Watch the full Microsoft GDC event here

gdc 2015Microsoft had a big showing at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco as they talked about the future of gaming on Windows 10 and Xbox One. During the event, Microsoft announced a new cross-buy system which lets gamers purchase a game once and have the ability to play it across all of the Windows devices. In addition, they talked about the significant impact DirectX 12 will play for Xbox One and PC gaming along with many more intriguing features.

For those of you interested in watching the full Microsoft conference, it’s now available in its full 48-minute glory for you to watch at your leisure. With all of the Windows 10 related features announced, it’s definitely an event worth watching for gamers.

Here’s the full video below

Source: MSDN

Cortana is now predicting Oscar winners through Bing

bing oscarsBing is back at it again with predictions and this time, it’s predicting Oscar winners for the 87th academy awards.  Microsoft has added some pretty neat features alongside of the prediction. If you go to http://www.bing.com/oscars, you’ll see movie posters and headshots of the nominees, you’ll also see all information pertaining to the movies such as how much it grossed at the box office and much more.  In addition, you will also be able to watch trailers, find movie show times and even find nominated songs to listen to.

Cortana is powered by Bing so ask her “Who will win the Oscar for (category)?” and she will tell you her prediction with some reasoning behind it.

Bing has been on a big prediction spree in the past year, and its results have been pretty impressive. Cortana/Bing predicted 15 out of 16 2014 World cup matches correctly and even predicted the outcome of the Scottish referendum last year. In addition, Bing predicted the winner of the Super Bowl correctly as well.

The Bing team explains:  “after taking on the big sporting events, reality shows and elections with our predictions engine, we turned our attentions last week to the GRAMMYs. This week, we’ve put Bing to work predicting the Oscars — but with a twist: Think you can beat Bing’s predictions? Choose who you think deserves Oscar-night glory, then use your personal Bing Oscar ballot to pick your winners and pit your choices against Bing and the Academy”.

Here are some of Cortana’s Oscars predictions:

  • Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
  • Best Actress: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
  • Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
  • Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
  • Best Visual Effects: Interstellar
  • Best Picture: Birdman
  • Best Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Grab the Oscar Ballot here

Source: Bing Blog

 

 

 

Microsoft spends big to deliver these two inspiring ads at tonight's Super Bowl

 

microsoft empowering

Microsoft had a big ad at last year’s Super Bowl, and during tonight’s Super Bowl match between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots it will have two more.  These 68 second ads are surely expensive as a typical 30 second slot is roughly around $4.5 million.

In these new ads, Microsoft continues its theme of “empowering” which it started last year in the ad featuring Steve Gleason, as it showed how its technologies improved his life after he was diagnosed with ALS.

Microsoft’s goal is to show that its technologies matter, as they empower both businesses and people to improve in profound ways.   Additionally, to show the world the new Microsoft, one that’s ready to be loved.

In these ads, American hip hop recording artist Common is narrating passages that were previously delivered by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.  The first ad focuses on Braylon O’Neil, a six-year-old  who was born missing both fibia and tibia bones in both of his legs, and with the help of Microsoft technologies and prosthetic legs, is now able to play sports.

The second is about Estella Pyfrom and her Brilliant Bus which brings technology to kids that need it most.  This mobile learning station serves communities in which kids are under-privileged and gives them an opportunity to learn and better themselves with Microsoft technologies.

Microsoft’s image in the public eye is certainly changing these days, and with these types of ads, along with the direction Satya Nadella is taking the company in, they may benefit greatly as Windows 10 comes along.

Microsoft is showcasing all of its Super Bowl commercials at their new Empowering Site, and these include ads aired at last year’s Super Bowl.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft Build 2015 event sells out in an hour, 24X faster than last year's event

build 2015Microsoft’s annual developers conference takes place this April 29th in San Francisco, and tickets were sold out in just an hour after going on sale.  This event holds quite a bit of people, and tickets cost $2095 to attend and a limited number of academic tickets go for $995, so it looks like the Windows 10 announcement played a big role in the fast sell-out.  When tickets went on sale for last year’s Build event, it took 24 hours to sell out the event.

Last year’s event was heavily focused on Windows and Windows Phone 8.1, it’s also when Cortana was first unveiled.  For those of you that remember, Microsoft also announced a flagship Widows Phone – the Lumia 930 (still the last flagship Windows Phone released).

