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Making mixed reality: a conversation with Lucas Rizzotto

I first met Lucas Rizzotto at a Microsoft HoloLens hackathon last December, where he and his team built a holographic advertising solution. Fast forward to August, and he’s now an award-winning mixed reality creator, technologist, and designer with two HoloLens apps in Windows Store: MyLab, a chemistry education app, and CyberSnake, a game that makes the most of spatial sound…and holographic hamburgers. Little did I know, Lucas had no idea how to code when he started. Today, he shares how he and you can learn and design mixed reality, as well as some tips for spatial sound. Dig in!

Why HoloLens, and why Windows Mixed Reality?
It’s the future! Having the opportunity to work with such an influential industry on its early days is a delightful process – not only it’s incredibly creatively challenging, you can really have a say on what digital experiences and computers will look like in 10, 20 years from now – so it’s packed with excitement, but also responsibility. We are designing the primary way most people will experience the world in the future, and the HoloLens is the closest thing we’ve got to that today.
The community of creators around this technology right now is also great – everyone involved in this space is in love with the possibilities and wants to bring their own visions of the future to light. Few things beat working with people whose primary fuel is passion.
How did you get started developing for mixed reality?
I come from mostly a design background and didn’t really know how to code until two years ago – so I started by teaching myself C# and Unity to build the foundation I’d need to make the things I really wanted to make. Having the development knowledge today really helps me understand my creations at a much deeper level, but the best part about it is how it gives me the ability to test crazy ideas really quickly and independently – which is extremely useful in a fast-paced industry like MR.
HoloLens wise, the HoloLens Slack community is a great place to be – it’s very active and full of people that’ll be more than happy to point you in the right direction, and most people involved in MR are part of the channel. Other than that, the HoloLens forums are also a good resource, especially if you want to ask questions directly to the Microsoft engineering team. Also, YouTube! It has always been my go-to for self-education. It’s how I learned Unity and how I learned a ton of the things I know about the world today. The community of teachers and learners there never ceases to amaze me.
Speaking of design, how do you design in mixed reality? Is anything different?
MR is a different beast that no one has figured out quite yet – but one of the key things I learned is that you need to give up a little bit of control in your UX process and design applications more open ended. We’re working with human senses now, and people’s preferences vary wildly from human to human. We can’t micro-manage every single aspect of the UX like we do on mobile – some users will prefer to use voice commands, others will prefer hand gestures – some users get visually overwhelmed quickly, while others thrive in the chaos. Creating experiences that can suit all borders of the spectrum is increasingly essential in the immersive space.
3D user interfaces are also a new challenge and quite a big deal in MR. Most of the UI we see in immersive experiences today (mine included!) is still full of buttons, windows, tabs and reminiscent visual metaphors from our 2D era. Cracking out new 3D metaphors that are visually engaging and more emotionally meaningful is a big part of the design process.
Also, experiment. A lot. Code up interactions that sound silly, and see what they feel like once you perform them. I try to do that even if I’m doing a serious enterprise application. Not only this is a great way to find and create wonder in everything you build, it will usually give you a bunch of new creative and design insights that you would never be able to stumble upon otherwise.
An example – recently I was building a prototype for a spiritual sequel to CyberSnake in which the player is a Cybernetic Rhinoceros, and had to decide what the main menu looked like. The traditional way to set it up would be to have a bunch of floating buttons in front of you that you can air tap to select what you want to do – but that’s a bit arbitrary, and you’re a Rhino! You don’t have fingers to air tap. So instead of pressing buttons from a distance, I made it so players are prompted to bash their head against the menu options and break it into a thousand pieces instead.
This interaction fulfills a number of roles: first of all, it’s fun, and people always smile in surprise the first time they destroy the menu it. Secondly, it introduces them to a main gameplay element (in the game players must destroy a number of structures with their head), which serves as practice. Thirdly, it’s in character! It plays into the story the app is trying to tell, and the player immediately becomes aware of what they are from that moment forward and what their goal is. With one silly idea, we went from having a bland main menu to something new that’s true to the experience and highly emotionally engaging.
HoloLens offers uniquely human inputs like gaze, gesture, and voice. So different from the clicks and taps we know today! Do you have a favorite HoloLens input?
Gazing is highly underestimated and underused – it implies user intention there’s so much you can do with it.  A healthy combination of voice, hand gestures, and gaze can make experiences incredibly smooth with contextual menus that pop in and out whenever the user stares at something meaningful. This will be even truer once eye-tracking becomes the standard in the space.
What do you want to see more of, design wise?
I want to be more surprised by the things MR experiences make me do and feel challenged by them! Most of the stuff being done today is still fairly safe – people seem to be more focused on trying to find ways to make the medium monetizable instead of discovering its true potential first. I live for being surprised, and want to see concepts and interactions that have never crossed my mind and perfectly leverage the device’s strengths in new creative ways.
Describe your process for building an app with Windows Mixed Reality.
I try to have as many playful ideas as I possibly can on a daily basis, and whenever I stumble upon something that seems feasible in the present, I think about it more carefully. I write down the specifics of the concept with excruciating detail so it can go from an abstraction into an actual, buildable product, then set the goals and challenges I’ll have to overcome to make it happen – giving myself a few reality checks on the way to make sure I’m not overestimating my abilities to finish it in the desired time span.
I then proceed to build a basic version of the product – just the essential features and the most basic functionality – here I usually get a sense if the idea works or not at a most basic level and if it’s something I’d like to continue doing. If it seems promising, then the wild experimentation phase begins. I test out new features, approach the same problem from a variety of angles, try to seize any opportunities for wonder and make sure that I know the “Why?” behind every single design decision. Keep doing this until you have a solid build to test with others, but without spending too much time on this phase, otherwise projects never get done.
In user testing, you can get a very clear view of what you have to improve, and I pay close attention to the emotional reactions of users. Whenever you see a positive reaction, write it down and see if you can intensify it even further in development. If users show negative emotional reactions, find out what’s wrong and fix it. If they’re neutral through and through, then reevaluate certain visual aspects of your app to find out how you can put a positive emotion on their face. Reiterate, polish, finish – and make a release video of it so the whole world can see it. Not everyone has access to an immersive device yet, but most people sure do have access to the internet.

CyberSnake’s audio makes players hyper-aware of where they are in the game. Can you talk about how you approached sound design? After all, spatial sound is part of what makes holograms so convincing.
Sound is as fundamental to the identity of your MR experience as anything else, and this is a relatively new idea in software development (aside from games). Developers tend not to pay too much attention to sound because it has been, for the most part, ignored in the design process of websites and mobile applications. But now we’re dealing with sensory computing and sound needs to be considered as highly as visuals for a great experience.
CyberSnake uses spatial audio in a number of useful ways – whenever user’s heads get close to their tail, for example, the tail emits an electric buzz that gets louder and louder, signaling the danger and where it’s coming from. Whenever you’re close to a burger, directional audio also reinforces the location of the collectibles and where the user should be moving their head. These bits of audio help the user move and give them a new level of spatial awareness.
Sound is an amazing way to reinforce behaviour – a general rule of thumb is to always have a sound to react to anything the user does, and make sure that the “personality” of said sound also matches the action that the user is performing thematically. If you’re approaching sound correctly, the way something looks and moves will be inseparable from the way it sounds. In the case of CyberSnake, there was some good effort to make sure that the sounds fit the visual, the music and the general aesthetic – I think it paid off!
Spending some time designing your own sounds sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. Grab a midi-controller, some virtual instruments and dabble away until you find something that seems to fit the core of what you’re building. Like anything else, it all comes down to experimentation.
What’s next for you?
A number of things! I’m starting my own Mixed Reality Agency in September to continue developing MR projects that are both wondrous and useful at a larger scale. I’m also finishing my Computer Science degree this year and completing a number of immersive art side projects that you’ll soon hear about – some of which you may see at a couple of major film festivals. So stay in touch – good things are coming!
As always, I’m impressed and inspired by Lucas’s work. You can connect with Lucas on Twitter @_LucasRizzotto and his website, where you’ll find nuggets of gold like his vision for mixed reality and AI in education. And maybe even his awesome piano skills.
Learn more about building for Windows Mixed Reality at the Windows Mixed Reality Developer Center.
Lucas is right about spatial sound—it adds so much to an experience—so I asked Joe Kelly, Microsoft Audio Director working on HoloLens, for the best spatial sound how-tos. He suggests using the wealth of resources on Windows Mixed Reality Developer Center. They’re linked below—peruse and use, and share what you make with #MakingMR!
Spatial sound overview
Designing/implementing sounds
Unity implementation
Programming example video (AudioGraph)
GitHub example (XAudio2)

Xbox Live Creators Program Is Now Live!

