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Microsoft joins fight against North Carolina transgender ‘bathroom bill’

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microsoft-building-1111

Microsoft, along with 67 other companies has signed an amicus brief from the Human Rights Campaign in support of the U.S. Department of Justice’s effort to block parts of North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2, also known as the “bathroom bill.” The DOJ is seeking to temporarily stop a part of the law that bans transgender people from using restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

“HB2 is a law that forces transgender persons to deny, disclaim, and conceal their gender identity, particularly whenever they wish to use single-sex restroom facilities on state or local government property,” said Theodore B. Olson, the former U.S. solicitor general who wrote the brief. “In so doing, it forces transgender people to deny a fundamental feature of their character and personhood in the name of safety concerns that are wholly illusory and a slap in the face to all transgender persons who are simply trying to live their lives consistent with who they really are. That so many in the business community are willing to stand up in opposition to HB2 underscores the immeasurable and irreparable harm the law is doing to the transgender community and to North Carolina’s economy.”

The bill has received alot of backlash lately, with estimates concluding that it could cost the state thousands of jobs (like when PayPal cancelled plans to expand into the state) and half a billion dollars in investments.

“At Microsoft, we believe everyone should be welcomed, respected and valued. Ultimately, diversity is good for our people, our business, and the economy,” a company spokesperson said about Microsoft’s participation in the brief.

To read more about the bill and see which other companies have signed the brief, click here.



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Exclusive: First look at Microsoft’s plans for Messaging Everywhere in Skype UWP

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skype-uwp

Recently, Microsoft announced that the company will not be releasing Messaging Everywhere for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Instead, the company will integrate it into the Skype UWP app for Windows 10. Following the announcement, a lot of Windows 10 fans weren’t happy. Now, it seems like Microsoft will be able to deliver SMS syncing in Skype UWP pretty soon. We got our hands-on some internal concepts for SMS syncing in the Skype UWP, which show off how Messaging Everywhere will (kind of) look in Skype UWP. As you can see from the screenshots above and below, the SMS syncing integration in Skype UWP is very similar to the implementation from the Messaging + Skype app.

skype-uwp-2

As shown in the above screenshot, Skype UWP will have a dropdown menu near the reply box, where you will be able to switch between Skype and Phone — just like the previous Messaging + Skype app. In addition to this, you will also be able to set the Skype UWP app as the Default SMS app on your Windows 10 Mobile device.

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Microsoft is expected to roll out the new SMS syncing in the Skype UWP app in the near-future, and Insiders will probably get it within the next few months. Microsoft will most likely release SMS syncing as an app update for the Skype UWP app to Windows 10 Anniversary Update users, but it isn’t yet known if the company plans to keep this for Redstone 2 — which is expected to arrive in 2017 to the public.

Keep in mind that these are just internal concepts of how Microsoft wants to implement in SMS syncing in Skype UWP, and the “real” feature will probably look slightly different than the above screenshots. Nevertheless, tell us what you think of SMS syncing on Skype UWP in the comment section below.



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Facebook and Google are why LinkedIn sold to Microsoft

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microsoft-linkedin-1

Microsoft’s announcement of its LinkedIn purchase may have shocked many media readers over the past week, but for LinkedIn, the purchase was something inevitable.

In an interview with CNBC, LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman said the following “Once you get into a public company, if you’re not throwing a lot of ability to do R&D, and to progress your technology at a very fast rate, then it’s difficult to compete with [Google, Facebook]. I think start-ups compete with them, I think private companies compete with them. I think the question is, as a public company you’re held to, ‘OK, what is your quarterly earnings? How does that growth look like?’

What this means is that the firm found it hard to compete with the larger tech giants like Google and Facebook. While neither company competes directly, LinkedIn’s performance is often compared with the other tech giants and found wanting in terms of profits and innovation.

For his company, he decided that they would be better off competing as a part of Microsoft, rather than competing with Microsoft and other giants from without.

He stated tat Microsoft adds a lot of reach – especially internationally to the business network’s operation. For Microsoft, this means a lot more integration with LinkedIn – hints of which we’ve already seen with Windows 10 and Cortana’s LinkedIn integration.

That’s just the highlights/cliff notes version, you can read the full interview at CNBC from the source link below for the whole story, and tell us what you think in the comments.



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This Weekend’s PC Gaming Deals

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MSPU PC gaming deals July08

It’s Friday again, so it’s time to list this week’s PC gaming deals. As it’s often easy to get lost looking for (and through) sales, we gather some of the best deals and list them here every Friday. This week is a bit of a weak one as the Steam Summer Sale just ended on Monday, and it’s going to take a while for sales to get back up to a regular level.

Steam deals

As mentioned above, there’s far fewer games on sale than usual right now. Steam’s only deal in the featured box right now is Broforce, which is highly recommended (and a game I’ve recommended on here before). It’s definitely worth the $6 if you don’t have it already. Additionally, TinyBuild has released yet another game for free. This game is called Boid, and it its main DLC is a single player campaign. The game’s multiplayer is completely free, and it might be worth checking out.

