Category Archives: Home Reviews

Microsoft to end free Windows 10 upgrades – this time for good

Why it matters to you

The free upgrade to Windows 10 program is officially over on December 31, even for folks who have a need for assistive technologies.

As part of its goal to get Windows 10 onto people’s computers, Microsoft offered free upgrades to the new version of its operating system for years. To be specific, it was the company’s goal to hit the billion-device milestone in a few years after the launch of the new operating system. Giving free upgrades was Microsoft’s golden ticket to hit that number.

In other words, the free Windows 10 upgrades program always had an expiration date — and now Microsoft is ending the program without reservation. The program officially closed for most people in July but included an exception for those who have needs requiring “assistive technologies.” The exception was for those who used accessories such as Braille screens, screen readers, or magnifiers.

Microsoft’s messaging concerning the issue has been unclear, but it looks like it is finally been settled. As noticed by ZDnet, the assistive technologies loophole will be closed on December 31. The news was quietly tweeted by the Microsoft Accessibility Twitter account in October:

How well has Microsoft done at getting people to upgrade to Windows 10? The numbers change depending on who you ask, but StatCounter reports that Windows 10 still has not eclipsed Windows 7 in terms of percentages. Unlike other companies, Microsoft is known for having a massive base of legacy users who are perfectly happy using Windows 7 or Windows 8. As hard as it is to believe, StatCounter says that 3.89 percent of Windows users still have Windows XP installed on their machines.

Microsoft executives admitted last year that the ambitious Windows 10 goal wasn’t going to be met: “We’re pleased with our progress to date, but due to the focusing of our phone hardware business, it will take longer than FY18 for us to reach our goal of 1 billion monthly active devices.”

The program’s closure marks the end of Microsoft’s active campaign to get people upgraded from Windows 7 and Windows 8. From here on out, Microsoft will have to rely on new device purchases to increase that number.

 

Apple’s WatchOS 4.1 update adds phone-less music streaming, GymKit

Why it matters to you

WatchOS 4.1 makes it even easier to leave your phone at home when going for a run or to the gym.

Got an Apple Watch? Apple just released WatchOS 4.1 for all users today, and the spotlight feature is support for GymKit. It enables the Apple Watch to pair with supported gym equipment, so you can track more accurate fitness data.

GymKit allows two-way data sharing between gym equipment and the Apple Watch, enabling Apple to better estimate distance and energy burn metrics. Currently, LifeFitness, Cybex, Star Tac, StairMaster, Matrix, and TechnoGym have partnered with Apple to support GymKit, but more gyms and hardware manufacturers are expected to be announced in the near future.

WatchOS 4.1 also brings access to the iCloud Music Library. The Apple Watch was previously limited to synced playlists from the iPhone over Wi-FI, but the latest update allows Apple Music subscribers access to their entire library. Watch Series 3 with LTE users have the added benefit of being able to stream music over cellular.  To make it even easier to find your favorite music on the Apple Watch, the WatchOS 4.1 update now allows you to use Siri to search for songs, playlists and albums.

There’s also a new app included with the update: Radio. The app lets you stream Apple’s own Beats 1 radio station, in addition to NPR, ESPN and a few other stations. While access to Beats 1 is free, other stations require an Apple Music subscription.  Streaming via Wi-Fi or LTE is also available for the Radio app.

One welcome update for many Apple Watch Series 3 LTE users is the addition of a Wi-Fi toggle button in the Control Panel.  The Wi-FI toggle allows users to default to LTE service when they’re in an area with patchy Wi-FI service.  While Apple already released a WatchOS update to address issues with the Apple Watch becoming stuck on public Wi-Fi networks, the Wi-Fi toggle button gives Watch Series 3 LTE users the option to rely solely on cellular service even when their phone is on a Wi-Fi network.

 

Amazon Echo Plus review

In our Amazon Echo Plus review, we learn Amazon eliminates the middleman with a built-in smart-home hub and all of Alexa’s skills rolled into one speaker. Connect your smart home devices seamlessly and set up Routines quickly and easily to make life easier.

The post-Amazon Echo Plus review appeared first on Digital Trends.