Microsoft Office for Mac finally catches up with Office 2016

The company rolled out on Thursday preview versions of the new Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote and Outlook for Mac — the first time the Office suite for Mac has had a new release since 2011.

Better yet, Microsoft said that from now on, Office for Mac will be updated as regularly as Windows. “This will be the first time Office for Mac is updated on a regular basis like Office 365 is today,” Jevon Fark, Microsoft’s consumer marketing manager, said. “We’re talking about new features, functionality, as long as you’re an Office 365 subscriber.”

Those who aren’t subscribers will still be able to use the Office apps for free during the preview period, but will need an Office 365 subscription or perpetual license once they become generally available later this year.

With Office for Mac for 2016, Microsoft will finally bring the apps’ features to the same level as the existing Windows and mobile apps. Word and Powerpoint, for example, will get the same real-time collaboration features that Windows users have had for some time. This means multiple people will be able to contribute to, and have conversations within, a single document in real-time.

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On the Excel side, Microsoft is adding new statistical functions for power users. For those accustomed to using Excel on Windows, it revamped the shortcut keys so the same shortcut keys in Windows will also work in Mac (existing Mac shortcuts will continue to work, as well.)

Powerpoint users will also have access to the same Presenter View as Windows. The feature allows presenters to see the current slide, the upcoming slide, notes and a timer, while viewers only sees the current slide.

Microsoft said its Office preview versions are close to what the software will look like when it becomes generally available some time this summer. As with previous early releases, however, the company is asking for feedback during the preview period. Those who don’t want to wait can check out the previews on Microsoft’s website.


Microsoft new Lumia phones come with a free Office 365

Microsoft is kind of in limbo with regard to mobile: The company is eager to revamp its lineup — it hasn’t had a new flagship since the Lumia 930 — but it can’t. Windows 10 doesn’t launch until the fall, and it needs to save its top smartphone (whatever it may be) for that debut.

That doesn’t mean it showed up to Mobile World Congress empty-handed. Microsoft is debuting the Lumia 640 and 640 XL, a pair of midrange Windows phones with prices that are impressively low — especially when you consider that they come bundled with a one-year subscription to Office 365.

Both phones have pretty much identical guts — a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chip, 1GB of RAM, and a full HD (1080p) display — except the 640 is 5 inches and the 640 XL is “phablet” size at 5.7. The cameras are different, too: The XL has a 13-megapixel sensor while the 640’s maxes out at 8MP.

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But the real standout spec on both is the price. The 640 starts at $159, and the 640 XL at $209, although those are the 3G versions. For LTE, you’re looking at $179 for the 640 and $239 for the XL — still pretty good considering that’s with not contract. Both single- and dual-SIM models will be available.

I got a chance to check out both phones in person, and they’re very respectable. I preferred the 5.7-inch Lumia 640 XL to the 6-inch Lumia 1520, which I found too big. The new design also has rounder corners, which my fingertips appreciated. All around, it’s just a nicer phone to hold than its larger “flagship” cousin (thanks in part to a matte finish), and its performance was very good.

The Lumia 640 is a more sensible size, and its gloss finish gives it a taste of chic, although it makes it slightly harder to hold. The cameras in Microsoft’s Lumia phones are one of the things I love, and both phones sport the excellent UI, complete with dial-like manual controls.

The two new Lumias, due in April, also come with all the Windows Phone 8.1 goodness, Cortana included. They’ll also be upgradeable to Windows 10 when it debuts later this year.

In the meantime, the phones won’t break any new ground for Windows phones, but they’re not meant to: All they need to do is buy Microsoft a little time, and perhaps convince a few smartphone virgins to pick one up. The cameras alone should do that.

Microsoft Lumia 830 and Lumia 930 CashBack in India

Microsoft India has announced ‘guaranteed cashback offers’ on its high-end Lumia 930 and Lumia 830 smartphones. The offer introduced for the Holi festive season in India is valid starting Friday till stocks last, says the company.
The cashback on both the Lumia 830 and Lumia 930 smartphones can be availed by any consumer upfront via physical retail stores. Unfortunately, the company has not cleared whether the offer is only valid in official Microsoft stores across India or any physical retail store selling Microsoft’s Lumia 830 and Lumia 930. We have contacted the company and will update the story once we receive a reply.

