Tag Archives: Updates

New Quest Kace products make UEM easier for IT admins

Recent updates to the Quest Kace lineup of unified endpoint management products look to ease the management of remote work by supporting more devices and providing better visibility of every device connected to the corporate network.

Quest Software Inc. announced the updates to its products — among them the Kace Systems Management Appliance (SMA) and the Kace Cloud Mobile Device Manager (MDM) — in late May. The products each handle components of endpoint management; Kace SMA, for example, automates such tasks as discovering hardware and software, while Kace MDM focuses on the management of mobile devices, such as wiping lost and stolen devices.

Quest Kace senior product manager Ken Galvin said any IT professional who believed there was a secure perimeter around their company’s network was disabused of that notion with the COVID-19 crisis.

“All of these IT admins suddenly find themselves managing remote employees who are using a different variety of company-owned and personal devices,” he said. “[The employees] are downloading and installing software from wherever.”

Galvin said every device on a network is a potential attack vector, and these devices are now in the homes of users who may not be tech-savvy.

“It’s not so much a new problem as compounding existing problems,” he said.

Such problems, Galvin said, called for better unified endpoint management (UEM) tools.

Eric Klein, independent analystEric Klein

Independent analyst Eric Klein echoed the statement, saying UEM has taken on increased prominence as more employees work from home.

“IT orgs are finally recognizing that [UEM] is going to be helpful for them in the era of COVID and remote work,” he said.

Klein noted, however, that Quest may struggle to compete with bigger UEM players, even with the additional features.

Update brings changes

Galvin said two updated features — better Chromebook management for Kace SMA and Apple TV support for Kace MDM — are designed to help IT manage a breadth of devices. Among the new Chromebook management features is the ability to remotely disable a lost or stolen device.

Apple TVs may be overlooked as a potential attack vector, but Galvin noted that such devices are commonly used for kiosks and as electronic signage for schools and offices.

“It’s commonly used by customers as a display/dashboard device,” he said.

One advantage to the broader support of devices, Galvin said, is that the software is better at discovering what devices are on a corporate network, which could help IT admins on the security front.

“Part of discovery is discovering what should be on your network, but the other part is discovering what shouldn’t be there,” he said. “Part of your IT hygiene should be running a regular scan of all the IP addresses on your network.”

Andrew Hewitt, analyst, Forrester ResearchAndrew Hewitt

“If you don’t know what you have, you can’t manage it or secure it,” he added.

Andrew Hewitt, an analyst at Forrester Research, said remote work had revealed new pain points in managing devices.

“One of the things that’s been coming up is visibility for the unmanaged devices that are on your network — to understand where they are and bring them into compliance,” he said. “The traditional UEM [products] don’t tend to do that very well.”

Hewitt said Quest, with its emphasis on discovering devices on a network, could help IT professionals in that regard.

Using Quest

Leyla McCrary, manager of end user computing at the St. Louis-headquartered construction firm McCarthy Holdings Inc., said her firm has been using Quest’s Kace SMA for about five years. She said the product’s help desk ticketing system was attractive to the business, which has about 3,000 employees in offices across the country.

Leyla McCrary, manager of end user computing, McCarthy Holdings Inc.Leyla McCrary

“We ended up picking Quest, which was owned by Dell at the time … because it was really user-friendly,” she said. “It gave us a lot of options with the ticketing system to customize a lot of different things.”

Rollout, she said, had gone smoothly, but it did take some time to customize the ticketing system. Each of the company’s IT groups had a different ticketing queue with different sets of rules at the time. Having to manually create those rules, she said, was the longest part of the product’s implementation.

McCrary said McCarthy Holdings has used more Kace SMA features over time. The company mainly relies on the product to manage PCs, she said, although it tracks iPads through Kace’s asset management functionality.

“We just a few weeks ago added servers,” she said. “We’ve put an agent on every server, and we’re getting ready to start patching on those servers.”

This change, she said, should make patching on those servers more user-friendly for the company’s data center team.

McCrary also noted that McCarthy Holdings was able to use Kace SMA for streamlining the new hire process. The firm’s HR team can fill out a custom form, which then automatically sends tickets to the IT groups responsible for such things as creating user accounts and asset management.

Managing a diverse set of devices

Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said IT professionals must be able to manage a diverse set of devices remotely to handle the current situation. He said the tools they use must be able to accomplish this task.

Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst, Constellation ResearchHolger Mueller

“It is good to see vendors responding in both a platform reach and capabilities perspective,” he said. “Quest, with its Kace suite of products, does the former with [such things as] adding Apple TV as a [supported] device and the latter by allowing combined management and security updates to flow to devices.”

Independent analyst Klein said the change wrought by remote work has presented an opportunity for UEM vendors.

“Now is the opportunity for organizations to put their money where their mouths are in terms of supporting a remote workforce and investing in UEM,” he said. “There is more personal computer and laptop usage right now, happening in homes. Because of that, you’re going to need better Chromebook support, better Mac support.”

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Live from BETT: What’s new in EDU–Fostering an accessible, inclusive classroom that works for all students | | Microsoft EDU

It’s Day 3 of Bett, where we’ve been bringing you updates and insights into how to use the latest and most effective ed tech tools and resources. It’s our final day live streaming from London. We explored how educators can help students develop communication, and collaboration skills while using free tools like Office 365 Education and Microsoft Teams in our Day 1 episode here and we shared how you can prepare students for jobs of the future in our Day 2 episode here. Today, we want to talk about how to use built-in accessible tools at no extra cost and the power of joining an innovative and caring community of like-minded innovators in education.

