Best of the Web for Windows users - 24 - 30 January 2016

This week Microsoft has shared its financial results for the latest quarter. As you can imagine, it is a mix of good and bad and what’s clear is that the PC market is hurting and the mobile market for Microsoft is going from bad to worse. On a different note, we have learned good news about Skype increasing the security of its users and of Windows Defender performing a lot better in the latest antivirus tests. To see more details about these events, as well as other interesting news about Microsoft and its products, read this week’s recap:

Microsoft: the news of the week

These articles are this week's most important news in Microsoft's ecosystem:

Cloud, Surface are the highlights of Microsoft’s $23.8 billion quarter - In all, the numbers told a story that is by now familiar: the cloud is strong, but the PC market is hurting. The collapse in phone sales is an inevitable consequence of the scaled back ambitions, incomplete product line-up, and problematic software support. The Surface story looks happier; after initial stumbles, the hardware seems to have staked out a solid slice of the market, as well as spawning numerous copycat systems from Dell, HP, and Lenovo.

Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14251 - For the past few months, Microsoft has been updating and refining the processes used to build and develop Windows 10 to better meet the needs of a continuously developed, continuously delivered operating system, and this has meant that user visible feature work has taken a back seat. But the new build does have one big change: its build number has leaped from 11107 to 14251.

How Microsoft Plans to Beat Google and Facebook to the Next Tech Breakthrough - The company behind Windows and Office is remaking its research arm to ensure its greatest inventions actually find their way into people’s hands.

Microsoft’s Edge browser may be storing private browsing data - According to an investigation by researcher Ashish Singh, websites visited from InPrivate in Microsoft Edge, can be easily recovered from a user’s hard drive by examining the WebCache file.

Microsoft Raises the Bar in Antivirus Test - Every modern Windows installation comes with free antivirus protection from Microsoft built in. We've never advised users to rely on the built-in Windows Defender—the best third-party antivirus applications are significantly more effective. Even the antivirus testing labs treat Microsoft as a baseline, rather than as a competitor. Lately, though, Microsoft has been faring better and better in tests, which puts the pressure on other vendors to match or beat the baseline.

Skype to hide IP addresses by default, protecting gamers everywhere - Microsoft has rolled out a new version of the desktop Skype client that should make users of its service a little safer from denial-of-service attacks.

Microsoft adds Dropbox and Box integration on Outlook.com; new Office cloud partners on iOS - In the coming weeks, users of the new Outlook.com can attach files from Dropbox, Box and OneDrive right from their inboxes and they have the option to send these files either as traditional attachments or as cloud-based links.

Microsoft currently owns SurfacePhone.com - A poster on reddit somehow discovered that www.surfacephone.com wasn’t a dead link as you would expect, rather entering in the URL for Surface Phone dot com would open Microsoft’s Surface website.

Windows 10 at six months: Ready for primetime? - Windows 10 has been available to the public for six months this week. By the numbers, it's been a hit, with 200 million active users as of the first of the year. Here's a solid mid term report by Ed Bott.

EA lets slip lifetime Xbox One and PS4 consoles sales - Lifetime Xbox One sales have reached 19 million units—at least if EA's CFO is to believed. During a financial call, Blake Jorgensen said the combined installed base of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 had hit an estimated 55 million units, a mere two years into the life of the current generation.

HERE App Collection back in Windows Universal App Store - This is great news for Windows 10 users. Rush to the Windows Store and install all HERE apps for your devices.

Windows Phone is dead - A strong statement by The Verge, based on recent sales numbers for Windows Phone. Do you agree with their Senior Editor, Tom Warren?

From Russia with a pinch of salt: another death knell for the Lumia brand - These are very interesting rumours regarding the future for Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile.

Microsoft makes it easier for Insiders on Windows 10 Mobile to install firmware updates - Microsoft has updated its Windows Insider app to allow those participating to upgrade their Lumia devices to the latest available firmware without having to roll back first via the Windows Device Recovery Tool, which would normally require a data wipe.

Cool tips and guides

We would like to share several tips and guides from other websites in the tech blogosphere:

If You Haven’t Tried a Mechanical Keyboard Yet, You’re Missing Out - Mechanical keyboards are all the rage these days. Hardcore gamers and long-haul coders alike are flocking away from traditional membrane-based keyboards in favor of their more clicky-clacky competition. If you still haven’t hopped on the bandwagon, here’s everything you need to know.

What happens to those free Windows 10 upgrades after July 29, 2016? - We're exactly six months through Microsoft's unprecedented free upgrade offer for Windows 10. The offer officially expires July 29, 2016, on the one-year anniversary of the new operating system's release. But what happens then? Ed Bott shares three possible scenarios.

Facebook Notes: When and how to create them - This guide teaches you when to use Facebook Notes instead of Facebook posts.

Digital Citizen: The best articles of the month

We would like to end with the most popular articles that were published on Digital Citizen, in January 2016:

How to manage partitions with the Disk Management tool, in Windows - A very useful guide that shows you how to create partitions in Windows, using only built-in features.

How to disable the system beep sound in Windows - Do you hate the sound Windows makes when an error is generated? Here’s how to disable it.

My PC has a nasty virus. Now what? How do I remove it? - A very detailed, step-by-step guide on how to remove just about any malware infection, without receiving help from others.