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

Microsoft has removed the Facebook and Flickr integration from the Photo app in Windows 8.1 along with support for photos on network storage.  One of the key features in Windows Phone has been the tight social integration with the ability to pull photos from many services within the photo app. It seems Microsoft is moving in the other direction with Windows 8.1. A spokesperson for Microsoft, speaking in the Microsoft community forums said: In Windows 8, we wanted to provide a way for folks to view their photos on other services knowing there would be few (if any) apps in the store at launch that would do so.  Now there are many apps in the store that offer ways to view photos on other services and soon there will even be a Facebook app from Facebook.  We’re confident Facebook will offer great ways to view and engage socially with photos ...

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Skype introduces “Stay Together,” a new campaign via Pereira & O’Dell. The “Stay Together” ads strive to have a powerful emotional connection with the audience instead of focusing on the technology itself; in this case, to keep family and friends in touch despite long distances. A similar type of ad has been recently seen in the Apple “Made in California” commercial. AdAge reports: The first in the series is “The Impossible Family Portrait,” featuring Denis, separated from his family in Uganda and trying to keep in touch with his family and adopted son, over Skype. There’s also “Animal Family Portrait,” [below] about a zookeeper who had to leave Australia but still keeps in touch with her animal friends, and “The Growing Up Family Portrait,” about 10-year-old Julie and her cousin in Brazil. There’s also a contest where Skype asks users to share stories of how they use the service to ...

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Picturepan2 over at LiveSino has some shown off some nice screenshots of the Mail, People, and Calendar apps as they will look in the final version of Windows 8.1 Mail: In the mail app it will be easier to multi-select & triage, support for drag and drop has been added, and snap mode for attachments is now supported.  The application will now be known as the “Windows 8 Outlook.com client.”  There are also sweep/cleanup features similar to Outlook.com as well as auto-categorizing your email such as newsletters and social mail. Calendar: What’s Next feature will show the next series of events on the calendar. People: People app will get a significant UI makeover. Clicking on a contact’s first letter will change the look of the filter. A search box inside the updated People app and the contact page for each profile will also get a new look. Source: Windows Newsroom via LiveSino ...

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Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Xbox (and possible replacement for Mattrick?) confirmed that the Kinect on the Xbox One will be able to scan QR codes, including pre-paid Xbox Live Cards.  Hopefully the days of punching in 25 digit codes are a thing of the past. To my reddit friends — yup — this works! http://t.co/QHnOPZqib1 — Marc Whitten (@notwen) July 1, 2013 Source: Twitter ...

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Twitter confirmed it was testing a tool to automatically translate tweets using Microsoft’s Bing search engine. In the implementation, tweets appear in the original language, with the translated tweet in smaller text below it (with a powered by “Bing translator” label). “To make it easier for people around the world to connect with each other, we are beginning to experiment with Tweet text translation,” said a Twitter spokesperson. Bing provides a similar service for Facebook. Source: AllThingsD   ...

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Klout is the social reputation service everybody loves to hate, but much like the SAT test it is a de facto standard.  Bing has been a strong leader in social search, with close relationships with Facebook, Twitter, and Klout.  Today Klout announced that the number of times someone searches for you on Bing now contributes to your Klout score.  Bing search prevalence — the number of times you are searched for on Bing — will now contribute directly to your Klout Score. Search is one of the most direct indicators of real world influence and serves as a bridge between offline and online influence. This is interesting because someone could be influential but not necessarily active on social media.  As they mention in their blog post, Warren Buffet has only tweeted three times but his influence is enormous and that is reflected in Bing. Someone who is famous or influential on a topic ...

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In effort to support Creative Common licenses Bing has added Search by License” feature for Bing image search.  Bing has simplified this process to allow you to filter by usage rights and only see images that have a Creative Commons license.  In the latest version of Office 2013, you can also search for images on Bing directly from any Office application. Not only that, the search results will show licensed images by default. This is also based on the same technology that is powering the “Search by License” filter.  The new filter is already live as of today at Bing.com/Images, although it may not be available in all countries. We here at Microsoft-News have always strived to use images with permission and under the appropriate creative commons license. Source: Bing Blog ...

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Starting in August Microsoft will no longer accept new TechNet subscriptions.  The service will shutdown once current subscribers contracts end.  Ed Bott has a nice write-upon TechNet’s pending end. TechNet was originally create in the late 90s, in an effort to get builds to consumers through CDs (by mail) in era where broadband was slow and expensive.  Economically TechNet was a great deal, for a few hundred dollars annually, you got early access to MS builds of server and desktop software with multiple product keys.  Technically the software was for “evaluation purposes only,” but nobody ever followed this and it was never enforced.  Due to the ability to get multiple product keys, many people shared subscriptions or even illegally sold the extra keys. In a letter to subscribers, Microsoft wrote, “IT trends and business dynamics have evolved,” and TechNet has outlived its original purpose.  Additional details: New subscriptions won’t be accepted after August 31, 2013. ...

