Microsoft simplifies student enrollment process for free Office 365 subscription
Microsoft is offering a simpler way for students around the world to check their eligibility for a free Office 365 license. While free subscriptions have been around for a while, it typically involved a lengthy process to check for eligibility. Now, students and teachers need to just sign up with a valid school email address to receive their subscription, which includes installation of Office apps on up to five computers and up to five mobile devices, as well as 1TB of OneDrive storage.
Cycling tile added to Microsoft band, more exercise tiles incoming
The first update for the Microsoft Band will introduce new tools for users and developers, as the company tries to improve its standing in the fitness-tracking market. A tile for monitoring cycling, improved communications between the band and mobile apps, and an on-screen keyboard are joined by Microsoft's preview release of an SDK, giving developers a hint at what they could do with the wearable device.
Google adds more editing options to Google Docs for Android
Google Docs for Android has been updated to provide more from its Office Compatibility Mode. The latest version allows for the cutting, copying, and pasting of text, images, tables, and charts in the mode, according to the Google Apps Updates blog, with the app also introducing the ability to insert links into Google documents. The updated app is available to download now from Google Play.
OneNote for Mac gains OCR support, close window, hide authors
On Wednesday, Microsoft updated its OneNote note-taking program for the Mac to include support for scanning and OCR of documents. The new 15.7.1 also includes to user-requested features -- the ability to close (rather than quit) the application's window using the standard Mac convention, and the ability to hide author initials in shared notebooks from the View tab.
Sunrise purchase believed to cost Microsoft at least $100M
Microsoft has confirmed it has acquired calendar app creator Sunrise. Rumored last week, the purchase provides Microsoft with a powerful calendar tool for iOS, Mac, Android, and a web-based version, and when combined with the earlier deal to buy Acompli, appears to show Microsoft is trying to improve its Office suite by incorporating already-successful third-party apps, rather than developing its own solutions.
Trademark suggests Microsoft considering more subscription services
Microsoft may be considering a future change to a subscription-based version of Windows, according to reports. A trademark filing for "Windows 365," mirroring the Office 365 branding, strongly suggests the software giant is looking to possibly charging a regular fee to consumers for the operating system or some specific functionality, rather than using the current one-time payment system used for major version upgrades.
Lower-specification Windows Phone devices could gain feature-limited WIndows 10
Microsoft is still working on allowing owners of lower-specification Windows Phone devices to use Windows 10. Concerns that owners of smartphones including the Lumia 520 would miss out were allayed by a Microsoft executive, though it appears that they may miss out on some of the functionality expected to arrive within the mobile operating system.
Calendar app purchase echoes earlier acquisition of Acompli
Microsoft has made another acquisition of an existing mobile productivity app, according to reports. Sunrise, the producer of calendar apps of the same name, is allegedly being acquired by the software giant, and based on the results of its last major third-party app acquisition, could end up adding the software to its Office app collection.
Cyanogen investment may be ploy to weaken Google control of Android
Microsoft may be planning to make an investment in an Android-related startup, a report claims. According to sources of the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft will allegedly take part in a funding round as a "minority investor" of Cyanogen, creators of the CyanogenMod Android ROM, with rumors that the round will bring in a total of $70 million to the ROM maker.
Web, iOS app first to gain new photo views, albums in OneDrive
Microsoft has made some changes to its cloud storage service OneDrive, with updates primarily concerning photography. Overall updates to image organization, searching, and sharing are accompanied by changes to the iOS app for work-related items, alterations which make it easier to access files stored on OneDrive for Business accounts without requiring a dedicated app, as well as a Mac client -- making file synchronization smoother.
Outlook preview edition for iOS, Android rebrands existing Acompli app
Microsoft has made its Office apps available to all Android users, following the limited preview release and the iOS version. The apps, including Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, are accompanied by a new preview of another Office app, with a rebranded version of email app Acompli as Outlook downloadable from both Google Play and the iTunes App Store.
Surface accounts for $1.1B in revenues thanks to Surface Pro 3
Microsoft's last quarter saw the company pull in $26.47 billion in revenues, beating the previous quarter and the same quarter last year's figures by $3.27 billion and $1.95 billion respectively. The gross margin is up 1 percent year-on-year to $16.33 billion, though operating income is down 2 percent to $7.78 billion, with the diluted earnings per share at $0.71, down nine percent.
Latest Windows Insider preview build of Windows 10 available to download
Microsoft has made the latest version of its Windows 10 Technical Preview available to download by the participants of the Windows Insider program. The update introduces some of major features shown off during this week's Windows 10 event, with the Spartan browser and the Xbox One game streaming expected to arrive in Insider builds closer to launch.
