Tag Archives: exciting

These 3 New Features in Windows Server 2019 Could be Game Changers

A new Windows Server Insider Build has been posted and this one contains three exciting new features that could have a huge impact on future Windows Server users. This continues the march toward Windows Server 2019 with a new set of features intended to debut in that forthcoming release.

You can read the official notification for build 17723 here. If you’d like to get into the Windows Server Insider program and test these builds yourself, you can do that here. In the immediately previous build, I recommended that you install directly on hardware to test out the new Hyper-V features. This one would not benefit as much, but it’s good to keep up on in-place upgrades if you can.

Ongoing Testing Request

As Microsoft and I remind you with each new build, they are interested in gathering as much feedback as possible on two fronts:

  • In-place upgrade from WS2012R2 and/or WS2016
  • Compatibility with applications

If you find anything, use the Windows Server Insiders forums to report in.

Build 17723 Feature 1: Expansion of the System Insights Feature

System Insights was introduced with build 17692. This new feature provides a framework for Windows Server to gather data and analyze it for predictive purposes. We can use it for performance trending more easily than using Performance Monitor and related tools.

Build 17723 opens System Insights up to gathering data from any performance counter. It includes access to new features via PowerShell and Windows Admin Center.

Build 17723 Feature 2: Expanded Kubernetes Support

A container is simple to set up and tinker with. Directly managing them at even a small scale quickly becomes tedious. Managing containers in a public cloud can be even more difficult. Kubernetes is one option (known as a “container orchestrator“) for handling containers. Kubernetes can have a presence on a Windows Server installation for managing your on-premises containers. This build improves on Windows Server support for Kubernetes.

I do not use Kubernetes often, so I didn’t push this far. The official blog post announcing the new build includes links to guide you through configuring Kubernetes.

Build 17723 Feature 3: Low Extra Delay Background Transfer (LEDBAT)

LEDBAT is one of those features that we’ve all wanted for quite some time. With LEDBAT, you can place server-side traffic of your choosing into a box, so to speak, so that it must always take a backseat to any other traffic. It will use only whatever bandwidth is left over when nothing else needs to use the network.

While this would be a fun feature to test out and demo, Microsoft already has a fantastic article on the topic. It outlines the problem, gives some examples, explains why other approaches do not work, and demonstrates the feature in action.

Quick Introduction to System Insights

Let’s take a quick look at System Insights. Some of this comes from the official documentation page for System Insights.

Enabling the System Insights Data Gathering Feature

To begin, you need to enable the feature. You can do that with PowerShell:

You can also enable it in Server Manager’s Add Roles and Features Wizard:

When you check that box, it will prompt you to enable the management tools:

Adding the feature or its management tools does not require a reboot.

The management tools are not truly necessary on servers if you will be managing them remotely.

Enabling Windows Admin Center to Poll System Insights

Note: Everything that you see here was performed using the 17723 preview of WAC, which is available at the same location as the Windows Server Insiders download.

To use System Insights graphically, you can employ Windows Admin Center. If your WAC system is in gateway mode, it can pull data from remote systems. You must have the System Insights management tools installed on your WAC system using the above directions. Next, you must enable the plug-in within WAC.

First, access WAC’s settings by clicking the gear icon at the top right of its window:

At the left of the window, under the Gateway menu, choose Extensions:

Ensure that you are on the Available Extensions tab. Find and highlight System Insights. Click the Install button:

You will be prompted to confirm the installation. The plugin will then appear on the Installed Extensions tab.

Viewing System Insights in Windows Admin Center

Once you’ve done the above, Windows Admin Center will display a System Insights link for connected systems. Unfortunately, System Insights is a Windows Server 2019-only feature; the link will display for older operating systems but will not function:

Note: I apologize for the poor scaling of the Windows Admin Center screenshots. I’m getting them as small and focused as I can while maintaining legibility. An ongoing UX problem with Windows Admin Center is that it has been optimized to run full-screen on 4k displays and is horrifically disrespectful of screen real estate on anything less.

Built-In System Insights WAC Demonstration

Let’s start with a look at the insights that ship natively:

As for the error, I couldn’t find anything anywhere with more details. This is a preview, so maybe they’ll address that. We’ll see.

If you click on one of the items, you’ll be taken to a screen that shows a history and forecast chart for the specific item. On my 1680×1050 monitor, I could not do anything to get all of the items into a single screen. So, I’ve broken it down into three parts so that the individual components will scale better.

System Insights Overview Section

At the top of the page is just an overview that repeats what you saw in the table.

System Insights Forecast Section

Next, you have the aforementioned graphs. It takes up almost all of the screen and cannot be shortened vertically. Shrinking your window might cause it to become taller, though. Also, you cannot adjust the forecast term.

Poor UX design notwithstanding, these charts might come in handy. But, we still don’t know what sort of accuracy to expect. Looking at it with my own analytical mindset, I don’t know why it forecasts such a radical change in CPU usage. But, this system has not been collecting data for very long. We’ll see how it does with more information. I would also like to discover if it extends its forecast after collecting more data. A prediction spanning less than 10 days is not terribly useful.

