Category Archives: Microsoft News

Microsoft News

Creating a more accessible world with Azure AI

At Microsoft, we are inspired by how artificial intelligence is transforming organizations of all sizes, empowering them to reimagine what’s possible. AI has immense potential to unlock solutions to some of society’s most pressing challenges.

One challenge is that according to the World Health Association, globally, only 1 in 10 people with a disability have access to assistive technologies and products. We believe that AI solutions can have a profound impact on this community. To meet this need, we aim to democratize AI to make it easier for every developer to build accessibility into their apps and services, across language, speech, and vision.

In view of the upcoming Bett Show in London, we’re shining a light on how Immersive Reader enhances reading comprehension for people regardless of their age or ability, and we’re excited to share how Azure AI is broadly enabling developers to build accessible applications that empower everyone.

Empowering readers of all abilities

Immersive Reader is an Azure Cognitive Service that helps users of any age and reading ability with features like reading aloud, translating languages, and focusing attention through highlighting and other design elements. Millions of educators and students already use Immersive Reader to overcome reading and language barriers.

The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, New York, brings together an incredible diversity of students with different backgrounds and learning styles. The teachers at The Young Women’s Leadership School support many types of learners, including students who struggle with text comprehension due to learning differences, or language learners who may not understand the primary language of the classroom. The school wanted to empower all students, regardless of their background or learning styles, to grow their confidence and love for reading and writing.

A teacher and student looking at a computer together

Watch the story here

Teachers at The Young Women’s Leadership School turned to Immersive Reader and an Azure AI partner, Buncee, as they looked for ways to create a more inclusive and engaging classroom. Buncee enables students and teachers to create and share interactive multimedia projects. With the integration of Immersive Reader, students who are dyslexic can benefit from features that help focus attention in their Buncee presentations, while those who are just learning the English language can have content translated to them in their native language.

Like Buncee, companies including Canvas, Wakelet, ThingLink, and Nearpod are also making content more accessible with Immersive Reader integration. To see the entire list of partners, visit our Immersive Reader Partners page. Discover how you can start embedding Immersive Reader into your apps today. To learn more about how Immersive Reader and other accessibility tools are fostering inclusive classrooms, visit our EDU blog.

Breaking communication barriers

Azure AI is also making conversations, lectures, and meetings more accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. By enabling conversations to be transcribed and translated in real-time, individuals can follow and fully engage with presentations.

The Balavidyalaya School in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India teaches speech and language skills to young children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The school recently held an international conference with hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, and parents. With live captioning and translation powered by Azure AI, attendees were able to follow conversations in their native languages, while the presentations were given in English.

Learn how you can easily integrate multi-language support into your own apps with Speech Translation, and see the technology in action with Translator, with support for more than 60 languages, today.

Engaging learners in new ways

We recently announced the Custom Neural Voice capability of Text to Speech, which enables customers to build a unique voice, starting from just a few minutes of training audio.

The Beijing Hongdandan Visually Impaired Service Center leads the way in applying this technology to empower users in incredible ways. Hongdandan produces educational audiobooks featuring the voice of Lina, China’s first blind broadcaster, using Custom Neural Voice. While creating audiobooks can be a time-consuming process, Custom Neural Voice allows Lina to produce high-quality audiobooks at scale, enabling Hongdandan to support over 105 schools for the blind in China like never before.

“We were amazed by how quickly Azure AI could reproduce Lina’s voice in such a natural-sounding way with her speech data, enabling us to create educational audiobooks much more quickly. We were also highly impressed by Microsoft’s commitment to protecting Lina’s voice and identity.”—Xin Zeng, Executive Director at Hongdandan

Learn how you can give your apps a new voice with Text to Speech.

Making the world visible for everyone

According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, more than 250 million people are blind or have low vision across the globe. Last month, in celebration of the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Seeing AI, a free iOS app that describes nearby people, text, and objects, expanded support to five new languages. The additional language support for Spanish, Japanese, German, French, and Dutch makes it possible for millions of blind or low vision individuals to read documents, engage with people around them, hear descriptions of their surroundings in their native language, and much more. All of this is made possible with Azure AI.

Try Seeing AI today or extend vision capabilities to your own apps using Computer Vision and Custom Vision.

Get involved

We are humbled and inspired by what individuals and organizations are accomplishing today with Azure AI technologies. We can’t wait to see how you will continue to build on these technologies to unlock new possibilities and design more accessible experiences. Get started today with a free trial.

Check out our AI for Accessibility program to learn more about how companies are harnessing the power of AI to amplify capabilities for the millions of people around the world with a disability.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft announces it will be carbon negative by 2030 – Stories

REDMOND, Wash. — Jan. 16, 2020 — Microsoft Corp. on Thursday announced an ambitious goal and a new plan to reduce and ultimately remove its carbon footprint. By 2030 Microsoft will be carbon negative, and by 2050 Microsoft will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.

At an event at its Redmond campus, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, President Brad Smith, Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood, and Chief Environmental Officer Lucas Joppa announced the company’s new goals and a detailed plan to become carbon negative.

“While the world will need to reach net zero, those of us who can afford to move faster and go further should do so. That’s why today we are announcing an ambitious goal and a new plan to reduce and ultimately remove Microsoft’s carbon footprint,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith. “By 2030 Microsoft will be carbon negative, and by 2050 Microsoft will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.”

The Official Microsoft Blog has more information about the company’s bold goal and detailed plan to remove its carbon footprint: https://blogs.microsoft.com/?p=52558785.

The company announced an aggressive program to cut carbon emissions by more than half by 2030, both for our direct emissions and for our entire supply and value chain. This includes driving down our own direct emissions and emissions related to the energy we use to near zero by the middle of this decade. It also announced a new initiative to use Microsoft technology to help our suppliers and customers around the world reduce their own carbon footprints and a new $1 billion climate innovation fund to accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture and removal technologies. Beginning next year, the company will also make carbon reduction an explicit aspect of our procurement processes for our supply chain. A new annual Environmental Sustainability Report will detail Microsoft’s carbon impact and reduction journey. And lastly, the company will use its voice and advocacy to support public policy that will accelerate carbon reduction and removal opportunities.

