Help and Howto

The Microsoft Band is not widely available, but lucky owners got treated to an update earlier this week. Some of the new features include the Bike Tile, virtual keyboard, Quick Read, and much more. It also lets Microsoft Band users integrate their data with two additional services: HealthVault and MapMyFitness. The Microsoft Band originally included just two integrated services: RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal. We'll show you how to integrate your Microsoft Band with these services.

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How to use Quick Read on the Microsoft Band

The latest Microsoft Band update released earlier this week added some new features and functionality. One of those things is the new Quick Read function. It's another option to scan incoming texts, emails and other notifications on your Microsoft Band. When enabled, notifications are displayed word by word in a large size. This is handy when you're in motion and rather not scroll down to read. We'll show you how it works in our hands-on video.

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It has been a week since Windows 10 Preview for phone was released and you've probably realized that it is far from being finished. While you had fun checking out the Preview, you want to go back to a more stable build. If you want to roll back to Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft has made it really simple. You'll need a computer, your phone, a USB cable, and the Windows Phone Recovery Tool. Watch our step-by-step instructions on video.

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One of the more useful tricks in Windows 10 for phones is the ability to expand notifications in the Action Center.

When you get a list of emails or alerts, only a snippet is previewed, often cutting off much-needed information. Indeed, on Windows Phone 8.1, you often cannot see the whole Toast notification in the Action Center, making it a bit cumbersome.

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The Windows 10 Technical Preview for phone is now available, at least for some people. One of the most important things about using this early release is giving feedback back to Microsoft. After all, you are partly responsible for the future direction of this operating system.

Windows 10 for phones, like the desktop version, has a Feedback App built in. One way that you can quickly access the application anytime is to use this simple trick.

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Continuum is Microsoft's fancy new way of switching between tablet and desktop mode in Windows 10 as and when the need arises, but what if you want to play around with tablet mode on your desktop PC? Well, no worries, as is often the case there's a manual way to do it so long as you know where to look.

Here's where to find it.

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When it comes to web browsers, Windows 10 gets a little complicated. Internet Explorer 11 is the default browser for now, but later Spartan takes over as it has the new Edge rendering engine (but it can fall back to IE11 for legacy sites).

The Preview 9926 build has Internet Explorer 11 for the browser, however it does have some bits of the new Spartan one coming later this year. Specifically, you can enable the new rendering engine in IE11, the same one that is found in Spartan.

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One of the prominent new features in the task bar in the Windows 10 Technical Preview is the Cortana search box to the right of the Start button. It's a really great tool to have close at hand, but, it does also use up quite a bit of real estate. So, it's understandable you might want to make it go away – especially if you can't use Cortana right now.

Fortunately, that's really simple.

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If you are on the brand new build of the Windows 10 January Technical Preview and you are also in the US with US English enabled, you are lucky enough to have Cortana too. Cortana is Microsoft's increasingly universal personal assistant found on the phone and now Windows (she also powers Maps too in a future update).

Did you know Hey Cortana is also available? Found on the Lumia 930 and Lumia 1520 with the Lumia Denim update (see our demo), Hey, Cortana lets you call up the assistant just using your voice. The feature is disabled by default, but here is is how to enable it.

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How to install Windows 10 Technical Preview

It's been only a few days since Microsoft talked about what's next with Windows 10, and slightly ahead of schedule a brand new release of the Technical Preview has been pushed out. Now that you have had some time to catch your breath and get to grips with what's new, you may be considering giving it a try yourself – and given the number of new Insider sign ups, there looks to be a lot of you!

We've put together a quick how-to below to get you on your way to Windows 10.

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With Microsoft's recent firmware update for the Surface Pro 3, among the new bits and pieces was a new Marvell Wifi driver that lets you switch between 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands on the fly. For those of us using a dual-band router, the updated driver should help resolve any related issues.

Switching bands is easy, so long as you know where to look. Here's how to do it.

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Over the weekend, we published a guide to importing Puyo Puyo Tetris for Xbox One. That guide stirred up old feelings in yours truly, as I wrote strategy guides for years before becoming a gaming journalist and critic. It turns out I had another guide in me, this time for Gameloft's World at Arms for Windows Phone and Windows 8!

World at Arms is a military-themed city building game with strategic battles against AI and human opponents. Many gamers are so over city builders, including me. But World at Arms is one of the better ones, especially now that it has Xbox Live Achievements. Our detailed guide will tell you how to get them all and dominate the online competition!

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In early December, the Xbox One got its first Japanese exclusive retail game: Puyo Puyo Tetris from Sega. That same month, Ubisoft plopped out another boring, generic Tetris game as a downloadable Xbox One title in English territories: Tetris Ultimate.

But in far-off Japan, Sega crafted a Tetris game that overflows with color, charming characters, a lengthy story-filled campaign, and tons of creative new game types. That's the Tetris we should have gotten, and sadly Sega seems content never to release it outside of Japan.

Luckily, importing and playing Puyo Puyo Tetris on non-Japanese Xbox Ones is actually really easy. And to make things even easier, Japanese Xbox guru @Lifelower and I have teamed up to translate nearly the entire game (minus the story itself)! Check out our exclusive guide to either get the most out of Puyo Puyo Tetris or find out what you're missing!

