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

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

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

A marketplace that puts transparency and choice first

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

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

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

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

Aspiring to higher quality data and increased contributor agency

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

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

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

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

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

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

Request an invite and share your feedback

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

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Learn how to create a scheduled task with PowerShell

Nearly every system administrator has to deal with scheduled tasks. They are incredibly helpful to do something based on various triggers, but they require a lot of manual effort to configure properly.

The benefit of scheduled tasks is you can build one with a deep level of sophistication with trigger options and various security contexts. But where complexity reigns, configuration errors can arise. When you’re developing these automation scripts, you can create a scheduled task with PowerShell to ease the process. Using PowerShell helps standardize the management and setup work involved with intricate scheduled tasks, which has the added benefit of avoiding the usual errors that stem from manual entry.

Build a scheduled task action

At a minimum, a scheduled task has an action, a trigger and a group of associated settings. Once you create the task, you also need to register it on the system. You need to perform each action separately to create a single scheduled task.

To create the action, use the New-ScheduledTaskAction cmdlet which specifies the command to run. Let’s create an action that gets a little meta and invokes a PowerShell script.

The command below gives an example of invoking the PowerShell engine and passing a script to it using all of the appropriate command line switches to make the script run noninteractively. The script file resides on the machine the scheduled task will be running on.

$Action = New-ScheduledTaskAction -Execute 'pwsh.exe' -Argument '-NonInteractive -NoLogo -NoProfile -File "C:MyScript.ps1"'

Create a trigger

Next, you need a trigger. You have a several values available, but this task will use a specific time — 3 a.m. — to execute this script once. For a full list of options, check out the New-ScheduledTaskTrigger cmdlet help page.

$Trigger = New-ScheduledTaskTrigger -Once -At 3am

Create settings

Next, create the scheduled task using the New-ScheduledTask command. This command requires a value for the Settings parameter, even if you’re not using any special. This is why you run New-ScheduledTaskSettingsSet to create an object to pass in here.

$Settings = New-ScheduledTaskSettingsSet

Create the scheduled task

After assigning all the objects as variables, pass each of these variables to the New-ScheduledTask command to create a scheduled task object.

$Task = New-ScheduledTask -Action $Action -Trigger $Trigger -Settings $Settings

Register the scheduled task

At this point, you have created a scheduled task object in memory. To add the scheduled task on the computer, you must register the scheduled task using the Register-ScheduledTask cmdlet.

The example below registers a scheduled task to run under a particular username. To run the task under a certain user’s context, you have to provide the password. It’s helpful to look at the documentation for the Register-ScheduledTask command to see all the options to use with this cmdlet.

Register-ScheduledTask -TaskName 'My PowerShell Script' -InputObject $Task -User 'username' -Password 'passhere'

If you followed all the steps correctly, you should see your newly created scheduled task in the Task Scheduler.

scheduled task settings
After you create a scheduled task with PowerShell, you can open the Task Scheduler to see the name of the task, its triggers and other details.

After the scheduled task is registered and showing up in Task Scheduler, you can now run the Get-ScheduledTask cmdlet to see the task.

PS C:> Get-ScheduledTask -TaskName 'My PowerShell Script'
TaskPath TaskName State
-------- -------- -----
My PowerShell Script Ready

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What’s the biggest cybersecurity threat in 2020? Experts weigh in

Every day, CISOs must decide which cyberthreats to prioritize in their organizations. When it comes to choosing which threats are the most concerning, the list from which to choose from is nearly boundless.

At RSA Conference 2020, speakers discussed several of the most concerning threats this year, from ransomware and election hacking to supply chain attacks and beyond. To pursue the topic of concerning threats, SearchSecurity asked several experts at the conference what they considered to be the biggest cybersecurity threat today.

“It has to be ransomware,” CrowdStrike CTO Mike Sentonas said. “It may not be the most complex attack, but what organizations are facing around the world is a huge increase in e-crime activity, specifically around the use of ransomware. The rise over the last twelve months has been incredible, simply because of the amount of money there is to be made.”

Trend Micro vice president of cybersecurity Greg Young agreed.

“It has to be ransomware, definitely. Quick money. We’ve certainly seen a change of focus where the people who are least able to defend themselves, state and local governments, particularly in some of the poorer areas, budgets are low and the bad guys focus on that,” he said. “The other thing is I think there’s much more technological capability than there used to be. There’s fewer toolkits and fewer flavors of attacks but they’re hitting more people and they’re much more effective, so I think there’s much more efficiency and effectiveness with what the bad guys are doing now.”

