Next Xbox One system update for preview members ads a ton of cool features

Microsoft is rolling out an update to its Xbox One preview members in this next version and here’s a full list of what to expect.

Game DVR for PC games – The Game bar lets you record game clips of your favorite Windows games. With an upcoming Windows Insider update (build 10061 or higher), you will be able to record game clips for Windows PC games* using the new Game bar available on Windows 10. To bring up the Game bar, press Windows + G. Click the “Record that” button to save the last 30 seconds of gameplay, or just press Windows + Alt + G. Additionally, you can manually start and stop recording a game clip by clicking on the “Record” button on the Game bar or pressing Windows + Alt + R.

The length of a recording, including the maximum length, can be changed in Settings > Game DVR in the Xbox app. There are also a few key settings within the Game bar itself. Get started by turning on “Record game clips and screenshots” in the Xbox app.  Once enabled, there are options for background recording, video and audio quality. After enabling game DVR, you may need to sign out of Windows 10 and back in for the Game bar to appear.

  • Screenshots – Take screenshots of Windows PC games by pressing Windows + Alt + PrtScr. Just as with Game DVR, you can also do this by clicking the “Screenshot” button on the Game bar.
  • Live Tiles – The Xbox tile on your Windows 10 start menu can now welcomes you back, showing off your gamerpic and letting you know when you have new messages and activity alerts. To turn this on, go to Settings > General > Live tile.
  • Avatar app – A new app is available in the Windows Store to customize your Xbox avatar’s appearance and outfit your avatar with a vast collection of items. In the Xbox app, click the icon for your profile or your friends’ profiles to see their Xbox avatar. You can download the Avatar app from the Store on Windows 10. Also, there is a new Avatar sub-forum on the Xbox Feedback site, here.
  • User profile – You can see another gamer’s bio, location, reputation, tenure, and other information in the more info page, including their animated avatar. You can also view their showcase items, including favorite achievements or game clips they added to their profile on their Xbox One.
  • Real name sharing – Similar to the features we brought you in the March update on Xbox One, you can now choose to share your real name on the Xbox app with all of your friends or with everybody. Click on the “…” at the top of your profile page, then choose Name sharing settings to view and update these settings.

In addition to keeping you connected to your games and friends, we’re giving you even more control over the Xbox experience on Windows 10.

  • Xbox One Now Playing and media controls The games and apps you’ve used most recently on your Xbox One are now displayed when you connect the Xbox app to your console. You can also use the Xbox app to pause, fast forward and rewind.
  • Live TV streaming and PIP (picture in picture) support – For preview members with an Xbox One Digital TV Tuner (in 16 European countries and Australia) or a Hauppauge 955Q TV Tuner (available in the U.S. or Canada) attached to their Xbox One, you can now stream live TV within your home from your Xbox One to Windows 10 PC running the Xbox app. This feature is also available in Xbox One SmartGlass on Windows 8 PCs, Windows Phone 8, iOS, and Android devices.  The OneGuide on mobile devices now also provides PIP (picture in picture) support, so you can continue to stream and watch TV while you are using the OneGuide.
  • Xbox controller drivers – The drivers for Xbox controllers are now included with Windows 10, so you no longer have to download and install controller drivers on Windows 10.

The Xbox app will automatically update to the April preview version when it becomes available in the Windows Store. Once you receive the update, your version number should be 4.4.9014.0 or higher. You can verify the version number of the Xbox app in Settings.

Xbox One and SmartGlass updates

The Xbox team continues to work hard to bring the many fan-requested features on the Xbox Feedback site to Xbox One and Xbox One SmartGlass, with the following items being available to preview members this month:

  • Over-the-air TV for the U.S. and Canada – Earlier this month, we announced the preview for an Over-the-Air Tuner for the U.S. and Canada.  With this preview update to Xbox One, a new screen has been added after the initial channel scan to show a sorted list of channels and channel logos so you can tell what channels you receive. You can also choose to scan again from this screen, if you want to move your antenna and give it another try.
  • Power on and off from Xbox One SmartGlass – The beta versions of the Xbox One SmartGlass apps for Windows, Windows Phone and Android will be updated to let you turn your Xbox One on and off. (Your device does need to be on the same home network as your console.) This feature request has more than 4,000 votes on the Xbox Feedback site. The beta versions can be found in the respective stores by searching for “Xbox One SmartGlass Beta.”
  • Wireless Display appWith more than 2,000 votes, Miracast support will be enabled on Xbox One for preview participants later this week, so you can mirror the experiences on Windows PCs (for example, Surface 2, 3, or 3 Pro; Lenovo X1 carbon; Dell Venue 8), Windows Phone 8, and some Android devices (e.g. Samsung S5, Nexus 7, Motorola Droid) that support non-protected Miracast connections. Try the Wireless Display app to cast photos stored on your phone to your Xbox One, or to stream non-protected video content from your PC to your Xbox.
  • User-selectable power mode – The team here at Xbox is also altering the initial setup experience on Xbox One worldwide to enable you to select your preferred power mode. Instant-on enables you to use the “Xbox on” voice command and receive background updates to console, game and app updates. Energy-saving mode is a low power state that requires you to press the Xbox button on your console to start up your Xbox One. For additional information, see this post on Xbox Wire.
  • Voice messages – The ability to send and receive voice messages from the Xbox One messages app continues in preview this month. Also, the ability to create a voice message while in a party chat will be enabled and support will be added for third party headsets.

This update will soon be live and for those of you  running the Windows 10 preview it’ll be even more interesting as Microsoft loads up the Xbox app with features.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft's apps to come pre-installed on select Samsung Android tablets this year

microsoft-headquartersSamsung and Microsoft have announced the expansion of their previously-reported global partnership that will see more of Microsoft apps loaded out of the box on Samsung’s upcoming Android devices.

Today we have learned that a select number of Samsung tablets, which are scheduled to ship in the first half of this year, will come with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype pre-installed. Although we don’t have the details on release dates or which Samsung tablets are included in this deal, it’s sure great to see that Microsoft and Samsung’s relationship is flourishing now that the two companies have settled their legal dispute over unpaid royalties.

Microsoft is thrilled to partner up with Samsung. “Great things happen when you converge services and devices,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development, Microsoft. “Our partnership with Samsung is emblematic of our efforts to bring the best of Microsoft’s productivity services to everyone, on every device – so people can be productive wherever, however and whenever they want.”

This is in addition to the deal between the two tech companies reached to bring Microsoft’s OneNote, Skype and OneDrive apps pre-installed on Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. As part of this deal, Microsoft will throw an extra 100GB of free cloud storage for two years to these users through Microsoft OneDrive.

Samsung is just as excited to offer their large user-base with the best productivity services available. “Our goal is to meet the ever-evolving needs of both consumers and business customers and give them more power to discover new mobile experiences.” said SangChul Lee, executive vice president of the Strategic Marketing Office, IT & Mobile Division at Samsung Electronics. “We believe our suite of premium mobile products coupled with Microsoft’s productivity services will offer users the mobility they need in both their personal and business life.”

Source: Samsung

Chase has dropped support for their Windows Phone banking app

chase-bank-discontinueBack in January, the large US bank announced they are removing their app from the Windows Phone store, however, the company said the app’s current users would still be able to use the app “until further notice”.

Well, it appears that today is the day many thought wouldn’t really come. J.P. Morgan Chase has officially discontinued supporting their Windows Phone banking app.

Those who try to use the app will now be greeted with a message that as of today the Windows Phone app is no longer supported. The notice also encourages users to visit mobile web site in order to use Chase’s banking services on the go. Chase also notes that QuickDeposit option is not available through their mobile web site and that clients wishing to deposit their checks should do so at their local ATM or branch.

To add insult to injury, some Windows Phone users have reported there are “identification code” issues with the Chase mobile web site and they had to log in through the bank’s desktop web site. Bank of America, who also recently dropped support for Windows Phone, has been having similar mobile web site issues as Chase.

This is certainly not good news for Microsoft as having major US banks on board is crucial for the mobile platform’s growth. We hope with the release of Windows 10 this summer it will encourage Chase, BofA and other big banks to reconsider their stance on Windows Phone as developing and maintaining one Universal app for all Windows-based devices will make a lot more sense.

Via: WindowsCentral, Screenshot via WindowsCentral

Microsoft's future vision of Skype has a wow effect [Video]

skype future

Microsoft launched its preview of Skype for Business just a few days ago, and although Skype has practically become a world standard in video communication, Microsoft wants to take things much further.

The Skype of today is just the beginning of what is set to be a powerful piece of software that not only breaks language barriers, but aims to have presence in even more places and devices in a much more profound way while being cross-platform compatible.

Microsoft sees Skype as an all-around communication tool that will be home to real-time annotations between users, and a much more compelling collaboration experience between users, all while breaking the language barrier.