More information can be found at the Microsoft microsite: https://news.microsoft.com/climate.

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:

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

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at https://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Meet the 2020 Imagine Cup EMEA Regional Finalists

For young developers with a vision for improving our world with technology, the Imagine Cup is the place to be. Students are challenged to form teams of one to three people and leverage innovative tech, like AI, to develop a project proposal and business idea to make a difference. We are consistently inspired by solutions students create to tackle social good issues, and the collaborative and innovative core of the competition is continuing with the selection of our 2020 Europe, Middle East, and Africa Regional Finalists.

These 10 teams will be traveling to Amsterdam, the Netherlands in March to compete for over USD20,000 total in prizing, Azure credits, plus the top two will win spots to advance to the 2020 Imagine Cup World Championship! During their Regional Final journey, teams will also have the chance to participate in an Entrepreneurship Day from the U.S. Department of Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) to refine their business pitches, receive mentorship from Microsoft experts, and experience cutting-edge technical innovation at Microsoft Ignite the Tour.

Introducing our EMEA finalist teams heading to Amsterdam!

Allez, Ukraine

Allez: Allez support personal development through sports experience. The team’s aim isn’t just to maximize the performance of an athlete, but to help coaches to growth individuals who are mentally ready to fight obstacles.

ALOIS, Sweden

ALOIS: ALOIS aims to revolutionize the treatment of depression worldwide and to free more people from their negative thought patterns. ALOIS is a social bot, which determines the user’s emotional state and finds the actual causes of the depression.

Casie, Switzerland

Casie: The team’s project is aimed at using facial keypoints as a parameter to track the sequence of emotions displayed by user and using an LSTM RNN in order to infer problems with learning.

The Knights, Kenya

WEEDING BOT: Weeding bot is an automated robot that maneuvers between crop rows as it weeds interrow and intra row weeds using artificial intelligence and a camera as a sensor, equipped with a robotic arm coupled with a gripper and plough-like weeding tool.

meCare, Russia 

meCare: The team are developing a solution for primary screening of malignant skin lesions at home.

Monica, Poland

Monica: Monica is a visual assistant for blind people that is integrated into smart glasses and responds to users requests via voice commands.

RedWalls, Tunisia

I-Remember: I-Remember is a two part mobile application designed for the well being of the both the Alzheimer’s patient and their caregivers.

Vhysio, United Kingdom

Vhysio: Vhysio is a machine learning web app utilising tensorflow.js, a cutting edge browser based Machine Learning library, to enable accessible physiotherapy for the Visually Impaired – talking through exercises by responding to users’ postures in real-time.

Team Wild Eye, Kenya

WildEye_KE: Wild Eye_KE seeks to bring technology to the wild to monitor & track animal activities & notify authorities in case animals stray away from the wildlife protected areas (WPAs), reducing poaching & human interaction with wild animals away from WPAs.

Team to be announced, Pakistan

The results of the 2020 Pakistan National Final have not yet been announced.

Congratulations to all finalists! Check out our recently announced Asia Regional Finalists to learn about more innovative projects in this year’s competition and get inspired. Stay tuned for the announcement of our last group of finalist teams from the Americas next month and follow the competition journey on Instagram and Twitter as students head to their in-person regional events to compete!

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Get 3 Months of Xbox Game Pass for PC for $1! A Plague Tale: Innocence, Children of Morta, and Gris Coming Soon – Xbox Wire

I know you’re here for the games and we have some gems on the way! They’re hauntingly beautiful, challenging, and are coming soon to Xbox Game Pass for PC (Beta).

You might need more than a few days to dig into these games, plus all the others you want to play in our library. Lucky for you, if you haven’t tried Xbox Game Pass for PC (Beta) yet, we just launched our best deal yet for PC: Get your first 3 months for just $1! Discover your next favorite game with unlimited access to over 100 high-quality PC titles. You’ll always have something new to play with games added all the time. This deal won’t last forever, so join today and tell your friends – this is an easy way to get them to jump in and play with you!

But let’s get to the part that you really want to know about: Here’s the latest info on the games coming at you for the next few weeks!

Children of Morta ([email protected])
A story-driven action RPG about an extraordinary family of heroes. Lead the Bergons, with all their flaws and virtues, against the forthcoming Corruption. With a unique mix of action-adventure, RPG, rogue-lite, and hack and slash, you’ll develop not only individual characters but also the entire family as they stand against an encroaching darkness.

Gris ([email protected])
A serene and evocative experience, free of danger, frustration or death. Explore a meticulously designed world brought to life with delicate art, detailed animation, and an elegant original score where light puzzles, platforming sequences, and optional skill-based challenges will reveal themselves as the story unfolds, allowing Gris to see her world in a different way, unlocking new paths to explore using her new abilities.

A Plague Tale: Innocence
Follow the grim tale of young Amicia and her little brother Hugo in a heartrending journey through the darkest hours of history in this acclaimed action adventure game. Hunted by Inquisition soldiers and surrounded by unstoppable swarms of rats, they will struggle to survive against overwhelming odds and fight to find purpose in this brutal, unforgiving world.

Seriously, getting 3 months of PC gaming for only $1 is a screaming deal. Take the opportunity to try a whole bunch of games with no risk (other than being that person that won’t shut up about what games they are playing). I haven’t done the calculations yet, but I’m willing to bet that the math checks out on this being the best deal right now to play all these games.

Reminder to install the mobile app so you can remotely install games to your PC from anywhere – use that time to watch speed runs, character builds, or build your perfect playlist for these haunting games. Lastly, for more news on games, memes, and whatever shower thoughts we have about games, check out our Twitter. Happy gaming!

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Our vision to close the broadband gap, improve teacher training and boost accessibility in the classroom | | Microsoft EDU

With the start of the new year, we’re excited to head to London for the annual Bett UK education technology show where we’ll preview a number of new products and updates coming for the 2020-2021 school year. We’ll bring you along to Bett too, from the booth every day of Bett live from London in: “What’s new in Edu: Live from Bett”.

Join Leslie Fisher, and see for the very first time, new devices, tools and training resources coming soon to ensure you and your students have your best year yet!

Video for Our vision to close the broadband gap, improve teacher training and boost accessibility in the classroom

Closing the broadband gap with new devices that connect to cellular service and Community Learning Centers

One of the biggest challenges in global education is a lack of access to the internet. Students who lack broadband access at home or school are deprived of the information they need to complete their assignments and keep up with their peers, creating educational inequality and disadvantages that can impact them throughout their lives. In the U.S., the FCC estimates 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires broadband access, yet broadband is not available to nearly 25 million people, 19 million of whom live in rural areas. Even among those who do have a connection, our data shows that nearly 163 million Americans are not using the internet at broadband speeds.

We’ve been investing in solving this multi-faceted problem for years with programs like the Airband Initiative, which aims to expand broadband access to underserved rural areas around the world. Today, we’re continuing to build on this commitment to connect every student to the internet by introducing two new Connected PCs, built and priced especially for education – the JP.IK Turn T101 and Positivo Wise N1212S.

These new devices, which will ship this summer, are our most affordable Connected PCs yet, with all the capabilities of Windows and Office and can be used anywhere there is cellular service. These devices will save schools thousands of dollars in server infrastructure and startup time and help the more than 1.15 billion students in rural and emerging markets around the world connect to the internet for the first time or dramatically improve their current connection. The JP.IK Turn T101 starts at just $299 USD and the Wise N1212S will start at $575 USD, both powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c with twice the battery life and 25 percent better performance than competing platforms, and like our other Windows PCs boasting the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets, they will have blazing-fast cellular connectivity.

We’re also proud to collaborate with T-Mobile to kick off a pilot next month that offers select districts in rural and underserved areas in the U.S. a chance to test the newest Connected PCs. T-Mobile shares our vision to empower students and provide connectivity and educational equality through their EmpowerED™ 2.0 program – and will provide the pilot schools with SIM cards and free 4G LTE coverage plans to get their new PCs up and running. For the rest of the world, we’re excited to partner with Vodafone to provide education-specific cellular connectivity plans to customers using the newest Connected PCs in Vodafone and Vodacom markets in Europe and Africa. Through the Connected Education program, Vodafone endeavors to digitalize school infrastructure and accelerate adoption of fast, secure internet access to schools and students around the world. Together, we’re excited to learn how these new devices and alliances could reshape the education landscape and reduce the broadband gap.

These new devices mark a big milestone in bringing equitable educational opportunities to students around the world, but it’s just the beginning. We’re also thrilled to partner with JP.IK to bring their Community Learning Centers – solar-powered, pop-up schools – to more than 130 underserved areas around the world, giving students a truly connected digital learning experience.

Our most affordable Windows 10 devices get even better

No matter your needs or your location in the world, we have the perfect Windows 10 device for you and your students, starting at $219 USD. Today, we’re excited to announce that our portfolio is getting even better. Together with our partners at Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, JP.IK and Positivo we’re enhancing 14 of our most affordable Windows 10 devices so you get even more bang for your buck, including:

  • NEW! Faster performance. Seven of our new devices include the newest Intel processor, which will give you 46 percent more system performance than before. Students can have multiple web browser tabs open while working on documents and collaborating with classmates without missing a beat.
  • NEW! Safekeeping for pens. One of the biggest complaints we hear from educators is that – while they love the benefits of having students write directly on their device screens – pens get lost frequently. But great news! In addition to a number of devices that include ways to tether pens, the newest Acer TravelMate Spin B3 and Lenovo 300e also have a pen “garage” built into the device so it’s less likely to wander off.  
  • NEW! Introducing indicator lights to show student progress. Teachers, have you ever wished you could look at the classroom from your desk or podium and see which students are good to go on their devices? Now you can! Five of our newest devices will include a built-in LED indicator light on the back of the device that can be used to indicate whether a device is charged and connected to the internet. Simply look for the light!

Check out these and our other great Windows 10 devices on our Windows Device Finder today!

 

Three Free New Tools to Make Teacher Training More Effective

Preparing students for the jobs of the future starts with training and retaining great educators today. Our new research – Staff of 2030: Future Ready Teaching – indicates only 38 percent of teachers believe their current training has equipped them to use digital technology for instruction, which is critical to their success as well as their students. As new Gen Z teachers are entering the workforce, it’s more important than ever for schools to offer a variety of training tools and build powerful professional development communities that help them thrive throughout the school year. We’ve got some great new (and totally free!) tools to help, including our new and improved Microsoft Educator Center with hundreds of great training resources available in more languages than ever before.

  • NEW! Conduct training and engage everyone in the audience using PowerPoint Live Presentations. Using PowerPoint for Web, which is part of Office 365 Education, you will soon be able to train teachers and engage every participant with the new live presentations feature. Schools can present slides and using a QR code or short link, viewers can join and follow along with live subtitles in more than 60 languages on their personal device, making it easy to present to a large group of teachers, students or parents who speak different languages. The feature also includes live reactions and a survey for participants that generates an email to the presenter with the aggregated audience feedback and corresponding recommendations, offering insights to improve future presentations and trainings.

