Wayne Williams

Get Cortana working in Windows 10 in the UK, and other non-US countries

cortana

One of the biggest new features in the latest build of Windows 10 is Cortana. Microsoft is bringing its virtual assistant to the desktop, and if you install Build 9926 you can see what she’s capable of right now. Well, you can if you’re in the US at least.

If you live outside of America, in the UK for example, if you summon Cortana you’ll be told she’s "not available to help in your region", which is a bit rubbish. Fortunately, there are ways around this silly restriction.

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Unlock Windows 10's hidden secrets

old start

Microsoft released Build 9926 of the Windows 10 Technical Preview on Friday, and so far we’re liking what we see. There are a few issues with it, naturally, but it’s definitely a giant leap in the right direction (for the most part anyway).

There are several hidden features available, but not activated, in this new build, which are well worth exploring and so we’ve put together this handy guide explaining how to get them all working.

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How to install Windows 10 January Build (9926) on Oracle VirtualBox

win 10 9926

Microsoft has just released the latest build of Windows 10. New features and changes include a more polished Start menu, Cortana on the desktop, new Settings, Photos, Maps and Xbox apps, and the ability to connect to wireless audio and video. As with the previous builds, this is a very early version of the OS, so you wouldn’t be advised to run it as your main operating system, and while you could set it to dual boot, running it in a virtualized environment is probably a more sensible idea.

The process is very simple -- all you need is a copy of Oracle VM VirtualBox and a Windows 10 Technical Preview ISO. Microsoft updated the latter earlier today.

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Windows 10 Build 9926 out NOW -- New features include Cortana, Xbox app, improved Start menu and more

Win10 Start

Talk about unexpected. After showing off Windows 10 on Wednesday, Microsoft disappointed a legion of dedicated testers by announcing the next build wouldn’t be available until next week.

Turns out that’s not the case at all -- it’s available to download, and start using right now. The "January Build" as it’s being called (Build 9926 for those who like version numbers), is being pushed out to Windows Insiders on both the "Fast" and "Slow" rings, and is also available in ISO form. While not everything demoed at the Windows 10 briefing is available in the new build, it does come with Cortana on the desktop, a more polished Start menu, a new Settings app, and the ability to connect to wireless audio and video. There’s also new Photos and Maps apps, a new Xbox app, and Windows Store Beta.

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The Windows 10 presentation gets an A -- for Apple

satya at apple

Yesterday’s Windows 10 briefing was weird. I mean that in a good way. Microsoft went all Apple on us, aping much of the style and presentation of its rival, right down to the "one more thing" which turned out to be a crazy holographic nerd helmet that was nowhere near finished and can’t yet do most of the things claimed for it. But has potential.

In the aftermath of the presentation tech writers began asking questions like "When did Apple become the boring one?", and that would have raised a smile or two at Redmond. Microsoft needed to shake off its reputation of a firm which makes dull, or flawed "me too" products, and for the main I think it succeeded.

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Catch up on the Windows 10 briefing in seven and a half minutes

Win10

The Windows 10 briefing offered up a lot of interesting things, but with a running time of just under two and a half hours, you are going to need to really, really love Microsoft and Windows to sit through it all.

Fortunately, you don’t need to commit yourself to the full briefing as Microsoft has rolled out a 7.25 minute video covering the highlights.

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Windows 10 will be free for Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users… but there's a catch [Updated]

free upgrade

So the Windows 10 briefing is well underway, and Microsoft has already dropped a bombshell, although it’s one that many people will have been expecting.

If you have Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1 you will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. That’s right, it won’t cost you a single penny. And who doesn’t love free? Now the bad news… it's only free if you upgrade in the first year.

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Watch Microsoft's Windows 10 briefing here LIVE

preevent

Microsoft didn’t livestream its Windows 10 reveal last September, mostly because it wasn’t a product launch as such, or even a presentation aimed at consumers (it was more just a name announcement and a quick run through of the features). The software giant will, however, be livestreaming today’s Windows 10 briefing.

Called "Windows 10: The Next Chapter", the event will include presentations from Terry Myerson, Joe Belfiore, Phil Spencer and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and cover the consumer side of the new operating system. We’re also expecting to find out more about Windows 10 Mobile.

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Snowden: iPhone has special software that gathers information on you

spyphone

You have to take a little (sometimes a lot) of salt with some of the revelations made by Edward Snowden, but his latest claim is, on the surface at least, a damning one for Apple.

According to the NSA whistle-blower’s lawyer, the iPhone has special software installed which can be remotely activated, and used to keep tabs on your whereabouts. A spyPhone, if you will.

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Mouse-Box is a complete computer… in a mouse!

mouse box computer

Small computers are proving very popular these days. As well as the likes of Raspberry Pi, there are Windows 8.1/Linux devices like Intel's Compute Stick on the way, and fans of Linux Mint can purchase the CompuLab MintBox Mini. Given the size of this new generation of diminutive device, it’s perhaps surprising that no one has (successfully) tried to squeeze a PC into a mouse before.

Well, now, finally they have. Mouse-Box aims to be a complete computer inside in a fully functioning pointing device. You’ll be able to use it with your normal PC, and then switch to the Mouse-Box computer with ease. You just need access to a screen and keyboard (you already have the mouse!)

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Minecraft usernames and passwords leak online

minecraft thumb

Minecraft is a phenomenon. The online game is incredibly popular with well over 100 million PC downloads to date. When Microsoft bought developer Mojang last September it had to shell out a cool $2.5 billion to do so.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that players of the game have been the target of hackers keen to get their hands on poorly guarded gaming credentials. Armed with a valid user name and password, anyone can log into a game, or download a full copy of Minecraft.

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Google Glass is dead -- will anyone mourn its passing?

BearGlass

Google Glass was an interesting project, but now it is no more. It never really took off, and was never likely to. It was ahead of its time -- promising much, but never quite delivering. Along the way it encountered numerous stumbling blocks -- it cost a fortune, made you look daft, and could well result in you getting mugged, or thrown out of a cinema if you tried to wear it while a film was on.

Google has said that it will stop producing Glass in its present form, and will instead focus on "future versions", but that’s just the search giant’s polite way of avoiding saying the project is dead, and the Glass team will be using its corpse as a stepping stone to something new.

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Save Outlook.com email attachments directly to OneDrive with a single click

SavetoOneDrive1-final

Managing email attachments in Outlook.com just got a whole lot easier thanks to a new 'Save to OneDrive' feature which Microsoft is rolling out from today.

The popularity of cloud storage services like OneDrive mean you no longer need to email files to yourself to access them from anywhere, but people still do that from time to time for ease (and -- hands up -- I’m one of them), which can result in a messy and chockfull inbox. Save to OneDrive lets you move attachments you’ve received, or sent to yourself, straight to Microsoft’s cloud storage service, and all it takes is a single click.

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Amazon Studios partners with Woody Allen for his first ever television series

Woody Allen (2)

Amazon usually produces TV pilots before deciding which ones to turn into full series. Unsurprisingly, its union with critically-acclaimed writer/director Woody Allen, won’t be going through this process.

The company has already ordered a full season of the Untitled Woody Allen Project, which will premiere exclusively on Prime Instant Video.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook fast-tracks 'Je suis Charlie' app

je suis charlie

Apple’s rigorous approvals procedure means it can take quite some time for an app, or app update, to make its way into the App Store. 10-15 days is a typical approval time.

French news agency Nice-Matin created an app which allows users to show their support for controversial French magazine Charlie Hebdo, but was faced with an obvious problem. By the time the app was available in the App Store, support for the 'Je suis Charlie' campaign would have started to dwindle. So the company emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook.

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