Month: April 2015

This is Microsoft Edge, the replacement for Internet Explorer

Microsoft first revealed its new browser plans back in January. Known as Project Spartan initially, Microsoft is revealing today that the company will use the Microsoft Edge name for its new browser in Windows 10. The Edge naming won’t surprise many as it’s the same moniker given to the new rendering engine (EdgeHTML) that Microsoft is using for its Windows 10 browser.

While Microsoft Edge is the successor to Internet Explorer, Microsoft will keep its aging browser around for enterprise customers. Microsoft Edge is designed to be basic and minimalist for the future, and early previews include new features like digital ink annotation, Cortana integration, and a built-in reading list. “You’re going to care about the blasting fast technology that’s inside it,” said Joe Belfiore on stage at Build. Microsoft Edge will be the default browser in Windows 10, and the one that most consumers will use to browse the web in Microsoft’s next operating system.

The image of a lowercase “e” encircled by a halo of light is one of the most recognizable items in any computer interface. Familiar though it may be, however, the Internet Explorer icon is more infamous than famous: everyone knows what it points to, but nobody’s excited to go there. Call it the post-IE6 trauma that will never go away.

Microsoft has been on a mission to right the wrongs of its web browser and has got better with every new iteration of IE, and for Windows 10 it’s going one step further and renaming the software with the new title of Microsoft Edge. But that re-branding hasn’t gone all the way. The icon is still a lowercase “e,” still bisected by the ghostly shadow of that dreaded IE halo. it makes Microsoft Edge look like a bold stride into the future that refuses to close the door on the past.

Source: This is Microsoft Edge, the replacement for Internet Explorer | The Verge

How to Go From Being Busy to Being Productive

Being busy and being productive can be two very different things. If you’re super busy but can’t manage to get anything done, you’re not alone.

“It’s very easy to succumb to the temptation of staying busy even when it is counterproductive: It is the way our brains are wired,” write Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino and University of North Carolina Business School professor Bradley Staats in Harvard Business Review.

Gino and Staats say that they have a solution you can use to “translate that predisposition into productivity.” According to research, the reasons people feel busy, but are not productive, are self-imposed.

“People have an aversion to idleness,” Gino and Staats write. “We have friends who will, by choice, drive miles out of their way to avoid waiting for a few minutes at traffic lights, even if the detour means their journey takes more time. Research suggests that the same applies to work, where many of the things we choose to do are merely justifications to keep ourselves busy.”

The second reason for constant busyness is an inherent “bias toward action,” Gino and Staats write. “When faced with uncertainty or a problem, particularly an ambiguous one, we prefer to do something, even if it’s counterproductive and doing nothing is the best course of action.”

Below, find out more about these two self-imposed habits and how to stop crippling your own productivity.

Don’t jump to action.

“The action bias is usually an emotional reaction to the sense that you should do something, even if you don’t know what to do,” Gino and Staats write. By contrast, hanging back, observing, and exploring a situation is often the better choice.”

In one study, the authors found that people feel more productive when they are completing tasks rather than planning them. When under a deadline, subjects “perceived planning as a waste of time–even if it actually leads to better performance than jumping into the task head-first,” the duo writes.

You need to keep in mind is that it’s your choice whether to be busy or to be productive. It’s easier to choose to be busy, but you must remind yourself to be productive and take time to reflect and plan before descending into busy mode.

Take your time to plan.

In another study, Gino and Staats went to the tech support call center at Wipro, an outsourcing company based in India, to see if thinking and planning help productivity. They asked one group of employees-in-training to take 15 minutes out of their day to write and reflect on the things they had learned throughout the day. The other group of employees-in-training just continued working until it was time to go home. The researchers found that after one month, the “reflection group” increased its performance on the final training test by an average of 22.8 percent more than the group who used the 15 minutes to get more work done.

“Reflection has such beneficial effects on performance because it makes us more aware of where we are, gives us information about our progress, and lends us the confidence we need to accomplish tasks and goals,” Gino and Staats write.

Act like a goalie.

Gino and Staats say now you have to put these two elements together–being OK with remaining idle and taking time to plan and reflect. The duo cite a study of professional soccer goalies and the best strategies to stop the opponent from scoring on a penalty kick. Many goalies decide to jump to the right or the left without waiting and watching where the opponent is kicking the ball. “As it turns out, staying in the center is best,” they write. According to the study, goalkeepers who dive to the right only stop the ball 12.6 percent of the time, while those who dive to the left only stop it 14.2 percent of the time. The most successful goalies stay in the center–they stop the ball at a 33.3 percent rate.”

Learning to stay in the center, as goalkeepers should, involves stepping back, allocating time to just think, and only then taking action,” Gino and Staats write. “Through reflection, we can better understand the actions we are considering and ensure they are the ones that will make us productive.”

Source: How to Go From Being Busy to Being Productive |

Microsoft makes its case for Windows 10

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Microsoft figures one way to get people psyched about Windows 10 is to make sure there are plenty of cool features and apps for smartphones and tablets that use the new operating system.That’s why the tech giant is making its case Wednesday before an army of software developers who may be crucial allies in its campaign to build enthusiasm among consumers for the next version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system, coming later this year.While Microsoft has already previewed some aspects of the new Windows, a parade of top executives will use Microsoft’s annual “Build” conference to demonstrate more software features and app-building tools, with an emphasis on mobile devices as well as PCs.

