Bing Maps now shows road conditions using 35,000 cameras in 11 countries

A photo from a California Department of Transportation camera in San Francisco within Bing Maps.

Just because Microsoft sold its mapping cameras to Uber doesn’t mean Microsoft doesn’t like cameras showing roads.

Today Microsoft announced a new addition to Bing Maps: up-to-date snapshots of traffic. The footage is coming from more than 35,000 cameras in 11 countries, including the U.S. and Spain.

All you have to do is click on the Traffic button in the top banner in Bing Maps.

You can check out aggregated views of multiple cameras within a given city or look at a slightly larger photo from a single camera.

A blog post has more detail on the launch.

Windows 10’s fall update is deleting certain apps without asking

Windows 10 is making some choices for you.

Windows 10 is possibly making unwanted changes to your gaming rig.

Microsoft’s first big update for its operating-system-as-a-service is deleting some user-installed apps without asking Windows owners for permission, according to dozens of complaints on message boards and forums. The affected programs include hardware monitoring tools CPU-Z and Speccy as well as the AMD Catalyst Control Center for tweaking your Radeon graphics cards. In all of these instances, it seems that the programs no longer functioned properly with the newest version of Windows 10, and the apps were often causing crashes and the blue screen of death. While this may help most people who don’t want to deal with troubleshooting their system to figure out what is wrong with it, some PC powerusers are taking issue with Windows 10 removing software without asking.

Here’s how poster Bright-Spark on the Windows 10 Reddit forum put it:

“Microsoft should ask for permission, and not for forgiveness. I would be fine with it if Windows 10 said ‘Hey, this application can cause problems and we recommend that you uninstall it. Do you want us to do that for you?’ and then shuts it’s mouth about it if you say ‘No,’ but they shouldn’t just uninstall it without prior warning.”

Since the update starting rolling out, Speccy has seen an update that fixes its Windows 10 issues, and many people have tried reinstalling CPU-Z and AMD Catalyst Control Center without issue. We’ve asked Microsoft for the specific reasons it removed these apps from some machines, and we’ll update with its response.

But the company has previously explained to GamesBeat that it would remove software that it considers dangerous. That includes not just programs that will cause issues with Windows 10 but potentially apps that may steal your information or infect your system. That language is in Microsoft’s terms of service.

“The Microsoft Services Agreement allows Microsoft to change or discontinue certain apps or content where we deem your security is at risk,” a Microsoft spokesperson told GamesBeat in August. “Software that is pirated or botted places the safety and security of our customers at risk, including a higher risk of malware, fraud, public exposure of personal information, and poor performance or feature malfunction. We remain committed to protecting our customers from the risks of non-genuine software and protecting the intellectual property of developers of all types of content.”

By using Windows 10, you agree to give Microsoft the power to make those changes. But that doesn’t mean PC owners have to like it.

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Skype for iOS now lets you tap phone numbers, addresses, and dates to open the dialer, Apple Maps, and Calendar


Microsoft today updated its Skype for iOS apps with new highlight links and multitasking improvements. You can download the new app now directly from Apple’s App Store (iPhone, iPad).

Skype 6.6 for iPhone and iPad now lets you quickly start calls, check locations, and set up calendar events directly from an instant message. This is because phone numbers, times and dates, and addresses are now highlighted.

To take advantage of this feature, all you have to do is tap on the highlighted text. A highlighted phone number will open the Skype dialpad (there’s unfortunately no option to open up the iOS dialer) so you can call with just another tap.

A highlighted address will take you straight to Apple Maps (nope, no option for Google Maps). Tapping on a highlighted date or time in a chat will open the calendar app (the event details will be automatically grabbed from the chat) and insert a Skype chat URL in the calendar notes (just open the event and tap on the link to get straight back to your chat).

Skype for iOS has also gained new multitasking features. It’s now easier to get back to an active Skype audio or video call from your instant messages or contact list: Just tap the active call banner. Additionally, instant message conversations now have an unread message counter at the top: Hit “Back” to see what you’ve missed.

This release appears to be a good mix of keeping Skype users more engaged in the app, while still letting them jump out when it makes sense. The Microsoft-owned company is naturally hoping Skype’s calling function will be used more with this addition, but until the feature doesn’t require buying Skype credits, we doubt today’s release will make much of a difference. The mapping and calendar integrations, however, are really long overdue.

