'Microsoft' Articles

Microsoft Hails 'Historic Achievement' in Speech Recognition Technology

Researchers at Microsoft claim to have created a new speech recognition technology that transcribes conversational speech as well as a human does (via The Verge). The system's word error rate is reportedly 5.9 percent, which is about equal to professional transcribers asked to work on the same recordings, according to Microsoft. Microsoft researchers from the Speech & Dialog research group (Image: Allison Linn) "We've reached human parity," said chief speech scientist Xuedong Huang in a statement, calling the milestone "an historic achievement". To reach the milestone, the team used Microsoft’s Computational Network Toolkit, a homegrown system for deep learning that the research team has made available on GitHub via an open source license. The system uses neural network technology that groups similar words together, which allows the models to generalize efficiently from word to word. The neural networks draw on large amounts of data called training sets to teach the transcribing computers to recognize syntactical patterns in the sounds. Microsoft plans to use the technology in Cortana, its personal voice assistant in Windows and Xbox One, as well as in speech-to-text transcription software. But the technology still has a long way to go before it can claim to master meaning (semantics) and contextual awareness - key characteristics of everyday language use that need to be grasped for Siri-like personal assistants to process requests and act upon them in a helpful way. "We are moving away from a world where people must understand computers to a world

Photoshop and Office 2016 Stability Fixes in the Works for macOS Sierra Users

Following the release of macOS Sierra last month, the latest operating system has caused some compatibility and stability issues with Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac that both companies are working to resolve. A growing number of users on Adobe's support community claim that Photoshop CC crashes when attempting to print projects after updating to macOS Sierra. Doug Thomson, for example, is unable to print to his Epson 7890, while some other Epson and Canon printer models appear to be affected.Installed macOS Sierra and now Photoshop 15.5.1 crashes when attempting to print. Print dialogue opens and settings can be modified, but when attempting to print Photoshop crashes perhaps 9 out of 10 attempts. Most frustrating. I'm printing to an Epson 7890, but I have seen the same issue cited for Canon. Adobe support told me that Photoshop has not been tested on Sierra, but in reality Adobe has had Sierra for months and have even published known issues. I pay a ton of money for this thing to work and this nonsense from support is very annoying.Adobe has since acknowledged the issue in a support document, noting that Photoshop CC version 2015.5 or earlier may crash while printing to some printers from Macs running macOS Sierra. Adobe said its engineers are working on a solution for a future update to Photoshop CC, as echoed by Adobe product manager Pete Green. @walkyourcamera @Photoshop @EpsonAmerica @AppleSupport We're working on it from our end, watch this thread for more:— Pete Green (@_petegreen) October 1, 2016 Adobe recommends users

Microsoft Likely Discontinuing Microsoft Band Wearable Device

The Microsoft Band, the wearable device Microsoft first introduced in late 2014, is being quietly phased out of existence. As of today, Microsoft has removed all Microsoft Band models from the Microsoft Online Store and has eliminated the Band Software Development Kit. In a statement given to ZDNet, a Microsoft representative said that the company has sold through all of its Band 2 inventory and does not have plans to release a new Band wearable in 2016. "We have sold through our existing Band 2 inventory and have no plans to release another Band device this year. We remain committed to supporting our Microsoft Band 2 customers through Microsoft Stores and our customer support channels and will continue to invest in the Microsoft Health platform, which is open to all hardware and apps partners across Windows, iOS, and Android devices."Following the Microsoft Band's 2014 release, Microsoft continued development on the device and released a second-generation model in October of 2015. Priced at $250, the second-generation Microsoft Band featured an optical heart rate monitor for measuring heart rate, an accelerometer and gyroscope for measuring movement, GPS, skin temperature sensors, and more. It received poor reviews for its price point, design, battery life, and lack of utility, and despite Microsoft's efforts to push sales with an Apple Watch trade-in program, the Microsoft Band 2 failed to catch on. Previous information shared by ZDNet has suggested Microsoft disbanded the team that was working to bring Windows 10 to the Microsoft Band and has relocated some

