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Microsoft's Office Web Apps was meant to take on Google's Drive / Docs services, unfortunately it seems like the masses never took hold of Office Web Apps the way we all adopted to using Google Drive. Microsoft seems to think that the issue lies within the service's branding, and this week made a major move to rebrand Office Web Apps to something that makes a little more sense.
The service is now called Office Online, something many feel that it should have always been named. Microsoft says that the new name more closely reflects what the actual product is, and is free to use for OneDrive users. The rebrand also includes a new URL, Office.com, which should go a long way in introducing new users to the service. Office Online is made up of Word, Outlook, OneNote, PowerPoint,Excel and more, and even includes Google Drive-like co-editing features. Microsoft has also refreshed the service with a wealth of new templates, and given the UI a handy drop-down toolbar to make life easier.
You might remember that Microsoft also rebranded its SkyDrive cloud storage service to the new name of OneDrive earlier this week. The renaming stemmed from a lost trademark battle with British Sky Broadcasting last year. OneDrive and Office Online sync up together just like Google Drive and Google Docs do, and users are given 7GB of storage space for free upon signing up. Additional space can be purchased, and 500MB of free storage is given with each user referral.
While we don't yet officially know what Windows Phone 8.1 will feature, there have been a number of leaks that hint at what the next smartphone operating system from Microsoft will offer. We are expecting Windows Phone 8.1 to bring a revised notification center. That revised notification center surfaced in some leaked screen shots earlier this month.
This week a video has turned up that claims to show another feature of Windows Phone 8.1 in use on the video. The video is of the official bake din Microsoft swipe keyboard. If you have ever used a swipe keyboard on another device, you know how this works.
The idea is that you can slide your fingers around the screen without having to pick your finger up to select a letter or symbol. Along with the swipe keyboard, a few other nice features are also tipped to be coming.
If you are a big fan of the Google Chromecast device, it will be getting a new trick soon. The Chromecast was designed to shoot content like photos, music, and video form the Android device to your big screen in the living room. Soon the Chromecast will get the ability to mirror screen content.
That should mean that anything seen on the screen of the Android device could be seen on your big screen. That means everything from your home page to your favorite game app presumably. The ability to mirror the screen will be coming via the AllCast app.
There will be a bit of lag, as you would get with other screen mirroring solutions like Miracast. The lag isn't expected to affect the ability for users to watch videos. There are a few things that we don't know just yet about the screen mirroring experience.
If you have ever had someone send you a digital document that you had to sign and a fax machine wasn't handy, you know what a pain this is. You have to print the document, sign it with a pen, scan it back in, attach it to an email, and then email it back. Microsoft has announced that it is teaming up with DocuSign to streamline the process of signing digital documents.
Microsoft and DocuSign have teamed up to bring the ability to digitally sign documents in Office 365. Office 365 is the online subscription version of the Office productivity suite. The long-term deal will definitely streamline the singing of digital documents.
Under the new deal, users of Office 365 will be able to apply digital signatures to documents from within Office 365. The app for digital signatures will be tightly integrated into Word, SharePoint Online, Outlook and more.
Penn Manor High School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania will embrace the open source Linux platform, installing it on more than 1,700 laptops. Every student at Penn Manor HS received an Acer TravelMate laptop powered by the Ubuntu 13.10 OS - and the student body was encouraged to explore the OS and push its limits.
"We encourage our students to install software and lift the hood of the system to better understand what makes it tick," said Charlie Reisinger, Penn Manor district technology director, in a statement to Linux.com. "I hope our students run local webservers, toy with Python or simply explore graphics programs such as GIMP. Linux offers so many opportunities to explore computing, programming, and the arts."
Desktop Linux market share, at just 1.60 percent, is dwarfed by the Microsoft Windows operating systems - but still plays an important role in our everyday lives. Google Android, for example, got its successful starting using Linux, while set-top boxes, supercomputers, researchers use open source technology, and many cloud-based services rely on Linux in one its software layers.
U.S. companies and universities are desperate to try and increase student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
In less than two months, Microsoft will officially pull the plug on Windows XP after more than 12 years of general availability of the popular OS. XP served as a dependable OS that already surpassed Microsoft's expectations, though the software company is anxious to migrate users to the still struggling Windows 8/8.1 operating system.
Microsoft will officially end support for XP on April 8, and is now urging home users, small and midsize-businesses, and corporations to finally migrate. Consumers that might be more interested in Windows 7 will be discouraged that Microsoft pulled the OS from its retail stores, and stopped selling to OEMs long ago - though many e-tailers still have Windows 7 OS copies - and Windows 7-powered PCs and laptops available.
Despite 8/8.1 frustrating some users, the OS is significantly more secure than XP - and has modern support from hardware and software makers - but XP still controls around 29 percent of the desktop OS market.
The 2014 Olympic Winter Games from Sochi, Russia is being broadcasted by NBC in the United States, with streams into the living room, over the Internet, and on mobile devices. NBC teamed up with Microsoft, using the company's Azure Media Services video service platform that Microsoft powers with its own data centers.
Analysts believe Olympic viewers will watch and stream the Olympics for at least six hours per day, which was the average during the 2012 London Olympics.
"We are pleased to be working once again with Microsoft, and we are confident that Windows Azure Media Services will help us provide the most robust streaming experience ever for a Winter Olympics," said Richard Cordella, NBC Sports Group Digital Media GM, in a statement.
Major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, Olympics and World Cup, present a great opportunity for tech companies to test their cloud computing products. Microsoft Azure already powers around half of Fortune 500 companies, and working with NBC at the Olympics presents a great way to woo potential clients.
Newly appointed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella plans to focus on mobile solutions and cloud computing during the early part of his reign as leader.
Nadella takes over for former CEO Steve Ballmer, as Ballmer leaves behind a 14-year-reign that has left many consumers and analysts disappointed. Nadella has served as the executive vice president behind Microsoft's cloud efforts, which doubled its growth last quarter.
The software giant has embraced cloud computing with success, as its Office 365 service is popular among businesses, non-profits, and educational institutions. However, disappointment with Windows 8/8.1 on the desktop and Windows RT and Windows Phone on mobile devices continues to frustrate users.
Microsoft will continue its attempt to migrate towards the mobile space, though has lacked appealing software to entice users. It's a shame because a seamless transition from desktop Windows apps to a tablet and smartphone would generate great interest from business users.
SteamOS would feel a little lonely right now, and quiet, but Steam Music beta is coming, very soon. Steam Music will allow gamers to listen to local music files within SteamOS, while playing games.
The closed beta is accessed by joining the Steam Music community, where you might get randomly selected. Valve has said that the beta testers will be "invited in waves" before the feature goes live for everyone.
AMD has just unleashed its new Catalyst 14.1 Beta drivers, which include the first proper look at Mantle in the public space. There is a download that you'll need for Battlefield 4 to enable Mantle, too.
Another Mantle-capable game is Star Swarm, which is available on Steam, and includes some bigger performance improvements when using a CPU-limited system. AMD is claiming a gigantic 319% performance improvement when running Star Swarm on its Extreme setting at 1080p, using their A10-7700K processor.
This is the very first release of Mantle, so we should only expect things to get better from here on out. You can grab the new drivers here.