Microsoft Talks about New Office Word Web App Features and UI

New UI Jan 2014

Microsoft yesterday published a new blog post discussing new features and user interface updates to Microsoft Office Word Web App. As you know, this is the web version of Microsoft Word, offered free of charge to everyone. The update includes a fresh new look and feel, footnotes, and even a new way to interact with Word and get things done! Continue reading

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Open the Windows 8 and Flip on the Weather Channel!

The Windows Store has lots of weather forecasting apps, but in my opinion, the Weather Channel is the most useful and comprehensive one. In fact, even though Windows 8 comes with the Bing weather app preinstalled, I recommend you install this app. You can delete the Bing app to save disk space, if you prefer. But here’s why I recommend this app over all.

The app includes all the basic elements that the preinstalled Bing Weather app has, so you won’t be missing out any features. The differences start with the user interface. The user interface is unique, cute, and can be preferable. However, I still think Bing Weather has the better UI. But the benefits of the Weather Channel app comes with extra features, like a live map that you can pan and zoom. The live map will show you the predicted movement of clouds, chills, and weather forecasts. You can see these forecasts on the map in real time or speed up the “reel”.

The Weather channel features video clips from its television programing that you can watch directly from the app if you are connected to the internet. The live tile is more informative than the Bing Weather app and has icons more in line with the Metro design guidelines. It also seems to have more location than does the Bing Weather app. For example, the weather app fails to find my location, which is Dunlap Illinois, and defaults to the nearest city, Peoria. The Weather Channel app seems to find Dunlap just fine.

Download: The Weather Channel

Microsoft’s Future Vision 2013: Live, Work, Play

Microsoft is well known for its series of “future vision” videos that showcases how technology will advance in the future. Microsoft continues this legacy with a new “future vision” video this year. For the first time, however, the video is actually being narrated. All the other videos that were released in the past had no actual speech in them. So without further ado, here’s the video!

Microsoft’s Future Vision: Live, Work, Play

Published on 1 Mar 2013

http://aka.ms/envision – Technology could transform our life at work, on the go, and at home based on extensive research.  This is a snapshot of what the future will look like five to ten years from now.  In the years ahead, technology will amplify our senses; help us stay connected to the people we care about and transform the way we live, work and play.

Sneak Peek into the Future! A Day Made of Glass

corning glassWe are living in an ever changing world. The pace of innovation in technology has been increasing since the beginning of humanity. Today, the change is so rapid, technology we have today becomes outdated in standards in less than a year.

We are living an a very different world than we did just 10 years ago! Imagine what this word will be like 10 to 20 years from now. Corning wants to sharing its view of the future with you. Many of the things you see hear are already available today in its primitive form, including tablets, HD mirroring, and Microsoft Surface tables. So, without further ado, let’s sit back, relax, and take a sneak peek at the future.

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Learn Why the Start Menu is Gone in Windows 8

Learn why such an old and integral feature of Windows is removed with Windows 8. The Windows “Start” menu was introduced with Windows 95. At the time of this recording, 17 years after the debut of the “Start” button, Microsoft finally removes it with Windows 8. The question is, why. Watch this video to find out!

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Welcome to Windows 8! Watch the Video and Install it for Yourself!

This is big, very big! Windows 8 Consumer Preview is available for download!

On February 29, 2012, Microsoft unveiled the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. According to Microsoft, The consumer preview has “over 100,000 code changes and the Consumer Preview represents a refined product ready for broad and daily usage by those of you willing to test a pre-release OS”. Continue reading

Will Upgrading to “Windows 9″ be Free?

Recently, a thought came to my mind. I pondered if Microsoft will be likely to give away upgrade versions of Windows for free for Windows versions following Windows 8. Windows has been relatively much more expensive compared to other operating systems on the market. Even to upgrade from one version to the next, on would have to buy a boxed “upgrade” copy or download the installer from online for nearly a hundred dollars if not more. Competitors, like Linux were free while Mac OSX cost around 30 dollars to upgrade. However, Windows has been so well used and a stable operating system, people would put up with the high upgrade costs. Given that this has been like so for at least 20 years or so, does it make any sense to believe that Microsoft might start giving away upgrade versions of Windows 8’s successors? Though this would be completely unlike Microsoft’s Windows business strategies, it does make sense to give away Windows “9” and future upgrades for free, and here’s why. Continue reading

Google Bar Update Released Throughout Google Products! Did You Notice?