  • NEW! Use Microsoft Stream to create training videos on web and mobile, including transcription in eight languages. Microsoft Stream, included in Office 365 Education, empowers organizations to teach and learn with video easily and securely. Now available to the Stream mobile app, video creation with the new Flipgrid camera integration makes it fun for anyone to personalize and share content in seconds. Stream will also soon support browser-based screen recording and editing, giving teachers and students new ways to create learning and training materials by recording and sharing screens, applications, or device camera feeds. Automatic captions and searchable transcripts now support eight languages, which allow learners to find information quickly. And to help improve learner focus, videos on Stream will soon support a voice enhance capability that removes background noise from videos recorded in classrooms and other noisy environments.
  • NEW! Unlock your students’ potential with Microsoft Teams Class Insights. Teaching is a team sport that requires students, teachers and parents to work together. That’s why we introduced capabilities like Class Insights in Microsoft Teams, to equip educators with more data on student performance and activity. We also made it possible for you to collaborate in safe and focused environments with Private Channels and added the Parent and Guardian Emails that summarize a student’s weekly progress and the week ahead. All these Teams improvements are designed to strengthen collaboration and engagement at your school.

And last, but certainly not least, we’re proud to be rolling out:

Free, built-in accessibility features in OneNote and Microsoft Edge to help every classroom be more inclusive

  • NEW! The new Microsoft Edge – secure, accessible and compatible with all your favorite websites and extensions! The web browser is the most used app in the classroom, so it’s crucial it has the built-in flexibility and accessibility to support every educator and learner. Now available for IT to download and deploy, the new Microsoft Edge web browser is designed to support inclusive classrooms with built-in tools allowing students to change text size, reading text aloud and even inking on PDFs right in the browser. Plus, we made Microsoft Edge even easier for users. Microsoft Edge is now powered by the same technology as Google Chrome to provide better compatibility for websites and extensions, allowing you to experience the web without using multiple browsers. You can even customize your web experience to access Office documents quickly when opening a new tab. Students and teachers working on shared computers can also sign into one or more profiles for quick access to their favorites, passwords, and more. Finally, the new Microsoft Edge browser has Microsoft security features and is simple to manage, with tools that make it easy for IT administrators to deploy and set district- or school-wide policies, as well as features to help protect students from phishing attempts and tracking.
  • NEW! OneNote Live Captions to help students’ focus, comprehension and retention. Recent studies have shown that students who use closed captions and interactive transcripts can maintain their focus and retain information better. You can already use captions and transcripts in many of our products like PowerPoint, Teams, Stream and Flipgrid, and now you can use captions inside OneNote as well! This month, we are rolling out a private preview of OneNote that allows students to connect OneNote to a Microsoft Translator session via a Join Code and receive the captions and translation stream. This allows captions from the educator speaking to flow directly into OneNote for reading, while still allowing the student to take notes. In addition, the student can pause the captions, highlight portions, and then have the entire transcription saved as a page into OneNote, features that will benefit all learners but especially those who may be hard of hearing or speak multiple languages.

And that’s just the beginning! Tune in throughout next week as we join education technology expert, Leslie Fisher in London to walk you through how to make this news you can use in the upcoming school year!

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Author: Microsoft News Center

CES 2020: PC Gaming Experiences Designed for Everyone – Xbox Wire

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas kicked off 2020 with a look at what’s in store for a variety of players this year, with exciting innovations for PC gaming and Microsoft’s device partners announcing some of the best upcoming hardware and software in the industry.

From the thinnest and lightest gaming laptops yet, to immersive monitors giving players a deeper, more robust experience, in addition to new gaming desktops and graphics cards, there’s plenty for PC gamers to be excited for in the year ahead.

To catch you up on all the news from last week, we’ve wrapped up all the CES 2020 announcements from Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, and iBuyPower below.

Acer

Acer introduced new Predator monitors offering gamers a more immersive and expansive view of their play.

  • The Predator CG552K features a huge 55-inch 4K OLED panel that’s Adaptive Sync and HDMI VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) compatible, making it ideal for hardcore PC and console gamers wanting a higher vantage point. The 37.5-inch monitor increases gaming immersion with a 2300R curved UWQHD+ panel and Vesa DisplayHDR 400 certification that makes colors pop.
  • The 32-inch Predator X32 gaming monitor reproduces brilliant visuals with Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate, Vesa Display HDR 1400 certification and 89.5% Rec. 2020, perfect for gamers who also create their own videos.

Asus

Asus released new Strix gaming desktops, the Zephyrus G14 laptop and TUF laptops presenting device options for every type of gamer.

  • Asus Republic of Gamers (ROG) debuted a handful of new Strix models: Strix GA35 and GT35 gaming desktops to get players tournament-ready for competitive esports. They’re engineered to sustain smooth gameplay under serious pressure and offer the flexibility to do everything from producing top-quality streams to developing games. In addition to those new gaming devices, Asus ROG also announced new Strix GA15 and GT15 gaming desktops that focus on gaming fundamentals for competitive esports players on a budget. Lean and lightweight, these leverage powerful, latest generation processors to capably handle hardcore gaming, streaming and multitasking. These use the latest 3rd Generation AMD Ryzen CPUs and upcoming 10th Generation Intel Core processors.
  • The Zephyrus G14 brings premium innovations to a wider audience with an ultra-slim form factor at just 17.9mm thin and 1.6kg, all without compromising performance. The Zephyrus G14 gaming notebook features RTX graphics for high frame rates when playing popular games, and also lets gamers choose between high refresh or high resolution for their display; the choice of 120Hz refresh rate or WQHD resolution panels allows users to optimize for gaming or creating content. G14 has an optional AniMe Matrix display that deepens personalization, enabling users to show custom graphics, animations and other effects across more than a thousand mini LEDs embedded in the lid.
  • The 15-inch TUF Gaming A15 and F15, along with their 17-inch A17 and F17 siblings, deliver an unprecedented experience for the price. Key to the experience is potent processing power, thanks to a choice between 4th Gen AMD Ryzen Mobile CPUs and upcoming 10th Gen Intel Core processors. Nvidia Turing-based GPUs up to the GeForce RTX 2060 feed frames into fast displays that refresh at up to 144Hz and use AMD FreeSync technology to ensure smoother, tear-free gaming across a wide range of titles.