Sentonas added that he expects the trend of ransomware to continue.

“We’ve seen different ransomware groups or e-crime groups that are delivering ransomware have campaigns that have generated over $5 million, we’ve seen campaigns that have generated over $10 million. So with so much money to be made, in many ways, I don’t like saying it, but in many ways it’s easy for them to do it. So that’s driving the huge increase and focus on ransomware. I think, certainly for the next 12 to 24 months, this trend will continue. The rise of ransomware is showing no signs it’s going to slow down,” Sentonas explained.

“Easy” might just be the key word here. The biggest threat to cybersecurity, according to BitSight vice president of communications and government affairs Jake Olcott, is that companies “are still struggling with doing the basics” when it comes to cybersecurity hygiene.

“Look at all the major examples — Equifax, Baltimore, the list could go on — where it was not the case of a sophisticated adversary targeting an organization with a zero-day malware that no one had seen before. It might have been an adversary targeting an organization with malware that was just exploiting known vulnerabilities. I think the big challenge a lot of companies have is just doing the basics,” Olcott said.

Lastly, Akamai CTO Patrick Sullivan said that the biggest threat in cybersecurity is that to the supply chain, as highlighted at Huawei’s panel discussion at RSAC.

“The big trend is people are looking at their supply chain,” he said. “Like, what is the risk to the third parties you’re partnering with, to the code you’re developing with partners, so I think it’s about looking beyond that first circle to the second circle of your supply chain and your business partners.”

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How IoT, 5G, RPA and AI are opening doors to cybersecurity threats

“You can’t say civilization don’t advance… in every war they kill you in a new way.” – Will Rogers

Software is eating the world. Cloud, RPA and AI are becoming increasingly common and a necessary part of every business that wishes to thrive or survive in the age of digital transformation, whether for lowering operational costs or to remain in the competition. But as we increasingly digitalize our work, we’re opening new doors for cybersecurity threats. Here, we dive into the technological advancements in the past year to learn how we can use those progresses without getting burnt.

IoT

From office devices to home appliances, our “anytime, anywhere” needs require every peripheral to connect to the internet and our smartphones. But simultaneously, the new IT landscape has created a massive attack vector. SonicWall’s Annual Threat Report discovered a 217% increase in IoT attacks, while their Q3 Threat Data Report discovered 25 million attacks in the third quarter alone, a 33% increase that shows the continued relevance of IoT attacks in 2020.

IoT devices collect our private data for seemingly legitimate purposes, but when a hacker gains access to those devices, they offer the perfect means for spying and tracking. The FBI recently warned against one such example of the cybersecurity threat concerning smart TVs, which are equipped with internet streaming and facial recognition capabilities.

As governments increasingly use cyberattacks as part of their aggressive policies, the problem only gets worse. IoT devices were usually exploited for creating botnet armies to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks, but in April 2019, Microsoft announced that Russian state-sponsored hackers used IoT devices to breach corporate networks. The attackers initially broke into a voice over IP phone, an office printer and a video decoder and then used that foothold to scan for other vulnerabilities within their target’s internal networks.

Some of the hacks mentioned above were facilitated because the devices were deployed with default manufacturer passwords, or because the latest security update was not installed. But with the IoT rush, new cybersecurity threats and attack vectors emerge. “When new IoT devices are created, risk reduction is frequently an afterthought. It is not always a top priority for device makers to create security measures since no initial incentive is seen due to a lack of profit,” warned Hagay Katz, vice president of cybersecurity at Allot, a global provider of innovative network intelligence and security solutions. “Most devices suffer from built-in vulnerabilities and are not designed to run any third-party endpoint security software. For many consumers, cybersecurity has been synonymous with antivirus. But those days are long gone,” he said.

To fight against the new cybersecurity threats, Katz recommended turning to a communications service providers (CSP). “Through machine learning techniques and visibility provided by the CSP, all the devices are identified. A default security policy is then applied for each device and the network is segregated to block lateral malware propagation. By simply adding a software agent on the subscriber’s existing consumer premise equipment, CSPs can easily roll out a network or router-based solution that protects all the consumer’s IoT devices.”

We also need to consider whether we really need an IoT version of everything. In the words of Ryan Trost, co-founder and CTO of ThreatQuotient who has over 15 years of security experience focusing on intrusion detection and cyber intelligence: “I can appreciate the benefits of every single student having a tablet (or equivalent) for schooling. However, I struggle to find the legitimacy of why my refrigerator needs an Internet connection, or for that matter, a video conferencing feature.”

