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 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 ...

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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 ...

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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, ...

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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 ...

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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)   ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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The new Food & Drink Bing app offers access to a variety of recipes from culinary publishers like AllRecipes, popular cookbooks and food bloggers like Food 52, as well as recipes and tips from top chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Tom Colicchio.  More sources will be added over time. The app also offers a wine encyclopedia with information on over 1.5 million bottles of wine, 3.3 million tasting notes and hundreds of popular cocktail recipes. Hands Free Swiping When you’re cooking, inevitably your hands will get messy, touching your tablet is probably not the best idea.  The Food & Drink App has a Hands-Free Cooking Mode, which allows you to follow recipes step by step from your device by waving your hand across the camera. Comprehensive Recipe and Wine List With Food & Drink you can browse recipes by cuisine, level of difficulty, preferred cooking method or by specific ingredients. You can ...

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Microsoft’s on screen keyboard has been vastly improved in Windows 8.1  When you type you will now see pop-up spelling suggestions, you can swipe on the space bar to go through them and tap the space bar to select the one you want.  This way you do not have to move your fingers away from the on screen keyboard to pick suggestions.   There are many shortcuts built in for special characters. For example, holding down the question mark will pop up the exclamation key.  You can also swipe on the question mark to get the exclamation point. Once you this in action on video or try it yourself, it’s quite simple. Source: Engadget ...

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In the new Windows Store bring a number of changes in Windows 8.1.   Automatic Updates Windows Store apps will now be automatically updated in the background.  Users have the option of turning off automatic updates, especially useful to those in areas with limited bandwidth. Redesign The focus of the Windows Store redesign is on recommendations.  When you open the Windows Store you will see an editorial sections of the top new apps, idf you scroll to the right you will see “pick for you.”  The store also features a list of recently launched apps and apps that are currently popular with other users.  The list of top free and paid apps are still there too., Bing powers the recommendation engine and will provide you with a personalized list of apps based on a number of factors. App listings are much more descriptive now, you can see screenshots, ratings, top ...

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There many high resolutions PCs, The Surface Pro, Lenovo ThinkPad Helix, Toshiba Kirabook, Dell XPS 12 to name a few.  However, the user interface is often too small with text that can be hard to read and touch targets that are too small.  With Windows 8.1 Microsoft adds full support for high density displays, introducing automatic scaling for UI in these devices. According to Microsoft’s Jensen Harris, “Text might not be as sharp on apps that aren’t ready.” director of the Windows User Experience team.  In Windows 8.1 you can scale up 200% in both the desktop and metro mode.  Microsoft has updated many of the first party  Windows apps including Windows Explorer to look better in high density displays. According to The Verge: Harris expects there to be a transition process as developers update their apps to take advantage of the higher resolution, but Windows 8.1 will still be ...

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NOOK for Windows 8 v1.5 adds new features:   • Simplified user interface makes it easier to browse and search • Faster performance in app opening, scrolling and page turning • Download in the background while you read, shop or use other apps • Side load ePub and PDF files from the local file system • Search icon on home and library screens • Type in your library or the shop to instantly search • Highlight words in books using multiple colors • Add notes to books • Find words or phrases in books • Lookup word definitions in the dictionary • Manage subscriptions   Nook is available for both Windows 8 and RT and you can sign into the account using your Microsoft account.  Along with new features and a performance bump there is a half-off promotion on many items in the Nook Store.  As further incentive, B&N is offering ...

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Microsoft will officially release Windows 8.1 preview later today at the BUILD conference in San Francisco.  Below is a link that will allow you to download the ISO for the Windows 8.1 Preview.  Alternatively, you update Windows 8 through the Windows Store.  The link is not live yet, but will be later today. Download Windows 8.1: http://prev.windows.microsoft.com/en-001/windows-8/preview-download Source: Neowin via Faikee ...

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