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If Action Center was Microsoft’s must-have for Windows Phone 8.1, bringing the OS better up to speed to compete against its iOS and Android rivals, then Cortana is the unexpected flourish.

We’ve already seen Apple and Google’s respective takes on the virtual assistant concept, with Siri and Google Now, and in a sense Cortana falls somewhere in-between. Named after – and voiced by – the fictional AI from the Halo series of games, Cortana uses a combination of location-based services, natural language recognition, and contextual processing.

A long press on the search key summons Cortana, or optionally by tapping the Live Tile. When you first load the assistant, it runs through a few setup pages, starting with what your name is and how to pronounce it. After that, there are questions about personal preferences, like what you enjoy doing in the evening, and what categories of news you’re most interested in. These shape the curated headlines shown in the Cortana app homescreen and on the Live Tile, though you can change your answers – or add more interests – later, if you’re unhappy with the results.

All of the answers you give are stored in the Cortana notebook, the concept of which stems from interviews Microsoft held with actual celebrity assistants. They maintained huge notebooks of preferences and facts, and Cortana does the same in digital form, whether that be where you live and work, particularly important locations, topics you’re curious about, and who comprises your “inner circle” of important people.

Actually using Cortana involves talking to an animated circle. There are numerous commands and questions supported out of the gate, ranging from the pedestrian – like setting an alarm, finding or opening an app, calling a contact, or asking what the weather forecast is – through to more complex requests.

That can include conversions and questions, such as celebrity ages or currency exchanges (if Cortana isn’t sure, it offers you a Bing search instead of reading out the answer), searches, or even things like asking the status of a particular flight.

Cortana is most impressive when it comes to scheduling and location-based services, however. You can ask what’s on your agenda the following day and get a list read out, then navigate to each appointment or change the time or title all by spoken instruction. If you tell Cortana to set an appointment when you already have something scheduled, it’ll warn you first.

Ask “where’s the nearest restaurants,” meanwhile, and Cortana will muster up a list of nearby possibilities. You can then ask follow-up questions, such as “are they any good?” to see those rated highly on Yelp, or to pinpoint which are currently open, accept reservations, or are within walking distance. Some results can be sorted by price, and you can ask how long it would take to get there by different methods, including triggering navigation instructions.

Location also plays a part in reminders, with Cortana able to trigger a to-do item not just by time but by position. For instance, you can ask the assistant “remind me to buy paper towels when I’m near the market,” and Cortana will show a list of potential markets, ask you to either pick one or just leave it generic, and then ping you with an alert when you’re next nearby.

To-dos can also be linked to certain contacts, such as asking Cortana to “remind me to wish my brother happy birthday when I next speak to him,” and then getting an on-screen reminder when you next call or message him.

Microsoft is keen to point out that Cortana is still in beta. It’s also expected to improve significantly as developers wade in from today and start to experiment with it; the AI learning engine will use that experience to improve in the build-up to the consumer launch. Third-party apps will also be able to tap into Cortana using Microsoft’s APIs, such as setting hotwords which trigger certain functionality in their apps. Tweets can be dictated for Twitter, for instance, or Nokia Mix Radio loaded and controlled through the virtual assistant.

Today, though, it’s a mixed bag. For the most part, Cortana gets the basics right, and can even follow rudimentary commands like making calls or setting alarms without requiring a data connection (anything more complex uses server-side voice recognition, just as with Siri and Google Now).

It’s when you get to more complex instructions that it can get frustrating. Sometimes it’s just a case of misunderstanding – we had some bizarre mis-hearings during our testing – which will presumably improve rapidly as the AI learns from more accents, but more frustrating is trying to figure out which commands work and which don’t.

You can ask for the nearest train station, for instance, but not which trains stop there; asking “what’s that in centigrade” after a weather forecast request gave its results in fahrenheit was met with confusion, but phrasing it as “what will the temperature be in centigrade” triggered the expected conversion. Taking into account mistranslations and repeated questions trying to find a way of asking that was understood, we had perhaps a 50/50 success rate with Cortana some days.

