Archive for the 'Microsoft' Category



Microsoft stops selling consumer versions of Windows 7 to OEMs

Friday 31 October 2014 @ 6:45 am
Microsoft stops selling consumer versions of Windows 7 to OEMs

Microsoft today stopped providing Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, and Windows 7 Ultimate licenses to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including its PC partners and systems builders. This means you’ll only be able to buy a computer running Windows 7 only as long as stock doesn’t run out.

The only exception will be business computers running Windows 7 Professional, which will continue being sold for at least another year. The Windows Lifecycle chart for sales below summarizes the important dates we know.

windows_lifecycle_sales_october_2014

The two asterisks for Windows 7 Professional under the last column point to an important note: “Microsoft will provide one year of notice prior to the end of sale date.” Since Microsoft hasn’t updated the chart yet with a new date, we can safely say Windows 7 Professional will still be sold until October 31, 2015, if not longer.

As such, if you still want a Windows 7 computer, for whatever reason, expect to be paying for Windows 7 Professional instead. As inventory runs out, you may even be charged a premium for a “business machine,” because OEMs know they can get away with it.

It’s also worth noting that Mainstream Support for Windows 7, including for Windows 7 Professional, will end sooner than that, on January 13, 2015. Microsoft could decide to extend Mainstream Support, so as to avoid selling it with only Extended Support offered, though it has not made any indication yet it will do so.

windows_lifecycle_support_october_2014

For those who don’t know, Mainstream Support includes free incident support, warranty claims, fixes for non-security as well as security bugs, plus design changes and feature requests. Extended Support consists solely of security updates.

Microsoft’s main goal now is to get Windows 10 out the door. That being said, it wants to keep its current customers, especially enterprises and businesses, satisfied. After all, one day they will be considering upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8 to the latest and greatest.


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Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »











Microsoft launches redesigned Outlook for Mac, announces new Office for Mac coming next year

Friday 31 October 2014 @ 5:59 am

Microsoft today launched a new version of Outlook for Mac, available to Office 365 customers. At the same time, the company announced its plans to release a new Office for Mac version next year.

01-Mail-All-Retina

More to follow



Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »











Microsoft’s new fitness band aims to create the robotic coach that Google is already secretly building

Thursday 30 October 2014 @ 2:23 pm
Microsoft’s new fitness band aims to create the robotic coach that Google is already secretly building

Microsoft released a new fitness band today with an ambitious goal of creating a super-smart wellness coach. On top of the normal sensors for tracking steps and sleep, Microsoft’s Health platform will crunch the data on activity to see how behaviors throughout the day impact a user’s health.

“On days when I have a lot of meetings, do I sleep a lot? On days when I eat breakfast, do I run faster or slower? How many calories did you burn from fat while you worked out, versus calories from carbs? How many times did you wake up last night? Why?” asks Microsoft vice president Yusuf Mehdi, explaining the long-term goals of the company’s health platform.

Potentially, this approach to health has the power to radically influence our behavior for the better. We make thousands of tiny decisions every day that could be making a big difference to our mental state, work performance, and physical health.

Microsoft’s challenge is to get as many users sharing their data at possible — otherwise, it will only be able to detect behaviors that have a significant impact on behavioral outcomes.

For instance, I may naturally experience a range of deep sleep every night — say, from 60-90 minutes. If a stressful meeting with my boss ends up decreasing my deep sleep by 10 percent, that meeting would also have to happen on a day when I didn’t get much deep sleep (let’s say, 65 minutes, meaning my total sleep was less than 60 minutes), for Microsoft to even recognize that something was off.

In order to detect a 10 percent difference on a day of normal sleep, it would have to compare me to thousands of other users, who may have also experienced worse sleep after a big meeting.

This is where Google comes in: They have a massive user base sharing everything from calendar data to email habits. A few years ago, Google’s new director of engineering, futurist Ray Kurzweil, told me that he planned on building a “cybernetic friend” that automatically recommended behavior changes to users.

“This friend of yours, this cybernetic friend, that knows that you have certain questions about certain health issues or business strategies. … It can then be canvassing all the new information that comes out in the world every minute and then bring things to your attention without you asking about them.”

Indeed, Google’s CEO Larry Page said at TED that he wants to create a world where everyone shares their health data. He predicted that such a database could save thousands of lives, thanks to Google’s ability to detect and prevent health problems.

Google’s health ambition is in the early stages. A few months ago, when I spoke to Google’s product team at the launch of their own health platform, Android Wear, they told me that this kind of behavior mining was in the pipeline.

At the moment, the Wear team is just busy building out data standards on things like sleep and heart rate that can be shared across multiple devices. That way, no matter what device people are using to measure their body signals, it can all be uploaded into a dataset with comparable information.

All signs point to the fact that Google is already building the capability to build a super-intelligent fitness coach. And they have a much richer dataset to work from. But we don’t know where Google’s priorities are, so Microsoft may be beat them to the punch.

Either way, it’s a race to make an extraordinary impact on consumer health, and that’s a race that benefits everyone.


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Microsoft ‘Band’ wearable possibly outed by appearance of companion app

Wednesday 29 October 2014 @ 5:19 pm
Microsoft ‘Band’ wearable possibly outed by appearance of companion app
Image Credit: Microsoft Band Sync app

An app called ‘Microsoft Band Sync‘ has shown up in Apple’s Mac App Store, and it looks like it might be the companion app to a new Microsoft fitness wearable device. A picture of the Microsoft wearable can be seen on the app’s screen shots.

Many in the media have be watching for the release of the Microsoft wearable. With the market for health and fitness trackers growing, it’s no surprise to see Microsoft jumping in the game.

The app and the wearable also will presumable integrate with Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s HealthKit The device doesn’t look much like a full-blown smartwatch. Rather it appears to be a bracelet design with a large display for tracking steps or distance.

The app is also available in the iOS app store, and has been there since September 4. The description of the app at this store reads: “Achieve wellness goals by tracking your heart rate, steps, calorie burn, and sleep quality.”

The appearance of the app at this time makes sense. A Microsoft smartwatch design patent was released in June. And, more recently, a Microsoft wearable was approved by the FCC.


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Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »











Skype and Lync updated to support OS X Yosemite

Wednesday 29 October 2014 @ 3:54 pm
Skype and Lync updated to support OS X Yosemite

Above: Apple Announces OS X Yosemite

Image Credit: Apple

Skype now supports Mac OS X’s latest version — Yosemite users rejoice.

The new version not only supports Mac OS X Yosemite, but it also has better group profiles (making it easier to copy a link or leave), and a couple of crash fixes. Skype 7.0 came out only 20 days ago and had a myriad of small design and feature updates.

Microsoft has also updated its Lync for Mac app, adding support for Yosemitie, media resiliency, and conversation history.

Regarding its media resiliency, the company notes in a blog post:

First, if a network disconnect occurs, Lync for Mac will now automatically rejoin a meeting or reconnect a peer-to-peer call as long as network connectivity is re-established within 30 seconds.

(Try it for yourself. Setup a Lync video call on your Mac. Quickly disconnect and reconnect your network cable, or disable and re-enable your wireless connection. You’ll see the video freeze when the network drops and then restart once connection is re-established.)

Second, Lync for Mac will now maintain the media connection for peer-to-peer calls if connectivity is lost to Lync Server or Lync Online. This lets voice calls continue even when presence information is no longer available.

The new Mac app also has conversation history that is actually saved in Exchange, not just local on your Mac. Perhaps the biggest advantage of this is that if a user chooses to save the history on Exchange, they can access it from different Mac computers — perhaps if they have one for work and for personal use, for example.


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Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice and video calls and chats over the Internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones ... read more »

Microsoft Lync is an enterprise-ready unified communications platform. Lync connects people everywhere, on Windows 8 and other operating systems running on mobile devices, as part of their everyday productivity experience. Lync provide... read more »











Skype launches its redesigned Windows app out of preview

Wednesday 29 October 2014 @ 8:09 am
Skype launches its redesigned Windows app out of preview

Skype today launched its redesigned Windows app, following a preview period that lasted just under three weeks. You can download the latest version now directly from Skype.com.

When the Microsoft-owned company launched the new Mac app and preview of the Windows app earlier this month, it said the new look was all about making it easier to chat and share. At the same time, the hope was to bring the desktop apps more inline with Skype for mobile.

mac1

Among the new features is a thumbnail picture for each of your contacts, a new bubble-style chat design, as well as the same icons for chat, video calls, and audio calls across all platforms.

