All posts in “Windows 10”

What’s new in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Announced roughly this time last year, Creators Update was Microsoft’s attempt to capture the creative types who have long been considered a core part of the Mac ecosystem’s userbase. The update brought simple 3D content creation tools to Windows 10 and additional gaming functionality, among other things. The new Fall Creators Update, which is set to roll out to all users today, builds on top of many of those advances.

Like its predecessor, the new update brings more 3D content creation and helps ready Windows for Microsoft’s vision of a Mixed Reality future. There are also a number of other additions aimed at patching holes and addressing new input devices like the Surface Pen. Here’s a rundown of some of the biggies.

Microsoft just buried Windows Phone… on Twitter

Windows Phone is dead. 

You know this. Microsoft has told you in not so many words that they wouldn’t be updating the platform, but some factions held out hope for a reprieve. After all, Microsoft has yet to clarify their position on the rumored Surface Phone, which could be a radical update path for the Windows Phone, and it technically still supports Windows 10 Mobile, the successor to Windows Phone (though there is very little hardware). So there’s still hope, right?

Nope. None other than long-time Microsoft executive and the man who once championed the Windows Phone platform, Joe Belfiore, took out a 140-character stake on Sunday and jammed it through Windows mobile’s barely beating heart.

If you want to blame someone or something for the delivery of this painful news, try Edge for iOS

Last week, Microsoft expanded on its strategy of Microsoft Everywhere by offering up a version of its relatively new web browser, Microsoft Edge, for iOS and Android. The platform-friendly version of Edge comes even as Windows 10 users still haven’t fully accepted Edge as their default browser. Yes, most of us still use Chrome on Windows.

Since the announcement, Belfiore, who currently serves as Microsoft corporate vice president of operating systems, has been on Twitter chatting about Windows, and, yes, Edge fans about the new mobile offerings. Inevitably, talk turned to Windows Phone.

One Twitter member asked plaintively, “Is it time to leave Windows Mobile platform?”

Aybata was asking a question tens of thousands of Windows mobile users want answered (even 0.03% of the estimated 2 billion smartphone users in the world would be 600,000).

Belfiore didn’t try to duck the question. Instead, he opened up, on Twitter of all places, and in a rather un-Microsoft-like fashion.

Sure, he started off slow, buffering the truth with a “Depends:”

But then he reminded Aybata that even he has given up on Windows Phone and is now using a different platform (we know from previous reports that it’s an iPhone) and in a way that mirrors many Windows desktop OS users. (He’s not the only one.)

That prompted one Twitter user to remind Belfiore that some individuals still choose to use Windows Phone. That’s when Belfiore dropped the hammer in a pair of tweets that offer more clarity on the situation than we’ve ever gotten before from Microsoft’s official channels.

There it is: Building is done, EOL support is underway.

Perhaps it was the distressed face emoji, but something prompted Belfiore to share even more about how hard Microsoft had worked to make Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile a thing and the rejection they faced.

Belfiore revealing on Twitter that Microsoft tried paying companies to build apps for the mobile platform is not something you typically hear Microsoft or really any developer admit.

I was impressed with Belfiore’s transparency, but, this being Twitter, some went on the attack. 

Unfazed, Belfiore simply reminded Ingo about the world we really live in:

Microsoft still wants 1 billion Windows 10 users, but its strategy long ago stopped being about Windows Everywhere and has transitioned to Microsoft Everywhere, which is why it’s so comfortable porting core apps to other platforms and why Belfiore is so confident debating with Windows fans on Twitter.

This mobile-first Microsoft Everywhere strategy is what sets Microsoft apart from Apple, which still maintains a closed ecosystem with product parts bolted onto complete a comprehensive and inescapable Apple World.

Microsoft lost the smartphone war so long ago that it does’t even bother to sow the seeds of uncertainty on social media when it comes to its mobile platform’s future. 

A new (140-character) voice?

Belfiore’s Twitter thread, though, marks some of Microsoft’s clearest and most illuminating statements on the fate of Microsoft’s mobile strategy and should be taken as a signal for all Windows mobile customers when they think about future deployments. Investing too heavily in Windows on mobile could be a mistake.

I’m thinking of companies like Delta. As a frequent flier, I marvel at how the flight attendants still use Nokia Lumia 1520 Windows Phone phablets (they standardized on the platform in 2013) to conduct in-flight drink and meal transactions. Pilots, according to a Delta spokesperson, use Surface tablets. On a recent flight, I thought I spotted one attendant using an iPhone, but that might have been an air-pressure-induced hallucination.

Over the next year or so, Windows Phone’s 0.03% device market share should dwindle to none, unless, of course, Microsoft decides to revive it as Surface Phone, a risky move that would be the uphill battle to end all uphill battles.

Microsoft didn’t want to talk about Surface Phone speculation when I contacted them — they never do — and a spokesperson had only this to say about Belfiore’s tweets:

We get that a lot of people who have a Windows 10 device may also have an iPhone or Android phone and we want to give them the most seamless experience possible no matter what device they’re carrying. In the Fall Creators Update, we’re focused on the mobility of experiences and bringing the benefits of Windows to life across devices to enable our customers to create, play and get more done. We will continue to support Lumia phones such as the Lumia 650, Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL as well as devices from our OEM partners. 

Like Joe said, “bug fixes, security updates, etc. But building new features/hw aren’t the focus.”

Thanks, Twitter, for helping clear this up.

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Microsoft is bringing its Edge browser to Android and iOS


While Microsoft is still officially working on the mobile version of Windows 10, it’s no secret that the company has all but given up on building its own mobile ecosystem. That only leaves Microsoft with one option: concede defeat and bring its applications to the likes of Android and iOS. That’s exactly what the company has been doing for the last few years and today the company announced that its Edge browser (the successor to the much — and often justly — maligned Internet Explorer) will soon come to iOS and Android, too. The company is also graduating its Arrow Launcher for Android and renaming it to Microsoft Launcher.

