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  1. Microsoft Releases the First Extension for Its Chromium-Based Browser A preview version of Microsoft’s new Chromium-based browser is believed to be just around the corner, and after an experimental build leaked earlier this week, here’s the software giant dropping a hint that a release is imminent. The official Microsoft Edge Insider extension for the new browser is now available for download from the Microsoft Store, technically allowing users to stay up to date with the progress in this testing program. While it’s supposed to be installed by insiders running the preview version of Microsoft Edge, it can also be downloaded on devices running the current stable version of the browser, only that most of its functionality is disabled.Preview build likely around the cornerAs for the purpose of the extension, the Microsoft Store listing reveals that this add-on is in charge of Edge announcements, feature releases, known issues, and fixed issues, so insiders can basically receive information on any update that Microsoft makes public. “Microsoft Edge Insider is the official extension for Microsoft Edge for Microsoft Edge Insiders. This extension puts an icon on the Microsoft Edge toolbar that receives notifications about the latest Microsoft Edge Announcements, Features, Known Issues, and Fixed Issues. Microsoft Edge Insider can also provide desktop notifications about important issues,” the description reads. Additionally, the Microsoft Store product page indicates that the extension is available for canary, developer, and beta channels, which is also the confirmation that the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge is developed as part of similar channels, just like Google Chrome. For the time being, Microsoft remains tight-lipped on everything related to the release of the new browser, but all signs seem to be indicating that the preview build could go live anytime soon. You can read more about the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge here and don’t miss this Edge screenshot tourrevealing most of the features included in the existing builds. Source
  2. Microsoft Releases Office for Windows Update with Icon Redesign Microsoft has released a new update for the Windows version of the Office productivity suite as part of the Office Insider program. Available for Fast ring insiders, the Office update lands as version 1904 and build number 11514.20004. The most notable change in this release is the addition of new icons for the built-in productivity apps, including here Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. The new icons were announced several months ago, and now Microsoft is getting ready to make them broadly available for all users worldwide. What’s important to know, however, is that this update also comes with a known issue hitting the icons, with Microsoft saying that pinned Start tiles may not update and still show the old product icons. Also, the software giant emphasizes that it hasn’t updated all the icons in Office just yet. “Only product icons have been updated. The core file type icons (e.g., icons for .docx, ,xlsx, .pptx files) will be updated soon and will rollout when available,” the firm says.Exclusive Word changesMicrosoft Word also comes with an exclusive improvement, as Microsoft is adding support for basic co-authoring in Word documents that contain macros. “Tired of being locked out of your documents that contain macros? We heard you! You can now simultaneously view and edit .docm files that are stored on OneDrive,” the feature description reads. At the same time, Microsoft Word comes with three different known bugs, and users should check them out before installing the update. First, Microsoft explains that co-authoring only supports the latest builds where the feature is available, and then AutoSave and real time-typing do not work for the time being. And last but not least, users can only coauthor on the main document, the company says. All these improvements should become available for Office users in the coming weeks when the testing phase is complete. Source
  3. Report: 2019 will be the year Microsoft updates File Explorer with the new Fluent Design Microsoft announced Fluent Design System a couple of years back and since then the company has been working hard to incorporate it. We have seen Microsoft adding Fluent Design to most of the Windows 10 OS as well as the first party Microsoft apps. However, one big aspect of Windows 10 has been missing the Fluent Design which is the File Manager. Microsoft did a major overhaul to the File Manager with Windows Vista and was improved with Windows 7. Post that, Microsoft has made small changes but never did a complete overall. It looks like 2019 might be the year Microsoft finally updates the File Explorer with the new Fluent Design. A new report suggests that we might be able to see the new File Manager with 20H1 which is scheduled to arrive next year. The update will apparently also increase integration with Microsoft’s various services and may herald the return of Sets. That said, we don’t have to wait till next year to see it as Microsoft is expected to seed the updates to Windows Insiders with the new changes later this year. For now, we don’t have any idea on how the File Manager will look like but concept design created by Michael West shows what we can expect. We do hope Microsoft updates the File Manager soon and judging from the concept images, it’s safe to say that the File Manager will look great with Windows 10’s dark mode. Source
  4. Microsoft: This is world's first automated DNA data storage, retrieval system Microsoft researchers reveal an apparatus for automating the storage and retrieval of data stored in DNA. Microsoft has unveiled an automated DNA storage and retrieval system that could one day replace optical-storage systems like Facebook's Blue-ray disc-based cold storage. Microsoft believes synthetic DNA could be the next big leap in long-term data storage, with just one gram of DNA capable of storing 215 petabytes of data for up to 2,000 years. If it pans out, the technology could significantly reduce the space required to store the world's growing data. Researchers at Microsoft and the late Microsoft founder Paul Allen's school of computing science at the University of Washington has built a system of liquids, tubes, syringes, and electronics around a benchtop to deliver the world's first automated DNA storage device. Using the proof-of-concept DNA storage device, the researchers demonstrated its write and read capabilities by encoding the word 'hello' in snippets of DNA and converting it back to data. The bench-top unit cost around $10,000 but the researchers believe it could be built in low-volumes for a third of the cost by cutting out sensors and actuators. The unit, described in Nature, consists of computers with encoding and decoding software that translate digital ones and zeros into DNA's four bases: A, C, T, G. There's also a DNA synthesis module and a DNA preparation and sequencing module, between which sits a vessel where DNA is stored. Microsoft principal researcher Karin Strauss says the group wanted to prove there is a practical way of automating DNA data storage. "Our ultimate goal is to put a system into production that, to the end user, looks very much like any other cloud storage service – bits are sent to a data center and stored there and then they just appear when the customer wants them," said Strauss. "To do that, we needed to prove that this is practical from an automation perspective." Chris Takahashi, senior research scientist at the Paul G Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, explains that while machines are already used for synthesizing and sequencing DNA, many of the steps are manual. "You can't have a bunch of people running around a data center with pipettes – it's too prone to human error, it's too costly, and the footprint would be too large," Takahashi said. Using this proof-of-concept device, researchers demonstrated its write and read capabilities by encoding the word 'hello' in snippets of DNA and converting it back to data. Source
