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Microsoft Surface Book 2 review: a powerful yet pricey laptop-tablet combo

The first generation Surface Book was a feat of engineering that took Microsoft’s Surface tablet PC and turned it on its head, making it a laptop first and a tablet second. The Surface Book 2 refines a few things, adds much more power and finally adopts USB-C.

If you’re primarily a laptop user, who occasionally wants to take just the screen with you and needs some brawn for your processing duties, the Surface Book 2 is the machine for you. But getting your head around what the machine can do is the first challenge.

With the screen attached like a laptop it behaves just like any other Windows 10 laptop with an interesting hinge. Press the detach key and the screen pops off, turning into a full tablet PC with up to five hours of battery life. But you can also turn the screen over and re-attach it to the base to either have the screen facing away from the keyboard, or folded down to make an angled drawing pad.



The Surface Book 2 in studio mode with the Surface Dial and Surface Pen. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

It means you can go from a laptop one minute to a note-taking tablet the next to a graphics tablet thereafter. In every situation the Surface Book 2 excels, thanks to some accessories, including the excellent Surface Pen and Dial.

There are a few caveats. The screen on its own is thin and light for a PC tablet, but I would not be comfortable taking it out and about on its own as it doesn’t feel as robust as the Surface Pro or similar. As a laptop, the fulcrum hinge extends out further away from the user than a traditional laptop hinge would, meaning the base of the laptop is quite long and I struggled to fit it between my gut and the back of the seat in front of me on a train. On a desk, though, the Surface Book 2 is arguably the best Windows laptop available.

The keyboard is brilliant – better than most dedicated keyboards. The trackpad is a bit clicky but smooth and precise, while the screen is crisp, beautiful and bright. The machine also runs cool. The only time I could detect the fans going was when playing XCOM 2, and even then they weren’t very loud. Most of the time the Surface Book 2 was completely silent.

Battery life was solid, but not as spectacular as Microsoft’s quoted 17 hours might suggest. With 10 or so tabs open in Chrome and with Spotify, NextgenReader, Windows Mail, Typora and Affinity Photo open at different times, as well as 45 minutes of watching video on Netflix with the tablet detached (and all with recommended brightness and recommended power mode active), the Surface Book 2 lasted around nine hours before powering down.

The tablet alone would easily last around three hours of movie watching, or more with the brightness turned down.

Specifications

  • Screen: 13.5in LCD 3000 x 2000 (267 ppi)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 or i7 (7 or 8th generation)
  • RAM: 8 or 16GB
  • Storage: 256, 512 or 1TB
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Camera: 8MP rear, 5MP front-facing
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, USB 3.0, USB-C, SD, Surface Connector
  • Laptop dimensions: 232 x 312 x 23mm
  • Laptop weight: 1.533 or 1.642Kg
  • Tablet weight: 719g

Windows 10 Pro



With the lid shut the Surface Book 2 looks fairly like a regular laptop. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The Surface Book 2 runs the same version of Windows 10 as any other modern PC, which in this case is the Autumn or Fall Creators Update. Since the launch of the first Surface Book, Windows 10 has become more efficient, with various battery saving settings that can make a real difference when using the screen in tablet mode.

With plenty of useful gestures, excellent stylus and accessory support, and a modern design, the Fall Creators Update is the most well thought out, fastest and slick version of Windows 10 yet. There are still the legacy bits, such as parts of the Control Panel and back-end tools that look like they came straight from Windows XP 16 years ago, but Microsoft’s progressive modernisation of the user interface means most will not have to encounter them unless something breaks.

USB-C, Surface Pen and Dial



The Surface Book 2 has one USB-C port next to the Surface Connector. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

One of the important updates for the Surface Book 2 is Microsoft’s eventual acceptance of USB-C, which has increasingly become an important standard, not only for connecting accessories such as displays, but also for charging.

The Surface Book 2 has one USB-C port, which will also charge the machine, alongside the Surface Connector. But unlike most other high-end machines, the USB-C port does not double as a Thunderbolt 3 port, which is a shame for such an expensive and otherwise capable computer.

The Surface Book 2 will quite happily drive a 4K monitor at 60Hz, as you would expect, via the USB-C port, but if you want more than one display you’ll have to switch to the Surface Connector and Microsoft’s optional extra docking solution, which will drive two external displays, provide power and USB connectivity.

The improved £100 Surface Pen is the best stylus in the business – accurate, with low latency, pressure and tilt sensing, it stays firmly attached to the side of the screen with magnets. It’s the first stylus that has not come off in my bag while transporting any machine.

The new machine also supports Microsoft’s £90 Surface Dial rotary accessory, both on and off the screen similar to the company’s Surface Studio desktop computer. While using it on the screen can be a bit cramped, it works very well indeed. It will work as a general computing input for things like scrolling through web pages, zooming or adjusting the volume, and can be set to perform certain tasks on an app-by-app basis.

It comes into its own when used with photo editors and other creative tools. In Affinity Photo, for instance, you can adjust brush sizes, change opacity and other settings, or you can put it on the screen and use it to rotate the image. There are plenty of ways to use it, and while it’s by no means a must-buy for most, creatives will certainly get their money’s worth out of it – particularly with the Surface Pen in the other hand.



The tablet detaches from the keyboard, held in place by pins along the hinge’s edge. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Observations

  • The hinge has been improved, but it still has play when positioned
  • Microsoft’s Windows Hello camera is great, recognising you and logging you in instantly
  • Full sized SD card slot is a rarity in any machine in 2017
  • The speakers in the screen are loud and clear, making watching a film a pretty good experience
  • You can charge the tablet without the keyboard using the Surface power adapter
  • You need quite a powerful USB-C power adapter (at least 45 Watts) to safely charge the Surface Book 2

Price

The Microsoft Surface Book 2 starts at £1,499 (buy here) for the base model with 256GB of storage, a 7th gen Core i5 (dual-core) and 8GB of RAM, but without a discrete graphics card in the keyboard.

The 8th gen Core i7 (quad-core) version with 256GB of storage, 8GB of RAM and a GeForce GTX 1050 discrete GPU costs £1,999 (buy here). The same Core i7 version with 512GB, 16GB of RAM and GPU costs £2,499 (buy here) and with 1TB of storage and 16GB of RAM £2,999 (buy here).

For comparison, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop starts at £979 (buy here), the Surface Pro starts at £799 (buy here), Apple’s 13in MacBook Pro starts at £1,249 (buy here) and Dell’s XPS 13 starts at £1,099 (buy here).

Verdict

The 13.5in Microsoft Surface Book 2 is an adaptable powerhouse of a computer. There aren’t many rivals that can double as a true hinged laptop, tablet and angle graphics tablet-style halfway house, particularly with the power of a discrete graphics card.

Given that the minimum specification anyone should really buy if they’re considering the Surface Book 2 is the £1,999 model with the discrete graphics card and 8th-generation Core i7 chip, Microsoft’s do-it-all machine is very expensive. But you get a lot of computer for your money with some very neat party tricks.

It’s not perfect, lacking Thunderbolt 3, but the Surface Book 2 is arguably the best Windows 10 power-user laptop going – plus you can take the screen off.

