Category Archives: Microsoft News

Microsoft News

Change in ourselves helps drive change in the world   – The Official Microsoft Blog

An email from CEO Satya Nadella to Microsoft employees: 

Seeing injustice in the world calls us all to take action, as individuals and as a company. Sometimes this action is personal – what do I do to change? Sometimes it is organizational – what changes do I need to make around me? And sometimes it is reflected into the world – what can we do as a company to accelerate the change we desire? As we see the everyday racism, bias and violence experienced by the Black and African American community, the tragic and horrific murders of so many, the violence in cities across the US, it is time for us to act in all arenas. As I shared in our Employee Town Hall last week, each of us – starting with me and the senior leaders at the company – has a role to play. We cannot episodically wake up when a new tragedy occurs. A systemic problem requires a holistic response.  

I am heartbroken by the deep pain our communities are feeling. The results of systemic racism, which have impacted opportunities and exacerbated injustices for Black and African American communities, urge me to consider my own role as a leader. I must continue my journey of understanding and empathy and examine actions I take, or don’t take, every day. Listening and learning from my Black and African American colleagues is helping me develop a better understanding of their experience. And I take accountability for my own continued learning on the realities of privilege, inequity and race and modeling the behavior I want to see in the world.  

As a company, we need to look inside, examine our organization, and do better. For us to have the permission to ask the world to change, we must change first. We have to embrace the same speed and mindset that we do in anticipating and building for future technological shifts. Each day, we work to bridge the gap between the culture we espouse and our daily lived experience, but we must do more and do it faster. In order to be successful as a business in empowering everyone on the planet, we need to reflect the world we serve. This is our commitment; we have goals and programs to improve representation in all roles and at all levels. We’re investing in the talent pipeline broadly, as we’ve expanded our connections with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. We also have to create an environment where all voices are heard and valued, that’s why inclusion is a core priority for each one of us. I ask each of us to recommit to our shared D&I priority, participate in our inclusion learning programs, use the tools and resources we have shared on becoming an effective ally for others. We have the capabilities to make Microsoft more diverse and inclusive, but we must do the work.  

We also have a responsibility to use our platform and resources intentionally to address systemic inequities in our communities and in society broadly. This is the work we need to do to have lasting impact. For example, we’re using our technology and our voice toward a more equitable criminal justice system with our Criminal Justice Reform Initiative. We created our Supplier Diversity program 15 years ago, so our supplier companies better reflected the diversity of our customers. Today, it makes up nearly 10 percent of our supplier spend. That spend has an amplifying effect, growing the local economies in the communities where those businesses are located. We need to keep building on this work in every community we operate in.   

Finally, we must carry our company values out into the world in a way that reflects our strengths and expertise. To this end, we will deepen our engagement with six organizations that are advancing social justice, helping community organizers address racial inequality, and offering solidarity to the Black community: Black Lives Matter FoundationEqual Justice InitiativeInnocence ProjectThe Leadership ConferenceMinnesota Freedom Fund, and NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund. This starts with a company donation of $250,000 to each of these organizations ($1.5 million in total), followed by a company match of our employees’ contributions to eligible organizations. Together, through your giving and the company match, we have donated more than $15 million to civil rights, social action, and advocacy nonprofit organizations since 2015.

I have heard from many employees over the past several days, expressing calls for action, calls for reflection, calls for change. My response to all of you is this: Yes. We have to act. And our actions must reflect the values of our company and be directly informed by the needs of the Black and African American community. We must continue to nurture the energy and passion that the Blacks at Microsoft employee resource group fueled in all of us since its founding in 1989. We have been on a cultural transformation journey and must accelerate our pace of change. Each of us, starting with me, must look at where we are as individuals, confront our fixed mindset and act. Our humanity is what calls out to us to make the world a better place. 

We all have a role to play. I will do the work. The company will do the work. I am asking each of you to do the work. And together, we will help make the difference we want to see in the world. 

 Satya 

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Author: Microsoft News Center

What’s New in Microsoft Teams | May 2020

This month, we have new meetings, calling, devices, chat, collaboration, platform, and industry features we will not want you to miss. Read on to stay up-to-date. If you are interested in our recent Microsoft Build news, check out our Teams Build blog!

What’s New: Meetings, Calling, and Devices
Improved meeting join launcher experience
When launching a Teams meeting from a link, you will be provided with clearer options for how to join the meeting. You will be prompted with an option to join on the web, download the Teams client, or join with the native Teams client. We are gradually rolling this out over the coming weeks, and in the interim, you may continue to see this and the former experience.

Easily access meeting options during a Teams meeting
We are making it easier for meeting organizers to quickly and easily change their presenter and lobby settings once a meeting has started by providing a link directly in the participants pane. This new functionality is available for both scheduled and “Meet Now” meetings.

Download a participant report in a Teams meeting
Meeting organizers, especially teachers, often need to know who joined their Teams meetings. You can download a participant report, found in the roster view that includes join and leave times for participants. Available in the roster view, meeting organizers can download the report that includes those users who joined while the organizer was present. This feature is only available within the meeting while the meeting is active. Available on desktop (Windows and Mac) and the web.

Set tenant-wide default selection for “Who Can Present” in meetings
Tenant admins can now update their Teams meeting policies to allow for a new default selection when choosing who can present in new Teams meetings (everyone, people in my organization, specific people, or only me). Today, the default selection is “everyone” unless the meeting organizer selects otherwise through the meetings option configuration. To start, organizations can set this policy via a PowerShell cmdlet, and soon after we will have this policy configurable in the Admin portal.

Set background effects policy at a user-level
Tenant admins can soon assign a user-level policy to control how users engage with background effects in Teams meetings. Options include: offer no filters; background blur only; use background blur and default provided images; and all, which includes the ability for users to upload their own custom images.

Better policy controls over screen sharing from chats
Screen share from chat allows you to immediately start sharing your screen in a 1-1 chat or group chat. This entry point was previously governed by the AllowPrivateCalling policy. If this policy is disabled, users are not able to screen share from chat. The option to start a screen share from chat will now be governed by the ScreenSharingMode policy. Further, the ability to “add audio” to a screen share from chat session (if you want to talk to someone while screen sharing) will be governed by a user’s AllowPrivateCalling setting. This ensures that users who have AllowPrivateCalling disabled cannot start audio calls via screen share from chat.

Teams and Skype Interoperability
Teams and Skype interoperability will enable collaboration with more partners, customers, and suppliers who rely upon Skype for Consumer (SFC) as their communication app. On either platform, customers will be able to discover users via email search, then chat or call using audio/video. Clients supported include Desktop, Web and Mobile (iOS/Android). Admins will be able to control user access to this feature from The Teams Admin Center.

Reverse Number Lookup (RNL) Enhancements
In the past, the caller name sometimes did not show when they called you. Back in October 2019 we released the feature to make it easier to identify the caller. With the latest enhancements to RNL, the Telco display name will now also show up in your Activity Feed, Call History, and Voicemail as well.

Microsoft Teams Rooms, app version 4.4.41.0 now available
While physical meeting rooms may not be a focal point for many right now, there are still organizations and industries whose essential workers continue to rely on these spaces during this time. We also recognize the vital role Microsoft Teams Rooms will play when organizations return to work. The latest update, app version 4.4.41.0, is now available on the Windows store and is coming to every Teams room over the next few weeks. New features include: Modern authentication support, New application splash screen, Ability to project content to a single display when using a HDMI cable in a dual display configuration, Support for dynamic emergency calling, and more. To learn more about these new features, read the Microsoft Teams Rooms May Update blog.

Poly announces new solution for Microsoft Teams Rooms
Poly Room Solution for Microsoft Teams not only delivers the premium Poly audio and video for Teams, but also provides a clutter-free experience from start to finish, with simple installation and maintenance in any size room. To learn more about the Poly solutions for Microsoft Teams Rooms, coming later this year, click here.