This year is expected to be a much bigger event, obviously focusing on Windows 10 for  PCs, tablets, phones and a unified app store for all Windows devices.  Microsoft is expected to focus on their new augmented reality device HoloLens, and hopefully by then they’ll show off some more capabilities.  Timing would be perfect to learn more what effect Windows 10 will have on the Xbox One, and how the unified app store will be applied to it.

Build 2015 will likely light up the stage for what is to come, as Microsoft is set for its biggest year of software and hardware related releases.

Source: Build 2015

Watch Windows 10 keynote briefing highlights in under 4 minutes

Terry Myerson On StageDid you miss the Windows 10 press event on January 21st? Microsoft has just published a short recap with all the key announcements ranging from the free Windows 10 offer, Universal apps and Continuum to HoloLens, Surface Hub and the ability to play Xbox games on all devices running Windows 10. Here is the video, enjoy!

Microsoft's new Surface Hub is a dream digital whiteboard for businesses

surface hubA large 84″ touchscreen device hiding in plain sight throughout the event was unveiled towards the end of it, and Microsoft calls it the “Surface Hub”.  This new Windows 10 device is a dream canvas for businesses as it takes collaboration to new levels and is aims to change the way ideas are shared and worked upon.

You’re able to use it with others to simultaneously draw on its large screen as shown in today’s demo.  Surface Hub uses Microsoft’s state of the art digital inking technologies borrowed from the Surface Pro 3, and drawing on it while being in a Skype chat with other members who are collaborating with the document in real-time was also demoed today, looking rather impressive.

In addition, when a document on the canvas is finished being worked on, you’re able to take the content and copy on a tablet, smartphone or a PC for later uses.  Users will also be able to project from the same devices to the Surface Hub for others to interact with.   There will also be a tailored version of OneNote and Skype for Business built and ready for the Surface Hub at launch.

With the use of cameras, Bluetooth, WiFi, and various sensors on the device, it can detect you’ve picked up the pen and has a dedicated screen launch for you to start writing on.  The demo Microsoft showed earlier was very impressive but there are many things we don’t know about it yet.  Such as availability, cost and its tech specs.  But this is one thing that surely looks promising and can perhaps change collaboration in business as we know it.

Check out the video demonstrating some of its uses:

 

Windows 10 event is tomorrow, but don't expect Windows 10 Mobile Preview until February

windows 10 event january 2015We’re only 24 hours away from the big Windows 10 event in Redmond where we expect Microsoft to unveil some neat consumer-centric features of the new OS such as Continuum automatic hardware detection & UX adjustment, Cortana integration, “Spartan” web browser and a new take on PC gaming that Windows 10 will bring to the table.

At this much-anticipated event we expect to hear from top executives including a keynote from the CEO Satya Nadella who will likely focus on Microsoft’s “OneCore” universal app strategy that will truly unify app experience for all devices – from phones to 80-inch displays.

– You can LiveStream the full even, click here for details.

Insiders close to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley also expect Microsoft to show off touch-optimized Office apps for Windows and perhaps even a virtual reality device that Microsoft has patented back in 2012.

Sadly, one crucial component of the Windows 10 ecosystem we will not get to preview until February is Windows 10 for Mobile, according to Foley.

Foley says “Microsoft officials declined to comment on the availability date. But I’m confident the February timing is solid, based on my knowledge of the track record of my sources. I don’t know whether Microsoft also will time the release of the next technical preview build of Windows 10 for desktops so that it coincides with the mobile version in February.”

Source: ZDNet/Mary Jo Foley

Microsoft reveals where and when you can watch the Windows 10 webcast

Windows 10We all know by now that Microsoft will be holding a Windows 10 event on January 21, and today Microsoft has officially detailed where and when you can livestream the event.

Microsoft outlines below:

“We’re getting close to our Windows 10 media briefing next week and as promised – I’ve got the details for you on where to watch the live webcast. The live webcast will start once the event starts at 9am (Pacific) and you’ll be able to watch it here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows10story. An on-demand version will be available shortly after the event at the same link. We’re pretty excited about this event and to be able to talk about what’s next for Windows 10. You’ll hear directly from senior leaders from the Operating Systems Group including Terry Myerson, Joe Belfiore and Phil Spencer as well as our CEO Satya Nadella!”