Pros: excellent keyboard, great trackpad, brilliant screen, great stylus, 9-hour battery, fancy hinge, great 2-in-1 compromise, USB A, full-sized SD and USB-C, Windows Hello, Surface Dial support, 8th generation Core i7 chips, discrete GPU

Cons: Windows still has tablet app gap, very expensive, relatively heavy, still a bit of play in the hinge, no Thunderbolt 3

Other reviews

This article contains affiliate links to products. Our journalism is independent and is never written to promote these products although we may earn a small commission if a reader makes a purchase.

Microsoft launches ARM-powered Windows 10 PCs with ‘all-day’ battery life

Microsoft and Qualcomm are officially unveiling the first ARM-powered Windows 10 laptops today. As expected, HP, Lenovo, and Asus are the manufacturers creating these new laptops that include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. The first devices are similar to 2-in-1 tablet / laptops we’ve seen with Intel-based processors in them, but they differ primarily because of the version of Windows 10 and Qualcomm processor that’s powering them.

Microsoft has previously shown Photoshop running on an ARM version of Windows 10, and the company has developed a special emulator to run traditional x86 apps on these new devices. These devices look and feel like normal laptops, and will run most of the software you’d expect to see on a laptop. HP and Asus are announcing their devices today, and Lenovo is expected to follow in the coming weeks.

The obvious question is why do these devices even exist? Microsoft has worked with Qualcomm to create these “always-on” PCs so that they’re always connected to LTE connections, and work more like an iPad than a traditional Windows laptop. That means you open the laptop up and it should instantly resume, or you close the lid and never have to worry about the battery draining. These devices should have battery benefits and the type of LTE connectivity that we haven’t seen regularly in Windows laptops.


e5397_HP_ENVY_x2_Lifestyle07 Microsoft launches ARM-powered Windows 10 PCs with 'all-day' battery life

HP’s Envy x2 device.

HP and Asus’ devices will include Windows 10 S, designed to only run apps from the Windows Store, but users will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro free of charge (for now) to get access to the full desktop apps. Microsoft has natively compiled Windows 10 to run on ARM chipsets, so all Windows processes, Edge, and the shell all run natively without emulation. Microsoft has also looked at the top third-party desktop applications and natively recompiled a set of system DLLs that they rely on to ensure performance is solid.

Microsoft’s emulation work does mean that you’ll be able to download most 32-bit exe files from the web and install them on ARM-powered laptops. There are a few exceptions, though. 64-bit Windows apps aren’t supported yet (developers will be able to recompile them in the future), and Microsoft isn’t supporting apps that use kernel mode drivers. That means most third-party antivirus software won’t be compatible, and the vast majority of games that use anti-cheat software will also not work correctly.

Everything else should run just fine, including apps like Photoshop, Office, and Chrome. Performance is obviously still the big question around these devices vs. Intel-based ones, but the idea is that all-day battery life and not having to charge your device regularly might make up for a slight hit to performance. The first devices should run for around 20–22 hours of active use, but if those estimates are anything like what we see with Intel-based laptops then the reality could be a lot less. We’ll be testing them heavily to find out.

There are obvious concerns around Microsoft and Qualcomm’s ARM on Windows efforts. We’ve seen similar promises of the “connected mobile PC” before, and they’ve flopped. Microsoft worked with Nvidia to produce Windows RT tablets five years ago, but the performance and battery life claims never lived up to reality and the operating system didn’t run traditional desktop applications. It was a mess that looked like a bad engineering project, rather than an operating system for consumers, students, and businesses.

Microsoft isn’t working with Nvidia yet on this new effort, and the company won’t say if it plans to in the future. Either way, it’s clear from the emulation software that Microsoft has learned some valuable lessons from the Windows RT disaster. These new laptops look like any regular device you’d see in a retail store today, and they’re designed to be thinner and lighter while improving battery life and maintaining app compatibility. They don’t include the typical fans you’d find in a laptop, so they’ll also be silent to use.


e5397_HP_ENVY_x2_Lifestyle07 Microsoft launches ARM-powered Windows 10 PCs with 'all-day' battery life

Asus’ NovaGo 2-in-1 device.

Asus’ NovaGo 2-in-1 includes a 13.3-inch HD display, up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. There’s even stylus support, and two USB 3.1 ports, a HDMI port, and a microSD reader. Asus’ NovaGo will be priced starting at $599 for 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. A $799 model will include 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. HP’s Envy x2 is a slightly smaller 2-in-1 with a 12.3-inch display, up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. HP’s device also supports a stylus, and both of these will come with LTE connectivity. That should be something we’ll see on most, if not all, ARM-powered Windows 10 laptops, enabling connectivity away from Wi-Fi hot spots. HP’s Envy x2 will be available in Spring next year.

These first devices lay the foundations for the future of what’s to come from this new Windows 10 on ARM effort. We could see tablets, and more hybrid devices running on this new software. One thing we’re unlikely to see is phone hybrids for now, as Microsoft tells me the current wave of devices doesn’t support a telephony stack.

If the battery life and performance live up to Microsoft and Qualcomm’s claims, then it could be an exciting upcoming year for Windows laptops. Microsoft is also rumored to be creating its own special notepad-like device with an ARM chipset, and if the company goes ahead with it then we’ll likely see it appear next year. For now, we’ll have a closer look at the new ARM-based Windows laptops and performance shortly from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon summit, so stay tuned to The Verge.

Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up …

9a86f_59d6953660b2f23bce62bc92-1280x7201oct062017170852poster Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up ...

Just a week after coming out of preview, the Microsoft Edge app for Android has been downloaded at least a million times.

According to the Google Play Store, the Blink-based Microsoft Edge app has been downloaded between one million and five million times. The app has been available to testers for a while, but only reached preview in October before becoming generally available at the end of November.

The Microsoft Edge apps for iOS and Android aim to make Edge more appealing to use on Windows 10 by making it more convenient to sync the browsing experience across devices.

The app offers Microsoft’s ‘Continue on PC’, which allows users to pass a site, app, photos, and files from a phone to a Windows 10 PC.

Microsoft has also added a roaming passwords feature that allows users to save a password on the phone, which carries across to the PC, as well as a dark theme.

9a86f_59d6953660b2f23bce62bc92-1280x7201oct062017170852poster Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up ...

Microsoft hope easy syncing of browsing across devices will make Edge more appealing to use on Windows 10.


Image: Microsoft

It’s likely to take a while for Edge app downloads to pass the five million milestone on Android, given that the app is only useful for the subset of Windows 10 users who actually use Edge on a PC.

While Windows 10 is now running over 500 million PCs, Edge currently only has a 3.6 percent share of desktops worldwide, according to NetMarketShare.

So anything Microsoft can do to boost appeal of Edge on the PC will be helpful in convincing more users to make the switch, either from Chrome or Internet Explorer 11.

It’s also working to expand the number of Edge extensions, which over a year after Microsoft enabled them now numbers 80.

Previous and related coverage

Microsoft’s Edge browsing apps generally available for iOS, Android

Microsoft is continuing to bang the Windows 10 ‘Continue on PC’ drum with its Edge browser apps for iOS and Android.

Microsoft is bringing new Edge apps to iOS, Android

Microsoft is rolling out new Edge apps for iOS and Android (plus an updated Launcher app for Android) as part of its strategy to try to keep Windows 10 PCs central to users’ computing mix.

