Skype Translator Early Preview Now Open for Applicants

Skype Translator, the almost magical real-time translation technology built into Skype that was demonstrated by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Skype Corporate Vice President Gurdeep Singh Pall in May, is finally available. More details about Skype Translator are available here.

In what the Skype Blog calls an “early preview”, this technology will let users of Windows 8.1 computers and tablets (initially) in a limited number of languages (obviously). Since it is an early preview, the program is not completely open for everyone to sign up. Register here to sign up for the preview if you have a PC or a tablet running Windows 8.1.

Here’s how Skype describes the product:

Speak another language without learning another language. Simply set up a Skype video or voice call with someone who speaks another language to you and start talking.

* Your conversation is translated into their language in real time.

* And what they say is translated back in your language.

* An on-screen transcript of your call is displayed.

* Instant message chats in 45 languages can be translated.

 

So, as simple as a normal Skype call. No special software or plugins needed. Of course, if the language you care about is not available today, you can make a note in the registration so that they can prioritize the next languages per the interest expressed during the registration process.

Also, Skype Translator is free right now, but we don’t know the pricing once this product becomes final.

Here’s a demo of the Skype Translator from Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference:

Office 365 Customers Can Start Using the New Outlook for Mac

outlook-for-mac

If you are an Office 365 customer, there are a lot of benefits you already can avail of, like unlimited storage, always up-to-date desktop software, centralized management of licenses, etc. Now, per the blog post on Office Blogs on October 31, if you are using Mac OS, you can get the new Outlook app for Mac.

It is a surprising release because everyone expected Outlook to be part of the Office suite, and the rumored dates for the new Office for Mac were pointing towards a beta in November with a release in the first half of 2015. It is also a surprise that Outlook was released by itself, perhaps because it was probably the one app with the most complaints about, in Office for Mac 2011.

As for the rest of the suite, Microsoft said that the public preview of Excel for Mac, Word for Mac, PowerPoint for Mac, and curiously, OneNote for Mac will be made available as a public preview in the first half of 2015 and a final release in the second half of 2015. What’s curious about OneNote is that there is already an app in the Mac App Store called OneNote so I am not sure how they are going to distinguish between that app and the potentially “full” OneNote for Mac. This mirrors what Microsoft has on the Windows side, with a “desktop” OneNote and a Universal OneNote app which is available in the Windows Store.

To get the new Outlook:

  • Office 365 Commercial customers can get the new Outlook for Mac by accessing their Office 365 Portal, (Gear icon > Office 365 Settings > Software > Outlook for Mac icon) or visiting the Software page.
  • Office 365 consumer subscribers can get the new Outlook for Mac by going to their My Account page.

Finally we see the benefits of being an Office 365 customer, specifically regarding access to the latest software. Until now, Office 365 has not delivered any desktop software updates which perpetual license holders have not got. Now, a perpetual licensee of Office for Mac will be one version behind, at least for a year.

Microsoft Band Is Almost Here

It sure looks like Microsoft is very close to announcing and releasing their fitness band, simply called Microsoft Band. Their smartphone and Mac apps are available in respective stores ahead of a formal announcement.

Based on the details listed in the app description, an updated health privacy policy and screenshots, it does look like the band will work with all platforms and will be, as is normal with Microsoft these days, powered by a cloud service called Microsoft Health.

The band will apparently track heart rate, steps, calories burned and sleep. The band will also work with your smartphone and show notifications, and in the case of Windows Phone, integrate with Cortana. Among the type of notifications that the Band will be able to show are email messages, calendar reminders, phone calls received, text messages social updates like those from Twitter and Facebook, weather and finance. The band will use the smartphone’s location services to determine your location, in order to show the weather, for example.

Notifications and other settings will be configured via the Microsoft Health app which is now available on all platforms.

It is unclear if the following tweet from Microsoft Store has any connection to the Microsoft Band, but it is quite a coincidence, if not:


I don’t know about you, but I am more excited about the cloud-powered service Microsoft Health, than the band itself. As a cross-platform consumer, I would love to have something that works across all my devices, and it looks like Microsoft may have the answer.

