The Fire Hose

Covering the news of the day at Microsoft

June, 2013

  • Acer adds new Windows 8 PCs, including Iconia W3 8-inch tablet and expanded Aspire series

    An eye-catching 8.1-inch tablet called the Iconia W3 is among the new Windows 8 devices that Acer announced at COMPUTEX today, reports Windows blogger Brandon LeBlanc.

  • Acer unveils new Aspire Ultrabooks

    Acer continues its roll of impressive Windows 8 devices – this time at COMPUTEX in Taipei, where they unveiled two new Aspire Ultrabooks: the Acer Aspire S7-392 and the Acer Aspire S3-392.

    The new Acer Aspire S7-392 13.3-inch Ultrabook carries on the characteristics that made the previous S7 so popular – it’s slim and light at .51 inches and 2.87 lbs. However, Acer ups the ante with the S7-392 by increasing the battery life by 33% compared to the previous S7 model, plus it boasts an electroluminescent backlit keyboard, quieter fans and a 4th generation Intel Core processor.

  • Acer unveils an all-in-one that could be all you want

    Today at COMPUTEX 2013 in Taipei, Acer lifted the veil on the impressive Aspire Z3 Series – a new 23-inch all-in-one PC.

    The Aspire Z3 sports an ergonomic chassis with a full HD display with IPS technology and 10-point touch. It has front-facing Harman Kardon speakers, so whether you’re listening to tunes or watching your favorite flick, you’re dealing with stellar audio capabilities. This PC can be adjusted between 10 and 30 degrees, making it easy to find just the right angle, and its integrated 1 megapixel HD webcam (which can capture a 720p image) can also be adjusted between zero and 20 degrees for the best angle when trying to capture a photo or video chat.

  • How to watch the June 10 Xbox media briefing and more from E3

    Chomping at the bit to find out more about Xbox One and new Xbox game titles coming down the pike? Major Nelson has posted a helpful table that lists where and when you can watch live coverage of Xbox at E3 June 10-13 in Los Angeles.

    Watch the main Xbox event at 9:30 a.m. PT on June 10 via a live global stream, either on Xbox Live or If you are in the U.S. or Canada, you can also watch the broadcast on Spike TV.  The 90-minute show will be presented without commercial interruptions, and will be available on-demand later in the day for viewing on and Xbox Live.

  • Read PDFs on the fly: the official Adobe Reader app for Windows Phone 8 is here!

    Adobe Systems this morning released the official PDF document reader for Windows Phone 8 – a free download. That means it’s now easier to open and read a variety PDF documents – even those that are password protected – from your Windows Phone.

    As with the Adobe PDF Reader for Windows, this version allows you to copy and paste, search text for specific words, and zoom in and out on a page. Hyperlinks and bookmarks are also supported, so you can fully and easily consume PDFs from your mobile device. One feature set sure to be a favorite with Windows Phone users is document navigation. The Adobe Reader app for Windows Phone 8 lets you quickly navigate through large PDFs using the thumbnail view, then focus on specific pages using page-by-page or continuous scroll modes.

  • Visual Studio 2013 coming later this year

    A bevy of news from TechEd today: Visual Studio 2013 will be available later this year (with a public preview available at Build 2013 later this month); Microsoft has agreed to acquire InCycle’s InRelease Business Unit; and MSDN subscribers now have use rights to run Windows Azure for virtual machines, websites, cloud services, mobile services, and more.

    “These improvements help to make development teams more agile by providing them with simple and scalable access to development and test cloud-based resources,” says S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Developer Division, today on his blog.

  • What do you have in common with Bill Gates? You’ve got an Xbox Live story – share it!

    Think back to the first time you played a game with someone on Xbox Live. Or the last time you logged on. Or all the eventful times in between. Ah, the stories you could tell, and now you can, via a new website the Xbox team has created for Xbox Live members.

    When you visit the site, check out the “Xbox Anthem” video, where you’ll hear from Bill Gates, J Allard and Robbie Bach, who helped bring the original Xbox to life, as well as Steven Spielberg, a frequent collaborator with Xbox, and others on the Xbox team who have contributed in major ways over the years.

  • New research shows high cost of bad online advertising

    A new paper from Microsoft Research suggests that bad online ads aren’t just annoying and ineffective – they can hurt an advertiser’s brand and cost them real money, writes Rob Knies in a blog post today on the Inside Microsoft Research blog.

  • Microsoft’s Satya Nadella spotlights the Enterprise Cloud Era at TechEd

    Today, Satya Nadella, president of the Server & Tools Business, sent out a memo announcing several significant pieces of news made at TechEd North America 2013, including a wave of product updates Microsoft will deliver to our customers and partners.