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Microsoft’s AppComparison shows you which of your Android apps are also on Windows Phone

Microsoft Windows Phones

Microsoft just added a new tool to its arsenal for fixing Windows Phone’s app gap: an Android app. No, seriously. The company launched AppComparison, which shows you a list of your apps that are also available on Microsoft’s mobile platform. As long as you have Android 4.1 or higher, you can download it now from Google Play.

“Are you considering changing your Android device to Windows Phone?,” the Google Play description reads. “AppComparison identifies your favourite Android apps and matches them with apps available from the Microsoft Store. The application also introduces you to some of the most popular Windows Phone applications.”


Android Police points out that Microsoft released a “Switch to Windows Phone” app two years ago which also tried to find app alternatives on Windows Phone, though didn’t work very well because it didn’t show you the matches. AppComparison does show you the matches, but it still needs work.

We gave it a shot, and got some questionable results. I mean, we’re not even sure why this app says Windows Phone rather than Windows 10 Mobile. Clearly whoever made this isn’t in any of the company’s U.S. offices (note the non-American spelling of the word favorite above) and probably started work on this app a while ago. But I digress.


When you first launch the app, you’re asked to select two or more categories from this list: Entertainment, Education, Games, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, News & Weather, Photo & Video, Productivity, Sports, Travel, and finally Friends and family. The app then proceeds to serve you up the same list regardless of what you picked.

I was told that Windows Phone also has Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, YouTube, Twitter, Google, Uber, and Yelp. Most of these apps are significantly worse on Windows Phone, but I guess that’s not the point.

From VentureBeat
Customers don’t just get irritated when you screw up cross-channel personalization. They jump ship. Find out how to save your bacon on this free research-based webinar with Insight’s Andrew Jones.

I was also informed that OneDrive is similar to Google Drive, Mail is similar to Gmail, Calendar is similar to Google Calendar, Translator is similar to Google Translate, HERE Maps is similar to Google Maps, and so on. Not exactly perfect recommendations, but they make sense.

But then I got very odd recommendations. Apparently, Gchat+ is like Google Hangouts, CloudMuzik is like Google Play Music, and UC Browser is like Google Chrome. Seriously?

Again, if this app was released with Windows 10 Mobile in mind, the last three would have been Messaging (with Skype integration), Groove, and Edge. You know, solid Microsoft software, not random third-party apps.

All in all, a disappointing app.

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iPad Pro and Surface Pro 4 productivity showdown: Microsoft Office vs. Google Docs

Microsoft Word 2016 running on the iPad Pro.

You can do a lot of things with the iPad Pro. One of my favorite things to do is to write, so naturally, once I got my hands on one of these fancy new tablets from Apple, I wanted to do some writing. So I installed Microsoft Word and Google Docs on it.

But Microsoft and Google also have apps for making spreadsheets and slide presentations. So I installed Excel, PowerPoint, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. For some context, I also tried these apps on a fourth-generation iPad from 2012 that’s hanging around the VentureBeat office, and I also gave the apps a whirl on our Surface Pro 4 review unit.

I’m left with the conclusion that the typing experience with the virtual keyboard on the new iPad Pro is pretty freakin’ great, compared with previous iPads. The main virtual keyboard for Google’s apps just isn’t as full-featured. It gets better if you have a separate keyboard. (I’ve been using the Logitech K380, because Apple’s $169 Smart Keyboard wasn’t available in Apple Stores near me on release day last week, and they won’t ship from Apple’s online store for another few weeks.) In Microsoft’s apps, you have support for some keyboard shortcuts. It gives you the illusion of being on a full desktop, even though you’re not.

From VentureBeat
Customers don’t just get irritated when you screw up cross-channel personalization. They jump ship. Find out how to save your bacon on this free research-based webinar with Insight’s Andrew Jones.

Excel jockeys and people who live in Google Docs all day may come to different conclusions about productivity on the iPad Pro. But for a casual user, the big screen and the computational power in this device are good enough to make me feel like I can actually get a lot done. And that’s a step forward for Apple. While the launch of the Surface Pro 4 was not a huge deal owing to it being merely a more evolved version of previous Surface models, the device is excellent for productivity owing to its ability to run full Windows.

