Windows Phone 10 Updates, Office 2016: Microsoft Roundup

Microsoft previewed Office 2016 for Mac, unveiled new Lumia smartphones, and let some more Windows 10 details slip this week.
Windows At 30: Microsoft's OS Keeps Evolving
Windows At 30: Microsoft's OS Keeps Evolving
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Microsoft traded Redmond for the sunny skies of Barcelona this week, where it participated in this year's Mobile World Congress show. Attendees didn't have to wait very long for Windows news, as Microsoft kicked off its week with a keynote presentation on March 2.

There, it rolled out a series of announcements, including a few features that will debut on Windows 10 for mobile devices. In addition to the promise of a Windows 10 flagship phone later this year, we learned that Microsoft has developed an updated version of Cortana and added enhancements to its Spartan browser for mobile use.

The browser upgrades include an improved Reading View capability that enables users to transfer content from a Windows 10 PC to a Lumia device. There were also promises that when the next Windows 10 mobile preview rolls out, it will be compatible with a wider range of Windows Phones -- the last preview only targeted a small portion of the Lumia lineup.

Microsoft also confirmed that Spartan will be in the next Windows 10 preview build to undergo testing by Windows Insiders, of which there are now 2.8 million.

[3 Technologies to Power the Industrial Workforce]

Office for Windows 10 also got some attention during the event. Microsoft unveiled a few more details on the evolving platform, including two new features. "Insights" enables users to search the Web for contextual information on words and phrases; "Tell Me" is a smart-search capability that simplifies tasks like building charts.  

Microsoft also unveiled a foldable Bluetooth keyboard at MWC. It's designed to function across platforms and reportedly connects to any device via Bluetooth, reports Neowin. The keyboard didn't get much spotlight, but there was mention that it will be compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows 10 for phones.

This week, Microsoft also announced a partnership with Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile in the US, to strengthen the presence of Lumia smartphones and Microsoft cloud offerings throughout Europe, writes ZDNet. Lumia has already helped Microsoft gain a solid foothold in the European smartphone market, where it's firmly in third place behind iOS and Android.

As part of the arrangement, Deutsche Telekom will market cloud services like Office 365 and OneDrive, in addition to Lumia smartphones, in the 12 markets where it operates. The deal could be integral to Microsoft's mobile growth. According to IDC, Windows Phone sales in Western Europe made up 6.8% of smartphone market share in 2014, showing progress, but leaving plenty of room for growth.

Later in the week, Mac users were happy to learn that a preview of Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac is available for download. The latest version of its Mac-compatible productivity suite aims to combine the older Office platform and fresh Windows interface, having been optimized for Mac use.

The preview contains updated versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote. It's cloud-driven, so that documents are accessible across work and personal devices. Users need OS X 10.10 Yosemite to download, which is good news for Apple, because it gives plenty of users motivation to upgrade.

Microsoft's Azure also got some attention this week. On March 5, Microsoft announced the release dates for cloud-based Azure Search and the Azure DocumentDB database services. The former, a full-text search engine service, is available immediately. Users will have to wait until April 8 for Azure DocumentDB.

Attend Interop Las Vegas, the leading independent technology conference and expo series designed to inspire, inform, and connect the world's IT community. In 2015, look for all new programs, networking opportunities, and classes that will help you set your organization’s IT action plan. It happens April 27 to May 1. Register with Discount Code MPOIWK for $200 off Total Access & Conference Passes.

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing