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The Morning After: Wednesday, May 3rd 2017

Microsoft has announced a new laptop, in addition to a new lighter OS aimed at education (and Chrome OS), all in the middle of the week. YouTube also got a makeover, and we take a look at the most notable VR submissions at this year’s Tribeca festival.


There aren’t any special hinges or kickstands this time.
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is built to beat Apple’s MacBooks

Microsoft has always tried to do something different with its hardware. The Surface and Surface Pro helped popularize the idea of hybrid laptops that could also be used as tablets. The Surface Book took that idea a step further with a bigger screen, a unique hinge and more powerful hardware. But with the Surface Laptop, it’s almost as if Microsoft is going back to basics. It’s basically a straightforward notebook, albeit one with the Microsoft’s slick Surface aesthetic. Most importantly, it’s the flagship device for Windows 10 S, Microsoft’s new streamlined OS targeted at the education market. Similar to ChromeOS, it’s meant mainly for web apps and software from the Microsoft Store, with an emphasis on security and battery life. The Surface Laptop launches on June 15th starting at $ 999 for the Core i5 model.


Eye-catching mouse design is back.
Microsoft’s lie-flat Surface Arc mouse is a new take on an old formula

The Surface Arc Mouse is an evolution of the well-established Arc Touch Mouse . While the new Bluetooth peripheral still has that eye-catching, travel-friendly design that snaps flat for stowing in your bag, there aren’t any distinct left and right buttons, or even a scroll strip. Instead, a touch-sensitive button handles all of that.


It trades app support in the name of security and performance.
Microsoft takes on Chrome OS with Windows 10 S

Microsoft has already taken some potshots at Google’s Chromebooks in the past — Windows 8.1 with Bing, anyone? Now, though, it’s going for the jugular. The newly introduced Windows 10 S (not Cloud like the rumors suggested) is a stripped-back, education-oriented version of the operating system that gives up some app support in the name of simplicity and performance. You can only run Windows Store apps (including Office 365 apps, which are coming soon), but that’s the point — schools don’t have to worry about the vulnerabilities that come with running any old Windows app. All in time for a big Minecraft Education Edition upgrade.


And we’re finally getting a “dark mode.”
YouTube’s latest redesign puts added focus on videos

Approximately 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Soon, its desktop website will be getting a makeover to make combing through all those cute cat clips a bit easier. Google is refreshing the look of its desktop site by applying its material design aesthetic to the site, basically flattening the UI. “We want to make content the star,” Fred Gilbert, Head of User Experience at YouTube, said during a recent interview. “Everything else should recede from that.”


But the Mac is up again!
iPhone sales continue their slow and steady slide

Apple couldn’t quite keep iPhone sales growing for the second quarter in a row. The company sold 50.8 million iPhones in the last quarter, down a scant one percent from the 51.2 million it sold a year ago. It’s worth remembering that last year marked the first quarter where iPhone sales didn’t grow year-over-year, so this decline isn’t exactly a surprise. Meanwhile, in the “other products” business, which includes the Apple Watch and Apple TV, revenue jumped a whopping 31 percent. Perhaps Apple’s wearable is doing better than people give it credit for. Indeed, Cook said on Apple’s earnings call that Watch sales nearly doubled year-over-year in the last quarter.


Chet Faliszek, who also worked on Steam VR, has left.
Valve has no more ‘Half-Life’ writers left

Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw, co-writers on Half-Life 2: Episode One and Episode Two, stuck around after Half-Life writing lead Marc Laidlaw’s departure from Valve last year. But not for long. Wolpaw departed Valve in February, and Faliszek has now also left the company. Faliszek was also key part of Valve’s push into virtual reality, from the early days of secret testing at the company’s Bellevue headquarters through to the public launch of the HTC Vive.


The Aura H2O can survive your next beach trip.
Kobo’s latest waterproof e-reader is sized for poolside reading

Kobo’s recent Aura One e-reader was potentially the dream device for anyone who likes to read in the bath or at the beach, but it had some catches. It was big, with a 7.8-inch screen, and came with a $ 229 price tag. Enter the just-introduced Aura H2O — just as waterproof, but shrunken down to a 6.8-inch touchscreen, while an accompanying tinier $ 180 price.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Republican Senators outline anti-net neutrality legislation
  • T-Mobile plans to launch a national 5G network by 2020
  • VR is telling deeper, more important stories

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