Category Archives: microsoft

Dear Microsoft, we need kitchen computers, but they also need to be cheaper and smarter

Lenovo YOGA Home 310

With rumours swirling around a Surface-branded all in one PC I can’t help feel in this case Microsoft is somewhat out of touch with the market.

I already have a laptop, and if you opt for a desktop PC it is unlikely you will settle for a less powerful All In One. What I really want is a PC for the kitchen.

The use case of a PC in the kitchen is pretty attractive – be it for recipes, entertainment, family coordination and communication, but the fact remains that we spend very little time in that room, vs the 8 hours per day we spend working on your PC, or the other 8 we spend clutching our smartphone. And when something gets little use we are not very willing to spend a lot of money on it.

A PC in the kitchen is attractive but only has limited utility – we have coped for centuries without one, and it is unlikely to fundamentally change what we do there.  For that reason it needs to be cheap – ideally less than 300 dollars, but still with a large-enough screen to be useful (probably more than 24 inches, the resolution is not that important.)

Also the interface needs to be adapted to the use case, meaning voice and gesture, not touch or keyboard, neither of which would not work very well with greasy fingers. In fact the kitchen is the ideal testing ground for a next generation user interface, vs demanding we use voice and touch when our hands are already on the keyboard and mouse.

Now you could easily roll our own hardware with a cheap 24 inch screen, a HDMI-based stick PC, a cheap webcam and some free software for well under $300, but of course it will ultimately be rather clunky and see little use by the target market.  The whole concept of a cheap low margin PC itself is not very attractive to OEMs and not something Microsoft aspires to with its Surface brand.

Conversely however a Surface-branded All In One PC will likely be a premium product with very limited sales, due to being tethered permanently to one position, and therefore also less useful.

If Microsoft is to increase their contact point with consumers (not necessarily the goal of the company these days) they need to break into new consumer markets, and one of those very under-served markets is one of the most important rooms in your home.

A kitchen PC with a next-gen user interface could be Microsoft’s Amazon Echo, but only if Microsoft price it right, and do the work necessary to adapt the user interface.

Do our readers agree there is room in the market for a cheap, limited-use PC for use in the kitchen, or should Microsoft leave this market well enough alone? Let us know below.

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MSPU Tips: How to clean install Windows 10 using the media creation tool

windows 10

Nothing feels better than using a freshly reset Windows 10 PC in the morning. Free of all the bloatware and nagware that may have come pre-installed on your device, hard resetting an OEM Windows PC is guaranteed to improve your OC experience. While for some users Microsoft’s own built-in reset and reinstall tools are very effective in getting rid of bloatware, some systems simply reinstall the original operating system with all the original bloat included after a full reset, making a clean, fresh install of Windows 10 via media tool somewhat of  a necessary evil.

To carry out a clean install of Windows 10, you’ll need a removable disk (most likely a flash drive but a DVD will do in a pinch), a copy of Microsoft’s Windows 10 Media creation tool and a PC which is running Windows 10 (Microsoft recommends updating your PC to Windows 10 first so your hardware can be activated on its servers). Once you’re ready, you can follow the steps below:

  1. Download and run the Windows 10 Media creation tool from here
  2. When prompted, select the option to create installation media for another  PC (to reiterate you’ll need a USB flash drive or other removable media with at least 3GB of storage)
  3. Select the variant of Windows you’d like to download – typically the install tool will default to the same setting as the PC you are using o download the OS, which is very convenient especially if you’re intending to simply reinstall Windows.
  4. Follow the prompts as required while the app downloads a copy of Windows 10 from Microsoft’s servers.
  5. Backup all files and media you wish to preserve, note that a clean install wipes out every other app and program from your PC aside from the basic Microsoft ones.
  6. Open settings
  7. Navigate to update and security
  8. Select recovery
  9. In the recovery pane, select the restart now button in “Advanced start-up”
  10. When the Advanced Start-Up menu appears, select “Boot from removable media”
  11. When prompted to install Windows, choose your desired langauge and region settings and proceed.
  12. If your machine already had a legitimate Windows 10 installation running on it, it should activate automatically, otherwise you will have to enter a Windows activation key in the box provided.
  13. After accepting the license terms for Windows, you will be prompted as to what sort of installation you’d like. Select “Custom”
  14. Microsoft will now ask you “Where do you want to install Windows”, at this point you may now select the storage partitions that you want.
  15. Follow the prompts provided until the installation is complete.

