Skype for Web Beta in the US and UK

Subject: General Tech | June 8, 2015 - 01:48 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, skype

If you are on the go and need to make a Skype call from a machine you cannot install software on and your mobile device is out of juice or just not big enough, there is a new beta you can try out in the US and UK.  Head over to or and log into your account, install a plug-in for the supported browsers which are IE, Chrome, Safari and Firefox and make your call.  The beta will be coming to everyone soon, a good idea since most usage scenarios would likely involve travellers calling home and you can check out the link to the blog post at The Register.

In addition The Inquirer let us know that the Skype for Windows desktop client will be updated to include the real time translation tool for all users.  The release may possibly coincide with the upcoming release of Windows 10, whether that OS will be ready or not is a different question.


"Microsoft has released a beta web browser version of Skype in the US and UK, which will apparently be rolled out worldwide within the next few weeks."

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Source: The Register

Windows 10 Build 10130 Coming to Slow Ring

Subject: General Tech | June 4, 2015 - 07:40 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 10

Gabe Aul said on Twitter that Microsoft will release Windows 10 Build 10130 to members of the Insider Preview Slow Ring. He did not give a date, but noted that just one blocking fix is preventing the release. This build was released to Fast Ring users last week and had three known issues. Since then, two were patched via Windows Update, leaving just “Flyouts from Taskbar fail to fly out.” Presumably, this is the issue that they are hoping to fix before pushing the build to Slow.


When the update is released to Slow Ring, it is accompanied by ISOs that can be used to clean-install a PC up to that point. While this delay is to force a segment of users to test the in-place upgrade functionality, I expect this also keeps enterprise evaluators on builds that are more polished. Installing Windows from an ISO might not convey the quality-difference of any two neighboring builds like selecting branches in Windows Update would subconsciously portray.

Microsoft seems to be at the merge and polish stage of Windows 10 development. Builds should start feeling more clean than new as the days roll forward toward July 29th. Major new features are probably going to be done in branches for later releases, similar to what we would consider “service packs”. That's just my assumptions, though.

All you wanted to know about WinX but were afraid to ask

Subject: General Tech | June 2, 2015 - 03:35 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, acer, Lenovo

If you are running Win7 or a flavour of Win8 you have probably seen the pop-up nagging you to reserve your copy of Windows 10 before the official launch on July 29th.  That deadline is a little misleading, if it has you concerned, you still have until July 29 2016 to use your free upgrade.  What the reminder does do is give Microsoft a chance at a large initial adoption rate of the brand new OS which is rather necessary to restore confidence in them as an investment opportunity after the lukewarm Windows 8 adoption numbers.  One question does still remain about the licensing which we are still awaiting an answer to. What does the future after that  date hold for those who like to reinstall OSes on a regular basis; if you only possess a Windows 7 serial number and take advantage of the free upgrade before the deadline, will you get a way to install a fresh copy of Windows 10?

If you do have to buy a new license for Windows 10, the prices will remain as they were for Windows 8, Windows 10 Home will retail for $119, Windows 10 Pro for $199 with an upgrade from Home to Pro costing you $99.  If you want control over when your updates are installed you might want to get some friends together to invest in a volume licensing agreement as patches are now pushed out and installed immediately. As we have mentioned Windows Media Centre will disappear as will any Windows 7 desktop gadgets you might have installed along the way but one mildly surprising omission that The Inquirer spotted was a change to DVD playback, which will also be an extra feature or else be handled by superior open source players.  If for some reason you still use floppy drives, the new Windows will not natively support them but as with the previous version you should be able to locate drivers.

As for hardware, DigiTimes has heard word of very low priced Broadwell based laptops being released by Lenovo and Acer.  Acer will be releasing a pair of models, an 11.6" at $169 and a 14" for $199.  Lenovo's will be more expensive at $250 but will be a convertible Yoga machine which explains at least part of the premium pricing.  It will be interesting to see how these will compete with existing products on the market, including Microsoft's own Surface.


