effective than disabling apps completely, but it has its place.

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Microsoft is competing with Steam. For $60, you can get Rise of the Tomb Raider from either the Windows Store or Steam. But the Windows Store’s version of the game is worse, and Microsoft’s new app platform is to blame. It’s not ready for powerful games yet.

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Android 6.0 Marshmallow added a new feature called “Doze” that aims to dramatically improve your battery life. Android phones and tablets will “sleep” when you leave them alone, conserving battery life for later. Doze is designed to get out of your way and just work, but you can tweak it and make it even better.

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More games support Linux than ever, thanks to Steam for Linux. But, like on Windows, many of these games require the latest graphics drivers for optimal performance and the fewest bugs. The latest versions of Ubuntu may include fresher drivers, but not necessarily the most recent ones.

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Google added a “Battery Saver” mode to Android with Android 5.0 Lollipop. On a modern Android device, this mode can kick in and help prolong your battery when it’s almost dead. You can tweak that battery threshold or enable Battery Saver mode manually.

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Unfortunately, not every mobile game supports physical game controllers. But quite a few games do, thanks to the Apple TV’s support for MFi controllers. For Android, devices like the NVIDIA Shield have encouraged developers to have controller support to their games. So, while this won’t necessarily work for every game you own, it should work for a fair amount.

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Your Mac tracks the “energy impact” of each running application in a few places. Like on an iPhone or iPad, you can see exactly which apps are using the most power, and adjust your usage accordingly so you don’t run out of juice.

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After more than a decade as a fervent PC gamer, I purchased a PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Wii U last year, eager to try the current crop of consoles. The last console I seriously used was a Nintendo 64. A lot has changed since then.

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