Tag Archives: Microsoft

Join the Bing Maps APIs team at Microsoft Ignite 2018 in Orlando

The Bing Maps team will be at Microsoft Ignite 2018, in Orlando, Florida, September 24th through the 28th. If you are registered for the event, stop by the Bing Maps APIs for Enterprise booth in the Modern Workplace area of the Expo, to learn more about the latest features and updates to our Bing Maps platform, as well as attend our sessions.

Bing Maps APIs sessions details:

Theater session ID: THR1127

Microsoft Bing Maps APIs – Solutions Built for the Enterprise

The Microsoft Bing Maps APIs platform provides mapping services for the enterprise, with advanced data visualization, website and mobile application solutions, fleet and logistics management and more. In this session, we’ll provide an overview of the Bing Maps APIs platform (what it is and what’s new) and how it can add value to your business solution.

Theater session ID: THR1128

Cost effective, productivity solutions with fleet management tools from Microsoft Bing Maps APIs
The Bing Maps API platform includes advanced fleet and asset management solutions, such as the Distance Matrix, Truck Routing, Isochrone, and Snap-to-Road APIs that can help your business reduce costs and increase productivity. Come learn more about our fleet management solutions as well as see a short demo on how you can quickly set up and deploy a fleet tracking solution.

If you are not able to attend Microsoft Ignite 2018, we will share news and updates on the blog after the conference and post recordings of the Bing Maps APIs sessions on http://www.microsoft.com/maps.

For more information about the Bing Maps Platform, go to https://www.microsoft.com/maps/choose-your-bing-maps-API.aspx.

– Bing Maps Team

A quick take on the State of Hybrid Cloud survey

What does hybrid cloud mean to IT professionals, and why are so many companies using it? Microsoft conducted a survey with research firm Kantar TNS in January 2018, asking more than 1700 respondents to chime in. Surveys were collected from IT professionals, developers, and business decision makers to identify how they perceive hybrid cloud, what motivates adoption, and what features they see as most important. Survey participants in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and India were asked their thoughts about hybrid, which for the survey was defined as consisting of “private cloud or on-premises resources/applications integrated with one or more public clouds”. We’ve created a summary infographic of the survey that you can review. A few survey highlights:

  • Hybrid is common, with a total of 67 percent of respondents now using or planning to deploy a hybrid cloud. Many of those hybrid users have made the move recently, 54 percent of users in the past two years.
  • Cost, a consistent IT experience, and the ability to scale quickly were all given as important reasons for moving to hybrid cloud.
  • The perceived benefits of hybrid cloud, as well as some of the challenges, vary by the geographic location of respondents. For example, increased security was the top benefit cited in the United Kingdom and Germany, while the top United States benefit was better scalability of compute resources.
  • The top use case given for hybrid cloud was controlling where important data is stored at 71 percent. Using the cloud for backup and disaster recovery was a close second at 69 percent.

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We invite you to download and share our infographic on the state of today’s hybrid cloud. For a more complete review of the State of Hybrid Cloud 2018 survey findings, watch the on-demand webinar Among the Clouds: Enterprises Still Prefer Hybrid in 2018.

For more information about hybrid networking, identity, management and data on Azure, you can also check out this new Azure Essentials segment, Integrating Azure with your on-premises infrastructure.


State of Hybrid Cloud 2018 survey

Participants for this online survey were recruited from (non-Microsoft) local market lists selected by Microsoft and the international research firm Kantar TNS, which was hired to conduct the outreach. Survey participants included IT professionals, professional developers, and business decision makers/influencers who use, are planning, or have considered a hybrid cloud deployment. Surveyed company sizes were from mid-market to enterprise (250+). The survey was conducted January 4 – 24, 2018. For the purposes of this survey, hybrid cloud was defined as follows. Hybrid cloud consists of private cloud or on-premises resources/applications integrated with one or more public clouds.

Matthew Bennett | Microsoft Story Labs

Dan Richmanwritten by

Dan Richman

How Microsoft is cutting through the noise to create a more useful, beautiful ‘sound world’

You might never have thought about the sounds your computer emits when an email arrives, your battery runs low or a meeting reminder pops up on your screen. Matthew Bennett has. A lot.

Bennett personally composed, performed and digitally manipulated more than 400 versions of the Windows 10 calendar alert sound before choosing the perfect one.

“That’s just how long it took to get it right,” Bennett said with a shrug during a recent visit to his Redmond, Washington sound studio. The ambiently lit, sound-damped room features a mixer, multiple high-end studio monitors and large LCD screens, and, front and center, a multi-octave synthesizer keyboard.

As audio creative director for a large portfolio of Microsoft software and devices, Bennett has played a key role in the company’s sound design for 15 years. He has strong opinions and well-developed philosophies about sound, as well as a highly specialized vocabulary to discuss it.

