Windows 10: Extensions for Edge to arrive with Redstone in 2016

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Microsoft Edge is an interesting browser, simply because it’s missing a rather hefty amount of vital features for people to want to make the switch from Chrome or Firefox. One feature that should have been there on day one but wasn’t, are extensions. Extensions are one of the main reasons people aren’t switching over to Edge, and now it appears users waiting to make the switch are going to have to wait a little longer.

Microsoft initially stated that extensions for Edge would arrive with an update “later this year”, but according to my contacts, there are no other feature updates after Threshold 2 that are scheduled for the end of this year. Extensions are yet to show up in the main development branch for Threshold 2 as well, and Microsoft still hasn’t started asking developers to port their extensions from other web browsers. With only two weeks left before Threshold 2 RTMs, there’s simply no time for Microsoft to ready extensions for Edge. So Instead, I hear Microsoft is planning to rollout the feature in 2016 with Redstone in the summer.

Insiders will likely get to mess with extensions before the summer however, as the Insider Program will likely begin receiving new Redstone builds way before RTM is released to the public. Microsoft will want developers and insiders to test (and develop) extensions within Edge, so when the update launches consumers will already have a number of extensions available for the browser. For those who don’t know, Microsoft is working on a bridge to allow extensions developed for Chrome to be easily ported to Edge with little to no code changes, much like the Project Astoria bridge.

Microsoft reveals some interesting stats about apps, Office, and french fries

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Microsoft has released some interesting stats on its "Microsoft by the Numbers" website, which showcases the growth of the Windows platform as well as other products and services offered by the company.

The website has also highlighted several milestones and achievements accomplished by the company which include:

  • Office has been downloaded more than 100 million times on iPhones, iPads and Android devices.
  • 80% of the Fortune 500 is on the Microsoft cloud.
  • More than 75 million devices are running Windows 10.
  • Skype Translator can translate voice calls in 6 different languages.
  • Microsoft Surface Hub collaboration devices are integrated with optically bonded displays capable of detecting 100 points of multi-touch and up to three simultaneous pen inputs.
  • Microsoft employees in Redmond, Washington eat about 984,000 orders of French fries each year in campus cafeterias.

Many more intriguing facts have been listed as well which includes that there are now 669,000 apps in the Windows Store. The company also states that there are now 48 million Xbox Live users in 42 countries and that Outlook.com has more than 400 million active users. More than 1.2 billion people use Microsoft Office which equates to one in every seven people on the Earth.

The Redmond giant has also highlighted prominent individuals linked to the company such as Stephen Alvarez, who has endeavored to snap photos of all the Seven Natural Wonders of the World using only Microsoft-made smartphones. Rudy Huyn has been mentioned as one of the "platform's most prolific developers" as his apps have been downloaded over 16 million times. There are several more interesting facts listed on the company's website which you can view by visiting the source link.

Microsoft now has six million Windows Insiders

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In a video posted earlier (see it below), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella once again accepted the challenge of former NFL player Steve Gleason, who suffers from ALS, and poured a bucket of ice cold water over his head along with Terry Myerson and members of the Windows 10 team.

At the same time, Myerson, head of the Windows and Devices division, confirmed that six million have signed up to the Windows Insider program that sees users able to test preview releases of Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile, according to Windows Central.

Windows Insiders were among the first ones to get their hands on Windows 10 when it was in full preview mode and the next version of Microsoft's mobile OS is currently being tested by those people that are still a part of the program.

Over 20 million installs

Becoming a Windows Insider is easy and there are plenty that have decided to remain a part of the program for Windows 10 despite the fact that it is out in all its unadulterated glory.

Windows 10, which was released two weeks ago, has, depending on where you look, already achieved well over 20 million installs and figures released yesterday suggest that it is well ahead of the adoption rates enjoyed by Windows 8 in its first six months, let alone two weeks.

Microsoft pushes out a big update for Windows 10

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There haven’t been many updates for Windows 10 since Microsoft launched its new operating system last week, but today the software giant is rolling out a cumulative update designed to "enhance the functionality of Windows 10 through new features and improvements".

If you’ve been experiencing problems with the new OS, as I have, then this update may go some way to overcoming them.

The cumulative update, KB 3081424, contains all of the previously released fixes (see KB 3074683), as well as some new ones. There are no security-related changes.