Google Bar Update

Google today released an update to its black bar across its web products. Google announced this redesign on November of last year. However, according to Google, they received feedback suggesting to review this redesign. And they did! Enter the Google bar update. Continue reading

A New, Metro Style, Bing Is on Its Way!

Bing is slowly rolling out its new version to certain users. I have been “chosen” as one of the users to get a new update. But the interesting this is that I seemed to have received two different updates of bing in my two separate PCs. On the first PC, the update brings about new animations to the search engine. In addition to the animated wallpaper in the bing homepage, this new update gives smooth transition when you enter in a search query or switch from one type of search to another (for example web to images). Now, I cannot take a picture of the animation update, but I can show you the new update I got in my other PC.

My second PC received an UI update. The new update reduces color and has a “metro” feel to it. This UI seems to be part of Microsoft’s attempt to make the UI across its products consistent. Windows 8, Windows Phone, and the Xbox dashboard all feature the metro style UI. Take a look at the screenshot below; click it to enlarge.

Ne bing with Metro Style UI

Old Bing
This is the old (current) bing

 

As we can see, the new bing takes the attention off itself, as per the metro UI principles. The space is mostly white, and the content shine. You may also notice that some search results are social driven, showing what my friends like on Facebook. Of course, I can always disconnect Facebook from bing if I don’t like social integration with search.

Connecting and disconnecting bing and facebookThere are, however, some UI headaches that I face with this new user interface. For example, on the old bing UI, it was easy to get to other types of search such as News. With the new bing UI, these other types do not always appear on the top. Perhaps they do not appear if they don’t have any content for that type; I am not sure. But it bothers me because it is difficult to deal with UI that isn’t consistent in every search. One would expect the top to always have the same links for easy access, but with the new UI, this is dynamic, and can be unpredictable.

For me, I only get the new UI for web search. If I do an image search or a new search, I am returned to the old bing. So, it is still under development; so, thing can very well be tweaked. I am curious to know if any of you reading this have gotten this new bing. Better yet, did you get another bing update that I didn’t get? Share your comments; I look forward to them. :)

Want to Print out Real Objects? Now You Can with 3D Printers!

Object printed out by 3D printers
Object printed out by a 3D printer

What if I told you that you can print out real objects? In fact, it is not as much of a fantasy as you may think. Today, we have real, usable, 3D printers that are able to print out 3D objects based on CAD (Computer Aided Design) data.

I am going to share with you this video that talks about it in detail. It demos the product, shows how it works, and gives insights on the implication these devices may have on our society and manufacturing as we know it.
Before getting started with the video, though, I would like to point out some key things. First of all, the most amazing part of this printer is that we can now download any digital data of real objects and have them print out. This is huge, as perhaps in the future, we would only need to download objects we want or spare parts we may need, rather than ordering them to be delivered to our house.
Secondly, because these printers are able to “print” out objects with intricate designs, we may see more “futuristic” designed and efficient objects that would have been very difficult or costly to build otherwise.
With that, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!

The Radio Has Competition?

The 8tracks Slogan.

The history of anything is important, even technology, and innovations are always overthrown. The radio has seen it’s fair share of competition, and now it has even more. A new app for Android, iOS, PC and Mac called 8tracks is trying to get up there, and proclaims itself as “the best internet radio.” You may ask why it’s so much different than any other radio stations, or the radio itself? Well think like this, why do we listen to the radio?

The 8tacks icon.

The radio gives us great music, but we can get that on sites like Youtube or Vevo, why should we switch to 8tracks when their are so many great music sites. Well see in sites like youtube you have to search the specific song, not really anything new, but in 8tracks you search genre and there are plenty of user-made mixes, for example you may stumble upon a Dubstep mix, and it will play a dubstep song one after another, and you just might find a new song to add to your personal list of favorites. That’s what the radio did for us, but it was contaminated with numerous ads in between songs, and unnecessary pauses. In 8tracks there is none of that, you make an account and go, it’s as simple as that. Another thing is that you can save a mix onto your phone, or iPod and you won’t need internet connection later on to go through that mix on the streets or alone at some party with nothing better to do.

The community is already huge, and is growing at a very rapid pace, why not join it. Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention is that it’s all free, making a mix is free, listening is free, and downloading is free! The developers of 8tracks can keep this because I am pretty sure they have made a deal with big music companies, to make money 8tracks won’t let you skip more than 3 songs per hour. It’s a small drawback but it adds a more “radio effect” to the app, and allows to keep everything running.

