You can now buy a Surface Laptop for $799


Microsoft today introduced cheaper variants of its Surface Laptop and Surface Book 2, making both products a little more accessible at the expense of power. The Surface Laptop now starts at $799. The entry-level configuration has pretty meager specs by modern standards: an Intel core m3, 4GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage. Still, considering the laptop comes with Windows 10 S by default those specs should suffice for everyday tasks. Upgrading to Windows 10 Pro and running traditional applications may cause more trouble, but I’ve run Windows 10 smoothly on worse specs. Chances are most people buying the…

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Please Don’t Freeze Your Surface Pro 4 to Fix the Flickering Screen

If your Surface Pro 4 is starting to bug out, you’re not alone. Over a thousand people have reported issues with the Microsoft-made device’s screen flickering to the point that it’s barely usable, and some have even taken to freezing the gadget to get it working again. One person claims they got 30 minutes of use after leaving the Surface Pro 4 in their freezer for 10 minutes.

It may be a tempting fix if your only computer has suddenly stopped working, but leaving technology in the freezer can lead to all other sorts of permanent damage. If you’re holding out hope for an official Surface Pro 4 recall from Microsoft, it’s just not worth the risk.

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The main issue to consider is that internal hardware could freeze, even if you carefully wrap your device to keep out moisture. Then, when your Surface Pro 4 returns to room temperature, that ice could melt and cause damage inside the device. One forum poster on Super User puts it particularly well: “Think of a glass of water, it doesn’t ‘sweat’ when it’s in the fridge but you take it out on a hot day and it does.”

The other concern is that leaving your Surface Pro 4 in the freezer for too long could damage the device’s screen by freezing the crystals in the LCD. If that happens, Microsoft may not be willing to pay for repairs despite the flickering issue.

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As for an official fix, Microsoft hasn’t offered much so far. In an official statement to The Verge, the company said it’s aware of the problem and “monitoring the situation closely.” The spokesperson added that if your Surface Pro 4 is flickering you should contact customer support.

In the meantime, the company is offering display repairs, but they’re not cheap. (The device, which was released in 2015, is no longer covered by its warranty.) Some customers report paying Microsoft $800 for a screen repair, though the company’s website puts the price at $450.

If enough people report the issue, Microsoft should eventually recall the faulty devices (we hope). For now, hang tight and please don’t freeze your Surface Pro 4.

Microsoft adds new, cheaper versions of the Surface Laptop and Surface Book 2

Enlarge / Surface Laptop (credit: Justin Wolfson)

Perhaps in response to the lower volume of Surface systems sold, Microsoft today introduced two cut-price Surface models.

For $799, there’s a new Surface Laptop with a Kaby Lake Core m3 processor, 4GB RAM, and 128GB storage. The previous cheapest model had the same RAM and storage with a Core i5 processor, and it sells for $999. This new system is a lot cheaper, and we’d suspect that most people, most of the time, won’t notice the reduction in processor performance relative to the $999 version, making it much better value.

The big sticking point is the RAM; 4GB isn’t much, and there is, of course, no provision to add any more later. If you can live with that amount of memory, the new cheap model is very compelling.

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Microsoft Is Finally Selling a Super Cheap Surface Laptop, and It Almost Feels Like a Bargain

Image: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

Today, as noted by Windows Central, Microsoft launched a cheaper version of its gorgeous Surface Laptop. This new version will retail for $800—a full $200 less than the previously cheapest Surface Laptop. If you’ve wanted a full-blown, lower-cost computing experience in the Surface ecosystem then this is the machine for you.

But you might do a double take. While it is definitely the cheapest Surface computer you can currently get (there’s also an $800 Surface Pro tablet—but it doesn’t include a keyboard or stylus), it, like the $800 Surface Pro, is a little hamstrung. Both devices have 7th-generation Intel Core m3 processors inside, a measly 4GB of RAM, and a virtually anemic 128GB hard drive. For comparison’s sake, right now you can get a Lenovo 720 with a 7th-Gen Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM, 256GB hard drive, and a touch screen for the same price, and an 8th-Gen version is just $50 more.

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Sure the Lenovo 720 won’t have the coveted Surface aesthetic (or svelteness), but it’s a helluva lot more computer for your dollar!

Yet Microsoft isn’t the first company to charge crazy money for an underpowered computer with last generation’s hardware inside. Apple currently charges $1,300 for a Macbook with a 7th-Gen m3 processor. That laptop at least includes 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage—but it’s still an outrageous price for a 7th-Gen m3 machine.

