About the author  ⁄ Suril Amin

Suril is a scientist, journalist and obsessive Microsoft observer. He holds an advanced degree in Biotechnology with minors in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology. Send him tips on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/surilamin

In between advising current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and his philanthropic endeavors, Bill Gates was spotted on a family vacation off the coast Italy near Porto Cervo, Sardinia. According to a new report: Gates — along with his wife Melinda and their kids Rory, Jennifer and Phoebe — knocked a few balls around in Porto Cervo, Sardinia before being flown back to the massive yacht they’re renting. After that, the family went through a rack of wet suits (because who doesn’t keep their wet suits on a clothes rack?) before taking a dip in the Mediterranean Sea and hopping on jet skis. Safe to say his summer is probably better than yours.   h/t tmz ...

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In what continues to be bad PR for Microsoft’s online communication service Skype, the service has been linked to the government again, this time to help process illegal aliens at the US/Mexican border.  Border Patrol agents have begun using online communication service Skype, to continue to process illegal aliens held in Texas detention centers.  Border Patrol sources told KFI Radio’s Steven Gregory that Murrieta agents can process up to 25 people per shift, depending on the amount of staff in the Texas facilities. The American government is experiencing a crisis at the Mexican border where thousands of children are illegally pouring into the United States, often with the help of drug cartels. Leaked documents from Edward Snowden linked Skype to the NSA, as an easy way for the government agency to snoop on conversations through backdoors. Source: Breitbart ...

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It appears the Microsoft Store is currently allowing customers to use a 5% discount, obtained from Bing rewards towards a Surface Pro 3. Typically high value items are excluded from discounts including the Xbox One console, Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro. Here is the full text: At the online Microsoft Store, we’ve hand-picked the latest technology products. Redeem for this reward and receive a 5% discount – restrictions apply.* You’ll also enjoy free ground shipping and free returns on everything we sell.*Valid from 11/13/2013 – 12/31/2014. Offer valid online only at the US Microsoft Store. May not be combined with other offers or applied to prior purchases. Excludes gift cards, pre-ordered products, Office 365, Volume Licensing, Xbox One console, Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro. Limited to stock on hand. Discount applies before taxes, shipping and other fees. Limit 1 coupon per transaction. Not for resellers. Quantity limits may apply. ...

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With Microsoft’s Surface Pro now available, the Redmond software giant has increased their marketing campaign. In addition to airing ads during the World Cup, the company is also running a series of web banners across various websites.   The first banner contains the familiar tagline “The tablet that can replace your laptop,” and they second takes a subtle dig at the MacBook Air with the text “Lighter than air.” I’ll admit I rarely see banner ads these days due to having tracking protection lists enabled in IE, but comment below if you have seen these banner ads anywhere. Do you think banner ads are a good use of Microsoft’s marketing resources? Source: Neowin ...

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While there were some rumors [WinBeta] that Windows 8.1 Update 2 would be distributed through the Windows Store with a potential 3 GB file size, it appears this will not be case. While Windows 8.1 was distributed through the Windows Store, Windows 8.1 Update 1 was distributed through Windows Update. Microsoft appears to prefer distribution through Windows Update since some business/enterprise customers have disabled the Windows Store for their users. Since Update 2 is being distributed through Windows Update it will be free, also as expected. It also appears that the final name will be “Update 2″ and not Windows 8.2. It is rumored that Microsoft will offer a significant discount to those upgrading from Windows 8.1 Update 2 to Windows 9. Those upgrading from any version prior to Update 2 will pay more. Update 2 is expected to contain optimizations to make Windows 8 work better on small tablets, such as ...

