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Open source networking projects unite under Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation this week announced the formation of the LF Networking Fund, or LFN, an initiative to combine the multiple open source networking projects currently under its supervision.

Host to many of the top open source networking projects, The Linux Foundation said it was time to streamline how it oversees its various ventures, said Arpit Joshipura, general manager of networking and orchestration at The Linux Foundation.

The six founding open source projects involved in the LFN are FD.io, OpenDaylight, Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV), PDNA and Streaming Network Analytics System. An additional 83 member organizations are participating in LFN. Members of The Linux Foundation can choose whether they want to join LFN, and they can participate in as many or as few of the projects as they want.

The open source networking projects will remain technically independent, maintaining their existing charters and working toward their individual releases — all of which are still on schedule, according to Joshipura. But the projects will be under a single governing board and will share financial resources and staff, he said.

The governing board will comprise chosen representatives from platinum, gold and silver members of The Linux Foundation. LNF also includes a technical advisory council (TAC) and marketing advisory council (MAC), with individual member representatives. The board and councils will allow LFN members to share project development, testing, deployment and architecture integration best practices, in addition to the regulations across projects.

“The finance, budgets, prioritization and strategy are functions of the governing board, with input from the TAC and the MAC,” Joshipura said. So, if a project requests additional money for testing or is ready for a project release, for example, it goes to the advisory councils with the requests, he added.

Another issue LFN hopes to address is that of onboarding virtual network functions (VNFs). Instead of having inconsistent processes for VNF onboarding, LFN will work toward a single architecture and process to support that effort, Joshipura said.

“We don’t want ONAP to do it one way and OPNFV to do it another way,” he said. “Now, it’s one way to do it across projects.”

The LF Networking Fund still business as usual

While the idea of cross-project collaboration has merit, Joshipura said LFN faces some challenges. One such challenge is simplifying the process to allow developers to join the projects.

“It [includes] a lot more education,” he said. “People do want to participate in other projects, but they’re not familiar with them. So, we want to make sure we bring the training from one project to another project.”

Lee Doyle, principal analyst at Doyle Research, said another issue that could trip up the initiative is the fact that The Linux Foundation is still a business — and all of these open source networking projects will still compete with each other.

“The Linux Foundation isn’t altruistic,” Doyle said. “It’s a business. People are still going to fight for resources and sponsors.”

While Joshipura stressed that the formal legal system outlined within LFN will make discussions and decisions simpler, Doyle said it still means a bunch of meetings.

It’s a laudable goal, he said, but any progress within the LF Networking Fund will take time.

Celebrate Digital Gift Giving With Project Scorpio Xbox One X Giveaway

As previously announced, you can gift select Xbox One digital games and downloadable game content (durables only) as well as Xbox Live Gold (not available in all regions) and Xbox Game Pass subscriptions, right from Microsoft Store on the Xbox One family of devices, Windows 10, or online – just in time for the holidays.

Here’s what you need to know about giving or receiving a game gift:

In Microsoft Store on Xbox One, those giving gifts can enter the email address of the gift recipient, or choose a Gamertag from their Xbox Live friends. In Microsoft Store on Windows 10 and online, customers will need to know the email of the recipient in order to send a gift.

Gift recipients will receive a code for their digital gift via an email message that contains instructions on how to redeem the code. The email is sent immediately upon gift purchase. In addition to receiving a gift message via email, on Xbox, gift recipients will receive a system message from Xbox Live containing the code for the digital item along with a “one-click” redemption button to streamline code redemption.

Read more about gift giving over at Xbox Wire.

To celebrate this new feature, we are giving away some gifts of our own over the next couple of weeks!

I will be giving away three Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition consoles over the next few weeks. A winner will randomly be selected on December 08th, 15th and 22nd. You only need to enter once to be eligible to win in all three random drawings. I will update this post each week with the winner, so be sure to check back to see if you’ve won.

  • How do you enter for a chance to win?

Simple. All you have to do is answer the question and submit your entry using the below form:

Project Scorpio Xbox One X Giveaway

Note: Do NOT leave an entry in the comments or on Twitter. Only entries using the entry form above will be accepted.

  • What can you win?

Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition console (1TB) – includes console, vertical stand, Project Scorpio Edition wireless controller and Xbox Game Pass subscription (1 month).

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  • What are the rules?

Submit your entry using the form above.

Do not @ reply me on Twitter or leave a comment below. That will not count!

Deadline to enter is 7:00 pm ET / 4:00 pm PT on Thursday, 21 December. One entry per person. Contest is open to everyone but prize availability might not be available in all regions. The winners will be notified on December 08th, 15th and 22nd.

I will update this post with a list of the winners and/or their Gamer Tags after they have redeemed the prize.