Here are my initial thoughts on Docs, Sheets, Slides, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on the Surface Pro 4 and the iPad Pro.


This isn’t desktop Microsoft Word, but it’s close enough for me. You don’t have the giant ribbon at the top to quickly change your settings – there’s a slimmed down version. And the Design, Mailings, and References options are hidden. But altogether, you can do a lot just from the main screen. If you tap one of the menu options, whether by accident or on purpose, you’re not going to screw up your document. Multi-user collaboration works fine.

Typing on the virtual keyboard in Word is surprisingly accurate when you suspend your disbelief and stop pecking and start typing with the conventional ASDF;LKJ method. I think this is a breakthrough. This likely has something to do with the size of the iPad Pro’s screen relative to previous iPads. But when you flip the screen on its side and type in portrait mode, you might be in for some disappointment. Your fingers scrunch up in order to aim at the scrunched up keys and you end up making mistakes. So landscape it is.

At one point while using Word I found myself flustered because the virtual keyboard popped up at the bottom of the screen while I was using my Bluetooth keyboard. What the heck? Fortunately this didn’t happen frequently, just a few times.

Word has support for the Split View feature on the iPad Pro.

Above: Word has support for the Split View feature on the iPad Pro.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

Dictation works okay here. This is Siri we’re talking about that powers dictation, not the speech recognition system underlying Microsoft’s Cortana, and not Google’s AI-powered speech recognition technology. As is the case with most — but not all — applications on iOS, there will probably be transcription errors that you will have to fix.

Word is better on the Surface Pro 4 than on the iPad Pro in my opinion, because you have the full ribbon of options and all keyboard shortcuts available to you.

Google Docs

Google Docs feels like a second-class citizen on the iPad Pro. Or at least it works, but not as well as Word.

If you were hoping for a lot of options, well, sorry. There are just a few. If you were hoping for a wide selection for your document, well, sorry about that, too. If you just love the ruler you can put at the top of a Word document or a Google Doc on the web, then sorry for a third time. The virtual keyboard is not as full-featured as on Word (I want my curly braces!) or, for that matter, Apple’s own lightweight Notes app.

The same problem with speech recognition on Word applies to Google Docs.

You can’t use the Docs (or Sheets or Slides, for that matter) with iPad Pro’s Split View feature, which can allow two apps to show up onscreen at once.

Google Docs on the iPad Pro.

Above: Google Docs on the iPad Pro.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

You can’t match case during a search, you can’t easily insert a link, you can’t add in a drawing, you can’t make customized automatic substitutions — on and on it goes, the list of Google Docs desktop features that just aren’t here on the iPad Pro.

But you can type on and on and on, and that’s what counts, right?

It’s probably worth noting that Google Docs on the Surface Pro 4 isn’t perfect, either. You don’t see auto-correct recommendations at the top of the virtual keyboard. And the software doesn’t automatically capitalize the first letter after a period.


When it comes to spreadsheets, Excel 2016 works very well on the Surface Pro 4, both with and without the attachable keyboard, when it comes to typing in data and working with charts. That sets a high standard.

On the iPad Pro, it’s almost as good.

The ribbon has condensed. Gone are the Page Layout and Data menus, and the Orientation, Autosum, and Format buttons are missing as well. But I was able to get by without those.

It’s easy to work with functions. Tap the fx button and you’ll see a dropdown menu of available functions, and there are plenty to choose from. once you select one, you can tap cells to fill out your function with the data you want to work with.

There’s a special numerical virtual keyboard you can access by hitting the 123 button in the top right corner of the virtual keyboard.

The numerical virtual keyboard in Excel on iPad Pro.

Above: The numerical virtual keyboard in Excel on iPad Pro.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

A similar numerical virtual keyboard is available in Excel on the Surface Pro 4, so this isn’t a major distinguishing feature, but it is nice to have.