The chat experience has gained inline photos (no need to open them up), more spacing between contacts and chats, message previews for unread chats, as well as a new side-by-side design for sending IMs while on a call. File sharing has also been improved: file types like Office documents and PDFs are now marked by file icons to make it easier to find them when you’re going through your chat history.

More to follow.



Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »

Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice and video calls and chats over the Internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones ... read more »











Microsoft finally killed cloud storage. What’s next?

Tuesday 28 October 2014 @ 6:40 pm

GUEST POST

Microsoft finally killed cloud storage. What’s next?
Image Credit: Bob Mical/Flickr

Just over six months ago, I made an early prediction that cloud storage would reach $0 over the next 12-18 months. Well, it hasn’t become “free” just yet, but it is now unlimited thanks to Microsoft. This week, Microsoft set a precedent by making storage unlimited to all users — business and consumer — for their respective subscription fees. It will only be a matter of time here before Google and Amazon follow suit, marking the “death” of the cloud-storage market. While that may cause deep concern for some and send others into storage bliss, I am unfazed by the news and can humbly say, “I told you so.”


Let’s face it — there is no way for the small cloud service providers that built their businesses around storage to compete. With the vast numbers of apps and features these bigger companies can offer, it is seemingly impossible for the smaller companies to stay afloat. This will spell acquisition for some, bankruptcy for others, and doomsday for everyone else involved that isn’t named Google or Amazon, right?

Not so fast…

At one time, companies like Box, Dropbox, and Egnyte were all grouped into this publicly defined “cloud storage” market, but we have since evolved into much more robust platforms, playing inside a broader ecosystem than originally thought. So while small companies (and when I say small, I mean sub-multi-billion dollar revenue companies) will face extinction or succumb to pricing pressures, this just signals the start of the next chapter.

This breakaway from a commoditized cloud storage market is just in the beginning stages, and there is undoubtedly a massive stream of innovation on the horizon. While there may not be one aligned definition for this new market yet, a cloud-computing industry set to be worth $75 billion by the end of this year is leaving the door wide open for new and old players alike to find a successful formula.

What’s next?

Everyone will continue to try and play Nostradamus, but those who are strong enough to survive the cloud-storage era know that there is never just one golden ticket. Cloud service providers will now need to create a secure and unique ecosystem where files can actually live, not just be stored. While everyone’s approach to this new era will be different, there will be three must-haves:

Security

It goes without saying that security has become paramount for any file-services solution out there. End-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication are two security protocols that will become much more common in this next generation of the cloud. Thanks to Edward Snowden and shady practices from the National Security Agency, these are no longer nice-to-haves but must-haves, as far as businesses are concerned. Otherwise, they may have to accrue an expensive balance-sheet item for liability insurance. Just ask folks at Target and JPMorgan Chase.

Mobility

Everything will have to work on mobile. Period. With more than 6.5 billion people currently subscribed to a mobile network worldwide, there is no reason for an organization to struggle with mobility. If files cannot be accessed wherever an employee might be, then they are of no use to the employee and will actually hurt an organization’s productivity, rather than help to improve it. Whether it is via tablet, smartphone, or even smart watch, employees having access to their work at all times is an invaluable asset for the future of business.

Collaboration

We are now in an era of business where processes are expedited and workflow has accelerated, so much so that projects which have historically finished in months are now being completed in weeks or even days. This would be impossible without the use of real-time, meaningful collaboration. Files will now not only need to be secure and available anywhere. They need the ability to be reviewed and revised efficiently across teams, both internal and external.

The first stop for the cloud’s evolution was storage, but we cannot stop there. As organizations continue to evolve and find new ways to do business, we need to find new ways to leverage the cloud for optimal business performance. We are now moving on to more complex use cases that require us to move into another pivotal time — the second stop on the road of the cloud’s evolution.

The jury is still out on whether users want to be vertically integrated and use just one underlying brand for all of their business needs, or if they want to have the option of building their own portfolio of apps to get the job done on their own terms. Regardless, it is very exciting that we can finally lay the cloud-storage market to rest and embark on more evolved, full-bodied solutions in the cloud that can bring real value to businesses. As the saying goes, “As one life ends, another one begins.”