In short, there were times when we used Cortana that, after a few circular conversations, we realized we could’ve achieved the same results faster if we’d done it all manually. We’ve also seen little of the assistant’s much-vaunted contextual prediction so far, such as when it figures out where you regularly travel and proactively pulls up traffic information and even warns you to leave early if you face congestion.

Microsoft tells us that all that – and far greater accuracy – will come in time. Cortana is very much a work-in-progress but it’s an ambitious one (the company has a full team dedicated solely to Cortana “chit-chat”, its term for the gimmicky replies to questions like “What do you think of Siri?” or “Can you tell me a joke?”) and while using it today can be as awkward as it is useful, it’s probably the aspect of Windows Phone we’re most looking forward to seeing development in.

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Htc Windows Phone 8X Review

The HTC 8X is one of the first smartphones to grace the world running on the new and improved Windows Phone 8. While it might be hard to notice at first glance, this is an entirely new Windows Phone and a step up from Mango. Everything is faster, better, HD, and more personal. This is the most personal and most customizable Windows Phone yet. There’s tons to talk about with Windows Phone 8 as far as software, so here’s a few bullet points regarding what’s new. Windows Phone 8 now has a re-imagined and more personal start screen. Their live tiles are as friendly as ever, and highly customizable. WP8 supports higher resolution displays, multi-core processors, a better camera app, native screenshots, lockscreen notifications and shortcuts, Kid’s Corner, enhanced sync and backup, and much more.

To get a better feel about Windows Phone 8 and what’s new, you’ll want to check out our in-depth Windows Phone 8 Review. For now, we’ll just rundown a few things here specifically for the HTC 8X and what we enjoyed with Windows Phone 8. Based on more than just Windows 8’s kernel this is Windows 8 in a way, for mobile. Everything is extremely smooth, fluid, and efficient. Boot times are quick, memory management is awesome, and this device flies thanks to the 1.5 GHz dual-core processor support.

Below is an in-depth video showing you many of the new things mentioned above with Windows Phone 8. You’ll see the impressive new personalized experience with live tiles and sizes, lockscreen shortcuts and notifications, kid’s corner to save you from your children, and more. Everything is faster, smoother, easier, and funner with Windows Phone 8. You’ll be flowing through tiles in no time.

The People app now has an improved “What’s new” stream where you can get updates and status details from all your friends and contacts. Now with support for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. What makes this even more unique and personal is groups. With groups you can set certain friends or family members you wish to see what’s new and status updates from. This will cut out the clutter as I’m sure you don’t need to know what everyone in your entire contact list posts to Facebook — but the option is there.

Without getting too in-depth here the video above should give you an excellent idea of what to expect from not only Windows Phone, but Windows Phone 8. I’m sure many are looking at this option for the first time, as are there some die-hard Windows fans that can’t wait to upgrade. As far as competing with iOS and Android, this is only just the beginning of Windows Phone, but we’re starting to see their direction with 8. The start screen is the focal point of their streamlined, yet personalized experience. Managing to do both at once is a real task. With iOS your iPhone will look just like those around you, and with Android all the widgets are awesome, but they have custom skins, tons of different OS versions floating around (fragmentation) and more. While I’m not here to say which is better, Windows Phone 8 feels very similar, smooth, and streamlined — yet offers more personalization than anything available today.

With the App Store approaching 700k apps for iOS, over 650,000 for Android, and about 125,000 for Windows Phone the options are still limited, but certainly headed in the right direction. Now that Windows Phone 8 supports HD resolution displays, dual-core processors and more, we expect app and game developers to really step up their game. Whether or not they will remains to be seen however. This is only the beginning folks. The beginning of a driven Microsoft team, so stay tuned!