Today, we’ll dive into ways to provide students with personalized learning, how to foster inclusion to meet the needs of all the learners in your classroom, and the power of joining a global community devoted to improving equity in education. At Microsoft, we’re committed to providing you and your students with built-in accessibility tools at no extra cost. These can improve language, literacy and numeracy skills and give students of all abilities independence and the opportunity to learn without stigma.  

In this episode we will show you how:  

  • You can use available Immersive Reader features in the new Microsoft Edge  
  • You can now use Office 365 Education online for free, from anywhere, with built-in tools for accessibility  
  • You can promote student confidence and capacity to learn and improve independently with powerful learning tools 

For starters, we want to share this inspiring story about Louis Riel School Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where the entire community is focused on creating equitable, inclusive and accessible learning environments. Check out this case study and video below to learn about how the district went about meeting the needs of all students and how administrators support teachers in accessing education technology in ways that advance teaching and learning goals. 

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The new Microsoft Edge– supporting inclusive learning 

The web should have built-in flexibility and accessibility to support you and every student in your classroom. The new Microsoft Edge web browser supports inclusive classrooms with built-in Microsoft Learning Tools and helps every student learn and benefit from the web. Immersive Reader capabilities in Microsoft Edge help students, particularly struggling readers, stay engaged and promote reading skills. While using Microsoft Edge, teachers and students can use Immersive Reader to change text size to improve readability and hear text read aloud. Additional Immersive Reader capabilities that allow users to customize their experience will come later this year. 

Learning Tools 

Today’s classrooms have students with diverse learning needs, and as teachers, we know you have a strong desire to effectively reach every one of your students. Microsoft Learning Tools enable teachers to provide differentiated support to all students in reading, writing, and math as well as communication. We have updates below! 

Reading 

Immersive Reader 

We’re thrilled that the Immersive Reader learning tool continues to come to more platforms. The full-screen reading experience improves the readability of content in many ways, including by enabling users to tailor text size, fonts, spacing, line focus, read-aloud capabilities and more.

Here’s some additional Immersive Reader news: 

  • Spotlight on The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria and Azure AI partner Buncee: We’re inspired by the way that schools like the Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria (TYWLS) are using Immersive Reader to empower readers of all ages and reading abilities. Learn more about their story and how Azure AI is enabling partners to build accessible applications in our blog.

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  • Six new immersive Reader partners: Today we are excited to highlight six new partners who are integrating the Immersive Reader: FlocabularyHaldorHelperbirditsLearningKidblog and Pear Deck.  These are the latest of six partners that have integrated the Immersive Reader, which is an Azure Cognitive Service.  To see the growing list of Immersive Reader partners, bookmark this link
  • Office Lens for iOS and Android both now have the full Immersive Reader experience integrated with the latest updates for both iPhone and iPad. Office Lens on Android (all platforms) will be shipping a similar update in spring. Office Lens is a free mobile scanning app. It offers a great way to capture text from a document or elsewhere without manually having to retype it. 
  • Language updates: Parts of speech in Immersive Reader allows students to label nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. We’ve rolled out parts of speech for Arabic. We’ve also added the ability to translate to and from the Maori and Gaelic languages in the Immersive Reader. These will also be available in Live Presentations in PowerPoint for the Web. 
  • Immersive Reader for Microsoft Forms is now available globally for students and educators, so they can leverage Immersive Reader tools as they create or take a quiz.  

Writing 

Dictation (speech to text) is an important technology that allows people to easily type with their voice. It is especially helpful for those with dyslexia, dysgraphia or mobility impairments. In addition to about a dozen languages already available, we are rolling out Dictation support in public preview for five new languages: Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. These languages will start rolling out in Word, OneNote, Outlook and PowerPoint Desktop and web in late January.   

Math 

Equation Tools in OneNote for Windows 10  

We’re thrilled to let you know that we’re starting to roll out Equation Tools in OneNote for Windows 10. Equation Tools allows students to input and make changes to math equations more easily than by typing those in with a keyboard. To get started, all you do is press the Equation button in the ribbon Insert tab in OneNote on your Windows 10 device and choose from a range of structures and math symbols to build up equations.  

We believe an inclusive math class is one where students have a variety of methods for inputting equations because we know different learners have different styles and needs, and we’re so glad to add this resource to the classroom toolbox!  

Math Assistant in OneNote for iPad 

We’re excited to announce we’re bringing Math Assistant in OneNote to iPad users this spring. We heard you say you wanted Math Assistant on this platform, and we worked hard to make it happen. It’s easy to use–all you do to get started is log into your Office 365 Education account in OneNote on your iPad and press the Math button on the ribbon Draw tab. 

You’ll be able to use the tool to help you solve equations and see solution steps to help build student understanding. Look out for additional updates to the app, such as the ability to graph equations and generate practice quizzes, which is popular on other platforms, after Bett and ahead of back-to-school season.  

For more on inclusive math tools, check out this interactive guide.  

Windows graphing calculator for Windows 10 

We’re excited to announce that Windows Calculator is getting a new feature: graphing mode. We’re adding this feature to every Windows 10 and 10S PC for students and teachers to help with instruction related to graphing concepts. Educators and students will be able to use this free tool right from their devices, without having to buy an expensive graphing calculator. It will help users plot and analyze multiple equations and manipulate equation variables to help understand how changes to equations affect graphs. 

The graphing mode in Windows Calculator is available now through our Microsoft Insider program and will be refined and released for a general audience before back-to-school season.  

We’re excited to make this feature available to Windows 10 users, offering a built-in, easy-to-use tool that can help create a more inclusive learning environment. Many of you have asked if educators can disable the feature if they need to, for assessments for example, and the answer is yes. It’s yours to use with your students, as that makes sense. 

