Microsoft has finally has announced a September 22nd release for the latest version of Office and intends to implement a more vigorous upgrade schedule:
“Consistent with Windows 10 approach, the new Current Branch for Business update model delivers three cumulative feature updates per year, while continuing to offer monthly security updates. You’ll see the first Current Branch for Business build in February 2016—which is effectively the same feature set as the September 22nd release, but with four additional months of security updates also included.”
There are a number of enhancements throughout Office 2016 including the background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) which helps to control network traffic when deploying new updates. On another note, you can easily recover loss information using Data Loss Prevention and employ Multi-factor Authentication. Currently, there’s no indication of the standalone office pricing but it could be fairly substantial as Microsoft tries to sell its subscription-based Office 365 software package. Also, with so many free options from Google Docs and Libreoffice, it’s difficult to get most consumers to purchase a genuine version of Office 2016.
Some power-users have also complained about Office 2013 user-interface so it will be interesting to see how-received the latest GUI is. Personally, I’ll stick to using a combination of LibreOffice for local files and Google Docs for cloud sharing documents.
Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.
Microsoft has spilled the beans on their latest office suite, which is set to arrive next month. According to information accidentally leaked by a Microsoft intranet site, Microsoft Office 2016 will be launched on September 22nd, a little under a month from now. While we got a refresh for Microsoft Office for Mac earlier in the year, this suite will be for the PC market and replace the now 3 years old Office 2013.
According to sources, Office 2016 will bring the PC version of Office in line with the Mac, iOS and Android versions. We can expect a number of UI and interface changes which we’ve probably already seen on the other platforms. We can also expect a new theme to match as well along with a new dark theme which should be much easier on the eyes. One major continuity is that Office 2016 will cost pretty much the same as Office 2013; the only price change will come in the form of a new tier for Office 365.
Speaking of Office 365, it is interesting to see how the office suite landscape is evolving. Despite many users now opting for free alternatives like Libre/Open Office and cloud-based solutions like Google Docs, Office still remains a mainstay for both home and business. Even Office 365 isn’t quite enough to lure users away, though the monthly subscription fees probably don’t help in the long run, especially for home users. With releases around every 3 years, it will be interesting to see what the next iteration of Office will look like.
Thank you winfuture.de for providing us with this information
4K monitors have been touted as the next mainstream standard to replace 1920×1080 displays, but the Steam Hardware survey suggests this may take over a decade. Currently, 34.33% of gamers are using 1920×1080 and 26.89% play at a surprisingly low, 1366×768 resolution. The problem with 4K revolves around Windows’ poor scaling on high PPI displays, and the graphical horsepower required to drive 300% more pixels than 1920×1080. It seemed for some time that 4K was the only option on the horizon, but 21:9 ultra-wide monitors have been gaining momentum in two variants. Typically, you can choose between 2560×1080 panels or 3440×1440 models. For the purposes of this feature, we decided to use the highly-regarded AOC U3477PQU and establish if 21:9 monitors are an aspect ratio worthy of your attention.
21:9 monitors are equivalent to dual 15″ or 17″ setups depending on the 29″ or 34″ screen size. The primary benefit to a single large monitor is the lack of bezels which can cause eye strain or distract you during full-screen tasks. In terms of desktop usage, 21:9 displays are nothing short of revolutionary due to the massive real estate. It’s incredibly simple to glance at 3-4 visible windows without having to press ALT+TAB.
This means you can write articles, whilst referring to sources or compare an edited photo to the original. The possibilities are endless and massively increase your productivity. Additionally, the PPI of a 34″ 3440×1440 panel is almost equivalent to a 27″ 2560×1440 screen. As a result, the text is a sharp and readable size. If you want to go down the 4K route, the minimum screen size for a pleasant desktop experience is 28″-32″ but I would personally recommend 40″. I don’t think this is a viable option for most people and believe that you would be better off with a 29″ 2560×1080 display. Similarly, I find it rather perplexing that 24″ 4k monitors exist and wonder who the target market is.
