Category Archives: Microsoft Blog

Microsoft Blog

Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 available today – Microsoft Devices Blog

Today, we’re excited to launch the all new Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 in markets around the world. We’ve seen great momentum already for these products and I can’t wait for our fans to experience them.
When we started on this journey with Surface, we gave people the ability to choose a device that would adapt to their lives and help them accomplish more. As the way we work and live has changed around the world Surface and Microsoft have also evolved. We’ve grown to deliver a full, integrated portfolio of products to help you do more, dream more and achieve more.
We’re a team of passionate product makers, putting our hearts into creating devices, software, apps and features to push you forward. Helping to maximize the ingenuity of our customers, so they can do and create amazing things.
We’re inspired by the artists, scientists, engineers and poets that help to shape our future. Their passion drives us and ultimately leads us to craft the next generation of devices.
Our products, a symphony of technology between Windows, Surface, Office and AI, are designed to amplify your ideas, get you into your flow and let you build what’s in your mind and heart. Like an instrument, our products, our technology fades to the background so you can focus on your craft.
But what does that mean and how does it help you?
When someone asks me that, asks why we would want beautiful devices to fade into the background, I tell them about my daughter Sophia and her piano. How when she plays there is a moment – a moment when she forgets the piano, the pedals under her feet, the bench she sits on, the sheets in front of her – and in this moment of inspiration, of greatness, she’s in her flow. It’s just her and the music. In order for that moment to happen, for her to forget about everything else, the piano must be perfectly tuned, the bench the right height, the music sheets at eye level.
For our customers, Surface, Windows, Office, and the experience they create together is the instrument. An instrument we’ve tuned perfectly to fade to the background, so you don’t have to think about all the little things, you can just get in your flow and capture those moments of greatness, of focus, of inspiration, to make the most of your time.

Get in your flow anytime, anywhere with Surface Pro 6
The first Quad-Core Processor in a Surface Pro comes to life on Surface Pro 6 – an instrument of versatility, portability and power, coming in a gorgeous, all new matte black finish.
We wanted this product to be the device you can bring with you anywhere since you never know when or where your moments of inspiration will strike.
While the refined exterior may look familiar, this is a new generation of Surface Pro, we’ve redesigned the architecture inside the device to deliver astounding power with the 8th Generation Quad-Core Intel Processor, all while still offering up to 13.5 hours of battery life.
Providing what you need to transition between work life, home life and everything in between no matter where you are. Built with Windows and Office it can handle the powerful desktop apps you need, without compromising the thin and light form factor you love.
Surface Laptop 2 – beauty and power to make the most of your ideas
The blend of beauty and incredible performance on Surface Laptop 2 keeps everything you love about the first-generation form factor with so much more built in to keep you productive and inspired.
With an all new 8th generation Quad-Core processor, Surface Laptop 2 is 85 percent more powerful than Surface Laptop.
Even with all that power Surface Laptop 2 has an incredible 14.5 hours of all-day battery life, incredible display quality, beautiful design and easy portability. The Alcantara® material covering the keyboard draws you in, a perfect tone-on-tone balance with the gorgeous colors. Every detail on this product has been thought through, from the depth of the new matte black finish to the redesign of the thermal system to keep the quiet elegance of the device.
Matte black isn’t the only new finish highlighting the incredible design of Surface Laptop 2. On Monday in Beijing, we also introduced an all new blush finish as an exclusive for the Chinese market.

You bring our products to life
Nothing inspires the team more than seeing the amazing things our customers do with our products. Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 are available in markets around the world today, and I truly believe that when you have your hands on them, when you experience them for yourself, you will understand what it means to have technology fade to the background, so you can focus on what’s important to you and save time for what really matters.
Availability details:
Available today in Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and United States.

Updated October 16, 2018 6:36 am

Workplace by Facebook app adds multicompany chat

Playing catch-up with rivals Microsoft and Slack, Facebook unveiled this week a series of updates to its nascent communication and collaboration platform for businesses.

