Microsoft Stops Offering New Outlook.com Premium Subscriptions, Rolls Features Into Office 365

Microsoft today announced that its Outlook.com Premium feature, which offered features like an ad-free Outlook experience for $19.95 per month, is closed to new subscribers.

Outlook.com Premium features are now being added to Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal subscriptions.

Today, we began rolling out new benefits for Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal subscribers who use Outlook.com. These premium email features include an ad-free inbox, enhanced protection against malware and phishing, larger mailbox sizes, and premium customer support. In the coming months, we'll be introducing additional premium Outlook.com features to make personal email and calendar experiences for Office 365 subscribers more powerful, productive, and secure.
Office 365 subscribers will now get the same ad-free experience that was available with Outlook Premium, eliminating banner ads and advertisements in the message list.

More mailbox storage is also included, as is advanced security against email threats, including a feature for scanning attachments and checking incoming links. All Office 365 subscribers now get 50GB of mailbox storage, while free Outlook.com accounts will get 15GB of storage space.

Microsoft says that in addition to 365 subscribers, all loyal Outlook.com users whose mailbox is 12GB or larger will be updated to 50GB.

The premium Outlook features will be added to all 365 Home and Personal subscription accounts automatically for users that have @outlook.com, @hotmail.com, @live.com, and @msn.com accounts. Advanced email security features will not apply to @gmail, @yahoo, or other third-party email accounts.

Existing Outlook.com Premium subscribers can continue to renew their Premium subscriptions and receive the same benefits. Premium customers who have custom domains will be able to continue to use them, with domain renewal automatically included in yearly subscription fees. Custom domains are not a feature included in the new 365 options.

Office 365 Home is priced at $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month, while Office 365 Personal is priced at $69.99 per year or $6.99 per month. Office 365 Home can be installed on up to five PCs or Macs and five tablets and five smartphones, while Office 365 Personal is limit to 1 PC or Mac and can be installed on one tablet and one smartphone.

The new premium Outlook functionality is rolling out to Office 365 subscribers starting today, but could take a month to become available to all customers.



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Cortana for iOS Gains New Look, Faster Reminder Creation and Improved Performance

Microsoft today updated its Cortana app for iOS, improving the way the AI assistant works on iOS devices. Designed to compete with Siri, Cortana is a personal assistant that can do things like set reminders, schedule calendar appointments, answer queries, and offer up information you're interested in through machine learning techniques.

Today's iOS app update introduces a revamped look that Microsoft says offers a simpler, better user experience. It's easier and faster to create reminders using the new interface, and there's a redesigned profile and settings page for managing preferences.


Cortana features improved performance when it comes to page transitions and app responsiveness, and there are also general bug fixes.
We are bringing major updates to make Cortana a better assistant for you:
- A fresh new look with a simpler and improved user experience
- It's now easier and faster to create reminders to help you stay on top of things
- Redesigned profile and settings page to easily manage your preferences
- Improved performance particularly faster page transitions and app responsiveness
- Regular bug fixes and performance improvements
The Cortana app for iOS devices first launched in December of 2015. Cortana is built into Windows devices as well, so customers who use Windows and are accustomed to Cortana may prefer to use the iOS app for reminders and other tasks.

Cortana can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Microsoft Claims Upcoming ARM-Powered Laptops Offer Multi-Day Battery Life

Microsoft and Qualcomm have revealed they hope to release ARM-powered laptops by the end of the year, with the two companies promising multi-day battery life from the new machines (via Trusted Reviews).

At its annual 5G summit in Hong Kong, Qualcomm revealed new details about the PCs it is developing in partnership with Microsoft. Known as "Always Connected PCs", the laptops are powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor and rely on an ARM emulation layer to run x86 Windows 10 desktop applications.


ARM processors require fewer transistors, which enables a smaller die size for the integrated circuitry. Their smaller size and lower power consumption are two reasons why they can be found in iPhones and iPads, but the increasing performance and efficiency of the chips is making the step up to laptops a realistic proposition.

