Best of the Web for Windows users - 22 - 28 May 2016

This week Microsoft has continued streamlining their phone business by laying off 1850 employees. Also, they have released new details about their plans regarding mobile for the next couple of years. As you will learn in this roundup, they will copy their strategy with Surface in the mobile world too. We also learned new details about upcoming Xbox One consoles and about the upcoming Windows 10 Anniversary Update that comes in July. To learn more about these events, as well as other interesting news, read this week’s recap:

Microsoft: the news of the week

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

Microsoft Streamlines Its Smartphone Business Again, Lays Off 1850 People - Microsoft announced another reorganization of its smartphone business with plans to streamline operations and eliminate redundant personnel. The company will lay off 1850 of its employees in Finland and other countries and will take a $950 million charge. The actions seem to be in line with Microsoft’s plans to focus on development of flagship smartphones and leave the market of mass handsets.

Microsoft won PC but lost mobile, what now? - Microsoft will never truly give up on Windows Phone, but it's a dream that has largely failed. Microsoft is now facing the reality that people don't need Windows on their phones. That's a reality that has always scared the software giant, and it's now finally time for the company to embrace it, move on, and make great software for iOS and Android devices. Microsoft has already started doing that, and if it continues then maybe its mobile mess won't seem so messy after all.

New Microsoft email reveals shifting mobile strategy, claims Windows phone investment 'not at risk' - A new email sent out to partners adds additional context to the restructuring of Microsoft's smartphone business. Core markets, three areas of strength, and what it all means for the future of Windows Phone.

Hardware requirements have been slightly changed with Windows 10 Anniversary Update - The Windows 10 Anniversary Update (referred to in documentation as version 1607, so it ought to ship in July) comes with the first meaningful change in the Windows system requirements in almost a decade. The RAM requirement is going up, with 2GB the new floor for 32-bit installations. This happens to bring the system in line with the 64-bit requirements, which has called for 2GB since Windows 7.

Windows 10 Insider Preview build 14352 marks countdown to summer launch date - With roughly 60 days remaining until the official release of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft unveiled a new update to members of the Windows Insider program who've signed up for the fasten-your-seat-belts Fast Ring. Build 14352 doesn't include any major new features. Instead, as befits its position in the extended sprint to the Anniversary Update in late July, its release notes include a long list of bug fixes and a much shorter list of refinements in the previously announced signature changes for this summer.

Sources: Smaller Xbox One Coming This Year, More Powerful Xbox One In 2017 [UPDATE] - Microsoft is preparing at least two new Xbox models for release in the next two years, sources tell Kotaku. Later this year we’ll see a cheaper, smaller Xbox One, and next year Microsoft will release a more powerful version of their premiere console.

Cortana for Android adds Windows 10 notification syncing - The ability to display and interact with Windows 10 notifications on an Android-powered device was teased a few months ago during a presentation at Build 2016 and it appears to have begun rolling out to some users already.

Microsoft updates Skype for Android, with all-new Material Design interface for tablets - Microsoft has released Skype 7.0 for Android, which finally brings Material Design to the app on Android tablets. Microsoft says it's "redesigned the tablet UI from the ground up", and it now includes a floating action button - which the Skype team also refers to by its acronym, FAB.

Microsoft develops full version of its Remote Desktop Universal app for Windows 10 - Microsoft has since announced a full version of the app, which will be distributed automatically in the following weeks to users who previously downloaded the Windows 8.1 version in Windows 10.

If Microsoft is banning stupid passwords, why does it still allow “Pa$$w0rd1”? - As a Microsoft program manager announced this week, the Microsoft Account Service used to log in to properties such as Xbox Live and OneDrive Azure has been dynamically banning commonly used passwords during the account-creation or password-change processes. Try choosing "12345678," "password," or "letmein"—as millions of people regularly do—and you'll get a prompt telling you to try again. But a quick check finds it's not hard to get around the ban. To wit: "Pa$$w0rd1" worked just fine. And in fairness to Microsoft, Google permitted the same hopelessly weak choice.

The annoying Windows 10 upgrade offer gets personified in manga form - Twitter user @ponzholic has drawn a short yet accurate manga regarding frustrations with Windows 10, entitled "Windows 10-chan’s upgrade methods are escalating" (translations by Rocket News 24). It’s a lot of fun to read.

Cool tips and guides

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

Windows Encryption Showdown: VeraCrypt vs Bitlocker - When you really need to keep your files safe and secure, you need encryption. Lifehacker has put two of the most popular options for Windows head to head to see which one is the best at keeping your sensitive data safe.

What Is “Compatibility Mode” in Microsoft Office? - When you open a document created in an older version of Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint in a modern version of Office, you may see “Compatibility Mode” appear after the name of the document in the titlebar. This changes the way the document appears and prevents you from using some modern features.

How to Search the Web Using Multiple Search Engines at Once - Wouldn’t it be nice if you could search all search engines at once, to maximize your ability to find what you’re looking for?