Google assistant's biggest question: 'What's my personality?'

Giving Google’s new digital assistant a human touch will be among its top challenges.

One of the first things Genevieve Bell did after bringing home an Amazon Echo was ask the smart speaker to set a timer. After the Echo replied in its soft, reassuring female voice, Bell told the device “thank you.”

“When was the last time you said ‘thank you’ to Google search?” asked Bell, Intel’s longtime cultural anthropologist and corporate strategist. “There’s something about speech that’s human.”

Bell’s experience points to both the promise and the peril of Google’s new effort to create its own digital butler, simply dubbed “Google assistant,” which it hopes will become capable of natural, two-way conversation with people. Several experts in conversational software said Google could make itself an even more intimate part of users’ lives by offering this kind of technology. But, they noted, reaching this goal won’t be easy — especially when it comes to adding a human touch.

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Microsoft rolls out more Windows 10 updates as July 29 launch looms

Author: 

For: CNET

windows10-updates.jpg
Microsoft continues to update Windows 10 in time for its July 29 due date.screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Microsoft has pushed out a few more updates to Windows 10 as it rushes to prep its new OS for launch next Wednesday.

On Thursday, Gabe Aul, the engineering general manager for Microsoft’s operating systems group, tweeted: “Another update now available on Windows Update for Windows 10 PC build 10240.” Build 10240 is the latest and final build forWindows 10 before the official launch. As such, Microsoft has been focused on pushing out updates for that build to ensure that it’s as solid as possible.

The two updates released late Thursday include a security update with the Microsoft Knowledge Base number of KB3074679 and a new driver for Intel HD graphics. The security update description says little other than the generic: “A security issue that been identified in a Microsoft product that could affect your system.” The one for Intel HD graphics updates the driver for PCs with Intel’s integrated graphics processor. I also caught an update for Windows Defender, Microsoft’s built-in antimalware software, which is updated on a regular basis with new definition files.

Microsoft needs to hit a home run with Windows 10, not just to make up for the debacle of Windows 8 but also to prove that it can still create an OS that generates appeal, excitement and demand among users. The company has been constructing and enhancing Windows 10 since October, with feedback from people who joined the Windows Insider Program to download and test each new build and offer their comments, suggestions and criticisms.

But even if Windows 10 isn’t 100 percent bug-free and rock-solid come next Wednesday, that doesn’t spell doom and gloom for the latest version. With Windows 10, Microsoft has adopted a new rollout approach. Members of the Windows Insider Program will get the upgrade on Wednesday so they can keep testing and offering their feedback. Based on that testing and feedback as well as its own findings, Microsoft will continue to update Windows 10 to address any new issues. It will then start pushing the OS out to Windows 7 and 8.1 users who reserved the free upgrade.

And even after the upgrade is installed by potentially millions of Windows 7 and 8.1 users, Microsoft can continue to update the product as necessary through the Windows Update process. So in some ways, Windows 10 may always be a work in progress. That’s not much different than previous versions of Windows, which continually required updates. Still, the new OS needs to be as stable and user-friendly as possible during the rollout period if it’s to catch on with users, especially those jaded with Microsoft after Windows 8.

The latest Windows 10 updates should download automatically as long as you’ve enabled Automatic Updates. To do so, click the Start button and choose Settings. From the Settings screen, click the category for Update & security. In the Windows Update pane, click the link for Advanced options. And under Advanced Options, make sure the option under Choose how updates are installed is set to Automatic.

You can also check for new updates manually from the Windows Update pane. Click the Check for updates button. If any updates are found, click the View details button and then click the Install button to install them.

Here's everything you need to know about upgrading to Windows 10

Author: 

For: Business Inside

On July 29th, Microsoft will release the most significant overhaul of its operating system in years when it launches the long-awaited Windows 10.

You probably have some questions. So we’ve prepared some answers.

What’s new and cool about Windows 10?

Windows 10 comes with lots of nifty new features: The Cortana digital assistant takes the best parts of Apple’s Siri and Google Now and adds a little more attitude; the new Windows Store promises apps that work exactly the same on your Windows 10 PC as on your Windows 10 tablet. Plus, the new Microsoft Edge Web browser has cool new features (like being able to scribble notes directly on a webpage), and it’s performing better than Google Chrome in some early benchmark tests.

Should I bother with the upgrade to Windows 10? Windows 8.1 was pretty bad.

So far, Windows 10 seems pretty solid.

Microsoft has made a free preview edition available to those brave enough to test early versions of the software, with a program called Windows Insider.

And even in that early form, there’s been a lot to love. At first blush, Windows 10 takes the best parts of Windows 7 (stability, user friendliness) and Windows 8.1 (touchscreen-friendliness) and combines it into something that’s easy to use, both on computers and tablets. It’s familiar, but fresh.

Microsoft is billing this as “The Last Version of Windows,” and promises that it’ll get new features and upgrades on a rolling basis rather than ever releasing a Windows 11 (or 12, or 13).

How much will it cost me to upgrade my Windows 7 or 8 PC?

