Although today is the final day of the 2016 version of Microsoft Ignite here in Atlanta and we already know that the mega conference will be hosted in Orlando, Florida next year I wanted to extract a few items that consumers would be interested in from this past week before the book is completely closed.
There is no doubt that Ignite is targeted at IT Pros and more than once this week I heard it referred to as the largest conference in the world for them.
However, that does not mean some tidbits come in under the radar that can be of great interest to the readers of SuperSite.
So I wanted to take a few minutes to look back over the week and highlight those prosumer related items that we heard about to make sure they are on your radar as well.
Windows 10 Momentum
We learned on Monday morning during the first keynote of the day that Windows 10 was now being used by over 400 million monthly active users. This was the first update on those numbers in almost three months and actually showed a 38% drop form the previously reported period. This measurement is much more accurate than how Microsoft used to count past versions of Windows when licenses were sold to retailers and then could be sitting in a box or on the shelf waiting to be sold to consumers. This number now indicates how many users are actively on Windows 10 and using it - so the health of Windows 10 is solid right now from that perspective.
The first 30 days of this reported period was still under the free Windows 10 Upgrade Offer for Windows 7 and 8.1 users. The next time we hear from Microsoft for a new milestone number that will be completely after the free upgrade expired. Expect the progress to slow down even more because at that point Windows 10 will only be gaining active users with new PC purchases and enterprise/business migrations.
Windows Defender Application Guard
Although this new feature for Microsoft Edge was announced this week as an Enterprise feature, many of you as Windows Insiders are going to get the opportunity to test it in an upcoming Redstone 2 build of Windows 10. Since it needs to have hardware capable of virtualization to create the sandboxed container to execute the identified threat, I suspect not all Insiders will get the chance to test this feature.
As I sat and listened to Microsoft talk about this feature it really made sense to me that this eventually become part of the consumer version of Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge as well.
Imagine Aunt Sally or Uncle Bob not even knowing they clicked on a bad link and then no remnants of that malicious code is left behind when they close their Edge browser session.
The more that technology and security features like this just happen and we do not have to activate it the better protection will be on those systems. In turn that means the other devices for that user and anyone who might get targeted by that attack are also much safer.
Of course, I do nto recommend going out there and finding bad sites to test with this feature once it rolls out to Insider builds of Redstone 2. Don't tempt the tiger!
Surface Power Management
Let me begin by saying the Surface Book has been spectacular this week providing me power to make it through these long days at Ignite. With that said, squeezing extra juice out of your Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book will always be a +1 situation.
The session I sat in this week about power management for these devices may have included techniques that have already been discussed but the Adaptive Hibernate feature that is new to the Windows 10 Anniversary Update promises to stop those runaway battery drains while in Sleep Mode.
There is no UI for the Adaptive Hibernate settings but with just two powercfg commands you can adjust the default timeouts/percentages to minimize the drain on a battery in these sleep based drain scenarios.
OneDrive Universal Windows Platform (UWP) Gains Offline Files Option
In May Microsoft released a UWP app for accessing your OneDrive accounts on Windows 10 based devices.
Initially this app was very basic and allowed you to see your entire OneDrive file structure but files were downloaded dynamically as you clicked on them for access.
During a OneDrive for Business session this week, Microsoft revealed that the OneDrive UWP for PCs will gain Offline Files capabilities before the end of the year and the mobile version will get this feature sometime in 2017.
This will allow you to save files/folders locally on your device for situations when you need access to the files and will not have connectivity.
With the addition of Offline Files the Windows 10 UWP app will have near feature parity with its iOS and Android counterparts.
Bonus Observation: Another OneDrive for Business session this week apparently showed evidence that placeholders are returning but since I was not present will not speculate - yet.
Windows Mobile, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows Phone
Whatever you call Microsoft's embattled mobile hardware, this session generated a lot of buzz for enthusiasts and fans of mobile hardware for Windows because it included road maps about upcoming features for the platform.
The session was presented by Alan Meeus and Jason Whitehorn who are both members of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft.
At the start the focus really seemed to be on making sure attendees understood the companies commitment to the mobile version of Windows 10 and that experience.
It was almost as if they knew this would be grabbed quickly by the tech press and written about extensively and so they made a big effort to reassure users from the outset.
However, as the session went on the focus was on naming these features of Windows Mobile as business related versus for consumers in general. Admittedly, there is a lot of overlap between what a business user would take advantage of and the ways a consumer would use the device but the wording was of note.
They did cover new updates to Continuum Mode for Windows 10 Mobile that are coming next year to make that feature even more robust:
- Independent Monitor Idle would allow one screen timeout while the other remained on for continued work.
- Proximity Connect allows your device to wirelessly connect to your display for Continuum mode when it is in range of a designated monitor so it can remain in your bag.
- Customizable Start Screen permits you to have a unique layout on your mobile devices Start Screen and have one for when you are connected in Continuum Mode with a larger monitor.
- More PC-like experience means you can use features that you take advantage of on a desktop device like tapping the Windows key and starting to type for performing a search of the system. There will also be a Taskbar to pin items to, a System Tray and the ability to run apps in windows.
These are definitely great features and improvements for Continuum Mode on mobile Windows 10 devices and based on the session title, Discover what's next for Windows 10 Mobile for phones and small tablets, maybe we will see this capability on small form factor tablets which would allow us easy access to a desktop PC like experience with them as well.
Bottom line is that Microsoft continues to develop their mobile platform, add new features and of course test updates for Redstone 2 through the Windows Insider Program.
Whether this work means we will also see the infamous Surface Phone hardware anytime soon also remains to be seen.
Did anything catch your eye this week from Microsoft Ignite?