Productivity and Desktop use
As you can see from the picture, this particular model utilizes a straight panel without any curvature. Many of the upcoming 21:9 displays adopt a slight curve to help the user naturally look at the extreme edges without too much head movement. However, I’m quite skeptical how much of a difference this actually makes. I’ve been using a 21:9 monitor for approximately a month and it’s surprising how quickly you adjust to mammoth size.
Within a few days, 34″ doesn’t feel overpowering and I’d struggle to go back to any traditional 16:9 display. It’s important to remember though that 21:9 panels are optimized for multi-page workloads and look terrible with a single, full-screen application. If you access a webpage at 3440×1440 and cover the entire screen, only a tiny proportion will be used to display the website.
Watching Video Content
The industry standard of 16:9 video production can cause a myriad of problems on unusual aspect ratios and results in black bars or a stretched image. This is far from ideal and you cannot utilize the entire screen or enjoy video content in an ultra-wide cinematic manner. Despite this, I adjusted to the black bars pretty quickly and my eyes began to fixate on the 16:9 image. Although, I am fairly used to watching old 4:3 footage on 16:9 Televisions, so your experience may vary.
For example, Thunderbirds was originally filmed in 4:3 during the 1960s and transferred to 16:9 for the UK Blu-Ray release. This was an abomination with parts of the set being chopped off and characters looking stranger than usual. So how does this relate to 21:9 monitors? Stretching any content from one aspect ratio to another is always going to end in tears. In theory, you can use VLC and set a specific aspect ratio, despite what the original source might be in, but the image might leave you feeling a little dejected. Personally, I tried a number of anime shows and stretched the feed, but it was fairly hard to watch.
Watching any online content via YouTube, Neflix or Amazon Instant compounds this issue and you cannot stretch the image without a third-party plugin. The snapshot above shows a 4K sample being played on the monitor’s native resolution. Obviously, the panel cannot output 4K, but it’s interesting to see how beautiful the colours and detail can be on an IPS, 3440×1440 display. If you can look past the black bars, and mentally think about having two monitors; a 34 ultra-wide and a 27 inch 16:9 panel, then video playback is wonderful. It’s all about perception and if you can accept the black bars.
Playing games on a 21:9 display is immersive, exhilarating and adds a whole new dimension to titles you’ve already completed. This immense experience comes from the ultra-wide field-of-view which allows you to soak up the atmosphere and notice nuances in a game’s environment. From first-person shooters to racing games, the 21:9 aspect ratio provides a stunning picture which feels surprisingly natural.
Competitive shooters like CS:GO didn’t suffer from significant motion blur or latency, but this will all depend on the individual panel quality. I particularly enjoyed tense shooters like Metro Last Light and felt the panel width enhanced my connection with the gunplay overall. After using 21:9, 16:9 just seems so limiting and counterproductive. You can no longer gaze over such a wide viewpoint and games work much better on a rectangular screen shape.
There is one caveat to the gaming experience which isn’t as major as I first expected. Some titles do not support 21:9 screens, so you have to manually enable the resolution through a .ini or .cfg file. If you encounter this problem, an excellent source of information is the Widescreen Gaming Forum. This site grades each game for its 21:9 support, and includes a number of fixes to help with UI scaling and graphical abnormalities. What did shock me is the amount of games which allow for a 21:9 resolution without any tweaks. Surprisingly, most games within the last 5 years should work very well unless they are a poor PC port of a console game. If you’re thinking about buying a 21:9 monitor, but you’re worried about the lack of compatibility, don’t be! For gaming purposes, a 21:9 screen is simply magical.
Selecting any monitor requires a degree of compromise and this is especially the case with 21:9 displays. For gaming purposes, the aspect ratio is sublime and delivers a breathtaking experience. Furthermore, the ultrawide format works pretty well with most games and doesn’t require huge amounts of tweaking. Usually, the main issue revolves around the HUD becoming enlarged and not scaling to the display properly. Although, this isn’t overly prominent and documented on the Widescreen Gaming Forum. The wide FOV on 21:9 monitors enriches the experience and enhances your appreciation for the art assets.