"The Windows 10 notebooks are an 11.6-inch notebook (US$169) and a 14-inch clamshell-type notebook (US$199) from Acer and a 14-inch convertible Yoga notebook (US$249) from Lenovo. These devices will be manufactured by Inventec, and target mainly against Chromebooks."

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Source: DigiTimes

Lenovo Tech World: REACHit Announced with Cortana

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | May 27, 2015 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, reachit, microsoft, Lenovo, cortana

Yesterday during briefings at Lenovo’s North Campus just outside of Beijing, the Contextual Computing group took the opportunity to discuss their unique integration of a technology called REACHit with Cortana on Windows 10.


REACHit is an indexing program that Lenovo has developed which is aimed at helping users find their documents among many different services and contexts. Once you authenticate REACHit with your accounts such as Dropbox,, Google Drive, or your local computers, Lenovo makes an index of the files which you keep there to help you more easily locate what you are looking for.

The most unique feature of REACHit comes in how you issue a search query. Lenovo has developed multiple contexts which they think will be useful in locating files, such as File Type, File Actions, Location, Calendar Events, and time frames. They are indexing the files you give them access to for these specific prompts, and hoping to present them in a more useful fashion.

One of the examples we were walked through involved the prompt, “Where is the presentation I was working on at Starbucks last week?”. In this case, Lenovo is looking at the file types (PPT), whether or not a file was Saved/Opened, the geolocation which this occurred at, and the time frame at which these operations took place.

We didn’t see a live demo of these searches working, and haven’t had hands-on time with the software yet so it’s hard to say if Lenovo has succeeded at their goal, but the technology seems like an interesting solution to a common problem.


There are also security concerns about giving Lenovo access to all of your files, and letting them build an index your metadata. We have been told there is encryption being handled on Lenovo’s server side, but they couldn’t get into any further details about this.

REACHit at this point is purely integrated with Microsoft’s Cortana in Windows 10, and there is no other option for running a search or external API access. Lenovo expects REACHit to be available at the Windows 10 launch for Lenovo machines only, and is currently opening sign-ups for the private beta at

Source: Lenovo

Need another reason to try out Win10? How about live translation on Skype

Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2015 - 01:48 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, win 8.1, translator, Skype Translator, skype, microsoft

The Skype Translator service has been available for users that signed up and were approved by Microsoft for testing.  It has now been made available for any and all users of Windows 8.1 or the Windows 10 pre-release.  It can translate audio to and from English, Spanish, Italian or Mandarin in real time and can translate instant messages from another 50 languages.  You will of course need someone to call who speaks a different language from you to see how bad the eggcorns are but watching live translation is always impressive.  You can see it in action at The Inquirer and the link for the software is at the bottom of the article.


"MICROSOFT HAS MADE its Skype Translator Preview available to all Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 users."

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Source: The Inquirer
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

No Longer the Media Center of Attention

Gabe Aul, of Microsoft's Windows Insiders program, has confirmed on Twitter that Windows 10 will drop support for Windows Media Center due to a decline in usage. This is not surprising news as Microsoft has been deprecating the Media Center application for a while now. In Windows 8.x, the application required both the “Pro” SKU of the operating system, and then users needed to install an optional add-on above and beyond that. The Media Center Pack cost $10 over the price of Windows 8.x Pro unless you claimed a free license in the promotional period surrounding Windows 8's launch.


While Media Center has been officially abandoned, its influence on the industry (and vice versa) is an interesting story. For a time, it looked like Microsoft had bigger plans that were killed by outside factors and other companies seem to be eying the money that Microsoft left on the table.

There will be some speculation here.

We could go back to the days of WebTV, but we won't. All you need to know is that Microsoft lusted over the living room for years. Windows owned the office and PC gaming was taking off with strong titles (and technologies) from Blizzard, Epic, iD, Valve, and others. DirectX was beloved by developers, which led to the original Xbox. Their console did not get a lot of traction, but they respected it as a first-generation product that was trying to acquire a foothold late in a console generation. Financially, the first Xbox would cost Microsoft almost four billion dollars more than it made.

