Microsoft Monday: Major Windows 10 Upgrade Revealed, Halo Split-Screen To Return, Skype Lite Arrives – Forbes

Microsoft Monday is a weekly column that focuses on updates in regards to the Redmond giant. This week, Microsoft Monday includes details about Windows 10 upgrade revealed, EU still not satisfied with data collection transparency, HoloLens used for designing operating rooms, the launch of Skype Lite, an investment in AirMap, Halo split-screen is returning, new features for the Mail and Calendar apps for Windows 10 and much more!

Major Windows 10 Upgrade Revealed

Microsoft has recently announced that a fourth major Windows 10 upgrade is being planned. Microsoft made the announcement at Ignite Australia roughly about two weeks ago. Developer Rafael Rivera took a screenshot of the upgrade timeline for the update from a Windows presentation:

Photo Credit: Microsoft / Screenshot Credit: Rafael Rivera

Photo Credit: Microsoft / Screenshot Credit: Rafael Rivera

The first three updates are known as November Update, Anniversary Update and Creators Update. In the presentation, the fourth update has been labeled “Second Update in 2017.” It is unknown what features will be included in the fourth update, which is code-named Redstone 4. But there is a pretty good chance that the fourth update will include the Project NEON redesignAnd the fourth update may also have something to do with the rumored Windows Cloud operating system that will supposedly support just run Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps. Thurrott.com also pointed out that Redstone 4 could also include the People Bar.

European Union Authorities Still Wants Microsoft To Disclose Data Collection

According to Reuters, European Union authorities are still not satisfied with Microsoft’s changes to its privacy and data collection settings. However, Swiss authorities were appeased by the changes and dropped their lawsuit against Microsoft.

Article 29 wants Microsoft to disclose what type of personal data is collected and how it is being used for advertising. “In light of the above, which are separate to the results of ongoing inquiries at a national level, even considering the proposed changes to Windows 10, the Working Party remains concerned about the level of protection of users’ personal data,” said Article 29 in a statement to Reuters.

To address the situation earlier, Microsoft created a privacy control dashboard in January. This included five options that could be controlled including location, speech, advertising and other telemetry data. Microsoft also made its diagnostic settings simpler by allowing users to toggle between “Full” and “Basic.” The “Enhanced” option was removed. The Basic option prevents information about app installation and usage to be blocked.

Stryker Instruments Is Using HoloLens To Design Operating Rooms

In a recent blog post, Microsoft announced Stryker is using HoloLens for its new By Design solution to determine ideal operating room configurations using holograms and augmented reality.

The arrangement of an operating system is essential as a number of surgical disciplines share them whether it is cardiac, orthopedic or urologic. And each of the specialties have different needs including the lighting, equipment and tools.

“Recognizing that the current model of operating room design needs to be evolved from 2D to 3D, and knowing that the needs of these specialties can be quite divergent, Stryker has found a way to design a shared operating room that can accommodate all surgical disciplines in a far more efficient manner,” said Microsoft in the blog post. “Using HoloLens and Stryker’s new By Design solution, hospital stakeholders are now able to envision the ideal operating room configuration with the power of holograms and the benefit of mixed reality.”

Report: Next-Gen HoloLens To Arrive In 2019

Microsoft HoloLens / Photo Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft HoloLens / Photo Credit: Microsoft

The HoloLens has been beneficial in a number of industries, but it will be a while before it becomes mainstream for consumers. And according to Thurrott’s sources, Microsoft does not have plans to release the second generation of the HoloLens until 2019. Microsoft was reportedly working on a second generation of the HoloLens, but that project was scrapped. Now Microsoft is planning to launch a bigger update to the device in two years.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Talks About AI And Announces Flipkart Deal In India

At a recent event in India, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Flipkart Group CEO Binny Bansal announced an exclusive cloud partnership between the two companies. Flipkart is one of the largest e-commerce companies in India. As part of the deal, Microsoft Azure will be Flipkart’s exclusive public cloud platform.

