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Tech Tour of Microsoft: Windows 8.1, One Note, 3D, Xbox One and More

 I previously shared the top 5 ways I use Microsoft Office 365 to #GetItDone and explained that I am excited to be an Office Champion. Last month fellow Champions and I had the opportunity to learn lots of new information at the Champions Summit up at the Microsoft Campus in Seattle. Here are some of the fun highlights and I will be sharing more during the coming months.

 

 

Here are a few of us getting ready to start the tour!!!

 

 

The features of Office 365 Home Premium, Windows 8 (8.1) and Windows devices enable me to be so productive. At the Champions Summit I  took notes using Microsoft OneNote,  which synced across my smartphone and Windows laptop via SkyDrive. I used a Windows Phone for pictures, SkyDrive to store them and OneNote, Word and PowerPoint to create my blog post. Best of all, I was able to embed my PowerPoint presentation showing the highlights of the event into this blog post via SkyDrive and the PowerPoint Web App:

Listed below is a summary of information covered at the Champions Summit. But there were so many great tidbits, that I will also be sharing more in future blog posts!

 

WINDOWS 8.1

 

We started with a demo of Windows 8.1, the news update to Windows. I have already updated the family desktop, but laptop was still running Winows 8. What I like about Windows 8 (now 8.1) is that no matter what Windows device I am logged into with my Microsoft account – I see my same “desktop” with my live tiles configured consistently. While Windows “tiles” are similar to what people know as “app” icons, they differ in that they are constantly updated with the most current information.

 

Windows 8.1 has many new and exciting features resulting in a fast and more fluid experience:

  • Swipe from the right to pull up the date and Windows charms.
  • Swipe from the left to see the other current apps/information open on your desktop, then drag the screen (app) next to another open screen (app) to create a  split screen. Then drag it down to close.
  • When you are in an app, swipe from the bottom to see additional functionality.
  • Pinch in and you can move around whole sections at same time.
  • Additional new  capabilities include the ability to customize groups of apps to sort by different categories and to purchase Microsoft app gift cards.
  • One more feature I enjoy using is the Bing Smart Search. My standard technical benchmark for search is to type “Ryan Gosling” and check if all the information I need is in one, easy to view location. Seriously, it’s a great topic to test the quality of Internet search.

 

The Microsoft website has lots of information about upgrading to Windows 8.1, including tutorials such as this post on upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8..1 My tip is before you do any upgrades make sure your Windows updates are current,  which is usually automatic.

 

ONE NOTE

 

 

Picture credit: Microsoft

Next, we discussed One Note, which is a note taking app used for jotting down ideas, information, adding pictures, audio, video, web – a true digital scrapbook. You can place things anywhere in a page. The concept is similar to a three ring binder with sections on top and pages underneath (you can create as many pages as you want). I use One Note for so many things, and for this conference I used One Note to organize my travel information and keep track of the day’s discussions. All notes were automatically synced via Skydrive to all of my devices.

 

One Note came in really handy when I decided to finally upgrade my laptop to Windows 8.1 during the conference. I was able to have the software upgrade running on my laptop and take notes on the smartphone One Note app – picking up exactly where I left off in my notes. Before, (comma inserted) I used to jot down some handwritten notes on paper notebooks and then type other notes. Unfortunately, it always seemed like I lost the notes or forgot the file name. Now, (comma inserted) with One Note, I have “notebooks” for different events with all of my notes, research and important information (such as travel information) filed and labeled appropriately. The search feature in One Note is also powerful enough to sort through all the text in my notes just in case I forget the location of specific information.

 

Here are some of the key features we discussed:

 

  • So Many Uses: Use OneNote for work, home, school projects or class notes, to-do’s, recipes, flight, hotel, schedule, documents, people, map and more. You can TAG info to be searchable. Or search by keyword in the search box. If you have recipe book with lots of recipes  – you can search for what is in your fridge and it will bring up recipes with those ingredients (i.e. spinach, chicken). Important documents such as a passport with the associated travel information can be kept in One Note and accessed anywhere in the world with an internet connection (via SkyDrive). One Note can be the place to store household paperwork to live a paperless life.
  • Digital Clipping: You can add screen clippings (insert tab), pictures from SkyDrive or locally, images found using Bing, scanned images and recorded audio and video. Choose “screen clipping”, go to internet page and then click and drag to drop clipping into a section. Put all your information in one place. If you just want to include reminder it will include a URL for reference so you can go back.
  • Storage: OneNote/ SkyDrive offers 7GB of content for free. Evernote limits to 60 MB per month for free. If you have Office 365 you have 20 GB plus the 7GB.
  • Co-Authoring and Sharing: With One Note you can have simultaneous co-authoring for free. Evernote Premimium does not support simultaneous edit. One Note Notebooks can be shared so that everyone can edit and view, seeing not only the changes but also who made them and even share with people who don’t have OneNote.
  • Online and Offline: No internet, no problem: Office access  offline is included for free. This is premium feature for Evernote.
  • Across devices and platforms: ” OneNote comes with Office 2010 and 2013, and Office 365 for PCs. OneNote is also available for free on the Web, Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android phones, and as a Windows 8 application for tablets.” One Note also works with the rest of office, so I can even insert PowerPoint presentations or other Office documents and then annotate it!
  • Value Proposition: Office 365 Home Premium is $99 per year, and is a full suite of products, delivering a better value than Evernote Premium at the price of $45..