Summarizing his role, he reflected, “Our responsibility to customers is, first, do no harm – no annoying audio! Second, make it functional, and third, make it beautiful. Beauty and function go hand in hand. The more beautiful the design, the better it will support the experiences we’re creating.”

The Windows 10 family of sounds took many months to perfect, as he collaborated closely with key members of his team, including visual designers, researchers, project managers and engineers. “We iterate a lot to be sure every sound is just right,” he said.


A composer of classical and improvised music who has done extensive research on non-Western music cultures, Bennett carried out Ph.D. work in ethnomusicology (the anthropology of music) at the University of Washington, before leaving the program to accept his first full-time position at Microsoft. After a five-year stint, he struck out to form his own agency, and for the next decade devoted himself to creating scores for film and television, as well as brand sound design for Fortune 500 companies. But he eventually became dissatisfied with the music he was creating.

Seeking new inspiration, he quit composing to study medieval chant and the musical cultures of West Africa, India, the Middle East and Indonesia. When he gradually resumed composing, his goal was to create a personal musical language – “a sound world that I could live with,” as he describes it. These examples show the results.

Once back at Microsoft, Bennett dug in hard. Now his work can be heard not only throughout the Windows platform, but also in the Xbox operating system and products including Office, Surface, Cortana and Skype. Having a strong sound design philosophy and creative point of view at the center is intended to help unify the soundscape of Microsoft products, just as the company’s user-interface design principles attempt to create a company-wide visual and functional continuity among its products.

We want to orchestrate harmony across devices and senses.

Beyond that, Microsoft’s Fluent Sound and Sensory Design development environment seeks to influence sound design in the technology industry more broadly.

“We use sound to shape the rhythm and emotional texture of the user experience,” Bennett said. “Sound is an element that’s integrated with other sensory experiences like touch, texture and movement. We’re shifting the way we think about sound design at Microsoft, and hopefully the industry at large. Our goal is to help orchestrate harmony across devices and senses.”

Rick Senechal, a Microsoft media solutions architect, has worked with Bennett for 20 years. Senechal directs a worldwide music service for company teams and agencies. Each year the service provides 4,000 songs for events, videos, podcasts and products.

Bennett takes his time and is extremely deliberate, Senechal said.

“Matthew is the most focused person I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “He takes a long, in-depth view of his craft and really thinks things through. He’s not just making sounds and saying, ‘Oh, that sounds good.’ There’s a logic and intelligence behind the sounds and textures he creates.”

Bennett is quick to declare what Microsoft sounds are not.

There’s a logic and intelligence behind the sounds and textures he creates.

“We’re not sound effects, game sounds, generic sounds (beeps and bloops), novelty sounds (dogs and fog horns), futuristic sounds, wall-to-wall music or alarms,” he said. “Our product sounds are not live musicians or sampled bits of real instruments, like a piano or guitar or analog synthesizer, because those evoke specific musical styles and emotional memory, which is very subjective between individuals and across cultures. Those design approaches don’t make sense for the kinds of modern digital experiences our teams are creating. Our goal is to develop a sound design language that feels unique and authentic and deeply integrated with our products and devices.”

Sounds in older versions of Windows were quite different from those in Windows 10, Bennett noted. For one thing, there were a lot more of them. Triumphant sounds denoting a successful boot-up “aren’t necessary anymore,” he said. “We no longer need to celebrate the fact that our devices are turned on. That’s something we can take for granted at this point.”

Many modern product sounds tend to be shorter. Earlier sounds, such as the shutdown signal in Windows NT Workstation 4.0 (1996), lasted 8 seconds – interminable by today’s standards, which call for less intrusive sounds measured in milliseconds (1/1,000 of a second). And, like start-up sounds, shut-down sounds are a thing of the past, deemed just another needless contributor to tech-induced noise pollution.

The start-up sound in Windows NT Workstation 5 (2000), nearly 12 seconds long, sounded like a squadron of fighter jets taking off, followed by twinkling marimbas. Today’s sounds are “more deeply integrated with the product and as calm, quiet and non-intrusive as possible,” Bennett said.

Gone are sounds that specialists call skeuomorphic – those that replicate their real-world counterparts, like a piece of paper being crumpled up when a document is deleted or the clacking of 19th century, mechanical typewriter keys denoting on-screen keystrokes.

Matthew Bennett at Microsoft Production Studios with audio engineer Dan Charette.

Matthew Bennett at Microsoft Production Studios with audio engineer Dan Charette.

“In earlier stages, those sounds helped people get familiar with technology, but we don’t need them anymore. They no longer add to the experience, and they tend to feel more like clutter now,” Bennett said. “For many years now, the visual design world has been reducing clutter and using more space,” he observed. “Now sound is starting doing the same.”