However, 21:9 panels are not suitable for professional gamers at this time. Currently, the panels are either VA or IPS/PLS featuring a 60Hz refresh and between 5-15ms response time. In all honesty, a TN monitor would struggle to reproduce a consistent colour palette on an ultrawide screen. The situation might change in the coming months as IPS panels are now reaching 144Hz as illustrated by the Acer XB270HU.
The ultrawide format provides a splendid workspace for multitasking and led to a sharp increase in my productivity. I’m now able to browse multiple windows at the same time without any hesitation. The huge screen real estate and sensible PPI rating makes text clear without squinting. 21:9 monitors are a superb alternative to a dual monitor setup.
Video content is predominately produced to support the mainstream 16:9 standard. As a result, 21:9 panels cannot cope with non-native videos and your only option is to acclimatize yourself to black bars or stretch the video feed. Personally, the black bars didn’t irk me and I accepted this flaw fairly quickly. If you decide to stretch the image, it looks unnatural, and fairly bizarre. Subsequently, if you intend on watching movies, TV shows and don’t play games, I would recommend a large 16:9 4k monitor instead.
Using a 21:9 monitor for the past month has been an enthralling experience and despite its flaws, I wouldn’t trade the aspect ratio for 4K, multi-monitors, or 2560×1440 144hz products.
Microsoft has always been dedicated towards business solutions and it now shows us that once again with its big brand new Surface Hub touch screen. The company aims to make your workplace more productive and interactive in a world where more and more business meetings take place on overseas conference calls.
Microsoft’s Brian Eskridge said that they are focusing on making content and video sharing faster and easily accessible to people to “get things done”. Of course, you already have similar options already available out there, but none could compare with a big touch surface.
If you ask why you need an oversized touch screen display in your conference room instead of just having a normal Skype meeting on a laptop, here’s the answer. Microsoft’s Surface Hub comes equipped with a high-definition display, touch controls, built-in cameras and microphones, Microsoft’s own business productivity software and even Kinect features built into the cameras.
Aside from the above, the Hub provides support for other business software tools such as Google Hangouts, but more business solution software is bound to be made available for it once it gets released. So you have a big screen full of potential in your office and it isn’t restricted to Microsoft’s deals. Isn’t that pleasing?
The Surface Hub will hit the market this July, but Microsoft already placed it in some companies to get beta testing feedback. The standard Microsoft Surface Hub is said to boast a 55-inch touch display and be priced at $7,000, while the bigger 85-inch model comes with a $20,000 price tag.
Apple has just made it possible for anyone, even those who don’t own an Apple product, to access iCloud web apps. Previously, only those who owned an iOS device or Mac could use the online versions of Apple’s productivity apps including Pages, Keynote and Numbers.
From today, anyone can go to iCloud.com and access Apple’s apps in a similar fashion to Google Docs or Microsoft Office. The big difference though, is that Apple does not directly monetise the service. There are no ads or subscriptions and the apps can be used in Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer or Firefox for free. However, free users only get 1GB of storage, while users of a Mac or iOS device get 5 GB of storage. Owners of Apple devices can pay for more.
The move is seen as significant, with Apple deciding to put themselves directly in competition with such services from Google and Microsoft. Whether they will pose any threat to those services remains to be seen.
Tired of working on a document and having to keep switching back and forward to Facebook or Skype to keep your co-workers in the loop? Well it seems that Microsoft is about to make collaborating on documents a lot simpler, by adding chat to Microsoft Word and PowerPoint online.
The chat functionality is essentially Skype built into the two productivity apps, so you’ll be able to contact people using their Skype usernames and continue conversations in the Skype app on your phone. Unfortunately, chat will not be available in Excel or OneNote. The new feature will be added to Word and PowerPoint “in the coming weeks”.
Microsoft has presented their new Windows operating system, and I’m ready to continue the coverage after I getting over the shock of the new name. While I don’t have anything against it, it just doesn’t make sense to me. Doesn’t have to, Windows 10 is on its way.
Microsoft wants to empower novice users to get better at multi tasking and are introducing the new Task View. A new button is placed on the taskbar and when pressed it that launches the function by the same name. Mac OS X users will see this as a very familiar option.