Full upgrade to Windows 10 not available for Windows RT devices
Owners of the Microsoft Surface will not receive the full upgrade to Windows 10, but will still benefit from some updates, a report claims. While Microsoft will be making the next version of its operating system available to systems running Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, including the Surface Pro range, the Windows RT-based Surface will be missing out.
Windows 10 device intended to simplify conferencing, communications
Microsoft's Surface ecosystem didn't get left behind in today's Windows 10 event. Unveiled at the media event was the Microsoft Surface Hub, which is either a 55- or 84-inch 4K display, utilizing a custom Windows 10 version, featuring touch and stylus input with voice and gesture controls.
Seven-year project integrated into Windows 10, release not imminent
Microsoft pulled the veil off of a project that it claims has been running for years -- Microsoft Hologram. The project, consisting of a new Hololens headset, aims to integrate Microsoft Windows in both a virtual reality and augmented reality system. Additionally, the company announced that every Windows 10 device will support the system in some way, with the API on every device. As expected, details are scant.
Xbox One will stream gameplay to Windows 10 devices
Microsoft's gaming ambitions will involve a new app for Windows 10, among other items, Xbox chief Phil Spencer has revealed. The Xbox app will be available on every PC and tablet running Windows 10, providing not only the usual social features already offered to Xbox One users, but also the Game DVR video creation and sharing function.
At today's Microsoft Windows 10 event, Windows Phone Program chief Joe Belifiore officially revealed the refresh of Microsoft-supplied browsers, with the previously rumored Spartan browser effort. The new browser, named after the company's hero of the Halo series, includes web page annotation and sharing, full PDF integration into the browser, and a baked-in implementation of Microsoft's Cortana "Personal Digital Assistant" technology.
Free upgrade to Windows 10 offered to previous versions for one year after launch
The next iteration of Windows will be a free upgrade to a large number of existing Windows users, Microsoft revealed today at its media event. Owners of computers running Windows 7 or later will receive an upgrade to Windows 10 at no charge, in a move that is highly likely to bolster user numbers for the operating system shortly after launch.
Xiaomi launches compact Mi Box mini media streamer in China
Xiaomi has introduced a new compact media streamer in China. The Mi Box mini is a power adapter-sized device containing a quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A7 processor from MediaTek, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of storage, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a HDMI 1.4a output capable of showing 3D video at 1080p. While it offers DTS 2.0 and Dolby Digital Plus audio processing and has a Bluetooth remote control, it does not include any options to increase the storage or connect over Ethernet or USB. Shipping from January 27, the Mi Box mini is priced at 199 RMB ($32).
Budget Lumia 435, Lumia 532 have similar entry-level specifications
Microsoft has unveiled two Lumia smartphones destined for emerging markets. The Lumia 435 is claimed to be the company's "most affordable Lumia," complete with a four-inch 800x480 LCD screen, while the Lumia 532 is slightly more expensive -- and while it packs the same display, it switches out the 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor for a quad-core version.
Security patches for Windows 7 will continue until January 2020
Microsoft is ending its "mainstream support" for Windows 7 today. The January 13 end date for the support, across all versions of Windows 7, means that from tomorrow onwards Microsoft will not be offering free support for issues with the operating system, though the company will be offering chargeable "extended support" until January 14, 2020.
Google reveals Windows flaw despite Microsoft request to wait
Microsoft is asking for the online security community to better coordinate on the disclosure of vulnerabilities in code, after a publication of a flaw in Windows 8.1 by Google. The search company released details about the vulnerability in the operating system yesterday as part of Project Zero, two days before Microsoft was to offer up a fix in its well-known Patch Tuesday schedule.
Former Google engineers borrow heavily from the Microsoft aesthetic
Last year, three ex-Google engineers from the Search and Maps divisions got together and formed Jide Technology. Now, Jeremy Zhou, David Ko, and Ben Luk have debuted the Remix, a combination tablet and laptop, or what the company calls an "ultra-tablet." While it runs on a modified version of Android, the look and feel is very reminiscent of the Microsoft Surface -- giving the new product's title an ironic extra layer of meaning.
Create interactive photo stories on your iPhone
Microsoft must've had some serious but closeted iPhone and iPad fans chomping to make apps for Apple's devices among its personnel -- because now that the company has officially embraced Apple's devices, it is making some of the very best iOS software around. This app for communicating ideas -- Sway -- is also very far from the powerful-but-dry business software that we still associate the company with. You would sooner believe this came from the makers of Keynote than from PowerPoint.
Chinese powerhouse will strengthen anti-counterfeit measures on Tmall, Taobao
In an announcement today on its Alizila News site, the Alibaba Group revealed a plan to work together with Microsoft to crack down on counterfeit and pirated Microsoft products from being sold on Alibaba's Taobao and Tmall online stores in China. The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which commits them to jointly conduct programs to alert customers to the dangers of using unlicensed software, and help them seek restitution if they were tricked into buying pirated products.
