Starting today, makers and software developers who have engaged in our Windows Insider program will get their first chance to develop applications that use AllJoyn capability in Windows 10 by downloading the SDK for Windows from the AllSeen Alliance. Â You can learn more at the MS Open Tech blog.
Hi everyone, Iâm excited to share the news that weâre rolling out our next build update to the âFastâ ring of the Windows Insider Program â Build 9879! Once again this build has a ton of changes, some noteworthy new features, and a few gotchas to be aware of. It also has a number of things that YOU have influenced directly with your problem reports and suggestions. Thanks!
- If you are new to the Windows Insider Program you may want to check out my post here from last month since this post is using some terms and concepts I first shared there. (e.g. our âring progressionâ model.)
- Just like last time, this new build will come to you automatically via Windows Update, installed during your maintenance window if your PC is plugged in and on or sleeping.
- If you donât want to wait for it to download and install on its own â you can go to PC Settings, Update and recovery, Preview builds and click the Check Now button to go get it now.
- If youâre currently in the Fast ring, the build is available now. If youâre in the Slow ring, you wonât receive the build right away â weâll publish to Slow after we see how everything goes with the Fast ring.
- This is a full build, and it will be installed as an in-place upgrade, so youâll go through those colorful âinstalling your appsâ screens again. This is because your account is being re-provisioned after the upgrade.
Some known problems:
As with the last build, youâre getting hot-off-the-presses code which means there are a few issues. Weâll be publishing WU updates shortly to fix the first two, but the remainder will not be fixed for 9879.
- In some cases you may get a black screen when trying to log-in or unlock. The only option is to hold the power button to hard reboot.
- You will be unable to connect to Distributed File System network locations.
- Some systems may see disk growth of 20GB+ due to driver install duplication. On systems with low disk space this can block setup and cause a rollback to the previous build.
- Skype calls will disconnect and Music will stop playing if those apps are minimized.
- There are several known issues with screen sharing with Lync.
Here are some changes based on your awesomeness:
Before I get into new features in this build, I want to start by telling you about some changes based on direct feedback weâve received by you.
- One of your top suggestions really made an impact on our designs for the taskbar. With 9879 you can now hide the Search or Task View buttons on the taskbar. Just right-click on the taskbar and uncheck the check boxes for whichever button you want to hide.
- We heard that the new minimize and restore animations for apps we introduced in the last build were a bit jarring so weâve updated them. Check them out and let us know what you think.
- We also heard that it was too hard to find the charms and full screen button in modern apps. We have replaced the 3 dots in the Window chrome for modern apps with a âhamburger-styleâ icon (three lines) that we believe will make it easier to discover.
- Less visible but still super important are all of the crash and hang issues that youâve reported as youâve been using the builds. Weâve fixed a lot of issues that youâve hit, and you are directly contributing to our ability to make Windows 10 more stable for everyone. (These also work kind of like âvotesâ so think of it this way â as you use the product and send in your votes it will work better for you than for your friends who arenât in WIP!)
Weâre still working on many other things that have been influenced by your feedback, but I really wanted to start by showing how youâve directly made an impact on this release. More to come.
Hey look, cool new features!
Windowing and gesture improvements:
A few weeks ago at TechEd, Joe showed off a few new features in Windows 10 that are now included in todayâs new build. You can now use Snap Assist when snapping apps across multiple monitors. Weâve also introduced new 3 finger gestures for precision touchpads. Here is the list of the new 3 finger gestures for you to try:
- 3 finger up -> Task View
- 3 finger down -> Show Desktop
- 3 finger flick to left or right -> switches to previous app (go back 1)
- 3 finger move left or right -> Alt-Tab (Task View) pops up and you can select the app you want (remove fingers to select)
- 3 finger tap -> Search
New ways to use OneDrive:
Weâre also introducing changes to how OneDrive syncs your files in this build. In Windows 8.1, we use placeholders on your PC to represent files you have stored in OneDrive. People had to learn the difference between what files were âavailable onlineâ (placeholders) versus what was âavailable offlineâ and physically on your PC. We heard a lot of feedback around this behavior. For example, people would expect that any files they see in File Explorer would be available offline by default. Then they would hop onto a flight (or go someplace without connectivity) and try to access a file they thought was on their PC and it wasnât available because it was just a placeholder. It didnât feel like sync was as reliable as it needed to be. For Windows 10, having OneDrive provide fast and reliable sync of your files is important. Starting with this build, OneDrive will use selective sync. This means you choose what you want synced to your PC and it will be. What you see is really there and you donât need to worry about downloading it. You can choose to have all of your OneDrive files synced to your PC, or just the ones you select.