We see multiple desktops at the bottom of the interface and it also shows all the apps that currently are open. You can switch between the different desktops with multiple apps running in their own separate areas. There’s also a new Snap Assist UI at the side where you can grab apps from multiple desktops. This might not be a world-changing feature as they said during the presentation, but it is a great addition.
Microsoft is really trying to reach all users better with the new Windows 10, may they use keyboard and/or mouse or touch interfaces to control it. Ease of use and productivity have been key words the Microsoft developers as they worked on this new version.
The command prompt has been improved as well. While it still looks the same, it has gained a new very useful feature. You can now paste with CTRL+V into the prompt. Up until now you had to access a context menu via the right mouse button, something that really interfered with productivity. A minor addition, but one that will be loved. Microsoft wants to deal with all these different input methods in a way that works for them all, not just the most popular.
A thing I think many Windows 8 users would like to see gone is the charms bar. But no such luck, the charms bar is still present in Windows 10. Lets just hope that it’ll be easier to turn off or disable for those who don’t need it, as it can be a real pain on multi-monitor setups. We were told that it was an early version, so it’s most likely going to change before the final product.
Up until now it’s been mostly focused on the desktop version, but we also get a peek at the new design for the two-in-one models. Microsoft calls this new design study the continuum and below we see the start menu as it looks for touch devices. Essentially it switches mode depending on your input. Microsoft are trying to be thoughtful about the user interface of their new cross-platform operating system.
Microsoft is launching the Insider Program tomorrow as well as the technical preview build for laptops and desktops. The preview versions for servers will follow later at an unspecified time. They’re also inviting enthusiastic fans to evaluate the new Windows with them, as they said: “We know they’re a vocal bunch.”
Microsoft is also planning to share more than ever before and earlier than ever before. “We can build a product that all of our customers will love.” We’ll be hearing more about the consumer story beginning of next year and there will be a build conference in April that will show more about the new universal apps. The actual product will be shipping sometime late 2015.
The first thing that was asked in the following Q&A round was about pricing and upgrades for Windows XP and Seven users. But no such luck at this time, this event was about the product family and the presentation of the new direction they’re taking. The naming choice was the next thing that was asked, to which the response was that once you see the improvements, you’ll agree with the decision to skip a number.
To the question about what insiders would get access to we got this reply: “We’ve never done this before. Hopefully you become an Insider, you’ll see things you haven’t seen before. There will be forums available for discussions amongst insiders, and our engineering team will be available.” So it’s a direct feedback line. Microsoft doesn’t want a repeat of the Windows 8 fiasco, and getting the users involved early seems a great way to avoid this.
Some one also joked if we would see Windows versions named after big cats now that we’ve gotten to version 10, but the answer to that was: “Probably not.” This wraps up the news surrounding the event in San Francisco, but we’ll keep you updated with the newest things about this operating system as they become available.
Thank you TheVerge for providing us with this information
BT is returning to the mobile market for the first time in 10 years with its “One Phone” service that allows business users to make fixed-line and mobile phone calls using the same handset.
Designed specifically towards small and midsize-businesses (SMBs), One Phone lets users to transfer all home, office and mobile calls directly to a smartphone. All that is required is a BT SIM card and a picocell in the office to help broadcast the 4G signal.
Once an employee leaves the office and enters the field, calls will be transferred to EE networks – and includes access to BT’s Wi-Fi hotspots, which number more than five million.
Here is what Graham Sutherland, BT business chief executive said:
“With an increasingly mobile and demanding workforce, businesses need communications technology that is as flexible as they are. Missed calls mean missed business.”
Mobile is an “exciting area” for the company, as the communications market is largely leaving behind traditional land lines and transitioning towards mobile solutions.
BT One could also be a test platform for the company to jump into the consumer mobile market before the end of the year, though nothing has been confirmed just yet. However, the consumer offering is expected to transfer between 4G in the office/home and use EE’s network or Wi-Fi.
