Microsoft Surface 2: New and Improved and Maybe Selling

surface 2It looks like the new Microsoft Surface models (the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2) may be gaining more traction this time around: since its debut at a New York event last week the company has announced that its first run has nearly reached sold-out status in their online store. However dubious some may find their claims, the new features on the Surface 2 may justify the hype. (And to be fair, it is unclear whether stock in other stores, such as Best Buy or even Microsoft’s retails locations, is affected by the pre-order mania).

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Can Bunkr Kill PowerPoint?

We’ve written before about the ubiquity of Microsoft Office products and their transition to mobile environments. Admittedly, they’ve been a little slow on the uptake, which created an opportunity for a number of companies to develop software meant to replace these seemingly irreplaceable office tools.

Bunkr is one such of those tools—a new product from a French startup that explicitly wants to be a PowerPoint killer. Whether it can dethrone the reigning champion of the slideshow is a separate question, but it does offer a lot of nifty features if you’re looking for an alternative to Office. For starters, Bunkr looks and feels a lot like PowerPoint. If you’re familiar with using that, making a switch to something new shouldn’t feel that weird. But Bunkr offers a few features that make it stand out. Read More

What’s Up With Microsoft Surface?

Back in 2012, Microsoft was working hard to compete with the Apple juggernaut. Unsurprisingly, they threw their hopes into the mobile space, the biggest part of Apple’s business and pretty much universally regarded as the future of computing. They released Windows 8, their first mobile-optimized operating system, and, inspired by Apple’s business model and their own success with the X-Box, they decided to make their jump into computer hardware with the Microsoft Surface—Microsoft’s mobile tablet/computer hybrid.

There was a lot of hype surrounding the release of the Surface, and it was hoped that it would catch on as powerfully as the iPad and reinvigorate the flagging company. It’s been about a year, however, and it looks like the Surface, which we thought was pretty good, didn’t quite live up to the hopes of either consumers or Microsoft. Read More

Microsoft Releases Office for Android Phones

Microsoft Releases Office for AndroidOn the heels of its June release of Office for iPhone, yesterday Microsoft made its venerable Office product line available for Android phones. It’s been a sticking point for mobile professionals that the most common word processing, spreadsheet, and slideshow programs were inaccessible on the most common mobile devices. But now we’re able to have Word, Excel, and Powerpoint with us on the go.

Sort of. Despite the ubiquity of smart phones the last few years, Microsoft didn’t make its most popular applications available for a good (to Microsoft) reason: until now, Office products were only available on Windows phones, and Microsoft had hoped that the popularity of those applications would drive users to phones that used their operating system.

And even though Microsoft has finally offered Office on different platforms, they’re still banking on the popularity of Office to pull users further into the Microsoft experience. For one, these aren’t exactly stand-alone applications. Unlike their Windows Phone or Windows 8 counterparts, they require a Microsoft 365 subscription.

And while you can email attachments, syncing and cloud storage is only available through Microsoft’s SkyDrive or SharePoint. Finally, these apps are only supported for the iPhone and Android Phones– there’s no comparable support for iPads and Android Tablets.

Of course, the news isn’t all bad. While you can’t create new documents with the iPhone or Android Office (also unlike their Windows Phone or Windows 8 counterparts), you can edit existing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files online through the Microsoft services and offline. The editing capabilities for Excel seem especially robust. Check out some of these features from the Microsoft Office for iPhone help:

  • Find text within a workbook
  • Apply filter
  • See the sum, average etc of a range with AutoSum
  • Sort selected data
  • Add, delete, and display comments
  • Format cells
  • Clear cells
  • Undo/Redo
  • Share files via email

On top of it all, the interface is easy and intuitive, and the documents, spreadsheets, and slidshows look good to boot. This isn’t just to make it easy on your eyes: in a crunch, a pocket projector and your smart phone are all you need to give a professional looking presentation.

So while it isn’t quite time to toss out your laptop and start running your business through your phone, you can at least make changes to your work while you’re on the go.

New Devices: How Well Are the Nokia Lumia and Microsoft Surface Selling?

Mario Surface review
Microsoft Surface

Warning: this post is going to have a lot of conjecture, since it’s incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to get official sales numbers out of a lot of companies. And some companies (ahem, Apple) have a tendency to claim they are experiencing supply problems because demand is so great — presumably to create the illusion that they’re product is super hot. So while we may not be able to figure out exactly who has sold what, we can still try to make a few educated guesses about how the devices are performing.

Nokia Lumia
If you do a quick search, you’ll see plenty of articles saying “The Nokia Lumia 920 is out of stock!” But that’s not actually helpful – we still don’t know how many phones actually sold, or why they’re out of stock. It’s not a number, but BGR is reporting that the Lumia 920 was AT&T’s third-selling phone behind the iPhone and the Galaxy SIII in November. But According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), as of the bginning of December the Lumia has barely sold 100,000 units in China, the biggest smartphone market in the world. That’s troubling for the Lumia, since 100,000 units is nothing, and anecdotally China has quite a bit of interest in the phone, at least compared to here. Bottom line: the Lumia is not the hit Nokia hoped for, but it’s doing OK, and it will keep Nokia in the game until they can release their next device.

