09 Nov 2018

Collaborate with others and keep track of to-dos with new AI features in Word

Author: Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365
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Focus is a simple but powerful thing. When you’re in your flow, your creativity takes over, and your work is effortless. When you’re faced with distractions and interruptions, progress is slow and painful. And nowhere is that truer than when writing.

Word has long been the standard for creating professional-quality documents. Technologies like Editor—Word’s AI-powered writing assistant—make it an indispensable tool for the written word. But at some point in the writing process, you’ll need some information you don’t have at your fingertips, even with the best tools. When this happens, you likely do what research tells us many Word users do: leave a placeholder in your document and come back to it later to stay in your flow.

Today, we’re starting to roll out new capabilities to Word that help users create and fill in these placeholders without leaving the flow of their work. For example, type TODO: finish this section or <> and Word recognizes and tracks them as to-dos. When you come back to the document, you’ll see a list of your remaining to-dos, and you can click each one to navigate back to the right spot.

Animated screenshot of a Word document open using the AI-powered To-Do feature.

Once you’ve created your to-dos, Word can also help you complete them. If you need help from a friend or coworker, just @mention them within a placeholder. Word sends them a notification with a “deep link” to the relevant place in the document. Soon, they’ll be able to reply to the notification with their contributions, and those contributions will be inserted directly into the document—making it easy to complete the task with an email from any device.

Over time, Office will use AI to help fill in many of these placeholders. In the next few months, Word will use Microsoft Search to suggest content for a to-do like <>. You will be able to pick from the results and insert content from another document with a single click.

These capabilities are available today for Word on the Mac for Office Insiders (Fast) as a preview. We’ll roll these features out to all Office 365 subscribers soon for Word for Windows, the Mac, and the web.

Get started as an Office for Mac Insider

Office Insider for Mac has two speeds: Insider Fast and Insider Slow. To get access to this and other new feature releases, you’ll need a subscription to Office 365. To select a speed, open Microsoft Auto Update and on the Help menu select Check for Updates.

As always, we would love to hear from you, please send us your thoughts at UserVoice or visit us on Twitter or Facebook. You can also let us know how you like the new features by clicking the smiley face icon in the upper-right corner of Word.

The post Collaborate with others and keep track of to-dos with new AI features in Word appeared first on Microsoft 365 Blog.

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08 Nov 2018

XAML Islands – A deep dive – Part 2

Author: Alexandre Chohfi
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Welcome to the 2nd post of our Xaml Islands deep dive adventure! On the first blog post, we talked a little bit about the history of this amazing feature, how the Xaml Islands infrastructure works and how to use it, and also a little bit of how you can leverage binding in your Island controls.

On this second blog post, we’ll take a quick look on how to use the wrappers NuGet packages and how to host your custom controls inside Win32 Apps.

Wrappers

Creating custom wrappers around UWP controls can be a cumbersome task, and you probably don’t want to do that. For simple things such as Buttons, it should be fine, but the moment you want to wrap complex controls, it can take a long time. To make things a little bit less complicated, some of our most requested controls are already wrapped for you! The current iteration brings you the InkCanvas, the InkToolbar, the MapControl and the MediaPlayerElement. So now, if your WPF app is running on a Windows 10 machine, you can have the amazing and easy-to-use UWP InkCanvas with an InkToolbar inside your WPF App (or WinForms)! You could even use the InkRecognizer to detect shapes, letters and numbers based on the strokes of that InkCanvas.

How much code does it take to integrate with the InkCanvas? Not much, at all!


<Window
...
xmlns:uwpControls="clr-namespace:Microsoft.Toolkit.Wpf.UI.Controls;assembly=Microsoft.Toolkit.Wpf.UI.Controls">

<Grid>
    <Grid.RowDefinitions>
        <RowDefinition Height="Auto"/>
        <RowDefinition Height="*"/>
    </Grid.RowDefinitions>
    <uwpControls:InkToolbar TargetInkCanvas="{x:Reference Name=inkCanvas}"/>
    <uwpControls:InkCanvas Grid.Row="1" x:Name="inkCanvas" />
</Grid>

Most of it is just the Grid definition so, in fact, we added very few lines of code (only 2). And that would give your users an amazing experience that is enabled by XAML Islands and the new UWP Controls.