System Insights History Section

Below the chart, you’ll find a listing of data gathering events. This will almost certainly require you to scroll if you want to see it. Fortunately, you probably won’t care about it often. I’m not sure why it’s not on a different tab or something.

System Insights PowerShell Module

The System Insights PowerShell module exposes several cmdlets:

You can use
Get-InsightsCapability to list a host’s installed Insight plugins and
Get-InsightsCapabilityResult to get a text readout that mirrors you saw in WAC:

The new part here should be of interest to systems software developers: you can build your own System Insights plugins and install them with Add-InsightsCapability. You can find details and guides on the official docs page.

Commentary on Build 17723

This release presents some exciting new features for Windows Server 2019 that I look forward to implementing.

Depending on how easy Microsoft makes it to build System Insights plugins, we could find ourselves with a wealth of performance forecasting modules in very short order. Enterprising systems admins might be able to architect their own. Even better, the WAC and PowerShell interfaces work better to view that data than most any other available tool. I still think the user experience in WAC needs a great deal of attention, but that concern is secondary to the capabilities.

Expanded support for Kubernetes shows Microsoft’s ongoing commitment not only to container technologies but to work with outside entities to improve their viability on Windows Server. I would have liked to see more information in the article detailing just what was improved.

I find the new LEDBAT technology to be quite intriguing. We’ll be able to use it to ensure that our critical server applications never become choked out without setting ham-handed restrictions on everything else. I feel that once the community gets hold of this, we’ll see many new applications that enhance our networking experiences.

If you read my commentary on build 17709, you’ll know that I tried out the new in-place upgrade and ran into some frustrating problems. This time, I upgraded from 17709 directly to 17723 without any issues at all. I didn’t need to change a single configuration item. It did tell me that I had to shut down running VMs, but it did that during the pre-flight when I had yet to commit any serious time to the attempt. I don’t know if Microsoft intentionally improved something in the upgrade cycle or if my luck just changed, but I won’t complain.

This post is part of a series on Windows Server 2019 builds leading up to the release in late 2018. Read more about the release here:

Windows Server 2019 Preview: What’s New and What’s Cool

Sneak peek: Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview Build 17666

What’s New in Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview Build 17692

Curious About Windows Server 2019? Here’s the Latest Features Added

Announcing new lesson plans and Minecraft: Education Edition update to spark interest in STEM |

This week, the Microsoft Education team is in the Windy City showing off some exciting new technology and curricula to support STEM learning at the annual ISTE conference.

In today’s job market, 50 percent of jobs require technology skills, and in the next 10 years, these types of jobs will outpace non-technology jobs by nearly two to one. It’s more important than ever to help students understand and appreciate STEM fields, to prepare them for the future workplace and to be digital citizens in a rapidly changing world.

Technology can empower educators to deliver inspiring lessons, personalize instruction and build creativity and critical thinking skills, which is why we’re so excited to bring STEM to life with these new tools and programs!

1. Bring the mystery of the oceans to your classroom with new STEM lesson plans

In partnership with BBC Learning, we’re thrilled to announce a new collection of teacher-written, inquiry-based lesson plans to compliment the BBC Earth and OCEANX film, Oceans: Our Blue Planet.

These interdisciplinary experiences engage students in answering four big questions: how ocean currents form, how sharks swim, how deep the ocean is, and how to craft coral reefs.

How do sharks swim?

Learn about the 3D coordinate system by working with physical and digital shark models to   understand yaw, pitch, and roll in order to survey a marine environment.

How deep is the ocean?

Students explore remote terrains by modeling and graphing the ocean floors with an ultrasonic sensor to visualize organisms that live in different ocean layers.

How are ocean currents formed?

Students discover how salinity and temperature impact ocean currents by conducting experiments, building electrical conductivity sensors, and analyzing global data.

How to craft coral reefs

Through the power of Minecraft: Education Edition, take your classroom underwater to discover the different types of reefs and what can be done to save them.

Students start by taking on the roles of biological oceanographers and marine geologists, biologists, and physicists. Then, working through the content, they are challenged to write code, build sensors, analyze data, and create in 3D and mixed reality. These hands-on explorations are ISTE and NGSS standards aligned and include reflection, documentation, and assessment activities that are supported by a rich archive of stills and clips made possible by BBC Learning from BBC Studios. What’s more, they can all be done for less than a few dollars with everyday objects.