Some screenshots from the various apps follow below:

Mac App Store

Microsoft Band - Mac App
Microsoft Band – Mac App
Microsoft Band - Mac App
Microsoft Band – Mac App
Microsoft Band - Mac App
Microsoft Band – Mac App

Android Google Play

Microsoft Band - Android App
Microsoft Band – Android App
Microsoft Band - Android App
Microsoft Band – Android App
Microsoft Band - Android App
Microsoft Band – Android App
Microsoft Band - Android App
Microsoft Band – Android App
Microsoft Band - Android App
Microsoft Band – Android App

Windows Phone Store

Microsoft Band - Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band – Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band - Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band – Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band - Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band – Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band - Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band – Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band - Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band – Winows Phone App

OneDrive Storage Goes Unlimited For Office 365 Subscribers

Remember when OneDrive bumped up their free storage tier and made the storage included with Office 365 1TB from the 25GB that it used to be? Well, that was only a few months ago. Now, as they announced on the OneDrive blog on October 27, Microsoft is making the OneDrive storage unlimited for Office 365 Home, Personal and University subscribers.

The upgrade to unlimited storage rolls out today and there is a priority list for those who would like to see it early. I was one of those, and I got an email later in the day that while the upgrade to unlimited is in progress, the storage in my Office 365 Home account is bumped to 10TB, ten times the current allocation of 1TB.

So now, a customer can potentially get the full desktop Office suite for a PC/Mac, unlock editing features for tablet (iPad), get 60 minutes of Skype world calling to over 60 countries, use Office Online and Office Mobile on smartphones and unlimited storage for only $6.99 per month.

The above deal becomes even sweeter when there is a need for more than one user to be on the subscription. In such a case, a customer can get Office 365 Home which provides the same features for 5 users for $8.33 per month.

This is another move in the trend for cloud storage to become virtually free, tied closely to other services that companies like Microsoft, Google and to some extent, Apple provide. Here’s what Microsoft’s blog post said:

While unlimited storage is another important milestone for OneDrive we believe the true value of cloud storage is only realized when it is tightly integrated with the tools people use to communicate, create, and collaborate, both personally and professionally. That is why unlimited storage is just one small part of our broader promise to deliver a single experience across work and life that helps people store, sync, share, and collaborate on all the files that are important to them, all while meeting the security and compliance needs of even the most stringent organizations.

While Microsoft and Google have been really aggressive with their pricing, Apple has been a little reserved in how aggressive they get with the storage pricing. However, the biggest impact of such pricing moves are the likes of Box and Dropbox. For these companies, storage is a key factor but for platform makers like Microsoft, Google and Apple, adding storage inexpensively is not a big deal. How will Box and Dropbox combat this move? Your guess is as good as mine.

HTC One (M8 Eye) And Desire Eye Launched In India

Along with the Desire 820 and Desire 820q, HTC has also launched the One (M8 Eye) and Desire Eye at an event in Mumbai. HTC One (M8 Eye) comes with a 13 megapixel duo camera, instead of the ultrapixel dual camera found in the company’s flagship smartphone. Apart from that, the specs of both the smartphones are identical.

htc_one_m8_eye
HTC One (M8 Eye)

On the other hand, the HTC Desire Eye packs a 13 megapixel rear camera as well as a 13 megapixel front-facing camera. Apart from that, it features a 5.2 inch Full HD display, 2.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 4G LTE connectivity and more. This handset will go on sale from late November exclusively at Amazon in India. The price of this device will be announced closer to the launch. HTC Desire Eye will be available in Matt White and Submarine Blue colors.

The HTC One (M8 Eye) will go on sale from tomorrow in India. It comes with a price tag of INR 38,990. This handset will be available in Gunmetal Gray and Glacial Silver colors. Both the devices will be upgraded to the recently launched Android 5.0 (Lollipop) Operating System in the coming months.

htc_desire_eye
HTC Desire Eye

HTC One (M8 Eye) Specifications:

  • 5 inch Full HD display
  • 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution
  • Android 4.4 (KitKat) Operating System
  • Upgradable to Android 5.0 (Lollipop) OS
  • 2.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • HTC Sense 6 UI
  • 13 megapixel camera with auto-focus and dual LED flash
  • 58 megapixel front-facing camera
  • A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • 4G LTE Connectivity
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 16 GB internal memory
  • 128 GB expandable memory
  • 2600 mAh battery

