This week in the news: Windows 10 announces its debut; there's new features in Office 2016; Wunderlist joins Microsoft's mobile portfolio; and more. For a look at everything we ran on Windows IT Pro and Windows Supersite, visit our weekly wrap-up here.
WHAT'S NEW IN OFFICE 2016
After a month of public participation in the Office 2016 on Windows Preview, the development team has taken a look at the data from customers and rolled out a few new features in response. A breakdown on the blog outlines:
- Real Time Presence in Word—While Real Time Typing will ship in subsequent builds, we are rolling out a key part of that collaborative experience with Real Time Presence. Real Time Presence allows you to see where in a document your teammates are editing. We are turning this on first for OneDrive for Business subscribers but it will be available more broadly soon.
- Simplified file sharing—We are simplifying the process of sharing files and making them available to others to review, comment, and edit. Just clicking Share on the Ribbon will save your file to the Cloud and make it available to others in one easy step.
- Insights for Office (currently in Word and Outlook)—Insights, powered by Bing, brings you contextual information from the web right into your reading experience. Try it by selecting keywords, like people or places, in your content and watch as Insights pulls relevant information into the Task pane to help you learn more.
- Version History improvements—We made it easier to find different versions of files stored on SharePoint or OneDrive for Business. You can click the History command in the File menu to view or restore any previous version.
These are just a few of the highlights, with many others available including Power Pivot improvements, improved grammar checkers, and more.
OH, SNAP (ASSIST)!
In the ongoing quest to help you do more while doing it more efficiently, Microsoft's debuted Snap Assist, a new Windows 10 feature that should help users more quickly and easily snap two windows on their screen. Here's how it works:
- The user snaps the first window, i.e. drag windows to the left or right edges of the screen to resize them to half the screen, via the Aero Snap feature that debuted in Windows 7.
- Snap Assist presents the user with a list of recently used windows and apps.
- The user selects the window they want from that list.
There's more — users can now snap windows to the corners of the screen for a nifty multi-window layout. And Snap Fill automagically resizes the second, third or fourth windows selected to fill space, thus letting users hold on to a bigger primary window if that's helping them work.
The Snap feature is available for mobile devices. Microsoft says, "When you’re in tablet mode, you can still snap with a simple touch gesture, resize side-by-side apps simultaneously using the on-screen divider, and have apps automatically open side-by-side … and when you enter and exit tablet mode, we preserve any snap layouts you may have created so that you keep your workflow."
WHY ALL THOSE MOBILE APP BUYS ARE HAPPENING
Popular to-do list app Wunderlist and its maker 6Wunderkinder are now part of the Microsoft family. The free app had garnered plaudits from the Verge as the best to-do list app for its abilities to set and manage recurring tasks, to add tasks via email or Google Now, and to set time and date-based reminders.
Why bother making this buy? Microsoft explains it perfectly:
The addition of Wunderlist to the Microsoft product portfolio fits squarely with our ambition to reinvent productivity for a mobile-first, cloud-first world. Building on momentum for Microsoft Office, OneNote and Skype for Business, as well as the recentSunrise and Acompli acquisitions, it further demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to delivering market leading mobile apps across the platforms and devices our customers use – for mail, calendaring, messaging, notes and now tasks.
This is the third big buy of a well-loved, multiplatform productivity tool, following Acompli and Sunrise. The company's also working on a project management/planner tool for enterprise customers. The so-called "Planner" will sit on top of Office graph on Office 365 and allow users to link assets to specific projects, among other features.
SAY HELLO TO 'HASSLE-FREE WIFI'
Thanks to the premature public debut of microsoftwifi.com, we now all know that Microsoft will be launching Microsoft WiFi, a cross-platform pay-as-you-go service that will offer Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone users the ability to connect to WiFi public hotspots around the world. The site's been pulled, but while it was up, it reportedly had a catalog of 10 million hotspots across 130 different countries.
Speaking of WiFi, Dan Tynan over at Yahoo Tech reports on the possibility of those wireless networking signals actually powering your mobile devices one day.
WINDOWS 10 DROPS JULY 29
Mark your calendars: Windows 10 will be released for PCs and tablets on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. People running Windows 7 and 8 should have started seeing an icon in the Notifications area of the Taskbar exhorting them to “Reserve your free upgrade,” “Go to Windows Update,” and “Get to Know Windows 10.” Should you be opposed to seeing this icon and its reminders, Windows Central has instructions on how to remove it.
Also, from our sites:
WHAT YOU LOSE IN WINDOWS 10
Of course, the new operating system means that some beloved (or at least used) features are going away. The biggest deal is the exit of Windows Media Center; its deletion affects users who are upgrading from Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro with Media Center, or Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center.
In addition, Windows 7 users who are hooked on Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts Games will have to come to grips with their deletion; they can find the games in the the "Microsoft Solitaire Collection" and "Microsoft Minesweeper."
Watching DVDs will now require separate playback software, although Gabe Aul did say a DVD playback option will be coming in the future.
And finally -- and perhaps most significantly -- Windows 10 Home users do not have the option to defer system updates. (The Pro and Enterprise editions do.) Windows 10 Home will automatically download and install system updates.
WINDOWS 10 UPGRADE
One of the pressing questions is, "Exactly how much am I going to have to pay for this operating system?"
The party line is that Windows 10 is a free upgrade to Windows 8 and Windows 7 PC users for the first year. If you want to upgrade after the first year of the initial launch of Windows 10, you’ll need to purchase the operating system at the regular cost.
If you're uncertain as to which Windows 10 upgrade you can get for free, it breaks down like this:
- If you have Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Premium or Windows 8.1, you'll be getting Windows 10 Home
- If you have Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8.1 Pro or Windows 8.1 Pro for Students, you'll be getting Windows 10 Pro
If you're not eligible for a free upgrade, or if you're building your own computer and installing the Windows OS on it, Windows 10 Home will cost you $119, while Windows 10 Pro will cost $199.
Speaking of low-cost transitions between Windows 8 and Windows 10, anyone who earned the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification in Windows 8 between February 15, 2015 and May 31, 2015 is eligible to take a Windows 10 exam (Exam 697) for free.
WINDOWS 10 SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
- OS: Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Upgrade
- Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
- RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
- Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
- Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
- Display: 1024x600
In addition, anyone who's planning on installing the new system should make sure their anti-virus or anti-malware subscriptions are current, and be warned: the "Get Windows 10" app will scan your computer's existing applications for compatibility. If they're not deemed compatible, you'll be asked to accept their removal from your system.