Microsoft demos smartwatch handwriting recognition

Microsoft Research has released an early version of a handwriting recognition system for small-screen devices, hoping to get feedback from Android Wear users as to its usefulness.

Microsoft Smartwatch

Microsoft’s Analog Keyboard builds on single-character handwriting recognition systems like Palm’s Graffiti to offer what the company claims is the perfect text input device for smartwatches.


Microsoft Smartwatch will be unveiled in next few weeks.

Ref: Microsoft Research – The Analog Keyboard Project



We’re rolling out our first new build to the Windows Insider Program

Hi everyone, I’m Gabe. As Joe mentioned last week, I lead the Data & Fundamentals Team here in the Operating Systems Group (OSG). My team is responsible for a number of things, but the one I’m most excited about right now is that we’re helping to review and understand all of the feedback we get from you folks via the Windows Insider Program, and working with all of our feature teams to make changes based on what we hear. You can expect to hear from me going forward on anything regarding the Windows Insider Program – including new builds we release.

New build:

As a matter of fact, we’re rolling out a new build today – Build 9860! This is the first update build to Windows 10 Technical Preview, and we’ll continue to deliver more as part of the Windows Insider Program. Sometimes they’ll be more frequent and sometimes there will be longer gaps, but they will always be chock full of changes and improvements, as well as some bugs and things that are not quite done. As we’ve said, we’re sharing stuff early and moving quickly to do so. In fact, the build that we’re rolling out today is something that we ourselves only got a little over a week ago! I hope that you’re as excited about seeing these early builds as we are to share them with you and hear your feedback.

Getting Started:

  • The latest build will come to you automatically via the magic of Windows Update. For most of you this means in the middle of the night (as long as your PC is plugged in and either on or sleeping) it will be downloaded and installed for you. Note that Windows Update will not automatically download the new build over metered networks.
  • Can’t wait? You can go to PC Settings, Update and recovery, Preview builds and click the Check Now button to go get it now.

Preview

  • The download will range between 2GB and 2.74GB depending on CPU architecture and language.
  • Once the build is downloaded, your PC will begin the installation and reboot. This reboot will be longer than normal but don’t worry.
  • When you log in for the first time after installing the new build, you’ll go through those colorful “installing your apps” screens again. This is because your account is being provisioned again. When it’s done it will be your same familiar system with all of your stuff.
  • Once you are logged back in after installing the new build, your system will take some time to catch back up and you may see extra activity or things that don’t quite work right – for example the search index will need time to rebuild and OneDrive will need to sync. This should stabilize within the first couple hours of use.

Some known problems:

Before talking about the new things, I will remind you that you are using a work in progress. As Joe said in his last post, we’re sharing things with you even though there are rough edges. This is the part of building Windows that you usually don’t get to see, since we work hard to smooth these out before it typically gets to you. There are likely many small bugs that you’ll encounter, but these are a few of the big ones that we think you should be aware of right away:

  • In some places the UI design has gone “backwards” temporarily while we’re working on the final experiences. For example in this build we know that it’s harder to join a Wi-Fi network. We’ll make changes to fix that later.
  • Another example of some UI “roughness” is sometimes Internet Explorer glyphs look garbled and items on the Start menu might disappear. Not everyone will see this, it depends on your display driver. We have a fix for this one coming soon.
  • Some machines may wake up and not go back to sleep properly.
  • Microsoft Solitaire and Mahjong games are broken in some cases and won’t launch.
  • When using 2 external monitors over Display Link, you may get a blue screen when you undock. This does not appear to be an issue when using just 1 external monitor. A fix for this one is in the works too.

Okay, now the fun stuff! Here’s what’s new:

Most of the changes in this build will be invisible to you, but we’ve made nearly 7,000 improvements and fixes to the product between 9841 and 9860. Many of those fixes were based on problem reports that you submitted in the Community forum or through the Windows Feedback app. Thanks! We also have a few visible changes that you’ll notice.

  • Action Center for Windows PCs. As we shared when we announced Windows 10 in September, we aren’t limiting our view to one specific device type. We are looking across our entire product family to look at ways to bring great experiences to our customers across different devices. So with this build, we’re bringing “Action Center” from Windows Phone over to the PC as the place where you can see and follow up on all actionable items. This build is focused ONLY on enabling basic notifications – quick actions and cleaner UI will come later. You’ll see notifications from the system and apps – from new emails and invites to IMs, Facebook posts and more – all in one place, so you don’t miss a thing. Click on the new Action Center icon in the notification area of your taskbar to check it out.

ACDesktopFull

  • Move apps easily from one monitor to another. When you’re working on multiple monitors, use WIN+SHIFT+<arrow> to move the active app to another monitor. You can find a list of new keyboard shortcuts for navigating and managing your multiple desktops here in this blog post.
  • Animation for switching desktops. One of the pieces of feedback that you gave us was that it was hard to know when you were switching desktops. We addressed your feedback by adding an animation to make it clear that you are switching. Check it out by creating some new desktops and moving between them.

Hey! Where are the rest of the changes based on our feedback!?

To date you’ve sent us over 250,000 pieces of feedback through the Windows Feedback tool, 25,381 community forum posts, and 641 suggestions in the Windows Suggestion Box. Every day we work through the latest round of feedback and incorporate that into our engineering process. One thing I wanted to make sure everyone understood however is that when we do make a change based on your feedback, it can take a while until you see those changes in the builds coming to you.

To put this into perspective, it’s helpful to understand what we call “ring progression”. Every day our build process compiles the latest changes our engineers have made and produces a build that is automatically sent out to our “Canary ring” – people in OSG who want to be the first to get started using and testing the newest code. Once we have validated with that group that the build is stable enough to use by more people, it is sent out to the next ring – all of OSG – where we validate it with that audience. From there we send it to tens of thousands of people here at Microsoft, and after it proves stable enough there, we make it available to you.

Ring1

So the build you’re seeing today was first deployed to the Canary ring about 1 ½ weeks ago, and some of the code going into that build may have been made several weeks before. More of these changes will be making their way to you in our next update, and I’ll be sure to highlight them in upcoming blog posts.

Adding a ring:

You’ll notice once you install 9860 that there is a new option to set how quickly new builds reach you. In part, this change was also based on your feedback, as we heard from many of you that you’d like to know more about what issues you might run into before you install the build.

Preview_closed

In PC Settings, Update and recovery, Preview builds, you’ll see a new dropdown menu with options for ‘Fast’ or ‘Slow’. By default, everyone will be in the ‘slow’ ring. If you’re adventurous and want to see the build right as it comes out, you’ll want to be in the ‘fast’ ring, which means that you’ll get it from Windows Update on the day it comes out. If you want to wait a bit and let others find any gotchas so that the community gets caught up with known issues and workarounds, then you’ll want to stay in the ‘slow’ ring.

So for completeness, our ring model after 9860 now looks like this:

Ring2

We’re excited to have you on this journey with us to make Windows 10 great. Your suggestions and feedback have been awesome so far and you’ll start to see the fruits of that soon as new builds progress out through our internal rings to you.

Remember, if you run into any issues please send feedback to us via the Windows Feedback app. You can also ask questions in the forum. We’re here and we’re listening.

I’ll post here again when we have more news to share, and you can also follow me on Twitter @GabeAul.

Thanks,
g


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