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The Lumia 830 and Lumia 930 will be available at new prices of Rs. 21,800 and Rs. 31,600 respectively after the cashback offer.

To recall, Microsoft launched the Lumia 830 and Lumia 930 last year in India, priced at Rs. 28,799 and Rs. 38,649 respectively.

The Lumia 930 features an aluminium frame with metallic accents, and a curved polycarbonate back with Bright Orange, Bright Green, Black and White colours. It sports a 20-megapixel PureView camera, which has optical image stabilization (OIS) and Carl Zeiss optics, which can be considered as highlight of the device. A front-facing 1.2-megapixel wide-angle camera is on board as well.

Microsoft’s Lumia 830, on the other hand, is billed as the company’s “thinnest and lightest Lumia to date.” It sports a 10-megapixel PureView camera with Carl Zeiss optics, LED flash, and also comes with what the company touts is the “thinnest” Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) setup seen on a Lumia smartphone. It also packs a 1-megapixel front-facing camera.

Earlier this year, Microsoft re-launched the Lumia 830 and Lumia 930 with ‘anodised gold colour’ aluminium frames at CES 2015.

HP Stream 7 Windows 8.1 tablet for $69

HP’s highly-rated budget Windows 8.1 tablet just got cheaper.
The HP Stream 7 proved popular over the holiday season with people looking for an affordable but quality tablet at a reasonable price. Now Microsoft has sweetened the deal by slashing $20 off the normal $99 price tag.

The HP Stream 7 features a 7-inch IPS display with a 1280×800 resolution and support for 5-finger multi-touch, a quad-core 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3735G processor, 1GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. It also comes with a microSD card slot, a 3,000mAh battery good for hours, a 2 megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 0.3 megapixel front-facing camera.

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On top of that you get a $25 Windows Store gift card and an Office 365 Personal subscription with 60 minutes of Skype calling a month worth $69.99.

Also, since this hardware is from Microsoft’s Signature Edition, it comes with no bloatware installed.

A solid, well-made tablet. Don’t expect it to break any performance records, but as a general-purpose tablet for browsing the web, content consumption, and creating and editing Office documents, it’s a superb system.

Republic Day Discounts on iPhone 5s Nexus 6 and More

This week all major online retailers are celebrating Republic Day with flash sales throughout the extended weekend. We’ve picked out some of the best offers from the sales, along with some healthy tips to help you make the most out of these offers.

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Pro tips for Republic Day weekend sales

Almost all major online retailers are running Republic Day sales this weekend. The sales start from today, and will run up to 26 January, 2015. Here are some tips to help you make the most of this weekend’s massive flash sales:

1. Always do a basic price check on other sites before hitting the buy now button on a deal. Most online retailers will match each other’s prices during a sale. A basic rule of thumb is to do a price check on Amazon, Flipkart, and Snapdeal to ensure you get the best offer.

2. Keep mobile apps ready. Online retailers will push their mobile apps to increase usage, and will offer better discounts when you buy using their mobile apps. If you spot a great on the web, add it to the cart, but try and checkout from the mobile app itself.

3. Bundle deals with cashback offers on specific cards. Flipkart has a cashback offer for HDFC Bank cards, while Amazon has a promotion on its mobile app purchases for HDFC Bank and American Express card useRs.You can get similar cashback offers on Snapdeal’s website and mobile apps.

4. Brace yourselves for slower deliveries. It’s simple – if you want it quick, pay for a quicker delivery option if you get one. There’s no point whining about slower deliveries after a massive flash sale weekend.

1. Google Nexus 6 32GB
You can grab a brand new Google Nexus 6 32GB for as low as Rs.40,990 on eBay this week. The Nexus flagship is normally available for Rs. 43,999. The Nexus 6 (Review | Pictures) features a 6-inch QHD AMOLED display running at a resolution of 2560×1440 pixels, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 coating that should keep the display safe from minor scratches. The smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor, supported by 3GB of RAM. Nexus 6 features a 13-megapixel primary camera, and includes a dual-LED flash to lighten up those dark interiors. The smartphone is a decent choice if you can handle a phone with a large display.

