Microsoft Emulator and Windows 10X Emulator Image (Preview) build 19578 available now! – Windows Developer Blog

Today we released new versions of both the Microsoft Emulator and the Windows 10X Emulator Image (Preview) to the Microsoft Store. The updated Microsoft Emulator is version 1.1.54.0 and the updated Windows 10X Emulator Image is version 10.0.19578. This refresh includes many updates to Windows 10X including the Win32 Container. Information on installation and requirements can be found at Get Windows dev tools.
We want your feedback so please use the Feedback Hub!

Check for new images in the Emulator!
The Microsoft Emulator version 1.1.54.0 now includes the ability to query the Store for updated images and install them. On first run of the emulator, if there are no images installed, it will prompt to download an image. The developer can also choose to check for new images through the File->’Download emulator images’ menu item.

Test existing applications in the emulator on released versions of Windows
The Windows 10X Emulator Image version 10.0.19578 includes a new EULA that no longer requires it to be installed on a Windows Insiders machine. You can now install it on Windows 10 version 10.0.17763 or higher. With released SDKs, developers can use this new configuration to test their existing apps on the dual-screen devices and to enhance their app experiences with dual-screen patterns; taking advantage of TwoPaneView class and leveraging the Wonder Bar with CompactOverlay.
Reminder, in order to use the Insiders Preview SDK, developers must setup their environment on a Windows Insiders OS
Win32 apps now participate in the windowing model
This update applies the windowing model for Windows 10X to your Win32 apps running in the container. System-defined window placement ensures that users have a consistent and simplified windowing experience that is tailored and appropriate to a smaller, dual-screen, and touch-friendly device. Some gaps remain and will be addressed in future updates.
Additional details can be found in the RelNotes for the release.

For Sale – Acer Predator Helios 300 15 i5 8300 GTX 1050Ti IPS 144hz Gaming Laptop

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For Sale – 17.3″ Intel i7 (3.7GHz Turbo) – 16GB RAM – Samsung 1TB+500GB SSD’s

OVERVIEW

High performance laptop for sale in excellent condition, very well looked after. Custom built by PC Specialist.

I’m selling because I wanted a better gaming rig with a bit more graphical grunt, pure and simple – this one still has a great card, if that’s your thing (GeForce GTX 960M – 2.0GB DDR5 Video RAM – DirectX 12) which can run many of the modern games (screen 60Hz refresh). I also used this PC for graphic design, music production and visual editing, all of which it handled with ease.

The lightning fast Samsung SSD’s are magic – one of them replaces the DVD drive chassis.

PRICING & DELIVERY

Price Purchased: £1,473.00

Selling Price: £795.00

UK ONLY DELIVERY – included in sale price. Available to post after 2nd Feb (travelling until then, sale can be agreed prior, although I may take extra time to reply)

FULL SPECS

Chassis & Display
Optimus Series: 17.3″ Matte Full HD LED Widescreen (1920×1080)
Processor (CPU)
Intel® Core™ i7 Quad Core Processor i7-4870HQ (3.7GHz Turbo, Iris™ Pro)
Memory (RAM)
16GB Kingston SODIMM DDR3 1600MHz (2 x 8GB)
Graphics Card
NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 960M – 2.0GB DDR5 Video RAM – DirectX® 12
1st Storage Drive
1TB Samsung 850 EVO 2.5″ SSD, SATA 6Gb/s (upto 540MB/sR | 520MB/sW)
2nd Storage Drive
500GB Samsung 850 EVO 2.5″ SSD, SATA 6Gb/s (upto 540MB/sR | 520MB/sW)
DVD/BLU-RAY Drive
2nd/3rd HDD HARD DRIVE OPTICAL BAY CADDY (9.5mm)
Memory Card Reader
Integrated 6 in 1 Card Reader (SD /Mini SD/ SDHC / SDXC / MMC / RSMMC)
Power Cable
1 x UK Power Lead & 120W AC Adaptor
Battery
Optimus Series 6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery (62.16WH)
Thermal Paste
ARCTIC MX-4 EXTREME THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY COMPOUND
Sound Card
Intel 2 Channel High Def. Audio + SoundBlaster™ Cinema 2
Wireless/Wired Networking
GIGABIT LAN & WIRELESS INTEL® AC-7265 M.2 (867Mbps, 802.11AC) + BLUETOOTH
USB/Thunderbolt Options
4 x USB 3.0 PORTS AS STANDARD
Keyboard Language
OPTIMUS SERIES BACKLIT UK KEYBOARD WITH NUMBER PAD
Operating System
Genuine Windows 8.1 64 Bit – inc DVD & Licence (Upgraded to Windows 10 Home, as below)
Windows 10 Upgrade