  5. Apple Overtakes Microsoft to Become the World’s Most Valuable Company Apple’s recent announcements of new iPads and AirPods have given a boost to the Cupertino-based tech giant, propelling it past Microsoft and helping the firm reclaim the title of the world’s most valuable company. Apple has long been the leader in terms of market cap and even reached $1 trillion in August 2018. Since then, however, the company has mostly been on a decline, with poor sales of new devices, like the iPhone XS and XS Max, often considered to be the main culprit. More recently, however, Apple announced products that have helped the company recover, including here the aforementioned iPads and AirPods. And this all pushed its market valuation to no less than $916 billion, enough to become the leader once again. Microsoft, who has previously been the number one for several months, dropped to the second place with a total market cap of $908 billion on Thursday.New Apple increase likely next weekBut while Microsoft is now the runner-up, there’s a good chance a switch of places happens again in the coming weeks, especially as the software giant has until now been on a constant ascending trend. Apple is also expected to record another boost next week, as the company will be holding a new event on March 25 to announce a series of new products, including what’s likely to be a news service. New iPhones are projected to launch in September this year, and according to people close to the matter, the company wants to launch three different models for the 2019 generation that will be all successors to the existing devices. What’s unclear at this point, however, is whether Apple plans to address the price issue of the iPhone, as sales have declined in the last few months specifically due to the high price of these devices. iPhone XS starts in the United States at $999. Source
  6. Microsoft Releases the First Surface Headphones Firmware Update Microsoft’s Surface Headphones have just received their very first firmware update, as the software giant works on refining the experience with the device and fixing some of the bugs reported by users. What you should know from the very beginning is that this firmware update comes without a changelog, so we can’t tell for sure what are the issues that Microsoft correct in this release. The firmware version is, up from, and it can be installed on the Surface Headphones using any iOS, Android, or Windows 10 device. The whole thing is pretty simple actually, although you should know that using a Windows 10 PC to update the Surface headphones requires a USB cable. On Android and iOS, you can do the whole thing wirelessly, but in both cases, you need to turn to the official Cortana app to update the headphones.Under the hood improvements regardless of platformOn Windows 10, you can also use the Surface Headphones app for the process, but the USB cable is still required. “The update will take a few minutes to download, and you can use your headphones during this time. After the download, your headphones will restart so the update can install,” Microsoft explains. “During the installation, your headphones will appear to be off. If your Surface Headphones don't reconnect automatically after the update is finished, press the power button on the headphones to turn them off, then turn them back on to reconnect.” We have reached out to Microsoft to ask for more information about this release and we’ll update the article when and if an answer is offered. In the meantime, owners of the Surface Headphones are obviously recommended to update their devices as soon as possible, especially because this firmware update could bring a series of welcome under-the-hood improvements. Source
  7. Microsoft delivers public preview of Windows Virtual Desktop Microsoft's service for virtualizing Windows 7, 10, Office 365 ProPlus apps and other third-party software by running them in Azure virtual machines is now available in public preview. Last September, Microsoft announced its new Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD)product and strategy. The company's plan was to make available to any and all interested testers an early version of the technology before the end of 2018. On March 21, 2019, Microsoft delivered (a bit late) on that promised WVD public preview. WVD is a new service that provides multi-session Windows 10 and support for Windows Server RDS desktop and apps. WVD will allow users to virtualize Windows 7 and 10, Office 365 ProPlus apps and other third-party applications by running them remotely in Azure virtual machines. Microsoft officially announced WVD at its Ignite show in September last year; I unofficially helped them announce WVD a little earlier. Microsoft also is committing to provide to WVD users the ability to virtualize their Windows 7 desktops -- with free Extended Security Update support though January 2023. That means customers who license and purchase WVD will continue to get security updates for Windows 7 after Microsoft officially ends support (and security updates for the product) after January 14, 2020, for no additional cost. Microsoft has been testing WVD in private preview since last fall. In November, Microsoft acquired FSLogix, an app-provisioning company focused on desktop and app virtualization. Since then Microsoft has been working to integrate FSLogix's technology so it can help with WVD migrations. Microsoft is not fully disclosing pricing for WVD today. Officials are saying that to use the service, customers will need to set up an Azure subscription, and then choose the type of virtual machines and storage they want. Users who want to use WVD to access Windows 10 and WIndows 7 desktops and apps won't be charged an additional fee for that purpose, as long as they are existing Microsoft 365 F1, E3, E5, Windows 10 Enterprise E3 or E5 and/or are a Windows VDA customer. Those who are existing Windows Server users, there will be no additional cost, as long as they're using existing Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and the appropriate client-access licenses. During the public preview, desktops and apps can be deployed in virtual machines in any Azure region, but the data and management of these apps will reside in the U.S. That means data transfer to the U.S. may happen during the test period. Once WVD is publicly available, data and management for WVD will be available in all Azure regions, starting at general availability. Microsoft is committing to make WVD generally available in the second half of 2019. Source
