Wednesday 5 August 2015

How to sync your Android or iPhone with Windows 10

Windows 10 Home and Mobile

If you upgraded to Windows 10, you can finally test out the Windows 10 Phone Companion app that Microsoft announced back in March. It is installed along with Windows 10 by default. This app, it seems to me, reflects the “new Microsoft” that embraces the non-Microsoft mobile platforms dominating the market — Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS — in addition to Microsoft’s own Windows Phone.
The Phone Companion app is, for the most part, simply a tool that identifies Microsoft’s mobile apps and helps you install and configure this apps and services. These services are:
  • OneDrive’s automatic photo backup from mobile devices
  • OneNote Mobile
  • Skype
  • Office Mobile: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Outlook for mobile devices
Two products that will be released in the near future are grayed out and labeled “coming soon.” These are the Cortana personal assistant for Android and iOS, and the ability to stream songs stored in OneDrive.
During the Phone Companion photo syncing process, the app checks if you are signed in to a Microsoft account of some kind (Hotmail,, etc.).
It then asks you to download and install the OneDrive app for your mobile device. If you already have it installed like I did, you can skip this step.
If you choose to automatically upload photos to OneDrive, you will be able to find it by clicking on the Photos link in the left sidebar of the web page. If you have more than one device backing up to OneDrive, all the photos will be stored in one place. Like Google Photos, OneDrive automatically tags your photos using image recognition technology.
In testing, I found dozens of tags associated with my photos. Some of these tags are: Animal, Beach, Group photo, Outdoor, People, Screenshot, and Sky. And, like Google Photo, OneDrive’s image recognition sometimes makes some interesting mistakes.
If you plug an Android phone or tablet into your Windows 10 PC using a USB cable, the Phone Companion app identifies the device by model name, shows the battery charge status, and links to help you manually move files using either Windows’ Photos app or File Explorer. You don’t need the app to move files. However, it could be a very useful set of information and prompts to help non-power users.
If you use a USB cable to plug an iPhone into your PC, the Phone Companion app shows less information than it does for Android devices. It just shows the storage status for the iPhone. It does not show phone model information or the battery charge level. It does, however, provide the same Photos and File Explorer links to help the iPhone user to copy files to the PC.
When I read about the Phone Companion app back in March, I didn’t think much of it, since it merely presents information about existing apps and services. However, I’ve reconsidered my opinion since then. If you have smartphone using non-power user family members and friends who use Microsoft products and services, consider pointing out the Phone Companion app to them after they upgrade to Windows 10. While you can always use existing services like Dropbox and Google Drive across multiple devices, it’s nice to finally see some real Windows-specific integration on other mobile platforms.

Microsoft Launches Its First Free Online R Course on edX

Microsoft and DataCamp launched an exciting new course on covering the basics of the statistical programming language R. This four week course is free for everyone, and no prior knowledge in programming or data science is required.
Make sure to watch the course promotion video:

What sets this Introduction to R course apart from the traditional massive open online course is its focus on learning-by-doing. Instead of passively watching videos, you will continuously practice your newly acquired skills through interactive in-browser coding challenges using the DataCamp platform. The learning environment will provide you with instant and personalized feedback, thereby guiding you to the correct solution. Experiment with the different aspects of the R language in real time, and prepare yourself  to undertake your own first data analysis using R.
The course has seven sections, spread over four weeks, and the main goal is to make you familiar with R’s basic syntax. Starting from variables and basic operations, you will learn in the different sections how to handle data structures such as vectors, matrices, data frames and lists. In the final section you will even dive deeper into the graphical capabilities of R, and create your own stunning data visualizations.
edX is one of the largest online course providers in the world, and this initiative shows Microsoft’s commitment to R’s open source community and its endeavors to support the democratization of R.Register for free!