FREE Upgrade to Windows 10 with all Windows 7 & Windows 8.1 Purchases*
Mouse
INTEGRATED 2 BUTTON TOUCHPAD MOUSE
Webcam
INTEGRATED 2.0 MP FULL HD WEBCAM

IMAGES

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New action to disrupt world’s largest online criminal network – Microsoft on the Issues

Today, Microsoft and partners across 35 countries took coordinated legal and technical steps to disrupt one of the world’s most prolific botnets, called Necurs, which has infected more than nine million computers globally. This disruption is the result of eight years of tracking and planning and will help ensure the criminals behind this network are no longer able to use key elements of its infrastructure to execute cyberattacks.

A botnet is a network of computers that a cybercriminal has infected with malicious software, or malware. Once infected, criminals can control those computers remotely and use them to commit crimes. Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit, BitSight and others in the security community first observed the Necurs botnet in 2012 and have seen it distribute several forms of malware, including the GameOver Zeus banking trojan.

The Necurs botnet is one of the largest networks in the spam email threat ecosystem, with victims in nearly every country in the world. During a 58-day period in our investigation, for example, we observed that one Necurs-infected computer sent a total of 3.8 million spam emails to over 40.6 million potential victims.

Necurs is believed to be operated by criminals based in Russia and has also been used for a wide range of crimes including pump-and-dump stock scams, fake pharmaceutical spam email and “Russian dating” scams. It has also been used to attack other computers on the internet, steal credentials for online accounts, and steal people’s personal information and confidential data. Interestingly, it seems the criminals behind Necurs sell or rent access to the infected computer devices to other cybercriminals as part of a botnet-for-hire service. Necurs is also known for distributing financially targeted malware and ransomware, cryptomining, and even has a DDoS (distributed denial of service) capability that has not yet been activated but could be at any moment.

On Thursday, March 5, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued an order enabling Microsoft to take control of U.S.-based infrastructure Necurs uses to distribute malware and infect victim computers. With this legal action and through a collaborative effort involving public-private partnerships around the globe, Microsoft is leading activities that will prevent the criminals behind Necurs from registering new domains to execute attacks in the future.

This was accomplished by analyzing a technique used by Necurs to systematically generate new domains through an algorithm. We were then able to accurately predict over six million unique domains that would be created in the next 25 months. Microsoft reported these domains to their respective registries in countries around the world so the websites can be blocked and thus prevented from becoming part of the Necurs infrastructure. By taking control of existing websites and inhibiting the ability to register new ones, we have significantly disrupted the botnet.

Microsoft is also taking the additional step of partnering with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and others around the world to rid their customers’ computers of malware associated with the Necurs botnet. This remediation effort is global in scale and involves collaboration with partners in industry, government and law enforcement via the Microsoft Cyber Threat Intelligence Program (CTIP). Through CTIP, Microsoft provides law enforcement, government Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), ISPs and government agencies responsible for the enforcement of cyber laws and the protection of critical infrastructure with better insights into criminal cyber infrastructure located within their jurisdiction, as well as a view of compromised computers and victims impacted by such criminal infrastructure.

For this disruption, we are working with ISPs, domain registries, government CERTs and law enforcement in Mexico, Colombia, Taiwan, India, Japan, France, Spain, Poland and Romania, among others. Each of us has a critical role to play in protecting customers and keeping the internet safe.

To make sure your computer is free of malware, visit support.microsoft.com/botnets.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Compare capabilities of Office 365 MDM vs. Intune

Microsoft offers two ways to handle mobile device management: MDM for Office 365 and Microsoft Intune.

The enterprise mobility industry has changed significantly in the past few years. Mobile device management (MDM) platforms such as MDM for Office 365 was once enough for most organizations. As devices such as iPads, wearables and IoT devices became prevalent in the enterprise, however, many organizations needed advanced management capabilities and a unified console. Unified endpoint management (UEM) products such as Intune entered the market, which provided a way for IT admins to manage a range of different devices under a single console.

MDM still has use cases today, however. MDM for Office 365 provides a limited feature set, but it is included in the price of many Office 365 subscriptions. This built-in tool offers organizations an integrated, inexpensive way to manage mobile devices. Microsoft Intune, on the other hand, provides a rich feature set and comes with additional costs.