Have fun and good luck!

Note: Any winner who does not respond to my email notification within 72 hours will forfeit the prize. Only entries received at www.majornelson.com using the submission form will be considered. For more information on contest rules, please visit this website.

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Announcing Azure Location Based Services public preview

Today we announced the Public Preview availability of Azure Location Based Services (LBS). LBS is a portfolio of geospatial service APIs natively integrated into Azure that enable developers, enterprises and ISVs to create location aware apps and IoT, mobility, logistics and asset tracking solutions. The portfolio currently comprises of services for Map Rendering, Routing, Search, Time Zones and Traffic. In partnership with TomTom and in support of our enterprise customers, Microsoft has added native location capabilities to the Azure public cloud.

Azure LBS has a robust set of geospatial services atop a global geographic data set. These services are comprised of 5 primary REST services and a JavaScript Map Control. Each service has a unique set of capabilities atop of the base map data and are built in unison and in accordance with Azure standards making it easy to work interoperable between the services. Additionally, Azure LBS is fully hosted and integrated into the Azure cloud meaning the services are compliant with all Azure fundamentals for privacy, usability, global readiness, accessibility and localization. Users can manage all Azure LBS account information from within the Azure portal and billed like any other Azure service.

Azure LBS uses key-based authentication. To get a key, go to the Azure portal and create and Azure LBS account. By creating an Azure LBS account, you automatically generate two Azure LBS keys. Both keys will authenticate requests to the various Azure LBS services. Once you have your account and your keys, you’re ready to start accessing Azure Location Based Services. And, the API model is simple to use. Simply parameterize your URL request to get rich responses from the service:

Sample Address Search Request: atlas.microsoft.com/search/address/json?api-version=1&query=1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA

Azure LBS enters public preview with five distinct services. Render (for maps), Route (for directions), Search, Time Zones and Traffic and a JavaScript Map Control. Each of these services are described in more detail below.

Azure Map Control

The Azure Map Control is a JavaScript web control with built-in capabilities for fetching Azure LBS vector map tiles, drawing data atop of it and interacting with the map canvas. The Azure Map Control allows developers to layer their data atop of Azure LBS Maps in both vector and raster layers meaning if enterprise customers have coordinates for points, lines and polygons or if they have geo-annotated maps of a manufacturing plant, a shopping mall or a theme park they can overlay these rasterized maps as a new layer atop of the Azure Map Control. The map control has listeners for clicking the map canvas and getting coordinates from the pixels allowing customers to send those coordinates to the services for searching for businesses around that point, finding the nearest address or cross street to that point, generating a route to or from that point or even connecting to their own database of information to find geospatially referenced information important to their business that is near that point.

Azure Location Based Services Map Control

The Azure Map Control makes it simple for developers to jumpstart their development. By adding a few lines of code to any HTML document, you get a fully functional map.



  

   Hello Azure LBS
    
     
      
     

     

In the above code sample, be sure to replace [AZURE_LBS_KEY] with your actual Azure LBS Key created with your Azure LBS Account in the Azure portal.

Render Service

The Azure LBS Render Service is use for fetching maps. The Render Service is the basis for maps in Azure LBS and powers the visualizations in the Azure Map Control. Users can request vector-based map tiles to render data and apply styling on the client. The Render Service also provides raster maps if you want to embed a map image into a web page or application. Azure LBS maps have high fidelity geographic information for over 200 regions around the world and is available in 35 languages and two versions of neutral ground truth.

Azure Location Based Services Render Service

The Azure LBS cartography was designed from the ground up and created with the enterprise customer in mind. There are lower amounts of information at lower levels of delineation (zooming out) and higher fidelity information as you zoom in. The design is meant to inspire enterprise customers to render their data atop of Azure LBS Maps without additional detail bleeding through disrupting the value of customer data.

Routing Service

The Azure LBS Routing Service is used for getting directions, but not just point A to point B directions. The Azure LBS Routing Service has a slew of map data available to the routing engine allowing it to modify the calculated directions based on a variety of scenarios.  First, the Routing Service provides customers the standard routing capabilities they would expect with a step-by-step itinerary. The calculation of the route can use the faster, shortest or avoiding highly congested roads or traffic incidents. For traffic-based routing, this comes in two flavors: “historic” which is great for future route planning scenarios when users would like to have a general idea of what traffic tends to look like on a given route; and, “live” which is ideal for active routing scenarios when a user is leaving now and wants to know where traffic exists and the best ways to avoid it.

Azure LBS Routing will allow for commercial vehicle routing providing alternate routes made just for trucks. The commercial vehicle routing supports parameters such as vehicle height, weight, the number of axels and hazardous material contents all to choose the best, safest and recommend roads for transporting their haul. The Routing Service provides a variety of travel modes, including walking, biking, motorcycling, taxiing or van routing.