We welcome your feedback. We’ve open sourced the Windows Calculator app on GitHub, which means those of you who are computer science educators, or have some background knowledge, can study the source code, build system, unit tests and product roadmap and offer new ideas for improvements. We always enjoy seeing educators, and sometimes their students, get involved in this kind of collaboration. If you see a feature that is missing, build it yourself and add it to the graphing calculator! You can read more here

Communication  

OneNote Live Captions. As we noted in our Bett kickoff post, a recent study at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP), found that 42 percent of students use closed captions to help maintain focus and 38 percent use interactive transcripts to help them better retain information. In addition, student outcomes improve with the use of transcripts. This month, we are rolling out a private preview of OneNote that allows any student to connect OneNote to a Microsoft Translator captions via a Join Code and receive the captions and translation stream.  

This allows captions from the educator speaking to flow directly into OneNote for reading, while still allowing the student to take notes. In addition, the student can pause the captions, highlight portions, and then have the entire transcription saved as a page into OneNote. This feature will benefit all learners but especially those who may be hard of hearing or speak multiple languages. We’ll start by rolling out OneNote Live Captions in private Beta in early February with more general availability to follow.  

Empower Every Voice with Flipgrid: Microsoft’s free video discussion platform!

NEW! Edit captions, launch the Immersive Reader on video transcripts, and more. Flipgrid enables you to empower every voice in your classroom by recording and sharing short, awesome videos … together! Since last year, Flipgrid revolutionized the camera, adding trimming and rearranging clips, whiteboard mode, live inking, and more. Furthermore, every video is now automatically transcribed and close-captioned by Microsoft Azure. Take engagement to the next level by “sticking” videos ANYWHERE with the transformative Flipgrid AR. Inspired by your feedback and ideas, the Flipgrid team is constantly innovating and improving for you, your community, and your peers from 190 countries around the world.

Wrapping it up 

Thanks for checking out our latest episode of What’s New in EDU, live from Bett 2020 and those we brought you earlier in the week. We’ve enjoyed meeting so many innovative and passionate educators here in London. And we hope you found the information we brought you to be helpful. Please check out our new tech tools, free teacher training resources, STEM and computer science materials and advice on boosting future-ready skills in your students. As always, share your feedback with us on Twitter by tagging @MicrosoftEDU! 

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How to install and test Windows Server 2019 IIS

Transcript – How to install and test Windows Server 2019 IIS

In this video, I want to show you how to install Internet Information Services, or IIS, and prepare it for use.

I’m logged into a domain-joined Windows Server 2019 machine and I’ve got the Server Manager open. To install IIS, click on Manage and choose the Add Roles and Features option. This launches the Add Roles and Features wizard. Click Next on the welcome screen and choose role-based or feature-based installation for the installation type and click Next.

Make sure that My Server is selected and click Next. I’m prompted to choose the roles that I want to deploy. We have an option for web server IIS. That’s the option I’m going to select. When I do that, I’m prompted to install some dependency features, so I’m going to click on Add Features and I’ll click Next.

I’m taken to the features screen. All the dependency features that I need are already being installed, so I don’t need to select anything else. I’ll click Next, Next again, Next again on the Role Services — although if you do need to install any additional role services to service the IIS role, this is where you would do it. You can always enable these features later on, so I’ll go ahead and click Next.

I’m taken to the Confirmation screen and I can review my configuration selections. Everything looks good here, so I’ll click install and IIS is being installed.

Testing Windows Server 2019 IIS

The next thing that I want to do is test IIS to make sure that it’s functional. I’m going to go ahead and close this out and then go to local server. I’m going to go to IE Enhanced Security Configuration. I’m temporarily going to turn this off just so that I can test IIS. I’ll click OK and I’ll close Server Manager.

The next thing that I want to do is find this machine’s IP address, so I’m going to right-click on the Start button and go to Run and type CMD to open a command prompt window, and then from there, I’m going to type ipconfig.

Here I have the server’s IP address, so now I can open up an Internet Explorer window and enter this IP address and Internet Information Services should respond. I’ve entered the IP address, then I press enter and I’m taken to the Internet Information Services screen. IIS is working at this point.

I’ll go ahead and close this out. If this were a real-world deployment, one of the next things that you would probably want to do is begin uploading some of the content that you’re going to use on your website so that you can begin testing it on this server.

I’ll go ahead and open up file explorer and I’ll go to this PC, driver and inetpub folder and the wwwroot subfolder. This is where you would copy all of your files for your website. You can configure IIS to use a different folder, but this is the one used by default for IIS content. You can see the files right here that make up the page that you saw a moment ago.

How to work with the Windows Server 2019 IIS bindings

Let’s take a look at a couple of the configuration options for IIS. I’m going to go ahead and open up Server Manager and what I’m going to do now is click on Tools, and then I’m going to choose the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager. The main thing that I wanted to show you within the IIS Manager is the bindings section. The bindings allow traffic to be directed to a specific website, so you can see that, right now, we’re looking at the start page and, right here, is a listing for my IIS server.

I’m going to go ahead and expand this out and I’m going to expand the site’s container and, here, you can see the default website. This is the site that I’ve shown you just a moment ago, and then if we look over here on the Actions menu, you can see that we have a link for Bindings. When I open up the Bindings option, you can see by default we’re binding all HTTP traffic to port 80 on all IP addresses for the server.