MDM for Office 365 capabilities

MDM for Office 365 provides a lightweight version of MDM that does not include mobile application management (MAM). It provides organizations with MDM policies and settings that will help to control access to Office 365 data for supported mobile devices and apps. For stolen or lost devices, it offers the ability to remotely wipe the device to remove corporate data.

Supported platforms

MDM for Office 365 provides support for the following platforms:

  • iOS 10.0 or later
  • Android 4.4 or later
  • Windows 8.1 (limited to Exchange ActiveSync functionality)
  • Windows 10 (requires the device to be Azure Active Directory joined)

Supported access control scenarios

MDM for Office 365 provides a few scenarios that will prompt the user to enroll their device. When the user’s device doesn’t comply with the policy, the user might be blocked from accessing Office 365 data, depending on the policy configuration.

These are the following scenarios:

  • Access to Exchange by using the built-in mail app on iOS 10 or later
  • Access to Exchange by using the built-in mail app on Android 4.4 or later
  • Access to Office and OneDrive for Business by using the Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel or PowerPoint app on iOS 10 or later
  • Access to Office and OneDrive for Business by using the Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint or the Office Mobile (phones only) app on Android 4.4 or later

People who are using mobile browsers to access Office 365 data will not be prompted to enroll their devices and will not be blocked.

Supported policy settings

With MDM for Office 365, IT can enable certain settings as requirements to access Office 365 data. IT can use these settings in the supported access control scenarios to block users from accessing Office 365 data. These settings are divided into the following categories:

  • Security – Require password settings
  • Encryption – Require encryption settings
  • Jailbroken – Require non-jailbroken devices
  • Managed email profile – Require managed email profile

MDM for Office 365 also provides a limited set of policies that IT can use to configure settings on the user’s device, such as policies to prevent data loss on devices, access public clouds, make screen captures and access the store.

Microsoft Intune capabilities

Microsoft Intune is a UEM platform that provides MDM and MAM functionality and comes with additional costs, as it’s not part of the different Office 365 subscriptions. It requires an organization to have licenses that include the rights for using Microsoft Intune. These licenses include Microsoft Intune standalone, the Enterprise Mobility + Security and the Microsoft 365 subscriptions.

Microsoft Intune helps organizations to provide MDM and MAM policies and settings that will help with controlling access to corporate data. This includes not just data in Office 365, but nearly all corporate data that is available from apps that are exposed via Azure Active Directory (AAD). For stolen or lost devices, Intune provides the ability to remotely wipe the device or app to remove corporate data. It provides organizations with a strong method to secure and manage mobile devices, apps and corporate data.

Supported platforms

Microsoft Intune provides support for the following platforms:

  • iOS and iPadOS 11.0 and later
  • Mac OS X 10.0.12 and later
  • Android 5.0 and later, including Android Enterprise
  • Windows 8.1, including Windows 8.1 RT
  • Windows 10, including Windows 10 Teams, Windows 10 IoT and Windows Holographic for Business

Supported access scenarios

Microsoft Intune supports many scenarios. The main difference of MDM for Office 365 vs Intune is that Intune is not limited to Office 365-related scenarios. For most organizations, the management boundaries must expand to include all apps and data that can be exposed via AAD and all apps on the devices that can use modern authentication. Intune integrates well within a Microsoft ecosystem, including Office 365.

Microsoft Intune can do more than just control access to corporate apps and data. IT can use Intune to verify compliance of devices, deploy applications, assign advanced configurations including Wi-Fi configuration, push certificates and VPN configurations, provide inventory information and more. And that’s only mentioning MDM scenarios. Besides that, it also provides MAM scenarios, including the ability to limit access to corporate apps and data and the ability to perform a selective wipe of only the app.

Supported policy settings

Microsoft Intune provides many policy settings and it’s nearly impossible to list all the possibilities. It provides the policy settings that are available with MDM for Office 365 and many more. These policy settings are categorized to provide functionality to address the supported access scenarios – for example, policies to verify access requirements, policies to verify compliance, policies to configure settings, policies to configure updates and the ability to deploy, configure and manage apps.

MDM for Office 365 vs. Microsoft Intune

The following table provides an overview of the main capabilities of MDM for Office 365 vs Microsoft Intune.


It should be clear that Microsoft Intune is the most logical choice from a security and management perspective. That doesn’t that mean there is no use case for MDM for Office 365. For smaller organizations, or organizations that only use Office 365, this could be enough. That does require strong agreements with the employees, however, as MDM for Office 365 only provides basic security for accessing Office 365 data.