Check out these great new STEM lesson plans to build future ready skills in your classroom today and show students how to:

Write code

  • Craft coral reefs and explore shipwrecks in Minecraft: Education Edition using MakeCode scripting
  • Write sensor programs with Data Streamer Connect
  • Flash code for both Arduino and Micro:bit microcontrollers

Build sensors

  • Construct an electroconductivity sensor to measure conductivity of ocean water
  • Assemble an ultrasonic sensor to map the ocean floor
  • Engineer a joystick to navigate a robotic shark through a virtual marine environment

Analyze data

  • Stream real-time data from your sensors into Excel with Data Streamer
  • Work with global oceanic climate, temperature and salinity big data sets
  • Compare the world’s mountain heights to the depths of the ocean floor trenches

Work in 3D

  • Model the five ocean zones in Paint 3D and populate them with marine organisms
  • Animate a shark model in PowerPoint to understand yaw, pitch and roll
  • Use a 3D model of the world to understand how ocean currents circulate around the globe

Review and reflect:

  • Check understanding of mathematical and scientific concepts with interactive visualizations in Excel
  • Use photo and videos to create lab notebooks, student journals, and presentations

Teachers can also take their students on an underwater global odyssey in Oceans: Our Blue Planet, a BBC Earth and OCEANX film that reveals extraordinary discoveries and untold stories of the oceans’ most astonishing creatures. ISTE attendees can join us next week for a free viewing of the BBC Earth and OCEANX film, Oceans: Our Blue Planet, and see how it brings this STEM experience to life.

2. Minecraft: Education Edition adds Update Aquatic

  

Minecraft: Education Edition continues to grow with 35 million K-12 teachers and students in 115 countries around the world now licensed to use the game to transform the way they teach and learn. Teachers are using Minecraft to teach every subject imaginable and encouraging student collaboration, creativity and digital citizenship. This week, we’re sharing a cool glimpse of new worlds coming to Minecraft: Education Edition.

ISTE attendees this week will get to experience the Update Aquatic for Minecraft: Education Edition, a new set of game features and underwater worlds available for free to all Minecraft: Education Edition users. Students can use coding to build coral reefs, explore shipwrecks and underwater monuments, learn about sustainable fishing, and rescue dolphins. Educators are invited to use the free lessons provided with the update, which will be demoed at ISTE in the Microsoft Education booth by the Minecraft team and members of the Minecraft Global Mentor program.

Learn more about the Update Aquatic on the Minecraft Education blog.

3. Apply now for a Limitless Libraries grant to enrich the learning experience at your public or school library with mixed reality headsets

Microsoft is excited to announce Limitless Libraries, a new Mixed Reality grant program designed to help foster Mixed Reality adoption in education. The fund is open for applications starting today with the first recipients selected at the end of the summer. Sign up today!

Libraries – both in schools and in the community – have long been a place where students immerse themselves in the learning experience and ignite their creativity, envisioning their favorite stories come to life. With the expansion of digital technology like mixed reality headsets, we see a new world of possibility to transform learning efficiency, retention, and student engagement​.

The grant provides libraries with all the resources for getting a Mixed Reality program up and running, including:

      • Two Windows Mixed Reality headsets and two computers to operate them
      • Technical training of staff and administration
      • Assistance with marketing resources and program scheduling
      • Email support to answer any questions going forward
      • Access to other grantees
      • Updates about new content rollouts

Middle schools and High schools (grades 6-12) can apply, as can public libraries. Grant applicants whose programs provide exposure and increased knowledge in STEM, and where a high percentage of participating youth are considered underserved as defined in the local context, will be given priority.

Apply now and contact [email protected] with any questions.

If you’re headed to ISTE, please stop by to say hello and learn more about these new tools and lesson plans and the rest of our exciting ISTE demos, which you can read more about here.

*Open only to libraries in grades 6-12 in the US, and public libraries in the US. Applications close Monday, July 9, 2018. For details, see the official rules.

Master the seven key DevOps engineer skills for 2018

This year will be an exciting year in DevOps. Cloud-based technologies will continue to grow in 2018, as will the use of AI in day-to-day operations. We’re going to see a renewed focus on the role of hardware in both the cloud and on-premises installation. Also, quantum computing will become a regular part of commercial computing.

All of these trends will require developers and operations professionals to acquire new DevOps engineer skills to adapt to this evolving landscape. Below, you’ll find 2018’s technological trends and the skills DevOps pros will have to develop to be viable in the coming year.

Serverless computing is here, so get used to it

The big three of web service providers — Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform — now provide serverless computing environments. AWS has Lambda, and here’s Azure Functions and Google Cloud Functions. These technologies were significant investments; they are not going away. In fact, the big three are promoting serverless computing as a first-order way for developing for the web, particularly around the internet of things (IoT).

And so moving into 2018, key DevOps engineer skills will include understanding the basic concepts of serverless computing in terms of architecture, version control, deployment and testing. There are still outstanding problems to be solved, particularly around real-world unit testing of serverless functions in a continuous integration and continuous delivery pipeline.

Get with IoT, or IoT will get you

IoT is on pace to eat the internet. Back in 2014, Business Insider‘ predicted IoT will become the internet’s predominant technology.
 