Xaml Islands and Ink Canvas.

Custom Control – Managed Code

Everything I explained so far is for platform controls, but what if you want to wrap your own custom UWP UserControl and load it using WindowsXamlHost? Would it work? Yes! XAML controls, when instantiated in the context of an Island, handle resources in a very smart way, meaning that the ms-appx protocol just works, even if you are not running you Win32 process inside a packaged APPX. The root of the ms-appx protocol will map its path to your executable path.

As of right now, you can’t just create a UWP Library and reference it on your WPF or WinForms project, so the whole process of using a custom control is manual. When you develop a UWP App (C#, for example) you are compiling using a UWP flavor of the .NET Core Framework, not the .NET Full Framework. In order for your custom control to work on a WPF or WinForms App that is based on the .NET Full Framework, you must recompile the artifacts of the UWP Library using the .NET Full Framework toolset, by coping them to your WPF/WinForms project. There is a very good documentation about this right here that describes all the necessary steps. Remember that your WPF/WinForms project does not target, by default, any specific Windows 10 version, so you need to manually add references to some WinMD and DLLs files. Again, this is all covered in Enhance your desktop application for Windows 10, which describes how to use Windows 10 APIs on your Desktop Bridge Win32 App. By referencing the WinMDs and DLLs, you will also be able to build this compilation artifacts from the UWP Library on the WPF/WinForms project (.NET Full Framework).

NOTE: There is a whole different process for native code (C++/WinRT), which I’m not going to get into the details in this blog post.

You also can’t build these artifacts as-is. You need to inform the build system to disable type information reflection and x:Bind diagnostics. That’s because the generated code won’t be compatible with the .NET Framework. You can make it work by adding these properties to your UWP Library project:


<PropertyGroup>
  <EnableTypeInfoReflection>false</EnableTypeInfoReflection>
  <EnableXBindDiagnostics>false</EnableXBindDiagnostics>
</PropertyGroup>

Now, you could just manually copy the required files to the WPF/WinForms project, but then you would have multiple copies of it. You can automate that process with a post-build step, just like the documentation does it. If you do it that way though, it will not work if you try to pack your app inside an APPX, because the files will not get copied. To improve that, I created a custom MSBuild snippet that does that for you. The advantage of the Microsoft Build snippet is that is adds the CSharp files as well as the compilation outputs from the library all in the right place. All you must do is copy this script and it will just work.

NOTE: Keep in mind that this will be handled by the Visual Studio in the future, so you’ll have to remove either solution whenever that happens.

This is the snippet:


  <PropertyGroup>
    <IslandPath Condition="$(IslandPath) == ''">..$(IslandLibrary)</IslandPath>
	<IslandDirectoryName>$([System.IO.Path]::GetFileName($(IslandPath.TrimEnd(''))))</IslandDirectoryName>
  </PropertyGroup>
  <ItemGroup>
    <IslandLibraryCompile Include="$(IslandPath)***.xaml.cs;$(IslandPath)obj$(Configuration)***.g.cs;$(IslandPath)obj$(Configuration)***.g.i.cs"/>
  </ItemGroup>
  <ItemGroup>
    <Compile Include="@(IslandLibraryCompile)">
      <LinkBase>$(IslandDirectoryName)%(RecursiveDir)</LinkBase>
    </Compile>
  </ItemGroup>
  <ItemGroup>
	<IslandLibraryContent Include="$(IslandPath)***.*" Exclude="$(IslandPath)***.user;$(IslandPath)***.csproj;$(IslandPath)***.cs;$(IslandPath)***.xaml;$(IslandPath)**obj**;$(IslandPath)**bin**"/>
	<IslandLibraryContent Include="$(IslandPath)obj$(Configuration)***.xbf"/>
  </ItemGroup>
  <ItemGroup>
    <None Include="@(IslandLibraryContent)">
      <Link>$(IslandDirectoryName)%(RecursiveDir)%(Filename)%(Extension)</Link>
      <CopyToOutputDirectory>PreserveNewest</CopyToOutputDirectory>
    </None>
  </ItemGroup>