Azure Location Based Services Route Service

Customers can also specify up to 50 waypoints along their route if they have pre-determined stops to make. If customers are looking for the best order in which to stop along their route, they can have Azure LBS determine the best order in which to route to multiple stops by passing up to 20 waypoints into the Routing Service where an itinerary will be generated for them.

Using the Azure LBS Route Service, customers can also specify arrival times when they need to be at a specific location by a certain time. Using the massive amount of traffic data, almost a decade of probes captured per geometry and high frequency intervals Azure LBS can let customers know given day or the week and time when is the best time of departure. Additionally, Azure LBS can use current traffic conditions to notify customers of a road change that may impact their route and provide updated times and/or alternate routes.

Azure LBS can also take into considering the engine type being used. By default, Azure LBS assumes a combustion engine is being used; however, if an electrical engine is in use Azure LBS will accept input parameters for power settings and generate the most energy efficient route.

The Routing Services also allows for multiple, alternate routes to be generated in a single query. This will save on over the wire transfer. Customers can also specify that they would like to avoid specific route types such as toll roads, freeways, ferries or carpool roads.

Sample Commercial Vehicle Route Request: atlas.microsoft.com/route/directions/json?api-version=1&query=52.50931,13.42936:52.50274,13.43872&travelMode=truck

Search Service

The Azure LBS Search Service provides the ability for customers to find real world objects and their respective location. The Search Service provides for three major functions:

  1. Geocoding: Finding addresses, places and landmarks
  2. POI Search: Finding businesses based on a location
  3. Reverse Geocoding: Finding addresses or cross streets based on a location

Azure Location Based Services Search Service

With the Search Service, customers can find addresses and places from around the world. Azure LBS supports address level geocoding in 38 regions, cascading to house numbers, street-level and city level geocoding for other regions of the world. Customers can pass addresses into the service based in a structured address form; or, they can use an unstructured form when they want to allow for their customers to search for addresses, places or business in a single query. Users can restrict their searches by region or bounding box and can query for a specific coordinate to influence the search results to improve quality. Reverse the query to provide a coordinate, say from a GPS receiver, customers can get the nearest address or cross street returned from the service.

The Azure LBS Search Service also allows customers to query for business listings. The Search Service contains hundreds of categories and hundreds of sub-categories for finding businesses or points of interest around a specific point or within a bounding area. Customers can query for businesses based on brand name or general category and filter those results based on location, bounding box or region.

Sample POI Search Request (Key Required): atlas.microsoft.com/search/poi/category/json?api-version=1&query=electric%20vehicle%20station&countrySet=FRA

Time Zone Service

The Azure LBS Time Zone Service is a first of it’s kind providing the ability to query time zones and time for locations around the world. Customers can now submit a location to Azure LBS and receive the respective time zone, the respective time in that time zone and the offset to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The Time Zone Service provides access to historical and future time zone information including changes for daylight savings. Additionally, customers can query for a list of all the time zones and the current version of the data – allowing customers to optimize their queries and downloads. For IoT customers, the Azure LBS Time Zone Service allows for POSIX output, so users can download information to their respective devices that only infrequently access the internet. Additionally, for Microsoft Windows users, Azure LBS can transform Windows time zone IDs to IANA time zone IDs.

Sample Time Zone Request (Key Required): atlas.microsoft.com/timezone/byCoordinates/json?api-version=1&query=32.533333333333331,-117.01666666666667

Traffic Service

The Azure LBS Traffic Service provides our customers with the ability to overlay and query traffic flow and incident information. In partnership with TomTom, Azure LBS will have access to a best in class traffic product with coverage in 55 regions around the world. The Traffic Service provides the ability to natively overlay traffic information atop of the Azure Map Control for a quick and easy means of viewing traffic issues. Additionally, customers have access to traffic incident information – real time issues happening on the road and collected through probe information on the roads. The traffic incident information provides additional detail such as the type of incident and the exact location. The Traffic Service will also provide our customers with details of incidents and flow such as the distance and time from one’s current position to the “back of the line;” and, once a user is in the traffic congestion the distance and time until they’re out of it.

Azure Location Based Services Traffic Service

Sample Traffic Flow Segment Request: atlas.azure-api.net/traffic/flow/segment/json?api-version=1&unit=MPH&style=absolute&zoom=10&query=52.41072,4.84239

Azure Location Based Services are available now in public preview via the Azure portal. Get your account created today.

Q&A: New CEO bets on open source future for Acquia CMS

On Monday, cloud CMS vendor Acquia Inc. announced Michael Sullivan, former Hewlett Packard Enterprise senior vice president and general manager for SaaS, has been named the company’s new CEO. Sullivan will move into the position next month.

