Skype’s latest version now has call recording built in

Skype announced today that call recording is now available in the latest version of the app on most platforms, except Windows 10. This is the first time Skype has offered built-in call recording since it was first released almost 15 years ago.

To record a call in Skype, click the + symbol at the bottom of the screen and then select “start recording.” Once started, a banner will appear letting everyone on the Skype call know that it is being recorded. If you are recording a video call, the recording will capture everyone’s video as well as any shared screens. The recording all happens in the cloud, and when the call is done, it’s then posted to your chat and will be available to download and share with other Skype contacts for 30 days.

To save a recorded call on desktop, click the three dot icon within your group chat, then “more options,” and then “save to downloads.” To save a recorded call on mobile, tap and hold the recorded call in chat to bring up Skype’s menu and then select “save.”

Call recording is only one new feature coming to Skype. Microsoft is also planning on introducing read receipts and redesigning the app for Windows users with the desktop client to give it a more mobile-like design. Skype’s call recording feature is available now across all supported platforms with the exception of Windows 10. Skype says that call recording will be coming to Windows 10 in the coming weeks.

Microsoft is ending its Surface Plus financing program

Just a year after it was launched, Microsoft’s Surface Pro financing program has come to an end. Microsoft says (via OnMsft) that it stopped accepting new users on Friday, but says that existing users will be able to finish out their plans or or upgrade their devices.

Microsoft introduced the program a year ago, which allowed customers to spread the cost of a new Surface Pro over two years with a payment plan called Klarna Financing. It would also allow them to upgrade to a new device after 18 months, provided that the customers returned their devices in good condition.

In its FAQ, Microsoft says that it’s phasing out the program after “much thought and consideration.” It says that the existing Klarna plans will be honored, and those customers who are “in good standing with 18 monthly payments” will still be able to upgrade their device. According to Engadget, Microsoft will also shut down its Surface Plus Portal on September 30th, and costumers with questions regarding the Klarna program will have to contact the company directly.

Microsoft is redesigning Skype once again and killing its Snapchat-like feature

I’ve lost count on the number of times Microsoft has redesigned Skype, but it’s happening again. The software maker has been tweaking Skype for years, and last year it introduced a radical design that included a Snapchat-like Highlights feature. Microsoft is now removing the Highlights feature, and simplifying Skype once again. “Calling became harder to execute and Highlights didn’t resonate with a majority of users,” explains Skype director of design Peter Skillman. “We needed to take a step back and simplify!”

Microsoft’s new approach to the Skype design includes refocusing on why people still use the service: calling, video calls, and messaging. Skype mobile apps will be redesigned to remove features that nobody uses and that simply clutter the user interface. On desktop, Microsoft is moving chats, calls, contacts, and notifications to the top left of the window to provide a central place for navigation.

new Skype mobile design

“We looked at how people use Skype apps, performing extensive testing across global markets and building prototypes to test new concepts,” says Skillman. “We are listening to your feedback and are wholly committed to improving the Skype experience based on what you are telling us.” Microsoft’s radical Skype overhaul last year didn’t go down well. Everyone seemed to hate the new Skype, and Microsoft has spent most of the past year tweaking Skype on mobile and desktop to walk back its Snapchat-like changes.

Microsoft even revealed recently that its desktop app would be phased out in favor of a more mobile-like app, but the company had to soon change its mind after a backlash. A number of Skype users still prefer the original desktop app that has served the service well for years, and it’s clear Microsoft will need to work this feedback into whatever other changes it’s planning.

New Skype desktop design

Skype has improved a lot since Microsoft moved the service from peer-to-peer to server-based. That was a rocky period for the service as a whole, with broken notifications, poor reliability, and just a generally frustrating experience. Microsoft now needs to focus on simplifying Skype in an era where there’s far greater competition. WhatsApp, Messenger, FaceTime, WeChat, Line, and Telegram are hugely popular services that millions use to send messages and make calls. It will be difficult for Microsoft to now win back consumer trust when there are now so many reliable alternatives.

