If you’re trying to access anything Flash-related today, first off, why? But secondly, it’s probably not working. That’s because Adobe cut off support for Flash at the end of 2020, and while it plans to block Flash starting on January 12, major browsers aren’t waiting. Beginning January 1, most browsers will block Flash entirely, as will Microsoft in most versions of Windows. Flash is dead, as it should be.
If nothing else, Steve Jobs was often ahead of his time and brought about change through touchscreens and other design revolutions. Another notch on his belt is the early doom of Flash. After his highly publicized “Thoughts on Flash” criticizing the platform, it never really recovered.
And that’s fine! HTML5 essentially replaced Flash years ago, and every major browser supports it. But it does feel like a cultural loss. A decade or so ago, graphic designers spent months mastering Flash to create sites, games, and more. It brought us entertaining content like Homestar Runner (ok, let’s be honest, Strong Bad), Ishkur’s Guide To Electronic Music, and more. Some of those sites still work best in Flash.
But they’ll either have to update or get left behind, and even Homestar Runner seems to be adapting through its YouTube channel. Flash is ultimately an insecure protocol, and we’re better off without it. But it’s ok to remember where the internet started as we look ahead to where it’s going.
If your computer runs Windows 10 and you also have an Android phone, you should probably be using Microsoft’s Your Phone app. You can do a lot with it, including making and receiving phone calls on your PC. Let’s do it!
If you’ve removed a Windows 10 app you purchased or downloaded from the Microsoft Store and you need to run it again, reinstalling the app is easy. You can install the app on other PCs you sign into with the same Microsoft account, too. Here’s how.
So you’ve signed up for Xbox Game Pass, a service that lets you download hundreds of free games for just $10 a month. Now what? Where do you start when hundreds of AAA titles, cult classics, and indie masterpieces are at your fingertips? Well … you could start with the best!
In no particular order, here are 15 of our favorite games on Xbox Game Pass. All these titles are available on the new Xbox Series X, the Series S, or the Xbox One, and many of them work on PC with a Game Pass PC or Game Pass Ultimate subscription.
Sea of Thieves
A massive open-world game with fantastic multiplayer gameplay, Sea of Thieves lets you experience the life of a pirate. You sail from shore to shore, looting ships and fighting mythical beasts along the way. You might even become a legendary pirate after accumulating loot and building a reputation among Sea of Thieves’ vast community of over 15 million players.
Sea of Thieves is always updating and evolving. Start playing now for the chance to be a part of pirate history!
If you haven’t played The Outer Worlds, you’re in for a treat. It’s a first-person space-faring RPG full of sharp writing and social commentary.
Developed by Obsidian, The Outer Worlds is basically Fallout in space. You can meet companions, join warring factions, or shoot everything like an absolute madman. If you’re a fan of games like Fallout or The Elder Scrolls, you’ll love The Outer Worlds.
When’s the last time that you fired up an open-world game and just explored? That’s the idea behind Outer Wilds, a game where you explore a planetary system and try to uncover its strange dangerous secrets.
Outer Wilds is an exploratory game without guns or combat—although you will die a lot playing it. It’s really a perfect game for people who spent their childhood wandering around open-world games, leaving no stone unturned.
There’s a reason why everybody loves Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It’s truly a masterpiece, with unique, challenging gameplay, beautiful art, and a simple plot that tugs at your heartstrings. If you’re into platformers (and especially modern platformers like Super Meat Boy), then you have to give this one a spin.
You can also play 2015’s Ori and the Blind Forest, a predecessor to Will of the Wisps, on Xbox Game Pass.
If you’re tired of playing the same old shooters, then it’s time to fire up Titanfall 2. With a lightning-fast multiplayer and unique use of titans (basically mecha), Titanfall 2 is just one of those games that feels exhilarating every time you pick it up.
Titanfall 2 came out in 2016, but its online community is still going strong thanks to Game Pass. Now’s the time to dive in and experience a groundbreaking shooter in its prime.
Experience the true meaning of fear in Alien: Isolation, a game set 15 years after the original Alien film. You play as Amanda, Ellen Ripley’s daughter, navigating through a decommissioned trading station and trying your best to survive past the Alien.
Alien: Isolation is notable for its survival-horror mechanics, stellar graphics, and fantastic Alien AI, which feels dynamic and alive as it reacts to your actions in-game. Whether you’re a fan of the movies or just a run-of-the-mill gamer, Alien: Isolation is an experience you’ll remember.