5G

While the next generation network takes AI, VR and IoT to new levels, it’s also creating new problems. “5G utilizes millimeter waves, which have a much shorter range than the conventional lower-frequency radio waves. This is where the source of the greatest [cybersecurity] threat in 5G infrastructure originates from,” warned Abdul Rehman, a cybersecurity editor at VPNRanks. “An attacker can steal your data by setting up a fake cell tower near your home and learn a great deal about the device you are using including location, phone model, operating system, etc. These can even be used to listen in on your phone calls.” To mitigate the risk, Rehman suggests relying on strong encryption.

AI

We’ve previously talked about how AI is vulnerable to data poisoning attacks. As the technology advances, new forms of cybersecurity threats emerge. Voice deepfakes are one of such threats, where hackers impersonate C-level executives, politicians or other high-profile individuals. “Employees are tricked into sending money to scammers or revealing sensitive information after getting voice messages and calls that sound like they are from the CFO or other executives,” said Curtis Simpson, CISO at IoT security company Armis. “We’ve already seen one fraudulent bank transfer convert to $243,000 for criminals. Given how hard it is to identify these deepfakes compared to standard phishing attacks, I expect these operations will become the norm in the new year.”

It only takes one wrong click for a hacker to implant malware or open a backdoor. Unfortunately, that could be the undoing of all other security measures put in place to protect the network. “No one is off limits when it comes to cybersecurity threats,” warned PJ Kirner, CTO and founder of Illumio, which develops adaptive micro-segmentation technologies to prevent the spread of breaches. Children could end up installing malware on their parents’ phones. According to Kirner, “our sons and daughters will quickly become a new threat vector to enterprise security.”

Robotic process automation

A Gartner report showed the annual growth of RPA software and projected that revenue will grow to $1.3 billion by 2019. “In 2020, [RPA] will continue its disruptive rise and become even more ingrained in our everyday lives,” predicted Darrell Long, vice president of product management at One Identity, an identity and access management provider. “However, with the rapid adoption of RPA, security has become an afterthought, leaving major vulnerabilities.” RPA technologies hold privileged data and that makes them lucrative targets for cybercriminals. CIOs must pay close attention to the security of the RPA tools they use and the data they expose to ensure their business is not infiltrated by malicious actors.

Storage attacks

Cybercrimes are not only rising — they are also evolving. Attackers have realized that data in storage systems are key to an organization’s operations. “Hackers are now targeting network attached storage (NAS) devices, according to the data revealed in a new Kaspersky report. This new type of attack presents a significant problem to businesses using only NAS devices to store their backups,” said Doug Hazelman, a software industry veteran with over 20 years of experience.

According to Kaspersky, there was little evidence of NAS attacks in 2018, but as hackers realized the benefits, they caught users off guard since NAS devices typically don’t run antivirus or anti-malware products. Hackers exploited this shortcoming to put 19,000 QNAP NAS devices at risk.

Organizations should keep their systems updated with the latest security patches and ensure only necessary devices are reachable from public networks. Per Hazelman’s recommendation, “to prevent cybercriminals from infecting backups with malicious software, CIOs should ensure company backups are being stored on two different media types, one of which being cloud storage, which has several benefits, including increased security.”

Reaching for the clouds

While new technologies promise convenience and increased returns, CIOs must make sure the security risks do not outweigh the gains.

Contrary to the other technologies on this list, ransomware has largely left the cloud untouched. However, as companies continue to transition their servers and data to the cloud for more cost-efficient solutions, criminals will shift their focus. The current attacks have largely been due to cloud misconfigurations or stolen credentials, but since the cloud has become a one-stop shop for all data, it’s becoming the new battleground.

What we need to do about cybersecurity threats

By now, we’ve seen how devastating cyberattacks can be, and that the risks are steadily increasing. Security must be a priority and not an afterthought. While new technologies promise convenience and increased returns, CIOs must make sure the security risks do not outweigh the gains.

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AIOps meaning to expand throughout DevOps chain

It seems that every year there’s a new record for the pace of change in IT, from the move from mainframe to client/server computing, to embracing the web and interorganizational data movements. The current moves that affect organizations are fundamental, and IT operations had better pay attention.

Cloud providers are taking over ownership of the IT platform from organizations. Organizations are moving to a multi-cloud hybrid platform to gain flexibility and the ability to quickly respond to market needs. Applications have started to transition from monolithic entities to composite architectures built on the fly in real time from collections of functional services. DevOps has affected how IT organizations write, test and deliver code, with continuous development and delivery relatively mainstream approaches.