Microsoft says its US contractors must offer paid parental leave

Microsoft is extending parental leave benefits to contractors, mandating that many employees who work with the company be given 12 weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. There are a number of caveats, but overall the policy starts to ensure that more people around the US have the privilege of recovering after birth and spending time with their newborn.

The policy applies to a wide range of companies whose employees perform work for Microsoft. “Examples could include people who staff our cafeterias and provide janitorial services to companies who provide professional services such as engineering consulting,” a spokesperson said.

It won’t apply to all companies, though. Only companies in the US that have more than 50 employees will have to extend these benefits. And even then, it’ll only cover those employees who “perform substantial work for Microsoft,” which a spokesperson clarified meant someone with work “requiring building or network access.”

For the people who are covered, they’ll be given a minimum of 12 weeks paid parental leave, receiving two-thirds of their wages, up to $1,000 per week. According to The Washington Post, the policy is designed to mirror Washington state’s recent parental leave law and expand the benefits to the 500-some companies that Microsoft works with in other states.

The benefits aren’t as generous as those received by Microsoft’s direct employees, who in 2015 were given 12 weeks of fully paid leave, with an additional eight weeks for a parent who’s given birth. But before now, Microsoft’s contractors may have received no such benefits at all — in the US, only 13 percent of private-sector workers had access to paid parental leave as of March 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Microsoft says it’ll take up to a year to implement the new policy. The company acknowledges that making these demands of its suppliers will likely lead to price increases, but it says there are “clear benefits” for both employers and employees.

This is the second time that Microsoft has used its enormous size to demand more of its suppliers. In 2015, the company began demanding that this same subset of companies give their employees 15 days of paid leave each year.

In recent years, tech companies have been paying more attention to family leave. Netflix, Amazon, and Facebook were among the companies that improved their policies in 2015. And last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg helped to set an example around paternity leave by taking time off after the birth of his second daughter.

Other companies have made efforts to push their suppliers into taking up causes that are important to them, like going green, but Microsoft seems to be leading when it comes to pushing for better employment benefits.

Microsoft improves Office 365 device limits for subscribers

Microsoft is increasing the number of devices you can use with Office 365 Personal and Home subscriptions. Starting on October 2nd, Office 365 Personal and Home subscribers will be able to install the Office desktop apps on an unlimited number of devices. Currently, Personal users are limited to one PC or Mac and one tablet, while Home subscribers are limited to 10 devices in total across five users.

Microsoft is also improving the Office 365 Home subscription to provide six licenses instead of five, meaning a family (or group of friends) can share an account for $99 per year and each get full Office apps and 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage for six users. That’s even better value than paying $69.99 per year for an individual Office 365 Personal account. Microsoft is also integrating its Office 365 Home subscription into the existing Microsoft Family service so you can automatically share this with members of your family.

All of these changes will come into affect on October 2nd, and existing Office 365 subscribers won’t need to do anything. Microsoft has 31.4 million paying Office 365 subscribers, and these changes will likely push those numbers up further as the company continues to convince consumers and businesses to move to an Office subscription.

Acer’s new Swift 7 with bezel-less display is the world’s thinnest laptop

Acer is introducing a new version of its Swift 7 laptop at IFA in Berlin today. While Acer launched a new Swift 7 earlier this year at CES, this latest model is less than 10mm thick and includes an edge-to-edge display. The display is now 92 percent screen-to-body ratio, and overall the laptop weighs less than 2.2 pounds. Acer is shipping this new Swift 7 with an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor, and it’s claiming that it’s the world’s thinnest laptop.

Acer is using the same size 14-inch display from the Swift 7 earlier this year, but the bezels have been heavily reduced to just 4.27mm and the overall size shrinks by 15 percent as a result. To keep the laptop light, Acer is using magnesium materials. It’s not immediately clear whether this laptop even ships with a webcam, or whether Acer has moved it to below the display or incorporated it into the keyboard somehow like Huawei’s Matebook X Pro.

Acer has not yet revealed other specifications, pricing, or a release date. We’ve reached out to Acer for full details, and we’ll update you accordingly.

