Friday, April 17, 2015

Microsoft dives into new features in Windows 10 Maps app for phones and PC

Windows 10 maps for Windows Phone
Microsoft is putting the spotlight on the maps apps it has created for Windows 10 for phones, which launched last week with the current 10051 preview build. It has also revealed some updates to the maps app made for the Windows 10 PC preview.
Windows 10 maps for Windows Phone
In addition to pinching for zooming in and out of maps in the phone app, users can also tilt the map by scrolling with two fingers. Of course, there's also a search bar which accesses Microsoft's Bing engine to help map users find what they indeed inside the app. Microsoft says:
"Enter the name of a place you are looking for, such as the "Space Needle", and you'll see a rich set of details that's consistent with our search experiences across Windows 10 Technical Preview and Bing web search. Along with the landmark's location and contact information, you'll see images and recent customer reviews. You can even make a reservation for a restaurant right from the app. When you're on the go — let's say you're staying at a hotel in an unfamiliar city — you can easily find nearby places to eat, drink, and shop, or even suggested attractions and activities, right from the detail card for your hotel."
The app offers turn-by-turn directions, with the best routes based on current traffic conditions, and maps can also be downloaded for offline use. Microsoft adds:
"We're also making it really easy to get to your content from one device to another. Sign into any Windows device with your Microsoft Account, and your home and work locations, route preferences, and recent searches will automatically roam with you. Simply tag a place as a favorite, and it will always be there, in your Favorites list on all your Windows 10 devices. Search for a favorite restaurant on your PC, and the search result will be there on your Windows phone when you're ready to go."
Microsoft has also announced that a number of cities which have been included in the Bing Maps Preview app for Windows 8.1 with 3D images, are now available to view in the Windows 10 PC preview maps app as well. There's also additional streetside panorama imagery as well.

We just got a closer look at Microsoft's new Office apps, and here are the features we're most excited about

Microsoft just announced that it's bringing the new Office apps optimized for Windows Phone to the Windows 10 Technical Preview this month. 
This means you'll be able to see exactly how Office 2016 apps will work on Windows-powered phones in the coming weeks. Microsoft previously showed off how these apps would work on tablets back in February. 
Microsoft has two versions of Office: the Universal Office apps, which have specific features that make it easier to use Office on mobile devices, like small tablets and phones. The desktop version of Office 2016 is really meant to be used with a keyboard and mouse, but is also touch enabled. It's the version you would commonly use on laptops, desktops, and tablet-laptop hybrids. 
We got a close look at how these Universal and desktop Office 2016 apps work, and here are some of the most interesting features we found:
  • The version of Microsoft Word that's optimized for phones and tablets is much easier to use on smaller screens. Microsoft has moved the blue ribbon that includes all of the menu options to the bottom of the screen instead of the top, so that you can easily reach it with your thumb. This will probably make it easier to read and edit documents while using your phone with one hand.


  • One of my favorite new features in the mobile version of Excel is that the Functions menu looks much cleaner. As soon as you tap the Functions field, an easy-to-read drop-down menu with all of the available functions appears.
  • The new "Tell Me" feature in Word for the desktop also seems really useful. It's not just a help feature — it actually performs actions for you, instead of just telling you how to do them. So, for example, if you want to add a strikethrough to a specific word or phrase but don't know how to do it, you could just highlight the word and type "strikethrough" in the Tell Me field and it will take care of it for you. 
  • Attaching files to emails also seems much easier in the new version of Outlook. When you add an attachment, it will automatically pull up the most recent files you've worked on across any Office app, regardless of where it resides on your computer. OfficeInsightsLisa Eadicicco
  • The new "Insights" engine in the desktop version of Word 2016 helps you look up information on the web more quickly. All you need to do is highlight a word, and the Insights engine will fetch information and resources about that particular subject from the internet. 