This Microsoft Build snippet is copying files, based on the IslandLibrary Property path, to the project where it resides. The IslandLibraryCompile includes:

  • All the .xaml.cs files. That will enable you to reuse the code behind of your custom controls.
  • All the generated .g.i.cs and .g.cs files. These files are generated files. All that you do under the “x:” prefix, is actually generated code, and this is where this generated code is going after all. So this files are the partial classes that actually hold the fields of all the x:Names inside their corresponding XAML files, and they also hold the code for connecting this fields with their actual instances. They also reference the .XAML file that will be loaded whenever the InitializeComponentmethod is called, usually at the beginning of the control’s constructor. You can look at this as a black box, but it is interesting to understand what is inside these files, but not necessarily how it works. The IslandLibraryContent includes:
  • All the content files of your project. That basically will copy all the files required for your project to run, like PNGs, JPGs, etc. It already copies them to the right folders so ms-appx:///will “just work”™. There are better ways of doing this, but this will cover the basic needs of the most common scenarios.
  • All the generated .xbf files. XBF stands for XAML Binary Format and it is a compiled version of your .xaml files, they load much faster than the XAML files (no XML parsing, for example). Even though the .g.i.cs files might look like they are trying to load the .xaml files, the XAML infrastructure itself always tries to load the .XBF files first, for performance. Only if it can’t find them they will try to load the .xaml files. This MSBuild script is not copying the .xaml files since they bring no advantage compared to the .XBFs.

To make sure that your developer experience is optimal, you also have to add a solution level project dependency, from the WPF/WinForms project to the UWPLibrary project. This means that whenever you change any of the UWP Library’s files, you can just build the WPF/WinForms project and the newest artifacts are already in place, in the correct order of project compilation. All these steps are going away in a future version of Visual Studio, when the tooling gets updated. There steps are described here at the documentation.

With these files included into the project’s build infrastructure and with the build dependency added, your WindowsXamlHost should work just fine if you set it’s InitialTypeName to your custom control’s fully qualified name. You can checkout the sample project here.

With this MSBuild snippet, even your apps packaged with the “Windows Application Packaging Project” template should work. If you want to know more, checkout this blog post.

October 2018 Limitations

Again, this release is in preview, so nothing you see here is production ready code. Just to name a few:

  • Wrapped Controls properly responding to changes in DPI and scale.
  • Accessibility tools that work seamlessly across the application and hosted controls.
  • Inline inking, @Places, and @People for input controls.

For a complete list, check the docs.

What’s next?

The version just released is not the final stable version, meaning that it is a preview. We’re still actively working on improving Xaml Islands. We would love for you to test out the product and provide feedback on the User Voice or at XamlIslandsFeedback@microsoft.com, but we currently are not recommending this for production use.

The post XAML Islands – A deep dive – Part 2 appeared first on Windows Blog.

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07 Nov 2018

Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18277

Author: Dona Sarkar
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Happy Diwali for the Indian Windows Insiders who are celebrating! Today, we are releasing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18277 (19H1) to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring.

REMINDER: As is normal with builds early in the development cycle, builds may contain bugs that might be painful for some. If this makes you uncomfortable, you may want to consider switching to the Slow ring. Slow ring builds will continue to be higher quality.

If you are looking for a complete look at what build is in which Insider ring – head on over to Flight Hub. You can also check out the rest of our documentation here including a complete list of new features and updates that have gone out as part of Insider flights for the current development cycle (which currently is 19H1).

What’s new in Build 18277

Evolving Focus assist

Starting with the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, we embarked on a journey to help reduce the number of distractions you encounter when you’re trying to get in the zone. With today’s build, we’re taking this to the next level: We’ve added a new focus assist option so that when you’re doing *anything* full screen we can automatically turn on focus assist.

Showing Focus Assist settings in Settings with new “When I’m using an app in full screen mode”.

Watching a movie? Poring over some excel tables? Studying? Focus assist is here for you, and will keep your notifications quiet until you exit full screen mode.

Like our other focus assist settings, this can be found under Settings > System > Focus Assist. Make sure you take a moment to customize your priority list to ensure any notifications you want to break through the rule will appear! If you’d like to turn off the warning notification that’s shown in Action Center after entering focus assist, you can do so by clicking the rule in Focus Assist Settings which prompted the notification.

Improving your Action Center experience

One of the top requests we’ve heard from you is that you’d prefer the brightness Quick action to be a slider instead of a button, and with today’s build we’re making it happen!

Picture of the Action Center open, pointing out the new brightness slider.

But wait, there’s more!

You can now easily customize your Quick actions right from the Action Center itself, rather than having to go into Settings. That means not only can you re-arrange in the moment, but you can also add any Quick action you need on the fly, without needing for it to always take up space.

We’d love for you to try it out and share feedback!

Preparing for Emoji 12

With today’s build, Insiders will get a first look at the emoji we’ve designed so far in preparation for the Emoji 12 release! These emoji are available for use via the emoji panel (WIN + .) and the touch keyboard.

A selection of the new emoji. Including waffle, guide dog, yawning, sloth, and more.

Note: The complete list of emoji for the Emoji 12 release is still in Beta, so Insiders may notice a few changes over the coming flights as the emoji are finalized. We have a bit more work to do, including adding search keywords for the new emoji, and adding a few emoji that aren’t finished yet.

High DPI Improvements

As many of you know, we’ve been working over the past few years to improve the High DPI story for Win32 (desktop) apps on Windows. As part of this, some of you may recall getting a toast about fixing your apps that led you to this setting we added with Build 17063:

Settings page “fix scaling for apps” with “let Windows try to fix apps so they’re not blurry”.

In 19H1, we’re enabling this setting by default, to help automatically address some of your scaling feedback, and reduce the number of times you see that “Fix blurry apps” notification.

We’d love your feedback! Notice that some of your apps seem blurry after docking/undocking, or other mixed DPI scenarios? You can let us know by reporting it here!

If you’re interested to learn whether or not an app is DPI aware you can find out using this feature we rolled out to Task Manager a few flights ago.

Windows Security gets an additional Windows Defender Application Guard setting

Insiders will notice that Isolated browsing has an additional toggle that lets users manage access to their camera and microphone while browsing using Application Guard for Microsoft Edge. If this is managed by enterprise admins, users can check how this setting is configured. For this to be turned on in Application Guard for Microsoft Edge, the camera and microphone setting must already be turned on for the device in Settings > Privacy > Microphone & Settings > Privacy > Camera.

Refreshing the Japanese IME

We’ve already made a few announcements about how we plan to improve your typing experiences in Windows with this release, and we’re excited to add one more to the list today! To provide increased security and reliability, we’re updating the Japanese IME by redesigning how it works with applications. Not only that, but we’ve updated the IME candidate window interface to be cleaner and more polished:

The new candidate window that has numbering index for the predictive input of the new Japanese Microsoft IME.

You’ll notice that each text prediction candidate now has an index so you can quickly select it, just like the conversion candidates! We’re looking forward to you trying it out, and that’s not all! As part of this work, all of your familiar Japanese IME settings have now been fully integrated into Settings. If you’d like to check them out, fastest way there is to right-click the IME mode indicator in the taskbar and select Settings, although you can also get there from the Language Settings page.

Showing the new Japanese Microsoft IME settings.

Some Insiders have had this change for a few flights now, so we wanted to take a moment to say thank you for all of your great feedback so far! Please don’t hesitate to continue sharing thoughts with us about typing in Windows – our ears are open and we’d love to hear from you.

Help us shape the future of Cortana + Amazon Alexa

Recently, we announced an exciting preview in the US that allows you to call up Cortana on Amazon Alexa Echo devices – and Alexa on your Windows 10 PC. You can, for example, enlist Cortana through an Amazon Alexa Echo device to tell you your next meeting or have Alexa order groceries through your Windows 10 PC. Now, we’d like to take the experience even further with the help of Windows Insiders like you. Just start by completing this short survey.