Microsoft's Latest Anti-MacBook Ad Focuses on Surface Pro 4's Touchscreen

Over the weekend, Microsoft launched a new ad for the Surface Pro 4, continuing its marketing strategy of comparing the tablet computer to Apple's products, this time the 13-inch MacBook Air. The ad is the newest in Microsoft's anti-Apple theme of commercials, previously comparing the iPad Pro with the Surface Pro 4, the MacBook Pro with the Surface Book, and OS X with Windows 10. Just a few weeks ago, the MacBook Air was the focus of another Surface Pro 4 ad. Simple titled "Get the Surface Pro," the new ad has a focus on the tablet's ability to write and doodle on the screen with the included stylus. Using the same musical accompaniment of the previous MacBook Air comparison spot, the singer in the new ad tells potential customers that "if you try to write on a plain old Mac, the difference can be seen. It doesn't work." Other advantages highlighted in the ad include the detachable keyboard, and the ending tagline states, "Surface does more. Just like you." Microsoft positions the Surface Pro 4 as a true combination tablet and personal computer, leading to ads comparing it to both an iPad Pro and MacBook. In the previous iPad Pro commercial, Microsoft's personal assistant Cortana let customers, and Siri, know that the iPad lacks an Intel Core i7 processor, full access to Microsoft Office beyond the mobile app versions, a trackpad, and external port options, making Microsoft's tablet more of a computer than Apple's 12.9-inch tablet. The 12.3-inch Surface Pro 4 starts at $899 for 128GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM, and goes up to as much as $1,799 for 256GB

New Surface Pro 4 Ad Compares Tablet PC With MacBook Air

Microsoft today launched a new commercial for its Surface Pro 4, directly comparing the tablet computer to Apple's MacBook Air. The ad, titled "Surface Pro 4 is the one for me", was posted on YouTube and features a woman trying out some of the features of the Surface Pro 4 and then attempting to replicate the functionality on a MacBook Air, to no avail. All the while, a melody man plays a musical keyboard and quirkily sings the praises of Microsoft's PC offering against the Apple machine, which he calls "less useful, like a hat for your cat". The lighthearted ad plays upon the Surface Pro 4's signature features like the detachable keyboard, pen, and touchscreen, as well as the machine's relative lightness compared to the MacBook Air, which is "slower, heavier, and a bit square," sings the keyboard player. The ad ends with the tagline: "Surface does more. Just like you." The commercial follows a similar anti-Apple theme adopted by Microsoft in recent ads, which have previously compared the iPad Pro with the Surface Pro 4, the Surface Book with the MacBook Pro, and Windows 10 with OS X. The 12.3-inch Surface Pro 4 starts at $899 for 128GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM, and goes up to as much as $1,799 for 256GB of internal storage and 16GB of RAM. Comparatively, the 11-inch MacBook Air starts at $899, with 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, increasing to $1099 for 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, while the 13-inch model starts at $999 for 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, and rising to $1199 for 256GB of

Microsoft Launches OneNote Import Tool to Help Mac Users Transition From Evernote

Microsoft today announced the launch of its OneNote Import Tool for Mac, which is designed to allow Mac users to quickly and easily transfer all of their notes from note-taking app Evernote to Microsoft's own note-taking app, OneNote. Transitioning from Evernote to OneNote is as simple as downloading the import tool, letting the app locate Evernote notebooks, signing into your Microsoft account, and hitting the import button. From there, all of your Evernote content is available in OneNote. Microsoft's OneNote Import Tool is timely because Evernote recently made a policy change that has pushed users into seeking other note taking services. As of late June, customers who use a free Evernote basic account are only able to access their notes on a total of two devices. Accessing Evernote content on more than two devices now requires an Evernote subscription, priced at $3.99 per month or $34.99 per year. OneNote requires notes to be stored using Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage service (which comes with 5GB free storage) but there are no restrictions on accessing notes across multiple devices. OneNote also offers many of the same features that are available in Evernote and it can serve as an alternative to Apple's own Notes app.OneNote lets you work the way you want. You can get your ideas down in a range of ways that include typing, inking, embedding videos, recording audio, or clipping web content. If you prefer to use paper and pen, you can even scan that content with OneNote to make it digital, searchable and available from your phone to your laptop. We've