Also in Windows 8.1, there were multiple ways you could get to your OneDrive files such as through the modern OneDrive app or through File Explorer. We heard a lot of feedback around this as well. It wasnât obvious exactly where to go for your OneDrive files. In Windows 10, we are providing people with one easy way to get to their OneDrive files – through File Explorer. To manage OneDrive, just right-click on the OneDrive icon in the notification area and click âSettingsâ to manage how OneDrive behaves. Youâll be able to adjust things like auto save, choose which folders are synced offline, and more.
If you have any feedback around these new OneDrive changes in this build â please let us know! Use the Windows Feedback app to let us know what you like or donât like about the new design.
Internet Explorer improvements:
The Internet Explorer Team is working hard to make significant browser improvements in Windows 10 and in this build, we are enabling our new interoperability focused Edge rendering engine for 10% of Windows Insiders. You can help us improve quality by surfing the web with Internet Explorer as you normally would and watching for broken web sites. If you see a problem, just click the smiley face feedback button in the upper right corner of IE and select âSend a Frownâ. Thereâs more information on IEâs new Edge rendering engine in this blog post from the IE Team.
Native MKV support:
Some of you have noticed that Build 9860 brought native support for the MKV file format. In Build 9879, weâre making the experience âmore completeâ. You can now play MKV files directly from Windows Media Player (as well as other desktop and modern apps), MKV files will show thumbnails and metadata in File Explorer, support for DLNA and Play To scenarios has been added, and more. We recently brought MKV support to the Xbox One. We also added platform support for H.265 HEVC for Windows 10 as well, and weâre not done here yet. More news to come on this later.
Continued UI refinements:
Weâve also made a few UI refinements. In File Explorer, weâve made some tweaks and you can now pin your favorite folders to Home.
Modern dialogs are now correctly windowed.
And eagle-eyed Windows Insiders will also notice a few new icons. Remember, the UX in Windows 10 right now is a work-in-progress with a lot more coming!
Improving the Windows Insider Program:
Weâre also delivering some improvements to the Windows Insider Program to make it easier for you to send us feedback and stay in the loop with whatâs going on with the program (besides following me on Twitter).
Included in this build is the new Insider Hub app. The Insider Hub is your one-stop-shop for all the latest news and announcements regarding the Windows Insider Program. There will be times when we will need to communicate something to Windows Insiders that may not necessitate doing a blog post or forum post which weâll push out to the Windows Insider Hub. Youâll want to check it for news, but it will also notify you if thereâs something interesting to share. Weâll also post quests for you to try out new features and then send us feedback (via the Windows Feedback app). The Insider Hub isnât pinned to your Start menu/Start screen so youâll need to find it (and pin it!). Be sure to open it at least once so you will receive notifications from the app on important news and announcements.
We’re still working hard to make the app even better, so don’t forget to send us feedback through the Windows Feedback app. Issues, suggestions, ideasâ¦ we’d love to hear about them!
Speaking of the Windows Feedback appâ¦ we made a ton of changes to this based on your feedback too. This app is really important for us to get right so weâre able to hear and address your feedback:
- You can now sort feedback entries based on trending topics, number of Me Too, and most recent.
- When youâre finished adding feedback, the Windows Feedback app will take you back to the category you were already in, not the list.
- There was an issue when you tried searching for existing feedback it would give you an error and no filter anything at all â weâve fixed this so you can easily find submitted feedback and vote on them.
- Weâve made the screenshot button easier to find!
And finally â we heard from you loud and clear you want ISO images of the new builds we release. We felt it was important to listen to that and give you what you want â but thereâs a catch. Getting the update & install data from our Preview Builds mechanism is super important for us. It helps us ensure smooth ESD distribution, download, and upgrade success for this program going forward, and also will help us ensure great upgrades for people once we release Windows 10. So weâre going to release the ISOs at the same time as we publish to the Slow ring. That means if you want to be FIRST and FASTEST to get the build, youâll need to use our Preview Builds mechanisms (either automatic or Check Now in PC Settings to download.) If you must have an ISO youâll have to be a bit more patient. I hope that youâll consider that a fair tradeoff. J
We continue to be humbled by all the feedback weâre receiving from Windows Insiders like you. Keep it coming!
