Tag Archives: today

Celebrating 30 Years of Microsoft Solitaire with Those Oh-So-Familiar Bouncing Cards – Xbox Wire

Today, on National Solitaire Day, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the beloved Microsoft Solitaire and saying ‘Thank You!’ to all the players over the past 30 years!

With a worldwide appeal, Microsoft Solitaire Collection, as it is known today, hosts over 35 million players each month, from more than 200+ countries and territories, in 65 different languages. And after 30 years, Microsoft Solitaire is still one of the most played games on the planet every day, with more than 100 million hands played daily around the globe.

The Solitaire we all know and love was first called Windows Solitaire on Windows 3.0 in 1990. The game helped people learn how to drag and drop items on their computer screens using a mouse, which was novel at the time.

Today, at the start of year 31, Microsoft Solitaire is played on computers, laptops, tablets, and phones in every corner of the globe, arguably by one of the most diverse gaming audiences in the world. Its Microsoft Solitaire’s unmatched familiarity and availability that’s contributed to its unending popularity, with more than half a billion players in the past decade alone, which no doubt added to the game being inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame in 2019.

We’re celebrating the 30th Anniversary by inviting all players to join our record-breaking event today, with our goal to reach the most games of Microsoft Solitaire completed in one day. Join us as we embark on this record-breaking mission by downloading Microsoft Solitaire Collection for free on WindowsiOS, or Android, or play right through your browser! You can also visit our 30th Anniversary Event page on Facebook for more details and extra Anniversary fun. And don’t miss Major Nelson’s interview with a pair of Solitaire experts discussing the coveted winnability rate of the game.

Whether you play to take a break and relax or to test your brain for a challenge, we offer you, our players, a sincere round of applause for your passion and dedication. For that, there’s something new that I couldn’t be more pleased to introduce for the Microsoft Solitaire community: Microsoft Solitaire t-shirts and mugs are available now for the first time ever!

No matter where you shuffle the deck from – whether it’s the US, Japan, Brazil, China, or the UK – coincidentally, that’s in order the territories with the most Microsoft Solitaire players, or the Cocos Islands, Anguilla, Vatican City, Barbados, or New Zealand, in order the territories with the most players per capita (I love this stat!) – thank you for creating this amazing community!

It really is something special that a game called Microsoft Solitaire has brought together so many people for so many years. 

Enjoy your next hand of Microsoft Solitaire.

Microsoft Solitaire Collection

Xbox Game Studios

Check out the new look and feel of Microsoft Solitaire Collection on Windows 10! Solitaire remains the most played computer game of all time, and for good reason. Simple rules and straightforward gameplay make it easy to pick up for everyone. Solitaire has been part of Windows for more than 25 years, and the Microsoft Solitaire Collection makes it the best experience to date with five different card games in one: Klondike This version is the timeless classic that many people just call “Solitaire.” Try to clear all the cards from the table using one or three-card draw, while using traditional scoring or the Vegas scoring system. Spider Eight columns of cards await your attempts to clear them with the fewest moves possible. Start out playing with a single suit until you’re comfortable, and then see how you fare when using two or even all four suits in a game. FreeCell Use four extra cells to move cards around as you try to clear all cards from the table. More strategic than the Klondike version, FreeCell rewards players who think several moves ahead. TriPeaks Select cards in a sequence, either up or down, to earn points and clear the board. How many boards can you clear before you run out of deals? Pyramid Pair two cards that add up to 13 in order to remove them from the board. Try to reach the top of the pyramid. See how many boards you can clear and how high you can score in this highly addictive card game! Daily Challenges Players receive new challenges each day. Complete enough Daily Challenges in a month to earn badges and compete with your friends. Star Club Even more challenges arranged in collections and packs you can unlock by earning stars. Choose Your Theme The Microsoft Solitaire Collection features several beautiful themes, from the simplicity of “Classic” to the serenity of an Aquarium that comes to life before you while you play. You can even create custom themes from your own photos! Xbox Live Integration Sign in with your Microsoft account to earn achievements, compete with your friends on the leaderboards, and track your personal gameplay statistics. If you sign in with a Microsoft account, your progress is stored in the cloud so you can play the game on any device without missing a beat!

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft announces pricing terms for its exchange offers and increases the New 2060 Notes Issue Cap – Stories

REDMOND, Wash. — May 14, 2020 — Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) (“Microsoft”) announced today the pricing terms with respect to its offers to (i) exchange (the “Pool 1 Offer”) the ten series of notes described in the table below (collectively, the “Pool 1 Notes”) for a new series of Microsoft’s 2.525% notes due June 1, 2050 (the “New 2050 Notes”) and a cash payment, as applicable. For each $1,000 principal amount of Pool 1 Notes validly tendered and not validly withdrawn prior to 11:59 p.m., New York City time, on May 28, 2020 (the “Expiration Time”) and accepted by Microsoft, the following table sets forth the yield, the total exchange consideration, the principal amount of the New 2050 Notes and the amount of the cash payment, as applicable:

Pool 1 Table(1)
Title of
Security
CUSIP
Number
Acceptance Priority Level Reference
UST Security(2)
Fixed
Spread
(basis
points)
Yield(3) Early
Exchange
Premium(4)
Total
Exchange
Consideration
(4)(5)
Principal
Amount
of New
Notes(6)
Cash Payment(4)
4.875% Notes due 2043

594918AX2

1 30-year +110 2.375% $30 $1,441.62 $1,000.00 $441.62
5.300% Notes due 2041

594918AM6

2 30-year +105 2.325% $30 $1,486.31 $1,000.00 $486.31
4.450% Notes due 2045

594918BL7

3 30-year +110 2.375% $30 $1,388.59 $1,000.00 $388.59
4.250% Notes due 2047

594918CA0 4 30-year +110 2.375% $30 $1,363.95 $1,000.00 $363.95
5.200% Notes due 2039

594918AD6 5 30-year +95 2.225% $30 $1,458.92 $1,000.00 $458.92
4.500% Notes due 2040

594918AJ3 6 30-year +100 2.275% $30 $1,360.57 $1,000.00 $360.57
3.750% Notes due 2043