Jabra PanaCast now certified for Microsoft Teams
The Jabra PanaCast is a plug-and-play device, certified for Microsoft Teams. The Jabra PanaCast is designed to improve meetings by using three 13-megapixel cameras and real-time video stitching to give a full 180° view. Enjoy a natural, inclusive human perspective, with no blind spots ensuring quick, easy collaboration with hassle-free video and audio. To learn more about the Jabra PanaCast, click here.

Yealink, EPOS, and Jabra announce new Teams peripherals
With increased demand for remote work and virtual communication, having the right set of personal devices provides painless interaction and increases time for meaningful connection. With Teams certified devices, you can join professional meetings anywhere with high audio fidelity that removes distracting background noise and ensures that your voice is heard clearly.

Here are some new releases this month:

  • EPOS ADAPT 360, 460T, 560, and 660 headsets range from in ear and over the ear options that optimize concentration and productivity any environment with Active Noise Cancellation, Bluetooth connectivity, and a dedicated Teams button. Availability varies by product: ADAPT 360 (July 3), ADAPT 460T (June 29), ADAPT 560 (June 26), ADAPT 660 (June 22). You can learn more here.

  • Yealink UH36 Dual/Mono is a simple and lightweight USB headset with a dedicated Teams button for long conference calls. Availability starting on May 15. You can learn more here.

  • Jabra Speak 750 is a speaker phone with a dedicated Teams button helps users hold natural conversations with USB and Bluetooth. Availability starting on June 1. You can learn more here.

Limited time partner offers available for Teams Devices
Crestron
Crestron is offering a program for customers looking to upgrade existing systems to those certified for Microsoft Teams. Special offers are available for a Crestron Smart Soundbar, Flex C-Series Integrator Kit and Mercury system. Offers end June 30, 2020 and are available in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and EMEA. Purchase orders must be placed through an authorized Crestron dealer.

Poly
For customers using Trio Visual+ in Skype for Business who would like to move to a Microsoft Teams environment, Poly is offering a Trio Visual+ to Poly Studio X30 Trade In program. With this promotion, Poly Microsoft customers can replace Trio with Poly Studio X30 and TC8 controller, or pair Trio with the Poly Studio X30, for Teams video meetings in huddle and small room spaces. Between April 15, 2020 and December 31, 2020, customers can trade in Trio Visual+ and save up to $200 when they upgrade to a Poly Studio X30 or up to $300 when they upgrade to a Poly Studio X30 with TC8 controller. This program is globally available.

Yealink
For a limited time, Yealink is offering a devices bundle trial program for remote workers, giving customers 50% off MSRP on any two WFH devices (limit one per device model). This offer is valid through July 31, 2020 and is globally available. Additionally, Yealink is offering a coupon code for the VC210 Teams edition collaboration bar on the Microsoft Teams devices showcase. Use the coupon code: Yealink4Teams at checkout to access the discounted price. This offer is available in the US and Canada only and is valid through July 31, 2020.

What’s New: Chat & Collaboration
Templates in Teams
Create a new team even faster with a variety of templates for common team types. Options will include event management, crisis response, hospital ward and bank branch, just to name a few. Templates comes with pre-defined channels, apps, and guidance on how to utilize and customize it. IT professionals can standardize team structures by creating new custom templates for their organization. Templates in Teams will roll out in the next few months and appear automatically. Check out the deep dive blog to learn more.

Microsoft Lists in Teams
Microsoft Lists helps you track information and organize work. Lists are simple, smart, and flexible, so you can track issues, assets, routines, contacts, inventory and more using customizable views and smart rules and alerts to keep everyone in sync. To learn more, visit the new Microsoft Lists resource center and get first looks at the Microsoft Lists product demo video.

Create a new list directly inside Teams or bring in one that already exists in Microsoft 365.

You can create, share, and track list all from within Microsoft Teams.

Bring more people together in group chats and teams
Whether you need to collaborate with others to deliver a big project or work with a large group of people to complete an ad-hoc task, Microsoft Teams now allows you to bring more people together. Group chats will now be able to accommodate up to 250 users and teams can now have up to 10,000 members.

Pop out chats into separate windows
Users can now streamline their workflow and pop out chats into separate windows. This allows people to move more easily between ongoing conversations. This is now generally available.

What’s New: Onboarding your organization to Teams
New Skype for Business to Teams Upgrade Advisor
Our newest Advisor for Teams, the Skype for Business Upgrade plan, has launched within the Microsoft Teams Admin Center. Whether you’re just getting started with Microsoft Teams, already using Teams alongside Skype for Business, or ready to upgrade, this provides everything you need for a successful transition. Designed for Skype for Business customers with online or on-premises environments, the Skype for Business Upgrade plan shares a proven success framework for implementing change and step-by-step process to enable your organization’s technical and end-user readiness. We’ll connect you with valuable upgrade resources including planning guidance and best practices, free workbooks, schedules and communication templates and live 1:many planning workshops. Learn more here about using Advisor for Teams to help you roll out Teams and upgrade from Skype for Business.

What’s New: Developer, Platform, and App management
Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code Extension for Teams
Developers can use the new Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code Teams extension to quickly build project scaffolding, configure features, create app package manifest and setup hosting, validate app package manifest, and start the app publishing process (for yourself, to your organization’s catalog, or to the Teams app store). Visual Studio Code extension is available in public preview today. Visual Studio extension coming soon!

Bringing low-code bots to Teams, with Power Virtual Agents
We are working with the newest component of the Power Platform – Power Virtual Agents, which is a low-code chatbot platform. New features will make it easier to create and manage low-code chatbots from within Teams and more streamlined for end users to use Power Virtual Agents bots in Teams. These new features are:

  • Bot Template: FAQ bot template available in GitHub
  • Single sign-on: Power Virtual Agents bots will be available, removing the need for users to sign in again when using a Power Virtual Agents bot in Teams

Simplified Power Apps and Power Virtual Agents “Add to Teams”
Coming soon, Power Apps makers will be able to click a single “Add to Teams” button in Power Apps, which will push the app to the Teams app store. Similarly, the process of adding low-code bots from Power Virtual Agents will be simplified, so developers can spend more time building and less time deploying.

Enhanced workflow automation with Power Automate + Teams
There are several new Power Automate triggers and actions built specifically for Teams to unlock custom message extensions, allow for automated @mentioning, and provide a customized bot experience. To make the process of building automation even easier, we are also rolling out new business process scenario templates built for Teams. When users create a new flow, they will see these templates when they select the “Create from Template option.”

Improved Power BI sharing to Teams
We have made it even easier to share Power BI reports to Teams – simply select the report to share and click the new “Share to Teams” button in Power BI. You’ll be prompted to select the user or channel to send the report to, which will automatically be posted to the conversation.

Users can now also copy individual charts in a Power BI report, and when they are pasted to a Teams conversation, the chat will include a rich thumbnail preview of the chart, as well as an adaptive card allowing users to take actions on that chart.

If you want to read more about all our new developer capabilities, check out our Teams Developer blog post: What’s New in the Microsoft Teams Platform | Build 2020.

What’s New: Education
Change in meeting join experience for our education customers
Today, we allow anyone within an organization to start a Teams meeting, regardless if they are the meeting organizer or not. Moving forward, we will restrict the ability to start a meeting to only those users who have been assigned a policy to create a meeting within their organization. Meeting attendees without the ability to create a meeting will see a pre-join screen indicating that the meeting hasn’t started. These individuals will be automatically admitted into the meeting once a user with permissions joins and starts the meeting. For example, where teachers are assigned a policy that enables them to create meetings, but students are not: if a student clicks on a Teams meeting not yet started by a teacher, they will be admitted into the meeting once a teacher has started a meeting.