Gears 5 is the biggest Xbox-exclusive, and it’s free with your Game Pass subscription. Like the previous Gears of War games (which are also on Game Pass), Gears 5 is a fantastic third-person shooter with fun dialog and very muscular characters. It’s the first Gears game to feature a female protagonist, and its open-world sections and RPG elements are a welcome addition to the Gears formula.
If you’re a fan of shooters and great graphics, then Gears 5 is the game for you. You don’t need to play the first four games in the series to understand what’s going on, so feel free to jump in and enjoy yourself.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt may be one of the most important games released in the 2010s. It’s a vast open-world title where every action has an impact on the story. With fantastic RPG elements, dialog, and combat, this is the kind of game that should appeal to fans of Fallout, Skyrim, GTA, and other massive games.
You don’t need to play the first two Witcher games to understand the story of Witcher 3. That said, you maight want to clear your calendar, because Witcher 3 is a very long game.
Looking for something more old-fashioned? The Metroidvania-styled Dead Cells is a beautiful throwback to old games, with tons of exploration, combat, and non-linear progression. Dead Cells takes place in an ever-changing castle full of secrets, and with no checkpoints, you’re always threatened by the possibility of permadeath.
Prepare yourself for Halo: Infinite with Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which contains all previous games in the series with online play! Game Pass also has the Halo Wars, and Halo: Spartan Assault games, which are strategy games that turn the typical Halo formula upside-down (or top-down). All of the Halo games are pretty fun, and they’re all available on Game Pass.
CrossCode is a love-letter to action RPGs. In it, you play as Lea, an avatar in a video game who’s lost her voice and memories. You must traverse a strange world, participate in some real-time combat, and solve puzzles to unlock your origins. CrossCode has the style and music of a classic SNES or Genesis game, but with buttery-smooth movements and fresh mechanics. If you’re a fan of 16-bit games (and especially action RPGs), then it’s time to give CrossCode a spin.
Are you looking to sink hundreds of hours into a game? Monster Hunter: World is an exceptional RPG where you slay ferocious monsters to fulfill quests and craft new gear. You’ll find yourself hooked on the tight adrenaline-fueled combat, and you’ll always come back to fight just one more beast.
Monster Hunter World has a great single-player mode, but it really shines when you play online with friends or strangers. If you have a friend with Game Pass, tell them to play Monster Hunter with you!
Subnautica is a terrifying game where you explore the depths of an alien sea. As you descend in your submarine or scuba suit, you’ll encounter wildlife, volcanoes, coral reefs, and a dangerous mystery that could kill you. The actions that you take in-game can affect the ocean ecosystem, and you can build cool underwater bases as you accumulate supplies and underwater vehicles.
There’s always time for Minecraft. Whether you missed this generation’s biggest game or just never bought a copy for Xbox, Minecraft is available now with your Game Pass subscription. Download it now to enjoy Creative mode with your family, or start up Survival mode and see how the game has changed since you last played.
Keep in mind that Minecraft is cross-platform, so you can play with family or friends online no matter which console they own. (That said, PC gamers need Minecraft for Windows 10, which is different from the original Java Edition, to play cross-platform.)
One of the best, most overlooked Xbox One releases is Rare Replay. It’s a compilation snapping Rare‘s 30-year history, and it includes 30 video games spanning multiple consoles—including the Nintendo 64. This is one of the only ways to play Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Battletoads, and other favorites on a modern console, and you can do it for free thanks to your Game Pass subscription.
Looking for more great games? We took a look through the Game Pass library to pick out some of our favorite oldies. Most of these games were released before the Xbox One launch in 2013, but they’re still worth playing if you don’t mind going a little old-school.
Dragon Age, Dragon Age II, and Dragon Age Inquisition
The Battlefield series
The FIFA series
Star Wars Battlefront II
The Mass Effect series
The Kingdom Hearts series
Don’t Starve and Don’t Starve 2
For more great Game Pass titles, check out the official Game Pass Library online or pull up the Game Pass Hub on your console.
Need to resize a group of images quickly on Windows 10? With Microsoft’s PowerToys utility, you can do it directly from File Explorer with a right-click—no need to open an image editor. Here’s how to set it up and use it.
This year a lot of people are using video chat for the first time, and a lot of them might not be comfortable with technology in general. If you’re trying to have a holiday video chat with your family, what’s the easiest way for all of them to get on board?