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As we get closer to the release of Windows 8.1 Update 2 new rumors have come to light. Microsoft enthusiast FaiKee has revealed new information based on his discussions with a Chinese source.  It appears Microsoft may be working on an Update 3 for Windows 8.1 (may be called Windows 8.2) to succeed Windows 8.1 Update 2. Small info update, take it as a rumor – it’s still quite far away, and plans could change anyway : Windows Codename Blue -> Windows 8.1 Updates 1/2/3, Update3 expected 2015 Spring. Windows Codename Threshold -> Windows 8.1.x or 8.x , or whatever MS would name it, there will be 1 preview, expected 2015 Q2~Q3 Windows Codename 9 -> Windows 9 , or whatever MS would name it, there will be 2 previews, first preview expected 2015 Q2~Q3. This rumor does add fuel to the fire that Windows 9 may already be off schedule. ...

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Infamous Microsoft leaker WZor has come out hiding and dropped some interesting information regarding to Windows 8.1 Update 2. Here is a roughly translated Russian quote from WZor: At this time I cannot give an exact date of signing of the RTM. Although next week (23 – 27 June) a very significant event is planned inside Microsoft.I’m not sure what will happen, but most likely the first RTM-Escrow build will be signed off. The timing makes sense as Microsoft typically gives OEMs one to two months to prepare their new hardware following RTM. This means we will likely see general availability of Windows 8.1 Update 2 by August. In the meantime Microsoft will work on QFEs (quick engineering fixes) to solve specific problems. What remains unknown is what exactly is inside Update 2. The start menu has been pushed back to Windows 9 (‘Threshold”). The rumors is that it is likely to ...

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Infamous Microsoft leaker WZor has come out hiding and dropped some interesting information regarding to Windows 9 or ‘Threshold.’ Here is a roughly translated Russian quote from WZor: “In fact, the most interesting things are going in China, where Microsoft executives are shocked by a series of decisions of the Chinese government. Timing of Windows 9 now depends on how these problems will be solved. Our sources say that Microsoft is panicking about the fate of Windows 9. It’s very likely, that Microsoft will release Windows 9 Enterprise Edition without integration of Microsoft’s cloud services and with the ability to disable “Metro 2.0″ interface. This possibility is being actively discussed at Microsoft.” As China has grown socially. economically, and militarily it becomes an increasingly important market. The sheer size of China dwarfs the US and Europe combined. This coupled with what is perceived as a weak United States make decisions by foreign ...

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As the first batch of SP3s (Surface Pro 3s) were shipped into the hands of eager fans and enthusiasts over this weekend, Windows RT seems to have been forgotten in the conversation. The SP3 has achieved many of the advantages the first generation Surface RT held including long battery life, a somewhat lower price point, and a superior form factor. A peruse back down memory lane to the Sinofsky era at Microsoft reminds us the that Windows RT was met with resistance from the very beginning. First, the naming of Windows on ARM to Windows RT was universally panned by technology media and technology enthusiasts alike. To make matters worse Windows 8′s platform architecture was named WinRT (Windows Runtime). The two similar names also caused a great deal of confusion. It’s a running joke that the naming of Windows RT is among the reasons Sinofsky was fired. The hardware also proved to be problematic ...

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Microsoft is staying committed to a promise made by their chief counsel Brad Smith a few months ago. Smith said the company would fight legal demands from U.S. authorities to turn over data stored in Microsoft computing hubs outside the country. The promise was made after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents that claimed Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and others were complicit in helping the U.S. government spy on its citizens. Microsoft is opposing a U.S. government demand for a user’s emails stored on company computers outside the country. Microsoft in a court filing dated Friday said it opposed a search warrant for information on a user’s online emails stored in Microsoft’s Ireland data center. Microsoft alluded to the public mistrust of how tech companies protect people’s personal information. “The Government’s position in this case further erodes that trust, and will ultimately erode the leadership of U.S. technology companies in the global market,” ...

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If you’re involved in the Microsoft community, you’re probably aware of Anthony, commonly known by his twitter handle WinRUs. We reported last year that he got a license plate on his new car that reads “BING IT.” It appears Microsoft noticed too and shot a short video of him and how Bing impacts his life. Microsoft posted this video at the end of their blog post reflecting on 5 years since the launch of Bing. Give Anthony a follow on twitter, he is genuinely among the nicest people I’ve interacted with in the Microsoft community. Source: Bing Blog ...