We can edit [the site bindings] if I select [the site] and click on it. You can see that we can select a specific IP address. If the server had multiple IP addresses associated with it, we could link a different IP address to each site. We could also change the port that’s associated with a particular website. For example, if I wanted to bind this particular website to port 8080, I could do that by changing the port number. Generally, you want HTTP traffic to flow on port 80. The other thing that you can do here is to assign a hostname to the site, for example www.contoso.com or something to that effect.

The other thing that I want to show you in here is how to associate HTTPS traffic with a site. Typically, you’re going to have to have a certificate to make that happen, but assuming that that’s already in place, you click on Add and then you would change the type to HTTPS and then you can choose an IP address; you can enter a hostname; and then you would select your SSL certificate for the site.

You’ll notice that the port number is set to 443, which is the default port that’s normally used for HTTPS traffic. So, that’s how you install IIS and how you configure the bindings for a website.

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Windows 10 issues top list of most read stories for IT pros

Windows 10 — and the challenges posed to IT professionals by its updates — dominated the enterprise desktop discussion in 2019. Troubleshooting and understanding the eccentricities of 2019’s Windows 10 issues comprised many of our top 10 most popular stories this year.

With the sunset of Windows 7 scheduled for the first month of 2020, interest in other Microsoft OSes, including Windows 10, may intensify in the coming year.

Below is a countdown of the top ten most-read SearchEnterpriseDesktop stories, based on page views.

  1. Micro apps, AI to power new version of Citrix Workspace

Citrix announced a new version of Citrix Workspace, which enables IT admins to provide employees with virtual access to an organization’s desktop and applications, at May’s Citrix Synergy event in Atlanta. The company cited micro apps or small, task-based applications as a key feature, saying they would handle complicated tasks more efficiently by bringing them into a unified work feed. The addition of micro apps was made possible through a $200 million acquisition of Sapho in 2018.

  1. Lenovo to launch ThinkBook brand, next-gen ThinkPad x1

Lenovo started a new subbrand — called ThinkBook — this past spring, with two laptops aimed at younger employees in the workforce. The 13- and 14-inch laptops were intended to incorporate a sleek design with robust security, reliability and support services. The company also launched a laptop for advanced business users, ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2, and the ultrasmall desktop ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano in the same time frame.

  1. Learn about the device-as-a-service model and its use cases

The device-as-a-service model, in which a vendor leases devices to a business, may help IT admins fulfill their responsibility to support, maintain and repair equipment. The model has its pros and cons. It can provide a single point of contact for troubleshooting and enable more frequent hardware refreshes, but it can also limit an organization’s device choices and pose complications for a company’s BYOD plan.

  1. Lenovo powers new ThinkPad series with AMD Ryzen Pro processors

Lenovo released three Windows 10 laptops with AMD processors this past spring, the first time it has used non-Intel chips in its higher-end ThinkPad T and X series devices. The company hoped its T495, T495s and X395 computers would provide better performance and security at a lower cost; the company said the AMD-powered T and X series laptops saw an 18% increase over the previous generation.

  1. Windows 10 security breach highlights third-party vulnerabilities

Microsoft detected a security vulnerability in Windows 10, introduced through Huawei PCManager driver software. Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection, a feature that finds and blocks potential compromises, found the problem before the vulnerability could cause serious damage, but industry professionals said the incident highlighted the risks posed by third-party kernels such as device drivers and the importance of working with trusted companies.

  1. Samsung Notebook 9 Pro 2-in-1 impresses with specs and looks

Samsung released a redesign of its flagship Windows 10 laptop this year, opting for an aluminum chassis in place of the plastic from previous iterations. The device offered comparable specs to other high-end laptop offerings, with a slate of features including a backlit keyboard, a variety of inputs and the Samsung Active Pen.

  1. With the new Windows 10 OS update, trust but verify

Dave Sobel, senior director and managed services provider at SolarWinds in Austin, Texas, expounded on the then-forthcoming May 2019 Windows 10 update a month before its scheduled release. Sobel acknowledged the security importance of patching systems but stressed that IT professionals remain vigilant for complications — notable, as the Windows 10 update came in the wake of an October 2018 patch that deleted files of users who work with Known Folder redirection.

  1. Citrix CEO David Henshall addresses Citrix news, sale rumors

In a Q&A, Citrix CEO David Henshall talked about the future of the 30-year-old company, downplaying rumors that it would be sold. Henshall spoke of the venerable firm’s history of connecting people and information on demand and saw the coming years as a time when Citrix would continue to simplify and ease that connection to encourage productivity.

  1. Latest Windows 10 update issues cause more freezing problems

The April 9 Windows 10 update caused device freezing upon launch. Those in IT had already noted freezing in devices using Sophos Endpoint Protection; after a few days, they learned that the patch was clashing with antivirus software, causing freezing both during startup and over the course of regular operation of the computer. Microsoft updated its support page to acknowledge the issue and provided workarounds shortly thereafter.

  1. 1. IT takes the good with the bad in Windows 10 1903 update

After experiencing problems with previous Windows 10 updates, June’s 1903 version came with initial positive — but wary — reception. Microsoft’s Windows-as-a-service model drew complaints for the way it implemented updates. Among its changes, 1903 enabled IT professionals to pause feature and monthly updates for up to 35 days. Also new was Windows Sandbox, providing IT with the ability to test application installations without compromising a machine. The new version of Windows 10 did not launch bug-free, however; issues with Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth device connection and USB devices causing the rearrangement of drive letters were reported.

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Adobe Sign introduces updates targeting mobile device users

Adobe Sign updates this week brought new features supporting mobile devices and new integrations with Microsoft cloud products including SharePoint, Dynamics, PowerApps and Flow, Teams and Azure.

