Category Archive for News

News

Truth About Office for iPad Will Arrive ‘In the Coming Weeks’

Yesterday I posted about reports coming from The Daily that Office for the iPad was very real, and was to be submitted to the iTunes App Store soon and then be available in a few weeks after, but Microsoft is saying otherwise.

A tweet from one of Microsoft’s Twitter accounts says, “[g]reat respect for The Daily but regrettably someone is giving them bad info, and that’ll be clear in the ‘coming weeks.’” So now we have The Daily saying it’s coming, Microsoft saying they have been misinformed and that the software in the image is not theirs, so I guess that’s that, right?

Well, not so fast. Shortly thereafter Mary Jo Foley, of the All About Microsoft Blog, received a tweet from Peter Ha (the one who posted the Office for iPad article on The Daily) saying that not only is the image not fabricated, but someone from Microsoft demoed Office for the iPad to him. Plus, according to a further tweet by Peter Ha, Microsoft isn’t going to be very happy with their next follow up, whatever that means.

You can read the article Bad day at the Office on The Daily for more information.

News

Internationalization in Windows 8 for Everyone

Just yesterday Microsoft laid out some information about how SkyDrive would be integrated with Windows 8, and today they have revealed the updated internationalization options to be available in Windows 8.

According to Ian Hamilton, a program manager of the Windows International Team, it is currently quite confusing when it comes to installing language packs on Windows — some are offered through Windows Update and others through the Microsoft Download Center. Not only that, but most versions of Windows only have a single language option — when you install Windows, sometimes there is the chance to choose which language to use, but as soon as the install is done, the other languages are removed.

With Windows 8, Microsoft is introducing a new language preferences section within the Control Panel where users can find, install, and then use many different languages. Right now Windows 7 supports 95 languages, but Windows 8 will add support for 14 more, bringing the total to 109.

The new section of the Control Panel will allow users to add new display languages, which is an integrated experience — so you don’t leave the Control Panel, remove them, and then set a different language as their primary one. When a new primary display language  is selected, the user must log out and then back in for the changes to take effect.

It is not clear as to whether this feature will be available to all users of Windows 8 regardless of version, but it does sound like it: “ we’ve changed how we think about languages from a ‘local-market feature’ to a ‘feature for everyone everywhere,’ and have made it a priority for you to be able to work in any language you want, from any Windows 8 PC.” But since Microsoft has been hush-hush over the SKUs for Windows 8, an answer may be unlikely at this point.

Also, the premise of the blog post was about having a family which speaks two different languages (such as parents speaking Spanish and their children speaking English, in the United States, for example), each different user would then want to use the operating system in a different display language, but there was no mention as to whether this new option was system wide or user specific.

News

Windows 8 + SkyDrive: Microsoft’s Goal to be the World’s Hard Drive

Today Microsoft gave everyone a little peek into how SkyDrive will be integrated into Windows 8, which includes a Metro-style app that will allow the quick and easy access to your files on SkyDrive through the app, and also through any other app that contains the ability to open and save files with the file picker in Windows 8.

Not only will there be a Metro-style app available with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (which is expected to be released in a week or so), but there will also be a replacement for the current Windows Live Mesh application for the desktop. This new application will be “very simple” and “highly efficient, according to the blog post, as the installer will be less than 5MB and install under 10 seconds. But more on that later.

As of today, SkyDrive (there is no mention of “Windows Live” in this blog post) has over 17 million active users, storing more than 10PB of data. Microsoft is expecting to have that figure grow beyond some of the largest services that provide similar features, which is a pretty big undertaking. However Mike Torres and Omar Shahine, group program managers for SkyDrive, point out that Microsoft has a lot of experience with handling such large amounts of data as Hotmail stores over 100PB of data. It now appears that it is Microsoft’s goal “to be the world’s hard drive.”

SkyDrive goes Metro

There isn’t much more to say here that I haven’t said already, but according to the post this Metro-style SkyDrive app is built using WinRT with JavaScript, CSS and HTML5, and because of this the app actually uses many of the JSON APIs currently provided by SkyDrive.com. As both the app and SkyDrive.com get updated, soon both will appear as the same thing — however that will occur, we’re not sure.

As stated, any other Metro-style app that take advantage of the charms and contracts within the WinRT API, SkyDrive will be available as a file picker. This means users will be able to open and save files to their SkyDrive with virtually any app, and the app will not have to explicitly support such functionality.

So Long, Windows Live Mesh!

Currently in order to sync files from your desktop to your SkyDrive the computer must be running Windows Live Mesh, which is provided by Windows Live Essentials. While users must still install an application to access SkyDrive on their desktop, it will be a much simpler process, and it will be much more powerful.

When this application is installed, the user will be allowed to choose which folder will be the SkyDrive folder (which will default to %UserProfile%\SkyDrive\), and the folder from there on out will be synced to SkyDrive, and any updates will be automatically synced to the computer.

This may not sound much different, but the current syncing application is completely separate from Windows Explorer, and there are no indications that the folder is out-of-date or that it is even being synced, but this new application will be integrated into Windows Explorer. Windows Explorer will show overlay icons on the files and folders within the synced SkyDrive folder and show when items are up-to-date or being synced.

