Articles about Microsoft

Windows Phone's biggest problem isn't apps

Lumia-830_group1

My colleague Brian Fagioli was right to reject Microsoft’s laughable claim that Windows Phone is experiencing 'impressive growth', and to also brand the tiled mobile OS as a failure. Android and iOS completely dominate the mobile space, and Microsoft -- which owns the desktop -- is nothing but a bit player.

If you ask anyone why Microsoft has failed to succeed they will probably say "apps". The Windows Store has a fraction of the apps found in the Apple App Store and Google Play (aside from the main names, few of the many apps I used regularly on my iPhone are available on Windows Phone) and there are dodgy clones and fakes to be found throughout the store. But while that is definitely a factor I think the real blame for Windows Phone’s failure lies elsewhere.

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Microsoft's Universal Foldable Keyboard loves iOS, Android and Windows equally

Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard loves iOS, Android and Windows equally

Every mobile operating system would have you believe that it has the best built in keyboard. It's clear that plenty of people disagree judging by the number of alternative keyboard apps that exist in the Windows Phone, Apple and Android stores. Sometimes even the best software keyboard isn't good enough, but few people are enamored with the idea of carrying around a full size Bluetooth keyboard.

There are numerous mobile keyboards that are particularly suitable for use with smartphones and tablets, and today at MWC in Barcelona, Microsoft threw its hat into the ring with the Universal Foldable Keyboard. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to a large money wallet, this svelte device connects via Bluetooth to whatever mobile device you happen to be using -- including the newly announced Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL.

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Microsoft launches Windows 10-ready Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL

Microsoft launches Windows 10-ready Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL

It was something of a poorly kept secret, but this morning at MWC Microsoft announced the two latest additions to its range of Lumia handsets. News of the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL had already crept out over the weekend thanks to a slightly premature news release that was later pulled, but now the handsets are official and "keeping you prepared for anything".

These may be fairly low-end phones, but there's one thing the handsets are prepared for -- Windows 10. The 5-inch Lumia 640 and 5.7-inch Lumia 640 XL will arrive with Windows Phone 8.1, but are in line for a Windows 10 upgrade. To increase the appeal of the phones, Microsoft is throwing in a one-year license for Office 365, 60 minutes of international Skype calls each month, and 1TB of OneDrive storage. But what about the specs?

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Watch Microsoft's Mobile World Congress 2015 press conference here live

Does a deleted Microsoft blog post show it's about to buy mobile email firm Acompli?

As you’ll already know, the 2015 Mobile World Congress (MWC) is going on right now, and most of the big players are announcing and launching new handsets. Samsung and HTC have announced new versions of popular phones, and Microsoft (in the form of Stephen Elop, Julia White and Neil Broadley) is set to take to the stage imminently.

Thanks to a premature news posting on Sunday we already know some of what to expect. A headline that made its way into feeds tells us the tech giant will be revealing the Lumia 640 and 640 XL, devices which, the company says, will keep "you prepared for anything".

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Microsoft says Windows Phone experiencing 'impressive growth' -- wait, what!?

troublethink

Windows Phone is a failure. Of course, the term "failure" is subjective, so let me explain. Very few consumers are buying them compared to Android and iPhone, and very few developers are creating apps for it. Yes, some people are buying them, and some talented developers are developing, but "some" does not make a success.

Ultimately, on all platforms -- desktops, mobile devices, game consoles, etc. -- it is the apps and games that move the hardware. Right now, there are no killer apps on Windows Phone compared to Android or iOS. In other words, what is the benefit of using Windows Phone to the average consumer? There arguably is none. Today, Microsoft chooses to proclaim that the platform is seeing "impressive growth". Like "failure", the word "impressive" is subjective, but I think everyone can agree, nothing about Microsoft's mobile platform is currently impressive.

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Windows 8.x still nowhere near as popular as Windows XP

New Windows shrug

It’s fair to say, Windows 8.x has enjoyed something of a rollercoaster ride when it comes to usage share. While it’s never been a popular operating system (quite the opposite in fact), share has gone up and down, with gains one month being wiped out by losses the following month.

NetMarketShare’s monthly usage share figures provide a decent guide as to how Microsoft’s tiled OS is doing, and it’s usually pretty interesting, although February was a fairly unexciting month.

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Microsoft welcomes weak Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

Microsoft welcomes White House's proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

Late on Friday, the White House released a draft proposal for the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2015. It is supposed to grant greater privacy rights to individuals, and sets out a framework in which codes of conduct can be constructed.

The bill comes in response to growing concerns about the amount of data companies store about their customers and users, particularly online. Government surveillance has brought privacy into the public eye, and this is the government's attempt to be seen righting wrongs.

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Xbox One selling badly in China

China red xbox

It was big news last year when Microsoft announced that it would officially start selling the Xbox One in China. The original September launch date came and went ("Despite strong and steady progress, we are going to need a bit more time to deliver the best experiences possible for our fans in China"), but eventually the next gen console made it on sale.

