Category Archives: Microsoft

Microsoft to Retire Internet Explorer in 2022



Microsoft announced that the future of Internet Explorer on Windows 10 is Microsoft Edge. Microsoft stated that Microsoft Edge is a faster, more secure and more modern browsing experience than Internet Explorer, but is also to able to address a key concern: compatibility for older, legacy websites and applications.

The Verge eported that Internet Explorer has been around for more than 25 years. It has been largely unused by most consumers for years, and Microsoft is retiring it on June 15, 2022.

PCMag reported: “Originally launched in 1995, the much-maligned Internet Explorer has long been irrelevant in today’s consumer market. It holds a measly 3.8% share of the desktop browser space. Google’s Chrome dominates with a nearly 70% share.”

Microsoft provided some information for those who are currently using Internet Explorer:

If you’re a consumer using Internet Explorer at home, Microsoft recommends you transition to Microsoft Edge before June 15, 2022. Microsoft points out that you probably already have it on your device. To find it, search for “Microsoft Edge” using the Windows 10 search box or look for the icon. If you don’t have it, you can download Microsoft Edge.

If you’re an organization using Internet Explorer, Microsoft says you may have a surprisingly large set of legacy Internet Explorer-based websites and apps, built up over many years. According to Microsoft, they found that enterprises have 1,678 legacy apps on average. By moving to Microsoft Edge, organizations get improved compatibility, streamlined productivity, and better browser security plus the ability to extend the life of their legacy websites and apps well beyond the Internet Explorer 11 desktop application retirement date using IE mode.


Microsoft Launched Microsoft Viva for Employees



Microsoft announced that it has launched Microsoft Viva. It is comprised of four modules: Viva Connections, Viva Insights, Viva Learning, and Viva Topics. More modules will be coming.

Microsoft describes Viva Connetions as “a gateway to your digital workplace”. They point out that research from their Work Trend Index shows that nearly 60 percent of workers feel less connected to their team since the move to remote work.

Viva Connections is built on Microsoft 365 capabilities like SharePoint to provide a curated and branded employee destination. Leaders can connect with employees via town halls, and employees can access everything from company news, policies and benefits to employee resource groups or communities they want to join with Microsoft Viva’s integration to Yammer.

Viva Insights gives individuals, managers, and leaders personalized and actionable privacy-protected insights that help everyone in an organization thrive. It brings new personal wellbeing experiences, insights, and recommended actions from Workplace Analytics and MyAnalytics into the flow of people’s work in Microsoft Teams.

Viva Learning “makes learning a natural part of both every employee’s daily work and company culture”. Employees can easily discover and share everything from training courses to micro learning content. Managers get the tools they need to assign learning and track the completion of courses to help foster a learning culture.

Viva Topics enables employees to find an expert, understand company acronyms, or surface the content they need. It connects people to the knowledge, in the apps they use every day. Microsoft explains: “Think of Viva Topics as a Wikipedia with AI superpowers for your organization. It uses AI to automatically organize company-wide content and expertise into relevant categories like “projects”, “products”, “processes” and “customers”.

Microsoft Viva has been integrated with: Microsoft 365, Microsoft Power Platform, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and third-party products and services that will deliver a complete employee experience in the flow of work.

TechCrunch reported that Viva Insights is “to give managers insights into whether their team (but not individual team members) are at risk of burnout.” It also is to help company leaders “address complex challenges and respond to change by shedding light on organizational work patterns and trends.”

Personally, I think this sounds invasive. In my opinion, it sounds like a mean boss could use Viva Insights to punish an entire team for no reason other than the boss saw analytics that implied that at least one person on the team was less productive than the others.

Microsoft also pointed out that a new dashboard has been introduced for Microsoft Viva and LinkedIn’s Glint customers “that map insights about how people work to employee survey data about how people feel.” Part of the dashboard allows an organization to “leverage data from third-party tools like Zoom, Slack, workday, and SAP SuccessFactors”. It is unclear how Microsoft will prevent those third parties from grabbing employee data via Microsoft Viva.


