Tag Archives: Microsoft

Microsoft’s Holiday Ad is Adorable!



Microsoft released an adorable ad called 3D Holiday. It shows a series of cute creatures that need some love, and who receive it from other creatures. The ad features Microsoft’s Paint 3D, and also features Remix 3D.

When we are inclusive and celebrate our differences we can make the world a better place. 3D Holiday tells the story of a young girl who goes on an imaginary adventure through space where she and “Gabe the Yeti” encounter various characters who need a little love and support, culminating in a celebration for all.

The Microsoft website shows all of the characters that were in the ad. There is an image of each one, the character’s name, and a description of the character’s personality. In addition to the video of the holiday ad, there are two videos that are intended to be Paint 3D tutorials that people can learn from.

People can use Paint 3D to create objects from scratch or to modify a creation from the Remix 3D catalog. You can search Remix 3D for items, characters, and more, and use them in your own creations. It is also possible to take Remix 3D items and change the colors and textures, to add stickers, or to turn a 2D picture into a 3D scene.


Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition Available for Pre-Order



Microsoft announced that Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition, is now available for pre-order. Limited quantities are available. Microsoft suggests that those who are interested “Get it before it’s gone forever”. Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition costs $499.99, and will be available on November 7, 2017.

The Project Scorpio Edition features a custom design and vertical stand. The console, and the controller, each have a limited edition Project Scorpio badge on them. Every Xbox One X Project Scorpio console has a unique serial number.

Memory and Storage:

  • 8GB Flash Memory
  • 1TB HDD Internal Storage
  • 12GB GDDR5 at 326 GB/s

Video Capabilities:

  • 4K UHD Blu-ray Optical Disc Drive, HDMI
  • HDMI 2.0b (out), 2160p @ 60Hz, AMD FreeSync
  • HDR10 Support

Audio Components:

  • DTS 5.1
  • DOLBY Digital 5.1, TrueHD with Atmos
  • PCM 2.0, 5.1. 7.1

Wireless Capability

  • WiFi – Dual band wireless Wi-Fi Direct for home networks
  • IR – IR Blaster Send and receive signals

Connectivity

  • Power Port
  • 1 HDMI Ports (1 HDMI 1.4b in, 1 HDMI 2.0b out)
  • 3 USB 3.0 Ports
  • IR Out
  • S/PDIF
  • Ethernet Port

 


Linux Installations Coming to the Windows Store



Windows Store LogoRemember that antitrust lawsuit a few years back against Microsoft? The one where Bill Gates said shipping Windows with Netscape preinstalled would be like Pepsi shipping its soda packs with a can of Coca-Cola? That’s the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the news that certain Linux installations will soon be available thru the online Windows Store. Yeah, I know. It’s not really the same thing. But, I think this is the first time it’s ever been possible to download a third-party operating system thru a primary operating system’s main software distribution point.

I’m now flashing on a meme that’d say something like, “We heard you like operating systems so we put more operating systems in your operating system, dawg.”

It’s worth noting that these Linux installations won’t be full Linux distributions, but rather GNU versions of the open-source operating system:

Developers will (be) able to download these Linux distro’s from the Windows Store on Windows 10 from the autumn, and will be able to run multiple distributions at the same time.

And:

…Without the Linux kernel they’re just GNU distros… or Windows distros…

Looks like Microsoft’s intent here is primarily to add Linux capabilities to Windows systems that are used by developers. These versions of Linux won’t have GUIs, but there will likely be workarounds for that.


Windows 10 Update takes down professional gamer live on Twitch



Microsoft logoA lot has been made about Microsoft’s latest operating system Windows 10. Many people prefer it over the operating system it replaced, though that isn’t necessarily saying much. The big problem people have with this latest platform is how much Microsoft is pushing it, and doing so hard.

The latest problem that Microsoft’s relentless pushing has caused happened to professional gamer Erik Flom, and it was live on the game streaming site Twitch.

This isn’t the first time such an incident has occurred, we recently saw during a TV news broadcast when the weather map was suddenly overlaid by a prompt to upgrade to Windows 10. While that incident was taken good-naturedly by the meteorologist, this one did not meet with the same reaction. There was cursing involved and video of the whole incident has gone viral thanks to Reddit.