These fundamental changes mean that IT operations managers have to approach the application environment in a new way. Infrastructure health dashboards don’t meet their needs. Without deep contextual knowledge of how the platform looks at an instant, and what that means for performance, administrators will struggle to address issues raised.

Enter AIOps platforms

AIOps means IT teams use artificial intelligence to monitor the operational environment and rapidly and automatically remediate any problems that arise — and, more to the point, prevent any issues in the first place.

True AIOps-based management is not easy to accomplish. It’s nearly impossible to model an environment that continuously changes and then also plot all the dependencies between hardware, virtual systems, functional services and composite apps.

AIOPs use cases

However, AIOps does meet a need. It is, as yet, a nascent approach. Many AIOps systems do not really use that much artificial intelligence; many instead rely on advanced rules and policy engines to automatically remediate commonly known and expected issues. AIOps vendors collect information on operations issues from across their respective customer bases to make the tools more useful.

Today’s prospective AIOps buyers must beware of portfolio repackaging — AIOps on the product branding doesn’t mean they use true artificial intelligence. Question the vendor carefully about how its system learns on the go, deals with unexpected changes and manages idempotency. 2020 might be the year of AIOps’ rise, but it might also be littered with the corpses of AIOps vendors that get things wrong.

AIOps’ path for the future

As we move through 2020 and beyond, AIOps’ meaning will evolve. Tools will better adopt learning systems to model the whole environment and will start to use advanced methods to bring idempotency — the capability to define an end result and then ensure that it is achieved — to the fore. AIOps tools must be able to either take input from the operations team or from the platform itself and create the scripts, VMs, containers, provisioning templates and other details to meet the applications’ requirements. The system must monitor the end result from these hosting decisions and ensure that not only is it as-expected, but that it remains so, no matter how the underlying platform changes. Over time, AIOps tools should extend so that business stakeholders also have insights into the operations environment.

Such capabilities will mean that AIOps platforms move from just operations environment tool kits to part and parcel of the overall BizDevOps workflows. AIOps will mean an overarching orchestration system for the application hosting environment, a platform that manages all updates and patches, and provides feedback loops through the upstream environment.

The new generation of AIOps tools and platforms will focus on how to avoid manual intervention in the operations environment. Indeed, manual interventions are likely to be where AIOps could fail. For example, an administrator who puts wrong information into the flow or works outside of the AIOps system to make any configuration changes could start a firestorm of problems. When the AIOps system tries to fix them, it will find that it does not have the required data available to effectively model the change the administrator has made.

2020 will see AIOps’ first baby steps to becoming a major tool for the systems administrator. Those who embrace the idea of AIOps must ensure that they have the right mindset: AIOps has to be the center of everything. Only in extreme circumstances should any action be taken outside of the AIOps environment.

The operations team must reach out to the development teams to see how their feeds can integrate into an AIOps platform. If DevOps tools vendors realize AIOps’ benefits, they might provide direct integrations for downstream workflows or include AIOps capabilities into their own platform. This trend could expand the meaning of AIOps to include business capabilities and security as well.

As organizations move to highly complex, highly dynamic platforms, any dependency on a person’s manual oversight dooms the deployment to failure. Simple automation will not be a workable way forward — artificial intelligence is a must.

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Tips for ransomware protection on Windows systems

Ransomware. Just the word quickens the pulse of every Windows administrator who might have lingering doubts about the effectiveness of their security approach.

Many IT folks lose sleep over the effectiveness of their ransomware protection setup, and for good reason. Your vital Windows systems keep most companies running, and thoughts of them going offline will have many IT pros staring at the clock at 3 a.m.

Unfortunately, ransomware will hit you in some capacity, despite any measures you take, but it’s not a futile effort to shore up your defenses. The key is to fortify your systems with layers of security and then to follow best practices for both Windows and your backup products to minimize the damage.

Give a closer look at your backup setup

Backups are something companies make with the hope that they are never needed. Oftentimes, backups are a secondary task that is shuttled to an ops group to be done as a daily task that is a checkbox on some form somewhere. This is how trouble starts.

You need to make backups, but another part of the job is to secure those backups. A backup server or appliance is a very tempting target for attackers who want to plant ransomware. These servers or appliances have network access to pretty much everything in your data center. It’s your company’s safety net. If this massive repository of data got encrypted, it’s likely the company would pay a significant amount to free up those files.

Anyone with IT experience who has seen organizations wiped out after a ransomware attack might change your mind if you feel old data is not worth having in an emergency.

