Microsoft pulls the plug on Windows Phone 8.1

Microsoft took another step away from the smartphone business after it announced stopping all kind of support for Windows Phone 8.1. Users of the mobile OS will no longer receive updates or support, the company announced.

Starting in 2010, Microsoft previous attempt at restarting its mobile OS failed to gain much traction and is now all but a distant memory. Lack of crucial features and popular third-party apps were the main issue Windows Phone struggled with.

Halting Windows Phone 8.1 support will probably be followed by the discontinuation of Windows 10 Mobile at some point in the next few years. With virtually no new devices for the platform in the past two years non-existent market share the platform is clearly on the way out.

 

Killing Cortana: How to disable Windows 10’s info-hungry digital assistant

 

Killing Cortana isn’t as easy as it used to be.

When Windows 10 first released, turning off Cortana was as simple as flipping a switch in the digital assistant’s settings, but Microsoft removed the option in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Now there’s no obvious way to disable Cortana—but it is possible using not-so-obvious methods.

Completely eradicating Cortana requires a quick and easy registry edit, which we’ll detail here. If you don’t want Cortana spying on you but also detest the idea of mucking with your PC’s deepest software innards, PCWorld’s guide to privacy-boosting Cortana tweaks can show you how to limit the personal information it sends Microsoft. Cortana will still run in the background with limited functionality if you don’t perform the registry edit, though.

How to turn off Cortana in Windows 10

Hold your horses! As simple as this is, it’s always a good idea to create a system restore point before editing the Windows registry—so go ahead and do that now. It only takes a minute. (Ironically, the easiest way to do so is to search for “restore point” with Cortana.)

With that out of the way, let’s start registry hacking.

regedit

Brad Chacos/IDG

Press Windows Key simultaneously on your keyboard to bring up the Run interface, then type regedit into the box and press Enter. Depending on your security settings you may be prompted to give Windows permission to run the Registry Editor. If so, do so.

Once the Registry Editor is open, navigate to the following folder in the left-hand navigation pane: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > Software > Policies > Microsoft > Windows > Windows Search.

new key

Brad Chacos/IDG

Here’s the only potentially tricky part: You might not see a Windows Search folder. If it isn’t there, right-click the Windows folder, select New > Key, and name it Windows Search.

dword value 2

Brad Chacos/IDG

With the Windows Search folder selected in the left-hand navigation pane, right-click in the main portion of the window and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. A new listing will appear in the main pane, ready to be named; christen it AllowCortana. Afterward, double-click it and in the box that appears, ensure that the Value Data is set to ‘0’—minus the quotation marks.

allowcortana 2

Brad Chacos/IDG

That’s it! Close the Registry Editor, then sign out of Windows 10. When you sign back in, Cortana will be long gone. The digital assistant’s former field remains in the Windows 10 task bar, but it now reads “Search Windows” and tellingly lacks Cortana’s all-seeing eye icon.

You won’t be able to use any Cortana-enabled features in the dumbed-down search field, like setting reminders, getting personalized news, receiving up-to-date travel info, or asking goofy questions. You will be able to search for files, system settings, and terms as before. That said, you won’t be able to tap Cortana’s smarts to perform natural language queries like “Find pictures from June” either, so narrowing down file search results may take a bit more work.

adios cortana

Brad Chacos/IDG

Adios, Cortana.

Speaking of which, wiping Cortana’s previous memories of you from Microsoft’s servers takes an extra step. Head to Microsoft’s privacy dashboard website, sign into your Microsoft account, and clear whatever personal data you want Microsoft to forget. Be warned: Your choices may also affect other Microsoft services, like Bing, Edge, and Maps.

Cortana isn’t totally dead, though. You’ll still see the process lurking in Task Manager if you pay attention. Kill it and it’ll immediately spring back to life. Your search queries nevertheless stay strictly local.

If you ever decide resummon Cortana, simply retrace your steps in the Registry Editor and either delete the AllowCortana value, or simply set it to “1” instead of “0.”

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Windows 10 Creators Update FAQ: Everything you need to know

More than five months after its grand unveiling last October, the Windows 10 Creators Update is finally here—and the wait was worth it.

Following in the footsteps of last August’s sweeping Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the Creators Update tweaks and tunes the core Windows 10 experience while heaping on a pile of handy all-new features. While PCWorld’s comprehensive Windows 10 Creators Update review contains detailed impressions of Microsoft’s refreshed operating system, here’s a higher-level look at what you need to know about the Creators Update.

How do I get it?