Back in March, we revealed the Xbox Live Creators Program. Today, we’re excited to announce that any developer can now directly publish their games to Xbox One and Windows 10. We’ve already had some great games published during the preview program (check out the list below!), but there’s always space for more, and it’s time for your game to shine. Microsoft is committed to ensuring that any developer who wants to publish their game on Windows 10 PCs and the Xbox One console family can do so, and the Creators Program enables creators big and small, from around the world, to do just that.
What’s the Creators Program, you ask? Xbox Live Creators Program allows any developer to directly publish their games – any of their games – to Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs with a standard certification process already in place for any other app or game in the Universal Windows Platform ecosystem. In other words, if you have a Dev Center account, then you’re ready to publish your game to Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.
But it gets better! Using the Creators Program also allows you to implement a number of Xbox Live services directly in your game. Stuff like Gamertag Presence, Xbox Live leaderboards and Connected Storage. Things that make your life as a game creator easier, but also enhance your gamers’ experiences. And you also get to take advantage of killer features like Game Hubs and Clubs, Mixer streaming (and integration for more interactive experiences) and some really awesome accessibility features to make sure your game is available for an even wider audience.
And because you get to use the standard Windows Store certification process, you can have the freedom to publish when you’re ready, set pricing the way you like and establish sales and updates that fit your schedule.
Any Creators Program game published on the Windows 10 Store will be listed in the Games category, it’s that simple. On the Xbox One console, we’ve created a special section of the Store called Creators Collection, so that your game can be easily discovered by people looking for something new. We also did this because we know from feedback from players, parents and developers, that the current curated experience on the Xbox One Store is something they love. So, having the Creators collection gives all of us the best of both worlds: A curated store and a fully open marketplace in the Creators Collection.
Does the Creators Program sound good to you? It does to us! And it’s so easy to do. First step is to build your game utilizing UWP and Xbox Live SDK, and for that you can use the tools you’re already using – Visual Studio, game engines like Unity, Construct 2, MonoGame and Xenko – and combine them with a retail Xbox One console and your Dev Center account. You’ll need to grab the free Dev Mode Activation app from the Xbox Store, but then you’re just a few button presses away from converting that retail machine into something ready for your development efforts.
The Dev Center account is the standard one for anyone building apps or games in the Microsoft ecosystem. If you don’t have one yet, it costs as little as $20 as a one-time fee. Then get started on your Xbox Live integration by checking out the Creators Program page and the Xbox Live Creators Program step by step guide.
Creators Program games have access to a large set of Xbox Live services, but not all of them. You’ll be able to implement features such as sign-in and presence, use of your Gamertag, leaderboards, access to your Activity Feed, Game Hubs, Clubs, Party Chat, Game DVR and broadcasting on Mixer.
However, since Creators Program is an open program as opposed to a managed one, some services are not available to you: Achievements, Gamerscore or internet multiplayer. The good news is that if you want access to these features, we encourage you to apply to the  ID@Xbox program where you’ll get the ability to incorporate these. And of course, there’s a path for games to move from the Creators Program to ID@Xbox during development (or even after they reach the Store) if a developer decides they want to add Gamerscore, Achievements or internet multiplayer later on.