Keeping distance learning engaging and secure
With many school and universities closed for the foreseeable future, Teams supports faculty, educators, and students to connect, engage, and learn. Here is the latest guidance on how to maximize learning at a distance and keep students safe:

  • Manage student, faculty, and staff engagement in meetings, live events, chat, and more. Learn more about these settings and how to manage them here.
  • Get started in Teams with student and educator quick start guides and create, run, and attend safe Teams meetings with this guidance.
  • Customize your school’s distance learning toolkit with these LMS integrations in Teams.

What’s New: US Government
In-line message translation in GCC and GCC High
In-line message translation will ensure that every worker in the team has a voice and facilitate global collaboration. With a simple click, people who speak different languages can fluidly communicate with one another by translating posts in channels and chat. This is now generally available.

To see many of these new capabilities in action with demonstrations, check out today’s Microsoft Mechanics video: Microsoft Teams updates | May 2020 and beyond.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft announces expiration of its exchange offers – Stories

REDMOND, Wash. — May 29, 2020 — Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) (“Microsoft”) today announced the expiration of its offers to (i) exchange (the “Pool 1 Offer”) the ten series of notes described in the table below (collectively, the “Pool 1 Notes”) for a new series of Microsoft’s 2.525% Notes due June 1, 2050 (the “New 2050 Notes”) and a cash payment, as applicable, and (ii) exchange (the “Pool 2 Offer” and, together with the Pool 1 Offer, the “Exchange Offers”) the four series of notes described in the table below (collectively, the “Pool 2 Notes” and, together with the Pool 1 Notes, the “Existing Notes”) for a new series of Microsoft’s 2.675% Notes due June 1, 2060 (the “New 2060 Notes” and, together with the New 2050 Notes, the “New Notes”) and a cash payment, as applicable.

A Registration Statement on Form S-4 (File No. 333-237925), as amended by Amendment No. 1 thereto (the “Registration Statement”), relating to the issuance of the New Notes has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) and has become effective. The New Notes, upon issuance, will be registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, pursuant to the Registration Statement.

The table below identifies the aggregate principal amount of each series of Pool 1 Notes validly tendered (and not validly withdrawn) in the Pool 1 Offer and the principal amount of each series of Pool 1 Notes, based on the order of acceptance priority for such series, that Microsoft expects to accept on the Settlement Date (as defined below):

Pool 1 Table
Title of Security CUSIP
Number
Consideration Exchanged for Acceptance Priority
Level
Principal
Amount
Tendered(1)
Principal
Amount
Microsoft Expects to Accept
4.875% Notes due 2043

594918AX2

New 2050 Notes

1 $325,428,000 $325,428,000
5.300% Notes due 2041

594918AM6

New 2050 Notes

2 $229,661,000 $229,661,000
4.450% Notes due 2045

594918BL7

New 2050 Notes

3 $1,711,663,000 $1,711,663,000
4.250% Notes due 2047 594918CA0 New 2050 Notes

4 $1,415,370,000 $1,415,370,000
5.200% Notes due 2039

594918AD6 New 2050 Notes

5

$191,455,000 $191,455,000
4.500% Notes due 2040 594918AJ3 New 2050 Notes

6 $428,829,000

$428,829,000

3.750% Notes due 2043 594918AU8

New 2050 Notes

7 $255,985,000

$255,985,000

3.750% Notes due 2045

594918BD5

New 2050 Notes

8 $1,109,437,000

$1,109,433,000

4.100% Notes due 2037 594918BZ6 New 2050 Notes

9 $1,569,224,000

$583,533,000

4.200% Notes due 2035 594918BK9 New 2050 Notes

10 $325,218,000 $0

 

  1. The aggregate principal amounts of each series that have been validly tendered for exchange and not validly withdrawn, as of 11:59 p.m., New York City time, on May 28, 2020 (the “Expiration Time”), based on information provided by the exchange agent to Microsoft.

The table below identifies the aggregate principal amount of each series of Pool 2 Notes validly tendered (and not validly withdrawn) in the Pool 2 Offer and the principal amount of each series of Pool 2 Notes, based on the order of acceptance priority for such series, that Microsoft expects to accept on the Settlement Date:

Pool 2 Table
Title of Security CUSIP
Number
Consideration Exchanged for Acceptance Priority
Level
Principal
Amount
Tendered(1)
Principal
Amount
Microsoft Expects to Accept
4.750% Notes due 2055

594918BM5 New 2060 Notes

1 $673,265,000 $673,265,000
4.000% Notes due 2055

594918BE3 New 2060 Notes

2 $1,456,150,000 $1,456,150,000
4.500% Notes due 2057

594918CB8 New 2060 Notes

3 $1,116,223,000 $1,116,223,000
3.950% Notes due 2056 594918BU7 New 2060 Notes

4 $1,693,876,000 $295,490,000
  1. The aggregate principal amounts of each series that have been validly tendered for exchange and not validly withdrawn, as of the Expiration Time, based on information provided by the exchange agent to Microsoft.

In the Exchange Offers, according to the information provided by D.F. King & Co., Inc., the information agent and exchange agent for the Exchange Offers, $7,562,270,000 aggregate principal amount of Pool 1 Notes and $4,939,514,000 aggregate principal amount of Pool 2 Notes were validly tendered and not validly withdrawn at or prior to the Expiration Time, as more fully set forth above.

The Exchange Offers expired at 11:59 p.m., New York City time, on May 28, 2020. Following the Expiration Time, tenders of the Existing Notes may not be validly withdrawn. As of the Expiration Time, all conditions to the Exchange Offers were satisfied. Microsoft currently anticipates that the settlement date of the Exchange Offers will be June 1, 2020 (the “Settlement Date”).

Based on the amount of Existing Notes tendered in the Exchange Offers and in accordance with the terms of the Exchange Offers, Microsoft expects to accept, on the Settlement Date, (a) the following Pool 1 Notes validly tendered (and not validly withdrawn): (i) all of the Pool 1 Notes listed in the Pool 1 Table above at Acceptance Priority Levels 1 through 7, (ii) $1,109,433,000 aggregate principal amount of its 3.750% Notes due 2045 (which is less than the amount tendered (and not validly withdrawn) due to minimum denomination requirements of the Exchange Offers) and (iii) $583,533,000 aggregate principal amount of its 4.100% Notes due 2037 with a proration factor for such notes equal to approximately 37.19% of such notes validly tendered (and not validly withdrawn) and (b) the following Pool 2 Notes validly tendered (and not validly withdrawn): (i) all of the Pool 2 Notes listed in the Pool 2 Table at Acceptance Priority Levels 1 through 3 and (ii) $295,490,000 aggregate principal amount of its 3.950% Notes due 2056 with a proration factor for such notes equal to approximately 17.44% of such notes validly tendered (and not validly withdrawn) as set forth above. Microsoft does not expect to accept any of the Pool 1 Notes listed in the Pool 1 Table at Acceptance Priority Level 10.

On the Settlement Date, Microsoft expects to deliver an aggregate principal amount of $6,249,997,000 of New 2050 Notes and an aggregate principal amount of $3,750,000,000 of New 2060 Notes and cash payments, as applicable, pursuant to Microsoft’s prospectus dated May 19, 2020 (the “Prospectus”), filed with the SEC on May 19, 2020, relating to the New Notes.