Read more on Microsoft

Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up …

9a86f_59d6953660b2f23bce62bc92-1280x7201oct062017170852poster Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up ...

Just a week after coming out of preview, the Microsoft Edge app for Android has been downloaded at least a million times.

According to the Google Play Store, the Blink-based Microsoft Edge app has been downloaded between one million and five million times. The app has been available to testers for a while, but only reached preview in October before becoming generally available at the end of November.

The Microsoft Edge apps for iOS and Android aim to make Edge more appealing to use on Windows 10 by making it more convenient to sync the browsing experience across devices.

The app offers Microsoft’s ‘Continue on PC’, which allows users to pass a site, app, photos, and files from a phone to a Windows 10 PC.

Microsoft has also added a roaming passwords feature that allows users to save a password on the phone, which carries across to the PC, as well as a dark theme.

9a86f_59d6953660b2f23bce62bc92-1280x7201oct062017170852poster Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up ...

Microsoft hope easy syncing of browsing across devices will make Edge more appealing to use on Windows 10.


Image: Microsoft

It’s likely to take a while for Edge app downloads to pass the five million milestone on Android, given that the app is only useful for the subset of Windows 10 users who actually use Edge on a PC.

While Windows 10 is now running over 500 million PCs, Edge currently only has a 3.6 percent share of desktops worldwide, according to NetMarketShare.

So anything Microsoft can do to boost appeal of Edge on the PC will be helpful in convincing more users to make the switch, either from Chrome or Internet Explorer 11.

It’s also working to expand the number of Edge extensions, which over a year after Microsoft enabled them now numbers 80.

Previous and related coverage

Microsoft’s Edge browsing apps generally available for iOS, Android

Microsoft is continuing to bang the Windows 10 ‘Continue on PC’ drum with its Edge browser apps for iOS and Android.

Microsoft is bringing new Edge apps to iOS, Android

Microsoft is rolling out new Edge apps for iOS and Android (plus an updated Launcher app for Android) as part of its strategy to try to keep Windows 10 PCs central to users’ computing mix.

Read more on Microsoft

Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up …

9a86f_59d6953660b2f23bce62bc92-1280x7201oct062017170852poster Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up ...

Just a week after coming out of preview, the Microsoft Edge app for Android has been downloaded at least a million times.

According to the Google Play Store, the Blink-based Microsoft Edge app has been downloaded between one million and five million times. The app has been available to testers for a while, but only reached preview in October before becoming generally available at the end of November.

The Microsoft Edge apps for iOS and Android aim to make Edge more appealing to use on Windows 10 by making it more convenient to sync the browsing experience across devices.

The app offers Microsoft’s ‘Continue on PC’, which allows users to pass a site, app, photos, and files from a phone to a Windows 10 PC.

Microsoft has also added a roaming passwords feature that allows users to save a password on the phone, which carries across to the PC, as well as a dark theme.

9a86f_59d6953660b2f23bce62bc92-1280x7201oct062017170852poster Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up ...

Microsoft hope easy syncing of browsing across devices will make Edge more appealing to use on Windows 10.


Image: Microsoft

It’s likely to take a while for Edge app downloads to pass the five million milestone on Android, given that the app is only useful for the subset of Windows 10 users who actually use Edge on a PC.

While Windows 10 is now running over 500 million PCs, Edge currently only has a 3.6 percent share of desktops worldwide, according to NetMarketShare.

So anything Microsoft can do to boost appeal of Edge on the PC will be helpful in convincing more users to make the switch, either from Chrome or Internet Explorer 11.

It’s also working to expand the number of Edge extensions, which over a year after Microsoft enabled them now numbers 80.

Previous and related coverage

Microsoft’s Edge browsing apps generally available for iOS, Android

Microsoft is continuing to bang the Windows 10 ‘Continue on PC’ drum with its Edge browser apps for iOS and Android.

Microsoft is bringing new Edge apps to iOS, Android

Microsoft is rolling out new Edge apps for iOS and Android (plus an updated Launcher app for Android) as part of its strategy to try to keep Windows 10 PCs central to users’ computing mix.

Read more on Microsoft

Microsoft Takes Path Less Traveled to Build a Quantum Computer …

In the race to commercialize a new type of powerful computer, Microsoft Corp. has just pulled up to the starting line with a slick-looking set of wheels. There’s just one problem: it doesn’t have an engine – at least not yet.

The Redmond, Washington-based tech giant is competing with Alphabet Inc.’s Google, International Business Machines Corp. and a clutch of small, specialized companies to develop quantum computers – machines that, in theory, will be many times more powerful than existing computers by bending the laws of physics.

Microsoft says it has a different approach that will make its technology less error-prone and more suitable for commercial use. If it works. On Monday, the company unveiled a new programming language called Q# – pronounced Q Sharp – and tools that help coders craft software for quantum computers. Microsoft is also releasing simulators that will let programmers test that software on a traditional desktop computer or through its Azure cloud-computing service.

The machines are one of the advanced technologies, along with artificial intelligence and augmented reality, that Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella considers crucial to the future of his company. Microsoft, like IBM and Google, will most likely rent computing time on these quantum machines through the internet as a service.

D-Wave Systems Inc. in 2011 became the first company to sell a quantum computer, although its technology has been controversial and can only perform a certain subset of mathematical problems. Google and IBM have produced machines that are thought to be close to achieving “quantum supremacy” – the ability to tackle a problem too complex to solve on any standard supercomputer. IBM and startup Rigetti Computing also have software for their machines.

Microsoft, in contrast, is still trying to build a working machine. It is pursuing a novel design based on controlling an elusive particle called a Majorana fermion that no one was sure even existed a few years ago. Engineers are close to being able to control the Majorana fermion in a way that will enable them to perform calculations, Todd Holmdahl, head of Microsoft’s quantum computing efforts, said in an interview. Holmdahl, who led development of the Xbox and the company’s HoloLens goggles, said Microsoft will have a quantum computer on the market within five years.

“We are talking to multiple customers today and we are proposing quantum-inspired services for certain problems,” he added.

These systems push the boundaries of how atoms and other tiny particles work. While traditional computers process bits of information as 1s or zeros, quantum machines rely on “qubits” that can be a 1 and a zero at the same time. So two qubits can represent four numbers simultaneously, and three qubits can represent eight numbers, and so on. This means quantum computers can perform calculations much faster than standard machines and tackle problems that are way more complex.

7e05b_60x-1 Microsoft Takes Path Less Traveled to Build a Quantum Computer ...

Applications could include things like creating new drugs and new materials or solving complex chemistry problems. The “killer app” of quantum computing is discovering a more efficient way to synthesize ammonia for fertilizer – a process that currently consumes three percent of the world’s natural gas, according to Krysta Svore, who oversees the software aspects of Microsoft’s quantum work.

The technology is still emerging from a long research phase, and its capabilities are hotly debated. Researchers have only been able to keep qubits in a quantum state for fractions of a second. When qubits fall out of a quantum state they produce errors in their calculations, which can negate any benefit of using a quantum computer.

Microsoft says it uses a different design – called a topological quantum computer – that in theory will create more stable qubits. This could produce a machine with an error rate from 1,000 to 10,000 times better than computers other companies are building, Holmdahl said.

