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

The OCR feature in SkyDrive, which is powered by Bing, is now being rolled out to users over the next few weeks.  It recognizes text which may have been taken in a photo and stores it in the metadata. This feature, which is rolling out over the coming weeks, allows you to search from the desktop for the content of Camera Roll photos that have had text extracted from them. For example, you might have taken a photo 6 months ago of the menu of your favorite restaurant, but can’t remember where it’s buried in your Camera Roll and want to remember the dish you had. You can simply type in the restaurant name on your desktop and Bing Smart Search will search text of your Camera Roll photos and pull up the picture of the menu with the restaurant name printed on it. With the power of smart files, ...

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SkyDrive “smart file” is a relatively simple concept that has the primary goal of reducing disk space.  An interesting paradox has occurred within the last couple of years.  While people’s need for disk space has increased, the available disk space on devices has decreased.  This is due to a variety of reasons but primarily demands for solid state drives (SSDs) has increased due to their better performance, impact on battery life, form factor etc.  However they  much more expensive than mechanical hard drives, and therefore we tend to see SSDs with more limited capacity in devices because they are cheaper. With SkyDrive smart file, the full file will not be synced locally as it currently is. Instead a thumbnail of the file with relevant metadata will be synched.  This can reduce the disk space used by SkyDrive up to 80%.  You can always choose to make a file always available ...

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Microsoft recently added two-factor authentication to its own Outlook.com just a few months back.  Now multi-factor authentication is available as a service on Windows Azure.  Multi-Factor Authentication quickly enables an additional layer security for users signing in from around the globe.  In addition to a username and password, users may authenticate via: 1) An application on their mobile device.  2) Automated voice call.  3) Text message with a passcode. On-Premises VPNs, Web Applications, and More – Run the Multi-Factor Authentication Server on your existing hardware or in a Windows Azure Virtual Machine. Synchronize with your Windows Server Active Directory for automated user set up. Cloud Applications like Windows Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics CRM – Enable Multi-Factor Authentication for Windows Azure AD identities with the flip of a switch, and users will be prompted to set up multi-factor the next time they sign-in.  Custom Applications — Use our SDK to ...

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Delta Air Lines is equipping its 11,000 pilots with electronic flight bags using the Microsoft Surface 2 tablet.  Device rollout to pilots flying the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 fleets will start later this year and all Delta cockpits are projected to be paperless by the end of 2014.  The Surface 2 will run on the Windows RT 8.1 platform and provide flight crews real-time access to essential tools and the most up-to-date flight-related resources including key charts, reference documents, and checklists while saving the airline $13 million per year in fuel and associated costs.  “Delta’s electronic flight bag running on Surface 2 continues the technological strides Delta has been making to give our crews the best tools to keep them flying safely and efficiently,” said Capt. Steve Dickson, Delta’s senior vice president – Flight Operations.  “This intuitive device puts key information at their fingertips right when they need it.  ...

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Pre-orders of the Surface 2 & Surface Pro started last week after the products were unveiled a press event in New York City.  If you pre-ordered online you had to at least put at least $50 down to reserve the device.  However if you are cash strapped at the moment it may be a good idea to visit a Microsoft Store in person.  Currently you can reserve the Surface 2 or Surface Pro with your choice of accessories for $0 down. Please check our previous coverage of the Surface 2, Surface Pro, and accessories: Microsoft’s Surface Blades Concept Has Unlimited Potential New Surface Ad From Microsoft, One Device For Everything In Your Life Microsoft Opens Up Pre-order For Surface 2 And Surface Pro 2 Interesting Information On New Surface Devices From Reddit AmA, Surface 2 LTE Version Coming And More Interesting Information On New Surface Devices From Reddit AmA, Part-2 ...

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The UK government has issued security approval for public sector organisations to offer bring your own device (BYOD) schemes for employees to access data and applications using their own smartphones and tablets.  The new End User Devices Security and Configuration Guidance policy was issued this week by CESG, the information security arm of GCHQ. It follows numerous public bodies such as local councils seeking to introduce BYOD schemes to offer more flexible working for staff. The policy also provides detailed advice for a wide range of possible products and operating systems. Devices using Android 4.2, BlackBerry 10.1, Apple iOS6, Windows 7 and 8, Windows Phone 8 and RT, Ubuntu 12.04, OS X 10.8 and Google ChromeOS 26 are all on the list. Source: Gov.uk ...

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Microsoft Windows Gift Card was recently spotted on Amazon, and it appears you will be able to use it to purchase Windows Store Apps on Windows 8.1.  McAkins Online reports: For those of you who do not get how big this is, talk to anyone with kids and Windows devices. We’ve been clamoring to have a coherent way of giving our kids entry into the Store for Windows and WindowsPhone Apps without the kids bankrupting us. It is either you let your kids buy their $1.99 apps with your Microsoft Account or you attach your Credit-Card info to their MS account. A prospect that is not healthy in both cases. You might as well give them access to your bank account. Thank God, now you can just purchase a $10 or $20 gift card from Microsoft, and give it to the kids and let them redeem it. Once they burn ...

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Microsoft continues to integrate Bing services into more of their product portfolio.  The Bing translator app will be launching for Word & PowerPoint 2013 later today.  The Next at Microsoft Blog reports: For those who use Word and PowerPoint, the Translator app in the Office Store is launching Monday in conjunction with International Translation Day.  Expanding on top of built-in functionality within the products, it allows you to select any text and instantly translate it.  Using this app, organizations can utilize within Office the custom translation systems they built with the Microsoft Translator Hub.  Already, Office users translate over 1.3 million characters each hour using the built-in translation features. Please read their full post celebrating International Translation Day       ...