This will be the last new build of the year for Windows Insiders, as weâll be using the time over the holidays to continue making refinements both to the product and to our engineering system that weâre using to bring it to you. Keep sending us feedback, and weâll keep working to build Windows 10 into something that youâll love. Weâll have something new to share with you early in 2015, and donât forget to check out Insider Hub to stay in touch.
Traditionally, the holiday season and year-end bring new devices and a significant increase in app downloads. During the holiday period of 2013, Windows Store saw 2.4x more revenue than the Jan-Nov average. We expect to see a similar trend as we begin the 2014 holiday season with the US Thanksgiving holiday on November 27, extending through January 2015. We attribute the increase to customers with new devices adding apps, games, music and video content as well as existing customers using more or different apps to help with travel, shopping and recreation.
New devices and holiday promotions are being unveiled, including new tablets from partners Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, E FUN, plus new HP Stream tablets and laptops. And, new phones from HTC and Microsoft Lumia, with the new Lumia 535 announced yesterday. We also continue to help customers purchase your apps and games, increase the number of carrier billing partners, now with 68 connections across 40 markets. Every time we enable users to purchase apps or in-app purchase through their carrier, the average number of paid transactions increases 8x in emerging and 2.5x for the more mature markets.
How Microsoft is Promoting Apps this Holiday
Over the coming weeks Microsoft and its partners will begin holiday promotions and advertising. We are anticipating roughly $100 million (USD) in Windows Store Gift Cards to be available in market, starting this holiday season for consumers to purchase Windows and Xbox apps, games, music and video content across 41 markets. This includes gift cards available for purchase in retail stores or electronically as well as those distributed as part of promotional offers from retail and hardware partners. Watch Blogging Windows for promotional news.
One offer already in market is for the HP Stream Laptop, which includes a Windows Store gift card in selected markets.
Microsoft will also be ramping up holiday advertising to keep Windows devices and the Store top of mind this holiday shopping season. This will include online and digital advertising in addition to in-app and television advertising in select markets.Â Â As always Microsoft will partner with retailers to help ensure that Windows is prominent in physical and online stores this holiday season. You can find the latest updates on windows.com and microsoft.com/mobile.
Weâve also taken steps at the OS and platform level to improve app merchandising and discoverability in the past few months. Â Since last holiday weâve increase the local Store merchandising slots by 55x, dramatically increasing the chances that a customer will see your app when browsing the Store.
Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 have also made apps much more discoverable and engaging. The Store UI was updated to offer greater content density and improve navigation with fewer clicks. We also made the Store and modern apps more discoverable and accessible by placing a Store icon in the taskbar and enabling your apps to be pinned there as well.
What you can do to prepare
Although all Store categories tend to see increased activity during the holidays, there are a few that historically we have seen higher-than-average growth such as: Books and Reference, Entertainment, Games and Music & Video.
We highly recommend that you finish that app youâve been working on and/or update your existing apps to take advantage of the holiday rush. To help you prepare, we have a few recommendations to increase downloads and revenue:
- If you monetize via in-app advertising
- If you monetize through in-app purchase, make sure to deploy monetization best practices (for example offer items for several different price points), as in-app purchase is a leading source of developer revenue for the Windows platform.
- Ensure your app runs across all devices, by deploying it as a Universal Windows app and linking those apps to increase discoverability and usage.
- Optimize your app to run on low memory phones, with 512MB or less, as these devices generate roughly 60% of phone downloads.
- Promote your apps
- Respond to user reviews of your app, as this can help improve ratings and drive downloads
- Update your apps and promote those updates; updated versions of apps drive additional usage and downloads.
Now is the time: submit by November 19 for US Thanksgiving holiday
To take advantage of the holiday push, youâll want to update or submit your app no later than November 19 for Thanksgiving (US) and December 16 for the Christmas holiday. Updating your apps now also ensures they are ready for other upcoming holidays and festivities around the world.