MDM for Office 365 is a good starting point for any organization beginning to deploy MDM. To provide real security and management capabilities, however, any organization should eventually look at using Microsoft Intune when using more than just Office 365.

To support a migration path from MDM for Office 365 and Microsoft Intune, organizations can run both products alongside each other. When a user gets a Microsoft Intune license, the enrollment process will automatically prefer the Microsoft Intune enrollment above the MDM for Office 365 enrollment.

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Congratulations to our 2020 Imagine Cup EMEA Regional Final winners!

Ten student teams from across nine European, Middle Eastern, and African countries pitched their tech solutions at the 2020 Imagine Cup EMEA Regional Final this week. Each team brought a project ignited from their passion and developed with purpose, impact, and Microsoft Azure. The event concluded with the selection of the top two EMEA teams moving forward to this year’s World Championship at Microsoft Build – congratulations Team The Knights from Kenya and RedWalls from Tunisia for taking home the winning spots!  

 

The Imagine Cup aims to inspire students to use their imagination and passion for technology to create innovative and inclusive projects that tackle some of the world’s biggest social, environmental, and health challenges. Taking on this challenge, The Knights created an automated weeding bot to help farmers eliminate the need for herbicides in their crops, and Team RedWalls created a mobile application designed for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers to help evaluate and train the user’s memory. 

 

Out of hundreds of EMEA submissions, the ten regional finalist teams virtually showcased their innovations to a panel of judgesto compete for prizes totaling USD20,000, Azure credits, and two spots in the 2020 World Championship. With ideas encompassing solutions in education, wildlife conservation, cancer detection, emotional wellbeing, accessibility, and more, judges had a difficult task selecting which teams to advance. 

 

Congratulations to all our winners and thank you to everyone who participated in bringing your passion to life! We’d also like to give a special thank you to our competition judges for their expertise and time.  

 

Meet the winning teams: 

 

World Finalist – Team The Knights, Kenya 

The Knights created an automated robot using artificial intelligence to identify and remove weeds from rows of crops. Their solution uses cameras as sensors to gather input from the environment and eliminate farmers’ need to use environmentally harmful pesticides in their weeding. 

Prizes: USD8,000, Azure credits, a spot in the 2020 Imagine Cup World Championship   

 

World Finalist – Team RedWalls, Tunisia 

Team RedWalls created I-Remember, a two-part mobile application designed for the wellbeing of both Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. The patient interface includes task reminders, live facial recognition, labelled photos, emergency location and call assistance, as well as memory games to help evaluate and train the user’s memory. The caregiver interface provides the same, but with supervisor features. 

Prizes: USD8,000, Azure credits, a spot in the 2020 Imagine Cup World Championship   

 

Runner-up – Team Wild Eye, Kenya

The team’s project, Wild Eye_KE, brings technology to the wild by monitoring and tracking animal activities. Wild Eye_KE will notify authorities if animals move away from the wildlife protected areas in an effort to reduce poaching and human interaction.

Prizes: USD2,500 and Azure credits   

 

Runner-upTeam Allez, Ukraine

Allez supports personal development through sports experience. The team created a mobile app which collects athlete analytics and improves communication with the coach. The aim is to maximize the performance of an athlete and help coaches grow individuals mentally ready to fight obstacles. 

Prizes: USD2,500 and Azure credits   

 

Runner-up – Team Vhysio, United Kingdom

Vhysio is a web application utilizing tensorflow.js, a cutting-edge browser-based Machine Learning library, to enable accessible physiotherapy for the visually impaired. Vhysio provides real-time feedback by speaking through exercises and responding to the user’s posture.

Prizes: USD2,500 and Azure credits   

 

Follow the journeys of our winning teams on Instagram and Twitter as they prepare for the 2020 World Championship! They’ll be competing against Asia Regional winners, team Syrinx and team Hollo, and the winners of the upcoming Americas Regional Final.  

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VMware’s Kubernetes-based products ease container migration

VMware hopes a raft of new Kubernetes-based enhancements can position the company as the right choice for customers interested in container migration while they retain investments in vSphere.

The strategy centers on Tanzu, a product portfolio VMware introduced at the VMworld conference in August. A chief component is the Kubernetes Grid, a distribution of the container orchestration engine that sets up clusters in a consistent way across various public clouds and on-premises infrastructure.

Another product, Tanzu Mission Control, provides management tooling for Kubernetes clusters. VMware has also pushed its acquisition of Bitnami under the Tanzu header. Bitnami, which offers a catalog of pre-packaged software such as the MySQL database for quick deployment across multiple environments, is now called Tanzu Application Catalog.