  8. Microsoft Announces Antivirus Software for Apple’s macOS Microsoft has just announced that it’s bringing Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to Apple’s macOS platform, with a preview version going live today. Furthermore, the company is changing the name of the product to Microsoft Defender ATP for a more straightforward approach, as sticking with a moniker that includes the Windows branding doesn’t make much sense on the Mac. The Microsoft Defender ATP client supports macOS Mojave, macOS High Sierra, and macOS Sierra, and Microsoft says the experience on Apple’s platform will be very similar to the one on Windows. The preview version, which is only available for a limited number of customers who will be manually picked by Microsoft, comes with anti-malware protection and can scan for virus infections any Mac. Furthermore, users will be allowed to disable and enable real-time protection, cloud protection, and automatic sample submissions, while also being provided with options to add exclusions for files and paths, and manually check for what Microsoft calls security intelligence updates. Like the Windows versions, the new Mac anti-malware solution comes with a built-in auto-updating engine which automatically downloads virus definitions and delivers cloud protection when needed.Private beta programAdditionally, Microsoft will also provide customers using Apple’s platform with access to the Microsoft Defender ATP portal for easy management of detections. “Machines with alerts and detections will be surfaced in the Microsoft Defender ATP portal, including rich context and alert process trees. Security analysts and admins can review these alerts just as they can do today – except they’ll also see detections on Mac devices,” Microsoft explains. Customers who want to be part of the preview and try out Microsoft Defender ATP before the public launch can register on this page. However, as mentioned above, there are only limited seats in the program, and Microsoft says it will contact those accepted in the program via email to confirm the participation. Source
  9. Microsoft’s new patent details improved audio augmented reality system Image Courtesy: Microsoft A new patent from Microsoft sheds light on improvements for the audio system for devices emulating an augmented reality. First spotted by us, the patent simply titled ‘Audio augmented reality system’ was published by USPTO on March 19, 2019, and filed by Microsoft in 2018. In the patent application, techniques to enhance the performance of audio augmented reality systems have been described. “Techniques for online information search and retrieval for a query including a digital audio waveform. In an aspect, an audio waveform is received and digitized by at least one of a plurality of audio input devices. The digitized audio waveforms are transmitted to a central processing unit, which formulates and submits a query to an online engine,” Microsoft explains. Image Courtesy: USPTO “The formulated query may include at least one digital audio waveform. The online engine retrieves one or more online results relevant to the formulated query. The online results may include one or more relevant visual results, and/or one or more relevant audio results. The retrieved results are served in real-time back to a user, via a device having audio output capability, and/or a device having visual data output capability,” the company adds. Another foldable device patent The foldable devices are in vogue this year. Companies like Samsung and Huawei have recently unveiled their foldable display mobile devices. Microsoft is also said to be working on its own foldable device and a new version of Windows optimized for such form factors. A new patent from Microsoft has revealed the possible design of a dual-screen tablet-sized device that would apparently run Windows 10. The patent application shows off a booklet form factor device with two displays and a hinge assembly keeping the two sides joined. First spotted by us, the patent simply titled ‘Hinged device’ was filed by Microsoft way back in late 2015 and just published by USPTO on March 12, 2019. In the patent application, Microsoft inventors have described a device comprising of two portions with hinge ends. There is a hinge assembly secured to the hinge ends of the first portion and the second portion to allow the device to change its form factor. Image Courtesy: USPTO It also uses magnets to keep the two sides assembled together and the device even supports 360-degree rotation. “The description relates to devices, such as computing devices that have hinged portions. One example can include a first portion and a second portion. This example can also include a hinge assembly and a magnetic assembly,” Microsoft explains. “The hinge assembly can rotatably secure the first portion to the second portion. The magnetic assembly can be positioned relative to the hinge assembly and the first and second portions that bias the first and second portions to a closed position where the first and second portions overlay one another and to an open position where the first and second portions are juxtaposed and coplanar,” Microsoft adds. Source
  10. Microsoft will let PC players test Halo: The Master Chief Collection ahead of release The game will not, however, be part of the Xbox Anywhere program Microsoft today announced that as part of its newly released Halo Insider Program, PC players can sign up to test the upcoming Halo: The Master Chief Collection version coming to Windows some time later this year. Announced last week, the PC port of developer Bungie’s Halo trilogy, in addition to Halo: Reach and the single-player campaign of Halo 3: ODST, is coming both to the Microsoft Store and Valve’s Steam marketplace. The collection was originally released on Xbox One back in 2014. “As a Halo Insider, you’ll have the opportunity to regularly provide feedback and insights that help shape and inform current franchise initiatives and the future of Halo,” the company says on its dedicated Halo Insider page. “You will also be given exclusive opportunities to participate in public flights of in-progress Halo game releases and provide feedback to the development teams.” MICROSOFT WANTS PC PLAYERS TO TEST ITS UPCOMING HALO COLLECTION PRIOR TO RELEASE According to Microsoft, the collection will be released in stages, starting with Halo: Reach, which was not included in the original Xbox version. Additionally, Halo: Reach will be made available in 4K / 60 fps with HDR support if you own the collection on Xbox and plan on playing on an Xbox One X console. Unfortunately, one drawback is that the collection won’t be included in the Xbox Anywhere program, which lets players purchase a Microsoft-published game (and some third-party ones, too) on either PC or Xbox and have it both accessible and in some cases interoperable across platforms. According to Kotaku, the announcement was made over the weekend during a panel discussion at Austin’s South by Southwest festival with Bonnie Ross, studio head at 343 Industries (the internal studio created to take ownership of the Halo franchise after Bungie sold it to Microsoft). “One of the questions we’ve gotten is will MCC PC support Xbox Play Anywhere, and first off I want to say we so appreciate all of the support we’ve had from the Xbox One community with MCC and we’re obviously bringing Reach to MCC,” Ross said. “While MCC shipped before the XPA Play Anywhere, we are exploring ways to make sure that we show our appreciation and recognition for the support we’ve had from the amazing fans on MCC and we’ll have more to announce as we get closer to launch.” Source