Windows 10 wishlist: Five gripes Microsoft needs to take seriously

c10a0_20171012nickdan Windows 10 wishlist: Five gripes Microsoft needs to take seriously

Microsoft is constantly tinkering with Windows 10, dropping in new features and swapping out old ones, but there are a few annoyances it seems unable or unwilling to fix.

What ties most of the following complaints together is Microsoft’s reluctance to let users choose for themselves, preferring instead to try to coerce users and control how they use their computer.

Here are the five ways Windows 10 is broken that Microsoft needs to sort out.

1. Sort out the Control Panel / Settings app confusion

Windows 10 adopts a rather confused approach to managing settings—splitting the options between the legacy Control Panel and the Settings app.

Microsoft appears to be in the process of gradually migrating these options to the new Settings app, with each big feature update further diminishing the role of the Control Panel.

However, having to juggle between the two menus is not particularly user friendly, and the changes in where settings lie is particularly aggravating for some users, as can be seen by the large number of forum posts this issue generates.

You can use the Search function to locate the Settings you need, but there are still clearly a large number of users who still struggle to locate what they’re looking for.

2. Give all users control over updates

All Windows 10 users should be given control over when updates are applied.

Currently there is no simple option for Windows 10 Home users to defer updates in the same way there is for users of Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise editions.

SEE: Windows 10: Streamline your work with these power tips (free TechRepublic PDF)

Users of non-Home editions can toggle options in menus to put off updates for months at the very least. However, Home users have to engage in hacky workarounds, such as setting their connection to ‘Metered’, which can have unwanted side effects due to Windows no longer downloading most Windows updates or Windows Store app updates.

Microsoft should just relent and give the Home edition the same level of control over updates as is available to Pro users.

3. Allow users to opt out of feature updates altogether

Not everyone appreciates Microsoft’s twice-yearly feature updates messing with their desktop, and, for some, the smattering of new features are, at best, unnecessary.

Microsoft should give all users the option to completely opt out of feature updates—the most recent being the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update— and instead only receive essential patches and fixes.

As it is, users of Pro and Enterprise can defer feature updates for more than a year, so why not go one step further and let everyone opt out altogether.

Does it really make sense for people who don’t have the slightest interest in virtual reality to suddenly find their computer has a Mixed Reality Portal?

There’s even already precedent for the change, with Microsoft recently revealing that PCs with unsupported Intel Atom CPUs would not receive any feature updates post last summer’s Anniversary Update.

4. Stop trying to force Bing and the Edge browser on users

While makes sense for Microsoft to build an ecosystem of linked services, from both a practical and commercial point of view, it would be nice if Microsoft let users choose their sniearch engine when using Windows built-in search feature.

Microsoft says that locking the Search function to Bing and its Edge browser is necessary to ensure the best possible experience for Windows 10 users.

But given the relatively limited market share of Bing and Edge, it’s clear that many users prefer competing products and services, so again it would be good if Microsoft would allow users to use their search engine or browser of choice.

5. Stop pushing the Microsoft Store so hard until it’s better stocked

Microsoft is determined to get more people to use the Microsoft Store, whether by locking Windows 10 S to using Store apps, or by releasing Store exclusives.

However, despite launching in 2012, the Store’s selection of apps is still fairly lacklustre, especially compared to the unfettered selection of software available for the Window desktop.

Microsoft faces a classic chicken and egg problem: without the userbase, it won’t get the apps, but without the apps, you can’t attract the userbase.

Trying to forcibly create an audience by creating an OS locked to the store isn’t the answer, however, all it does is highlight just how sparse the offerings in the Microsoft Store are.

More on Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up million users

98efa_59d6953660b2f23bce62bc92-1280x7201oct062017170852poster Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up million users

Just a week after coming out of preview, the Microsoft Edge app for Android has been downloaded at least a million times.

According to the Google Play Store, the Blink-based Microsoft Edge app has been downloaded between one million and five million times. The app has been available to testers for a while, but only reached preview in October before becoming generally available at the end of November.

The Microsoft Edge apps for iOS and Android aim to make Edge more appealing to use on Windows 10 by making it more convenient to sync the browsing experience across devices.

The app offers Microsoft’s ‘Continue on PC’, which allows users to pass a site, app, photos, and files from a phone to a Windows 10 PC.

Microsoft has also added a roaming passwords feature that allows users to save a password on the phone, which carries across to the PC, as well as a dark theme.

98efa_59d6953660b2f23bce62bc92-1280x7201oct062017170852poster Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up million users

Microsoft hope easy syncing of browsing across devices will make Edge more appealing to use on Windows 10.


Image: Microsoft

It’s likely to take a while for Edge app downloads to pass the five million milestone on Android, given that the app is only useful for the subset of Windows 10 users who actually use Edge on a PC.

While Windows 10 is now running over 500 million PCs, Edge currently only has a 3.6 percent share of desktops worldwide, according to NetMarketShare.

So anything Microsoft can do to boost appeal of Edge on the PC will be helpful in convincing more users to make the switch, either from Chrome or Internet Explorer 11.

It’s also working to expand the number of Edge extensions, which over a year after Microsoft enabled them now numbers 80.

Previous and related coverage

Microsoft’s Edge browsing apps generally available for iOS, Android

Microsoft is continuing to bang the Windows 10 ‘Continue on PC’ drum with its Edge browser apps for iOS and Android.

Microsoft is bringing new Edge apps to iOS, Android

Microsoft is rolling out new Edge apps for iOS and Android (plus an updated Launcher app for Android) as part of its strategy to try to keep Windows 10 PCs central to users’ computing mix.

Read more on Microsoft

Microsoft Takes Path Less Traveled to Build a Quantum Computer

In the race to commercialize a new type of powerful computer, Microsoft Corp. has just pulled up to the starting line with a slick-looking set of wheels. There’s just one problem: it doesn’t have an engine – at least not yet.

The Redmond, Washington-based tech giant is competing with Alphabet Inc.’s Google, International Business Machines Corp. and a clutch of small, specialized companies to develop quantum computers – machines that, in theory, will be many times more powerful than existing computers by bending the laws of physics.

Microsoft says it has a different approach that will make its technology less error-prone and more suitable for commercial use. If it works. On Monday, the company unveiled a new programming language called Q# – pronounced Q Sharp – and tools that help coders craft software for quantum computers. Microsoft is also releasing simulators that will let programmers test that software on a traditional desktop computer or through its Azure cloud-computing service.

The machines are one of the advanced technologies, along with artificial intelligence and augmented reality, that Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella considers crucial to the future of his company. Microsoft, like IBM and Google, will most likely rent computing time on these quantum machines through the internet as a service.

D-Wave Systems Inc. in 2011 became the first company to sell a quantum computer, although its technology has been controversial and can only perform a certain subset of mathematical problems. Google and IBM have produced machines that are thought to be close to achieving “quantum supremacy” – the ability to tackle a problem too complex to solve on any standard supercomputer. IBM and startup Rigetti Computing also have software for their machines.

Microsoft, in contrast, is still trying to build a working machine. It is pursuing a novel design based on controlling an elusive particle called a Majorana fermion that no one was sure even existed a few years ago. Engineers are close to being able to control the Majorana fermion in a way that will enable them to perform calculations, Todd Holmdahl, head of Microsoft’s quantum computing efforts, said in an interview. Holmdahl, who led development of the Xbox and the company’s HoloLens goggles, said Microsoft will have a quantum computer on the market within five years.