This year, we’ll see even more activity. IoT will have a growing impact in two significant areas: processing and security. In terms of processing, these IoT devices will emit a lot of data, which obviously needs to be processed. The increased demand will put a burden on infrastructure. Understanding how to accommodate the increase in volume due to IoT devices is going to be an important DevOps engineer skill in 2018.

In terms of security, new practices still need to be adopted. One type of consumer hazard is home invasion, in which a nefarious agent takes over household appliances. Imagine some bad tech turning off the heating system in a house during a Boston winter. After a few hours, all the pipes in the house burst. The damage will be significant. In the commercial enterprise, things can get much worse — think a nuclear reactor.

Given the risks at hand, DevOps personnel need to get a firm understanding of the intricacies of IoT. The technologies go beyond the standard practices of controlling a standard data center. The risks are real, and the consequences of not being well-informed are significant.

IoT smart home
Security in your smart home — and all your IoT devices — will become even more essential, as code-crunching quantum computers become more readily available.

Get ready for the resurrection of hardware

The days of using any old type of hardware to run a cloud-based VM are coming to a close, particularly as more applications are used in life-and-death situations — driverless vehicles, for example. The most telling change is the growing attraction of GPU as the processor of choice for AI and machine learning computation. Hardware is indeed making a comeback.

Cloud providers are listening. Amazon allows you to attach GPUs to cloud instances — so does Azure and Google Compute Engine. Along with this GPU rise, you are also going to see companies going back to “down to the metal” installations. There are providers out there, such as Packet.net, BareMetalCloud and Storm, that offer hourly rates on actual hardware.

As specialized big data processing becomes more a part of the everyday computing workload, alternatives to multicore commodity hardware will become essential. This hardware resurrection will have a definite impact on DevOps engineer skills and practices. DevOps personnel will need to know the basics of chip architecture — for example, how is a GPU different from a CPU? We’re going to have to refresh our understanding of network hardware and architecture.

Put learning about RPA firmly on your roadmap

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the practice of applying robotic technology to do physical work within a given workflow. In other words, RPA is the about teaching robots to do work with, or instead of, humans.

Over the last few years, RPA has become a standard discipline on the factory floor, and it’s getting more prominent in general IT. Short of a Luddite revolution, RPA is not going away. A quote in the Institute for Robotic Process Automation primer is quite telling:  “Though it is expected that automation software will replace up to 140 million full-time employees worldwide by the year 2025, many high-quality jobs will be created for those who are able to maintain and improve RPA software.”

As hard as it is to imagine today, teaching robots is going to become an essential DevOps skill. It makes sense in a way. We’ve been automating since Day One. Applying robotic technology to physical work in physical locations such as a data center is a natural extension of DevOps activity.

Prepare for the impact of quantum computing on your security infrastructure

Quantum computing is no longer a science-fiction fantasy. It’s here. IBM has a quantum computer available for public use via the cloud. D-Wave Systems is selling quantum computers commercially. They go for around $10 million each. Google and Lockheed Martin are already customers.

Quantum computing is no longer a science-fiction fantasy. It’s here.

The key benefit of quantum computing is speed. There are still problems out there that take classical computers — computers that use standard binary processors — billions of years to solve. Decoding encrypted data is one such problem. Such complex code breaking can be done by a quantum computer in a few hundred seconds.

The impact of quantum computing on security practices is going to be profound. At the least, quantum computing is going to allow any text-based password to be deciphered in seconds. Also, secure access techniques, such as fingerprinting and retinal scan, will be subject to hacking. Quantum computing will allow malicious actors to perform highly developed, digital impersonation in cyberspace.

To paraphrase Alan Turing in Imitation Game, “The only way to beat a machine is with another machine.”

It’ll be the same with quantum computing. DevOps security pros — whose primary concern is providing a state-of-the-art security infrastructure — will do well to start learning how to use quantum computing. Quantum computing will provide the defensive techniques required to ensure the safety of the digital enterprise as we move into the era of infinite computing.

Get good at extreme edge cases

In the old days, we’d need a human to look over reports from automated system agents to figure out how to address anomalies. Now, with the growth of AI and machine learning, technology can identify more anomalies. The more anomalies AI experiences, the smarter it gets. Thus, the number of anomalies — aka edge cases that require human attention — is going to diminish. AI will have it covered.

But the cases that do warrant human attention are going to be harder to resolve. And the type of human that will be needed to address an edge case will need to be very smart and very specialized, to the point that only a few people on the planet will have qualifications necessary to do the work.

In short, AI is going to continue to grow. But there will be situations in which human intelligence will be required to address issues AI can’t. Resolving these edge cases is going to require very deep understanding of a very precise knowledge set, coupled with highly developed analytical skills. If part of your job is to do troubleshooting, start developing expertise in a well-defined specialty to a level of understanding that only a few will have. For now, keep your day job. But understand that the super-specialization and extreme analysis are going to be a DevOps skill trend in the future.