SearchContentManagement interviewed Sullivan and Acquia co-founder Dries Buytaert, who was also the lead developer on the open source Drupal content management system, upon which the Acquia CMS is based. Buytaert remains Acquia’s CTO and also takes over as board chair.

Dries, according to your blog, there were more than 140 candidates to succeed longtime CEO Tom Erickson. How did Acquia choose Michael Sullivan?

Dries Buytaert, co-founder and CTO, AcquiaDries Buytaert

Dries Buytaert: There are a lot of reasons. First of all, there’s a very good fit with Mike. That’s not just a good fit between him and me, but also to our culture and personality and how we think about different things, like the importance of cloud and open source. I also felt Mike was really well-prepared to lead our business. Mike has 25 years [of] experience with software as a service, enterprise content management and content governance. Mike has worked with small companies, as well as larger companies.

At HP Enterprise and Micro Focus [acquired by HPE], Mike was responsible for managing more than 30 SaaS products. Acquia is evolving its product strategy to go beyond Drupal and the cloud to become a multiproduct company with Acquia Digital Asset Manager and Acquia Journey. So, our own transformation as a company is going from a single-product company to a multiproduct company. Mike is uniquely qualified to help us with that, based on his experience.

Mike, why was it a fit for you, and what excites you about the market position of the Acquia CMS and the company’s future as a cloud CMS provider?

Michael Sullivan: I’ve been involved in both [enterprise] content management and web content management during the course of my career, so it’s not new to me. I’ve always found it interesting and have had a lot of success in this space, broadly. There’s a fundamental shift that’s occurring in the content management world, where people are moving from static web presence to a different model of engaging with their customers — an intelligent digital experience.

Michael Sullivan, CEO, AcquiaMichael Sullivan

Companies will need to compete on that basis in the future, and they need to have personalized experiences and work with customers through lots of channels, not just the website. Acquia sits at the intersection of a lot of these technologies — Drupal, open source, SaaS, DevOps, machine learning, predictive analytics. If you look at what Acquia’s already done and what they’re working on, this is a company that has the right vision and a proven ability to execute … and a history of winning. That was important to me; it makes it believable to me this company will succeed.

What do you see as Acquia’s biggest challenges moving forward the next few years?

Sullivan: There’s a lot of work to do. We have to move fast; we have to execute well. Our challenge is execution — we know what we want to build, [and] we know where we want to go. The question is: How do we get there, and how do we get there efficiently?

What is the role of AI in the future of content management and the Acquia CMS?

Buytaert: There’s a big future for AI in our space; it’s something we’re investing in, with a team of six people working on machine learning solutions in our space. We believe we are in the early stages of what will be a pretty big transformation of the web, or digital.

Historically, the web has been pull-based: You have to go to the web and search for information. We believe, in the future, more of those experiences will become push-based: Information will start to find you. The Holy Grail is delivering customers the right information for the right service at the right time, in the right context, on the right channel — web, mobile, chatbots or voice assistants. That’s a pretty big vision.

Drupal is evolving from a website management system to a digital experience platform.
Dries Buytaertco-founder, Acquia

To [accomplish] that, you need to build systems that are smart and can predict what users want at what point in time. If you can do that, you can really change the customer experience. Instead of having the customer find the information, it increasingly comes to you.

There’s a lot of early examples of that; a simple example is [music streaming services] Spotify and Pandora. The old pull-based model is turning the knob on your radio to find the music that you want; Spotify and Pandora push you information that you like, so you don’t have to go look for it. We think that will happen across every industry, and the Acquia platform will help companies build these digital experiences.

Dries, Acquia is expanding past the original concept of Drupal with headless CMS and all of these new SaaS offerings and CRM-style tools to help companies service customers. What will become of Drupal?

Buytaert: One of the great things about Drupal is that there aren’t a lot of technologies that remain relevant for 18 years [since Drupal debuted]. The reason Drupal has been successful is that we’ve literally reinvented ourselves more than 10 times. Drupal is evolving quite rapidly; I would argue we’re ahead — an API-first player, compared to our proprietary competitors.

Drupal is evolving from a website management system to a digital experience platform; it’s becoming a content repository, where you can manage content and can feed that content into a variety of different touchpoints or channels. It’s not just specialized in creating HTML output for webpages, but we have integrations with Alexa, chatbots, digital kiosks, [and] we have a long list of customers who come to us because they want to move beyond building websites.

We’ve been investing in headless Drupal for four years, since before it was called headless. I feel like we spotted those trends and have done a pretty good job going after them earlier than our competitors.

Mike, what will the Acquia CMS look like in five years?