Finally, VMware has rebranded Pivotal Application Service to Tanzu Application Service and changed its Wavefront monitoring software’s name to Tanzu Observability by Wavefront.

This flurry of product development and marketing around Kubernetes has a critical purpose for VMware.

“Kubernetes has practically stolen virtualization from VMware, so now it needs to upgrade the engine room, while keeping the promenade deck the same and hoping the passengers stay on board and do not jump ship,” said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research.

Kubernetes ecosystem
VMware hopes to be a big player in the Kubernetes ecosystem with its Tanzu portfolio.

A big part of this plan involves the new vSphere 7, which has been reworked to run both container and virtual machine workloads by embedding Tanzu Kubernetes Grid and other components. This vSphere option is initially available only through VMware Cloud Foundation 4, which is supported on AWS, Azure, Google, Oracle, Rackspace and IBM’s public cloud services, as well as through other VMware partners.

VMware also plans to release a separate, Kubernetes-less edition of vSphere 7 for customers who don’t want that functionality. Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, Application Catalog and Mission Control are available now, while Cloud Foundation 4 and vSphere 7 are slated for release before May 1.

Users gravitate towards containers

VMware’s announcements further confirm the industrywide trend of users moving away from their core virtualization platforms and more seriously exploring container migration. With VMware the longtime industry leader in virtualization, the announcements carry added weight.

“There is a transition happening in compute technology of what is being used to deliver the apps that is moving away from virtualization to containers — not that virtualization isn’t useful for other things,” said Gary Chen, IDC’s research director of software-defined compute. “VMware is trying to make that transition, and they appear to be pretty serious about it.”

VMware’s efforts around Kubernetes stem back a few years. It previously offered Pivotal Container Service as an add-on to its core platform, and acquired a batch of Kubernetes talent and related IP through its purchase of Heptio in 2018. Two of the three original authors of Kubernetes now work at VMware.

“At the end of the day, Kubernetes is still an orchestration tool for automating containers, but what if you are not in a developer group?” said Brian Kirsch, an IT architect and instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College. “What they are introducing here is for people writing their own software and moving toward containers, but will there be enough support on the back end for those not ready for Kubernetes or containers, or who may never need them? We support 45,000 students here, but we still buy our software and don’t write it.”

Many companies in large vertical markets, such as manufacturing and healthcare, are often slow to move to another DevOps environment once they have settled on a product. Traditionally, many applications in those markets aren’t updated often by the vendors and it can be a monumental task to pursue container migration, even for long-time vSphere users.

“Up until just a few years ago, some of the larger EHR apps were still in VB [Microsoft’s Visual Basic] for the front end,” Kirsch said. “It just takes time.”

While VMware executives tout that Cloud Foundation and vSphere products can work on competitors’ cloud platforms, Kirsch said he thinks the company is overplaying the importance of that capability.

“Writing an app once and have it run wherever you want is good for some, but I don’t know that many people who want to hop around that much,” Kirsch said. “My question is: How many times have you left your cloud provider unless it goes belly up? A lot of work is involved with this and no matter how transparent it is, it’s almost never like just flipping a switch,” he said.

Controlling the control plane

Some analysts see the VMware announcements around container migration as counterpunching the competitive efforts of IBM-Red Hat and others to gain a firm grasp of the management software piece of both the cloud and on-premises applications.

“If Red Hat succeeded in commoditizing the enterprise OS space, making RHEL and Windows Server the two de facto standards, then the next layer to be commoditized is the control plane, which I still believe to be the PaaS layer,” said Geoff Woollacott, senior strategy consultant and principal analyst at Technology Business Review. “Right now, the main rivals for that are VMware with this announcement, Azure and OpenShift.”

The U.S. Air Force is in the midst of evaluating multiple Kubernetes distributions and management tools, including Red Hat OpenShift, Rancher and a beta version of Tanzu Kubernetes Grid. The various IT teams within the military branch can use whichever Kubernetes platform they choose. For the Air Force’s purposes, the latest Red Hat OpenShift versions will beat VMware to the punch in disconnected and Kubernetes edge environments, along with real-time operating system support that the Air Force will use in F16 fighter jets. The Air Force will also wait until all of VMware’s Tanzu product line becomes generally available before it commits to using it, and carefully watch how VMware brings together its new business units and their products.

