The Microsoft Subscription finally arrives



This is almost what I have been looking for since March. Microsoft today announced the Work and Play subscription bundle. For $199 a year, here’s what you get:

  • Office 365 – That means full access to Office online, at least 1TB of OneDrive storage (should be “unlimited” now, due to recent changes in Office 365), and 5 installs of the latest version of Microsoft office on 5 of your family PC’s / Mac’s. A $70 value.
  • Xbox Live Gold – Although we discussed benefits of Gold in the past, it’s not as valuable as it once was, but with promotions like Games With Gold, it’s still an absolutely worthwhile investment.A $60 value.
  • Xbox Music Pass – Unlimited streaming and some “synchronized” management of your music library across multiple devices. A $99 value.
  • Skype Unlimited World + WiFi – Microsoft describes this as: “Unlimited minutes to call friends and family around the globe from your laptop, tablet, phone, or TV.” Also, “WiFi access at over 2 million hotspots worldwide – connect to the internet from virtually any device.” Paul Thurrott does the math to estimate the value at about $165 a year.

  • The only thing I wish it included was an Office 365-like subscription to Windows. Give me 2 licenses for 8.1, and allow me to upgrade to Windows 10 when it releases. That would be nice. But outside of that, this is almost exactly what I had been asking for!

Download Windows 10 Preview!

Yes, yesterday Microsoft announced that Windows 10 was the name of the next version of Windows, skipping the name Windows 9. Microsoft claims that this is such an advanced release of Windows that it’s more than just one version different! These are claims that sound hard to believe, so Microsoft wants to challenge you to believe see for yourself! Today marks the release of the first public preview for Windows 10! preview.Windows.com has all of the information you need to know! The product key is listed on the top of the download page, so just visit Microsoft and download the latest version of the Windows 10 preview. There is a “preview upgrade” version available, however it embeds itself with your computer. I strongly recommend downloading the ISO version and installing it on a spare computer, separate partition, or a Virtual Machine.

It is extremely important to note that this is a technical preview. It could have some bugs and other issues, and may also be substantially different from the final version of Windows 10. Remember, the earliest Windows 8 technical previews still had a Start Menu. 2015 will likely see a consumer preview and a developer’s preview prior to the typical RTM (Release to Manufacturing) release before it gets released at retail. Stay tuned for the future!

Windows Phone introduces MyFamily parental controls

Microsoft has developed the MyFamily platform, allowing you to customize your child’s experience on Windows Phone. You can not only limit whether or not they are allowed to buy things from the store (i.e. spend your money), but you can also specify the age-ratings of the games they are allowed to play, and affords you additional auditing and safety features.

From the Windows Phone team: “My Family works with Microsoft Family Safety, a service designed to help you keep tabs on kids’ computer and online activities. If your child uses a PC or Xbox, you may already have set up a family in order to use parental controls.”

Some excellent instructions for setting up My Family can be found on WindowsPhone.com, so have that open or printed off, and then get started on WindowsPhone.com/Family.

Answering your questions: is cloud backup safe? Can I host my own cloud?

These are some common questions to a pretty abstract concept. Whenever you “back up to the cloud” there will be a server out there somewhere with your information. Whether you use Apple’s iCloud, Google’s Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive, or the well known independents DropBox and SpiderOak, or even paid “backup” solutions which offer syncing, like Mozy and Carbonite, you are trusting your data to someone else. I understand how uncomfortable that can make some people – whether it’s just for your peace of mind, or for privacy reasons. Continue reading “Answering your questions: is cloud backup safe? Can I host my own cloud?”