“We are talking to multiple customers today and we are proposing quantum-inspired services for certain problems,” he added.

These systems push the boundaries of how atoms and other tiny particles work. While traditional computers process bits of information as 1s or zeros, quantum machines rely on “qubits” that can be a 1 and a zero at the same time. So two qubits can represent four numbers simultaneously, and three qubits can represent eight numbers, and so on. This means quantum computers can perform calculations much faster than standard machines and tackle problems that are way more complex.

c848d_60x-1 Microsoft Takes Path Less Traveled to Build a Quantum Computer

Applications could include things like creating new drugs and new materials or solving complex chemistry problems. The “killer app” of quantum computing is discovering a more efficient way to synthesize ammonia for fertilizer – a process that currently consumes three percent of the world’s natural gas, according to Krysta Svore, who oversees the software aspects of Microsoft’s quantum work.

The technology is still emerging from a long research phase, and its capabilities are hotly debated. Researchers have only been able to keep qubits in a quantum state for fractions of a second. When qubits fall out of a quantum state they produce errors in their calculations, which can negate any benefit of using a quantum computer.

Microsoft says it uses a different design – called a topological quantum computer – that in theory will create more stable qubits. This could produce a machine with an error rate from 1,000 to 10,000 times better than computers other companies are building, Holmdahl said.

Next Windows 10 update to make scrolling great again in Microsoft Edge browser

2deb2_Microsoft-Edge-2 Next Windows 10 update to make scrolling great again in Microsoft Edge browser

Microsoft has announced that the company will finally address an annoying bug in Windows 10’s default web browser. Microsoft posted a blog to confirm that the Edge browser has a “Scroll Jank’ bug and the fix is coming soon with the next Windows 10 update, while it will be fixed in the upcoming Windows 10 preview build.

Scroll jank is a bug where the frames take too long for a browser to respond when there is scrolling or animations on the screen. Microsoft Edge will soon offer a jank free scrolling experience with the next Windows 10 update, codenamed Redstone 4.

Back in 2016, Microsoft in a support page admitted that Edge has a bug where “it does not fire wheel events when scrolling using the 2-finger scroll gesture on a Precision Touchpad”.

The company has now revealed that Microsoft Edge 17 will support Precision Touch Pad (PTP) Pointer Events this will fire Pointer Events with a pointerType of ‘touch’ in response to PTP gestures.

“Microsoft Edge also utilizes PTPs to enable back/forward swipe and to enhance users’ scrolling experience via off-thread (aka independent) scrolling. Since PTP input is processed differently by the input stack in Windows 10, we wanted to ensure that we took advantage of this and that we gave users a scrolling experience that felt as natural as their experience with touchscreens everywhere on the web. However, the web has traditionally had a bit of a design flaw when it comes to scrolling, in the form of scroll jank — that ‘glitchy’ feeling that the page is stuck, and not keeping up with your finger while you’re scrolling,” Microsoft Program Manager, Scott Low explains the bug in a blog post.

Microsoft will address the Edge browser’s Scroll Jank bug with the next Windows 10 release, codenamed Redstone 4. You will be able to try out PTP Pointer Events in Microsoft Edge starting with next Windows Insider release, on any site, Bing Maps, for example.


Microsoft’s Android apps offer the best Windows mobile experience to date

A few weeks ago, we did something weird. We set aside the Google Pixel launcher on the Pixel XL in favor of the new Microsoft Launcher, Microsoft’s rebranded Arrow Android launcher, which was first launched back in 2015. Then, we took it a step further and downloaded and made default both the new Microsoft Edge browser for Android, and Cortana for Android.

The result? The best Microsoft mobile experience available.

It’s no secret that Windows Mobile has failed. Not only is its market share tiny, but a Microsoft executive also recently admitted that development of Windows Mobile was effectively over — putting in serious doubt rumors of a new Microsoft Surface Phone. So it makes sense that the company would instead focus its attention on getting Microsoft apps and services onto third-party mobile operating systems, and it makes sense that it would start with Android, where it can effectively take over your mobile life. What we didn’t expect is that it would actually deliver.

The launcher

If you’re looking to turn your Android phone into an Android-Microsoft hybrid, then the core of that experience is the Microsoft Launcher, which, as mentioned, is essentially a rebranding of the Arrow launcher from 2015. When Arrow was first launched, it impressed reviewers, and since then it has only grown better. It’s clean, well-organized, and offers a few tricks that other launchers don’t have.


There are a few things to get used to, especially as a Pixel user. For example, from the home screen swiping up won’t reveal the app tray — it’ll reveal a few favorite apps that you can place, as well as quick settings like Wi-Fi, airplane mode, Bluetooth, and so on. To get to the app tray, you’ll tap the small app tray button that’s still present on many Android launchers, and was even a staple of stock Android until recently. Once you pull up the tray, you’ll notice a very clean, alphabetically organized experience. At the top, you’ll find a list of recent apps, and a menu where you can choose to hide those recent apps or organize apps horizontally. You can even hide apps that you want to keep private.

Some might find it more useful than Google Now.

The launcher does away with Google Now, too. Instead of getting Google Now when you swipe left, you’ll get a rundown of your recent activity, events you have for the day, quick access to contacts you talk to a lot, and news. The feed does learn as it goes, and some might find it more useful than Google Now considering the recent activity section, from which you can see recently snapped photos and calls.

At the top of the home screen, you’ll find a search bar, and you can customize that search bar to your preferred apps and services. Because we wanted to test how well Microsoft’s services all worked together, we used Edge with Bing, and it worked pretty smoothly.

One of the coolest things about the launcher comes when you have a Windows PC. If you have your Windows computer updated to the latest version of Windows 10, you can link your phone and your computer — after which you can quickly and easily “Continue on PC.” What this means is that you can take a photo and immediately see it on your computer, or edit a document on Office and then continue editing it on your computer once you get to your desk.

So why is all this better than just having a Windows phone? Well, we strongly believe that Android is an overall better and easier to use operating system on mobile, plus this way you have access to the massive range of apps available on the Google Play Store.

The browser

Reviews for Microsoft Edge have been mixed, and that’s only likely to continue on Android. Still, while there’s no need to use Edge with the Microsoft launcher, those seriously plugged into the Microsoft ecosystem — and those that use Edge on their PC — might want to.


It’s actually a pretty good experience on Android. On the main screen, you’ll find the navigation bar at the top, but contrary to Google Chrome you’ll get some controls at the bottom. By default, those include forward and back buttons, a button to view all your open tabs, and a menu button. You’ll also get a “Continue on PC” button, which makes it super easy to send what you’re doing over to your PC without having to go through any extra taps or steps. Continue on PC only works if you have the latest version of Windows, but once you’re all updated and ready to go, it works pretty smoothly.

There are still a few bugs to work out with the system. Once or twice, my phone wasn’t able to find the computer and prompted me to link my PC. It’s also important to note that on Windows, the system uses Edge — even if your default is set to something else, like Chrome. We would like to see the whole Continue on PC system speed up a bit — it often took a few seconds to find a linked PC — but it wasn’t really a big deal to wait those few seconds and it was never more than a few.