I’d be grumpier about this, but Apple has had its “Apple tax” for over a decade and people have happily paid it because they felt the design of an Apple laptop was worth the premium. So I’m actually sort of heartened to see Microsoft value its own designs enough to have a Microsoft tax, and at least that tax isn’t as steep as the one Apple commands. Comparatively this new Surface Laptop feels, almost, like a bargain.

[Windows Central]

Alexa’s coming to Windows but Cortana’s boss isn’t worried


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella doesn’t seem worried about Alexa’s arrival on Windows, despite Amazon’s clear market dominance. At a recent investors’ call Nadella even went so far as to praise the impending addition of Amazon’s Alexa to the Windows 10 platform, according to a report from MSPowerUser’s Surur. That’s why we’re working with Alexa, and we would welcome it on our devices because we believe in a world where our own assistant should be available everywhere and so should other assistants be available on our devices. Maybe he’s cocky, but maybe he’s just being real. Each of the competitors suffer from…

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Or just read more coverage about: Cortana,Windows

Today’s best deals include Dell laptops and free Amazon or Dell gift cards when you buy an Xbox One X

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Heads up: All products featured here are selected by Mashable’s commerce team and meet our rigorous standards for awesomeness. If you buy something, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission.

Yo, team Xbox: As you probably heard, Microsoft just made their Xbox Game Pass even better, allowing subscribers to play Xbox One-exclusive games on the day they’re released with no extra cost. And if that’s not enough reason to snag a new Xbox One X, we don’t know what is.

Actually, yes we do: With the purchase of an Xbox One X, you’ll receive a free $50 Amazon gift card or free $100 Dell gift card. Do you know the amount of things you can get on Amazon? Have you seen their daily deals? Read more…

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Microsoft extends Windows 10 support period, but makes cuts to Office 2019

Enlarge / Licensing is not really the easiest topic to illustrate. (credit: Peter Bright)

In the olden days, Microsoft’s support policy for Windows and Office was simple. Each release had five years of mainstream support, during which it received security updates, feature improvements, and stability fixes. That was followed by five more years of extended support, during which time it received security updates only.

With Windows 10 and „Windows-as-a-service,“ that policy got all shaken up. After a period of refining the details, Microsoft settled on the current scheme. Mainstream Windows, Office, and Windows Server users are on the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC). They get two major servicing updates each year, with each version named with a two-digit year, two-digit month; the current version is 1709 because it was built in September 2017. Its successor will be built in March 2018, hence named 1803. Each of these releases receives 18 months of security updates, and each Office SAC release is only supported on supported Windows SAC releases.

For organizations that can’t or won’t use the SAC, there is also a Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC). Windows, Office, and Windows Server LTSC releases are made every three years and receive the traditional five years mainstream plus five years extended support policy.

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Windows 10 Finally Beats Out Eight-Year-Old Operating System

Image: Microsoft

It hasn’t been the smoothest road, but after its launch in the summer of 2015, Windows 10 has finally surpassed the 8-year old Windows 7 as Microsoft’s most popular operating system.

According to Statcounter, Windows 10 ran on 42.78 percent of Windows computers in January 2018—versus 41.86 percent for Windows 7. In raw numbers, Windows 10 has been installed on over 500 million devices as of last May, which is impressive, though still short of the 1 billion goal Microsoft’s head of Windows and devices Terry Myerson predicted at Build 2015.

Image: Statcounter

At this point, you might be sarcastically saying to yourself, “big deal, so what?” Actually there are a number of reasons why you should care. First and foremost is updates, because Microsoft has already shut down mainstream support of Windows 7. So while you’ll still get periodic security patches until extended support for Windows 7 ends in 2020 (which isn’t really that far away), you shouldn’t expect any more new features or improvements to hit Win 7.

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Another reason is simply that Windows 7 is old. Released in 2009, Win7 wasn’t designed for the kind of modern computing environments we have now. It doesn’t handle high-resolution displays (or multiple-monitors) very well, there’s no built-in support for things like fingerprint readers or Windows Hello facial recognition, and trying to use a touchscreen on something running Windows 7 could be considered a form of cruel and unusual punishment. And don’t even get me started on Windows 7's pitiful stylus support.

Even compared to the unpopular flop that was Windows 8, Win 10 offers a lot of improvements, including the ability to snap windows to corners, meaningful summaries of what’s going on with your system’s storage, a way better notification system, and more. And of course there are also things like Cortana that give you new ways to use and interact with your device.

Image: Microsoft

If you care about gaming, you’re actively hurting yourself by refusing to upgrade. DirectX 12, a graphics library used by developers to render all the fancy polygons and effects you see in modern games, is only available on Windows 10. Sure, your games will still run on older OSes, but they won’t run as fast or efficiently as they would otherwise. Windows 10 also has built-in functions that let you take screenshots or recordings without disturbing your gameplay using simple shortcuts.