Nothing. For the next year, any Windows 7 or 8/8.1 computer, tablet, and smartphone gets a free Windows 10 upgrade. Microsoft has big plans for Windows 10, but first it needs to have everybody on the same operating system, so it’s willing to take the financial hit.

Which version of Windows 10 will I get for free?

Check out this handy chart:

Windows 10 upgrade chartMicrosoft

Can my PC or tablet handle an upgrade to Windows 10?

Microsoft says the basic system requirements to run its new OS are: 1 GHz or faster processor or SoC; 1 GB RAM (for 32-bit version), 2GB RAM (for 64 bit-version); 16 GB hard drive (for 32-bit version), 20 GB hard drive (for 64-bit version); a Directx 9 or later graphics card with WDDM 1.0 driver; 800×600 display.

Most PCs will probably meet these requirements — and the Get Windows 10 app that you probably already have on your computer will tell you for sure.

Cool. So I can get Windows 10 on July 29th?

Sort of.

Sort of?

On July 29th, the first batch of computers with Windows 10 preinstalled will be available for sale. There won’t initially be many of those computers available though, as a lot of PC manufacturers are holding back their new models until the back-to-school shopping or holiday seasons.

What if I don’t want to buy a new computer? 

Microsoft is making Windows 10 available for download, starting on July 29th.

New Windows 10 start menuMicrosoftThe Windows 10 Start menu.

So I can download Windows 10 on July 29th?

Sort of. Again.

First, it will go out to the members of the Windows Insider program, to thank them for their service in testing the operating system. Then, it will go out to one group of users at a time over the next few weeks, starting on July 29th — Microsoft doesn’t want to risk a tidal wave of Windows 10 downloads taking its servers down.

You might have already signed up to get in line for the download. Microsoft has been bugging Windows users about the upgrade for the last month or so, via a “Get Windows 10” app in your system tray. That same app will check your computer for compatibility with Windows 10.

What if I don’t want to download Windows 10?

You have two choices: A boxed copy, or a copy that lives on a USB flash drive. Either way, it will run you $119.99 for Windows 10 Home Edition, and $199.99 for Windows 10 Pro Edition.

The big catch here is that neither version will be released in stores until August 30th, 2015, according to the Amazon product listing.

Xbox Windows 10MicrosoftThe Xbox app for Windows 10, which lets you stream games from an Xbox One games console to a Windows 10 PC.

So if I absolutely need to make sure I have Windows 10 on July 29th, I have to buy a new computer?

Basically, yes.

If I upgrade my existing computer to Windows 10, will I lose my files?

Nope. The actual download and install process is handled through Windows Update, so Windows 10 will still have everything once the process is complete. The only catch is that you’ll lose some programs like Windows Media Center, which doesn’t have a Windows 10 version.

Is Microsoft doing anything special for the Windows 10 launch?

Well, it’s not going to be the mass-market advertising and media blitz of the Windows 95 launch 20 years ago, but Microsoft Stores are having special events all around the country. So if, say, you live in New York and don’t have plans on July 29th, you can meet World Cup soccer champion Abby Wambach at the Garden City Microsoft Store.

Just don’t expect any iPhone-style overnight lines.

bill gates windows 95Microsoft ArchivesBill Gates announces Windows 95.

What if I have a problem with Windows 10 and need some tech support?

“As with any significant release, we evaluate customer resources and have invested in upgrade support from a variety of resources including Microsoft Answer Desk, Windows.com andsupport.microsoft.com,” says a Microsoft spokesperson.

Plus, those same Microsoft Stores are getting “Answer Desks,” where you can bring in your Windows 10 computer and have them answer questions for you. They’ll even help you install it.

Great. So what’s the catch?

Windows 10 is still very new, so let the buyer beware. Those early testers have already caught lots of flaws and bugs, but there’s going to be some weirdness early on as Microsoft works to patch up the platform. The new Microsoft Edge browser that comes with Windows 10 won’t support browser extensions right away, for example.

If you’re really concerned, maybe take some time before the upgrade.

Shortcuts for Word

1. Manage Word Documents
Ctrl+N Create new document
Ctrl+O Open document
Ctrl+W Close document
Ctrl+S Save document
F12 Save document as
Ctrl+P Print document/ print preview
Ctrl+F6 Switch between multiple Word documents
Alt, then f, r Open Recent (file, recent)