Dell

Dell announced the new Alienware gaming monitor and a redesigned Dell G5 15 SE laptop with new features and enhanced performance.

  • Built for speed with a 99% sRGB color coverage, the new Alienware 25 Gaming Monitor features fast IPS technology that offers rich colors, a 240Hz refresh rate and a 1 millisecond response time, all in native FHD resolution. It also has AMD Radeon FreeSync and is G-Sync compatible.
  • The newly redesigned Dell G5 15 SE (Special Edition) is the first Dell G Series laptop to feature 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen 4000 H-Series Mobile Processors (up to 8 cores and 16 threads) paired with the latest AMD Radeon RX 5000M Series graphics. The two chips work seamlessly together using AMD SmartShift technology to optimize performance by automatically shifting power as needed between the Ryzen processor and Radeon graphics, giving gamers precisely what they want at each moment of play.

Lenovo

Lenovo released a number of new performance monitors and laptops, giving gamers a variety of devices to choose how they want to enhance their battle experience.

  • With the new premium Lenovo Q27h Monitor, users can seamlessly switch between entertainment and their latest creative project. Its 27-inch QHD (2560 x 1440) provides IPS high-resolution ​and 350 nits of brightness. The four-sided near-edgeless bezel brings a noticeably wider viewing experience when playing the hottest gaming titles in your spare time with super-fast 4ms response time, and a smooth 75Hz refresh rate to reduce motion blur in the game.
  • The Lenovo Legion Y740S is Lenovo’s thinnest and lightest gaming laptop yet with up to eight hours of battery life. It’s got up to 10th Gen Intel Core i9 processors (coming soon) reaching more than 5 GHz and Q-Control, with which users can shift gears with a simple press of their Fn+Q keys. Jump into Performance Mode for higher frame rates, down-shift into Quiet Mode for better battery life to watch a movie or stay the course in Balance Mode for day-to-day usage. Made with long-term gaming usage in mind, enjoy the new tactile feel of the Lenovo Legion keyboards, featuring quick response time with 100% anti-ghosting, improved ergonomic key size and responsive switches designed for smoother typing and gameplay.
  • Stay focused on the game with the new Lenovo Legion Y25-25 Gaming Monitor with a 24.5-inch, Full HD IPS panel display built into the near-edgeless chassis. Crank up refresh rates all the way to 240Hz—more FPS means that more data flows between the GPU and monitor, helping to eliminate tearing in most multiplayer games. It comes with anti-glare panel and up to 400 nits of brightness and is TÜV Rheinland Eye Comfort Certified to reduce eye strain. Curved monitors make gaming more immersive and comfortable, as the curve simulates a more natural viewing experience for your eyes, neck and head—allowing the gamer to see all the action at once.
  • The new 31.5-inch Lenovo G32qc Gaming Monitor has near-edgeless bezel QHD (2560 x 1440) screen resolution for clear visuals and superior picture quality. Catch every player movement with its wide viewing angle, high-screen brightness and excellent contrast ratio.
  • Or, choose the heavy-duty yet compact 27-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution display on the Lenovo G27c Gaming Monitor — both monitors have a curvature of 1500R for complete game immersion. The latter is engineered to deliver virtually tear-free and stutter-free gameplay and is capable of an amazingly high refresh rate of up to 165Hz, helping to rid gaming distractions such as choppy images, streaks and motion blur.

iBuyPower

 iBuyPower showed off an expansion of its Element Case line and next gen Revolt Series.

  • For a different take on the traditional PC layout, the Element Dual features a binary chamber design. With the PSU mounted vertically on the bottom right side of the case and hidden behind the motherboard tray, users will be left with an open aesthetic on the left side and substantial space for maximum component compatibility. The Element CL case is pre-built systems is designed with an integrated front panel distribution plate for easier bends and less complicated routing.
  • The Revolt GT3 will take on a new aesthetic compared to the asymmetrical design of its predecessors, housing small form factor systems and providing support for ITX motherboards and SFX power supplies up to 750W. Systems constructed in it will be mounted to and suspended inside an outer frame by flexible rubber supports designed to add both cushion from shock and vibration damping.

These are just some of the new products that are bringing powerful experiences to Windows 10 gamers in 2020. Check back on Xbox Wire or the Windows Experience blog to keep up with the latest PC gaming product releases and news.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

8 new ways to empower Firstline Workers and transform the way they work with Microsoft 365

Companies at the forefront of digital transformation recognize how critical it is to enable all of their people with the right technology and tools. That’s why, in industries like retail, hospitality, and manufacturing, there’s a movement underway to digitally empower the Firstline Workforce—the more than 2 billion people worldwide who work in service- or task-oriented roles.

With Microsoft 365, the world’s productivity cloud, we’re in a unique position to help companies of all sizes and across all industries provide their employees the tools and expertise they need to do their best work, without sacrificing the security of their organization or customers’ data. Giving Firstline Workers the tools they need requires companies to address unique user experience, security and compliance, and IT management.

Microsoft 365 for Firstline Workers

Microsoft 365 combines intuitive best-in-class productivity apps with intelligent cloud services to empower your Firstline Workforce.

Learn more

It’s inspiring to see how industry leaders, like IKEA and Mattress Firm, are driving higher levels of employee engagement and enhancing the customer experience by putting tools like Microsoft Teams into the hands of their Firstline Workforce. IKEA is connecting everyone in the organization with familiar features like chat and video calls and digitizing firstline processes such as shift management to save time and cost.

This video was created by Microsoft, with the agreement of Ingka Group.

Mattress Firm is empowering Firstline Workers with real-time access to the information, resources, and expertise they need to delight customers and provide a better shopping experience.