Web annotations, OneDrive integration, other new features planned
Last month, it was revealed that Windows 10 would include a new web browser code named "Spartan." Internet Explorer (IE) will still be included in the new operating system for legacy reasons, but it's expected that will begin offering Spartan as the default browser. New details are emerging regarding how the browser will work, with several major new features planned.
Nokia 215 connects over 2G, includes social network apps
Microsoft has launched another Nokia-branded phone, this time as a feature-phone device outside of the Lumia range. The Nokia 215 is a phone for emerging markets with relatively basic features compared to its Windows Phone-based line, but it doesn't stop Microsoft from claiming it is the "most-affordable Internet-ready entry-level phone" on the market.
News from the video game industry for the week of December 28
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN offer a look back at some of the big news from the video game world in the previous week. To roll in the New Year for Weekly Game Replay, we take a look at Steam's new concurrent user record, Xbox Live founder Boyd Multerer's departure from Microsoft, the Planetside 2 beta coming to the PlayStation 4 in January, Croteam's trap for video game pirates in The Talos Principle, and the new free games for PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live gold subscribers.
Microsoft retires original Kinect for Windows sensor
Microsoft is planning to phase out sales of the original Kinect for Windows sensor in 2015. In a blog post spotted by Slashgear, the availability of the improved version 2.0 sensor and SDK 2.0 has prompted the company to put to an end sales of the preceding model. Microsoft warns that business customers with "commitments to the original sensor" should get in contact as no more original sensors will be produced once the current stock sells out.
Spartan browser said to coexist in Windows 10 with Internet Explorer 11
Windows 10 may be accompanied by a new browser, a report claims. Microsoft is said to be working on a browser codenamed "Spartan," one which is said to be a lightweight browser that represents a fresh start from the current Internet Explorer browser, and may end up being a completely separate browser release rather than becoming Internet Explorer 12.
Kim Dotcom bribe halted attacks on gaming company servers
Over Christmas Eve and well into Christmas Day, gaming services Xbox Live and the Playstation Network were under assault from the Lizard Squad group. The attack rendered the services mostly useless, with an assortment of problems including a general inability to connect, and culminating in the login services for both not accepting connections. The assault only ended with Internet personality Kim Dotcom offering the members of the group lifetime memberships to his new file locker Mega Privacy.
Google, Sony, Microsoft all hosting the movie for purchase or rent
Sony and others have unveiled a massive effort to make the Sony Pictures title The Interview available online. Google's YouTube Movies paid service paved the way with its announcement a bit earlier today, with Google Play, Xbox Videos, and a special Sony website all having declared that the movie would be available at 1PM ET. The picture will cost $6 to rent, and $15 to own in HD.
Leaked screenshot suggests LG G2 to gain Android Lollipop soon
The Android Lollipop upgrade may reach the LG G2, if a leaked screenshot is to be believed. According to TuttoAndroid, the screenshot is said to show the G2 as running Android 5.0.1, with part of the screenshot showing a new, flatter user interface in line with Material Design principles. No date for the update has been provided -- but if the image is genuine, it could start reaching phones as early as January next year.
Campaign add-on to Halo paced differently, highly regarded by fans
Microsoft game studio 343 Industries has spelled out a compensation package for users affected by the matchmaking flaws that Halo: The Master Chief Collection has been plagued with since launch. The package includes Halo 3 adjunct title ODST, which was not expected to be released, a remastered multiplayer map, a month of Xbox Live service, and a character nameplate for use in-game.
Thirty percent of tech preview testers are 'highly active,' says company
Back in October, Microsoft launched the "Windows 10 Insider program, "where PC experts and IT Pros can get access to a technical preview of Windows 10 for desktops and laptops." As of December 17, 1.5 million users have joined the program, Microsoft has announced. In the December update for the forthcoming OS version, Microsoft's Gabe Aul said roughly 30 percent of Insiders, or 450,000 users, are "highly active" in the program.
Arcadia project proposes to stream games from cloud servers to Windows PCs
Microsoft is allegedly experimenting with streaming apps and games to Windows machines. An internal team is said to be working on "Arcadia," a codenamed project which would let software to run from Microsoft's Azure cloud services rather than on a local machine, streaming the app or game to PC users with lower-than-average specifications.
Apple, most big tech companies support Microsoft in Irish email case
This week saw the submission of ten amicus curae briefs filed from a combined 87 individuals, businesses, and associations in support of Microsoft's challenge to a US search warrant for an email stored on a data center in Ireland to the court. The fight between the US government and the Windows maker centers around US law's reach into a customer's private records when the records are actually stored in another country.
