If you missed it: Surface Pro 3 vs MacBook Air, Windows 9, and Xbox One updates
This week has been quite interesting in the world of Microsoft. We’ve covered a lot over the past week and chances are you most likely missed an important piece of news. Let’s recap the week in our weekly “if you missed it” post.
This week, there has been a great deal of looking forward to the future, glimpsing at what is on the horizon. We’ve been keeping a close eye on Windows Threshold for some time now, and we’re quite excited about the inclusion of Cortana. But what’s more exciting is the fact that the feature seems to be far more stable in recent builds.
If you’re as impatient as we are to get your hands on the next version of Windows, you don’t have too much longer to wait. The Technical Preview of Windows 9 (or Threshold) is on track to make an appearance in September complete with its mini Start menu. There’s a lot to look forward to, and it looks as though Microsoft has learnt a great deal from the mistakes made in Windows 8 and understands the need to be “deeply personal”. For now, we have Windows 8.1, and Microsoft is touting ‘boot to desktop’ as one of its best features.
Back in the here and now, Microsoft made changes to Skype. Group screen sharing is now available free of charge without a subscription, and the Windows 8.1 app gained message editing capabilities. When Microsoft acquired Skype, questions were raised about whether or not the Skype brand would remain. Of course, the name remained.
But in a Reddit AMA session it was revealed that there were internal discussions at Microsoft about whether to rebrand Internet Explorer — does Ultron have the same ring to it? If you’re an IE lover holding out for an iOS or Android version of the browser, stop holding your breath; it’s not happening any time soon. Frustrating for some, perhaps, but great news for anyone frustrated every time a rival handset gets an app before Windows Phone.
There were a number of interesting apps released this week, including celebrity tracker Snipp3t — and Microsoft explained why an iPhone version appeared before a Windows Phone one. The development of apps requires feedback from users, and a dialog between downloaders and developers is important. Developers now have the ability to respond to reviews in the Windows Phone Store — great for being able to reply to questions, and to have discussions about updates.
Promotion of the Surface Pro 3 continue, and this week Microsoft compared the latest version of its tablet cum laptop with the MacBook Air. The new series of ads calls to mind the “I’m and Mac”, “I’m a PC” campaigns of yesteryear. If you’re already a proud owner of a Surface Pro 3, the August 2014 firmware updates rolled out (it’s for Surface Pro, Surface 2, and Surface RT as well), and the docking station was made available in the US and Canada. Depending on how you use your Surface Pro 3, you might find that the Home button is more of a hindrance than a help — and there’s a way to disable it if you find you don’t like it.
It wasn’t just the Surface range that received an update, Windows 8.1 did as well. The August Update for Windows 8.1 included a number of bug fixes and new features, but it also proved to be problematic, resulting in Microsoft removing download links. Leaks continued on the Windows Phone front, with details of the HTC One for Windows Phone sneaking out. The ultra-cheap Lumia 130 hit the market for €19 — and Microsoft was on hand to explain what you can do with it.
In yet more update news, Microsoft revealed that a major new dashboard update is coming to Xbox One in the coming months, and internal hard drive was boosted to a massive 1TB in the CoD: AW version of the console. Preview members gained access to new updates to Xbox One’s social and entertainment experience, while all users have digital pre-ordering and pre-downloading to look forward to.
That’s it for this week. More to come over the next seven days.Further reading: Surface Pro 3, Windows 9, Windows Threshold