According to Mike Prizament, senior product marketing manager at Adobe, the company emphasized improving user experience on mobile because nearly half of its users start the signing process on their phones. “If 50% of people check their email, and then they try to start signing a document on their phone, we want it to be as easy as possible,” he said.

The Adobe Sign updates include the following:

Improved mobile signing experience: Adobe Sign enables users to zoom in on areas they need to sign and provides mobile-friendly navigation buttons that guide the signer through required fields. The company said these functionalities are available on mobile web and don’t require users to download an app.

New home screen interface: The Adobe Sign home screen has a new design intended to make the main e-signature tools more visible and accessible. The tools let users send out a document for signatures, track document status and manage the signing process. Users can send documents from the Adobe Sign home screen for people to sign instead of emailing the document or sending paper copies, according to the company.

 The new Adobe Sign home screen.
The new Adobe Sign home screen.

New manage page: The new page lets managers responsible for sending documents for signatures track or modify the process. The user can check to whom the documents were sent, determine whether a recipient opened the document yet, change or cancel recipients and archive the documents.

Adobe Sign allows two different levels of account sharing on the manage page: view only and full access. The view-only sharing mode allows the main manager to share the account to team members so they are given access to only view the status of the task. The full-access sharing mode gives complete control to team members to take over the manager’s account in case the person is taking a vacation or leaving the company, according to Adobe.

The new Adobe Sign manage page.
The new Adobe Sign manage page.

Users can swap back and forth between accounts in a drop-down menu on the manage page.

Integrations with Microsoft cloud productivity products

Adobe Sign has updated integrations with the following Microsoft products:

  • Microsoft SharePoint: Users can create and embed digital forms that can be filled, signed and reused. The update is intended to help customers collect information from a large number of people inside and outside the company. Data from the forms is automatically saved and mapped back to a SharePoint list.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365: E-signatures works with Dynamics 365 Sales in more languages, including German, French and Japanese.
  • Microsoft PowerApps and Power Automate in the Government Community Cloud: Users can add signing workflows when a new document is uploaded in SharePoint, then route final documents and create an audit trail to OneDrive/SharePoint.
  • Microsoft Teams: Team members can send documents for signatures and manage, track and get notifications for the status of important documents. The Adobe Sign integration in Teams is certified as part of the Microsoft 365 Certification program, ensuring that enterprise data privacy and security are protected from third-party developed applications in Microsoft 365.
  • Microsoft Azure: Adobe Sign is now available in Microsoft Azure in Europe and stores all data, content and information within the EU.
  • Microsoft Azure Active Directory: Microsoft Azure Active Directory enterprise customers can use single sign-on to send Adobe Sign to their employees via the Adobe admin console within 30 minutes.

“Signature is a key component to identity, and identity is a key component to trusted commerce. Adobe has a huge potential to leverage over 1 billion PDF users in the future of legal signing authority,” said R “Ray” Wang, principal analyst and founder at Constellation Research.

He said the latest integrations with Microsoft products will enable tools such as Dynamics 365 Sales, Microsoft SharePoint, Teams and other apps to take advantage of signature from Adobe.

Wang said Adobe ultimately competes with DocuSign, a cloud service providing e-signature technology.

Adobe sees a big potential still ahead for the market of e-signatures, citing IDC research sponsored by Adobe that found 80% of enterprise document processes still rely on paper. “There’s still a huge opportunity there, and this is a big area that Adobe Sign looks to solve together with Adobe Document Cloud,” Prizament said.

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Tableau analytics platform gets AI, data management upgrades

LAS VEGAS — Improved augmented intelligence and data preparation capabilities are at the core of new updates to the Tableau analytics platform.

The Seattle-based vendor unveiled the enhancements on Wednesday at its annual user conference here.

Tableau revealed an upgrade to Ask Data, the Tableau analytics platform’s natural language processing tool that was introduced in February. Ask Data is now able to interpret more complex questions than it could before, and it can now do year-over-year geospatial comparisons, according to the vendor.

Tableau evolving its platform

In addition, with the recent introduction of Tableau Catalog and an upgrade to Prep Conductor, users of the Tableau analytics platform will be able to prepare data within Tableau itself rather than another product before importing the cleansed data into Tableau.

Finally, Tableau added to the Tableau analytics platform Metrics, a mobile-first tool that will enable users to monitor key performance indicators.

The product moves unveiled at the conference show that Tableau is continuing to evolve its popular analytics and business intelligence platform by adding features to help end users do more with self-service, said Doug Henschen, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“With great self-service freedom comes great responsibility to do a better job of data governance,” Henschen said. “Tableau Catalog gives Tableau customers a data access and data lineage tracking aid to help users spot the data they should be using to help avoid recreating data sets and analyses that already exist or that could easily be extended to cover new use cases.”

Tableau Catalog gives Tableau customers a data-access and data-lineage tracking aid to help users spot the data they should be using to help avoid recreating data sets and analyses that already exist or that could easily be extended to cover new use cases.
Doug HenschenPrincipal analyst, Constellation Research

The host of upgrades come a day after Tableau revealed an enhanced partnership agreement with Amazon Web Services, Modern Cloud Analytics, designed to help Tableau’s many on-premises users migrate to the cloud.

A user looks at the new features

Meanwhile, one of the self-service customers Henschen alluded to is the University of Michigan, which has nearly 100,000 potential users with 50,000 employees and 48,000 students.

While it hasn’t yet taken advantage of the burgeoning data management capabilities of the Tableau analytics platform, the school is interested in Tableau’s natural language processing capabilities.

But with nearly 100,000 potential users — from hospital staff to the history department — nothing is as simple as choosing to use one BI tool within an overall system and eschewing another.