Microsoft changes 'Outlook Web Access' to 'Outlook on the web'

The branding gurus are really earning their wages down Redmond way

Outlook for the web's new calendar
Outlook for the Web's new weather-enabled calendar app
Fresh from showing glimpses of the next-generation Outlook Web Access client in a preview ofExchange Server 2016, Microsoft has now detailed just how the new version of the browser-bound Outlook will work.
There's a new name for starters: “Outlook Web Access” is now “Outlook on the web”. Those marketers sure are earning their wage!
Microsoft saying all the usual stuff about the revision making you more productive. The feature touted as making the greatest contribution to that cause is the new “Action toolbar” that “provides quick access to the most common commands, whether you are clearing out your inbox, replying to an email, or adding an event to your calendar.”
One of the things you'll see on the toolbar, depicted below, is the “Sweep” command.
That's come from and “provides a simple set of actions to manage emails from specific senders.”
Redmond reckons it is “great for managing reoccurring messages like newsletters, digital coupons, and other email received on a regular basis,” because “... you can choose to keep messages from a specific sender for a specified number of days, only keep the latest message, or delete all messages from the sender.”
Outlook for the web new interface and Action toolbar
Outlook for the Web's new interface, featuring the orange-highlighted ' Action toolbar' Click here to embiggen.
There's also an improved visual editor, complete with emoji support, said to make the chore of adding inline images to email easier. The single-line view has been enhanced to offer a preview of a mail's content, not just the subject line.
Everything's been tidied up for mobile use, across mail and calendar, which gets a weather forecast and “charms”, wee icons you can add to events to that flights are adorned with little pictures of airplanes. So cute. And so productivity-enhancing, for sure.
The changes are already available for Exchange Online customers who signed up for Microsoft's First Release plan. The rest of you will see the changes from the first week of September. Tablet users are encouraged to use Outlook apps, and to be patient if you want web UI refresh. ®

Microsoft Announces Halo World Championship

PHOTO: Rapper Soulja Boy plays Halo 5 during the Xbox One E3 Showcase Party at The Majestic Downtown in this June 15, 2015 file photo in Los Angeles.
There's big money to be made in the world of professional gaming and Microsoft is upping the ante with the Halo World Championship, a contest announced today at the annual Gamescom show in Cologne, Germany.
Halo 5: Guardians, the latest installment in Microsoft's popular Xbox series won't be released until October 27, but the Microsoft-owned studio behind the game, 343 Industries, began building hype today with the announcement of a $1 million prize pool called "the biggest investment in Xbox eSports history."
The contest, which will kick off later this year, will focus on the game's frenetic, multi-player arena gameplay experience. An invitational is scheduled for this this Friday at 10am ET with gamers being able to watch the action on the Halo Channel or on Twitch, according to an announcement on the Halo website.
While Halo was initially included in e-Sports, interest waned around 2012 and the first-person shooter game was dropped by Major League Gaming. Introducing the Halo Championship Series last year, Microsoft offered $150,000 at its most recent showdown last month.
The announcement of a $1 million prize pot signals the company wants to attract top-tier talent in the world of e-sports where professional gamers are treated like celebrities and have impressive online followings, making a competition a powerful marketing tool for the new game.
Revenue for e-sports tickets, sponsorships and other areas is expected to spike to a quarter of a billion dollars this year, the New York Times reported, citing information from Newzoo, aNetherlands based company studying the industry.

Microsoft upgrades its Surface tablets to Windows 10

Consumers interested in buying one of Microsoft's Surface tablets will now find it with Windows 10 preinstalled.
Microsoft's online page for its lower-cost Surface lineup shows that the tablet now comes with Windows 10 Home edition. Thepage for the pricier and beefier Surface Pro 3 indicates that they're outfitted with Windows 10 Pro edition.
Microsoft has been on a tear to push out Windows 10, partly to make up for the poor response to Windows 8 and partly to get as many Windows users as possible all on the same platform. The company has been offering Windows 10 as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and 8.1 users for the first year. Last Thursday, Microsoft announced that the new OS was running on 14 million devices since its official launch the previous day. Now the challenge is to get PC and tablet makers to outfit their new devices with Windows 10. Microsoft certainly would want to lead the way, so it's natural for its own Surface tablets to now be sporting Windows 10.
Those of you interested in certain models of the Surface Pro 3 lineup can also save some money. The Intel Core i5 model with 256 gigabytes of storage is now on sale for $1,149, down from $1,299. The Core i7 model with 256GB of storage is on sale for $1,399, down from $1,549. And the Core i7 model with 512GB of storage now selling for $1,799, down from $1,949.
The sale ends today.
All three models on sale come with 8GB of memory, whereas the other two Surface Pro models offer 4GB of RAM. All Surface Pro 3 tablets offer a 12-inch full HD touchscreen display with a resolution of 2,160x1,440 pixels, a Surface stylus pen and the Windows 10 Pro OS.
The less-expensive Surface 3 models offer a 10.8-inch full HD display with a resolution of 1,920x1,280, a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal and Windows 10 Home edition. Microsoft has also introduced new variations of the Surface 3 that include Wi-Fi + 4G LTE connectivity, but those versions are not yet available for sale on Microsoft's site.


