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Microsoft Sold 100M+ Windows 8, Bing Rolls Out “Smart Motion Preview” on SERPs

Update 05/14: Tami Reller in Boston at the JP Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom Conference has said that “Windows Blue is officially named as Windows 8.1, and it will be a free update and come from the Windows Store.” In addition the 8.1 update will also be coming to Windows RT as well.

Reller stated the update will arrive by the end of the calendar year.

She also noted, that there are now more than 70,000 apps in the Windows Store (the online app store for Windows).

In addition to final releases, Reller also confirmed that the public preview build of 8.1 will be available for both Windows 8 and Windows RT, starting on June 26, timed with the Build developer conference in San Francisco.

Update 05/11: Larson-Green clarifying her statement made at the WIRED Business Conference said, “I announced we’d share the first public preview of what we are calling internally “Windows Blue” in late June timed with the Build conference.”

And, that Windows Blue will be an update to Windows 8 which will build on Microsoft’s vision of modern computing. “An OS that lets apps work seamlessly together and put the things you care most about right at your fingertips. We are excited to share the next steps in this vision soon,” she added.

She also confirms that the public preview of Windows Blue will arrive alongside the BUILD 2013 conference in June.

Microsoft is set to bring back the Start button in the upcoming Windows 8.1 update for Windows 8, according to a Financial Times report, “by adding the Start button back, Microsoft is admitting its failures.”

Microsoft started firing back at Windows 8 critics urging everyone to avoid sensational news reports and to “stay centered.” In fact, Microsoft touts Windows 8 as “a good product” that is “getting better every day.”

“Unlike a can of soda, a computer operating system offers different experiences to different customers to meet different needs, while still moving the entire industry toward an exciting future of touch, mobility, and seamless, cross-device experiences,” Microsoft said.

Microsoft sold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses in the product’s first six months, announced Tami Reller at the Wired Business Conference.

She said the Windows team has delivered 739 updates for Windows 8 and Windows RT in since the operating systems were made generally available.

Adding, “there are more than 60,000 Windows Store/Metro Style apps for Windows 8 and Windows RT available now. And there have been more than 500 updates to the first-party (Microsoft-developed) Windows 8 and Windows RT apps in the Store since Windows 8 and Windows RT launched in late October 2012,” Reller said.

“We’ve also seen the number of certified devices for Windows 8 and Window RT triple to 2,400 and we’re seeing more and more touch devices come to retail,” Larsen-Green added.

Microsoft also will be changing its incentive programs for retail stores so that salespeople will be compensated for touch, 100 percent, when it comes to consumer sales. Microsoft also will continue to build out more of its own Microsoft brick-and-mortar stores, but will be focusing more on smaller, storefront style spaces, she said.

Larson-Green also confirmed that the company will release a public preview of Windows 8.1 for anyone who has Windows 8 during BUILD 2013 in June. The preview of Windows 8.1 to the public, which will be delivered via the Windows Store.

When asked about the Start Button to Windows Blue, she neither confirmend nor ruled out this possibility stating:

“The Start Button might be helpful,” Larson-Green acknowledged during her remarks at the conference, and provide users with more of a “comfort level.” She did note that the team has had “meaningful discussions” about bringing back the Start Button, but users shouldn’t interpret that as meaning the old Start Menu would be coming back.

She noted that the Start Button today is basically hidden. “Some would like it showing up on the screen all the time,” she said.

She also emphasized that Microsoft plans to be “principled but not stubborn” with coming modifications to the Blue update.

Microsoft’s Skype team has released a new resource for businesses dubbed Skype Manager, a Web-based tool for creating accounts and allocating credit and features so everyone gets the most out of Skype.

Skype Manager just beefed up its offerings for global customers with broader coverage and by allowing administrators to allocate Skype subscriptions from over 170 countries.

The video below steps you through how to use Skype Manager.

Bing team has launched a new campaign in the Kansas – the city that once renamed itself “Google” in a bid for Google Fiber.

