Microsoft Kill’s It’s Windows Keyboard for iOS

Microsoft is removing Word Flow from the App Store. This means that the critically acclaimed keyboard app will no longer be available to iOS users who haven’t already downloaded it. And those that have face the prospect of Word Flow never being updated again. Because that’s how Microsoft rolls.

Having failed with their “Windows Phone” Microsoft began releasing several apps including Word Flow for iOS. Word Flow being a keyboard app designed to replicate the Windows Phone typing experience on your iPhone. Microsoft released Word Flow in April 2016, and gave it a major update adding GIF search and other features in August 2016. You can check out my April 25, 2016 review of Word Flow here.

Now, Microsoft is delisting Word Flow on the App Store. This means that while existing users will be able to carry on using Word Flow (without any future updates or support) new users are being denied the opportunity to try Word Flow out for themselves.

On the Microsoft Garage website, Microsoft describes the Windows Phone keyboard app as “an iOS app with a blazing fast keyboard that comes with search (GIFs, restaurants, and more), free customization options and includes Arc mode for comfortable one-handed typing.”

That one-handed typing is what separated Word Flow from the crowd. Once you got the hang of it Word Flow could speed up your typing, and all while leaving one hand free for other things.

Microsoft is advising Word Flow users to download SwiftKey instead because the former acquired the latter in early 2016. And this acquisition is probably why Microsoft is killing Word Flow in the first place. Let’s just hope the one-handed typing feature now makes it into SwiftKey.

Microsoft Enhances OneDrive in a Big Way

One of the best ways to protect your photos is to back them up automatically using a cloud service. My favorite one for this is Microsoft’s OneDrive. Once installing OneDrive on your smartphone (and sign up – or into) the service you can setup automatic photo uploads. Once you do this you will be able to access your photos from wherever you are – on whatever device you are using, assuming you have internet access.

OneDrive Banner

I have been using OneDrive for years to backup and manage my photos and the service has improved over the years. This week Microsoft updated OneDrive which really makes this a great solution for anyone looking to backup and manage their photos.

Backing up your photos is incredibly important because someday your smartphone may (will) fail or be lost or stolen and you do not want to be in a position where all of your photos are gone.

Let’s take a look at the major OneDrive updates, including yes, a enhancement for Pokemon gamers.

Automatic albums is probably the most handy addition, and reminds us of Google Photos. OneDrive now detects when you took a few photos in a short period of time and in a particular location. The highest quality photos are selected and put into an album, and you get a notification when they’re ready to view and share. Automatic albums appear on OneDrive.com, in OneDrive’s mobile apps, and in the Windows 10 Photos app.

 

Speaking of the Windows 10 Photos app, you can now expect tighter integration with OneDrive. When you sign into Windows 10 with your Microsoft account, all of your OneDrive photos will now show up. You can also use the app to upload local albums to OneDrive.

 

The OneDrive.com website has gained a new “On this day” view in your All photos page. As the name implies, this view shows images you took over the years on that same day.

 

Another view is the one dedicated to your folders that have a lot of photos in them. The new photos view includes a hero image, larger thumbnails, and a revised menu to help you quickly create an album or share photos.

 

Search now works directly in the All photos view, understands photos that have been tagged, photos from a specific location, and even supports using emojis. These new types of searches work on OneDrive.com as well as the OneDrive mobile apps.

 

Last but not least, Microsoft is jumping on the Pokémon Go bandwagon. If you take screenshots of your captured Pokémon, you’ll want to have the OneDrive mobile app installed. Thanks to some Microsoft Research technology, as long as you have camera upload turned on, the app will save your screenshots and identify all 150 Pokémon for you. You can then view and search for the Pokémon right in OneDrive.

OneDrive-photos-experience-5

Updates like this one are a great reminder that competition in the cloud storage space is still fierce. And yet, no matter how many useful features Microsoft adds, it will continue to face an uphill battle because of its failures in mobile.

RIP Quicktime for Windows

QuickTime for Windows has dangerous security vulnerabilities that let attackers take over your computer, but Apple refuses to provide updates to fix them. Because of this it is time to uninstall it.

Annoyingly, Apple only announced this in a statement to Trend Micro. Apple hasn’t announced this on its own website, and doesn’t seem to be making a real effort to warn people about this outdated program. Apple is still offering it for download on their website with no warning which is inexcusable.

If you’re using a Mac, don’t worry. Apple’s QuickTime for Mac is still supported with security updates. Only the Windows version is dead and dangerous.