Windows 8.1 Tablets Lineup For 2013 Holiday Season

The family of Windows tablets is about to get bigger this holiday season, some of them include: Nokia (Sirius) Windows RT tablet, Lenovo’s Miix 2 & 8, Dell Venue, and many more.

In a new article from Paul Thurrott at WinSuperSite, details a handful of new devices that will ship later this year with Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 from Microsoft and partners. And it’s interesting to see how many new tablets will make use of Intel’s latest Atom (SoC) Bay Trail chip, which basically doubles Cover Trail’s speed and helps to bring down prices as low as $249. Also we will see more devices with different screen sizes, including the rumored Surface mini 8-inch tablet (which we still don’t know much about). Overall all the tablets for 2013 seem promising and they may just give Windows mobile devices a fighting chance.

Note: All ARM platform devices (Nokia and Surface 2) listed below will run Windows RT 8.1, and devices running Intel processors will come preloaded with Windows 8.1.

Device name: Lumia 2520

Codename: Sirius

Platform: Qualcomm ARM quad-core 8974

Display: 10.1-inch 1080p IPS

Battery: Up to 10 hours

Thickness: .35-inch

Weight: .13 pounds

Price: $499

Important features: Display with outdoor readability, 6.7-megapixel camera, and Nokia apps.

Accessories: Cover keyboard and additional battery life.


Device name: Encore

Codename: Malta

Platform: Intel Atom Bay Trail

Display: 8-inch 720p IPS

Battery: Up to 7 hours

Thickness: To be announced

Weight: 1 pound

Price: $329

Important features: AutoBrite touch display, high quality dual-array mics, InstantGo (from Intel) to keep tablet always updated.


Device name: Miix 2

Codename: NA

Platform: Intel Atom Bay Trail

Display: 10.1-inch (1366 x 768 pixels)

Battery: Up to 8 hours

Thickness: .4-inch

Weight: 1.3 pounds

Price: $449

Important features: Smart dock, detachable folio case with keyboard.

Device name: Miix 8

Codename: NA

Platform: Intel Atom Bay Trail

Display: 8-inch 720p IPS

Battery: Up to 8 hours

Thickness: .31-inch

Weight: .77 pound

Price: $249

Important features: Dual camera, HD video calling, detachable keyboard, 3G, black and silver color choices, and digitizer pen available.


Device name: W3-810

Codename: Cheetah

Platform: Intel Atom Bay Trail

Display: 8-inch 720p

Battery: Up to 8 hours

Thickness: .45-inch

Weight: 1.2 pounds

Price: $349

Important features: Dock with full-sized keyboard.

Accessories: Anti-shock back cover, capacitive stylus, protective screen film, micro-HDMI to VGA, bags, mice, and Bluetooth keyboard dock.


Device name: Transformer Book Trio T100TA

Codename: NA

Platform: Intel Atom Bay Trail

Display: 10.1-inch (1366 x 768 pixels)

Battery: Up to 12 hours

Thickness: .9-inch

Weight: 2.2 pounds

Price: $329

Important features: Slim keyboard docking with large mouse pad, USB 3.0 on the dock, Office 2013 Home & Student included.


Device name: Venue

Codename: Bellair

Platform: Intel Atom Bay Trail

Display: 8-inch 720p IPS

Battery: Up to 11 hours

Thickness: .35-inch

Weight: .88 pounds

Price: $299

Important features: Many colors to choose from, really light, pen and wireless keyboard, and 10-point multitouch screen.

Accessories: Capacitive Active stylus and Bluetooth keyboard with stand.

Device name: To be announced

Codename: Midland

Platform: Intel Atom Bay Trail

Display: 10.8-inch 1080p

Battery: Up to 9 hours (replaceable battery)

Thickness: .4-inch

Weight: 1.65 pounds

Price: $399

Important features: 4G and pen.

Accessories: Touch keyboard, epn, travel keyboard with 10 hour battery pack, and dock.


