Microsoft just announced that, between June 17 and August 31, schools and universities will be able to take advantage of special pricing when purchasing Surface RTs. During that period, the tablet runs for $199.99, $299.01 lower than the $499 the software giant normally asks in its online and brick and mortar stores for the Windows RT-based device.
The special offer only applies to the 32 GB Surface RT and not to the 64 GB model. Eligible buyers will also be able to purchase bundles, which add a Touch Cover (available in Black, Cyan, Magenta, Red and White trims) or Type Cover, for $249 or $289 each, respectively, and three accessories -- VGA and HD Digital AV adapters and power supplies (all run for $39.99).
Microsoft has announced the final release of version 4.0 of the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (better known as EMET, fortunately), a powerful tool which can help to block exploits malware will commonly use to infect your PC.
The most immediately obvious change is a new focus on ease of use. EMET still isn’t for PC novices, but a new Configuration Wizard does help to get the program set up quickly, while an extended interface gives speedy access to the program’s various features.
Results of independent tests by AV-Comparatives looking at the real world protection offered by leading packages show that competition is as fierce as ever.
The tests use 569 real-world malicious URLs. 138 of these are blocked by a Windows 7 system with all its patches up to date, leaving 431 to be intercepted by security software. The tests use MS Security Essentials as a baseline providing a 95.4 percent level of protection. You can see the full results on an interactive chart but it’ll come as no surprise that it's all pretty close.
A big reason that video phones never took off was that many people didn't want the person calling to see them. It's understandable really -- no one wants to take a call from their boss while wearing nothing but their underwear.
Skype somewhat solves this problem with the ability to schedule a call for when you are looking your best, and now the Microsoft-owned communications app allows users to send video messages for those times when it isn't convenient to chat face to face.
Despite its limitations, the Windows Phone voice assistant has at least one good thing going for it. The speech recognition service quickly understands words, sentences and commands, with answers to questions like "What is the weather in New York" popping up in a matter of seconds.
Microsoft still hasn't tackled the feature set but, today, the software giant announced that the Windows Phone voice assistant is now even "more accurate and twice as fast". According to the Bing Speech Team, DNNs (Deep Neural Networks) fuel the under-the-hood improvements, which have quietly rolled out over the past couple of weeks.
Microsoft Surface Pro gets even stiffer competition from new 11.6-inch Apple MacBook Air -- which one would you buy?
To the untrained eye, this comparison appears to be moot. After all, the Surface Pro is a tablet and the 11.6-inch MacBook Air is, indeed, an ultrabook. Traditionally, the two types of devices rarely have anything in common. Tablets offer touchscreens, portability and great battery life while ultrabooks usually fail to deliver the same level of versatility. So how can one pit the Surface Pro against the smaller MacBook Air?
As my colleague Joe Wilcox explained almost seven months ago, the two devices actually have a great deal in common. The Microsoft-branded tablet kicks off at $899, can be coupled with a dedicated keyboard, has expansion ports, runs a fully-fledged operating system and, to its disadvantage, delivers pretty appalling battery life. The Apple-branded ultrabook packs similar hardware specifications, starts at $999 but offers a built-in keyboard from the get-go. And, in the meantime, the fruit company upgraded its device to Intel "Haswell" Core processors which provide a tremendous bump in battery life. Now, more than ever, choosing between the two is a very tough call.
On June 26 Microsoft will release a preview of Windows 8.1. The OS refresh is designed to make the operating system easier to use, address some of the concerns that users have, and persuade doubters to finally make the switch.
Windows 8.1 fixes issues and introduces some welcome new features, including the return of the Start button, boot to desktop, the option to have multiple apps on screen at once, Internet Explorer 11, the ability to turn the lockscreen into a photoframe, as well as various Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and security enhancements.
In the light of last week’s PRISM revelations the major tech companies have all been quick to deny that they allow the NSA direct access to their servers. But they have also said that they respond to lawful requests for data and have been revealing the numbers involved.
