Sep 23

Microsoft releases Office 2016 for Windows and Mac

Microsoft has announced the worldwide release of Office 2016 for Windows. Microsoft has also released Office 2016 for Mac as a one-time purchase option, along with several new and enhanced Office 365 services.

The key focus of this release is collaboration, such as real-time co-authoring, rather than a range of new features for each product within the suite. Office 2016 includes Skype for Business, Office 365 Planner, the inclusion of Office 365 Groups in Outlook 2016, integrated publishing to Power BI from Excel 2016 as well as a range of other changes designed to provide better cloud service integration and improved collaboration productivity.

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Sep 18

Microsoft releases Visual Studio updates for a number of tools

Microsoft has released updates to several tools, along with something new for developers working with the Apache Cordova CLI. The updates include Tools for Universal Windows apps v1.1, TypeScript 1.6 for Visual Studio and Tools for Apache Cordova. The new Tools for Apache Cordova CLI (TACO) provide support for Mac and Windows users. Developers can also install the native Android and iOS (Mac-only) SDKs and build tools from the command line.

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Sep 01

View on Microsoft’s August activities

Microsoft has fully embraced delivering its products on non-Microsoft platforms as is seen by the continual development and releases of its flagship products on iPhone, Android, iPad and Mac. This month saw the delivery of preview versions of Skype for Business apps on iOS and Android, the release of Skype 7.11 for Mac as well as a public beta of Cortana on Android.

In addition, Microsoft announced the public release of Windows 10 IoT Core for the Raspberry Pi 2 and the MinnowBoard Max.

System Center Operations Manager management packs have been released for MySQL Server and Apache HTTP Server, which along with the Linux management packs improves Microsoft ability to provide LAMP stack monitoring. The two new management packs are open source and have been published on GitHub.

The company has also being very active in developing and evolving its cloud platform, which included another preview of Windows Server 2016 that supports containers and software-defined datacentres, the third technical preview of System Center Configuration Manager, an update to Microsoft Intune service, the release of row-Level Security for Azure SQL Database as well as the release of the fourth update to the Analytics Platform System (APS) Appliance.

Many of the articles published on Microsoft News have focused on Windows 10 apps and technical articles to encourage developers to build universal Windows apps. Microsoft claims that Windows 10 is now on 75 million devices and, as you might expect from a free upgrade, has exceeded comparable figures for Windows 7.

Microsoft has released another Windows 10 test build (10532) to insiders that includes changes to context menus, another version of its Edge browser, which has a range of enhancements, as well as a number of bug fixes.

After running Windows 10 since its release, here are my ”recommended” changes…

Unsolicited machine starts and battery longevity:

  • After upgrading to Windows 10, keep your machine powered on and running for some time (overnight or, depending on what’s on your machine, even longer) – this allows a number of post update background tasks to complete and, once done, CPU and disk usage will drop to normal levels
  • Disable “Allow wake timers” under the Sleep section of Advanced Power settings
  • Set “Run maintenance tasks at” to a time that your device is normally switched on and disable “Allow scheduled maintenance to wake up my computer at the scheduled time” – both these settings can be found under Automatic Maintenance
  • For Surface Pro, disable “Sdo Sensor V2” in the Device Manager
  • Disable “Hey Cortana” voice activation on mobile devices

Privacy:

  • Select “PCs on my local network” on the Choose how updates are delivered page (Settings, Windows Update, Advanced Options, Choose how updates are delivered) – prevents your machine serving updates to other users via the Internet
  • Disable any items under “For networks I select, share them with my” on the Manage WiFi Settings page (Settings, Network & Internet, WiFi, Manage WiFi Settings) – prevents automatically allowing your Outlook, Skype and Facebook contacts connecting to networks on which you have been connected

User Interface:

  • Enable Bold for Title bars (Settings, System, Display, Advanced display settings, Advanced sizing of text and other items) – my personal preference to improve the aesthetics of the white Windows Title Bars.

Do let me know if have any tips you think are worth sharing and whether you found the above of interest.

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Jun 01

View on Microsoft’s May activities

Microsoft held its first Ignite conference in May and announced a range of new products and services for enterprise computing, including the next generation of Windows management, Microsoft Office, hybrid cloud infrastructure and SQL Server. Microsoft also announced that Windows Update for Business will be a free service for Windows Pro and Windows Enterprise devices and has been designed to keep Windows devices in organisations up to date with security defences and Windows features.