  11. Microsoft announces addition of variable rate shading to DirectX 12 Microsoft is excited to announce that DirectX 12 is officially the first graphics API to offer broad hardware support for variable rate shading. Let’s break this down simply: variable rate shading is a ‘powerful’ new API that allows developers to use GPUs in a more efficient and intelligent way. The shading rate calculates what colour each pixel in a screen should be. A higher shading rate means things on-screen look way better but at the cost of stressing your GPU more. On the other hand, a lower shading rate means things look worse, but your GPU will be having a better time. When a game developer sets the shading rate, it’s automatically applied to all the pixels. The problem with that is that different pixels require different shading rates. This is where variable rate shading comes in. Variable rate shading will let game developers choose areas of the screen with a selectively reduced shading rate, allowing for better performance in-game. They can also do the opposite: upgrade visuals in certain areas for a slightly reduced performance. Several studio and engine developers, including Unity, Activision, Ubisoft, Epic Games, 343 Industries, Massive Entertainment, Playground Games, Stardock, IO Interactive, and Turn 10, all plan on adding variable rate shading to their engines and/or games. For more information and for a more technical and in-depth rundown of how variable rate shading works in DirectX 12, you can check out Microsoft’s official blog post here. Source
  12. Microsoft Will Power Vodafone Turkey’s AI Assistant Microsoft and Vodafone Turkey announced a new partnership whose main purpose is the development of a digital assistant that would provide carrier information to customers. The AI-based digital assistant will technically be the Turkish version of TOBi and will be powered by the Microsoft’s Language Understanding Intelligent Service, or LUIS. Microsoft’s implementation is supposed to help Vodafone’s digital assistant to interact with customers in a more natural way, but at the same time, to also understand what they’re asking and respond accordingly. A report from local media reveals that Vodafone hopes the digital assistant will take care of information regarding bills, prices, and devices.First version to only support messagingThe very first version of TOBi will only support text messaging, which means that customers who’ll be connected to it will have to communicate via text queries. The plan is to improve TOBi in a way that would make voice communication possible as well, so the next time you’ll be reaching out to Vodafone, you may chat with someone who’s, in fact, a robot. “In the first phase, TOBİ will be able to make written communication; in the next phase it will be able to understand speeches,” Microsoft’s general manager Murat Kansu was quoted as saying by the cited source. “This step shows reliance and faith of global firms in Turkey's future.” As for LUIS, Microsoft says this technology was specifically developed to act as a chat bot, and it is capable of interacting in a natural language to complete a task. “Language Understanding (LUIS) is a cloud-based API service that applies custom machine-learning intelligence to a user's conversational, natural language text to predict overall meaning, and pull out relevant, detailed information,” Microsoft explains. Full information on LUIS, as well as instructions for developers who are interested in implementing the tech into clients’ applications, is available on this page. Source
  13. Microsoft Brings Google Search to Its Android Keyboard Microsoft has just released an update to the SwiftKey app on Android that allows users to set Google as the default search engine instead of Bing. The software giant originally rolled out support for search engines in SwiftKey in 2018, technically making it possible for users to search the web without leaving the current app. With a search box integrated right into the keyboard, it’s pretty much a breeze to search for anything online, but Microsoft originally limited this feature to its very own Bing search engine. This makes sense at some level, but because there are plenty of users out there who’d rather stick with Google instead of Bing, it’s pretty clear that many just ignored the new search option in SwiftKey. And here’s the latest version of SwiftKey for Android which finally makes it possible to replace Bing with Google, all with just a few taps.Only for AndroidTo enable Google Search in SwiftKey, update the app to the latest version – the build number that comes with this new option is and you can download the APK using this link. Next, launch the app and head over to Typing > Search engine, and Google should now show up next to Bing. Tap Google and that’s pretty much it. The next time you open the keyboard and the search option is enabled, Google should be the default search engine. Searching the web with Google works just like in the case of Bing, so search results are displayed in a simplified browsing page that comes with basic options like screenshot and send for those who want to share a specific link. Tapping the close button in the top left corner gets you back to the screen where you were typing. For the time being, this option appears to be limited to Android devices and there’s no word as to when it could be released for iPhones. Source
  14. Microsoft Announces New Translator App Update for iPhone Microsoft has just released a new update to the official Translator app for iPhone, and this time the company hasn’t necessarily focused on new features, but on refining the performance of the existing ones. As a result, Microsoft Translator for iOS version 3.2.12 features improvements for visual accessibility, with Microsoft explaining that it added additional labeling, localization, and support for screen-readers. This will certainly come in handy for users with accessibility features enabled on their devices, so the translation process should be greatly enhanced. Additionally, this new version of Microsoft Translator includes improved support for landscape mode in the conversation feature, translation history, phrasebook, and settings. This means that if you use the app in landscape mode, the Translator app should adapt to your settings much faster and the experience overall should be smoother.More bug fixes under the hoodAnd last but not least, the Translator app is being updated with bug fixes, including a patch for the language selection issue on larger sizes of the Apple Watch. So if you used the Translator app on an Apple Watch, selecting the language should now work correctly regardless of the smartwatch version that you own. Microsoft Translator is quite a popular app on both Android and iOS, and the rating that it has in both stores speaks for itself. For example, the app has an overall rating of 4.7 points out of a maximum of 5 in the App Store, with nearly 47,000 ratings at the time of writing this article. The Translator app requires iOS 10 or later, and it supports a wide array of languages, including not only the most popular ones, like English, Spanish, French, and German, but also less widespread languages such as Hungarian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, and Turkish. You can download the Microsoft Translator app for iOS from the App Store using this link. Source
