Microsoft’s new Office icons are part of a bigger design overhaul

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Microsoft is modernizing its Office icons as part of a broader focus on design for its various Office apps. It’s the first time the Office icons have changed in five years, and they’re designed to be more simple and modern to span across multiple devices and platforms. Office now exists on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, and Microsoft has been building a single core codebase to make rapid monthly improvements to the apps. These icons are designed to reflect how Office has changed recently, with new AI features, more collaborative features, and its platform independence for key apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

The new icons deemphasize the letter for each Office app, but still manage to look familiar. “Our design solution was to de-couple the letter and the symbol from the icons, essentially creating two panels (one for the letter and one for the symbol) that we can pair or separate,” explains Jon Friedman, partner director of design at Microsoft. “This allows us to maintain familiarity while still emphasizing simplicity when inside the app.”

Microsoft snaps up GitHub for $7.5 billion

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As we anticipated yesterday, Microsoft has reached an agreement to buy GitHub, the source repository and collaboration platform, in a deal worth $7.5 billion. The all-stock deal is expected to close by the end of the year, subject to regulatory approval in the US and EU.

Decade-old GitHub is built on Git, the open source version control software originally written by Linux creator Linus Torvalds. Git is a distributed version control system: each developer has their own repository that they make changes to, and these changes can be propagated between repositories to share those changes. GitHub provides a repository hosting service: a place to put those repositories so that other developers can readily access them. Since its inception, it has become a mainstay of the open source world, with countless projects—including Microsoft projects such as the Visual Studio Code text editor and the .NET runtime—using GitHub repositories as a place to publish their code to the world and coordinate collaborative development. In total, some 28 million developers use GitHub, and there are 85 million code repositories.

Microsoft has reportedly acquired GitHub

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Microsoft has reportedly acquired GitHub, and could announce the deal as early as Monday. Bloomberg reports that the software giant has agreed to acquire GitHub, and that the company chose Microsoft partly because of CEO Satya Nadella. Business Insider first reported that Microsoft had been in talks with GitHub recently.

GitHub is a vast code repository that has become popular with developers and companies hosting their projects, documentation, and code. Apple, Amazon, Google, and many other big tech companies use GitHub. Microsoft is the top contributor to the site, and has more than 1,000 employees actively pushing code to repositories on GitHub. Microsoft even hosts its own original Windows File Manager source code on GitHub. The service was last valued at $2 billion back in 2015, but it’s not clear exactly how much Microsoft has paid to acquire GitHub.

Microsoft has been rapidly investing in open source technology since Satya Nadella took over the CEO role. Microsoft has open sourced PowerShell, Visual Studio Code, and the Microsoft Edge JavaScript engine. Microsoft also partnered with Canonical to bring Ubuntu to Windows 10, and acquired Xamarin to assist with mobile app development.

Microsoft is also using the open source Git version control system for Windows development, and the company even brought SQL Server to Linux. Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code, which lets developers build and debug web and cloud applications, has soared in popularity with developers. Microsoft’s GitHub acquisition will likely mean we’ll start to see even closer integration between Microsoft’s developer tools and the service. At Build last month, Microsoft continued its close work with GitHub by integrating the service into the company’s App Center for developers.

Microsoft Buys Conversational AI Company Semantic Machines

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In a blog post, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of AI & Research David Ku announced the acquisition of Berkeley, California-based conversational AI company Semantic Machines. The natural language processing technology developed by Semantic Machines will be integrated into Microsoft’s products like Cortana and the Azure Bot Service.

On its website, Semantic Machines says that existing natural language systems such as Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Google Now only understands commands, but not conversations. However, Semantic Machines' technology understands conversations rather than just commands. Some of the most typical commands that digital assistants can handle today include weather reports, music controls, setting up timers and creating reminders. “For rich and effective communication, intelligent assistants need to be able to have a natural dialogue instead of just responding to commands,” said Ku.

Surface phone: is it the real time?

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Surface Phone Rumors: Microsoft to Finally Unveil Mythical Device at the MWC 2018.

While some people are resigned to the fact that the long-rumored Surface Phone is nothing more than a figment of the imagination, new reports claim that the long-rumored mythical Microsoft device may finally be unveiled at next month's MWC (Mobile World Congress).

Rumors about the Surface Phone have been in existence for two years now, but no one outside Microsoft cannot really confirm if the device is in the pipeline. However, according to recent reports, the wait may be soon over as it is alleged that the Redmond-based company will reveal the Surface Phone at the annual MWC happening at Barcelona next month.

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The Invoke Smart Speaker Brings Microsoft’s Cortana AI to Your Living Room

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Cortana virtual assistant already integrates into Windows 10, works on iOS and Android, and will start showing up in cars soon, it’s ready for your home with Invoke. It's good for work, good for play, even has a cool name.

The new Invoke speaker, made by Harman Kardon, is more or less a direct copy of the Amazon Echo - a tall, cylindrical speaker with a blue light at the top that glows when the speaker is listening to you. It can control some of your smart-home devices, set reminders, name the members of One Direction (RIP), and many other things Echo can also do. So far, the Invoke appears to have exactly one unique feature: It can make and receive calls with Skype.

