Microsoft has devised a new clever way to convince customers to purchase a Surface tablet: the new Surface Pro 2 “Geek” bundle that packs some interesting additional extras including an Xbox controller and two downloadable game. The bundle’s pricing starts at $899 and it’s available exclusively at Microsoft’s online store, with users saving $104 on the free PC games part of the offer including War Thunder Mustang Advanced Pack and Farming Simulator 2013 – users won’t be able to choose any other titles though. More →
Microsoft’s extensive presentation at the Build Developer Conference on Wednesday was packed with information, but the company was unwilling to share many firm release dates. Although the launch of Windows Phone 8.1 is expected within the next few weeks, an engineering email published on Neowin reveals that Microsoft plans to have the final software ready to roll out to developers on April 14th. More →
In addition to posting several comparison videos showing the differences between Siri and Cortana, Microsoft has published several other short clips to reveal the distinct “personality” of its voice-based virtual assistant. The company is showing several of Cortana’s features, including its built-in sense of humor, with short videos that have the potential of going viral on YouTube in an obvious attempt to make this future Windows Phone 8.1 feature popular with consumers. More →
Gee, do you think there was a bit of pent-up demand for Microsoft’s Office software on the Apple iPad? Microsoft announced on Thursday that its assorted Office apps for the iPad had been downloaded 12 million times in just the last week alone. While everyone expected Office for iPad would be a hit, this is still an impressive number, especially when you consider that Microsoft’s Office apps have also regularly been among the top grossing apps on the App Store as well. This is obviously good news for Microsoft, whose Office software has long been a major cash cow that only figures to become even more profitable now that it’s on the world’s most popular tablet.
Voice-enabled personal assistants are cool things to have but are they really an important enough feature to get people to change platforms? ZDNet’s Matthew Miller, who was initially worried that Microsoft’s new Cortana service would be another “me-too” product that copied Siri and Google Now, now says that after trying it out this week that it’s the real deal and it could win over some iOS and Android coverts. More →
Microsoft hasn’t quite managed to close the app gap between its own app stores and the behemoths that are iOS and Android, but the company has made significant progress over the past several months. Neowin came across the sign you see in the image above at the Microsoft Build Developer Conference on Wednesday, proclaiming the latest milestone of the Windows app stores: 400,000 apps between PCs and mobile devices. More →
Microsoft finally took the wraps off of its upcoming Windows 8.1 Update, a major revision that will add a range of new functionality to Microsoft’s desktop operating system. For many users, the most important features included in this new update focus on improving the Windows 8.1 experience on desktop and laptop computers. Touch is not the primary means of input on these devices, and Microsoft worked so hard on accommodating tablets with Windows 8 that the mouse and keyboard experience was compromised. With Windows 8.1 Update, Microsoft looks to make amends. More →
Of all the announcements at the Microsoft Build Developer Conference, Cortana certainly stands out as one of the most intriguing. With the addition of a worthwhile personal assistant, Windows Phone will finally begin to reach parity with iOS and Android, at least from a feature perspective. At first glance, it’s difficult not to compare Cortana to its iOS predecessor, so Microsoft has decided to approach the issue head on with a series of short videos comparing the two assistants. Microsoft argues that Cortana is a more personal companion, one which will learn about you and treat you as an individual, whereas Siri was built for everyone. Check out the videos below. More →
Watch out, Google: Microsoft is really coming after you. Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it will make Windows free to use for any manufacturers who are making devices that are 9 inches or smaller. This means that Windows smartphones, small tablets and wearable computers will have free-to-use software, just like with Google’s Android platform. This has the potential to significantly grow Windows’ market share on mobile devices, particularly in emerging markets where manufacturers have been churning out dirt-cheap Android phones.
The most baffling omission from Windows 8 is undoubtedly the Start menu. Microsoft went all-in with its Metro interface, leaving Start behind, but the company has heard the pleas of developers and users alike, and announced on Wednesday that the Start menu will be returning to Windows 8 in a future update. From the short glimpse we got, it looks like Microsoft will be integrating Live Tiles into the menu as well. There is currently no timetable for the update, but we’ll be keeping an eye out for any news on the matter.
Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled the second version of Kinect for Windows, as previously rumored. The device looks similar to the Kinect sensor that comes with the Xbox One, and packs a 1080p camera with a wide view. The company further demoed the imaginative ways developers are already using Kinect for Windows to come up with new useful apps and games. “We think this is the future, we think this is the way we’ll all be interacting with computers,” the company said. More →
Microsoft on Wednesday showed off what could be the key to its future: Universal Windows apps that will be available on the Xbox console. This means that developers will one day be able to develop apps that run on Windows PCs, Windows Phones and the Xbox all at once. This has some major implications for gaming since it has the potential to completely tear down the wall between PC gaming and console gaming. More →