 About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Forward-Looking Statements

Statements in this news release are “forward-looking statements” based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially because of factors described above as well as:

  • intense competition in all of our markets that may lead to lower revenue or operating margins;
  • increasing focus on cloud-based services presenting execution and competitive risks;
  • significant investments in products and services that may not achieve expected returns;
  • acquisitions, joint ventures, and strategic alliances that may have an adverse effect on our business;
  • impairment of goodwill or amortizable intangible assets causing a significant charge to earnings;
  • cyberattacks and security vulnerabilities that could lead to reduced revenue, increased costs, liability claims, or harm to our reputation or competitive position;
  • disclosure and misuse of personal data that could cause liability and harm to our reputation;
  • the possibility that we may not be able to protect information stored in our products and services from use by others;
  • abuse of our advertising or social platforms that may harm our reputation or user engagement;
  • the development of the internet of things presenting security, privacy, and execution risks;
  • issues about the use of artificial intelligence in our offerings that may result in competitive harm, legal liability, or reputational harm;
  • excessive outages, data losses, and disruptions of our online services if we fail to maintain an adequate operations infrastructure;
  • quality or supply problems;
  • the possibility that we may fail to protect our source code;
  • legal changes, our evolving business model, piracy, and other factors may decrease the value of our intellectual property;
  • claims that Microsoft has infringed the intellectual property rights of others;
  • claims against us that may result in adverse outcomes in legal disputes;
  • government litigation and regulatory activity relating to competition rules that may limit how we design and market our products;
  • potential liability under trade protection, anti-corruption, and other laws resulting from our global operations;
  • laws and regulations relating to the handling of personal data that may impede the adoption of our services or result in increased costs, legal claims, fines, or reputational damage;
  • additional tax liabilities;
  • damage to our reputation or our brands that may harm our business and operating results;
  • exposure to increased economic and operational uncertainties from operating a global business, including the effects of foreign currency exchange;
  • uncertainties relating to our business with government customers;
  • adverse economic or market conditions that may harm our business;
  • catastrophic events or geopolitical conditions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, that may disrupt our business; and
  • the dependence of our business on our ability to attract and retain talented employees.

For more information about risks and uncertainties associated with Microsoft’s business, please refer to the “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Risk Factors” sections of Microsoft’s SEC filings, including, but not limited to, its annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q that are incorporated by reference in the Prospectus forming a part of the Registration Statement, copies of which may be obtained by contacting Microsoft’s Investor Relations department at (800) 285-7772 or at Microsoft’s Investor Relations website at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/investor.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Meeting Insights: Contextual AI to help you achieve your meeting goals

It’s a big day for you. Back-to-back meetings are scheduled with critical customers and partners, and a parent-teacher conference is sandwiched in there as well. As you’re headed toward the last meeting, suddenly you cannot remember the key talking points. Who sent you the pre-read notes? Was it Taylor? No, possibly Drew. No luck. You are about two minutes from reaching the meeting room, and you want more than anything to pull out your phone and scream at it:


If only there existed an intelligent system that enabled you to find information this effortlessly. Now, there is: Meeting Insights provides AI capabilities that help you find information before, during, and after meetings as easily as if you had your own assistant to support you. Meeting Insights is now available for commercial Microsoft 365 and Office 365 customers in Outlook mobile (on both Android and iOS devices) and Outlook on the web. We would like to pull back the cover and talk about the science and technology that drives this scenario. Also, we’ll share why Meeting Insights is only the tip of the iceberg in how we at Microsoft are developing AI-powered capabilities to simplify and improve customer experience and productivity. We’re currently testing two new features that expand intelligent content recommendations to new scenarios in Outlook.

Providing usefulness in every context

Customers often say that finding content from meetings is a challenge. Therefore, we set out to build an intelligent personalized solution that provides customers with information from their mailboxes, OneDrive for Business accounts, and SharePoint sites to better help them accomplish the goals of their meetings.

The solution we developed powers the Meeting Insights feature that makes meetings more effective by helping customers:

  • Prepare for their meetings by offering them content they haven’t had a chance to read or may want to revisit;
  • Access relevant content during their meetings with ease;
  • Retrieve information about completed meetings by returning content presented during the meeting, sent meeting notes, and other relevant post-meeting material

Currently, Meeting Insights can be found on more than 40% of all Outlook mobile and Outlook on the web meetings.

Large-scale, personal, privacy-preserving AI

The most useful emails and files for a meeting may change over time (for example, those most useful before may be different than the ones most useful during or after). In order to create a relevant and useful service, we needed to find a way to reason across information shared by a customer as well as the files in their organization that they have permission to access and have opted to share. Microsoft 365 upholds a strict commitment to protecting customer data—promising to only use customer data for agreed upon services and not look at data during development or deployment of a new feature. This privacy promise, rather than being a hindrance, spurred us to think creatively and to innovate. As detailed below, we use a creative combination of weak and self-supervised machine learning (ML) algorithms in Meeting Insights to train large-scale language models without looking at any customer data.

The need to efficiently reason over millions of private corpora, themselves each potentially containing millions of items, underscores the complexity of the problem we needed to solve in Meeting Insights. To accomplish this reasoning, Meeting Insights enlists the help of Microsoft Graph, where shared data is captured in a graph representation. Microsoft Graph provides convenient APIs to reason over all of the shared email, files, and meetings for customers as well as the relationship between these items. This provides a high level of personalization to accurately meet customer needs.

Building intelligent features like Meeting Insights in the enterprise setting poses additional problems to the standard ML workflow. In enterprise settings, customers have high expectations of new products—especially the ones in their critical workflows and even more so when they are paying for the service. Because there is a need for an initial model to work out of the gate, standard ML workflows, which deploy a heuristic model with moderate performance and take time to learn from interaction data, lead to a lack of product acceptance. In Meeting Insights, we use ML algorithms that require less supervision to personalize customers’ experiences more quickly.

This challenge, which we refer to as the ‘’jump-start’’ problem, is therefore critical to product success in enterprise scenarios. This goes beyond standard “cold-start” challenges where data about a particular item or new user of a system is lacking, and instead the primary challenge is to get the entire process off the ground. Common approaches to improve model performance before deployment, such as getting annotations from crowd-sourced judges, have limited to no applicability due to the privacy-sensitive and personal nature of the recommendation and learning challenges. Finally, Microsoft 365 is used all over the world, and we wanted to make this technology available as broadly as possible and not simply to a few select languages.

Figure 1: Schematic depiction of how we train the model for recommending emails in Meeting Insights.

Solving the technical challenges

In order to make Meeting Insights possible, we needed to leverage three key components: weak supervision that is language agnostic, personalization enriched by the Microsoft Graph, and an agile, privacy-preserving ML pipeline.

Weak supervision: Large-scale supervised learning provides state-of-the-art results for many applications. However, this is impractical when building new enterprise search scenarios due to the privacy-sensitive and personal nature of the problem space. Instead of having annotators labeling data, we turned to weak supervision, an approach where heuristics can be defined to programmatically label data. To apply weak supervision to this task, we used Microsoft’s compliant experimentation platform. Emails and files attached to meetings were assigned a positive label, and all emails and files which the organizer could have attached at meeting creation time but did not were assigned a negative label. The benefit of using weak supervision for this problem went beyond preserving privacy as it allowed us to quickly and cheaply scale across languages and communication styles—all of which would be extremely challenging with a strongly supervised modeling approach involving annotators.

Personalization: Identifying the most relevant and useful information for a customer requires understanding the people and phrases that are important for that person. In order to identify the candidate set of relevant items and rank them, we leverage personalized representations of the most important key phrases and key people for a person. These personalized representations are learned in a self-supervised and privacy-preserving manner from nodes and edges in the Microsoft Graph. The context meeting is then combined with these personalized key-phrase and people representations to construct a candidate set using the same. Microsoft Search endpoint uses the same Microsoft Search technology powering search in applications such as Outlook, Teams, and SharePoint. In the final ranking stage, these personalized representations as well as more general embeddings are used to compute semantic relatedness between the context and candidate items, relationship strength via graph features, and collaboration strength based on relationship between key people.