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For people who own an Xbox things get even better with Windows 10, which allows you to stream games from your PC to your console, stay in touch with all your friends via the Xbox app, and even play games purchased on Xbox on your computer (or vice versa) thanks to Microsoft’s Play Anywhere initiative.

After Windows 10 came out, Microsoft gave every Windows 7 user a free upgrade to its new OS. And while I wouldn’t fault people for not upgrading immediately, there’s not really an excuse anymore. Luckily, it seems that despite Microsoft’s plans to shut down the free upgrade service for Win7 at the end of 2017, the program seems like it’s still working, at least for now.

Now I understand that some folks may not have the option to upgrade due to draconian office policies or potential software incompatibilities, but that shouldn’t account for half a billion people still using Windows 7.

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So what are you waiting for, it’s time to upgrade. Even though most people don’t like change, it’s not cool to be the last person at the bar, drunkenly reminiscing about the good ‘ole days while everyone else is trying to clean up and shut things down.

[Statcounter]

Microsoft 2Q18: Trump tax hit turns strong quarter into $6.3B loss

(credit: Julien GONG Min)

Microsoft has posted the results of the second quarter of its 2018 financial year, running up until December 31, 2017. Revenue was $28.9 billion, up 12 percent year-on-year, and operating income was $8.7 billion, a 10 percent increase. Net income was, however, a loss of $6.3 billion, with a loss per share of $0.82. The cause of this was a $13.8 billion tax bill courtesy of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), signed into law by Donald Trump late last year. Absent that change, net income would have been $7.5 billion, up 20 percent year-on-year, with earnings per share similarly up 20 percent to $0.96.

The TCJA imposed one-time tax rates of 15.5 percent on foreign-held cash and cash equivalents, and 8 percent on non-cash, as if that foreign money had been repatriated to the US and hence subject to US corporate income tax. Many firms with large foreign-held cash piles are going to be taking big tax hits this quarter as a result; Citibank claimed a $22 billion charge, and Apple is expected to take a hit as big as $38 billion.

Microsoft currently has three reporting segments: Productivity and Business Processes (covering Office, Exchange, SharePoint, Skype, and Dynamics), Intelligent Cloud (including Azure, Windows Server, SQL Server, Visual Studio, and Enterprise Services), and More Personal Computing (covering Windows, hardware, and Xbox, as well as search and advertising).

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Microsoft’s Azure revenue nearly doubled year-over-year in its second quarter

 Microsoft posted a relatively good second quarter this year that continued the ongoing process of its growth into a major cloud entity, in addition to saying it would be taking a significant charge as part of the major tax bill signed late last year. In particular, Microsoft said that its Azure revenue grew 98% year-over-year — a long-running theme alongside many other lines that equate… Read More

Windows Defender to start removing “optimizer” scareware

Windows Defender, the anti-malware software that’s built in to Windows, is going to start removing utility software that tries to scare users into upgrading, starting in March.

The Windows software ecosystem has a large variety of software of dubious merit that claims to detect and diagnose faults. These programs often offer a free version that purports to find problems and a paid version that can supposedly repair those problems. Frequently, the problems detected by this software are either nonexistent or misleadingly described, spuriously blamed for crashes or poor performance.

Under Microsoft’s new policy, any software that the company deems to be coercive will be a candidate for removal. Coercive elements include software that’s particularly alarming or exaggerates the risks, software that says the only way to repair the problem is to upgrade, and software that tells users they must act within a limited time. Direct payments will be penalized, but so too will apps that require people to take surveys or sign up for newsletters.

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Microsoft Office apps for iOS get drag-and-drop, Files app support

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft announced a number of updates to its suite of Office apps for iOS today, better integrating them into Apple’s ecosystem. Arguably the most anticipated update is OneDrive’s new integration with the iOS Files app and support for drag-and-drop gestures on iPhones and iPads.

OneDrive now natively supports the Files app on iOS, letting users upload, share, and save content to OneDrive or SharePoint from apps that support the Files app, which Apple debuted with iOS 11. Users can tag OneDrive or SharePoint documents in the Files app to make them easier to find as well. Microsoft also redesigned the OneDrive app with a new list view and support for more than 130 file types for previews, letting users open, edit, and share Photoshop and other file types from directly within the app.

Drag-and-drop is a popular new feature of iOS 11 and makes working with documents—particularly on iPad—much easier, and now the OneDrive and Office apps for iOS support drag-and-drop. Users can move files into various apps more easily by dragging and dropping them into the desired program, which will be especially useful while in Split View on iPad. The new support lets customers move files in between OneDrive and Office apps as well as Microsoft’s apps and other sources, such as Messages.

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