Why You Should Uninstall Quicktime for Windows… Now

QuickTime for Windows is vulnerable to two security attacks that would allow an attacker to run code on your computer if you visited a web page or played a downloaded file. It’s particularly exploitable thanks to its browser plug-in. If you’re using Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, which still support the plug-in, you can be compromised just by visiting a web page. Google Chrome no longer does supports these old plug-ins, but Chrome users shouldn’t get too complacent. Even downloaded video files could exploit the desktop version of Apple’s QuickTime.

Unfortunately, Apple is no longer updating QuickTime for Windows, so these flaws–and any future ones–will never be fixed. QuickTime for Windows will just become less and less secure over time.

This is the same stunt Apple pulled with Safari for Windows. Apple simply stopped updating its Windows application without properly informing its users. Although Apple hasn’t asked directly asked you to stop using QuickTime for Windows, you definitely should. Even the US government is advising this.

Follow These Steps

To uninstall QuickTime, open the Control Panel, click “Uninstall a program” under Programs, select “QuickTime” in the list, and click “Uninstall.” The QuickTime uninstaller will remove both the QuickTime desktop application and the QuickTime browser plug-in. If you don’t see QuickTime in the list here, you don’t have QuickTime installed. Problem solved!

A Bad Apple

Apple’s Windows security has been beyond bad. While Apple is battling the US government over the security of its iPhones, Apple can’t even be bothered to inform users of QuickTime for Windows–and Safari for Windows before it–that they’re using old, out-of-date software that won’t receive security updates. Apple should be handling this a lot better.

Windows 10 Tips & Tricks

Now that I am on the lamb for a few much needed days away at the most magical place on Earth I decided I would share some great Windows 10 tips with everyone. Windows 10 has proven quite the success for Microsoft as Windows 8 is fading into the same dustbin of history where Windows Me & Windows Vista reside.

However to me personally Windows 8 was not the terrible disaster that many make it out to me. The problem was that the hardware many of us were using was not quite ready for it and Windows 8 needed much more polish before it was pushed out to the public, Thats where Windows 10 comes in to save the day for our friends at Microsoft.

Windows 10 is very new and many Windows users are seeing it magically appear on their Windows 7 devices. I am not sure that Microsoft pushing this major update down to devices everywhere is a good idea but that is what they are doing.

With all of this in mind here are some Windows 10 tips I am sure you will enjoy.


 

1. Delete your previous Windows version installation After you upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 (where your installed programs are brought over to the new OS, and personal files are retained), a backup of your previous version of Windows resides on your hard drive (or SSD). It’s put there in case something goes wrong where you need to roll Windows 10 back to the older Windows. These files can eat up as much as 20GB of storage.

To get rid of this backup, freeing up space, run the Disk Cleanup application. (It’s listed in the Start Menu under the “Windows Administrative Tools” folder.) In Disk Cleanup, click the “Clean up system files” button, and wait for the program to scan your hard drive or SSD. From the list of file categories, put a check by “Previous Windows installation(s)” and “Temporary Windows installation files,” and click the “OK.”

Windows 10

2. Know how to sign out of Windows 10 Where’s the option to sign out of Windows 10? Click your user account name at the upper-left of the Start Menu; a small panel will slide down from your name with “Sign out” listed. The fastest way to sign out remains as it was in prior Windows versions: Just press the Windows logo and “L” keys together, and you’ll be instantly signed out.

3. Pick whatever accent color you want You can change the accent color of Windows 10, but you’re given only a limited palette of 48 colors to choose from under the Personalization page of the Settings app. But the classic Control Panel that’s still in Windows 10 gives you tools to create nearly any color you want for the accent. In the classic Control Panel, this color picker is nested under “Appearance and Personalization,” “Personalization” and “Color and Appearance.”

4. Use the new delay timer in the Snipping Tool There isn’t a new screenshot app in Windows 10, but the desktop application, Snipping Tool, gets a slight update. It now has a “Delay” button: Click it and select a range from 1 to 5 seconds. Then, when you click the “New” button, the capturing will be delayed by the time-delay you chose. This can be helpful to capture, for example, a menu in an application that’s designed to go away if you click away from the application. You would set the Snipping Tool to delay itself by 5 seconds, and, from there, quickly click open the menu in the application that you want to capture an image of, doing so within 5 seconds.