  15. Microsoft open sources algorithm, hardware and source code for Azure data compression Microsoft is open-sourcing and releasing to the Open Compute Project its 'Project Zipline' data-compression algorithm, plus related hardware specs and source code. Microsoft is open-sourcing its cloud-compression algorithm and optimized hardware implementation for cloud storage. Microsoft is contributing that algorithm, known as "Project Zipline," plus the associated hardware design specs and related source code to the Open Compute Project, the company announced on March 14. "Project Zipline is a cutting-edge compression technology optimized for a large variety of datasets, and our release of RTL (Register Transfer Language) allows hardware vendors to use the reference design to produce hardware chips to allow the highest compression, lowest cost, and lowest power out of the algorithm," Microsoft officials said in a blog post. Microsoft is hoping the Open Compute Project community will contribute to the algorithm and specs. Microsoft officials said they anticipate the Zipline compression technology could make its way into various markets in areas like network data processing, smart solid state drives, archival systems, cloud appliances, and general-purpose microprocessor, and edge devices. Microsoft made the announcement today to coincide with the kick off of The Open Compute Project Global Summit 2019. At the Open Compute Project U.S. Summit last year, Microsoft introduced Project Denali, its spec for standardizing SSD firmware interfaces. Before that, Microsoft introduced and contributed Project Cerberus, a standard for a cryptographic microcontroller. Microsoft officials described Cerberus as the next phase of Project Olympus, its datacenter server design which the company also contributed to the Open Compute Project. Microsoft itself deployed Project Olympus hardware in Azure with its Fv2 virtual machine family. Microsoft joined the Open Compute Project (OCP) in 2014 and is a founding member of and contributor to the organization's Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) project. The OCP publishes open hardware designs intended to be used to build data centers relatively cheaply. The OCP has already released specifications for motherboards, chipsets, cabling, and common sockets, connectors, and open networking and switches. Source
  16. This Is the Extension Store of Microsoft’s New Chromium-Based Browser Microsoft is currently working on a new version of Microsoft Edge browser that would no longer be based on EdgeHTML, but on Chromium, the same engine that powers Google Chrome. And while Microsoft promised a preview build of the new Chromium-based Edge in early 2019, no other specifics were provided on when registered beta testers would be allowed to try out the app. However, as it turns out, the release of the preview build is just around the corner, as Microsoft has recently released the official add-on page for the new Edge browser. As you can see for yourselves on the page, this collection of extensions is specifically aimed at insiders, and it includes things like ad blockers and password managers, shopping tools, productivity add-ons, and education apps. All can be downloaded by simply clicking the Get button on each extension page.Edge-specific extension storeSince it will be based on Chromium, Microsoft Edge will support all extensions that are developed for Google Chrome and published in the web store. However, Microsoft will create and maintain its very own extension store with recommended add-ons for Edge users, and it’ll be offered as the preferred destination for those who install its new browser, including Windows 10 users. The extensions that are currently up for grabs from this store don’t support the existing version of Microsoft Edge, so you won’t be able to install them. However, if you want to install extensions for Microsoft Edge, you should head over to the Microsoft Store. In the meantime, Microsoft still avoids to provide any details regarding the possible release date of a preview build of its new browser. Many believe that the company could hold back this launch until the Build developer conference in May, but all signs seem to suggest that the release is much closer than we think. Source
  17. Microsoft now lets you stream PC games to an Xbox One and use a controller Microsoft is now letting Xbox One owners stream their PC games to the console and use a controller to play them. A newly updated app, Wireless Display app, from Microsoft enables the support so you can play Steam games or other titles directly on an Xbox One. You can use a regular Xbox controller to control the remote PC, enabling game play or even the ability to use an Xbox for presentations. Microsoft’s Wireless Display app uses Miracast to create a connection between a PC and the Xbox One, and you can cast to the Xbox using the winkey + P combination. There are different latency modes for gaming and watching videos from a remote PC, and the app is ideal if you want to project a stream or video onto the Xbox. You won’t be able to stream protected content like Netflix, though. FROM SURFACE HUB TO XBOX ONE Microsoft’s Wireless Display app has been available to testers for months under various different names, but it’s now officially released for all Xbox One owners. The Wireless Display app was previously dubbed Connect on Windows, and it started as an app for the Surface Hub. Microsoft enabled mouse, keyboard, touch, and stylus support through the same app to connect back and control the projecting PC, and it’s now added controller support for the Xbox version. While Microsoft has been working on streaming PC games to the Xbox One for years, this seems to be the best method to play Steam titles on an Xbox One. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t support keyboard and mouse input, so you won’t be able to stream PC games to an Xbox One and use traditional inputs for now. That could change, as Microsoft recently introduced Xbox One keyboard and mouse support late last year for a number of games. For now, this is the best way to play any PC games on an Xbox One. Source