Coupon code: EBAY09DEAL

eBay Price: Rs. 40,990 (regular Rs. 43,999)

2. iPhone 5s Deals
iPhone 5s prices picked up after the Diwali sale last year. Even with the iPhone 6 launch in India, Apple India pretty much saw to it that the iPhone 5s prices don’t fall to ridiculous levels. But with most online retailers now running Republic Day sales, there’s a slight discount on iPhone 5s prices too. Both Amazon and Flipkart are selling the 16GB variant of the iPhone 5s for around Rs. 37,500. You can bundle this with a cashback offer applicable on both the sites to get another Rs. 2,000 off that price, making it a sweeter deal at Rs. 35,500. That would have to be the lowest price we’ve seen lately. You can use an HDFC Bank card to get an instant discount on Flipkart while checking out, or use an American Express or HDFC Bank card to get a cashback on Amazon’s mobile app. Please note that you’ll need to buy the iPhone 5s using Amazon’s mobile app to avail the cashback offer, and cashback for American Express card users will be in the form of an Amazon gift card only.

Price: Rs. 35,500 (effective)

Links: Flipkart, Amazon

3. Xbox One and video games
You can expect a decent deal on an Xbox One every single time Amazon runs a massive flash sale. This time around Amazon is offering multiple Lightning Deals on the Xbox One console as well as the older Xbox 360 console. You can grab the Xbox One console bundled with Kinect, three games, and an additional controller for Rs. 40,990 (regular Rs. 45,990) during the sale. Amazon will also sell the standalone version of Xbox One (without Kinect) for around Rs. 35,000 (regular Rs. 39,990) during its Lightning Deals this weekend. Amazon is also selling Xbox One games at a discount this weekend. There are several games being sold for under Rs. 3,000 during the sale. You can get an additional 10% (maximum Rs. 2,000) cashback when you buy them on Amazon’s mobile app, and pay using HDFC Bank cards.

Amazon Price: Rs. 40,990 (regular Rs. 45,990)

4. Discounts on Amazon Kindle ebook readers
Amazon has slashed prices on its Kindle ebook readers by Rs. 1,000 on its Republic Day sale again. The discounts are valid on all Kindle variants, and are applicable till 26 January, 2015. You can buy the Kindle Paperwhite for Rs. 9,999 (regular Rs. 10,999), Kindle Paperwhite 3G for Rs. 12,999 (regular Rs.13,999), or the all-new Kindle with touchscreen support for Rs. 4,999 (regular Rs. 5,999). The all-new Kindle is the cheapest Kindle e-reader you can buy today, that comes with touchscreen support now. It’s a great device for reading books. If you need an ebook reader with a backlight, go for the Kindle Paperwhite, and if you need 3G connectivity to buy and sync books on the go, get the Paperwhite 3G variant.

Amazon Price: Starting from Rs. 4,999

5. ADATA PT100 10000mAH power bank
If you’re eyeing a decent 10000mAH power bank, possibly an alternative to the Mi 10000mAh power bank, the ADATA PT100 will definitely suit your needs. Amazon is selling this power bank at a lower price of Rs. 999 (MRP Rs. 2500) this weekend. That makes it equal to the Mi power bank in terms of pricing. The ADATA PT100 includes dual USB outlets, that means you can charge up to two devices at a time. It comes with a battery indicator that enables you to see how much juice you’ve got left in the power bank. There’s an LED flashlight too, just in case you were looking for more features. The power bank comes with 1-year standard manufacturer warranty. This is as good as it gets at that price point of under Rs. 1,000.

Amazon Price: Rs. 999

6. Extra discounts on computer components at Snapdeal
If you’re assembling your own PC this weekend, you might want to check prices at Snapdeal. The online retailer is offering an extra 7% discount on computer components above Rs. 1,499, up to 40% off on cabinets, and has a wide range of components to choose from. While all products may not match the offline retail price point, we found some components much cheaper than their offline retail counterparts. Power supply units from Corsair and Zeb are much cheaper than what most offline retailers are offering, and Snapdeal has a decent number of cooling fans to choose from. Snapdeal also has a limited period offer on the AMD FX-Series four-core edition. Bundle these with additional cashback offers from State Bank of India, HDFC, and American Express cards to get even sweeter overall discounts. Link: Snapdeal

Microsoft unveils Lumia 435 and 532

Microsoft’s mobile unit has unveiled two budget smartphones, named Lumia 435 and Lumia 532. The Lumia 435 is the first smartphone under the company’s new 400 series of smartphones as well as its cheapest model yet. The new Lumia 532 comes in two variants (single- and dual-sim) and has a 4-inch screen with 480x800p resolution.