Sullivan: We have big ambitions for this space. Some of these pieces we already have plans for. I think we’ll be in the position to do acquisitions over time. Obviously, I haven’t had my first day yet, so it’s hard to say for sure, but we think we are well-positioned to fill in all these pieces [to build the next-generation digital experience platform]. Five years is a long time; I’d like to think that we’ll be able to do it a lot sooner than that.

Xbox One X review: It’s the best you can get

At E3 2016, Microsoft announced something new that it was working on, codenamed Project Scorpio. The company promised gaming in True 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and little more. At E3 2017, the firm finally took the wraps off of the Xbox One X (pronounced ‘EX’), confirming that it will cost $499 and be available in November.

For most, availability is just a few days away at this point, but I was lucky enough for Microsoft to send me a unit last week. To answer any questions that you might have, yes, it’s a wonderful experience.

Of course, there are no Xbox One X exclusives, only games that have been enhanced for the console. So, is it really worth shelling out $499? Read on to find out.

Backstory

First of all, when Microsoft announced Scorpio at E3 2016, it also announced the Xbox One S, which means that the X is the third Xbox One device, and they all play the same games. The benefits of the S were that it was in a smaller body (compared to the original Xbox One, which was huge), and users could stream content in 4K, such as Netflix, Hulu, Movies & TV, etc.

The Xbox One S does not support gaming in 4K; that’s what’s special about the Xbox One X. So, when Microsoft reached out to me and asked if I wanted to review the console, the representative told me that they really wanted me to do it with a 4K TV.

Luckily, Microsoft partnered with Samsung on this, and Samsung sent me a 55-inch QLED 4K TV, and let me just say that this TV is absolutely stunning. Everything that I watch just looks amazing.

And then the week after, the review kit finally came. This included subscriptions to Netflix, Dolby Atmos, Mixer Pro, Xbox Live Gold, and Xbox Game Pass. There was also a 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray of Planet Earth 2, and codes for the following games:

  • Assassin’s Creed Origins
  • Call of Duty: WWII
  • Destiny 2
  • Disneyland Adventures
  • FIFA 18
  • Forza Motorsport 7
  • Gears of War 4
  • Halo 3
  • Halo 5
  • Halo Wars 2
  • Killer Instinct
  • Madden NFL 18
  • Minecraft
  • Quantum Break
  • Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure
  • ReCore: Definitive Edition
  • Star Wars Battlefront II
  • Super Lucky’s Tale
  • Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection

Between the TV, the console, the services, and the games, the setup that I was provided would cost thousands of dollars, and obviously not everyone will be having the same experience.

But in my time with the Xbox One X, I’ve really seen just how broad of a range of use cases that Microsoft caters to by selling both the Xbox One S and One X in parallel. The new console might not be for everyone, but it’s certainly what you’d need if you want the best gaming experience possible.

Day one

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At that time, all I could talk about was the contents of the box. But once you boot up the console, you’ll see a new boot animation that’s exclusive to the console.

Inside of the box, you’ll find the console itself, along with the accessories that you’d normally find with an Xbox One device. There’s an HDMI cable, a power cable, and while some will be disappointed to hear it, a standard Wireless Controller.

I’m not surprised to find that it doesn’t come with an Elite Controller, although it would have been cool. After all, Microsoft isn’t charging that much of a premium for the Xbox One X.

Design

OK, so there’s nothing really special about the design of the Xbox One X. I really don’t know what I was expecting when it was unveiled at E3, maybe for it to levitate on thin air? Or to be painted in some color that hasn’t been invented yet?

Nope, it’s just a black box, a color that was probably chosen to differentiate from the Xbox One S, which is white. After all, when it comes to neutral colors, it’s pretty much just the two options. If you want a more colorful design, those are undoubtedly coming at some point when Microsoft starts releasing bundles.

The top side of the console is off-centered, unlike its predecessor. Again, I can’t think of a reason for this, other than to differentiate from previous generations.

The selection of ports is exactly the same as the One S. Obviously, it’s slightly different from the original Xbox One, since there’s no dedicated Kinect port. The power jack is off to the left, followed by HDMI out, HDMI in, two USB 3.0 Type-A, IR out, and of course, there’s a networking port.

The size of the Xbox One X is ever-so-slightly larger than the One S, although you can see from the image above that the front-facing USB port has been moved from the left to the right, as the IR sensor has switched places with it. The button to eject a disc is now placed directly under the bay, rather than to the right of it.

Ultimately, there’s nothing surprising in the design. If you’re coming from an Xbox One S and you’ve seen pictures of the X, consider yourself good to go.

Samsung QLED TV steals the show

I would really love to tell you that the Xbox One X is the star of the show here, but it’s not. The Samsung QLED Series Q7 55-inch TV is. The thing is, the One X is the console you buy when you’re all-in, when you want the best experience possible.

