Microsoft Once Again Backs Away from Windows 10 Mobile

Subject: Mobile | October 8, 2017 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10 mobile, windows 10

Windows 10 Mobile has been in a holding pattern for a couple of years now. Microsoft has not really announced any new hardware initiatives, but they were also saying, consistently, that the platform would get revisited in some other year. Likewise, they were keeping the mobile OS up-to-date, even tying Insider builds roughly in lockstep with PC build releases. If you were also paying attention to the Windows on ARM announcements, you could assume that Microsoft was waiting for several pieces to fall into place before pushing, once more, with all of their weight.

 

 

Today, Joe Belfiore of Microsoft has tweeted that features and hardware “aren’t the focus”. Windows Central goes on to note that some enterprises have already adopted Windows 10 Mobile.

 

 

He also goes on to discuss initiatives that they’ve attempted to attract app developers. They commissioned works, and even built apps to get third-parties started. They didn’t take off because there wasn’t enough users. (Personally, I was scared off by development requirements and restrictions back in the Windows 8 Developer Preview days, which is an ongoing issue with UWP. That said, the developers that Joe Belfiore is talking about are the type who would publish on iOS, so that’s not an issue for them.)

But let’s think about this for a second. Microsoft still seems to be pushing Windows 10 for ARM, and it’s ever-less likely to be for an upcoming mobile initiative. So, why are they doing that? I can see how they would be concerned that Intel and AMD, in the future, repeat the mistakes of ~2007-2010 and fail to keep up with ARM vendors on an important market segment (which was tablets and mobile phones at the time, but might not be going forward). It could be a good opportunity to make this big change while the rest of the company is struggling with many other big changes, rather than waiting for the dust to settle to try again (although that’s already happened a few time over the last several years). Also, there are some implications for the server market, although I always assumed things like x86 emulation was for the consumer and enterprise markets.

It’s also possible that they don’t really have a cohesive plan. Some of these ideas could be running on momentum alone, until they gradually come to a stop.

iOS and Android have Edge? Lord!

Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2017 - 12:11 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, ios, edge, Android

Microsoft is adding an Edge-y experience to mobile devices not running the rarely seen Windows Mobile.  Android users who never heard of Arrow will now not know it as Microsoft Launcher; those who try will find a Chromium based browser which resembles Edge and knows a few of its tricks.  iOS users will be running Safari WebKit wrapped all the way to the Edge of their screens.  In both cases Edge will offer the same cross-system abilities as it does on PC, allowing you to immediately resume reading a document and sync apps from or to your mobile device.  That functionality does have prerequisites, you would need to be using a PC running Windows as one of your devices and it has to have the Fall Creators Update installed, which hasn't yet been pushed out.  If you haven't yet fallen asleep, you can continue on Ars Technica.

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"As with Edge, the important part of the Launcher is the cross-device experience. Documents and photos has a "continue on PC" option that will open them up on a computer, making it easier to start working on the phone and then resume on a computer."

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Source: Ars Technica

Samsung Odyssey VR Headset Announced

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2017 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: VR, Samsung, pc gaming, microsoft

The upcoming Fall Creators Update will be Microsoft’s launch into XR with headsets from a variety of vendors. You can now add Samsung to that list with their Odyssey VR headset and motion controllers, which is important for two reasons. First, Samsung has a lot experience in VR technology as they lead the charge (with their partner, Oculus) in the mobile space.

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Second, and speaking of Oculus, the Samsung Odyssey actually has a higher resolution than both it and the HTC Vive (2880x1600 total for Samsung vs 2160 x 1200 total for the other two). This doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s actually 77% more pixels, which might be significant for text and other fine details. The refresh rate is still 90 Hz, and the field of view is around 110 degrees, which is the same as the HTC Vive. Of course the screen technology, itself, is AMOLED, being that it’s from Samsung and deeper blacks are more important in an enclosed cavity than brightness. In fact, you probably want to reduce brightness in a VR headset so you don’t strain the eyes.

According to Peter Bright of Ars Technica, Microsoft is supporting SteamVR titles, which gives the platform a nice catalog to launch with. The Samsung Odyssey VR headset launched November 6th for $499 USD.