Most backup products are public, which means ransomware creators know how they work, such as how the agents work and their paths. With all that information, an attacker can write software tailored to your vendor’s backup product.

Now, most backup offerings have some level of ransomware protection, but you have to enable it. Most people find the setting or steps to protect their data after the backups have been wiped. Don’t wait to verify your backup product is secured against ransomware; do it today.

An old security standby comes to the fore

This also brings up a secondary practice: air-gapping.

This methodology was popular in the days of tape backup but fell out of favor with the introduction of replication.

Some would argue that data that is several weeks or several months old has little value, but is the alternative — no data — any better? Anyone with IT experience who has seen organizations wiped out after a ransomware attack might change your mind if you feel old data is not worth having in an emergency.

[embedded content]
Windows Server 2019 ransomware protection settings.

A small network-attached storage product you use for a data store dump every six months and lock away suddenly doesn’t sound like such a bad idea when the alternative is zero data. It’s a relatively inexpensive addition to the data center used as an extra repository of your data.

Think of it this way: Would you rather get hit with ransomware and lose a few months’ worth of data or all 15 years? Neither is a great situation, but one is much preferred over the other. These cold backups won’t replace your backup strategy, but rather supplements it as a relatively economical airgap. When it comes to ransomware, more layers of safeguards should be the rule.

Air-gapping is a practice that is not followed as closely now with the pervasiveness of online deduplication backup products. For organizations that can afford them, these offerings often replicate to online backup appliances in remote locations to make the data accessible.

Don’t overlook built-in ransomware protection

There are more than a few ways to mitigate the ransomware threat, but using a layered approach is recommended.

These malicious applications quickly move east-west across flat networks. Internal firewalls, whether physical or virtual, can do a lot to stop these types of attacks.

An often-overlooked option is the Windows firewall. When it first came out, the Windows firewall had a few stumbles, but Microsoft continued to develop and improve it to build a solid software firewall. This is a low-cost offering that is free but does require some administration work. The Windows firewall is not going to stop all possible ransomware, but very few products can.

Looking at the big picture, the Windows firewall gives an additional layer of protection against ransomware. It’s already there and should have little performance impact.

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New to Microsoft 365 in September—updates to Microsoft To Do, PowerPoint, OneNote, and more

Every update we make to Microsoft 365 is about helping our customers transform the way they work. And this month, we’re introducing updates and features designed to help you collaborate more effectively, work more efficiently, and protect your data more proactively.

We updated the conversation experience for Yammer mobile, so it’s easier to discover and share the content that matters most, and a new PowerPoint for iPad feature makes it (finally!) easy to share a single slide. The updated Microsoft To Do app keeps you productive on the go, and now you can export Visio workflows to Microsoft Flow—a great way to streamline business processes and save your organization money and time. Also new in September: automated incident response with Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) for more effective, efficient security.

What’s new in Microsoft 365

This September, learn how to build your business with Microsoft 365.

Watch the video

Collaborate, save time, and improve productivity with app updates

App updates streamline your mobile experience and help you conquer your to-do list across devices.

Join the conversation with beautiful new experiences for the Yammer mobile app—We updated the conversation experience for Yammer mobile, so you can connect, discover, and share in a way that’s easy on the thumbs and on the eyes. Highlights include a new card-based design that sharpens content, easy-to-read formatting and styling, a new grid layout for docs and images that makes it easier to preview and engage with multiple images or files, and link previews and inline videos right in the feed. To experience these improvements, simply update your Yammer app to the latest version.

Image of three phones side by side displaying a Group Conversation in Yammer.

Get more done with the new version of Microsoft To Do—This month, we unveiled a new version of To Do with a fresh design, access from anywhere, and better integration with Microsoft apps and services. You can choose from customization options and backgrounds (including dark mode) to tailor your experience and suit your lists. You can also sync To Do across all platforms to take your lists with you wherever you go. In addition, you integrate To Do with Microsoft 365 apps and services or have one centralized view of your tasks. Think of To Do as your new task aggregator—from Outlook to Planner and Cortana and the Microsoft Launcher on Android, you can now see your whole list in one place.

To get started, download the To Do app. And if you’re coming from Wunderlist, you can import your existing lists in just a few clicks.

Animated image of Microsoft To Do displaying a My Day to-do list.

Share, communicate, and collect feedback more efficiently and effectively

New app features let you share individual PowerPoint slides, stay on top of your notes in OneNote, and conduct more effective surveys.