OneDrive will soon automatically transcribe your video and audio files

Microsoft is adding automated transcription capabilities to OneDrive for Business for video and audio files. The software maker is using the same AI that’s available in Microsoft Stream (a corporate video-sharing service) to make OneDrive smarter. Later this year, OneDrive for Business will be able to generate a transcript of a video or audio file, which is particularly useful if you’re holding meetings or presenting and want to provide a transcript.

This new transcription service will also mean that files are a lot more searchable in OneDrive. Videos, photos, and audio files will all be searchable for the content that’s within them, making it easy to find when someone mentions a particular phrase in a meeting or finding receipts for expense reports. Microsoft doesn’t reveal exactly when OneDrive will include these features other than “later this year.” Microsoft is focusing on AI for its business-focused Ignite conference later next month, so we might see these and more new AI features appear soon.

OneDrive transcription

Windows 95 is now an app you can download and install on macOS, Windows, and Linux

Windows 95 is the operating system that’s now used as a yardstick for what’s possible on modern devices and platforms. We’ve seen Microsoft’s popular OS appear on the Apple Watch, an Android Wear smartwatch, and even the Xbox One. Today, someone has gone a step further and made Windows 95 into an app that you can run on macOS, Windows, and Linux.

Slack developer Felix Rieseberg is responsible for this glorious app, allowing nostalgia lovers to play around with Windows 95 in an electron app. Rieseberg has published the source code and app installers for this project on Github, and apps like Wordpad, phone dialer, MS Paint, and Minesweeper all run like you’d expect. Sadly, Internet Explorer isn’t fully functional as it simply refuses to load pages.

The app its only 129MB in size and you can download it over at Github for both macOS and Windows. Once it’s running it surprisingly only takes up around 200MB of RAM, even when running all of the old Windows 95 system utilities, apps, and games. If you run into any issues with the app you can always reset the Windows 95 instance inside the app and start over again. Enjoy this quirky trip down memory lane.

OneDrive can now automatically backup your PC’s documents, pictures, and desktop folders

Microsoft is rolling out a new folder protection feature for OneDrive. Folder protection will offer to automatically sync your documents, pictures, and desktop folders to OneDrive to ensure a PC’s important folders are backed up to Microsoft’s cloud service. If you use multiple Windows 10 PCs then OneDrive will automatically keep all these folders in sync, which is particularly useful if you’re fond of dropping important documents onto your desktop.

Microsoft first started making this OneDrive folder protection feature available to business users back in June, but it’s now making its way to all regular OneDrive users. “This is a new feature we started rolling out broadly this week that is now available to OneDrive users with personal accounts,” says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “It makes it easier to move content into OneDrive, have access to all your important files on all your devices, and keep more files protected with features like ransomware detection & recovery.”

You can enable the folder protection feature by going into OneDrive settings on Windows 10 and navigating to the Auto Save tab and hitting the update folders button under protect your important folders. The process will automatically add your documents, pictures, and desktop folders to OneDrive and keep them synced. Microsoft has a number of limitations for OneDrive protected folders (including no Outlook PST files or OneNote files), but for most Windows users this is a welcome new feature that will make it far more easier to sync important folders.

Windows 10 users can now try Microsoft’s Your Phone app to mirror phone content to a PC

Microsoft started testing its Your Phone app with Windows 10 Insiders last month, and now the company is making it available to all Windows 10 users. If you’re running Windows 10 with the latest April 2018 Update, Your Phone is available to install from the Microsoft Store. The app mirrors phone content to a PC, but currently only supports Android devices and the ability to drag and drop photos from a phone to a PC.

Microsoft is also planning to add support for text message sync and notifications from Android phones to mirror to a PC at some point in the future. Microsoft had been testing Your Phone as part of the company’s upcoming Redstone 5 update for Windows 10, but it now appears it will be made broadly available without the requirement for a future update.

Microsoft has also promised to support iPhones with its new app, but the company’s blog post last month only mentioned a website continue on PC feature and not the ability to sync messages, photos, and notifications from iPhones to PCs. If you’re interested in trying the Your Phone app with an Android device, you can download it from the Microsoft Store.