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Track Santa with Microsoft and NORAD

Get in the holiday spirit this year and track Santa Claus with Microsoft and NORAD. The site is optimized for use with Internet Explorer, and offers a real time tracking system for the big guy in red. Desktop and mobile apps are available, as are fun coloring pages and games.

The NORAD Tracks Santa website features a beautiful, inviting landscape in the classic “Claymation” holiday style. The experience is optimized for touch, from the rotatable globe to the parallax-style navigation to the brand new games. On December 24th, when Santa’s journey begins, you will be able to track him on an interactive, 3D globe – featuring a Bing Maps overlay. Additionally, at every stop along the way, users will be able to click off to a specially-curated Bing results page – to get fun facts and beautiful imagery for each location.

Microsoft Cuts Out Clip Art

Microsoft Office will no longer use it’s built in clip art. Instead, they are moving to Bing Image search using images that are under the Creative Commons licensing. Good news for most, as you get a much larger collection of high quality images.

The Office.com Clip Art and image library has closed shop. Customers can still add images to their documents, presentations, and other files that they have saved to their devices (phones, tablets, and PCs), OneDrive, and SharePoint.  Customers also still have the ability to add images to their documents using Bing Image Search.

Microsoft and Dropbox Partnership

Microsoft has partnered with online storage service Dropbox. This will allow Dropbox users easier access to documents and storage with Microsoft Office products, most importantly Microsoft Office. This should help make life a bit easier for Office users and Dropbox users.

The deal has four main parts: Quickly editing Office docs from the Dropbox mobile app, accessing Dropbox docs from Office apps, sharing Dropbox links of Office apps, and the creation of first-party Dropbox apps for Microsoft’s mobile offerings.

Microsoft Stops Selling Windows 7 & 8

If you were in the market for a new PC with Windows 7, you might be out of luck. Microsoft is no longer selling OEM licenses for Windows 7, and no longer selling Windows 8 in the retail box. Windows 8.1 is the big client OS on the scene now. So, if you were looking to stay with an older OS, your time may be up.

There will be retail box sales of Windows 8.1 (Microsoft draws a hard line between Windows 8 and Windows 8.1) and businesses and consumers will still be able to buy Windows 7 Professional licences through ‘Downgrade Rights’, but it will come at additional cost and have limited availability.

Windows 8 About to Bypass Windows XP in Market Share

Windows XP is set to drop below the market share for Windows 8. There are a lot of hold outs still running Windows XP & Windows 7, but Windows 8/8.1 is still gaining market share and is going to be overtaking the long lived XP very soon. Oddly enough, Linux is still very low – even below Vista or Windows NT. Of course, this could be the year of the Linux desktop!

Finally, Windows 7 remains the clear market leader with 53.05 percent of the market. There’s also the “other” category of operating systems that didn’t make the graph. These include Windows Vista (2.82 percent), Windows NT (1.64 percent), Linux (1.41 percent), and Mac OS X 10.10 (1.18 percent). All the numbers are based on tracking visits to websites.

New Microsoft Band Watch Announced

Microsoft has announced it’s new smart watch, the Microsoft Band. Still a bit bulky for everyday use for me, but when out walking or just out and about, it’d be excellent. Although, the other features would make me want to wear it more often. Lots of excellent features that are cross compatible with Windows Phone, Android and Apple’s iOS. Cost is $199. I may end up picking one of these up soon.

Microsoft Band, the first device powered by Microsoft Health, helps you achieve your wellness goals by tracking your heart rate, steps, calorie burn, and sleep quality. It also helps you be more productive with email previews and calendar alerts – right on your wrist.

OneDrive Unlimited Storage for Office 365 Users

Microsoft Office 365 users will now have unlimited storage with the included OneDrive cloud storage. With files getting bigger and bigger, and with features such as automatic upload from your phone to OneDrive, unlimited storage can come in very handy.

Today, storage limits just became a thing of the past with Office 365. Moving forward, all Office 365 customers will get unlimited OneDrive storage at no additional cost. We’ve started rolling this out today to Office 365 Home, Personal, and University customers. The roll out will continue over the coming months, so if you want to be one of the very first to get more storage, go here to put yourself at the front of the line. In the meantime, you can take advantage of the massive capacity you have today by activating the auto upload feature for your camera roll on your phone.