When Chris Pratley and his team ask for user feedback on Microsoft Sway, they sometimes have to emphasize that they’re not building PowerPoint all over again.
At a glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Sway is a new tool that lets users string together images, text, and bullet points in a visually arresting way. In other words, Sway creates presentations, much like PowerPoint. It’s even part of the Microsoft Office suite, having just shed its "Preview" designation after 10 months of private and public testing.
But as Pratley points out, Sway isn’t meant for the same exact audience as PowerPoint. It’s a much simpler program, with far fewer controls, and most of its formatting is automatic, so each Sway can adapt to any screen size on a PC, tablet, or phone. The fact that you can’t tweak things down to the individual pixel, as with PowerPoint, is by design. "Anything where you’re building a complicated layout, that’s really a PowerPoint scenario, and not a Sway one," says Pratley, who is Sway’s founder and general manager. (Microsoft isn't the only company taking this approach, as Sway is competing with other new-age presentation tools like Prezi andHaiku Deck.)
Sway also diverges from Microsoft’s traditional approach to developing software, especially Office. Instead of building most of the product and collecting a bit of private feedback before launch, Microsoft asked users to get involved early on, giving them a fairly minimal product and adding feature requests over the preview period.
The approach is reflective of a company that wants people to feel warmer and fuzzier about its products. Sway is unlikely to be the last example of Microsoft working this way—even if it sometimes means telling people that they’re wrong.


To coincide with general availability, Microsoft is releasing a proper Sway app for Windows 10, joining existing versions for iPhone, iPad, and the web. It’s also adding a bunch of new features in response to user feedback, some of which underscore the balance Microsoft must strike between making something new and appeasing PowerPoint converts.
For instance, Sway now includes a slideshow-like layout, so users can advance through one screen at a time instead of continuously scrolling. It's ideal for presentations, and has been one of Sway's most popular feature requests (though Microsoft seems to go out of its way to avoid calling it a presentation mode).
Microsoft is also now hosting Sways on, where users can tie multiple Sways into larger collections. A teacher, for instance, could use the site to post a semester’s worth of lecture material, compensating for Sway’s lack of tangible document files that could be posted elsewhere. (As before, users can also link to their creations on or embed them on other websites.)
At what point does Sway draw the line, and declare a feature to be too PowerPoint-like? To Pratley, the ability to work across different screen sizes is sacred; Microsoft can be seen gently dismissing suggestions for pixel-level adjustments on Sway’s feedback board.
"We sort of have to remind them that, well if you did that, then what would it do on a phone? Do you really want to do that? Because that’s going to be a lot of work," Pratley says. The point of Sway is not to worry about those fine-grained details.
"Once they realize, ‘Oh right, I’m designing something that works across devices, and the way I do that is by expressing my intent rather than all these pixel-level sizes and so on,’ they have this eureka moment," Pratley says.
Having said that, Pratley won’t rule out a possible Swayification—my term, not his—of other Office apps, such as Word, Excel, or even PowerPoint itself. Other branches of the Office team are at least intrigued by Sway’s results. "You could imagine a kind of magic wand tool or something that says, "Give me some options, using your smarts, of how this slide could look better, that kind of thing," he says. "But I don’t think there’s anything written in stone."