In this case, it was not a message prompting the upgrade, Flom already was using the OS. But getting it doesn’t solve the problem of Microsoft inserting itself into people’s lives. Updates to Windows 10 can also be forced. There’s an obvious reason for that — security vulnerabilities.

But as security firm Sophos points out “Unfortunately, cyberattackers don’t need to rely on zero-days, where a security patch isn’t available, because so many users remain unprotected against security bugs with fixes that are available – and have been for weeks, months, or even years”.

While Microsoft pushing these updates can be looked at as a good thing, perhaps there could be a better way, such as doing so when a PC is inactive.


Xbox One Consoles Getting Full Development Kit Support



xbox one controllerDeveloping new games for Microsoft’s Xbox One console is about to get much easier. During today’s Build 16 conference, Microsoft announced it will soon offer a software update that will turn any Xbox One into a full development kit. Previously, dev-ready Xbox Ones were provided on a limited basis. This change will make the full Xbox One development kit available to all Xbox One owners.

This move is taking place as part of Microsoft’s strategy to bring Windows 10 to multiple platforms, including computers, tablets, phones, and Xbox consoles. Dev kits are already made easily available for these other platforms, so it seemed like the right time for the Xbox One to fall in line.

This change should give a real boost to independent game developers. Under the limited distribution system previously offered by Microsoft, some Xbox One developer kits were made available to independent developers. But kits were usually made more readily available to larger AAA-level game developers. Turning all Xbox Ones into dev-ready kits levels the playing field and also opens up the process to hobbyists and others who want to learn more about game development. (It was possible to unlock some of the Xbox One developer kit prior to this update. That process wasn’t officially supported by Microsoft and it didn’t grant access to the full kit.)

The new Xbox One development kit is currently available as a free preview. It will be officially released this summer and will require a $19 fee along with a Microsoft Dev Center account.


Surface Pro 3 Update



SurfaceIt’s been going on about three months since buying a Surface Pro 3 tablet with a 256 gigabyte SSD, an I-5 processor, and Windows 10 preinstalled, so I figure it’s time for a bit of an update.

Since getting the device, there has been one major Windows 10 update, along with countless small spyware and virus updates for Windows Defender, which is built in to Windows 10.

So far, between the hardware and the operating system, there have been zero hiccups. Windows 10 has been absolutely rock solid. I am still really enjoying the Windows 10 experience. The one area lacking with the Windows 10 tablet experience has been the lack tablet mode apps from the Windows App Store. Many types of apps are just non-existent, or as in the case of the Windows Facebook app, are barely adequate but obviously lacking in up-to-date Facebook features present in the Android and iOS counterpart apps. I am willing to overlook this poor Windows app experience because I can easily just go to the various websites and get the full website experience if I need to. Also, my Galaxy Note 4 phone is where I end up running most of the standard apps anyway, so when it comes right down to it I don’t need them on a large-screen tablet device anyway.

I also purchased the older generation Microsoft Keyboard. Additionally for a paltry $15.99 I purchased the Fintie Surface Pro 3 Case Folio Slim-fit Leather Stand Cover with Stylus Holder from Amazon. The version I got was navy blue, but it comes in a very wide variety of colors and print designs. Fintie also sells an updated version of the case for the Surface Pro 4 for $13.99. Both products are highly rated. The case does an excellent job of protecting the unit and gives me a very secure loop along the top of the screen to insert the Microsoft Pen stylus that came packaged with the unit.

Of course the big advantage of the Surface Pro line is that it packs a full, powerful PC into a thin tablet form factor combined with an amazing high-resolution screen.

I spend weeks at a time traveling and living in a very compact area. The less bulky stuff I can carry with me, the better. The Surface Pro 3 completely covers my mobile computing needs. I was able to delete an entire laptop bag from the stuff I carry around with me, which included an old white plastic MacBook and an old Asus netbook.

I still listen to a number of popular Apple-centric podcasts, and I am beginning to hear the frustrations I suffered with for at least the past year when I was trying to decide what to do in order to update my computing hardware. I thought about newer MacBooks, but because they forced newer versions of OS/X, they wouldn’t run the aging media creation software I wanted to run. The iPad experience is great for media consumption, but is absolutely painful for even the most minimal productivity tasks including writing articles and media creation.