594918AU8

7 30-year +110 2.375% $30 $1,237.91 $1,000.00 $237.91
3.750% Notes due 2045

594918BD5

8 30-year +110 2.375% $30 $1,251.94 $1,000.00 $251.94
4.100% Notes due 2037

594918BZ6 9 30-year +87 2.145% $30 $1,266.05 $1,000.00 $266.05
4.200% Notes due 2035 594918BK9 10 30-year +75 2.025% $30 $1,278.89 $1,000.00 $278.89
  1. The figures in this table assume a settlement date of June 1, 2020.
  2. The “30-year Reference UST Security” refers to the 2.375% U.S. Treasury Notes due November 15, 2049.
  3. Reflects the bid-side yield of the 30-year Reference UST Security as of the pricing time of 1.275% plus the applicable Fixed Spread, calculated in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Prospectus.
  4. Per $1,000 principal amount of Pool 1 Notes.
  5. Holders who validly tender Pool 1 Notes after 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on May 13, 2020 (the “Early Exchange Time”) will not be eligible to receive the Early Exchange Premium of $30 principal amount of the New 2050 Notes for each $1,000 principal amount of Pool 1 Notes validly tendered and not withdrawn. For the avoidance of doubt, the $30 per $1,000 Early Exchange Premium is included within the total exchange consideration and is not in addition to the total exchange c
  6. Does not reflect any accrued and unpaid interest. The Company will pay accrued and unpaid interest on the Existing Notes up to, but not including, the settlement date.

and (ii) exchange (the “Pool 2 Offer” and, together with the Pool 1 Offer, the “Exchange Offers”) the four series of notes described in the table below (collectively, the “Pool 2 Notes” and, together with the Pool 1 Notes, the “Existing Notes”) for a new series of Microsoft 2.675% notes due June 1, 2060 (the “New 2060 Notes” and, together with the New 2050 Notes, the “New Notes”) and a cash payment, as applicable. For each $1,000 principal amount of Pool 2 Notes validly tendered and not validly withdrawn prior to the Expiration Time and accepted by Microsoft, the following table sets forth the yield, the total exchange consideration, the principal amount of the New 2060 Notes and the amount of the cash payment, as applicable:

Pool 2 Table(1)
Title of
Security
CUSIP
Number
Acceptance Priority Level Reference
UST Security(2)
Fixed
Spread
(basis
points)
Yield(3) Early
Exchange
Premium(4)
Total
Exchange
Consideration
(4)(5)
Principal
Amount
of New
Notes(6)
Cash Payment(4)
4.750% Notes due 2055

594918BM5 1 30-year +125 2.525% $30 $1,514.30 $1,138.86 $375.44
4.000% Notes due 2055

594918BE3 2 30-year +125 2.525% $30 $1,336.46 $1,000.00 $336.46
4.500% Notes due 2057

594918CB8 3 30-year +125 2.525% $30 $1,466.62 $1,107.32 $359.30
3.950% Notes due 2056 594918BU7 4 30-year +125 2.525% $30 $1,333.83 $1,000.00 $333.83
  1. The figures in this table reflect any optional adjustments of the total exchange consideration as permitted under the terms and conditions in the Prospectus forming part of the Registration Statement and assume a settlement date of June 1, 2020.
  2. The “30-year Reference UST Security” refers to the 2.375% U.S. Treasury Notes due November 15, 2049.
  3. Reflects the buy-side yield of the 30-year Reference UST Security as of the pricing time of 1.275% plus the applicable Fixed Spread, calculated in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Prospectus.
  4. Per $1,000 principal amount of Pool 2 Notes.
  5. Holders who validly tender Pool 2 Notes after the Early Exchange Time will not be eligible to receive the Early Exchange Premium of $30 principal amount of the New 2060 Notes for each $1,000 principal amount of Pool 2 Notes validly tendered and not withdrawn. For the avoidance of doubt, the $30 per $1,000 Early Exchange Premium is included within the total exchange consideration and is not in addition to the total exchange c
  6. Does not reflect any accrued and unpaid interest. The Company will pay accrued and unpaid interest on the Existing Notes up to, but not including, the settlement date.

The aggregate principal amount of Pool 1 Notes and Pool 2 Notes of each series that are accepted for exchange will be based on the order of acceptance priority for such series, as applicable, as set forth in the tables above, up to $6,250,000,000 aggregate principal amount (the “New 2050 Notes Issue Cap”) and up to $3,750,000,000 aggregate principal amount (the “New 2060 Notes Issue Cap,” increased from $3,000,000,000), respectively. Holders who validly tender the Existing Notes after the Early Exchange Time but on or before the Expiration Time will only be eligible to receive the Exchange Consideration, which equals the Total Exchange Consideration minus the Early Exchange Premium as detailed in the tables above.

As permitted under the terms and conditions in the Registration Statement (as defined below), the Company has elected to increase the Cash Payment Percent of Premium on the 4.750% Notes due 2055 from 70% to 73%, the 4.500% Notes due 2057 from 70% to 77%, and the 3.950% Notes due 2056 from 90% to 100%. These changes are reflected in the Cash Payment amounts shown in the tables above.

In addition to the principal amount of New Notes and applicable cash payment specified in the tables above, holders with Existing Notes that are accepted for exchange will receive a cash payment representing (i) all or a portion of the accrued and unpaid interest to, but not including, the settlement date, and (ii) amounts due in lieu of any fractional amounts of New Notes, in each case, as described in the Prospectus.

A Registration Statement on Form S-4, including a prospectus (the “Prospectus”), which is subject to change, relating to the New Notes has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on April 30, 2020 (the “Registration Statement”) but has not yet become effective. The New Notes may not be sold nor may offers to buy be accepted prior to the time the Registration Statement becomes effective. If and when issued, the New Notes will be registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. This news release does not constitute an offer or a solicitation by Microsoft of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of securities in any state in which such offer or solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state.

Consummation of the Exchange Offers is subject to a number of conditions as set forth in the Prospectus included in the Registration Statement, including, among other things, the Registration Statement of which the Prospectus forms a part having been declared effective by the SEC and remaining effective on the settlement date.

The Exchange Offers are made only by and pursuant to the terms and subject to the conditions set forth in the Prospectus, which forms a part of the Registration Statement after it is declared effective by the SEC, and the information in this news release is qualified by reference to such Prospectus and the Registration Statement. None of Microsoft, the dealer managers, or the information agent and exchange agent makes any recommendations as to whether holders should tender their Existing Notes pursuant to the Exchange Offers. Holders must make their own decisions as to whether to tender Existing Notes and, if so, the principal amount of Existing Notes to tender.

Copies of the Prospectus pursuant to which the Exchange Offers are being made, may be obtained from D.F. King & Co., Inc., the information agent and exchange agent for the Exchange Offers, at 212-269-5552 (to exchange), at 800-431-9645 (for information U.S. Toll-free), at 212-269-5550 (information for brokers), at www.dfking.com/microsoft, or at [email protected].  Questions regarding the terms and conditions of the Exchange Offers should be directed to the following joint lead dealer managers:

  BofA Securities

620 South Tryon Street, 20th Floor

Charlotte, NC 28255

Toll Free: (888) 292-0070

Collect: (980) 387-3907

Attn: Liability Management Group

    Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.

60 Wall Street

New York, NY 10005

Toll Free: (866) 627-0391

Collect: (212) 250-2955

Attn: Liability Management Group

In order to participate in any Exchange Offer, holders of the Existing Notes located or resident in Canada are required to complete, sign and submit to the exchange agent a Canadian Eligibility Form, which may be obtained from D.F. King & Co., Inc. contacts above, to confirm they satisfy applicable Canadian eligibility requirements and to provide certain additional information.

Any holder of the Existing Notes located in any Member State of the European Economic Area or in the United Kingdom that is a retain investor will not be able to participate in the Exchange Offers. For these purposes, a retain investor means a person who is one or more of the following: (i) a retail client as defined in point (11) of Article 4(1) of the EU Directive on Markets in Financial Instruments (2014/65/EU) (as amended, “MiFID II”); or (ii) a customer within the meaning of Directive (EU) 2016/97, where that customer would not qualify as a professional client as defined in point (10) of Article (4)(1) of MiFID II.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Forward-Looking Statements

Statements in this news release are “forward-looking statements” based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially because of factors described above as well as:

  • intense competition in all of our markets that may lead to lower revenue or operating margins;
  • increasing focus on cloud-based services presenting execution and competitive risks;
  • significant investments in products and services that may not achieve expected returns;
  • acquisitions, joint ventures, and strategic alliances that may have an adverse effect on our business;
  • impairment of goodwill or amortizable intangible assets causing a significant charge to earnings;
  • cyberattacks and security vulnerabilities that could lead to reduced revenue, increased costs, liability claims, or harm to our reputation or competitive position;
  • disclosure and misuse of personal data that could cause liability and harm to our reputation;
  • the possibility that we may not be able to protect information stored in our products and services from use by others;
  • abuse of our advertising or social platforms that may harm our reputation or user engagement;
  • the development of the internet of things presenting security, privacy, and execution risks;
  • issues about the use of artificial intelligence in our offerings that may result in competitive harm, legal liability, or reputational harm;
  • excessive outages, data losses, and disruptions of our online services if we fail to maintain an adequate operations infrastructure;
  • quality or supply problems;
  • the possibility that we may fail to protect our source code;
  • legal changes, our evolving business model, piracy, and other factors may decrease the value of our intellectual property;
  • claims that Microsoft has infringed the intellectual property rights of others;
  • claims against us that may result in adverse outcomes in legal disputes;
  • government litigation and regulatory activity relating to competition rules that may limit how we design and market our products;
  • potential liability under trade protection, anti-corruption, and other laws resulting from our global operations;
  • laws and regulations relating to the handling of personal data that may impede the adoption of our services or result in increased costs, legal claims, fines, or reputational damage;
  • additional tax liabilities;
  • damage to our reputation or our brands that may harm our business and operating results;
  • exposure to increased economic and operational uncertainties from operating a global business, including the effects of foreign currency exchange;
  • uncertainties relating to our business with government customers;
  • adverse economic or market conditions that may harm our business;
  • catastrophic events or geopolitical conditions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, that may disrupt our business; and
  • the dependence of our business on our ability to attract and retain talented employees.

For more information about risks and uncertainties associated with Microsoft’s business, please refer to the “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Risk Factors” sections of Microsoft’s SEC filings, including, but not limited to, its annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q that are incorporated by reference in the Prospectus forming a part of the Registration Statement, copies of which may be obtained by contacting Microsoft’s Investor Relations department at (800) 285-7772 or at Microsoft’s Investor Relations website at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/investor.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft announces definitive agreement to acquire Metaswitch Networks, expanding approach to empower operators and partner with network equipment providers to deliver on promise of 5G – The Official Microsoft Blog

Today, we are announcing that we have signed a definitive agreement to acquire Metaswitch Networks, a leading provider of virtualized network software and voice, data and communications solutions for operators.

The convergence of cloud and communication networks presents a unique opportunity for Microsoft to serve operators globally via continued investment in Azure, adding additional depth to our hyperscale cloud infrastructure with the specialized software required to run virtualized communication functions, applications and networks.

This announcement builds on our recent acquisition of Affirmed Networks, which closed on April 23, 2020. Metaswitch’s complementary portfolio of ultra-high-performance, cloud-native communications software will expand our range of offerings available for the telecommunications industry. Microsoft intends to leverage the talent and technology of these two organizations, extending the Azure platform to both deploy and grow these capabilities at scale in a way that is secure, efficient and creates a sustainable ecosystem.

As the industry moves to 5G, operators will have opportunities to advance the virtualization of their core networks and move forward on a path to an increasingly cloud-native future. Microsoft will continue to meet customers where they are, working together with the industry as operators and network equipment providers evolve their own operations.

We will continue to support hybrid and multi-cloud models to create a more diverse telecom ecosystem and spur faster innovation, an expanded set of unique offerings and greater opportunities for differentiation. We will continue to partner with existing suppliers, emerging innovators and network equipment partners to share roadmaps and explore expanded opportunities to work together, including in the areas of radio access networks (RAN), next-generation core, virtualized services, orchestration and operations support system/business support system (OSS/BSS) modernization. A future that is interoperable has never been more important to ensure the success of customers and partners.

By enabling advancements in enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-reliable low latency communications and massive machine-type communication to enable IoT at scale, 5G offers significant potential for enterprises and governments and in turn creates new opportunities for operators. 5G will ultimately give operators a path to accelerate service innovation and deliver new transformative experiences that are faster, more resilient and more secure, spurred on by software advances to drive transformation at scale.

We have a long history of working with operators as they increasingly embrace software-based solutions and continue to support the advancement of cloud-based networking while helping create new partnership opportunities for existing network equipment providers. Our intention over time is to create modern alternatives to network infrastructure, enabling operators to deliver existing and value-added services – with greater cost efficiency and lower capital investment than they’ve faced in the past.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Introducing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Perks Plus New Titles for Console and PC – Xbox Wire

Today, we’re announcing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Perks, a new exclusive member benefit starting March 18 that provides even more value for our Ultimate members. When we launched Xbox Game Pass in June 2017, we did so with the goal of creating a membership that provides the best value in gaming. Our members have told us they love discovering new games but they also want new in-game content. Through Perks, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members will now regularly receive new benefits including DLC, in-game content and more – all free and included with membership.

To kick things off, this month members can redeem these Perks for free:

Phantasy Star Online 2: Enter the world of one of Japan’s biggest online RPGs with a special content bundle, which includes unique emotes, in-game cosmetics including an Xbox jacket, a gold ticket Mission Pass and in-game currency with a Meseta Crystal. Available to members in the US and Canada only.

World of Tanks: Mercenaries: A global multiplayer free-to-play game dedicated to tank warfare in the mid-20th century. Start your journey with three powerful tanks and more!

Sea of Thieves: The essential pirate experience, from sailing and fighting to exploring and looting – everything you need to live the pirate life and become a legend in your own right. With Perks, you get a free Ori-inspired Ancestral Sails, Figurehead, Hull, and Flag to adorn your ship.

Smite: Become divine in the #1 MOBA on Xbox, with a bundle that unlocks five Gods, special character skins and voice packs so you can ride into the battle of the Gods in style. With Smite, join a community of 30 million players and defend your portal in showdowns in the Collesium.

We’ll announce new Perks in the future alongside updates to the Xbox Game Pass catalog, so stay tuned. There’s no need to register or sign-up for the Perks program; as long as you’re an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate member, you can find your Perks on your console within the Xbox Game Pass tab, in the new Xbox (beta) app on Windows 10 PC, or within the Xbox Game Pass mobile app. If you are not a member of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you can join today and get your first month for just $1.

As always, when we try something new, we want your feedback; please let us know what you think of the Perks program. Your feedback drives the evolution of Xbox Game Pass, and we appreciate the time you take to help us improve.

And now, I’m excited to share the upcoming titles joining Xbox Game Pass this month.


Coming Soon to Xbox Game Pass for PC

Astrologaster
A comedy game set in Shakespeare’s London, play as ‘Doctor’ Simon Forman and treat his patients using astrology and win him a medical license. Explore Simon’s life, relationships, and his work. Make story choices strategically or just for fun – but be warned your choices will have consequences (and unpredictable side effects) in this story-driven adventure game based on a truly ridiculous story.

Bleeding Edge – Xbox Play Anywhere
Grab your team and tear it up in Bleeding Edge, an electrifying online brawler where every fighter comes mechanically enhanced for mayhem! Choose your fighter from a diverse cast of colorful characters from the edges of society: burn rubber as bold and beautiful Buttercup with her detachable saw blade arms, wreak havoc as Black-Metal rocker Niđhöggr with his electrifying guitar solos or slash up the streets as Daemon, New York’s most wanted assassin. Come join the cybernetic clash of the century!

Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
It’s morphin time! Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid pits current and classic rangers and villains in 3 vs. 3 tag battles. Test your skills online against friends and players from around the world for endless replayability. Experience authentic but re-imagined Power Rangers battle sequences like never before.

The Surge 2
On the way to Jericho City, your plane is shot down by a mysterious storm and crash-lands in the outskirts. You wake up weeks later in a derelict detention facility inside the city. Robots are on a rampage and a dark, expanding nanostorm looms over the cityscape. In this hardcore, brutal melee combat game, The Surge 2 challenges you to unravel its hidden secrets.


Coming Soon to Xbox Game Pass for Console

March 19

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
Aerial combat has never looked or felt better than this. Soar through photorealistic skies with full 360-degree movement. Weather and environments affect your aircraft and HUD, making those dogfights just that more realistic. Take to the skies and become an ace pilot!

Kona
Northern Canada, 1970. A strange blizzard ravages Atamipek Lake. Step into the shoes of private detective to investigate surreal events in an eerie village while battling the elements to survive.

The Surge 2 – Xbox One X Enhanced
Your plane is shot down by a mysterious storm and crashes in the outskirts of Jericho City. Waking up weeks later in a derelict detention facility inside the city, you find that robots are on the rampage and a dark, expanding nanostorm looms over the city. The Surge 2 challenges you to unravel its hidden secrets in this hardcore, brutal melee combat game.

March 24

Bleeding Edge – Xbox One X Enhanced / Xbox Play Anywhere
Join the cybernetic clash of the century! Choose your fighter from a diverse cast of colorful characters from the edges of society: burn rubber as bold and beautiful Buttercup with her detachable saw blade arms, wreak havoc as Black-Metal rocker Niđhöggr with his electrifying guitar solos or slash up the streets as Daemon, New York’s most wanted assassin. Then grab your team and tear it up in Bleeding Edge, an electrifying online brawler where every fighter comes mechanically enhanced for mayhem.

March 26

Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
Experience authentic but re-imagined Power Rangers battle sequences like never before. Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid pits current and classic rangers and villains in 3 vs. 3 tag battles. You can also test your skills online against friends and players from around the world for endless replayability. It’s morphin time!

And we’re sorry to see them go, so get some game time in on these while they’re still in our library, these are the games leaving our libraries soon:

Console

  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection
  • Cities: Skylines
  • The Golf Club 2
  • LEGO Worlds
  • Operencia: The Stolen Sun
  • Vampyr

PC

  • Battle Chef Brigade
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Kingsway
  • Operencia: The Stolen Sun
  • Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You
  • Vampyr

Thank you for all your feedback and your dedication to playing some amazing games. To keep up with the latest with Xbox Game Pass, you can download the mobile app and the new Xbox (Beta) app on your Windows 10 PC. Be sure to keep an eye on our Twitter and Instagram for more games to come.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Microsoft Corporation

Get all the benefits of Xbox Live Gold, plus over 100 high-quality console and PC games for one low monthly price. With games added all the time, there’s always something new to play. With a huge variety of games from every genre, there’s something for everyone. Enjoy exclusive member deals and discounts. Play together with friends on the most advanced multiplayer network and discover your next favorite game. Use your active Xbox Game Pass Ultimate plan membership to play games on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes Xbox Game Pass for Console, Xbox Game Pass for PC (Xbox Game Pass for PC not available in South Korea), and Xbox Live Gold. Note: Purchase Xbox Game Pass Ultimate automatically upgrades your existing Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass membership(s) to Ultimate at a conversion ratio each based on days remaining. Learn how this works at www.xbox.com/gamepass. Future code redemptions are also subject to a conversion ratio. Conversion ratio subject to change. All conversions to Ultimate are final: Once converted, you cannot re-convert your Ultimate membership back to a previous membership. Maximum 36 months of redeemed Ultimate per account at a time, including any converted time from Xbox Live Gold and/or Xbox Game Pass (for PC or console). Game titles and number vary over time and by country. Membership continues to be charged at the then-current price (subject to change; plus applicable taxes) unless cancelled. Cancel any time to stop your next scheduled charge; see account.microsoft.com/services. Notice before purchase of add-ons, DLC, consumables, virtual currency, or subscriptions (sold separately): If your membership terminates or a game is removed from the catalog, you must reactivate your membership or buy the game separately to continue using these items. ISP fees may apply. Age restrictions apply. Xbox Game Pass discounts are based on Microsoft Store price and are not combinable with other offers and are not redeemable for cash. Discount offers exclude titles within 30 days of launch and are not available with select titles. Service, features, and requirements may change or be retired. Subject to the Microsoft Services Agreement (microsoft.com/msa). Sign in for your available offers. Promotional offers may not be valid for all members and are only available for a limited time. Offers not valid in Quebec and Russia; other geographic restrictions may apply. After promotional period, subscription continues to be charged at the then-current regular price (subject to change), unless cancelled. Plus applicable taxes.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

New action to disrupt world’s largest online criminal network – Microsoft on the Issues

Today, Microsoft and partners across 35 countries took coordinated legal and technical steps to disrupt one of the world’s most prolific botnets, called Necurs, which has infected more than nine million computers globally. This disruption is the result of eight years of tracking and planning and will help ensure the criminals behind this network are no longer able to use key elements of its infrastructure to execute cyberattacks.

A botnet is a network of computers that a cybercriminal has infected with malicious software, or malware. Once infected, criminals can control those computers remotely and use them to commit crimes. Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit, BitSight and others in the security community first observed the Necurs botnet in 2012 and have seen it distribute several forms of malware, including the GameOver Zeus banking trojan.

The Necurs botnet is one of the largest networks in the spam email threat ecosystem, with victims in nearly every country in the world. During a 58-day period in our investigation, for example, we observed that one Necurs-infected computer sent a total of 3.8 million spam emails to over 40.6 million potential victims.

Necurs is believed to be operated by criminals based in Russia and has also been used for a wide range of crimes including pump-and-dump stock scams, fake pharmaceutical spam email and “Russian dating” scams. It has also been used to attack other computers on the internet, steal credentials for online accounts, and steal people’s personal information and confidential data. Interestingly, it seems the criminals behind Necurs sell or rent access to the infected computer devices to other cybercriminals as part of a botnet-for-hire service. Necurs is also known for distributing financially targeted malware and ransomware, cryptomining, and even has a DDoS (distributed denial of service) capability that has not yet been activated but could be at any moment.

On Thursday, March 5, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued an order enabling Microsoft to take control of U.S.-based infrastructure Necurs uses to distribute malware and infect victim computers. With this legal action and through a collaborative effort involving public-private partnerships around the globe, Microsoft is leading activities that will prevent the criminals behind Necurs from registering new domains to execute attacks in the future.

This was accomplished by analyzing a technique used by Necurs to systematically generate new domains through an algorithm. We were then able to accurately predict over six million unique domains that would be created in the next 25 months. Microsoft reported these domains to their respective registries in countries around the world so the websites can be blocked and thus prevented from becoming part of the Necurs infrastructure. By taking control of existing websites and inhibiting the ability to register new ones, we have significantly disrupted the botnet.

Microsoft is also taking the additional step of partnering with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and others around the world to rid their customers’ computers of malware associated with the Necurs botnet. This remediation effort is global in scale and involves collaboration with partners in industry, government and law enforcement via the Microsoft Cyber Threat Intelligence Program (CTIP). Through CTIP, Microsoft provides law enforcement, government Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), ISPs and government agencies responsible for the enforcement of cyber laws and the protection of critical infrastructure with better insights into criminal cyber infrastructure located within their jurisdiction, as well as a view of compromised computers and victims impacted by such criminal infrastructure.

For this disruption, we are working with ISPs, domain registries, government CERTs and law enforcement in Mexico, Colombia, Taiwan, India, Japan, France, Spain, Poland and Romania, among others. Each of us has a critical role to play in protecting customers and keeping the internet safe.

To make sure your computer is free of malware, visit support.microsoft.com/botnets.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

IoT Signals energy report: Embracing transparent, affordable, and sustainable energy

The increased use of renewables, resiliency challenges, and sustainability concerns are all disrupting the energy industry today. New technologies are accelerating the way we source, store, and distribute energy. With IoT, we can gain new insights about the physical world that enables us to optimize and create more efficient processes, reduce energy waste, and track specific consumption. This is a great opportunity for IoT to support power and utilities (P&U) companies across grid assets, electric vehicles, energy optimization, load balancing, and emissions monitoring.

We’ve recently published a new IoT Signals report focused on the P&U industry. The report provides an industry pulse on the state of IoT adoption to help inform us how to better serve our partners and customers, as well as help energy companies develop their own IoT strategies. We surveyed global decision-makers in P&U organizations to deliver an industry-level view of the IoT ecosystem, including adoption rates, related technology trends, challenges, and benefits of IoT.

The study found that while IoT is almost universally adopted in P&U, it comes with complexity. Companies are commonly deploying IoT to improve the efficiency of operations and employee productivity, but can be challenged by skills and knowledge shortages, privacy and security concerns, and timing and deployment issues. To summarize the findings:

Top priorities and use cases for IoT in power and utilities

  1. Optimizing processes through automation is critical for P&U IoT use. Top IoT uses cases in P&U include automation-heavy processes such as smart grid automation, energy optimization and load balancing, smart metering, and predictive load forecasting. In support of this, artificial intelligence (AI) is often a component of energy IoT solutions, and they are often budgeted together. Almost all adopters have either already integrated AI into an IoT solution or are considering integration.
  2. Using IoT to improve both data security and employee safety is a top priority. Almost half of decision-makers we talked to use IoT to make their IT practices more secure. Another third are implementing IoT to make their workplaces safer, as well as improve the safety of their employees.
  3. P&U companies also leverage IoT to secure their physical assets. Many P&U companies use IoT to secure various aspects of their operations through equipment management and infrastructure maintenance.
  4. The future is bright with IoT adoption continuing to focus on automation, with growth in adoption for use cases related to optimizing energy and creating more efficient maintenance systems.

Decision-makers cite cost savings and reducing human error as the greatest benefits to IoT adoption; 63 percent and 57 percent respectively say these are the most valuable ways they use IoT in their businesses

Today, customers around the world are telling us they are heavily investing in four common use cases for IoT in the energy sector:

Grid asset maintenance

Visualize your grid’s topology, gather data from grid assets, and define rules to trigger alerts. Use these insights to predict maintenance and provide more safety oversight. Prevent failures and avoid critical downtime by monitoring the performance and condition of your equipment.

Energy optimization and load balancing

Balance energy supply and demand to alleviate pressure on the grid and prevent serious power outages. Avoid costly infrastructure upgrades and gain flexibility by using distributed energy resources to drive energy optimization.

Emissions monitoring and reduction

Monitor emissions in near real-time and make your emissions data more readily available. Work towards sustainability targets and clean energy adoption by enabling greenhouse gas and carbon accounting and reporting.

E-mobility

Remotely maintain and service electric vehicle (EV) charging points that support various charging speeds and vehicle types. Make it easier to own and operate electric vehicles by incentivizing ownership and creating new visibility into energy usage.

Learn more about IoT for energy

Read about the real world customers doing incredible things with IoT for energy where you can learn about market leaders like Schneider Electric making remote asset management easier using predictive analytics.

“Traditionally, machine learning is something that has only run in the cloud … Now, we have the flexibility to run it in the cloud or at the edge—wherever we need it to be.” Matt Boujonnier, Analytics Application Architect, Schneider Electric.

Read the blog where we announced Microsoft will be carbon negative by 2030 and discussed our partner Vattenfall delivering a new, highly transparent 24/7 energy matching solution; a first-of-its-kind approach that gives customers the ability to choose the green energy they want and ensure their consumption matches that goal using Azure IoT.

We are committed to helping P&U customers bring their vision to life with IoT, and this starts with simplifying and securing IoT. Our customers are embracing IoT as a core strategy to drive better outcomes for energy providers, energy users, and the planet. We are heavily investing in this space, committing $5 billion in IoT and intelligent edge innovation by 2022, and growing our IoT and intelligent edge partner ecosystem.
 
When IoT is foundational to a transformation strategy, it can have a significantly positive impact on the bottom line, customer experiences, and products. We are invested in helping our partners, customers, and the broader industry to take the necessary steps to address barriers to success. Read the full IoT Signals energy report and learn how we’re helping power and utilities companies embrace the future and unlock new opportunities with IoT.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

5 PowerShell tools to help simplify admin tasks and support

PowerShell has become one of the most ubiquitous scripting languages in use today. Originally released in 2008, PowerShell has caught on like wildfire with systems admins, software developers and engineers who manage and automate thousands of repetitive tasks.

There are a variety of products designed to help PowerShell developers build better scripts. Tools that complement a PowerShell scripter include advanced editors, products to create scripts with a low-code approach and services more tailored to specific products such Active Directory (AD).

Here, we examine five companies that offer products and services that focus on or heavily depend on PowerShell. We’ll examine each product’s focus, target audience, pricing and how each PowerShell tool integrates into the bigger tech ecosystem. Note that product costs are listed in U.S. dollars.

Cimitra Software

The Cimitra IT process delegation tool is designed to decrease the resolution time of IT-related events. It enables non-administrative users to perform tasks typically requiring higher privilege escalation. Using Cimitra, an IT specialist can safely create and delegate routine IT tasks for other people to execute who don’t have the skills or access to otherwise perform the task.

Cimitra’s tool can help users:

  • reset AD passwords;
  • restart servers; and
  • update phone numbers in employee databases.

Each of these tasks is connected to an action that’s exposed via a web-based GUI. For any action, Cimitra could be running commands or invoking an API or random PowerShell scripts to accomplish tasks.

Some of the tools covered here have both competing and complementary features. When selecting a PowerShell product, pay close attention to the product’s focus and target audience.

To ensure Cimitra admins can manage user activity, the tool provides various role-based access controls and can integrate with authentication providers. The tool supports Lightweight Directory Access Protocol and multifactor authentication as well as various auditing roles.