The answer is, predictably, complicated. It generally depends on what platforms you’re already comfortable with and how many people in whatever chat you want to hold are also comfortable with them.
The Easiest Option: Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger (and its associated video chat function) is probably the easiest and most reliable way to have a video chat with friends and family at the moment. It works well, and there’s an excellent chance that most or all of the people you want to talk to already have both a Facebook account and a compatible gadget. It’s accessible from almost any computer or mobile device—all you really need on top of a web connection is a browser (for laptops and desktops) or the Messenger app (for phones or tablets running iOS or Android). If you’re using a desktop computer, you’ll also need a webcam.
From the main Facebook interface, click the Messenger icon (the little speech bubble with a zig-zag inside it), start a chat with someone on your Friends list, then click the video icon in the corner. Bam, you’ve got a video call started. Of course, you can chat with as many people as you can fit on the screen at one time, up to 50, but there’s also the option for a group video chat: Just start a chat with multiple people and tap or click the video icon.
Facebook sells a dedicated video chat device, the Portal. It comes in picture frame and webcam form factors (good for using a TV), but these aren’t necessary to use Facebook Messenger’s video chat. They might be a good alternative if you’re chatting with someone who lacks familiarity with computers or mobile devices—there’s a high cost of entry for Portal, however, which is something to consider.
Buy from Facebook. Starts at $65 for the smallest version.
For Apple Households: FaceTime
FaceTime is Apple’s proprietary video calling system (not Facebook’s—yeah, it’s a little confusing). It’s pre-installed for free on basically any Apple device, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and MacBook laptops.
FaceTime might be the simplest, easiest chat system on the planet, and its quality is pretty darn good, too. It’s integrated with the dialer on the iPhone and the contacts system in your Apple account. To start a FaceTime call, just bring up your contact’s name or phone number in either, and tap or click the FaceTime icon (the little video camera). You can also switch to FaceTime in the middle of a standard voice call, assuming that the person’s number or Apple account is registered in the system.
Using FaceTime with a group is almost as easy. For this, you’ll want to open either the dedicated FaceTime application or the Messages app, then start a new chat. Put as many people as you want (up to 32) in the “To” line, adding people with the + icon. When you’re ready, tap “Video” to initiate the call. You can add new people to the call at any time. If you have an existing group chat in Messages, just tap the FaceTime button at the top of the app.
For Everyone Else: Microsoft Teams
Of course, lots of people don’t have Apple-branded devices, and Apple has been very staunch about not letting anyone else into the FaceTime party. And despite the fact that an account is free, there are plenty of reasons to stay away from Facebook. If you want to video chat with people who don’t have either option, Microsoft’s Teams tool is the easiest free way to do so.
Teams is a lot like Skype, designed specifically for businesses to talk with remote workers, but it’s free for personal use, too. The Teams app is available on iOS and Android devices, as a dedicated Windows app download, or on any laptop or desktop (including MacOS and Chromebooks) as a web app. You’ll need to sign up at the Teams site (any email address will do), and once you’ve launched the app, you can invite anyone by entering their email address. If they don’t have Microsoft Teams yet, adding their email will automatically send an invite. To start a video call, just press or click the camera icon.
Because it’s designed for large corporations, the maximum number of participants allowed in a Teams call is 20, which should be enough for even the most extended of families. Teams calls can last for up to four hours.
Getting Everyone Together
If you have one or more locations with a large group of people, getting them all on screen at the same time might be tricky. The cameras on phones, tablets, and laptops are generally meant for just one person at a time.
There’s a work-around for this: Use a computer and dedicated webcam with a wide angle lens, like the Logitech C930e or the Lenovo 500. If you place a laptop near a TV and use an HDMI cable, you can put the webcam on top of the TV and use it as a monitor for a fairly easy and inexpensive big-screen gathering, though the sound might not be great.
Of course, dedicated webcams are becoming hard to find during the pandemic. If you have a camera from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Wyze, or many other manufacturers, you can plug it into a computer and use it as a makeshift webcam, too.
Every six months, Microsoft releases a new major Windows 10 update every six months, but Windows doesn’t install them immediately. If you’re not sure when you last updated, there are a few ways to check the most recent major update installation date.
We tend to think of Windows as an agnostic operating system. It works with just about any device that you buy, regardless of that device’s branding. But when it comes to smartphones, your Windows 10 PC is all about Android. In fact, Windows users should skip the iPhone and stick with Android for perks like desktop texting, wireless file transfer, and superb Office 365 integration.
