7 Days is a weekly round-up of what's been happening in the world of technology - written by Neowin's editors with a dash of humor, a hint of exasperation, and an endless supply of (Irish) coffee. Here's a especially edited version for TechSpot readers from the full article.
Once again, it's been an absolutely packed week, with news flooding in from across the tech world. Fans of Microsoft, Apple and Google have had plenty to get excited about this week, but there's been plenty of news beyond the offerings of these three giants alone. As ever, 7 Days is here to help you make sense of the week’s top stories – and we begin this week with another industry behemoth.
Amazon unveiled several new devices this week, including one of the most affordable tablets ever seen. The 7-inch ‘Fire tablet’ has the kind of specs you’d expect of a device that costs just $50 – but it would appear to cover all of the basics pretty nicely. The company is evidently hoping to sell them in considerable numbers – you can even pick up a ‘six-pack’ of the new tablets, paying for five of them and getting the sixth free.
And among other devices Amazon launched this week was its new $99.99 Fire TV box which – unlike the new Apple TV announced earlier this month – supports 4K/Ultra HD resolution. Its Fire TV Stick has also been refreshed with new voice support, and will go on sale next month for $49.99.
With Apple’s big announcement out of the way, and Google’s now in the diary, there’s a third event to look forward to in the coming weeks. Microsoft will host its much-anticipated event in New York City on October 6, where it will unveil the Surface Pro 4, second-gen Band wearable device, and its new Lumia 950 and 950 XL flagships, along with various accessories.
On Tuesday, details emerged regarding the Lumia 550, an entry-level Windows 10 Mobile handset that will replace the Lumia 640, which Microsoft launched just a few months ago. In fact, the 550 is said to be almost identical to the 640 in terms of design – but it’s unlikely to arrive until next year.
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s partners have been continuing to detail their plans for Windows 10 Mobile. Yezz – which has launched a range of ‘Billy’ Windows Phones, named in honour of Bill Gates (!) – said this week that it will upgrade its handsets to Windows 10 Mobile, and promised that new devices are on the way too.
And Chinese manufacturer Elephone – whose devices have increasingly caught our attention in recent months – is also working on a high-end $299 Windows 10 Mobile handset, with 3GB RAM, Quad HD display, 20MP camera, 64GB storage and more. Shame about the name though – the new device is called the ‘Vowney’, which sounds about as appealing as a puddle of vomit.
Notably, this appears to be the same Windows 10 Mobile handset that Neowin exclusively revealed back in April.
While Windows 10 has been available for PCs for several weeks, Windows 10 Mobile remains in development. The last Insider Preview, build 10512, was released over a month ago, and a newer build was supposed to be released last week, before the last-minute discovery of a bug changed those plans.
But on Monday, a new build – a revision of the one that was cancelled last week – finally arrived:
- Microsoft rolls out Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview build 10536.1004
- What’s new in the latest build
- Known issues – including a problem unique to the Lumia 1020
- Language packs and keyboards released for 10536.1004
- Newer Windows 10 Mobile build 10547 is in testing
It was also revealed that around 200 devices were able to install the cancelled build 10536 last week, before Microsoft terminated the rollout. And in a further twist, some non-Lumia devices not even supported on the Insider Preview program were able to install revised build 10536.1004 this week, creating problems on those handsets which Microsoft said a ‘dedicated team’ is working to resolve.
If you installed Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview build 10536.1004, we’re eager to hear what you think of it. After a month of working on its latest preview, did Microsoft deliver the improvements you were expecting? Or has your experience of the new build been blighted by issues? Our readers have been sharing their thoughts in our latest discussion – be sure to join in and have your say!
That wasn’t the only update for Windows Insiders this week. On Friday, those testing Windows 10 on their PCs also got a new build:
- Windows 10 Insider Preview build 10547 rolls out to the Fast ring
- What’s new in the latest PC build
- What’s been fixed (and what hasn’t) in 10547
Windows 10 users upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1 have had to grow accustomed to life without Microsoft’s Media Center software. Of course, most users didn’t even know it existed, and those that did used it mostly for playing DVDs. The new Windows DVD Player app was supposed to replace some of this lost functionality in Windows 10 – but frankly, it’s a hot mess.
This week, Microsoft acknowledged a whole list of problems that users have been experiencing with the app – which some users have paid $15 for – suggesting some workarounds, and promising fixes at some vague, unspecified point in the future.
On Wednesday, Microsoft released its long-awaited Update 3 for Windows RT, bringing a Windows 10-style Start menu… and not much else. If you needed any clearer indication that Microsoft is done with Windows RT, this feeble update is surely proof enough that the OS has no life left in it.
And another Microsoft product reached end of the road this week, as Microsoft announced the end of its Zune services, which will migrate to its
Xbox Music Groove music platform.
But Microsoft gave some love to one of its older products on Thursday, with a new system update for its Xbox 360. The update adds a range of new features, some of which have been available to Preview users in recent weeks.
Microsoft is also preparing to roll out a new user experience to its Xbox One, based on Windows 10. The first lucky members of the Preview Program began to receive that update on Friday, and more will be able to download it in the weeks ahead.
And this weekend, the company also rolled out a new preview version of its Xbox app for Windows 10. Microsoft will now maintain a separate beta branch of the app, allowing users to test new features ahead of their general release.
Halo fans rejoiced on Tuesday as Microsoft released new footage from the campaign mode of its next big title. The company also said that Halo 5: Guardians will use dynamically adjusting resolution features to optimize graphics rendering in the new game, which will launch on October 27.