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Tony Stark becomes the Messiah in Marvel's 'Civil War II' — here's what it all means

This post contains spoilers for “Civil War II.”

The image is immediately recognizable as the Pietà, where the Virgin Mary holds the dead body of her son, only this time it’s Spider-Man holding the body of Tony Stark.

Civil War II,” in case anyone missed it in the first seven issues of the latest Marvel Comics crossover, is a story of Christ.

passion of starkFor comparison, here’s Michelangelo:

michelangelo pietaWhat does Tony Stark, the billionaire genius and Iron Man creator, have to do with Jesus? The connection in “Civil War II,” written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by David Marquez, is compelling and provocative.

(For those not interested in analysis, I’ll add that “Civil War II” is also a fantastic comic book event — on par with anything you see in the movies.)

Stark, in short, believes the future is unknowable and everyone has the potential to do good.

Jesus might agree, even if for Stark the future is unknowable because of chaos theory and for him it is unknowable because of God.

The drama of “Civil War II” is set into motion when a new character, Ulysses, develops the power to see visions of the future. After his prophecy helps the Avengers stop a cosmic threat, Stark alone recognizes the danger of relying on precognitive visions, especially for criminal enforcement. First, he is skeptical that any prediction could explain all the possibilities of the future. Second, he knows that power corrupts, and that both Ulysses and the people who use his powers might be biased.

While the other heroes appear willing to accept that Ulysses’s powers at face value, Stark calls for closer examination. When Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, invites Ulysses to join a world superhero team called The Ultimates, Stark objects.

And so begins the central conflict of “Civil War II”: Stark and his band of outlaws fighting against Danvers and the assembled forces of world power.

stark looks awayStark’s position is fundamentally Christian, if expressed as a kind of religious futurism: He says we shouldn’t use politics to justify violence.

This is, in fact, the central message of the New Testament, according to the critical theorist René Girard: Jesus is standing up for people who have been scapegoated through history, insisting that all men are equal in the eyes of God. Stark, for his part, might say that all men contain infinite possibilities, and that restricting people’s freedom of choice is a dangerous game.

Stark’s statements in “Civil War II” often contain religious language:

“I respect the future. I believe in the future. I worship at its feet,” he says at one point.

“What are the odds of these visions being true and pure and right,” he asks at another.

Is Stark a Christian? Though he doesn’t appear particularly religious in the comics, he clearly has a spiritual side. For one, he’s a recovering alcoholic who is no doubt familiar with the reformed Christianity offered in AA, which boils down to belief in a benevolent higher power. 

stark brain x

Stark later discovers that Ulysses’ foresight is like an uncannily accurate prediction algorithm. Presenting his findings to the Illuminati, Stark warns that the precognitive visions are a kind of profiling — a modeling of reality that erases individual differences — and can easily be abused.

“It’s profiling. It’s profiling our future. And by Carol acting on it as if it were the Bible … she is, by any definition, profiling individuals,” Stark says, again in religious terms.

Stark’s comments about profiling are, of course, rather topical. After all, we live in an era when prediction algorithms are used in judicial sentencing, and where people talk about using them to assess everything from societal value to terrorist potential. We also live in an era when certain groups, among them black males in the US, are often unfairly treated like criminals.

The political connection becomes clear when Ulysses has a shocking vision: Miles Morales, the black-hispanic kid who is the new Spider-Man, holding the impaled body of Steve Rogers, aka Captain America.

Rogers, who can be considered in this series something like the voice of God, has a friendly conversation with Morales and tells him to go in peace. Danvers, however, insists on arresting Morales.

Thus Stark finds himself fighting to protect an innocent soul from oppressive forces. It’s a battle he can’t win by force, not least because Danvers appears to overpower him. 

marvel vs iron

And so the crucifixion: Battling in front of the US Capitol, Stark is blasted from his suit of armor and falls back, arms outstretched.

crucifixion of stark

In the moment that follows, revelation. Ulysses transmits to the assembled heroes a sequence of possible futures (each drawn by a different artist), from the dark to the bright to the bizarre, that make clear how little we know and how little we control.