Agile privacy preserving ML pipelines: As noted above, preserving the privacy of our customers’ data is sacrosanct for Microsoft. The weak and self-supervised algorithm techniques described above allow us algorithmically to train highly accurate and language agnostic large-scale models without having to look at the customer’s data. However, in order to put the algorithms into practice, test them, and innovate, we needed a platform that makes approaches like this possible. Innovations on the modeling front went hand-in-hand with development of ML platforms and processes that allowed our scientists to remain agile. Our in-house compliant experimentation platform provides key privacy safeguards. For example, our algorithms can operate on customer content to provide recommendations directly to customers, but our engineers cannot see that content except when it’s their own. Many tools were developed to assist in monitoring and debugging our ML pipelines, firing off alerts when data quality as well correlations between signals and labels diverged from expected values.

Self-hosting to improve for our customers

As we developed Meeting Insights, we first rolled it out to internal Microsoft customers and instrumented their interactions with the experience to identify areas for improvement. Early on, we saw from the data we had instrumented that 90% of the usage of Meeting Insights on a given day was for meetings that or the following day. Armed with this datapoint, we were able to implement a significant optimization by prefetching the insights for these meetings the moment the customer opens their calendar. This data-informed strategy resulted in a 50% reduction of customer-perceived latency.

Customer engagement with the deployed product showed other strong temporal effects worth calling out for this experience:

  • For meetings, freshness is important with about 5% of insights clicks happening within 15 minutes of the meeting being created.
  • For email insights, 30% of clicks go to emails sent/received in the 24 hours preceding the time of the user request.
  • For file insights, 35% of clicks go to files created or modified in the 24 hours preceding the time of the user request.

In less than four months after shipping our first Meeting Insights experience (for meeting invitations written in English), we were able to expand support to all enterprise customers across all languages. This was made possible by effectively leveraging the Microsoft Graph, being creative in the low-cost modeling approaches we employed, and being careful in the design of our AI solutions by using weak supervision and avoiding language specific dependencies. Over the next few months, we will be rolling Meeting Insights out to Cortana Briefing Mail recipients.

Meeting Insights is currently shown on more than 40% of opened meetings on supported Outlook clients, with customers reporting two out of three suggestions to be useful.

Providing broader contextual intelligence

Meeting Insights is not the only place where we are providing contextual intelligence that makes life easier for our customers. We are looking at how we can use Meeting Insights to accelerate our offerings in other scenarios using techniques like transfer learning, which has proven to be an effective and efficient way for us to gain reusable value from AI models learned for one scenario but reapplied to another.

For example, we are now transferring the learnings from our Meeting Insights models to power other intelligent content recommendations features such as “Suggested Attachments” and “Suggested Reply with File” on Outlook. These features take a customer and an email as input to return contextually relevant attachment suggestions that significantly reduce the time and effort required to share content via email.

“Suggested Attachments” and “Suggested Reply with File” are features currently in testing phases. We look forward to adding new offerings for Microsoft 365 users and beyond for intelligent content recommendation.

Imagine you’re heading to that last meeting again after an exceptionally busy day. You’ve suddenly forgotten the talking points, and you just can’t seem to recall who sent those pre-read notes. Was it Taylor? Drew? You feel like shouting at the sky, but then a thought flashes into your mind. You calmly pull up Outlook mobile on your phone as you approach the room, and with a simple tap on the meeting, your pre-read notes appear at the bottom of the screen thanks to Meeting Insights. Now, you’ve got this.

We look forward to continuing to improve life for our customers, and we hope the next time you walk into a meeting, you also walk in with more confidence knowing that Meeting Insights is there to assist you.

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Author: Steve Clarke

Xbox Series X: The Most Powerful and Compatible Next-Gen Console with Thousands of Games at Launch – Xbox Wire

Gaming leaves an indelible mark on all of us. From the epic stories and universes we experience playing as our favorite heroes, to the heat of intense competition, victory and defeat. Through the shared accomplishments we achieve as a worldwide community, gaming brings us together.

Thousands of developers from across the globe are currently creating the next generation of transformative games, many of which can only be realized through the power and innovation of the Xbox Series X. Led by Halo Infinite, our 15 Xbox Game Studios teams are hard at work creating the biggest and best line up of exclusives in Xbox history. We are incredibly excited to show many of the new games in development for Xbox Series X soon.

Preserving Your Gaming Legacy

As gamers, we also know how important it is to preserve and respect our gaming legacies. Your favorite games and franchises, your progression and achievements, and the friendships and communities you create through gaming should all move with you across generations. Not only that, your favorite gaming accessories and peripherals should also move forward with you as well.

Our goal has always been to empower gamers to play the best versions of games from across four generations of Xbox at the launch of Xbox Series X. These principles were key to us from Day 1 and influenced many of our design decisions as we started on our journey to create our most powerful and compatible console ever.

Compatibility Journey

Our compatibility journey began with the announcement of Xbox 360 Backwards Compatibility coming to Xbox One at E3 2015. I clearly remember that first magical experience of jumping into one of my favorite Xbox 360 games, Final Fantasy XIII, and instantly resuming where I had left off years before as if no time had passed at all. I was instantly transported back to that special time and all the great memories and personal connections I have made through gaming. The energy and passion from the community continues to motivate us to this day.

Through a tremendous amount of hard work, technical innovation, and partnership with the industry’s leading creators we were not only able to bring more than 500 Xbox 360 games to Xbox One, we were able to go back even further into the archives and resurrect some of your favorite franchises from the original Xbox. The very same team who created new innovative ways to preserve and enhance your existing catalog of games on Xbox One is the same team pushing the envelope again with Xbox Series X.

Maintaining compatibility presents a massive technical challenge as fundamental system and chip architectures advance across generations. Developers highly optimize their games to the unique capabilities and performance of a console to provide the best experience for their players. To make the Xbox Series X our most compatible console ever required both significant innovation in the design of the custom processor as well as the unique design of the Xbox operating system and hypervisor at the heart of our next generation platform.

With more than 100,000 hours of play testing already completed, thousands of games are already playable on Xbox Series X today, from the biggest blockbusters to cult classics and fan favorites. Many of us in Team Xbox play on the Xbox Series X daily as our primary console and switching between generations is seamless. By the time we launch this holiday, the team will have spent well over 200,000 hours ensuring your game library is ready for you to jump in immediately.

All Games Play Better on Xbox Series X

Not only should gamers be able to play all of these games from the past, but they should play better than ever before. Backwards compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X hardware, running with the full power of the CPU, GPU and the SSD. No boost mode, no downclocking, the full power of the Xbox Series X for each and every backward compatible game. This means that all titles run at the peak performance that they were originally designed for, many times even higher performance than the games saw on their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more steady framerates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality. Backwards compatible titles also see significant reductions in in-game load times from the massive leap in performance from our custom NVME SSD which powers the Xbox Velocity Architecture. As I play through my personal backlog as part of our internal testing, all of the incredible games from Xbox One and earlier play best on Xbox Series X.

The team was not content to just rely on the increased hardware performance to improve your playing experience. The team developed new platform level capabilities to ensure all of your games continue to get even better. In partnership with the Xbox Advanced Technology Group, Xbox Series X delivers a new, innovative HDR reconstruction technique which enables the platform to automatically add HDR support to games. As this technique is handled by the platform itself, it allows us to enable HDR with zero impact to the game’s performance and we can also apply it to Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles developed almost 20 years ago, well before the existence of HDR.

In addition, the new Quick Resume feature was designed to not only work with new games, but it can also be enabled for backward-compatible titles. Quick Resume enables players to resume exactly where they left off, across multiple titles, ensuring gamers can get right back to the fun in an instant.

All of these advances happen at the platform level and require no additional work from title developers.