In general, using Microsoft Edge on Android was a smooth experience.

The main complaint we have with the Continue on PC feature is that it’s too limited. For example, users should be able to continue editing a Word document on their computer or phone. There’s no reason this can’t expand to all of Microsoft’s apps — and we’d like to see it do so. Of course, that’s probably in the works. Microsoft just brought the launcher out of beta, and the Continue on PC feature is totally new.

In general, using Microsoft Edge on Android was a smooth experience. The overall design looks and feels pretty similar to Edge on Windows, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re signed in to your account, things like favorites and your reading list will sync, which is handy for those that want a uniform experience. Severely lacking from that uniform experience, however, is the ability to open all of your open tabs at once from Android to Windows. According to other reports, that feature is to come soon — which is good news.

The experience

What can make or break a mobile experience lies in how well a company’s products all work together. That doesn’t just mean how well the phone works with the computer, but also how the launcher, browser, and digital assistant all work together on a single device — the smartphone.

You may have noticed that we haven’t talked much about Cortana for Android yet. Unfortunately, it’s the real point of failure in Microsoft’s Android ecosystem. It’s slow, often gets things wrong, and it can’t be voice activated outside of the Cortana app. There’s not really much that Microsoft can do about that — the thing about building a service and the operating system that a service works on is that you can integrate the two together, allowing you to control third-party apps, and use that important always-listening feature. Google knows that, and because of it Google Assistant is still the best digital assistant on Android — and will likely remain so, at least for the foreseeable future.

Conclusions

The best thing about Microsoft’s products on Android is how well they work with your PC. If you’re a Windows user, who also sticks with Edge and often uses apps like Office and OneDrive, then Microsoft’s Android apps and launcher could actually end up being super helpful for you. Us? We’re reverting to Chrome and Google Assistant, and it’s hard to pass on the Pixel launcher, which gives a lot more access to all the Google services that we’ve been using for years now.

It’s tempting to switch though. It’s tempting to get rid of the Mac and adopt Windows full-time rather than just when we’re testing Microsoft stuff. Integration between devices is a big deal, and while Apple is doing a pretty good job of it, and Microsoft is working hard to get better at it, Android users have been a little left out so far, if they choose to use Google’s apps and services.

You can download all of Microsoft’s new Android offerings for yourself at the Google Play Store. Head here for the Microsoft Launcher, here for Edge for Android, and here for Cortana for Android.




Microsoft’s Android apps offer the best Windows mobile experience to date

A few weeks ago, we did something weird. We set aside the Google Pixel launcher on the Pixel XL in favor of the new Microsoft Launcher, Microsoft’s rebranded Arrow Android launcher, which was first launched back in 2015. Then, we took it a step further and downloaded and made default both the new Microsoft Edge browser for Android, and Cortana for Android.

The result? The best Microsoft mobile experience available.

It’s no secret that Windows Mobile has failed. Not only is its market share tiny, but a Microsoft executive also recently admitted that development of Windows Mobile was effectively over — putting in serious doubt rumors of a new Microsoft Surface Phone. So it makes sense that the company would instead focus its attention on getting Microsoft apps and services onto third-party mobile operating systems, and it makes sense that it would start with Android, where it can effectively take over your mobile life. What we didn’t expect is that it would actually deliver.

The launcher

If you’re looking to turn your Android phone into an Android-Microsoft hybrid, then the core of that experience is the Microsoft Launcher, which, as mentioned, is essentially a rebranding of the Arrow launcher from 2015. When Arrow was first launched, it impressed reviewers, and since then it has only grown better. It’s clean, well-organized, and offers a few tricks that other launchers don’t have.


There are a few things to get used to, especially as a Pixel user. For example, from the home screen swiping up won’t reveal the app tray — it’ll reveal a few favorite apps that you can place, as well as quick settings like Wi-Fi, airplane mode, Bluetooth, and so on. To get to the app tray, you’ll tap the small app tray button that’s still present on many Android launchers, and was even a staple of stock Android until recently. Once you pull up the tray, you’ll notice a very clean, alphabetically organized experience. At the top, you’ll find a list of recent apps, and a menu where you can choose to hide those recent apps or organize apps horizontally. You can even hide apps that you want to keep private.

Some might find it more useful than Google Now.

The launcher does away with Google Now, too. Instead of getting Google Now when you swipe left, you’ll get a rundown of your recent activity, events you have for the day, quick access to contacts you talk to a lot, and news. The feed does learn as it goes, and some might find it more useful than Google Now considering the recent activity section, from which you can see recently snapped photos and calls.

At the top of the home screen, you’ll find a search bar, and you can customize that search bar to your preferred apps and services. Because we wanted to test how well Microsoft’s services all worked together, we used Edge with Bing, and it worked pretty smoothly.

One of the coolest things about the launcher comes when you have a Windows PC. If you have your Windows computer updated to the latest version of Windows 10, you can link your phone and your computer — after which you can quickly and easily “Continue on PC.” What this means is that you can take a photo and immediately see it on your computer, or edit a document on Office and then continue editing it on your computer once you get to your desk.

So why is all this better than just having a Windows phone? Well, we strongly believe that Android is an overall better and easier to use operating system on mobile, plus this way you have access to the massive range of apps available on the Google Play Store.

The browser

Reviews for Microsoft Edge have been mixed, and that’s only likely to continue on Android. Still, while there’s no need to use Edge with the Microsoft launcher, those seriously plugged into the Microsoft ecosystem — and those that use Edge on their PC — might want to.


It’s actually a pretty good experience on Android. On the main screen, you’ll find the navigation bar at the top, but contrary to Google Chrome you’ll get some controls at the bottom. By default, those include forward and back buttons, a button to view all your open tabs, and a menu button. You’ll also get a “Continue on PC” button, which makes it super easy to send what you’re doing over to your PC without having to go through any extra taps or steps. Continue on PC only works if you have the latest version of Windows, but once you’re all updated and ready to go, it works pretty smoothly.

There are still a few bugs to work out with the system. Once or twice, my phone wasn’t able to find the computer and prompted me to link my PC. It’s also important to note that on Windows, the system uses Edge — even if your default is set to something else, like Chrome. We would like to see the whole Continue on PC system speed up a bit — it often took a few seconds to find a linked PC — but it wasn’t really a big deal to wait those few seconds and it was never more than a few.

In general, using Microsoft Edge on Android was a smooth experience.

The main complaint we have with the Continue on PC feature is that it’s too limited. For example, users should be able to continue editing a Word document on their computer or phone. There’s no reason this can’t expand to all of Microsoft’s apps — and we’d like to see it do so. Of course, that’s probably in the works. Microsoft just brought the launcher out of beta, and the Continue on PC feature is totally new.

In general, using Microsoft Edge on Android was a smooth experience. The overall design looks and feels pretty similar to Edge on Windows, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re signed in to your account, things like favorites and your reading list will sync, which is handy for those that want a uniform experience. Severely lacking from that uniform experience, however, is the ability to open all of your open tabs at once from Android to Windows. According to other reports, that feature is to come soon — which is good news.

The experience

What can make or break a mobile experience lies in how well a company’s products all work together. That doesn’t just mean how well the phone works with the computer, but also how the launcher, browser, and digital assistant all work together on a single device — the smartphone.