The full list of updates can be viewed here, and it’s extensive, if rather unexciting. Although there has been talk of this being Windows 10 Service Release 1 (SR1), Microsoft's Gabriel Aul says it doesn't has a name, as far as he knows, and is "just a cumulative servicing update".

You can update your Windows 10 installation now by going to Settings, Update & Security, Windows Update. Even though it's a ~325MB update it should download and install very speedily, and you will need to restart your PC afterwards to action the changes.

Windows 10 uses peer-to-peer networking to distribute updates by default

WUDO

Now that Windows is a service (WaaS), which means it will constantly be updated rather than have big regular updates, Microsoft has put some features in to Windrows 10 to speed up the delivery of those updates. One feature that may have escaped your notice is called Windows Update Delivery Optimization (WUDO). This feature isn't mentioned in the "Get Started" app but needs to be searched for in the documentation.

This new Windows 10 feature works in a similar way to torrent technology which uses a peer to peer network to distribute files quickly over the internet. The torrent system works so effectively because as files are downloaded, parts of the file are also uploaded to the next computer and so on. In order to receive, you have to give a little back.

Windows 10 works in a similar way with the WUDO feature. If your computer has downloaded an update but a computer on your local network hasn't, then your computer will send that data to the other computer. It's faster than updating over the internet. To change how Windows distributes downloads, do the following:

Go to Settings > Update & security > Under Windows Update, hit Advanced options > Choose how updates are delivered

Then choose to get updates from only PCs on your local network, or PCs on your local network, and PCs on the Internet

Also, by default, the WUDO is set to send updates to computers over the internet (similar to torrents). Happily, Microsoft assures that no personal information is sent in the transfer and no changes are made to any files on the PC. The feature will also only use limited and unused bandwidth and if your connection is set to metered, then it won't do it at all. However, if you have a capped Wi‑Fi connection, you should make sure Windows 10 sees it as a metered connection by doing the following:

Go to Start  [Start button icon] , then Settings > Network & Internet > Wi‑Fi > Advanced options.

Use the toggle under Set as metered connection to set your Wi‑Fi connection as metered.

While this feature will help get Windows update faster and that's a good thing, Microsoft needs to be wary about eroding any positive feeling Windows 10 has built up. To do that, it should at least highlight this option during the update process.

Microsoft thanks #Windows10 Insiders with #ninjacat wallpaper, mashups, and campaign

In just eight days, Microsoft is gearing up for what is certainly their largest release to date: Windows 10 for PCs. For many months now, a cadre of volunteers aka Insiders have helped Microsoft deliver an OS that you want through feedback, votes, and data usage.

Even though making an OS is srs bsns it does not mean we cannot all have a little fun too. Case in point: Ninja Cat riding on a unicorn. If you are not familiar with the bold, proud and ludicrous emblem of Windows Insiders insiders, then you can read my expertly crafted history of the unintentional Microsoft meme.


For those of you already in the club, you just need to know Microsoft has you covered. Today, they are releasing Ninjacat riding on various new steeds, including the classic unicorn and the new T-Rex and narwhal versions. From Gabriel Aul's post:

"So here are some fun background/lock screen images of the ninja cat and her steeds to help celebrate the upcoming launch of Windows 10 upgrades for PCs. You can download either the background images themselves (sized for the most common resolutions for PCs, tablets, phones and the Microsoft Band) or the individual images and make your own."

The form is in wallpaper for your PC, tablets, phones and yes, even the Microsoft Band.

Microsoft formatted each of the images in different resolutions for different device form factors, from a massive 3840 x 2160 down to the 310 x 102 format used as a background for the Microsoft Band (in attach).

Windows_Insider_Ninjacat_PC.zip (4MB)

Here the wallpaper for Windows Phone.

The earliest you can receive a PC with Windows 10 pre-installed is July 30

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Microsoft has yet to offer a RTM (Release to Manufacturing) version of Windows 10 to PC makers, and it looks like it will be waiting until the last minute to do so. Microsoft's head of Windows marketing has confirmed that PC buyers won't be able to get one with Windows 10 pre-installed on that launch date.

Bloomberg spoke with Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft's vice president of Windows and device marketing:

"You will see computers running with Windows 10 installed very soon after the 29th and then in the fall a whole new class of machines for the holidays," he said."

