Google opens Chromebooks to Android store

Google's Chromebook update will allow the inexpensive laptops to run apps from the Android store opening them up to apps from Microsoft Word to Quicken.

Introducing the UWP Community Toolkit

Recently, Microsoft released the Windows Anniversary Update and a new Windows Software Developer Kit (SDK) for Windows 10 containing tools, app templates, platform controls, Windows Runtime APIs, emulators and much more, to help create innovative and compelling Universal Windows apps.

Today, we are introducing the open-source UWP Community Toolkit, a new project that enables the developer community to collaborate and contribute new capabilities on top of the SDK.

We designed the toolkit with these goals in mind:

  1. Simplified app development: The toolkit includes new capabilities (helper functions, custom controls and app services) that simplify or demonstrate common developer tasks. Where possible, our goal is to allow app developers to get started with just one line of code.
  2. Open-Source: The toolkit (source code, issues and roadmap) will be developed as an open-source project. We welcome contributions from the .NET developer community.
  3. Alignment with SDK: The feedback from the community on this project will be reflected in future versions of the Windows SDK for Windows 10.

UWPToolkit

All Windows 10 PCs will get Windows Holographic access next year

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Windows 10 users will be able to dive into mixed reality starting next year, with an update planned that can let any “mainstream” Windows 10 PC run the Windows Holographic shell the company first revealed in January 2015.

The update will allow users to multi-task in mixed reality environments, which combine traditional 2D Windows 10 apps with immersive, 3D graphical environments. These will be enabled via a range of “6 degrees of freedom devices,” input devices that add positional tracking to other more traditional forms of input, like clicking and pointing.

The Windows team is trying to make this more broadly available, too, thanks to support for a range of Windows 10 PCs that don’t necessarily need the specs required to run full-scale VR today. As an example, Microsoft presented a video of Windows 10 Holographic running at 90 FPS on an Intel NUC, a tiny desktop PC that’s not super expensive and included integrated Intel graphics.

While it’s still unlikely that we’ll all be doing our average desk workflow of spreadsheets and slide presentation in mixed reality any time soon, it’s good to see Microsoft set a timeline for public availability of a feature which, at launch, seems like it had the potential to become vaporware rather than a shipping product.

Intel and Microsoft are also building a specification for mixed reality PCs, as well as head-mounted displays that let users experience the mixed reality operating environment. The public release of the spec is planned for an upcoming Windows hardware develop conference in Shenzhen this December.

Microsoft releases its Common Data Model database to testers

Microsoft has made a promised public preview of its Common Data Model (CDM) entity database available to testers. CDM is at the heart of the coming Microsoft Dynamics 365 bundle.

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Microsoft made the promised public preview of its Common Data Model database available on August 8.

The Common Data Model, which Microsoft describes as "an out-of-box business database for storing and managing business entities," is at the center of its PowerApps service for building custom business apps and the coming Dynamics 365 ERP/CRM cloud bundle.

CDM can be used today as a business database for flows created with Microsoft's Flow event-automation tool. CDM can provide access to standard entities, plus allow developers to build custom entities. Microsoft is providing some templates to help users get started.

Users will be able to use CDM to collect data, such as Tweets or RSS items. They also can import and export data from services like Dynamics CRM, Salesforce.com, Excel, and Microsoft's SQL database (cloud and on-prem). They also have the option to use CDM to build and store history/status of pending approvals.

The CDM is meant to provide a database of entities that are common across industry domains, like Sales, Purchase, Customer Service, and Productivity. These entities will connect to Microsoft's first-party business applications, as well as third-party and customer-developed apps.

The entities in CDM will support data types like Address, Email, Currency, Invoice and Order Auto Numbering, images, geographic locations, and more. They'll be implemented using the latest SQL Server data types.

The CDM will be at the heart of Microsoft's Dynamics 365 cloud bundle, the first pieces of which will be available this fall.

Windows 10's Anniversary Update is now available

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Microsoft's Windows 10 Anniversary Update is here and ready to download. The software maker first started testing its Anniversary Update back in December, and now all Windows 10 users get to experience the new features and improvements free of charge. Chief among them is a new Windows Ink feature. Microsoft has supported inking in Windows for years, but Windows Ink is a dedicated hub designed for devices like the Surface Pro 4, and other 2-in-1s with styluses. Windows Ink will work with your fingers, for doodling and inking on screenshots, but it will obviously work better with a dedicated stylus.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update also includes a number of UI improvements to the Start menu, notification center, taskbar, and overall dark theme. Microsoft is also tweaking Cortana to allow the digital assistant to work on the lock screen and answer queries. If you're a fan of Microsoft's Edge browser, it's also getting extension support today. Extensions like LastPass, 1Password, AdBlock, and EverNote are all available, and more should arrive in the Windows Store in the coming months. Windows 10 Anniversary Update is available from Windows Update immediately, an ISOs are also available (or an easy clean install tool) if you're interested in clean installing the update to your system.

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