Ultimately, they’re hoping to win over people who have turned to smartphones and tablets that run on rival operating systems from Google and Apple.During the three-day conference, Microsoft may also show off new Windows smartphones or other devices and reveal more details about such tech initiatives as the company’s new Spartan web browser; its Siri-like digital assistant known as Cortana; and the HoloLens, a futuristic “augmented reality” headset that projects three-dimensional images in a wearer’s field of vision.But perhaps most importantly, this year’s conference is an opportunity for Microsoft to persuade an audience of more than 5,000 techies and independent programmers that it’s worth their time to create new apps and programs for Windows 10.

Experts say Microsoft needs a rich variety of apps if it wants to appeal to people who are increasingly using mobile gadgets instead of personal computers.”Getting developer buy-in is absolutely the crucial thing,” said J.P. Gownder, a tech industry analyst at Forrester Research. He said Microsoft has struggled with a “chicken-and-egg” problem, in which developers have been reluctant to build mobile apps for Windows because relatively few people use Windows phones and tablets. Microsoft hopes it has solved that problem by designing Windows 10 so it’s easier for developers to build “universal” apps that work on a variety of Windows devices, from phones to PCs and other gadgets, Gownder said.

The company also has a big carrot to wave in front of those developers: Microsoft has already said it will release Windows 10 as a free upgrade to people who now have PCs or other gadgets running the previous two versions of Windows, provided they upgrade in the coming year. The offer could create a huge new audience of Windows 10 users in a relatively short time, Gownder said. Microsoft has not said exactly when Windows 10 is coming, and some analysts are hoping the company will announce a release date at the conference, along with details about how it will distribute future upgrades.

CEO Satya Nadella and other executives have hinted they’d like to move away from the old notion of selling each new version of Windows as a separate product. Microsoft’s had early success in selling its Office productivity software on a subscription basis, in which customers pay an annual fee to use programs like Word, PowerPoint and Excel.Nadella is presiding over a major overhaul of a company that once dominated the tech industry, in the days when PCs were king. He has redesigned some of Microsoft’s most popular programs for mobile devices and invested in new “cloud-computing” services, in which businesses pay to use software that’s housed in Microsoft’s data centers.Microsoft still relies heavily on selling traditional software for PCs and corporate computer systems.

But its latest quarterly earnings report, issued last week, offered some signs that the decline in that business is slowing, while Microsoft’s cloud-computing business is growing rapidly. The news drove Microsoft’s share price up 10 percent in one day. The stock has continued to climb, closing Tuesday at $49.15.Nadella will discuss the company’s strategy and financial performance at a gathering of Wall Street analysts in San Francisco later on Wednesday afternoon.

Source: Microsoft makes its case for Windows 10

Free Windows 10 is not an upgrade … it’s marketing


Windows 10 is not a free upgrade, Microsoft said last week. It’s a “marketing and promotional activity.”

The odd nomenclature appeared in Microsoft’s 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that highlighted the company’s first quarter financial numbers.

In the 10-Q segment devoted to revenue recognition — typically several paragraphs of static boilerplate — Microsoft brought up Windows 10, specifically the free upgrade it plans to hand out to users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 after Windows 10’s summer debut.

“This offer differs from historical offers preceding the launch of new versions of Windows as it is being made available for free to existing users in addition to new customers after the offer announcement,” Microsoft said. “We evaluated the nature and accounting treatment of the Windows 10 offer and determined that it represents a marketing and promotional activity, in part because the offer is being made available for free to existing users [emphasis added].”

There was method to Microsoft’s apparent madness. …

Redstone: The codename for the next Windows update coming in 2016

Microsoft loves to use codenames and from the past few years, there are two in particular that you may recall; Blue and Threshold. With Windows 10 (Threshold) coming to market sometime this summer, Microsoft is already starting to work on the next update for the OS.

Microsoft has said multiple times that Windows will be moving at a faster cadence than in the past and they are already working on a release for 2016. The codename for the project is ‘Redstone’, a popular item in the recently acquired game, Minecraft.

At this time, not much is known about Microsoft’s plans for Windows vNext, but the company has now entered the planning stages of the update, as confirmed by two internal sources. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise as the company is perpetually planning for the next iteration of its software, regardless of the platform.

We will be curious to see if any more code names pop up using the Minecraft terminology. We have already seen several names from the Halo series spring to life, like the Spartan web browser and of course, Cortana too.

It would seem logical that this will not be a large update for the OS. Seeing that Windows 10 is an overhaul of the entire platform, Redstone will likely be relatively minor in comparison. Until Microsoft clarifies what the post-Windows 10 world looks like for the platform, there are many questions left to be answered.

It is worth pointing out too that Windows Server is expected to be released in 2016, so Redstone could possibly be related to this project as well. It’s early days for the this project but as we learn more and solidify what Redstone will become, we will keep you updated.

For now, know that Redstone is the next codename for Windows update and if you happen to see it pop up anywhere at Microsoft, make sure to let us know.

Source: Redstone: The codename for the next Windows update coming in 2016.