You may have noticed that we haven’t talked much about Cortana for Android yet. Unfortunately, it’s the real point of failure in Microsoft’s Android ecosystem. It’s slow, often gets things wrong, and it can’t be voice activated outside of the Cortana app. There’s not really much that Microsoft can do about that — the thing about building a service and the operating system that a service works on is that you can integrate the two together, allowing you to control third-party apps, and use that important always-listening feature. Google knows that, and because of it Google Assistant is still the best digital assistant on Android — and will likely remain so, at least for the foreseeable future.

Conclusions

The best thing about Microsoft’s products on Android is how well they work with your PC. If you’re a Windows user, who also sticks with Edge and often uses apps like Office and OneDrive, then Microsoft’s Android apps and launcher could actually end up being super helpful for you. Us? We’re reverting to Chrome and Google Assistant, and it’s hard to pass on the Pixel launcher, which gives a lot more access to all the Google services that we’ve been using for years now.

It’s tempting to switch though. It’s tempting to get rid of the Mac and adopt Windows full-time rather than just when we’re testing Microsoft stuff. Integration between devices is a big deal, and while Apple is doing a pretty good job of it, and Microsoft is working hard to get better at it, Android users have been a little left out so far, if they choose to use Google’s apps and services.

You can download all of Microsoft’s new Android offerings for yourself at the Google Play Store. Head here for the Microsoft Launcher, here for Edge for Android, and here for Cortana for Android.




Microsoft Photos for Windows 10 updated with UI changes on the Release Preview Ring

9678b_Microsoft-Photos Microsoft Photos for Windows 10 updated with UI changes on the Release Preview Ring

Microsoft is today rolling out a new update to Windows 10 Photos app for the Windows Insiders on the Release Preview Ring. Microsoft Photos app for Windows 10 has been updated with UI changes and some improvements.

As first spotted by an AppRaisin user, Microsoft Photos app for Windows 10 now comes with new pivots, these are smaller and have the accent colour. Microsoft has moved the Search bar to the left side of the screen.

With this update for Microsoft Photos app, the company has also added the premium content. You can now access new themes, music and special effects if you have Office 365 subscription. Microsoft has also added a new settings option that lets you enrol in A/B testing program. The other changes include:

  • Improvements to Story Remix.
  • Grid view options on the right at the same “bar” as the pivots.
  • Performance improvements.
  • Bug fixes.

The updated version of Microsoft Photos app is 2017.39101.16720.0 and it can be downloaded on Windows 10 PCs. You can download the app by clicking on the below link.

Download Microsoft Photos for Windows 10.


Microsoft Photos for Windows 10 updated with UI changes on the Release Preview Ring

38bd1_Microsoft-Photos Microsoft Photos for Windows 10 updated with UI changes on the Release Preview Ring

Microsoft is today rolling out a new update to Windows 10 Photos app for the Windows Insiders on the Release Preview Ring. Microsoft Photos app for Windows 10 has been updated with UI changes and some improvements.

As first spotted by an AppRaisin user, Microsoft Photos app for Windows 10 now comes with new pivots, these are smaller and have the accent colour. Microsoft has moved the Search bar to the left side of the screen.

With this update for Microsoft Photos app, the company has also added the premium content. You can now access new themes, music and special effects if you have Office 365 subscription. Microsoft has also added a new settings option that lets you enrol in A/B testing program. The other changes include:

  • Improvements to Story Remix.
  • Grid view options on the right at the same “bar” as the pivots.
  • Performance improvements.
  • Bug fixes.

The updated version of Microsoft Photos app is 2017.39101.16720.0 and it can be downloaded on Windows 10 PCs. You can download the app by clicking on the below link.

Download Microsoft Photos for Windows 10.


Microsoft People app on Windows 10 is once again having sync problems

7eb6b_Microsoft-People-for-Windows-10-Mobile Microsoft People app on Windows 10 is once again having sync problems
Image Courtesy: PocketNow.com.

Microsoft has given up on Windows 10 Mobile platform but they are committed to patching operating system with security updates and fixes till 2019. On October 28, a small group of users reported that Microsoft People app is having sync problems on Windows 10 Mobile. The problem was with non-insider builds too. The bug caused the disappearance of contacts in Windows 10 Mobile’s People app.

Microsoft addressed the issue a few days later with a small update, but the issue has arrived yet again. The server-side bug is only affecting the Windows 10 Mobile devices as the People app continues to function properly in Windows 10 PCs with same Microsoft account.

Many users including the Insiders are complaining that they are having a sync problem again with the People app. Microsoft hasn’t acknowledged the problem yet, although it seems a fairly widespread issue.

There is a fix available but it is not working for all users. To fix the bug, you can sync the contacts in Microsoft People app. It’s worth noting that resetting the Windows Phone handset won’t address this issue.

Since Microsoft has already confirmed that Windows Phone’s feature and hardware is no longer the company’s focus, and as they don’t give Windows Phone users any priority these days, don’t expect a fix anytime soon. You can, however, report this bug on the Feedback Hub and let the team know about the ongoing issues.


Up For Debate – The State of Microsoft’s PC Gaming Support in 2017

2016 heralded a major turnaround for Microsoft and the way it handled PC gaming. After ignoring the platform for years, at least in a gaming sense, Microsoft announced its Xbox Play Anywhere initiative. Now, all first-party Xbox One exclusives would also be playable for all. Hurrah! A win for us all! Or was it…

You see, all of these games are, naturally, a way to encourage Windows users to upgrade to Windows 10 and/or engage with the Windows Store. The problems with this were twofold; firstly, the Windows Store sucked then, and it sucks now; secondly, not many people trusted Microsoft with their 60 bucks after the disaster that was Games For Windows Live. GFWL was hardly enough to inspire confidence, particularly with these digital purchases which could just be lost on a whim if Microsoft decided it had enough of its little experiment with PC gaming.

My main gripe with the Windows 10 Store and its games is that there are precious few fallback options aside from re-downloading a game again and again in the hope that it works. If I grab a game from Steam and something isn’t quite right, for example, it requires compatibility with an older OS, or it needs a config tweak to support my desired resolution, then it’s a relatively simple process to get it working. Anything more complicated than that and someone, somewhere out there in the community, has usually got a fix or a workaround for it. Tampering with Windows Store games meanwhile is next to impossible It either runs or it doesn’t, and there’s really any clear avenue to implement your own fixes. Microsoft has got the whole thing locked up so tight with its UWP apps that actually ends up being a detriment.

This is just the tip of the Windows Store iceberg, and there are dozens more issues lurking beneath the surface. One in particular that grates is Microsoft’s insistence that it cares about PC gamers while running Xbox One-only discounts for games that are part of its Xbox Play Anywhere service. What the heck is the point of that? If Forza Horizon 3 is 50% off on Xbox One for Xbox Live subscribers, it should be 50% off on PC too. The store itself is cluttered with mobile F2P trash, it’s got a terrible library system, and the player bases in games which aren’t cross-platform are tiny. When the likes of Quantum Break and Halo Wars have already since launched on Steam, you can pretty much tell the games in this store are performing below Microsoft’s expectations.