Microsoft said it is already testing "hundreds" of the ARM-powered laptops internally on a daily basis, with battery life in particular exceeding expectations.
"To be frank, it's actually beyond our expectations. We set a high bar for [our developers], and we're now beyond that. It's the kind of battery life where I use it on a daily basis. I don't take my charger with me. I may charge it every couple of days or so. It's that kind of battery life."

Bernard added: "I would consider it a game-changer in terms of the way people have experienced PCs in the past."
The first round of Always Connected PCs are said to be coming from the likes of Asus, HP, and Lenovo, but they aren't expected to be cheap. Qualcomm said more affordable Windows 10 Always Connected PCs should become available once the portfolio expands.

Apple is reportedly looking into using ARM-based core processor chips for future MacBooks, which would reduce the company's dependence on Intel. Industry sources claim that Apple would instead build its notebook chips using ARM Holding's technology, a British company that designs ARM architecture and licenses it out to other companies.


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Microsoft Says Its New Surface Book 2 is Twice as Powerful as Latest MacBook Pro

Microsoft today introduced the Surface Book 2, the second generation of its high-end notebook and tablet hybrid.


The new Surface Book 2 is equipped with Intel's latest eighth-generation Core processors, up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 17 hours of battery life based on video playback.

Microsoft says those tech specs make the Surface Book 2 up to five times more powerful than the original Surface Book, and twice as powerful as the latest MacBook Pro, but it didn't specify which configurations.


Microsoft's comparisons to its primary competitor didn't end there. On its website, it said the Surface Book 2 has 70 percent more battery life than the latest MacBook Pro, which lasts up to 10 hours on a single charge.

The new Surface Book 2 is available with a 13.5-inch or 15-inch display that can be detached from the keyboard and used as a tablet. The display can also be folded or reattached in Studio Mode or View Mode.

Microsoft added that the Surface Book 2 has 45 percent more pixels than the latest MacBook Pro. The 15-inch model has a resolution of 3240x2160 pixels, good for 267 PPI, while the 15-inch MacBook Pro is 2880x1800 and 220 PPI.

The notebook is equipped with two USB 3.1 ports, one USB-C port, a full-size SD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It also has a proprietary SurfaceConnect port that allows a Surface Dock to be connected.


Surface Dock, available separately for $199, has two Mini DisplayPorts, one Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 3.0 ports, and one audio out port.

As a Windows PC, the Surface Book 2 will be compatible with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update released today.

Surface Book 2 starts at $1,499 for the 13.5-inch model with a Core i5 processor, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. More powerful 13.5-inch configurations are available for up to $2,999.


The 15-inch model starts at $2,499 with a Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. More powerful 15-inch configurations are available for up to $3,299.

Surface Book 2 pre-orders begin November 9 on Microsoft's website and at its retail stores in the United States and select other countries. Deliveries will begin when the device launches November 16.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Neutral)

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Microsoft Fully Drops Support for Office for Mac 2011

Microsoft has officially ended support for Office for Mac 2011 as scheduled, nearly seven years after the software suite was first released.


2011 versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint will no longer receive feature or security updates as of October 10, 2017. Any form of paid or free technical support from Microsoft has also ended indefinitely.

Microsoft Lync for Mac 2011 still has an extended support period through October 9, 2018 for any possible security updates.

Since the mainstream support period for the rest of the Office for Mac 2011 was already extended beyond the usual five years, there is no extended support period for those apps. In other words, support has completely ended.

Earlier this year, Microsoft said it had not even tested Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Lync on macOS High Sierra, but some users on the web have reported that the suite is mostly functional on the new operating system.

Microsoft recommends users upgrade to Office 2016 for Mac, which is fully supported on macOS High Sierra. OS X 10.10 or later is required.

(Thanks, Jacob Harvey!)


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Microsoft Admits Windows Phone is Basically Dead

Microsoft has publicly admitted for the first time that its Windows Phone is dead. In a series of tweets, Windows 10 chief Joe Belfiore said that the company is no longer developing new features or hardware for Windows 10 Mobile, with only bug fixes and security updates to come for existing users.