While ID@Xbox was designed for professional game developers who wish to use the full set of Xbox Live features through a full certification process, the Creators Program gives all the other developers a “right-sized” set of Xbox Live services. So whether they’re small studios, hobbyists, makers, teachers and students, or if they’re just learning the ropes – the Creators Program is a simplified way to create and ship games to the Xbox community.
We know that the below set of titles is just the beginning. We’re going to highlight more of the diverse array of Creators Program games that catch our eyes on the Xbox Wire. I hope to see your game listed there one day soon.
Here’s a quick look at the first titles that will be available via the program:
Animal Rivals, Blue Sunset Games: Animal Rivals is an action-packed couch party game for one to four players. Drop into the game and fight for the Animalonia’s throne as one of the furry contenders in different mini-games and locations. The game itself presents a unique art style mixing the cartoonish looks and satire approach. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
Block Dropper, Tresiris Games: Block Dropper is a fast paced, arcade style, 3D platformer. Try not to fall as you guide your character through the challenging single player mode or grab a friend to battle head to head in a local multiplayer Block Battle Arena. Tresiris is a small game studio based in Olathe, Kansas, who create fun and simple games with quality as their top priority. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
Crystal Brawl, Studio Mercato: Gauntlet meets NBA Jam in Crystal Brawl, a 2v2 capture-the-flag local multiplayer game that melds fast action with MOBA-like strategy. Choose from a variety of characters with different abilities, with a notable twist: each character has a unique ability that alters the terrain. Experiment with different character combinations to uncover hidden strategies! Studio Mercato is an independent game studio based in New York City. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
Derelict Fleet, Bionic Pony: Derelict Fleet is a fast-paced space combat game. You are tasked with defending a refugee fleet as you travel the stars searching for a new colony to call home. Bionic Pony is a small indie studio based in Tampa, FL that started making Xbox Live indie games in 2010. (Xbox One)
ERMO, Nonostante: ERMO is a relaxing puzzle game featured with a calming and peaceful graphics. Immerse yourself in the landscapes and colors of ERMO and let you be carried away. You will learn the rules in a few seconds, but ERMO will catch you for hours. (Xbox One)
GalactiMAX!, ONLYUSEmeFEET: In the vast darkness of space, GalactiMAX has the player shooting aliens for points to pierce the heavens in classic arcade shooter action! As more aliens are defeated, the player’s ship will increase in size and power. How big can this ship get?! (Xbox One, Windows 10)
kubic, Pixel Envision Ltd: kubic is a relaxing optical illusion puzzle game based on M.C. Escher’s art, impossible objects and other geometric designs. The object is to construct the goal configuration from a number of pieces. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
Space Cat!, GershGamesLLC: Shoot your way past an onslaught of enemies and bosses. Collect weapon upgrades like missiles, bombs, laser beams and much more. GershGamesLLC is a group of young hobbyists that makes for fun on the weekends. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
Stereo Aereo, The Stonebot Studio: Stereo Aereo is an action rhythm game that is inspired by the pop-culture influences of the 80’s. You, the player, have to make sure that the mediocre space rockband Stereo Aereo, gets to their life changing concert, on time, in this comic styled sci-fi game. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
Finally, to celebrate the availability of Creators Program becoming open for any developer, we’re also highlighting the Dream.Build.Play contest, which has an Xbox One category for any game developer who incorporates Creators Program features into their game. So not only can you get your game on the console for the first time, you have a shot at winning some cash money while you do it. Sounds good to us!

