Microsoft confirms second major Windows 10 update coming in 2017

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There’s a second major Windows 10 update coming later in 2017, Microsoft has confirmed. The second update, code-named Redstone 3, will follow sometime after the putative April release of the Windows 10 Creators Update.

This new update was revealed at Microsoft Ignite in Australia via a “Windows 10 release cadence” slide, pictured below. The purple sections show the few months where an update is available via the Windows Insider programme, and then the plus sign indicates mainstream release. Teal indicates the period where enterprise customers “pilot” the new update, and dark blue is the “production” period where Microsoft provides active support. So, you can see that Microsoft plans to support two versions of Windows 10 concurrently before moving onto the next update.

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Microsoft launches Skype Lite Android app for India and other emerging markets

screenshot-2017-02-22-14-08-23 Microsoft has retooled Skype, the messaging service synonymous with business users, for people living in emerging markets. Today, at its Future Decoded event in India, Microsoft took the wraps off Skype Lite. The service is an Android app that mains the core video and voice calling functionalities, but is optimized for those on limited internet connections such as 2G data. It… Read More

Google and Microsoft agree to demote piracy search results in the UK

Google and Microsoft’s Bing have agreed to crack down on piracy sites in the UK, after years of wrangling with film and music rights holders.

The tech giants have inked a voluntary code of practice with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and Motion Picture Association, following a series of talks overseen by the UK’s copyright watchdog and steered by the department for culture, media, and sport.

On Monday, the Intellectual Property Office described it as a “landmark agreement” in which Google and Bing have vowed to reduce “the visibility of infringing content in search results by 1 June 2017.” It means that repeat offenders who post pirated material online will see their sites drop off the first page of Google and Bing, when film and music fans search for content. Instead, they will apparently be shepherded towards legit sites.

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Halo Wars 2 single-player review: Meet local units in your area

There are two extremely promising threads of plot running through Halo Wars 2‘s main campaign. The first is that the surprisingly tight-knit (for a real-time strategy game) cast from the first Halo Wars is coming undone. Distance and 38 years of cryogenic sleep have separated the lost crew of the UNSC starship Spirit of Fire from everything they knew at the start of the first game. We watch as Captain James Cutter—the player’s cipher and the commander of the near-derelict warship—is a stranger in an increasingly strange land. It only gets worse as a conflict with an exiled Brute super-warrior called Atriox starts taking away the few ties to human-controlled space he has left.

The second thread is Atriox himself. The cinema quality of the cutscenes from the first Halo Wars makes a return this time around, and those scenes are immediately put to use setting up the alien commander as the most distinct and impressive badass I’ve yet seen in a Halo game. Atriox is a raider with his own army and no friendly ties to Halo‘s perennial bad guys, the religious Covenant that have been trying to execute him for decades.

Here they come and there they go

The explosive first hour of Halo Wars 2 (and most of the game’s marketing) seems like it’s setting the stage for Cutter and Atriox to butt heads regarding tactics and ideologies. After the first mission I was prepared for the pair to trade plenty of strategic space barbs, like the stars of some of the best science fiction stories.

The problem is that this would require Cutter and Atriox to actually be on-screen for more than 10 total minutes in the game’s rather short campaign. Instead, there’s a lot of aloof badass-ery and deep lore fan-service—mostly from the Spirit of Fire‘s un-emotive trio of Spartan crewmembers. Cutter and the rest of the “main” Halo Wars cast, the actual human faces of the story, are relegated to mere talking heads telling the cyborgs what to blow up next between missions.

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Microsoft Office hits the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar

img_2437 The new MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar arrived with some pretty strong first-party support, but it was clear that it would take some key partners to really make the secondary Retina Display sing. Photoshop compatibility arrived late-last year, and now Microsoft is finally ready to go live with Office support , which along with Adobe’s offering, was announced at launch, but not quite ready… Read More

Touch Bar Support in Microsoft Office for Mac Rolls Out to All Users

Starting today, Microsoft Office users who own one of Apple’s new 2016 MacBook Pro models can update their Word, Excel, and PowerPoint software to gain new Touch Bar integrations.

Touch Bar support for Microsoft Office was first announced at Apple’s October keynote event where the updated MacBook Pro with Touch Bar debuted. At that time, Microsoft outlined the Touch Bar’s capabilities, highlighting unique capabilities for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

In Microsoft Word, the Touch Bar can be used with Word Focus Mode, which hides all on-screen ribbons and commands to put the focus on your work. The Touch Bar puts “the most relevant Word features” at a user’s fingertips, allowing for quick style changes.



In PowerPoint, the Touch Bar makes it easier to manipulate graphic elements. A Reorder Objects button creates a graphical map of all the layers, so users can quickly find an object and move its position. There are also special controls that are available in Slideshow View.



With Excel, the Touch Bar displays the most recently used functions when the equals sign is typed into a cell, so it’s quicker to do things like sum a range of numbers. The Touch Bar also provides access to borders, cell colors, and recommended charts.



Microsoft has also added new capabilities to the Touch Bar during its testing period. The Touch Bar can also be used to insert comments, photos, and hyperlinks into Word, it includes view-specific controls in PowerPoint, and there’s an object rotation slider for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Last week, Microsoft previewed Touch Bar support, providing it to its “Office Insider” beta testers, but now the service is ready to roll out to all Office users.

Touch Bar support is currently only available for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but Microsoft also plans expand it to Outlook and Skype in the near future.

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Microsoft cancels February Patch Tuesday despite 0-day in wild

As the second Tuesday of the month, Valentines Day should have been a day for patches in addition to lovers; there’s a known and widely publicized crashing flaw in Microsoft’s SMB file-sharing protocol, and a fix for this bug (and, no doubt, several others) is widely anticipated. A few hours before the patches were due to go live, Microsoft announced that they were “delayed” due to an unspecified “last-minute issue.”

The company now says that this delay means that the patches won’t be coming in February at all. Instead, they’ll be rolled into March’s update, which should arrive on March 14.

As well as the SMB fix, the now-March update will change the way patches are delivered for Windows 7, 8.1, Server 2008 R2, Server 2012, and Server 2012 R2: Internet Explorer’s updates will now be delivered in a separate package from the OS fixes.

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Xbox Project Scorpio will be at E3

Despite some umming and ahhing from Xbox boss Phil Spencer in January, it looks like Microsoft will showcase its upcoming 4K games console dubbed “Project Scorpio” at this year’s E3.

The company tweeted out an invite to its annual E3 media briefing, which features a teaser render of Scorpio’s supposedly 4K-capable CPU/GPU combo. Unlike previous years, Microsoft’s press conference is taking place on the Sunday before E3, rather than the Monday. Those interested can tune in at 14:00 PDT/22:00 BST on June 11 to find out more.

Microsoft’s Project Scorpio was unveiled at E3 2016 alongside the Xbox One S. The latter, which features a much improved design as well as a 4K Blu-ray drive, has rejuvenated the Xbox brand after a shaky launch. But Sony’s PlayStation 4 continues to dominate the console market, with the recently released PlayStation 4 Pro giving console gamers access to 4K games—some native, some upscaled—for the first time.

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