I think that QLED is the way to go on that. LG’s OLED TVs are also beautiful, but there are some drawbacks to OLED, such as burn-in. I don’t know how susceptible LG’s TVs are to burn-in, but I certainly don’t want to spend a couple thousand dollars on a TV and have issues in a couple of years.

QLED is what Samsung is calling its quantum dot screens. Basically, there’s a quantum dot layer that filters the LED backlight with pure colors. All you need to know is that it looks beautiful.

The TV also includes a Game Mode, which reduces latency from 79ms to 24ms. The cool thing is that it’s voice-activated, so users can just press the microphone button on the remote and say ‘Game Mode’ to turn it on. You don’t need to mess about in TV Settings.

The thing is, when you use an Xbox One S and a One X side-by-side on a QLED TV, there isn’t that much of a difference. The real upgrade in my experience came from using the TV itself, which is amazing.

Preparation and storage

Obviously, when you get your new Xbox One X, you’re going to want to get to playing right away, and there are some steps that you’ll want to take to do this. It does support a network transfer of games, but I highly recommend getting an external hard drive.

The reason for this is that the Xbox One X only comes in a single storage configuration: 1TB. If you’re coming from a 2TB Xbox One S, that just got chopped in half. I’ve repeatedly asked Microsoft if there are more storage configurations on the way, and no one will confirm it. I have been told by numerous people that Microsoft wants you to use an external drive.

Remember, 4K assets can cause a game to take up twice as much space than a regular one. I was only able to fit 14 games on my Xbox One X, and only four of them are currently enhanced.

Since the console still isn’t coming out for a few days, now’s a perfect time to get started on transferring your games.

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The first thing that you’ll need to do is make sure that your console is set to automatically receive 4K game updates. This isn’t on by default, as it would uselessly take up space on your Xbox One S. Once that’s on, you’ll need to update your games.

Once you’re ready to go, follow the steps in the video above to start transferring your games to the hard drive. When you get the Xbox One X, follow the same steps to transfer them back. It’s that easy, and while it’s not an instant process, it’s much faster than downloading, even if you have a fast connection.

Software

I enjoy talking about software, but you’re probably more interested in the next section, so I’ll try to keep this brief. The Xbox One X ships with the Fall Update, and it’s exactly the same experience that you’re familiar with on the Xbox One and One S.

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Like all Xbox One consoles, it runs a flavor of Windows 10 that’s designed for gaming. Pressing the Xbox button on the controller opens up the Guide, from which you can return to the Home screen, go to Settings, livestream to Mixer with just a couple of clicks, go to your games and apps, and more.

You can also now add content blocks to the Home screen. Rather than just being able to pin tiles (which you can now have 40 of), you can dedicate entire sections of the Home screen to a game or a person.

There’s also the Community tab, where you’ll find a feed of your friends’ activities and such, and the Microsoft Store is where you can buy games, apps, movies, and TV shows.

Gameplay

Obviously, gameplay on the Xbox One X is the best that you’re going to get. Over 170 games are enhanced for the new console, although that doesn’t mean that all of them are 4K, HDR, or either of the two. The term ‘Xbox One X enhanced’ really only means that the developer has improved something.

You can find the full list here, where games are marked with which improvements they have received. Many are listed as coming soon or still in development, so even many of the games provided in the review kit are still not enhanced.

Gears of War 4

Out of all of the Xbox One X enhanced games, I spent the most time playing Gears of War 4. There are a few reasons for this. It was one of the first games to receive enhancements, it got the 4K and HDR treatment, and mostly, because I enjoy shooting games.

I used the native game clip recording tool that’s built into the Xbox One X for all of my clips. While you can change the resolution of the clips recorded, the best setting is 4K HDR, which comes in at 60fps.

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Super Lucky’s Tale

This was another game that I received that got the 4K treatment, although there’s no HDR. It’s really not my type of game, although it seems fun for anyone that’s into that sort of thing.

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Halo 3

Halo is my favorite video game franchise ever, so I was excited to see all of the support that it’s getting for the Xbox One X, even including an Xbox 360 game that’s on the Backward Compatibility list like this one. If you wait until 2018 though, Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be enhanced for the console as well.

Unfortunately, Halo 3 is neither 4K nor HDR on the Xbox One X.

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Live streaming

One of the cool things about Xbox is the built-in Mixer. Microsoft bought Beam (now Mixer) last August, and immediately began work on integrating it into Xbox One and Windows 10. And the process of live-streaming your game is so simple that it’s insane.

If you set up a Mixer account at Mixer.com and link it to your Microsoft account, you’re done, no capture card necessary. There’s no additional configuration needed on the Xbox, assuming that the console is signed into that same MSA. Just go to the guide and start streaming.