In this case, "very soon" is in fact the day after the Windows 10 launch, July 30, at least for one OEM. As we have previously reported, Dell started taking pre-orders for a number of their PCs with Windows 10 pre-installed a few weeks ago. The company has said that any Windows 10 PC pre-orders in the US made by 1:00 p.m. Eastern time (10 a.am Pacific time) on July 29, and your system will ship the same day. Those pre-orders will all get free next-business-day shipping, which means those PCs will be delivered to customers on July 30.

Microsoft reveals first official international pricing info for Windows 10

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We've known for some time now that Microsoft will offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade during its first year of availability, to those with a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PC. But the company hasn't yet announced how much Windows 10 licenses will cost around the world for those who don't qualify for the free upgrade.

Leading online retailer Newegg posted prices indicated a few weeks ago that a full Windows 10 Home license would be priced at $109.99, while the Pro version was said to cost $149.99. Microsoft later confirmed that prices in the US would be $119 and $199.

newegg-posted-window10-price

Today, Microsoft began to reveal its first pricing info for Windows 10 directly to its customers in an update to its 'Get Windows 10' app, which allows eligible users to reserve their free copy of the new OS.

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Microsoft gives away Windows 10 to anyone who asks

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In the always confusing world of Microsoft licensing, there are two sets of rules.

One is written down in license agreements, drafted by Microsoft's large legal team, with separate terms for PC makers and end users. These combined terms are extremely specific about the rights and responsibilities of every party to the license agreement. They are aimed primarily at Microsoft's commercial customers and its PC-building partners, who account for more than 98 percent of all revenue from Windows desktop licenses.

The other set of rules is unwritten, for the most part. But its terms are fairly easy to deduce. They are intended for hobbyists, enthusiasts, and IT pros who like to tinker with Windows and PC hardware. Microsoft's TechNet program was a long-running gift to this group, offering thousands of dollars' worth of Microsoft software for a few hundred bucks.

The Windows Insider program is being run in that same spirit.

Every once in a while, Microsoft actually makes a public statement tacitly (and carefully) acknowledging those unwritten rules. That happened this week, with an announcement on Microsoft's official Windows blog outlining what's next for registered members of Microsoft's Windows Insider program:

Windows Insiders running the Windows 10 Insider Preview (Home and Pro editions) with their registered MSA connected to their PC will receive the final release build of Windows 10 starting on July 29th. This will come as just another flight. I've gotten a lot of questions from Windows Insiders about how this will work if they clean installed from ISO. As long as you are running an Insider Preview build and connected with the MSA you used to register, you will receive the Windows 10 final release build and remain activated. Once you have successfully installed this build and activated, you will also be able to clean install on that PC from final media if you want to start over fresh.

Toshiba will build a Cortana button into its Windows 10 laptops


Cortana will be one of the major features to come to Windows 10, and at least one PC vendor plans to treat her especially well. Toshiba's Windows 10 laptops will feature a dedicated Cortana button, for launching Microsoft's digital assistant from your keyboard.

The Cortana key will be on all of Toshiba's Windows 10 PCs—“across the board, top to bottom,” according to Jeff Barney, the general manager and vice president in charge of Toshiba America’s PC business. The key will sit in the upper left area, near the function keys, he said. Triggering it will launch Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant.

Cortana was first introduced as part of the Windows Phone platform as a way for users to interact with the operating system without using a keyboard. Tapping and holding the phone’s search key triggers the service, which can respond to oral questions, set reminders, navigate to nearby locations, and perform a number of other tasks when verbally requested. With Windows 10, Cortana will live inside desktop PCs as well as phones and tablets. 

But on both the phone and the PC, Cortana’s ability to “actively listen” has been problematic, with difficulty picking up and reacting to the use of the “Hey Cortana” phrase that triggers it. In practice, it's been far more successful when manually triggered.  

The idea behind the dedicated Cortana button, Barney said, is to make sure that “Cortana is listening when you want it to.” The company has added high-fidelity array mics to its PCs to improve Cortana’s ability to understand what you say.

Why this matters: If a user wants to use the Cortana feature on Windows 10, he or she has either had to tap the Cortana icon on the screen or move the mouse to trigger the service. Placing a dedicated Cortana button on the keyboard is a smart idea, especially if the service proves to be a hit.  Frankly, I’d be willing to bet that Microsoft also releases a mouse that does the same thing.

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