Update not officially available, but user-downloadable anyhow
Microsoft has, perhaps inadvertently, made the next version of Windows 8.1 available for download. Windows 8.1 Update 1 has been discovered, requiring either registry changes to automatically obtain the update, or a manual install by way of direct download.
Virtual assistant from Microsoft for Windows Phone 8.1 demonstrated
Video of what is claimed to be a virtual assistant in Windows Phone 8.1 has surfaced, showing the initial setup process. Cortana, named after the Halo character but could change before release, is shown to introduce itself to the user, asking for the user to set up their Microsoft account, naming the user, and asking a number of questions to set up initial notification preferences.
Dell multi-touch monitor cut to $400 and more
Right now, the Microsoft Store is offering a price cut of $249 on the Dell 23-inch multi-touch monitor. It was $649, but has been reduced to $400. That makes this nearly $90 less than the lowest price found anywhere else. This monitor features 1080p resolution, 10-point multi-touch capabilities, built-in five-watt speakers, a contrast ratio of 1000:1, dynamic contrast ratio of 8 million to 1, and a USB 3.0 port.
Global launch allows Skype use within browser
Outlook.com users across the world will be able to use Skype from within their browser, Microsoft has revealed. Previously tested with a small number of users in the US and UK, the service allows all users of the e-mail service to make video calls, audio calls, and send messages to other Skype users, all from within the Outlook.com inbox.
Windows Update claimed to be in hands of manufacturers before April release
Microsoft has reportedly finalized the incoming update for Windows 8.1, ahead of a release in early April. The final version of Windows 8.1 Update 1 has apparently been signed-off for a Release to Manufacturing (RTM), namely to computer and notebook manufacturers to include in their products, with devices offering the update pre-installed likely to appear at the same time as the update's release to consumers.
Nadella calls leadership consolidation 'go-forward approach'
Adding to a previous shuffle, Microsoft has made public a pair of high-profile executive departures as new CEO Satya Nadella takes the helm of the company. Tony Bates, the ex-CEO of Skype, and Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President of Marketing Tami Reller will be "pursuing other interests outside the company."
Job posting hints at lightweight Xbox Live framework for mobile developers
Microsoft is planning to push for Xbox Live to be more cross-platform than it already is, by making it easier for developers to include in their apps, according to a rumor. The company is preparing to extend the Live platform to more games, with a recent job posting hinting that it will compete directly with Google Play Games and Apple's Game Center on mobile devices.
Virtual assistant settings menu shows Notebook, name options
Images of what could be the final form of Microsoft's Siri and Google Now competitor have surfaced. Cortana, named after the AI character from the Halo video game series but could still be rebranded for launch, has been previously said to have a similar personality to Siri, though in a nod to Google Now, the basic interface for the virtual assistant appears to offer a text-based entry option to go alongside the voice recognition system.
Initiative may seek to increase Bing penetration, grow Windows adoption
According to sources familiar with the matter, Microsoft is allegedly working on a subsidized version of "Windows 8.1 with Bing." With Microsoft solutions included -- such as the eponymous Bing search engine as default -- Microsoft appears to be readying a free or inexpensive version of Windows, perhaps to combat Apple's offering of OS X 10.9 "Mavericks" for free.
Microsoft offers 100GB OneDrive storage via Bing Rewards scheme
After the success of its 100GB of cloud storage giveaway to 100,000 users as part of the SkyDrive rebrand to OneDrive, Microsoft is offering another way to gain the large block of online storage. The Bing Blog claims users of the Bing Rewards scheme, a program that offers discounts and other incentives for using Bing, will exchange 100 credits for a code, which provides access to the same 100GB allocation for one year, though the promotion will only be offered until June 30th of this year.
Larson-Green to helm Microsoft Applications and Services
According to some internal Microsoft documents presently circulating, former Nokia chief Stephen Elop will not only shoulder the new cellular division of Microsoft, but will also take on Julie Larson-Green's former role in the company as the executive in charge of Microsoft Devices and Studios. Larson-Green is moving to the Applications and Services group, where she will help shape the future of Microsoft's software offerings, according to the memo.
BlackBerry QNX may be faster, more accessible than aging Windows software
According to sources familiar with the matter, the Ford Motor Company will migrate its next-generation in-car Sync away from Microsoft's Windows. In its place will be beleagured BlackBerry's QNX at the core of the car's in-dash system. QNX will be less expensive than Windows, and will reportedly boost the speed of the next iteration of Sync.
OEM program, cheaper parts to attract more developers and markets
With the announcement of the next Windows Phone update coming later this year, Microsoft has teamed with Qualcomm in order to expand access to phone creation during a session at Mobile World Congress. The company is pushing to bring the cost of their phones down to appeal to lower-priced markets in hopes of attracting more partners.