Naturally, there are additional configuration options, such as if you want to show the chat on the screen, whether to include a microphone, your console’s camera (Xbox One now supports any USB camera too), and more. Still, it’s just the easiest streaming experience out there.

Conclusion

The one point that I’ve tried to get across in this review is that the Xbox One X is the console you buy when you’re all-in for the best gaming experience that you can possibly get. And this experience doesn’t just include the console, because you’re also getting a fancy TV, speakers, and whatever else you might need for an immersive experience.

I do think that most users will be just fine with an Xbox One S. After all, it’s still an excellent device, and you can stream video content in 4K and HDR. Games look great too, as long as you have a great TV to display them on.

I feel like the main thing that gave me an excellent experience is the Samsung QLED TV. The Xbox One X certainly helped to use it to its full potential, but if you’re looking for an upgrade, you should probably start with the display technology.

Of course, Microsoft says that you’ll see improvements even if you’re on a 1080p TV, and that doesn’t surprise me. With the way that colors work at different resolutions, 4K assets allow the Xbox to put more color into each pixel at a lower resolution.

So let’s answer the burning question. Should you upgrade from an Xbox One S? The answer is: only if you’re absolutely going for the best experience possible. Don’t expect massive changes, because there aren’t any.

Should you upgrade from the original Xbox One? Almost certainly. The form factor is a massive improvement, and the graphics are better.

Final question: if you’re buying your first Xbox One, should you get the One X or the S? I’d certainly say that you should get the Xbox One X. Even if you’re not undergoing a massive home theater upgrade, be prepared for when you do. When you upgrade your 40-inch 1080p TV to a 65-inch QLED 4K TV, do you really want to buy a new Xbox? Of course not.

I guess my advice would be that if you have an Xbox One S and you’re satisfied with it, you’re still good for a while. Otherwise, take the plunge.

One last thing I want to say is that I really feel like Microsoft is in a better position to offer the best gaming experience than Sony is. You’ll notice an increased gaming focus from Microsoft lately, because with Windows as the only truly viable PC gaming platform, the most powerful gaming console, Windows Mixed Reality, and to make all of those things work in sync with one another, the firm is in a unique position to serve gamers.



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Adobe and Microsoft expand partnership with Adobe Experience Manager and Dynamics 365 integration

Adobe and Microsoft expanded their continuing partnership today when they announced that they are making it easy to share data between Adobe Experience Manager, a website marketing tool and Dynamics 365, Microsoft’s CRM tool.

For a sales person that means seeing the latest sales activity and customer interactions from the company website right in the customer record. From a customer experience perspective, it means that if you are on a website and filling in a form to join a service or make purchase, Adobe can pull your customer information like name, address and phone number from the CRM record and fill in much of the information for you automatically, making it more likely that you’ll complete the transaction, while providing a better overall experience.

Dave Welch, vice president or Microsoft Solutions at Adobe says that from his company’s perspective, it’s really about streamlining the experience on the company website to turn that shopper into a buyer. “The more personal we can make that based on what we know about you, it makes the experience more integrated for a customer,” he said.

Dina Apostolou, director of Microsoft Business Applications Group says for her company, it’s about giving salespeople more complete data to work with to understand the customer better. The more information you can pull into a single customer view in Dynamics 365, the better you can understand their needs and sell to that.

Ultimately, this is a combining of sales and marketing data. Traditionally, sales and marketing, two departments that need to work together, for whatever reason have often had difficulty communicating. By integrating the marketing and sales information together at the data level in this manner, it puts the information in the hands of the people who need it without any politics involved. It just happens.

The companies have previously provided APIs that would allow customers to do this kind of integration if they were willing to put in the work to make it happen, but with the new agreement, the two vendors are doing all of the heavy lifting for them making it a simple configuration to share the data.

When you combine this with the Dynamics 365 partnership announcement around Adobe Sign announced last month and Adobe Campaign integration from last year, the two companies are looking for ways to work together by combining various types of sales and marketing information that play to their various strengths.

Featured Image: Adobe

Grow your small business with business apps from Office 365

Today, we announced that Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Invoicing, and the Office 365 Business center are now generally available as part of Microsoft 365 Business and Office 365 Business Premium. The new apps are rolling out to customers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

These apps—together with Microsoft Bookings, Outlook Customer Manager, and MileIQ—bring you seven new ways to manage your customer relationships and build your business. We’re also announcing new intelligence features for MileIQ that automatically classify drives as business or personal on your behalf.

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Let’s take a closer look at how the apps can help you grow your business by acquiring new customers and nurturing existing ones, and help you run your business with simple ways to invoice, schedule appointments, and track mileage—all from one location.