Windows 7 had about 40 sounds. Windows 10 has about eight, though legacy sounds are included with the OS to ensure backwards compatibility, he said. “When I started, there were seven different system error sounds. They had accrued over years and no one knew what they meant. There were no clear guidelines for partners or for ourselves. We got rid of the whole set and replaced them with two much more focused sounds – one gentle background notification and another more urgent sound.”

One design technique Bennett has developed involves the extensive recording and comparison of vocal contours – the melodic and rhythmic aspects of speech – from many different languages, to identify universal patterns that can help create a sound design language. For example, a statement that means “Ready to go?” can have a very similar pitch pattern when spoken in English, French, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish or Russian. It’s basically “up, down, and a small leap,” he says.

Bennett took that particular vocal contour and replicated it musically, so that it can be heard underlying the 2.5-second Windows 10 calendar alert prompt. This technique has shaped the entire set of Windows 10 sounds. “The language contours are deeply integrated, not intended to be heard literally, or consciously,” he said. “They should just be felt intuitively to create an emotional connection that feels natural, instinctive.”

Bennett believes the best operating system sounds should be deeply integrated with the events they support. For example, texting is more time-sensitive than emailing, so the Windows 10 text messaging sound “pulls you forward a bit and is a little more alertful,” he said. For a new email, “you still want to know something’s come in, but the sound pulls back a bit. It’s a little more relaxed.”

Does he call his creations “music”?

We design sound with silence in mind.

“In the broadest sense, yes. I would describe them as paramusical,” he said. “They utilize musical elements – rhythm, melody and harmony – to make sounds that feel beautiful, but they should never call attention to themselves as a piece of music,” he said.

Musical concepts certainly play a major role in Bennett’s design thinking.

“The error-message tone uses a minor 9th interval, which is definitely a little dissonant and says, ‘You really need to pay attention to this,'” he said.

While more tech companies are now employing audio directors like Bennett, “as a discipline, sound design still lags a little behind hardware and visual design,” he said. “We traditionally haven’t been deeply integrated into product design teams, aside from games. Microsoft was one of the first companies to realize the value of embedding sound designers with product teams.”

In addition to influencing Microsoft and technology design more broadly, Bennett thinks the discipline of sound design has an obligation to the world at large. The New York Times, in a Feb. 9, 2018 story, noted the cacophony produced by today’s ubiquitous electronic devices, asserting that “bombastic, attention-grabbing inorganic noises are become the norm [and] disruptive sonic alerts trigger Pavlovian feedback.”

Bennett hears that.

Matthew Bennett playing piano.

“There are so many device sounds in our environment now. Windows sounds alone are heard hundreds of millions of times a day around the world,” he said. “That’s a lot of sound affecting a lot of lives. Even if they are relatively short, every sound has an emotional impact, whether we’re aware of it or not. We have a responsibility to approach this as a system and to help create an audio ecology that supports healthy relationships between people and technology.”

The World Health Organization has recognized that unexpected loud sounds can cause stress and anxiety which are detrimental to public health, and that unnecessary sounds and excessive volume are just another form of pollution.

“In a rainforest, there’s an incredible amount of information being communicated through sound, with many layers in motion simultaneously – birds, insects, trees, plants, water and wind. And it’s all very intelligible because the acoustic design of a rainforest has evolved to be naturally orchestrated, with a deep harmony that let’s all the layers breathe and function together. That’s a powerful metaphor for how we should be designing sound.”

Toward the end of our conversation, I made a confession to Matthew: I haven’t operated my Windows computer with the sounds turned on since, oh, about 1990. I found them unnecessary and even irritating.

I asked him what I’d been missing – whether there is some subtle aspect of the OS that is being lost on me.

He answered, “The right sounds at the right time, can support a more efficient and more pleasant user experience. They can convey important information and improve the rhythm and flow of attention, which is really our most important resource. They can convey crucial information when we’re away from a screen. They can improve the way our technology feels. We want people to know it’s OK to turn your sounds back on. Our modern approach to sound design is deeply respectful. We’re not going to boot up loudly in a meeting or in the library, we’re not going to disturb the people around you. It’s not going to be random noise. It’s going to be a small set of beautiful sounds that are carefully curated to communicate important information very efficiently and to sit well in your environment.”

A Gentle Reminder

Matthew Bennett on creating the Windows 10 calendar alert sound

A lot of people feel anxiety over their calendar sounds, because it means there’s something they have to do. Some of them say it’s like responding to fire alarms all day. We needed something that was alertful but not anxiety-producing. And we wanted to get the right amount of optimism and energy, pulling the user forward to their next activity, but with the feeling of a calm, supportive friend.