And then the lamentation of Stark, as Morales holds his fallen body …
 passion of tony stark RETRY

The entombment, as Stark is placed in a kind of cryogenics pod …

entombment of stark

And the resurrection, as a hologram of Stark’s body appears to rise, with the promise that he will walk on earth again.

resurrection of tony stark

What does Stark’s sacrifice accomplish?

In the Marvel Universe, his actions set the stage for an exciting new era. Danvers, chastised and repentant, hints that she will run for president. Beast, the blue furry mutant who explains Stark’s actions in the end, appears a kind of Saint Paul. There’s also a bombshell cast of Stark acolytes — including Morales and the Muslim-American Ms. Marvel—in a new team called Champions. At least as far as story potential, this is the best Marvel has looked in a long time.

In our own universe, perhaps this story can teach something too. For one, be humble, remembering how little you know. For another, do not let freedom be trampled by concern for security.

There’s also no denying that Danvers, the short-haired blonde leading a global government agency, resembles a fantasy version of Hillary Clinton. Since Danvers is on the wrong side of the conflict, the series could be taken as a criticism of Clinton. At the same time, since she ultimately sees the light, the series might endorse her in the end.

There is, in any case, a light warning against the kind of scapegoating  (i.e., unfair vilification) directed at Clinton during the 2016 campaign.

“Cap, tell him I’m not Satan,” Danvers says at one point.

“She’s not Satan,” Rogers agrees.

As for Stark, it’s not clear who he resembles. Bendis pointed to an only superficial connection between him and fellow billionaire Donald Trump in a 2012 tweet that he retweeted last week: “Donald Trump is like Tony Stark if Tony Stark wasn’t a genius or philanthropist and just sucked.”

In the end, we might not have anyone like Stark in our universe. It clear at least from this comic, however, that the gospel of love lives on. 

SEE ALSO: Tony Stark’s evolution is the defining arc of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

DON’T MISS: The 20 most popular TV shows in the world

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Everything we know so far about the next season of ‘Game of Thrones’

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Astronomers think a rare and explosive 'red nova' will light up the night sky in a few years

V838 Monocerotis red nova candidate supergiant star nasa hubble esa

Every once in awhile, the stars actually do align — then merge, catastrophically explode, and spray their guts all over space.

Or at least that’s the suspected trigger of rare “red novas,” so-named for their characteristic red color.

One of the best-studied red novas happened in 2008. The object, called V1309 Scorpii, was a double-star system (also called a binary) measured for over 6 years before it merged and erupted.

But astronomers are desperate to find more such binary systems before they detonate, since watching the cosmic collisions would not only reveal a lot about the evolution of stars and nebulas, but also how space gets seeded with elements necessary for life.

Part of that effort has been a thorough search for binary star systems that look ready to blow.

However, Larry Molnar, an astronomer at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has gone a big step further with a few colleagues: Over the past 2 years, he’s claimed not only to have found such a system, but also predicted when it will blow up as a red nova.

“No one has ever seen a star go into this kind of explosion. No other situation has come up where any astronomer has ever been able to say, ‘this is a star about to blow up,'” Molnar said in a preview for an upcoming documentary, called “Luminous.”

His prognostication is specific enough to make any astrophysicist squirm: Molnar now says the whole thing will go down just 5 years from now.

In fact, according to Molnar’s prediction, the stellar outburst should be visible in the night sky without any help from binoculars or a telescope.

“[T]he lack of viable alternatives we must take seriously the unlikely hypothesis at hand,” Molnar told Business Insider in an email.

A dance of death

KIC 9832227 binary star model peanut shape molnar et al

The stars in question are a system called KIC 9832227, and they’re locked in a dance of death.

In fact, they’re so close together that they share each other’s million-degree-plasma atmospheres: an object called a “contact” binary.

If you could magically teleport to the system, which is located about 1,700 light years from us amid the constellation Cygnus, it might appear as a brilliantly glowing bowling pin.

But no one was certain that KIC 9832227 was actually a double-star system; all astronomers knew was that its brightness varied over the years. Many types of stars and star systems “pulsate” their brightness in this way, so Molnar and a Calvin College student had to first rule out any doubt that it was two stars.

What they found in 2015 is that it behaved much like V1309 Scorpii — one of the best-known binary systems to unpredictably merge — and that the stars’ mutual orbits were closing in.