I miss the arrow keys on the virtual keyboard on the iPad Pro, particularly when I’m working in a spreadsheet. Arrow keys are also missing in the default keyboard you have when using Google Sheets.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets on Surface Pro 4 is solid when you have the Type Cover keyboard plugged in. It feels like a reliable PC. When you don’t have it plugged in, it’s not quite as sturdy. It’s difficult to modify charts or even move them around in a spreadsheet here.

On the iPad Pro, Google Sheets can be downright frustrating to work with. Data entry is fine. But it would be nice if there were better controls for the charts.

Making new charts is, as far as I can tell, impossible. What? How could that be? It doesn’t make a difference if I have a physical keyboard. When I’m working with an existing chart, I find it hard to adjust.

If the automatic charting feature in Google Sheets were here, that would be excellent.

Google Sheets on the iPad Pro.

Above: Google Sheets on the iPad Pro.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

You can work with formulas in Google Sheets — just like in Excel, hit the fx button — but it becomes overpowering when your screen gets taken up with explanations of them. But I guess this is a user interface quibble, not a technical one.

One good thing I can say about Sheets on the iPad Pro is that I can work with the same spreadsheet on multiple devices. When I try to do that in Excel, I run into error messages. Like this one that I saw on my MacBook: “This file is locked for editing. How do you want to open this file?” At that point you can open the file in read-only mode or save a copy of the file. And I don’t want to do either of those things.


In PowerPoint on the Surface Pro 4, there are so many things you can do. Video, screenshots, photos obviously, WordArt, equations randomly, screen recordings, fine-grained transition controls, translation, inking, etc. On and on and on. You feel like you can actually make a decent presentation. And anyone should be able to do that, even on a tablet, right?

On the iPad Pro, again, you’ve got a version of PowerPoint that’s just slightly watered down — the ribbon is smaller — and because of the screen size, it looks better than ever. It’s easy to add to slides, annotate them, add presenter notes, use add-in tools from third-party developers, and so on.

PowerPoint on the iPad Pro.

Above: PowerPoint on the iPad Pro.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

But not all PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts seem to be accessible on the iPad Pro. That’s one thing Microsoft could do to make the experience even better.

Google Slides

On iPad Pro, Google Slides works all right, with or without the keyboard. When the keyboard is off you can tap the screen to play and advance the slides.

On Surface Pro 4, which is to say on the Web, Google Slides is more workable. You have more options, like paint format, comments, theme, transition, video embedding, a research tool, a personal dictionary, etc. With or without a keyboard, it’s not very different.

Google Sheets on the iPad Pro.

Above: Google Sheets on the iPad Pro.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

It’s too bad the same experience doesn’t extend to the iPad Pro. I was able to do more with a presentation on the device with PowerPoint than with Google Slides.

Just like with Google Docs, there’s no auto-correct or capitalization on the virtual keyboard with Google Slides. And many keyboard shortcuts are missing. Google must fix these things.

Final notes

Keyboard shortcuts are one of my favorite parts of the iPad Pro. Microsoft has started to take advantage of this capability, but Google’s to-do list in this department is considerably longer.

Even at their size, neither the iPad Pro nor the Surface Pro 4 is ideal for working in portrait mode with their virtual keyboards. Landscape is more suitable for both devices.

If you have the opportunity, you probably will want a physical keyboard to use Docs and Office apps with these devices, to make spreadsheets, documents, and presentations.

If you watch the event where Apple unveiled the iPad, it’s clear that Microsoft made sure to prepare for the party. Google, meanwhile, had nothing to do with it and is basically making some of its most prominent apps look like novelties on this new device from Apple. I get it, Google competes with Apple in the mobile business, but this nevertheless feels like a missed opportunity.

As a Mac person for the most part, I feel a little guilty about this, but for the foreseeable future, whenever I want to work with Docs or Office apps, I’m going to be reaching for the Surface Pro 4, not the iPad Pro. If Apple really wants to win in productivity, it will have to equip iPad with OS X.

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Microsoft Windows was launched 30 years ago today

Windows 1.0

2015 was a milestone year for the technology realm. Both eBay and Amazon ditched their teenager tags and celebrated 20 years in business, while IMDb turned 25. Elsewhere, the humble .com domain name reached 30 years of age, as the first “dotcom” domain was registered in March, 1985.

