Microsoft is Selling the Cortana Powered Harman Kardon Invoke for $99

Harman Kardon Invoke

If you missed out on picking up the beautifully styled Harman Kardon Invoke, powered by Microsoft Cortana, for $99 this past holiday season, now is your time.  Right now at the Microsoft Store you can pick one up for that special price, saving $100 in the process.

I posted my review of the Invoke in December and as I put in that review, it is one of the most stylish smart speakers out there with stunning audio quality as you would expect from Harman Kardon.  At the heart of the Invoke is Microsoft Cortana which, much like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, is a voice command away to help you with tasks or get information.

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Google Chrome Now Available in the Windows Store

Chrome Browser for Windows

[Update 12/20/2017:  It has now been removed.  Microsoft states that the installer violates the store’s policies. ]

Big and somewhat surprising news this morning for Windows 10 users.  Google Chrome is now available for download in the Microsoft Windows Store.  It means that users can now install Chrome on their Windows 10 PCs (except Windows 10S users) without having to side-load it.  This is something that many administrators lock down for security reasons.

Essentially this new app, which is published by Google, is an installer which acts as a shell to go get the browser installed on your PC.  In other words, it is an official channel to go out to the web and download the browser as you would if you were side-loading.

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OneDrive for Windows 10 Update Brings Video Playback Controls

OneDrive for Windows 10

The OneDrive app for Windows 10 has a new update rolling out to users that brings new video playback controls.  The update build, version 17.27 for those keeping score at home, allows you to skip forward or backwards in a video that you are viewing within the cloud storage app.  You can skip backwards in a video in 10 second intervals while skipping ahead is done in 30 second intervals.

Microsoft has also built in keyboard shortcuts in support of the video playback skipping.  By pressing Ctrl+B, you can skip backwards.  Pressing Ctrl+F skips you forward.

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Microsoft Finally Announces The LTE Enabled Surface Pro

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Back in September, I posted on a rumor that an LTE equipped Surface Pro was going to be announced with it likely being available in December of this year.  We can now put those rumors to rest.  The LTE Surface Pro is real.

In London today at the Future Decoded conference, Microsoft announced two LTE versions of the Surface which will be available starting December 1st.  Both models are based on the Intel Core i5 processor and both have the Qualcomm X16 LTE modem with 20 mobile bands support for global use.  The Core i5 with 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD will be $1149 while the bigger model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD will be $1449.

In all, there are 7 LTE antenna built into Surface with the modem built into the motherboard of the device.  Also, it will support eSIM technology for provisioning without a SIM card.

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What’s New in The Fall Creators Update for Windows 10

My Windows 10 Desktop

What has commonly been referred to as the Fall Creators Update is now rolling out to Windows 10 PCs.  The update brings a lot of new features and refinements that reflects Microsoft’s direction for Windows 10 being the underlying platform for everything going forward on new technologies like Augmented Reality.

As you would expect, the Fall Creators Update has a massive number of improvements under-the-hood that in general, improves the overall performance of the Operating System.  Even if all of the new features don’t get you excited, the overall performance improvements will be welcomed.

But the real win with this update are the app improvements, new features and other general user experience additions.  If you compare Windows 10 when it was first released in July 2015 to this update, they are in many ways vastly different.  The Fall Creators Update adds a huge amount of polish to the platform and Windows 10 with it feels far more complete than any previous iteration.

If I tried to cover ever new facet of this update, this already long article would be even more TL;DR.  Instead, I’m going to highlight over a dozen of the top new features of functions in the update.   You’ll see that the updates cover a wide range of the elements of Windows 10, from Microsoft Edge to Photos to how you interact with Contacts.  It is a comprehensive update to the platform and one that I think the vast majority of users will want to upgrade to as soon as possible.

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News Not News – Windows Phone in Maintenance Mode

Microsoft Lumia 950

In a series of Tweets answering users questions on Windows Phone, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore admits that, outside of business customers, the platform is in maintenance mode.  It is the closest yet that the company has indicated that they have no further plans for developing a mobile platform.

 

Based on Mr. Belfiore’s sad-face emoji, it doesn’t appear he’s all too thrilled with the situation for fans and users of Windows Phone, but the reality is that the phone platform will slowly ride off into the sunset.

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The Huawei Matebook – An Impressive Windows 2-in-1 PC

Huawei Matebook with Huawei P10 Android Phone

In the ever increasingly crowded world of 2-in-1 Windows 10 PCs, there seems to be a large gap between the have’s and the have not’s.  The have’s are the Microsoft Surface Pro devices of the world with top-end specs but equally, have an impressive price tags.

The have not’s are the $200-300 devices with subpar displays that are usually around 10″, powered by Atom processor and have 64GB or maybe 128GB if you are lucky.

The problem is the gap between $300 and $1200+ dollars.  There are not a lot of choices and the choices that are there generally are lacking in some area.  Huawei, for their part, is trying to fill the gap.

The Huawei Matebook was released last year and it remains one of the best 2-in-1 Windows 10 hybrid devices on the market.  Powered by the Intel m series processors with ample RAM and storage, the Matebook has a lot going for it and is one to consider, as I did, when you are looking for one of these style of devices.  The Matebook isn’t perfect as I’ll cover in this review but it is certainly the solid foundation that Huawei needs in order to penetrate the Windows 10 PC market here in the US and globally.

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