Share individual slides and overcome public speaking jitters with new PowerPoint features—Sometimes you only need to share that one specific slide, and sending it via email or creating a separate file can be cumbersome. Now, exclusively in PowerPoint for the web, you can share a deck with a link to a specific slide. Just right-click the slide thumbnail, select Link to this slide, and copy the link.

Image of an individual slide about to be copied in PowerPoint.

We also released Presenter Coach in PowerPoint for the web in public preview. Presenter Coach uses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to give users real-time, on-screen feedback to improve public speaking skills. Rehearse your presentation and get helpful tips on pacing and using inclusive language, as well as avoiding filler words like “basically” or “um,” or developing a rote presentation style.

Stay on top of your most recent notes and adjust your color schemes in OneNote—Updates to OneNote allow you to take your notes with you on the go and personalize your experience. Recent Notes is now also available on Mac, helping you easily pick up where you left off on any device with a chronological list of pages you recently viewed or edited.

On iPad, we integrated OneNote with Sticky Notes, so you can surface your notes there and avoid toggling between apps. Finally, you can now switch to a darker canvas with the new dark mode in OneNote for Mac. All these new features are available now.

Animated image of a recipe being shared in OneNote.

Overcome language barriers in your surveys—The Microsoft Forms Pro app now offers the option to create surveys in multiple languages without having to merge separate documents. Multilingual support enables Pro users to reach a broader audience and helps respondents provide richer feedback by displaying questions in their preferred language. Beginning next month, you’ll be able to access multilingual support by clicking on the ellipsis in the top right corner and selecting Multilingual from the drop-down menu.

Animated image of a multilingual survey in Microsoft Forms.

Export Visio workflows to Microsoft Flow to quickly automate business processes—Designing processes quickly and automating workflows can help accelerate productivity, but it’s often easier said than done. Now you can easily create new automation flows in the familiar diagramming experience of Visio and seamlessly export them as a fully functioning workflow to Microsoft Flow. Built-in Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) stencils have sharing and commenting capabilities, simplifying development and collaboration. Once the workflow’s complete, you can publish it to Microsoft Flow with a single click. This capability is now generally available to all Visio Plan 2 users through the Visio desktop app.

Streamline IT management and security

New features simplify the management of corporate Android devices, making it easy to add Microsoft 365 customers and ensure endpoints and devices are secure.

Manage corporate-owned Android devices with Microsoft Intune—With support for Android Enterprise fully managed devices, Microsoft 365 customers can deliver a high-quality and feature-rich productivity scenario for employees on corporate-owned devices, while maintaining an extended set of policy controls over those devices. Intune support for Android Enterprise work phone management is now available.

To get started, check out our Intune documentation.

Image of three phones side by side setting up a device as a work phone in Microsoft Intune.

Save time when adding new employees to Microsoft 365—Adding and configuring new employees or freelancers to Microsoft 365 just got easier. Beginning this month, you can create and use a template to save time and standardize settings when adding people in the Microsoft 365 admin center. Templates are particularly useful if you have employees who share many attributes, like those who work in the same role and the same location.

Beginning this month, head to the Microsoft 365 admin center and select Users > Active Users > User Templates > Add Template.

Animated image of a user being added to an engineers list in the Microsoft 365 admin center.

Automate incident response with Office 365 ATP—We’re excited to announce the general availability of Automated Incident Response in Office 365 ATP, which applies powerful automation capabilities to investigation and response workflows, dramatically improving the effectiveness and efficiency of your business’s security teams. These capabilities are available to organizations with the Office 365 ATP Plan 2, Office 365 E5, and Microsoft 365 E5 Security SKUs.

Evaluate security products with ease—The new evaluation lab in Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection removes the challenges of machine installation and configuration. Security experts can verify a potential platform, familiarize themselves with the product, learn about new features, or use the lab environment for attack simulations.

The new evaluation lab is now generally available. To access it, select Evaluation and tutorials > Evaluation lab directly from the navigation menu.

Image of the evaluation lab dashboard in Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection.

Also new this month

  • The redesigned Outlook on the web is now generally available. The redesigned experience features a modern design, new and smarter features, and a faster framework.
  • Now generally available, Security Policy Advisor—introduced in public preview this spring—can examine your policies and provide recommendations to improve security.
  • Windows Virtual Desktop is now generally available, delivering a virtual, multi-session Windows 10 experience. Windows Virtual Desktop enables you to deploy and scale your Windows desktops and apps on Azure in minutes.