▲ up

minus2. Navigate within Documents
Arrow Left/Arrow Right Jump one character to the left / to the right
Ctrl+Arrow Left/Ctrl+Arrow Right Jump one word to the left / to the right
End/Home Jump to the end of a line / beginning of a line
Arrow Down/Arrow Up Jump one line down / one line down
Ctrl+Arrow Down/Ctrl+Arrow Up Jump one paragraph down / one paragraph up
Page Down/Page Up Jump one screen down/ one screen up
Alt+Ctrl+Page Down/Alt+Ctrl+Page Up Jump to top / to bottom of visible window
Ctrl+End/Ctrl+Home Jump to end / to beginning of document
F6 Cycle through Ribbon/open panes/Status Bar/document window
Ctrl+G/F5 Go to a page, bookmark, footnote, table, comment, graphic, or other location
Alt+Ctrl+Z Go back to previously edited location in document (up to 4 places)
Shift+F5 Go to a the last change or revision. Also works after opening document.
Ctrl+Shift+F5 Set, go to and edit bookmarks
Alt+Ctrl+Home Set Browse Options. Press the arrow keys to select an option, and then press enter to browse through a document by using the selected option
Ctrl+Page Down/Ctrl+Page Up Move to next / move to previous browser object as set in Browse Options
minusDialog boxes
Tab Cycle forward through all options and elements
Shift+Tab Cycle backwards through all options and elements
Ctrl+Tab Cycle forward through available pages
Ctrl+Shift+Tab Cycle backwards through available pages
Alt+underlined letter Selects the option indicated by the letter

▲ up

minus3. Select Text
Shift+Arrow Right/Shift+Arrow Left Extend selection one character to the right / to the left
Ctrl+Shift+Arrow Right/Ctrl+Shift+Arrow Left Extend selection one word to the right / to the left
Shift+End/Shift+Home Extend selection to the end / to beginning of a line
Shift+Arrow Down/Shift+Arrow Up Extend selection one line down / one line up
Shift+Page Down/Shift+Page Up Extend selection one screen down / one screen up
Ctrl+Shift+End/Ctrl+Shift+Home Extend selection to end / to beginning of document
Alt+Ctrl+Shift+Page Down/Alt+Ctrl+Shift+Page Up Extend selection to end / to beginning of visible window
Ctrl+A Extend selection to entire document
Arrow Keys Cancel selection and return to beginning / to end of selection
F8 Turn Extend Mode on: Extend selection without pressing shift
Arrow keys , Page up/Page Down Extend selection in Extended Mode:
F8 Extend selection further by word, paragraph, document in Extended Mode
Shift+F8 Reduce the size of a selection in Extended Mode
Ctrl+Shift+f8, and arrow keys Select a vertical block of text in Extended Mode
Esc Turn extend mode off
F8 Extend a selection to a specific location in a document

▲ up

minus4. Undo, Copy and Paste
Ctrl+Z Undo the last action
Ctrl+Y Redo the last action
Ctrl+C Copy selected text or object
Ctrl+X Cut selected text or object
Ctrl+V Paste selected text or object
Ctrl+Shift+C Copy text format
Ctrl+Shift+V Paste text format
Ctrl+Alt+V Paste special
Ctrl+v, then Ctrl, then k Paste and keep Source Formatting
Ctrl+v, then Ctrl, then t Paste and keep Text only
Ctrl+F3 Cut to the Spike (separate clipboard)
Ctrl+Shift+F3 Paste from the Spike
F3 Paste AutoText ( after start typing)
Alt+Shift+R Copy the header or footer from previous section of the document

▲ up

minus5. Edit Documents
minusInsert Special Characters
Alt+Ctrl+C Insert copyright symbol
Alt+Ctrl+R Insert registered trademark symbol
Alt+Ctrl+T Insert trademark symbol
Alt+Ctrl+. (Period) Insert horizontal ellipsis (…)
Alt+Ctrl+ Insert em dash
Alt+Ctrl+[+] Insert en dash
Alt, then n,u Insert Symbol (insert menu)
/Ctrl+2x` Insert single opening quotation mark
Ctrl+2x Insert single closing quotation mark
Type character code and press Alt+X Insert Unicode character, e.g. 20ac
Select character and press alt+X Transform character to Unicode
Alt+character code on numeric keyboard Insert ANSI character
minusInsert Breaks
Enter Insert paragraph break
Shift+Enter Insert line break without breaking paragraph
Ctrl+Enter Insert page break
Ctrl+Shift+Enter Insert column break (break table)
Ctrl+Shift+Space Insert nonbreaking space
Ctrl+Shift+ (Hyphen) Insert nonbreaking hyphen
Ctrl+ Insert optional hyphen
minusInsert Text Elements
Alt+Ctrl+F Insert a footnote
Alt+Ctrl+D Insert an endnote
Ctrl+K Insert a hyperlink
Alt+Shift+I Insert Citation Mark
Alt+Shift+X Insert Index Mark
minusMove and Delete Text
F2, then move to position and press Enter Move selected text to different position
Shift+F2, then move to position and press Enter Copy selected text to different position
Delete/Backspace Delete one character to the right / to the left (or delete selection)
Ctrl+Delete/Ctrl+Backspace Delete one word to the right / to the left
Delete Delete one character to the right or delete selection
Ctrl+Shift+</Ctrl+Shift+> Decrease / Increase font size one value