  18. New Google Policy Means Trouble for Microsoft on Android A new policy implemented by Google for Android apps brings tighter controls for SMS and call logs, technically enforcing a new limitation of the use of services like digital assistants on the platform. According to Google itself, access for call logs and SMS should only be required when it’s absolutely necessary for the app’s core functionality, which Google defines as explained below: “Core functionality is defined as the main purpose of the app. It's the feature most prominently documented and promoted in the app’s description; no other feature is more central to the app’s functionality. If this feature isn't provided, the app is “broken” or rendered unusable (i.e., app is deprived of its primary functionality and will not perform as a user would expect).” These changes mean applications like Microsoft Launcher can now receive your permission to access calls and texts, but at the same time, to also enable Cortana to read this data.New update for Microsoft LauncherAs a result, Microsoft has recently updated Microsoft Launcher with a prompt that seeks your permission to update the device assistant, as you can no longer run Google Assistant and Cortana side by side without setting up these controls. “Due to a new policy from the Google Play Store, Microsoft Launcher needs to be set as your device assistant if you want to do things like let Cortana keep you updated on calls and texts in your feed. Once that’s done, you’ll be good for this update,” the notification reads. The message started appearing after the latest update for Microsoft Launcher, and unless you tap the option that reads “Set it up now,” it comes back occasionally to seek your permission. Obviously, Microsoft Launcher isn’t the only application that needs to comply with this new policy, so expect similar prompts from other apps on Android these days. Source
  19. Microsoft Releases New Details on Windows Update Outage Windows Update went down in late January due to what eventually proved to be a DNS issue encountered by several ISPs, with customers in several regions, including the United States and the UK, no longer being able to update their devices. In February, Microsoft explained that it was working with partners to resolve the problem and instructed users to get in touch with their ISPs to flush their DNS records. “A software update to the external provider’s DNS servers resulted in the distribution of corrupted DNS records that affected connectivity to the Windows Update service,” Microsoft explained at that point. In a March 8 update, the company points users to KB4493784, a new knowledge base article that includes information on how to resolve the problem hitting Windows Update. “If you are still unable to connect to Windows Update services due to this problem, please contact your local ISP or network administrator and refer them to this KB which will help them resolve the DNS issue for you,” Microsoft explains.Patch Tuesday just around the cornerIn short, the software giant provides guidance on how to tell if the network is affected by the DNS corruption bug, and then offers assistance to help flush the DNS records to restore Windows Update. Microsoft says the Windows Update service hostnames that must be used are the following: sls.update.microsoft.com fe2.update.microsoft.com fe3.delivery.mp.microsoft.com au.download.windowsupdate.com sls.update.microsoft.com.nsatc.net fe2.update.microsoft.com.nsatc.net fe3.delivery.dsp.mp.microsoft.com.nsatc.net audownload.windowsupdate.nsatc.net Microsoft explains that the Windows Update issue has already been resolved, but I’ve seen several reports from users on reddit and other tech forums explaining that updating their devices still doesn’t work. This is without a doubt the reason Microsoft published new guidance on this bug as well, though, at this point, it’s hard to estimate how many users might still struggle to update their devices. With a new Patch Tuesday just around the corner, however, it’s critical for everyone to get the Windows Update service up and running as soon as possible. Source
  20. Project xCloud Public Trials Due Later This Year: Microsoft Project xCloud public trials will take place later this year with more details forthcoming HIGHLIGHTS This comes days before Google's big game streaming announcement The news was announced alongside a demo that looked staged Microsoft says xCloud won't kill consoles despite claiming otherwise Microsoft announced it would be having its first Project xCloud game streaming public trials later this year. The news was revealed during the weekly Inside Xbox show on YouTube and Mixer alongside a demo which appeared to have racing game Forza Horizon 4 running on an Android smartphone. However this Project xCloud demo looked staged what with the player's button presses not even coming to close to matching the car's movement on the screen. The timing of this announcement is interesting when you consider Google is slated to reveal its own streaming service plans at the Game Developers Conference 2019 next week. Perhaps Microsoft hastily made this announcement about its game streaming service as a way of preempting whatever the Mountain View company has in store for us. "Back in October we formally unveiled our work on Project xCloud: a vision for game-streaming technology that will complement our console hardware and give gamers more choices in how and where they play," claims Project xCloud boss Kareem Choudhry in a post on the official Xbox site. "Since then, we've been heads down and hard at work, preparing to launch the first public trials later this year. At the same time, we wanted to stay transparent about our progress and chat with the Inside Xbox team, showing you the first public demo of the technology in action." Furthermore, Choudhry goes on to suggest that xCloud won't cannibalise the Xbox family of consoles. "We're developing Project xCloud not as a replacement for game consoles, but as a way to provide the same choice and versatility that lovers of music and video enjoy today," his post reads. "We're adding more ways to play Xbox games. We love what's possible when a console is connected to a 4K TV with full HDR support and surround sound – that remains a fantastic way to experience console gaming. We also believe in empowering gamers to decide when and how to play." That said, his statements are at odds with his own comments made in a recent interview. “We know we aren't going to sell two billion consoles, and there are a lot of markets around the world where a console is not necessarily part of the lifestyle,” said Choudhry in an interview earlier this month. Even Xbox head Phil Spencer went as far to suggest that the console business hasn't been as profitable as it would have liked, preferring to focus on subscriptions and streaming. "That is not where you make money," Phil Spencer said in the same interview of gaming consoles. "The business inside of games is really selling games, and selling access to games and content in means like that is the fundamental business. So if you open it up, the more often people can play, the more they're enjoying the art form. It increases the size of the business." Furthermore, Spencer reiterated the company's cross-platform plans to bring Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud to every device. "We want to bring Game Pass to any device that somebody wants to play on," Spencer said. "Not just because it's our business, but really because the business model allows for people to consume and find games that they wouldn't have played in any other space." It's interesting to see how Microsoft views developing markets, labelling them as unfit for consoles when in truth, the company's own decisions have resulted in failure such as launching the Xbox One late in most of the world or partnering with Amazon exclusively in markets like India which drastically reduced its reach. While it hasn't done too well, Sony on the other hand, has grown from strength to strength by simply