Intrigued by reports over the past few weeks that Apple had suddenly embraced the enterprise, I went looking to see what all the fuss is about. As it turns out, the firm has been prepping an update to its iOS mobile OS—it's out now—that improves a number of things. But Apple doesn't really need to do all that much to appease the enterprise. This "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) trend that everyone is so excited about is really about "Bring Your Own iDevice." And the popularity of Apple's iPhone and iPad is what touched off this craziness to begin with.
It's Patch Tuesday again, so Microsoft is back with another round of Surface firmware updates. As with last month, we're getting firmware updates for Surface 2, Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, but not the original Surface RT.
The past year has seen an interesting rise in so-called mini-tablets, multi-touch devices with 7- to 8-inch screens. After reviewing many of these devices, I've begun to revise my expectations and needs, and I've come to a sobering and disheartening conclusion. There is no obvious choice.
Announced at the Surface 2 launch event in September 2013, the Power Cover is the last generation 2 Surface accessory to ship to customers. Basically a Type Cover with a built-in battery, the Power Cover promises to dramatically improve your Surface 2, Surface Pro or Pro 2 battery life at the expense of a bit of additional weight.
While the firm has yet to issue an official announcement about either product, Microsoft's Surface lineup is about to get a bit bigger with two long-anticipated additions. An LTE-equipped Surface 2 tablet has popped up in AT&T Wireless and Microsoft Store locations, and a Power Cover that improves battery life of most Surface tablets will ship next week.
Microsoft announced today that it has updated its Skype Modern app for Windows 8.1/RT 8.1 to fix the endless ringing bug that also dogged its Outlook.com plug-in until recently. Additionally, the update syncs your chat history and read messages across devices much more quickly than before.
A month ago, Nokia announced its new Windows Phone handset for Verizon Wireless, the Lumia Icon. Originally called the Lumia 929, the Icon doesn't otherwise break with Lumia tradition. This is a solid, wedge-shaped smart phone handset with unique styling, a superior camera and a gorgeous 5-inch 1080p screen.
Continuing its frenetic media blitz for single game title that it hopes will reverse the fortunes of its Xbox One video game and entertainment console, Microsoft this week confirmed that it has a lot riding on the success of "Titanfall." Should this game not succeed, and the Xbox One continue to fall further and further behind the PS4, it could face an awkward failure in devices at a crucial time.
Another big week for the book, with lots of copy-editing and general cleaning up, plus a some thoughts about what the cover design for Windows 8.1 Field Guide—and a related series of books—might look like.
In the strange bouillabaisse that is Windows 8.1 Update 1, nothing is stranger, perhaps, that accessing desktop user interfaces from within Modern apps and experiences. In the RTM version of this update, I've been experimenting with how these cross-experience UIs work. And one of the weirder ones is the ability to access the taskbar from inside Modern apps.
The ability to pin Modern apps to the desktop taskbar is an interesting piece of cross-environment integration in Windows 8.1 Update 1. But in experimenting with the RTM version of this update, I've noticed a few additional features I'd not seen before. Here's an interesting example.
As expected, Lenovo's ThinkPad 8 is the best Windows mini-tablet yet, with a gorgeous 1080p screen and a thin and high-quality form factor. But these advances will cost you, and the ThinkPad 8 is much more expensive than its mainstream competition. Whether it's worth the extra cost will depend on your priorities.
An often irreverent look at this week's other news, including a Windows 8.1 Update 1 leak, a better name for Update 1, some internal division over the Nokia purchase by Microsoft, the pending success of Windows 2-in-1 PCs, Microsoft pushes DirectX 12, and a key Sony executive mysteriously steps down in the midst of a PlayStation 4 victory lap. Plus, introducing the Windows 8.1 Field Guide.
When rumors of a new Windows version called Windows 8.1 with Bing emerged, many Microsoft watchers speculated about what was happening. But I can report now that Windows 8.1 with Bing is nothing more than the low-cost version of Windows that Microsoft will offer to hardware makers that sell PCs for less than $250. And it comes with no restrictions for users at all.
In the latest episode of Windows Weekly, Leo Laporte, Mary Jo Foley and I discuss a major shakeup in Microsoft's star chamber with Tami Reller and Tony Bates on the outs, Windows 8.1 Update 1 RTM and other Windows news, new Office 365 experiences coming this year, the possibility of dual-boot Windows Phones, Skype for Outlook.com improves and goes live worldwide, and the Xbox One March 2014 System Update.