The ‘Your Phone’ App Makes Android and Windows One
What if I told you that you could see your phone’s notifications, write text messages, and even mirror your phone’s screen in Windows 10? The Microsoft-made Your Phone app takes just minutes to set up, but it allows you to fully integrate your Android phone with your PC. And because the Your Phone app isn’t available on iOS, it’s the best reason for Windows users to skip the iPhone and go for Android.
Texting or calling from your PC is super easy with the Your Phone Windows app. It shows all of your text conversations in a layout similar to that of Facebook Messenger, and even shows notifications for incoming texts and calls. And because your conversations sync between your phone and PC, you don’t have to worry about missing messages as you jump from one device to another.
Windows’ Your Phone app also makes it easy to transfer photos between your phone and PC. Just press the “Photos” button on the desktop app to access your phone’s Gallery. From there, you can drag and drop photos between devices or even delete pictures off your phone. It’s a lot easier than using a cable to transfer photos, and it could streamline how you work at the computer.
One of the weirdest features that Your Phone has to offer is Android screen mirroring. The feature is exclusive to the select Surface Duo Samsung devices at the time of writing, but it lets you see and interact with your phone’s screen on your computer. You can even run Android apps on your PC with select Samsung Galaxy devices—a trick that could revolutionize your workflow (or distract you from your work).
Getting started with the Your Phone PC app is easy. Just download Your Phone Companion from the Play Store on your phone. Sit at your PC, fire up the Your Phone Companion app on your phone, and follow the instructions to link both devices.
Your annual Office 365 subscription comes with a ton of perks, including access to Microsoft’s professional apps, the Microsoft Teams messaging service, and oodles of OneDrive cloud storage. But you aren’t stuck working on your PC, because your Android phone has stellar Office integration.
The all-in-one Office mobile app makes it super easy to view or compose Word documents, spreadsheets, and slideshows on your phone. It connects directly to OneDrive and Microsoft Teams, so you can retrieve files that you made on your PC without any hassle or share documents with coworkers on the go. Of course, OneDrive and Teams also have dedicated Android apps, which you can use to back up files, share photos, or communicate with teammates while jumping between your phone and computer.
For even deeper control over your Microsoft productivity tools, try downloading the Microsoft Launcher and Microsoft Edge browser on your Android device. The Microsoft Launcher adds useful reminders and calendar events to your phone’s home screen, while the snappy Edge browser allows you to sync browsing history, bookmarks, and logins from your PC to your phone (assuming you don’t already do this over Chrome).
Some of these features are available on iOS, but they’re more robust (and often arrive a lot sooner) on Android devices. The Android operating system is more “open” than iOS, making it a better platform for deep integration with Microsoft productivity tools. And, of course, that brings us to our next point … the future of Microsoft and Android integration.
The Future of Windows Depends on Android
A photo of Microsoft’s Surface Duo, a dual-screened Android smartphone. Microsoft
Microsoft has spent the last few years doing the unthinkable. The company with a reputation for single-mindedness teamed up with Google to develop the new Edge Browser, a replacement for Internet Explorer. It began streaming Xbox games to Android phones, and it released its first Android device, the dual-screened Surface Duo. What’s up with that?
Don’t worry; Microsoft isn’t giving up on Windows anytime soon. As explained by CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft is preparing for a world of cloud computing, where apps and services are streamed to your device no matter its form-factor, operating system, or processing power. The most common device in our cloud computing future will be small, lightweight, and power-efficient, which is why Microsoft (the king of bulky Intel desktops) appears to have a newfound obsession with Android and ARM architectures.
Microsoft’s cloud computing infrastructure, called Azure, is already helping people run professional software and games through the cloud. But it will take years before cloud computing reaches its full potential. In the meantime, Microsoft is working directly with Google and Samsung to improve the Android experience for Windows users. And while some of these improvements will find their way to iOS, deep integration with tools like the Your Phone app and the Microsoft Launcher will remain exclusive to Android.
People who use an iPhone with their Windows computer are missing out on a ton of cool features, like texting from your computer through the Your Phone app. Still, it’s worth mentioning that most of these features are available to iPhone users with a Mac. If you’re committed to the idea of buying an iPhone but still want to text from your desktop, consider grabbing a Mac computer.
Microsoft’s “Meet Now” feature in Windows 10 appears as an icon in the notification area of the taskbar that includes links to Skype teleconferencing functions. Here’s how to hide or disable the Meet Now icon and notification.