Fortunately for us, a new life is just beginning!

Vineet Jain is chief executive of enterprise file-sharing company Egnyte.



Egnyte powers enterprise file sharing and access for more than 40,000 customers globally. The award-winning platform optimally balances IT's need for security, control, and compliance with users' demands for simple access to highly sen... read more »











Microsoft unleashes big-data tools for Azure and Office 365 security features

Monday 27 October 2014 @ 11:30 pm
Microsoft unleashes big-data tools for Azure and Office 365 security features
Image Credit: Dcoetzee/Wikipedia

Following up on the attention it received at its “cloud briefing” in San Francisco last week, Microsoft today gave people a peek at new big-data capabilities in its growing Azure public cloud, as well as a slew of administrative features for its Office 365 applications.

The public-cloud announcements show the company executing on its stated strategy of letting developers at companies deploy applications in any way they want. The Office 365 announcements, meanwhile, demonstrate Microsoft trying hard to build on its historical success on people’s desktops with Office applications and create a set of cloud-based services worthy of business from big companies.

Speaking at the company’s TechEd Europe conference in Barcelona, Spain, executives today announced that next year Office 365 will gain mobile-device management capabilities that will allow IT to control what employees can do with their phones and tablets, across iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Meanwhile, data-loss prevention is headed for Microsoft’s SharePoint Online and OneDrive applications. That way, companies can more effectively clamp down on the sharing of sensitive corporate information.

Microsoft is also introducing Azure Batch, a service based on its GreenButton acquisition that can run jobs across large data sets using distributed computational infrastructure.

“Azure Batch can be used to execute ‘traditional’ HPC (high-performance computing) workloads like risk analysis or engineering simulations, but is just as well suited for workloads like file processing, rendering, transcoding, builds, and so on,” a Microsoft spokesman told VentureBeat in an email. “Azure Batch can allocate thousands of VMs (virtual machines) that span multiple physical clusters; it provides the ability to manually or automatically scale the number of VMs to cater for varying load and allow customers to pay for use.”

Microsoft is also coming out with Azure Operational Insights, an application for analyzing machine data, sort of like Splunk’s software. “While there are many log management tools on the market, Operational Insights is uniquely positioned to take advantage of both System Center integration as well as Microsoft deep knowledge of core solutions its provides,” the spokesman wrote.

Oh, and the Azure Automation service for simplifying low-level processes is now available to everyone.

Microsoft also debuted representational state transfer (REST) application programming interfaces (APIs) for calendars, contacts, email, and files in Office 365.



Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform and infrastructure, created by Microsoft, for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. It provides both platform... read more »











Microsoft’s Bing beats Google to emoji search

Monday 27 October 2014 @ 9:32 am

Microsoft today added emoji support to Bing, allowing users to search using the characters and get back results based on the semantic meaning of the emoji. The feature has been added to Bing search in all English markets, both on desktop and mobile.

For those who have never used emoji before, they are small pictures used to express an idea or emotion. They started being used in Japanese electronic messages and webpages, but their use is spreading outside of Japan.

You can search for individual emoji:

Emoji-2

You can also search using a combination of multiple emoji characters, or even emoji and words:

Emoji-3

More to follow.


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Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »

Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »











Microsoft eyes WebRTC for plugin-free Skype calls in Internet Explorer

Monday 27 October 2014 @ 7:16 am
Microsoft eyes WebRTC for plugin-free Skype calls in Internet Explorer

Microsoft today announced it is helping develop the ORTC API for WebRTC. In other words, the company is finally throwing its weight behind the broader industry trend of bring voice and video calling to the browser, with no plugins required.

All of Skype’s biggest competitors are moving towards such functionality, and Redmond is finally admitted it has no choice but to do the same. In Microsoft’s own words: “It’s all about convenience – imagine you’ll be able to simply open IE and make a Skype call to friends, family, or get real-time support for that new device right from your browser.”

For those who don’t know, WebRTC is an open project that lets Internet users communicate in real-time via voice and video by simply using a WebRTC-compatible browser. It enables Web app developers to include real-time video calling and data sharing capabilities in their products, which can range from games to video conferencing tools.

More to follow.



Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »











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