The two companies said that this is the first step in a broader strategic partnership, according to GeekWire. Flipkart will be utilizing the artificial intelligence and machine learning technology in Azure like Cortana Intelligence Suite and Power BI. “Combining Microsoft’s cloud platform and AI capabilities with Flipkart’s existing services and data assets will enable Flipkart to accelerate its digital transformation in e-commerce and deliver new customer experiences,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a statement.

During the same event, Nadella spoke with Nandan Nilekani, the co-founder and former CEO of Infosys and the head of the Aadhaar project. During the discussion, the two technology executives discussed the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). Nadella said that AI was the “ultimate breakthrough” in technology.

“Because for all the advances in computer interface, there is nothing to beat language (the ability to do human-level speech recognition),” said Nadella via Mashable.

You can watch videos from the event on the Microsoft Developer Facebook Page.

Microsoft Launches Skype Lite For Android, Which Supports Aadhaar In India

In India, Nadella also announced Skype Lite — which is a 13MB app that works on slower connections and lower-end devices. Skype Lite also supports the Aadhaar biometric database for authentication.

“We’re very excited about what we are doing with Skype, and the India Stack (the infrastructure of Aadhaar that allows private companies to interact with the database),” said Nadella via Mashable.

Skype Lite includes a reduced data usage mode for video calls and you can see how much data you are using with one tap. Microsoft says that Skype Lite was built for India and it supports the following languages: Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.

Skype supports Aadhaar by allowing either of the callers to request for the other’s verification. The request for verification can take place while a call is taking place. The person that receives the request will be asked to enter their 12 digit unique Aadhaar number and a one time password received on their device. This could come in handy for job interviews. And once the call is disconnected, the Aadhaar data is deleted.

Microsoft And Google To Reduce Piracy Search Results In The UK

Microsoft and Google are going to reduce piracy website listings on its search engines in the UK. According to Ars Technica, the two companies signed a voluntary code of practice with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and Motion Picture Association.

Earlier this month, English barrister and politician Baroness Buscombe said this to the upper chamber during the committee stage of the Digital Economy Bill:

“The search engines involved in this work have been very co-operative, making changes to their algorithms and processes, but also working bilaterally with creative industry representatives to explore the options for new interventions, and how existing processes might be streamlined. I understand that all parties are keen to (finalize) and sign up to the voluntary agreement, and so we believe there is no need to take a legislative power at this time.”

Windows 10 Creators Update To Support Unlocking Using Samsung Flow

For those of you that have Samsung Galaxy smartphones and Windows 10 devices, you might be happy to hear about what will be coming with the Windows 10 Creators Update in April. When the Windows 10 Creators Update arrives, you can unlock any of your Windows 10 devices using the Samsung Flow app. And the Samsung Flow app will let you switch between different devices.

Currently, this feature only works on the Galaxy TabPro S running Windows 10. But the Creators Update will make the feature compatible with all PCs running on the Windows 10 operating system update. This feature was revealed in a Google Play comment from Samsung via BetaNews.

Screenshot of Samsung's comment about Flow via Google Play

Screenshot of Samsung’s comment about Flow via Google Play

Microsoft Invests In AirMap’s Series B Round

AirMap is a leading provider of UTM technology for the drone ecosystem that millions of drones depend on. Microsoft was an investor in AirMap’s $26 million Series B round of funding. AirMap will be using the funding to expand internationally.

This round of funding was led by Microsoft Ventures. New investors Qualcomm, Rakuten, Sony and Yuneec also participated in this round of funding along with existing investors General Catalyst and Lux Capital.

AirMap essentially maps out safe routes for drones to fly while taking weather patterns and first-responder activity into consideration. Drones can broadcast flight plans using AirMap in real-time. Hundreds of developers use AirMap to control millions of drones. Some of AirMap’s partners include DJI, SenseFly, 3D Robotics and Intel. AirMap is also used by 125 airports to monitor drones.

Interestingly, Microsoft Monday included news about the Redmond giant releasing a drone simulator tool last week. That tool is known as the Microsoft Aerial Informatics and Robotics Platform.