Apple says it received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from US federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for customer data between December 1, 2012 and May 31, 2013. In its press release Apple says, "Regardless of the circumstances, our Legal team conducts an evaluation of each request and, only if appropriate, we retrieve and deliver the narrowest possible set of information to the authorities. In fact, from time to time when we see inconsistencies or inaccuracies in a request, we will refuse to fulfill it". Apple also says that certain types of data such as iMessage and FaceTime conversations along with Map searches and Siri requests are not retained in an identifiable form.
A couple of days ago, Microsoft quietly launched Office for iPhone. To the ire of many, it requires an Office 365 subscription. The internet is abuzz with chatter that this is simply a way to gain 365 subscriptions. While I do agree this is a way to increase subscriber numbers, it is not the full picture -- it is also the best way to fight piracy. This is the future of mobile app purchasing.
I applaud Microsoft for taking this approach. On iOS, piracy is far too convenient on a jailbroken device, thanks to apps that help the user download them. On Android, a phone does not even need root to install pirated .apk files. And so, how could Microsoft release its flagship software potentially for free for jailbroken iOS users and all Android users? Microsoft Office is too important to show up as an .apk for free in a Google (or Bing) search.
If you downloaded a leaked build of Windows 8.1 you’ll have noticed quite a few changes to Microsoft's new operating system, but there are still a lot more tweaks and features to come in the official preview build which will be released on June 26.
One of the new features is a revamped Windows Store, but unfortunately this wasn’t available to explore on the leaked builds. I say "wasn’t" because as of today you can now access and browse the store, and even download apps.
Yesterday, despite "credible" rumors suggesting a full-on iOS approach, Microsoft released Office for iPhone but left iPad users stranded. The company also planted a little trojan horse -- the app is free but it is not free to use, requiring an Office 365 subscription, which runs for $99.99 per year, to take advantage of Excel, PowerPoint and Word.
But, based on my own experience with Office on Windows Phone, the suite is not really in its own element on a small display. iPhone users are most likely to run the app just to perform quick edits and (in the most-optimistic scenario) create very short and basic documents, presentations or spreadsheets. Office would really shine on bigger screens, however Microsoft doesn't want iPad users to actually use it. I've asked the software giant to explain the iPhone-only design and here is the company's response.
As you’ll know by now, Microsoft today announced the launch of Office Mobile for Office 365, an iOS app which allows users to access, view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents -- provided you have an Office 365 subscription.
We took it for a spin and despite the limitations, were actually pleasantly surprised. There’s plenty of functionality in the app to explore. The app can view Office documents stored on SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro, or SharePoint, for instance, as well as documents which arrive as email attachments. It syncs with your other Office 365 devices, too, so documents you’ve read elsewhere will appear on your phone’s Recent Documents panel, and when you open one it’ll resume at whatever point you left off.
Seven months ago, when rumors burned hot, I explained why "Microsoft Office for Android and iOS is a Trojan Horse" -- that any mobile suite would be all about the cloud service. Sure enough, today Microsoft released the strangely named "Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers" to the App Store.
Office 365 is the productivity suite's future. Microsoft now claims to be a "devices and services" company. Smartphones are devices, Office 365 is a service and required for the iOS app. What more reasoning is needed? The Redmond, Wash.-based company provides more functionality than I predicted, but does so strictly in mobile context that doesn't diminish the PC product. That said, what Microsoft gives to iOS should be withheld from Android.
The much talked about iOS version of Microsoft Office finally arrives in the App Store today. While that sounds like great news for anyone hoping to at last be able to (officially) use Word, Excel or PowerPoint on the iPad, you may wish to curb your enthusiasm, as there are some serious limitations with this release.
It's only available in the US for starters (coming to other territories "soon"), and you need to be an Office 365 subscriber to use it. Also it's only optimized for the small screen.
Microsoft continues its battle for your retail dollars. Not only has the company set up store fronts in malls around the country, as well as pop-up locations during this past holiday season, but now seeks other outlets. The software giant is invading your local big box store, announcing custom stores within Best Buy.
The company's Brandon LeBlanc lets us know, "today, we announce a strategic partnership to create the Windows Store only at Best Buy, a comprehensive store-within-a-store in 500 Best Buy locations across the United States and more than 100 Best Buy and Future Shop locations in Canada".