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The Windows 10 Technical Preview Will Be Available For Download Tomorrow


At its San Francisco event, Microsoft announced that the technical preview of Windows 10 will touch down tomorrow.

The company’s new operating system is a long-awaited replacement for its beleaguered Windows 8.x platform. That version of Windows saw limited business adoption, and consumer fatigue.

On stage, Microsoft executive Terry Myerson stated that Windows has 1.5 billion users. Myerson indicated that Windows is at a “threshold,’ ironically. For more on the new operating system, head here.

The ‘Insider Program” is designed to let people get the new code, but with the expectation that they new stuff will be a bit off, here and there. New code is new code, after all. Myerson indicated that the new code is an attempt to “share more than ever before.” The goal, he said, is to build something for every Microsoft customer.

Windows 10 is the name for the “product family,” according to the company.

The full operating system will be available after Build in 2015, or, put another way, mid of next year.

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Path’s Talk App Gets Updated So You Can Send Messages To Places


Earlier this summer, Path made two big announcements: The first was its release of Path Talk, a standalone messaging app that combined chat with ambient status updates to let users know what their friends were up to. The second was the acquisition of text messaging for business app TalkTo.

Now those two pieces are coming together, as the company has released a new version of its messaging app that enables users to reach out to businesses via text. Path Talk version 1.1 has added a ‘Places’ tab alongside ‘Messages’ and ‘People’ so that users can ask questions and communicate with nearby businesses directly from within the app.

In the Places tab, users see a map of businesses nearby and can choose one to initiate a conversation with. Places have identifying icons to let users know what kind of business they are, and they also have status icons so users know whether they are open or closed. They can then message those places with requests for information and get responses within the app.

To get users started and used to the idea of messaging with places in its app, Path provides a series of sample questions in the map view of what could be asked of different locations.

The idea is to make conversations with places similar to what consumers have gotten used to in sending messages to their friends. Rather than calling a business and waiting on hold to ask a question of the person who answers, those messages are sent to representatives who make the calls for Path users. Once they’ve gotten an answer to a specific question, they will follow up with the answer in Path Talk.

All questions and responses appear in the primary Message tab alongside any conversations that users have with their friends or connections in the app.

For users, the experience is meant to simplify the process of doing things like making appointments or reservations, checking the availability or price of an object without having to go to the store, or just finding out more about restaurant specials. By making the interaction asynchronous, users can go about their day without having to wait on hold for answers to simple questions.

TalkTo co-founder Stuart Levinson, who joined through the acquisition, likened the interaction to having a personal assistant in your pocket. Some folks may find that amusing, given that founder and CEO Dave Morin once mentioned a bespoke app for communicating with his personal assistant as one of his favorites. Then again, by introducing this feature, Path is eliminating some of the need for that type of bespoke app.

Places was created through the integration of TalkTo’s service into Path’s backend. It’s essentially offering the same features, just through the Path user interface. But while TalkTo had a type of premium model for heavy users, Path’s Places messaging feature will be entirely free.

There are a few different ways Path could seek to monetize the feature. For one thing, it’s collecting a good amount of purchase intent data from users asking about the price or availability of an item. So there’s the opportunity for Path to provide an opportunity for customers to purchase or even reserve an item. Or even just to provide businesses with highly qualified leads for customers who want to buy something.

First, though, Path has to get people comfortable with the idea of sending messages to businesses, and to get them more interested in using its apps in general. At Disrupt SF, Morin said Path had about 5 million daily active users. But only a subset of them will have access to the Places feature, which is rolling out just in the U.S. and Canada. Path’s international users will have to wait until the feature is supported in their markets.

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WunWun, The Service For On-Demand Anything, Revamps Logo In Time For San Francisco Launch


While automatic may be better than on-demand, there’s something truly special about being able to type in exactly what you want, press a button, and have it delivered to your door for the exact same price as going to the store yourself.

That’s what WunWun has been doing for New Yorkers for the past year, and the on-demand service is now making its way to San Francisco.

Launching today in the Mission and Soma, WunWun will offer on-demand delivery of anything to users for a flat rate (plus tip to the WunWun helper). By the end of October, the company will be serving all of San Francisco.