Belfiore explained that his team had tried "very hard" to incentivize app developers by paying them and writing apps for them, but the low volume of users meant it was no longer worth the investment in Windows Phone.

Microsoft officially ended support for Windows Phone back in July, but the software giant never owned up to the fact that the move was essentially the final nail in the coffin for its flagship mobile platform. Today's news that the Windows 10 Mobile hardware is no longer a focus for the company now puts that beyond doubt, and makes the possibility of a long-rumored Surface-branded phone seem further away than ever.


Windows Phone was released in 2010 and quickly became the world's third most popular mobile operating system, but the platform couldn't compete with iOS and Android, which accounted for a combined 99.6 percent market share earlier this year.

In another sign of the times, the New York Police Department recently confirmed it will begin transitioning from Windows Phones to iPhones for its 36,000 police officers in the fall.

In Belfiore's series of tweets, the corporate VP also revealed that he had switched away from Windows Phone to a rival mobile operating system, but didn't say which one.


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Parallels Desktop 13.1 Update Brings APFS and HEVC Support in macOS High Sierra

Parallels Desktop 13 for Mac received an update on Thursday to include full compatibility with the new Apple File System (APFS) and HEVC video standard included in macOS High Sierra.

With APFS support, Parallels Desktop 13.1 can take advantage of Apple's cross-platform replacement for HFS+, bringing more security and better performance on devices with flash memory.


New HEVC video support means the virtualization software will be able to benefit from more efficient compression of video files and smoother playback. You can learn more about Apple's new HEVC video codec here.

Elsewhere, there are a host of stability and performance fixes, as listed in Parallels' knowledge database update summary. They include the following:
  • Enables the user to create a new Boot Camp® virtual machine on a Mac® with macOS® High Sierra.
    Enables the user to install a High Sierra virtual machine from the Recovery partition on their High Sierra Mac.

  • Resolves an issue with some Windows shortcuts not working (for example, "Control+Shift+"+"/"-" in Microsoft Excel).

  • Resolves an issue with installing Parallels Tools on Windows XP (Note: Parallels Tools are used for Windows and macOS integration. Do not confuse them with Parallels® Toolbox.)

  • Resolves an issue with Windows not starting when opening a file associated with a Windows application on macOS.

  • Resolves an issue with crashes of BIMcollab ZOOM and TopSolid CAD.

  • Resolves an issue with Zoom In and Zoom Out in APEX 3.

  • Resolves an issue with “Sending as Attachment” not working for Windows files and Mac email client after suspending and resuming a Windows virtual machine.

  • Resolves an issue with OneDrive for Business not shared with macOS, even if that option is enabled.

  • Resolves an issue with Microsoft Windows Start menu not appearing when clicking the Windows icon if Dock auto-hide is enabled.

  • Resolves an issue with copying Windows files to Mac.

  • Resolves an issue with TeamViewer camera not working.

  • Resolves an issue with maximizing Windows applications in Coherence mode.

  • Resolves an issue with installing a macOS older than Mac OS X® Mavericks 10.9 in the virtual machine from the installation image.

  • Resolves an issue with macOS not going to sleep when there is a virtual machine in Coherence mode.

To download the latest update, users can click the Parallels Desktop menu and select Check for Updates.

Parallels Desktop 13 for Mac costs $79.99 for a new license. Existing users of Parallels Desktop for Home and Student can upgrade to V13 for $49.99, with a time-limited offer enabling users of the Desktop Pro Edition to upgrade for the same price (usually $99.99). For more pricing details, see the Parallels website.

Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra

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Microsoft’s Edge Browser Coming to iPhone With ‘Continue on PC’ Feature

Microsoft today announced that its Edge web browser is coming to iOS, starting with a beta version for iPhone available today.


Microsoft Edge will primarily appeal to iPhone users that use a Windows PC instead of a Mac thanks to a "Continue on PC" feature that enables users to push a website from the mobile to desktop version of the browser, like Apple's Handoff.