 

*NEW* ONE NOTE FEATURES

 

I really enjoyed the demo of the now announced update to the touch enabled One Note app in the Windows Store.  Here are some of the key details covered in the  One Note update announcement: “Capture it all: Capture your screen with the share charm and capture documents, magazines and whiteboards with camera scan, Browse and find your notes easier than ever: Search for text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition and find your notes faster than ever before with recent notes and page previews, Annotate and take your own notes on the things you’ve captured: Write better with ink and see your notes in full screen! “

 

With Windows 8.1 you can capture and send it to One Note using the “Share Charm” . It’s  exciting that I can use the camera in my touch enabled device to take a picture of the screen, documents, whiteboard or other important information and then “scan” it to One Note using the camera scan function. Here is a video:

 

 

Even better, after I use that camera scan feature (with a receipt for example) I can then use the text recognition capability to search text in One Note (and then find it later when I need it!).

 

Here is another video of the recognize and search text:

 

 

For more information, check out OneNote.com.

 

OFFICE 365 HOME PREMIUM

 

We also discussed what is included with Office 365 Home Premium and the top ten features.

Here’s some information from the press release fact sheet highlighting key features:

:

“Top 10 Features of Office 365 Home Premium:

  1. If you are reading, not writing or editing, click or tap View, then Read Mode in Word to hide the writing tools and menus.
  2. On your Windows device, re-open a document or presentation and keep reading right where you left off with Resume reading in Word and PowerPoint.
  3. Like a data assistant that finishes your work for you, Flash Fill in Excel detects what you want to do and enters the rest of your data in one fell swoop, following patterns in your data.
  4. Dress up your data with conditional formatting such as bars and color scales through the Quick Analysis Lens in Excel.
  5. Tired of trying to precisely match the colors of shapes and pictures in PowerPoint? Let Eyedropper in PowerPoint do the work for you.
  6. With an improved Presenter view in PowerPoint, the audience views your slides on a main screen, while you control the show on another screen that only you can see.
  7. Inline replies in Outlook allow you to reply with one click by typing your response right in the Reading Pane.
  8. Grab a quick glance at your schedule, an appointment or your to-do list with peeks in Outlook, without having to switch from email to calendar or other modes.
  9. If the sound of typing is distracting, you can handwrite notes in OneNote instead of typing them. This is also useful if you’re faster at writing than at typing.
  10. Instead of re-typing information or relying on links to documents, feel free to embed files in OneNote to keep them handy online or offline.”

 

 

MICROSOFT ENVISIONING CENTER

 

Next was a fascinating tour of the Microsoft Envisioning Center. We were not allowed to bring our cameras, but luckily there is information on the Microsoft Website about the Envisioning Center..

 

We were not allowed to bring our cameras, but luckily there is some information about this research center on the Microsoft Website.

All I can say – is that I want the kitchen of the future NOW… But really, everything covered in the Envisioning Center tour was the perfect match of technology, home and community working together in a much more efficient way than we do it now. Luckily, the future is not too far away.

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The new Envisioning Center explores how technology will transform the way we live, work and play in the future.
Envisioning Center - March 01, 2013. The new Envisioning Center explores how technology will transform the way we live, work and play in the future.

 

 

 

MICROSOFT’S 3D BUILDER APP

 

 

Then if I was not already excited enough about the technology in the Envisioning Center, we had a demo on 3D Printing and learned about the newly released Microsoft 3D Printing app. The Windows blog post explains more about the 3D Builder coming to Windows 8.1: “A few months ago, you may have heard that Windows 8.1 makes 3D printing possible because it is native to the operating system, meaning the OS offers plug-and-play support for printers, understands 3D file formats, and connects lots of apps with lots of hardware to deliver offering a seamless printing experience for customers. Now, with the 3D Builder app, we’ve made it even easier for people to create and print objects in 3D” .