This sound is meant to be heard at lower volumes and to be more felt than heard. It has a beginning, middle and end. If you listen closely, you’ll hear that it’s a rhythm of seven equal pulses. It starts low and slow, with three pulses that are designed to be felt more than heard. And it lasts a long time for a user-interface sound – 2.5 seconds – but at normal volume you only really hear part of the sound because those first three tones are so soft. They’re like a breath, a musical pick-up, to let you know something is about to happen. Then the volume swells a bit, it blooms, to make the middle section more audible. And at the end there’s a long reverb tail, falling off, that feels very transparent and light but can also improve audibility in certain loud contexts or when users are away from their device.

Windows calendar alert animation.

So it’s long sound, but very open. It’s definitely not alarming. It feels lightweight and pleasant and has a nice emotional texture.

There’s also a subtle left-to-right movement in the sound field that you can hear through headphones or decent speakers, like those on a good laptop to tablet.

There are foreground and background layers baked into the finished sound. The foreground is digitally sculpted plucks and tuned percussion. The textures sound familiar but they aren’t real-world instruments.

There’s a triplet feel to this sound and to a lot of the others in Windows 10. Over the years, the sounds that usually feel the most fluid, and that can balance the right qualities of energy and calmness, have tended to be resolved to an underlying triplet rhythm. So that pulse, that rhythmic substructure, has become part of our DNA.

We want to sound organic, and integral. That means we definitely don’t want the sounds to feel like they’ve been programmed on a computer. But we also don’t want to sound like a human being performing a little piece of music inside your device. So we resolve to a subtle temporal grid, to feel a little machine-like, while still keeping a little soulfulness.

Originally published on 8/28/2018 / Photos by Brian Smale / © Microsoft

New report shows how teachers use Microsoft Forms to drive improvement in learning outcomes |

Microsoft Education has undertaken a new study with researchers at Digital Promise to investigate how teachers around the world are using Microsoft Forms to drive learning. Providing feedback to students on their learning progress is one of the most powerful pedagogical approaches and education research has repeatedly shown that formative feedback has a tremendous impact on learning outcomes.

In this study, we found that teachers use Microsoft Forms not only for formative assessment, but for many other pedagogical activities. Teachers value the ease of use and clear reporting of Microsoft Forms.

“I actually say to teachers, ‘I think Forms is the most underrated piece of software in the suite because of the time that it saves you in terms of data-driven outcomes and the data collection that goes on with schools now.’”  

– Instructional Technology Coach

We are delighted to share this new report, which highlights the variety of creative ways teachers are using Forms.

Teachers are using Microsoft Forms in pedagogically substantive ways to improve student outcomes:

  • Formative Assessment
  • Differentiating Instruction
  • Peer Collaboration (students creating their own Forms in groups)
  • Social and Emotional Learning (see this teacher’s video on how she leverages Forms for SEL)
  • Increasing Student Engagement

Teachers also used Microsoft Forms for professional learning and to increase their efficiency with administrative and routine teaching tasks, such as:

  • Communicating with Parents
  • Professional Development through Reflective Practice
  • Increasing Teaching Efficiency by incorporating lunch choices, applications, and locker assignments into Forms

We also explored some of the best practices school and education-system leaders are using to grow adoption and use of Microsoft Forms. Some implementation strategies to get teachers to use Forms:

  • The most essential strategy is simply making teachers aware that Microsoft Forms is available and how it can be used. Follow the Quick Start guide to try out Microsoft Forms.
  • Training on how to use Forms is the second step and most coaches believed this training should be undertaken on its own (not as part of training on other apps). Check out Microsoft’s own training course, Microsoft Forms: Creating Authentic Assessments.

Coaches used the following strategies:

  • Using a Form with teachers directly to show its simplicity of use and to get them familiar with the tool
  • Understanding their teacher audiences and designing training for those audiences (e.g. ‘savvy explorer’ or ‘cautious adopter’)
  • Describing the time-saving element of Microsoft Forms use, especially enabling teachers to give students instant feedback; and how Microsoft Forms enables data-driven approaches to pedagogy with the immediate capture of data to Microsoft Excel.

Forms is an ideal tool for helping teachers incorporate more data-driven approaches to understanding what is working in their teaching practices, because it makes the collection (and much of the analysis) of student-learning data automatic. Results from a mood survey, a math quiz, or an exit ticket Form, are instantly available to both students and teachers. Such data helps teachers to build stronger learning relationships with their students, because they know where each student is at in their learning progress.

“There was that magical moment when getting the data happened. Oh my gosh, we’re getting this data in Forms in real time and that was unheard of before. Now within a matter of minutes I know where my students stand on the concepts that we’re going to cover that day.”

– 3rd Grade Teacher

Getting Started with Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms is an online quiz and survey application included with Microsoft Office 365. Forms was designed using direct feedback from educators looking for a simple way to formatively assess student learning and monitor learning progress on an ongoing basis.

Forms is part of the Office 365 suite of tools. If your school already has Office 365, you can log in at www.office.com and begin using Forms as one of the many apps included in the suite. Teachers and students can also Download Office 365 for free using a valid school email address. The resources below will help you get started on your journey to using Microsoft Forms.