This Week on Windows: Microsoft Education, MINECON, Mixed Reality and more

We hope you enjoyed today’s episode of This Week on Windows! Head over here to learn about the exciting changes coming to MINECON and what’s new to Office 365 in July, read our Windows 10 Tip on how you can see your 3D creations take life in Remix 3D, or, keep reading for what’s new in the Windows Store.
In case you missed it:

Join Xbox Academy at the Flagship Microsoft Store to design and create your first video game

Microsoft Store is excited to announce Xbox Academy is back – this time class is in session at the New York and Sydney flagship stores! Xbox Academy is a series of FREE, hands-on game development classes that aims to foster creativity and STEM education outside of the classroom. The program will feature three unique courses, each covering a different aspect of the game development process to inspire new ways to build, create, play and transform ideas. Read more over at Xbox Wire!
When and How to Join
Flagship Microsoft Store in New York: Sunday, Aug. 20 to Sunday, Sept. 3; visit here to register.Flagship Microsoft Store in Sydney: Monday, Sept. 25 to Sunday, Oct. 1; visit here to register.
Here’s what’s new in the Windows Store this week:
Explore your favorite car in stunning detail in the Forza Motorsport 7 Garage

Welcome to week four of the Forza Motorsport 7 Garage, where we are well on our way to revealing the more than 700+ vehicles that will be a part of Forza Motorsport 7 at launch. With hundreds of cars to race, customize, and explore, this week we’re focusing on the “exploration” part of the game. After all, every car in Forza Motorsport 7 features a full Forzavista experience, thereby allowing players to discover each car’s unique characteristics in exquisite detail.
This week in the Forza Motorsport 7 Garage we are proud to announce a deep list of cars from America; more than 100 cars and trucks from as early as 1970 (earlier models were announced during week 2 Vintage Week). Whether you prefer classic muscle or the latest trends from Detroit, this week’s lineup will never leave you wanting for power. Head over to Xbox Wire to read more!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Set to the sounds of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($19.99 HD) continues the team’s adventures as they seek to unravel the mystery of Star-Lord’s parentage. Get the blockbuster hit today in the Movies & TV section of the Windows Store, two weeks before it comes to Blu-ray!
Travel Essentials Collection
 
Travel the world with a little help from Windows Store in our new Travel Essentials Collection. Whether you’re itching for a worldwide adventure or a weekend getaway, do it with the help of the apps we’ve assembled – from Lonely Planet and Tripwolf for your research, Expedia for bookings it all, and movies and more from Netflix to enjoy along with way.
Summer Entertaining Collection
 
You just might get bragging rights to the best summer barbecue in town when you enlist the Windows Store and our Summer Entertaining Collection. This curated collection of entertaining apps and books can help you learn the basics of cooking with How to Cook Everything, easily find and save your recipes with Recipe Keeper Pro, and make the perfect cocktail with guidance from The Art of Mixology.
Have a great weekend!

Microsoft and the NFL: Exemplifying digital transformation in sports

In addition to the Sideline Viewing System that coaches and players use, there is a new way that Microsoft Surface will be transforming the game this season.
Surface Pro 4 is an integral part of the new Instant Replay system.
Instant Replay
Over the last four years, Microsoft Surface has helped empower players and coaches to make better, faster and more accurate decisions on the sidelines and in the coach’s booths.
Beginning this season, NFL referees will have a similar on-field experience as other NFL personnel by utilizing Microsoft Surface throughout the updated Instant Replay process.
As already seen during the preseason, in all NFL stadiums this season, there will be two portable instant-replay systems, one at each end of the field. Each will feature a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and a headset that will be brought directly to referees on the field when they need to review a call or during a coach’s challenge, enabling faster access. Video will stream to the Surface devices via a wired connection, allowing the referee to review the play while conferring with the in-stadium instant replay booth as well as the NFL in New York. Final decisions will be made by the NFL officiating staff in New York in consultation with the referee.
An Instant Replay system is positioned at each end of the field, ready to be deployed.
Referees reviewing a play on the new Instant Replay system featuring Surface Pro 4.
With other aspects of the replay system already running on Windows 10, Microsoft is excited to support the NFL replay system from start to finish with the addition of Microsoft Surface on the field.
Surface as an end-to-end solution
The power and versatility of Microsoft Surface make it a valuable tool for players, coaches, referees and front office personnel as the game evolves. Surface and Windows 10 together offer unparalleled versatility that can adapt to handle the technology demands of an NFL game or organization.

Microsoft is proud to have every NFL team using Microsoft Surface within their organization in some capacity. Ranging from Surface devices serving as playbooks, to film reviews being conducted on Surface Hubs, to in stadium usage to business operations teams using Surface devices in their front office. It is clear that NFL teams have embraced Microsoft as a true technology partner.

Medical devices
In addition to the expanded use of Microsoft Surface in Instant Replay and the use of Microsoft products in team operations, this season, each NFL team’s medical staff will also be able to use Surface while making real-time decisions about player safety and health on the sidelines. Medical staffs will have access to the NFL’s Game Management System, an app that displays key moments in every game and allows for data collection and sharing across games.
As the official technology partner of the NFL, we are excited about the expanded role that our products will play this season. Both in the games themselves and in how NFL teams run their businesses. Here’s to a great season!