Thank you to FT for providing us with this information
Personal assistants have been around for some time now, having people demanding a more complex and interactive approach from their voice-enabled personal assistants. Apple’s Siri has been the first to arrive, followed by Android and Google Now, and Microsoft’s recent Cortana addition in the WP 8.1. All of the latter provide users with some great features, coming with their own pros and cons. However, it seems that BlackBerry is gaining some ground in the personal assistant sphere with its new BlackBerry Assistant.
“The BlackBerry Assistant is in lockstep with what I need to do on my Passport, without being distracting or costly (resource-wise)” said Donny Halliwell, BlackBerry’s social media marketing executive.
It is said that the company will release the new feature to its BlackBerry 10 devices this Wednesday in the BlackBerry 10.3 update. This is said to be a welcomed development for BlackBerry users, as well as developers, since a voice-enabled personal assistant will boost the BlackBerry handset brand. In addition, BlackBerry could also draw some developers into making some productivity applications featuring the personal assistant, thus helping users “manage simple tasks” on their devices.
Thank you BGR for providing us with this information Image courtesy of BGR
The new Microsoft Office 365 gives small companies and even corporation the ability to use the cloud in their advantage when it comes to office work and productivity. But there still needs to be someone there to manage it all. Thankfully, now you can manage the office software remotely with the help of the Office 365 Admin App, which recently rolled out for Android and iOS devices as well.
The Office 365 Admin app enables administrators to view the service health of their Office 365 environment on-the-go. Since it first launched on November 21st on Windows Phone 8, thousands of Office 365 administrators have downloaded the app. As of today, the app is now available for Android and iOS 7 as promised in the original Microsoft blog post, helping administrators to check the service health of your Office 365 service on the go.
To access service health data with the Office 365 Admin app, you must have an active Office 365 subscription with administrator user rights. Also, this app does not currently support Windows Azure Active Directory Multi-Factor Authentication unfortunately. The app can be downloaded for iOS 7 device from the Apple App Store and for Android 4.2.1+ devices from the Google Play Store.
Thank you Microsoft for providing us with this information
Over the last few years, we have been [in general] demanding higher and higher resolutions from our monitors, and before we even think about using a multi-screen setup – the most common resolution of choice has to be 1920×1080. Over the last year or so, we have been seeing a slow transition over to the 2560×1600 bandwagon as some users opt for bigger 27″+ panels. The problem with these through is that the cost is far greater than a 1920×1080 panel so having a pair of 22″ or 24″ panels is not uncommon – it gives a balance between the desktop space and cost that many people look for.
In a bid to give users the best option of desktop space and display aspect ratio, the 2560×1080 resolution has slowly been cropping up within the market place and in effect it is an ideal alternative for anyone that is looking at a dual 1920×1080 screen setup. The super-wide aspect of this 29″ monitor gives a single desktop space to work within, however when we move over to the gaming side of things, the extra pixels allow for a wider peripheral vision without the distraction of a bezel right in the middle of your view.
AOC’s super-wide monitor is just one of the few to now offer the new resolution, but it doesn’t just give more pixels; it also has one of the best panels on the market to show the image as well. The AH-IPS (Advanced High-Performance In Plane Switching) panel that AOC have chosen produces a mixture of supreme colour accuracy, high pixel density and a high level of brightness, oh and let’s not forget that it has a superb viewing angle as well. All the ingredients are there for certain, but does having a 21:9 aspect monitor really make that much of a difference?
Before we even get a chance to delve inside the box, AOC are keen to show off the screens super-wide aspect ratio and its ability to house multiple windows with ease. The blue box also has a row of the panels highlighted features laid out along the lower edge with a front and back view of the monitor found to the right.
Taking everything out of the box, we find the monitor in two parts and alongside a two-part DC power adaptor we also have a VGA display cable, HDMI cable, 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable, a cable tie, rubber feet and a CD containing a set of display drivers and AOC’s accompanying software for this panel.
The Google Play store can be big and scary and while Google may be doing a great job of keeping most of it organised, it’s incredibly easy to miss out on some of the best apps that it has to offer simply because there are so many. So this week I though I would give you a quick run down of some of my favourite apps from this week in the hope that maybe you too can find something entertaining, useful or even just something to kill some time while your waiting for a train.