Parallels Desktop 12 for Mac Comes With Sierra Support, Standalone Toolbox App

Parallels today announced Parallels Desktop 12 for Mac with support for macOS Sierra and the addition of several new features. The company also announced a new standalone app called Parallels Toolbox, which allows users to perform some simple tasks that aren't necessarily tied to virtualization. New features in Desktop 12 include having Windows 10 "always on" in the background, the ability to instantly launch Windows apps, the ability to schedule incremental backups and Windows updates, the ability to assign special behaviors to Windows apps, improved integration for Microsoft Edge, Outlook, and Office 365, and Xbox app support. Additionally, Parallels has partnered with Blizzard to provide specific support for the hit game Overwatch. Version 12 also includes 90 percent faster snapshot creation, 60 percent faster suspension of VMs, 25 percent faster shared folder performance, 25 percent faster compilation of Visual Studio projects, and up to 10 percent in battery life improvements for "certain environments." The company is also touting a new standalone app called Parallels Toolbox. The Toolbox places a drop-down menu in the Mac's menu bar, allowing users to do certain tasks more quickly. Tasks include the ability to record the screen, take screenshots, record audio, archive files, convert and download video, lock the screen and more. Parallels Desktop 12 for Mac is $79.99, while Desktop 10 or 11 users may upgrade for $49.99. The Business and Pro Editions are also available with a subscription fee of $99.99 per year, although Parallels 10 and 11 users with

New Surface Pro 4 Ad Takes on Apple's 'What's a Computer?' iPad Pro Campaign

Microsoft today launched a new commercial for its Surface Pro 4, comparing the tablet computer to Apple's iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard. The ad -- titled "What's a Computer? Just ask Cortana" -- was posted on YouTube today with a description claiming that "just because you call something a computer doesn’t mean it fits the description." The new ad is clearly targeting Apple's new "What's a Computer?" ad campaign and "Super. Computer." slogan for the iPad Pro. The ad centers around a party that Siri is holding for its new Smart Keyboard, telling the Surface Pro 4 "I'm a computer now, like you." The Surface Pro 4 responds, asking if Apple's tablet has an Intel Core i7 processor, full access to Microsoft Office beyond the mobile app versions, a trackpad, and external port options. Siri responds with, "Like I said, I just got a keyboard." The ad ends with the tagline, "Surface does more. Just like you." The new ad today follows a similar anti-Apple theme of many Microsoft ads, which have previously focused on comparing the Surface Book and MacBook, and Windows 10 and OS X. For Christmas last year, the company released a more peaceful ad that centered around a group of Microsoft Store employees singing seasonal carols outside of an Apple Store. The Surface Pro 4 starts at $899 for 128GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM, and going up to as much as $1,799 for 256GB of internal storage and 16GB of RAM. Comparatively, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at a smaller $799 for 32GB and maxes out at $1,099 for 256GB, with all models including 4GB of

