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 an effort to boost app purchases in the windows store, Microsoft has teamed up with a number of retailers to offer a $25 Windows Store gift card with the purchase of a new touch screen PC or tablet.  Honestly I think it’s quite crazy that all new PCs aren’t already touchscreen, and even crazier that someone would buy a new PC that does not have a touchscreen.  Well, there is a reason the Surface was necessary. Participating retailers include Amazon.com, Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics, Staples, Newegg.com, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart.com, and of course the Microsoft Store.  It does not appear that this offer is available internationally. Source: Microsoft ...

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Microsoft received the unconditional approval of the Justice Department for the deal. In a statement, Microsoft said it was pleased to receive the approval of the Justice Department, and it looked “forward to the date when our partners at Nokia will become members of the Microsoft family.” Microsoft still needs approval from the European Union, which is expected to clear the deal. Regulators in India, Russia, Israel and Turkey have also approved the Nokia deal. 99.7% of Nokia shareholders approved the deal two weeks ago.  Microsoft has not changed its earlier prediction that the acquisition will be completed in the first quarter of 2014.  I suspect, the faster this deal gets approved, the closer we will be to finding out who Microsoft’s next CEO will be.   Source: United States Department of Justice ...

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Today Microsoft announced the availability of Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2013 R2 for download.  MDOP is a suite of virtualization, management and security technologies available for enterprise customers. In addition to support for Windows 8.1 and virtualization of Office 2013, today’s release includes the: Launch of Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) 5.0 R2 Launch of User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) 2.0 Enhancements to the Microsoft BitLocker Administration Enhancements to Monitoring tool (MBAM 2.0 SP1), including multi language support In addition to these key feature updates, MDOP 2013 R2 offers Windows 8.1 compatibility for Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM) 4.0 SP2, Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) 8.1, and Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) 2.0 SP1, which also offers multi-language support. Microsoft also announced the availability of App-V 4.6 SP3. This release provides support for Windows 8.1 for customers as they make the transition to App-V 5.0 SP2. For additional detail on ...

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Windows 8.1 is seeing success among PC gamers.  Data from Steam users now shows that Windows 8.1 (x86/x64) is being used by 6.34% of all Steam users.  This is a nearly 5% increase from users just one month ago.  Windows 8.1 is now being used by more people on Steam than Mac, Linux, and Windows Vista users.  Windows 8/8.1 accounts for 18.06% of steam users, while Windows 7 still commands 64.38%, and Windows XP ~6.45%. Gabe Newell, co-founder of Steam, and former Microsoft employee has been fairly open about his dislike of Windows 8. Source: Steam via Neowin ...

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Microsoft has a ton of Cyber Monday deals through is the Microsoft Store website.  Some of the deals include: Xbox Xbox One Day One Complete Bundle: $699.95 Xbox One Day One Ultimate Bundle $799.95 Xbox 360 4GB with Kinect: $249.99 Xbox 360 250GB with Halo 4, Tomb Raider, and one month of Xbox Live Gold: $249.99 Xbox Live Gold three-month membership: $14.99 Xbox 360 Games for $9.99 Gears of War 2: Game of the Year edition, Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin, Pro Evolution Soccer 2012, Resident Evil 6, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, The Price is Right Decades, Major League Baseball SK12, Grand Slam Tennis 2, Quake 4, Adidas miCoach, FIFA Street, NBA 2K12, Brunswick Pro Bowling, Big League Sports, Men in Black, Kinect Sesame Street TV, Star Trek, Ridge Racer Unbounded, Madagascar 3: The Video Game, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor, PowerUP Heroes, Battleship, Inversion, Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster, ...

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You may recall some months back we reported on VLC’s kickstarter to raise $75,000 in an effort to create a free Metro Win8 App.  The project has been behind schedule and we reported on their progress in June.  In October the team finally got the video portion of the app working, but not the audio. VLC’s President Jean-Baptiste Kempf released a statement to Neowin today: We have video (correct one), audio, support for all files formats without our old trick (sending it on a local network), network streaming playback, and subtitles. All that with passing the WACK (technical certification). We have submitted it already (and got rejected, because of a crash). We will try to get around this nasty bug (race condition) and resubmit (this week? the next?) The WinRT app may take more time before it is released: “We’re working hard on it, since we don’t have (yet) a fully working ...