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Don Mattrick, current President of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business (think Xbox) will be leaving the company, possibly to become the CEO at Zynga according to a report by Kara Swisher at AllThingsD.  An official announcement may be made later today, Zynga’s shares are up 10% on the rumor.  Mattrick was also on the short list of people considered to take over the CEO role at Electronic Arts (EA). According to Swisher, this move is unrelated to Ballmer’s restructuring plan and Mattrick has been planning this move for months.  It is unknown at this time as to who will replace Mattrick.    Mattrick, a Canadian native, has long wanted to move back to the Bay area, where has a home, said sources, another important factor in this move. Update: Confirmed by Zynga. Here is the press release. Zynga Names Don Mattrick Chief Executive Officer Founder Mark Pincus to Continue as Chairman of the Board ...

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OneNote has released a major “version 2.0″ update for iPad, iPhone, and Android.  These apps are based on an almost entirely new code base that delivers a full-powered OneNote experience across each device with more reliable sync, via SkyDrive that “just works,” according to Microsoft.  Enginerring changes in the backend will allow Microsoft to make quicker updates going forward. New OneNote Apps for iPad, iPhone and Android. OneNote will now have a consistent look and feel across all devices. With the new OneNote updates all formatting looks exactly the same across devices – this includes text formatting, tables with shading and borders, layout and so on. Hyperlinks and note tags are consistently supported. Even ink from your Windows tablet is shown on iOS and Android now. In short, your notes look the same, all the time, on all devices.  Below is a comparison of what you see in the new OneNote for iPad compared ...

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Net Applications has released their monthly numbers for June, and their data shows IE10 has now officially surpassed IE9′s marketshare.  IE10 now commands 13.52% of browser marketshare and IE9 at 11.71%.  Just two months ago, IE9 had 15.39% and IE10 had 9.26%.  IE10 is only available on Windows 7 & Windows 8. IE11 was not counted in this month’s report, considering Windows 8.1 was just released a few days ago.  Microsoft confirmed IE11 will come to Windows 7,  but would not confirm the timeframe; sources close to Microsoft-news tell us it will be released early Q1 2014.   ...

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Microsoft continues to slowly expand its Surface distribution channel.  Today Microsoft announced the Microsoft Devices Program, which allows customers to purchase Surface and commercial services through authorized resellers. The first authorized Surface US distributers will be Ingram Micro Inc., SYNNEX Corp. and Tech Data Corp.  The first US resellers include DW, CompuCom Systems Inc., En Pointe Technologies, Insight Enterprises Inc., PC Connection Inc., PCM Inc., SHI International Corp., Softchoice, Softmart and Zones Inc.  Resellers will be allowed to sell Microsoft’s extended warranty and accidental damage and in addition to adding their own services such as asset tagging, custom imaging, kitting, onsite service and support, device recycling. and data protection. During the next few months, Microsoft will work to authorize commercial distributors and resellers in more countries. In June, Microsoft announced a one-time offer for Surface RT starting at $199 for qualifying educational institutes running until the end of August in 26 ...

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Skype has redesigned their Android app with version 4.0 to look and feel more like the app does on Windows Phone.  The android Skype app has been rebuilt from the ground up to be faster and more reliable. The focus was on stability, performance, and load time.  Skype claims this version has major improvements in allowing users to fire off a quick message, or access contacts and favorites. Microsoft promises more updates in the coming months and year ahead “to make Skype for Android even more reliable, reachable, and mobile-friendly.”  No word on Skype for Windows Phone as of yet.  From what we’re hearing the Windows Phone group has truly adopted the “Shut-up & Ship” motto, and we will likely not know more about Skype being built into Windows Phone until Q1 2014. Unfortunately, it appears Skype is now using Microsoft’s marketing group: Source: Skype ...

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Skype, like many other pieces software, collects a large amount of feedback.  Here is what they have been hearing from their customers: Make Skype more reliable, and less power hungry. Be nice to my battery life. Pretty self-explanatory, and the work is never done. Messaging needs to be easier and at my fingertips. People use a lot of different apps for messaging – and it’s very easy to switch back and forth, using the one that feels right in the moment. While Skype is known best for calling (recently exceeding 2 billion minutes in one day!), our users also send tens of billions of chat messages every month to the people they care about most. They simply want it to be more convenient. I now use Skype on multiple devices, so make the experience fast and familiar. More and more of our users have Skype on their phone, tablet, and ...

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