Relearn the 12 Principles of Agile Software

The Agile Manifesto, released in 2001, describes a way of making software that’s focused on getting useful, working code into the hands of users as fast as possible. Since the Manifesto’s release, the market has filled with tools that support the philosophy. There have been arguments at the process level, and there are a number of permutations of Agile among project managers. Still, the 12 principles listed in the Manifesto are as relevant today as when they first appeared.

Sometimes, we in DevOps get so muddled down in the details of our work that we lose sight of the essential thinking that gave rise to our vocation. Though not a DevOps skill exactly, reviewing the 12 Principles of Agile Software is a good investment of time not only to refresh one’s sense of how DevOps came about, but also to provide an opportunity to recommit oneself the essential thinking that makes DevOps an important part of the IT infrastructure.

Skype in 2017—a year of highlights and milestones | Skype Blogs

This year has been full of exciting changes at Skype—with many new features and designs released in 2017. However, what has been most important for us is the feedback and input from our valued customers all over the world that helps us shape Skype. As we look forward to bringing you more features in 2018, here are some highlights of our 2017 milestones.

A brand new Skype on mobile and desktop

One of the biggest feature updates in 2017 was the release of the next generation of Skype for mobile in July. This release introduced a customizable, colorful design, a camera at your fingertips, and new ways to express yourself with reactions, and frames. We also added intelligence into your chats by integrating Cortana—the Microsoft virtual personal assistant—directly into the chat window. You can also now transfer funds via Money—a new Skype feature for friends and family using PayPal—right from within your Skype conversations.

These changes were brought first to Skype mobile and desktop clients and are now available in the new Skype for Windows 10. We are in the process of rolling out these updates to Skype for Mac, Windows 10 November Update (2016) and lower, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Linux.

All of these updates were inspired by a simple goal: to make Skype the center of your important conversations with your personal networks and, hopefully, empower you to turn your everyday conversations into experiences. To access these new Skype features, please ensure you are using the latest version of Skype by updating your mobile and desktop applications.

[embedded content]

Innovations to help you get more done

This year has been a year of innovation at Skype, with new features, bots, and devices designed to enhance your day-to-day experiences.

Skype Bots—In 2017, we introduced several new bots with expanded capabilities to help you do everything from cook the perfect meal, race to the finish line with some of the world’s most accomplished athletes, or join Doctor Who on a quest to save the universe! In the coming year, look for more productive and enriching experiences directly via Skype.

Skype Professional Account Preview—This year also marked a milestone for self-employed working professionals who already utilize Skype to communicate with their customers. The Skype Professional Account desktop client (currently in preview in the U.S.) brings powerful new features to Skype—making managing your online business a whole lot easier. In addition to meeting with your clients on Skype, you can now book meetings, accept payments, and keep notes—all in one place.

Skype Translator—Skype Translator is now available for real-time voice and video calls in Japanese—bringing the number of real-time spoken languages to 10. Other spoken languages available on Skype Translator include: English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese (Mandarin), Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Arabic, and Russian. In addition, there are also over 60 IM languages available for Skype Translator.

Ambient devices—This year, Skype officially expanded to ambient devices—giving you a new, uniquely intelligent platform for Skype calling that extends beyond PC and mobile devices. The Harman Kardon Invoke speaker, with Cortana by Microsoft, is the first of these devices embedded with easy, voice-activated Skype calling to your Skype contacts, phone contacts, and local businesses.

In addition to Skype-to-Skype calling, which is always free, Invoke also features unlimited free outbound calling from the U.S. to mobiles and landlines based in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands. Restrictions apply—please read the Terms and Conditions of the full offer.

[embedded content]

Skype Lite and SMS Insights—For our Skype Android customers in India, we introduced Skype Lite—a new lightweight version of the Skype app, optimized for 2G and unstable network connections. And based on your feedback, we added SMS Insights to Skype Lite—making life even easier for people on the go. SMS Insights goes far beyond simply organizing your messages—it aggregates the information you need and presents it at a glance, sorting it into categories like Finance, Shopping, Travel, Reminders, and Promotions. Easily interact with the messages you want while Insights offers relevant action links that allow you to pay bills, check in to flights, and even call customer support numbers.

Personal expressions—We had fun teaming up with Rogue Octopus, Steve Aoki, Hammer Films, Lucasfilm, and more to create original Skype Mojis and emoticons. Check out our new holiday-themed emoticons, frames, stickers, reactions, and Mojis to help you spread holiday cheer this December.

Momentum and awards—In 2017, Skype crossed a major milestone—surpassing one billion downloads from the Google Play Store. Additionally, after years of pushing the boundary of broadcast television with studio-quality Skype call integration, our Skype TX team was a recipient of a Technology & Engineering Emmy® Award in 2017. We are humbled by both honors and further motivated to continue providing reporters, entertainers, and consumers the next level of broadcast and communication innovations.