The Surface Pro 3 has solved my problem. I am confident to travel just with it, since it is more than capable of handling all the tasks I need it to handle. I feel a bit sorry for the people who are trapped in the Apple-only mentality. Fortunately, even though I bought my fair share of Apple products in the past 10 years, I wasn’t trapped and could easily switch back to Windows once Microsoft corrected its terrible operating system mistakes (namely Vista and Windows 8) with the release of Windows 10.

I hear people use the phrase “living in the future.” For me, the future is here and I am already enjoying it as never before. I have a super-high-quality, unbelievably fast touchscreen tablet that also happens to be a full PC that can handle everything I throw at it.


Huion Digital Artist’s Glove



Huion Digital Artist GloveI recently purchased a Huion brand Digital Artist Glove for Drawing Tablet via Amazon for use when drawing and painting with my Surface Pro 3 using the Microsoft Pen digital stylus. The idea of a digital artist’s glove is to electrically isolate the parts of one’s hand that would normally rest on the surface of a glass capacitive touchscreen when drawing or painting. This allows the same relaxed natural hand posture that is used when writing or drawing directly on paper, allowing the side of the hand to rest directly on the surface of the glass without interfering at all with the drawing or painting process with the digital stylus.

I find that the Huion Artist Glove for Drawing Tablet works perfectly to isolate the side of my hand from a glass capacitive touchscreen such as on my Surface Pro 3 and also my iPad Air. It provides a very natural, relaxed drawing experience. Normally one must hold one’s hand in a rather unnatural hovering position when drawing or writing with a stylus on a touchscreen surface. An artist’s glove neatly solves this problem. The Huion Artist Glove for Drawing Tablet seems to be made of some sort of stretchy, smooth lycra material.

However, trying the same glove on my Lenovo C40 all-in-one touchscreen computer, curiously the glove does not work at all to isolate. I don’t know this to be a fact, however I suspect that the Lenovo C40 touchscreen is made out of some sort of plastic conductive material and not true glass. Tapping lightly on the Lenovo C40 touchscreen to my ears sounds more like tapping on a plastic material than it does tapping on true glass. If you decide to get one of these artist’s gloves, make sure that the capacitive touchscreen you intend to use it on is made out of glass and not a form of plastic material.

The Huion Artist Glove for Drawing Tablet seems to be sized a bit small. Reading the Amazon reviews ahead of time, I ordered the large size. I’m glad I did. The glove fits my hand just fine, but it is certainly not what I would in any way consider a loose fit.

The Huion Artist Glove for Drawing Tablet is constructed in such a way that it can fit either the right or the left hand. It completely covers the wrist, the little finger and the figner next to it; leaving the middle finger, index finger and thumb completely exposed since those are the fingers we typically use to hold a pen or pencil.

Even though my Surface Pro 3 has great palm rejection with included Microsoft applications such as OneNote, the palm rejection feature does not function in every application, especially third party drawing and painting applications such as Adobe Photoshop Elements. Using the digital artist’s glove gives me complete freedom to rest my hand on the screen as much as I want, especially useful when making delicate interactions with the stylus on the screen.

I suspect one using an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil stylus would enjoy similar benefits.

The Huion Artist Glove for Drawing Tablet sells for $17.99 and is an Amazon Prime item. I highly recommend it to anyone that draws even casually on a glass capacitive touchscreen device. I would suggest going ahead and ordering the large size.

 


Microsoft Office 365 reveals new communication enhancements for business



MicrosoftMicrosoft Office 365 is for home user and businesses. In the former case it’s a good deal providing the software for five computers in the customer’s home for a monthly or annual fee. The deal for business is tiered, depending on size, but that’s Microsoft’s biggest customers and it aims to keep them.

To that end, the company is unveiling new enhancements to communications within Office 365. Vice president of Microsoft Office Kirk Koenigsbauer reveals the news in some detail. Also being annouced are some new security features that Microsoft says will add “significant new security and analytics capabilities aimed at dramatically improving our customers’ ability to protect their organizations and glean insights from data”.

Much of the communications is built on Skype, which Koenigsbauer points out has become a verb in today’s world. That’s true, it joins the realm of things like Xerox, Google and Kleenex.