The table below provides a listing of upcoming Microsoft holidays and app submission deadlines. I do want to advise you to submit as early as possible, as volumes are traditionally high at this time of year and turn-around times may be a bit longer than what you normally experience as a result.
I encourage you to act now to take advantage of the increased potential this holiday season. We look forward to seeing your latest creations.
Today is a big day for Halo fans: Master Chief makes his debut on the Xbox One with the worldwide release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. To prepare for countless hours of awesome Halo gaming on your Xbox One â you can immerse yourself in the Halo Universe by downloading The Halo Channel (free) from the Windows Store.
The Halo Channel is an all-new interactive digital network that provides unprecedented, personalized access to the Halo Universe. You can seamlessly transition between game and other Halo experiences including some pretty awesome originally program like Halo 4: Forward unto Dawn and Halo: Nightfall. There is tons of community content as well and you can use The Halo Channel to build deep knowledge around Halo using the Halo Encyclopedia (I still need to learn a lot of the naming conventions myself â âpurple flying machineâ doesnât sound quite right).
The Halo Channel also features full Twitch integration so you can broadcast your gameplay or watch feeds from the Halo community â from competitive multiplayer matches and campaign walkthroughs to speed runs.
Here is the full rundown of features:
- Live and Timely Content: Original programming and entertainment, timely Halo news and live events, eSports, and Twitch integration will keep content fresh and relevant.
- Interactive and Sharable: Interact with a personalized viewing experience, social sharing, and a best-in-class video platform.
- Rewarding: Unlock exclusive in-game content for upcoming Halo titles by watching original Halo programming and entertainment, participating in interactive polls or trying your hand at trivia.
- Multiplatform Access: Sync Windows 8.1 devices to your Xbox One, and use it as a controller or a second screen. Begin your viewing experience on one screen and seamlessly continue it on another.
This is your home for Halo. Download it today!
As announced last week, the Windows Ad Mediator Service and Control is now available, designed to help developers greatly improve advertising revenue.
I sat down with Bernardo Zamora, Director of Business Operations, to discuss how this new service will enable the addition of advertising from a variety of different ad networks to Windows Phone apps. It is now possible to specify how often each network should be used by updating the mediation configuration for apps in Dev Center. This configuration can be optimized by market, so that you are using the most effective ad networks in the appropriate regions. Changes can be made on the fly without republishing your app.
For more information about the Ad Mediator Service & Control, check out the following information:
Let us know if you have any feedback.
Today we announced the Lumia 535. The Lumia 535 offers what weâre calling our â5x5x5 propositionâ â 5 integrated Microsoft services such as Skype and OneNote, a 5 megapixel front facing camera, and a spacious 5 inch display â all at an affordable price. The LumiaÂ 535 comes with Windows Phone 8.1 and the Lumia Denim Update preinstalled. It also comes in two flavors: 3G Single SIM or 3G Smart Dual SIM.
Lumia 535 and Lumia 535 Dual SIM will begin rolling out to key markets in November, and will be available in bright green, bright orange, white, dark grey, cyan and black. Pricing for Lumia 535 and Lumia 535 Dual SIM will vary by market and carrier.
For more information on the LumiaÂ 535 â see this Lumia Conversations blog post.
Last month, we rolled out a series of improvements to Cortana such as Daily Glance for your evenings, recommendations for concerts and local apps, and Chat Cards for flights. Most recently, we also added some new sports tracking experiences.
Weâve added tracking for new soccer leagues such as EPL, Bundesliga, La Liga, Italian Serie A, and Ligue 1. Weâve also added tracking for NCAA football teams as well. Cortana will also now show you the standings for major U.S. Majors leagues including the NFL.
When you ask Cortana âSeahawks standingsâ, she will show you where the Seahawks stand in the NFC West. You can also ask her âNFC standingsâ for the latest standings in college football or âEPL standingsâ for the latest from FIFA games.
For a bit of fun â weâve also added predictions for ABCâs Dancing With The Stars into Cortana powered by Bing Predicts. Just ask Cortana âWho will be eliminated in DWTSâ, âWho is safe in DWTSâ, or âWho is in jeopardy DWTSâ for this week and she will give you an answer! You can even ask her âWho will win DWTS this yearâ to look ahead at what you might expect.