Finally, many users of Windows Live Mesh complain that they do not get access to the full 25GB of space provided by the SkyDrive service, and also the lack of uploading huge files. This will also change, as the entire 25GB of space will be available when syncing files, and files of up to 2GB may be synced.

Did I mention that this application will be available not only on Windows 8, but also Windows 7 and Vista? Sorry XP users, you’re out of luck!

SkyDrive.com

Soon users of SkyDrive will be able to access any file on their computer through SkyDrive.com — even if the files are not synced from the computer. The users will be able to browse their files remotely, even download them, or stream videos and browse photo albums. There will also be the ability to copy an item to the SkyDrive synced folder, allowing you to have complete access to items the user may have forgotten to sync.

As Mike and Omar point out, this can be dangerous, after all, the user is then allowing anyone with their account password complete access to the files on their computer (though I would argue one should have a password no one else knows, and a good password at that), but don’t worry — they thought of that too. If the computer you are using to access the remote files is not already a Trusted PC, then the user must enter a security code they receive on their mobile phone or an alternate email address.

More to Come

The blog post finishes off by saying that Microsoft will continue to increase the number of platforms that SkyDrive is available on, including Windows Phone “and others.” These features will become available “over the next several months,” so users will just have to sit tight.

In this post they also hinted at the ability to increase the amount of storage space available, and if the rumors from The Verge are correct, Microsoft will allow the purchasing of 20, 50 and 100GB of extra space for $10, $25 or $50 a year, respectively. These amounts will also include the 25GB of free space already provided. If these prices are correct, then Dropbox will have some serious competition, as their offer for 100GB of space comes in at $19.99 a month, or roughly $240 a year.

News

InformationWeek Survey Finds Many Planning on Deploying Windows 8

Quite a few organizations have already deployed — or are in the process of deploying — Windows 7, but according to a recent survey of 973 tech professionals by InformationWeek, many organizations already have definite plans to deploy Windows 8.

Windows 8 hasn’t even passed the public beta stage yet, but InformationWeek reports that 52% of the survey responders report that their organization already has definite plans to deploy the new operating system.

While all of those organizations don’t plan on doing it immediately, 10% said they would use Windows 8 on an as needed basis (putting Windows 8 on new computers when older ones are replaced), 24% said that eventually 100% of their organization would be using the new operating system, and 34% said at least three-fourths of their computers and laptops within the organization would be running Windows 8.

Why do so many organizations already have these plans in place? It’s mainly because Windows XP’s support will end in 2014, with 36% of the respondents giving that as the cause for these plans.

For some reason InformationWeek says this is “bad news” for Microsoft because companies already running Windows 7 have little plans to go through another lengthy and expensive upgrade process so soon.

That makes little sense, seeing as over half of the organizations already have definite plans to adopt the new operating system. Did they not read the results of their own survey?

You can read the entire survey at InformationWeek: Windows 8 Upgrade Plans: Exclusive Research.

News

The Kinect Effect: One Year Later

Microsoft’s original intention for the Kinect was to bring controller-free gaming and entertainment to the Xbox 360 platform, but with the Kinect offering so much in such a small (and affordable) package, the world has utilized this hardware for much more than “child’s play.” As people around the globe started to use the device for other purposes than just gaming, the term “The Kinect Effect” started popping up around the Microsoft campus to describe where these creations came from.

Originally people had to create their own interface to the Kinect device, but it wasn’t long before Microsoft announced and then released their very own non-commercial SDK (software development kit) for the Kinect. Not long after, Microsoft “saw even more exciting and creative applications in the areas of healthcare, rehab, education and so much more,” says Frank Shaw, corporate vice president of corporate communications at Microsoft.

Kinect Effect” stories began pouring in with personal accounts and YouTube videos from around the world showing how Kinect was helping transform and improve the way people work, create, and perform daily activities. We saw Kinect being used by therapists and physicians as part of a rehabilitation program for stroke victims, as a skill-building technique for children with autism, and as an application for hospitals in Spain enabling surgeons to scroll through medical images in the operating room with gestures so they could avoid the need to rescrub. Incredible stuff.

Microsoft created a video to demonstrate some of these possibilities, which is pretty amazing:

In just two months the Kinect sold over 8 million units, which set the Guinness World Record for the fastest-selling consumer electronics device in history — dethroning the iPad.

While the games available at launch were not all that exciting, slowly developers have been adopting the Kinect into their games, whether it be for full body control (such as dancing games) or doing things such as modifying a gun used within the game. Microsoft has also been working on integrating the Kinect into the Xbox 360 itself, with voice control and other gestures to navigate the consoles interface.

Announcing a commercial Kinect SDK

The first SDK Microsoft released to the public was only allowed for non-commercial use, so there was no way for companies to use the SDK to harness the device and then sell their software to go along with the Kinect. But that’s going to change, according to Shaw.

“To further fuel innovation and imagination, we will offer a Kinect for Windows commercial program early next year,” says Shaw. Shaw says Microsoft recognizes the interest coming from commercial companies to use the Kinect and it’s endless possibilities in the world.

Currently they are launching a pilot program for this SDK, and there have been more than 200 submitted applications from “top companies” in more than 20 countries around the world spanning over 25 industries.

Shaw did not mention any sort of release schedule for this commercial SDK, however.