Microsoft releases new security tools for political campaigns to combat hacking attempts

Microsoft is offering new security tools to political campaigns — some measures with a level of technology usually reserved for government and big corporate customers — as it expands its efforts to stifle hacking attempts from foreign entities.

The Redmond company announced late Monday a new set of tools, called AccountGuard,  that will closely watch hacking attacks and attempts made against campaigns, and notify their staff when threats occur. Microsoft will also offer training for staffers on how to make accounts more secure, and let them test new security tools “on a par” with the features Microsoft sells to government and corporate clients.

The AccountGuard services will be included for free to campaigns, candidates, think tanks and other political groups that are Office 365 customers. The service is the newest part of Microsoft’s Defending Democracy program announced this spring, which aims to make elections secure.

Microsoft pointed to the need to expand security efforts, saying it seized six website domains last week, with the help of a court order, that belonged to hacking group Fancy Bear. The group is believed to have ties to the Russian government and was behind the 2016 hack against the Democratic Party.

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That group and others like it use domains such as senate.group and office365-onedrive.com to give the appearance of a trusted organization when they send out phishing emails. The emails could be used to obtain passwords and infiltrate political organizations.

So far, Microsoft has shut down 84 of these fake domains set up by Fancy Bear in the past two years. The company also revealed last month that it thwarted two attempts last fall by hackers trying to get inside two Senate candidate campaigns, including Missouri Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill’s.

The number of hacking attempts has ticked up as midterm election campaigns get underway, Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post Monday. It’s widely believed the threats aren’t as numerous as they were during the 2016 elections, but cybersecurity executives say they are still serious.

“We can only keep our democratic societies secure if candidates can run campaigns and voters can go to the polls untainted by foreign cyberattacks,” Smith wrote.

Microsoft and Amazon sync AI voice assistants Alexa, Cortana

Microsoft and Amazon have launched the first phase of a long-awaited integration between Alexa and Cortana. Although currently targeted at consumers, the partnership could boost adoption eventually of AI voice assistants in the workplace.

The link between the two platforms lets users access some basic Cortana features through Alexa-enabled devices, and vice versa. The public preview works on Amazon Echo speakers, Windows 10 computers, and Harman Kardon Invoke speakers.

Both vendors appear poised to benefit from the partnership, which brings together Amazon Alexa’s large footprint in the consumer market with Microsoft Cortana’s link to office productivity tools, said Werner Goertz, analyst at Gartner.

“Alexa and Cortana can address my needs as a private individual and as a professional knowledge worker,” Goertz said. “That is a very important and winning combination.”

If Microsoft and Amazon decide to pursue a long-term partnership, the deal could pose a challenge to Google and Apple, the two other big players in the market for AI voice assistants.

But Microsoft and Amazon will likely approach the relationship cautiously given that they compete against each other on many fronts, said Jon Arnold, principal analyst of Toronto-based research and analysis firm J Arnold & Associates.

“They will know in time if it’s a good idea or not,” Arnold said. “And if they get the synergies, then they will do more of it. And if not, then they will put the walls back up.”

One possible stumbling block is Alexa for Business, which is excluded from the integration with Cortana launched this week. Released by Amazon in late 2017, the platform connects Echo speakers to enterprise messaging and meetings software.

The absence of a link between Cortana and Alexa for Business — at least for now — suggests their creators are targeting the partnership primarily at consumers, said Juan Gonzalez, analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

“While it may seem that both companies can gain and benefit from this agreement, it’s still not clear who will grab the lion’s share of it,” Gonzalez said. “Will this initiative be the beginning of a long-standing partnership where both companies can combine forces against Apple and Google? Only time will tell.”

Cortana-Alexa integration starts off small  

For now, users need to command their smart devices to open the alternative AI voice assistant software: “Hey Cortana, open Alexa,” or “Alexa, open Cortana.” The two vendors said they were planning for a more seamless link between the two platforms in the future.

Until then, office workers could use an Echo speaker to have Cortana check their morning emails and meetings. At work, they could access Alexa through a Windows 10 work computer to monitor package shipments or control smart home devices.

But many advanced functions, such as music streaming, are not yet available across platforms, as Microsoft and Amazon seek customer feedback during the public trial. The two tech giants first announced plans to sync their AI voice assistants in August 2017, initially promising a paring by the end of last year.

“It’s still very clunky. … In the end game, that should look a little bit different,” Goertz said. “There should be some intelligent mechanism that determines which of the two personal assistants would be the ideal one in any given circumstance to respond to the user’s command.”

August Patch Tuesday closes CPU bug, two zero-day exploits

Microsoft closed two zero-day vulnerabilities and released a fix for a new exploit for Intel processors on August Patch Tuesday.