▲ up

minus6. Formats
minusFormat Text
Ctrl+D/Ctrl+Shift+K Open the Font dialog box
Ctrl+Shift+</Ctrl+Shift+> Decrease / Increase font size one value
Ctrl+[/Ctrl+] Decrease / Increase font size one point
Ctrl+B Apply/remove bold
Ctrl+I Apply/remove italic
Ctrl+U Apply/remove underline
Ctrl+= Apply/remove subscript
Ctrl+Shift+= Apply/remove superscript
Ctrl+Shift+C Copy formatting
Ctrl+Shift+V Paste formatting
Ctrl+Shift+D Apply/remove double-underline
Ctrl+Shift+W Apply/remove words underline (only words, no spaces)
Ctrl+Shift+H Apply/remove hidden formatting
Ctrl+Shift+A Apply/remove all capitals
Ctrl+Shift+K Apply/remove small capitals
Shift+F3 Change between all upper-, first letter upper- and all lower-case
Ctrl+d, then Alt+k and enter Apply strike-through formatting (font dialog)
Ctrl+Shift+Q Change the selection to the Symbol font
Shift+F1 Reveal Formatting (show all formats of selection)
Ctrl+Alt+H Apply/remove Highlight Text Feature
minusFormat Paragraphs
Ctrl+R Right-align paragraph
Ctrl+L Left-align paragraph
Ctrl+E Center-align paragraph
Ctrl+J Justify-align paragraph
Ctrl+M/Ctrl+Shift+M Indent paragraph from the left and increase / decrease indent
Ctrl+T Increase hanging indent
Ctrl+Shift+T Decrease hanging indent
Ctrl+1 Set line-spacing to single-space
Ctrl+2 Set line-spacing to double-space
Ctrl+5 Set line-spacing to 1.5
Ctrl+0 (zero) Add or remove one line space preceding a paragraph
minusStyles
Alt+Ctrl+Shift+S Open or close Styles task pane
Alt+Ctrl+1 Apply Heading 1 style
Alt+Ctrl+2 Apply Heading 2 style
Alt+Ctrl+3 Apply Heading 3 style
Alt+Shift+Arrow Right/Alt+Shift+Arrow Left Promote / demote Headings
Ctrl+Space Remove all manual styles
Ctrl+Shift+N Apply Normal style
Ctrl+Shift+S Open Apply Styles task pane (will not close with pressing it a second time)
Alt+Ctrl+K Start Auto Format

▲ up

minus7. Search and Replace
Ctrl+H Open traditional find and replace window
Ctrl+h, then Alt+D Open traditional find window
Alt+Ctrl+y, /Shift+F4 Repeat last find after closing find window
Ctrl+Tab Jump between find menu and document
Alt+Space, Arrow keys and Enter Move find menu window
Esc Close traditional search window if active
Ctrl+F Open (new) search menu in navigation task pane
alt, then w,k Open and close Navigation pane (View, Navigation)

▲ up

minus8. Manage Word View
minusSwitch Views
Alt+Ctrl+P Switch to Print Layout view
Alt+Ctrl+O Switch to Outline view
Alt+Ctrl+N Switch to Draft view (used to be normal view)
Ctrl+scroll mouse Zoom in and zoom out
alt then w, q Open Zoom Menu (no native shortcut exists for zoom in/ zoom out)
Alt+Ctrl+S Split the document window
minusRibbons
Ctrl+F1 Show or hide the ribbon
F10/Alt Select item in Ribbon
Esc Leave Ribbon or Submenu
Arrow Left/Arrow Right Move left or right between main Ribbon Menus if active
Arrow Keys Move left/right/up/down between Ribbon Menus and Sub-Menus
Space/Enter When in ribbon Open or activate selected item
minusNavigation Pane
Alt, then w,k Open and close Navigation pane (View, Navigation)
F6/Shift+F6 With Navigation Pane open: Switch forward / backwards between (1) Navigation Pane, (2) Bottom Taskbar, (3) Ribbon, and (4) Document
Tab/Shift+Tab In Navigation Pane: Move through Navigation Pane options
minus9. Tables
minusNavigate in Tables
Arrow Down/Arrow Up Jump one row down / one row up
Tab/Shift+Tab Jump to (and select) next / previous table cell
Alt+Home/Alt+End Jump to first column/ jump to last column
Alt+Page Up/Alt+Page Down Jump to first row / jump to last row
Ctrl+Arrow Left/Ctrl+Arrow Right One cell to the left / to the right
minusSelect Table Contents
Shift+End Select current table cell
end, then shift+Home Select content of current table cell
Press and hold shift and press arrow keysrepeatedly Extend selection to adjacent cells
Ctrl+Shift+f8, then press Extend selection or block
Alt+5 on numeric keypad (with numLock off) Select an entire table
minusEdit Tables
Alt+Shift+Arrow Up/Alt+Shift+Arrow Down Move current row up or down
In first column, press shift+End Select row*
In first row press alt+Shift+Page Down Select column
Shift+Delete Delete rows* with rows selected
Shift+Delete Delete columns with columns selected
Alt, j, l, d, r Delete row at cursor
Alt, j, l, d, c Delete column at cursor
Alt, j, l, a Insert row above cursor
Alt, j, l, e Insert row below cursor
Alt, j, l, l Insert column to the left of cursor
Alt, j, l, r Insert column to the right of cursor
Ctrl+Tab Insert tab character
tab in last table cell Add row at the end
*Make sure selection extends past the last column which is number of columns +1. Word shows the selection extended next to the last column.
minus10. Outline View
Ctrl+Shift+O Switch to Outline View
Tab/Shift+Tab Promote / Demote a paragraph (or Alt+Shift+Arrow Left/Arrow Right)
Alt+Shift+Arrow Up/Alt+Shift+Arrow Down Move selected paragraphs up / down
Ctrl+Shift+N Demote to body text (set style to normal)
Alt+Shift+[+]/Alt+Shift+ Expand / Collapse text under a heading
Alt+Shift+A Expand or collapse all text or headings
[/ key on the numeric keypad Hide or display character formatting
Alt+Shift+L Show the first line of body text or all body text
Alt+Shift+1 Show all headings with the Heading 1 style
Alt+Shift+N Show all headings up to Heading n
Ctrl+Tab Insert a tab character

