Microsoft today has announced at its Build conference that the Windows 8.1 preview is now available to download and try out. The major update includes numerous features and improvements, which we have bundled in an easily digestible article to get you started.

If you're interested, you can download the preview from the Microsoft website.

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Project Spark is an upcoming innovative game currently in the works by Microsoft to offer owners of the Xbox 360, Windows 8 and the next-generation Xbox One the opportunity to create, share and enjoy unique games. We previously fired up an article from E3 2013 detailing the project in depth, so that's definitely worth checking out if you're unfamiliar with the name. If you have heard of it before (hopefully through us) and are interested, you'll be pleased to know beta registrations are now open.

It's a major project that will prove invaluable for those who enjoy hopping into video game creation tools and pouring hours (or minutes) into creating a unique experience. It's worth downloading and checking out once released even if you're not that creative, simply because you will be able to enjoy content created by others.

Be sure to head on over to Project Spark to sign up for the beta. Major Nelsen only mentions Windows 8 and Xbox One, no word whether or not this beta will be for the Xbox 360 just yet.

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Source:  WPCentral

In a late breaking news story, Microsoft today announced due to feedback from the Xbox and gaming community they have changed "certain policies" regarding their controversial digital-rights management features of the upcoming Xbox One.

The details are listed on the Xbox news site, which is being hammered left and right, resulting in errors when trying to load.

According to the site Giant Bomb, the changes in DRM are the following:
• No more always online requirement
• The console no longer has to check in every 24 hours
• All game discs will work on Xbox One as they do on Xbox 360
• An Internet connection is only required when initially setting up the console
• All downloaded games will function the same when online or offline
• No additional restrictions on trading games or loaning discs
• Region locks have been dropped

If accurate, this represents a complete 180 degree reversal on DRM, resulting in a significantly more competitive devices against Sony's PS4, which has none of those restrictions. It also shows how Microsoft is more than willing to listen to user feedback on their device, which is still months away and can be changed significantly.

We recently wrote an editorial defending the contentious policies with most of our audience agreeing that in fact these rules weren't too off-putting.

We'll update this story as more information comes in…

Update (Confirmed): Via the Xbox blog, Xbox head Don Mattrick writes:

"An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.

Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360."

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[Image: Stephanie Frey via Shutterstock]
E3 kicks off tomorrow, June 10, with four press conferences. Four! We'll be at all of them and we hope you join us for all the gasps, heartbreak, triumph and screaming. Here are the start times and feel free to bookmark these links:

•Microsoft at 12PM (9AM Pacific, 5PM UK)
•EA 3:30PM (12:30PM Pacific, 8:30PM UK)
•Ubisoft 6:00PM (3PM Pacific, 11PM UK)
•Sony 9PM (6PM Pacific, 2AM (June 11) UK)

It's going to be a full day, so drink your Ovaltine. Don't be surprised if the decoder message is that you'll never rent a game again.

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