HTC Desire Eye Specifications:

  • 5.2 inch Full HD display
  • 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Android 4.4 (KitKat) Operating System
  • Upgradable to Android 5.0 (Lollipop) OS
  • 2.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • HTC Sense 6 UI
  • 13 megapixel rear camera with auto-focus and dual LED flash
  • 13 megapixel front-facing camera with dual LED flash
  • A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • 4G LTE Connectivity
  • 2 GB RAM
  • HTC EYE Experience
  • 16 GB internal memory
  • 128 GB expandable memory
  • 2400 mAh battery

HTC Launches The Desire 820 And Desire 820q In India

Last month, the Taiwanese smartphone giant announced the successor of the Desire 816 in India. Today, HTC finally launched the Desire 820 and Desire 820q at an event in Mumbai. The Desire 820 packs a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor and 2 GB of RAM, while the Desire 820q comes with a 64-bit quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor and 1 GB of RAM. Apart from that, the specs of both the devices are identical.

The main highlight of these smartphones are its 8 megapixel front-facing camera specially designed for selfie lovers. The Photo Booth and Live Makeup feature on this smartphone lets you preview the image you just took and set the desired level of skin smoothing before taking the photo. HTC Desire 820 comes with a price tag of INR 24,990, while the Desire 820q comes with a price tag of INR 22,900. These smartphone will go on sale from November 5 in India.

HTC Desire 820 / Desire 820q Specifications:

  • 5.5 inch HD display
  • 720 x 1280 pixels resolution
  • Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) Operating System
  • Upgradable to Android 5.0 (Lollipop) OS
  • 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor (Desire 820)
  • 64-bit quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor (Desire 820q)
  • HTC Sense 6 UI
  • 13 megapixel camera with auto-focus and LED flash
  • 8 megapixel front-facing camera
  • A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • 4G LTE Connectivity
  • 2 GB RAM (Desire 820)
  • 1 GB RAM (Desire 820q)
  • 16 GB internal memory
  • 128 GB expandable memory
  • 2600 mAh battery

Microsoft Sets Conference Calendar for 2015: New Enterprise Event Named Microsoft Ignite

In July of this year, Microsoft announced that they were combining several of their tech conferences like Microsoft Management Summit and TechEd into one event and making it more broad-focused that each of the combined ones were by themselves. At the time though, they had not named the conference, just simply made a note that it was happening, and that it would be May 4 to May 8 in 2015 in Chicago.

On October 16, Microsoft not only announced the event name, but also made available some of the other events coming in 2015 for those interested in Microsoft’s tools and technologies. The new event will be called Microsoft Ignite, and as communicated earlier, it will be in Chicago from May 4 to May 8. This event will feature the cream of Microsoft officials headlined by the CEO Satya Nadella. Others scheduled to be at Ignite include Brad Anderson, Joe Belfiore, Dave Campbell, Peggy Johnson, Chris Jones, Julie Larson Green, Gurdeep Singh Pall and many others. Clearly, this event is going to be a big deal.

The other events announced:

  • Convergence 2015 in Atlanta, March 16-19
  • //Build in San Francisco, April 29-May 1
  • Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando, July 12-16

Back to the new conference, Ignite. Here’s what Microsoft says about it:

If you are on the hook to help your company make the right tech moves in the new world of mobile and cloud, Ignite is the show for you. For the first time ever, we’re putting under one roof the education, vision and guidance for the full spectrum of our enterprise solutions. Our best and brightest minds, along with thousands of your peers, will be there to help you chart the course for your team, your company and your career.

They claim this will be for everyone from senior tech strategist to a hard-core IT admin. They further say:

Ignite is where you’ll come up with your next great idea, based on what you learn about the upcoming wave of products and services. We’re going to cover it all, across cloud infrastructure and management, big data and analytics, productivity, unified communications, operating systems, mobile devices and more.

So Ignite seems like a conference about the “productivity” part of Satya Nadella’s “productivity and platforms company” label and //Build will be the “platforms” part of the same.

Registration is already open for Ignite at http://ignite.microsoft.com

Know your technology head on