  • Source:

    Microsoft Releases 'Halo' Spinoffs For iOS, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 And Steam

    Microsoft pulls Windows 10 preview for low-end Lumias after 'bricking' reports'

    Microsoft has pulled a build of its Windows 10 Technical Preview for several low-end Lumia phones after reports some devices in its early tester program had been bricked.
    Lumia device owners testing one build of the Windows 10 Technical preview found their phones unusable after attempting to roll back to Windows Phone 8.1.
    A Microsoft employee announced on the Windows Insider Program discussion board this week that due to the reports of bricked handsets, it was suspending the preview build for the Lumia 520, 525, and 526 - some of Microsoft's cheapest and best-selling Lumia models.
    "We are seeing some reports of failures on Lumia 520/525/526 devices when trying to roll back to Windows Phone 8.1 using the Windows Phone Recovery Tool. We are pausing build availability for these devices temporarily while we investigate the issue and work with customers who have reported problems," the Microsoft employee said.
    The Windows Insider program allows anyone with a bit of technical knowledge to try out Microsoft's work-in-progress OS and provide feedback and help shape the final product. The company has about one million registered insiders that can opt for either Fast builds, which are less stable, or Slow for the risk-averse.
    The build that has caused problems for the Lumia devices, 10051, was released last week in the Fast lane. As such, insiders were warned to expect a number of known issues, and Microsoft offered its Windows Phone Recover Tool as a way to remedy those problems.
    The build may have been particularly appealing for Windows fans given it was the first release with Microsoft's much-hyped Project Spartan browser.
    So, for Lumia 520 owners the safer way for them to currently see what's in store for Windows 10 mobile will be to check out ZDNet's first look at key feature updates in 10051, such as new notifications and the updated Outlook app.

    The leaked Windows 10 10056 build can't update to the new 10061 internal build

    Windows 10 10056

    People who downloaded and installed the recently leaked 10056 build of Windows 10 may see an update to a new version, 10061. However, they won't be able to install it as this build is just for Microsoft employees to try out.
    That bit of information was revealed late on Wednesday by Microsoft's Windows Insider leader Gabriel Aul on Twitter:
    "People who installed the leaked 10056 build will see 10061 offered, but unless they are MS employees it won't install."
    The last public preview build of Windows 10 for PCs from Microsoft was 10049, which was released on March 30. The current preview version for phones, build 10051, was released last week.

    Xbox Video for Windows 8.1 updated with improved battery life

    Xbox Video for Windows 8.1 picked up a rare update today from Microsoft (the last refresh was in mid January). Version 2.6.439.0 is now live on the Store and ready to update on your PC, tablet or Surface.
    Microsoft has gone ahead and posted a nice changelog as well. Although this is not a massive update, it does bring with it some fine improvements.

    Xbox Video 2.6.439.0 for Windows 8.1

    • Improved battery life when playing video files from Explorer
    • A fix that prevented the correct download size from being displayed when choosing between HD or SD download
    To grab the update, just load up the Store, swipe from the right to bring up the Charms bar and choose Settings > App Updates and Check for Updates. This trick will force the Store to refresh your app list.
    Microsoft goes on to remind users to continue to make and vote on suggestions at the Xbox Video UserVoice page found here. Likewise, don't forget to follow Xbox Entertainment on Twitter (@XboxEntertain) for all the latest deals!
    Source: Microsoft

    Is Microsoft developing new smartphones? Of course

    There are a couple of rumors doing the rounds at the moment about Microsoft working on a series of new Lumia Windows Phones to come out later on this year.
    Without even going into the specific details, there's a pretty straight up answer for it. Yes, of course, Microsoft is certainly working on new Lumia smartphones.
    While it's easy, and sometimes fun, to get swept up in rumor central and start getting excited and talk about what we hope the devices contain, just take a second to think about it.
    Microsoft now makes smartphones. And smartphones don't just appear overnight. Microsoft does a good job at making it look that way with endless, totally random launches, but the truth is they're months, years in the making.
    Microsoft has already committed to a 'flagship' device for later on this year. So that has to be in development. And in a recent meeting with Microsoft for the local, UK launch of the Lumia 640and Lumia 640 XL, we're told "exciting things are coming."
    Rumors can be fun, but they're also just that: rumors. Don't forget that there's also plenty of chance that whatever you're reading could be total fantasy.
    There could be plenty of truth in this latest batch. But here's the bigger truth to remember. Until Microsoft says it's no longer going to make smartphones, it will always be developing new smartphones for the various different target markets.

