THE NEW YAHOO MAIL

Tuesday, June 27 - 11:48 pm

I can't remember the last time I emailed someone with a Yahoo email, but there's a new Yahoo Mail and it looks pretty nice. It reminds me how badly Outlook is in need of a similar refresh. I ended up switching my primary address back to Gmail (using Inbox) more than a year ago because of Outlook's performance and design: too slow and out-of-date looking/feeling. More than a year later, nothing seems to have improved.


SURFACE BRANDING, MICROSOFT ACCESSORIES

Tuesday, June 27 - 11:28 pm

Daniel Rubino theorising for Windows Central on why Microsoft brands some accessories for Surface but not others:

A more complicated answer to the branding question is that Microsoft must juggle multiple markets with different messages. If you buy a Surface PC, you likely want some official Surface accessories. It makes sense then to have Surface mice, keyboards, pens, docks, and cables so that the average consumer knows exactly what to buy.

Although Surface mindshare continues to grow, I still don't think Microsoft is regarded as a hardware company like Apple. And so it makes sense for Surface accessories to exist. But in many cases these are device agnostic accessories, and so the Surface branding can be misleading. As Dan concludes:

That is very likely the rationale behind having both a Surface Arc Mouse and a Microsoft Arc Mouse that are exactly the same except for color difference.

Again, this makes sense. But what you end up with is a confusing portfolio of accessories. My recommendation is for Surface branding to be used on accessories that work only with a Surface, such as the Type Cover and Docking Station. If something works best on a Surface, such as the Pen, then maybe include those too. Anything else should adopt Microsoft branding.


SURFACE PRO W/ CORE I5

Tuesday, June 27 - 11:04 pm

Daniel Rubino of Windows Central's benchmarking of the Core i5 Surface Pro shoots down claims that its fanless design comes with irregular performance constraints:

For those considering the fanless Surface Pro with Core i5, you don't have anything to fear. Microsoft did not pull any tricks, and the processor does what it is meant to do. Granted, had Microsoft put a fan into the Core i5 it could run at higher processor speeds for more than 15 minutes of 100 percent CPU usage, but for regular consumers running Windows Store apps, photo and video editing, browsing, the Pro with Core i5 behaves like any other PC.

If this model was available with 16GB RAM, I'd happily get my wallet out. Not only is the i7 Surface Pro £300 more expensive, but in Dan's testing it was observed to having one less hour of battery life compared to the i5 model.


MICROSOFT EDGE - WAY BETTER BATTERY LIFE!?

Tuesday, June 27 - 10:35 pm

Nope. Neither the best, nor the most consistent.


AUGMENTED REALITY CAN'T WAIT FOR HOLOLENS

Monday, June 26 - 11:30 pm

Microsoft announced the HoloLens in January 2015. It's still not available to the general public. If you're a developer, it costs $3,000. Apple on the other hand is months away from enabling ~500 million iOS devices to go augmented reality. This single demo of ARKit shows Apple may not be the first to the AR party, but like the iPhone that won't matter. They're bringing it to the masses for free. And that's before even considering any unannounced hardware specifically built with AR in mind. The HoloLens may still be more impressive, but the technology can't compete with the accessibility and mobility of an iPhone. More justification for Microsoft to release a phone-like device.


THIS IS MY NEXT PC

Monday, June 26 - 10:42 pm

Austin Evans comparing the latest iPad and Surface Pros:

Here are the takeaways:

  • The iPad Pro is faster than the i5 Surface Pro. That means:

Intel's probably really scared right now.

  • Although the Surface Pen may have caught up in specs, the Apple Pencil is still the industry leader.

  • As nice as Surface Pro display is, iPad Pro's is better. Same goes with the speakers.

  • The Surface Pro has a better keyboard cover. And that kickstand.

Once iOS 11 is out, Apple will have iPad Pros that can become Windows users' next PC.


MICROSOFT'S LATEST PATENT

Monday, June 26 - 10:12 pm

Mehedi Hassan, reporting on the latest Microsoft patent for MSPoweruser:

Microsoft’s latest wearable patent claims to be able to detect when you are about to eat something. The tech, which is powered by a set of sensors, will be able to detect whenever they are about to eat (and possibly drink) something when the user is carrying it or have it attached to their body. The system will be leveraging a whole range of different sensors, including accelerometers, a gyroscope, and even the electromyography sensors.