Continue on PC functionality on the desktop side will be part of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, available worldwide October 17.

The mobile version also includes access to favorites, history, a reading list, and e-books, but The Verge said tabs and history of what you browse on your smartphone are not shared to the desktop version of Edge yet.

"Microsoft's Joe Belfiore says the company still has work to do on the desktop version of Edge to support this, but the company is hoping to enable this at some point in the future," said reporter Tom Warren.

The report added that Bing, Google, and Yahoo can be set as the default search engine in Edge for iOS, which has a similar design as the desktop version. The mobile version doesn't have Cortana or built-in ad blocking.


On iOS, Microsoft is using Apple's WebKit engine, as required for all third-party browsers on the platform. From a compatibility perspective, Microsoft said Edge for iOS should match the version of Safari that is currently available for iPhone.

Keep in mind that, like other third-party web browsers, Microsoft Edge cannot be enabled as the default browser on iPhone.

Microsoft Edge for iOS is currently available in English only, but the company said it will add support for other languages as it expands the preview. iPad and Android support will be added in the future as well.

Access to the Microsoft Edge Preview for iOS is reserved for Windows Insiders. The beta can be installed through Apple's TestFlight program.

Microsoft Edge for iOS should be available on the App Store later this year.


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Samsung Debuts $499 Windows Mixed Reality Headset

At an event held in San Francisco this morning, Samsung and Microsoft announced the debut of the HMD Odyssey, a headset designed to work with the Windows Mixed Reality platform.

Priced at $499, the headset offers high-resolution dual 3.5-inch AMOLED displays with a 110-degree field of view for what Samsung says is the "most immersive Windows Mixed Reality experience." With AMOLED technology, the headset offers more vibrant colors and deeper blacks for more lifelike images, and there are built-in AKG headphones for 360 degree spatial sound.


The HMD Odyssey is equipped with a Six Degrees of Freedom sensor for "intuitive and natural movements," while the headset itself features an adjustable control wheel for a snug fit on the head and the two motion controllers enable movement in the virtual world.


Windows Mixed Reality, despite the name, is essentially Microsoft's virtual reality platform. Microsoft has teamed up with several PC makers like Acer, Dell, HP, and Lenovo to create a range of "Mixed Reality" headsets that work with the platform. Mixed Reality mixes augmented and virtual reality experiences to blend the real world with the digital world, but Windows Mixed Reality is a full virtual reality experience at the current time.


While Apple has delved into and embraced augmented reality with the release of ARKit in iOS 11, the company is also rumored to be exploring virtual reality concepts. There have been rumors of work on both a virtual reality headset and augmented reality smart glasses, but it's not yet clear if those products will ever make it beyond the prototyping stage.

Apple in macOS High Sierra is planning to support eGPUs and VR content creation through Metal 2 and partnerships with Valve, Unity, and Unreal, but beyond that, ARKit is the closest thing the company has to the Windows Mixed Reality platform, and there is no comparable product to the Samsung headset.

Samsung's Odyssey Mixed Reality Headset is priced at $499, and is available for pre-order starting today ahead of a November 6 launch. A range of other Mixed Reality headsets are also available from Microsoft at prices starting at $329.

Related Roundup: Apple VR Project
Tags: Samsung, Microsoft

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Google Drive Issue Preventing Word Documents From Being Opened in Apple’s Files App

Since the Google Drive app for iOS was updated earlier this month, several iPhone and iPad users have been unable to open Microsoft Word documents in Apple's Files app for iOS 11 or iCloud Drive app for iOS 10.


Instead, when users with the Google Drive app installed attempt to open a DOCX file in the Files or iCloud Drive apps, the Google Drive app automatically opens and displays a prompt to save the file there.

MacRumors has been able to duplicate the issue, which is likely a Google Drive problem rather than a Files or iCloud Drive one.

The only solution to the problem for now appears to be uninstalling the Google Drive app. Google has yet to comment on the matter, but it will presumably have to release another update to the Google Drive app to fix this issue.


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