If you haven’t already tried it out, simply click the microphone icon in Windows Search on your Windows 10 PC and say ‘’Hey Cortana, open Alexa’. Or, on your Amazon Echo device, say “Alexa, open Cortana” on Echo devices. (Then let us know what you think in the Feedback Hub.) For more, see our AI blog.

General changes, improvements, and fixes for PC

  • We fixed the issue causing WSL to not work in Build 18272. Thanks for your patience.
  • We fixed an issue resulting in text not rendering on the screen if you had a large number of OTF fonts, or had OTF fonts that support the extended East Asian character set.
  • We fixed a recent issue where Task View failed to show the + button under New Desktop after creating 2 Virtual Desktops.
  • We fixed an issue resulting in Timeline crashing explorer.exe if you pressed ALT+F4 while it was visible.
  • We fixed an issue significantly impacting Start menu reliability in recent builds when pinning, unpinning, or uninstalling apps.
  • We fixed an issue where the expected context menu wouldn’t appear after right-clicking on a folder in File Explorer from a network location.
  • Some Insiders may notice small differences in File Explorer over the coming flights – we’ll have more to share later about this later.
  • We fixed an issue resulting in the home page of Settings having no visible scrollbar in recent flights if the window was small enough to need one.
  • We’re updating the icon used to identify the Region page in Settings.
  • We fixed an issue resulting in Settings crashing sometimes in recent flights when going to Sign-in Settings.
  • We fixed an issue where Settings would crash if you were typing in the search box with the embedded handwriting panel and went to switch languages within the panel.
  • We fixed an issue where playing videos might unexpectedly show a few frames in the wrong orientation when maximizing the window after changing the orientation of your screen.
  • We fixed an issue impacting Emoji Panel reliability in recent flights.
  • The touch keyboard’s feature to input a period after two quick taps on the spacebar was recently also accidentally enabled when typing with the hardware keyboard and has now been disabled.
  • We’ve made some adjustments to improve the performance of WIN+Shift+S bringing up snipping.
  • Some Insiders may notice changes to our snipping experiences, as we explore ideas for the future – we’ll have more details to share later.
  • We fixed an issue that caused Far Manager to have a significant pause during a long running command like ‘dir’ (see Microsoft/console#279).
  • We fixed an issue that caused Windows applications running from WSL through interop and applications using the *PseudoConsole APIs to redraw the top left corner excessively (see Microsoft/console#235).
  • We fixed an issue resulting in running “start .” from Command Prompt failing in the previous flight with an access denied error.
  • We fixed an issue resulting in some Insiders experiencing bug checks (green screens) with the error KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED on the previous flight.
  • We fixed an issue where certain devices might hit a bug check (GSOD) when shutting down or when switching from a Microsoft account to a local admin account.
  • We fixed an issue resulting in wuaueng.dll repeatedly crashing in the background for some Insiders in the last few flights.

Known issues

  • Some users will notice the update status cycling between Getting Things Ready, Downloading, and Installing. This is often accompanied with error 0x8024200d caused by a failed express package download.
  • PDFs opened in Microsoft Edge may not display correctly (small, instead of using the entire space).
  • We’re investigating a race condition resulting in blue screens if your PC is set up to dual boot. If you’re impacted the workaround is to disable dual boot for now, we’ll let you know when the fix flights.
  • The hyperlink colors need to be refined in Dark Mode in Sticky Notes if the Insights are enabled.
  • Settings page will crash after changing the account password or PIN, we recommend using the CTRL + ALT + DEL method to change the password
  • Due to a merge conflict, the settings for enabling/disabling Dynamic Lock are missing from Sign-in Settings. We’re working on a fix, appreciate your patience.

Known issues for Developers

  • If you install any of the recent builds from the Fast ring and switch to the Slow ring – optional content such as enabling developer mode will fail. You will have to remain in the Fast ring to add/install/enable optional content. This is because optional content will only install on builds approved for specific rings.

No downtime for Hustle-As-A-Service,
Dona <3

The post Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18277 appeared first on Windows Blog.

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