Microsoft Planning for Teams to Become Ubiquitous Platform

Microsoft 365 corporate vice president Jeff Teper wants Microsoft Teams — the company’s fastest growing business app — to overtake Windows, currently on 1+ billion active devices. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft Teams is experiencing significant growth, with 75 million daily active users as of April 29, a 70 percent leap in six weeks. In April, 200+ million participants used Teams in a single day. Meanwhile, Microsoft is still promoting Skype, which in March passed 40 million daily active users (up 70 percent from the previous year), but for a different customer base. Continue reading Microsoft Planning for Teams to Become Ubiquitous Platform

Apple Acquires Virtual Reality Live Streaming Service NextVR

Apple has purchased NextVR, a virtual reality video service that offered 360-degree access to live events, including sporting events from NBA, WWE and NHL. With a VR headset, users could enjoy the feeling of “presence” in NextVR’s panoramic stereoscopic 3D scenes. The company also offered 2D smartphone access and planned to support augmented reality devices. The service never became popular, however, and a failed 2019 funding round followed by the coronavirus-related cancellation of sporting events left it struggling to survive. Continue reading Apple Acquires Virtual Reality Live Streaming Service NextVR

Scener Offers Virtual Theater and Video Chat for HBO, Netflix

WarnerMedia’s HBO has partnered with Seattle-based Scener to allow HBO Now and HBO GO subscribers to create a private virtual theater, including video chat, for up to 20 people. Scener already allows co-viewing for Netflix accounts. This is HBO’s first significant partnership with an online co-viewing platform. Scener co-founder Joe Braidwood said the company saw a “crazy surge in demand” for the product with the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership, which began in March, includes a new design for the site and update for Google Chrome browsers. Continue reading Scener Offers Virtual Theater and Video Chat for HBO, Netflix

Microsoft Unveils New 365 Personal/Family Plans This Month

Microsoft rolled out its new Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions, to be available April 21. The plans, which will replace and enhance current Office 365 plans, are priced at $6.99 per month for Personal (one person) plans and $9.99 per month for Family (up to six people) plans. Both of the new plans include Office and access to a Microsoft Family Safety app and new features in Microsoft Teams for consumers, both of which will debut later this year. Other new features will continue to be unveiled over time. Continue reading Microsoft Unveils New 365 Personal/Family Plans This Month

Microsoft Reveals DirectX 12 Ultimate For Game Developers

Microsoft is debuting DirectX 12 Ultimate, giving developers access to the hardware features on the Xbox Series X and PC. As its next-gen DirectX gaming APIs for Xbox and Windows, DirectX 12 Ultimate enables several methods for improving performance and visuals and brings together Microsoft’s latest development and hardware features while retaining backward compatibility with older consoles and GPUs. Among the improvements are new capabilities for ray tracing, variable rate shading and sampler feedback. Continue reading Microsoft Reveals DirectX 12 Ultimate For Game Developers

Microsoft Commercial Cloud Business Drives Record Sales

Microsoft’s gross margins for its commercial cloud business (including Azure and Office 365) grew to 67 percent, driving the company’s robust fiscal Q2 earnings on record sales. Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella revealed that revenue from this sector grew 39 percent to $12.5 billion. Company executives told analysts that the gross margins percentage will increase this year while margins rose for the fourth consecutive quarter, noting that this reflects the “huge opportunity” selling cloud products and infrastructure. Continue reading Microsoft Commercial Cloud Business Drives Record Sales

Microsoft Bets on Internet of Things, Ends Xbox TV Feature

Although many observers would name Microsoft’s Xbox as the tech company’s biggest hardware business, chief executive Satya Nadella instead points to the company’s cloud. In fact, Microsoft is building an entire cloud infrastructure from data centers to servers and network stack. Nadella said that he doesn’t want the company to be defined “by what we achieved.” He pointed to the Internet of Things about to emerge. “We look at if there’s going to be 50 billion endpoints,” he said. “Let’s go … and define a strategy for that.” Continue reading Microsoft Bets on Internet of Things, Ends Xbox TV Feature

NSA Discovers Windows Vulnerability — and Tells Microsoft

The National Security Agency (NSA) discovered a vulnerability in versions of Windows and, instead of retaining it, reported it to Microsoft, which is now patching the flaw in its handling of certificate and cryptographic messaging functions. The vulnerability could have enabled attackers to use malicious code that would pretend to be legitimate software. Microsoft also warned all current users of Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate to upgrade immediately. Continue reading NSA Discovers Windows Vulnerability — and Tells Microsoft