“VMware is checking all the boxes, but details matter,” said Nicolas Chaillan, the Air Force’s chief software officer, and co-lead for the Enterprise DevSecOps Initiative in the office of the Department of Defense CIO. “With mergers, there are always people leaving, conflicts, and you never know what’s going to happen.”

However, VMware retains its lead in server virtualization, and the Kubernetes IP and expertise the company has assembled with its Heptio acquisition and Pivotal merger can’t be overlooked, Chaillan added.

The vSphere piece, and the ability to tie that back to Kubernetes, is very interesting, and that alone could win the market.
Nicolas ChaillanChief software officer, Air Force

“The vSphere piece, and the ability to tie that back to Kubernetes, is very interesting, and that alone could win the market,” he said. “A lot of companies in finance and healthcare still need a virtualization stack on premises, and otherwise would have to use Google Anthos, Azure Stack or Amazon Outposts — or they could go through vSphere, and have a single company that brings [them] the whole thing.”

Redesigning the crown jewels

VSphere 7.0, formerly called Project Pacific, has been significantly redesigned, according to Krishna Prasad, vice president and general manager of VMware’s Cloud Platform Business. A large part of that redesigning was to tightly integrate Kubernetes into vSphere. One advantage of this for corporate users is when they stand up a cluster based on the company’s ESX Server virtualization layer, those become Kubernetes clusters along with the company’s vCenter control plane, Prasad said.

“When we started rearchitecting, it wasn’t driven by the need to accommodate Kubernetes workloads — that was just one of the driving factors,” Prasad said. “We realized it [Kubernetes] was a foundational piece we could bring into vSphere at the platform level that would enhance the platform itself. It would make the platform more modern like Kubernetes itself.”

Another important consideration for the redesign was a direct response to what the company’s core customers were asking for: to be able to deliver their infrastructure to their developers through a cloud consumption model.

“They want and we want to deliver infrastructure completely as code,” Prasad said.

To this end, VMware also unveiled an improved version of NSX-T that now offers full-stack networking and security services that connect and protect both VMs and containers.

“With the enhancements to NSX-T, as you deploy Kubernetes workloads it automates everything right through to the Kubernetes UI,” Prasad said. “This is about writing infrastructure as code and automating the whole deployment instead of bringing in your own components. We think it is a critical part of delivering Kubernetes with full automation.”

Senior News Writer Beth Pariseau contributed to this report.

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IoT Signals energy report: Embracing transparent, affordable, and sustainable energy

The increased use of renewables, resiliency challenges, and sustainability concerns are all disrupting the energy industry today. New technologies are accelerating the way we source, store, and distribute energy. With IoT, we can gain new insights about the physical world that enables us to optimize and create more efficient processes, reduce energy waste, and track specific consumption. This is a great opportunity for IoT to support power and utilities (P&U) companies across grid assets, electric vehicles, energy optimization, load balancing, and emissions monitoring.

We’ve recently published a new IoT Signals report focused on the P&U industry. The report provides an industry pulse on the state of IoT adoption to help inform us how to better serve our partners and customers, as well as help energy companies develop their own IoT strategies. We surveyed global decision-makers in P&U organizations to deliver an industry-level view of the IoT ecosystem, including adoption rates, related technology trends, challenges, and benefits of IoT.

The study found that while IoT is almost universally adopted in P&U, it comes with complexity. Companies are commonly deploying IoT to improve the efficiency of operations and employee productivity, but can be challenged by skills and knowledge shortages, privacy and security concerns, and timing and deployment issues. To summarize the findings:

Top priorities and use cases for IoT in power and utilities

  1. Optimizing processes through automation is critical for P&U IoT use. Top IoT uses cases in P&U include automation-heavy processes such as smart grid automation, energy optimization and load balancing, smart metering, and predictive load forecasting. In support of this, artificial intelligence (AI) is often a component of energy IoT solutions, and they are often budgeted together. Almost all adopters have either already integrated AI into an IoT solution or are considering integration.
  2. Using IoT to improve both data security and employee safety is a top priority. Almost half of decision-makers we talked to use IoT to make their IT practices more secure. Another third are implementing IoT to make their workplaces safer, as well as improve the safety of their employees.
  3. P&U companies also leverage IoT to secure their physical assets. Many P&U companies use IoT to secure various aspects of their operations through equipment management and infrastructure maintenance.
  4. The future is bright with IoT adoption continuing to focus on automation, with growth in adoption for use cases related to optimizing energy and creating more efficient maintenance systems.