[embedded content]

Amazing ways you have used Skype

Finally, here are some of the amazing ways you’ve been using Skype this year—from traveling all over the world, to developing brand new technologies, or even running unique businesses. We are continuously inspired by the different ways you use Skype every day.

Browse our blog for more inspirational ways that Skype is used—and if you have a Skype experience you’d like to share, just tag us @Skype on social media and we might feature you.

We look forward to continuing to expand the ways Skype can make your life easier, more productive, and fun in 2018. We are committed to always continuing to innovate, listening to customer feedback, and pushing the boundaries of technology. Thank you for joining us on this exciting journey.

From our Skype family to yours, we wish you happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!

Support for Open AI Ecosystem Grows as Amazon Web Services Joins ONNX AI Format – Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit

It’s been an exciting few months! In September we introduced the Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) format we created with Facebook to increase interoperability and reduce friction for developing and deploying AI. In October a number of companies that share our goals announced their support for ONNX.

Today Microsoft and Facebook are excited to share Amazon Web Services (AWS) is contributing ONNX support for Apache MXNet and joining the ONNX initiative. Amazon recognizes the benefits of the ONNX open ecosystem to enable developers working on deep learning to move between tools easily, choosing ones that are best suited for the task at hand. It’s great to have another major framework support ONNX: Caffe2, PyTorch, Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, and now MXNet.

At Microsoft we believe bringing AI advances to all developers, on any platform, using any language, with an open AI ecosystem, will help ensure AI is more accessible and valuable to all. With ONNX and the rest of our Azure AI services, infrastructure and tools such as Azure Machine Learning and the recently announced Visual Studio Tools for AI, developers and data scientists will be able to deliver new and exciting AI innovations faster.

We invite others in the community to visit http://onnx.ai to learn more and participate in the ONNX effort. You can also get ONNX updates on Facebook and @onnxai on Twitter.

New Fall Update for Xbox One Available for Everyone Today

It’s been a busy and exciting summer for everyone at Team Xbox. Back in August we gave you a first look at the fall update for Xbox One, and we showed off the new Home, Guide and Community tabs. Since then, we’ve been working with Xbox Insiders to gather feedback, test and refine new features that we’re releasing worldwide starting today. As gamers, we like to play and watch content the way we want, with the people we want. With this update, our fans asked for more personalization options and we’ve put more control in their hands. Here’s a rundown of the new features.

Content Block Xbox One

You can personalize your “Home” more than ever before: You can…

  • Make Home uniquely yours. Add your favorite games, friends, Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Game Pass, and more directly to your Home screen with a new concept that we call blocks. Once you’ve added blocks, you can remove or change the order of the blocks as you see fit.
  • Have up to 40 pins!  All these pins will appear in the Pin block on Home, as well as the Pins flyout in the new Guide!
  • Easily discover new things, such as friend activities, leaderboards, LFG posts, tips, quick links to Game Hubs, across both your console and Xbox Live at the top of Home.
  • Choose dark, light, or high-contrast theme option in Settings.

 Updated Xbox Guide

You’ll experience a fast, powerful and convenient Guide:

  • It’s now faster and easier to move left and right through horizontal tabs with the left thumb stick or bumpers.
  • When you bring up Guide while in an active party or broadcast, Guide will automatically open the party or broadcast section by default for faster access to controls.
  • New “Friends in games” flyout informs you of friends playing the same game.
  • Game invites will show up in the Multiplayer tab of the Guide.
  • The new Tournaments section in the Multiplayer tab of the Guide provides a quick portal into the official and community tournaments that you’ve joined. Enjoy more Xbox Arena tournament options with the addition of new titles.

Community Feed on Xbox One

Don’t worry about missing any actions when you step away from your console:

  • With the enhanced notification system, when your Xbox One is idle, time-sensitive activities and status are visible from far away.
  • The screen-dimming functionality has also been updated to better prevent screen ghosting, both when the screen is dimmed and when it’s showing notification snapshots of what’s happening on Xbox Live.
  • The newly redesigned Game Hub Welcome tab now features a summary of all the great content around the game on one page.
  • Profiles now enable faster access to recent activity. You can now easily manage who sees your activity feed content through the “Others can see your activity feed” privacy setting.
  • See more content at a glance with new Community feed, and view screenshots and game clips in an immersive, full-screen view.

Video forNew Fall Update for Xbox One Available for Everyone Today

Get a head start on Xbox One X (Launch Day Nov 7): Your console setup experience will be quicker for both new users and upgraders.  There are new options to help save time when moving from one Xbox One to another (including Xbox One X), so you can get back to playing faster.

  • Transfer your games to an external drive so you can connect it to your new console and play immediately. Just unplug the drive from your current console, plug it in to your new one, and you’re ready to go.
  • Existing Xbox One owners can back up their games and console settings to an external drive so that they’re ready to be applied to the new console during setup.
  • Copy your games and apps over your home network from one console to another via network transfer.
  • Bulk transfer will allow you to select and transfer as many games as you want all at once.
  • You’ll be able to download 4K content for some games ahead of time to your Xbox One or Xbox One S, so that you’re ready to transfer Xbox One X Enhanced games to your new console on day one.
  • You can easily discover Xbox One X Enhanced titles in the Store, and developers can optimize game delivery by making sure that 4K assets are installed only for Xbox One X.
  • You’ll be able to sort and filter your Installed and Ready to Install games library to find Xbox One X Enhanced titles.