Microsoft Suggests Ways Technology Can Improve Lives



Brad Smith, President of Microsoft, shared thoughts on the U.S. election. The main idea of the blog post is “building new bridges”. He points out some ways that technology can be used to improve lives and heal a divided country.

Here is a summarized version of Microsoft’s ideas:

Broadband has become the electricity of the 21st century, vital for everything from patients needing telehealth consultations to children who are attending school from home. Today, too many rural families find there is no broadband service available, while too many underprivileged urban families find no broadband service that is affordable. A nation that would not tolerate millions of Americans living without electricity should no longer accept millions of families without broadband.

Technology-fueled automation increasingly impacts all of our jobs. Digital tools, data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to make almost all of us in every job category more successful – but only if we have easier access to the new digital skills that are increasingly indispensable to the jobs of the future. … We need to make digital skills available to everyone.

Across the political spectrum, Americans share not just a commitment to, but a reverence for, democracy. …At Microsoft, this led us this election cycle to work across the political aisle to protect Republican and Democratic candidates alike. We conclude this election year even more convinced of the importance of using technology to protect not just the democratic process, but our fundamental freedoms. More than ever, we need ongoing technology innovation and stronger partnerships across the public and private sectors to better defend democracy.

…People of all political backgrounds care deeply about the privacy of their data and the security of their internet services. … Yet we continue to live with a national electronic privacy law enacted in the dial-up era of the 1980s, and when it comes to issues such as safeguards for facial recognition, we have no national law at all. We need new laws fit for the future.

…Regardless of political party, people want our economy to prosper. … We believe that technology innovation needs to create more business opportunities for every part of the economy as well as ushering in a new era for enhanced public sector services and efficiencies.

This is the first blog post I’ve seen since the winner of the 2020 presidential election was announced, that offers some actionable suggestions about how to make the people’s lives better. It appears to call upon lawmakers, and perhaps business leaders as well, to make these changes. The incoming administration could make use of these ideas.


Microsoft Adopts 10 Principles for the Microsoft Store



Microsoft has released 10 principles for their Microsoft Store on Windows 10. It appears to be done in response to Apple’s recent decisions regarding their App Store and Epic Games. Microsoft states that the 10 principles build on the ideas and work of the Coalition for App Fairness (CAF) to promote choice, ensure fairness, and promote innovation on Windows 10 and the Microsoft Store on Windows 10.

The 10 principles include:

  • Developers have the freedom to choose whether to distribute their apps for Windows through our app store. We will not block competing app stores on Windows.
  • We will not block an app from Windows based on a developer’s business model or how it delivers content and services, including whether content is installed on a device or streamed from the cloud.
  • We will not block an app from Windows based on a developer’s choice of which payment system to use for processing purchases made in its app.
  • We will give developers access to information about the interoperability interfaces we use on Windows, as set forth in our Interoperability Principles.
  • Every developer will have access to our app store as long as it meets objective standards and requirements, including those for security, privacy, quality, content and digital safety.
  • Our app store will charge reasonable fees that reflect the competition we face from other app stores on Windows and will not force a developer to sell within its app anything it doesn’t want to sell.
  • Our app store will not prevent developers from communicating directly with their users through their apps for legitimate business purposes.
  • Our app store will hold our own apps to the same standards to which it holds competing apps.
  • Microsoft will not use any non-public information or data from its app store about a developer’s app to compete with it.
  • Our app store will be transparent about its rules and policies and opportunities for promotion and marketing, apply these consistently and objectively, provide notice of changes and make available a fair process to resolve disputes.

There has been an ongoing legal battle between Epic Games and Apple which started when Epic Games created a direct payment option in which Epic Games lowered the prices for consumers who used it. Apple responded by terminating the Epic Games account on the App Store.

Microsoft’s 10 principles are a clear signal to software developers that Microsoft is not going to make the kinds of decisions that Apple has been making. I think this is a good thing. However, as a Mac user, I have concerns that this will result in even fewer developers making their video games Mac-compatible.


Microsoft’s Bid for TikTok was Rejected



ByteDance has selected Oracle as TikTok’s technology partner for its U.S. operations, The New York Times reported. This decision comes after President Trump issued an executive order that requires ByteDance to divest from its U.S. TikTok business withing 90 days (from the issuing of the order).