5. Change Edge’s default search engine from Bing to another oneMicrosoft’s new browser in Windows 10, Edge, also uses Bing as its search engine, but it’s not obvious right away how to change it, should you prefer a different one. If you look up the option to change the default search engine under the browser’s settings, the buttons are grayed out. The first thing you need to do is visit the search engine’s site. While the site is open in a tab in Edge, you then go to the browser’s settings: Click the “More actions” button that’s to the upper-right of the browser, select “Settings,” scroll down and select “View advanced settings,” scroll down to “Search in the address bar with,” click “Bing (www.bing.com)” and click “<Add new>”. The search engine’s domain and name will appear listed in a sidebar. Click it, and finally click “Add as default.”

6. Delay automatic updates over Wi-Fi Under the Home version of Windows 10, updates to the OS by Microsoft are automatically pushed out and installed. With the Pro, Enterprise and Education versions, you can defer updates “for several months,” according to Microsoft, but security updates are exempt.

Supposedly, updates are downloaded only on a non-metered Internet connection. So, if you’d rather delay receiving updates (such as, to avoid the possibility of a new driver being installed that doesn’t work with your system), one trick to try is to set your Wi-Fi connection under Windows 10 as a metered one. While you are connected to a Wi-Fi signal, click the Wi-Fi icon on the notification tray, and then click “Network settings” in the panel that opens. This will launch the “Network & Internet” page of the Settings app. Scroll down and click “Advanced options,” which will take you to another page where you can set your Wi-Fi connection as metered.

If you are connected to the Internet via Ethernet, there are two other, more technically involved ways to delay the automatic updating process, using either Microsoft’s “troubleshooter” program or the Group Policy Editor. Here are detailed instructions.

Windows 10

7. Record video clips using the Xbox app The Xbox app’s “Game bar” feature is meant for recording video clips of a game app as you play it, but it can also be used to record your activity on other programs. (This function may not work on some desktop applications and non-game apps. And you cannot use the Game bar to record your interaction with the desktop environment or File Explorer.) You turn on the Game bar by pressing the Windows logo and “G” keys together, and then, in the small panel that appears, checking the box by “Yes, this is a game.” The Game bar will appear. Click its red button to start recording; the gear icon to the right takes you to a settings panel where among its options you can set the maximum time for a video clip. You can also grab a screenshot by clicking the camera icon on the Game bar.

8. Remove the OneDrive folder from File Explorer If you’re not using Microsoft’s cloud drive service, OneDrive, and would rather not have the OneDrive folder appear in the File Explorer, you can remove it by tweaking the Windows 10 registry. Launch the Registry Editor: Press the Windows logo and “R” keys together, and then enter “regedit” in the Run panel to launch the program. From Registry Editor, navigate to: IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree” and change its Value Data from “1” to “0.” Sign out of Windows 10 and sign back in, or restart your computer.

9. Pin Windows apps to the desktop Windows 10 is designed to let you pin Windows apps to the taskbar and the Star
Menu’s tiles panel, but not to the desktop. Pinning apps to the desktop is possible once you create a new folder on the desktop and name it “NAME.” (You can replace “NAME” with whatever name you want.) This creates a modified shortcut to the File Explorer, which, when opened, will show an alphabetical listing of all the desktop applications and apps installed on your Windows 10 system. To pin a Windows app to the desktop, right-click on its icon here, select “Create shortcut” from the small pop-up menu, and then click “Yes” to have the shortcut for the app appear on the desktop.

Windows 10

10. Access all Windows 10 settings under one user interface Windows 10’s various settings are spread across its Settings app and the classic Control Panel, but if you’re frequently fiddling around with the OS, it becomes a pain switching between the two. The solution: Evoke all the settings for Windows 10 under one program (which has been referred to as “GodMode”). You do this by creating a new folder on the desktop, and naming it “NAME.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}”. (Replace “NAME” with whatever you want to call this folder.) The folder’s icon will change to that of the classic Control Panel. Double-click it and you’ll be taken to a long listing of all the adjustable settings in Windows 10, organized alphabetically by category.

11. Uninstall default Windows apps Just like Apple has been doing with their iPhone and iPad line of products Windows 10 comes with several Windows apps that cannot be uninstalled, including the Calendar, Mail, People and aforementioned Xbox app.

Windows 10

Tech blogger Thomas Vanhoutte has compiled a collection of commands that you run under the PowerShell program to remove these default apps. To launch PowerShell, find it under the “Windows PowerShell” folder in the Start Menu, and right-click on Windows PowerShell and select “Run as administrator” from the pop-up menu. Then find the specific listing that Vanhoutte has provided for uninstalling the specific Windows app you want removed, and copy-and-paste it into the PowerShell command prompt.