    Thursday, April 16, 2015

    Windows 10 for Phone Build 10051 Tour


    Here are some screenshots from Windows 10 for phone build 10051

    Windows 10 Phone hero
    A few people have been lucky enough to download the new Windows 10 for phones build 10051, while many others are still pressing "check for updates" button every 10 seconds. We've just installed it on our Lumia 635 and we're now exploring the new features. You can see the full changelog here. While you're still waiting, check out some of the screenshots we've collected so far!

    Project Spartan

    Windows 10 Phone Spartan

    Phone & Messaging

    Windows 10 Phone
    Windows 10 Phone Map messaging

    Mail and Calendar

    Windows 10 Phone Outlook
    Windows 10 Phone calendar


    Windows 10 Phone Map
    Some of the highlights include the new Project Spartan browser as well as new apps for Mail, Calendar, Phone, People, Maps, and Messaging. The app switcher has also been updated. Window 10 for phones build 10051 also includes several fixes and improvements. We'll have a hands-on video soon, so stay tuned.

    10 Tips everyone should know after installing Windows 10 Technical Preview

    While Windows 10 is still a preview and months away from final release (aka RTM), Microsoft's upcoming operating system is already taking shape with tons of new features and improvements. Every day more people are becoming part of the Windows Insider program to get a taste of what's to come later this summer, when Microsoft launches Windows 10 to the public.
    As such, we thought we would share 10 of the most useful tips every Windows Insider should know to get started with Windows 10 Technical Preview.

    Tip 1: Stop the syncing madness

    Perhaps the single most important requirement for installing a preview of Windows 10 is to register as a Windows Insider. Registering for the program will give you access to the latest builds, to the Store (beta), and to send feedback to Microsoft. More importantly, it gives Microsoft the opportunity to track how you use Windows 10, so the company can improve and fix the operating system.
    However, chances are that most users will use the same Microsoft account they use with Windows 8.1 to register as a Windows Insider. One of the benefits of using the same Microsoft account is that by default Windows will synchronize all of your settings from your primary computer to the new installation of Windows 10 and vice versa. This syncing though can also cause some issues.
    If you are simply testing Windows 10 Technical Preview, you probably will change a few settings to see how things work. However, you don't necessary want to have these settings synced to your primary PC or other devices. As such, it is a good idea to disable the sync option in the Settings app to avoid "testing settings" from replicating throughout all your devices.
    To stop synchronization of your Windows settings, open the Settings app, click Accounts, navigate to Sync your settings and turn off the Sync settingsoption. Disabling this will stop themes, apps, web browser settings, passwords, language preferences, Ease of Access, and other Windows settings from syncing between computers.

    Tip 2: Enable Cortana and Hey Cortana

    Microsoft's digital assistant, Cortana, was first introduced in Windows Phone 8.1, and now the company is bringing the assistant to the Windows 10 desktop.
    If during the installation, you didn't enable Cortana, click on the taskbar's search box, to bring up the option to enable the personal assistant and clickAllow. Also, you'll be prompted to enter the name you want Cortana call you. Just enter a name, and now you should be all set.
    Now, if you are trying use the "Hey Cortana" feature to use the assistant hands-free, you will notice that won't work. This failure is because, by default, the feature is disabled for privacy concerns. However, you can easily enable "Hey Cortana" by clicking the menu button in the top-left corner to bring Cortana's settings. Scroll down until you see the option "Let Cortana respond when you say "Hey Cortana," then simply slide the switch to the "On" position.
    Quick Tip: If you ever like to disable Cortana, you go back to Settings and slide the switch to the "Off" position for the first option.
    You won't notice any change, but now you can use your computer as you would normally do, and when you need something, simply start saying "Hey Cortana," followed by the task. For example, "Hey Cortana: What's the weather in New York City".
    Since Windows 10 build 10041, Cortana is available in China, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Microsoft is expected to expand its digital assistant to more countries in future releases of the operating system.