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As part of Cyber Monday, Microsoft has made Eminem’s latest album, Marshall Mathers LP2, free on Xbox Music.  I just tried purchasing it myself, and it is indeed free.  The rest of Eminem’s albums are all priced at 99 cents.  Here is how to grab the album: 1.       Open Xbox Music on your Windows 8 or Windows Phone device and login with your Microsoft Account. 2.       Search for “Eminem” and click through to his artist page. 3.       Find “The Marshall Mathers LP2 (Deluxe)” album and follow the steps to purchase. 4.       The price has been set to free so you won’t be charged. Non-Windows 8 / Windows Phone users can stream the entire Eminem catalog free today at music.xbox.com. Source: Major Nelson ...

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As you may recall Windows & Windows Phone 8.1 was codenamed “Blue.”  The codename for the next set of major updates for Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox will be ‘Threshold.’  MJF reports: Microsoft Executive Vice President Terry Myerson recently mentioned the Threshold codename in an internal email about plans for his unified operating-system engineering group. The goal of threshold will be to develop the next version of each respective OS in a way that shares more common elements and support a core set of “high value activities”.  Full unification may comes after Threshold.  Terry Myerson is currently in charge of the road map until the new CEO comes in, and the plan is to release the Threshold wave of products in Spring of 2015.  In the meantime the Windows team is working on releasing “Update 1″ in Q2 of 2014, shortly after the release of Windows Phone 8.1. Threshold is ...

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When Bing first started out as Live Search it used to have a search service called xRank. xRank kept track of notable celebrities, musicians, politicians and bloggers and ranked them in order of popularity from Bing search query results. Microsoft shut that service down in 2010. However, like Google Microsoft still publishes results of some of the most popular searches at the end of each year. Here are the most popular athletes searched by country. USA’s most searched for sports stars of 2013 The popularity of American sports in the US is echoed by the nine home-grown stars who make up the list for America. Quarterback Tim Tebow leads the list, ahead of now-retired footballer Ray Lewis and a clutch of big name basketball stars. Tim Tebow Tiger Woods Kevin Ware Ray Lewis Lebron James Danica Patrick Dwight Howard Derek Jeter Maria Sharapova Dale Earnhardt Jr.   Australia’s most searched for sports ...

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When Bing first started out as Live Search it used to have a search service called xRank.  xRank kept track of notable celebrities, musicians, politicians and bloggers and ranked them in order of popularity from Bing search query results. Microsoft shut that service down in 2010.  However, like Google Microsoft still publishes results of some of the most popular searches at the end of each year.  Here are the most popular celebrities searched by country.  I have also provided a sample image of what you may find while doing a search on Bing for select celebrities. USA’s most searched celebrities Beyoncé continued her reign as the queen of pop, topping the 2013 list. Justin Bieber and Barack Obama are the only males making an appearance in the US Top 10. Beyoncé Kim Kardashian Rihanna Taylor Swift Madonna Justin Bieber Nicki Minaj Amanda Bynes Miley Cyrus Barack Obama Australia’s most searched celebrities Talk ...

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As the weather begins to get much colder throughout most of the United States, Microsoft has released three new Windows 8 Winter themes.  These themes are free to download from the official Windows site. The first is called the Snowy Night Theme.  These beautiful images capture the many ways that snow can transform a landscape, from the hushed grandeur of the forest to the beckoning warmth of a cozy cottage and the magic of snow-covered city streets. Welcome winter with this free theme for Windows.  This theme includes 12 photos including: Cozy mountain lodge, Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada City lights of Tromsø, Norway Timber barbeque house against bare trees in the winter landscape at night, Sweden City lights in winter, Plovdiv, Bulgaria Snowy lit trees, winter, Canada Country cottage with snow-covered trees, Sweden Close-up of lit lantern at gatepost, Sweden Light trails from traffic moving down ...