I had to double-check what the date was.


DEFAULT APPS ON WINDOWS

Monday, June 26 - 12:02 am

I never liked how the default click on the Surface Pen opens OneNote because I find it bloated. Microsoft's new Whiteboard app on the other hand feels like a much more appropriate default. It looks pretty impressive and is the type of experience that adds meaningful value to all Windows touch-enabled devices.

Microsoft shouldn't allow what they can't control interfere with all the things they can control. As they continue waiting for apps to show up on the Store, what they should be focusing on is making the default apps that ship with Windows great so users' basic computing needs are met without needing to open the Store (and therefore being disappointed by what's available). At the moment, Groove is almost there, whereas the rest still have a way to go, particularly (and critically) Edge and Mail.


MICROSOFT'S CENTENNIAL BRIDGE

Sunday, June 25 - 11:15 pm

Zac Bowden of Windows Central on what's missing from Spotify on the Windows Store:

For starters, there's no real live tile just yet. The app tile itself is using a Windows 10-orientated design, including support for wide and large tile sizes, but there's no "live tile" element just yet. Perhaps that's coming soon, as I'd like to see Spotify add a similar live tile to that found on Groove, which displays album art for the current playing track. The app also appears to be missing mini-view support, something that can easily be added in future updates.

Time will tell whether Centennial bridge apps like Spotify bother spending any resources on introducing UWP capabilities to their apps. As long as these apps remain available outside the Store, it may be considered as more of a nice-to-have than essential.

Regardless, Zac wants others to follow Spotify's lead and become available on the Store:

Microsoft's Centennial bridge allows for traditional desktop apps to come to the Windows Store for Windows 10 PCs and tablets. It's an incredible bridge that every Win32 app developer should be taking advantage of, and they should be taking advantage of it right now. We'd like to see more apps in the Windows Store from top developers. We have already got Slack, Office 365, Telegram, Kodi, and Photoshop Elements to name a few. 90 percent of the desktop apps I use are now in the Store, and it makes for a much more seamless user experience. Everything should be in the Store.

If you're an indie and making a decent living away from the Store, there's less incentive to make the move; Microsoft needs to court these developers by giving them no (good) reason not to. For example, at the moment it costs $19 to register as an individual Microsoft developer and $99 as a company. The equivalent Apple costs are $99 and $299 annually. Microsoft needs to be similarly competitive in how Store payouts are split. The same Microsoft who when the Windows Store originally launched rewarded successful developers by going 80-20 after an app made $25,000 in sales, but then quietly decided they wanted a bigger cut. Both Apple and Google are now offering more to developers by going 85-15 for apps whose subscription is renewed after the first year. This not only motivates developers to build for these platforms but also to continue updating their apps giving users their own incentive to renew their subscription.

To compete with Android, Microsoft made Windows free for OEMs to use on devices with screen sizes of 9" or less. I don't know how much Microsoft is making through their 30% cut off Store purchases, but I question whether that is more valuable than the goodwill generated by giving developers 100% of each sale immediately. Such a move won't guarantee all Windows developers publish to the Store but it means Microsoft will have removed the economic barrier to doing so.


FROM WINDOWS 10 PRO TO WINDOWS 10 S

Tuesday, June 20 - 12:07 pm

Tom Warren reporting for The Verge:

Microsoft is now allowing Surface Laptop owners to switch back to Windows 10 S after they’ve upgraded to Windows 10 Pro. While the upgrade path from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro on the Surface Laptop is quick and easy, going back to Windows 10 S isn’t straightforward. Microsoft is offering special software restore images for Surface Laptop devices, and you’ll need to wipe the entire machine to get back to Windows 10 S.

When would anyone want to change back to S?

If Microsoft is confident and serious about Windows 10 S, then you should be able to switch to it from any Windows device (and not just the Surface Laptop) with a single-click (without the need for "special software restore images").


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