However, 1985 was a notable year for something else: Microsoft’s efforts to bring a 16-bit graphical user interface (GUI) to the consumer realm was realized. Though its origins can be traced back to 1981 under a project called “Interface Manager,” the Windows brand was announced in 1983, and  the final Windows 1.0 arrived in November 20, 1985, — 30 years ago today.

Windows 1.0

Above: Windows 1.0: 1985

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The main selling-point of Windows was that it promised an alternative to MS-DOS commands (though it was still MS-DOS based) — it offered a more natural, user-friendly interface that let you point-and-click with a mouse. It also had drop-down menus, dialog boxes, scroll bars, and other tools that would become familiar to millions of people globally.

The first incarnation of Windows also had some notable programs built-in — Paint, Notepad (I still use this), Calculator (and this), and a host of other useful tools such as a clock, and a game called Reversi.

From VentureBeat
Customers don’t just get irritated when you screw up cross-channel personalization. They jump ship. Find out how to save your bacon on this free research-based webinar with Insight’s Andrew Jones.

Over the past 30 years, Microsoft has launched a myriad of Windows versions, each advancing (for the most part) on the previous incarnation to suit the technologies of the time.

In December 1987, Microsoft rolled out Windows 2.0, featuring more memory, desktop icons, keyboard shortcuts, and the ability to “overlap” windows on the screen. This was followed by Windows 3.0 in 1990, and Windows 3.1 two years later. It was with these versions that Windows really started to take shape and look like the kind of interface you would maybe recognize today. It also supported the new Intel 386 processor, which meant that programs could run faster, while “Program Manager,” “File Manager,” and “Print Manager” were given their debut.

Windows 3.0 (1990)

Above: Windows 3.0 (1990)

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As a side-note, 1990 also saw the birth of Solitaire in Windows 3.0.

Windows NT followed in July 1993, its first 32-bit operating system designed to cater for the growing need for more powerful computing in businesses. “Windows NT represents nothing less than a fundamental change in the way that companies can address their business computing requirements,” said Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates at the time.

Windows 95, launched in August 1995, and heralded the arrival of the modern PC era. Multimedia games, software, and — drum roll — dial-up networking and Internet support were the name of the game, with Internet Explorer thrown into the mix.

It also had new-fangled “Plug and Play” capabilities making it easier to install hardware. Windows 95 also saw the arrival of the much-loved Comic Sans font, which had originally founds its way into a program called 3D Movie Maker.

Windows 95

Above: Windows 95

Image Credit: Windows 95

Over the next 20 years, Microsoft would launch version-after-version of Windows, starting with Windows 98 in June 1998, the final consumer-focused version to be based on MS-DOS, and was followed by Windows 2000 and Windows ME in 2000.

Windows XP

Above: Windows XP

Image Credit: Microsoft

However, the next major milestone launch came in October 2001, when Microsoft launched Windows XP, which sported a much more modern look. It was also designed firmly with the Internet in mind, with fears of “viruses” allayed somewhat with regular security updates across the Internet.

Fast-forward through the hugely unpopular Windows Vista that launched in 2006, this was followed by Windows 7 in 2009, at a time when laptops were more popular than desktops and Wi-Fi was the order of the day. A notable introduction was Windows Touch, which catered specifically for those with touchscreen devices.

Windows 8, when it was launched in 2012, was arguably the biggest departure for Microsoft to date. The operating system adopted a hybrid approach, one that attempted to bridge the laptop / tablet divide by trying to cater for traditional desktop software and the app ecosystem heralded in by the rise of Android and iOS on mobile. But for many, it was a confusing, counterintuitive setup.

Following the release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft skipped “Windows 9” altogether and launched Windows 10 this summer. With this version, Microsoft attempted to correct many of the things it had gotten wrong with Windows 8.

In its quest to encourage developers to create apps for its device ecosystem, Microsoft adopted a “universal” application approach, meaning that apps can work across PC, tablet, smartphones, consoles and more.

It’s difficult to predict what Windows will look like 30 years from now. But with the Internet of Things in full swing, cloud computing on the rise, traditional PCs purportedly on their way out, and autonomous, driverless cars a work-in-progress, the Windows of the future will be a very different beast indeed.