    Tip 3: More frequent builds

    When Microsoft rolled out the first preview of Windows 10, the company also announced that users would have two choices for updating to future releases of the operating system. The first being the Slow ring option, which offers the most stable bits of the operating system. The second option was the Fast ring, which as the name implies is an option that allows users to get a new build of Windows 10 at an earlier time. However, with it comes more bugs and fewer workarounds.
    So, if you like to get the latest and greatest, regardless if it is working correctly or not, and you're not using Windows 10 as your primary operating system. You are a perfect candidate to switch to the fast lane of updates to get new builds more frequently.
    By default, every new installation of Windows 10, is configured to be in the Slow ring category. If you want to switch to the Fast ring, launch the Settings app, click Update & recovery, in Windows Update, click the Advanced optionslink, and under Choose how preview builds are installed, select Fast.
    It is worth pointing out that after installing a new build of Windows 10 via the Fast ring, you don't have to change the settings back. When Microsoft releases a new build via the Slow ring, the company will also release the necessary updates to bring the bits to the same code level as the Slow ring.

    Tip 4: Additional apps you should try

    The latest preview of Windows 10 bundles a few interesting apps, such as a new Xbox app, Project Spartan web browser, Insider Hub, Windows Feedback, and other built-in utilities like the new Calculator, Alarms & Clock, Voice Recorder, and even a new OneNote app.
    Although, these are great apps to start using Windows 10, Microsoft is also making available a preview of the touch-friendly version of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. These apps are part of Office 2016 due later this year.
    These are Universal apps, which means that the same code runs on phones, tablets, and PCs. However, Microsoft has not yet release the same apps optimized for phones or tablets.
    These apps do not come bundled with Windows 10, but you can download all the new apps via the Store (beta):
    Along with Universal Office apps for Windows 10, Microsoft is also releasing a Music Preview and Video Preview apps. As their names imply, these two new Windows apps aimed to replace the current Music and Video app in Windows 8.1. Both apps introduce a fresh new look that match the design Microsoft is trying to implement around different apps throughout the operating system.
    These apps also are not included when installing the latest build of Windows 10, but you can download them manually from the Store (beta):

    Tip 5: Pin your favorite Settings

    Do you access the same settings over-and-over on the Settings apps? Well, Windows 10 makes it easier for you access to same settings quicker.
    If you haven't yet noticed, the Settings apps now feature a pin icon, in the top-right corner of the screen, next to the search box. This pin allows you to any section of the Settings app to the Start menu.

    Tip 6: Reclaiming hard drive space

    If you are making an upgrade to a new build of Windows 10, you probably didn't notice that Microsoft makes a backup of the previous installation in a folder called Windows.old. This backing up is a standard procedure in case things go wrong during the installation, and you need roll back to the previous build.
    However, if the installation completes correctly, the "Windows.old" folder will stay on the hard drive using valuable hard drive space, this is space that you could be using for files that are more important.
    The following instructions will guide to the process of removing theWindows.old folder from Windows 10:
    1. In Cortana's search box on the taskbar, type cleanmgr.exe, and hit Enter.
    2. Click the Clean up system files button.
    3. Now, you'll find a list of system files you can delete from your installation. Although, you can select everything from the list for deletion, we're interested in "Previous Windows Installations" and "Temporary Windows Installation Files" options from the list. The clickOK and wait for the process to complete.
    Deleting the previous installation files of Windows 10 will give you back around 11 GB. That is a significant amount of storage, especially if you're running the operating system on a device with limited storage capacity.
    Warning: Keep in mind that deleting the Windows.old folder will also prevent you from rolling back to the previous build. I would recommend you to do this after you're comfortable using a newer build. Also, you'll have to repeat this process for every new preview you install in your computer.