This app is rising to the top, and soon maybe another must-have app on your computer, or device, like Angry Birds.  Oh and the very best thing, it’s all free. Go check it out, it’s a unique idea, and is worth the few seconds to sign up and listen to some of your favorite genres of music.

The opinions in this article are solely those of Mughda Khondker.

 

Will Books Exist 10 to 20 Years From Now?

My sister loves to collect books. She aspires dedicating a significant portion of her room to create her personal library, where she would put her books, old and new, and create an environment of wisdom and peace. It is, then, no wonder she gets upset when I remind her that books are a dying media. Actually, books are far from dying, but, rather, books in its physical form is dying.
Books as physical entities are what we have been using for the past thousands of years. It still shocks me that such a old and established form of media suddenly stands in the face of death. But what’s more surprising is that how astonishing digital media and the internet is; so astonishing that it is able to kill the physical form of books that has been the dominating form from the very beginning. WIthin the last ten years, an incredible amount of physical texts have been converted to digital form. Furthermore, old texts that are in the public domain is being digitized by Google anti-bot system called reCAPTCHA. reCAPTCHA disfigured words that we need to type when, say, creating an account. One of the two words we type is a word from an old book while the other is a word that the computer randomly asks us to type. When we type these words correctly, we not only verify ourselves as humans but also help digitize old books!
Now the question is, just because books exists in digital form, why would they threaten the physical form? The answer to this is that their mere existence in the digital form isn’t what is causing the physical material to die. Rather, the cause lies in the benefits and the convenience of the digital form of books. Texts in digital form can be used to do things perceived as magical only a few decades ago! In its most simple form, digital texts are flexible and portable. I can take virtually unlimited number of books with me in small location. Devices like the Kindle Fire lets anyone carry all the books they need in their pocket! When digital, people can tap a word, topic, image, etc and get definitions, encyclopedia articles, maps, videos, and a lot more instantly!
But the part that really amazes me is that digital books and the internet redefines how we perceive a book. Now, books can no longer be texts, diagrams, and images. They can be much more than that! Back in 2001, when I watched the first Harry Potter movie, I was amazed to see moving pictures in the wizarding world news papers! It was so magical! But now, online newspapers have videos embedded in them, and it is nothing out of the ordinary to see someone reading a newspaper article with a video playing on it in their smart phone! Yet, it has only been 10 years! Now, videos are simple to be included in books. How about a chemistry textbook that allows the reader to manipulate the molecules or rotate 3D diagrams for a better understanding? Why can we not have audio clips and interviews in a biography! All this is possible with digital books and the power of the internet.
Apple recently released the iBooks 2, which now includes textbooks that are interactive. This is a huge example of where education is headed as well as textbooks themselves. Houghton Mifflin, McGraw Hill, and Pearson have all joined apple to sell digital, interactive textbooks in the iTunes store! To compliment the iBooks 2, Apple also released the Authoring tool, a free app for the Mac, that lets anyone create textbooks (interactive or static) and distribute (free or paid) the in the iTunes Store. More companies are bound to follow, and soon enough, digital books will become the norm and a necessity!
Are books dying, no, but their physical form doesn’t have much of a future. Perhaps the physical form will remain for those enthusiast collectors and be more expensive as demand drops. This would be analogous today to record players. My sister loves the smell of old books (I do too), and they will always have a place in the future. But as far as mainstream is concerned, we are going digital!

What Will Windows 8 Tablet Devices Look Like?

At the time of this writing, Windows 8 hasn’t come out yet; therefore, there are no Windows 8 tablet devices in the stores. But, if you are curious about what to expect with Windows 8 tablet devices in terms of hardware, read on!

Microsoft has published the tablet device requirements for Windows 8 that manufacturers need to follow to have their device certified. You can read the official document if you want to get technical and are bored. But we are going to give you the gist of the things you might find important as a consumer.

What Does Certified Windows 8 Device Mean?