Xbox One X Enhanced Titles UI

Discover and Create Engaging Content:

  • The Mixer tab on the dashboard will now display broadcast previews so you can see what’s going on in popular streams before you join them.
  • If your bandwidth supports a 1080p broadcast, we will upgrade it automatically for your Xbox One family of devices.
  • The Broadcast & Capture tab in Guide is also now more deeply integrated with Mixer. Once you start a Broadcast, a new flyout will appear that includes your profile stats.
  • You can also use a USB webcam to broadcast yourself alongside your gameplay on Mixer, or to have a 1:1 or group video chat with friends using Skype.
  • GameDVR will now be able to capture up to 4K/HDR screenshots and game clips on Xbox One X, and you’ll be able to capture content directly to an external hard drive.

Xbox Assist

Other big features include…

  • You can get personalized tips & help, smart notifications, community tips, & troubleshooting through the new Xbox Assist App.
  • You can also change your console language to select right-to-left languages – Arabic & Hebrew – in the Xbox Settings menu.
  • You will also see a new Microsoft Store logo and name in the Xbox dashboard, providing you with a simpler experience when you download and buy the latest products and content from Microsoft and its partners, including hardware, games, entertainment, apps and more.

It’s been an incredible journey for the entire team at Xbox as we worked to bring you this update. Thanks as always to our fans and Xbox Insiders for the valuable feedback. Be sure to keep letting us know what you think at Xbox feedback.  We’ll have even more great features coming very soon! See you on Xbox Live.

Mike Ybarra
Gamertag: Qwik
Twitter: @XboxQwik

ReCore Definitive Edition Available Today For New and Current Owners

Today is an exciting day for the ReCore team as we launch ReCore Definitive Edition on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Game Pass. Gamers are the center of everything at Xbox, and this Definitive Edition is the result of listening closely to ReCore players about how we could improve and expand a game they love.

The Definitive Edition adds enhanced visuals (increased resolution and HDR support), a brand-new adventure, “Eye of Obsidian”, new weapon modes for Joule, new gear for all Corebots, more enemy types, the long-awaited T8-NK Corebot (“Tank”) and many other gameplay and performance enhancements. These additions build on top of ReCore’s core foundation as a fully-featured game with over twelve hours of gameplay, an engaging story, a vast and dynamic world to explore, and lots of replayability and options to collect and customize Corebot frames.

New players get the entire package as either part of Xbox Game Pass or for $19.99 from the Microsoft Store or your favorite retailer, while owners of the existing ReCore game will receive the “Eye of Obsidian” adventure, the T8-NK Corebot, and all the other enhancements, for free, as an online update.

On behalf of the entire ReCore team, thank you to all our fans for your enthusiasm and support, and we hope everyone enjoys adventuring through the world of Far Eden.

Dow Chemical balances the equation between virtual teamwork and workplace security with Microsoft 365

Today’s post was written by Ron Markezich, corporate vice president for Microsoft.

Profile picture of Ron Markezich.


Dow logo.

These are exciting times for one of the world’s largest chemical companies. This month, Dow Chemical expects to finalize its merger with DuPont, creating DowDuPont and spinning off into three global businesses that focus on material sciences, specialty products, and agriculture. Global changes at this level require a complete, intelligent, and secure workplace transformation supported by agile cloud services. We’re excited that Dow chose Microsoft 365 Enterprise to empower more than 60,000 employees to work together creatively in highly secure virtual environments.

Mario Ferket, IT engineering director at Dow Chemical, explains why Microsoft 365 Enterprise is part of Dow’s bright future:

“At Dow, our growth strategy sees us investing in leading-edge businesses that create value for our customers and shareholders. We’re using Microsoft 365 to support a workplace culture that fosters the creativity and teamwork that we need to make our strategies a success—while protecting our environment with intelligent security solutions. By replacing our heterogeneous systems with Microsoft 365, we’re simplifying how IT delivers a modern experience for employees to achieve their highest potential and contribute to our bright future.”

Delivering creativity, innovation, and collaboration as core elements of the workplace through simplified, cloud-based management is a powerful agent for transformation at Dow. I’m looking forward to seeing how the new DowDuPont grows revenue, engages better with customers, and transforms their products thanks to a modern workplace culture that offers the latest in digital business solutions.

—Ron Markezich

Securing Cloudera Enterprise Data Hub on Microsoft Azure | Microsoft + Open Source

Microsoft has partnered with Cloudera to bring you this exciting new free webinar – Securing Cloudera Enterprise Data Hub on Microsoft Azure. It will be held on the 23rd of August 2017, Wednesday, 9:00am IST / 11:30am SGT / 1:30pm AEST.