'Microsoft Pix' for iOS Introduces Smart AI to Automatically Adjust Photos

Microsoft today launched a new camera app for iOS devices called Microsoft Pix, which uses an artificial intelligence to adjust settings, choose the best photos, and automatically enhance each picture you take. The app will work on the iPhone 5s or newer, running iOS 9.0 or newer, with the company planning an Android release in the future. It did, however, remain curiously silent on introducing the new app's features into its own Windows Phone line. In order to obtain the very best image, Microsoft Pix takes a burst of shots before and after the image capture shutter button is tapped, similar to holding down the button for a burst shot in Apple's first party camera app. The new app goes one step further, however, and intelligently siphons through each shot to choose the best image, and delete whatever is left over to save memory. This usually ends up with up to three "Best Images" for you to choose from. Microsoft calls the app "people-centric," with the AI's biggest enhancement feature centering around its ability to focus in on faces within a photograph to enhance and adjust the focus, color, and exposure "so people look their best." The app's underlying algorithms can even detect whether a person has their eyes open or closed, and use that information as another factor in picking the best photo. “They are building this for people who aren’t photographers but who like to take pictures — and would like to take better pictures — but don’t want to take the time to learn what goes in to making better pictures,” says Reed Hoffman, a Kansas City-based

Microsoft Reveals New Authenticator App With Touch ID and Apple Watch Support

Microsoft recently announced an incoming update for its two-factor authenticator apps on iOS and Android, bringing a more robust suite of password authenticator abilities, along with a redesigned user interface, to each app (via The Verge). Set to launch on August 15, the update combines "the best parts" of the company's previous authenticator apps into one service, letting users save data for both a Microsoft account (targeted at consumers) and an Azure AD account (targeted at enterprise users). The update is planned to overhaul Microsoft's existing, two-step verification iOS app, Azure Authenticator, while the Microsoft account app on Android will prompt users with a starting message to download the new app in the Android store. For iOS users, the company promised that any accounts saved in Azure Authenticator will be "automatically upgraded" into the new version of the app. Before the new update, the iOS app solely supported Azure AD accounts. Also coming to Microsoft Authenticator is a new, "incredibly simple" user experience that the company promises maintains "the highest level of security" for all of the accounts linked to the app. There's also a streamlined multi-factor authentication in the app's one-click notifications, where users just click an "approve" button in the notification to finish an account's login. In addition, fingerprint approval will be coming to the Microsoft Authenticator app for anyone who wants to bypass needing to type in a passcode. On August 15th, we will start releasing the new “Microsoft Authenticator” apps in all mobile app

Microsoft Launches 'Flow' Workflow Service Management App for iOS

Microsoft yesterday launched a management app for its online workflow service and IFTTT competitor, called Flow. For those unfamiliar with the idea, services like IFTTT let you connect different digital platforms and automate actions between them, like having all Gmail attachments save to a Dropbox account, or making every new entry added to a contact list sync to a Google spreadsheet. Flow first debuted in April as a web service for creating workflows for two or more cloud services, simplifying things like file synchronization and data organization. But Flow also supports a number of other triggers, like receiving a text message when a particular person emails you, or automatically following a Twitter account that mentions your business in a tweet and adding it to a database. With the launch of the iOS app, Flow now supports workflow options for more services, but keeps the focus on integrations with Microsoft's own business tools, such as Office 365, Dynamics CRM, PowerApps, and Yammer. Automation for business-related services like MailChip, GitHub, Salesforce, and Slack are also supported. The iOS app lets users manage existing 'flows' created from the web service, allowing users to disable them, view their properties, and generate error checking reports to ensure they're working properly. There's also a searchable activity feed in the app that shows all recent Flow actions, which can be tapped to get more details on. The app also supports push notifications for trigger issues, and Microsoft promises it will soon include the ability to create new