You may wonder what is meant for a device to be certified by Microsoft as an Windows 8 device. Well, for consumers, it is sort of a guarantee of a great user experience. Windows 8 has great features that need to be well integrated with the hardware. If the hardware doesn’t have a certain requirement, some features in Windows 8 will not work or work poorly. For example, without a magnetometer compass apps in Windows 8 won’t work!
Also, if a device is certified, Microsoft will put the manufacturer’s logo in the device’s boot screen. This has never been done before! When Windows boots, we see the Windows logo. But with Windows 8, certified devices will have the manufacturer’s logo. For example, a HP tablet will feature the HP logo.

Difference Between Windows 8 ARM and Windows 8 x86 Devices

Before moving on, I am going to clarify the difference between an ARM based device and an x86 device. If you are already familiar with these types of devices, skip this and the next paragraph. ARM based devices run on a processor type called ARM and the iPad and Android tablets are examples of ARM tablets. These tablets, though not as powerful, has a great battery life and do not need fans to cool. Windows 8 will be the first version of Windows to run on ARM devices. The drawback of these devices is that they will not run Windows programs designed to run on Windows 7 and earlier. Only Windows 8 “Metro Style” apps will work on these devices.
An x86 device is a device that runs on x86 processors by chip makers, like Intel and AMD. These are the devices that we today call traditional PCs, like laptops and desktops. Windows 8 will run on these devices as well. These devices will be more powerful and will be able to run all Windows programs made for Windows 7 and earlier. They will also run Windows 8 “Metro Style” apps. However, many will require a fan to cool (making device thicker and hotter), and battery life will be less than that of ARM devices.
With the background information out of the way, let’s get to the beef and find out what the Windows 8 devices will be like

All Windows 8 Tablets (ARM and x86)

  • Five-finger multi-touch: the screen must be able to respond to at least up to five fingers simultaneity; that is, I should be able to virtually paint on a tablet with at least up to five fingers at the same time
  • 720p Cameras: These are high definition resolutions
  • Screen resolution of at least 1366 by 768. This resolution is required for all features of Windows 8 to work, notably, the ability to run two metro style apps side by side.
  • Five of the following buttons:
    • Power
    • Windows Key (This will take you to the start screen)
    • Volume up and volume down
    • Rotation lock (we may not always want to accidentally cause our screen to go portrait or landscape when we tilt our screen.)
  • Ambient light sensor (perhaps so the device can adjust brightness accordingly)
  • Gyroscope and accelerometer for rotation inputs
  • magnetometer (useful for apps needing compass functionality)
  • 10 GB of free storage space at the least
  • At least 1 GHz processor
  • At least 1 GB RAM (2 GB for 64 bit Windows)

x86 Devices Requirement

  • Two-second resume: if the computer is asleep, it must awake by or quicker than two seconds
  • Switching on and off Secure Boot must be an option. Secure boot is a security feature that helps fight threats during system boot. However, because it blocks unsigned OS, many many not be able to install some Linux operating systems with secure boot enabled.

ARM Devices Requirement

  • Secure boot must not be able to be switched off

Other, Interesting, Notes

It is required that holding the power button and the Windows key must bring up the Ctrl+Alt+Delete feature present in Windows since day one.

Should You Even Care About CES?

CES is an annual consumer electronics show. The big question is, however, is whether or not you should care about CES. The answer to this depends actually. Our friends at Lockergnome list some reasons as to why CES may be pointless for you. I am going to share these interesting points here; but first, let’s take a look as to what CES is and some of the reasons you may be interested.

CES is the big, annual, event that givCES Logoes a heads up from the consumer electronics that we can expect in the year. It happens in the January of the year; so basically, we can see it as a sneak peek of what’s coming in the tech industry. So let’s kick off with a couple of reasons as to why you may be interested in CES coverage.

Purchase decisions: You may be wondering whether to hold off on buying a new hardware, like a laptop, to see if there is something better down the pipeline. Browsing through CES coverage is a great way to start your research. Most technology websites and news sites will cover the new devices that were shown off at CES.

Developer and Retail Business Owners: If you are a retail business owner, CES is the show for you. Believe it or not, CES is more for retail business owners like you rather than the consumers themselves. CES is designed to get the retail business ready for what kind of devices to order. If you are a software developer, CES is a good place to see what kind of hardware, if any, you may need to develop for. A good example would be the Kinect for Windows that was presented at this year’s CES.

Well, I will hand over the rest to Lockergnome, who will discuss why CES may not be for you.

Here’s the Lockergnome article: http://www.lockergnome.com/news/2012/01/09/why-you-should-be-glad-youre-not-attending-ces-2012/