making the PS4 available to as large an audience as possible. Furthermore, there's a question of the feasibility of Game Pass and Project xCloud for game makers themselves. Particularly with big publishers like Ubisoft sounding off on the disadvantages of such services to them. "I actually view subscription gaming as inhibiting our progress, and I'll give you two examples. One is with PS Now. I think that's a great technology for getting streaming content to people, but we don't make the money as a publisher — we don't make the same amount of money as we would even just putting stuff on sale. So why bother, from a publisher's standpoint?," asked Ubisoft's Chris Early in conversation with GamesBeat. "The technology is great for a player. I can play anything anywhere instantly! It's awesome technology, which is inhibited by the business model. So charge a PlayStation Plus add-on to be able to stream any game you own to any device you own. That's a great service for the player. It's going to start people adopting that streaming concept in more places. You'll be able to get to a place where you have more people focused on streaming. There's a similar challenge with your business model. We see it works. We're believers. You've capped it with a subscription plan, where publishers aren't able to make money. On the other hand, you could just sell the game and let people have the five-minute experience while it downloads, or pay you an add-on price to be able to continue to have fast access in many more places. With subscription it's just giving it away." And it's not just big publishers either. Indies such as Mike Rose of No More Robots has voiced concerns on such an approach from the likes of Microsoft. "So let's say in five years, if Netflix-style subscription models have become the norm, and no-one is paying for games anymore, a la what happened with both music and TV... how are indie devs even making money anymore? They're not, is the horrible answer," Rose tweeted. "So yeah, I'm honestly super worried about this upcoming trend -- and this is coming from someone who owns a publisher, and can potentially maximize sales by selling multiple games at once. If this trend takes over, I don't know how dev studios are even going to survive," he said in a follow up tweet before stating that it's the implementation of subscription services that needs to be questioned. "To clarify: From a consumer standpoint, I *love* sub models. I currently use Netflix, Now TV, Amazon Video, Spotify, Xbox Game Pass... It's not that I'm rallying against them -- I just think we could do with having a real conversation about how they should be implemented best," he said. This is of course, to say nothing of how such a move would impact consumer ownership, access, and of course reliability of such services, which are yet to be tested across multiple devices as Microsoft envisions, making the next generation of gaming a curious one to examine. Source
  21. Microsoft Wants a Fingerprint Sensor in Your Keyboard’s Windows Key A Microsoft patent envisions a new type of fingerprint sensors that could at some point be used on our laptops, and instead of being placed on the body of the device, they may end up integrated right into the Windows key on the keyboard. Called “keyset fingerprint sensor,” the patent describes a way to embed the fingerprint reader right into the Windows key, technically making it possible to log into Windows or log in to various services by simply touching this button. “The cover includes a cut-out exposes the underlying fingerprint sensor so the fingerprint sensor is visible through an opening in the surface of the key. Alternatively, the cover forms a surface designed to conceal the underlying fingerprint sensor. In this approach, the sensor key matches other keys within the arrangement of keys, such that the sensor key blends-in and is not visible from the surface of the key,” the patent reads.Hello, Windows Hello!In other words, the Windows key with a built-in fingerprint sensor would look like any other key on the keyboard, but come with a special approach that would allow the reader to detect the fingerprint, either through a cutout or using a different cover. Such an idea would help Microsoft improve the experience with Windows Hello, as the company is betting big on this feature in order to make passwords obsolete. Microsoft itself is pushing partners to embrace Windows Hello, either with dedicated cameras powering facial recognition or such fingerprint sensors. Needless to say, while this new tech makes a lot of sense especially on a laptop, the project is still in the patent stage, which means Microsoft could very well give up on it at any point. However, don’t be too surprised if Microsoft itself pioneers a Windows key with a fingerprint sensor on a future-generation Surface. Source
  22. Pick up the phone – Microsoft wants to talk to you about Alt-Tab Microsoft is offering users to talk directly to the developers in an attempt to get some first-hand feedback about certain features. This is not the first time the company has asked for feedback from the users but it appears that this is the first time the company is giving users a chance to talk directly to the engineering team. The feedback in question this time is Alt+Tab, the shortcut that isn’t new to any Windows user. Microsoft is approaching selected users and allowing them to take a call and share their feedback about the shortcut. The notification is going out to both Windows Insiders and normal Windows 10 users and they can head to Microsoft’s Research page and schedule a call with the team. Jen Gentleman, Community Manager and Software Engineer at Microsoft stated that this is a pilot program by Microsoft. Microsoft has shared that the engineers are available on 3/11/2019 between 11:15 AM and 1:00 PM PST and on 3/12/2019 between 9:30 AM and 11:30 AM PST. The company says that the call will take no more than 10 minutes unless there’s anything else to discuss. The company also said that the call will be anonymous and the company won’t record it and they won’t even ask for names or any other personal details. Personally, I do think this a great initiative from Microsoft and I do hope they do this for more features in the future. Source
  23. Microsoft Updates Its iPhone Keyboard with New Themes Microsoft has recently released a new update for SwiftKey, providing users with a series of new themes which the company says were specifically optimized for new-generation iPhones. SwiftKey was, is, and will continue to be the top third-party keyboard app on both Android and iOS, and the updates that Microsoft releases every once in a while further refine the experience with it, while also adding new extras for easier typing. The latest update for iOS devices isn’t necessarily focused on new features, but on giving users the power of better tweaking the keyboard to match their preferences.New themes for the latest-generation iPhonesUsers of the app can now enable a new animal theme pack, which includes a total of 5 different designs. They are specifically optimized for iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and iPhone XS Max, according to Microsoft itself, but you can use them on pretty much any iPhone model anyway, including older models like the iPhone 7. Version 2.4.8 comes with a single bug fix, as Microsoft says it resolved an issue that caused the emoji skin tone selector not to be displayed on larger devices. You can get the latest version of SwiftKey for iOS from the App Storeand if you’re into customizations or using one of the new-generation iPhones, you should really do this because the app comes with special goodies for you. SwiftKey is currently the leading third-party keyboard app on iPhone, and the App Store data speaks for itself. The app has a total rating of 4.7 out of a maximum of 5, with close to 50,000 ratings left by its users. The keyboard requires iOS 9.3 or later and it can be used not only on iPhone, but also on iPad and iPod touch. Source