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Over the past year there have been many re-orgs within Microsoft. After Ballmer’s major re-org of the company, Office head Kurt DelBene retired and the Office team fell under Qi Lu within his Application and Services Group (ASG). Previous to DelBene Steven Sinofsky ran the team before eventually coming to work on Windows 7. For Office, under Qi Lu were Corporate Vice President Jeff Teper ran Office server and services and Corporate Vice President Kirk Koenigsbauer ran Office client and services. Last month Lu decided he does not want to have Office divided among client/server lines but around a few key cross-platform groups. We reported yesterday that Teper, the man responsible for originally hiring Satya Nadella, moved into his new role as head of corporate strategy to work in areas such as acquisitions and development.  Rajesh Jha replaced Teper along with maintaining his responsibilities for Office 365 Exchange and Outlook.com.  ...

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New numbers from Net Applications for the month of May show growing OS market for Windows 7 and Windows 8 while Windows XP continues to decline. Windows 7 continues to dominate at the top with the OS now over 50% marketshare, up from 49.27% last month. Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 combined is now at 12.64% up from 12.24% last month. Windows XP saw a slight decrease to 25.27% down from 26.29% last month. Mac OSX 10.9 currently holds a 4.15% share, while Linux holds a 1.62% share. Windows Vista holds a higher share than both of these operating systems at 4.62%. Source: Net Applications ...

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Since Valve Corporation co-founder, and former Microsoft employee, Gabe Newell publically called Windows 8 a “catastrophe,” it’s been fun game to look at the Steam user statistics every month. For the month of June we see PC gamers still prefer to use Windows, with a dominating 95.35% of OS share among Steam users. All versions of MacOS combined control 3.42% among Steam gamers, and Linux comes in at third with 1.13%. For a further breakdown of Windows, Windows 7 still leads with 62.06%. Combining Windows 8 & Windows 8.1 we see 24.98% OS share among Steam gamers. Up nearly 2% from last month and up 5% from January of this year.  Windows XP usage still remains around 5% even though the operating system has hit end-of-life. I suspect when DX12 is released we will see a further shift to Windows 8 off Windows 7 among gamers. Source: Steam ...

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Longtime Microsoft employee Jeff Teper, well known for his work on the Office team, was promoted to head  of corporate strategy to work in areas such as acquisitions and development. Microsoft confirmed Teper was promoted last month, but a replacement for old position in the Office team has not been named yet. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella continues building out his senior leadership team. Recent changes include moving Mark Penn to chief strategy officer, Phil Spencer to head of Xbox, and Stephen Elop finally joining Microsoft as EVP of Devices and Studios. Teper was responsible for hiring and recruiting Nadella to work for Microsoft in the early 90s from Sun Microsystems. Nadella was originally hired to help persuade developers to move from Sun’s server operating system to Windows NT. Besides Teper’s work on Office 365 he is also known as one of the father’s of SharePoint. Source: Bloomberg ...

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It was as if two long lost brothers had been reunited. Audibly excited Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Salforce.com CEO Mark Benioff celebrated their strategic partnership in a joint conference call earlier this afternoon. Historically Microsoft and Salesforce.com have been bitter rivals, and Benioff an outspoken critic of Microsoft. But with Salesforce stock down over 20% in the last year, the company decided it was best to put their past behind them. “We are excited to partner with salesforce.com and help customers thrive in a mobile and cloud-first world,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Working together we’ll deliver new solutions that connect the customer insights of Salesforce to the cloud productivity of Office 365, the cloud platform of Azure and the mobility of Windows, so our customers can do more.” “Today is about putting the customer first,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, salesforce.com. “Together with Microsoft, we are building ...

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