    Tip 7: Customizing File Explorer

    When you click to open File Explorer in Windows 10, by default it now opens the new "Quick Access" section, instead of "This PC". This was the place we're more accustomed to access. However, Microsoft is adding an option to change this behavior to open "This PC" when clicking File Explorer in the taskbar.
    If you like this behavior better, simply follow the instructions below:
    1. Open File Explorer, navigate to the View tab and click Options.
    2. Under Open File Explorer to change the setting to This PC.
    3. Finally click Apply and OK.

    Tip 8: Configuring OneDrive

    OneDrive has been gaining a lot of popularity in Windows 8.1, in mobile devices, and in other operating systems. In Windows 10, Microsoft is building OneDrive straight into the operating system, which means that there will not be an app you have to install or uninstall.
    Users will also find that Microsoft is even changing how sync works and how the feature is configured. In Windows 10, the software giant is opting for selective sync instead of using the placeholder feature, also known as "smart files". This change means that after you install the operating system, nothing will sync initially. You will have to specify if you want to sync everything or specific folders, and you will also have the chance to select the location for those files to sync.
    If you're just trying out Windows 10 Technical Preview and you're not planning to use the OS on a daily basis, I wouldn't recommend configuring OneDrive. Instead, just leave everything as it is, and nothing will sync, and you could avoid any issue that it might happen using an unfinished product.
    However, if you are planning to use Windows 10 every day, you'll have to open File Explorer, click OneDrive from the left pane and customize your settings to your liking. You can choose what to sync and where to store your synced files, if you don't like to store the file in the default location.
    Once you have configured the folders you want to sync, you can access all the settings available to OneDrive by right-clicking the icon in the system tray and selecting Settings. Inside the OneDrive properties, you can choose to start the service automatically when you sign in to Windows, use OneDrive fetch feature, and re-configure what folder to sync, control performance, and much more.

    Tip 9: Sending Feedback

    In Windows 10, if something doesn't work, you don't like what you see, or you have an idea, Microsoft wants to hear what you have to say to make the operating system better. You can use the Windows Feedback app to do just that.
    As you use any of the previews of Windows 10, you'll start noticing toast notifications popping up in the bottom-right corner of the screen. These prompt you to rate the task you have just performed as easy or complicated.
    If you want to make Windows 10 better, on every notification send feedback to Microsoft. The task does not take long and with enough people sending their feedbacks, Microsoft can understand when a particular feature is working and which ones are not, and make changes accordingly.
    If you want to send your feedback on something that it's not working correctly or you have a feature idea. Open the Start menu, find and launch the Windows Feedback app, look through the categories in the left pane to find feedbacks users are submitting and vote on it, by clicking Me too.
    To submit a new feedback, do a search in the "Enter your feedback" box to see if someone else already submitted the same request. If you find a similar entry simply click Me tooand you're all done. Nonetheless, if you don't see what you're looking for, click the Add new feedback, which you'll find at the bottom of the screen.
    Now, describe the feedback, select the appropriate category, send a screenshot if necessary, and click **Post Feedback***.
    Remember that you need to signed-in as a Windows Insider to submit feedback.

    Tip 10: Rollback just in case

    If Windows 10 is not working correctly, if you are noticing that a particular build has more bugs than the previous installation, or you simply do not like the build, Microsoft added a rollback mechanism to go back to the previous Windows 10 Technical Preview you were using.
    Open the Settings app and go to Update & recovery, navigate throughRecovery and click the Restart now button from the Advanced startupsection.
    Once you do that, Windows will go into the boot options, click Troubleshoot, and then simply click the Roll back to the previous build button and wait for the process to finish.
    Hopefully after a few minutes, you'll be back to the previous version of Windows 10 Technical Preview.
    There you have it, ten of the most useful tips to start using Windows 10. It's also worth pointing out that even though the operating system is already taking shape, it's not ready for prime time. This riskiness means that you should not use any of the Technical Previews of Windows 10 as your primary operating system (or at least until the RTM release). If you're planning to test the preview, you'll be safer running the OS on a virtual machine using software like VirtualBox on a spare computer or creating a dual-boot system with your current version of Windows.

