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Microsoft CEO Nadella's top challenge: Figuring out mobile

Microsoft stands at a crossroads when it comes to mobile.

It's now up to new CEO Satya Nadella to shepherd the company in the right direction.

In taking the reins of the technology titan, Nadella faces a lot of questions about Microsoft. Chief among them will be how the technology titan will navigate the broader shift toward mobile, and just what role its Windows Phone and Windows operating systems play in that world.

It's not a new question, but arguably the most important one tied to the ultimate fate of the company. Microsoft, which has its roots in … Read more

Five essential Windows 8.1 time-saving tweaks

Is Windows 8 really the second coming of Vista?

That's the conclusion of Windows expert Paul Thurrott on his Supersite for Windows. Thurrott claims that Windows 8 "has set back Microsoft, and Windows, by years, and possibly for good."

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of Windows 8's death are a bit premature. Sure, Microsoft has tweaked Windows 8.1 to give it more of a resemblance to earlier versions of the OS than the original Windows 8 release, and the update planned for this spring may look and feel even more like Windows 7.

But there'… Read more

Samsung reportedly readies Verizon Windows Phone

Samsung and Verizon could be working together to release a new Windows Phone, according to frequently accurate Twitter tipster @evleaks.

The smartphone, apparently code-named Huron, could also carry the more formal designation Samsung SM-W750V.

The tipster alleges that this handset bears a physical resemblance to the original Samsung Galaxy S -- perhaps rounded corners and a slightly thicker body.

Neither Samsung nor Verizon have been staunch Windows Phone supporters. The pair last collaborated on the entry-level Samsung Ativ Odyssey that was released in January 2013. Verizon's most recent Windows Phone contribution was the higher-end Nokia Lumia 928 last May.… Read more

Windows 8.1 leaked update reveals PC-friendly changes

An update that could hit Windows 8.1 in March should prove more friendly to plain, old-fashioned PC users.

The update already had been revealed in January, courtesy of screenshots from Windows leaker Wzor. But now that update is making the rounds of file-sharing sites, allowing more people to peek at it.

One major change spotted by The Verge is a new title bar for Windows 8 apps. Clicking specific icons on the bar lets you close, minimize, and snap apps side-by-side, just as you can do with regular desktop applications.

Right-clicking on the Start screen displays a popup menu … Read more

Oops, Windows XP gains in January but so does Windows 8.1

Windows XP will not die, according to January numbers from Web tracker Net Applications. But the not so well loved Windows 8.1 is also seeing some life too.

The doomed operating system -- that would be XP, support for which will end on April 8 -- actually gained a fraction of a percentage point of desktop OS share, rising to 29.23 percent in January from 28.98 percent in December, according to Net Applications.

Put another way, about two months before Microsoft pulls the plug, Windows XP still powers more than one-quarter of all PCs.

Microsoft is concerned … Read more

Windows 8.1 Metro: Start or stop?

The Metro screen certainly has had its detractors. Is Microsoft now one of them?

The touch-friendly tiled start screen, aka Metro, that greets everyone in Windows 8.1 may be in danger of being demoted, if reports are to be believed this week.

One report claimed that Microsoft is testing a scenario where the OS boots to the desktop by default (not as an option), bypassing the touch-centric Metro screen.

Of course, it's merely a rumor at this point because no one really knows if Microsoft will in fact implement this when the Windows 8.1 Update 1 is … Read more

Windows 8.1 update may default to desktop on startup

(Update: ZDNet is calling the report into question, saying, "if Microsoft did make skipping the Metro Start screen a default option, the company would give developers even less of a reason to write Windows Store/Metro Style apps.")

The expected update for Windows 8.1 could bypass the touch-centric tiled start screen and jump directly to Windows desktop, according to a fresh report.

The latest build for the Windows 8.1 update indicates that devices will boot to the desktop UI by default, according to Wzor.net, which has been leaking screenshots over the past several weeks.

This … Read more

After delay, Beats Music lands on Windows Phone

A Beats Music app quietly popped up Thursday in the Windows Phone app store, roughly one week after the new streaming service made its debut. Beats Music competes with Spotify and Rdio and first launched for Android and iOS on January 21.

The app is free, but to actually listen to music, you need to pony up $10 per month. Unlike other music-streaming services, there's no free limited or ad-supported option. Beats Music for Windows Phone looks nearly identical to the other apps, and appears to come with all of the same features.

While you can download the app … Read more

Review: Window on Top Portable keeps the window you select on top of all others

Window on Top Portable ensures you never lose the window you're working in beneath a pile of other windows by keeping it on top at all times. There are many reasons you might want to keep one window on top of others and visible while you're working, and this app makes that possible. This is one more tool to help you configure your working space just the way you want it to help you maximize efficiency.

This app has a very minimalistic interface with clear instructions for its use. When you open it, you'll see a small … Read more

Bing Rewards make their way to iOS and Android

Microsoft on Wednesday announced you can now use its free service which rewards you for searching with Bing, called Bing Rewards, on iOS and Android. Unfortunately, those with Windows Phones will have to wait, as the company its still working on bringing this feature to its own mobile operating system.

It's worth noting this not an app you can download in the App Store or Google Play, but instead a specially designed mobile site that tracks your search behavior so that you can earn rewards.

With Bing Rewards you earn points which you can redeem for gift cards from … Read more