Microsoft release new XAML Controls Gallery app to help developers implement Fluent Design

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Microsoft is hoping developers will be updating their UWP apps en masse to support their new Fluent Design language, and to help them along Microsoft has published an app in the store that demonstrates all the controls available.

XAML Controls Gallery” demonstrates all of the controls available in Fluent Design System and XAML. It’s the interactive companion to the Fluent Design System web site which can be seen here.

According to Microsoft, the new Microsoft Fluent Design System will deliver “intuitive, harmonious, responsive and inclusive cross-device experiences and interactions” for users. As for developers, the Microsoft Fluent Design System will allow them to deliver engaging experiences that work across a wide range of devices with input diversity.

The source code to the app is available on Github here and developers can download the app from the Store here.

Microsoft Launcher review: A beautiful Android experience

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After Microsoft gives up on Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft Launcher is the upgraded version of the Microsoft Garage project Arrow Launcher, and we covered the key changes that came with that upgrade last week. It's free and can be picked up from the Google Play Store.

After some heavy usage over the last few days, we're breaking down what works, what doesn't, and where Microsoft should take their launcher from here.

As Microsoft Launcher gains more publicity, there have been some rumblings about how it doesn't look like Windows 10 Mobile. It's important to point out that it doesn't seem to be the goal of Microsoft to make Android look exactly like Windows 10 Mobile. For example, you won't find Live Tiles anywhere in the launcher. If you're looking for as close to a facsimile of Windows 10 Mobile on Android as possible, there are other options, such as Squarehome 2.

But this isn't a bad thing. Microsoft isn't trying to turn Android into Windows 10 Mobile, they are trying to integrate Microsoft services into the Android experience while also adding some design elements that will be familiar to Windows users. And in that respect, Microsoft Launcher is phenomenal.

For example, there's also an option for a transparent theme. With all the transparent design elements coming in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, having a glass effect throughout all of your devices helps them feel more like siblings. Microsoft Launcher's transparency is found on every page in the launcher, including your newsfeed, calendar, people section, and more.

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Arrow Launcher already had features such as Wunderlist and Outlook calendar integration. Microsoft Launcher takes that idea further by bringing "Continue on PC" to Android. This lets you start doing things on your phone and easily jump to another device. This will be familiar to anyone who has taken advantage of Project Rome. It's a nice addition to Android and will hopefully get better over time. You can take a document you're working on and push it over to your PC. It also works with links, even if you're browsing on Chrome on your phone and have Edge as the default browser on PC. It works fairly well, though it can take a couple seconds to open on your PC.

Microsoft gives up on Windows 10 Mobile

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The company's Windows 10 chief has tweeted that developing new features and hardware for the Mobile version of the OS was no longer a "focus".

Joe Belfiore added that he had also switched to Android himself.

Windows 10 Mobile tried to attract users by letting them run the same "universal apps" on both their PCs and handsets, but the concept failed to catch on.

The OS accounted for just 0.03% of the global market - based on smartphone shipments - between April and June, according to research company IDC.

The market intelligence provider said the news had been a long time coming.

"There wasn't a wide range of devices running Windows 10 Mobile, so it wasn't attractive to retailers or operators," said IDC's Francisco Jeronimo.

"And from a consumer perspective, the operating system didn't provide as good an experience as Android or iOS."

Mr Belfiore began a series of tweets on Sunday by discussing the recent launch of a test version of Microsoft's Edge web browser for Android and iOS - the latest in a series of releases of its core software for rival mobile platforms.

He then went on to respond to questions about whether there was any point sticking with Windows 10 Mobile.

He said that while Microsoft would support the "many companies" that had adopted the platform, he had switched to Android for the diversity of its apps and hardware.

"Of course we'll continue to support the platform... bug fixes, security updates, et cetera," he said.

"But building new features or hardware is not the focus."

Hey Cortana, open Alexa: Microsoft and Amazon’s first-of-its-kind collaboration

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I talk to Cortana every day — at home, work and on-the-go — to get information about my day, to set reminders so I don’t forget things, and to answer my questions. But I don’t just use one digital assistant. I also frequently talk to Alexa to listen to audio books or to add things to my shopping list. Because people use and interact with all kinds of products, we’re very excited to announce a first-of-its-kind collaboration with Amazon between Cortana and Alexa that will offer more choice, value and access to both intelligent personal assistants.

Available later this year, this collaboration will allow you to access Alexa via Cortana on Windows 10 PCs, followed by Android and iOS in the future. Conversely, you’ll be able to access Cortana on Alexa-enabled devices like the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show.

As our CEO, Satya Nadella, said in today’s Amazon press release, the collaboration between Microsoft and Amazon reflects our belief that when people and technology work together, everybody wins:

“Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us. Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.”

By bringing Cortana to Alexa and Alexa to Cortana, I’m excited that we’re adding more value and choice for consumers and developers alike. Cortana users will be able to have Alexa shop on Amazon.com and manage their Amazon orders and access many of Alexa’s third-party skills by asking Cortana to open Alexa, just as Alexa users will have access to Cortana’s world knowledge and helpful productivity features such as calendar management, day at a glance and location-based reminders simply by asking Alexa to open Cortana.

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