Microsoft has demonstrated the power of Skype when used with HoloLens, with the use of Holograms and real-time holographic annotations. The newly announced Surface Hub, a giant 84” touchscreen display is another prime example of how Skype will push collaboration and meetings to a new level.

Although these examples are forward-leaning, Microsoft sees a future that is much more profound.  Microsoft has released a video of how they see Skype evolving in their vision of the future. This video really gives you that wow effect, and not because it’s so futuristic, but because the future portrayed in the video doesn’t seem too distant when observing how rapidly Microsoft is evolving Skype.

You can now add MP3s and many more file types to OneDrive for streaming

xbox-musicIt has been a long time in the making, but OneDrive music streaming is finally ready to go. As of now, you will be able to store all of your local MP3s on OneDrive. This will allow you to stream music with Xbox Music app on any of your Windows devices running on Windows 8.1.

This feature will support MP3, M4A (AAC), and WMA file types. In addition, you will not need to have an Xbox Music pass to use this feature, but for those who do own one, Microsoft will honor them with 100GB free of OneDrive storage.

It’s worth noting that even though Xbox Music is available for iOS, Android and Windows 8, the streaming features are not available to these OSs. It’s also worth noting that Apple charges $24.95 for a similar service, so this is definitely an advantage to the Microsoft side.

There will be a limit of how many songs one can store, and that limit is set a 50,000. This service is available in the US, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.


Microsoft will make passwords a thing of the past with "Windows Hello"

Windows HelloWindows 10 so far looks to be feature-packed, but Microsoft wants to make it even better while addressing security issues at the same time and protecting your passwords. Microsoft wants to eliminate the use of passwords and make signing into your machine seamless and hassle-free, and they intend to do so with a feature called “Windows Hello” and “Passport”.

Windows Hello is an authentication system which allows for seamless and secure user recognition and sign-in options through the use of various biometrics. These biometrics include facial recognition, iris and fingerprint scanning in order to unlock your Windows 10 devices.

This system makes signing into your PC incredibly seamless, secure and almost instant just by standing in front of it.

“Windows Hello offers enterprise-grade security that will meet the requirements of organizations with some of the strictest requirements and regulations. It’s a solution that government, defense, financial, health care and other related organizations will use to enhance their overall security, with a simple experience designed to delight.”

Once you sign in to your PC, Microsoft has enabled another feature called “Passport”.  This system is designed to replace passwords in order to sign in to apps, websites and online services which would normally require a password.

Passwords have proven to be insecure and there are many examples of hackers stealing user passwords from websites they hacked.  With Microsoft Passport, the software giant plans to eliminate this problem once and for all.

“Windows 10 will ask you to verify that you have possession of your device before it authenticates on your behalf, with a PIN or Windows Hello on devices with biometric sensors. Once authenticated with ‘Passport’, you will be able to instantly access a growing set of websites and services across a range of industries – favorite commerce sites, email and social networking services, financial institutions, business networks and more.”

This is definitely an intriguing feature and can potentially be a game changer for the industry if implemented well, and definitely something that we could expect in the next flagship phones running Windows 10.

Source: Microsoft

Cortana may be heading to iOS & Android devices

cortanaMicrosoft’s personal assistant Cortana may no longer be exclusive to the Windows ecosystem. Cortana is currently only available on Windows Phone and the upcoming Windows 10 OS, but according to a Reuters report, Microsoft now plans to extend Cortana’s availability to iOS and Android devices.

The project to bring Cortana to other platforms is internally called “Einstein” and we’re hearing the popular assistant will come to iOS and Android as an advanced standalone app, available for phones as well as tablets.

“This kind of technology, which can read and understand email, will play a central role in the next roll out of Cortana, which we are working on now for the fall time frame,” said Eric Horvitz from Microsoft Research.

Over the last year, Microsoft has invested a lot into Cortana’s artificial intelligence capabilities and although many die-hard Microsoft fans will be disappointed that Cortana will no longer be exclusive to the Windows platform, having a wider audience for the assistant will greatly benefit Microsoft and the capabilities of Cortana.

Cortana is already deeply woven into Windows Phone, but this fall, Microsoft will be integrating Cortana deeply into Windows 10 and we expect that the personal assistant will also make its way to the Xbox One.  The power of multiple device types using the same personal assistant can create a very powerful experience as they communicate with one another.  If implemented correctly, the experience could offer something very unique and potentially game-changing.