The Workplace by Facebook app now lets businesses instant message and video conference with partners or customers through Workplace Chat. The feature avoids the need for businesses to create guest accounts when working with external collaborators (as long as those other parties also use Workplace).

Previously, Workplace only supported multi-company communication through membership in shared groups, which work similarly to groups in consumer Facebook. The multicompany chat feature brings the business platform more on par with enterprise messaging software from Slack, Microsoft and Cisco.

Facebook also added a “do not disturb” setting to Workplace Chat (another common feature) and will let users pin important chat threads to the top of their feeds. Another update gives users the ability to create sub-threads by replying to specific messages within Workplace Chat.

“The central theme I see Facebook focusing on is employee experience,” said Alan Lepofsky, analyst at Constellation Research, based in Cupertino, Calif. “They are adding features that allow employees to connect and build relationships with both their colleagues, as well as external customers and partners.”

Launched in 2016, the Workplace by Facebook app has a similar interface to consumer Facebook but is a separate platform with no digital links to the people and pages that exist on the consumer site. Businesses that have begun using Workplace have said they were attracted to it because they knew employees would be familiar with how to use it.

Facebook has attempted to position Workplace as a collaboration app similar to Slack or Microsoft Teams. So far, however, it appears that many businesses are using Workplace more like an intranet website than as a collaboration tool. Facebook is also trying to cater to those types of customers, though, announcing this week better controls for promoting important announcements in the news feed.

Workplace has attracted more than 30,000 organizations worldwide over the past two years, including big brands such as Walmart and Starbucks. However, the user number may be padded by nonprofits, which get to use the platform for free.

“As vendors fight for market share, I’m quite impressed by the number of large-scale deployments Workplace is reporting,” Lepofsky said. (Workplace still trails Microsoft Teams, which is used by 329,000 organizations, and Slack, which is used by 500,000 organizations.)

Safety check comes to Workplace by Facebook app

Safety check is the latest feature of the consumer platform that Facebook is revamping and customizing for the Workplace by Facebook app. Businesses will get access to the tool — launched on the consumer side in 2014 — early next year.

Safety check will help businesses communicate with their employees during emergencies. The feature lets employees mark themselves as “safe” — or request assistance — during, for example, a hurricane or a fire in the office.

Administrators will be able to send notifications to employees through the Workplace news feed, as well as through a bot in Workplace Chat. The tool automatically generates a spreadsheet of those employees to track who has or has not responded.  

The feature is unique in the enterprise collaboration market, but it remains to be seen whether it adds enough value to the platform to attract more customers. Facebook will also need to continue adding integrations with third-party business apps if it wants businesses to use it for more than just community-building.

“Facebook has created an easy-to-use, easily accessible collaboration platform for businesses,” said Wayne Kurtzman, analyst at IDC. “Using the familiar Facebook look and feel make it different and more intuitive than Slack or Microsoft Teams, but the latter have more integrations available, which would add to productivity.”

For Sale – NUC 5i5RYH – I5, 16gb ram, 64gb SSD

Selling my Intel NUC 5i5RYH. Been used for general light browsing and movies. Will come with 16gb sodimm ram already installed and a 64gb sandisk ssd. Drive will be fully formatted so NO OS WILL BE INSTALLED.

Unit itself is in good condition with no visible cosmetic marks on the sides – the lid has swirl marks from cleaning but thats it.

I might have the original box but please assume a suitable box will be used for sending if I cant find the original.

systemInfo.png IMG_20180902_113232.jpg

Price and currency: 250
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank Transfer
Location: Birmingham
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

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By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

Microsoft mourns the passing of co-founder Paul Allen – The Official Microsoft Blog

Microsoft is mourning the passing of Paul Allen, a renowned philanthropist and business leader who co-founded the company more than four decades ago. He was 65.

Allen died Monday from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to a statement from Vulcan Inc. on behalf of the Allen family, Vulcan Inc. and the Paul G. Allen Network.