Considering discounts of up to 70 percent for low-cost device licenses
Having seen its share pummelled by mobile devices that continue to eat into traditional notebook and desktop PC sales, Microsoft is said to be looking at discounts to Windows licensing on low-cost hardware in an effort to regain marketshare, Bloomberg reports. Citing unnamed sources "familiar with the matter," the move is intended to fight back against the consumer move to tablets and smartphones as substitutes for much of what desktop and notebook PCs used to do.
Virtual assistant for Windows Phone 8.1 to offer aspects of Siri, Google Now
The virtual assistant in Windows Phone 8.1 will be a mix between Apple's Siri and Google Now, according to a report. The assistant, thought to be called "Cortana" after the AI character in the Halo video game series, will apparently replace the Bing search functionality in Windows Phone, and will use data from services such as Foursquare and Bing to give it Google Now-style contextual awareness.
Repurposes Office domain for online productivity suite
One day after renaming its SkyDrive cloud storage to OneDrive, Microsoft has performed a second rebranding effort, this time on its online productivity suite. Office Web Apps is being renamed as "Office Online," and in an effort to make the service easier for users to discover and move away from Google Docs, Microsoft is now using the Office.com domain name for the web apps.
Monthly payments offered for OneDrive storage capacity upgrades
Microsoft has relaunched its SkyDrive service as OneDrive, following its UK trademark battle, and has taken the time to make a number of updates to the cloud-storage service. In a wider push to compete against other cloud storage services, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, OneDrive will be providing new ways for users to earn extra free storage, and a new monthly payment option for buying more capacity.
Wearable fitness tracker could be purchased for under $100M
Fitness tracker producer Basis Science could be acquired by a major technology company in the near future, according to rumors. A report claims the wearable device manufacturer behind the Basis B1 fitness tracker is in talks with Apple and Google, with a further claim of discussions with Microsoft and Samsung over a possible sale, though not necessarily for a high price.
Sales took 16 months to reach on tablets and PCs
Sales of Windows 8 have reached an important milestone, with 200 million licenses sold of Microsoft's latest offering. Executive Vice President of Marketing Tami Reller let the sales numbers slip during a talk at Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference, but was later confirmed by Microsoft. The news comes about eight months after the 100 million sales mark had been reached for the operating system in May, a disappointing result. At the same point in its development history, Windows 7 had sold significantly more copies..
May beat touch-oriented Office interface to market
Microsoft's long-delayed Office for iPad may actually arrive sooner than people are anticipating, sources suggest. In October, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer indicated that the iPad software wouldn't arrive until after a touch-oriented version of Office -- allegedly codenamed "Gemini" -- was launched for Windows. Toward the end of 2013, though, Ballmer and other executives are said to have changed their minds, and approved a recommendation from the Office team that the iPad suite -- codenamed "Miramar" -- go to market as soon as it's ready, even though that might mean eclipsing the Windows release.
New conditions in India High Court appealed, should not affect purchase
The $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia's phone business by Microsoft is still going ahead, and is still expected to complete sometime this quarter, the company has announced in a statement. The transfer of Nokia's Devices and Services division to Microsoft will continue, with the phone manufacturer claiming its tax issues in India will not delay Microsoft's purchase at all.
Rule change to help prevent pilot distraction by mobile devices
The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has made two technology-related decisions this week, with both changes affecting pilots rather than passengers. At the same time as introducing new rules limiting the equipment brought into the cockpit, the FAA has given the green light to pilots replacing their bag of flight manuals and documents with the Microsoft Surface 2.
Messages to offline Skype users included in app update
Microsoft has finally fixed the way Skype synchronizes messages across multiple devices, the company has revealed, something that it hinted at late last year. Part of a larger update across multiple platforms, the change will allow users to read all received messages on an account regardless of whether a device is signed in or not, with messages read on one device causing it to be shown as read on all others.
Slides claim 80 percent of XAML code usable for Windows desktop, mobile apps
More evidence of Microsoft's merging of the Windows and Windows Phone lines has allegedly surfaced. Leaked images claimed to be from a Microsoft slideshow about the project appears to show it is working towards "Universal Store" apps, namely apps that use the same basic code base, but can be produced to work on both the mobile and desktop versions of Windows.
Changes to multitasking, signs of merge with Windows RT spotted
Microsoft has started to provide developers with an SDK for the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update, according to reports. At the same time, a developer has allegedly started to list the updates found in the SDK itself, with the update apparently including signs that Microsoft is working towards merging Windows Phone and Windows RT into a single platform.
32GB version of VivoTab Note 8 hits retail, 64GB version missing
The Asus VivoTab Note 8 has gone on sale in the United States, with Microsoft's online store being the first retailer to offer the Windows 8.1 tablet. Originally confirmed by Asus itself via a leaked user manual before its launch at CES in January, the VivoTab Note 8 has an 8-inch IPS 800x1280 display using a Wacom digitizer, offering over 1,000 levels of pressure sensitivity.