Ahead of next week’s National Retail Federation (NRF) tradeshow, we are excited to introduce new capabilities for Firstline Workers coming to Microsoft 365. Here’s a look at what’s coming soon:

New tools that make it easier for Firstline Workers to communicate and manage tasks

  1. Walkie Talkie in Teams—This new push-to-talk experience enables clear, instant, and secure voice communication over the cloud, turning employee- or company-owned smartphones and tablets into a walkie-talkie. This functionality, built natively into Teams, reduces the number of devices employees must carry, and lowers costs for IT. Unlike analog devices with unsecure networks, customers no longer have to worry about crosstalk or eavesdropping from outsiders. And since Walkie Talkie functions over Wi-Fi or cellular data, this capability can be used across geographic locations. Walkie Talkie will be available in private preview in Teams in the first half of this year.

Image displaying the intuitive push-to-talk experience to connect team members in Microsoft Teams. Three phones are displayed at various stages in connecting a manager to her team of cashiers.

Intuitive push-to-talk experience to connect team members across departments and locations.

  1. Tasks targeting, publishing, and reportingWith Tasks in Teams, now customers can drive consistent execution of store operations at scale across all of an organization’s locations. Corporate and regional leadership can send task lists targeted to the relevant locations, such as specific retail stores, and track their progress through automatic real-time reports. Managers have tools to easily direct activities within their stores, and Firstline Workers have a simple prioritized list available via their personal or company-issued device showing them exactly what to do next. Tasks targeting, publishing, and reporting is coming to Teams in the first half of this year.

Image of tasks being assigned to teams in Microsoft Teams.

Corporate headquarters can target, assign, and track tasks across locations. Firstline Workers can view tasks assigned to them and across the store.

  1. Workforce management integrations—Customers using leading third-party workforce management systems—such as Kronos and JDA—for scheduling and time and attendance can now start integrating directly with Shifts via Shifts Graph APIs and SDK. Supported scenarios include management of shifts, schedules, schedule groups, swap requests, time off requests, and open shift requests. The JDA connector for Shifts is open sourced and available on GitHub. The Kronos connector for Shifts will also be available on GitHub later this quarter.

Enhanced identity and access management features that make it easier for IT pros to keep Firstline Workers productive and secure

  1. SMS sign-in—With SMS sign-in, Firstline Workers are able to sign in to their Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) account using one-time SMS codes—reducing the need to remember usernames and passwords for all their Microsoft 365 and custom applications. Once enrolled, the user is prompted to enter their phone number, which generates an SMS text with a one-time password. SMS sign-in is a single sign-on (SSO) experience, enabling Firstline Workers to seamlessly access all the apps they are authorized to use. This new sign-in method can be enabled for select groups and configured at the user level in the My Staff portal—helping to reduce the burden on IT.

Image of one-time SMS codes being used to sign in to a device. Three phones display a code received and used by a Firstline Worker.

One-time SMS codes on mobile devices to streamline the sign-in experience for Firstline Workers.

  1. Shared device sign-out—Many Firstline Workers use a single tablet or mobile device that is shared between shifts. This can pose unique security challenges to the organization when different employees who have access to different types of data use the same device over the course of a day. With shared device sign-out, Firstline Workers will be able to log out of all their Microsoft 365 and custom applications and browser sessions with one click at the end of their shift—preventing their data as well as any access to customer data from being accessible to the next user of that device.

Image of shared device sign-out used on a shared Android device used as a scanning tool.

With one click, Firstline Workers can sign out of a shared Android device and log out of all applications and browser sessions to prevent sensitive data being shared with another device user.

  1. Off-shift access controls for Teams app—IT administrators can now configure Teams to limit employee access to the app on their personal device outside of working hours. This feature helps ensure employees are not involuntarily working while not on shift and helps employers to comply with labor regulations. This feature will begin rolling out to customers this quarter.

Image of off shift being used in Microsoft Teams. Three phones display various messages from the new feature.

Display a message and/or disable access to Teams app when Firstline Workers are off shift.

  1. Delegated user management—Firstline Managers can approve password resets and enable employees to use their phone numbers for SMS sign-in, all via a single customizable portal enabled by IT for Firstline Managers. Delegated user management can give Firstline Managers access to the My Staff portal, so they can unblock staff issues—reducing the burden of identity management on IT, and keeping employees connected to the apps they need on the job.

Image of the My Stage portal accessed from a tablet.

Through the My Staff portal, delegated user management enables a Firstline Manager to manage their team’s credentials and assist with password resets.

  1. Inbound provisioning from SAP SuccessFactors to Azure AD—Azure AD’s user provisioning service now integrates with SAP SuccessFactors, making it easier than ever to onboard and manage Firstline Workers’ identities at scale, across any application using Azure AD. This feature—in public preview—builds upon the ability to provision users to Azure AD from Workday, another popular human capital management (HCM) system, already generally available. Integrating with these systems of record helps IT to scale Firstline Workers’ onboarding and productivity from day one.

Image of Azure AD's user provisioning service integrated with SAP SuccessFactors and Workday used to check status on a laptop.

With Azure AD’s user provisioning service now integrated with SAP SuccessFactors, as well as Workday, it’s easier than ever to onboard Firstline Workers user identities at scale. Shown here, you can start the provisioning cycle and use the progress bar and provisioning logs to track the provisioning process.

All of these capabilities are expected to roll out in the first half of this year except where noted.

Empowering Firstline Workers to gain a competitive advantage

New research in partnership with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services highlights the untapped potential of Firstline Workers in retail.

Learn more

Looking ahead

This is just the next step in our journey to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We aim to build tools and experiences for the modern workplace and for workers at all levels of the organization. We’ll continue to develop and bring to market purpose-built Firstline Worker capabilities and experiences in partnership with our customers and industry leaders. And we’ll continue to innovate and build features that simplify work, bring people together, and help organizations big and small achieve more. Come see us next week at NRF 2020 in booth #4501.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft shares new technique to address online grooming of children for sexual purposes – Microsoft on the Issues

Online child exploitation is a horrific crime that requires a whole-of-society approach. Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to child online protection. First and foremost, as a technology company, we have a responsibility to create software, devices and services that have safety features built in from the outset. We leverage technology across our services to detect, disrupt and report illegal content, including child sexual exploitation. And we innovate and invest in tools, technology and partnerships to support the global fight needed to address online child sexual exploitation.