Advancing the State of the Art of Game Preservation

In addition to preserving the legacy of our loyal fans who have been with us since the beginning, we enable entirely new generations of gamers to play and enjoy the timeless games from our past while respecting and honoring their creators.

Beginning with Xbox One X, the compatibility team developed brand new innovations that could be applied to a hand curated list of titles to enhance them even further than what was possible when they were first created. Techniques such as the Heutchy method, which enables titles to render with increased resolutions up to 4K, or applying anisotropic filtering to improve the final image quality bring these classic games up to modern standards, better than ever before.

With all of the additional power and advancements of the Xbox Series X, the compatibility team now has a veritable playground of new capabilities to innovate and push the limits of game preservation and enhancement. The compatibility team has invented brand new techniques that enable even more titles to run at higher resolutions and image quality while still respecting the artistic intent and vision of the original creators. We are also creating whole new classes of innovations including the ability to double the frame rate of a select set of titles from 30 fps to 60 fps or 60 fps to 120 fps. 

The team also continues to listen to feedback from the community on additional titles you would like to see added to the compatibility program. Resurrecting titles from history often presents a complex mix of technical and licensing challenges, but the team is committed to doing everything we can to continue to preserve our collective gaming legacy.

We can’t wait to share more with you as we get closer to the launch of Xbox Series X this holiday.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Use technology to manage your well-being

10 tips to use technology to manage your well-being

Have you heard the saying, “We’re all in the same storm, but we’re in different boats?” People are experiencing a variety of challenges right now, trying to work, learn, and connect with others. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we wanted to share some best practices and technology-related tips to help reduce stress and anxiety.

1. Keep a schedule.

Having a set schedule during the week can be a comfort, giving your days structure, balance, and purpose. Use a basic schedule template, Outlook, or the Microsoft To-Do app(it syncs with Outlook) to plan your day and include self-care. Here are some things to consider including in your schedule:

  • Shower and get dressed. This simple ritual can help kick-start your day.
  • Focus time. This is time when you’re not on conference calls and you can get your work done.
  • Daily movement. It could be an intense workout, stretching, or just a relaxing walk—listen to your body to see what it needs that day.
  • Social time. Time to catch up with friends and family over video calls.
  • “Me time.” Maybe it’s your morning coffee, or a soak in the tub at the end of the day, but make sure you carve out some time just for yourself.
  • Non-screen time to read a book, play a game, do a puzzle, enjoy your hobby, and more.

Mental health is a family practice. Get your kids involved in creating a shared family schedule in Outlook so they have a sense of ownership and control. Help your children find the right kind of self-care to learn best practices for a lifetime.

2. Check in on how people are doing.

Not every poll needs to be about people’s emotions. To add some fun, try creating polls on music, food, TV shows, or whatever you want.

Check in on yourself, too. Stress less, move more, and sleep more soundly with meditations, exercises, and tips available in the Headspace app. And if you have a Microsoft 365 Family or Personal subscription (formerly Office 365), you can get one month free. Learn more about the offer.

3. Keep kids on track.

Use Family Safety app preview or website to help make sure your kids are finding balance, too. Set screen-time limits for specific apps, sites, and games, make sure they’re viewing sites appropriate for their age, and review Family Safety reports to see how much time they’re really spending on their devices.

4. Get things done.

There’s something to be said about checking things off your to-do list, like cleaning out the basement or garage, finally dialing in the backyard or deck space (or your indoor plants), digitizing the family photos, or any other projects that have been on the back burner. Joy can come from accomplishing things. The Microsoft To-Do app is free and is perfect for keeping track, plus it syncs with Outlook so you can easily track to-dos for work and home.

5. Connect with friends and family . . . remotely.

If you’re feeling isolated, get some fun Skype video calls on your calendar like a happy hour with friends or a family call over the weekend.For more ideas, read about creative ways to connect.

6. Learn something new.

If you don’t already have a hobby or pastime to pursue, now’s a great time to try something new that’s piqued your interest. Not sure what you want to try? Here are some places to start:

7. If the future seems uncertain, plan it out.

When things are very much up in the air, it can be comforting to write out your thoughts or even a plan for the future. Instead of letting your mind spin, open Word for the web or OneNote and type up some mitigation plans for whatever you’re worrying about. Use broad strokes here—no one can predict the future, so there’s no need to describe every detail or option. Rest easier knowing that you have a plan you can refer to later, if needed.

Try to write 3 things that you are grateful for every day. These journaling templates can help you get your thoughts down:

8. Keep presentation anxiety at bay.

You may find yourself steeped in new methods of working from home and having to adapt quickly to technologies. Help reduce any remote presentation and online jitters with Presenter Coach and PowerPoint. Get in the habit of taking practice runs through your slides and Presenter Coach will give you a report and suggestions for improvements on things like packing, pitch, filler words, euphemisms, and culturally sensitive terms.

9. When you’re done working, be done.

It can be so tempting to check that email one more time in the evening or over the weekend, just to make sure you’ve taken care of everything and no one is left hanging until tomorrow. Instead, set up an automatic reply in Outlook to let your coworkers know you’re done for the day and will get back to them later. That way, people know what to expect, and you can relax knowing that you’ve set expectations.

Want a way to track how successful you are at unplugging? Use My Analytics Wellbeing to keep track of the days you disconnect after work. My Analytics provides several useful statistics about your work habits that can help you with well-being, focus, network, and collaboration.

10. Disconnect and recharge.

With so many online meetings, happy hours, calls with friends, and binge watching, screen fatigue is a real thing. Put down the devices every day for a while. Doing this at night is a great way to wind down before bed. Here are some ideas on what to do instead:

  • Read a book or printed magazine
  • Work on a project
  • Sit outside (deck, yard) and enjoy the birds, plants, sky, trees
  • Cook a healthy meal
  • Listen to music—really listen, with no other distractions

Get more well-being tips

See recommendations on how Microsoft technology can support you in daily activities. Learn more

These tips are a starting point for using tech to help bring some calm during these times. If you or a loved one is in crisis, there’s help available now.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft, Workday announce strategic partnership to accelerate planning for today’s world – Stories

Workday Adaptive Planning to run on Microsoft Azure Cloud

Workday on Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Azure Active Directory to create greater integrated customer experience

REDMOND, Wash., and PLEASANTON, Calif. — May 27, 2020 — Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Workday, Inc. (NASDAQ: WDAY) today announced a strategic partnership prioritizing enterprise planning in the cloud and expanding the business solutions customers can use to better optimize their everyday work. Through this partnership, Workday customers will also be able to run Workday Adaptive Planning on the Microsoft Azure cloud. Further, Microsoft will adopt Workday Adaptive Planning for its global finance teams for planning, budgeting and forecasting to help accelerate decision-making.

The companies also unveiled new integrations between Workday’s suite of applications and Microsoft Teams and Azure Active Directory that will enable customers to simplify day-to-day tasks, foster collaboration, increase productivity and enhance security.

Planning for what’s next

As businesses adjust and adapt to changing business environments, the need for real-time planning capabilities is accelerating. Making faster, informed decisions across all areas of the business requires a continuous planning process. Workday Adaptive Planning offers customers a modern platform that ties data, people and plans together in one version of truth, accessible in the cloud to finance, HR, sales, functional business leaders, and more. Adding Workday Adaptive Planning to Azure offers increased flexibility as customer demand for cloud-based planning grows.

The addition of Workday Adaptive Planning brings a leading modern planning, analytics and reporting solution at scale to the Azure community. Power users can trust the enterprise security and global availability of Azure to handle robust models, multiple instances and nearly unlimited dimensionality for “slicing and dicing” data in Workday.