“Over the past ten years, the period of KIC 9832227 has been getting shorter at a faster and faster rate,” Molnar and his team wrote in a research poster about their discovery. “This implies that the stars are orbiting faster and getting closer together.”

The team has recently ruled out more “mundane” explanations for what they see, according to a January 7 press release by Calvin College.

Predicting a violent stellar outburst

Cygnus constellation red nova prediction.GIF

By using data from the few known examples, especially V1309 Scorpii, Molnar has calculated the approximate moment that the two stars of KIC 9832227 will collide: in the year 2022, “give or take a year,” according to the release.

Molnar said the explosion should increase the brightness of the star system 1,000-fold, to about magnitude 2 — roughly as bright as Polaris, the North Star.

If and when the two stars collide, they aftermath might look something like V838 Monocerotis, a star which suddenly flashed in 2002, temporarily becoming 600,000 times brighter than the sun — and the brightest star in the Milky Way galaxy.

Astronomers aren’t certain V838 Monocerotis is actually a red nova, but ever since 2002, the Hubble Space Telescope has kept its wandering eye on the expanding gas and dust of the object.

Researchers in 2006 morphed eight of those Hubble photos to show off the red nova’s evolution. This animation shows 4 years compressed into 6 seconds:

Should Molnar’s prediction of the merger of KIC 9832227 prove correct, then astronomers will get one of the greatest heads-ups ever to a relatively rare and important event in the evolution of stars.

And being many times closer than a star like V838 Monocerotis, which is located some 20,000 light-years away, KIC 9832227 may also afford among the closest views of a stellar mega-eruption.

“If the star can completely merge, it can release as much energy as the sun would release in its entire lifetime,” he said in the teaser video for “Luminous”, adding that there’s only “a one-in-a-million chance” to catch an event like this.

“Given the percentages of how many systems we have looked at and how unusual this event is,” Molnar told Business Insider, “it seems unlikely that we should have found the next red nova so ‘easily.'”

SEE ALSO: 8 terrifying ways the world could actually end

DON’T MISS: There are 2,076 black holes lurking in this photo of deep space

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NOW WATCH: NASA just released the most accurate map of where Americans can witness a spectacular total solar eclipse this year

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ICYMI – What happened over vacation?

We hope everyone had a great vacation and a very happy New Year!

We’re excited to be back and while we have a few exciting updates on the way, here are a few things that you might have missed.

Patterns & Controls Tutorials

Fly out menus. Dialogue boxes. Buttons. Check, check and check. Learn how to add all of these controls and patterns to your UWP apps, and spruce up your UI for 2017.

Tell us what you want to see on our blog!

Our blog team wants to create the content that you want to read. Sounds simple, right? Do you want more tutorials? More code samples? Guest blogs? Whatever you want more of, let us know. We’ll do our best to use your feedback to inform our future blog content.

New Ch9 Show on Gaming

Don’t miss Stacey Haffner, our very own .NET Program Manager, in her new Ch9 show all about gaming and UWP game development.

Typescript Tutorial for C# Developers

Jesse Liberty has a new video tutorial about Typescript for C# devs.

He says that, “TypeScript brings object-oriented programming to JavaScript, giving developers a scalable, feature-rich language that compiles into super clean code. While TypeScript is traditionally taught from the perspective of JavaScript, C# is a great entry point, since it features some of the same constructs, abstractions and syntax.”

Check it out below.

The best automated e-mail response of the break:

And that’s it! Have a great weekend and we’ll see you next week.

Download Visual Studio to get started.

The Windows team would love to hear your feedback. Please keep the feedback coming using our Windows Developer UserVoice site. If you have a direct bug, please use the Windows Feedback tool built directly into Windows 10.

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Sprig adds tips and equity to keep meal deliverers loyal

sprig-tipping Some Sprig customers might be bitter about getting guilt-tripped into tipping, but at least the startup is being sweet to its on-demand food servers. TechCrunch spotted that Sprig added a tipping feature to its freshly made meal-delivery app this week. Now Sprig has confirmed this is part of a wide-range of not-yet-announced perks for its servers, including a $1/hour wage increase, to $14.50,… Read More

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Why I bought a humidifier — and you should too

humidifier

I bought two humidifiers this winter. First, the $40 Holmes Warm Mist Humidifier. Second, the $200 Avalon Ultrasonic Warm/Cool Mist Digital Humidifier.