The last time I spoke with Pratley, he mentioned that Sway was an experiment in letting users dictate the direction of a product. While he won’t come to any conclusions yet, he now points to the Windows 10 Insider program as an example of the company opening up more to outside suggestions.
"I actually think it’s the new way that everything new will be made, and we’re going to be adapting this to be the sort of agile approach where we react to feedback for everything else that already exists," Pratley says.
It’s not always easy, even with a program like Sway where the team is starting from scratch. "There’s so much stuff we want to do, and it would be tempting to just sort of put our heads down and build all the things that are still to come in Sway," Pratley says. "But the thing we really have to do is be patient and listen to what people are asking and change that thinking to adapt to them."
Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, believes that on some level this is Microsoft’s attempt to make itself seem more likable, especially among students and younger users who see PowerPoint as a tool for their parents. "When you feel that connection to something that you influence—like I wasn't on the team, but I helped make a difference—it helps people feel attachment to the technology," Miller says.
Sway in particular could use some early advocates. Although Microsoft won’t reveal user numbers, it says Sways have racked up 5 million pageviews so far. Compare that to 80 million downloads of Office for iPhone and iPad, and it’s clear that Sway is in its infancy. (As for who’s using Sway, Microsoft notes especially strong traction in education, among both students and teachers.)
In the meantime, responding to the crowd might not be as draining as it seems. "That’s almost a drug that keeps me going in this job, is you just keep doing things that people are asking for," Pratley says.

Over half of IBM’s 380,000 workers could soon be on MacBooks

Apple doesn't just beat competitors: eventually, it converts them. Case in point is IBM, the former PC juggernaut with which Apple feuded in the '80s, but which is now considering supplying MacBooks to more than half of its staff. The Wall Street Journal reports that the 104-year-old company's employees currently use more than 110,000 Apple devices including 50,000 MacBooks, but that this latter figure might eventually grow to 200,000 — one MacBook per person for more than half of IBM's 380,000 employees. This figure first surfaced in an internal video reported by MacRumors, in which IBM's chief information officer Jeff Smith discusses a conversation with his counterpart at Apple, Niall O'Connor:

The news comes as Apple and IBM today announced the latest step in a year-long partnership between the two companies, with Big Blue launching a new enterprise scheme to help large firms incorporate Macs into their IT systems. IBM described the new service as a "rising requirement" as more employees demand Apple devices at work. When the two companies announced their "landmark partnership" in July last year, they stated their intention was to "redefine the way work [gets] done" by wedding IBM's enterprise skills with Apple's success in the consumer market. The focus has so far been mainly on mobile devices, with the pair teaming up to release new iOS enterprise apps for entities including law enforcement and the Japanese postal service.