Laptop Manufacturers Debut Foldable Tablets at CES 2020

During CES in Las Vegas last week, companies unveiled prototypes of foldable tablets. Among them, Lenovo launched its ready-to-ship ThinkPad X1 Fold, with pricing, specifications and accessories. Dell, Intel and TCL showed prototypes of a foldable screen, the first two of which run Windows 10 as a stand-in for Microsoft’s dual-screen Windows 10X; TCL’s prototype was shown as an Android device. Lenovo’s laptop will ship before this software launches. Software that takes the best advantage of two screens is the challenge for these device makers. Continue reading Laptop Manufacturers Debut Foldable Tablets at CES 2020

Multiple Bugs Made Zoom Hardware Susceptible to Hackers

In July, security firm Forescout discovered that DTEN touchscreen smart TVs, one of video conference service Zoom’s “certified hardware providers,” can be hacked to allow evildoers to bug conference rooms and capture video feeds and whiteboard notes. A two-week study of the DTEN D5 and D7 connected displays revealed five bugs, three of which have been patched but two of which remain. After Forescout disclosed the flaws to DTEN, it decided to go public to raise awareness of the security threat. Continue reading Multiple Bugs Made Zoom Hardware Susceptible to Hackers

Huawei Ban Is Likely to Impact Phone Sales and Chip Firms

The U.S. government banned Huawei Technologies to target the company’s 5G telecom equipment, but it’s also had the unintended consequence of crippling the Chinese company’s smartphone business. Huawei is the manufacturer of the world’s No. 2 smartphone, and its business will likely be affected without access to components and software. The ban is also expected to impact other companies, including U.S.-based Broadcom, which says it will suffer a $2 billion hit from not being able to sell to Huawei. Meanwhile, Huawei has made it known that it would invest heavily in countries that welcome its products. Continue reading Huawei Ban Is Likely to Impact Phone Sales and Chip Firms

Apple Divides iTunes Features into Music, Podcast, TV Apps

Apple executives announced the end of iTunes at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this week. But iTunes features will live on in three apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV. The iconic iTunes was created 18 years ago as a so-called digital jukebox that allowed users to import and organize music and burn custom mixes. It evolved into a music store, where an enormous variety of songs sold for 99 cents. In 2003, Steve Jobs declared that “people want to buy their music on the Internet by buying downloads.” Continue reading Apple Divides iTunes Features into Music, Podcast, TV Apps

Microsoft Demonstrates its Dual-Screen Prototype Internally

Microsoft started internal demos of its dual-screen Surface hardware, codenamed Centaurus, including an “all-hands” event for its device team, said sources. The company allowed employees to get up close to the prototype hardware, and also showed a sizzle reel. Centaurus, in development for about two years, is intended to be the showpiece of the company’s upcoming assortment of dual-screen tablet/laptop hybrids. Sources also said that Centaurus is more similar to the Courier tablet than the prior Andromeda project. Continue reading Microsoft Demonstrates its Dual-Screen Prototype Internally

Microsoft Warns Windows Bug May Be Abused by Hackers

Facebook, Intel and Microsoft announced bugs in their software this week. Facebook patched WhatsApp to prevent hackers from using it to install spyware on mobile phones. Intel described its efforts to fix a problem with its chipsets that allow attackers to access private data. Now Microsoft warned that it just patched a bug similar to the WannaCry ransomware crypto-worm that attacked computers around the globe in 2017. The company said that, to its knowledge, no one yet had exploited the Windows vulnerability. Continue reading Microsoft Warns Windows Bug May Be Abused by Hackers

Microsoft Shares Vision For Present and Future Productivity

Microsoft recently invited journalists into its Envisioning Center for a peek into its vision of the future — in particular, its vision of the future of productivity. Inside the center, Microsoft houses some of its prototype work. Journalists witnessed teams working together on giant collaborative screens, meeting in rooms equipped with devices to automatically recognize participants, and doing work at touch-powered desks. The bulk of all provided demonstrations revolved around the use of touch, voice, and augmented reality. This marks a new way forward for Microsoft.

Continue reading Microsoft Shares Vision For Present and Future Productivity

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