Evolving our Windows approach to AV, thanks to partner feedback

Earlier this summer I shared that we believe in a healthy antivirus ecosystem working with us in protecting our shared customers from security threats. Our top priority is and always will be to protect our customers with security innovations for the Windows platform, increase our customers’ pre- and post-breach security stance, and provide a platform that offers choice.
Part of delivering on that commitment is listening and responding to feedback from our customers and partners. We work closely with AV partners like Kaspersky Lab, and at our Microsoft Virus Initiative forum last month, we made great progress in building upon our shared understanding of how we deliver Windows 10 updates and security experiences that help ensure the ongoing safety of Windows customers.
I’m pleased to share these discussions have helped us clarify our roadmap and implementation plans. As a result, we are making updates to our AV partner requirements today that reflect the interests of the community and our shared customers. We will also implement changes in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.
Here are some of the changes we are making to support our partners in delivering security protections to Windows customers.
We will work more closely with AV vendors to help them with compatibility reviews in advance of each feature update becoming available to customers. This means customers can expect we will have worked through compatibility issues with AV providers before offering the update to customers running that AV.
We will give AV partners better visibility and certainty around release schedules for feature updates. This includes increasing the amount of time AV partners will have to review final builds before the next Windows 10 feature update is rolled out to customers.
We will enable AV providers to use their own alerts and notifications to renew antivirus products before and after they have expired.
We have modified how Windows will inform users when their antivirus application has expired and is no longer protecting them. Instead of providing an initial toast notification that users could ignore, the new notification will persist on the screen until the user either elects to renew the existing solution or chooses to rely on Windows Defender or another solution provider.
We appreciate the feedback and continued dialogue with our partners and are pleased to have found common ground with Kaspersky Lab on the complaints raised in Russia and Europe. We look forward to our continued partnership with the industry.
Customers deserve the best and most up-to-date protection possible. Microsoft and our security partners share a commitment to keep them safe.

Announcing exciting changes coming to MINECON!

MINECON is a worldwide celebration of the community, the game, and the joy that Minecraft continues to bring people around the world. In the past, it’s been a single massive convention – but today, the Minecraft team announced how they’re shaking up MINECON this year with two new elements! Here’s what you can expect:
MINECON Earth
MINECON Earth is a global interactive livestream event broadcast from two continents on November 18 and viewed by players around the world from their living rooms or at local viewing parties, retailers, theatres and community events. The 90-minute livestream will take place on November 18 at 12 p.m. EST / 5 p.m. GMT on mixer.com/minecraft. If you’re new to Mixer, head over here for tips on getting started viewing and streaming!
Official Minecraft Community Events
We’ve teamed up with Minefaire, MineVention and BLOCKFEST to create authentic Minecraft events, a little closer to home. Players will get to meet their favorite YouTubers and streamers, compete in tournaments and costume contests, see unique content and much more. We’re excited to share more details really soon, but check out the Minefaire and MineVention websites for more info in the meantime!
With the combination of our livestream and the official Minecraft community events, we’re excited to make it easier for EVERYONE to participate from all around the world.  Anyone with a broadband internet connection can watch the livestream from wherever they are. We’ll have more details to share soon on exciting ways for you to get involved from wherever you are.
Save the date for MINECON on November 18, and head over to Minecraft.net for even more details about this exciting news!

Windows 10 Tip: See your 3D creations take life in Remix 3D

Last week, we announced new capabilities in Remix 3D – Parts and Remixes – an all-new way to experience the relationship between 3D content and see how it can transform and take new life when shared with a creative community.
Here’s how to get started with Parts and Remixes:
On any model page on Remix3D.com, you’ll see two new tabs: Parts and Remixes. Simply click on Parts and scroll down to see the individual parts that make up the model. A dog with a party hat and party favor may have three parts: the dog model, the hat model and the party favor model.