Just sit tight! The Windows 10 Creators Update starts rolling out to the general public on April 11 via the standard Windows Update process, just like every other Windows 10 update. There’s no way for home users to opt out of the upgrade.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll receive it today, however; the Anniversary Update took about four months to propagate to 80 percent of Windows 10 users. Microsoft prioritizes newer PCs with optimal specs for Windows 10 first. If you’re the impatient type, you can manually kick off the Creators Update installation by using Microsoft’s Update Assistant. (Warning: Clicking that link will download an executable file for the Update Assistant to your PC.)

So what’s the big deal?

Microsoft releases two major Windows 10 updates each year, and the Creators Update is the first of those.

desert island with chest primary preferred view

IDG / Mark Hachman

With a little practice, the Creators Update’s Paint 3D app can be used to construct fun 3D scenes like this one.

It includes some helpful quality-of-life changes, such as a high-level privacy dashboard, an easier setup process, and usability tweaks to various settings and features throughout the operating system. The Creators Update also packs in new goodies, the most notable being the Paint 3D app, native video game-streaming, a Game Mode that improves gaming performance, and Edge support for native ebooks and 4K Netflix streams. And, oh yeah! Themes are back and better than ever.

Seriously, there’s a lot of stuff in the new-look Windows 10. Check out PCWorld’s roundup of the Creators Update’s best new features for much, much more.

 

Alcatel Idol 4 Pro Smartphone With Windows 10 Mobile Launched

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Alcatel Idol 4 Pro is up for pre-order in Europe
  • The smartphone is powered by the Snapdragon 820 SoC
  • The Alcatel Idol 4 Pro runs on Windows 10 Mobile

While many critics question the existence of Windows in the software ecosystem, some OEMs are still showing belief in Microsoft’s mobile OS and continue to release new smartphones running Microsoft’s mobile OS. Alcatel is one such manufacturer, and it has released the Alcatel Idol 4 Pro running on Windows 10 Mobile OS. The smartphone is up for pre-order in Europe at a price of GBP 419.99 (roughly Rs. 35,300).

Available via the Microsoft online store, the Alcatel Idol 4 Pro is nothing but the Alcatel Idol 4S that launched last year, with the only difference being the operating system. While the former runs on Windows 10 Mobile, the latter is Android-based. To add to the confusion, you also have an Alcatel Idol 4S Windows 10 Mobile variant retailing in the US as well, which was launched via T-Mobile last year in November.

Design-wise, the Alcatel Idol 4 Pro looks similar to the Idol 4S with the metal frame, the fingerprint scanner at the back. It has been made available for pre-order in Gold colour option only. The Alcatel Idol 4 Pro features a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) AMOLED display, and is powered by a Snapdragon 820 quad-core chipset paired with Adreno 530 GPU and 4GB RAM. The storage include is 64GB, and it can be further expanded using the microSD slot (up to 512GB).

 Alcatel Idol 4 Pro Smartphone With Windows 10 Mobile Launched

The dual-SIM, Windows 10 Mobile-based Alcatel Idol 4 Pro sports a 21-megapixel rear camera with touch focus and dual-LED flash. To recap, the Android variant sports a 16-megapixel rear camera. At the front, there is an 8-megapixel selfie camera with real-time face beautification and LED flash.

The Idol 4 Pro smartphone measures 153.9×75.4×6.99mm, weighs 152 grams, and is backed by a 3000mAh battery, which is rated to charge within 95 minutes via the Quick Charge version 2.0. It is also claimed to offer 20 hours of talk time and 420 hours of standby time.

Connectivity options on the Alcatel Idol 4 Pro include 4G LTE (Cat 6.), Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS and USB Type-C port (OTG support). Sensors on board include accelerometer, proximity, light, e-compass, gyroscope, and hall switch.

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Alcatel Idol 4 Pro

Alcatel Idol 4 Pro

  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS

Display

5.50-inch

Processor

quad-core

Front Camera

8-megapixel

Resolution

1080×1920 pixels

RAM

4GB

OS

Windows 10

Storage

64GB

Rear Camera

21-megapixel

Battery Capacity

3000mAh

Also See
  • Alcatel One Touch Idol Mini (Slate, 8GB) – OFFER
    Rs. 4,199
  • Alcatel Idol 6032X (Slate Grey, 16GB)
    Rs. 7,499
  • Alcatel One Touch Idol X+ (White, 16GB) – OFFER
    Rs. 14,347

 

No, Microsoft is not ‘killing Windows 10 Mobile’

Microsoft has scotched reports that it has “abandoned” Windows Mobile.

Windows 10 is in perpetual beta, and on Thursday the software giant issued new versions for both PC and Mobile, accompanied by some ambiguous notes from Insider Preview manager Donna Sarkar. Then everyone went home for Easter.

