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

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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Microsoft has finally posted the Build Session list over at Channel 9. Go check it out! Interestingly there is only 1 session listed for Xbox (on Smart Glass), I’m guessing we will not see too much new stuff regarding Xbox at BUILD. There are 7 sessions listed for IE11.  Should be lots of great IE stuff shown at BUILD.  Will IE11 come to Windows 7? Session Title Summary 2-066 New IE Developer Tools. F12 developer tools have been completely re-imagined for IE11. 2-067 New Platform Capabilities for Advancing Web Development Learn how to take advantage of the latest Web technologies, interoperably. 3-068 Web run-time performance Learn new techniques for analyzing and improving site performance. 3-069 Web Compatibility and Same Markup Build sites that provide great experiences across modern browsers. 3-071 Lighting up your site on Windows 8.1 Leverage the power of the Windows platform to create amazing sites. 4-072 Hyper-fast ...

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Microsoft has released its second major update to the Metro Lync App.  For those not familiar with Lync, think of it as Skype for the enterprise.  Here is what’s new: Access more about your meetings — Use the new Meetings screen to view details about all your meetings for the current and next day, and, when more than one meeting is scheduled for the same time, to choose which meeting to join. You can still join your next meeting from the Join Lync Meeting tile on the home screen. Do more with the snapped view — Make calls, view contact information, start and have conversations, and see contacts’ presence all while working on other apps. Join meetings anonymously — Join a Lync Meeting from the Lync app even if your credentials don’t work for that meeting or if you don’t have a Lync account.  Browse someone else’s shared slides — ...

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Microsoft makes most of the sessions at TechEd available on Channel 9, it’s a great resource and wealth of information.  I have been slowly sifting through the sessions and this is our continuing series on the best TechEd 2013 talks at New Orleans. Distinguished Engineer Jeffrey Snover gives a good overview of how to get started using powershell.  Powershell is becoming increasingly important within Microsoft, especially if you are heavily getting into Windows Azure.  Microsoft decided not to update the Command Prompt significantly partially due to legacy reasons. Here is what’s new in PowerShell 4.0: New features in Windows PowerShell Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) is a new management system in Windows PowerShell 4.0 that enables the deployment and management of configuration data for software services, and the environment in which these services run. For more information about DSC, see Get Started with Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration. Save-Help now ...

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We reported on this earlier but Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President of Windows Server & System Center at Microsoft, wrote a blog post early today highlighting a couple releases: · Windows Server 2012 R2 delivers software-defined networking and high-performance storage on low-cost hardware. Hyper-V hosts apps across customer, service provider and Windows Azure clouds, and System Center manages across them. · SQL Server 2014 features in-memory processing for applications (“Hekaton”), as well as data warehousing and business intelligence. SQL Server 2014 also enables new hybrid scenarios like AlwaysOn availability, cloud backup and disaster recovery. It lives in Windows Azure and can be easily migrated to the cloud from on-premises. · Windows Azure is the only fully supported infrastructure and platform as a service offering, and fully integrates with on-premise infrastructure. · The market-leading System Center Configuration Manager and cloud-based Windows Intune provide a unified environment to manage all devices. Windows Intune ...

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You may recall there was a version Zune Pass on the web and now Microsoft is finally bring Xbox Music to the web too. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Xbox Music plans have revealed to The Verge that the web-based version will launch next week at music.xbox.com. Microsoft has already started updating its Xbox Music pages in preparation, noting on some, that it’s “now available on the web.” Xbox Music on the web will work in a similar way to Spotify’s own web version, letting you stream music through the browser and manage playlists. While it won’t launch until next week, it’s possible that Microsoft may highlight the upcoming release during its Build developer conference that starts on June 26th. Microsoft has re-wrote the Xbox Music app for Windows 8.1. Windows 8.1 will be released June 26th at the BUILD conference in San Francisco. Source: The Verge ...

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