Microsoft released an advisory (ADV-180018) on the latest speculative execution side channel vulnerability in Intel Core and Xeon processors called L1 Terminal Fault. Dubbed Foreshadow by security researchers, the vulnerability lets an attacker read data as it passes between a host and a virtual machine and a hypervisor.

The earlier Spectre and Meltdown variants allowed process-to-process interactions, but this latest hardware exploit allows a guest system to retrieve data from another guest system, said Brian Secrist, content manager at Ivanti, based in South Jordan, Utah.  

Once again, we have a bunch of hoops to jump through to get to full remediation… 2018 is keeping us real busy.
Brian Secristcontent manager, Ivanti

Full protection from Foreshadow (CVE-2018-3615, CVE-2018-3620 and CVE-2018-3646) on Windows requires a registry change, Microsoft patch and Intel firmware update to close the vulnerability.

“Once again, we have a bunch of hoops to jump through to get to full remediation,” Secrist said. “2018 is keeping us real busy.”

Microsoft addresses two zero-day exploits

Microsoft also closed a pair of zero-day remote code execution vulnerabilities. The first (CVE-2018-8373), in the Microsoft Scripting Engine with known exploits that affect all versions of Internet Explorer, allows an attacker to run arbitrary code on unpatched machines in the context of users who visit a specially crafted website. Depending on the user’s rights, the attacker could install programs or view and delete data. The patch changes how the scripting engine handles objects in memory. This CVE is critical for Windows desktop systems and important for server versions.

Rated important, the second zero-day (CVE-2018-8414) uses a Windows Shell bug in Windows 10 and Windows Server SAC Server Core for remote-code execution attacks. This vulnerability requires the user to run a malicious file either from email or a web site, after which an attacker can run code at the privilege level of the current user. The patch makes Windows Shell validate file paths properly.

August Patch Tuesday closes more than 60 vulnerabilities

More than half of the 60 vulnerabilities disclosed in August Patch Tuesday affect browsers or the scripting engine. Administrators should prioritize patching workstations and servers for a critical remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2018-8345) that triggers when viewed by a user. Microsoft resolved this exploit by correcting the processing of shortcut .LNK references.

“Because the user doesn’t have to click on the malicious .LNK file to actually exploit the vulnerability, compared to browser vulnerability, it’s more likely for a server admin to be browsing through files. If they see this shortcut and the system renders it, then that’s when the exploit runs,” said Jimmy Graham, director of product management at Qualys, based in Foster City, Calif.

Jimmy Graham, QualysJimmy Graham, Qualys

Almost every major third-party vendor released patches and updates between the July and August Patch Tuesday, said Secrist. Adobe released four updates, including fixes for Adobe Flash and Acrobat. Google Chrome released version 68, and Firefox released updates for Thunderbird.

“We haven’t seen any increase in attacks or anything, just an example of better research and better coverage of vulnerabilities,” Secrist said.

July Patch Tuesday issues anger IT workers

After the July Patch Tuesday releases, Microsoft warned customers of potential SQL Server startup problems on Windows desktop (7 and 8.1) and server (2008 R2 and 2012 R2) versions on July 26. The company released several hotfixes and recommended uninstalling the July patches. Such rollbacks of faulty Microsoft updates have become a recurring headache for administrators.

Microsoft security updates for July also caused problems for the .NET Framework. On July 16, Microsoft posted a blog that “encouraged” Exchange customers to delay applying the July 10 updates to avoid disruptions with mail delivery. Hotfixes for affected systems — all supported versions of Windows Server — did not arrive until July 17. Up until that point, the only remedy was to uninstall the .NET Framework 4.7.2 update.

“Clearly there is a quality assurance issue of some kind,” Secrist said. “There’s another .NET release this month. Hopefully they spend more time on this one. We always strongly recommend you run [patches] through a test group and make sure they are stable before you push them out.”

Jeff Guillet, CEO of EXPTA Consulting in Pacifica, Calif., reached out to the Exchange product group for more information when the disruptions first occurred and said it was a two-fold problem of “really bad patches and bad communication.”

“Nobody even acknowledged that there was a problem and then all of a sudden they said, ‘Oh, by the way, we fixed this.’ [Administrators] had to troubleshoot it themselves because there was no communication from Microsoft saying this was a problem,” said Guillet.

While the intent of Patch Tuesday is to protect systems from vulnerabilities, the recent spate of patching issues concerns some IT administrators.

“Everybody’s kind of come to terms with [monthly patching], but the expectation was that a patch isn’t going to break stuff,” said Guillet. “So if it’s going to start breaking things, now I need to worry about testing it and I don’t have time because the next patches are coming up next Tuesday.”

Getting Started with Microsoft in the Classroom |

Want to get started with Microsoft in the classroom? We’ve pulled together a list of upcoming training sessions hosted by Microsoft Learning Design Specialists Troy Waller & Megan Townes. In these session you will get to know how you can make the most of Microsoft in your classroom.