In a written statement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted Allen’s huge impact on technology and much more:

“Paul Allen’s contributions to our company, our industry and to our community are indispensable. As co-founder of Microsoft, in his own quiet and persistent way, he created magical products, experiences and institutions, and in doing so, he changed the world. I have learned so much from him – his inquisitiveness, curiosity and push for high standards are something that will continue to inspire me and all of us at Microsoft.

“Our hearts are with Paul’s family and loved ones. Rest in peace.”

An archival photo of Allen can be downloaded here.

U.S. weapon systems cybersecurity failing, GAO report says

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a new report detailing military weapon systems cybersecurity and the news is not good.

Congress ordered the GAO to test military weapon systems cybersecurity and submit a report before the Department of Defense (DoD) began acting on its $1.66 trillion plan to develop its new weapons systems. GAO reported that although the DoD “routinely found mission-critical cyber vulnerabilities in systems that were under development,” some defense program officials the GAO met with believed systems were secure and “discounted some test results as unrealistic.”

“Using relatively simple tools and techniques, testers were able to take control of systems and largely operate undetected, due in part to basic issues such as poor password management and unencrypted communications,” GAO wrote in its report. “In addition, vulnerabilities that DoD is aware of likely represent a fraction of total vulnerabilities due to testing limitations. For example, not all programs have been tested and tests do not reflect the full range of threats.”

The GAO report — titled “Weapon Systems Cybersecurity: DoD Just Beginning to Grapple with Scale of Vulnerabilities” — detailed numerous issues, including system administrators not given enough time to test security or patch systems and systems still using the default admin password. In addition, the report cited a lack of procedures for reviewing system logs and intrusion detection systems that would either send so many alerts that operators began to ignore them or alerts would be generated properly but never sent to operators.

GAO noted that all of these weapon systems cybersecurity issues in existing systems could negatively impact any new systems developed by the DoD.

“Due to this lack of focus on weapon systems cybersecurity, DoD likely has an entire generation of systems that were designed and built without adequately considering cybersecurity. Bolting on cybersecurity late in the development cycle or after a system has been deployed is more difficult and costly than designing it in from the beginning,” GAO wrote. “Not only is the security of those systems and their missions at risk, the older systems may put newer systems in jeopardy. Specifically, if DoD is able to make its newer systems more secure, but connects them to older systems, this puts the newer systems at risk.”

During testing, the GAO red team apparently took advantage of how easy it was to crack DoD weapons systems.

“In one case, the test team took control of the operators’ terminals. They could see, in real-time, what the operators were seeing on their screens and could manipulate the system. They were able to disrupt the system and observe how the operators responded,” GAO wrote. “Another test team reported that they caused a pop-up message to appear on users’ terminals instructing them to insert two quarters to continue operating. Multiple test teams reported that they were able to copy, change, or delete system data including one team that downloaded 100 gigabytes, approximately 142 compact discs, of data.”

Expert reactions

Experts such as Edgard Capdevielle, CEO of industrial cybersecurity vendor Nozomi Networks, were disturbed by the ease with which GAO testers were able to hack DoD weapons systems.

“The recent report from the government watchdog shows that attackers could have exploited these weaknesses quite easily — and wouldn’t have needed sophisticated tools to do so. This is a reality that we’re seeing more and more of — that attackers nowadays no longer need the resources or skill of a nation-state in order to pull off a successful attack,” Capdevielle wrote via email. “The current threat landscape is quickly expanding as attackers with various levels of sophistication are more easily finding the tools and tactics needed to be successful and government organizations need to sit up and take action.”

Mike Riemer, chief security architect at Pulse Secure, said the military has a more complicated challenge with weapon systems cybersecurity because it has the “added wrinkle of protecting access to assets on the battlefield.”

“We see similar issues in other industries, such as utilities and transportation, which are also critical to our nation and now vulnerable as the internet of things becomes pervasive. But unlike commercial network environments, military systems operate in fluid environments where security must protect the weapons system, but also adapt to changing groups, roles, geography, command relationships and other access determinants,” Riemer wrote via email. “That goes beyond commercial multifactor authentication, requiring additional authentication and protected connection mechanisms where testing the management and scale of conditional access policy under a zero-trust model is required.”

