Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | May 27, 2015 - 10:00 PM | Ken Addison
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, Box.net, 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 Cortanareachit.com
Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2015 - 01:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft: Insiders using Windows XP or Vista won't get free Windows 10 upgrade @ The Inquirer
- Windows 8.1 - still a dead duck or worth the move for 4K? @ Kitguru
- Microsoft's run Azure on Nano server since late 2013 @ The Register
- GPU Malware Can Also Affect Windows PCs, Possibly Macs @ Slashdot
- Mildly successful flying car crashes - in mildly successful test flight @ The Register
- Microsoft Is Confident In Security of Edge Browser @ Slashdot
- MediaTek outs Helio X20 10-core chip with three processor clusters for better battery life @ The Inquirer
- Intel RealSense App Challenge Winners @ Intel
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.
Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2015 - 03:17 PM | Ken Addison
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!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the 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
Program length: 1:27:38
Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2015 - 02:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Nanotube TFETs in new tunnelling current record @ Nanotechweb
- Word to your mother: Office 2016 preview flung at world + dog @ The Register
- USBKill Transforms a Thumb Drive Into an "Anti-Forensic" Device @ Slashdot
- TP-LINK AV1200 Review (Powerline) @ HardwareHeaven
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.
Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2015 - 02:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Inside ARM's Cortex-A72 microarchitecture @ The Tech Report
- Quantum CPU upstart D-Wave drills into physics simulations to boost vital magnetic shielding @ The Register
- What Happens When You Pour Molten Aluminum into a Watermelon? @ MAKE:Blog
- Tech ARP 2015 Mega Giveaway : Mi In-Ear Headphones
Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2015 - 06:38 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, build 2015, build 10074, BUILD
When Microsoft forked their build numbers into 100xx and 101xx lines, we predicted that they were preparing a version to release at BUILD 2015. We also predicted that it would be heavily tested and pushed to both Slow and Fast simultaneously, which would give a good entry point for developers and probably even enterprise evaluators. I was surprised when Microsoft released 10061 last week, and then updated it just two days ago (why???) with four patches, but we ended up being correct in the end.
Microsoft has just released Windows 10 build 10074 to both Fast and Slow users. Its comes with a very small list of known issues, and they are much less severe than they were in previous releases. The first issue tells developers that Developer Mode needs to be enabled in Group Policy, rather than the place in Settings that it will eventually be. The next two issues are more severe: some games cannot be played in full screen and the People app is still broken. I am not sure how wide-spread “some games” is, but they plan to patch it via Windows Update “as soon as possible”.
One major fix is that now, when certain applications that play audio are minimized, they will continue to play audio. This bug made many media players, such as a few SoundCloud apps in the Windows Store as well as Microsoft's own Music app, pretty much useless. Until 10074, you would basically need to launch them, then cover them up with other windows if you wanted more screen real-estate.
If you were a fan of Aero from Windows 7, then you will like the blurred transparency effect of Start and the taskbar. Personally, while I think it looks nice, I was never really attached to that aspect of the Windows UI. Honestly, it used to drive me nuts when it kicked me out of games to complain about how it cannot properly manage 2GB of video memory, despite running perfectly fine if I select ignore. Hopefully that will not come back with it. But, if it is here without causing any problems, it does look pretty. Also, the Start Menu can now be manually resized to better arrange your apps. It also looks like the semi-horizontal layout is a great compromise between the Start Menu and the Start Screen for desktops.
So, as we expected, this build is what happens when Microsoft picks a target and mostly cleans up all of their relevant branches into a solid release. It is still a bit buggy here and there, but it feels better than 10049, which was itself better than 10041. That said, I also upgraded my NVIDIA drivers from 349.90 to 352.63; that could have something to do with it (although I am using the same Intel drivers).
There has not been too many announcements regarding features that are not present in 10074 though. It makes you wonder, at least a bit, how much will be added to the 101xx path until the OS finally launches.
Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2015 - 07:27 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, BUILD, build 2015
BUILD 2015 begins tomorrow, and I expect we'll learn the last features that Microsoft intends to add to Windows 10 at launch. The conference is targeted at software and web developers first and foremost. We might not see too much on the consumer side, but we should get under-the-hood information that will be relevant to consumers. For instances, some questions about Windows Store, WinRT, and DirectX 12 might be answered. We might even get a public DirectX 12 SDK (and more).
Note: WinRT (API) is not the same as Windows RT (OS).
As we noted earlier, development was forked into a 100xx-branch and a 101xx-branch of build numbers. We assume that, due to the proximity to the conference, the lower build number is getting polished for public presentation while the higher builds will surface later, with more experimental features.
Microsoft published an introduction video, based on the 10061 build, to introduce the new OS to new users. I guess they are expecting a new wave of testers after the conference, probably both developers and enterprise evaluators. It is brief but interesting, although it surprisingly did not mention anything about the “Continuum” interface to switch between mouse/keyboard and touch experiences.
As stated, BUILD 2015 starts tomorrow and we will probably have a bit of coverage for it.
Subject: General Tech | April 26, 2015 - 07:31 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, windows, microsoft
There are still a few users on old Windows 10 Technical Preview builds from 2014. In a few days, there won't be: their computers will refuse to boot. The affected builds that will completely brick themselves on April 30th are 9841, 9860, and 9879. You cannot accuse Microsoft of surprising users though, because Windows has been notifying them since April 2nd and force-rebooting every three hours since April 15th if they didn't take the warnings seriously. The current batch of builds are valid until October.
WinBeta has linked this policy to Microsoft's rumored piracy policy. My thoughts? No.
This is actually typical of Microsoft when it comes to pre-release operating systems. In fact, the only difference between this and Vista's pre-release (ex: “Beta 2”) expiration is that Microsoft relaxed the reboot time to three hours. It was two hours back in the Vista era but otherwise identical. That policy only applied to the previews then, and I see no reason to believe that it will be extended to released operating systems now.
Granted, with the Windows 10 continuous update structure, it does raise concern about what will happen if/when Microsoft releases a build that users don't want. For instance, imagine Microsoft decides to cut off legacy support for Win32 -- will customers have the ability to opt-out of the upgrade treadmill and continue to use applications that are then unsupported, like practically every Steam game they own?
But I see no reason to think that this policy has anything to do with that.