  24. The AchieVer

    Microsoft Sues Foxconn Over Patent Deal

    Microsoft Sues Foxconn Over Patent Deal Microsoft has decided to sue Foxconn’s parent company, Hon Hai, because it failed to comply with a patent-licensing agreement, according to reports. CNBC notes that Microsoft and the Taiwanese company signed a patent agreement back in 2013, and according to the lawsuit, the latter failed to provide twice-yearly royalty reports. Furthermore, the software giant claims its partner failed to pay its royalties on time, though for the time being, there are no specifics on the patents included in the deal and the products that might be covered by these technologies. However, Microsoft and Hon Hai previously signed a deal covering Android and Chrome OS devices. Microsoft is the owner of several Android-related patents that generate billions of dollars in revenue every year, and the firm signed licensing deals with a series of companies, including Samsung, HTC, and Acer.Microsoft making billions with its patents every yearIn 2012, for example, no less than 70 percent of the Android devices that were sold worldwide were using technologies covered by Microsoft patents. “Microsoft takes its own contractual commitments seriously and we expect other companies to do the same,” a Microsoft spokesperson was quoted as saying by the cited source. “This legal action is simply to exercise the reporting and audit terms of a contract we signed in 2013 with Hon Hai. Our working relationship with Hon Hai is important and we are working to resolve our disagreement.” Microsoft is reportedly seeking royalty repayments with interest, attorney fees, plus a review of Hon Hai’s books, according to CNBC. Foxconn, a company owned by Hon Hai, is the world’s largest consumer electronics manufacturer, as its factories are responsible for producing the majority of mobile devices these days, including iPhones and a series of other smartphones. Furthermore, Foxconn is the maker of several Microsoft products, including the Xbox One gaming console. Source
  25. Microsoft: To ensure Windows 10 update quality, these are the tools we use Microsoft offers Windows 10 users a look at how they use data to improve the quality of Windows 10 updates. The Windows 10 version 1809 release didn't quite go as smoothly as Microsoft hoped, prompting lots of questions about how it tests the quality of its builds before release. To answer these questions, Microsoft has now revealed one of the key tools it's developed to measure the health of Windows updates. These days Microsoft is heavily reliant on diagnostics data to ensure Windows 10 is humming along nicely across the world, and key to this ability is Release Quality View (RQV), an internal dashboard Microsoft uses to assess the ongoing health of millions of systems before and after updates roll out. According to Jane Liles and Rob Mauceri from the Windows Data Science team, the company approaches every new release with the question: "Is this Windows update ready for customers?". "This is a question we ask for every build and every update of Windows, and it's intended to confirm that automated and manual testing has occurred before we evaluate quality via diagnostic data and feedback-based metrics," they write in a blogpost. So while Microsoft does depend heavily on diagnostic data, the pair of data scientists emphasize the internal checking by engineers that takes place even before Windows Insider testers receive a build. First, a build that goes out must pass initial quality testing. Then Microsoft engineers who "aggressively self-host Windows" give it a thorough once-over for potential problems. Diagnostics data is involved at all stages. "We look for stability and improved quality in the data generated from internal testing, and only then do we consider releasing the build to Windows Insiders, after which we review the data again, looking specifically for failures," explain Liles and Mauceri. They're responsible for ensuring that Microsoft's metrics are "reliable, repeatable, precise, true and unbiased" before the big "Is Windows ready" question is broached. The data science team is always aiming to ensure current metrics are higher than the quality levels of the previous release. To understand what 'quality' looks like through data, the team counts the unique 'active' monthly devices – a number that Microsoft doesn't publish – and then they look at how the upgrade process went, as well as the "general health of the user experience". Then they look at certain user scenarios that indicate success for Windows, which include "success rates for connecting to Wi-Fi, or opening a PDF file from Microsoft Edge, or logging in using Windows Hello". Central to all this data-driven analysis is the RQV dashboard, which includes over 1,000 other measures. This dashboard is used to assess the customer experience while a build is still in the hands of engineers and Insiders, and after an update becomes generally available. The dashboard is also critical to Windows managers' 'readiness sessions', where engineering teams review RQV measures and decide what bugs to fix. "Starting with the lowest scoring problem areas, we run down the list of areas whose measures are proportionally farthest from their targets. The engineering owners for those areas are then called on to explain what is causing the problem, who is on point to resolve it, and when they expect the quality of that area, as represented by the measures, to be back within target." RQV developers also built the capability to see whether a bug fix actually resolves the problem, which can be seen by a particular measure returning to a healthy range. "Fixes that engineers check into future builds are tracked through the system, so reviewers can see when a fix will be delivered via a new build and can monitor impact as the build moves through its normal validation path: through automated quality gates, to self-hosted devices in our internal engineering 'rings', and to our Windows Insiders." The company acknowledges there are gaps and specifically notes customer feedback as an area it is investing in "to help us identify gaps or inconsistencies in our diagnostic data-based measures". It's also looking at how to "provide insight into the experiences you have on your actual devices." And of course the company is creating new machine-learning models for "earlier detection through text analytics". This view of the trend for networking measures in internal and Windows Insider builds between January 25 and February 19, 2019, shows an improved score over the previous build. Source
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