Microsoft Follows LinkedIn Acquisition With Chatbot-Based 'Wand' Buyout

Microsoft has announced it is acquiring natural language and AI messaging startup Wand Labs as part of a larger strategy to build out "conversation as a platform" (via TechCrunch). Founded in 2013 by former Google staffer Vishal Sharma, Wand Labs' stated aim is "to tear down app walls, integrate your services in chat, and make them work together so you can do more with less taps". Previously, Wand apps focused on using conversational interfaces to allow users to perform collaborative tasks, such as enabling a friend to control a Nest thermostat, for example. (All Wand apps have been removed from the App Store since the announcement.) "I'm proud of the work my team has done and what we've already accomplished in this emerging space," said Sharma in a statement on the Wand Labs website. "I'm delighted to be joining a company that shares our passion and enthusiasm for this new era where conversation is the central focus. Making experiences for customers more seamless by harnessing human language is a powerful vision and one that motivates me and my team." The terms of the buyout have not been disclosed, but the fledgling Silicon Valley startup has just seven employees – a world away from Microsoft's recent $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, which has 9,700 full-time employees with offices in 30 cities around the world. The two deals are likely related, however, as Microsoft appears to be maneuvering significant investment in the direction of conversational chat bot services backed by big data, natural language processing, and predictive analytics.

Microsoft Takes Inspiration from Apple, Launches Surface Upgrade Plan for Businesses

Microsoft today launched the Microsoft Surface Membership, an upgrade plan for Surface devices that allows business customers to "get the latest Surface devices, accessories, support and training." The new plan was first spotted by (via Engadget). The plan is similar to Apple's iPhone Upgrade Plan. The Surface Membership is available for three Surface devices with payment plans that can be spread over 18, 24 or 30 months. The Surface 3 is $32.99 per month for 30 months, $37.99 per month for 24 months, and $48.99 per month over 18 months. The Surface Pro 4 is $51.99 per month for 30 months, $58.99 per month for 24 months, and $70.99 per month for 18 months. The Surface Book is $79.99 per month for 30 months, $89.99 per month for 24 months, and $108.99 per month for 18 months. All Microsoft Surface Memberships come with Surface accessories, which include the Surface Type Cover for the Surface 3, both the Type Cover and pen for the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Pen for the Surface Book. Members will also get phone and in-store tech support, one-on-one personal training, in-store discounts on future hardware and software and the Microsoft Complete for Business Extended Service Plan with accidental damage. Finally, users will be able to upgrade to the latest Surface devices when they launch. Apple announced the iPhone Upgrade Plan last year alongside the iPhone 6s, allowing customers to pay a monthly fee for their devices and upgrade every year. Apple's plan is also limited to iPhones and does not include discounts for future hardware, though it does

Microsoft and Xamarin Plan WWDC Afterparty to Discuss Development of iOS Apps

Microsoft recently announced that it will be holding an afterparty at WWDC this year, taking place next week on Monday, June 13 following Apple's State of the Union keynote (via WinBeta). In partnership with its software-focused company Xamarin, Microsoft's party is centered around "The Future of Apps," and is confirmed to last from 5 PM to 8:30 PM PDT, located in Twitter's headquarters near the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Any iOS and OS X developer is welcome to attend Microsoft's party, even if you aren't directly attending WWDC, and the company is also giving anyone who checks in a chance to win either an Apple Watch Sport or Xbox One every hour. Microsoft hopes to discuss the latest iOS apps and updates created by the company at the event -- everything from Outlook to Excel and SwiftKey apps for iPhone and iPad devices -- including their future on the platform. Likewise, Xamarin's inclusion in the afterparty will generate some talk surrounding its Test Cloud platform, which lets developers run and test every feature of their apps "on more than a thousand devices," without having to worry about inconsistencies fragmenting data due to different smartphone designs and OS interfaces. The company's tools in the past have helped developers design apps for iOS, Android, and Windows platforms. Xamarin Test Cloud lets teams test every feature on more than a thousand devices and on every commit. Catching bugs before release shortens development cycles and allows more time for innovation. We'll also be offering exclusive one-on-one time with a Xamarin Test Cloud