The smartphone packs a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 200 processor with 1GB RAM under the hood and comes with 8GB internal storage and microSD card support up to 128GB. Microsoft Lumia 532 smartphone also packs a 5MP rear camera, VGA front camera, 1,560mAh battery.

Lumia 435, which only comes in single-sim version, has exactly the same hardware as Lumia 532, except the rear camera resolution (2MP).

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Microsoft is offering 30GB free cloud storage, Lumia Camera and Lumia Selfie apps, Microsoft Office mobile suite and Skype integration in dialler in both Lumia 532 and 435.

On its Nokia Lumia Conversations blog, the company posted, ‘Lumia 435 and Lumia 532 deliver competitive hardware alongside innovative software that will continue to receive the very latest updates and enhancements, keeping users up-to-date with the best new features.

The company said Lumia 435 and Lumia 532 will hit India and select countries in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa in February.

Microsoft May Allow Windows 10 to Run Android Apps

Microsoft may still allow Android apps to run on its Windows 10 operating system next year. However, spokespeople have announced that it will only be a last resort. There is hope that allowing the Android apps to run will encourage more people to invest in a Windows phone or tablet.

Most apps are either available for Android or iOS users. Most developers decided that creating something for the Windows phones are just a waste of time. There is not enough demand for them. However, Microsoft notices that there is a gap in the market, and would like to encourage developers to take advantage of that. It does mean trying to appease the market in a different way.

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Windows remains to be the most popular operating system for desktop computers around the world. However, the tech giant is still struggling to break into the mobile market. It may be possible for the company to focus on the desktop and work through that to get more developers on the mobile devices. This is certainly becoming more and more possible thanks to the Windows operating system looking more like the mobile version.

Windows 10 is expected to keep the block view, although there will be a desktop version for those who prefer the original layout. The initial plan is to use the layout to get developers to create apps for the desktops. These can then be universal apps and work on the mobile devices at the same time.

If this does fail, the option to run Android apps on Windows 10 will be something that Microsoft considers. The issue is that very few developers will create Windows apps if there is the option to download the Google operating system apps instead. It would mean the small enthusiasm for the platform already here would dwindle to virtually nothing. Why would anybody care about Windows when they have the more popular Android?

It makes sense for Microsoft to attempt to grow its own apps first. However, it could be too little too late. The iOS and Android market is already extremely competitive. This may not be enough to get some sort of foothold in the competition. It may not be enough to get developers interested in creating Windows apps.

Microsoft certainly has its work cut out for the company. There needs to be something appealing to encourage developers to create apps, when the love for the phones is still small.

There are some changes expected in 2015. Windows 10 is also expected to bring out a new default browser, moving away from Internet Explorer. So far, the name for this new browser is Spartan, but nothing has yet been confirmed. The aim is to encourage more people to download the Microsoft-owned browser, rather than using those from other companies. Chrome and Firefox remain to be the two preferred options for users around the world.

For the app market, utilizing the popularity of the desktop operating system may be the way to go. However, it seems Microsoft has not completely overruled the idea of allowing Android apps to run on the new Windows 10 operating system.

Windows 10 Build 9879 Now Available for Download 2015

Microsoft has just released the second update for Windows 10 Technical Preview, making new features and improvements available for members who registered for the Windows Insider Program.
Just like it was the case with the first Windows 10 Technical Preview update, the new version is available via the integrated update system, so no other input is required, as all improvements are downloaded and installed automatically.

Just like it was rumored in the last few days, the new Windows 10 TP build comes with improvements based on consumer feedback and includes options that are supposed to make it easier for users to work on the desktop.
What’s new in Windows 10 Technical Preview build 9879
First and foremost, the new Windows 10 build comes with options to hide and show the Task view and the Search buttons on the taskbar, two of the features that were initially released as part of the original 9841 Technical Preview version in early October.

Microsoft says that it received plenty of requests in this regard, so users now have dedicated options to disable them by simply right-clicking the taskbar.

“One of your top suggestions really made an impact on our designs for the taskbar,” Microsoft stated, trying to emphasize that consumer feedback played a decisive role this time.