Added are PSTN conferencing which allows people to dial into a meeting from a handset, Skype Meeting broadcast allowing for up to 10,000 attendees and cloud PBX which hopes to let business drop the traditional systems.

On the security side, there is the new Delve Analytics that claims to provide better management of time and relationships. There’s also Customer Lockbox, which Microsoft says will “Give customers new approval rights, transparency and control over their data in the cloud”. Finally there’s Advanced Threat Protection to try and keep people safe from malware and viruses using behavioral analysis.

That should be enough to keep Microsoft’s biggest customers happy for a little while.


Red Hat Linux meets Microsoft Azure



MicrosoftIn business it’s a tough decision between Windows and Linux — we’re not talking end-user, Microsoft’s operating system has that mostly nailed. We’re talking back-end — the power behind everything else. And, at an increasing rate, that means Linux and the cloud.

Today Microsoft is introducing Red Hat Linux on its Azure platform. The company’s vice president of cloud and enterprise, Scott Guthrie, made the official announcement.

“The cloud is changing the world, offering enterprises, independent software vendors (ISVs) and developers alike endless scale, speed and agility in a cost-effective way. I’ve been talking with customers about “why cloud” for years. Recently there has been a shift in these conversations, as the benefits have become undeniable”.

Red Hat solutions will be available soon and it will bring enterprise Red Hat solutions along with JBoss Middleware plaftorm.

Microsoft also promises integrated enterprise grade support that is calls “deeper and richer than any other public cloud offering”. This will also offer .NET integration for development of applications, as well as workload management.

Guthrie describes this as “flexibility and choice have united Microsoft and Red Hat to meet customers where they are on their cloud journey”.


Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse



Touchpads and touchscreens are great, but sometimes you just need the ultimate precision of a mouse.Microsoft Arc Mouse Bluetooth

Microsoft has always made great computer mice. The Microsoft Mouse has never tried to pretend to be a fashion computing accessory. It’s always been a reliable workhorse that feels great in the hand, does what it is supposed to do, but otherwise just gets out of the way.

Modern portable computing is all about compactness. A traditional mouse shape isn’t ideal for a portable computer accessory.

I was recently looking for a new portable wireless mouse, and I came across the Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse.

The Ark Touch Mouse consists of a clever arcing design. The arc snaps into the flat position for storage, and into the raised arc position when in use. Cleverly the arc/flat position also serves as the on/off switch – arced is on, and flat is off.

It uses BlueTrack technology that works precisely on virtually any surface, including reflective surfaces such as glass or rough surfaces such as wood or even carpet. I can confirm this claim – it works precisely on every surface I’ve tried, making it extremely useful for portable computing situations.

It has physical left and right mouse buttons, but in the center it has a narrow touch surface that functions as a virtual scroll wheel. The touch surface simulates a scroll wheel with the use of an integrated vibrator that does a pretty good job of mimicking the feel of its physical counterpart. The center touch surface also has an accelerated scrolling function that responds to faster up and down finger motions for fast window scrolling. The palm portion of the mouse is constructed of a smooth rubber material that has a velvety feel that offers a good gripping surface. The mouse runs on two AAA batteries, which are included.

The basic Microsoft Arc Mouse comes in two versions – one with a tiny nano-sized USB dongle that is cleverly magnetized and sticks to the back of the mouse for storage, and the other version with integrated Bluetooth for a few dollars more. On Amazon the Arc Touch Mouse dongle version is currently selling for $39.93 and the Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse is selling at Amazon for $44.30.

There is also a new Microsoft Arc Touch Arc Mouse Surface Edition that Amazon sells at $58.57 that uses Bluetooth 4.0 that will work with compatible “SmartReady” PC’s and tablets.

The dongle version Arc Touch Mouse is Mac OS/X compatible.

For the Bluetooth versions I would make sure to research specific devices to make certain they can recognize and work with the mouse.

I don’t need the mouse for every task because my Surface Pro 3 type cover has an integrated touchpad that works fine for many jobs. For tasks such as precision video editing, the mouse is easy to pull out of the storage bag, plug the USB dongle in, snap the mouse into the arced “on” position, and it’s ready to go.

If you are looking for a very capable mouse that is easy to store in a flattened state and will work precisely on virtually every surface portable computing situations might force you to encounter, the Arc Touch Mouse is a mouse to consider.