“Our data is relatively simple enough that we don’t need to constantly pivot or join a number of different things from a number of different places together,” Matthew Pickus, senior business intelligence analyst, said of Michigan’s decision to not yet employ tools like Tableau Catalog and Prep Conductor. “We try and keep the system as enterprise as possible.”

Christopher Gardner, business intelligence senior analyst at the University of Michigan, added that the potential cost of using the data preparation tools, given the number of users across the university, is a constraint.

That said, because data across the university’s myriad departments is often kept by each department according to that department’s own method — creating data silos — data standardization is something that could be on the horizon at Michigan, the school’s BI analysts said.

“It’s starting to get talked about a little more, so it may be something we start investigating,” Gardner said.

Bringing analytics to end users

“Some of the data management tools will become much more needed in the future,” Pickus added. “We’re just trying to figure out the best way to approach it. It’s going to become more important.

Tableau reaching down not just how to visualize your data but how to help you manage and organize your data across all the sets is going to be very helpful in the future.”

NLP, meanwhile, is something Michigan’s IT leaders see as a way to make analytics more accessible to its employees and students.

A gif displays Ask Data, Tableau's natural language processing tool.
A gif shows Tableau’s Ask Data, its natural language processing tool, in action.

But Gardner and Pickus said they want more from NLP tools than they’re currently capable of providing, whether part of the Tableau analytics platform or any other BI vendor’s suite.

“Our executives are very interested in it,” said Gardner. “They’re looking for ways to make data more accessible to users who aren’t familiar with reporting tools. To us it’s kind of frustrating, because we’ve got the reporting tools. Let’s take it a step further, and instead of just reporting let’s start doing analysis and start getting trends.”

Perhaps that’s next for the Tableau analytics platform.

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Microsoft 365 Business update targets nonprofits

Microsoft is rolling out some updates to its productivity offerings, hoping to capture the business of nonprofits looking for a path to digital transformation.

Digital transformation tools can help organizations improve the security, cost-effectiveness and efficiency of their processes. Small nonprofits often can’t afford these systems. Recognizing this, Microsoft is offering 10 free Microsoft 365 Business licenses for nonprofits, a productivity suite that includes access to Word, Excel, Outlook, OneDrive, Teams, SharePoint and more. Each additional license will cost $5 per month.

These free licenses do not give access to the Dynamics 365 CRM system and its Nonprofit Accelerator, but Microsoft does provide discounts to nonprofits looking to adopt its CRM.

The Microsoft Digital Skills Center for Nonprofits is another digital transformation resource that is already available, launched in partnership with learning platform TechSoup. This service provides free product training for nonprofits on how to use Microsoft 365 Business, among other services.

On Oct. 1, Microsoft plans to launch the Nonprofit Operations Toolkit. Built on Power Platform, this system integrates PowerApps, Flow, cloud storage and Excel to help nonprofits manage projects and awards management systems, such as tracking donor transactions. This system will include extra security features to ensure donor privacy, said Justin Spelhaug, general manager of technology for social impact at Microsoft.

Microsoft 365 has numerous security features, even at the individual level. If an employee accidentally tries to send sensitive information, the system can stop it. And if an employee leaves a mobile device on a bus, the nonprofit can wipe information from the phone.

“Nonprofits have some incredibly important info in IT systems about beneficiaries,” Spelhaug said. “Maintaining trust with donors and with beneficiaries is the lifeblood of organizations, and part of maintaining trust is having appropriate security backstops.”

Combined with Microsoft’s other tools, these systems can form the basis of a digital transformation strategy.

How can companies use these systems?

Meals on Wheels of Greenville County in South Carolina uses Microsoft 365 Business to optimize the delivery of meals to homebound and senior citizens.

One of the best things a nonprofit can do, but often doesn’t do, is to operate like a business.
Catriona CarlisleExecutive director of Meals on Wheels of Greenville

The biggest challenge Meals on Wheels had in crafting its own digital transformation strategy was training volunteers to use new technology, said Catriona Carlisle, executive director of Meals on Wheels of Greenville. The initial 15 courses offered through the Digital Skills Center will help them more easily train volunteers in the future, she said.

“The majority of our volunteers have smartphones,” Carlisle said. “They know tech, so it was a natural transition. But we have some volunteers with us almost 50 years who struggled with the change.”

By removing manual data entry, adding mobile management capabilities and automating volunteer scheduling, the nonprofit was able to expand, Carlisle said. Microsoft 365 Business saved the nonprofit time and money, giving them the chance to initiate a partnership with two local agencies that added 400 to 500 meals a day to their food supply, which had been serving 1,500 meals a day. They were also able to source the food from locals, rather than distant organizations, and began to send extra meals to a local school for children with specials needs and disabilities.

Meals on Wheels looks forward to the new changes, Carlisle said.

“One of the best things a nonprofit can do, but often doesn’t do, is to operate like a business,” she said. “We need to make business decisions to make sure we’re around for the future, looking not only at making investments here and now, but also for the future.”

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New to Microsoft 365 in July—updates to Azure AD, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and more

This month, we’re announcing updates to Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to help improve your security posture, updates to Microsoft Teams and Outlook on the web to help you be more productive, and updates to Desktop Analytics and Office 365 ProPlus to streamline IT management and improve efficiency.

Here’s a look at what’s new in July.

Strengthen security while simplifying processes

New capabilities help you protect against, discover, and remediate cybersecurity threats.