 

What I find interesting is that while 3D printing used to seem like some sci-fi fantasy, now it is not only becoming more accessible with all types of 3D printers hitting the consumer market but is also includes 3D apps (such as Microsoft 3D Builder) that help design objects. With Microsoft partners such as 3D Systems, Autodesk, Dassault Systemes, MakerBot, netfabb, Materialise, Stratasys, Tiertime (PP3DP) and  even MakerBot at the Microsoft retail store – I am getting closer to soon seeing a 3D printer in our family workspace soon.  Of course I started thinking about all the cool things I could create with my kids. Especially after seeing this 3D printed version of a DNA. Now that would be a science project my boys could be extra proud to bring to school!

 

 

Our last stop was techie heaven for me, located in a conference area that had selection of Microsoft Devices to demo.  The tour included a product and technical deep dive into the Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro, which packs many features making them very productive tablets.

 

 

We also had *drumroll* a demo of the Xbox One that just became available to the public. While I have not given one a test drive just yet, it is tops on our list, especially for our Xbox gamer sons! I can’t wait to play with the new capabilities of the  Xbox One, especially the advanced voice and gesture commands, entertainment options and innovative features that will really make it an all-in-one device.

 

 

What new technology are you looking forward to trying (or just started using)?

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All of my words are my own.

 

Facebook Announces Graph Search Beta – My Initial Thoughts

Today at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park CA, Facebook announced Graph Search Beta. I was following the Mashable Live blog for Facebook Graph Search Beta announcement. On that feed, I saw the blog post from Facebook announcing the Graph Search Beta. Facebook explained:

 

 

“Today we’re announcing a new way to navigate these connections and make them more useful. We’re calling it Graph Search, and it starts today with a limited preview, or beta…..

 

Graph Search will appear as a bigger search bar at the top of each page. When you search for something, that search not only determines the set of results you get, but also serves as a title for the page. You can edit the title – and in doing so create your own custom view of the content you and your friends have shared on Facebook….

 

With Graph Search you combine phrases (for example: “my friends in New York who like Jay-Z”) to get that set of people, places, photos or other content that’s been shared on Facebook…..

 

Another big difference from web search is that every piece of content on Facebook has its own audience, and most content isn’t public. We’ve built Graph Search from the start with privacy in mind, and it respects the privacy and audience of each piece of content on Facebook….”

 

 

Emily Price from Mashable also shared on the live blog: “Bing is integrated into Facebook, so you can do web searches within Facebook — so “Weather in Menlo Park” will pull up weather results from Bing“.

 

The key thing to understand is that privacy settings are now even more important. Here is a link to a post about the privacy settings: https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch/privacy.

 

Here is a link to sign up for the Facebook Graph Search Beta waiting list: https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch.

 

My initial thoughts are:

1. This is an effective way to search for people, places and photos your friends are sharing (and the Bing integration is a great feature).  If you are looking for restaurant, vacations, TV shows, movies, music etc. I would find this very useful.

 

 

 

2. Assuming you can only search for information your friends are sharing (via the Privacy statement), this still means that you need to feel comfortable that anything you share on Facebook (Page likes, photos, conversations) etc will now be more easily found by your friends. So if you have an obsessions with anything Hello Kitty, it is important to understand that all of your friends on Facebook can easily figure that out. I suggest that anyone using Facebook read the section on How privacy works with Graph Search.

 

I will spend more time reading over the new information on Facebook Graph Search and add more of my thoughts. PLEASE share your initial thoughts.

 

 

 

Social Is The Future of Search And SEO


One key topic discussed at social media conferences is SEO, search and influence. At the recent BlogHer Pro conference in San Francisco, the lunchtime keynote subject was  Growing Your Audience and Influence with Social + Search with speakers Duane Forrester of Bing, Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes and Elisa Camahort of BlogHer.  While Elise Bauer explained that she focusses on good content rather than over analyzing if her posts are SEO friendly, she also revealed that over 80% of her traffic comes from search engines. Many conversations about the content on her SimplyRecipes.com site, including recipe questions, happen on social networks such as Facebook. Duane Forrester predicted that in the future, social will be the most important part of search. He also mentioned that each social network platform has value in sharing content and conversations, but you need to determine which platform provides the best value for your brand.  Elisa Camahort added, “Twitter is good for brand awareness, Facebook is good for influence because it consists of your friends.” Everyone also discussed how Pinterest can generate lots of traffic because it is a visual platform that benefits posting content with pictures.

 

I have personally witnessed the power of social when it comes to sharing content. I use multiple social media platforms including Twitter to share my blogging content and when that content is “retweeted” it magnifies my reach. I also find more and more content on the web via the social streams of my friends. This confirms what Forrester said, that social is becoming the most important part of search on the web. Forrester also mentioned the new Bing Social Sidebar.

 

I also had the opportunity to talk with Kari Dilloo from Bing (who also presented on the BlogHer Pro panel “Growing Your Reputation: Working with PR and Media Professionals as Part of the New PR Food Chain“) about Bing Social. She explained that Bing Social Search has the advantage of pulling information from across social networks (including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Klout and Quora) when doing a search. Dilloo explained that Bing is looking at reinventing search and seeing where search is going to make it easy for people to find info they are looking for.