NetSuite, a provider of cloud-based financials, ERP and omnichannel commerce software suites, announced a strategic cloud alliance with Microsoft to create solutions connecting NetSuite’s cloud ERP to Microsoft Office 365, Windows and Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft has started the global transition of Nokia-branded stores and Care centres around the world. Nokia retail stores will be called Microsoft Authorised Resellers and will showcase a range of Microsoft experiences and products including Lumia, Surface, Xbox and various accessories and services such as Office 365. In addition, general trade or multi-branded stores will be known as Microsoft Mobile Resellers.

Microsoft has continued its initiative to support non-Windows platforms. Support includes the release of OneNote for the Apple Watch, OneNote for Mac’s audio recording, support for Windows phone, Android phone and iPhone in the new Windows 10 Phone Companion app, the availability of Office Lens Android on Google Play Store as well as the expansion of cross-platform services through agreements with additional non-Microsoft device partners.

The company has produced a nine minute video that provides an early look at Office 2016 Public Preview for Windows desktop and phone.

For gamers Microsoft has released the Xbox One May System Update and includes voice messages and improvements to party chat.

Windows 10 will be released on 29 July. Microsoft has started rolling out an icon to “reserve” your free upgrade, which is the start of a campaign to have 1 billion devices running Windows 10 within 3 years of its initial release. Microsoft has said that Azure AD support will be included in Windows 10 and that Microsoft Edge (the new browser) will support Dolby Audio.

Of interest, is the progress Microsoft Research has made in automatically creating captions for photographs using neural network technology.

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May 01

View on Microsoft’s April activities

Just a reminder that support for Windows Server 2003 ends on 15 July. Talking of endings, Microsoft has disabled SSL 3.0 in its April update for Internet Explorer 11, although Enterprise customers can choose to enable SSL 3.0 for compatibility with their Web applications.

Microsoft announced that Bing Ads will adopt Google AdWords’ upgraded URLs, which will help advertisers move campaigns between the Bing Ads and Google AdWords platforms.

On the Office front, Microsoft has enabled Office 365 administrators to set a maximum message size from 1 MB up to and increased maximum of 150 MB. The Office Universal apps preview for Windows 10 for phone is expected to be available by the end of April. Microsoft has added Italian and Chinese (Mandarin) to the Skype Translator preview programme, which already supports Spanish and English.

Microsoft has announced new features in Windows 10 and unveiled a set of software development kits (SDKs) to help developers bring their code for the Web, .NET, Win32, Android and iOS to Windows 10. At the company’s annual Build developer conference, Microsoft also announced new Azure data services (Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Azure Data Lake and elastic databases); Visual Studio and .NET tools and runtimes for Windows, Mac and Linux; and APIs that enable developers to build apps with Office 365.

The conference keynote devoted a lot of attention in explaining the benefits of the Universal Windows Platform, the new name for the Universal App Platform (UAP). The demonstration of Office apps running on a Windows phone and then, by connecting a Bluetooth screen, keyboard and mouse, transformed the Office experience into a full desktop application (still running on the phone) certainly revealed the vision extremely well.

Other Windows 10 news includes the release of a new insider build (10074), which sees the reintroduction of some Aero Glass elements in the UI as well as a number of subtle enhancements. Microsoft also announced the availability of Windows 10 IoT Core Insider Preview with support for Raspberry Pi 2 and Intel’s Minnowboard Max. The final version will be available for Makers and commercial device builders for free.

Microsoft is making every effort to encourage developers and software firms to develop and provide offerings on the Windows 10 platform. The company has stated their objective to have Windows 10 on 1 billion devices within three years of release. In addition, they announced several new capabilities coming to Windows 10, which includes carrier billing across all Windows 10 devices, an updated Advertising SDK with support for video ads and install tracking as well as in-app purchase subscription support.

Microsoft is planning a phased rollout for Windows 10, with the desktop and tablet clients scheduled for summer (probably late July according to rumours), with additional platforms (such as Windows Phone) and features to follow in later months. Interestingly, the insider programme will continue after the release, which highlights Microsoft’s new approach to its operating system development lifecycle.

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Apr 30

Microsoft announces new tools for cross-platform developers

Microsoft has announced a number of new tools for cross-platform developers.

Visual Studio Code, a free cross-platform code editor for building modern web and cloud applications on Mac OS X, Linux and Windows.

Visual Studio 2015 RC, which provides improved productivity and diagnostics features, tools for building Universal Windows Applications, and cross-platform development support for Windows, Linux, iOS and Android.

Application Insights Public Preview, which offers a 360-degree telemetry view of your applications from devices to web to server, including integrating HockeyApp’s cross-platform capabilities to deliver crash analytics for iOS- and Android-based apps.

A preview of the .NET Core runtime distribution available for Linux and Mac.

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