At the same time, Microsoft was preparing Windows to enter the living room. This was the company's power house and it acquired significant marketshare wherever it went, due to its ease of development and its never-ending supply of OEMs, even if the interface itself was subpar. Their first attempt at bringing Windows to the living room was Windows XP Media Center Edition. This spin-off of Windows XP could only be acquired by OEMs to integrate into home theater PCs (HTPCs). The vision was interesting, using OEM competition to rapidly prototype what users actually want in a PC attached to a TV.

This leads us to Windows Vista, which is where Media Center came together while the OS fell apart.

Read on to see how Halo 2 for Windows Vista was almost the prototype for PC gaming.

Podcast #348 - DirectX 12, New AMD GPU News, Giveaways and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2015 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, Fiji, hbm, microsoft, build 2015, DirectX 12, Intel, SSD 750, freesync, gsync, Oculus, rift

PC Perspective Podcast #348 - 05/07/2015

Join us this week as we discuss DirectX 12, New AMD GPU News, Giveaways and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Say goodbye to Patch Tuesday

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2015 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: patch tuesday, microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft is showing off some of the new security features of Windows 10 and one of the announcements heralded the end of Patch Tuesday for everyone but Enterprise customers.  For consumers any device running Windows 10 could receive a patch at any time Microsoft approves it and pushes it out, apparently a shot across the bows at Google and their less than regular update schedule for mobile devices.  This could lead to some interesting and unexpected behaviour for devices if the patches cause problems on some systems as has happened in the past.  The patches can be distributed via peer-to-peer which will help those with limited bandwidth and time constraints, which you can read about at The Register along with information on the new Advanced Threat Analytics.

The Inquirer touches briefly on Windows Update for Business which will replace current patch distribution for the Enterprise and allow far more control on what gets updated, with which patches and when the installations will occur.


"Ignite 2015 - Microsoft has shown off some of the new security mechanisms embedded in Windows 10, and revealed a change to its software updates."

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Source: The Register
Manufacturer: Microsoft

DirectX 12 Has No More Secrets

The DirectX 12 API is finalized and the last of its features are known. Before the BUILD conference, the list consisted of Conservative Rasterization, Rasterizer Ordered Viewed, Typed UAV Load, Volume Tiled Resources, and a new Tiled Resources revision for non-volumetric content. When the GeForce GTX 980 launched, NVIDIA claimed it would be compatible with DirectX 12 features. Enthusiasts were skeptical, because Microsoft did not officially finalize the spec at the time.

Last week, Microsoft announced the last feature of the graphics API: Multiadapter.

We already knew that Multiadapter existed, at least to some extent. It is the part of the specification that allows developers to address multiple graphics adapters to split tasks between them. In DirectX 11 and earlier, secondary GPUs would remain idle unless the graphics driver sprinkled some magic fair dust on it with SLI, CrossFire, or Hybrid CrossFire. The only other way to access this dormant hardware was by spinning up an OpenCL (or similar compute API) context on the side.

Read on to see what DirectX 12 does differently...

Microsoft's Nano Server, the GUI-less server in the clouds

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2015 - 02:56 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows server, nano server

Microsoft has really trimmed the fat off of Windows Server to make Nano Server, in fact they may have cut off some of the meat as well.  A Microsoft engineer described it as "a model of 'just enough OS'.", which is why the new Server OS base install is a mere 400MB.  The GUI is gone, you will use Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) or the new Core PowerShell which will resemble the old Powershell, but again in a cut down manner.  Drivers and APIs are minimal which will take programmers some time to adjust to as the DLL that they current use may not exist on Core and the installer you all know and hate, Windows MSI is one of the ones which has been cut.  In order to install drivers and applications which currently rely on MSI, you will need to add them to your image.  Read more about this major change in the way you will manage your Windows servers over at The Register.


"Engineers from Microsoft's Windows Server team took the stage at the Build developer conference in San Francisco this week to share more details on Nano Server, the upcoming micro-sized version of the OS aimed at cloud deployments."

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Source: The Register