Microsoft will be showcasing the consumer version of Windows 10 for PCs, tablets and phones, and will give us a glimpse of how the biggest and most important release of Windows is set to evolve.  So for those of you on the fence whether to watch it or not but have the time, we suggest you pay attention.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft's consumer-oriented Windows 10 event is set for January 21, 2015

windows 10 event january 2015

We have written about Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 event in January where they are expected to focus on the consumer-oriented features of their next take on Windows.  In addition,  possibly shed some light on features regarding Windows 10 on Phones and the rumored new Xbox UI.  This event will be held at Microsoft’s very own headquarters in Redmond, Washington on January 21 2015.

Consumer-oriented features of Windows 10 are a mystery and many people are looking forward to Microsoft showing off its Continuum feature.  This is where Windows 10 recognizes how you are using the machine and accommodates in real-time, so in a case where you would disconnect the keyboard from a 2-in-1 device such as the Surface Pro 3, the UI changes as it knows you will rely on touch-first gestures.

Microsoft is also expected to demonstrate what they have in place for the Charms bar in Windows 10 alongside many other features and changes.

We have already seen the enterprise side of things in Windows 10 and it has so far proven to be a very feature rich operating system and has seen nothing but high praise, but the fun part for many is the consumer features and it’s just a little over a month away.  Microsoft nailing the consumer features will surely bring lots of positive momentum to what seems to be the most important version of Windows yet.

You will be able to watch this event as Microsoft will webcast the main part of the briefing.

A Microsoft Store Opening – The Complete Experience

Thinks is less than a quarter of the line I found when I arrived
This is less than a quarter of the line I found when I arrived

On November 22 Microsoft officially opened its 110th retail Store in the Westfield – Montgomery Mall in Bethesda MD. We gave you a sample of the actual opening moments on video, and an interview with the Store Manager earlier. Ironically, I purchased a new Surface Pro 3 at the opening itself, and when I got home my Surface Pro got wind of it and died, so it’s taken a bit longer to get this out to you than I had hoped, but, courtesy of my new Surface Pro 3 – here’s how it all happened.

The Store was covered with a white cloth, hiding all the activity within.  On the right is the beginning of the line with the lucky 200 that got to meet an MLB Player.
The Store was covered with a white cloth, hiding all the activity within. On the right is the beginning of the line with the lucky 200 that got to meet an MLB Player.

To be honest, I’ve never been attracted to store openings, visions of slick guys in cheap suits and toaster giveaways were what came to mind, but here at MicrosoftProductReviews.com we will go to any lengths to keep you in the loop so I hitched up my boots and went to see what it’s all about.

I arrived at the mall about an hour before the opening. I wasn’t expecting too much, this was a Microsoft store, not a destination that usually arouses a lot of passion in people. Since the first 200 people in line would get a chance to meet Stephen Strasburg (a Major League Baseball player for those who don’t recognize the name). I figured there would be several hundred sports die-hards, and a few looking for opening day bargains. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Th Elaine started off in the distance on the right, passed behind me for an equal distance, made a Uh-Turn and came back on the left, then wrapped around the Macy's store and out of sight! Hundreds of People for Microsoft!
The line started off in the distance on the right, passed behind me for an equal distance, made a U-Turn and came back on the left, then wrapped around the Macy’s store and out of sight! Hundreds of People for Microsoft!

There were many hundreds of people, of all ages and interests, literally filling that arm of the mall. As the photos try to show, the crowd began at the Microsoft Store, which is at a prime location on the corner opposite an Anchor Store (Macy’s) and a Starbucks. It then ran all the way down one arm of the mall to another Anchor Store, then did a 180 turn and ran all the way down the same arm (on the opposite side of the arm), pausing only briefly to make a gap for the tomb-like Apple Store, and then kept on going all the way to the Microsoft Store again! There was also a separate line that snaked around in front of Macy’s and went down the other arm of the mall a ways. I was looking at between 400-500 people and it wasn’t open yet!

Not much interest in the  Fruit Stand nearby...
Not much interest in the Fruit Stand nearby…

It’s worth noting too that this isn’t a huge store. It has ~1300 sqft of well laid out space, but at the moment it was clearly dwarfed by the line up. Translation, once the store opened, these people were going to have to wait a while to get in, so they must be VERY interested in getting their hands on some new Microsoft products!

