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Windows 10 Devices, New Android Apps Launch: Microsoft Roundup

Microsoft this week released Windows 10 Mobile and PC builds, acquired Xamarin, launched new Android apps, and voiced support for Apple in its fight with the FBI.

9 Windows 10 Apps For A Productivity Edge
9 Windows 10 Apps For A Productivity Edge
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

This week's updates from Redmond range from courtroom news to Microsoft Garage creations.

Microsoft kicked off its news cycle from Barcelona, where the 2016 Mobile World Congress (MWC) took place. There, HP unveiled the Elite x3 smartphone, a Windows 10 Mobile handheld intended for an enterprise audience.

HP wants the Elite x3 to be the smartphone, laptop, and desktop you use for business. Its accessories enable the Continuum feature in Windows 10: A Desk Dock lets you connect the Elite x3 to a desktop monitor, and the Mobile Extender is a laptop shell powered by the phone.

[Red Hat Enterprise Linux is on Azure. What took so long?]

Partners debuted a range of Windows 10 PCs and tablets at MWC. Huawei brought its first desktop device, the hybrid MateBook; Panasonic launched the rugged Toughpad FZ-F1, and Lenovo released the Yoga 510 and 710.

Windows Insiders in the Fast ring received two new builds this week: Build 14271 for PCs and Mobile Build 14267.1004 for smartphones. The latter is the same build released Feb. 19, said Microsoft in a blog post, with a couple of fixes and the introduction of visual voicemail on dual-SIM devices.

PC build 14271 comes with several fixes but there are a few issues worth mentioning: Some PCs will freeze or bluescreen when coming out of hibernation; older apps like Windows Live Mail and Expression Encoder 4 may crash; and certain security programs (Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Internet Security, Kaspersky Total Security Suite) may not work due to a driver bug.

On the mobile front, Microsoft has confirmed its purchase of Xamarin, a company focused on cross-platform mobile app development. The two companies are longtime partners and first started their collaboration in 2013.

Xamarin enables mobile app developers to use the C# programming language for creating fully native apps across platforms including iOS, Android, Mac and Windows. Microsoft can use its tools and talent to broaden its mobile offerings across different devices.

The Microsoft Garage rolled out new business apps for Android this week. Sprightly, a marketing-focused app, makes it easier to create promotional content like catalogs, flyers, or pricelists. Kaizala tracks team communication with group or private chats, and manages resources like time and bills.

The Hub Keyboard, another new Android offering, aims to make you more efficient by keeping relevant apps onscreen so you don't have to switch between them. For example, if you need to send a document, the app will let you select from an Office 365 app while you're writing a text message.

(Image: Nicolas McComber/iStockPhoto)

(Image: Nicolas McComber/iStockPhoto)

On a related note, Microsoft has also confirmed it will kill Project Astoria. The project was originally created to make it easier for developers to create Android apps and port them to Windows. The Windows Bridge for iOS, aka Project Islandwood, is still ongoing.

iOS updates include the integration of Box storage in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on iPhone and iPad. Microsoft also announced Power BI reports can be viewed on iPhone and Windows 10 Mobile devices; the capability is on its way to Android smartphones.

As for courtroom news, Microsoft has voiced its support for Apple in its fight against the FBI. In a hearing this week, President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said the company will file a brief to officially share its argument in favor of Apple next week. Recent updates indicate Facebook and Alphabet will be filing the brief with Microsoft.

Legal action aside, Microsoft cofounder and former CEO Bill Gates seems less firm in his stance on the matter. In interviews conducted this week, he initially expressed sympathy for the government's cause but later said he did not officially back the FBI, noting the case will be left to the courts.

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Kelly is an associate editor for InformationWeek. She most recently reported on financial tech for Insurance & Technology, before which she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. When she's not catching up on the latest in tech, Kelly enjoys ... View Full Bio

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tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
2/29/2016 | 5:22:53 AM
Re: HP Elite x3 vs Lumia 950
"Microsoft wouldn't lose any market share, mostly because Microsoft doesn't want to profit from smartphone sales. They want to profit from reachability, they want to profit from data mining, software uses and community support. "

@SunitaT0: I agree they'd have a greater reach and benefit via an expansion in the share of OS. What I meant was a reduction in the market share for devices since some of the users would want to switch to HP instead of Microsoft's own devices.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2016 | 1:50:39 PM
Re: HP Elite x3 vs Lumia 950
@Tzubair: Microsoft wouldn't lose any market share, mostly because Microsoft doesn't want to profit from smartphone sales. They want to profit from reachability, they want to profit from data mining, software uses and community support. 
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2016 | 1:47:22 PM
Re: Project Astoria
@Tzubair: I second that. Maybe in the future Microsoft will be doing stuff to bring an equivalent to project Astoria, but not right now. 
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2016 | 11:13:15 AM
Re: Project Astoria
@SachinEE: I think Microsoft canceled it because its overlapping with the acqusition that Microsoft did related to Xamarin. As the article mentions, Xamarin assists in cross platform application development and that does cover Android as well. It'a good move to cancel project Astoria then.
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2016 | 11:06:26 AM
HP Elite x3 vs Lumia 950
It's interesting to see HP Elite x3 launch a device for the enterprise which is offering the Continuum experience. It directly competes with Microsoft's own high-end phones series - the Lumia 950. The 950 series was designed to provide the PC experience on the phone and hasn't had much success. Now it faces competition with HP. It'd be interesting to see how Microsoft tries to resolve this and whether it tries to promote its own hardware over the competition.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2016 | 2:07:40 AM
Re: Project Astoria
The ongoing assimilation for iOS and Windows, I only hope it stays, because other than that MSFT is on a thread here. The HP Elite X3 doesn't have a good market share right now, and it doesn't even have good advertising, otherwise I didn't even hear about it until reading about the phone over here.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2016 | 2:04:00 AM
Project Astoria
I think Project Astoria was tough to implement. Saying is one thing, actually carrying it out to perfection is another. I understand why MSFT had to cancel the project. But I think the project should be restarted if the Android kernel is supportive of the windows architecture, which shouldn't happen for quite some years though.
GatineauJ611
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GatineauJ611,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/27/2016 | 2:52:25 PM
Microsoft Leadership is Paramount
Given all the past few weeks' headlines between the FBI and Apple, I think it is paramount that Microsoft take a lead whether they are for or agaisnt to show the continued leadership amongst the big companies.

 
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