Recommended games on sale:

  • Elite Dangerous: Arena ($0.00) – Yes, you read that right. $0.00. Arena is the PVP component of Elite Dangerous, and is normally sold on its own for $7.49. Owners of Elite Dangerous get it for free already, but the free offer for everybody else ends on Monday. Add it to your library once, keep it forever.
  • Two Tribes Pack ($2.99) – Two Tribes is a company that develops some really relaxing games. Their focus is on puzzle games, but each one of those puzzles games is packed full of variety. You can also buy each game in this pack for a low price individually, and the original Toki Tori (which is $0.49) is especially recommended.
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ($20.09) – This is one of the few visual novels on Steam I’ll recommend. It’s more than just reading text, and solving crimes is always enjoyable.

GOG deals

GOG has far more games on sale than usual right now, and there’s some really good ones in there.

Recommended games on sale:

  • Celestian Tales: Old North ($4.39) – Celestian Tales is a turn based RPG that tries to act old school. It definitely has some flaws (with some of these being sprites that look alike), but I enjoyed it. It’s worth the price.
  • Slave Zero ($1.49) – Slave Zero is a classic game that’s aged amazingly well. It’s an enjoyable third person shooter where you control a biomech, and it’s just as satisfying in 2016 as it was in 1999. The GOG release contains compatibility fixes for modern Windows that the Steam release doesn’t have, so definitely buy it here.
  • Tropico 5 Complete Collection ($15.99) – At its core, Tropico 5 is more of the same. It has plenty of improvements and additions you won’t find in previous games in the series, like the dynasty system, but it’s still Tropico. More of the same isn’t always bad, though. If you enjoyed Tropico 3 or 4, 5 is definitely a game you’ll also like.

Other bundles and sales

There’s always going to be some good deals around the web that don’t fall into the previous categories, and this week is no different from any other in that regard.

  • Humble Store XCOM Weekend Sale – The XCOM games are great strategy games, and you can pick up the modern entries in the franchise for good prices here.
  • Action Heroes 2 Bundle ($2.99 for 9 games, $4.99 for 17) – Bundle Stars’ Heroes line of bundles are usually pretty good, and this one is no exception.

Have any deals you want to share? Post them in the comments below!



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Alto’s Adventure lands on Windows 10

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Alto's Adventure

Alto’s Adventure has just arrived on Windows 10. Alto’s Adventure is a 2D snowboarding game that’s plays like an endless runner, and the visuals look fantastic. You can check out the game’s trailer below.

Alto’s Adventure originally released back in 2015 for mobile devices, and it looks like it will work fairly well on the PC. The game has Xbox Live integration, too, which is always nice.

The game’s features, taken from its store page, are also below.

  • Fluid, graceful and exhilarating physics-based gameplay
  • Procedurally generated terrain based on real-world snowboarding
  • Fully dynamic lighting and weather effects, including thunderstorms, blizzards, fog, rainbows, shooting stars, and more
  • Easy to learn, difficult to master one button trick system
  • Chain together combos to maximize points and speed
  • Test your skills with 180 handcrafted goals
  • Discover six unique snowboarders, each with their own special attributes and abilities
  • Challenge your friends. Compete for best high score, best distance, and best trick combo!
  • Acquire the wingsuit from Izel’s workshop for an entirely new gameplay dynamic
  • Beautifully minimalist and evocative visual design

Alto’s Adventure is a great looking game, and it’s available for free right now in the Windows Store, where it can be found here.

WP-Appbox: Alto's Adventure (Free, Windows Store) →



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Download Hulu for Windows now and get an exclusive 2 month free trial

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hulu

Microsoft is offering an exclusive deal on the Hulu app for Windows.

If you download the app from the Windows Store now you will get double the usual one month free trail, letting you experience unlimited instant streaming of current hit TV shows, exclusive original series, all-time favorites, hit movies, and more. Plus, you can choose between our Limited Commercials and No Commercials plans. With your subscription, you’ll have access to Hulu’s full library of content on your favorite devices including TVs, game consoles, tablets, phones, and PCs.

The app features:

  • Search and play your favorite shows using Cortana voice search both before entering the app and in it.
  • Receive Live Tile updates on the hottest shows.
  • Resume watching from where you left off on your supported devices.
  • Add your favorite videos to your queue for instant access.
  • Search for content across episodes, clips, and movies.
  • Watch over WiFi, 3G, and 4G.

The 2 month free trail offer lasts till the 18th July and plans start at $7.99/month. SHOWTIME® is available for an additional $8.99/month.

Find the app in the Windows Store here.

WP-Appbox: Hulu (Free, Windows Store) →



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How to install Bash on Windows 10

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bash-1024x569

With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft is adding a major feature to Windows 10 for developers: Bash. This is a really nice addition to Windows 10 which will make using Windows 10 for development a lot easier for some developers. Now, as this feature isn’t enabled by default, you’ll probably have a hard time trying to use it — however, don’t fret as we’ll take you through how to install Bash on your Windows 10 machine.