minus11. Review Documents
F7 Choose the Spelling command (Review tab).
Alt+Ctrl+M Insert a comment
Ctrl+Shift+E Turn change tracking on or off
Alt+Shift+C Close the Reviewing Pane if it is open.
Ctrl+Shift+* Display nonprinting characters.
Alt+F10 Display the Selection and Visibility task pane.
Ctrl+Shift+G Open the Word Count dialog box.

minus12. Print Documents
Ctrl+P Print a document (print preview)
Esc Close print preview
Arrow keys, Page up /Page Down Move around the preview pages (with focus on preview page*)
Ctrl+Home/Ctrl+End Move to first page / last page (with focus on preview page)
*Except tabbing, there seems to be no shortcut to jump to preview page. Clicking on it with the mouse is an option

minus13. Fields
Alt+Shift+D Insert current date (insert DATE field)
Alt+Shift+P Insert page number (insert PAGE field)
Alt+Shift+T Insert time (insert TIME field)
Alt+Ctrl+L Insert LISTNUM field
Ctrl+F9 Insert an empty field
Ctrl+Shift+L Insert a LISTNUM field
Shift+F9 Show or hide field code/result of selected field
Alt+F9 Show or hide field codes/results of all fields in document
F9 Update selected fields*
Alt+Shift+F9 Run GOTOBUTTON or MACROBUTTON from the field that displays the field results
F11/Shift+F11 Go to the next field/ previous field
Ctrl+Shift+F7 Update linked information in a Microsoft Word source document
Ctrl+Shift+F9 Unlink a field
Ctrl+F11/Ctrl+Shift+F11 Lock a field / Unlock a field
*to update all fields, select the complete document with ctrl+a, then update fields by pressing f9)

minus14. Mail Merge
Alt+Shift+K Preview a mail merge
Alt+Shift+N Merge a document
Alt+Shift+M Print the merged document
Alt+Shift+E Edit a mail-merge data document
Alt+Shift+F Insert a merge field
Alt+Shift+K Preview a mail merge
Alt+Shift+N Merge a document
Alt+Shift+M Print the merged document
Alt+Shift+E Edit a mail-merge data document
Alt+Shift+F Insert a merge field

minus15. The Rest
F1 Get Help or visit Microsoft Office.com
Alt+Space Open the window menu
Alt+F4 Exit Word
Shift+F10 Display a shortcut menu (Simulate right mouse button)
Alt+F3 Create new Building block with selected texts

Why Microsoft is calling Windows 10 'the last version of Windows'

“Right now we’re releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we’re all still working on Windows 10.” That was the message from Microsoft employee Jerry Nixon, a developer evangelist speaking at the company’s Ignite conference this week. Nixon was explaining how Microsoft was launching Windows 8.1 last year, but in the background it was developing Windows 10. Now, Microsoft employees can talk freely about future updates to Windows 10 because there’s no secret update in the works coming next. It’s all just Windows 10. While it immediately sounds like Microsoft is killing off Windows and not doing future versions, the reality is a little more complex. The future is “Windows as a service.”

IT’S ALL ABOUT WINDOWS AS A SERVICE

Microsoft has been discussing the idea of Windows as a service, but the company hasn’t really explained exactly how that will play out with future versions of Windows. That might be because there won’t really be any future major versions of Windows in the foreseeable future. Microsoft has altered the way it engineers and delivers Windows, and the initial result is Windows 10. Instead of big releases, there will be regular improvements and updates. Part of this is achieved by splitting up operating system components like the Start Menu and built-in apps to be separate parts that can be updated independently to the entire Windows core operating system. It’s a big undertaking, but it’s something Microsoft has been actively working on for Windows 10 to ensure it spans across multiple device types.

While we’ll witness the results in the coming months, Microsoft is already in launch mode for a number of its apps and services that power Windows 10. The software company is testing preview builds of Window 10 with willing participants, and apps like Xbox and Mail have been engineered for regularly monthly updates. Even Office for Windows 10 will also get regular updates, much like a mobile version, instead of the big bang release every few years.