According to a recent Bing survey, 93 percent of people say they are open to trying new things, while 45 percent say it can even be a refreshing experience.

Take a look at the video below for a glimpse of what people in Topeka think about Google in a side-by-side comparison with Bing. Bing says you’ll be seeing more of these “man on the street” TV ads over the coming weeks, with real people discovering the goodness of Bing.

Additionally, Bing also launched fresh Bing It On challenge site, that in addition to search results, will help you learn about a new homepage every day, rollover video preview and instant translation all on the same site.

The Bing It On Challenge is simple – “search for five queries of your choice and compare the unbranded web search results from Bing and Google side-by-side. For each search result, you pick a winner or declare it a “draw”, and at the end of the five searches we show you the winning search engine,” Bing explains.

Bing It On Challenge has been visited by over 25 million users over the past nine months.

Bing has just added a impressive features “video preview” and “instant translation for Windows Phone,” which one reviewer calls “mind-blowingly awesome.”

Bing has launched Smart Motion Preview, which allows you to preview a video before travelling to the site.

The feature helps you decide if it is a video you want to go watch by hovering a video from the grid of videos on Bing.com search results page.

The hover over a video and see an immediate popout that shows you a quick video preview of no longer than 30 seconds. This makes it easier to sort through the clutter of all those results and help you get to what you are looking for.

“When we crawl videos, we create short previews (never more than 30 seconds, made up of a few very short clips) that reflect what our video crawling technology thinks are the most relevant parts. We look at the audio levels for instance to see a big play in a sports video (based on the applause from a monster dunk, for example),” explains Bing.

Check out this video highlighting Smart Motion Preview:

Finally, an enhanced versions of both Foursquare and YouTube arrived in the Windows Phone Store, bringing additional Windows Phone 8 features to the two popular apps.

The updated YouTube app lets you pin channels, playlists and results directly to your Start Screen, redesigns the playlist experience as a touch-friendly filmstrip and allows you to limit what videos little ones can watch by pinning the app to kid’s Corner and configuring your YouTube Safety settings.

An update to YouTube for Windows Phone 7.5 is expected to follow in a few weeks.

And, the location-based social app Foursquare now incorporates voice commands, so you can use your voice to find and check-in at points of interest, and also brings notifications to your lock screen and lets you pin your favorite people and places on your Start screen.

You can download both the Foursqure app here and the YouTube here.

YouTube and Foursquare app for Window Phone 8

Microsoft’s vision for what’s called the “intelligent car” is a scenario in which telematics data can help improve both the driving experience and the design of the vehicle for the driver. What does that mean exactly?

Microsoft is “moving away from focusing on in-dash technologies, such as entertainment or navigation systems, to solutions that power such technologies as part of an overall user experience,” says Pranish Kumar, who leads the Windows Embedded Automotive team.

“The automotive industry faces a lot of unique challenges, perhaps first of which is that cars must be supportable for much longer than consumer electronics devices — 10 or 20 years, in most cases,” says Kumar. “I think we’ve developed a solid understanding of some of these challenges and how technology can address them, while providing drivers with a better experience.”

Also, Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative announced a TV white spaces pilot project in collaboration with the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and UhuruOne to provide affordable wireless broadband access to university students and faculty in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The collaboration will also enable UhuruOne, a local Internet service provider, to offer Windows 8 device and service packages to universities in Dar es Salaam.

SkyDrive has surpassed the 250 million users mark, the team announced a major milestone yesterday: “over 250 million people are now using SkyDrive – 50 million since October 2012 when Windows 8 launched.”

SkyDrive 250 million users mark Infographic

Microsoft has also shipped Visual Studio 2012.3 (Update 3) “go-live”; CTP. In addition, Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2012.2 Power tools update is now available.

Yesterday we released our update to the TFS 2012 Power Tools to work with VS/TFS 2012.2 (Update 2).

You can download the refreshed Visual Studio 2012.3 RC of the CTP here, and TFS 2012.2 Power Tools using the links belwo:

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