All posts in “Windows 10”

Alexa is now available on Windows 10 PCs

Alexa is now available for Windows 10 PCs.
Alexa is now available for Windows 10 PCs.

Image: JHILA FARZANEH/MASHABLE

Amazon’s popular voice assistant Alexa continues to invade our everyday lives.

The online retail giant announced today that it’s releasing an Alexa app for all Windows 10 PCs. The voice assistant was previously available on only select Windows 10 laptops, but starting today, you’ll see it officially in the Microsoft Store for everyone.

What’s great is that you can use the app on both Windows 10 computers and the Xbox One. And yes, Alexa can live in harmony with Cortana, the voice assistant built into Windows 10

To get started, simply download the app and launch it. Then, log into your Amaxon account or create a new one. Some devices will work with the wake word “Alexa,” but on others, you maybe need to click or use a keyboard shortcut in order to activate the assistant. 

Alexa for the PC has a basic user interface.

Alexa for the PC has a basic user interface.

Image: Windows store

Just like an Amazon Echo, Alexa can control smart home devices, tell you the weather, crack jokes, and answer general knowledge questions. Plus, you can use it to make lists and see them visually in the app. 

Amazon is quick to note that some traditional requests and features will not be available. For now, that list includes video, communications, Spotify, and Pandora. The company has not said if they’ll arrive in the future. 

While that is clearly a downside, Alexa gets updates pretty frequently. For 2019, Amazon is planning to add PC controls which will allow you to use Alexa to interact with your PC. These will be specific commands, which shows an inherent interest in expanding the voice assistant on this platform.

It’s not going to overtake Cortana just yet. But, if Amazon sticks to the promise of improving and adding new features to Alexa for PC, it will at least be a great alternative.

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Microsoft says it can recover missing files following botched Windows 10 update

Microsoft: Missing files? Step away from the computer
Microsoft: Missing files? Step away from the computer

Image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Microsoft abruptly paused the October 2018 Update of its Windows 10 operating system after reports the new software deleted some users’ files. Luckily, there may still be hope of recovering your deleted files if you were one of the many people affected.

According to head of the Windows Insider program Dona Sarkar, Microsoft support has a few tools to reverse the effects of the update and restore your deleted files. “They have the tools to get you back to a good state,” Sarkar said in a tweet. She also suggested users who discovered missing files call Microsoft support at +1-800-Microsoft for assistance.

However, many who called Microsoft’s customer support for the fix are reporting that they’re being told the investigation into the bug that deleted the files is still ongoing and that there’s no special tool that reverses the issue so far. So, it appears that not all Microsoft tech support knows about the tools.

Other reports on the internet are detailing a different experience with tech support agents who are attempting to run System Restore on the affected computers, which requires a restore point being created before the update was installed. If that doesn’t work, the issue escalates to a NTFS file system recovery process, which depends on the missing file data not being overwritten.

Furthermore, Microsoft’s Windows 10 update history support page has been updated telling users to “please minimize your use of the affected device and contact us directly.”

Since the version 1809 release last week, Microsoft has completely halted the Windows 10 update. The company is pausing the rollout while they look into the reports of the missing file issue.

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Microsoft ‘paused’ latest Windows 10 update after users’ files disappear

Microsoft's latest Windows 10 update hasn't gone as planned.
Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 update hasn’t gone as planned.

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 update hasn’t gone as planned.

The company has temporarily pulled the Windows 10 October 2018 Update after reports the new software deleted some users’ files.

It’s a pretty serious issue, and one Microsoft hasn’t said much about, though it’s been widely reported on Reddit and support forums, according to The Verge

“We have paused the rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809) for all users as we investigate isolated reports of users missing some files after updating,” the company wrote on a support site.

It’s not clear how long the current “pause” will be in effect, but the company notes it will provide an update when the software is ready (and hopefully bug free). In the meantime, Microsoft advises anyone who has manually downloaded the update, but hasn’t yet installed it, to wait until the next update becomes available before installing. As for the unlucky people who have already lost files due to the update, Microsoft is suggesting they call the company’s customer support.

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Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 update makes nice with Android

Windows Mobile? That’s not really a thing anymore. But with the latest update to Windows, Microsoft is sending a message, that it cares about what kind of smartphone you’re using, and it’s tweaking Windows to play nice with it.

The Windows 10 October 2018 Update, which officially arrives today, has the usual security updates and new features, but it’s clear a big area of focus was building a stronger bridge between Windows and the mobile devices people actually use. That of course means iPhones and Androids since Microsoft all but abandoned supporting any version of Windows Phone or Windows Mobile in the past couple of years.

Well, mostly Androids. The phone companion app in the Windows update, Your Phone, has a multitude of abilities when paired with and Android handset. First and foremost, it lets you easily text from your PC. While there have been all kinds of different solutions for this for a long time (brands that straddle PC and Android, like Samsung, have been particularly active here), it’s nice to have something plug-and-play for any Android phone (Nougat or better).

Transferring photos, likewise, becomes a drag-and-drop exercise when you want to move them from phone to PC, letting you use Windows’ strong inking features to mark up pics, or just toss them in Word or PowerPoint files. No need to email pics to yourself anymore.

Unless you’re on an iPhone, that is. The Your Phone app’s abilities are severely limited for iPhone users, amounting to letting you pick up on your PC where you left off on your phone… as long as you’re using the Microsoft Edge browser in both places. Your Windows 10 Timeline (introduced in the April 2018 Update) will also incorporate what you did on your phone, although, again, only if the activity touched a Microsoft app.

The platform split continues: Starting in a preview today, Android users will be able to view their Windows Timeline on their phones via the Microsoft Launcher. As for iPhone users, some kind of app version of that will come to iOS… eventually (Microsoft only said a preview was “coming soon”).

