Windows 10 Mail: Focused Inbox

Microsoft has announced a major feature update for the Mail and Calendar apps in Windows 10, including the highly anticipated and a little overdue Focused Inbox. Focused Inbox for the Windows 10 Mail app introduces a feature that automatically sorts out important email in the cloud and places them in a Focused tab while everything else lands in the Other tab. It was a key feature of the Accompli email app, which became Outlook for iOS and Android after Microsoft acquired the company in 2014.

Microsoft's SQL Server Next

As The Walking Cat discovered by taking a peek into the public preview of SQL Server on Linux released last week, Microsoft seemed to be using the Microsoft Research "Drawbridge" technology to bring SQL Server to Linux. Drawbridge is an adaptation of the Library OS concept on which Microsoft Research has been working for the past several years. It's a form of virtualization specifically for application sandboxing. Drawbridge played a role in getting the Bash shell to run on Windows 10, too.

Microsoft to add new SMB apps

Microsoft looks to be set to add more new and seemingly small-business-focused applications to its Office 365 Business Premium subscription. There's a sign-up page for "business apps for Office" that I saw via MSPowerUser.com that touts a handful of apps, including MileIQ, Bookings, Invoice, Spend, Point, and Presence. The apps listed seem to be supplementary to Microsoft's existing Office app suite, and also seem to be mobile-first and cross-platform.

Unauthorized, Mislabeled Microsoft Support Tool Leaks

Several mainstream tech sites this week published details of a purported new Microsoft support tool designed to fix problems with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. After some digging, Ed Bott can report that it is no such thing. His advice: Stay far away from this "Windows Self Healing Tool." If you want to be a Windows expert, one of the most important lessons to learn is skepticism. Whenever someone claims to have a magic fix-it tool or a MakeRocketShipGoFast registry tweak, you should keep it away from any system you care about until you can confirm it does what it says it does.

Microsoft: Two Windows 10 feature updates coming in 2017

In a recent TechNet article itemizing new IT pro features for the Anniversary Update (codenamed "Redstone 1"), Microsoft officials included this line: "Windows 10, version 1607 is our third Windows 10 feature update released. Based on feedback from organizations moving to Windows 10, this will be our last feature update for 2016, with two additional feature updates expected in 2017."

Microsoft updates its bot platforms

Microsoft originally announced the Skype Bot Platform in March at the company's Build developer conference. As of July 8, Microsoft officials said 30,000 developers are building building bots for its platforms. As part of the updates to the Skype Bot Platform, Microsoft added groups support so that bots can now be part of group conversations. Skype Bots now also can take advantage of visual image cards, carousel cards, and receipt cards. The team also is working on single sign-in directly on cards, resulting in users having to authorize their credentials one time only.

Microsoft tweaks activation rules

Microsoft this week announced a seemingly minor change to its activation rules for Windows 10, effective with the Anniversary Update coming this summer. The announcement was buried in the release notes for build 14371 of Windows 10, released a few days ago. Those notes were published in the Feedback Hub, which is available only to registered members of the Windows Insider Program running a Windows 10 preview edition.

Microsoft: Privacy Shield is good

The new EU-US Safe Harbor agreement, Privacy Shield, is a step in the right direction for transatlantic transfers of personal data, but it's not enough by itself, according to Microsoft. The firm's EU government affairs VP John Frank is upbeat about the yet to be finalized agreement, a draft of which was published by the US in February, following President Obama's signing of the Judicial Redress Act.

Microsoft quietly drops bitcoin support

Microsoft has quietly stopped supporting bitcoin payments just over one year after it added support for the crypto currency within the Windows Store. Software encyclopedia Softpedia first noticed the change, which is confirmed in an FAQ note for customers: "You can no longer redeem Bitcoin into your Microsoft account. Existing balances in your account will still be available for purchases from Microsoft Store, but can’t be refunded."

Microsoft is pulling the plug on IE 8, 9, and 10

Microsoft is ending support for Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10 next week on January 12th, releasing a final patch encouraging users to upgrade to one of the company's more recent browsers. The end of support means that these older versions of Internet Explorer will no longer receive security updates or technical support, making anyone who uses them much more vulnerable to hackers. A recently-announced patch will deliver the last few bug fixes, as well as an "End of Life" notification telling users to upgrade to IE 11 or Microsoft Edge — the company's successor to Internet Explorer, built for Windows 10.

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