WINDOWS ISN’T DEAD, BUT THE IDEA OF VERSION NUMBERS COULD BE

When I reached out to Microsoft about Nixon’s comments, the company didn’t dismiss them at all. “Recent comments at Ignite about Windows 10 are reflective of the way Windows will be delivered as a service bringing new innovations and updates in an ongoing manner, with continuous value for our consumer and business customers,” says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “We aren’t speaking to future branding at this time, but customers can be confident Windows 10 will remain up-to-date and power a variety of devices from PCs to phones to Surface Hub to HoloLens and Xbox. We look forward to a long future of Windows innovations.”

With Windows 10, it’s time to start thinking of Windows as something that won’t see a big launch or major upgrade every few years anymore. Much like how Google’s Chrome browser gets updated regularly with version numbers nobody really pays attention to, Microsoft’s approach will likely result in a similar outcome. This is really the idea of Windows as a service, and the notion that Windows 10 could be the last major version of Windows. Microsoft could opt for Windows 11 or Windows 12 in future, but if people upgrade to Windows 10 and the regular updates do the trick then everyone will just settle for just “Windows” without even worrying about the version number.

Source 

45 Most Exciting Apps For Librarians

By Robert

Thank you for all your great feedback! We updated our list to include even more great apps!

Although this is the information age, one of the most common places for people to seek information is still the public library. Fortunately, modern libraries have kept up with technological advancements and have integrated computers, the internet, and other important tools as a normal part of this dynamic hub where paper media meets electronics. In fact, many people view the library as the central information center of the city, and in order to retain this title, librarians now find themselves faced with the need to utilize smartphones and tablet apps to complete their tasks and perform jobs more quickly and efficiently.

There are various applications on the market for librarians, each with their own uses, and although not all are helpful in the library, you might be surprised to learn of how many do serve a literary purpose.

Check out this list of 45 of the best apps for librarians:

For Better Reading:

1. Kindle – The Kindle is by far the most globally popular e-reader and e-reading app on the market, and was created by Amazon. Due to its connections with Amazon it has a huge selection of books to choose from in a multitude of categories.

2. Nook – Similar to the Kindle, the Nook is featured by Barnes and Noble, and has many new releases for sale as well as a small selection of free reading materials.

3. Kobo – Kobo is an e-reader company that was established in Toronto, Canada, and is the second most used e-reader in the world after the Kindle. It’s most commonly used in Canada, and hosts a large assortment of books.

4. Free Books – The Free Books app provides 23,469 classic titles for your selection, and allows for highlighting, notes, dictionary support, and bookmarks, which make it an asset for any library.

5. iBooks – iBooks is an iTunes app that includes access to the iBookstore for a wide variety of reading materials.

6. Good Reader – The newest Good Reader application is called Good Reader 4 and it’s more of an academic tool than some of the other e-reading apps on this list. It allows you to access scholarly articles and other documents and save them to your mobile device for later viewing.

7. Bookviser – This application was specifically designed for Windows-based mobile devices and is used by over 700,000 Windows phone owners to browse and read their favorite books.

8. Audiobooks – Not everybody can enjoy a book on the go, or has the time to sit and scan a page; luckily, the Audiobooks application offers free books that you can listen to for multitasking and hands free enjoyment of books.

9. Readu – This application reads EPUB and TXT files and allows you to download books from other places and sites, as well as translate text.

10. Freda+ – Freda+ is a customizable reading application that allows for changes in font and color, and accepts text formats like EPUB, HTML, TXT, and FB2.

For Boosting Productivity and Organization at Work:

11. Box – Box provides secure access to cloud storage and collaborating on a multitude of mobile devices.

12. Outliner – This application assists with the organization and maintaining of the appropriate structure for projects and planning while at the library.

13. Pages – Create documents for many purposes including library newsletters, documents for handouts and other pages that may need to be printed later with this mobile word processor.

14. World Book: This Day In History – This app is perfect for posting a history fact of the day on a library webpage or in individual library departments.

15. iNapkin – iNapkin is an app for iOS devices and allows you to take notes, organize them and access them later.

16. CalenGoo – CalenGoo is made for mobile Android devices and can be used to sync Google calendar and other Google apps with your phone.

17. Evernote – This free note making app organizes and saves ideas by giving you the opportunity to snap photos, take notes, make voice reminders, and even scan business cards.

18. Things 2 – Things 2 is available for iPad, Mac, or iPhone, and manages tasks by planning your day, saving important dates, customizing workflow, and organizing e-mail.

19. LanSchool Teachers Assistant for iOS – This is a free classroom organization and management software that allows librarians to block certain content and monitor patrons in a digital loan setting.

20. History: Maps of World – This app is perfect for libraries to have on hand during presentations or children’s learning events where geography is being discussed.

21. Dropbox – Dropbox is a cloud app that allows you to share files between your tablet, mobile phone and computer wherever the app is installed.

22. Docs Anywhere – As the name suggests, this app allows librarians to take their Word and image documents anywhere. This is done through USB transfer and it works with Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDF and other kinds of files.

