Tag Archives: Microsoft

Microsoft Introduces New Outlook on the Web



Microsoft has introduced a new Outlook on the web. In the past 8 months, Microsoft made improvements to the new Outlook based on submitted feedback and suggestions.

Email is the heart of Outlook and where people spend a significant part of their day. We have designed the new mail experience around you and the people that are important to you – You can personalize your experience, have a little fun, do things faster, and keep those people front and center with new updated features.

Features include:

Categories – Now easier to identify, right from your message list. Categories make it easy to tag, find, or organize your messages. Add multiple categories to a message, ad a category as a favorite, or use Search to find it.

Dark Mode – Personalize your inbox with dark mode for those time when your eyes are a little tired. You can “turn on the lights” when you want to read a specific email or when composing one.

Expressions – Microsoft now allows you to add emojis and GIFs to your messages from Outlook.

Favorites – You can favorite a contact, a group, or a category so you have easier access and can see the message count for each. Once you favorite them, they sync to Outlook mobile, too.

Time Management – Microsoft recently announced new features in Outlook to help you save time with intelligent technology. Meeting Insights gives you relevant information so you can quickly prepare for your meeting. Suggested Replies let you quickly pick from a few options and send an email. One suggested option is “schedule a meeting”, which helps you book meetings faster.

The new Outlook experience will start in late July. Your ability to see it appears to depend on whether or not your organization has blocked the opt-in toggle. The Outlook update is clearly designed for business needs.

Those who use email mostly to communicate with friends and family do not need it. Some of these new features for Outlook have already been introduced in Gmail and other services.


Microsoft Introduced Project Scarlett



Microsoft introduced Project Scarlett at the Xbox E3 2019 Briefing. It is for players who want a console designed, built, and optimized for gaming. Project Scarlett is arriving Holiday 2020.

Project Scarlett will set a new bar for console power, speed and performance, arriving Holiday 2020 alongside Halo Infinite. With a custom-designed AMD processor, high bandwidth GDDR6 memory, and a next generation solid state drive (SSD), Project Scarlett will give developers the power they need to bring their creative visions to life. Thousands of games across four console generations will look and play best on Project Scarlett.

A video about Project Scarlett provides some more details. There is mention of reduced load times, where the game stops and players have to wait around for the next part to load. Microsoft’s goal with gaming is to not have those pauses.

Project Scarlett has a custom designed processor that leverages the latest Zen 2 and Navi technology from their partners at AMD. It makes processing four times more powerful than the Xbox One X. It also leverages high bandwidth GDDR 6 to ensure the best performance possible.

In the video, there is mention of giving gamers the option to connect across devices and across platforms in a way that Xbox was never able to do before. Your games, your achievements, your progression, your accessories – your console experience with Xbox all comes forward with Scarlett.

It sounds like Project Scarlett and Google’s Stadia will compete against each other for the attention of gamers. Both are being released at roughly the same time, during the holiday season. Scarlett has the advantage of already having a dedicated player base who currently play on Xbox consoles.


Social Media Companies to Tackle Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content



Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter have responded to the Christchurch Call to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online by committing to remove that content from their social media sites. As far as I can tell, this is the first time those three companies have decided to work together on removing that type of content.

In March of this year, a terrorist attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, was livestreamed. The Christchurch Call was created by New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and French President, Emmanuel Macron. Ars Technica reported that Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom have signed on.

The Christchurch Call is a commitment by Governments and tech companies to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online. It rests on the conviction that a free, open and secure internet offers extraordinary benefits to society. Respect for freedom of expression is fundamental. However, no one has the right to create and share terrorist and violent extremist content online.

Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft have all committed to the Christchurch Call. Each company posted nearly identical details about how they will enact policies to combat the spread of terrorist and violent extremist content online.

Each company will be: “identifying appropriate checks on livestreaming, aimed at reducing the risks of disseminating terrorist and violent extremist content online. These may include enhanced vetting measures (such as streamer ratings or scores, account activity, or validation processes) and moderation of certain livestreaming events where appropriate. Checks on livestreaming necessarily will be tailored to the context of specific livestreaming services, including the type of audience, the nature or character of the livestreaming service, and the likelihood of exploitation.”

The companies will also improve technology to detect and remove terrorist and violent extremist content. They will combat hate and bigotry by providing greater support for relevant research – with an emphasis on the impact of online hate on offline discrimination and violence – and supporting capacity and capability of NGOs working to challenge hate and promote pluralism and respect online.

Personally, I think this is a step in the right direction. It is abundantly clear that hateful content online influences some people to take that hate offline and to act in ways that cause harm to other people. Something must be done to prevent that.


Microsoft Revealed Hackers Accessed Email Accounts



Microsoft has confirmed to TechCrunch hat a certain “limited” number of people who use web email services managed by Microsoft (such as @msn.com and @hotmail.com) had their accounts compromised. The breach happened between January 1 and March 28, 2019.

According to an email Microsoft has sent out to affected users, malicious hackers were potentially able to access an affected user’s email address, folder names, the subject lines of emails, and the names of other email address the user communicates with. Microsoft says the hackers were not able to access the content of any emails or attachments or login credentials like passwords.