But what if someone remixes that dog and adds a birthday cake? That would appear under Remixes. The Remixes tab is a way to show how creators are building off other amazing creations. If someone remixed a model you created, their new design would point back to your original model in the Remixes tab.

If you’re working in the Paint 3D app, you can click on the Remix 3D tab, find a model and then click “Place in project” to start creating your own Remix!

Parts and Remixes will be available everywhere Paint 3D and Remix 3D are available. Head over here for tips on getting started with Paint 3D, and, in case you missed it, here’s last week’s Windows 10 Tip:

Have a great week!

Your feedback is helping shape Windows privacy

Those enhancements included improving in-product information, updates to the Microsoft privacy statement, and publishing more information about the diagnostic data we collect.
Since then, feedback we’ve received about the Creators Update has been positive. This is great news to us because what we hear from you directly impacts the improvements we make.
For example, 71 percent of customers are selecting Full diagnostics data to help us fix things and improve Microsoft products.  While your direct feedback like, “The privacy settings added to clean installs are a boon for the privacy minded,” and “Very well done,” is great to hear, we know there is still work to do to meet and anticipate the expectations across our diverse customer base and provide you with the best privacy experience possible.
We’ve also seen a positive reception to the web-based privacy dashboard which allows you to see and control your activity data across multiple Microsoft services. Announced back in January, the privacy dashboard has been visited by more than 23 million people on accounts.microsoft.com.
With more than 500 million devices running Windows 10, the opportunity to refine our approach to privacy and implement your feedback is exciting.  We are also ensuring Windows 10 is compliant with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that goes into effect in 2018. Fundamentally, the GDPR is about protecting and respecting an individual’s privacy rights and Microsoft’s enduring commitment to trust is well aligned through the privacy principles that shape the way we build our products and services.
For those of you who participate in the Windows Insiders Program, you can expect to see some of the privacy changes showing up in Insider builds in the coming weeks, and we welcome your feedback in helping us make create the best Windows ever.
I look forward to a continued dialogue and thank you for your feedback – please keep it coming!
-Marisa

Making it easier to revert

Sometimes when things go wrong in my environment, I don’t want to have to clean it all up — I just want to go back in time to when everything was working. But remembering to maintain good recovery points isn’t easy.
Now we’re making it so that you can always roll back your virtual machine to a recent good state if you need to. Starting in the latest Windows Insider build, you can now always revert a virtual machine back to the state it started in.
In Virtual Machine Connection, just click the Revert button to undo any changes made inside the virtual machine since it last started.

Under the hood, we’re using checkpoints; when you start a virtual machine that doesn’t have any checkpoints, we create one for you so that you can easily roll back to it if something goes wrong, then we clean it up once the virtual machine shuts down cleanly.
New virtual machines will be created with “Use automatic checkpoints” enabled by default, but you will have to enable it yourself to use it for existing VMs. The option is off by default on Windows Server.  This option can be found in Settings -> Checkpoints -> “Use automatic checkpoints”

Note: the checkpoint will only be taken automatically when the VM starts if it doesn’t have other existing checkpoints.
Hopefully this will come in handy next time you need to undo something in your VM. If you are in the Windows Insider Program, please give it a try and let us know what you think.
Cheers,
Andy

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Acer announces powerful new gaming notebooks with Windows 10

These devices are built to take advantage of everything that’s new for PC gamers in the Windows 10 Creators Update. With the Creators Update, you have access to built-in game streaming with Beam and a better gaming experience on Windows 10 with Game Mode, which dedicates more system resources to your game. With Windows 10, these devices also have your personal digital assistant, Cortana*, built-in, are equipped with the Xbox app and Direct X12 and can take advantage of Xbox Play Anywhere. Head over here for tips on getting started using the Xbox app on your Windows 10 PC.
Let’s take a look at these devices:
The Predator Triton 700: a Thin yet Powerful Gaming Notebook without Compromise

Powered by Windows 10, the Predator Triton 700’s svelte 18.9 mm (.74 inch), 2.6kg (5.7 pound) aluminum chassis houses a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display and best-in-class computing technologies, striking just the right balance of size and performance without sacrificing thermals, features or rigidity.
Must-have gaming tech and features include standard-voltage 7th Gen Intel Core processors, the latest NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10-Series graphics, speedy NVMe PCIe SSDs and lightning-fast Thunderbolt 3. two NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 configuration and up to 32GB of DDR4 2400MHz memory.
As the first of the new ultrathin Predator Triton gaming notebook series, its understated black chassis features a minimalist design. A large glass plate above the keyboard serves as a window into the notebook’s cooling system, showcasing the AeroBlade 3D Fan and five heat pipes, and also functions as a touchpad.