Changes in appearance, new apps shown in latest Windows 10 build
More leaks for Windows 10 have surfaced, ahead of an event planned to show off the Microsoft operating system on January 21st. The latest leak of build 9901 includes a more refined design for the Cortana virtual assistant than in previous reports, with the changes accompanied by a number of other tweaks and small changes to the Windows interface.
Move not indicative of any change in attitude toward Microsoft
Social network behemoth Facebook has removed Microsoft Bing search results from its pages in the last few days. The move, confirmed by Facebook officials, shifts the users' results to its own "Facebook Search" effort to help focus "on helping people find what's been shared with them." The move underscores Facebook's continued competition with Google. In parallel with the Bing excision, Facebook rolled out changes to "Graph Search" to return specific posts to searchers, instead of just results for people.
Windows 7 TLS, SSL implementation fix breaks driver installations
This week's Microsoft "Patch Tuesday," the regular scheduled day for updates and bug fixes from the Redmond giant, hit a few snags. While one problematic patch to Exchange 2013 has already been retracted and re-issued, a second patch -- this one addressing SSL and TLS authentication -- has rendered many Windows Update drivers, including video card drivers from Nvidia and AMD, uninstallable on Windows 7.
NPD claims 1.2M Xbox One consoles sold in US in November
Microsoft has beaten Sony for the first time in a long while, in terms of console sales. Sales data from NPD reveals that the Xbox One outsold the PlayStation 4 in the United States for the month of November, with the pre-holiday spending breaking a sales streak Sony has enjoyed since the launch of its console in the country last year.
Works with iOS, Android, Windows Phone: crash reporting, analytics, beta distribution to be unified
Microsoft has announced through a blog post that it has acquired HockeyApp, a mobile analytics and app-distribution service similar to Apple's Testflight. Originally launched as a web-only service in 2011 that allowed iOS, OS X, and Android developers to collect crash reports and manage beta distribution, the app now offers such services for Android, iOS and Windows Phone developers, and will continue to operate as Microsoft works on integrating HockeyApp into the Applications Insights service in Visual Studio Online.
Bitcoin payments into Microsoft Account performed by BitPay
Microsoft is embracing Bitcoin, by allowing users of its services to pay using the cryptocurrency. US customers are able to add funds to their Microsoft Account using a Bitcoin wallet, which can then be used to may payments in the Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox stores, as well as paying for subscriptions for Xbox Live and Xbox Music.
Health & Fitness syncs with HealthKit
Microsoft has launched a collection of new MSN apps for iOS, including News, Money, Health & Fitness, Food & Drink, and Sports. A sixth, Weather, is due to go live sometime in the near future. News gathers feeds from websites like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Money tracks financial information, and provides some basic tools to go with it.
Desktop version of Cortana has similar functionality to Windows Phone version
The rumored desktop version of Microsoft's virtual assistant has allegedly resurfaced in video. A clip appears to show Cortana being used on a new build of Windows 10, and though some aspects are apparently non-functional, the video seemingly demonstrates how it could be used to contact other people, create appointments, and handle reminders.
Netflix tests original show marketing with reminder Twitter messages
Netflix is testing a new way to remind subscribers to watch their original shows. A custom card for upcoming show Marco Polo is being used on Twitter to promote the show, complete with a "Tweet Me a Reminder" button. According to The Next Web, the @MarcoPoloMP Twitter account will be sending a message to anyone who opts in to the service at 12:01AM Pacific Time on December 12th, with participants also receiving a custom video message from the cast.
Android Wear search app spreads to mobile phones, adds more answer options
The Microsoft equivalent of Google Voice Search is now available on Android. Initially released from Microsoft Garage for Android Wear devices, Torque is a search app which provides card-style answers to questions in a similar manner to Google's own voice-controlled product, though instead of being triggered by a voice prompt, it starts up by shaking the phone.
Microsoft brings Cortana to France, Germany, Italy, Spain
Microsoft is bringing the Cortana virtual assistant to more countries in Europe. An update as part of the Windows Phone Developer Preview Program rolling out today will grant access to Cortana in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Released as an alpha version, Microsoft warns many of the advanced features will not be available, such as flight tracking and some reference data, but the team is working to add localized content for each language, along with a slightly tailored personality.
Buying back stake claimed to help separation of Nook Media from retail business
The commercial agreement between Microsoft and Barnes & Noble is ending, the retailer has revealed. The termination of the two-year partnership is said in the latest quarterly earnings report for the book retailer to help "further rationalize the Nook business and provide a clearer path for the potential separation of our retail and Nook Media business.