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How the New Microsoft Office 365 Can Work for Small Business

Microsoft Office365 from AT&TThe idea behind the new Office 365 is that there are two key needs for small businesses these days: mobile accessibility and streamlined IT. After all, time spent dealing with tech headaches is time you’re not actually working on your business. Office365 seeks to streamline your tech by providing all your productivity apps through one cloud-based service, and can include the Microsoft Office Suite so many of us have come to rely on.

Exchange Online
Exchange email is probably not a new idea for you. The trouble is, running an exchange server for email is complicated and not cheap. Microsoft has figured out how to have exchange email live online, so you can sync and manage email, calendars and contacts across devices. There are even shared calendars, just like the real (now old-fashioned) deal.

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How to Use Microsoft Office on Your Tablet or Smartphone

Try Office365 on the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1
Office365 includes Microsoft’s official web app for Word, Powerpoint and Excel so you can use it on a tablet, like the new Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

One of the questions we get asked most often is about how to use Microsoft Word and Excel on tablets and smartphones. And while we love using iPads and other tablets to work whenever and wherever, but until now there hasn’t been a great native solution for those devices. Instead we’ve been using Android and iOS apps to try to recreate the laptop or desktop experience.

But starting today, Microsoft has partnered with AT&T to create a cloud-based Office Suite, so you can have Microsoft Office on all your devices. They’re calling it Office365, and the idea is that the cloud can provide everything you need to be productive on any device. Using the cloud actually enables lots of professional-level IT tools beyond just the Office Suite, which we’ll talk about later this week, but for now we’ll just concentrate on getting you up to speed on the Office Web Apps mobile stuff. Read More

UPDATED: Tablet Buying Guide: Comparing Major Brands, Specs & Prices

UPDATED 11/6: We’ve added Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablets. For more on the Nook, go here.

UPDATED 10/31: We’ve added Google’s new Nexus 10 tablet to the chart. For more on the Nexus 10, go here.

It may be impossible for us to pick a tablet for you. After all, personal preferences and needs account for a lot when it comes to gadgets. But we can at least help you know what’s out there! There’s a ton of different choices, so we’ve broken out the specs on some of leading tablets (including Kindle, iPad, Surface and Nexus)  to help you compare and contrast.  Plus we’ll be updating this chart as more devices are released.

A few things to consider as you look at the chart below:

– What size tablet would be the most useful for you? When and where will you use the device most often?
– Is cellular connectivity important to you? There’s a significant price hike on devices with 3G and 4G LTE capabilities (they all include WiFi).
– We’ve listed the base prices below. Upgrades for additional storage or in the case of Kindle, devices without ads, will cost more.
– Pixels per Inch is a good guide to display quality, but quality is also affected by things like contrast and illumination. If this is a big concern, we recommend trying a device in person.

Are we missing a tablet you’re considering purchasing? Have more questions? Let us know in the comments!

tablet comparison chart buying guide
Questions? Let us know in the comments!


Mario’s Hands-On Review of the Microsoft Surface

We’ve had the new Microsoft Surface in our hands for a few days but now that the big Microsoft event happened yesterday, we’re finally allowed to share our hands-on experience with the Microsoft Surface tablet!

The new Surface is a big move from Microsoft as they move to compete head-to-head with Apple and Amazon. And the launch corresponds with the brand-new Windows 8 operating system too. In the video, I walk you through how the new Windows (called Windows RT on tablets) is new and different. Plus I demonstrate the innovative new tablet cover that double as keyboards, called the “Touch” and the “Type,!” We also walk us through the App Store, and give you a general “feel” of using the device. It’s not quite the same as trying it out yourself, but it’s close!

The Surface costs $499. If you want to pick one up try the Microsoft site or the Microsoft retail stores.

For a complete comparison of recent tablets, check out our tablet comparison chart where we compare all the major tablets on the market.

Tablet Roundup: We Talk iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Microsoft Surface & More

iPad Mini Mockup by 9to5mac

This is going to be a big week for tech. Huge, even. This week the big guys (Apple, Microsoft, Google) make some of their biggest announcements of the year about devices, all in an effort to get us psyched for the holiday gift-buying season. We’re going to take this (special) occasion to talk in-depth about tablets all week, and compare the features and prices of the leading models that will be out this fall/winter.

Tuesday is the big Apple event, where we expect to see the announcement of the iPad mini and a couple other product updates. We’ll be liveblogging the whole thing, so sign up for our email newsletter or follow us on Twitter and we’ll remind you to tune in. Will we see an iPad under $300? We’ll just have to wait to find out!

Wednesday we’ll go hands-on with Amazon’s competitor, the Kindle Fire. After all, just because Amazon has already made their big announcements doesn’t mean we should ignore the Fire! After all, a year’s data on the Fire is only $50. That’s crazy cheap!

Thursday there are two huge tech events we’ll be covering: the introduction of Microsoft Surface and Windows 8, plus a mystery event being held by Google. We just found out about the Google event, so we haven’t gotten a chance to do a ton of speculating yet, but don’t be surprised if we meet another Google phone. We’ll also go hands-on with the brand new Microsoft Surface to check out the hardware and see if Windows 8 really is the revolution Microsoft needs.

Friday we’ll take a hands-on review of the Google Nexus, Google’s 7″ tablet that’s only $200. After Tuesday’s event, we’ll have a better idea about how the hardware and price compare to Apple’s latest offerings.

Short version: we’re reviewing the leading tablets this week, including the new ones, so you can figure out which one may be right for you this holiday season. Come back all week for up to date coverage of the major device announcements!