Pravin Kothari, CEO of CipherCloud, noted that the military setting of these systems may actually mean basic cybersecurity is better in some ways compared to enterprise settings.

“Many of these weapons systems are absolutely not online to external networks. This is intentional. Many of these specialized weapons systems do not use a standard TCP/IP protocol, but instead may use proprietary, highly specialized network communications protocols and encryption techniques specifically designed for that weapons system program,” Kothari wrote via email. “And the most important to your health — if you do try to get in close proximity to a classified weapons system, it won’t be more than a few seconds before a highly motivated marine interrupts your activities. Let’s get real here. If there were real actionable deficiencies to classified weapons systems, they’re getting worked on furiously right now. Rest assured the vulnerabilities would not be detailed as a how-to manual for hostile nation-states in a GAO non-classified report.”

Experts also said that although the findings of the GAO report painted a bad picture of weapon systems cybersecurity, there is reason to be optimistic simply because this report was created.

Bob Taylor, former principal deputy general counsel for the DoD and current senior counsel at Hogan Lovells, based in Washington, D.C., said it was “heartening to see such a frank and brutal assessment of shortcomings because being aware of and facing those shortcomings create the conditions necessary for their correction.”

“Fixing the problems revealed in the report will require personnel up and down the chain of command to be aware of the current failings, and to be committed, really committed, to addressing them,” Taylor wrote via email. “It is, first and foremost, a matter of leadership and commitment.”

Jason Haward-Grau, CISO at PAS in Houston, agreed that it was good news that “these issues have been identified now, so they can be addressed.”

“Knowing where you are and where your vulnerabilities lie is the first step to being able to address it. Cybersecurity is now very much front and center in most organizations and the concepts of getting and keeping your house in order are gaining traction,” Haward-Grau wrote via email. “It is also now recognized that the exploitation of any system will happen and there is a significant focus on ensuring that when it happens the detection is fast, the response is effective, and ultimately, the risk to operations is minimized. This is even more critical in an industry where kinetic weapon platforms are in play.”

However, not all experts were so optimistic. Sherban Naum, senior vice president of corporate strategy and technology at Bromium, noted that a DoD weapon systems cybersecurity vulnerability being exposed “is so much costlier than at the enterprise level.”

“We can replace credit card records or restore customer loyalty. We can’t undo a rival nation-state potentially roaming undetected inside weapons systems because there were insufficient security investments in modular, run-time security,” Naum wrote via email. “It’s time for the federal government to make cybersecurity a national priority, and ensure it is treated as such during the development of systems outlined in the GAO report.”

For Sale – Or Trade – 27″ iMac (Late 2012 Boxed) & HTPC

I am selling both my 27″ iMac (Late 2012) and HTPC the specs are:

27″ iMac

27″ Screen
Intel Core i5 3.2GHZ

The original keyboard and mouse are included and in excellent condition, the iMac has barely been used over the years as I would always end up using my MacBook air out of convenience.

The original box is in great condition and I have included an external blu-ray drive as well.



Windows 10 Pro
Intel Core i3-4160 – 3.6GHZ
Slim line DVD drive
TBS 6281 TV Dual Tuner Card
Silverstone Case
Microsoft Xbox controller
Logitech Keyboard and touchpad
Pulse Eight USB – CEC adaptor (control the media software with your tv remote)
TP Link AC1200 Wifi Adaptor

I have reset windows to remove all my files etc, I used this as our main media centre for the past 3 years flawlessly. I used Kodi as the main software which booted automatically, and mediaportal as the freeview client which worked perfectly. These will need to be reinstalled but are all free and there is a great Kodi / Mediaportal guide on these forums.


Price and currency: £850 & £320
Delivery: Delivery cost is not included
Payment method: PPG or BT
Location: Aberdeen
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference
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DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging change presents dilemma

The new release of Exchange 2019 furthers Microsoft’s plan to get administrators on board with its push to the cloud, even if it means removing features that some consider critical to their enterprise.