Microsoft Lays Off Nokia Employees, Exits Consumer Phone Business

Microsoft has laid off hundreds of employees tied to its smartphone business, as the company finally exits the consumer phone market and attempts to streamline its worldwide mobile division (via The Verge). The move will impact up to 1,850 jobs worldwide, said Microsoft's head of Windows and devices Terry Myerson, while up to 1,350 of the positions will be in Finland. The cuts are expected to be completed by the year's end. The move signals the final nail in the coffin for Microsoft's Nokia business, which the company acquired under former CEO Steve Ballmer's management for $7.2 billion in 2014. Today's announcement will see $950 million written off, adding to the $7.6 billion the company wrote off last year when it cut 7,800 jobs to refocus its Windows Phone plans. Microsoft is now shorn of almost all of its 25,000 former Nokia employees, and will only retain a small number in R&D roles. Last week, the company announced it was selling off its feature phone business to FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Foxconn, for $350 million. All indications point to an end of Microsoft's Lumia phones and a focus on a single Surface phone, with Myerson promising "great new devices" in an internal memo to employees, although he withheld any specific timeframe. The immediate focus for Microsoft and its new CEO, Satya Nadella, is more likely to remain on bringing the company's software and services to iOS and Android devices, rather than risk another consumer phone failure anytime soon. Microsoft has been scaling back its consumer phone ambitions ever since its ill-fated Nokia

Microsoft's 'Word Flow' Keyboard for iPhone Launches in the U.S. App Store

After a closed beta earlier in the month, Microsoft today has launched its Word Flow Windows Phone keyboard in the United States iOS App Store for free. As expected, the iOS version of the app comes with a handful of themes for users to customize the keyboard with, along with the ability to speed up one-handed texting with its unique "Arc mode." Word Flow keyboard's "Light" theme Arc mode bends the keyboard into a circular shape, hugging whichever side of the iPhone a user's dominant hand will be typing on, allowing for more efficient one-handed typing than a traditional iOS keyboard. Its default interface doesn't differ from other third-party keyboards, letting users switch between tapping and swiping on the fly to enter text. As with Apple's included keyboard, Word Flow has a predictive text feature, and users can even turn on a word learning option that will bolster the app's predictive capabilities for each user by sending keyboard information to Microsoft. Elsewhere in the app, users will also be able to upload their own pictures as customized keyboard themes, and even track their typing speed once Word Flow is granted full access in Settings. Word Flow keyboard with a custom image theme Anyone who wants to check Word Flow out can download it from the App Store for free [Direct Link], although it is currently limited to United States users

A Look at Microsoft's Upcoming Word Flow Keyboard, Now in Closed Beta Testing

Rumors in January suggested Microsoft was working to bring its Word Flow Windows Phone keyboard to iOS, and now the company's keyboard project has entered a private beta testing phase. Starting this week, a limited number of testers have been given access to the Word Flow iOS keyboard. MacRumors reader Ruben has shared some images and information with us, giving us our first look at the design and the features Microsoft plans to implement. According to Ruben, the keyboard is "incredibly reliable for a beta," with features like sounds, themes, and the much-anticipated one-handed "Arc" mode, accessed with a drag gesture. In its default mode, the Word Flow keyboard looks a lot like a standard iOS keyboard, but its one-handed mode sets it apart from other offerings. With one-handed mode turned on, the keyboard morphs into a half-moon shape, arranging the letters to one side of the device for easy thumb access. The Word Flow keyboard supports both standard typing and swipe-based typing, as is one on third-party keyboards like Swipe and SwiftKey. Standard keyboard features like auto correction and word prediction are included, with options to enable or disable a word learning feature that improves word predictions by sending keyboard usage information to Microsoft. Multiple Word Flow themes are included, including light and dark options, and there are also tools for creating custom themes based on images taken from the iPhone's Photo Library. Additional information shared by iMore yesterday covers other features like quick access to Contacts through autofill

Microsoft's Surface Book Ads Borrow Music From Apple to Focus on Things a Mac 'Just Can’t Do'

