Surface 3, Project Spartan Demo: Microsoft Roundup - InformationWeek

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4/4/2015
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Surface 3, Project Spartan Demo: Microsoft Roundup

A new Windows 10 desktop build that offered a glimpse at Project Spartan, and Surface 3 release were among the headlines coming from Redmond this week.

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This week started off with mobile news when Microsoft announced the general availability of mobile device management (MDM) capabilities for customers of all Office 365 commercial plans including Enterprise, Business, Education and Government. Built-in MDM features are available at no additional cost.

Security is at the center of this initiative, which was announced a few months after Microsoft brought MDM to Office 365. Users can manage their access to Office 365 data across mobile devices running iOS, Android and Windows. To keep data secure, Microsoft promises improved device management, conditional access and selective wipe.

Windows Insiders got some long-awaited news on Monday night, when Microsoft rolled out the newest build of Windows 10 to its fast ring of testers. The highlight was a first look at new browser Project Spartan, but other changes include updated Settings icons, a new Windows Hello-like app, and altered designs for the Calculator, Alarm, and Voice recorder apps, Neowin reports.

[Gmail Android App Connects Yahoo, Microsoft Accounts]

The new Windows 10 browser is a work in progress, but one that is markedly speedy and functional as it currently stands. Insiders willing to wait through a lengthy download process can try new features like Web Note and an improved Reading View that eliminates ads and unnecessary pictures for some text-heavy sites. If you're waiting to download, you can check out the browser in our hands-on demo.

Microsoft hardly gave the Project Spartan buzz a chance to die down before it announced the launch of its Surface 3, a tablet that combines the features and pricing of the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 3. The device starts at $499 and is currently available for pre-order with a shipping date set for May 5. 

The Surface 3 has a 10.8-inch screen and 1920x1080 resolution. It will ship running Windows 8.1 but will be upgradable to Windows 10 when the OS launches this summer. Microsoft is also offering a free one-year subscription to Office 365 and 1T free cloud storage.

Will Microsoft's Surface 3 capture Apple's tablet market share as iPad sales face decline? We can't say for sure, but there's certainly a possibility.

Developers were happy to learn that Microsoft is streamlining the pricing and structure of its Visual Studio software suite. It plans to combine its Visual Studio Premium and Visual Studio ultimate into a single entity called Visual Studio Enterprise with Microsoft Developer Network.

(Image: Microsoft)

(Image: Microsoft)

Later in the week, Microsoft announced the launch of Office Lens on iOS and Android devices. The image scanning tool, which was introduced on Windows Phone last year, works with OneNote to record pictures of documents like menus and receipts that can be cropped and save for future reference.

In other interesting Microsoft content from this week, we learned how the company's HDInsight and Azure ML services are helping derive analytical insight from more than 77,000 table-top tablets located in restaurants across the country. The tablets allow diners to browse digital menus, place orders, play games, pay for meals and sign up for promotions, collecting data that is integrated into POS and loyalty systems.

Ziosk, the company that provides the devices, uses them to gather intelligence on diners' experiences and determine where improvement can be made. It uses a Microsoft SQL Server-based data warehouse and provides BI-style reporting. Azure HDInsight captures and aggregates transactional records and contextual information such as click paths for each device.

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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
4/9/2015 | 8:15:40 AM
Re: Microsoft falling back on its own strengths with Surface
@Kelly22, that's interesting that you prefer the Air for balancing on your lap.  I can see that but the kickstand on my Surface has saved me from stupid drops several times.  For me it has become a desktop, laptop and tablet replacement.  Up until I got my first Surface I had all three and juggled work between them.  There are days when I have it on the keyboard that I wish it had a little more substantial keyboard which would probably help out with your lap balancing issue.  I keep waiting for someone to make a butterfly keyboard like the old Thinkpads had in the 90s but I guess I'm the only person who wants a bigger keyboard for the Surface.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Strategist
4/8/2015 | 10:21:03 AM
Re: Microsoft falling back on its own strengths with Surface
I've been using the Surface touchscreen more often than I thought I would (and often try to swipe on the screen of my Macbook Pro seconds later). Don't use the pen much but it's handy for screenshots. For me, it's still not a total laptop replacement because it's tricky to balance on my lap, so I prefer the Air for that.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Strategist
4/8/2015 | 9:48:36 AM
Re: Microsoft falling back on its own strengths with Surface
Good point. There's no sense in playing catch-up with Apple in touchscreen functionality, especially when they're the biggest player in the space. The Surface, made for people who need a desktop but still like using touchscreens, is a solid compromise.
SaneIT
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50%
SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
4/8/2015 | 8:06:39 AM
Re: Microsoft falling back on its own strengths with Surface
The touch screen benefits really do get overhyped.  I rarely even touch the screen even when I have it undocked and I'm using it with the snap on keyboard.  I have the pen sitting on my desk but can't remember ever using it except for a few minutes of playing with it.  The Modern UI is very touch centric so I get that the touch screen is a big deal in that regard but I use it just like you would use any other Windows desktop or laptop so the fact that it can behave like one is a big deal to me.  I was talking to someone last week about the MacBook Air and that I suspect it will start looking more like the Surface soon.  I guess all we can do is sit back and watch as the market shifts and the hardware formats shake out again.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
4/6/2015 | 2:49:32 PM
Microsoft falling back on its own strengths with Surface
You've hit the nail on the head, SaneIT, for where Microsoft can make headway in tablets at Apple's expense. It's the usefulness in more "laptop" ways that makes the Surface tablet worth considering. Microsoft has been quick to try to copy Apple's strengths in touch screens, slow to capitalize on its own Desktop strengths. Trying to be somebody else than who you are is not a great formula for success.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
4/6/2015 | 8:09:07 AM
Surface 3
"Will Microsoft's Surface 3 capture Apple's tablet market share as iPad sales face decline? "

I love my Surface Pro 2 and I think Microsoft is still heading in the right direction with the Surface 3 but I just don't feel like it is getting enough attention.  I was traveling for a week and every time I took it out of my bag I had people asking me about it.  I heard an awful lot of "I need to get one of those" from people carrying laptops and tablets.   Most of them were amazed to see it running Windows and a couple with iPads mentioned that they wish their iPad ran OSX instead of iOS.  The merging of mobile and desktop OSes if very close and I think the Surface is a good example of just how powerful that will be.

 
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