 

Winner of the "Best Tweet" Award gets his swag
Winner of the “Best Tweet” Award gets his swag

The Opening Ceremony began with a crowd-raising talk by the new Store Manager (you can read our interview with her here), explaining that there were several things to look forward to in the next few minutes. There was a giveaway to the person who had the best Tweet sent out from the line, and a short speech by the Director of Economic Development for the County – Steve Silverman. Microsoft Vice President Fred Humphries had the enviable job of giving away some $625,000 in technology Awards to a variety of organizations.

Microsoft V.P. Fred Humphries gave away a lot of money to the Community, here he is awarding $50,000 to Wounded Warriors
Microsoft V.P. Fred Humphries gave away a lot of money to the Community, here he is awarding $50,000 to Wounded Warriors

And then there was the actual opening.  I won’t spend time describing it, you can see the video of it here. Much more fun than you would expect from a stodgy old company like Microsoft.

The scene inside the store was initially nearly bedlam. The Xbox and Tablet deals were disappearing fast, but inside all of this was a professional and unflappable staff that calmly helped people out and completed sales as quickly as possible.

Checking out was an all Microsoft affair with wireless Lumia-driven handheld.
Checking out was an all Microsoft affair with wireless Lumia-driven handheld.

Personally, I scored a number of great deals, as well as regular purchases. Frankly, the store is a dangerous place! I was impressed with the way the staff had been prepped to be able to manage the entire purchase process from their hands as opposed to having to try to work thru the crowd to a register.  Everything was handled quickly and efficiently by my salesperson via a Windows Phone that was snapped into a base with a card scanner.  Once she had my Windows ID everything was smooth as silk including emailing me a receipt within a minute (neither of us wanted to fight through the crowd just to pick that up!)

The Surface and Tablet table.
The Surface and Tablet table.

The store layout is simple and will be pleasing to wander through when it is a bit less crowded. Tables with product category examples of machines are arrayed in an easy to navigate fashion with plenty of room to wander about.

 

 

Lots of MS Bands and accessories were readily seen and available.
Lots of MS Bands and accessories were readily seen and available “Off the Wall”.

Wall displays on the interior wall side do the same and hold many electronic Tchotchkes like chargers for the Microsoft Band, and, by the way, they had quite a stock of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A nice selection of Windows Phones to play with.
A nice selection of Windows Phones to play with.

There was a nice array of Windows Phones to look at and play with in several parts of the store. This shelf was on the wall towards the rear section.  Others could be found on tables towards the front of the store, ready to be spotted as you walked in or just passing by.

 

 

Stephen Strasburg playing Xbox with his lucky fans in the rear Events/Training part of the store.
Stephen Strasburg (Left side with short hair and blue shirt)playing Xbox with his lucky fans in the rear Events/Training part of the store.

The rear third of the store can be quickly reconfigured to serve as a training space or open area for any purpose. Microsoft calls this space the “Community Theater”. When the store opened it was basically piled high with Xbox 360s and the $99 Tablet specials. In a few hours that pile had been winnowed down and the space was quickly reconfigured to serve as the space for the meet and greet even with MLB Player Steven Strasburg, who spent some time entertaining the lucky 200 first people in line at the store.  He was bowling in an Xbox One on a multi-display panel that formed the back wall of the store to good effect and got lots of applause whenever he bowled a strike!

One of the very happy Strasburg fans, Carl - showing off some of the special event SWAG from his visit with Stephen Stasburg
One of the very happy Strasburg fans, Carl – showing off some of the special event SWAG from his visit with Stephen Stasburg

I left to stash my purchases in my car and grabbed a quick lunch. I could hear the crowd upstairs even in the noise and activity downstairs in the food court.  I returned to the store to interview the new Manager and then made another swing thru the store. Still full of shoppers and the line still snaking around the mall. People seemed happy to wait however, as the excitement and the deals were still in stock.

Overall, my impression of the event was that it was kind of like going to a fair – lots of fun for people of many ages and interests, but in this case, a clear focus on tech deals was obvious.  I enjoyed myself, which was a bit of a surprise as I’m not really a crowd person, so I would have to say when Microsoft opens a store near you I would encourage you to go down – early – and be a part of the fun.

"Oh yes. I DID enjoy myself ;-)"
“Oh yes. I DID enjoy myself ;-)”