Software

The Xbox One we had heard about last month is apparently rolling out to select beta testers with some additional improvements. The big addition here is new controller firmware which stabilizes disconnection issues and improves headset audio quality. There's also a new online friends notification animation that looks a little like this.

Here's the full feature list according to the source. Have any of you guys got the update yet?

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Yesterday, Microsoft made Service Pack 1 for Office 2013 available to the public. The package of updates includes content for Access, Excel, InfoPath, Lync, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Word. The first Service pack for Project, Visio, and SharePoint was also released separately. Overall, the Office 2013 Service Pack 1 offers a collection of bug fixes, with a few slight use improvements.

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If you or someone you know has poor vision and has been struggling to use Microsoft’s suite of Office software, than you will be happy to hear of the company’s partnership with GW Micro. A technology vendor that provides “high quality solutions for [the] blind and visually impaired”, GW Micro, has created a Windows Office 2010 or 2013 addon available to those who might need a bit of help perceiving what is on-screen.

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If you are a fan of the cosmos, than you should be well aware of Microsoft Research’s WorldWide Telescope computing program. WorldWide Telescope allows users to fly through the known universe as astronomical sky maps and a 3D modeled environment is rendered. Originally announced at a 2008 TED Conference in California, the application still continues to be listed as “beta”, but has attracted over 1.5 million active users.

Today, as a celebration of the software’s fifth anniversary, WorldWide Telescope version 5.0 is now available to download for anyone dreaming of space exploration. The new release itself is also a new milestone and includes new features and datasets to enhance the user experience.

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If you belong to the “PC Master Race” (see meme) when it comes to gaming, then there is a good chance you are still running Windows 7 instead of Microsoft’s latest operating system. For those of you who love both PC gaming and Windows 8 – you will be interested to know that Steam usage data for the past month shows almost a fifth of those utilizing the Steam client are now using the new O.S.

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Do you sleep, breathe, and dream about Microsoft? If so, you are probably one of the few people yet to switch over from Internet Explorer (seriously, IE use has declined heavily over the past few years). Don’t worry though, Microsoft still loves you and has released IE11 for users running Windows 7. Not only has the software launched, but the team in Redmond has had quite a bit to say about it.

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Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has come a long way from the days of IE6 and may even represent one of the best touch screen web browsers around. Other third party companies don’t want to be left out of the future though, and Firefox has been the strongest advocate as its beta version of Firefox for Windows 8 continues to be developed. Recently, a blog post by Mozilla’s Brian Bondy, revealed that one annoyance of using Internet Explorer on the desktop and modern interface, will be remedied.

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We are approaching the 10th birthday of Microsoft’s information gathering application, OneNote. The first edition of OneNote to be released was OneNote 2003 in November of the same year. If you are like me, you may not have been introduced to Microsoft’s info application until only a few years ago when the company decided to include it in all versions of Office 2010.

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In this busy, busy week in tech, Apple dropped the latest update to OS X, 10.9 Mavericks, and with it some apps have started to experience problems. One of those, at least on my Mac, is Nokia Photo Transfer. It seems to be pretty widespread, with problems detailed in the Nokia support forums, as well as in the Windows Phone Central forums. The good news; there is an easy fix. 

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Road warriors, those that get lost easy or for those of you who just need an A-Class GPS navigation system for Windows Phone 8: you have a new option on the table with Scout GPS Maps by Telenav. The app and service is launching today and we have all the info on it.

First launched on select devices for T-Mobile, like the new Lumia 925, the service is now open to all Windows Phone 8 devices (currently US only). We’ve been using the app for a few weeks now and have come away impressed with the full-featured navigation system and it is now our go-to choice when taking a trip.

The app comes in two varieties: free and subscription based, with the latter offering the full experience with premium features while the former is still a great valued navigation system.So what does Scout GPS Maps offer? Besides its intuitive and finger-friendly UI, the system includes all the bells and whistles you would expect in a navigation app. In fact, we were impressed with how much is included with an initial release. 

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We are getting reports from the Windows Phone Central faithful around the world that their Nokia Lumia 920s are starting to receive the eagerly-awaited Amber and GDR2 updates from Nokia and Microsoft. So far, we have heard from readers in Denmark and India who have received the Amber firmware update on their Lumia 920s. There is also word that Microsoft's GDR2 update has made its way to Sweden and Spain. Lumia 920s in Australia began seeing GDR2 earlier today, and we expect that others are en route as well.

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Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Consumer Preview introduced their latest version of the Trident based web browser, Internet Explorer 11. Today the company has released the developer preview of IE11 for those still on Windows 7.

Internet Explorer 11 promises to bring improved performance, faster page load times, new standards support for next generation sites, and a completely redesigned “F12” developer toolkit.

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We’ve been reporting on 6Sec, the new Vine app from developer extraordinaire Rudy Huyn (Wikipedia, Fuse, TVShow) for a few weeks now, detailing some of the progress of the app. Then earlier this morning, we told you it was set for public release after many hard hours of beta testing by nearly a thousand users.

While an official Vine app was announced last week for Windows Phone, from our understanding that app is still in gestation and we don’t expect it for weeks if not months to hit the Store. Even then, we have a sneaky suspicion that Huyn’s version will still be better, due to his flair for design and perfection.

Luckily for Windows Phone 8 fans, you can now join in on the Vine-phenomenon by downloading 6Sec right from the Store today.

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Just around six months ago we reported on how the popular streaming app iHeartRadio was pulled from the Windows Phone Store, with an error in it being "posted early”. The issue surrounding the app involve it basically not working any longer, and it was generating quite a negative buzz in user reviews.

Well, here we are on July 1st and behold, iHeartRadio is back on Windows Phone 8 with a 1.0 release. And no, this isn’t the same version we say in January as it has a fresh new coat of paint (aka redesigned) and features some nifty Windows Phone 8 tools, such as Lockscreen support.

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Earlier today, we reported on a Windows Phone Store weakness allowing savvy users to download Nokia-exclusive applications onto non-Nokia hardware (well, try to at least, as often those apps are API dependent). But we did a little more digging and discovered the weakness doesn't just cover Nokia apps. You can manipulate the Store into providing any device or operator-exclusive app for your device.

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