For a complete list of all the latest and greatest improvements and experiences weâve brought to Cortana â click here.
For members of the Windows Insider Program, we wanted to do a little something to say thanks and let you show your pride about helping us build Windows 10. So weâve created a few fun desktop backgrounds to show off your Insider status. Your feedback and help has been simply awesome so far, please keep it coming! Weâre providing zip files for each background with the following sizes: 1280×1024 (Normal), 2560×1920 (Normal), 2560×1600 (Wide), 1920×1080 (HD), and 3840×2160 (4K).
âCome in weâre openâ- Download Now!
âBuild & Createâ- Download now!
âI Love PCâ â Download now!
Last week at Microsoftâs TechEd conference in Europe we talked about the enterprise capabilities in Windows 10, starting with Joe Belfioreâs keynote presentation and continuing into a variety of breakout sessions where we could dig deeper into a number of areas such as security, deployment and manageability.
When it comes to Windows manageability, weâre proud of the capabilities that are built into Windows. But as your organizationâs needs continue to evolve in this increasingly mobile-first world, we need to evolve the Windows management features as well so that they continue to offer the best capabilities, regardless of your scenario.
With Windows 10, this evolution involves new identity and device management choices, as well as continued investments in existing capabilities. For identity, Microsoft Active Directory provides key identity and security capabilities for organizations today. With Windows 10 weâll also add the ability to leverage Azure Active Directory, devices can be connected to Azure AD, and users can login to Windows with Azure AD accounts or add their Azure ID to gain access to business apps and resources.
At the same time, weâll ensure that Windows works better when using Active Directory and Azure Active Directory together. When connecting the two, users can automatically be signed-in to cloud-based services like Office 365, Microsoft Intune, and the Windows Store, even when logging in to their machine using Active Directory accounts. For users, this will mean no longer needing to remember additional user IDs or passwords.
From a device management perspective, we added support in Windows 8.1 for mobile device management (MDM), allowing IT professionals to use the same lightweight management technique with desktops, laptops, and tablets as they use for Windows Phone and other mobile devices. The capabilities provided in Windows 8.1 were focused primarily on bring your own device (BYOD) scenarios. With Windows 10, weâll extend MDM support in order to better manage corporate-owned devices, supporting the configuration of Enterprise Data Protection policies, support for managing multiple users, full control over the Windows Store, VPN configuration, full device wipe capabilities, and much more.
With Windows 10, we also allow for choice between Active Directory, Group Policy, and System Center Configuration Manager for corporate-owned devices that are frequently connected to the corporate network, or Azure Active Directory and MDM for devices that are typically mobile and internet-connected.
These features are still being worked on and will show up in upcoming Windows 10 preview builds, so stay tuned. Until then, check out Michael Niehausâ session from TechEd Europe on this topic, as well as Nasos Kladakisâ session on Azure Active Directory.
As Todd announced earlier, Windows Store today launched a new ad mediation solution designed to help Windows Phone developersÂ who useÂ in-app advertising to increase their fill rates and revenue. In this post Iâd like to provide a bit more detail on the solution and offer some âhow toâ guidance to help you get started.
What is Windows ad mediation?
Ad mediation is an algorithm that enables your app to use multiple SDKs.Â This means thatÂ with the mediation code in place, your app will make a call to one ad control, and if that ad control cannot serve an ad, the app will then call a second ad control, then a third, and so on. The new ad mediation control provides a simple way to implement this capability in your apps.
Ad mediation process
Ad mediation offers several advantages over using a single ad network, giving you control to integrate multiple ad SDKs and optimize use based on performance. Weâll start with optimizing for revenue, defined as Ad revenue (based on the number of filled impressions) and eCPM (effective CPM, or value per thousand views of delivered ads). The highest revenue return can be achieved by choosing the ad network with highest eCPM first, then serving the unfilled ads from other ad networks. If you prefer to optimize for variety of ads to drive overall engagement, you also have the option to set the percentage of time each ad network is the first choice.
Dev Center configuration
Another advantage of ad mediation is that every app can have a different configuration by market. The set up process in Dev Center is simple and quick to do.