    Windows 10 for phones preview pulled for Lumia 520, 525 and 526

    If you own a Lumia 520, 525 or 526 smartphone and have yet to download the new 10051 build of the Windows 10 for phones technical preview, you will find that it is no longer available. Microsoft has pulled it from circulation for those devices due to problems with rolling back to Windows Phone 8.1.
    A number of users who own those three Lumia models have reported those smartphones were bricked when they rolled back to Windows Phone 8.1. They were using the Windows Phone Recovery Tool after installing the Windows 10 for phones preview. A Microsoft rep has confirmed those reports on the company's support forums and added:
    "We are pausing build availability for these devices temporarily while we investigate the issue and work with customers who have reported problems."
    Microsoft released the 10051 build of the Windows 10 for phones preview last week, along with a list of known issues with the build.

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015

    Microsoft points at Skype, Lync: You two, in my office – right now

    One of you needs to clear your desk

    Microsoft's telepresence teaser
    Microsoft has confirmed it will roll out Skype for Business – the service formerly known as Microsoft Lync – across its subscription-based Office 365 cloud this month.

    "Skype for Business Online is now rolling out to Office 365 customers worldwide, and we expect the roll out to be complete by the end of May," said the Skype team in a blog post.

    "If you currently use Lync Online in Office 365, the new Skype for Business user experience will appear for you in the coming weeks. For customers that need a little more time to prepare for Skype for Business, we have provided the ability for administrators to switch between Skype for Business and the traditional Lync user interface."

    Microsoft announced the switch from "Lync" to "Skype for Business" back in November, and has spent the intervening months carefully skinning Lync's voice and video calls, instant messaging, and videoconferencing, to look just like Skype. No features were dropped during the renovations, we're told.
    Skype for Business will be rooted in the Office 365 cloud, as Microsoft promised. There have been some tweaks to what was once Lync during the changeover: OneNote integration has been improved so that the note-taking app can be used in group chats, and sharing files over Skype is easier now, Redmond claims.

    The menu system has been beefed up, both in the amount of information and the speed with which it is displayed.
    It's a sad end for Lync the brand, which only lasted four years after being born from Office Communicator 2007; the writing was on the wall ever since Microsoft's purchase of Skype in 2011. ®


    Microsoft Release Office Remote Offering Navigation And Control Of Office Files From Your Smartphone

    Office Remote AH

    Microsoft have been going through an interesting transitional period over the last year. At least if you are an android user. It seems, as a result of Windows based smartphones stagnating in terms of their adoption, Microsoft have come to the conclusion that they need to adopt more of an open approach to their services and to android devices. As a result the company has been consistently releasing a number of apps for android that better make use of their more traditional services. For instance, there has already been a number of preview and beta apps becoming available to android users via private beta access which has then resulted in further general availability on the Play Store. Especially when it comes to Office based apps and the likes of OneDrive and Skype.
    In addition, Microsoft have also been releasing apps which were only previously available to Windows Phone users. The last one only came a couple of days ago in the form of Office Lens, which is essentially a scanning based app and allows users to capture receipts, whiteboards and the likes. Once captured, these files can then be easily converted into Office compatible files like PDFs or Word files. Well, following on from this recent approach, Microsoft have now made available another app which was previously only available to Window Phone users. This one comes in the form of ‘Office Remote for Android’. This app offering will essentially allow users to remotely control a number of other Office apps and services. As such, users can remote access and control PowerPoint presentation. In Excel, it will allow you to change worksheets, move up and down while in Word it will allow you to jump to different sections, as well as zoom in on content.
    The app is free although you do need to have Office 2013 installed on your PC. From then on, the app uses Bluetooth to connect to your PC and offer the remote controlling of the desktop based office apps. If you feel like this is something you might be interested in, then you can download the app by hitting the source link below.