At the same time, Microsoft also introduced new windows animations that work smoother on all computers, as some complained that the original effects were a bit annoying. A new button for Charms that adopts the “hamburger” design is also available in Metro apps, thus replacing the original three-dot symbol.

One of the improvements that have already been spotted in internal builds is finger gesture support and with this new release, the feature finally becomes available to everyone. Here are the supported gestures for now:

3 finger up -> Task View
3 finger down -> Show Desktop
3 finger flick to left or right -> switches to previous app (go back 1)
3 finger move left or right -> Alt-Tab (Task View) pops up and you can select the app you want (remove fingers to select)
3 finger tap -> Search

OneDrive also comes with significant improvements, so now you can right-click the OneDrive folder and configure settings such as auto save, folders synced offline and many others.

Last but not least, Microsoft also introduced the smiley-based feedback system in Internet Explorer that was first spotted a few days ago in leaked photos, as well as native MKV support which was already there since build 9860 but with some bugs.

Some new icons are also available, and so are options to pin your favorite folders to the Home section in File Explorer.

Microsoft also says that it fixed tons of bugs that users found after the release of Windows 10 Technical Preview build 9860, so lots of changes have been made under the hood for better performance.

This means that if you want to test this less stable build of Windows 10, you need to go to PC settings, Update and recovery, Preview builds, and you must change from Slow to Fast in the drop-down menu option. (And you must be signed-in with your Windows Insider Program account to get the new bits.) Once you change to Fast, simply click Check now to install the new build.

Microsoft to Phase Out Nokia Brand

Microsoft is planning to phase out the use of its Nokia and Windows Phone brands for marketing purposes in favor of Lumia, according to a company document leaked on Wednesday.

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The internal memo was first acquired by GeeksOnGadgets and confirmed by The Verge. The changes are set to take affect during the upcoming holiday campaign for its phones.

“As part of our phased transition, we will drop the manufacturer name from product references during the Holiday campaign,” the document reads.

Windows Phone will simply be Windows, with Lumia used as the branding for models. Microsoft reps could not be reached for comment.

Microsoft purchased Nokia’s device and services business in September 2013 for $7.2 billion. Nokia, once a dominant player in the cellphone industry, has seen its market share decline steadily since 2010.

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This is not the first change in Microsoft’s branding around Nokia. Nokia Corporation in Finland has become Microsoft Mobile.

Microsoft Admits to Killing the Surface Mini

Microsoft has confirmed it cancelled plans to release a Surface Mini tablet in the spring.

During Tuesday’s quarterly earnings call, CFO Amy Hood said that part of the reason revenue from the company’s line of Surface tablets took a hit was because it had decided to kill an unreleased product.

See also: There Was No Surface Mini Because Microsoft Already Lost on Tablets

“During the quarter, we reassessed our product roadmap and decided not to ship a new form factor that was under development,” Hood said. While she doesn’t identify the Surface Mini by name, other reports claimed Microsoft has scrapped plans to release the tablet late in the game, then the company accidentally confirmed the product’s existence in a user manual that referenced the Mini directly.

The decision to take the ax to the Surface Mini was reportedly influenced by CEO Satya Nadella, whose bid to reshape Microsoft includes a clear focus on productivity. While the company has many consumer-facing products (notably Xbox),

Windows devices have been criticized as not serving small-screen tablet market as well as iPads and Android models, and market statistics reflect this.

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The small-screen tablet market has grown quickly over the past two years, but Windows didn’t support those designs until fall 2013 with the release of Windows 8.1. It appeared inevitable that the Surface line would get a Mini version after that, but since smaller tablets are inherently more about consumption than productivity, such a product wouldn’t fit with Nadella’s vision of the new Microsoft.

When Microsoft held the next Surface product launch in May, it instead announced the Surface Pro 3, a 12-inch tablet that runs full Windows 8.1 Pro, powered by an Intel Core processor.

Other manufacturers have filled the void with small Windows tablets, and most run Windows 8.1, powered by Intel Atom chips. Lenovo was reportedly going to stop selling small Windows tablets in the U.S. due to lack of demand, but the company quickly reaffirmed its commitment to different-size tablets and said it would bring a new small Windows tablet to the American market before the end of 2014.