 

Bing social search

Photo Credit: Bing Search Blog

 

 

When doing a search on Bing, the left hand side is the web search. In the middle is a snapshot view that includes visual maps, pictures and even links to sites such as Wikipedia. The far right hand side displays a social search column with results from friends and other social networks that recently discussed the topic being queried. For example, a search for a Mexican restaurant will result in a listing on the left hand side bar of local restaurants with links to menus and phone numbers. These businesses will also be identified on the map in the middle column. The far right hand side bar displays a list of restaurants being discussed by those in the searcher’s various social networks. This allows a true social experience when performing a search on Bing, including who blogged or tweeted about the topic. The cross platform result provides new opportunities for those creating social media content on particular subjects to have their content discovered in searches by others interested in the same topic.

 

 

Bing social search

 

 

When I searched on Bing  for “gadget gifts”, I saw that my friend Jennifer Comet Wagner shared a post from her blog titled “Tech Gadget Gifts for Teens and Tweens“. Because I trust her opinion, I was more influenced by her post then by the general web search posts.  I review technology so my kids are used to seeing all the gadgets I have tested. For their holiday gifts, I needed a fresh perspective. On Jennifer’s post that I found from Bing, I discovered two fun tween/teen gift items I had not heard of and were perfect for my son: an ePillow for when he reads eBooks on his tablet and OWI Robotic Arm Edge for some Robotics fun. As a blogger, I realize now more then ever that social is an important part of how my posts will be found.

 

But more then that, as Kari Dilloo shared in the “How to Build Your Reputation” panel, research is very important part of building the right reputation. She explained “My advice is to do your research and make every conversation count. Whether it’s small talk at conferences or over twitter, etc, seek out the people and/or companies you admire and be armed with ideas that could spark a mutual brainstorm.” Social search can also benefit this type of research not only to find what is on the web, but also what your friends and social networks have to say on the topic.

 

Are you more influenced by what your friends share on social networks or from search engine results?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All of my words are my own.

 

Building Success: Using Bing Webmaster Tools

 

As part of my preparation for BlogHer PRO, I had the opportunity to speak to Duane Forrester, Sr. Product Manager with Bing’s Webmaster Program. He will be leading the lunch Keynote titled, “Lunch, and Keynote Brought to You by Bing — Growing Your Audience and Influence with Social + Search”.  Forrester explained to me the details of his personal journey: to share with others how to build success and how to leverage your business assets to become successful. He also believes that to deliver a quality product you need to have customer interaction.  His two books, “Turn Clicks Into Customers: Proven Marketing Techniques for Converting Online Traffic into Revenue” and “How to Make Money with Your Blog: The Ultimate Reference Guide for Building, Optimizing, and Monetizing Your Blog” detail how a business can increase customers and generate revenue with blogs.

 

We discussed many different topics related to blogging and one was of particular interest. Forrester discussed the new features of the Bing Webmaster tools including the “Link Explorer, SEO Analyzer/SEO Reports, and updates to current tools such as our Keyword Research Tool (beta), and our URL Removal Tool.” Bing Webmaster tools (available to anyone) detail standard info including queries, your site’s ranking and where you were shown. The tools also send alerts and when combined with Bing crawler you can proactively manage bandwidth by time of day. Another option is to set controls that someone else manages for your website. With Link Explorer you can not only see who is linking to you, but also who is linking to your competitors. BingBot offers the ability to have a crawler fetch your blog’s URL then have a search engine assess the code on the page and come back with a status. For example, you can watch out for signs of hacks in your websites such as really long links. Forrester shared important advice for all bloggers: we should get to know what “normal” code looks like on our website so we can spot when it has been hacked.

 

In addition to all of these tools, Bing is now the first search engines to provide SEO advice to users. This is accomplished with SEO Analyzer, which scans a URL then shares what SEO work needs to be done.This tool helps you know what SEO work needs to be done now, helps you learn more about SEO from a trusted source and can help you test fresh areas of your site quickly.
When I checked out the Bing Webmaster Tools online, I was happy to see blog posts from the Bing Webmaster blog that explains key product areas. For those who want to find out more, there are Bing Webmaster Guidelines blog posts and  free recorded webinars . The Bing Webmaster Getting Started Checklist is a great place for the user to start outlining the process and tools to build workflow. This checklist covers areas such as how to configure your site reports and data, Webmaster diagnostic tools and SEO Analyzer.

 

Here are some of the blog posts that are great resources not only for Bing Webmaster tools but also for SEO and reporting:

 

For more information, check the BlogHer Pro live blogs.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.