For example, to uninstall the aforementioned People app, copy-and-paste “Get-AppxPackage *people* | Remove-AppxPackage” into the PowerShell command prompt and press the “Enter” key. Vanhoutte also provides a script to restore all the default Windows apps, in case you’d like them back.

Microsoft’s Re-Imagined Internet Browser

It appears that the current version of Microsoft’s Internet Browser, Internet Explorer 11 may be the last of it’s kind. This is big news if true. Microsoft’s next browser will more then likely be a lightweight, Chrome-like and Firefox-like browser. The new browser which is currently in development has the codename “Spartan” and is rumored to be making it’s premier on January 21. This will probably be a part of the already scheduled invitation-only event offering a peek at Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system. Sadly I have not been invited to this event… yet.

Spartan will likely ship alongside with Internet Explorer 11 when Microsoft releases Windows 10 in 2015, according to ZDNet. Windows 10 is the follow-up to the troubled Windows 8 operating system. I have been using this technical build and to date “Spartan” is not included, but that could change soon. In fact Windows 8 was so “troubled” that Microsoft skipped Windows 9 all together. Windows 10 is expected to roll out sometime after Microsoft’s Build Developer Conference beginning on April 29.

“Spartan is still going to use Microsoft’s Chakra JavaScript engine and Microsoft’s Trident rendering engine (not WebKit), sources say,” according to ZDNet. “As Neowin’s Brad Sams reported back in September, the coming browser will look and feel more like Chrome and Firefox and will support extensions.”

When Microsoft rolled out a preview build for Windows 10 in November, Microsoft announced “significant” interoperability updates for Internet Explorer. Those included more than 2,000 fixes for interoperability issues, support for 20 new platform features and a new architecture to promote interoperability and compatibility.

Released in the fall of 2013, IE 11 has enjoyed positive reviewers for speed, efficiency and standards compliance. These positive reviews for their internet browser has not been been the norm for Microsoft. Since the first version of the browser was released in 1995, however, IE has often acquired a negative reputation especially when compared to Chrome and Firefox.

This new re-branded internet browser, known as”Spartan” is another example of Microsoft’s recent adaptation to the current expectations of the tech public. However, it’s uncertain whether the rumored IE 11 successor might be “functional enough” to be included during the January 21 Windows 10 preview and may not show up in the test builds until some point later, according to ZDNet.

A Microsoft Smartwatch is Coming

A Microsoft smartwatch is coming and it will work on Windows Phone! Don’t worry, unlike other smartwatches on the market this one will work across all platforms.

Microsoft is planning to enter the smartwatch arena by launching their own wearable fitness band in the coming weeks. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that the launch of Microsoft’s wearable fitness band is imminent, and the device will be stocked at retailers in time for the holiday season. Microsoft’s wearable launch will mark 10 years since the company announced its SPOT smartwatch in 2004 that used FM radio signals to send instant messages from Windows Messenger, news headlines, stock information, and weather forecasts to your wrist.

Although Microsoft’s fitness band will have some smartwatch features, it will be primarily focused on fitness activities. The band will reportedly track steps, heart rate, calories burned, and other key health attributes thanks to a number of sensors embedded in the device. Microsoft has also been testing the ability to monitor heart rate through the day and night, and is expected to ship a final device that has around two days of battery life.

In 2003 Bill Gates was the CEO of Microsoft and he had a smartwatch dream, but like so many Microsoft projects it died a quick death, only to be resurrected in the next few weeks, some 11 years later.

In 2003 Bill Gates was the CEO of Microsoft and he had a smartwatch dream, but like so many Microsoft projects it died a quick death, only to be resurrected in the next few weeks, some 11 years later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The key part of Microsoft’s fitness band will be its cross platform support for Windows Phone, iOS, and Android. Microsoft is developing separate apps for each mobile operating system to help support the features of its fitness band sensors, and smartphone notifications to the band will also be supported. It’s unlikely that Microsoft will brand its fitness band under the Lumia or Surface monikers, mainly because the device will work across all three mobile operating systems.

Goodbye Windows?

A Reuters’ report this weekend suggested that Microsoft may actually drop the Windows brand name from their 30 year old operating system.

Dropping the Windows name would certainly be an extraordinary move. Windows has been Microsoft’s staple brand ever since its introduction in 1985. To kill a brand with such universal recognition on its thirtieth anniversary would indeed be surprising.