1) Enable Windows Subsystem for Linux on Windows Features

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 5.10.18 PM

Firstly, we’ll need to enable the Windows Subsystem for Linux (beta) on Windows Features. To do that, just open up Cortana/Search and search “windows features.” After that, scroll down in the Windows Features dialog and tick the “Windows Subsystem for Linux (Beta)” and click on the OK button. Then, Windows 10 will install the Windows Subsystem for Linux. Once that’s done, you’ll be required to restart your machine.

2) Enable Developer Mode

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After installing the Linux subsystem, you will need to enable the Developer Mode on Windows 10. To do that, just open the Settings app, click on the Updates & Security button, then click on “For Developers” from the sidebar. After that, just select the Developer Mode and Windows 10 will install the Developer Mode package. If you get any error at this stage, just ignore them — Bash will still install.

3) Install Bash

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After that, we will need to install Bash itself. To do that, go ahead and open Command Prompt (CMD) by searching using Cortana/Search. Once CMD is ready, type in “bash” and hit enter. When you’re asked if you want to install Bash, just type “y” and hit enter. Once that’s done, Windows 10 will start downloading and installing Bash. This can take a bit of time, so be patient at this stage. Once Bash is installed, you’ll need to enter a username for Bash, so just enter the username you want and hit enter. Then, you’ll be required to set the password for your account. Once this is done, Bash will be ready to use:

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4) Using Bash

Now that Bash is installed on your Windows 10 machine, you can use Bash via the Command Prompt. To do that, just open up CMD, type in “Bash” and hit enter. This will take you to Bash, where you can use all the usual commands:

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You can also checkout the version of Bash by typing in “bash –version” into CMD:

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So there you have it, Bash is now installed on your PC. Once again, this is only available for Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which is coming as a free update to existing Windows 10 users on August 2. If you have any questions regarding Bash on Windows 10, feel free to let us know in the comment section below and we’ll try to help you out!



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Microsoft Bot Framework updated with cards, groups and more

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Microsoft Bot Framework

Microsoft today announced a major update to its Bot Framework. First of all, they have brought together the Skype Bot developer tools and the Microsoft Bot Framework into one environment. Developers can now develop bots which use new Skype platform features – such as visual cards and group bots – and publish to multiple channels from one place. If you are running a bot based on Skype Bot SDK, you need to move your bot to Microsoft Bot Framework “V3” environment to get access to the latest features and updates.

Microsoft is adding the following new features to their Bot Framework,

Groups: Make Skype Bots that are more productive—or just entertaining—for groups of users. Bots can now be a part of and respond to group conversations.

Cards: Create visual cards for compelling user to bot interactions with image cards, carousels, and receipts.

Natural Language: Skype has collaborated with Bing to showcase a preview of Bing Entity and Intent detection so that natural language understanding is built right into Skype Bots—an industry first.

Third-party authentication: Connect users to your service by having them sign in right on a card. This means they authorize their credentials once and continue to enjoy their bot experience without further interruptions.

Your bots–wherever your users are talking: Microsoft has brought together the Skype Bot Platform and the Microsoft Bot Framework into one environment. Using the Microsoft Bot Framework you can publish your bot to Skype, and submit for promotion in the Skype and Microsoft bot directories, as well as get access to great bot building tools.

For developers, the update is focused on quality, schema features, and performance. Enhancements include:

  • Well-defined support for cards and carousels for both channels that support them natively (Skype, Facebook) and text-rendered for those that don’t;
  • Automatic configuration of Skype – no copy-and-paste needed!
  • Simplified addressing of users and groups;
  • Additional dialog types and capabilities in the Bot Builder SDK;
  • Added Cognitive Services LUIS Intent Dialog type to the SDK;
  • Support for Skype calling features added to the SDK;
  • Enhancements to the Bot Framework Emulator;
  • Support for Slack’s recent addition of buttons; and
  • Support for many of Facebook’s newest Bot features.

Developers have access to all these new features within the new framework. Visit Microsoft Bot Framework site for more details.



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Star Wars: The Force Awakens lead actor John Boyega will be a special guest judge for Microsoft Imagine Cup finals

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Microsoft highlights new games coming to Xbox One in a new video

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Microsoft today posted a video highlighting the exciting games that are coming to Xbox One in the coming months. They also mentioned that these titles won over over 130 awards at E3 2016. Watch it above.

Microsoft recently reduced the price of Xbox One by another $20. Xbox One 500GB console is now available for just $279, instead of the regular price of $299. Microsoft Store is now making this deal even better. You can get a free controller, select game, and $50 Microsoft Store gift code with $279 Xbox One bundle!

Following Xbox One bundles are eligible for this deal,

Get these deals here from Microsoft Store. These deals will be available till July 14th.



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