Decision-makers cite cost savings and reducing human error as the greatest benefits to IoT adoption; 63 percent and 57 percent respectively say these are the most valuable ways they use IoT in their businesses

Today, customers around the world are telling us they are heavily investing in four common use cases for IoT in the energy sector:

Grid asset maintenance

Visualize your grid’s topology, gather data from grid assets, and define rules to trigger alerts. Use these insights to predict maintenance and provide more safety oversight. Prevent failures and avoid critical downtime by monitoring the performance and condition of your equipment.

Energy optimization and load balancing

Balance energy supply and demand to alleviate pressure on the grid and prevent serious power outages. Avoid costly infrastructure upgrades and gain flexibility by using distributed energy resources to drive energy optimization.

Emissions monitoring and reduction

Monitor emissions in near real-time and make your emissions data more readily available. Work towards sustainability targets and clean energy adoption by enabling greenhouse gas and carbon accounting and reporting.

E-mobility

Remotely maintain and service electric vehicle (EV) charging points that support various charging speeds and vehicle types. Make it easier to own and operate electric vehicles by incentivizing ownership and creating new visibility into energy usage.

Learn more about IoT for energy

Read about the real world customers doing incredible things with IoT for energy where you can learn about market leaders like Schneider Electric making remote asset management easier using predictive analytics.

“Traditionally, machine learning is something that has only run in the cloud … Now, we have the flexibility to run it in the cloud or at the edge—wherever we need it to be.” Matt Boujonnier, Analytics Application Architect, Schneider Electric.

Read the blog where we announced Microsoft will be carbon negative by 2030 and discussed our partner Vattenfall delivering a new, highly transparent 24/7 energy matching solution; a first-of-its-kind approach that gives customers the ability to choose the green energy they want and ensure their consumption matches that goal using Azure IoT.

We are committed to helping P&U customers bring their vision to life with IoT, and this starts with simplifying and securing IoT. Our customers are embracing IoT as a core strategy to drive better outcomes for energy providers, energy users, and the planet. We are heavily investing in this space, committing $5 billion in IoT and intelligent edge innovation by 2022, and growing our IoT and intelligent edge partner ecosystem.
 
When IoT is foundational to a transformation strategy, it can have a significantly positive impact on the bottom line, customer experiences, and products. We are invested in helping our partners, customers, and the broader industry to take the necessary steps to address barriers to success. Read the full IoT Signals energy report and learn how we’re helping power and utilities companies embrace the future and unlock new opportunities with IoT.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Android 11 features zero in on security, privacy

New Android 11 features will likely not represent a major shift for the enterprise, but industry observers believe they will help IT professionals better manage mobile devices.

Google released the first developer preview of the updated OS last month, with a final release expected in the third quarter of 2020. Among the changes are a few items — including improved biometric support and limited-time permissions for applications — that experts said would affect businesses.

Eric Klein, an independent analyst, said the improvements reflect Google’s larger efforts to appeal to enterprise customers.

Eric KleinEric Klein

“The way in which they’re approaching their overall strategy as an organization — from Chrome to the cloud and G Suite [productivity applications] — they’re continuing to refine their assets for business use,” he said.

A focus on privacy and security

Android 11, per the preview, includes changes intended to bolster privacy and security. One feature offers users greater control over what applications can do; it lets users — or IT administrators — give apps one-time-only permissions to access such things as location data or a phone’s camera and microphone.

According to Google, this builds on an Android 10 feature, in which users could permit an application to access such data and features, but only while the app was in use.

Andrew HewittAndrew Hewitt

Forrester analyst Andrew Hewitt said the granular data control offered by this feature is in line with modern enterprise security.

“[It] is more philosophically aligned [than before] with a zero-trust strategy — where a user only has access to what they need, and nothing more,” he said.

Klein said the feature will work as part of an overall device management strategy to help prevent bad actors from taking user data.

“There are many ways enterprises are protecting themselves that are well-known, basic security hygiene: restricting application usage, blacklisting apps — things of that nature,” he said, adding that controlling app permissions is a further step along that journey.

Android 11 will also reportedly include greater biometric support, notably by making it easier to integrate biometric authentication into apps and allowing developers to determine which biometric inputs — like fingerprints, iris scans and face scans — they consider strong or weak.

Hewitt said such a feature will interest IT professionals as they look to eliminate passwords — a frequent pain point in ensuring enterprise security.

“While passwordless authentication still remains immature in adoption, it’s certainly on the minds of many mobility management professionals,” he said.

Other effects on the enterprise

While security improvements are an integral part of Android 11, they are not the only ones set to have an impact on companies.