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The limited availability of the PS4 in North America helped the Xbox dominate console sales over Black Friday.   Market Research Firm InfoScout collected over 83,000 receipts from 3,000 people who shopped at Walmart and Target on Black Friday.  Analysis of that date shows the Xbox One with 31% of console sales, the Xbox 360 with 30% of sales, PS4 & PS3 with 15% each, and the Wii & Wii U with a combined 7%. These numbers may be an early indication of how the Christmas shopping season may go.  Walmart offered the Xbox 360 for $99, and in these tough economic times I think that’s of great value to families. Infoscout also released some quotes of what they were hearing from consumers: PlayStation 4 “Too much hype when Sony doesn’t produce enough” “Expensive. Games are expensive.” “It’s too high tech none if the older ps games will work with it ...

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The latest numbers from Net Applications show IE11 making big gains in the last month.  IE11 was released concurrently with Windows 8.1, but was not released on Windows 7 until early November.  IE11 gained 1.78  percentage points in November, moving from 1.49 percent to 3.27 percent.   IE10′s market share declined 1.44% to 17.50% largely due to users upgrading to IE11.  IE9 market share continued to slip to 0.24 percentage points to 9.25 percent.  IE8 continues to be the most popular browser with 21.74% market share, slipping 0.2% from last month.   Windows XP users cannot upgrade beyond IE8, I suspect IE8 will see a dramatic decline after WinXP hits end of life in 2014.  IE7 gained 0.03% to 1.34% overall, and IE6 lost 0.1% to 4.92% overall.  To summarize: IE11 – 3.27% IE10 – 17.5% IE9 – 9.25% IE8 – 21.76% IE7 – 1.34% IE6 – 4.92% Overall IE now controls ...

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Computers and electronics retailer Microcenter (not to be confused with Microsoft) is selling first generation SurfaceRTs for only $179.99 with the touch cover included.  This is a great deal, but of course there is a catch.  You cannot order online and will have to physically go to the store to grab one.  Microcenter is promising each store will have at least 100 in stock.  Good luck to those trying to grab one! Check out the $199 deal here from Microsoft Store. You can buy 64GB Surface for $379 here. Shop Microsoft Store’s Hot Black Friday Offers Today. Source: Microcenter ...

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Related Reading #1: http://microsoft-news.com/a-vocal-minority-of-idiots-journalists-ruin-innovations-on-the-xbox-one/ Related Reading #2: http://microsoft-news.com/instagram-non-controversy-shows-medias-willingness-to-bash-microsoft/ While the rest of us are enjoying the holiday spirit, it seems a small group of extreme, self-described “feminists” are out to kill the fun.  A recent non-story has been making headlines lately, stemming from Microsoft’s fun, ad-lib styled letter aimed at convincing loved ones to buy you an Xbox One for the holidays.  Earlier, Microsoft had released a fake doctor’s note to allow you take the day off work and play your Xbox One with your qt3.14 gf. The controversy looms over how Microsoft originally released their letter.  Among the default options, this was possible: That’s right, you could place in the idea that your significant other would rather knit than watch you play Xbox.  And maybe it is true, your SO finds watching you mindlessly play a video game extremely boring.  It’s not like we have not seen women make ...

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Nokia has released a new Lumia 2520 ad which goes directly after hipster iPad Air users.  The ad tries to emphasize the usefulness of the 2520 especially its keyboard, bundled Office suite, and long battery life.  I thought the ad was quite funny and the woman using the 2520 wasn’t too hard on the eyes either :p I think the Lumia 2520 is a wonderful device especially for people who need an LTE tablet right now.  As a reminder Nokia is throwing in the keyboard accessory for free to those who purchase it by December 2, 2013.  What I am really looking forward to is the Surface & Nokia design teams collaborating together, once the acquisition is complete, and coming out with a brand new tablet sometime next year. Source: UKMR ...

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