Tools to grow your business

Nurture customer relationships, create email marketing campaigns, and help new customers discover you more easily with Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Connections, and Outlook Customer Manager.

Three devices show Microsoft Listings, Connections, and Outlook Customer Manager.

Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Connections, and Outlook Customer Manager help you connect with customers to grow your business.

Microsoft Listings—Bring in new customers by getting your business listed on Facebook, Google, Bing, and Yelp from one place. Ensure your business information and brand—including name, address, phone number, website, hours, and logo—are consistent across these sites. Also, easily monitor views and reviews of your business in one view.

Microsoft Connections—Send professional-looking marketing emails that showcase your brand and drive sales. Engage current customers with newsletters and announcements that remind them to make a visit. Easily set up incentives like refer-a-friend discounts to reward current customers for referrals so you can bring more business through the door.

Outlook Customer Manager—Grow your relationships with a simple, smart customer management solution. Get quick access to all customer information—emails, meetings, calls, notes, tasks, deals, reminders, and deadlines—right next to your inbox so you spend less time managing data and navigating multiple screens and more time growing customer relationships.

Tools to help run your business

Send invoices and estimates, manage customer appointments, and track your mileage with Microsoft Invoicing, Bookings, and MileIQ.

Three devices show Microsoft Invoicing, Bookings, and MileIQ.

Microsoft Invoicing, Bookings, and MileIQ help you run your business more efficiently.

Microsoft Invoicing—Generate estimates and invoices that look professional. Get paid fast with online payments, track pending and partial payments, find draft estimates and past invoices, set sales tax and discounts, and quickly transform estimates into invoices—all in a few clicks.

Bookings—Easily manage your customers’ appointments. Enable your customers to choose the time slot they want through a simple-to-set-up booking webpage with built-in Facebook integration. Bookings also automatically adds appointments to your staff’s calendars that are updated automatically upon rescheduling or canceling.

MileIQ—Track your miles in a simpler, smarter way with automatic drive detection, mileage logging, and comprehensive reporting. Classify the trip as business or personal in one swipe. We also added new intelligence features that save you valuable time by automatically classifying trips as business or personal based on your work hours and drives you frequently take.

Track business activities

The Business center serves as a central access point and dashboard for the apps, bringing together the tools that help you provide excellent service to your current and potential customers—including Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Invoicing, and Bookings. You can track key business metrics like total and outstanding invoices, email subscribers, online impressions, and total bookings to pinpoint what’s working and what’s not, so you can get the most out of your time.

A smart device displays the Office 365 Business center.

The Business center helps you stay on top of activities across the business apps to save you time.

Getting started

Because these business apps are part of Office 365, getting started is as easy as clicking a button in Outlook or exploring a new tile from your Office.com home page. There’s no need to manage multiple sign-ins or transfer data between different tools—your Office 365 sign-in gives you access across the apps. The apps use data already present in Office 365, such as email data and calendar free/busy information, to power a simple and integrated experience. Best of all, the business apps are included at no additional cost in Microsoft 365 Business and Office 365 Business Premium subscriptions.

You may already have seen the Business center show up in your Office.com home page—this means that the apps are ready for you to use. If not, expect to get access in the next few weeks. If you are eager to get started, you can join First Release, which will get you fastest access to the apps, and also give you early access to new features as we add them in the coming months.

Not a current subscriber? Just purchase or start a trial of Microsoft 365 Business or Office 365 Business Premium and start using all the business apps.

Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Invoicing, Business center, and MileIQ are currently available in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Bookings and Outlook Customer Manager are available worldwide.

We’re eager for you to start using these tools, and we’re confident they will help you bring in new customers and more easily manage your business, so you can do more of the work you love.

An infographic shows seven ways to power your small business with Office 365 apps.

Frequently asked questions

Q. When will Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Invoicing, MileIQ, and the Business center be available in additional countries?

A. We are working to expand our offering to other countries and regions and will share timelines as we get closer to those dates.

Q. Can I control which users in my organization access these apps?

A. Yes, the Office 365 global admin role controls who has access to these apps, except for MileIQ. By default, standard users have access to Bookings and Outlook Customer Manager, but not Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, and Microsoft Invoicing. They can request access directly from the Business center. Global admins can accept or decline their request from Admin center > Settings > Services & add-ins > Business center.

Q. Will additional Office 365 subscription plans such as E3 and E5 include business apps?

A. We know that many small businesses subscribe to E3 and E5 plans for advanced capabilities and are working to bring the apps to these plans.

Q. How do I activate the MileIQ benefit of my Office 365 Business Premium or Microsoft 365 Business subscription?

A. Visit www.mileiq.com/office365 to create a new MileIQ account or sign in using your existing one, and then enter your Office 365 credentials so we can activate your subscription benefit.