Keeping a positive spin on this scenario is easy though. Here we are, in 2017, with the best version of Xbox One games that would previously have been exclusive. We can play Gears of War 4 or Forza Motorsport 7 in 4K. Meanwhile, Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3 and, inevitably, Halo 6 are right around the corner. This is genuine PC support from Microsoft, even if it’s approached like it’s an afterthought from Microsoft. We’re getting all the best games from the Xbox One, yet we’re receiving them through a service that even the most die-hard Windows fan would admit is lacklustre.

We’re not just being thrown cast-offs either. Age of Empires IV is a game that PC fans have been crying out for, for years. We’re assuming it’s going to be designed for mouse and keyboard play, and if it is then this is comfortably the biggest PC-focused game published by Microsoft in years. For the love of god don’t tailor it to gamepad play like Halo Wars though, Relic.

OK rant over, but you can see I’m torn on this one. On the one hand, Microsoft’s releasing more games on PC than it has in a long, long time, yet on the other, it feels as if we’re being given prime steak served in a dog bowl.

Up For Debate – The State of Microsoft’s PC Gaming Support in 2017

2016 heralded a major turnaround for Microsoft and the way it handled PC gaming. After ignoring the platform for years, at least in a gaming sense, Microsoft announced its Xbox Play Anywhere initiative. Now, all first-party Xbox One exclusives would also be playable for all. Hurrah! A win for us all! Or was it…

You see, all of these games are, naturally, a way to encourage Windows users to upgrade to Windows 10 and/or engage with the Windows Store. The problems with this were twofold; firstly, the Windows Store sucked then, and it sucks now; secondly, not many people trusted Microsoft with their 60 bucks after the disaster that was Games For Windows Live. GFWL was hardly enough to inspire confidence, particularly with these digital purchases which could just be lost on a whim if Microsoft decided it had enough of its little experiment with PC gaming.

My main gripe with the Windows 10 Store and its games is that there are precious few fallback options aside from re-downloading a game again and again in the hope that it works. If I grab a game from Steam and something isn’t quite right, for example, it requires compatibility with an older OS, or it needs a config tweak to support my desired resolution, then it’s a relatively simple process to get it working. Anything more complicated than that and someone, somewhere out there in the community, has usually got a fix or a workaround for it. Tampering with Windows Store games meanwhile is next to impossible It either runs or it doesn’t, and there’s really any clear avenue to implement your own fixes. Microsoft has got the whole thing locked up so tight with its UWP apps that actually ends up being a detriment.

This is just the tip of the Windows Store iceberg, and there are dozens more issues lurking beneath the surface. One in particular that grates is Microsoft’s insistence that it cares about PC gamers while running Xbox One-only discounts for games that are part of its Xbox Play Anywhere service. What the heck is the point of that? If Forza Horizon 3 is 50% off on Xbox One for Xbox Live subscribers, it should be 50% off on PC too. The store itself is cluttered with mobile F2P trash, it’s got a terrible library system, and the player bases in games which aren’t cross-platform are tiny. When the likes of Quantum Break and Halo Wars have already since launched on Steam, you can pretty much tell the games in this store are performing below Microsoft’s expectations.

Keeping a positive spin on this scenario is easy though. Here we are, in 2017, with the best version of Xbox One games that would previously have been exclusive. We can play Gears of War 4 or Forza Motorsport 7 in 4K. Meanwhile, Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3 and, inevitably, Halo 6 are right around the corner. This is genuine PC support from Microsoft, even if it’s approached like it’s an afterthought from Microsoft. We’re getting all the best games from the Xbox One, yet we’re receiving them through a service that even the most die-hard Windows fan would admit is lacklustre.

We’re not just being thrown cast-offs either. Age of Empires IV is a game that PC fans have been crying out for, for years. We’re assuming it’s going to be designed for mouse and keyboard play, and if it is then this is comfortably the biggest PC-focused game published by Microsoft in years. For the love of god don’t tailor it to gamepad play like Halo Wars though, Relic.

OK rant over, but you can see I’m torn on this one. On the one hand, Microsoft’s releasing more games on PC than it has in a long, long time, yet on the other, it feels as if we’re being given prime steak served in a dog bowl.

Microsoft fixes a bug affecting Skip Ahead Windows 10 Insiders

9a235_Windows-Insider Microsoft fixes a bug affecting Skip Ahead Windows 10 Insiders

Microsoft in August had introduced a new ring “Skip Ahead” for Windows 10 Insiders who were looking to test new upcoming features which were buggy and help the company in development of Windows 10.

There were lot of insiders who had enrolled in the Skip Ahead Ring to test the upcoming features, but yesterday lot of Windows Insiders in the Skip Ahead Ring complained that they were unable to access and receiving a warning messages about the insider setting being reverted.

Microsoft was aware of the issue and was working on a fix for the issue. Today the Head of Insider Program Dona Sarkar confirmed via an official tweet that the issue affecting Skip Ahead Insiders has now been fixed and users will be able to access as earlier.

She reassured Windows Insiders that the issue with rings has now been resolved from the company’s side and users still getting notifications about it should contact her via tweet. There is no change in the Windows Insiders rings as suggested by the notifications.

Now that the company has fixed the Skip Ahead Insiders issue, Windows Insiders can expect a new build in the coming week since a new upcoming build is already in internal testing with new features.


Microsoft fixes a bug affecting Skip Ahead Windows 10 Insiders

ecb08_Windows-Insider Microsoft fixes a bug affecting Skip Ahead Windows 10 Insiders

Microsoft in August had introduced a new ring “Skip Ahead” for Windows 10 Insiders who were looking to test new upcoming features which were buggy and help the company in development of Windows 10.

There were lot of insiders who had enrolled in the Skip Ahead Ring to test the upcoming features, but yesterday lot of Windows Insiders in the Skip Ahead Ring complained that they were unable to access and receiving a warning messages about the insider setting being reverted.

Microsoft was aware of the issue and was working on a fix for the issue. Today the Head of Insider Program Dona Sarkar confirmed via an official tweet that the issue affecting Skip Ahead Insiders has now been fixed and users will be able to access as earlier.

She reassured Windows Insiders that the issue with rings has now been resolved from the company’s side and users still getting notifications about it should contact her via tweet. There is no change in the Windows Insiders rings as suggested by the notifications.

Now that the company has fixed the Skip Ahead Insiders issue, Windows Insiders can expect a new build in the coming week since a new upcoming build is already in internal testing with new features.


Microsoft Edge surpasses 1 million downloads on Android

Microsoft Edge officially came out of beta for Android devices last week, and already the popular browser has surpassed one million downloads, according to the Google Play Store.

Granted, people were able to download the beta from the store as well, but it only went into preview in October, so it is still a rather impressive feat for the app in such a short time. While we don’t have exact numbers, the milestone is gleaned from Microsoft Edge breaking into the new category of “1 million to 5 million” downloads.

Unfortunately, there is no way to tell how popular the app is for iOS. It launched at the same time as the Android version, but Apple’s TestFlight only allows 10,000 people to try an app while it is in beta, so it is likely that the browser app has not had as much adoption on iOS as on Android.

The browser, designed for Windows 10 compatibility, has some cool features including one that allows work that you have done on your mobile device to be carried over to your PC. The app will also sync your data across all devices, as well as allowing voice search of the web.

Source: Windows Central




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