Cimitra offers three licenses:

  • A free downloadable version that includes three users, three agents and unlimited actions with no expiration, and a support forum.
  • A Team version that includes 25 users, unlimited actions and agents, and an auditing panel to control and monitor user activity. This version also includes email support and costs $10,000 per year.
  • An Enterprise version that includes 100 users and the same features as the Team version. This version also includes phone and email support, and costs $25,000 per year.

Cimitra Server is offered as a Docker container and can be hosted in an organization’s data center or in the cloud.

Ironman Software Universal Automation

Universal Automation (UA) enables users to execute and schedule PowerShell scripts using a product that specifically offers PowerShell automation. This tool is designed to make it easier for users to invoke, control access to and manage a team’s PowerShell scripts.

Users can upload PowerShell scripts to the product, which then reads and parses the scripts to create graphical representations for easy use.

UA natively understands complex tasks in PowerShell scripts, such as the progress bar using the Write-Progress cmdlet or interactivity using the Read-Host cmdlet. UA can also read script parameters automatically, so there’s no need for an organization to adjust its scripts to use the UA platform.

UA automatically integrates with Git to support DevOps best practices and persists job output to a database for auditing and future evaluation. This PowerShell tool can also be configured for role-based access to provide users with the correct amount of privileges.

This product works well for individual PowerShell users and teams that need to schedule scripts in a platform that’s more powerful and PowerShell-centric than task scheduler. It also works well for organizations that want to implement DevOps practices into a PowerShell development environment.

UA offers an optional web-based GUI that enables users to manage the tool without having to drop down to a command line.

UA is currently in beta and offers two pricing models:

  • The free plan enables users to execute up to two concurrent jobs at once and 25 jobs per day.
  • The paid plan is licensed per agent at an introductory beta price of $99.99. This includes one year of upgrades and removes any restrictions on job execution.

The tool is built as a cross-platform PowerShell module. UA can be hosted on premises on IIS, Azure, AWS and other clouds.

Sapien Technologies PowerShell Studio

PowerShell Studio is a PowerShell scripting IDE. This product can visually design UIs for PowerShell scripts and use event-driven coding strategies, setting it apart from other PowerShell editors.

PowerShell Studio can code, test and run scripts on a variety of PowerShell versions, package them as executables and deploy them via Windows Installer packages.

This tool also includes an integrated debugger, profiler and support for many other script-based tools. Sapien provides IntelliSense for PowerShell modules that can’t be installed on the development machine. By using different machine profiles, IntelliSense and platform-specific settings can detect incompatibilities at the coding stage.

PowerShell Studio focuses primarily on PowerShell administrators who develop tools for themselves and others. This tool is designed for PowerShell power users who build lots of scripts and tooling.

PowerShell Studio offers a 45-day free trial. After that, the tool  costs $399, which includes one year of upgrades and free forum support. The upgrades and support subscription can be extended annually, and the license never expires.

PowerShell Studio integrates out of the box with many common tools, including the PSScriptAnalyzer PowerShell tool, Pester, Git, Sapien’s PowerShell HelpWriter and VersionRecall. Wherever possible, access to these tools is prominently placed on the main user interface and requires only the push of a button.

ScriptRunner Software platform

ScriptRunner is an all-in-one PowerShell product that simplifies the way IT professionals, admin teams and DevOps engineers write and manage PowerShell scripts. Features include:

  • Centralized script and module management, which helps to ensure a standardized development process and companywide, consistent use of PowerShell scripts.
  • Secure credential administration, which enables users to run and delegate scripts in a safe environment.
  • Convenient web interfaces, which enable users to easily manage all PowerShell activities. Help desk teams and end-user work with automatically generated web-based input forms.
  • Centralized script execution that ensures all manual, scheduled, and event- and process-driven PowerShell activities can be monitored at a glance.

Admins can use ScriptRunner roles to delegate securely to help desk teams and end users. Domain users can perform defined tasks in on-premises, hybrid or cloud systems without administrative back-end permissions.

ScriptRunner offers a free 30-day trial, as well as an Essential Edition for up to five users that’s ideal for small IT and service desk teams. Contact ScriptRunner for a price quote.

System Frontier

System Frontier helps organizations reduce admin rights and simplify IT support by delegating granular admin permissions. IT admins can turn PowerShell and other scripts into secure web-based tools without having to build GUIs by hand.

This privilege access management tool is designed for systems admins who manage Windows and Linux servers, network devices, AD or Office 365 resources, and have PowerShell or other scripting skills.

System Frontier is licensed per managed node and is broken into server and non-server licenses. Server nodes cover Windows and Linux servers, network devices and other devices acting in a server capacity. Non-server nodes cover managing workstations and user accounts such as AD or Office 365 users.

The tool offers four licensing options:

  • A free Community Edition that’s limited to 5,000 server or endpoint nodes, 50 delegated users, five custom tools and community support.
  • A free 30-day trial version with features enabled that anyone with a business email address can download.
  • The Pro version starts at $29 per server node or $5.80 per non-server node. It’s limited to 100 delegated users and 20 custom tools. Priority email support is included.
  • The Enterprise version starts at $49 per server node or $9.80 per non-server node. It includes unlimited delegated users and unlimited custom tools, as well as priority email and phone support.

System Frontier offers integrations for enterprise applications, including ServiceNow, Remedy, Cisco and Check Point. This tool also has a built-in REST API that enables other applications and services to integrate with it. Due to its script-based nature, users can build PowerShell scripts on their own to connect to a near-endless number of other services.

A PowerShell tool to meet every organization’s needs

Each of the products examined here represents an ecosystem that’s cropped up from PowerShell or other scripting languages. Although each product has a strong foundation with PowerShell, each serves a different purpose.

Some of the tools covered here have both competing and complementary features. When selecting a product, pay close attention to the product’s focus and target audience. Note which tools complement each other and choose a product or products that focus on your organization’s specific needs.

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Ninja Theory Announces Project: Mara – Xbox Wire

Today, we are announcing Project: Mara, our new in-development experimental title that explores new ways of storytelling, and we’re excited to share the first details with you.

Project: Mara will be a real-world and grounded representation of mental terror. Based on real lived experience accounts and in-depth research, our aim is to recreate the horrors of the mind as accurately and realistically as possible. Project: Mara will be an experimental title and a showcase of what could become a new storytelling medium.