Windows ad mediation is launching today with the following configuration capabilities (Dev Center configuration page pictured below):
- App level configuration
- Global and optional market-specific configuration
- Ad refresh rate
- Pause/Resume ads
- Ad network prioritization (e.g. specific network first, equal distribution, back-up only)
- Ad network exclusion (do not use this ad network, globally or in a specific market)
- Fill rate reporting by ad network and by marketÂ
The configuration can be modified any time after the app is published, with changes taking effect immediately. Users of your app will receive the new configuration the next time they use the app.
You can access both the ad mediation configuration as well as ad mediation reports directly from the Dev Center Dashboard navigation menu.
Windows Phone apps types supported
Windows ad mediation capabilities are initially launching for Windows Phone 8.0, 8.1 Silverlight and 8.1 XAML. We are still exploring solutions for tablet and PC apps, as well as other types of apps such as those developed using middleware.
Ad networks available at launch
Windows ad mediation supports 7 ad networks at launch. You choose which ad networks you want to use and the ad network SDKs are automatically installed if available in NuGet.
|Windows Phone 8||Windows Phone 8.1 Silverlight||Windows Phone 8.1 XAML|
* Not available in NuGet today. You can download the DLL from the ad network portal
** AdDuplex is primarily a promotional SDK
Impact: raising the fill rate
In most cases using ad mediation will help raise fill rates and increase the ad revenue a Windows Phone app can generate. The past month Iâve tested ad mediation using different ad SDKs following ad control usage best practices and have seen the average fill rate increase from 60% using a single Ad SDK, to more than 98% using ad mediation when showing ads continuously in the app.
In addition to filling virtually all ad requests, ad mediation allows for customized ad network configuration per market. This enables you to optimize in real-time the ad network mix based on market specific eCPM and fill rates.
For example, below you see results from one of my apps using Windows ad mediation. The app experienced varying fill rates and eCPM by market and ad network, revealing that the best revenue results could be achieved by choosing different primary ad networks for different markets. For example the ad revenue from Argentina grew significantly using ad network #3 as the primary and #2 as the secondary.
This table shows the fill rate and eCPM from 5 different ad networks used in my tests. Note that the highest eCPM ad network varied by region.
If your Windows Phone app monetizes with in-app advertising, you owe it to yourself to try Windows ad mediation to increase your fill rate and optimize revenue. To help you get started quickly, here are a few recommendations:
- Read the ad mediation documentation to get a detailed overview of the capabilities
- Watch the video that shows how to include ad mediation in a Windows Phone project
- Download the Windows Ad Mediation Visual Studio Extension
- Register at the ad network portals, accept their terms, and create an ad unit. Youâll find the list of networks and links to their portals earlier in this post
- Update your Windows Phone app with the ad mediation SDK and include the code that is in the documentation, which helps catch ad SDK errors
- Test your app using the Windows Phone emulator and also with a device
- Submit the app in Dev Center and set the initial ad mediation configuration
- View the revenue results in each ad network portal
- View the fill rate report in Dev Center (look for the âAd mediationâ report)
- Update the ad mediation configuration in Dev Center as needed (look for âAd mediationâ option in the Dev Center dashboard). Wait at last two weeks before making the initial adjustment
As a result of these actions, you should see your apps achieve nearly 100% fill rate and higher ad revenue. Results will vary by app and the ad solution you have in place today. Apps that today use a single ad SDK will likely see bigger gains than apps that were already using multiple ad SDKs.
In addition, Iâd like to offer configuration guidance for common scenarios:
- For a new app or app testing ad mediation: enable up to four ad networks including Microsoft
- For an established global app with high downloads from users the world: enable all seven ad networks, test for at least two weeks, and then disable or change order of the ad networks depending on market performance. Then test for another two weeks before adjusting again. Continue to change order and disable ad networks until you find the right balance
- For an app that is looking to acquire new users: dedicate a percentage of the ad requests to AdDuplex as a primary network, as this is a network that is focused on app promotion, and it should help increase your app downloads
Youâll want to act quickly, as weâre rapidly approaching the holiday season. Last year the Windows Store experienced 2.4x more downloads in December than the average of the year. And, as an added incentive, youâll want to submit your mediation-enabled app to the DVLUP âBoost your bottom line with Adsâ challenge to be eligible for 500 points.
Iâm anxious to hear your results and feedback.