Tuesday 4th September 2018, 8:00-9.30PM AEST

This online workshop is aimed at educators for whom Office 365 is relatively new and who are looking to implement solutions to classroom problems right away. It is designed to give educators an understanding of how Office 365 can provide the right environment for better learning outcomes. Educators will learn to become more innovative with cloud-based tools, regardless of the device they use. We will explore Office 365 through hands-on activities that will introduce educators to Office Online and OneDrive.

This workshop will be facilitated by Microsoft Learning Design Specialist Troy Waller.

Register now: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/getting-started-with-office-365-registration-48795432452

Monday 17th September 2018, 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm AEST

Minecraft: Education Edition is an open-world game that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive environment where the only limit is your imagination. Students can play in a secure environment along with their classmates, collaborate on projects, and record and reflect on their learning within the game. This workshop is designed specifically for K-12 teachers who would like to introduce Minecraft: Education Edition into their classroom. Learning objectives: Participants will learn why Minecraft enhances learning experiences for both students and educators. Explore digital resources available to educators. Learn about the unique features of Minecraft: Education Edition. Tour through a world demonstrating curriculum applications of the game.

This workshop will be facilitated by Microsoft Learning Design Specialist Megan Townes.

Register now: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/getting-started-with-minecraft-registration-48796774466  

Tuesday 2nd October 2018, 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm AEST

Microsoft’s mission is to empower all people and all organisations to achieve more. The classroom is no different. Microsoft Windows and Windows-based applications like Office, together with other assistive technologies, offer features that make computers easier to use for everyone – giving teachers the opportunity to provide personalised learning, and students an improved experience and equal opportunity in the classroom. Join our session to see how Windows 10 and Office 365 can transform students’ educational experience and personalise learning.

This workshop will be facilitated by Microsoft Learning Design Specialist Troy Waller.

Register now: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/creating-an-inclusive-classroom-with-microsoft-technologies-registration-48796816592

Monday 15th October 2018, 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm AEDT

Learning is more powerful and dynamic with tools that are already right in front of you – and it’s up to educators to impress this on students in the classroom. With Microsoft OneNote, educators can create digital notebooks that support academic standards and education outcomes across disciplines and tasks, such as writing, reading, mathematics, science, history, CTE, and elective courses. Students may use OneNote across content areas and grade levels, and use OneNote to compile and organize unstructured information, research, and content. OneNote also supports research, collaboration, information management, communication, note taking, journaling, reflective writing, and academic requirements. 

This workshop will be facilitated by Microsoft Learning Design Specialist Megan Townes.

Register now: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/getting-started-with-onenote-registration-48796971054

Monday 15th October 2018, 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm AEDT

OneNote Class Notebooks have a personal workspace for every student, a content library for handouts and a collaboration space for lessons and creative activities. It is designed to help teachers and lecturers save time and be even more efficient with their classes. This workshop will introduce teachers to the basic features of Class Notebook and allow time for exploration to get hands-on with ideas and examples for classroom use.

This workshop will be facilitated by Microsoft Learning Design Specialist Troy Waller.

Register now: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/getting-started-with-class-notebook-registration-48797026219

Monday 12th November 2018, 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm AEDT

How do we support teachers and students who are challenged to learn in an increasingly collaborative and mobile environment? Microsoft Teams creates an ideal digital hub for teachers to deliver instruction, enhance learning, and interact in a rich and engaging online space. Participants will engage in a series of immersive learning activities that will build a strong understanding of how to use Microsoft Teams to improve collaboration with colleagues and meet the learning needs of their students. 

This workshop will be facilitated by Microsoft Learning Design Specialist Megan Townes.

Register now: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/getting-started-with-teams-registration-48797109468

Remember to follow our social channels for live streams as well as updates on upcoming events and training sessions; Facebook & Twitter. Alternatively if you’re looking for the Right Device for your classroom, you can see our future ready solutions here.

This post was originally published on this site.

Register Now for the Fifth Annual ID@Xbox Pre-PAX Open House – Xbox Wire

For the fifth year in a row, ID@Xbox is hosting a Pre-PAX Open House on the Microsoft campus. Register here (the event is free) to start your PAX party a day early!

This event has become a favorite tradition for our team. We love inviting everyone to spend time on our home turf and enjoy some of the most exciting new ID@Xbox games. We hope you’ll join us on August 30 (the Thursday before PAX) from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to play games, meet the wonderful developers who made ‘em, and maybe even win a prize in our raffle!

Not only will you have the chance to check out more than 50 games releasing on Xbox One via the ID@Xbox program, you can also plan for the following:

  • Meet and chat with other teams at Microsoft.
  • Say hello to the Xbox Ambassadors and spin their prize wheel to win some swag!
  • Head to the Mixer area to try out the latest MixPlay experiences and get a glimpse at the future of interactive gaming.
  • Chat with the Microsoft User Research team to share your personal feedback and help them make better products for you and everyone.