Microsoft released the public preview of Exchange 2019 in July with enhancements in security, performance and administrative capabilities. However, the company also removed Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging, which came as a surprise to many companies that rely on this feature.

With the end of Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging, admins need to plan for the affected services and determine viable alternatives.

How Office 365 changed the UM conversation

Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging (UM) gives users access to voicemail features from mobile devices or Outlook on the web and a thick client. UM and voice over IP (VoIP) integration provide voicemail playback on physical phones, access to call answering features and call history details. Companies rely heavily on UM to deliver VoIP functionality for end users working in Outlook.

Since the introduction of Office 365 and Exchange Online, the cloud service has matched most of the Exchange on-premises capabilities and features. Until recently, Microsoft supported UM with a non-Microsoft VoIP or voicemail offering that could integrate with Exchange Online.

This move to discontinue UM may steer some Exchange customers to Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business. For others, it will force them to look elsewhere to solve their voicemail predicament.

But, in July 2017, Microsoft said it will discontinue the integration capabilities with third-party VoIP and will limit integration options with some systems by dropping the support of session border controllers (SBCs). Customers who use this VoIP hardware, which ties the on-premises telephony network to Microsoft’s data centers, will not be able to use Cloud Voicemail with an on-premises private branch exchange (PBX) system from a third-party vendor.

Exchange administrators who planned to move to Office 365 or who had already upgraded to the latest version of Exchange Server will now have to reconsider what to do with their existing voicemail systems, as the end of SBC support approaches.

What are the alternatives to Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging?

This move to discontinue UM may steer some Exchange customers to Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business. For others, it will force them to look elsewhere to solve their voicemail predicament.

Microsoft has extended the deadline to support SBC several times and, as of publication of this article, has set the date to Dec. 1, 2019, to give enterprises more time to make their voicemail integration plans.

Customers have three implementation and support options:

  • Migrating to Office 365 and its Cloud PBX offering. Enterprise E5 plan subscribers get public switched telephone network calling and other Cloud PBX licensing, which includes Azure voicemail and all the other voicemail features traditionally available as part of Exchange Unified Messaging.
  • Deploying Skype for Business Server on premises. This option requires an organization to deploy Skype for Business Server and configure it for hybrid mode with Exchange Online to deliver voicemail to Office 365.
  • Moving to a third-party voicemail product.

Because Exchange Server 2019 will not include Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging, administrators staying on premises must decide if they want to use Exchange 2016 when Microsoft ends support for SBCs in 2019. Customers have the option to either set up Skype for Business Server 2019 or migrate voicemails to a third-party voicemail product.

Within the Microsoft ecosystem, admins have several choices to replace their voicemail systems. With Exchange UM, Outlook remains the portal to interact with voicemails. Those on Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams have additional options, such as using Azure voicemail with the Teams client or Skype for Business to interact with voicemails.

Outside of Microsoft, vendors such as Cisco, Avaya and ShoreTel offer voicemail alternatives, some of which require their own proprietary software to route voicemails into Outlook. The simplest route for organizations with a third-party vendor is to have voicemails forwarded as email attachments.

Modernizing TLS connections in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11 – Microsoft Edge Dev Blog

Today, we’re announcing our intent to disable Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.0 and 1.1 by default in supported versions of Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11 in the first half of 2020.
This change, alongside similar announcements from other browser vendors, supports more performant, secure connections, helping advance a safer browsing experience for everyone.
January 19th of next year marks the 20th anniversary of TLS 1.0, the inaugural version of the protocol that encrypts and authenticates secure connections across the web. Over the last 20 years, successor versions of TLS have grown more advanced, culminating with the publication of TLS 1.3, which is currently in development for a future version of Microsoft Edge.
Two decades is a long time for a security technology to stand unmodified. While we aren’t aware of significant vulnerabilities with our up-to-date implementations of TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1, vulnerable third-party implementations do exist. Moving to newer versions helps ensure a more secure Web for everyone. Additionally, we expect the IETF to formally deprecate TLS 1.0 and 1.1 later this year, at which point protocol vulnerabilities in these versions will no longer be addressed by the IETF.
For these reasons, sites should begin to move off of TLS 1.0 and 1.1 as soon as is practical. Newer versions enable more modern cryptography and are broadly supported across modern browsers.