As always we would love to hear your suggestions too so if you think you have an app that others would love to hear about, feel free to comment below and I’ll do my best to try them all out over the next week. So without any further mucking about, lets get straight to the good stuff, starting with a zombie filled racing game.
To me, this game should need no introduction, it’s the ultimate classic arcade racer and it brings with it extreme carnage, racing and zombies all into one ultra violent mix.
Arm your car to the teeth, rip around some dangerous tracks and try not to get destroyed while simultaneously mowing down the zombie masses, it’s everything a game should be and it’s incredibly cheap for a re-release of such an iconic game. Given that upon it’s release this game was in fact banned, although it seems a little more tame by modern standards, my how times have changed.
Fancy having a quick and easy way to record your phone calls? Then InCall Recorder might be the solution for you. It’s not perfectly compatible with every device but you can search the reviews to find if your phone will work or not. I’m not one who need to record my calls, but it’s a handy feature to have as you never know when you might need it.
You might be calling to complain to someone, get a quote and require proof or maybe just fancy yourself a low budget spy, or you just want to wind your friends up and capture a good MP3 of the call, it’s really up to you.
This is one of the best new apps around and its already proving quite popular. Burner will set you up a fake phone number, with the catch that the number is only temporary and while it is a paid service you do get your first one free to trail the service.
If you need to give out your number to someone on a site such as Craigslist when selling an item, or you need to post your phone number online even, then you can in the safety that when your done with it, the number will be destroyed and no longer work, sneaky.
There is nothing finer than a high quality free-to-play game on the Android market and sometimes it can be hard to pick the good from the bad and we all know there are a LOT of bad ones. Team6 Game Studious bring Flatout: Stuntman to your device and playing off the popular Flatout series of physics heavy car racing fame it’s certainly entertaining.
If you have a Tegra powered device you’re really going to see some benefits here but if you want some ragdoll physics with your racers, there really is nothing finer than this.
The original Super Stickman Golf was a fantastic game, but the developers decided their game was not only difficult, but that they needed to make it even harder! This new one will test your nevers but will also have you hooked on the crazy 2D golf antics that it provides.
Crazy levels, power ups, entertaining and challenging level design and plenty of content, perfect for waste a few minutes between daily chores (or work).
While this might not have a lot to get excited about, the concept it certainly an interesting one and while I’ve only been using it a couple of days I’m interested in the long term effect this will have, if any. Yet anything that is essentially there to improve health, sleep or take it easy on your eyes while your using a smart device is no bad thing.
Twilight adapts your screen by filtering the blue spectrum after sunset (turning your display more red) which is said to reduce eye strain on an evening.
At the start of the year during CES, the major buzz word of the show as we all know was 4K, but whilst this was a buzz word, in the storage sector there were other goings on the was stirring a whole heap of interest. For many years now we have been watching the solid state drive grow and grow, not only in terms of popularity but also their performance and most importantly capacity. One common factor that is associated with SSDs is with out a doubt their more weighty price tag in relation to their mechanical counterparts, however over the last year or so we’ve started to see the price per GB of storage come right down to a highly affordable level, which in turn has made the drives even more desirable.
During CES, Crucial had something rather special to shout about and when we look back to only a few years ago, what they had to shout about would have then sounded insane. This shout out that I’m referring to is a mainstream consumer 1TB – yes a ONE TERABYTE SSD. Because of the speed at which technology has been moving forward, we’ve seen die sizes shrink and bigger and faster NAND chips appear on the market, making the possibility of greater capacity drives, not only a reality, but also at a price that’s not too outrageous.
So forward comes the M500 SSD from Crucial, a drive that not only packs up to 960GB of storage, but also has the tech inside to ensure that it keeps up the pace right through to the last byte as we will see later on. Like many other drives these days, the M500 fits into an ultra slim 7mm frame, which is quickly becoming a new standard, but as some situations still require the thicker build, Crucial also include a self adhesive 2.5mm spacer which can be quickly stuck onto either side of the drive to make it fit that much better.