Apple, Google, and Microsoft-backed group rejects calls for weaker encryption after Paris attacks

A woman looks at a data chip containing encryption codes for mobile and landline phones at the booth of Secusmart during the CeBIT trade fair in Hanover March 8, 2014

(By Dustin Volz, Reuters) – A leading U.S.-based technology industry group on Thursday, in its first statement since last week’s Paris attacks, rejected calls to give U.S. law enforcement authorities backdoor keys to let them circumvent encryption technology for cellphones.

Weakening encryption to help the government monitor electronic communications in the name of national security “simply does not make sense,” the Information Technology Industry Council said in a statement released to Reuters.

“After a horrific tragedy like the Paris attacks, we naturally search for solutions: weakening encryption is not a solution,” said Dean Garfield, president of the Washington-based organization, which represents Apple, Google, Microsoft and dozens of other blue-chip tech companies.

From VentureBeat
Customers don’t just get irritated when you screw up cross-channel personalization. They jump ship. Find out how to save your bacon on this free research-based webinar with Insight’s Andrew Jones.

The attacks in Paris last Friday killed 129 and wounded hundreds. The Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility.

Some U.S. intelligence officials and lawmakers have seized on the assault to rekindle a debate about whether tech companies should cooperate with authorities by building “backdoors” into encrypted devices and platforms.

Government authorities have said the growing prevalence of encrypted email and messaging platforms, such as iMessage or WhatsApp, hamstring their ability to monitor criminal suspects and thwart militant plots.

Despite early reports the Paris attackers relied on encryption, no hard evidence has emerged they used any particular form of secure messaging. A mobile phone recovered by French authorities at the scene of one of the attacks and believed to be linked to one of the suspects was found with an unencrypted text message, according to French media.

Last month, the White House abandoned an effort to lobby tech companies and Congress to allow law enforcement and intelligence officials backdoor access to encrypted messaging. The idea has re-emerged in the wake of Paris, but congressional aides say federal legislation on the issue remains unlikely.

Privacy advocates, tech companies and security researchers say backdoors would expose data to malicious hackers.

“Encryption is a security tool we rely on everyday to stop criminals from draining our bank accounts, to shield our cars and airplanes from being taken over by malicious hacks,” Garfield said in his statement.

“We deeply appreciate law enforcement’s and the national security community’s work to protect us, but weakening encryption or creating backdoors to encrypted devices and data for use by the good guys would actually create vulnerabilities to be exploited by the bad guys.”

(Reporting by Dustin Volz; Editing by Eric Beech and Peter Cooney)

Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 10 IoT Core on Intel Galileo boards on November 30

An Intel Galileo board.

Microsoft sill stop supporting Windows 10 IoT Core — the version of Windows designed for Internet-connected devices — on Intel’s low-cost Galileo boards on November 30.

Designed with the maker community in mind, Intel’s Arduino-compatible Galileo boards ship with Intel Quark SoC X1000 chips. Intel and Microsoft are traditionally closely aligned, but on these boards the two blue-chip technology companies are going their separate ways.

“While we’ve seen some fantastic innovation with the platform, unfortunately it [Galileo] does not meet the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 10 IoT Core,” Microsoft wrote in an update to the Galileo section of the frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) page for its Internet of Things (IoT) initiative. (Hat tip to ITworld for reporting on the news today.)

Available free of charge, Windows 10 IoT Core is just one of seven flavors of Windows 10.

Support for Windows IoT Core is still available on the Raspberry Pi 2, the Intel Atom-based Minnowboard Max, and the Qualcomm Snapdragon-based DragonBoard410c.

For those who have been developing applications for Galileo boards, not all is lost. “Wiring support is now available on Windows 10 IoT Core running on Raspberry Pi 2,” Microsoft says in the updated FAQ page for Galileo. Setup instructions for the operating system on Galileo boards have been pulled.

Microsoft last year shipped developer kits for running Windows on Galileo boards. And in the run-up to the launch of Windows 10, Steve Teixeira, director of program management for the Internet of Things team in Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group, name-dropped Galileo in a blog post. And yet, less than six months after Windows 10 came out, support for the system is getting yanked.