Go passwordless to reduce risk and improve account security—This month, we announced the public preview of FIDO2 security keys support in Azure AD. Now, with FIDO2 technologies, you can provide users with seamless, secure, and passwordless access to all Azure AD-connected apps and services. Additionally, administrators can assign passwordless credentials to users and groups and allow self-service sign-up. To get started, check out our step-by-step documentation on enabling passwordless sign-in for Azure AD.

Discover, prioritize, and remediate vulnerabilities in real-time—Last month, we announced the general availability of Microsoft Threat & Vulnerability Management (TVM). TVM delivers a new set of advanced, agentless, cloud-powered capabilities that provide continuous, real-time, risk-based vulnerability management. If you already have Microsoft Defender ATP, the TVM solution is now available within your Microsoft Defender ATP portal. If you don’t have a subscription, you can sign up for a trial of Microsoft Defender ATP including TVM.

Improve productivity and collaboration

New capabilities in Microsoft 365 help you collaborate easily with others, organize tasks, and quickly find answers.

Communicate and collaborate more easily with new capabilities in Microsoft Teams—This month, we added new capabilities to Teams including Read receipts and Priority notifications to help ensure time-sensitive messages are received and prioritized. We also announced the new Announcements feature to highlight important news and now post a single message across multiple channels.

Animated screenshot of Select channels being used in Microsoft Teams.

Finally, the new time clock feature in Teams for Firstline Workers brings clock in/out capabilities to the Team Shifts module. And the targeted communication feature enables messages to be sent to everyone within a specific role—such as sending a message to all cashiers in a store or all nurses in a hospital.

These updates for Teams will be rolling out over the next couple of months.

Add polls to your Outlook emails and book meeting rooms with Outlook on the web—This month, we’re announcing two new generally available features in Outlook on the web. With Microsoft Quick Poll, you can now add polls directly to your Outlook emails, so recipients can vote directly in the email or click the provided link and vote in a browser window. To get started, download the Quick Poll add-in for Outlook.

Additionally, you can now easily book meeting rooms in Outlook on the web. When creating a meeting, you can quickly see which rooms are available, search by city or room, and view rooms that are available during recurring events.

Animated screenshot of a Teams meeting being created in Outlook.

Make answers in Yammer more discoverable—Now, questions in Yammer will stand out from general discussions with new, unique styling. Post authors and group admins can also mark the best response to questions as a “Best Answer,” making it easier for users to find answers. These changes are currently in private preview and will roll out to all Office 365 subscribers later this summer.

Animated screenshot of a Best Answer being voted up in Yammer.

Work together on tasks in Microsoft To-Do—Now, you can assign a task to someone on a shared To-Do list and work together to knock out tasks more quickly. To get started, just @mention someone to assign them a task, and everyone on the shared list will be able to see it.

Animated screenshot of a task being assigned in Microsoft To-Do.

Streamline IT management

Data-driven tools help you deliver seamless software deployments and improvements for Office in virtualized environments.

Improve the quality and reliability of software deployments—This month, we announced the public preview of Desktop Analytics, a cloud-based service that provides intelligence for you to make more informed decisions about the update readiness of your Windows clients ahead of new Windows 10 deployments. In combination with System Center Configuration Manager, Desktop Analytics is designed to create an inventory of the Windows apps running in the organization and assess app compatibility with the latest feature updates of Windows 10. Desktop Analytics is currently offered as an Office 365 service and requires an Office 365 subscription in your Azure AD tenant. To get started, enable Desktop Analytics in the Configuration Manager console.

Screenshot of Desktop Analytics dashboard.

Improve the Office app experience in virtual environmentsThis month, we announced new capabilities to help improve the user experience in virtualized environments. First, FSLogix technology, which improves the performance of Office 365 ProPlus in multi-user virtual environments, is now available at no additional cost for Microsoft 365 customers. Second, Windows Server 2019 will now support Office 365 ProPlus and OneDrive Files On-Demand in the coming months. Lastly, Outlook, OneDrive, and Teams are getting new capabilities to improve the user experience in a virtualized environment.

Drive digital transformation with new Microsoft cloud regions—Microsoft Office 365 services are now available from our new cloud regions located in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These local datacenters open the door for more organizations to embrace the benefits of the cloud with resilient cloud services that can help meet data residency, security, and compliance needs.

Other updates

  • Teams is now included in the monthly Office 365 updates for existing customers and will begin rolling out to existing installations over several weeks.
  • We retired the “Online” branding for the Office apps on the web. You’ll see this change reflected in the product experience in places such as the app headers, platform-specific commands, and help menus. This change reinforces that Office is a cloud-connected experience, which you can use through apps on the desktop, web, or mobile devices.
  • We recently announced OneDrive Personal Vault, a protected area in OneDrive that you can only access with a strong authentication method or second step of identity verification.
  • These five Outlook mobile tips and tricks can help small business owners save time and get more done quickly.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

New Approaches to Home and Xbox Voice Commands Roll Out to Xbox Insiders – Xbox Wire

As Xbox Insiders, your feedback helps inform the decisions and updates we make on Xbox, from new features to how gamers interact with the console itself. Based on your valuable feedback, we’ve been continuing to iterate on two key experiences on Xbox, delivering you a faster Home experience and evolving the way we support Xbox voice commands to improve the voice experience.

Evolving Home

The Home on Xbox One is the first thing you see when you turn on your Xbox One, and we want to deliver an easy and seamless experience for you to navigate your console. We’ve heard your feedback and have continued to iterate on Home to get you into your gaming experiences faster and keeping more of your content front and center. With today’s update, we’re experimenting with a streamlined user interface.

