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CrOS docking

Google’s Chrome OS is looking more and more like a traditional desktop operating system when it comes to usability and familiarity. Now, when using a Chrome app that normally opens in a small window, you can drag it to the side of your display and the main browser will automatically re-size to make room. Microsoft introduced a similar feature called Snap in Windows 7 and it works the same in Chrome OS. That’s likely not a coincidence. Working in a browser-based environment is a big change for some after decades of using Microsoft Windows. By replicating existing usability and navigation features, Chrome OS becomes more familiar to new users.

In Brief

In a bit of an about-face, Microsoft added a little support to Google’s Chrome strategy by announcing Office Online apps in the Chrome Web Store on Monday. “Apps” is a bit of a misnomer: These are shortcuts for Chrome’s app launcher to the already available web versions of Word, Excel and Power Point. The timing of the gesture is interesting as well: It corresponds with the ZDNet’s reported end of Microsoft’s Scroogled ad campaign today, a series of spots that focused on Chrome OS deficiencies including the fact that they don’t run Microsoft Office.

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In Brief

cortana says hi

After seeing Windows Phone 8.1 shown off earlier this month, developers can now get their hands on the software. Engadget saw that Microsoft released the update on Monday for any Windows Phone 8 device. While the software is meant for those who make Windows Phone applications, anyone can technically download and install it either by registering as developer for $19, register for free using Microsoft’s App Studio software or follow a process to developer unlock their handset.  The new software includes Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-centric assistant, personalization tools and support for Universal Windows Apps to name a few functions.

In Brief

HTC One M8 in hand

After weeks in Verizon stores only, the HTC One M8 finds its way to other carrier partner locations. On Friday, the company said the flagship handset can be picked up from AT&T and Sprint retail stores for $199 with contract; T-Mobile is still taking pre-orders. The phone has earned positive reviews and my own first impressions are very promising; the more I use the HTC One M8, the more I see welcome improvements. HTC is also selling an unlocked, no-contract version of the device for $699.99 directly through its website while Google is offering a Google Play Edition with pure Android for the same price.

In Brief

LG G Watch

Wondering if the new Android Wear smartwatches will cost an arm and a leg? It doesn’t appear so based on the U.K. price of £180 for LG’s G Watch. The company confirmed the cost to Pocket Lint, saying it would be available in July. This bodes well for other Android Wear devices as I’d anticipate the Moto 360 to cost about the same, although it could have a premium price due to the unique circular touchscreen. Regardless, the ability to bring voice-activated Google Now features to your wrist won’t likely cost more than the smartphone you’ll pair them with.

In Brief

HTC’s new flagship phone, the HTC One M8, may be launching just in time. The company continues to struggle financially, posting another quarterly loss on Monday according to Bloomberg. For the first quarter of the year, the Tawian-based HTC reported a loss of was NT$1.88 billion (US $62M), which follows a small after-tax profit of NT$0.31 million in the prior quarter based on a net operating loss of NT$42.9 billion. HTC looks to have a potential hit in the new HTC One M8 but the prior model also gained positive reviews.

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