Further connecting the Microsoft, Workday communities

Today’s announcement also includes additional integrations and support, focusing on easier access, collaboration and security between Microsoft and Workday applications. Workers are often toggling between applications, and new integrations being announced today deliver a more connected, intuitive workspace and frictionless access for enterprise customers.

  • Microsoft Teams integration with Workday Financial Management and Workday Human Capital Management (HCM) makes it easier for users to access Workday to simplify day-to-day tasks such as submitting expenses, providing anytime feedback, looking up employees, or requesting time off, all without having to leave Teams. Employees and managers can ask Workday Assistant — a chatbot that uses natural language processing — various questions to help initiate task steps and business processes, enabling them to get daily activities done faster and more efficiently through a seamless, more connected experience. Read more here.
  • Microsoft Azure Active Directory integrations with Workday applications enable customers to access enterprise data and applications easily and securely through single sign-on. With expanded integrations, joint customers that use Microsoft and Workday applications can confidently secure end-to-end identity lifecycle and entitlement settings for greater privacy and security management. The expanded integrations will streamline HR and IT processes and support new scenarios such as real-time deprovisioning, worker conversion and international assignment changes.

Comments on the news

“Now, more than ever, planning takes center stage as companies return to the workplace, rebuild supply chains, and in some cases reimagine their businesses in our rapidly changing world,” said Tom Bogan, vice chairman of Workday. “With cloud planning at scale and even tighter integration to help customers collaborate, this partnership underscores what Workday was built for — to help customers unlock potential in their people and the business even in the most dynamic environments.”

“At Microsoft, we’re hyper-focused on continually innovating new ways to empower every person and organization around the world with the tools and insights they need to securely drive productivity and business performance,” said Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of One Commercial Partner, Microsoft. “In partnership with Workday, we’ll deliver new solutions that connect the people and financial insights of Workday to the cloud productivity of Microsoft Teams and cloud platform of Azure, so our joint customers can do more.”

Availability

Workday for Microsoft Teams is available to all customers on Workday HCM and Workday Financial Management today. Microsoft Azure Active Directory capabilities and Workday Adaptive Planning on Azure will be available next year.

About Workday

Workday is a leading provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources. Founded in 2005, Workday delivers financial management, human capital management, planning, and analytics applications designed for the worlds largest companies, educational institutions, and government agencies. Organizations ranging from medium-sized businesses to Fortune 50 enterprises have selected Workday.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Diane Orr, Workday, (408) 309-0024, [email protected]

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

Forward-looking statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements including, among other things, statements regarding the expected performance and benefits of Workday’s offerings. The words “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “expect,” “seek,” “plan,” “project,” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. If the risks materialize or assumptions prove incorrect, actual results could differ materially from the results implied by these forward-looking statements. Risks include, but are not limited to, risks described in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including our Form 10-Q for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2020 and our future reports that we may file with the SEC from time to time, which could cause actual results to vary from expectations. Workday assumes no obligation to, and does not currently intend to, update any such forward-looking statements after the date of this release.

Any unreleased services, features, or functions referenced in this document, our website, or other press releases or public statements that are not currently available are subject to change at Workday’s discretion and may not be delivered as planned or at all. Customers who purchase Workday, Inc. services should make their purchase decisions based upon services, features, and functions that are currently available.

© 2020. Workday, Inc. All rights reserved. Workday and the Workday logo are registered trademarks of Workday, Inc. All other brand and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Making it easier to stay caught up with Cortana in Microsoft 365

With recent events leading to the world’s largest work-from-home shift, we could all use some assistance to stay caught up with work while juggling personal responsibilities. We’re featuring updates available starting today with Cortana, your personal productivity assistant in Microsoft 365, to make it easier to get time back on your busy schedule and focus on what matters.

Stay on track with Cortana in Windows 10—To help you save time finding what you need and stay focused, we’re releasing a new chat-based Cortana experience in Windows 10 focused on enhancing your productivity. With this, you can ask Cortana using natural language to quickly check your schedule, connect with people, set reminders, or add tasks in Microsoft To Do. You can also find local information, get definitions, and keep track of the latest news, weather, and finance updates with Bing as a Cortana optional connected service. Simply type or click on the microphone button and speak commands such as “Am I free at 9?”, “Find time with Nestor to talk about the budget,” “Join my meeting,” “Remind me to review expenses every Friday at 3 PM,” and more. This productivity focused experience is now generally available in English for customers in the United States with the Windows 10 May 2020 update. In the coming months, with regular app updates through the Microsoft Store, we’ll enhance this experience to support wake word invocation and enable listening when you say “Cortana,” offer more productivity capabilities such as surfacing relevant emails and documents to help you prepare for meetings, and expand supported capabilities for international users.

Stay organized and connected with Play My Emails—To help you manage your time and tasks while listening to new emails and changes to your day, we’re rolling out updates to the Play My Emails experience in Outlook for iOS. You will now be able to ask Cortana to schedule a meeting in response to an email and add an email to your tasks list, making it easier to get things done while you are away from your computer. We have also introduced voice commands and touch targets for sending responses to meeting invitations as well as an option to quickly join an active online meeting or send an “I’m running late” message to the participants. These new task and time management updates are now generally available for customers in the United States with Play My Emails in Outlook for iOS. And, we are excited to confirm that Play My Emails will start to roll out in Outlook for Android in the coming weeks.

Start your day on track with the Briefing email—To help you be well prepared for upcoming meetings and stay on top of commitments, we’re introducing the new Briefing email from Cortana. This personalized brief will appear automatically in your Outlook inbox near the start of your workday, providing intelligent, actionable recommendations of documents for you to review ahead of the day’s meetings and drawing your attention to pending requests or commitments from prior emails that you may want to follow up on. This email will also make it easy for you to reserve “focus time” during your workday for uninterrupted focused work with Microsoft Teams notifications silenced. Briefing is currently rolling out in First Release for Microsoft 365 Enterprise users with Exchange Online mailboxes in English.

Animated image of Cortana Daily Briefings in Outlook Mobile. The user opens a daily briefing, marks a quality report complete, a task complete, and books focus time before checking their calendar.

As a personal productivity assistant that is a natural part of Microsoft 365, Cortana processes data safely and securely to fulfill your requests. Protecting your data and privacy is our highest priority, and we give you control over your data. These new Cortana experiences are delivered using services that fully comply with Office 365’s enterprise-level privacy, security and compliance promises as laid out in the Online Services Terms, and are enabled by default. For a closer look at the user experience and information on admin configurations, watch this Microsoft Mechanics demo. Try these experiences for yourself today and stay tuned for more innovations coming with Cortana in Microsoft 365 to help you make the most of your time.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

With new Garage project Trove, people can contribute photos to help developers build AI models – Microsoft Garage

Every day, developers and researchers are finding creative ways to leverage AI to augment human intelligence and solve tough problems. Whether they’re training a computer vision model that can spot endangered snow leopards or help us do our business expenses more easily when we scan pictures of receipts, they need a lot of quality pictures to do it. Developers usually crowd source these large batches of pictures by enlisting the help of gig workers to submit photos, but often, these calls for photos feel like a black box. Participants have little insight into why they’re submitting a photo and can feel like their time was lost when their submissions are rejected without explanation. At the same time, developers can find that these sourcing projects take a long time to complete due to lower quality and less diverse inputs.

We’re excited to announce that Trove, a Microsoft Garage project, is exploring a solution that can enhance the experience and agency for both parties. Trove is a marketplace app that allows people to contribute photos to AI projects that developers can then use to train machine learning models. Interested parties can request an invite to join the experiment as a contributor or developer. Trove is currently accepting a small number of participants in the United States on both Android and iOS.

A marketplace that puts transparency and choice first

Today, most data collection is passive, with many people unaware that their data is being collected or not making a real-time, active choice to contribute their information. And even those who contribute more directly to model training projects are often not provided the greater context and purpose of the project; there’s little to no feedback loop to correct and align data submissions to better fit the needs of project.