As always, every Microsoft 365 update reflects our commitment to improving the experience for you—so if you have feedback or ideas on how we can improve, don’t hesitate to let us know.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft events — the year ahead – The Official Microsoft Blog

Empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more is a 7 billion-person mission that we don’t take lightly. None of us at Microsoft could ever hope to reach that objective without a vast set of partnerships with curious and passionate people who seek to deeply understand technology and its power to transform individuals, businesses and industries. Facilitating connections, sharing our technologies and partnering to create solutions to real-world challenges is why we create the many Microsoft event experiences we host around the world.

Microsoft event experiences are designed to benefit specific audiences and structured to support clear objectives. We’re committed to closely aligning with all our partners, customers, and business and IT decision makers and connecting you with peers and industry leaders. To find out more about each event, visit our event website for details. Or, if you’re looking for a quick description of each event, read below to get a snapshot of our upcoming events.

Flagship events
IT professionals and developers
Microsoft Ignite — For IT professionals, decision makers, implementors, architects, developers and data professionals. This event provides opportunities to explore the latest tools, receive deep technical training and get specific questions answered by Microsoft experts. With more than 26,000 attendees who join to learn, connect and explore what Microsoft has to offer, this truly is the place where reality meets imagination. Orlando, Florida | Nov. 4-8, 2019

Developers
Microsoft Build — Where leading architects, developers, start-ups and student developers converge to focus on the latest tech trends and innovate for the future. We maintain our “produced by developers and for developers” mantra while inviting the next generation of developers to participate in the student zone. Seattle, Washington | May 19-21, 2020

Microsoft partners
Microsoft Business Applications Summit — An annual opportunity to bring together a community of Microsoft customers and partners in roles that include power users, business analysts, evangelists, implementers and technical architects. This event provides a forum to learn how Microsoft’s end-to-end Dynamics 365 and Power Platform can create and extend solutions to drive business success. Anaheim, California | April 20-21, 2020

Microsoft Inspire — Where Microsoft partners meet to connect and celebrate as one community at the close of Microsoft’s fiscal year. With hundreds of thousands of partners across the world, our partner ecosystem is stronger and more united than ever. We invite you to learn more about how Microsoft leaders are supporting our partners, and how partners can capitalize on the opportunities ahead. We’ve co-located our Microsoft sales kick-off event to build on our shared partnership philosophy. Las Vegas, Nevada | July 20-24, 2020

Regional tours

We started our regional tours for attendee convenience and to gauge how digital transformation is happening around the world. They’ve been a success on both fronts. This year we’re expanding to 30 markets for Microsoft Ignite The Tour and starting Microsoft Envision I The Tour in seven cities. Check out one of the stops on our regional tours in a city near you.

IT professionals and developers
Microsoft Ignite The Tour — We are bringing the best of Microsoft Ignite to you by traveling to 30 cities around the world for both ease of access and for the robust localized content for these distinct markets. Join us for in-depth learning and experiences in a free, two-day format that allows IT professionals and developers to learn new ways to build solutions, migrate, and manage infrastructure and connect with local industry leaders and peers. Visit Microsoft Ignite The Tour for locations and dates.

Business decision makers
Microsoft Envision | The Tour — An invitation-only, single-day event held in multiple cities around the world. With a global focus, this summit allows members of the C-suite to focus on challenges and trends that are changing the way organizations do business. Taking inspiration from our CEO Summit, this conference is designed to give leaders a chance to step back and learn about smart strategies to tackle emerging issues, power new efficiencies and build new business models and revenue streams. Visit Microsoft Envision I The Tour for locations and dates.

Digital learning

For those unable to make it in person or who are looking to quickly skill up on a particular topic, we offer digital learning options. Watch training sessions and event keynote sessions at any time. View multiple modules or choose a learning path tailored to today’s developer and technology masterminds that are designed to prepare you for industry-recognized Microsoft certifications.

Additional events

We’re just scratching the surface of the full picture of events that Microsoft has to offer. If you don’t find what you are looking for here, visit our full global events catalog for a list of events in your region and possibly your own city. These are events that are organized around specific product offerings and located in easily accessible locations with a wide range of class levels offered.

We invite everyone to join us to learn and grow, join us to connect with your peers, join us to get the answers you need so that you can deliver the solutions that can help propel your digital transformation. Visit our events website of flagship and regional events, and we look forward to seeing you in the year ahead.

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Today in Technology: Lessons through time | Microsoft On The Issues

Technology never exists in isolation. Every advance is shaped by what has gone before.

As part of the Today in Technology series, Microsoft President Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne, Senior Director of External Relations and Executive Communications, have listened to different perspectives and explored lessons from history.