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The Lumia Denim update is hitting more devices each day, and a big chunk of those are country variants often marked as CV. Country variants are non-carrier phones, but even though they are SIM unlocked, they still feature region localization including default language, preloaded apps pertinent to that country and carrier network settings.

Because of this there is no such thing as a "generic" Lumia Windows Phone. Hong Kong, Mexico, Thailand, Norway, and others all have their own country variant of each Lumia model. These country variant Lumias are increasingly eligible for the Lumia Denim update, including the Lumia 930 starting today. However, not all of CVs are yet cleared, and if you bought your Lumia from a retailer, you might not know its region code.

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How to add your Starbucks Card to your Microsoft Band

Despite there being no official app for Windows Phone, you are able to pay for your Starbucks beverages using your Microsoft Band. In fact, Microsoft even throws you a $5 gift card when you buy your Band so your first drink is free.

But it's not immediately obvious how you use it, especially if you just opened the box. But don't worry, it's incredibly simple and we're here to walk you through it.

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While the Microsoft Band has been one of the harder products to get hold of in recent times, there's a good chance this past week has seen a whole bunch of new owners. That's because the Band went back in stock in physical Microsoft retail stores – and in many cases subsequently went out of stock again – giving more people a chance to finally grab one.

If you're one of them, or even if you've had one for a while and just want to tune up your knowledge, we've got a whole host of help and how-to videos to get you off and running with your new Microsoft Band.

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It's a new year, and Xbox One owners have likely picked up quite a few new games during the holiday season – perhaps even some of my favorite games of 2014. Some new-gen games take up lots of storage space when installed; Halo: the Master Chief Collection clocks in at 61.4 GB and Grand Theft Auto V is no slouch at 43.5 GB. That gets to be a problem when the Xbox One's built-in hard drive can only store 500 GB (less after OS and such) of data.

Sooner or later, you'll want to invest in an external hard drive for your Xbox One. Doing so will increase your storage capacity and even make games install and load slightly quicker. Installing an external hard drive is a snap, but you probably have some questions if you haven't made the jump yet. We're here to help with this guide to selecting and installing an external hard drive, complete with video!

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How to change the language on Windows Phone 8.1

Have you ever held a Windows Phone device 8.1 with a language you didn't understand? Perhaps you purchased a device overseas, or someone accidentally changed your settings. I tried setting up a new Lumia 535 over the weekend, but it came out of the box with the Chinese language. Going through the menu was difficult, but I eventually found a way to change the language to something I understand. Want to know how I did it? Watch our quick how-to video.

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The Xbox One launched in Japan at the beginning of September this year. There it has struggled to against competition from the more popular Playstation 4 and declining interest in consoles from Japanese consumers. Despite those difficulties, Japanese software has started to trickle out for the Xbox One.

First there was the free Chaos;Child demo, and now the Xbox One even has an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) in Japan: Onigiri! The release of Onigiri is exciting because the game is free and not region locked. Anybody can download and start questing with friends, provided they don't mind a little legwork and a lot of Japanese text. We're here to help with a full guide to downloading and getting started in Onigiri, complete with video!

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Every week we do a fun photography contest in the Windows Central forums. Each week we go with a different theme and get so many good entries into the contest. But without fail we also have a handful of readers who aren't sure on how to submit their photos from Windows Phone into the forums. Here's how you can use the excellent forum app Tapatalk to enter our weekly photo contests!

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Beginners' Tips Series!

Xbox One is more than just a game console. It is an entertainment hub for games, television, music, and videos. And although the available apps put a ton of media at your fingertips, you can get even more out of your Xbox One by configuring it to play your own music and video collection with it.

You can stream via Play (Charms > Devices > Play), but today we will walk you through the networked approach, which assumes you have computers sharing the same network. There are two primary ways to do this. The first is to stream your media from your computer or tablet, and the second is to play it directly off of a USB drive. Today we will review how to do both. The beauty of this method over the Play system is you can do it all from your couch via the Xbox One, instead of sending the video from a PC to your console.

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Microsoft's Cortana is certainly one of the most exciting consumer stories for the company in 2014. Building on the legacy of the Halo franchise, Cortana is rapidly becoming a well-known piece of tech for those who follow mobile. However, Cortana still has a few bugs and quirks, including one that is rearing its head for users in New England today.

If you use Cortana and you have weather alerts set up, you probably have witnessed the flood of…well, flood alerts that arrive on your phone. Although one or two warnings are okay during a six-hour period, when you bump it to more than five (and upwards of twenty) it is downright annoying. Even more so if you use the Microsoft Band.

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When the Surface Pro 3 was announced, Microsoft had righted many wrongs with the previous version of the hardware. Faster, more processor choices, thinner, lighter, larger display, the list goes on.

However, one thing that irked some people who used the Surface Pen was the placement of the Windows Key. Due to the new keyboard positioning, placing the key near the bottom was simply not possible, so Microsoft opted to put it on the right. The downside? Some artists and graphic designers complained of accidental clicks when they laid their hands on the display to draw.

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Beginners' Tips Series!

Do you have the Type Cover for Surface Pro 3? If you said yes, we have a very quick tip for you. There's no dedicated screen brightness button, but you can still adjust the brightness with a couple of keyboard shortcuts. Simply press Fn + Del or the Fn + Backspace buttons. A screen brightness indicator pops up on the top left corner of the screen. You can play with the slider to continue adjusting the screen brightness.

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