    In addition, Satya goes into in-depth detail on Microsoft’s transformation into a “cloud-first” business. Here’s an excerpt from Satya’s mail:

    “Two years ago we bet our future on the cloud and quietly refocused our 19 billion-dollar software business by completely transforming our products, culture and practices to be cloud-first. We knew the journey would be long and challenging with plenty of doubters. But we forged ahead knowing that the cloud transition would change the face of enterprise computing.

  • Windows 8.1 brings a powerful and modern computing experience to businesses

    Windows 8.1, which is due later this year, advances the vision of Windows 8 to bring the most powerful and modern computing experience to businesses while helping professionals stay connected to their colleagues and clients from any place, any time.

    During TechEd North America today, Iain McDonald, a director in the Windows group at Microsoft, talked about what businesses can look forward to in Windows 8.1 later this year, including new networking capabilities that take advantage of NFC-tagged and Wi-Fi-connected devices; security enhancements for device proliferation and mobility; improved management solutions to make the bring-your-own-device scenario a reality; and more control over business devices.

  • Feedback needed: Exchange Server and Outlook standards

    We get that facilitating interoperability between our products and products from other vendors is important. This is especially true of communications tools such as email and calendaring.

    After all, how can anyone expect to get any work done if they can’t communicate with one another or set up a meeting to discuss those latest quarterly sales figures?

    Exchange Server 2013 and Microsoft Outlook 2013 support the following core and most commonly adopted email and calendaring standards: IMAP, POP3 and others.

    Moving forward, we’re asking for your feedback to make sure we invest in the standards that our customers most value. You can tell us what email and calendaring standards you’d like to see in the next versions of Exchange Server and Microsoft Outlook by clicking here or sending email to

  • Windows Azure at TechEd 2013: Improvements to dev and test, pay-by-the-minute billing, and more

    At TechEd today, Microsoft announced a host of enhancements to Windows Azure. This includes improvements for developing/testing in the cloud, pay-by-the-minute billing, a flexible free-trial offer, and much, much more.

    “There are so many improvements that I’m going to have to write multiple blog posts to cover all of them,” says Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business, on his blog today. “I am really excited about today’s release – there a ton of great new improvements for everyone to take advantage of.”

  • Windows Phone invites you to a Twitter party and the chance to win a Lumia 928

    Lumia 928

    One of the best features of the Nokia Lumia 928 is its 8.7 megapixel camera and its ability to shoot great pictures in low light.

    If you’re itching to get your hands on one of these snazzy devices, then be sure to check out the live Twitter party we’re holding tomorrow with mobile photography community partner We Are Juxt.

    During the live chat, we’ll “tweet photos, discuss tips and tricks, and share stories of photographic adventures” writes Windows Phone’s David Chen over on the Windows Phone Blog.

  • Going to Worldwide Partner Conference? See U.S. sessions you can add to your schedule

    Are you planning to attend the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) July 7-11 in Houston? If so, you may well have already started building your schedule for the event using WPC Connect. The WPC 2013 team just updated its list of the sessions in the U.S. Subsidiary track. Today’s listing provides 30 sessions to choose from and to add to your itinerary.

    WPC is the premier event for companies that build and sell Microsoft-based solutions to optimize their offerings for customers. Scanning the list of sessions, it’s easy to see why so many companies take time out of their busy schedules to attend the event and take their businesses to the next level.

  • Success with social technologies possible in financial services

    According to survey data, employees in financial services are the most likely (74 percent) to have management restrict their social networking usage due to security concerns.

    Financial service employees are also the most likely (56 percent) to say their management is concerned that employees will disclose sensitive information about the company through social media.

    This shouldn’t be surprising, given the sensitive nature of the financial services business. That said, 77 percent of respondents say they want technology that makes them more productive at work, and 33 percent would even be willing to spend their own money on it.

    The question then becomes, how can social tools benefit banking and insurance companies in a responsible way?

    Nationwide serves as a good example.

  • Windows Azure introduces pay-by-the-minute feature

    At TechEd 2013 in New Orleans, the Windows Azure team announced a number of new benefits for cloud customers, including affordability. Starting today, Windows Azure will charge customers for usage by the minute rather than by the hour, with no minimum use requirement.

    Also starting today, to make it easier and faster to develop on Windows Azure, Microsoft is offering those with a Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscription up to $150 per month in credits to use on any Azure service for development and testing (fine print on that here).

  • Asus announces new all-in-ones at COMPUTEX

    At COMPUTEX 2013, Asus announced two new all-in-one PCs that are loaded, handsome and poised to please.