Since joining Xbox Game Studios in 2018, we’ve been hard at work on our upcoming multiplayer brawler Bleeding Edge, our new recently-announced innovative R&D project, The Insight Project, and of course Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II. These projects will continue to drive our development goals for the next few years and will help shape Ninja Theory’s vision for our future.

You can follow the development journey of all of our new projects – Senua’s Saga, The Insight Project and Project: Mara on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

For Sale – 2 x ADSL Routers and a Netgear Gigabit 8 Port Smart Switch

Arrived today in perfect condition.
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3 networking startups rearchitect routing

Startups played a pivotal role in disrupting the business of network switching. Today, they’re on track to do the same to routing.

Software under development by upstarts Arrcus, DriveNets and Volta Networks represents a new routing architecture, industry analysts agreed. Cloud service providers, SaaS providers, telcos and the largest financial institutions are the most likely candidates for deploying the networking startups’ technology in the data center and at the edge.

The vendors’ software could also be useful for peering among internet service providers and for data center interconnects (DCIs). Colocation companies like Equinix, Digital Realty Trust and Global Switch use DCIs to connect their facilities to customer data centers.

Market research firm IDC recently named the three companies 2019 innovators for their work in decoupling routing software from its underlying hardware. Separating management, control and data planes from the device make it possible to run the software on commodity products powered by merchant silicon from companies like Broadcom and Intel.

Severing software from hardware and running it on commodity gear — a process called disaggregation — reduces operational expenses. Companies can lower labor costs by managing multiple routers at once, instead of each one separately. The architecture also adds flexibility by making it possible to distribute and manage physical and virtual routers across data centers or at the network edge.

“Effectively, you’ve got a Lego that you can mix and match based on your requirements,” said Brad Casemore, an analyst at IDC. “It leads to a standardized environment where you can run the same software across all of it.”

Disaggregation from switching to routing

Disaggregation in network switching, a nearly 10-year trend, forced incumbents Cisco and Juniper Networks to acquire startups that had developed software capable of providing centralized network management. The transition led to an overhaul in the way the companies’ products manage switching fabrics.

New technologies developed by Arrcus, DriveNets and Volta show that there’s “an evolution in disaggregation to the routing layer,” Casemore said. Each of the vendors is initially targeting their products at communication and cloud service providers.

“It’s really compelling technology,” Casemore said.

Here is a brief description of each of the networking startups, including the key differentiators and market challenges listed in the 2019 IDC Innovators report on disaggregated routing platforms:

— Arrcus built a network operating system, called ArcOS, with extensive routing protocol support. This year, for example, the vendor incorporated the Link State Vector Routing (LSVR) protocol into ArcOS for organizations running hyperscale data centers and large cloud environments.

Arrcus has built its data plane adaptation layer to separate ArcOS from the underlying hardware. ArcOS is also the first independent NOS to support devices powered by Broadcom’s Trident 3, Tomahawk 3, Jericho+ or Jericho2 network silicon. The Jericho2 platform is for 100 Gb and 400 Gb routing.

Despite its innovative technology, Arrcus still has to prove it can deliver significant cost savings and ROI. The company also has to show a simple process for buying and supporting the underlying hardware.

Arrcus, based in San Jose, Calif., has more than 60 employees and has raised $45 million in funding.

— DriveNets developed a container-based router control plane for merchant silicon-based white boxes. Hardware manufacturers bundle the software with their products and sell it under a license that is free from capacity constraints.

The architecture provides carriers with a routing model that uses a cluster of low-cost white boxes capable of scaling to any size. DriveNets based the model on the one used in hyperscale data centers.

DriveNets’ hurdles include convincing communication service providers to change how they procure, deploy and manage router infrastructure. “The adoption of the DriveNets architecture might be slowed by the need for communication service providers to redesign internal processes and management systems,” IDC said.

DriveNets, based in Ra’anana, Israel, has more than 200 employees and has raised $117 million in funding.

— Volta built a cloud-native, cloud-hosted control plane that can spin up and manage as many as 255 instances of virtual routers on a single, on-premises commodity switch. The use of switching gear provides a “significant cost advantage,” while also making Volta technology useful for provider edge routing. Volta’s technology could be helpful to carriers overhauling cell sites to support next-generation 5G wireless technology.

Volta’s technology and its subscription model that covers support, maintenance and hardware warranty could provide significantly lower capital and operational expenses. However, as a startup, in a competitive industry, it faces a “significant challenge” in winning deals over better-known competitors with more money.

Volta, based in Cambridge, Mass., has 51 employees and has raised $3.3 million in funding.

Moving toward software-based routing

Companies with hyperscale data centers, like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, have favored disaggregated networking software on standardized hardware for years. Today, major service providers and financial institutions use the same white box switches. Users include AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, JPMorgan Chase and Fidelity Investments.

As a result, in 2018, the share of the global Ethernet data center switching market held by Cisco and Juniper fell, while that of bare-metal switching manufacturers increased, according to IDC.

Analysts believe the same dynamics will likely play out in routing. “People are now noticing and realizing that white box approaches can work. They’re mature,” said Roy Chua, a principal analyst at AvidThink.

Potentially, these companies become M&A targets if they have traction in some high-value accounts.
Brad CasemoreAnalyst, IDC

Analysts expect carriers to seriously consider white box routers as they build out their network edge to deliver 5G services.

“They’re actually trying to move away from [physical] routers and toward software-based routing,” said Lee Doyle, principal analyst at Doyle Research. “None of this has been hugely deployed yet. But I think we’re going to see significant deployments in 2020 and 2021 in the 5G market.”

Routing sales for Cisco and Juniper have been declining. However, the decrease is primarily due to carriers cutting back on spending after they found they couldn’t wring any more revenue from consumers, Casemore said.

But with 5G deployments on the horizon, incumbents like Cisco and Juniper are probably watching networking startups closely to see which ones are winning deals for routing technology.

“Potentially, these companies become M&A targets if they have traction in some high-value accounts,” Casemore said.

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