Microsoft

Microsoft: Pretty please make Windows Phones based on our design

BARCELONA, Spain--Microsoft wants to make it a lot easier for companies to develop Windows Phones.

The software giant on Sunday unveiled plans to release a reference design based on its mobile operating system and using Qualcomm hardware. Basically, that means anyone -- from established handset vendors like HTC to PC makers like Hewlett-Packard -- can build phones relatively quickly and cheaply. If the companies want, they can essentially slap their own branding on the device from Microsoft.

"We're open for business on Windows Phone to anyone who wants to build a Windows Phone," said Nick Parker, the … Read more

Facebook Messenger to arrive on Windows Phone 'soon'

BARCELONA, Spain -- Windows Phone users will finally be able to use Facebook Messenger.

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore said the app will come to Windows Phone in the next few weeks.

"Facebook Messenger is probably one of the most requested individual apps we have our customers asking for," Belfiore said during a press conference at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Windows Phone has received praise from reviewers, but that hasn't equated to blockbuster sales. Last year, handset vendors shipped 33.4 million Windows Phone devices globally, giving the operating system a market share of 3.3 percent, … Read more

Windows 8.1 update coming in spring, to improve controls, allow lower end hardware

BARCELONA, Spain--Microsoft plans to provide an update to Windows 8.1 that it hopes will address the concerns that early adopters have expressed with the operating system.

The update will improve the non-touch user interface controls, expand the options for hardware makers to create more affordable devices, and include compatibility for use in schools and large business.

The update will come in spring, according to Joe Belfiore, vice president of operating systems for Microsoft.

Windows 8 originally focused on pushing touch screen as a primary method of control. But people used to the typical mouse and keyboard control were frustrated … Read more

Microsoft said to slash Windows 8.1 price on low-cost devices

Microsoft will implement a 70 percent discount on the price of Windows 8.1 for inexpensive devices, according to a report from Bloomberg. This follows a similar report last year.

Device makers will be charged $15 "to license Windows 8.1 and preinstall it on devices that retail for less than $250, instead of the usual fee of $50," according to Bloomberg.

A similar report emerged from Asia last year. But that report cited size and device-type restrictions. That will no longer apply, however, said Bloomberg. (Other reports last year also cited discounts.)

Some observers see this as … Read more

Apple is the next Microsoft, analyst says

The first time I ever talked to an analyst, she told me that I was perfectly sane, but merely needed a few hundred Prozac to lighten my burden.

This early, troubling experience has tended to color my encounters with the word "analyst."

However, in the venal world of money, every time an analyst speaks, numbers seem to twirl on Wall Street in nervous reaction.

I am surprised, therefore, that Wall Street and half of California didn't endure electrical faults on hearing that an analyst had declared Apple heading down Microsoft Way.

As Business Insider reports, Barclays' Ben … Read more

Change your name in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook.com

When you signed up for a new Web e-mail account, you probably filled out your account profile and entered your real name. When you send e-mails with that account, your real name is displayed in the From: field of the e-mail header.

You may, however, want to change your name so that only your first name is displayed for privacy reasons, or use a completely different name just for fun. All three of the major Web e-mail providers (Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook.com) offer a way to change your name.

Gmail

Step 1: Click on the gear icon, then … Read more

Nokia's Here Maps to expand to all Windows 8.1 devices

All Windows 8.1 users will soon be able to tap into Nokia's free mapping and navigation app.

Currently limited to Nokia's Lumia 2520 tablet, Here Maps for Windows 8.1 will land in Microsoft's online Windows Store over the coming days, Nokia said on Friday. Starting its new journey in North America and Europe, the app will be free to download for any PC or tablet owner running Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1.

Like other mapping apps, Here Maps offers navigation and directions, points of interest, and satellite and 3D images of any … Read more

Microsoft taps gamers to test next Xbox One update

Xbox One owners may be hearing from Microsoft about taking the game console's next major update for an early spin.

Due in early March, the update will add new features and fixes related to the Xbox One's party and multiplayer features. The goal is to prepare the console for the release of "Titanfall," an online, multiplayer game.

To stress-test the update, Microsoft is now inviting a number of Xbox Live members to preview the new features, according to Xbox Director of Programming Larry Hyrb, aka Major Nelson. Microsoft wants the testers to offer feedback on the … Read more

Nokia at MWC 2014: Join us Monday (live blog)

BARCELONA, Spain -- Will Nokia finally go Android?

On the first official day of Mobile World Congress, Nokia is widely expected to unveil an Android-powered smartphone -- a departure from its previous decision to solely stick with Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. The company will likely unveil a few Windows Phone devices as well, but an Android phone would certainly capture all of the headlines.

CNET senior editor Jessica Dolcourt, photographer Sarah Tew, and I will be bringing you all the details, photos, and commentary from the event. The event kicks off at 8:30 a.m. Monday local Barcelona … Read more

Adobe issues emergency patch -- again

Adobe Systems and Microsoft on Thursday issued patches with emergency measures for critical vulnerabilities in Flash and Internet Explorer.

Microsoft, which usually fixes security problems once a month on Tuesdays, distributed the off-calendar repair for Internet Explorer 9 and 10 because of the severity of the exploit. The fix is highly recommended for people who use those versions of IE since Microsoft described the previously unknown vulnerability in its security bulletin as actively being used in "limited, targeted attacks."

However, people who use those browsers must apply the fix manually with the FixIt shim tool. A permanent fix … Read more