Want to test Microsoft’s Office for Android tablet app? Apply here …

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If you have an Android tablet and would like to try out a pre-release version of Microsoft’s Office for Android tablet app, The Verge reports that the company is looking for beta-testers.

Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that the company is currently preparing a private beta test for the Office Android tablet version, and is accepting participants through a special pre-release program …

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Microsoft reportedly plans to launch Office for Android ahead of Windows 8 version

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As noted by ZDNet, Microsoft seems to be considering putting the release of the Android version of its popular Office productivity suite ahead of the build for the company’s own Windows 8 operating system. Apparently the Windows version has been pushed back to 2015, while the Android variant is internally being planned for release by the end of 2014.

It certainly seems like an odd strategy to put your most popular software product on every competing mobile operating system before your own–image Apple releasing an Android version of its iWork suite before an Android version, or Google pushing out an iPhone app for a new product that has yet to launch on Android–but Microsoft’s “mobile-first” strategy dictates that the company simply push as much software to as many devices as it can without consideration for platform.

It’s a good plan for getting as much revenue as possible from Office, but it could also be seen as putting Microsoft’s own loyal users on the back burner to instead focus on those who use devices from the competition… and that’s probably not a great way to retain Windows users.

Google releases Chrome 32 beta, includes ability to quickly find tabs playing sound

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 4.27.36 PMGoogle today has released Chrome 32 beta for Windows, Mac, and PC. The update includes several new features. Arguably the biggest, however, is the ability to track down which tab is the one playing a video and/or making sound. This feature was rumored way back in February, but only now is it making its way to the Chrome beta channel. In Chrome 32, tabs that are playing sound will now show a small speaker icon. Chrome has been doing this for YouTube videos since August, but it will now work with any site. Tabs that are using a webcam or microphone will also now display icons, as will tabs that are being cast to a TV with a Chromecast.

Also new in Chrome 32 beta is a new design for Windows 8 Metro, the automatic blocking of malware files, and a plethora of stability and performance improvements.

  • Tab indicators for sound, webcam and casting
  • A different look for Win8 Metro mode
  • Automatically blocking malware files
  • A number of new apps/extension APIs
  • Lots of under the hood changes for stability and performance

You can download Chrome beta to give these features a try. The update should be released in the main channel early next year.

Samsung unveils ATIV Q, a device dual-booting Windows 8 and Android

On stage at its Premiere event in London, Samsung just announced the ATIV Q, a hybrid tablet running both Windows 8 and Android. Samsung Executive Vice President DJ Lee said that the device is “versatile and adaptable” and can switch between four positions.

That’s really all that has been said about the ATIV Q so far, but seeing that 9 devices were just announced, we expect the company to get back to it soon.

The ATIV Q features a 13.3-inch qHD+ screen with a 3200×1800 resolution. Samsung says it is one of the “best displays you’ll ever see on a mobile device.” The company also says it will be very easy to use and see in bright sunshine. To switch between Android and Windows 8, you simply need to tap the hardware button under the display. You can also pin Android apps onto the Windows 8 start screen.

The device has a unique hinge that allows the screen to sink into the keyboard for tablet use, or rise up and bend several ways for usage with a keyboard. There is no trackpad, however, so you are stuck using a touchscreen for everything, even with a keyboard.

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Microsoft launching Xbox Music tomorrow for Xbox, with an Android app coming later

Image via The Verge

Microsoft announced this evening its new music service, called “Xbox Music”, that aims to compete with iTunes, Spotify and RDIO. The service is set to launch tomorrow for the Xbox 360 and Oct. 26 for Windows 8 (coming pre-installed) and Windows Phone 8 devices. GigaOm noted the service will also launch as an Android app shortly after:

But the biggest story to me is that Xbox Music will embrace Android and iOS. Jerry Johnson, general manager of Xbox Music, wasn’t able to tell me exactly when the apps for those two platforms are going to come out, but the sense that I took away from the briefing was that his team is working on making it happen sooner rather than later. Xbox Music on Android and iOS will look very much like Xbox Music on Windows Phone 8, which itself in many ways follows the style formerly known as Metro.

There is no word on what pricing Android users will see, but Microsoft said it will offer a free ad-support version for Windows 8 device owners and a $10 ad-free plan for those wanting an ad-free experience.

More details are at TechCrunch.

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Microsoft restricting Chrome on Windows 8 for ARM devices, Google responds

Following announcements from Microsoft that it will restrict third-party browsers in its upcoming Windows 8 release for ARM devices, Google has weighed in and expressed concerns by claiming the decision restricts “user choice, and innovation.” Mozilla, makers of the Firefox browser, recently expressed similar concerns in several blogs posts (here and here). Mozilla project manager Asa Dotzler, who is leading development of Firefox for Windows 8, claimed, “Microsoft is trying to lock out competing browsers,” and he called it a “direct violation of the promises they made to developers, users, and OEMs.” Today, Google provided the following statement to CNET mirroring Mozilla’s complaints:

 
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Google says Chrome for Windows 8 is in the works


Google is designing a version of Chrome to run in touch-friendly Metro of Windows 8.

Windows 8 is the upcoming edition of Microsoft Windows and features a new Metro-style user-interface with input for touchscreen, mouse, keyboard, and pen. The platform’s Consumer Preview was just released Feb. 29.

A Google representative told Mashable that Chrome for Windows 8 is based on the desktop browser and not the Android form. The browser will highlight touch support to compliment the company’s interface principle that spans across many of its products and services, such as Xbox 360 and Windows Live. With that said, Chrome for Android indicates Chrome for Windows 8 might feature automatic syncing, swipe-able tabs, and a multitude of extensions.

“Our goal is to be able to offer our users a speedy, simple, secure Chrome experience across all platforms, which includes both the desktop and Metro versions of Windows 8,” announced a Google representative. “To that end we’re in the process of building a Metro version of Chrome along with improving desktop Chrome in Windows 8 such as adding enhanced touch support.”

More information is available below.

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