“Very soon, millions of drones will fly billions of flights. This is a future that depends on safe, autonomous drone operations at scale. AirMap’s technology will make this future possible, allowing the drones of today, and the autonomous drones of tomorrow, to take flight,” said AirMap CEO

Ben Marcus. Marcus is also known for his position as the industry co-chair for the FAA/industry Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team.

Halo Split-Screen Is Returning

Last week at the DICE Summit, 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross told a crowd that Halo split-screen combat will be returning. “We will always have split-screen support going forward,” said Ross at the event.

However, Ross did not say if this decision was for either the cooperative or competitive modes for the Halo series. And it was unclear how the split-screen modes would work in the “Xbox Play Anywhere” versions of Halo on various Windows 10 devices.

When Halo 5: Guardians was released, the lack of split-screen combat was a surprise. That was especially the case when a developer at 343 said that Halo 5 would have split-screen modes, but the studio had to backtrack on it. According to Ars Technica, Ross acknowledged that the removal of the split-screen mode “eroded trust” with the fans. Even though Halo 6 has not been announced yet, it sounds reassuring that it should have a split-screen mode when it is released.

How Satya Nadella Responded To A Product Flub

About a year ago, Microsoft released a Twitter bot called Tay.ai — which ended up having to be shut down because hackers turned it into a tool that said racist and misogynist comments.

Following the product flub, CEO Satya Nadella sent out an email to the Tay team with words of encouragement. “Keep pushing, and know that I am with you,” said Nadella in the email. He also suggested that the team takes criticism in the right spirit and exercise “deep empathy for anyone hurt by Tay.” And Nadella said that it is key to “keep learning and improving.”

The team definitely learned from their mistakes and ended up releasing a new AI chatbot called Zo in December. That chatbot was not hit with any problems yet.

“It’s so critical for leaders not to freak people out, but to give them air cover to solve the real problem,” said Nadella via USA Today. “If people are doing things out of fear, it’s hard or impossible to actually drive any innovation.”

Microsoft Donates $1 Million To The Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative

In a blog post, Microsoft announced that it has donated $1 million to the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative (CUAC), which is a partnership between the University of Washington and the University of British Columbia. The partnership aims to use data to solve urban problems in the two regions like homelessness and traffic.

Microsoft said that the CUAC will bring students, researchers and public stakeholders together to solve problems in transportation, housing and climate. This project also builds on research conducted at the eScience Institute within the University of Washington and the Data Science for Social Good at the University of British Columbia.

“Our ultimate goal is to establish the Pacific Northwest as a world leader in responsible social innovation through data science,” said UBC president Santa Ono. “We Hope to establish our universities as a permanent hub for applied research projects that have directly positive effects on society.”

Microsoft Adds New Features To Mail And Calendar Apps For Windows 10

Windows 10 Mail app update / Photo Credit: Microsoft

Windows 10 Mail app update / Photo Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft has updated the Mail and Calendar apps with new features for Windows 10. Some of these features are already included in Microsoft’s mobile apps.

One of the new features added is Focused Inbox. Microsoft first launched Focused Inbox on Outlook for iOS and Android. Focused Inbox is a feature that separates your inbox into two sections, one with important emails known as the Focused section and one with lower priority emails such as newsletters — which are placed in the Other section. Microsoft has limited the Focused Inbox in the Windows 10 Mail app to Office 365 and Outlook.com accounts.

Another feature that was added to the Mail app for Windows 10 is mentions. When you use the @ symbol in an email, you can tag a name. Tagging a name adds the email address will add that person automatically if they were not added to the compose section.

Microsoft also added colored categories for the Calendar app. And “interesting calendars” have been added to the app along with support for travel and package delivery. The “interesting calendars” feature creates events for your favorite sports teams, TV shows, etc.

Interesting Calendars in the Calendar app update / Photo Credit: Microsoft

Interesting Calendars in the Calendar app update / Photo Credit: Microsoft

Another improvement is a locations feature for the Calendar app. Plus you can add Skype online meetings to the Calendar app. You can download the Mail and Calendar update through the Windows Store.

Microsoft Monday includes seven days worth of updates from the Redmond-based software giant. What are your thoughts about the “Microsoft Monday” news from this week? Please leave a comment!

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