Although China gave the green-light for the sale of 5 million Xbox units, actual sales have been way, way below that. Launch numbers (including pre-orders) were just 100,000 units, and the company responsible for Xbox One sales in China has posted huge losses.

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You can now download Windows 7 ISOs directly from Microsoft -- here's how

Windows 7-Start-Button

Can’t find your Windows 7 disc but need it to do a fresh install or run a copy of Windows in a virtualized environment? The obvious solution is to download a copy of the operating system in ISO format.

Oddly though, Microsoft has avoided offering Windows 7 ISOs for download -- the only solution previously was to grab a copy from Digital River, Microsoft’s official content delivery partner for Windows 7. That’s all changed now though, as a new Microsoft Software Recovery center lets you download Windows 7 directly from the software giant itself.

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Microsoft technology invites non-human nurses into your home -- will you let it in?

NurseRobot

Technology is increasingly changing our lives. It seems like every day, a new technological advance is revealed that impacts humanity. Virtual reality masks like Oculus, Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard, for example, are changing the way we look at the world. You can travel anywhere by simply looking through a face-mask -- you can take a vacation without leaving your living room.

As the world's population lives longer, and continues to engage in self-destructive behavior, healthcare is one of the few industries guaranteed to never slow down. Unfortunately, as more and more people become insured by Obamacare, getting an appointment with a healthcare professional is getting increasingly difficult. If we can't produce more doctors and nurses, we could have a crisis. What if, however, nurses and doctors didn't have to be human? What if a non-human could come into your home and examine you? A popular Microsoft technology is making this a reality.

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Microsoft Malware Protection Center helps take down Ramnit botnet

Microsoft Malware Protection Center helps take down Ramnit botnet

Ramnit, a botnet that infected millions of computers around the world, has been tamed, thanks in part to Microsoft Malware Protection Center. The takedown operation was a collaboration between Microsoft, Europol, Symantec and others, and it successfully stopped the malware which worked by disabling virus protection before stealing banking details and personal information from infected machines.

With an estimated 3.2 million computers infected globally, Ramnit has been used by cybercriminals the world over, but the majority of infections were found in Britain. The botnet was brought under control by shutting down several servers used by the group responsible for Ramnit.

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Microsoft releases the first major Band update

Microsoft ignores its own Band wearable and gives away Fitbit Flex with the Lumia 830

Microsoft Band, the wearable fitness tracker, and its accompanying Health app have received their first major update, some four months after the initial release.

With the latest update, the band is getting some new features -- enabling it to monitor biking (yes, even stationary biking), a quick read feature for notifications and -- (you’re not going to believe this) -- an on-screen keyboard.

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Exciting new experimental apps emerge from Microsoft Garage

Exciting new experimental apps emerge from Microsoft Garage

Microsoft Garage is home to all manner of innovative projects from Microsoft employees, and today a new batch of projects has been unveiled. As Garage is a cross-platform venture, there are apps for Windows Phone, Android and desktop Windows, and the myriad tools cover everything from app development to the weather.

On the productivity front, Mouse Without Borders is a name that might seem familiar. Strictly speaking, this is a re-release rather than a new release, and the utility makes it possible to control up to four computers with a single keyboard and mouse by acting like a virtual KVM switch. If this isn’t your sort of thing, there are plenty more tools to explore.

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Microsoft removing Google and Facebook Chat from Outlook.com -- suggests Skype

sadchat

Communication is huge money. We take it for granted, as there is quite the glut of available chat solutions online. By controlling communication, you can track and control a user's behavior. A good example is Hangouts. Google makes an app that can run on Windows, but it requires the Chrome browser. As a result, Hangouts users may choose Chrome over other browsers. A consumer in the market for a smartphone may skip Windows Phone, as Google doesn't support the platform. Don't get me started on Apple; Facetime keeps users locked into Mac and iOS too.

Today, Microsoft announces in an email to users that both Google and Facebook Chat support are being removed from Outlook.com. Google Chat is not a surprise, as the search-giant is sun-setting that service in favor of the more restrictive Hangouts; Microsoft does not have a choice. Facebook Chat, however, is a shock.

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Microsoft releases OneDrive API for cross-platform cloud storage development

Microsoft releases OneDrive API for cross-platform cloud storage tools

Today Microsoft launches a new OneDrive API, opening up its cloud storage service to a wider range of developers. The API can be used to integrate OneDrive into apps running on Android, Windows, iOS and the web, and there is a focus on efficiency with minimal calls needed to keep files in sync.

The API has already started to roll out to a number of Microsoft apps, and the company is keen to ensure that all developers have access to the same set of tools. There are a number of new features to be found in the API which can be easily added to existing apps and services.

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