Source: Microsoft

A handy list of tricks you might have forgotten you knew

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2017 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, apple

TechSpot posted an article compiling a variety of tips on making Windows and MacOS do what you want as well as numerous applications you can use for a variety of tasks.  The recommendations run from the classic obfuscated Windows "God Mode" folder which contains links to the majority of the tools you can use on your system to basic keyboard shortcuts.  If you are trying to figure out where all your storage space went, Space Sniffer for Windows or GrandPerspective for Macs will help you far more than random searches for large folders.  You will probably already know a great number of these tips but it is nice to have a long list compiled in a single location.

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"Many hardcore computer users might consider themselves above learning new tricks, but there are always new ways to sharpen your skills on the PC and we bet that you will find at least one useful thing here that you didn't know before."

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Source: Techspot

Proper per app permissions arriving to Windows 10

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2017 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, security

The new Creators Update for Windows 10 just received a noteworthy upgrade.  Installed applications will now need your agreement to collect and transmit metadata such as your location and other information.  Many of the concerns raised by Windows 10 users focused on the current configuration which defaults to apps being allowed permission to track and send information; it can be turned off by a user but only after the fact.  Now applications will be installed with telemetry disabled by default unless a user agrees to the collection of information during the installation.  There are cases in which it is beneficial to send your usage information, especially Windows error reports, but that was no excuse to enable that ability across the board.  The Inquirer also mentions that the Enterprise version will offer greater control and limit the OS to local notifications of serious issues or updates.

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"Starting with the new Creators Update, you will be required to explicitly give permission for each piece of access and there's even a full privacy statement to wallow through (or more likely ignore, make tea) during install."

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Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft Details Upgrade Options For Xbox One X Including Network Transfer Of Games and Settings

Subject: General Tech | August 23, 2017 - 12:13 AM |
Tagged: xbox one x, xbox one, microsoft, console, 4k

Microsoft’s next generation Xbox One X gaming console is expected to launch on November 7th, 2017 and the Redmond-based company is making it as easy as possible to upgrade from current Xbox One and One S consoles. Specifically, Microsoft’s Xbox Program Management Corporate Vice President Mike Ybarra revealed that gamers would be able to prepare for the switch to the new console by downloading 4K game updates ahead of time and making the transfer process simple by using a wizard and either an external hard drive or network transfer to move console settings and game data over from their old console to the Xbox One X.

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So far, Microsoft has announced that approximately 100 games from its existing catalog will have 4K updates available including Halo 5, Halo Wars 2, Forza Motorspot 7, Fallout 4, NBA 2K18, Project Cars 2, Rocket League, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Gamers will be able to pre-load 4K updates for their existing games onto their Xbox One or Xbox One S console. Once the Xbox One X launches, gamers will be able to transfer and keep most of their Xbox settings to the new console along with apps, games, and game save data. The data can be transferred by hooking up an external hard drive or by connecting both gaming consoles to the same LAN and starting the home network transfer by adding both consoles to your Xbox home and copying what you want between consoles.

I am interested to see if the Xbox One X is really able to live up to the claims of 4K60 gaming as well as the promised supersampling and anti-aliasing for gamers playing on 1080p displays (including older backwards compatible Xbox and Xbox 360 titles).

Are you planning on upgrading to the XBOX? What are your thoughts on the $499 console and its performance promises?

Also read: Xbox One X Scorpio Edition: What’s Different Explained @ Screen Rant

Source: eTeknix

A look at Surfacegates past and present

Subject: General Tech | August 14, 2017 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: surface, microsoft, Skylake

Paul Thurrott has posted a reasoned look at the recent negative rating Consumer Reports have handed the Microsoft Surface and Intel's reaction to it.  There were problems with the release of Skylake powered Surface products and Microsoft initially laid the blame fully on Intel; which proved awkward when they conversed with Lenovo about the problems Skylake caused as Lenovo had not had a similar experience.  Instead the reliability issues stemmed from Microsoft's drivers and when you break down the issues, most had to do with frozen screens and unresponsive touch interfaces. 

Microsoft have since rectified this issue and the new Surface products do not have the same issues as the previous models.   There is an interesting bit of speculation in the article about the fallout of this issue, it could be that this was the driving force behind Microsoft's sudden push to have Windows 10 run on ARM processors.  For more on that as well as some interesting background on how companies measure the success of their products you should head over to read the full article.  At the very least you can bask in the glory of the quote from an internal memo at the beginning of the article, describing your purchase as an "ownership journey with our products".

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"Thurrott.com has seen an internal Microsoft memo that indicates that the software giant is readying a broader campaign to undercut this past week’s news from Consumer Reports. It also provides greater insight into why Microsoft believes the Consumer Reports recommendations are incorrect."