Sarkar had written:

The biggest difference being that the build number and branch won’t match the builds we will be releasing for PC. This is a result of more work we’re doing to converge code into OneCore – the heart of Windows across PC, tablet, phone, IoT, HoloLens, Xbox and more as we continue to develop new improvements for Windows 10 Mobile and our enterprise customers.

Based on interpretations by a Swedish tech enthusiast and “corroborated” by, er, one anonymous Redditor, the rumour mill concluded that Microsoft had sidelined the Mobile branch of Windows, this time finally.

How so? Here it gets strange.

The build PC and Mobile numbers diverged (16176 for PC, and 15204 for phones and tablets); phones had not yet received Redstone 3 builds, and the new build excluded a range of older devices that had previously been included on new Windows 10 builds, including much of the user base. The temporary disappearance of the Windows Insider advisor app and a copyright date of 2016 that hadn’t been updated were also grist to the mill.

It may all seem surreal, but given the almost masochistic levels of discomfort and dismay to which Windows Mobile loyalists are accustomed, it didn’t seem surprising. Microsoft had initially acquired Nokia’s phone business to assure that the mobile platform prospered, but then ran down the phone business. No new Microsoft devices have appeared for well over a year, and none are promised. However, the Mobile branch of Windows 10 continues to be developed, albeit lagging a few months behind the main branch. And increasing the amount of shared code is something the clumsy development strategy is attempting to address.

2014’s flagship Lumia 930 is no longer eligible for new versions of Windows 10

The conspiracy was denied by product manager Brandon LeBlanc, and Windows Mobile will receive the ‘Redstone 3’ code – the next major version of Windows after the one we’ve just had.

In fact there was a more prosaic explanation for all of these things. However, as Microsoft stated on Thursday, many older devices that launched with Windows Phone 8 or 8.1 won’t be on the upgrade path. These include the excellent Lumia 735 and 830 (late 2014 models with 1GB), and more annoyingly for their owners, the Lumia 1520 (late 2013) and 930 (mid-2014), which have a perfectly adequate 2GB of RAM and still run well. By comparison, Apple’s current iOS 10 supports iPhones released in 2012, with 1GB of RAM. It’s a comparison that doesn’t flatter Microsoft.

Sometime this year (or next), Microsoft will have the opportunity to tell a better story, as new ARM processors begin to support x86 instructions. The current era is a transitional one, as Microsoft has moved from separate x86 and ARM code trees (Windows 8 and Windows RT) in the Sinofsky era, to a more or less unified code tree with separate build targets: desktop and mobile today. For newer devices it will then be possible to have just the one code base and one “fat binary” that runs on legacy PCs and newer mobile devices. That makes the question of “mobile” being “dead” rather moot. ®

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Windows Phone Is Officially Dead

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Microsoft ends support for Windows Phone 8.1
  • Windows Phone 8.1 alone runs on more than 80% of Windows Phone handsets
  • Android and iOS now have no competition left

Microsoft may have plans to revive its phone business in the future, but for now, it has had enough of it. Today, the company is officially ending support for Windows Phone 8.1, the most popular version of its mobile operating system.

The end of support for Windows Phone 8.1, which according to estimates run on more than 80 percent of Windows Phone handsets, means that the company won’t be pushing any sort of updates – security patches, bug fixes, or otherwise. Going forward, people who stick around with a handset running 8.1 or older version will be left on their own — unless their handset is eligible for a software update.

It should be pointed out that a handful of handsets — including Lumia 1520, Lumia 930, Lumia 830, and Lumia 735 — running Windows Phone 8.1 Denim update were slated to receive Windows 10 Mobile, though the aforementioned estimates suggest either most phones haven’t received the new software, or people are simply not updating.

Support for older versions like Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.x ended in January, 2016 and  October, 2014 respectively.Windows Phone Is Officially Dead

The demise of Windows Phone follows several popular apps including WhatsApp ditching several versions of Microsoft’s mobile operating system over the past two years. Note-taking app Evernoteremoved its app from the Windows Phone Store earlier this month.

Of course several popular mobile apps either never arrived on Windows Phone, or the companies never ever put as much effort in maintaining their apps for the platform in the first place. Microsoft itself pulled LinkedIn app from the Windows Store last month, after not updating it for months.

Even as thousands of users – if not more – will continue to use Windows 10 Mobile, it has become evidently clear that Microsoft has formally given up Windows Phone, formerly known as Windows Mobile, a nearly decade-old effort to fight Android and iOS and make a dent in the mobile market. With Microsoft quitting on Windows Phone, BlackBerry giving up BBOS, Mozilla killing Firefox OS, nobody is really putting up a fight to break Android and iOS’ duopoly, which is not great news for consumers.