Microsoft released the following statement:

ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft. We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests. To do this, we would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combating disinformation, and we made these principles clear in our August statement. We look forward to seeing how the service evolves in these important areas.

Politico reported that the exact value or structure of the deal between Oracle and TikTok was not immediately clear. Will Oracle own part or all of TikTok’s assets? According to Politico, a source familiar with the matter described Oracle as a technology partner to TikTok and did not describe the transaction as a sale.

From this, it appears that ByteDance has potentially fulfilled at least part of President Trump’s executive order. ByteDance could be in the process of divesting from its US business with TikTok, and might able to do it before the deadline of September 20.

Another part of the executive order requires TikTok to destroy all data that was obtained from the application in the United States. If TikTok has not been outright sold to Oracle, I cannot help but wonder which company is going to be held responsible if that data is not destroyed.


Microsoft will Launch xCloud Streaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate



Microsoft really wants players to use Xbox Series X (but is not going to force them into it). Instead, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer laid out several advantages that Xbox Series X has over previous Xbox consoles in post titled: “You Are the Future of Gaming”. One of the enticements described in that post is an enhancement to the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership.

Finally, today we’re announcing that this September, in supported countries, we’re bringing Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud together at no additional cost for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members. With cloud gaming in Game Pass Ultimate, you will be able to play over 100 Xbox Game Pass titles on your phone or tablet. And because Xbox Live connects across devices, you can play along with nearly 100 million Xbox Live players around the world…

The Verge reported that Microsoft is planning to launch a game streaming service that is currently called Project xCloud for free to paying Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers. In short, the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate combines Xbox Live access, a Xbox Game Pass subscription, and (starting in September) xCloud game streaming into a single $14.99 monthly subscription.

Another really cool thing about the Xbox Series X is that you will be able to play four generations of games on it on day one. Microsoft says that makes it the largest lineup for any new console ever, with thousands of games to play. Their intent is for all Xbox One games that do not require Kinect to play on Xbox Series X at the launch of the console.

I haven’t played on a console in a long time. But, back in the day, I found myself really annoyed when a newer version of a console would come out because it typically meant the games I was enjoying would not function on the newer console. Adding backwards compatibility is a fantastic idea, especially because it allows people to keep playing their favorite games.

The Microsoft post started off by emphasizing that they want to make the Xbox community safe, accessible, and welcoming. There’s a link to their community standards in the post. Microsoft says “harassment and hate take many forms, but none have a home on Xbox”. That’s good for players, and also for Microsoft. Players tend to leave gaming environments that become too toxic.


Microsoft Announced Together Mode



Microsoft announced Together mode, a new feature in Microsoft Teams. This is one of many new features that are designed to make working remotely more streamlined, inclusive and engaging. It is also designed to reduce meeting fatigue.

It makes sense for Microsoft to have enhanced Microsoft Teams with new features. In March of 2020, Microsoft sent out an email to approximately 50,000 Microsoft employees in the Seattle area that instructed them to begin working from home. At the time, many companies were assuming that the COVID-19 pandemic would be over in a month or two.

Months later, it became apparent that the United States was unlikely to quell the pandemic anytime soon. In that timeframe, Microsoft created features that would make Microsoft Teams better.

Together mode is a new meeting experience in Teams that uses AI segmentation technology to digitally place participants in a shared background, making it feel like you’re sitting in the same room with everyone else in the meeting or class. Together mode makes meetings more engaging by helping you focus on other people’s faces and body language and making it easier to pick up on the non-verbal cues that are so important to human interaction.

Microsoft says that Together mode with auditorium view is rolling out now and will be generally available in August. The company has plans to bring more views to Together mode in the future.

It is my understanding that some people who have been working from home for months are beginning to miss the office. They want to be in the same physical space as their co-workers again. Unfortunately, that simply isn’t safe to do as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

I think Microsoft’s Together mode could make some people, who feel lonely at home, a bit happier. There is something about visually seeing everyone together online that can feel like you are actually together. Anyone who has played video games that require teams of players to focus on the same goal has experienced this.