For a courier service (delivering something or performing a task without a purchase), WunWun charges $10. If you ask for a special request like waiting in line for cronuts or at Madison Square Shake Shack for a shake, WunWun will add an extra $15 for every hour of waiting (after the first twenty minutes of waiting) in line.

The whole idea is that instant delivery of anything should be affordable and accessible to everyone, which is difficult from a business standpoint.

WunWun has not disclosed how much it has raised, save that it is “in the millions.” Right now, the company makes money by selling featured spots to stores in the area, such as Apple, CVS, Duane Reade, Crif Dogs, etc.

Eventually, founder Lee Hnetinka envisions brands advertising against direct purchases at the moment they’re made. For example, if I shop for Degree deodorant, Secret could serve me a deal at that very moment for choosing them, potentially offering a free stick of deodorant with purchase. It could be a powerful (albeit maybe intrusive?) form of advertising, but before that can happen WunWun needs scale.

Alongside the launch in San Francisco, the company is also rebranding with a fresher logo. (Oh, by the way, WunWun is short for “what you need, when you need.”)

Entering a more competitive landscape, and up-to-date look should help. After all, San Francisco has a well-developed space in the on-demand delivery world, with Task Rabbit and Postmates offering their own version of deliveries. However, WunWun brings a different offering to San Franciscans, according to Hnetinka.

“There is no incumbent here yet, and there is nothing better than WunWun,” said Hnetinka. “There is a delivery fee with the other guys or a mass markup with the other guys, but WunWun is about offering the best option. What is a purchasing fee, anyway?”

The market in San Francisco is very different from that of WunWun’s home turf in New York. In the big apple, WunWun fits in because delivery is absolutely expected. Everywhere in NYC delivers, so when something is out of the delivery zone, or simply doesn’t offer delivery, WunWun swoops in to save the day. It’s a competitive, but well-fitting market.

In San Francisco, there are less default delivery options, offering ample space to grow. But others have (obviously) already caught on to this phenomenon, meaning that WunWun needs to move quickly to get a foothold in the new area.

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Reddit Plans Its Own Cryptocurrency To Give Back To Its Users After $50 Million Raise


Reddit, the so-called front page of the internet, has raised $50 million in Series B on a $500 million valuation with intentions to give back 10 percent of the round’s equity to the community. The monster round is led by Sam Altman, CEO of Y Combintaor, with participation from Andreesen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, as well as individual investors like Peter Thiel, Ron Conway, Jared Leto (randomly), Calvin Broadus Jr. AKA Snoop Dog (also randomly), Josh Kushner, Jessica Livingston, Kevin and Julia Hartz, Mariam Naficy, and Reddit CEO Yishan Wong.

With more than 5 billion monthly page views and 115 million uniques each month, Reddit is one of the biggest content sharing sites in the world. According to the company blog post, the funding will go toward staff expansion for product development, community management, and better tools around moderation and community.

“I’m willing to be very patient. I don’t have any particular timeframe in mind. I believe that the community is very valuable and that the value will continue to increase.
Up to the company if they want to share cashflow details, but they run the company efficiently,” said investor Sam Altman in a Reddit post.

It’s a star-studded round, to say the least, and brings things full circle considering that Y Combinator cofounders Alexis Ohanian And Steve Huffman first launched Reddit back in 2004 out of the Y Combinator accelerator in the same batch as Sam Altman. What’s interesting, however, is the plan to give equity to members of the community, a rare and particularly Reddit-esque thing to do.