    The display on the ET2702 27-inch all-in-one PC features IPS technology and an ultra-high 2560 x 1440 resolution display (that’s nearly double the pixel density of a same-size full HD display). You can also get optional 10-point multi-touch. In his post on the Windows Experience Blog, Brandon LeBlanc calls the screen of the ET2702 “stunning.” The quality of the display is matched by its power and graphics, including the latest 4th generation Intel Core processors and AMD Radeon HD8890A discrete graphics.

    Use the optional Intel Thunderbolt port and a special “Device Share” mode to connect to other Windows PCs. And take advantage of its HDMI-in/out ports and USB ports to use the ET2702 as a “dock” for your laptop.

  • ASUS unveils new PCs at COMPUTEX 2013

    At COMPUTEX 2013 in Taipei, ASUS displayed the eye-catching Zenbook Infinity and unveiled several new Windows 8 devices, including two new all-in-one PCs; a 56mm-tall PC called the VivoPC; the VivoMouse, which can be a mouse, touchpad or PC remote; the N550 laptop; and two new ultrabooks.

  • Small footprint VivoPC and versatile VivoMouse debut at COMPUTEX

    Meet ASUS’ diminutive VivoPC, only 56mm tall and with a footprint smaller than a sheet of A4 paper. Its compact design sports a spun-metal finish, making it an attractive and unobtrusive addition that you can place just about anywhere or tuck into the smallest places in living rooms and offices.

    Functionally it’s not such a small fry. Two USB 3.0 ports provide broad adaptability, and high-speed 802.11ac wireless capabilities keep you connected. Additionally, you can lift off the top cover for quick access to the two internal memory slots, and the drive bay can accommodate either a 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch SATA 6Gbit/s hard drive – making the VivoPC easily upgradeable.

  • Dell announces the new XPS 11 and enhancements to other PCs at COMPUTEX 2013

    Dell at COMPUTEX today announced a new XPS as well as performance and security enhancements to several Windows 8 PCs, writes Brandon LeBlanc over at the Windows Experience Blog.

    Coming later this year to the XPS lineup is the Dell XPS 11, a brand-new, 2-in-1 convertible ultrabook. Its 360-degree rotation design makes it a breeze to switch from a tablet to a laptop, while staying slim and lightweight at only 14.9mm thin and starting at 2.5 pounds. Its display is a stunning Quad HD with 2560 x 1440 resolution, and has a backlit solid surface touch keyboard.

  • Dell unveils enhanced XPS models and a new convertible ultrabook

    Dell today showcased new and updated XPS models at COMPUTEX 2013 in Taipei. Next-generation enhancements to the XPS 12 and XPS 27 boost both performance and function, and the new XPS 11 Convertible Ultrabook just might be the PC to watch.



    You might already be familiar with the XPS 12 – the high-performance ultrabook (above) that goes from laptop to fully featured tablet thanks to its unique “flip hinge.” The new XPS 12, however, sweetens the pot with a 63 percent improvement in overall performance, a longer battery life (up to eight hours, 43 minutes), location awareness capabilities, plus Near Field Communications (NFC) for tap-to-share and tap-to-pair capabilities.

  • Increased battery life, incredible integrated graphics: Intel launches 4th-generation Core processors

    Intel is launching the 4th-generation Intel Core processors (codename “Haswell”), which includes their Core i3, i5 and i7 processor lines. Brandon LeBlanc over at the Windows Experience Blog writes that the new processors are designed with mobility in mind, and deliver significant increases in battery life, improved performance and incredible integrated graphics for Windows PCs and tablets.

  • Dell desktops deliver the goods, from choice to performance

    Along with other announcements made at COMPUTEX 2013, Dell announced the latest versions of their commercial and consumer desktops, the OptiPlex 9020 and the XPS 8700.

    The OptiPlex 9020 commercial desktop (above) accommodates many business environments, with four different form factors to choose from, including a compact all-in-one. It has a current-generation Intel Core i7 processor, choice of hard drive, SSD, or hybrid hard drive and high-speed memory options.

  • Thinner than a standing dime – Razer Blade gaming laptop packs a big punch

    Razer has announced two new high-performance gaming laptops sure to make any gamer sit up and take notice: the 14-inch Razer Blade and 17-inch Razer Blade Pro. They’re not only thinner and lighter than equivalent laptops from Razer, but are also equipped with high-performance capabilities for play and work.

  • ‘Halo: Spartan Assault’ coming to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 in July

    The next installment in the Halo franchise will be available exclusively for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Launching in July, Xbox Wire notes that it’s the first Halo game created for touch-based devices.

    “Halo: Spartan Assault” is a top-down shooter featuring simple controls and a more casual gaming experience designed to appeal to Halo newbies as well as hardcore gamers. It’s set between “Halo 3” and “Halo 4” in the franchise’s larger storyline, and lets you play as either Commander Sarah Palmer or Spartan Davis.