In furtherance of those commitments, today Microsoft is sharing a grooming detection technique, code name “Project Artemis,” by which online predators attempting to lure children for sexual purposes can be detected, addressed and reported. Developed in collaboration with The Meet Group, Roblox, Kik and Thorn, this technique builds off Microsoft patented technology and will be made freely available via Thorn to qualified online service companies that offer a chat function. Thorn is a technology nonprofit that builds technology to defend children from sexual abuse.

The development of this new technique began in November 2018 at a Microsoft “360 Cross-Industry Hackathon,” which was co-sponsored by the WePROTECT Global Alliance in conjunction with the Child Dignity Alliance. These “360” hackathons are multifaceted, focusing not just on technology and engineering but also on legal and policy aspects as well as operations and policy implementation. Today’s announcement marks the technical and engineering progress over the last 14 months by a cross-industry v-team from Microsoft, The Meet Group, Roblox, Kik, Thorn and others to help identify potential instances of child online grooming for sexual purposes and to operationalize an effective response. The teams were led by Dr. Hany Farid, a leading academic who, in 2009, partnered with Microsoft and Dartmouth College on the development of PhotoDNA, a free tool that has assisted in the detection, disruption and reporting of millions of child sexual exploitation images and is used by more than 150 companies and organizations around the world.

Building off the Microsoft patent, the technique is applied to historical text-based chat conversations. It evaluates and “rates” conversation characteristics and assigns an overall probability rating. This rating can then be used as a determiner, set by individual companies implementing the technique, as to when a flagged conversation should be sent to human moderators for review. Human moderators would then be capable of identifying imminent threats for referral to law enforcement, as well as incidents of suspected child sexual exploitation to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). NCMEC, along with ECPAT International, INHOPE and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), provided valuable feedback throughout the collaborative process.

Beginning on January 10, 2020, licensing and adoption of the technique will be handled by Thorn. Companies and services wanting to test and adopt the technique can contact Thorn directly at [email protected] Microsoft has been leveraging the technique in programs on our Xbox platform for several years and is exploring its use in chat services, including Skype.

“Project Artemis” is a significant step forward, but it is by no means a panacea. Child sexual exploitation and abuse online and the detection of online child grooming are weighty problems. But we are not deterred by the complexity and intricacy of such issues. On the contrary, we are making the tool available at this point in time to invite further contributions and engagement from other technology companies and organizations with the goal of continuous improvement and refinement.

At Microsoft, we embrace a multi-stakeholder model to combat online child exploitation that includes survivors and their advocates, government, tech companies and civil society working together. Combating online child exploitation should and must be a universal call to action.

Learn how to detect, remove and report child sexual abuse materials at PhotoDNA or contact [email protected]. Follow @MSFTissues on Twitter.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Meet the 2020 Imagine Cup Asia Regional Finalists

For 18 years, student developers have brought their unique technology solutions to life with Imagine Cup to make a difference in the world around them. Starting with just an idea, students form teams of one to three people and leverage Microsoft technology to develop purpose-driven applications from what they’re most passionate about.

This competition year is no different, and the journey to the 2020 Imagine Cup World Championship is kicking off with the selection of the Asia Regional Finalists! From hundreds of teams who submitted projects to the Asia Online Semifinals, 10 teams have been chosen to advance to the Asia Regional Final in Singapore this February. Encompassing solutions tackling a drug scanning app to monitor authenticity and allergens, to a real-time computer vision physiotherapy tool, to an immersive virtual reality experience so young students can learn about different cultures, these student innovations are truly incredible and have the chance to create global impact.

At the Regional Final, all teams will participate in an Entrepreneur Day and receive in-person pitch training from the U.S. Department of Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST), and compete for prizing totaling over USD20,000 in cash plus Azure credits. The top two teams will win spots in the 2020 Imagine Cup World Championship in Seattle, Washington to present their projects live for the chance to take home USD100,000 and a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.

We’re excited to introduce this year’s Asia Regional Finalist teams!

Altruistic

Indonesia

Tanah Airku: Tanah Airku is immersive learning media using books, AR, and VR to deliver a complete cultural learning experience for children from 1st to 3rd grade.

Blume-India

India

Seguro Droga: The team developed an Android application which lets patients scan a drug’s RFID card to determine authenticity using Hyperledger Fabric on Azure VM, manage their drug purchases, and set filters for allergens.

EDVR

Nepal

EDVR: EDVR is a voice-controlled immersive Virtual Reality experience for dyslexic students enrolled in STEM education. EDVR aims to solve the problem of imparting STEM education for students with learning disabilities by enabling them to visualize, comprehend, and conceptualize.

Hollo

Hong Kong

Hollo: Hollo is a Social Technology Enterprise based in Hong Kong. The team is developing a comprehensive tool for NGOs, therapists, and youth living with mental illness to advance therapy practices using technology such as Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.

Muses

China

AI Composition System: Using AI, The Muse Artificial Intelligence Composer is a low-cost solution to create music for commercial use, providing a new solution for some commercial music creations that have lower creative requirements and are more cost effective. 

Nutone 

Japan

NUTONE: The team’s device restores the ability to speak for patients who have lost their voice (through reasons such as laryngectomes).

TAZS

India

FaceTag: The team created a solution for bottlenecked gateways in a daily commute: specifically the entry and exit points at metro stations. FastTag tollways enable commuters to simply walk in, have their face scanned, and have the toll deducted automatically from their wallet.

Team Zest

Singapore

Dr. Rehab: Dr. Rehab is a mobile application for real-time physiotherapy supervision through computer vision. Users can access the rehabilitation exercises assigned to them, follow guided instructions, and receive feedback while completing their exercises.