Why buy a humidifier? I got the first because my apartment was cold and dry. I got the second to see what a high-end model is like.

Humidifiers, it turns out, get pretty complicated. My Avalon has an ultrasonic high-frequency oscillator that breaks up water into tiny particles and a ceramic filter made of silver ions. What does all that mean? I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

The thing is, humidifiers are pretty great. I’ve discovered this — Avalon blasting in one room and Holmes in the other — and I’ve learned about many supposed benefits too.

CV Skinlabs founder Britta Aragon names ten of them at Be Well. Among them:

-Reduced risk of infections (viruses and bacteria can’t travel as well in moist air).

-Softer, more vibrant skin (cold, dry air draws out moisture).

-Comfortable sinuses.

-Faster healing times (because better sinus health).

-Improved sleep.

From what I can tell, it just feels nice to have them on.

The Holmes Warm Mist Humidifier seems decent: a version on Amazon has 4 stars and 130 reviews. It certainly gets the job done. My only complaint, aside from a faint and occasionally annoying trickling sound, is the somewhat arduous cleaning process you’re meant to do daily and weekly. (Aragon says you can get away with cleaning once a week if you use distilled or demineralized water; also using a filtered humidifier and changing the filters regularly helps.)

The Avalon Digital Humidifier is no doubt sleeker, a black and white device that lights up neon blue and sprays a fine mist into the air, and it’s also apparently pretty good. It has 5 stars and 5 reviews on Amazon, at least some of them convincing. Reviewer Fuzzy Wuzzy, in a post on December 28, 2016, announced that the manufacturer had listened to their past concerns and responded to all of them in its 2016 model. “The machine is the best cool/warm mist humidifier I have used,” Fuzzy Wuzzy writes. “It’s very similar to the ones we see on Asian drama shows and wish we always had …” Top 500 Reviewer Jonny_Amazon, in a post on December 29, offered his own praise: “This humidifier has premium and luxury written all over it …”

Personally, I’m still unsure what makes a good humidifier. Confusingly, Avalon also sells a different $200 humidifier: that one, which has 4.5 stars and 67 reviews on Amazon, has a different technological approach, making use of replaceable filters instead of a ceramic filter among other differences. Again, I’ll let you know if I figure it out.

Regardless, humidifiers seem like a good thing to have in the winter. I’m glad to have two going right now.

SEE ALSO: You need ear plugs and a sleep mask

DON’T MISS: The top-selling SkyMall product of all time

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NOW WATCH: This machine solves the most time-consuming things about doing laundry

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Ferrari's greatest rival just doubled its sales total

McLaren 570S 30

If you’re at all familiar with the world of Formula One racing, then you know there’s no greater rivalry than that between Ferrari and McLaren.

Over the past few decades, the two have gone head to head for countless race wins and world championships. These days, that rivalry has left the track and spilled over to world of supercars.

While Ferrari’s road car business has been firing on all cylinders for decades, McLaren only started down this road in 2011. But, it’s making up ground quickly. Very quickly.

On Thursday, McLaren Automotive announced that its global sales doubled in 2016 from 1,654 cars to 3,286. Much of the sales growth can be attributed to the newly released entry level Sports Series — the 540C, 570S, and 570GT. Of the 3,286 cars, 2,031 cars can be attributed to the Sports Series. The other 1,255 cars were from the pricier Super Series.

“2016 was a remarkable year for McLaren Automotive,” McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt said in a statement. “We’d planned it to be a year of considerable growth, thanks to the first full year of Sports Series production, but it’s surpassed even our own optimistic expectations.”

In December, McLaren built the 10,000th car in company history — a ceramic gray 570S.

Ferrari 488GTB 8With that said, Ferrari’s sales lead won’t be in real jeopardy for at least a few more years. Ferrari hasn’t yet released its full 2016 figures. However, the brand’s global sales have held relatively steady between 7,000 and 8,000 cars over the past few years.