Device name: Surface 2

Codename: Surface RT 2

Platform: ARM Tegra 4

Display: 10.6-inch 1080p ClearType

Battery: Up to 8 hours

Thickness: .37-inch

Weight: 1.5 pounds

Price: $449

Important features: Surface 2 specs shows: Tegra 4, 1080p display, and two-position kickstand

SEE ALSO: Microsoft launches Surface 2: pricing, specs, and accessories

Device name: Surface Pro 2

Codename: NA

Platform: Intel Core i5 4th generation

Display: 10.6-inch 1080p ClearType

Battery: Up to 7 hours

Thickness: .53-inch

Weight: 2 pounds

Price: $899

Important features: Surface Pro 2 specs shows: Haswell, 8GB of RAM, and adjustable kickstand

Surface mini

Device name: To be announced

Codename: NA

Platform: ARM

Display: 8-inch

Operating system: Windows RT 8.1

Images courtesy of WinSuperSite

Preview Build 14946 Released For Windows 10 And Windows 10 Mobile

Preview build 14946 released for Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile




Microsoft just released a new build for Windows 10 Preview and Windows 10 Mobile Preview. The new build is labeled 14946 and is available to all Insiders on the Fast Ring.

Build 14946 brings a handful of system improvements and a few new features, so we can finally say that we have a legitimate Redstone 2 build. Each previous Redstone 2 build included some improvement but build 14946 is the most feature-rich build so far. Of course, the Redstone 2 update is still in its early development phase, so we expect even more additions in future releases.

When it comes to content, this build’s main highlight is improved touchpad gestures customization. Users now have the ability to set up what three and four finger gestures do. Gestures can activate Cortana, switch between apps, open the Action Center, play/pause playback, and more. Read more about improved touchpad gestures here.

Microsoft continues to bring improvements to Windows 10’s Settings app, on both PC and Mobile. This time, the new build improves the Wi-Fi settings page, as users can now set up a timer to have it turned on automatically.

The new build also brings some handy improvements to Mobile, more precisely in its typing experience. Starting with Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview build 14946, it is easier for users to use auto-correct when typing.

Windows 10 Preview build 14946 improvements and issues

As always, Microsoft released the list of known issues and other improvements in build 14946. While the list of improvements for both versions of the system is long, Microsoft reported just one known issue for Mobile and One for PC.

Expert tip:

Optional components such as Hyper-V and Bash should remain installed after updating to this build.

We have fixed the issue where signing into games that use Xbox Live would not work. You should be able to sign-in to Xbox Live in games in this build.

We fixed the issue causing Microsoft Edge to sometimes crash on launch, or when you type in address bar or try to open a new tab. You no longer need to run the PowerShell script.

We fixed the issue causing touch scrolling to be too sensitive in Windows 10 apps, such as Microsoft Edge.

We fixed an issue where chúng tôi would hang when attempting to open considerably large .MOV files.

We fixed an issue that could result in the network icon occasionally getting into a state where a red X would display in the taskbar despite an active internet connection, until the device had been restarted.

We fixed an issue where if the device’s brightness was automatically adjusted after being woken from sleep, the brightness level shown in the Action Center’s Brightness Quick Action might not reflect the current brightness of the device.

We fixed an issue leading to Narrator not tracking focus on the Start Menu All apps list or tiles.

We fixed an issue potentially resulting in the “Open with…” dialog displaying with two entries for Calculator after tapping the Calculator key on a keyboard or running the Calculator app.

Here’s what’s improved for Windows 10 Mobile:

We fixed the issue causing you to get into a state where text messages will fail to send.

When your phone is connected to your PC, long lists of captured photos will now load significantly faster in File Explorer.

We’ve updated Narrator’s reading order for Windows 10 apps which display an app bar on the bottom of the app, for example OneDrive, so now the contents of the page will be read before the contents of the app bar

We fixed an issue resulting in video thumbnails sometimes not being shown in WhatsApp – videos received from this build onwards will display a thumbnail.