In essence the investors in this particular funding will be allocating 10 percent of their shares back to the Reddit community. The company hasn’t described how this will be done, but if Reddit CEO Yishan Wong has any say, it may be given out via a unique cryptocurrency. He writes:

We are thinking about creating a cryptocurrency and making it exchangeable (backed) by those shares of reddit, and then distributing the currency to the community. The investors have explicitly agreed to this in their investment terms.
Nothing like this has ever been done before. Basically we have to nail down how to do each step correctly (it is technically, legally, and financially complex), though in our brief consultation with an ex-SEC lawyer, he stated he could find nothing illegal about this plan. Nevertheless, there are something like 30 different things we have to pull off to make this work, so we’re going to try.
(Also, I know this totally contradicts what I said over here but that was before Sam proposed this plan to me, and the idea of being able to distribute ownership of reddit back to the community – a long-held dream of many of us, frankly – is important enough to try and do this)
Again, we want to emphasize that this plan is in its earliest stages right now and could totally fail (if it does, we will find another way to get the shares to the community somehow), but we are going to try it because… well, because we are reddit and we do these kinds of things.

How would this work? Presumably each share would be cut into smaller bits – one share being worth 1,000 Redditcoins, for example – and the community at large would receive coins based on their contributions. This equity, thus sliced, could be bought, sold, and traded between users. As Wong notes, this is still a very early-stage effort but could pave the way for some very interesting equity moves ahead.

IMAGE BY Flickr USER Eva Blue UNDER cc by 2.0 LICENSE

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Apple’s OS X Yosemite Reaches GM Status, Nears Consumer Launch


Apple’s OS X Yosemite operating system is arriving soon, and the fact that the developer preview just reached Golden Master status, alongside a 4th public beta preview update, means we probably don’t have long to wait. Last year, Apple released its Mavericks GM build about three weeks before it released the update to the Mac App Store for everyone to download, so Yosemite is on track for the mid-to-late October launch window many are predicting.

Apple is expected to launch Yosemite at a special event, at which it will also reveal new iPads, according to multiple rumors. The event will probably take place either in the first two weeks of October, or during the last week of the month, following a report from the always-accurate Jim Dalrymple that it won’t happen on October 21 as originally reported by at least one source. Given the timing of this GM release, either an October 14 or an October 28 date make the most sense.

The GM build is generally the same (or very close) to the final release that Apple makes available to consumers. Last year, a revised version of the GM was introduced just two days prior to the final launch of Mavericks, which took place on October 22, at a special event during which Apple introduced the iPad Air, as well as the iPad mini with Retina Display. Sequels to those two devices are likely on the agenda for any October product refresh Apple has planned this year.

New Macs are also likely in store, though exactly what will be revealed remains up in the air. Some reports suggest that there will be a Retina iMac line for the first time since the debut of Apple’s Retina display technology for Mac hardware with 2012’s MacBook Pro. There has also been a lot of buzz around a 12-inch Retina MacBook Air, though reports are mixed on whether this would arrive this year or next.

Another question mark is a 12.9-inch iPad that Apple is said to be developing, according to Bloomberg, with a reported launch date early next year. Given that Apple also plans to launch the Apple Watch in “early 2015,” it’s possible we’ll see a separate follow-up event that includes some of the products mentioned above alongside its official availability announcement.

Either way, this Yosemite preview software launch is likely the last before full consumer availability, so get your computers, hearts and minds ready.

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Watch Jeff Goldblum’s GE Link Spot, The Smartest Smart Home Ad Ever


Hey, who here gets excited about smart lightbulbs? Probably four of you raised your hands, and two of them were me. GE has taken a different approach to selling its new Link connected bulbs, eschewing sales pitches of convenience and connectivity in favor of trotting out a shirtless (and well-preserved) Jeff Goldblum.

The celebrated chaos theoretician is doing what’s known as “acting” in this spot, playing an equally celebrated famous individual whose demanding life is made better thanks to GE’s bulbs, which connect to the new Wink smart home hub developed by Quirky and launched in partnership with Home Depot and a long list of appliance manufacturers.

If the ad feels somewhat comfortable and familiar in addition to odd, it might be because you’re a fan of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, the comedy duo also known as Tim Eric who created Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Tom Goes to the Mayor and the inimitable Dr. Steve Brule character portrayed by John C. Reilly. They’re the team behind this spot, which shows off their peculiarly angled brand of humor.

Smart home shoppers have been mostly early adopters so far, but this ad now expands the circle of those aware such options exist from just tech enthusiasts, to tech enthusiasts and fans of edgy, off-kilter humor with specific, limited appeal. We’re getting there.

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