Tulibot Team

Indonesia

Tulibot: Tulibot is an integrated assistive device to bridge the communication gap for the deaf by providing a smart glove (gesture to text) and smart glasses (speech to text).

Vibra

Singapore

Vibra-Intellisense: Vibra-IntelliSense aims to help companies transition from traditional preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance through the use of sensors. The sensors capture machine vibrations to detect anomalies and recommend maintenance efforts.

Congratulations to our finalists! Follow their competition journey on Twitter and Instagram as they head to Singapore in February to compete in the Regional Final, co-located with Microsoft Ignite | The Tour. Students will have the opportunity to connect with the tech community and get hands-on with the latest in developer tools and cloud technologies.

Are you passionate about using tech for social good to solve some of today’s most pressing challenges? Imagine Cup Asia and EMEA submissions are now closed but Americas regional submissions are open until January 15! Register now for a chance to join students across the globe making an impact with technology.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft and KKBOX Group launch global strategic partnership – Stories

TAIPEI — December 20, 2019 — Microsoft Taiwan and Asia’s leading media technology company, KKBOX Group, jointly announced today the launch of a global strategic partnership that will migrate the group’s subsidiary KKBOX’s music streaming services to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Additionally, KKBOX Group subsidiary KKStream has joined Microsoft’s global partner network to release BlendVision™, a next-generation commercial video streaming solution that will harness data and AI to effectively reduce operating costs of over-the-top (OTT) platform operators. Microsoft and KKBOX Group will also jointly use data and AI to optimize its music-creation system and explore new music-listening possibilities for consumers. This cooperation is a milestone for KKBOX Group’s internationalization initiative and opens up more possibilities for the digital entertainment industry.

“The media and entertainment industries are going through a transformation as studios, broadcasters and other rich media content creators, such as over-the-top (OTT) service providers, are facing pressure to innovate on how they deliver content to their audiences while getting smarter on using data to their advantage,” said Bob De Haven, general manager, Worldwide Media & Communications Industries, Microsoft. “KKBOX has been at the forefront of the entertainment industry in Asia, providing world-class entertainment to users and continuing to experiment and innovate with technology. We are thrilled that KKBOX has chosen Azure to provide the company with intelligent platforms that unlock creativity and collaboration, bring content to market faster and engage audiences.”

Serving the Asian market for over 15 years, KKBOX Group is now expanding globally. It integrates big data — including music, video, show ticketing and e-commerce — and leverages AI to provide users with better experiences and artists, creators, and concert organizers with business insights.

“KKBOX Group offers consumers a wide range of entertainment experiences in Asia,” said Co-founder and CEO Chris Lin. “We are pleased to partner with Microsoft to migrate KKBOX music to Azure, address streaming technology challenges by co-selling BlendVision globally, and develop AI music creation.”

Key initiatives of the partnership include:

  1. KKBOX music streaming service migrates to Microsoft Azure:

By partnering with Microsoft to fully migrate KKBOX music streaming services onto Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, KKBOX Group is meeting consumer demand for high-speed streaming services and highly differentiated entertainment experiences. The partnership will allow KKBOX to provide faster development, manage resource scheduling and flexibly adjust traffic to develop more meta services, aligned with the digital entertainment industry’s trend of accelerating digital services.

Microsoft Azure has more regions than any other cloud provider, with 55 datacenter regions, to offer the scale needed to deploy services and applications on demand to enterprises around the world. This coverage helps enterprises deploy services on demand. With high-standard information security, KKBOX can rapidly deploy innovative services to international markets while ensuring that data is protected by comprehensive security measures. Microsoft is committed to promoting enterprise digital transformation with front-end technology, assisting customers and partners in various industries to adopt AI and the cloud to optimize enterprise resource deployment and operation processes, and to expand their global business territories through joint sales plans. This strategic cooperation with KKBOX Group is a milestone for Microsoft in the digital entertainment industry.

  1. KKStream launches commercial video streaming technology solution — BlendVision:

BlendVision, launched by KKStream, is a next-generation commercial video streaming solution that empowers global streaming platform operators through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, reducing operating costs and improving user experiences while developing services that create new monetization models. BlendVision will launch “BlendVision Video Streaming” combined with “per-title encoding” (PTE) to effectively reduce operating costs of OTT platform operators by using AI to identify different bitrates for video compression and transcoding, greatly reducing transmission bandwidth and saving storage space.

An independently developed image enhancement technology called Perceptual Streaming Engine (PSE) will be added to enhance the visual performance of the original video and double the quality of low-resolution videos into high definition (HD) for optimal streaming image quality. These two technologies (PTE + PSE) together can further reduce platform operator transmission costs by 80% so users get the highest image quality with the lowest traffic. The cooperation between Microsoft and KKStream will be based on the SaaS model, with BlendVision’s service architecture built on Azure, helping to deliver new services to consumers. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s global sales and service teams will assist in implementation. Microsoft and KKBOX already foresee 10 potential customers in the Asian region, symbolizing proof of endless global business opportunities as a result of this strategic alliance.

  1. Both parties to jointly develop AI-enabled music production system for producers:

KKBOX will leverage Microsoft AI technology to build an AI-assisted music arrangement system and an AI-assisted lyric generator. In addition, the group will create a predictive model that uses data and AI to forecast the commercial success of a song. KKBOX and Microsoft believe that the digital entertainment industry is facing a transformation and must use technology to make content faster and smoother for users and to use a data-driven approach to create personalized services. AI will become the most important advancement in this transformation. KKBOX is one of the world’s earliest legal music streaming platforms, providing services since 2005. It has successfully changed consumer listening behavior, and the music industry’s business model is changing accordingly. KKBOX Group and Microsoft aim to leverage AI to explore new opportunities, create new trends and transform the entertainment market.

About KKBOX

For more information on KKBOX, visit: https://www.kkbox.com/about/zh-tw

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.

Media contacts

MSFT contact:
[email protected]

KKBOX contact:
KKBOX Public Relations [email protected]

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Author: Microsoft News Center