This underscores just how much of a walled garden Apple’s ecosystem is, and how much Apple holds up in-platform features like Continuity (where you can pick up on your Mac what you were doing on your iPhone) and iCloud (which syncs photos, videos, files, and other data among Apple devices) as premium features for customers who buy into that ecosystem completely. For Microsoft, whose only play left to make in mobile is to offer services on others’ platforms, that means it’s often on the outside looking in.

Android, on the other hand, is an inherently more open system, and that gives Microsoft a lot more wiggle room. Not to mention influence — 10 years after its inception, Android has become the dominant operating system in the entire world, particularly outside the U.S. Given the new phone features in the Windows update, any business or individual who uses PCs and Microsoft services as a daily drive on desktop has got to be at least considering Android for their mobile needs.

Reversing the equation, if you’re on Android, and you need a laptop, Windows is now officially friendly territory. Given the longstanding enmity between Microsoft and Google, it’s a bit surprising that this is where we ended up.

Office 365 upgrades and more

Besides the mobile features, the Windows 10 October 2018 Update has a few more goodies  Microsoft has been a big proponent of inking on PCs ever since it went “all in” on touch in Windows 8, and now it’s taking things even further: Word and PowerPoint in Office 365 will now support handwritten bulleted lists, flowcharts and diagrams, and even Smart Art icons. Which means, just draw your chart or icon, and the app will use AI to figure out what it is and turn it into something presentation-worthy.

PowerPoint and Word will also get built-in animations for 3D models, plus some new pen gestures, letting you quickly mark things like line breaks or inserting a new word into a sentence.

Microsoft Edge gets some minor upgrades, including a grammar tool that will highlight specific parts of speech (like verbs), an offline dictionary, and a line focus feature that can help you stay on track while reading by highlighting every other line (or every few lines) of a text-heavy web page.

A big feature Microsoft is working on but doesn’t yet have a launch date is incorporating Chrome and Firefox into the Windows Timeline. For Chrome in particular, which is the No. 1 web browser in the world, Timeline compatibility would go a long way toward making the feature truly useful.

While the iPhone will remain the final frontier for Windows compatibility, the latest update to Windows fills in more than a few blanks, especially for Android users. As efficient as Windows 10 has become, almost nobody lives in Microsoft’s ecosystem completely, and the October 2018 Update wisely acknowledges that fact by making those detours as smooth as possible.

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HP really wants leather laptops to be a thing

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Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

The HP Spectre Folio
The HP Spectre Folio

Image: Jake Krol/Mashable

HP’s latest convertible laptop is weirder than most.

The Spectre Folio has an unusual chassis, made of leather and magnesium alloy instead of typical aluminum, reminiscent of the fabric surrounding the keyboard on the Microsoft Surface laptop. Starting at $1,299 (for a full HD and i5 CPU), the Spectre Folio is actually cheaper than I expected for something billed as a premium product.

HP worked with Intel to customize the Folio’s processor; it’s an 8th-Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor with either 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM. Storage starts at a 256GB SSD, but you can upgrade to a 2TB drive. It will be running Windows 10 out of the box and from what I saw, not much bloatware is here.

If you spring for it, the Folio also packs an Intel gigabit LTE chip inside for accessing mobile networks when WiFi isn’t available (provided you get a data plan for the machine, of course). In the U.S., the Folio will work on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. It has both a physical SIM card slot and an e-sim inside, allowing for secure connections abroad. Sprint will offer customers six months of free service with activation on the Spectre Folio. As for why you’d want a data plan for your laptop, HP emphasized privacy, noting that public WiFi networks aren’t the most secure.

Image: Jake Krol/Mashable

In line with previous HP devices, Bang & Olufsen is an exclusive partner for the speakers. Since the design of the Folio is quite thin, the speaker grille lives on top of the keyboard. However, the hardware powering the sound is actually in the hinge. 

HP is promising an impressive 18-hour battery life, but it didn’t opt for a stacked battery design like Apple did for the MacBook. Instead, you have four separate cells in the frame. With three USB-C ports (two of which are Thunderbolt 3) you can charge from any of them. While you can upgrade up to a 4K display, the entry-level Spectre Folio has a Full HD (1080p) monitor. In my brief hands-on with the Folio, I thought the screen looked bright and colors were vibrant.

Design-wise, the Spectre Folio looks really lovely, and definitely has the feel of a notebook — that is, a traditional pen-and-paper notebook. HP will offer the Spectre Folio in either a Bordeaux Burgundy or Cognac Brown at launch. I have a feeling that more color options will arrive in the future.

Image: jake krol/mashable

It looks visually captivating in person, and the company days it’s tested the leather for durability. Leather is on the outside, but it’s molded with a magnesium alloy frame underneath. Pushing out of the leather base is a frame that contains the keyboard that has slight incline too it. Typing on the keys felt pretty good, but the keys don’t travel as deeply as on most notebooks. 

As a convertible, the Folio has four modes, but it’s more like three since HP counts the laptop closed as one of them (what am I supposed to do with that?). You get a traditional laptop form, a tablet mode where the display folds down over the keyboard, and finally a “forward” mode, where the display folds over backward so it’s facing outward (see the tweet above).

The Spectre Folio comes with a proprietary Digital Pen stylus . It will charge via USB-C and can be attached to the side of the laptop with a leather holder.

Image: jake krol/mashable

Case in point, HP is definitely going in a new direction with this design, and I’m eager to see if the Spectre Folio holds up as well as HP says.

HP is kicking off pre-orders today, and the Spectre Folio will be exclusively in Best Buy for in-store availability, beginning on Oct. 29. The LTE and 4K display variants will be launching in the coming months.

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