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Source: Thurrott

Windows Defender no longer protects you from third party antivirus software

Subject: General Tech | August 10, 2017 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, Kaspersky Labs, windows defender

Microsoft have decided to remove the function in Windows Defender which disabled other antivirus software without notifying the user.  The decision comes after Kaspersky Labs brought an antitrust law suit against Microsoft for disabling products their customers had purchased and expected to work.  The resolution will not be immediate, it will be the Fall Creators Update which brings this change as well as changing the permissions of third party AV messages.  Drop by The Inquirer for more details on the changes to the messaging.

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"Microsoft had poo-pooed the complaint but previously confessed that an update changed the way that Windows 10 deals with AV incompatibilities - by switching them off without warning the user."

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Source: The Inquirer

... and the crowd goes mild. Microsoft's Android integration starts out with a whimper

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2017 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, Android

Can you imagine a world in which you're able to share links between your phone and computer?  This is the brave new frontier which Microsoft is exploring in Version 16251 of Win10 which will allow you to link to an Android phone via a app for Android on the Windows Store.  Mind you there are a variety of programs out there which already fulfill this purpose, The Inquirer offers an example here,  and if you sign into Chrome it will happily sync itself on all your devices.

On the other hand this is a first step towards admitting that Windows Mobile is not the success they had dreamed.  Microsoft does see this as a much a larger project and taking the initial steps slowly could help in the long run; as long as they can get people to notice what they are doing and attract at least some attention.

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"But it does lay foundations, and it does show intentions. It's hugely unlikely that Windows Mobile is ever going to claw its way back to the levels to compete with iOS and Android, so it is important that as it approaches its second birthday, Windows-as-a-Service is approachable from other mobile operating systems."

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Source: The Inquirer
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Various

Specifications

In the original premise for today’s story, I had planned to do a standard and straight-forward review of the iPad Pro 10.5-inch model, the latest addition to Apple’s line of tablet devices. After receiving the 12.9-in variant, with the same processor upgrade but a larger and much more substantial screen, I started using them both as my daily-driver computing device. I was surprised at how well both handled the majority of tasks I tossed their way but there was still some lingering doubt in my mind about the usefulness of the iOS system as it exists today for my purposes.

The next step was for me to acquire an equivalent Windows 10-based tablet and try making THAT my everyday computer and see how my experiences changed. I picked up the new Surface Pro (2017) model that was priced nearly identical to the iPad Pro 12.9-in device. That did mean sacrificing some specifications that I would usually not do, including moving down to 4GB of memory and a 128GB SSD. This brought the total of the iPad Pro + Pencil + keyboard within $90 of the Surface Pro and matching accessories.

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I should mention at the outset that with the pending release of iOS 11 due in the fall, the Apple iPad Pro line could undergo enough of a platform upgrade to change some of the points in this story. At that time, we can reevaluate our stance and conclusions.

Specifications

Let’s start our editorial with a comparison of the hardware being tested in the specification department. Knowing that we are looking two ARM-based devices and an x86 system, we should realize core counts, clocks, and the like are even less comparable and relatable than in the Intel/AMD debates. However, it does give us a good bearing on how the hardware landscape looks when we get into the benchmarking section of this story.

Surface Pro (2017) vs. iPad Pro (2017) Comparison
Processor Intel Core i5-7300U (Kaby Lake)
2-core/4-thread
Apple A10X
(3x high performance Hurrican, 3x high efficiency Zephyr cores)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620 12-core Custom PowerVR
Memory 4GB 4GB
Screen 12.3-in 2736x1824 IPS 12.9-in 2732x2048 IPS 120 Hz
10.5-in 2224x1668 IPS 120 Hz
Storage

128GB SSD

256GB SSD
Camera 5MP Front
8MP Rear
7MP Front
12MP Rear + OIS
Wireless 802.11ac 802.11ac
Connections USB 3.0
Mini DisplayPort
Headphone
Lightning
Headphone
Battery 45 Wh 12.9-in: 41 Wh
10.5-in: 30.4 Wh
Dimensions 11.50-in x 7.93-in x 0.33-in 12.9-in: 12.04-in x 8.69-in x 0.27-in
10.5-in: 9.87-in x 6.85-in x 0.24-in
OS Windows 10 iOS 10
Price $999 - Amazon.com 12.9-in: $899
10.5-in: $749 - Amazon.com

Continue reading our comparison of the 2017 Surface Pro and iPad Pro!