Development of Windows has been criticized in the past for being slow. With the Technical Preview of Windows 10, it's just not possible to level the same complaint at Microsoft. It's only a couple of weeks since we got our grubby little hands on the embryonic build 9841 and tens of thousands of users have provided feedback. Now it's upgrade time. Build 9860 has been pushed out -- through Windows Update, no less... none of this messy ISO malarkey this time around -- so it's time to take a look at the work Microsoft has done.
When build 9841 was released, there was disappointment from many quarters -- including here -- at just how little had changed since Windows 8.1. Jumping up 19 build numbers might not seem like much, but there are now a couple of features that were talked about at the launch of the Technical Preview that were not available in the first release -- but still no Cortana.
Windows 10 Technical Preview has just been updated. We've been working with build 9841 for a little while, and now it's time for an upgrade.
Today, Microsoft releases build 9860 to people signed up to the Windows Insider Program, and there are a number of key additions. There's the Action Center to handle notifications, new animations, and improved multi-monitor handling.
Microsoft is committed to the cloud. CEO Satya Nadella is starting to hit his stride and his vision is coming into focus. The new leader seems to see the future in OneDrive and he isn't shy about explaining his reasoning.
In a lengthy interview with CNBC's Jon Fortt, Nadella tackled the concepts and ideas he has for the company. In discussing OneDrive, the CEO made it clear that the product would remain free to everyone. The model involves monetizing for those who need more than what is offered for the price of zero.
Microsoft has announced the addition of several new features to its Azure data services platform to support Apache Hadoop.
Azure HDInsight will gain support of real-time analytics for Apache Hadoop and Azure Marketplace will benefit from new machine learning capabilities.
According to Forbes, Microsoft is preparing to launch a smartwatch in the coming weeks. Forbes says the device will "passively track a wearer’s heart rate and work across different mobile platforms". So the good news is it won’t be tied to Windows Phone which only has a tiny 2.5 percent share of the mobile market.
A device that isn’t tied to the one platform is a very smart move for Microsoft. Apple Watch will probably be the device that propels smartwatches into the mainstream, but it requires wearers to have an iPhone. Android smartwatches connect to Android mobiles. If you switch from one platform to another -- move from Android to iOS for example -- you’ll need to buy a different watch. Microsoft’s device could solve that problem. There are other benefits too.
The Irish government is phasing out the so-called 'Double Irish' finance scheme that currently enables companies such as Google and Apple to slash millions (or even billions) of dollars from their tax bills. The scheme works by companies, regardless of where they may be operating in the world, collecting their profits through an Irish office (where tax is already low), and then funneling the money through a subsidiary company located in another tax haven by means of royalty payments.
Companies, like individuals, are understandably keen to keep their tax bills down as much as possible, and will jump through lots of hoops to reduce the amount of tax they have to pay. Offshore bank accounts, subsidiary companies and the like might sound like the makings of something illegal -- which it can be -- but it's a legitimate way to reduce costs. But the fact that something is legitimate doesn't mean that it's popular. At least it's not something that is popular with governments.
Creating content for YouTube is actually very hard and takes a long time to edit and upload. Even a simple-looking unboxing video can take hours from start to finish -- sometimes longer if you cut yourself opening the box and have to treat a wound. It is very disappointing to have your content removed for copyright issues, when you haven't actually violated anything. Even worse, it can be an impossibility to successfully dispute the bogus claim.
Today, many YouTube content creators were inconvenienced and upset by take down requests from an apparently overzealous company called "Marketly", acting on Microsoft's behalf. You see, all of the videos were Windows related, but not all of the removals were warranted. Of course, like all controversies, it has already been given a name and hashtag of #Microstopped.
Microsoft released the Windows 10 Technical Preview a fortnight ago, inviting testers to participate in the Windows Insider Program and help the company build a better operating system.
In two weeks, over a million people have apparently signed up to try out the new OS, and according to Microsoft, the tech giant has received over 200,000 pieces of user-initiated feedback to date via the built-in Windows Feedback app. You can see a rough breakdown of the top feedback received so far here. Microsoft also revealed some genuinely interesting information regarding how people are running the OS.