 

New Preview Build for Windows 10

The Windows Blog tells us a new build for Windows 10 Technical Preview is available. The new build, build 9860, has some issues, but brings in a few new additions as well. As usual, it’s a work in progress and shouldn’t be considered a fully functional OS for production systems.

To get the update manually, go to PC Settings, Update & recovery, Preview Builds, and check for updates. The new update will download and install automatically. For those that want to wait for it to update automatically, it will do some at night, and be ready for you in the morning. Just leave your PC running.

A lot of stuff coming in from user feedback, using the feedback tool, forums and the new Windows Suggestion Box program.

  • Action Center for Windows PCs. As we shared when we announced Windows 10 in September, we aren’t limiting our view to one specific device type. We are looking across our entire product family to look at ways to bring great experiences to our customers across different devices. So with this build, we’re bringing “Action Center” from Windows Phone over to the PC as the place where you can see and follow up on all actionable items. This build is focused ONLY on enabling basic notifications – quick actions and cleaner UI will come later. You’ll see notifications from the system and apps – from new emails and invites to IMs, Facebook posts and more – all in one place, so you don’t miss a thing. Click on the new Action Center icon in the notification area of your taskbar to check it out.

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  • Move apps easily from one monitor to another. When you’re working on multiple monitors, use WIN+SHIFT+<arrow> to move the active app to another monitor. You can find a list of new keyboard shortcuts for navigating and managing your multiple desktops here in this blog post.
  • Animation for switching desktops. One of the pieces of feedback that you gave us was that it was hard to know when you were switching desktops. We addressed your feedback by adding an animation to make it clear that you are switching. Check it out by creating some new desktops and moving between them.

Windows Feature Suggestion Box

Microsoft has a new way to suggest ideas, features and suggestions for Windows – Windows Feature Suggestion Box. Using User Voice, it allows you to submit feedback for Windows. Users get to vote on the best submissions and Microsoft will look at the highest voted suggestions and see if they can implement them in a future update of Windows.

Users get 20 votes to start and can vote 1-3 times per suggestion. When you are out of votes, you can take away from previous voted suggestion. If a suggestion is added into Windows, you get those votes back. This is used for suggesting features and not for submitting bugs and errors to the Windows team.

Windows Phone has a similar User Voice available, and I have voted on and submitted several ideas over the years, and many have been implemented. Microsoft does listen and take these suggestions seriously.

It is a nice feeling when you suggest a feature and people vote on it. Seeing that feature in Windows, and knowing that you had a part in getting it in the product (one way or another).

Microsoft is moving in the right direction by taking a lot of input from users via the feedback tool in Windows 10 Technical Preview, Windows Feature Suggestion Box, MVP program, and other avenues.

Windows Feature Suggestion Box provides the Windows PC/Tablet user community with a channel for feedback. To help us build the best version of Windows ever, we created this forum to hear your ideas, suggestions and feedback. Please vote for a feature suggestion or submit your own!

How Does This Work?

Standard Disclaimer – our lawyers made us put this here ;-) Please note that the Windows Feature Suggestion Box is moderated and is a voluntary participation-based project. If your submission is not a product feature suggestion it may be removed. Please do not send any novel or patentable ideas, copyrighted materials, samples or demos which you do not want to grant a license to Microsoft. Your submission is subject to these License Terms . Please limit your suggestions to 25 words or less.

 

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Use Start Screen Instead of Start Menu

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In Windows 10, the Start menu is the default option for pressing the start button. However, many people are used to the full screen Start screen introduced in Windows 8. Here is how to change the default behavior of the Start button.

 

1. Right click the Windows task bar and select ‘Properties’.

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2. In the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties windows, click the ‘Start Menu’ tab. Uncheck the ‘Use the Start menu instead of the Start screen” option at the top of the window.

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3. Log off and back on to get the Start screen active. Behavior will be similar to Windows 8.x Start screen.

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