Other features include:
Killer DoubleShot Pro networking and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, which provides speeds up to 40 Gbps and supports dual 4K video output
Bright, vibrant visuals on a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display with NVIDIA G-SYNC support for connecting to an external monitor
Acer TrueHarmony delivers immersive audio with crisp, rich acoustics. Skype for Business Certification ensures conversations are clear and lag-free.
PredatorSense software enables you to control and customize the Predator Triton 700’s vitals from one central interface, including lighting, hotkeys, fan control and general system monitoring.
Dual Acer AeroBlade 3D Fans provides advanced thermal performance allowing for its ultrathin form factor
Two USB 3.0 ports (featuring power-off USB charging), one USB 2.0 port, an HDMI 2.0 port, one DisplayPort connector and a Gigabit Ethernet port for those preferring a hard-wired connection.
Price and Availability: The Predator Triton 700 gaming notebook will be available in North America in August starting at $2,999; and in EMEA in August starting at €3,399.
The new powerful Predator Helios 300 gaming notebook line offers strong performance at midrange prices

The new Predator Helios 300 line is powered by Windows 10, 7th Gen Intel Core i7 or i5 standard-voltage processors, overclockable NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or 1050Ti graphics, fast wireless connectivity and solid state drives.
At the heart of the Predator Helios 300 is an overclockable NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or 1050Ti GPU combined with a 7th Gen Intel Core i7 (7700HQ) or i5 processor (7300HQ) for outstanding performance. All of this processing power is supported with up to 16GB of DDR4 memory (upgradable to 32GB), a speedy SATA SSD and a 1TB HDD.
Bright 15.6-inch or 17.3-inch FHD IPS displays provide vibrant, vivid imagery, while Acer TrueHarmony delivers immersive audio with crisp, rich acoustics. Skype for Business Certification ensures conversations are clear and lag-free while providing a great Cortana with Voice experience.
For smooth game play, a dual fan system featuring AeroBlade 3D Fans with ultra-thin metal blades keeps the notebook running at optimal temperatures. Preloaded PredatorSense software provides real time system information and overclocking, so gamers can monitor and control the system’s vitals from one central interface.
Other features include:
A classic but tasteful gaming chassis with an iron red backlit keyboard, selected models include a metal top cover and keyboard area for added strength and rigidity
Available with 15.6-inch or 17.3-inch FHD IPS displays.
Shipping with Windows 10, it offers powerful features and technologies at mid-range price points, making gaming notebooks more accessible than ever.
Includes a USB 3.1 Type-C port, a USB 3.0 port (featuring power-off USB charging), two USB 2.0 ports, and an HDMI 2.0 connection
Connects wirelessly through fast 2×2 802.11ac technology, and also includes a Gigabit Ethernet port for those preferring a hard-wired connection.
An access compartment doors on the bottom of the notebooks makes it easy to upgrade memory and storage components.
Price and Availability: The Predator Helios 300 gaming notebooks with a 15.6-inch display will be available in North America in July starting at $1,299; in EMEA in August starting at €1,199; and in China in June starting at ¥9,999; models with a 17.3-inch display will be available in North America in July starting at ,399; in EMEA in August starting at €1,199; and in China in July starting at ¥9,999.
Exact specifications, prices, and availability will vary by region. To learn more about availability, product specifications and prices in specific markets, please contact your nearest Acer office via www.acer.com.
These new devices were unveiled this week at the next@acer press event held in New York, where the company announced a range of new devices and solutions for gamers, creators, families, students and professionals. For more information, visit acer.com/nextatacer.
*Cortana available in select markets.

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