But what about the games?

The following eight games haven’t previously been announced for Xbox One. We’re thrilled to reveal for the first time that they’re coming to Xbox One through the ID@Xbox program and you can try them out at this event:

  • Bot Rods (Holy Cow Productions)
  • La-Mulana2 (Active Gaming Media)
  • Museum of Simulation Technology (Pillow Castle)
  • Orphan (2Dimensions)
  • Revenant Dogma (KEMCO)
  • Super Retro Maker (Digital Dominion)
  • Thunder Rally (Typical Entertainment)
  • Where the Bees Make Honey (Whitethorn Digital)

In addition to those, we’ve pulled together a great variety of ID@Xbox titles for fans to try out:

  • Aftercharge (Chainsawesome Games)
  • Ashen (Annapurna Interactive)
  • Bad North (Raw Fury)
  • Below (Capybara)
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine (Rooster Teeth Games)
  • Black Desert (Pearl Abyss)
  • Children of Morta (11 bit studios)
  • Dead Cells (Motion Twin)
  • Deathgarden (Behaviour)
  • Desert Child (Akupara Games)
  • Epitasis (Epitasis Games)
  • Eternity: The Last Unicorn (1C Publishing)
  • Exception (Traxmaster Software)
  • FAR: Lone Sails (Mixtvision)
  • For the King (Curve Digital)
  • Generation Zero (Avalanche Studios)
  • Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (Steel Crate Games)
  • Kingdom Two Crowns (Raw Fury)
  • Mark of the Ninja: Remastered (Klei)
  • Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden (Funcom)
  • My Time at Portia (Team17)
  • Nippon Marathon (PQube)
  • Outer Wilds (Annapurna Interactive)
  • Projection : First Light (Blowfish Studios)
  • RAZED (PQube)
  • RemiLore (Nicalis)
  • Revenant Dogma (KEMCO)
  • Rival Megagun (Degica)
  • SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption (Another Indie)
  • Starbound (Chucklefish)
  • Strange Brigade (Rebellion)
  • Super Meat Boy Forever (Team Meat)
  • Supermarket Shriek (Billy Goat Entertainment)
  • Superweights (Pompaduo)
  • Swimsanity (Decoy Games)
  • The Blackout Club (Question)
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 5 (Jackbox Games)
  • The Occupation (Humble Bundle)
  • The Videokid (Chorus Worldwide Games Limites)
  • Tunic (Finji)
  • Vigor (Bohemia Interactive)
  • Wargroove (Chucklefish)
  • Yuppie Psycho (Another Indie)

And as if that weren’t enough, you’ll also get a chance to play Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Forza Horizon 4, from Microsoft Studios, and The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories, from Arc System Works.

Open to Everyone

Not only is this a free event, you don’t even need a PAX ticket! Though if you’re under 18, please come with a parent or guardian.

ID@Xbox Pre-PAX Open House

Microsoft Conference Center

16070 NE 36th Way, Bldg 33 – McKinley

Redmond, WA 98052

If you’re driving in, there’s free parking available. There will also be buses taking attendees directly to and from the event from the Washington State Convention Center. These buses pick up at the motor coach and shuttle bus loading area every 15-30 minutes beginning at 4:30 p.m., running every 15-30 minutes through 9:00 p.m.

We hope to see you there! Don’t forget to RSVP!

Microsoft Movies & TV Now Supports Movies Anywhere – Xbox Wire

Today we are excited to announce that the Microsoft Movies & TV app for Xbox and Windows 10 devices now supports Movies Anywhere, which brings your favorite film libraries together in one place.

When you connect your Microsoft account with your Movies Anywhere account, all of your eligible movies from Microsoft can be enjoyed across your favorite screens at no extra cost. This includes Xbox and Windows, iOS and Android, smart TVs, and streaming devices.

In addition, eligible movies you previously purchased from other participating digital retailers will now be viewable through the Movies & TV app on Xbox and Windows 10.

As part of our launch, we have a limited time offer for anyone who connects his or her Microsoft account to Movies Anywhere for the first time. Once you connect, you will receive X-Men Days of Future Past in your digital collection on us. This offer begins today and only runs for a limited time, so head here to connect your accounts today or visit this page for complete details.

Microsoft Movies & TV allows you to watch the newest movies and TV shows across your favorite devices, before streaming services or disc, and without subscription or membership fees. You can download for offline viewing and take it on the go, or watch the latest episode of a show the day after it airs on TV. There are weekly deals in Sales & Specials to grow your collection, and all of your purchases earn you credits through Microsoft Rewards.

We have been working to bring you the best viewing experience on Xbox and Windows 10 for your favorite movies. Thank you for sharing your feedback and happy movie watching!