23. Keynote – For librarians who make group presentations for management purposes or during patron events. Keynote supplies animated charts and many other features.

24. eClicker Presenter – Another presentation application, eClicker doesn’t just provide standard presentation guides and tools, it also gives librarians the ability to send out questions to the audience with the click of a button.

25. Moodboard – Moodboard is a way to put together all of the events and interests going on around the library into one neat display. Print your page and post it up in the library, or have it uploaded to the library website so that patrons can see what’s new and interesting.

26. Offline Pages Pro – Although most libraries have wi-fi, there isn’t always access on the journey between home and work. Offline Pages Pro will give you the opportunity to take information and webpages with you to read or work on while you’re not connected to the internet. It also includes PDF reader support.

27. Dictionary – Reading is no fun if you don’t know meaning of all the words that you are reading, which is why having a dictionary on the go is a great tool for a librarian. This app also works as a thesaurus and offers a word of the day for each day of the week to strengthen your vocabulary and keep things interesting.

28. Wikipanion – Wikipedia may not always be 100% guaranteed correct information, but it’s an excellent resource for librarians in a pinch who need to look up an answer to a question of a patron. It is one of the largest online information sources across the globe, so it has a little bit of everything, and Wikipanion was designed to easily access the information in Wikipedia.

29. Osfoora 2 – Twitter is a huge method of communication for many people globally, so tweeting to patrons from a library twitter account is a perfect way to keep in touch. Osfoora 2 lets you use more than one account at a time to send tweets for work.

30. Quickoffice – Quickoffice combines Word, Excel, and Powerpoint into a great mobile app for librarians who need to open, edit, and send documents on the go. This is wonderful for presentations, reports, and other paperwork that have to be processed from time to time.

31. Wolfram Alpha – This multi-functional application can help answer questions through a variety of educational tools for math, history, geography, and more. Different features of this app work with different subjects, which could help to better understand various subject matter within the library.

32. ReferenceUSA – This application is only available for iPad at the moment, but it’s a wonderful app for librarians who need real time access to research databases across North America. You must have a registered library card to use this app, which is highly convenient if you happen to work at a library.

33. ArticleSearch – This is a free app that, like ReferenceUSA, gives you access to a wide selection of scientific papers, academic journals, and other publications. It is great for research related to academic projects going on within the library, and it is also helpful as a library patron aid for those who come to do school work.

34. Farlex – Farlex provides a free and professional level dictionaries for librarians and other users who not only want to look up words and find their meanings, but also listen to their correct pronunciations. As a librarian there are always going to be kids and young adult readers who have questions concerning book titles and other difficult words throughout reading material, and this can really help.

35. Mango Mobile – The Mango Mobile Library Edition helps with language learning and is free for both iPhone and Android users. With this app you can take cultural lessons and hear the proper pronunciation of words by native speakers. This is a wonderful way for librarians to enjoy books with other languages featured throughout them, and also to share those books with children in reading programs and other events held at the library.

36. TurboScan – This application gives librarians an edge by allowing them to scan multiple documents using their mobile devices. This works well for receipts and business cards and also for other reading resources that you might like to store.

37. CamDictionary – CamDictionary lets you translate text into different languages and also provides the correct pronunciation. This app is particularly neat because you don’t need to type the word with text, but you simply point and click, and a photograph will be used to determine the meaning in other languages.

38. Google Goggles – This is an Android application that can be great for librarians who want to look up a certain person, place, or item, but can’t think of the name. You simply take a photo using your mobile device and then Google Goggles will search for it in its database and give you some information about it if it is found in its database.

39. Adobe Reader – This app works for most mobile devices and helps read pdf files without any of the trouble that some pdf readers cause. This is available for a large selection of handheld phones and tablets.

40. iAnnotate PDF – This is another pdf reader that gives librarians the added advantage of editing their pdf files from their mobile devices.

41. Offline Pages – For librarians working without access to the net, Offline Pages will store entire web pages so that you can look at them while out of the reach of wi-fi. This is a great way to store info on the go to look at while in transit, or even just when you need a quick glance at something, but don’t want to wait for the entire page to load online.

For Staying Up To Date On The News:

42. The Guardian Eyewitness – A very well-known European news source, The Guardian has developed this application to connect users with the world on a whole new level. Unlike other world news programs, this application is designed to bring you strikingly beautiful images from across the globe that visually reflect current events. There is an image of the day, as well as a themed archive of photos that can be sorted through.

43. CNN – CNN reports important, up to the minute headlines from around the world. From this application a librarian can stay in the loop of different global subjects and factual information that might be required for later projects and for personal knowledge.

44. NewsRack – NewsRack is an RSS reader for global news which include crucial top stories from many countries and can be used by librarians to stay informed on an abundance of subjects. This is a great way to connect with the news before work or to look up a top story for research purposes.

45. USA Today – For news affecting the United States, the USA Today app is available on nearly any handheld device or mobile unit. This news app also follows world news and includes subjects like money, sports, travel, life, tech, and weather.