Following the launch of a few ads focused around the advantages of Windows 10 PCs over Macs, this week Microsoft continued its campaign with new commercials showcasing the Microsoft Surface Book. The ads feature wildlife photographer Tim Flach describing the pros of the Surface Book, pointing out a few things that he "just can't do" on a Mac. The first video showcases Flach's "initial impressions of the Surface Book," with the photographer commenting on the detail provided by the two-in-one laptop/tablet device. Flach also detaches the top half of the Surface Book to directly edit and manipulate his photographs. He ends the video stating, "I can't do that on my Mac." The second ad delves deeper into the powers of the Surface Pen and its 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, with Flach comparing the experience he had with Microsoft's device to his time as a painter. Despite the touch-screen similarities the Surface Book shares with the iPad Pro, Microsoft keeps the comparison specifically to Apple's Mac line in each video. As pointed out by a reader of The Loop, the score for Microsoft's new ads skews close to a Retina MacBook Pro commercial from 2012. Both videos use variants of "Song" by Kidstreet, with Apple's ad playing the "String Version" of the tune and Microsoft's playing the "Reimagined" version. A third video posted to the company's YouTube channel echoes much of the sentiment of the first two. Microsoft sells the Surface Book starting at $1,499 and goes up all the way to $3,199 thanks to a boosted 1TB flash storage and Intel Core i7 processor.

Microsoft's HoloLens Developer Edition Launches March 30 for $3,000

Microsoft has announced that developers who applied to pre-order the HoloLens Development Edition will begin to receive invitations to purchase the device for $3,000, with shipments beginning on March 30 in the U.S. and Canada. The development kit bundles the HoloLens with a carrying case, Bluetooth 4.1 clicker, wired charger, and an extra nose piece. Microsoft technical fellow Alex Kipman said broader consumer availability remains "further down the line." Microsoft HoloLens is a cordless, self-contained Windows 10 holographic headset that mixes virtual reality with augmented reality. HoloLens has see-through holographic lenses with an advanced optical projection system to generate multi-dimensional holograms that allow you to see holographic objects in your world. The headset is also equipped with multiple sensors and a built-in camera that analyze your surrounding environment. The mixed-reality headset is powered by 32-bit Intel architecture and 2GB of RAM. The device also has 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, USB 2.0, 64GB internal storage, and up to three hours of battery life. Microsoft will be including seven new apps, games, and tools on the HoloLens, and it encourages developers to create additional experiences for the mixed reality headset leading up to its Build developer conference on March 30. Microsoft's augmented reality efforts precede Apple, which is rumored have a secret team of hundreds of employees working on a virtual reality headset. Our Apple VR roundup recaps the company's ambitions and competitors like Microsoft's HoloLens,

Microsoft Says Windows 10 PCs 'Do More' Than Macs in Latest Ads

Microsoft has shared a new series of ads called The Bug Chicks that promote what it believes are advantages of Windows 10 PCs over Macs. Each ad has the tagline "Windows 10 PCs do more. Just like you." The first ad introduces The Bug Chicks, who are identified as "real people paid for real opinions," and focuses on how PCs allow them to teach kids about insects using PowerPoint and other Windows 10 apps and features. The other three ads highlight individual Windows 10 PC features, including Cortana, Inking, and Hello. Each 15-second spot deliberately mentions how "even the new Macs don't have that" or "Mac doesn't have a touchscreen." "Windows 10 and Cortana" demonstrates how Microsoft's personal voice assistant can be used on the desktop to find any file by simply asking. The advantage will be short-lived, however, as Siri is reportedly coming to OS X 10.12 later this year. "Windows 10 and Inking" shows how select Windows 10 PCs have touchscreens that allow you to write and sketch directly on the screen, unlike Macs. Meanwhile, Apple has previously admitted it has no plans to release a touchscreen Mac."We don't think it's the right interface, honestly," said Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple, in an interview with CNET. "Mac is sort of a sit-down experience." […] "We've really focused on building the best track pads we can, something where it feels [like] your posture's relaxed, it's a comfortable machine to use," he said. "And, of course, over the years we've experimented with all the technology, but we found it