Securing Cloudera Enterprise Data Hub on Microsoft Azure

In this one hour live interactive webinar, we will explore:

  • Different techniques to secure your Cloudera Enterprise cluster on Azure; and
  • The benefits of deploying Cloudera Enterprise on Azure Data Lake Store easily.

As more and more customers explore the benefits of moving to the cloud, many have an increasing need for architectural guidance on the best practices for deployment in their enterprise organizations. Chief among these concerns are security and the best topology to maximize performance and reduce cost for a variety of use cases.

Cloudera’s James Morantus will discuss how to use Cloudera Director, Microsoft Active Directory, SAMBA, and SSSD to deploy a secure EDH cluster for workloads in the public Azure cloud. He will be joined by Microsoft Azure Global Black Belt, Ron Abellera who will highlight other benefits of Cloudera on Azure, and deep dive into the new integration with Azure Data Lake Store vs. other storage alternatives.

Register Now: Securing Cloudera Enterprise Data Hub on Microsoft Azure.

Also See:

You Asked, We Listened: Fans Can Now Opt into the Xbox Insider Program

The Xbox Insider Program is growing, and with that growth comes exciting new opportunities. Alongside our continual efforts to hear all feedback shared by the Xbox Insider community, we’re now simplifying entry into the Xbox One Update Preview rings and partnering with 1st and 3rd party studios to provide Xbox Insiders with early access to Alpha and closed Beta playtests of Xbox Live-enabled games on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. This means Xbox gamers will now be able to easily opt into the Xbox Insider program and gain earlier access to the latest system updates and flighted games!

Xbox One Update Preview Flights

As the Xbox Insider Program has evolved to enable new and better experiences, so have the Xbox One Update Preview rings. We previously increased the number of rings and changed the names of the rings that provide Xbox Insider community members with a preview of updates. These changes help the development team by providing more in-depth, critical testing data, which they use to then update and refine features based on fan feedback, ensuring optimal user experiences when system updates reach general availability.

One of our key goals since creating the Xbox Insider Program has been ensuring interested Xbox users can provide valuable feedback on system updates before they are broadly released. We’ve enjoyed seeing that you, our community, share that same goal. Many of you – especially in Ring 3 and Ring 4 – have expressed interest in the opportunity to share feedback earlier in the preview process. As a result of this feedback, starting today we’re better recognizing your participation and dedication by activating user-selected ring shifts – available for those who have reached certain Xbox Insider XP and tenure milestones – for fans to enroll in previously “closed” rings.

To clarify these changes, we’re renaming preview Ring 3 and Ring 4. Here’s more information on these Insider ring changes:

Xbox Insiders Image

With these updates, many new Xbox Insiders – previously limited to Ring 3 or Ring 4 – will be able to join the Xbox One Update Preview Beta and Delta groups, thereby expanding the types of updates and features they’ll be able to test right away.

One important note for users who select enrollment in the Delta group to be aware of: a portion of Delta Insiders will receive preview builds earlier than others, based on a random lottery process. This means that while all users in the Delta ring will receive new console updates prior to their official release, some Delta Insiders will receive updates before others. This process gives developers a better understanding of how different sets of users experience new features, when introduced.

In addition to changing how Xbox One Preview Update rings function, we’re also providing Xbox Insiders with more flexibility in how they receive updates. As you gain access to deeper Insider rings, you’ll still retain access to lower rings, too. This means if you’re concerned with bandwidth usage or the frequency of updates, you can simply move to a lower ring whenever you’d like. What’s more, those who own multiple consoles can enroll those consoles individually into any of the Insider rings for which they’re eligible using the same gamertag across each.

Here’s some detail on the average number of monthly updates per ring, combined with the rough average monthly bandwidth usage per ring:

Xbox Insiders Image

Game & App Flights

As we said earlier, the Xbox Insider Team is working closely with multiple 1st party and 3rd party game studios to bring you playtests of unreleased games. Recently we partnered with our friends at Rare and already thousands of gamers are sailing the Sea of Thieves across both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.  This spring, Paladins was initially available to Xbox Insiders with an XP level of 10 or higher, then Xbox Insiders with XP > level 5, before being released to all Xbox Insiders a few weeks before the game was generally available.

Along with games, Xbox Insiders can also get early access to unreleased Xbox console apps and updates, so keep checking the Xbox Insider Hub to see if new content opportunities are available to you!

Thank You

In closing, we simply want to say thank you to our Xbox Insiders for working closely with Team Xbox to build and improve not only the gaming experience on Xbox One but also multiple games and apps across PC and console. Not yet an Xbox Insider and interested in joining the program? It’s easy to get started!  Simply navigate to the Store on Xbox One,  search for the “Xbox Insider Hub,” download the app and get started testing new console updates, games and apps.

-The Xbox Insider Team