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

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. ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

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.   ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

The Xbox Music App has been redesigned in Windows 8.1.  The main focus of the app in Windows 8.0 was discoverability, the focus has now been shifted to playing music quickly from your own collection.  The new new Xbox Music app will feature a navigation column on the left side significant performance enhancements.  Other features include: Built-in Search: You’ll have faster access to your favorite songs, artists and albums with an in-app “Search” bar. Improved Collection Management: Simple access to your music starts in the “Collection,” where the music that you’ve saved in the Xbox Music cloud and your local music and will be at the forefront of the app. Streaming Radio Stations: “Radio” will offer seamless creation of new streaming Internet-radio stations based on artists you like and will give you faster access to your favorite Radio stations that you’ve already created. Exploring the Music Store: “Explore” will take ...

Read More →

Get a free Xbox t-shirt for you Xbox 360 avatar. Microsoft is promoting its upcoming Xbox One gaming console with new Xbox One T-Shirt for your Xbox Avatar in Xbox LIVE network. There is a male and female versions as well. We saw some comments from users that this prop is not available in their region, so don’t be surprised if this is not available in your region. Download: Male or Female via Major Nelson ...

Read More →

Outlook 2013 RT for Windows RT 8.1 Preview is now available, download it: here! Outlook 2013 RT, in your enterprise Windows RT 8 and Windows RT 8.1 Preview ship with Office Home & Student. If your organization also purchased commercial use rights or has a commercial license to Office 2013 suites that include Outlook, your users can use Outlook 2013 RT to get to business on their RT devices too. Here is a breakdown of some of the limitations, as expected: Microsoft Exchange and Office 365 mailbox accounts Outlook 2013 RT can connect to your organization’s Exchange Server 2007, 2010, or 2013 as long as the Autodiscover service is configured. However, Outlook 2013 RT doesn’t support these Microsoft Exchange features: Online Archive or Personal Archive mailboxes Applying Messaging Records Management (MRM) retention policies Site Mailboxes Data Loss Prevention (DLP) policy tips VBA and COM Add-ins Outlook 2013 RT doesn’t run macros, ...

Read More →

Tom Warren over at The Verge , who has been fairly reliable in the past, believes Microsoft is hinting at a 2560 x 1440 Surface Pro and high density 7-inch tablets at the BUILD conference going on this week. “…Microsoft appears to be dropping some accidental hints at the future of Surface and other 7- and 8-inch tablets.” -Tom Warren One session at Build talked about building apps across multiple screen sizes, during the session Microsoft showed potential screen sizes for Windows 8 tablets.  One of these resolutions was a 10.6″-inch tablet running at 2560 x 1440.  This may potentially be the next screen resolution for the Surface 2, which is currently 1920 x 1080.  There also lies the possibility this will be a  tablet by an OEM or unannounced ODM design that has not been publicly announced yet. Other potential display resolutions shown included a 7-inch display running at 1920 x 1200 and a ...

Read More →

Star Chart is a free app in the Windows Store which allows you to explore the solar system. We’ve modeled the swirling gas clouds on Saturn, Juptier, Neptune and Uranus. We allow you to remove the atmosphere on Venus, the Earth and even Titan to see the surface detail and seas beneath (Methane oceans on Titan!). We’ve even added twinkle to Earth’s night lights. And the list goes on and on… We’ve basically remastered the entire solar system and night sky (where data is available and some places used a bit of artistic license) and we’ve created what we believe to be the most amazingly detailed and visually stunning (free) astronomy app available anywhere on any platform.  – San Shepherd, co-founder of Escapist Games The app now supports voice control: Source: Neowin Download: Windows Store (warning 900+ mb)   ...

Read More →

OpenTable is the only app that helps you book a table at more than 20,000 restaurants in the US, Canada and Mexico. Plus, members can earn dining points to pay for meals at any OpenTable restaurant. Features include: See available restaurants in real-time, in a list and on a map Narrow your search by cuisine, price, or neighborhood Browse menus and reviews Make out-of-town reservations when you travel Download: Windows Store ...

Read More →

During the Build conference today, Rhapsody released its Windows 8 App. Features include: Dive into a catalog of millions of songs Play full-length albums and top tracks Create playlists for any occasion Save all your favorites to your library to play whenever, wherever Discover new music with Rhapsody radio – listen by Artist or Genre Hear it first with New Releases every Tuesday Enjoy rich-album imagery and intuitive navigation throughout the app Special Windows 8 features include Snap Mode for simple multitasking and an option that allows tracks to be pinned to the Metro-style home screen. Download: Windows Store ...

Read More →

The Bing Health & Fitness app is a personal companion for everyday living. The app around the philosophy that ”by bringing together nutrition, fitness and medical information customized to your own personal needs, you can learn about your own health, what works for you and make smart decisions to lead a healthy life. Combining these things in one comprehensive app allows you to quickly learn about what’s happening with your body and discover ways to maintain or change your lifestyle with helpful and easy to understand content.” Trackers The Health & Fitness app contains three Trackers; Diet Tracker, Health Tracker and Exercise Tracker. The Trackers are an easy and powerful way to gather information about your own body to make better decisions for you. They also all sync with Microsoft’s HealthVault to securely bring in data from personal medical records and third party tracking tools such as blood glucose monitors, electronic ...

Read More →

The Verge is reporting that Skype will indeed be built into the final version of Windows 8.1.  This was expected as the messaging app had been neglected since its release in 8.0, and it was not included in the Windows 8.1 preview.  Skype support will be built into the lock screen, as was demoed in the keynote yesterday, and you will be able to receive voice and video calls without logging in. Microsoft bought Skype for $8.5 billion over two years ago.  Back in April Microsoft forced Live Messenger users  to start to migrate over to Skype. Source: The Verge ...

Read More →