Microsoft to announce a successor to the Surface 2 very soon (details here)

microsoft-surface-2-vp-panos-panayMicrosoft has been quiet about the successor to the Surface 2 and many have speculated that the software giant will most likely focus on the successful Surface Pro series in the meantime. However, a report by WinBeta claims that Microsoft has plans to release a Surface device aimed at a lower price point but one that is much more than a successor to the Surface 2, while not being  in the same league as the Surface Pro 3.

The reason why it would be much more than a successor to the Surface 2 which ran Windows RT, is that this time it’ll run a full-blown version of Windows 8.1, which will be upgradable to Windows 10 as it’s released to the market. It’ll be fanless but will have lower spec’d CPU than the Surface Pro 3, which will either be an Intel Atom or the Intel Core M (the latter is used in the new MacBook revealed at Apple’s Spring Forward event and is starting to become a popular choice for ultra-portables.)

WinBeta reports that Microsoft is expected to announce this new Surface device sometime before or at their annual Build developer conference in late April and the company will not be labeling it as a Pro device.

Surface Pro 3 has been a very successful product for Microsoft, both with businesses and consumers, and has single-handily changed the perception of Microsoft as a hardware company. It’s also earned Microsoft a lot of of respect in the industry with such a feat of engineering, and we’ve seen many hardware vendors trying to duplicate the Surface Pro 3’s success.

However, the Surface Pro 3 is a very expensive device, and this limits it to a niche audience. If Microsoft comes in with a cheaper Surface device – presumably with a 10-12 inch screen, and one that runs a full-blown version of Windows 8.1, they’ll automatically open themselves up to a much wider audience. This new lower spec’d Surface can be a hit amongst students and people not willing to drop $1,000 on a laptop, while retaining the iconic design and build quality associated with the Surface line of devices.

This will be a tremendous year for Microsoft in both the hardware and software space, with Windows 10, a slew of Windows Phones, new Surface models (both Pro and non-pro), the new Surface Hub and HoloLens, this makes it the biggest product year in the history of the company.

Source: WinBeta

Microsoft officially releases developer tools for the Windows 10 Technical Preview

windows-10-family1Microsoft has just released the developer tools (SDK) for the Windows 10 Technical Preview for Windows Insiders. As of today, developers can start building Universal Windows 10 apps.

This is the first version of the SDK and it will continually be updated as the development of Windows 10 continues towards RTM.  Here are the key aspects in this preview release.

  • Adaptive UX: Windows 10 provides the ability to use a single UI that can adapt from small to large screens. For developers with an existing Windows 8.1 app, you can quickly try this one out by (a) removing one of your UI projects (and going from three Visual Studio projects to one!) and (b) add the improved ViewStateManager to control how your UI adapts at runtime.
  • User controls: A number of our Windows 10 UI controls will determine, at runtime, how the customer is interacting with your app and render the appropriate user experience (e.g. on a laptop with a touch-screen, an app fly-out control will provide larger touch-targets if tapped with touch, as opposed to clicked with a mouse).
  • API contracts: With Windows 10, you can directly verify if a Windows feature is available rather than inferring based on the operating system version. This empowers you to start checking, at runtime, if a Windows feature is available on the device before you call a related API. A good API contract for you to try out in your code to see this in action is HardwareButtons, which is present on phones (via the Mobile Extensions SDK), and thus available on the phone and mobile emulator but not available on the desktop. We believe that API contracts and the extension SDKs will allow you to adapt your code at runtime to deliver user experiences that feel right on the device it’s being run on.
  • Visual Studio Tooling improvements: As you experiment with the new developer tools, there are a number of improvements you’ll want to check out. For more details on this topic, I’d highly recommend you review the today’s post by S. Somasegar: Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview.

This is a critical step for Microsoft as it gives developers the ability to target the entire Windows ecosystem of devices with Universal apps. This is vital in order to ensure that the Windows App Store thrives and effectively competes with iOS and Android in the future.

For more information regarding this release, check out the Windows Blog

Download: Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview or ISO

Download: Visual Studio CTP6

 

Microsoft sheds some light on Windows 10 for the Internet of Things in new video

One of the main strengths of Windows 10 is that it will run on embedded devices, or what Microsoft likes to call the “Internet of things”. This is a market of tremendous potential as automation will play a significant role in our lives going forward. Microsoft is determined to play profound role in this market and are predicting that Windows 10 will be installed on over 25 billion of these devices by 2020.

Here is what Microsoft had to say about Windows 10 on IOT devices:

Windows 10 will offer versions of Windows for a diverse set of IOT devices, ranging from powerful devices like ATMs and ultrasound machines, to resource constrained devices like gateways. Through key partnerships with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Intel, Qualcomm and others, we will provide great options for commercial devices builders, hobbyists and students.

This is one particular area that has been largely overlooked and one that Microsoft hasn’t shed much light on, but in the video Microsoft provided, one can get a good understanding of the tremendous scale of this market.