Windows Phone virtual assistant could offer suggestions from Foursquare
Microsoft will use data from Foursquare in its rumored virtual assistant for Windows Phone 8.1, thanks to a $15 million investment in the company, according to a report. The location data gleaned from Foursquare will apparently be put to use in "Cortana," a virtual assistant named after the artificial intelligence character from the Halo series of games.
Choice of Lumia 520, Lumia 521 when buying Xbox Music Pass subscription
Microsoft is offering a budget Nokia smartphone and anXbox Music Pass subscription from the Microsoft Store for $99, for a limited time. The offer, available in the United States and Puerto Rico, consists of a 12-month subscription to the music service, along with the choice of either a Lumia 520 on AT&T or a Lumia 521 on T-Mobile, as off-contract devices.
Obama initiative valued at about $750 million
US President Barack Obama is today announcing commitments from several US corporations towards connecting more students to high-speed Internet, says the Associated Press. In all, about $750 million has been pledged; Apple is offering $100 million in iPads, computers, and other tools, while Verizon is providing the same amount in straight cash and in-kind contributions. AT&T and Sprint are offering free Internet access; Microsoft is promising copies of Windows at discounted rates, and 12 million free copies of Microsoft Office.
Gates to help support Nadella in new role, devote more time to Microsoft
Microsoft has announced its new Chief Executive Officer is Satya Nadella, the head of cloud computing at the company. At the same time, Bill Gates will be stepping down as Chairman of the Board of Directors to become Founder and Technology Advisor, in order to help support Nadella in his new role, and is being replaced by new Chairman John Thompson.
FISA requests detailed in agreement with US government
A group of tech companies have released more information about government requests from the NSA and other agencies for user information, as part of their transparency reporting programs. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Microsoft have all posted more statistics online for these Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests, following an agreement between the companies and the US Department of Justice (DoJ).
Rumor of Xbox One without disc drive denied, others still plausible
Microsoft is not working on a cut-price version of the Xbox One game console without a disc drive, a company executive has seemingly confirmed. When asked about rumors of a $399 Xbox One over Twitter, Microsoft Chief of Staff for Devices and Studios group Aaron Greenberg advised "No, you cannot believe everything you read on the Internet."
Update to Microsoft OS leaks before expected March 11 launch
Microsoft's first major update to Windows 8.1 has leaked ahead of its expected March 11 launch. The update, appearing in a number of file sharing sites, is said to have been compiled on January 14th and is not the final version that will be supplied to users, but at the same time it does not appear to include many more updates other than what has already leaked out.
Microsoft announces discontinuation of InfoPath, plans to support client until 2023
Microsoft announced this week its discontinuation of the company's electronic form software, InfoPath. InfoPath featured the ability to design, distribute, fill, and submit electronic forms with structured data. InfoPath 2013 is the last release of the desktop client, and InfoPath Form Service in Sharepoint Server 2013 is the last release of its services suite. InfoPath 2013 client is planned to be supported through until April 2023, and InfoPath Forms Services in Office 365 will be supported until further notice. Migration scenarios and guidance will be released in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Change to booting will minimize visibility of Metro Start Screen
The incoming update to Windows 8.1 could see the operating system load to desktop by default, according to a report. Though Windows 8.1 gives the user the option to boot to the desktop instead of the Start Screen, by making the desktop the initial view, it appears to be a far greater attempt at appeasing users who dislike the Metro user interface style by minimizing the amount of time it is visible.
Executive leads cloud computing, Microsoft business
According to personnel familiar with the matter, the Microsoft board of directors is nearly done with its CEO hunt following the imminent departure of Steve Ballmer, and is readying to name its cloud computing head executive Satya Nadella the new CEO of the company. Furthermore, the board is also discussing replacing Bill Gates as chairman, substituting independent director John Thompson.
Microsoft offers $100 store credit towards an Xbox One for those who trade-in their PS3
Augmenting the launching of its Xbox One late last year, Microsoft is now promoting an offer of a $100 credit towards an Xbox One purchase upon trading in of a Sony Playstation 3. The promotion bring the Xbox One pricing down to $400, which is the same as newly-released Playstation 4. The trade-in offer is available through Microsoft's retail stores in the US, and applies to Playstation 3, as well as Xbox 360 S or Xbox 360 E.
Four firms singled out for supporting educational high-speed Internet deployment
[Updated with Apple statement] As part of his State of the Union address Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama thanked four tech firms -- including Apple, Microsoft, Verizon and Sprint -- for their involvement and support of his and the FCC's ConnectED high-tech initiative, which aims to level the playing field for poorer districts by providing high-speed Internet access to all of America's schools and students. Obama described the participation as a "down payment" on connecting schools and students over the next three years.