Most sites should not be impacted by this change. As TLS 1.0 continues to age, many sites have already moved to newer versions of the protocol – data from SSL Labs shows that 94% of sites already support TLS 1.2, and less than one percent of daily connections in Microsoft Edge are using TLS 1.0 or 1.1.

We are announcing our intent to disable these versions by default early, to allow the small portion  of remaining sites sufficient time to upgrade to a newer version. You can test the impact of this change today by opening the Internet Options Control Panel in Windows and unchecking the “Use TLS 1.0” and “Use TLS 1.1” options (under Advanced -> Security).
– Kyle Pflug, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Edge

Microsoft unveils genomics innovation and new partners at ASHG 2018 – Microsoft Industry Blogs

The world’s leading geneticists will converge in San Diego October 16-20 for the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) Annual Meeting. This year’s event will showcase some amazing new advances in genomics, and Microsoft Genomics will have exciting news and updates to share.

The latest in genome analysis

The strength of any analytical insight will always depend on the strength of the data used to generate it. If you want to perform repeatable genomic analysis that generates durable datasets, you should rely on industry standards that are constantly validated, versioned and properly curated.

With that in mind, Microsoft is deepening its commitment to genomics with the fourth iteration of the open source Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK4). The toolkit update is designed to optimize performance for researchers as they strengthen data pipelines and power successful genomic analyses, so they can reduce the risk of noise or artifacts within the data set and extract more insight from the genome.

A growing partner network

To ensure that genomics researchers have access to a broad array of tertiary analysis and orchestrated cloud technology options, Microsoft is working with several new partners:  BizData, Eagle Genomics, Genoox, Gentera Biotechnology, L7 Informatics, Parabricks, Qiagen and Veritas Genetics. They will be with us at ASHG 2018, sharing their insights and demonstrating how their data tools and services will help broaden and deepen what researchers can achieve in genomics. We continue to expand our genomics partner ecosystem, with now more than 20 partners, from wet lab sequencing prep out to interpretation.

“We are very excited to partner with Microsoft Genomics and utilize Whole Genome Sequencing and the Arvados platform to answer the most interesting and difficult questions in genomics.” notes Ward Vandewege, Veritas’ VP of Engineering,  “Running on Microsoft Azure, we can demonstrate the possibilities of genomic analyses at scale by taking advantage of Veritas’ sequencing capabilities and Arvados’ open-source federated platform bringing the analyses to data.”

Anthony Finbow, CEO of Eagle Genomics commented: “We are delighted to partner with Microsoft Healthcare on its Genomics service and look forward to working together to unlock the potential of the microbiome and solve some of the grand challenges of our age. We are seeing strong demand for our knowledge discovery platform amongst enterprise customers in the biotech and pharma, food and personal care industries as they embrace the digital reinvention of Life Sciences R&D. Microsoft Genomics will help tackle the computing and scaling challenges, accelerating the adoption of the technologies and the launch of new products and therapies, heralding a new era in scientific discovery.”

A promising research study at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Dr. Robert Klein from the Klein Lab at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is leading a team of bioinformaticians and geneticists seeking evidence for how our genes are involved in cancer risks, assisted by new technologies and the cloud to analyze the largest “big data” sets.

The Mount Sinai research team had been successful in gene sequencing, but they were starting to run into a bottleneck. “We weren’t getting enough space on the computer to store the data as we’re downloading it, running it, and working with it,” Dr. Klein said. “The data was just getting too big.”

With the Microsoft Genomics service, Dr. Klein added, “I give it the input data that would come from the sequencers, it can uniformly realign everything and let me do the joint calling for the analysis I want.” Microsoft Genomics enables “a way to try the large re-analysis of whole genome sequencing data.”