Once completed, you should now have access to a fresh new build of Windows 10 on your PC. It may not have the latest updates out of the box, so you’ll probably need to run the update checker to make sure, otherwise you’re good to go.

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Microsoft open sources Project Malmo, which lets researchers use Minecraft for AI research


Project Malmo is a platform for Artificial Intelligence experimentation and research built on top of Minecraft. Microsoft today announced that they are making it available for everyone on GitHub via an open-source license. This project was formerly known as Project AIX and has now been renamed Project Malmo. Minecraft is ideal for artificial intelligence research for the same reason it is addictively appealing to the millions of fans who enter its virtual world every day. Unlike other computer games, Minecraft offers its users endless possibilities, ranging from simple tasks like walking around looking for treasure to complex ones like building a structure with a group of teammates.

The system, which had until now only been open to a small group of computer scientistsin private preview, is primarily designed to help researchers develop sophisticated, more general artificial intelligence, or AI, that can do things like learn, hold conversations, make decisions and complete complex tasks.

That’s key to creating systems that can augment human intelligence — and eventually help us with everything from cooking and doing laundry to driving and performing lifesaving tasks in an operating room.

Read about it in detail here.

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New Game Troopers game Lewandowski: Euro Star 2016 now in the Windows Store


Game Troopers has published a new game in the Windows Store.

Become a freestyle legend in this  smooth and addictive soccer game and prove that you can juggle like a pro with the help of Robert Lewandowski, the Polish professional footballer who plays as a striker for German club Bayern Munich, and captains the Poland national team.

Show that you’re a real soccer champion and master insane tricks and combos. It’s time to become the next legend during Euro 2016 and compete for high scores with friends and level up to unlock new tricks. Master your ball control in this beautiful and addictive soccer game and tap your way along with the legend Robert Lewandowski. This is the best freestyle soccer experience to be playing during Euro 2016 and be sure to share your score online! Kick the ball or keep it under your control using your head, shoulders, feet and more! Footbag and juggling fans it’s time to showcase your keepie uppie skills.

The game features:

  • Enter the stadium as a football star – Robert Lewandowski
  • Unlock new tricks and moves
  • Earn gold to customize Lewandowski’s character
  • Choose between dozens of customization features such as, football boots, shorts, socks, balls, even a Rainbow Hat and more!
  • Take part in competitions and win T-shirts, balls and gadgets with Robert Lewandowski’s signatures
  • Complete challenging achievements to earn gold
  • Record your gameplay and show that you are a legend by sharing it online instantly
  • Be the best! Score points on the leaderboards with global and friend rankings
  • Console quality graphics

See screen shots of he game below:

Find the game in the Windows Store here.

WP-Appbox: Lewandowski: Euro Star 2016 (Free*, Windows Store) →

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Exclusive: Microsoft may be redesigning the Windows 10 Mobile action center

Windows 10 Mobile

Microsoft redesigned the Windows 10 Mobile Action Center in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update (due for release next month), but the firm may be planning a more drastic revamp of the Action Center in the future.

We received an image of an document which we believe originates from an internal Microsoft communication demonstrating plans for the Action Center in future updates for Windows 10.

In the images above, you can see a proposed change to the action center which separates the action center buttons into “Actions” and “Toggles” with the addition of a brightness slider. The new change, which is reportedly based on internal feedback, would make the action center a bit more logical in scope.

As it stands, the action center is has a selection of buttons, some of which launch you into another app, others of which are toggle switches, it would in essence duplicate the control centre approach on iOS and make the Windows 10 Mobile action center more user friendly.

The “Actions” or “app shortcuts” are the camera, note, connect and all settings buttons which are now displayed as rounded buttons underneath the new brightness slider, which takes the place of the brightness toggle and is similar to the way the action center was presented in Windows 8.1 (Tablets and PCs)

If these changes are to be given the go ahead, they will most likely come in Redstone 2, which will come next year. Redstone 2 is expected to focus on changes to Windows 10 Mobile, perhaps providing more mobile first features and polish.

Like all leaks and rumours, we must remind you that we are always on the outside looking in. No matter how confident we are in the source or how confident the source is in the document, things can and do change internally.

Nevertheless, what do you think of this adaptation to the action center? Let us know in the comments below.

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