One of the greatest benefits of living in a free country such as the USA is the ability to vote. Even in this country, we aren't far removed from a time where women and non-whites were not allowed to vote -- an embarrassment. With that said, a bigger embarrassment is people that do not vote at all. Don't get me wrong, people have the right not to vote, and it is sometimes discouraging to always choose the lesser of two evils, but when you think of the people that fought and died for your right to vote, it is almost a slap in their face to not do it.
If you don't feel you have enough knowledge about the candidates, that is understandable; there are far too many distractions, such as Walking Dead, Twitter and working very long hours. Between work and media consumption, there just is not enough time to research election details. Today, Microsoft wants to make it easier for people to learn about the election with the all-new Bing Elections; a one-stop hub of information.
Google's Android Wear is still getting started, having a smattering of devices such as the LG G Watch and Motorola's Moto 360. The wrist wear brings the mobile platform to a small screen, and it's received a lot of attention since the launch.
Microsoft has a history of supporting Android, releasing all of its apps to the rival devices, despite Google's failure to reciprocate. Last month the the company released OneNote for watches and now the software giant is working on Android Wear again, offering a new analog keyboard app for the tiny items.
The main highlight in the Windows 10 Technical Preview is unquestionably the new Start menu. It is the perfect blend of the old and the new, mixing the Windows 7 Start menu with Windows 8's tiled Start screen.
If, however, you’re a Windows 8.x user who has become accustomed to working in the Start screen, you may not want to take the 'backward step' of returning to a Start menu. (My colleague Mark Wilson certainly feels your pain). The good news is Windows 10 lets you choose between the Start menu and Start screen, although switching backwards and forwards between the two modes is rather cumbersome. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is one of the greatest tablets for content creators. It can run full-blown software like AutoCAD, Lightroom, Office and Photoshop because Windows 8.1 runs the show, it rivals ultrabooks in the speed department, can double as a laptop with a Type Cover attached, offers good battery life thanks to efficient processors and, on top of all this, ships with a neat stylus as well, out-of-the-box, which Microsoft calls Surface Pen.
Surface Pen is a precise input tool, which comes in handy when users want to draw, sketch or take notes, for instance. Still, for those who would like to make the stylus even more precise in operation can turn to Microsoft's new app, Surface Hub, to adjust pressure sensitivity, among other things.
Microsoft is encouraging people who have downloaded the Windows 10 Technical Preview to provide feedback on the embryonic operating system. The Start menu is something that users have been begging for, and changes to the Command Prompt have been a very long time coming, but just what do testers think of Windows 10 so far? There's still quite some time to go until Windows 10 is released giving Microsoft lots of opportunity to respond to user feedback. This is what Microsoft is all about these days after all.
With help from one of the readers of his Supersite for Windows, Paul Thurrott has pulled together a list of the top ten requests that have been received so far. The methodology may not be entirely scientific, but it does give an interesting insight into how Windows 10 has been received and what people would like to see changed.
In a post on the Surface blog, Microsoft has moved to assure businesses that the Surface line is here to stay. We've already heard that the Surface Pro 3 is a success -- although there are no figures to back up this claim -- but Microsoft's failure to launch a third generation RT-based version of the Surface, as well as the disappearance of the long-rumored Surface Mini, raised fears that the line of tablets may not be long for this world. Microsoft is keen to allay these concerns, pointing out not only that Surface is here to stay, but also that it is particularly suitable for businesses.
The post points out that the Surface Pro 3 is a device that's "great for getting things done". There's almost an air of desperation to the blog post in which Microsoft extols the virtue Surface and confirms its commitment to the brand. The selling point is still that the device is a laptop and tablet in one, and post author Brian Hall, General Manager for Surface, is quick to mention a number of big names who have adopted Surface Pro 3.
Continuing its run at the top of the charts, Apple is revealed as the most valuable brand in the world. With a massive 21 percent increase over the last 12 months, Apple is now valued at just under $119 billion -- almost double that of Microsoft which finds itself in fifth place with a value of just over $61 billion.
The top 100 rankings have been published by Interbrand, and a number of familiar names from the world of tech are to be found in the top 20. Google's value jumped by 15 percent from last year to $107 billion, and the search giant remains in second position.