Holger MuellerHolger Mueller

Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said he saw changes like improved 5G support — including a feature that determines whether a device is on a metered or unmetered network and adjusts data traffic accordingly — as new and necessary steps for Android.

The implementation of new messaging and chat “bubbles” — notifications that float on top of other applications and thus enable text conversations while multi-tasking — was taken as a heartening sign for productivity.

“[It’s] good to see Google not giving up on messaging,” he said. “The new messaging will likely improve [the] everyday user experience on Android.”

Hewitt said that with Android 11, Google has implemented new processes and options to ensure OS updates do not break app compatibility. Google announced methods, for example, to help developers test for compatibility by turning changes on or off — making it easier to determine which new OS behavior might pose problems.

“[Compatibility] has been a perennial issue in enterprise mobility,” Hewitt said.

Competing with iOS

Klein said the improvements in Android 11 — especially those related to privacy and security — reflect Google’s desire to compete for the enterprise. He noted Android’s reputation for security has long lagged behind that of iOS.

“There’s a perception that it’s just not secure — that hasn’t gone away yet,” he said. “Many [administrators] will say, ‘I’m not trusting an Android device. I’m not trusting my employees with Android devices.’ That perception is still there, and it’s something Google has to overcome. I think they are overcoming it.”

Google, Klein said, has historically faced criticism for the cadence of its security patches and its reliance on partners to push out those patches. The company has been working to improve that process, he said.

“In order to [compete] effectively — to ensure that peace of mind IT requires for mass rollouts — they’re going to have to … show they’re serious about security and privacy,” he said.

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Chang takes leave from Cisco collaboration unit amid reorganization

Amy Chang, a top Cisco executive who has led the company’s collaboration division for nearly two years, has taken a leave of absence for an unspecified period.

Chang’s time off comes amid a restructuring within Cisco. David Goeckeler, general manager of Cisco’s networking and security group, resigned to become CEO of Western Digital. The company took Goeckeler’s departure apparently as an opportunity to reorganize into five new product groups.

Under the reorganization, the head of Cisco’s collaboration business will no longer report to the CEO. Instead, that person will answer to the leader of the new security and applications group. Cisco said it planned to appoint an executive to oversee the new group in the future.

Sri Srinivasan, general manager of the Webex suite, will run the collaboration division until Chang returns, the company said in a statement. Srinivasan joined Cisco in early 2018 after spending more than 12 years at Microsoft.

“After an impressive 15 years of great achievements at an incredibly fast pace, Amy has decided to take a well-earned breath,” Cisco said. “She is going to recharge her batteries, while also prioritizing time with her 12-year-old son, and [CEO Chuck Robbins] and Cisco as a whole applaud her for this.”

The reorganization comes at a critical time for Cisco’s collaboration division, which generated something close to $5.8 billion in revenue last fiscal year. The vendor has an opportunity to capitalize on a surge in teleconferencing and remote work amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Chang’s leave of absence also follows a disappointing financial quarter for her unit — the first under her leadership. Revenue for the product category that includes collaboration was down 8% year over year in the three months ended Jan. 25.

Cisco is battling for enterprise customers with Microsoft, which has attracted more than 20 million daily active users to the Office 365 collaboration app Microsoft Teams. The vendor’s Webex business is also taking heat from video conferencing upstart Zoom.

Chang replaced Rowan Trollope as the leader of Cisco’s collaboration business in May 2018 after the vendor acquired her startup, Accompany. Chang previously held a seat on Cisco’s board of directors but resigned to become an employee.

Chang spearheaded significant changes to Cisco’s portfolio. She led an effort to align the features and interfaces of premise-based Jabber and cloud-based Webex Teams. Chang also sought to differentiate Cisco’s products based on a set of AI features marketed as “cognitive collaboration.”

“I am surprised by the changes,” said Dave Michels, principal analyst at TalkingPointz. “Cisco just hosted a highly successful and engaging analyst event last month. The Cisco collaboration leadership team seemed well-aligned, and Chang seemed enthused and engaged.”

Srinivasan is a good pick to lead the division in Chang’s absence, Michels said. Srinivasan spearheaded significant improvements to Webex during his tenure. He will now also oversee Cisco’s telephony and contact center businesses.

Srinivasan has been Chang’s “right-hand man,” said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research. His promotion suggests the company’s strategy will not change dramatically, at least for now.

“Should Amy not return, or be replaced by someone outside the organization, then I’d expect there to be change,” Lazar said.

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