This is yet another example of the CEO Satya Nadella’s push to sell Microsoft services on non-Windows platforms and devices as part of the mobile-first, cloud-first strategy.  A perfect example of what Nadella is striving to achieve is what Skype has become.   Skype is a truly universal tool that works across any device type and has practically become the industry standard in that particular market, and it’s expected to further solidify its position with the up and coming Skype Translator.

Microsoft’s aim is to create the same experience with Cortana, and have a truly cross-platform personal assistant that could work with any device in the hopes of becoming a universal standard as well.  With Windows 10 being a free upgrade to Windows 7 and 8.1 users, it’s expected to have a significant market penetration when it hits the market.

With Windows being regarded as a monopoly in the desktop computing market, it’s no question that hundreds of millions of people will have their first interaction with Cortana.  Those users however, are most likely using iOS and Android on their smartphones and tablets, and would surely benefit in having Cortana extend her assistance on these devices which could potentially sway users from the likes of Siri and Google Now.

Source: Reuters

New information about Microsoft's Spartan browser revealed in leaked screenshots

spartan browser features1

Microsoft’s Spartan browser is definitely a highly anticipated feature to Windows 10, and with the recent video from WinBeta showing Cortana integration in action, it’s certainly something were looking forward to getting our hands on.

Although we won’t be able to get our hands on a new build of Windows 10 featuring the Spartan browser since it isn’t available yet, these leaked photos show off some new features which are interesting to see.

spartan browser features4 spartan browser features3

You’ll notice the new reading mode view that’s present, along with some customization options such as the option to show the favorites bar, detecting phone numbers, enabling SmartScreen filter, the option to change your homepage and more.

It’s important to note that this is an early release of the Spartan Browser, and many things can still change, such as the addition and removal of features until its released with Windows 10 later this year.

Source: MSWin, via Pureinfotech

Cortana integration with the Spartan browser in Windows 10 is proving to be very useful [Video]

Win10_Windows_Spartan_PrintMicrosoft is committed to providing a first-class Cortana experience tailored for the PC in Windows 10, and from what we’ve seen, Cortana is rather impressive and Microsoft is definitely on the right track.

One of the new ways you’ll be able to interact with Cortana is in the new Spartan browser Microsoft is building specifically for Windows 10. In the video from WinBeta (embedded below), you’ll notice some pretty small but powerful features which everyday users could grow to love and how Cortana can significantly improve your browsing experience.

One of the neat ways Cortana will be very useful in Spartan is when you’re looking up a website pertaining to a business and want to know everything that’s important to you about this particular business. Cortana’s avatar will jump up and down to let you know she has important information ready for you, and when clicking on her avatar, a menu on the right of the screen will appear providing you with all the relevant information pertaining to the business such as the location, hours of operation, reservations, reviews and more. This all happens behind the scenes while you’re still browsing with a single mouse click.

In addition to that, you’ll also be able to right click any word and select “ask Cortana” in the sub menu, which will provide you with all of the information about the word or its definition in the side bar to the right of the screen. This feature can also be used to select places, which would provide you with a map and details about the particular place rather than opening up a separate tab and searching for it the traditional way.

This is a fantastic example on how Microsoft is tailoring a first-class browsing experience for Windows using Cortana, and with features such as these, Cortana has a good chance to be loved by the masses.

Source: WinBeta

Microsoft demos Universal Windows 10 apps on Xbox One

mwc universal apps xbox one
Photo credit: The Verge

Windows 10 will be the most significant release of Windows for Microsoft in terms of scale and importance to the overall brand. The key aspect of the OS is that it will scale across a vast array of device types while sharing one common app store and one set of app development tools.

We know that that the Xbox One is running on the Windows 8 core and that Microsoft will be bringing Windows 10 and Universal apps to the gaming platform.  Today, the software giant’s technical lead for Universal apps, Kevin Gallo demonstrated some of this at Mobile World Congress.

Gallo demonstrated an app designed to run across phones, PCs, and Xbox One, which he used as an example to show the broader message with Universal apps, the scaling and concept behind such a strategy. Microsoft didn’t mention when developers would be able to start developing Universal apps on Xbox One, but we expect Microsoft to release all of the details at Build this April.

This is certainly going to be an exciting time for the Xbox community as their device will soon become a much more capable machine and provide a seamless software experience with their existing Windows devices. We look forward to hear how Cortana implementation would work with Xbox One, as this also remains an area which Microsoft failed to address but one of high expectations.

Source: The Verge