Each of these applications has some really great qualities to offer librarians at work or at home to stay organized, up-to-date, and, of course, do some reading. Although some apps might have similar attributes, each individual tool tends to have its own specific advantages to look forward to.

If you can think of any other applications that might make life as a librarian more convenient, interesting, or fun, leave a comment.

Why 2015 will be the year that the cloud comes of age

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It has been reported that by 2018, the global market for cloud equipment will reach $79.1 billion. Having burst onto the tech scene in 2006, the “cloud” — as IT leaders, programmers, and marketers know it today — is almost a decade old. From Google Docs to Dropbox, Web-connected humans are glued to the cloud every minute, of every day.

Take a step back, however, to ask yourself what the cloud is, where it is, and what it does. Now, try to condense those thoughts into a short sentence.  The closest that you might come to a definition is the following explanation from TechTarget:

“Cloud computing enables companies to consume competing resources as a utility — just like electricity — rather than having to build and maintain computing infrastructures in-house.”

As TechTarget elaborates, cloud computing touches upon the following three areas:

  • Self-service provisioning, in which end users can control and customize workloads on demand.
  • Elasticity, which means that users can scale their computing needs to demand.
  • Pay per use, in which users measure and pay for the resources that they’re using.

The short story? The cloud is a lot of things to a lot of different types of companies and consumers. What 2015 means is that the tech community has exceeded a decade of research, development, and innovation. Here are three important ways that the cloud is helping companies evolve.

1 – The cloud levels the playing field between enterprise giants and small ventures

mobile security laptop fingerprint 520x315 Why 2015 will be the year that the cloud comes of age

Not so long ago, the highest performing technology assets were limited to large, complex organizations. With the level of risk and investment involved in adopting new hardware, few organizations could boast access to fast and infinitely scalable computing power.

“Before the cloud, companies implemented new software and technology in a relatively traditional way through structured, company-wide deployments,” explains John Brennan, head of business development at international communications firm BT.

What the cloud brings to the table is versatility that allows end users to invest in the exact resources that they need — no more and no less. Companies can switch over to lightweight, cloud-based deployments that require little in the way of on-premise configuration and management.

“There’s much less investment and risk required to adopt and use new technology, and service agreements can be adapted to a company’s size through flexible pricing models, which has given all companies equal access to the latest and tools and capabilities,” says Brennan.

One of the most basic examples of this idea is cloud hosting provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) — a resource used by companies ranging from bootstrapped solopreneur ventures to fast growing startups and the largest organizations in the world. It’s cost effective for every type of user to access the same basic technology.

2 – The cloud simplifies information exchanges

rain cloud gloomy 520x316 Why 2015 will be the year that the cloud comes of age

Today’s top technologies — and human-to-human communications protocols — are dependent on APIs. Thanks to very simple programming, applications can connect to support the swift and efficient flow of information ranging from product SKUs to media buys, CRM data, and credit card transaction details.

“Cloud based APIs and microservices simplify information exchange,” says Chris Hoover, global vice president of product and marketing strategy at Perforce Software. “It lowers the barrier for new vendors to enter the market.”

The result, according to Hoover, is a trend in which enterprise companies are moving away from a ‘top down’ approach to software and information exchanges. More than ever before, individual departments, teams, and employees have the ability to choose their own software. This versatility will place increased pressure on organizations to become more innovative — and exchange information faster.

“A lower barrier to entry for enterprise software means increased competitive pressure,” says Hoover. “Expectations for faster release cycles mean that development within enterprise software vendors must accelerate, which leads to implications for new processes and automation.”

3 – The cloud allows higher levels of support

CloudDrive 520x199 Why 2015 will be the year that the cloud comes of age

Applications of the cloud are seemingly limitless. Companies have ultimate flexibility to add and remove resources as needed.

“Previously when you bought a server, you were trapped within that box,” explains Dustin Bolander, vice president of technology at IT firm Technology Pointe.

“If the company needed less resources long term, you still had to commit to that capital cost. If you needed more long term solutions, you were stuck making large purchases for more servers. Cloud lets you right size things on a monthly — or shorter — basis.”

This flexibility yields higher demands for customization — which will, in turn, create a need for higher end support packages.

“We are seeing a lot of companies dissatisfied with the level of support offered by many infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers,” says Bolander.

What’s important to keep in mind, according to Bolander, is that the tech community isn’t looking at the cloud from a cost-savings perspective anymore. Rather, the cloud has evolved into a tactical advantage for businesses looking to scale strategically.

Managed system operations (SysOps) services will include areas of performance monitoring, security audits, system backups, and resource optimization. Rather than managing these initiatives in-house, business of all sizes will be better positioned to focus on their core strengths instead of distracting maintenance operations.

“Multiple support tiers will become the norm,” says Bolander.

Final thoughts

The cloud has created a story that is ‘to be continued,’ with 2015 being a critical year for technologies to mature.  As companies grow accustomed to flexible, scalable infrastructure — and competition for faster, better services increases — the need for stronger support will grow stronger too. Meanwhile, the tech community will figure it all out together.

(Source The Next Web)