Microsoft will be offering Windows 10 on IOT devices for free, and we except the Redmond giant to shed some more light on this matter at Build this April.

Source: Channel 9

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.

 

Windows 10 will be released this summer

windows 10 family1Microsoft is really focused on delivering Windows 10 as early as possible, and in recent blog post, head of Microsoft’s operating system team Terry Myerson revealed that Windows 10 has a planned summer release.

The exact time-frame is not outlined, but Myerson did go on to say that Microsoft’s new flagship OS will be available in 190 countries and 111 languages on release.

Microsoft wants to make a big splash with Windows 10 and intends to get everyone on board as it’s offering the OS for free for those upgrading from Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1 and even from pirated copies of Windows 7.

This time-frame aligns with an RTM version of the OS to be complete in June and it should be perfect timing for Microsoft to unveil the Surface Pro 4 and possibly a flagship Windows 10 phone.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft to offer free Windows 10 upgrades even for pirated Windows versions

Win10_Windows_StartScreen1_PrintIn a blockbuster announcement, Microsoft has revealed it will give free Windows 10 upgrades to all Windows 7 and 8/8.1 users regardless if they are running genuine or pirated copies of the operating system.

This strategy is important for Microsoft as they’re looking to launch Windows 10 in 190 countries this summer, including China. The software giant wants to make a big push into the Chinese market with its upcoming operating system, the only problem is – more than 70% of the Windows copies used in that country are illegal. So Microsoft figured – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

Terry Myerson, who heads Microsoft’s Operating Systems unit, made the announcement at the WinHEC conference in Shenzhen, China.

“We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10,” he said in a telephone interview with Reuters. The plan is to “re-engage” with the hundreds of millions of users of Windows in China, he said, without elaboration.

As Microsoft is looking to switch monetization strategy for Windows 10 and increase its market share for PCs, Tablets and Smartphones running their OS, having high adoption rates in all major markets will be the key to their success.

China is a very important market for Microsoft and by giving the new OS for free to everyone, Microsoft will greatly benefit in the long run as pirated users all of a sudden become legitimate license-holders.

Source: Reuters

Microsoft will drop the Internet Explorer brand in favor of its new "Spartan" browser

Internet Explorer 10We have all expected Microsoft to replace Internet Explorer in favor of their new Windows 10 browser codenamed “Spartan”.  In a recent report by The Verge, the software giant has confirmed this will indeed happen.

Although Internet Explorer will live on in some version of Windows 10, mainly for enterprise compatibility, Microsoft intends for “Project Spartan” to be the primary way users access the internet in Windows 10.

Microsoft still remains undecided on the new name of the successor to IE, and are in the process of researching what to call it. However, their research in the UK suggests that putting the name Microsoft in front of the new secret name increased the appeal to some Chrome users. “Just by putting the Microsoft name in front of it, the delta for Chrome users on appeal is incredibly high,” says Capossela.

Microsoft is really aiming for the moon with Windows 10.  Their goal is to have a big and lasting impact while creating a personal and emotional attachment with users. During the Windows 10 event in January, CEO Satya Nadella emphasized about how he wants users to love Windows, and so far, Microsoft has been looking at every possible avenue to make this happen.

We’ve seen and reported many intriguing things, and with the replacement of Internet Explorer, this only adds to the list as the company wants to rid itself of all the negative perception. If Microsoft delivers on their promise, alongside some new innovative hardware, Windows 10 will definitely be something to watch unfold.

Source: The Verge

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

Windows tablets are set to be a threat to the iPad, according to IDC

surface pro 3 ad 1IDC’s latest report on the tablet market doesn’t look so good in respect to growth. In February, IDC reported a 3.2% drop in tablet shipments which marked the first ever year-on-year decline, and in their latest outlook, the projections of market growth are gloomy as the research company scaled back its earlier projections. IDC’s new forecast has tablet shipments reaching 234million in 2015. This represents only a slight increase of 2.1% when comparing to 2014.

IDC has provided us with a chart representing their growth forecast which looks to gain a slight bump in 2016 and continue declining until 2019 to almost minimal growth.

IDC tablet growth forecastOne of the interesting takeaways in their latest report is how quickly Apple has begun to lose share and not just due to the market growing at a faster rate than Apple can keep up with, but due to the decline in iPad shipments overall, calling them the “weakest link”.

Android on the other hand increased overall shipment but is expected to have a very slight increase year-over-year from 154.7 million in 2014 to 158.1 million in 2015. It’s also worth noting that IDC expects Android tablets to experience a market share drop to 62.9% in 2019.

It’s not all gloomy for the newest member in the tablet market space, the Windows tablets, which are expected to gain significant share by 2019. Although Windows had a market share of 5.1% in 2014, climbing to 14.1 in the next few years is a large jump, and IDC is convinced that Windows 10 will play a big role in this movement.

Source: IDC

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