Here’s a glimpse into some of their videos:

Lessons on protecting privacy

The explosion of data in recent years means that agreeing on how best to protect our privacy is more relevant than ever. A visit to a former prison in Berlin served as a powerful reminder of the importance of getting that right.

[Subscribe to Microsoft on the Issues for more on the topics that matter most.]

YouTube Video

During the Cold War, the East German secret police, the Stasi, spied on millions of people, keeping files on their activities. Hohenschoenhausen was where those that were suspected of holding outlawed beliefs and opinions were imprisoned.

How the spirit of Louis Braille lives on in today’s AI innovators

YouTube Video

In the 19th century, a young French boy named Louis Braille developed a system of reading through touch. His work transformed the way millions of people who are blind or have low vision perceive the world. The same passion that inspired him lives on in the work undertaken today by engineers, programmers and technicians to create accessible technology that can help unleash everyone’s potential.

The Human Cost of Cyberattacks

YouTube Video

Interconnected digital infrastructure is vulnerable to an entirely new form of attack – cyberwarfare. To fight this, we need to update the international rules of allowable behavior – and work toward a Digital Geneva Convention.

There is no playbook for addressing challenges such as privacy, cybersecurity, the moral conundrums of AI or the relationship between technology and inequality, but Smith and Browne examine these challenges, and more, in their new book, Tools and Weapons: the Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

It’s back to school and back to innovation with free tools for student developers – The Official Microsoft Blog

It sneaks up on me every year. One minute, my family is fully ensconced in summer break, the next we’re deep into school supply lists and pre-work to prep for the first day back.

This year, as I’ve helped my own students get ready to go back to school, I’ve been thinking about all the cool (and free!) offerings Microsoft provides to bridge the technology gap for student developers. We’re committed to empowering the next generation of creators with access to technology and training – after all, our future is in their hands! – and we have a little healthy competition thrown in for good measure. Here are a few of the offers that students can take advantage of today and throughout their educations:

One of the newest additions to our lineup, developer hub GitHub offers their Student Developer Pack, which provides access to the best real-world developer tools and training. Students who join the Pack receive GitHub Pro at no charge while in school, plus exclusive offers from GitHub Education partners, including Microsoft.

Microsoft Azure for Students offers a free annual renewal subscription to our top cloud services, plus access to dozens of other Azure and artificial intelligence (AI) tools and training. Students can build skills in trending tech including data science, AI, machine learning and other areas with access to professional developer tools like Visual Studio Code.

Microsoft Education has a plethora of resources available for students and educators, who can get Office 365 free as well, which includes powerful tools like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and now Microsoft Teams and a lot more. This isn’t a trial – it’s a full-featured product that is free while the student is in school and offered at a big discount after graduation. Educators also have a wealth of resources available to them to help students engage with STEM, from customized training opportunities to unique Minecraft editions to access to special guest speakers.

For college and university students, the annual Imagine Cup competition is now open for entry. I’m continually impressed by the impactful ideas that come out of Imagine Cup – many of which go on to become full-fledged products. But big ideas that make a difference aren’t born in a vacuum, and they can’t be achieved alone. I think that’s one of the things that makes Imagine Cup so special. Students learn how to work together, be resourceful, meet deadlines and a select few receive funding to help take their ideas to the next level.

This year’s Imagine Cup theme is AI for Good. Driven by inspiration and a growing sense of purpose, we’ve seen student competitors create applications tackling some of the world’s biggest social, environmental and health challenges – one user at a time – and that’s what Imagine Cup is all about! So, it only makes sense that there is a stronger focus on AI this year. It’s one of the most promising ways technology can help us be more inclusive, effective and productive. I encourage students with a dream of a better future and an idea to sign up and get to work.  I’m excited to see where the competitors take the challenge this year – and where the competition takes them.

Students who want to be a force for good and make a difference in their communities – while learning and sharing Microsoft technologies with their peers – can apply to be a Microsoft Student Partner, a program that lets student leaders gain experiences, access exclusive resources and gather real-world technical and career skills.

Finally, LinkedIn offers a wide variety of networking and educational opportunities to support students when it comes time to look for a job, learn a new skill or connect with classmates. A current and accurate LinkedIn profile is one of the best ways to build and maintain a career network.

Our goal is for all students to have access to the technology and support they need to make their dreams come true. Please share these offerings with the students in your life, and if you are a student, I hope you’ll take advantage of one or more of them to take your ideas to the next level this year.

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Author: Microsoft News Center