Even though Microsoft basically doesn’t play in the mobile OS and hardware space anymore, it still needs to have a presence on rival platforms if it doesn’t want to risk losing its relevancy on the desktop, too. Edge and the Microsoft Launcher are both key to this strategy because they’ll help the company to extend the Microsoft Graph even further. The Graph is Microsoft’s cross-platform system for allowing you to sync the state of your work and documents across devices and the company sees it as key to the future of Windows.

It’s no surprise then that this new version of Edge promises to make it easier to connect your PC and mobile device, with easy syncing of your browser sessions and other features.

For now, though, Edge for iOS and Android remain previews that you can sign up for here. The Android version will be available as a beta in the Google Play store soon and the iOS version will be made available through Testflight in the near future, too.

It’s worth noting that Microsoft won’t bring its own rendering engine to these platforms. Instead, it’ll rely on WebKit on iOS and the Blink engine on Android (and not the Android WebView control). On Android, this means that Microsoft is now actually shipping its own version of the Blink engine inside its app — and that’s not something we expected to hear anytime soon.

As for the launcher, it’s worth noting that it’s actually a quite capable Android launcher that nicely integrates with all of the Google apps you probably use every day (calendar, Gmail, etc.). Microsoft’s version of the Google Feed, that left-most homescreen on your Android device, is actually quite useful, too, and puts your calendar and other info front and center whereas Google now uses it for a general news feed.

Microsoft sends invites to mysterious ‘mixed reality’ event

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Microsoft is ready to reveal its next big move in mixed reality.

The company invited a handful of journalists to a intimate and rather mysterious San Francisco event on Oct. 3. On the agenda: A reveal of Microsoft’s full mixed-reality strategy and, perhaps, the next big steps.

The announcement comes as something of a surprise, since experts and pundits have spent weeks speculating that Microsoft’s next big event and product unveiling would happen on Oct. 31 when Microsoft Surface chief Panos Panay delivers a keynote at the Future Decoded event in London.

However, sources tell us that anyone expecting new Surface hardware at that event will be disappointed. Instead, Panay will focus on Microsoft’s aggressive Creativity push and how that’s shaping Microsoft’s current and future strategy.

That doesn’t mean however, that this new Oct. 3 event is about going to satisfy the demand for fresh Surface devices, either. In addition, even with the “Mixed Reality” tease, there won’t be a new HoloLens mixed reality headset for developers or consumers. 

Will there be any new hardware for us to sink our teeth into from Microsoft or its partners? No one is saying, but it’s fair to say the possibility exists.

As for the invite, it’s spare and offers few clues about what we’ll see on October 3, beyond, “This event is an opportunity to hear where Microsoft is headed next—and to experience Windows Mixed Reality for yourself.”

The ring leader for this experience is none other than Alex Kipman. Kipman, a technical fellow at Microsoft, invented HoloLens.

What we do know is that those who attend the Oct. 3 event will get their deepest immersion yet in Microsoft’s brand of mixed reality, which is actually a spectrum that runs from augmented reality experiences to full-immersive virtual reality.

Some of this will help lay the groundwork for the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update release on Oct. 17. That update integrates Microsoft’s mixed reality platform and allows third-party VR headsets (they start shipping on that same day), allowing them to work with the operating system and third-party experiences written to take advantage of Windows 10’s new AR and VR skills.

Microsoft is going to have a busy fall. In addition to the Windows 10 update release and this mixed-reality deep dive and potential product reveal, Microsoft is preparing to launch Xbox One X on Nov. 7. Xbox is a Windows 10 device as well, which means it will likely end up with more mixed-reality skills in the not-to-distant future.  

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Surface Laptop lets you restore back to Windows 10 S if you suddenly decide you hate apps

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Good news — no great news — the one thing that crippled Microsoft’s first laptop, the Surface Laptop, is no more.

As we said in our review, Windows 10 S and the fact that it only lets you install apps from the Windows Store (there’s no Chrome!) is too restrictive, and anybody who buys a Surface Laptop should immediately upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.

The downside to upgrading from 10 S to 10 Pro was that you couldn’t revert or “downgrade” back if you changed your mind later. Microsoft’s now reversed that somewhat hostile stance.

Less than week after releasing the Surface Laptop, Microsoft’s provided a “recovery image” for owners to effectively revert back to Windows 10 S if they made the upgrade to 10 Pro.

It’s a nice token for Surface Laptop owners, but it’s also not as simple as clicking a button. To get your machine running Windows 10 S again, you’ll need to perform a factory reset, which means it’ll erase everything. So you’ll want to backup your data onto an external hard drive or to the cloud before doing so.

You can find both the recovery image and instructions on how to restore your Surface Laptop to Windows 10 S on Microsoft’s website.

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is one of the best Windows 10 laptops you can buy and a solid alternative to Apple’s MacBook Pro.

It’s got a high-res touchscreen, a keyboard wrapped in Alcantara fabric that doesn’t feel like you’re typing on a table, all-day battery life, and a full-sized USB 3.0 port so you can live a dongle-free life.

Surface Laptop owners can upgrade their machines from 10 S to 10 Pro for free until the end of the year. After that, it’s $50 for the upgrade, and will presumably cost you each time you want to upgrade again after factory resetting back to Windows 10 S. Although, it’s possible you could save your Windows 10 Pro license and reuse it later. We’ve reached out to Microsoft to clarify the upgrade fee after performing a factory reset.

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