How to Change or Reset a Windows 10 Password

Using the Windows 10 Technical Preview, we show you how to reset or change your account password.
The advice contained in this article applies to local and Microsoft accounts only. If you’re using a company-issued computer, contact your IT department about changing or resetting a password as your computer is likely connected to a domain, meaning only your IT department can help you. does not take any responsibility for damage caused by following the advice in this article.
Changing a Windows 10 Password
The advice in this section applies if your account is already password protected and you want to change the Windows 10 password.
Windows 10 Start Menu
First access the Settings application; do this by moving your mouse to the lower left of your screen, opening the Start menu by clicking or touching the Windows icon and then typing Settings. The Settings application will be the first result; click or touch it to open the Settings application.
Windows 10 settings
Once the Settings application is open, click or touch the Accounts option. The account you’re currently logged into will open by default.
Windows 10 accounts
(If you wish to change the password for another account, click or touch Other user accounts on the left.)
To proceed, click or touch Sign-in options on the left and then the Change button under the Password section in the middle. Note before continuing however that you can also do the following from here:
  • Change or remove your PIN (Personal Identification Number) – a quicker and easier way to unlock your computer after waking it from sleep.
  • Change or remove your picture password – an alternative to a text-based password.
(Note in order to use either of the above options, you’ll need to have a standard text-based password on your account.)
Change your Windows 10 password
You’ll be prompted to re-enter your password at this point. Do so and then click or touch the Next button. On the screen that follows, you’ll be prompted to re-enter your old (current) password once again and then enter your new password twice.
Resetting a Windows 10 Password Using a Password Reset Disk
The traditional way to reset a Windows 10 password is to create and use a password reset disk. Note you’ll of course need to know your account’s password in order to create one of these disks. A password reset disk can be especially handy to have around if you’re setting up a computer for someone who might forget their password at some point – or for your own account for that matter. Let’s get started.
Note: creating a Windows 10 password reset disk is ONLY available for local accounts! It’s not possible to reset Microsoft accounts using this method. Please see the next section on doing an advanced reset.
Note: your account MUST be an administrator (i.e. not Standard) to create a password reset disk!
You’ll need a USB flash drive or memory card to create a password reset disk. We recommend a USB flash drive; even a small (1GB total capacity) will work and they’re inexpensive, often not more than a few dollars from popular online retailers.
Plug your USB flash drive into one of your computer’s available USB ports and wait until it finishes installing (Windows should install it automatically and inform you when it’s done).
Windows 10 Control Panel
Next, open the Start menu by moving your mouse to the lower left corner of your screen and clicking or touching the Windows icon. Once the Start menu is open, type control panel in the search box at the bottom. Control Panel should be the first option that appears in the list of search results; click or touch it to continue.
Windows 10 user account changes
The Control Panel will open in a new window. Once inside the Control Panel, click or touch the User Accounts and Family Safety link; then click User Accounts on the next screen. This will take you to your user account. From here you’ll have an option on the left to Create a password reset disk.
Windows 10 Forgotten Password Wizard
This will open the Forgotten Password Wizard in a new window. Click or touch the Next button when the Forgotten Password Wizard window appears.
Create a Windows 10 Password Reset Disk
The next screen will ask you to select the drive you wish to use for your password reset disk; do so, choosing the flash drive you connected.
Current Windows 10 user account password
Continuing, enter the user account’s current password on the next screen and click or touch the Nextbutton. Windows will then create your password reset disk. Click or touch the Next button one final time and then the Finish button to exit the wizard. You may now disconnect your USB flash drive. Store it in a secure place in case you ever need it.
To reset a Windows 10 password using the password reset disk, first connect the disk to your computer. At the Windows login screen, click on your account, type your password incorrectly and attempt to log on. After doing so a Reset your password… link will appear. Click that link to launch the Reset Password Wizard which will guide you the rest of the way.
Performing an Advanced Windows 10 Password Reset
Use this option if your Windows 10 computer is password protected and you don’t know the password. You’ll need to have your Windows 10 installation media in hand to follow this section of the guide.
  • Connect your Windows 10 installation media to your computer and then restart your computer. When prompted to press any key to boot from disk, press a key to do so (you will need to change your computer’s boot order if it doesn’t boot from your installation media – the owner’s manual for your computer will explain how to do this).
  • The first setup screen that loads will ask you to select your language, so select yours and then on the next screen click on the Repair your computer link in the lower left side.
  • Now select the drive where your operating system is loaded on the next screen (typically C:\) and click or touch the Next button to continue.
  • At the next screen, click or touch the Command Prompt
  • Type the following command into the command prompt. (If C:\ is not your operating system drive, replace it in the following commands.)
Windows 10 command prompt
copy c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe c:\
  • Press the [Enter] key to execute the command.
  • Now enter this command:
Windows 10 command line
copy /y c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe
  • Execute the command by pressing the [Enter] key.
  • Next, restart your computer – press the power button to shut it off. Disconnect your Windows 10 installation media before starting your computer again so it doesn’t try to boot from it.
  • Once at the Windows login screen, quickly press the [Shift] key five times. This would, had we not altered its behavior in the last step, activate the “Sticky Keys” functionality in Windows but the above set of commands bound it instead to launching a command prompt.
  • Enter the following commands:
Windows 10 password change command
net user myaccountname desiredpassword
  • Replace myaccountname and desiredpassword with your username and desired password, respectively. The Windows password reset is complete.
  • You’ll want to re-enable Sticky Keys functionality so that someone else can’t use this trick to reset your password. To do so, follow the steps we just ran through until you get to the point where you launch the Command Prompt after clicking Repair your computer…
  • Enter the following command:
Windows 10 user account password change command
copy /y c:\sethc.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe
  • Press the [Enter] key to execute the command. Restart your computer.
This article reviewed the three basic methods for changing a Windows 10 password. The first method is the traditional password change which assumes you know your password. The second method involves creating a password reset disk which you can use to reset a Windows account password in case it gets lost in the future. Finally we reviewed an advanced password reset in the event a Windows account password is totally lost and must be hard reset.