We fixed an issue resulting in Camera app video recordings having a slight crackle to their audio in recent builds.

Known issues for PC:

“If you have 3rd party antivirus products such as Bitdefender, Kaspersky Antivirus, F-Secure Antivirus and Malwarebytes installed on your PC – your PC might not be able to complete the update to this build and roll-back to the previous build.

Larger Windows Store games such as ReCore, Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Killer Instinct and Rise of the Tomb Raider may fail to launch.”

Known issues for Mobile:

“If your phone has additional speech packs installed – this build will fail to install on your phone with an 0x80188319 error. This is why we polled Insiders about language pack usage this week. Based on the response, we decided to push forward and send the latest bits. This issue will be fixed in the next build we release. NOTE: Removing speech packs will not correct the issue. Your device will continue to try and download and install the update and fail. It is recommended you move to the Slow ring until this issue is fixed.”

We’re sure these issues won’t be only problems to plague Insiders who install the latest build on both platforms. Look out for our article on what problems the build really causes.


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How To Forget / Delete A Wifi Network In Windows 8.1

Updates to operating systems are usually a good thing, as they bring feature enhancements, improvements etc. that are not only useful but also quite essential. Windows 8.1 is a really good example of such a scenario. The update, which was released a few months back, attended to all the holes left gaping in its predecessor, Windows 8. In all honesty, it actually made the Windows 8 experience actually usable as well as worth enjoying. However, with the release of Windows 8.1, there were still some nuisances that were still left and slipped through the crack. One of these, which we here at MTE would classify as plain stupid, was the inability to forget a Wi-Fi network if you were connected one.

Yes, that’s correct. Windows 8.1 does indeed have an “inability” which doesn’t easily let it forget a WiFi network if you’ve ever established a connection. What this actually means is if you’ve ever connected your PC to a WiFi network in your school or office, you can’t really forget it as you’d do in Window 8, which allowed you to achieve the same feature through the context menu. Fortunately, if you’re really desperate and need your PC to forget the WiFi network for particular reasons, there are two different ways – different approaches through which you can achieve just that, and in this post we’ll be showing you how.

1. Command Prompt Method

A list will pop up showing all the known profiles. Simply identify the name of the one that you want to remove, and enter the following command:

netsh wlan delete profile




where “profile_name” will be replaced with the actual name of the profile that you want to remove. For example, in the screenshot below, the profile “PTCLNitroCloud-AC4” is to be removed/forgotten:

And that’s just about it. The profile is removed and the network will show as a new, unidentified network the next time it’s in range.

2. The Visual Method

Another easier method is already present in Windows 8.1, just a little confusing. You see, if the OS fails to connect to a known/remembered network, it will automatically give you the option to forget that connection. However, you cannot really force a non-connection to a known network by default, so the easiest way to achieve this would be to change the security key of the Wi-Fi network you would like to forget to an incorrect one, and then using this “Forget this Network” option. The downside to this approach is that is will only work on connections which are secured.

Shujaa Imran

Shujaa Imran is MakeTechEasier’s resident Mac tutorial writer. He’s currently training to follow his other passion become a commercial pilot. You can check his content out on Youtube

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How To Locate The System Image Tool In Windows 8.1

We previously went over how to create a system image in Windows. However, if you upgraded to Windows 8.1, you may have found out the toll isn’t where it used to be. If you want to use the System image tool in Windows 8.1, here’s where to find it:

2. Select “System Image Backup” from the lower left-hand corner of the window.

3. Create a system image backup.

You can also use a Windows USB flash recovery drive, if you’re unable to boot into Windows.

Shujaa Imran

Shujaa Imran is MakeTechEasier’s resident Mac tutorial writer. He’s currently training to follow his other passion become a commercial pilot. You can check his content out on Youtube

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Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox

Sign up for all newsletters.

By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy and European users agree to the data transfer policy. We will not share your data and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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