At the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, McLaren will launch its next salvo against the prancing horse with the introduction of a new second generation Super Series to rival the Ferrari 488 GTB.

SEE ALSO: Bentley just unleashed the fastest and most powerful car it’s ever built

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: We took a ride in the $400,000 McLaren 675 supercar

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This company can 'hack' and completely take over enemy drones for the US military

gopro karma drone

A Maryland-based company claims it can take control over an enemy drone while in flight without the use of jamming, a potential game-changer for the US military, prisons, and airports.

Started in 2010, Department 13 came out of DARPA-funded research into radio frequencies and Bluetooth technology. That was when CEO Jonathan Hunter realized his work could have real effects in mitigating radio-controlled drone aircraft — a frequent, and growing nuisance to militaries as well as the private sector.

“We’ve learned how to speak drone talk,” Hunter told Business Insider. Though D13’s technology has often been described as “hacking” a drone, he likes to describe it differently. Instead, his black box of antennas and sensors, called Mesmer, is able to take over a drone by manipulating the protocols being used by its original operator.

Let’s say someone is trying to fly a commercial drone over the walls of a prison complex to drop off some goodies for inmates — a problem that is increasing as off-the-shelf drones get better and less expensive. The prison can use Mesmer to set up an invisible geofence around its physical walls that stops a drone in its tracks, or takes complete control and brings it into the prison and lands it.

“If I can speak the same language as the drone, I don’t need to scream louder, i.e. jamming” Hunter said.

D13 was one of eight finalists last year in a counter-drone challenge at Quantico, Va., where it stopped a drone out to one kilometer away, though the company didn’t win first place (the winner, Skywall 100, uses a human-fired launcher to shoot a projectile at a drone to capture it in a net). D13 also demonstrated the ability to safely land a hostile drone with its technology at a security conference in October.

Besides setting up an invisible wall for drones, Mesmer can sometimes tap into telemetry data the drone would normally send back to the operator, or tap into its video feed. In some cases, Hunter said, it could even track down the person flying it.

The system does have its drawbacks: It only works on “known” commercial drones, so the library of drones it’s effective against only covers about 75% of the marketplace, according to Scout. That number is also likely much less for non-commercial drones made for foreign militaries.

Still, once a commercial drone makes it into Mesmer’s library, it’s unlikely that a future software update would help it overcome D13’s solution. That’s because Mesmer focuses on the radio signals, not the software.

“There is not a single drone that we haven’t been able to crack,” Hunter said. “We’re working our way through the drone families.”

The company plans to have the system on the market this month.

SEE ALSO: An engine literally fell off a US Air Force B-52 bomber while in flight

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Animated map shows every nuclear-bomb explosion in history

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Intel's Optane: What users can expect in PCs and when it will ship

Intel is known for cranking up PC speeds to new highs, and it’s doing the same for storage with the super fast Optane.

Optane, which Intel claims will replace today’s SSDs and DRAM, is exciting for many reasons. Game play, PC booting, and productivity applications will be much faster with the new class of storage and memory.

Intel has said Optane could be up to 10 times faster than conventional SSDs, but real-world tests on the storage have yet to be done. The first Optane storage was announced at CES, but it’s only in the form of low-capacity 16GB and 32GB units to be used as cache and not as primary storage.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

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More than 10,000 exposed MongoDB databases deleted by ransomware groups

Groups of attackers have adopted a new tactic that involves deleting publicly exposed MongoDB databases and asking for money to restore them. In a matter of days, the number of affected databases has risen from hundreds to more than 10,000.

The issue of misconfigured MongoDB installations, allowing anyone on the internet to access sensitive data, is not new. Researchers have been finding such open databases for years, and the latest estimate puts their number at more than 99,000.

On Monday, security researcher Victor Gevers from the GDI Foundation reported that he found almost 200 instances of publicly exposed MongoDB databases that had been wiped and held to ransom by an attacker or a group of attackers named Harak1r1.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

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This Week on Windows: CES, Forza Horizon 3, Cortana tips and more

This Week on Windows, we’re bringing you new releases including The Girl on the Train and Sherlock, Season 4, talking all about CES 2017 and we’re showing you how to get the most out of our favorite digital assistant, Cortana.