Future Gears of War titles to be developed by Microsoft's Black Tusk
Epic Games has revealed that the sci-fi first person shooter Gears of War has been acquired by Microsoft studios. The deal gives Microsoft the rights to all the existing titles, as well as future games and other assets -- including merchandising associated with the property. Microsoft studio Black Tusk, helmed by ex-Epic Games director Rod Fergusson, will assume development of the franchise, with an anticipated announcement about the franchise future later this year. No terms of the deal have been made public.
OneDrive name to spread across SkyDrive apps in near future
Microsoft has revealed the new name for its SkyDrive cloud storage service, six months after losing a trademark dispute over the name. Rebranded as "OneDrive," Microsoft will be updating the entire service to the name with little in the way of major changes, aside from updating to the new name in apps and moving existing users to the OneDrive.com domain.
Power, search options moved to Windows 8.1 Start Screen
More rumors for Microsoft's first major update for Windows 8.1 have surfaced. A more accurate date for release has been touted, along with more screenshots claiming to show the upcoming changes to Windows 8.1 Update 1, including a seemingly simpler way for users to shut down desktops, and a new search button at the top of the screen.
Xbox One, Surface boost business higher than expected
Microsoft today announced revenue of $24.52 billion for the quarter ended December 31, 2013, beating revenue estimates by more than a billion dollars. Gross margin, operating income, net income, and diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $16.24 billion, $7.97 billion, $6.56 billion, and $0.78 per share, respectively.
Nokia quarterly results omit sales figures for Lumia devices
Nokia has hinted at what its finances will be like in the future, in what is believed to be its last quarterly financial report before the company's mobile phone arm gets acquired by Microsoft. The company's Solutions and Networks, Here, and Advanced Technologies segments earned a profit of 408 million euro ($556 million) for the fourth quarter, an improvement when compared to the 344 million the sections earned in the third quarter.
Option to add Metro apps to taskbar spotted in leaked screenshots
Microsoft's first major update to Windows 8.1 could bring more integration between Metro-style apps and the Windows desktop, according to leaked images. Icons for Metro apps, typically running separate from the desktop itself, have been spotted on the taskbar in some screenshots, suggesting that users will be able to switch quickly from desktop mode to the app through an alternative means to what is currently offered.
Amazon leads pack
For the first time, Apple has fallen behind Samsung, Microsoft, and Sony in an annual Forrester Research survey of customer satisfaction. The firm polled 7,500 Americans, asking them how enjoyable it was to do business with a company, how easy it was, and how effective the company was at meeting needs. Amazon led the consumer electronics category, picking up a score of 91 for its Kindle devices.
OS itself will see no more patches in April 2014
Microsoft, which has been trying to end support for its 12-year-old Windows XP for years, had previously announced the Windows XP final end-of-support date of April 8, 2014 -- saying that after this date, Windows XP will no longer be a supported operating system. However, to help organizations complete long-overdue migrations away from the aged OS, Microsoft has admitted that it will continue to provide updates to just anti-malware signatures and the attendant engine for Windows XP users for a further year, until July 14, 2015.
New offering brings domain-based email, Office 365 suite to users
Web registrar GoDaddy and Microsoft announced on Monday a long-term strategic partnership to offer Office 365 as GoDaddy's core business-class email and productivity service to its small-business customers. The strategic agreement between the pair will provide small businesses with access to email connected to their domain names, cloud storage and the full suite of Microsoft productivity solutions.
Windows Phone update will work on current Windows Phones
Microsoft has confirmed that the next major update for its Windows Phone operating system, believed to be called Windows Phone 8.1, will in fact be compatible with all smartphones running Windows Phone 8.0. The software giant told Computerworld last week that the forthcoming update will run on current WP8 devices, assuaging fears among some consumers that the phones that they've bought over the past year would be left behind, as was the case with devices running Windows Phone 7 when Windows Phone 8 launched in October of 2012. Current Windows Phone 8 devices, though, will run the update, and Microsoft has pledged ongoing support for those handsets through the next year or more.
'One Microsoft' strategy credited with shift
Microsoft has become a more trusted brand than Apple, according to a new Forrester survey. The research group polled 4,551 people, and ranked companies according to its "TRUE" criteria: trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential. Microsoft was the only company to gain "trailblazer" status, with Forrester describing it as "at the forefront of brand building with a unique and distinct brand identity that sets it apart from other brands."
Windows Threshold could drop in just over a year
Microsoft will reportedly look to release Windows 9 in April of next year, according to a new report. The Windows SuperSite pointed out on Saturday that the project currently known as Windows "Threshold" will ship in April of 2015 under the name Windows 9. Microsoft is reportedly hoping that the update will reverse the fortunes of its most recent version, Windows 8, which has struggled due to consumer confusion and the overall slumping PC market.