Microsoft releases new Windows 10 Mobile preview ahead of Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL launch

Windows 10

Microsoft released a new Windows 10 Mobile preview today. Like the last one, there are no new features in this new build for phones, as the company is preparing for the mobile operating system’s launch.

Microsoft calls this a “really great build.” That said, there is an issue for those who installed the previous build and subsequently factory reset their phone: Make sure to back up before you upgrade.

Microsoft plans to launch the first Windows 10 phones, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, this month (dates vary widely depending on your country and carrier). This may be the build new Lumia owners end up seeing, as the main showstopper bug only affects testers.

Warnings aside, this build fixes the following issues:

  • The issue that caused the Start experience to become corrupted (garbled) after upgrading and restoring a backup from a phone that had a different resolution.
  • You should now be able to set your default save locations via Settings > System > Storage and it will correctly reflect the current storage settings. Your SD card should no longer show up as a garbled name in Storage settings either.
  • Moving apps to a SD card should no longer cause those apps to crash.
  • You can expect improvements to the Messaging + Skype app through both app updates via the Store and also on the server side.
  • There should be less resuming/loading text when switching apps.
  • The physical camera button should be working again if it wasn’t working for you before.
  • Apps and games should download from the Store more reliably.

Today’s update bumps the Windows 10 build number from 10581, made available to testers on October 29, to build 10586. Unlike Windows 10 for PCs, which launched on July 29, Windows 10 Mobile hasn’t been released yet — it’s behind in terms of features and polish compared to its PC counterpart.

Build 10586 has the following known issues:

  • The filesystem becomes partially corrupted after doing a factory reset on build 10581. Upgrading to Build 10586 will cause your phone to go into a reboot loop. To recover, you can use the hardware key combination to reset your phone or use the Windows Device Recovery Tool to go back to Windows Phone 8.1 and then upgrade to Build 10586.
  • Deploying Silverlight apps through Visual Studio to your phone still won’t work in this build. This issue will be fixed with the release of Visual Studio 2015 Update 1 on November 30.
  • There is a known issue where the tile for Insider Hub still remains under All apps but doesn’t open. Insider Hub isn’t included either, but will return in a future build.

Microsoft still plans to roll out Windows 10 Mobile to existing Windows Phone users in December.

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Microsoft revamps Bing for iPhone, adds a Near Me section and deep links

The new Bing app for iPhone.

Microsoft today is unveiling a redesign of its Bing app for the iPhone for people in the U.S. The new version puts local attractions front and center in a prominent Near Me section, and deep links into content in other apps provide users with a richer experience.

Like the old app, you can use your voice to run searches or even find certain things while using a camera on the iPhone. But more than ever, the app offers many options without requiring users to tap in a lot of information.

“People just don’t like typing that much on their mobile devices,” as Microsoft Bing general manager Ryan Gavin put it in an interview with VentureBeat this week.

From VentureBeat
Customers don’t just get irritated when you screw up cross-channel personalization. They jump ship. Find out how to save your bacon on this free research-based webinar with Insight’s Andrew Jones.

So the new experience is less like the search box where you type in a query with Bing and more like the Knowledge and Action Graph — the information and the buttons bringing you to specific apps — on the right side of search results on desktop.

That’s no coincidence. The new version of Bing on iPhone takes full advantage of the Bing Knowledge and Action Graph, so that you can not only surface information on people, places, and things, but also get things done in other apps. For example, if you search for “alanis ironic” in the app, you can see the lyrics and watch the video for the song on YouTube, but you can also listen to the song with apps that you have installed on your phone. And if you’re looking at restaurants, you can see reviews from apps like Yelp, but you can also make reservations with OpenTable. With movies, you can buy tickets for new ones and watch older ones.

The new Bing app, then, is closer to the action- and information-rich search experience available in a Google search, whether you’re in the Google app or on Google’s website on a mobile device. Earlier this year Google unveiled Google Now on Tap as a core feature in Android Marshmallow, and Microsoft managed to offer similar functionality in the Bing app for Android before Marshmallow became available to the public. That’s impressive. Now Bing on iPhone is getting closer to that experience, while maintaining an a more iOS-friendly look and feel.

Here’s what the Bing on the iPhone looked like yesterday, by the way:

The old Bing app for iPhone.

Above: The old Bing app for iPhone.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat
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