Windows was born on November 20, 1985. Are the days of the "Windows" name numbered?

Windows was born on November 20, 1985. Are the days of the “Windows” name numbered?

However if you take a deeper look at this possibility Microsoft’s desired unification of its “Windows”, “Windows RT”, and “Windows Phone” brands under a single brand name — “Windows” — shows a willingness to make bold branding changes.  It also makes it a bit easier to make such a shocking and broad change, given that you’re changing one name, rather than several Windows subbrands.

Whether Microsoft decides to relally to make the shocking decision to re-brand its existing brand name with a more clear and consistent message remains to be seen.  We may find this out in Tuesday, October 30th when the new version of Windows is announced.

Although this possibility is fascinating and would be a bold move I really do not see Microsoft dumping the “Windows” name.

iCloud for Windows Arrives

One of my biggest complaints about Apple’s iCloud is that it was not truly available across platform. I believe that when you are dealing with user’s “data” the cloud provider has an obligation to make the data available on whatever device / operating sysyem the user chooses to use.

Apple has finally adopted this theory and has made iCloud available on Windows.

On Windows, iCloud Drive is available as its own folder for managing documents stored in the cloud. iCloud Drive appears to work largely the same as iCloud Drive on Apple’s operating systems.  Although Windows users still cannot use iCloud Keychain for web passwords, Notes or Find My iPhone the ability to access stored data is a big leap from where we were a short time ago.

If you would like to access your iCloud from your Windows PC download the link here.

The Promise of Windows 9

We are only about a month away from the developer’s preview of Windows 9 so of course news about what’s in this new Microsoft box is starting to arrive. I for one am looking forward to test driving this new Windows version. Microsoft’s vision is to learn from Windows 8 and to combine the best of Windows 8 and 7 into one unified operating system to offer more control to the users of their operating system.

So what’s new?

First – You will often hear “Windows Threshold” being referred to in the news. That is because Microsoft’s code name for Windows 9 is “Threshold”. They are one in the same.

One of Window 9’s significant feature implementations is the return of the traditional Start menu, which had been a long-standing Windows feature until Microsoft retired it with their touch heavy Windows 8. To be clear on a touch device Microsoft was correct, there really is no need for a Start button (and menu) but the majority of users, especially in business continue to rely on non-touch screens and the missing Start button was a real point of contention that would not go away, no matter how much Microsoft tried to ignore the mass outcry.

Windows 9 will bring many changes and enhancements in addition to the returning tart menu.  Of interest are new interactive Live Tiles which will apparently play a big part in Microsoft’s new UI. Also reported is the addition of a new notification center, much like we have come to expect on our smartphones.

Interactive Tiles

It is also expected that Windows 9 will also offer a host of new features and changes equating to a more well-rounded experience. Having joined the tablet market, Microsoft has certainly has hit some rock and struggled at times however with the eventual merging of Windows RT and Windows Phone combined with the Windows 9 release, it does appear that Satya Nadella’s company can expect brighter days.

What Will It Cost?

Microsoft it appears has received the message. Many users are not happy with Windows 8. There are real indications coming from Microsoft that Windows 9 will be offered “free” for current Windows 8 and 8.1 users while users on older operating systems will incur a cost of only $20.00.

There is all leads me to believe Windows 8 was a speed bump leading to better things from the software giant and the software giant adapts to the ever changing technical world.

Windows 9 Approaches

According to several reliable sources Microsoft is gearing up for its debut of Windows 9 next month.

Microsoft has scheduled a special press event for September 30th to introduce Windows 9 several sources have reported.

Windows 9 has been in development for at least a year now and is code named Windows Threshold.

ZDNet reported Microsoft is planning to launch a “technology preview” of Threshold at the end of September or early the following month. According to the report, users will be able to test the operating system but will be required to allow software updates to be automatically downloaded to the platform on a monthly basis.

Windows 8 was clearly to much change, too soon for many users and without a doubt for enterprises. The reliance on a touch screen UI actually burdened Windows 8 and most enterprises simply ignored it continuing their reliance on Windows 7. Windows 9 will strive to address both touch and non-touch devices while also proving more control for enterprise deployment.

Threshold — or Windows 9 — is expected to include a “mini Smart Menu,” a separate windows for Metro-style apps running on the desktop and support for virtual desktops.

It is expected the operating system will launch as a beta preview soon after its debut on September 30.

1 2 3