Category: News

Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter Announced

Microsoft is releasing their new Wireless Display Adapter, which will allow you to display your PC/Tablet/Laptop screen onto an HDMI HDTV. There are similar products out there currently, and I am curious as to how it stacks up against the competition. Release date is late October, so there should be reviews out by release time. I might have to grab one of these and post a review myself. There are a lot of uses at work for this type of device.

All you need to do is plug the USB end and HDMI end of the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter into an HDTV, monitor or projector. Then select the right input on your TV, pair it with your laptop, tablet, or smartphone and you’ll be ready to go. Then just wirelessly project your screen from your Miracast-enabled device. It’s that simple. Depending on your device, you can have it mirror exactly what’s being shown on the screen of your device or extend its screen. Because the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter uses Miracast technology, you’re not limited to certain apps or content streaming. It’ll show anything and everything from your device!

Throw Back Thursday

Here’s an old parody video from Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer for your throwback Thursday enjoyment. I’ve noticed that Microsoft always has a few videos like this around. Seems the management likes to have fun every once in a while!

Cortana to Support INSTEON Devices

Home automation. Some love it, some hate it. With programmable thermostats, lighting, alarm systems, even yard irrigation able to be controlled by a computer, it’s becoming more commonplace. INSTEON, a major player in the home automation and lighting industry, has teamed with Microsoft to provide voice controls for their system via Cortana and the Windows Phone 8.1 handsets.

“The availability of voice interaction capabilities is a major development in the evolution of the home automation industry,” said Steven Guggenheimer, Corporate Vice President & Chief Evangelist for Microsoft.  “In recent years, consumers have become increasingly accustomed to voice-activated commands on their smart phones.  Bringing Microsoft Cortana voice interaction capabilities to the popular INSTEON line of products opens up a whole new world of connected home engagement and use cases that will enhance our lives.”

Cortana vs. Siri Commercials from Microsoft

Siri was a great concept when it (she?) was released. However, people didn’t find that it worked as well as they thought it would. With very little improvement over the years, Siri has gotten stagnant. Microsoft & Nokia use that to their advantage in a couple new ads. Cortana looks more advanced and useful than Siri. But, marketing can be deceiving. How’s Siri work for you, if you still use it?



Windows 9 “Confirmed” to be Announced Next Week

A French Microsoft executive has accidentally revealed that Windows 9 will be revealed next week at Microsoft’s big event on September 30th. While I think most of us already assumed that’s what the hoopla was all about, I guess now we have a somewhat more official (yet still not an official announcement) confirmation. Also, the name still might not stick – Windows 9, Windows Threshold, or just plain old Windows.

Although Microsoft is widely expected to reveal Windows 9 next week, the company is staying tight-lipped on its exact plans for the September 30 press event.

Unfortunately, Microsoft France President Alain Crozier didn’t get the memo. Speaking at a press event on Tuesday, Crozier said Microsoft would reveal “Windows 9” next week. His comments were first spotted by WPCentral, and TechCrunch confirmed that the translation from French was accurate.

Microsoft Introduces Online Proctored Certification Exams

First, Microsoft dropped Prometric in favor of Pearson Vue. Now, an announcement from Microsoft says that they now have online proctored exams using your webcam and microphone. The move back to Pearson Vue was excellent news, but this is pretty awesome as well. I do have a few questions about it that I am waiting for answers, but overall it sounds like an excellent way to take an exam when you are not near a testing center. Or, if you want to take the exam on your lunch break at work. Right now, only a few exams are available, but I’m sure that number will increase in the future. I think I’m about ready for a couple new certs!

You’ll be asked to empty your pockets while on camera, provide a close-up on your ears so you can prove you’re not wearing a Bluetooth earpiece, do a visual sweep of your desk and the room…  all things you’d expect a proctor to check if they were there in the room with you. If you ensure that all of the requirements are met before you check in for your exam, the whole check-in process should only take about ten to fifteen minutes. If you have as many Bruce Springsteen posters on your office wall as I do, add another five minutes for the proctor to inspect them all for hidden notes.

Windows 9 Event September 30th

Microsoft is planning an event to showcase Windows 9 on September 30th in San Francisco. The technical preview should be available soon after the event for people to check out. Should be interesting to see what Microsoft has in store for us other than UI changes.

Additional changes are expected to be pushed regularly to Windows Technical Preview users until the operating system is complete and ready for release next year. We understand Microsoft is planning more UI changes to the desktop, and a number of those improvements aren’t ready for the preview just yet.

Microsoft Buys Mojang

The big news topic of the day is the purchase of Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, by Microsoft for $2.5B. Notch, the original creator, and several others are leaving the company with cash in hand. As awesome as the creation was, I think we all have a price. For Notch, it was $2B (per a December 2012 tweet). Looks like he got a big more out of Microsoft. I’m looking forward to what Microsoft brings to the Minecraft world (good or bad… could go either way).

As you might already know, Notch is the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder at Mojang. He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He’ll continue to do cool stuff though. Don’t worry about that.

Steve Ballmer Wrote C/A/D Text

Here’s an interesting tidbit of information I learned today. Steve Ballmer wrote the text for the CTRL-ALT-DEL, seen by millions of people around the world, many times over the years. Interesting stuff from the older days of Microsoft and Windows 3.1.

During this time period, Steve Ballmer was head of the Systems Division, and he paid a visit to the Windows team to see what they were up to, as is the wont of many executives.¹ When they showed him the Ctrl+Alt+Del feature, he nodded thoughtfully and added, “This is nice, but I don’t like the text of the message. It doesn’t sound right to me.”

Buy an XBox One, Get a Free Game

Another deal from Microsoft on it’s XBox One system. Buy the system, get a free game. I recommend one of the newer ones to maximize your buying power. Some, like Call of Duty: Ghosts, can be found for under $25 quite often.