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In partnership with appendTo and Sauce Labs Microsoft has introduced BrowserSwarm, an open source tool that helps Web developers automate testing of their JavaScript frameworks and libraries across devices and browsers.  This is especially helpful to developers who are resource limited in building great, interoperable frameworks.  This is a second such project by Microsoft, the first being modern.IE. If you are interested in helping grow BrowserSwarm: More projects – Add yours to BrowserSwarm here. More test cases – Contribute new Unit Test Frameworks or Test Cases to run. More places you store your code – We have connected BrowserSwarm to GitHub, but you can connect it to your own repository. The team is also hoping that you share your feedback and ideas on how they might improve BrowserSwarm. Source: IE Blog ...

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A federal court appeals ruled on Monday that Microsoft did not violate antitrust laws nearly 20 years ago against Novell.  “Novell complains that Microsoft refused to share its intellectual property with rivals after first promising to do so. But the antitrust laws rarely impose on firms — even dominant firms — a duty to deal with their rivals,” according to a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel. “With respect to Novell at least, Microsoft did nothing unlawful.” Novel can appeal this decision and eventually may even end up at the Supreme Court. “Naturally we are disappointed by the decision issued today by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and are considering next steps,” said Jim Lundberg, Novell vice president. “Ultimately this decision will have no effect on our day-to-day operations nor our company’s vision for current and future Novell customers.” This ruling affirms affirms U.S. District Judge J. Frederick ...

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Technology companies have come to dominate the Interbrand global survey of the world’s most valuable brands taken every two years.  Apple took the top spot ousting previous champion Coca-Cocla and Google took second. Interbrand’s analysis puts Apple’s brand value at $98.3 billion, up 28% from last year.  Google is up 34% with its brand value at $93 billion.  IBM placed 4th, Microsoft 5th, Samsung 8th, Intel 9th, and HP at 15th and Amazon at 19th.  Samsung and Amazon have rose considerably from the last survey while Microsoft only rose 5%.  Other notable brands include Cicso at 13, Oracle at 18, SAP at 25, Dell at 61, Facebook 52, Adobe at 79, Cannon at 35, Philips at 40, Nintendo at 67, and Panasonic at 68. Sony fell considerably to 46th, from 40 previously and losing 8% of its brand value.  The PS4 may help gain some of its value back, but analysts ...

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Talking at the Eurogamer Expo in London, Microsoft Phil Harrison revealed that the Kinect can differentiate between two people talking at the same time.  Additionally, the Kinect’s lead developer Nick Burton stated that it will also be able to see whether mouths are moving in the dark. The Xbox One will be launching in November 22 for $499 and will be bundled with the second-generation Kinect technology.  Many developers are utilizing Kinect in unique ways for upcoming titles as we reported earlier.  In response to privacy concerns, Microsoft clarified that the Kinect does not record or upload your conversations and therefore the NSA cannot have access to them. via Polygon ...

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Kara Swisher is reporting that Alan Mulally is currently the top pick to become Microsoft’s next CEO.  I have reached out myself to induviduals familiar with the situation who tell me that the board is no where near a final list of candidates and Mulally has indicated he is not interested in the job.  Now, Mrs. Swisher has significantly more credibility than I do, so you’ll have to independently come to your own conclusion here.  Considering Mulally is approaching the age of 70, I still have trouble believing he would become CEO since he would have to plan his own succession almost immediately.  Now, Ballmer and Mulally are friends and he has advised the Microsoft CEO in the past.  Certainly it is quite plausible that Mulally could be giving Microsoft some guidance on picking their next CEO. I will repost an editorial I wrote regarding Mr. Mulally some weeks back: ...

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I think the dancing videos are finally starting to make sense to me, they were just a year too early.  The Verge reports: That’s the Surface Remix Project, which is part modified Touch Cover and part Garage Band-style DJ app. It’s a simple, fun tool to play with, letting you create your own customizable controller, chop up your MP3s, and spin to your heart’s content. Avicii I am not (even with the Remix Project’s help), but I was easily layering screaming Linkin Park vocals over a booming kick drum in no time. The Remix Project Cover, with 16 numbered buttons, three sliders, and eight keys for volume and control, is impressive — it was fast and responsive, even as I slid up and down on the sliders. Part of that is no doubt due to the Surface 2 attached to it (the Cover also works with the Surface Pro and Surface ...

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Microsoft unveiled the Surface 2, Surface Pro 2, and new accessories at a press event in New York City today.  Among the new accessories was the successor to the Type Cover, the Type Cover 2 which includes a backlit keyboard and comes in new colors. Extend the battery life of your Surface. Click in Power Cover and get that extra time you need to make it through that last meeting or the rest of the flight. It’s like a keyboard and battery in one. Power Cover: Power Cover delivers the same great typing experience you get with Type Cover while extending the battery life of your Surface 2, Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 by up to 50 percent to help you make it through that late-night meeting or the entire flight. Power Cover will have an estimated retail price of $199.99 and has a projected release date of early 2014. ...

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Microsoft unveiled the Surface 2, Surface Pro 2, and new accessories at a press event in New York City today.  Among the new accessories was the successor to the Type Cover, the Type Cover 2 which includes a backlit keyboard and comes in new colors. Perfect for life on the go—that’s the Arc Touch Mouse. Comfortable, elegant, and eye-catching, with an innovative design that allows for quick use and storage. Enjoy a clutter-free work experience with BlueTrack Technology and precision control. Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition: This special-edition Arc Touch Mouse has been updated to match the look of Surface. Like other Arc Touch mice, it is designed for comfort and flattens for portability. It connects via Bluetooth 3.0, freeing Surface’s USB port for use by other devices. Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition will have an estimated retail price of $69.99 and will be available for pre-order in the U.S. and ...

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