For people who rely on this data gig work as an important source of income, this rejection experience can leave them feeling frustrated and without any agency to contribute better submissions and a higher return on their time investment. With machine learning being a critical step in unlocking advancements from speech to image recognition, there’s an important opportunity to increase the quality of data, while making sure that contributors have the clarity and choice they need to participate in the process.

The Trove team has found a way to overcome these tough tradeoffs in a marketplace solution that emphasizes greater communication, context, and feedback between developers and project participants. “There’s a better way we can do this. You can have the transparency of how your data is being used and actually want to opt in to contribute to these projects and advance science and AI,” shares Krishnan Raghupathi, the Senior Program Manager for Trove. “We’d love to see this become a community where people are a key part of the project.”

To read more about key features and how Trove works for developers and contributors, check it out on the Garage Workbench.

Aspiring to higher quality data and increased contributor agency

The team behind Trove was originally inspired by thought leaders exploring how we can embrace the need for a large volume of data to enable AI advancements, while providing more agency to contributors and recognizing the value of their data. “We wanted to explore these concepts through something concrete,” shared Christian Liensberger, the lead Principal Program Manager on the project. “We decided to form an incubation team and build something that could show how things could be different.”

In creating Trove, the incubation team had to think through principles that would guide them as they brought such an experience to life. They believe that the best framework to produce the higher quality data needed to train these AI models involves connecting content creators to AI developers more directly. Trove was built with a design and approach that focuses on four core principles:

  • Transparency See all the projects available, details about who is posting them, and how your data will be used
  • Control Decide which projects you want to contribute to, and control when and how much you contribute
  • Enrichment Learn directly from AI developers how your contributions are valuable, and see how your participation will advance AI projects
  • Connection Communicate with AI developers to stay informed on projects you contributed to

“I love working on this project, it’s a continuous shift between the user need for privacy and control, and professionals’ need for data to innovate and create new products,” said Devis Lucato, Principal Engineering Manager for Trove. “We’re pushing the boundaries of all the technologies that we touch, exploring new features and challenging decisions determined by the status quo.”

Before releasing this experiment to external users, the team piloted Trove with Microsoft employees from across the US. While Trove is still in an experimental phase, the team is excited for even more feedback. “Our solution is still a bit rough around the edges, but we want to hear from the community about what we should focus on next,” shares Christian. Trinh Duong, the Marketing Manager on the project added, “My favorite part about working on this has been how much the app incorporates users into the experience. We want to invite our users to reach out and join us as true participants in the creation of this concept.”

The team is welcoming feedback from experiment participants here, and is enthusiastic for the input of users who are as passionate about the principles of transparency, control, enrichment, and connection as they are.

Request an invite and share your feedback

Trove will be able to try in the United States upon request while room in the experiment is still available. Request an invite to join the experiment, or request to add an ML project to the experiment.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Looking back at 10 years of learning at the annual Ability Summit – Microsoft Accessibility Blog

Today kicks off the 10th Microsoft Ability Summit! With over 80 speakers, 22 breakout sessions, 20+ non-profit organizations, and product fair demos over two days, this is our first all-virtual summit that is fully open to the public. We’re excited to welcome speakers from Microsoft, industry and members of the accessibility and disability communities — many of whom have been alongside us this last decade and whose feedback has made the journey of accessibility possible.

The Ability Summit started in 2010 with a simple premise: to bring together employees with disabilities to share their best practices, pain points, and dreams. While our employee disability groups have been around since the 90’s, the Microsoft Disability Employee Resource Group was in its infancy at the time. I remember being as nervous then as I am today! Would there be value? Would people find the similarities that I was seeing across each of the groups? Would we walk away frustrated or excited? Approximately 80 people attended throughout the course of the short one-day event, and each of them said to me on the way out of the door “Jenny, we must do this again.” So, we did.

The goals of the Ability Summit have evolved over the years but remained true at the core. To bring together people with disabilities, experts in their domains, along with designers, engineering, marketeers, HR professions and nerds together to talk, share, connect and learn how we Build, Imagine, Include and Empower. To identify where we can speed up implementation of accessibility and innovation for people with disabilities – both in the company and outside of the company – on the pathway to driving for a more inclusive society. Lastly, to create best practice in how to build an accessible and inclusive event. Last year 2,500 people joined us for two days, this year – well, we’re about to find out!

Above all else, the Ability Summit has taught us the critical importance of collaboration. It’s the key to accelerating our accessibility journey. Its why we host this annual event, and it’s also why are sharing the Microsoft Accessibility Evolution Model (AEM). Many have asked in the last few years what ‘secret sauce’ has powered Microsoft’s approach to accessibility and inclusion. There is no secret sauce, but we do manage accessibility like a business. The AEM is a maturity model built on the foundation of two existing models – one from Carnegie Mellon, and the other from accessibility specialists at Level Access. The Microsoft Accessibility Leadership Team, which spans the breadth of the company, expanded on the wisdom of these models by creating a series of dimensions with five levels of maturity. We leverage the structure to gain an understanding of our progress and build upon the dimension definitions as our learning grows. It’s a cultural model that starts with inclusion of people with disabilities, strives for inclusive design in product development, and emphasizes the skilling of employees on about accessibility and importance of authentic representation in sales, marketing, and accessibility supplier/procurement.

We also learned the importance of disability and accessibility education. Last year we created an Accessibility in Action Badge for our employees to help shine a spotlight on how technology can empower everyone. After receiving great feedback, we created a similar accessibility in action certification for other employers, nonprofits, and consumers to take alongside our employees. Get your own badge and complete the accessibility fundamentals learning path today!

During this time, it’s especially crucial to adapt to listen to feedback and to insight from the community. Over the last several weeks we have been responding to questions in a series of blogs that highlight accessibility hints, tips, and product features that can power you to work, learn and play in the stay-at-home world. We’ve had a 175% increase in calls to our Disability Answer Desk, from customers looking for assistance from experts on accessibility. We’ve also seen a huge uptick in the use of AI-powered accessibility tools, such as Immersive Reader and captioning in Office 365. While AI captions do not replace human provided captions (CART) they do offer independence, flexibility and strong quality captions thanks to the AI and machine learning behind them. I’m thrilled to share that Microsoft Teams Free edition will soon support live captions, allowing everyone to give them a try. Just last week, Microsoft Edge shared that they have committed over 150 changes on accessibility features into their open source project with the support of the Google Chrome team, and recently embedded features such as Immersive Reader, Picture Dictionary, Microsoft Translator , Read aloud and more. We also highlighted new accessibility functions coming to Windows 10, including Narrator and Magnifier improvements to provide users who are blind or low vision a better experience across applications.

One project that particularly excites me is Project Tokyo, which leverages AI and AR with the power of HoloLens to power children who are blind and low vision to develop social interaction skills, giving these kids the understanding of not just ‘who’ is at the dinner table but where, their expressions and more. Its research and early, but a beautiful illustration of everything Ability Summit stands for – bringing together people with disabilities with experts to open doors with technology.

Excited to get this show on the road – virtually! We’ve been moving fast these last few weeks to pivot to a virtual event and incredibly grateful for the support of Microsoft Teams to power this year’s summit as well as all of the non-profits, companies and speakers who will be joining us. While registration is now closed, videos will be posted on the Microsoft Enable YouTube channel!

Thank you for powering our journey, for keeping us grounded and motivated. If you need any assistance at any time, remember Disability Answer Desk is open 24/7 and all information on accessibility is at www.microsoft.com/accessibility.

Look forward to seeing how we can Include, Build, Imagine, Empower people with disabilities around the world – together. Let’s get this party started!

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Author: Microsoft News Center