Here’s a recap of what happened at CES 2017:

Whether you’re looking for a new gaming PC, interested in 2-in-1 convertibles or thinking about a ThinkPad, we’ve got the latest Windows 10 tech ready to rock – check these out.

HP

The new Sprout Pro by HP powered by Windows 10

First off was the HP Sprout Pro – the second-generation all-in-one PC with its unique HD resolution projector, touch mat and 2d/3d cameras that make it easier than ever to capture a 3D image.

Lenovo

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

From laptops to tablets, Lenovo’s new ThinkPad devices are thinner and lighter than ever before and offer more performance power.

Toshiba

The Portégé X20W with Windows 10

Toshiba got in on the convertible game with its debut of the new Portégé X20W 2-in-1, featuring a 360-degree dual-action hinge while taking advantage of the best of Windows 10, including multi-directional microphones to support Cortana.

MSI

MSI launched a brand-new lineup of VR-ready gaming devices powered by Windows 10, the latest Intel 7th generation CPUs and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10 GPUs. With Windows 10, these devices have your personal digital assistant, Cortana, built-in, are equipped with the Xbox app and Direct X12 and can take advantage of Xbox Play Anywhere.

Dell

Dell Canvas

Dell introduced the Dell Canvas – a horizontal smart workspace with touch, totem and pen capabilities –  a 13-inch 2-in-1; a new Inspiron gaming line, a wireless charging 2-in-1 for the ultimate “no wires” experience and way more.

LG

 

LG

LG’s new Gram laptops are built to deliver superior portability in ultra-lightweight designs with near-edgeless touch screens to unlock experiences like Windows Ink and built-in finger print readers to take advantage of Windows Hello.

Samsung

Samsung Notebook Odyssey

Samsung opened a new world of gaming with their first-ever gaming PC powered by Windows 10 — the Samsung Notebook Odyssey — and showed off the recently updated Samsung Notebook 9 15′.

Acer

Acer Predator

And rounding things out – literally – we have the curved-screen Acer Predator 21X gaming laptop. The Predator features the latest 7th generation Intel Core i7-7820hk processor and Tobii eye-tracking technology, making it the ultimate PC for gaming enthusiasts.

Here’s what’s new in the Windows Store this week:

Forza Horizon 3 Rockstar Energy Car Pack

The new year has arrived and Forza is celebrating 2017 in the best way we know – with amazing cars ready to hit the open roads in the Forza Horizon 3 Rockstar Car Pack ($6.99)!  This pack features everything from classic Japanese power to a Ford trophy truck that’s ready to conquer anything Australia can throw at it. Then there’s the awesome BMW i8, making its production car videogame debut here in Forza Horizon 3.

The Girl on the Train

Girl on the Train

Reeling from a messy divorce, Rachel (Emily Blunt) is obsessed with the seemingly perfect couple whose home she passes every day on the train…until she witnesses something shocking one day that draws her deeper and deeper into their world. The Girl on the Train ($14.99) is available now in the Movies & TV section of the Windows Store, two full weeks before Blu-ray and DVD.

Countdown Collection

We’re counting down to the New Year with a collection in the Windows Store*! For a limited time, save up to 30% on the hottest games, get apps, software and chart-topping music, find movies as low as $8.99, today’s hit TV shows up to 50% off and more.

New Year, New You Collection

New Year New You

The New Year offers a clean slate and fresh motivation for self-improvement, and our New Year, New You Collection brings together the tools you need to make the most of your life in the months ahead. Find popular apps in the collection including ToDoist, 7-Minute Workout Challenge and more.

Sherlock, Season 4

Sherlock

Britain’s most legendary detective makes his highly-anticipated return to Baker Street, ready to take on remarkable cases and face new foes, while his friends John and Mary Watson prepare for their greatest challenge yet: parenthood. Watch the Sherlock ($19.99 HD, $13.99 SD for Season 4) season premiere, “The Six Thatchers,” available now in the Movies & TV section of the Windows Store.

Have a great weekend!

*Available through Jan. 9, 2017, on Windows 10 devices in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, and Australia. Offers and content varies by market. Limited availability; offers may change at any time.

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