Friday Tech Roundup (07 March 2014): Microsoft experiments with a free version of Windows

Windows 8.1

By on March 7, 2014 at 8:19 am

Welcome to the Friday Tech Roundup! Contained herein is your weekly dose of some of the best tech news from across the Internet, rounded up for your edification and entertainment. Read on for all the details of a possible free version of Windows, Razer’s Game Booster utility, and Israel’s laser-based missile defence system.

Microsoft is preparing a free version of Windows 8.1

Sources close to Microsoft have revealed to The Verge that the company is experimenting with the free or low-cost version of Windows dubbed “Windows 8.1 with Bing.” Based on early versions of the OS that have leaked online, Windows 8.1 with Bing is essentially unchanged from vanilla Windows 8.1, aside from a series of bundled apps and services. Sources claim that Windows 8.1 with Bing will be offered as a cheap upgrade for existing Windows users, and as an enticement for low-end device manufacturers to choose Windows over competing platforms. It is expected that Microsoft will formally announce the program at the Build developer conference in April.

Cortana’s new job: Personal digital assistant for Windows Phone

Apple has Siri, Android has Google Now, and it seems that Microsoft will also be bringing a personal digital assistant to Windows Phone, named Cortana, for the Master Chief’s AI hind-brain from the Halo series. Much like Siri, Cortana will be a voice-controlled system with a voice of its own, which is designed to parse normal language and complete simple tasks. Users can make use of a Notebook feature to control which information is available to Cortana, such as location data, behaviours, personal information, reminders, and contact information. Cortana can then use this information to generate notifications, suggestions, alerts, and respond to search queries. Check out a quick feature demonstration from a leaked build below.

Razer release Game Booster, a game management alternative to Steam and GeForce Experience

On Wednesday, Razer announced the launch of Game Booster, a tool designed to perform a range of features that borrow heavily from Steam and Nvidia’s GeForce Experience. Game Booster has five core features: the titular Game Booster designed to automatically optimise game settings based on your current hardware configuration, a save game manager to automatically move game saves into the cloud, a game launcher to, well, launch games, and a screen capture gallery for organising screenshots. Game Booster is available for download now.

Israel to use lasers to defend commercial aircraft against missile attacks

During 2002, a pair of surface-to-air missiles were fired at a commercial airliner in Mombasa, Kenya. Thankfully the missiles missed the aircraft, but the thread has prompted an Israeli effort to produce countermeasures against such attacks. The result is Sky Shield, a Mult-Spectral Infrared Countermeasure (MUSIC) system designed to deflect incoming missiles, causing them to detonate at a safe distant from their intended target. Sky Shield uses a thermal camera to track incoming missiles, and a laser to disorient and deflect the missiles. According to Haaretz, Brig. Gen. Eitan Eshel, head of research and development at the Israel Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Transportation has stated that the Sky Shield system was “100 percent successful” in testing, and would eventually be deployed on all Israeli civilian aircraft.

Next-gen pacemaker could eliminate sudden cardiac death

A synthetic pericardium has been developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis, designed to one day remediate or even preclude heart attacks and arrhythmia in humans. This man-made replacement for the membrane that surrounds the heart is capable of contracting and expanding a heart, even when outside of its host body. The video below shows a prototype of the next-generation pacemaker causing a rabbit heart to beat and pump blood, while suspended in a nutrient and oxygen-rich solution. According to Washington University biomedical engineer Igor Efimov, the device could be ready for human hearts in as little as 10 to 15 years.

18 comments (Leave your own)

“Windows 8.1 with bing”
Can it be ‘free’ of bing? Or is that why we pay for Windows?



that’s why we pay for windows… atleast it’s not micro transaction supported you know … pay $60 for direct x support pay $80 to use a browser other than IE … etc etc


Sssshhhhh Spooler! Close your trap before some idiot marketing director hears you!


Why do new advances in medicine have take 10-15 years before it’s ready or even available for humans? Sure they need to be tested and made sure it’s safe for human use but come on….

We need to relax the laws on how fast it can be put to human use, not to the point where it goes from theoretical to human but shorter than 10-15 years. There are numerous advances being made and have been made already that could save countless lives now or in a couple of years but by the time the 10-15 comes around it will be too late for them.

/end rant


“Windows 8.1 with Bing.”

They’re trying so hard.
But really, I cringe at any mention of bing.


sigh, I want my own personal lazer missle defense shield that I could shoot model rockets at….


tacitus42: “Windows 8.1 with Bing.”

They’re trying so hard.
But really, I cringe at any mention of bing.

The worst is when it’s in a television series and it’s painfully obvious, ala CSI and “I Binged it”>



It’s 10 years of testing for everything to try to make sure there’s no longer term side effects that didn’t show up over the first couple years. It’s very easy to have a cure for something that you’re testing that seems to have no issues, then 8 years into testing you find out it has a chance to cause a disease just as bad as what it was meant to treat in the first place. The whole reason those laws exist is to prevent messes like what happened with thalidomide.


nekosan: The worst is when it’s in a television series and it’s painfully obvious, ala CSI and “I Binged it”>

“Binging it” is not a thing, and they all know that. Just like you don’t “whip up a gui in visual basic” for tracking down an IP address. Yeesh. Kill it with fire.


Bing is actually pretty decent but its knee-capped outside of the US, which is a shame. So, why the ‘cringe-worthy’ reaction, or are you all just blindly following popular uninformed opinion?

I can only think of one real reason why I don’t use it very often, I can’t narrow search results by date. Oddly, very occasionally I can, but when I do it’s no where near as powerful as Google.

That said, I think it’s pretty incredible that MS is looking at a free version of Windows – this has happened never. Even if it comes with Bing-powered ads etc., what a great option for end users. Personally, I’d rather just have the price dropped to somewhere around $50-$80 for the normal version.

With Satya Nadella now at the helm of MS (and basically everyone from the Windows 8 team gone) there’s likely to be a lot of changes from now and into the future!


The cringe reaction is because it’s something that’s extremely obviously been paid for, it’s like a character saying “i might just enjoy a tasty Brawndo, the thirst mutilator” followed by a smile and 3 second pause by the camera with the bottle centered.


Booty Sweat – Pop an ass open!

Also, bing is woefully inferior to Google. But that’s just my personal experience with it, so yeah I suppose I should discount my own and others’ personal experiences in lieu of “apparently it works great in the US”.

Apparently democracy works great in the US too.


whats this, Microsoft copying Apple again. OSX has been free now for about a year now, its good because it offsets how god damn expensive their computers are.


whats this, Microsoft copying Apple again. OSX has been free now for about a year now, its good because it offsets how god damn expensive their computers are.

Is it possible to run OSX on a product that apple haven’t made?


Sssshhhhh Spooler! Close your trap before some idiot marketing director hears you!

Sorry !



That’s because they all install windows and no one uses OSX on an apple anymore.


nekosan: The worst is when it’s in a television series and it’s painfully obvious, ala CSI and “I Binged it”>

See this is a marketing fail. To make these placements more popular, all they need to do is change the name of the search engine to “Bang”. “This dog was at the scene of the crime. Does anyone know what breed it is?” “I…”

Hours of hilarity.


It would give the series “The Big Bang Theory” a whole new meaning XD

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