Last year, CEO Satya Nadella admitted that the company had “clearly missed the mobile phone,” adding that he was now more focused on growing new categories. Under the leadership of Nadella, Microsoft has undergone major changes, one of which is making its apps and services available on rival platforms. Microsoft is now going where users are, a departure from the “Windows everywhere” policy of Steve Ballmer’s Microsoft.

 

Can Windows 10 mobile-powered Samsung S8 save the Windows phone?

 

 The lack of devices was not the biggest problem of Windows Phone of the ecosystem, although it surely was one major drawback.

Photos showing a Galaxy S8 model allegedly running Windows 10 Mobile surfaced earlier today. While everyone knew that was a fake, hardcore Windows phone enthusiasts couldn’t help but imagine how their favourite mobile platform would be if ever Samsung decided to launch their dream project.

If truth be told, a Windows version of a Samsung Galaxy S8 isn’t so far off, mostly because Microsoft is itself is selling the phone in its own stores and Samsung agreed to pre-install a series of apps like Skype, Office, and OneDrive.
But as far as the fate of Windows 10 Mobile is concerned, it doesn’t even matter if Samsung launches such a device or not because of a very simple reason: the lack of devices wasn’t the only problem of Microsoft’s mobile ecosystem failed and now a single device can barely make a difference.The lack of devices was not the biggest problem of Windows Phone of the ecosystem, although it surely was one major drawback.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is by all means a masterpiece so having it running Windows 10 Mobile would clearly be an important win for Microsoft. But the win will not be a game-changing one. Even if tomorrow Microsoft launches the Galaxy S8, the sales will not be enough to save the platform.

The lack of devices was not the biggest problem of Windows Phone of the ecosystem, although it surely was one major drawback. The lack of developer support, which in turn led to the lack of apps, and also the slow pace at which Microsoft delivered updates had a big impact on Windows phones, with reduced interest from OEMs only the tip of the iceberg which was Microsoft’s problems with its mobile ecosystem.

Another important point to make here is that it is not known if the Galaxy S8 will be able to support the Windows 10 mobile platform or not. The reason being the Snapdragon 835/Exynos 8895 processor that powers it is not supported by Microsoft’s operating system.

Microsoft does support this chip but only for Windows 10 on ARM, a new emulation system that brings the full version of the operating system on ARM processors. With this project, Microsoft wants to bring new devices to the market, though there’s still no evidence that phones are also included in this plan.

In the meantime, there’s a good chance that neither Microsoft nor Samsung see a Galaxy S8 running Windows 10 Mobile as a good idea, especially with Redmond’s increased focus on Android and iOS lately.

Tags: microsoft, windows, mobile, samsung galaxy s8, skype, office

 

Can Windows 10 mobile-powered Samsung S8 save the Windows phone?

Photos showing a Galaxy S8 model allegedly running Windows 10 Mobile surfaced earlier today. While everyone knew that was a fake, hardcore Windows phone enthusiasts couldn’t help but imagine how their favourite mobile platform would be if ever Samsung decided to launch their dream project.

If truth be told, a Windows version of a Samsung Galaxy S8 isn’t so far off, mostly because Microsoft is itself is selling the phone in its own stores and Samsung agreed to pre-install a series of apps like Skype, Office, and OneDrive.

But as far as the fate of Windows 10 Mobile is concerned, it doesn’t even matter if Samsung launches such a device or not because of a very simple reason: the lack of devices wasn’t the only problem of Microsoft’s mobile ecosystem failed and now a single device can barely make a difference.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is by all means a masterpiece so having it running Windows 10 Mobile would clearly be an important win for Microsoft. But the win will not be a game-changing one. Even if tomorrow Microsoft launches the Galaxy S8, the sales will not be enough to save the platform.The lack of devices was not the biggest problem of Windows Phone of the ecosystem, although it surely was one major drawback.

The lack of devices was not the biggest problem of Windows Phone of the ecosystem, although it surely was one major drawback. The lack of developer support, which in turn led to the lack of apps, and also the slow pace at which Microsoft delivered updates had a big impact on Windows phones, with reduced interest from OEMs only the tip of the iceberg which was Microsoft’s problems with its mobile ecosystem.

Another important point to make here is that it is not known if the Galaxy S8 will be able to support the Windows 10 mobile platform or not. The reason being the Snapdragon 835/Exynos 8895 processor that powers it is not supported by Microsoft’s operating system.

Microsoft does support this chip but only for Windows 10 on ARM, a new emulation system that brings the full version of the operating system on ARM processors. With this project, Microsoft wants to bring new devices to the market, though there’s still no evidence that phones are also included in this plan.

In the meantime, there’s a good chance that neither Microsoft nor Samsung see a Galaxy S8 running Windows 10 Mobile as a good idea, especially with Redmond’s increased focus on Android and iOS lately.