Microsoft recommends that affected users change their password. No enterprise customers are affected by this breach.

The Verge reported that Microsoft has started notifying some Outlook.com users that a hacker was able to access accounts for months earlier this year.

According to The Verge, the security breach happened weeks after a former security researcher pled guilty to hacking into Microsoft and Nintendo servers. Microsoft’s Windows development servers were breached for a number of weeks in January of 2017, allowing hackers across Europe to access pre-release versions of Windows.

The Verge has an image of the email that Microsoft sent to people who had their email accounts breached. TechCrunch has the full text of the letter in their article. If your email account was affected, then you likely have already received that email.

In general, it is a good idea to change your email passwords from time to time. Most people are tech-savvy enough to spot questionable emails and know that they should not click on any link those sketchy emails contain. That said, there will be people who cannot tell the difference and who get phished.

The best solution to prevent hacking would be for big companies like Microsoft to put more effort into preventing hackers from breaching people’s email accounts.


Microsoft Introduced the HoloLens 2



Microsoft introduced the HoloLens 2 at MWC Barcelona. It is an improved version of the original Microsoft HoloLens. Here are some details about the improvements.

Immersion is greatly enhanced by advancements across the board, including the visual display system, making holograms even more vibrant and realistic. Microsoft more than doubled the field of view in HoloLens 2, while maintaining the industry-leading holographic density of 47 pixels per degree of sight. HoloLens 2 contains a new display system that enables Microsoft to achieve these significant advances at low power.

HoloLens 2 enables direct manipulation of holograms with the same instinctual interactions you’d use with physical objects in the real world. In addition to the improvements in the display engine and direct manipulation of holograms, HoloLens 2 contains eye-tracking sensors that make interacting with holograms even more natural.

Comfort is enhanced by a more balanced center of gravity, the use of light carbon-fiber material and a new mechanism for donning the device without readjusting. Microsoft improved the thermal management with new vapor chamber technology and accounted for wide physiological variability in the size and shape of human heads by designing HoloLens 2 to comfortably adjust and fit almost anyone.

The new dial-in system makes it comfortable to wear for hours on end, and you can keep your glasses on because HoloLens 2 adapts to you by sliding right over them. When it’s time to step out of mixed reality, flip the visor up and switch tasks in seconds.

Time-to-value is accelerated by Microsoft mixed reality applications like Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, Dynamics 365 Layout and the new Dynamics 365 Guides applications.

Personally, I have a few concerns about HoloLens 2. One is the price. The Verge says it costs $3,500. Another concern is whether or not the HoloLens 2 would scratch the lenses of my glasses. I hope Microsoft tested for that!


Microsoft Commits to Help Affordable Housing in Puget Sound Region



Microsoft announced that is committed to addressing the problem of a lack of affordable housing in the region of Puget Sound, Washington. Microsoft made that area its home in 1979.

But the Puget Sound area’s growth has also created new challenges. In recent years, our region hasn’t built enough housing for the people who live here. Since 2011, jobs in the region have grown 21 percent, while growth in housing construction has lagged at 13 percent. This gap in affordable housing has caused housing prices to surge 96 percent in the past eight years, making the Greater Seattle area the sixth most expensive region in the United States.

Microsoft will invest:

  • $225 million at lower than market rate returns to inject capital to subsidize the preservation and construction of middle-income housing. These investments initially will be made in six cities east of Seattle and Lake Washington: Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Renton and Sammamish.
  • $250 million at market rate returns to support low-income housing across the entire King County region. Microsoft believes that additional capitol at market lending rates can help accelerate the construction of low-income housing across the region.
  • $25 million in philanthropic grants to address homelessness in the greater Seattle region. Microsoft announced the first $10 million of these grants. This will include a $5 million philanthropic grant to the newly announced Home Base program created by the Seattle Marines, the United Way of King County, and the King County Bar Association. The program helps keep people facing eviction in their homes through legal aid, access to flexible funds and case management.
  • Microsoft will also grant $5 million to support a new joint agency on homelessness being formed by the city of Seattle and King County.

Personally, I think this is a wonderful idea! I think that more big companies should follow in Microsoft’s footsteps and enact similar plans in other areas. I’d like to see a world where big companies, who have tons of money, use some of it to actually help people who are struggling.


Microsoft has Acquired GitHub



Microsoft announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire GitHub, the world’s leading software development platform where more than 28 million developers learn, share, and collaborate.

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. Subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close by the end of the calendar year.

GitHub will retain its developer-first ethos and will operate independently to provide an open platform for all developers in all industries. Developers will be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects – and will still be able to deploy their code to any operating system, any cloud and any device.

GitHub announced, in a blog post written by CEO and Co-Founder of GitHub, @defunkt, that Microsoft was acquiring GitHub. The post states that Microsoft and GitHub expect the agreement to close by the end of the year.

GitHub says that they will remain focused on the developer. They feel that Microsoft’s vision for the future closely matches their own. Nat Friedman, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Developer Services, will be taking on the role of GitHub’s CEO. GitHub says it has been searching for a new CEO for some time.