A powerful new way to analyze long-read bio data

In what’s likely to be our most exciting development at the event, we plan to demonstrate a completely new method for analyzing long-read genomic data and capturing major structural rearrangements.

Through collaborative research with Stanford University, we’ve developed a powerful new genomics algorithm that runs on an Intel Altera field-programmable gate array (FPGA) infrastructure within Microsoft Azure. It is an entirely new way of utilizing and understanding long-read genetic data, and will also be one of the first public-facing services based on FPGAs—the same board-level architecture that underpins the incredible machine learning capabilities of Microsoft Project Brainwave.

This revolutionary genomics service will make it easier for researchers to build and complete a whole new set of explorations using long-read data in the cloud. We can’t wait to see what the genetics community makes of it and hear how you plan to apply these powerful new capabilities when the service formally launches.

An exciting genomics success

At last year’s ASHG annual meeting, we presented a summary of how Microsoft Genomics was supporting collaborative pediatric cancer research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

This year, Microsoft and St. Jude are pleased to share early global adoption of the hospital’s global data sharing and research initiative. The St. Jude Cloud is using Microsoft cloud technology to successfully deliver pediatric cancer data to more than 2,000 clinicians and researchers among 300 organizations in 28 countries. St. Jude is using collaborative research in the cloud to make the genome more actionable, and it’s taking powerful steps forward in the understanding and treatment of pediatric cancer.

What the future holds

At ASHG, you can hear a poster presentation from Microsoft data scientist Erdal Cosgun, Ph.D. on research he conducted with his intern Min Oh. They explored the consistency of the quality scores with machine learning for next-generation sequencing experiments. He will present a machine learning approach for estimating quality scores of variant calls derived from BWA+GATK best practice powered by the Microsoft Genomics service.

You can also try out our Public Preview of Microsoft Genomics service GATK4. Between now and December 31, 2018, bring your Azure account and 20 whole genome samples to run with Microsoft Genomic Service at no cost. Let us know if you need to open a free trial Azure account and we can help you get started.

Stop by Microsoft Genomics at ASHG 2018 and find out more how we’re making deep genomic analysis easier and more accessible.

Cisco Business Critical Services gets better network monitoring

Cisco has added to its managed services portfolio tasks that include improved detection of an impending device failure that could cause a network outage.

The better network monitoring is one of several tasks added this week to Cisco Business Critical Services, which the company introduced a year ago. Other new services include the ability to make configuration changes and apply software upgrades to third-party devices.

Cisco has designed Business Critical Services to appeal to companies struggling to find enough IT talent to work on new projects while also performing the mundane, but necessary, tasks to keep a network running efficiently. A Cisco-sponsored IDC survey found 69% of more than 1,000 IT leaders worked in organizations that lacked the expertise to handle new initiatives, such as the digitization of business processes.

The additional tasks Cisco or its partners will perform as a part of Cisco Business Critical Services include profiling each Cisco device and then performing a statistical analysis of the data to determine the likelihood of failure. The review — a form of machine learning — relies on aggregated system-generated events Cisco has collected from customers’ devices globally.

Business Critical Insights portal

Cisco reports on the analysis through the Business Critical Insights portal. The information provided includes risk ratings, crash probabilities and forecasts on device behavior. Customers will work with their assigned consultant to determine how to prevent network disruption.

Other new features within Cisco Business Critical Services include an API that customers or Cisco partners can use to integrate the managed service’s analytics into third-party IT management systems, such as ServiceNow.

Finally, Cisco has extended the device and software data collected by Business Critical Services into third-party products. As a result, Cisco and its partners can report on inventory and whether software versions and configurations comply with corporate policies. The service can also make configuration changes and deploy software upgrades.

Cisco’s managed services portfolio includes additional support options. One option is the installation of new products to make sure all licensed features are turned on and running.

Cisco is one of several vendors that offer managed services to hardware and software customers. Others include Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei and Juniper Networks.