With this new experimental Home design, the first thing you’ll notice is we’ve removed the Twists from the top of Home in favor of separate buttons that launch your gaming experiences. The goal is to let you jump into Xbox Game Pass, Mixer, Xbox Community and Microsoft Store quicker than ever. We’ve also shifted things around to make more room for your recently played titles.

We need your help testing out the new interface. The new experimental Home rolls out this week to select Xbox Insiders in our Alpha and Alpha Skip Ahead rings. For more details on rollout, keep an eye on the Xbox Insiders section of Xbox Wire. The Home experience will continue to evolve and change based on your feedback, so please let us know what you think and share your ideas for Home at the Xbox Ideas Hub. You may see this layout change and even come and go as we iterate on your feedback.

Changes to voice commands on Xbox One

Last fall, we expanded Xbox voice commands to hundreds of millions of smart devices by enabling Xbox One to connect with Xbox Skill for Cortana and Alexa-enabled devices. Xbox Skill continues to grow and change based on your feedback, including new updates that rolled out earlier this month.

Building on these efforts, we are now further evolving the way we support voice commands on Xbox and are moving away from on-console experiences to cloud-based assistant experiences. This means you can no longer talk to Cortana via your headset. However, you can use the Xbox Skill for Cortana via the Cortana app on iOS, Android, and Windows or via Harmon Kardon Invoke speaker to power your Xbox One, adjust volume, launch games and apps, capture screenshots, and more —just as you can do with Alexa-enabled devices today. We’ll also continue to improve the Xbox Skill across supported digital assistants and continue expanding our Xbox voice capabilities in the future based on fan feedback.

Starting this week, this update will roll out to our Alpha Skip Ahead ring and will fully rollout to all users this fall.  As part of these changes, this update will temporarily disable dictation for the virtual keyboard on Xbox One. Don’t worry though, our team is working to provide an alternative solution and will have more details to share soon.

As always, your feedback is important to us and our partners as we continue to evolve the Xbox One Home and shape the digital assistant and voice command experience on Xbox. We have some exciting updates in the works and can’t wait to share what’s next, so stay tuned for more.

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Author: Steve Clarke

IBM Spectrum storage refresh targets object, AI metadata

IBM Spectrum storage software expanded its scope to cover AI and large-scale analytics, including updates for compliance and deeper integration in Amazon Web Services.

IBM Spectrum is the vendor’s brand for storage software. The products released this week extend the reach of IBM Spectrum Discover metadata management to include other vendors’ storage. A refreshed IBM Cloud Object Storage supports denser capacity per rack and individual nodes.

In addition, IBM upgraded its Spectrum Protect Plus data protection to enable direct backup of local databases to Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3). IBM also previewed a new VersaStack converged infrastructure that uses its FlashSystem 9100 NVMe rack-scale storage with Cisco servers.

Spectrum Discover metadata management is a recent addition to the IBM Spectrum storage software portfolio. Spectrum Discover layers on top of storage to ingest and index billions of files and objects stored locally and in the cloud. IBM said Discover can help to classify exabytes of unstructured data.

Originally designed only for IBM storage, Spectrum Discover now supports Dell EMC Isilon NAS and NetApp filers, as well as Ceph and any Amazon S3-compatible storage. 

IBM Spectrum storage added Discover to enable more efficient mining of metadata, said Eric Herzog, chief marketing officer and vice president of worldwide storage channels at IBM Storage. He said the significant feature enhancement is analytics across different storage systems.

With the new release, IBM beefed up Discover’s capabilities for hooking metadata directly into AI and big data projects. Science teams can use Discover to search large metadata catalogs and connect third-party data analytics tools via built-in APIs.

Henry Baltazar, an analyst for storage at 451 Research, called IBM’s updates “evolutionary, but not revolutionary.” He said IBM Spectrum Discover adds important features for regulatory compliance and optimizing storage efficiency.

“What makes Spectrum Discover valuable is being able to see as much data as possible. The big addition with this launch is support for third-party search on other storage arrays. They didn’t have that before. The more data people can get their hands on, the more powerful the infrastructure is going to be,” Baltazar said.

Customers can use Discover to tag data with keywords and automate detection of personally identifiable information and other sensitive data.

“You can search the content, not just the metadata. We automated detection of certain sensitive data for GDPR and [privacy] regulations coming out of California and Brazil. You can still create custom metadata, but we included some defaults for apps that need to stay in compliance,” Herzog said.

IBM Spectrum storage for database backup and object capacity

Amazon customers can protect Db2, Oracle, MongoDB and Microsoft SQL Server databases hosted on AWS, using S3 Intelligent Tiering to move data to IBM Spectrum Protect Plus. IBM also added more data retention options to tape and virtual tape libraries, Amazon S3 Glacier and Microsoft Azure Archive Storage.

IBM Cloud Object Storage arrays are based on technology IBM acquired from Cleversafe in 2015. Customers can purchase IBM object storage software as a cloud service, an on-premises deployment or embedded on IBM hardware. 

The latest Cloud Object Storage arrays use second-generation IBM hardware and bigger drives. The hardware scales to 10 PB in a single 42U rack and 1.3 PB per node, which IBM said equates to 26% more overall capacity. Use cases include AI, big data and secondary workloads.

IBM enables customers to mix and match old and new Cloud Object Storage systems, Baltazar said. “IBM is saying you don’t need to drop all your stuff on the new hardware. I think people will take advantage of this right away, since they can mix and match without a forklift upgrade,” he said.

IBM VersaStack uses Cisco Unified Computing System servers with IBM storage. The new version attaches to IBM FlashSystem 9100 arrays outfitted with NVMe SSDs and is due out in late 2019. IBM said it will continue to sell VersaStack models that use IBM A900, V9000 and Storwize storage.

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