“Microsoft Monday” is a weekly column that focuses on all things Microsoft. This week “Microsoft Monday” features news about Windows 10 quality initiatives, the re-release of the Windows October 2018 Update, a rumor about a disc-free Xbox One, Xbox Black Friday deals, the Cortana redesign for iOS, LinkedIn Pages, LinkedIn Sales Navigator improvements, the XOXCO and FSLogix acquisitions and much more!
Focus On Windows 10 Quality Initiatives
Microsoft hit several speed bumps after rolling out several Windows 10 updates this year. For example, Microsoft had to delay the Windows 10 April 2018 update because of issues where the system would crash on PCs. Last month, Microsoft had to pull the Windows 10 October 2018 Update because it was causing files to be deleted. And last week, Microsoft accidentally downgraded users from Windows 10 Pro machines to Windows 10 Home.
Going forward, Microsoft is going to listen to feedback from Windows 10 users and the company is going to be more transparent about how Windows is going to be tested. Plus Microsoft is going to publish more blog posts in a series of in-depth explanations of the work that Microsoft does to deliver Windows releases.
“Even a multi-element detection process will miss issues in an ecosystem as large, diverse and complex as Windows. While we will always work diligently to eliminate issues before rollout, there is always a chance an issue may occur. When this happens, we strive to minimize the impact and respond quickly and transparently to inform and protect our customers,” said Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Windows Michael Fortin in a blog post. “Our focus until now has been almost exclusively on detecting and fixing issues quickly, and we will increase our focus on transparency and communication. We believe in transparency as a principle and we will continue to invest in clear and regular communications with our customers when there are issues. Of course, we have a responsibility to protect customers, and in some cases (e.g. zero-day exploits) we prioritize that protection over transparency until security updates are released and we can again be clear about an issue.”
Re-Release Of Windows October 2018 Update
Microsoft also re-released the Windows 10 October 2018 Update last week. The previous version had a file deletion bug that affected the Documents directory for some users. Microsoft fixed that bug along with several others that were discovered.
One of the reasons why Windows 10 shipped with bugs is because some of the team members on quality assurance and software test were laid off earlier. As a result, Microsoft had to transform its development process in order to ship two major updates per year instead of releasing a service pack every few years. This model of software releases is why Windows 10 became known as “Windows as a Service.”
The Windows 10 re-release is being gradually rolled out. And it is starting first with users who are manually having their systems check for updates and through the media installer.
“In addition to extensive internal validation, we have taken time to closely monitor feedback and diagnostic data from our Windows Insiders and from the millions of devices on the Windows 10 October Update, and we have no further evidence of data loss,” said Microsoft’s director of program management for Windows Servicing and Delivery John Cable. “Based on this data, today we are beginning the re-release of the October Update by making it available via media and to advanced users who seek to manually check for updates.”
Improvements To Windows Store Coming
Microsoft has plans to make improvements to the Windows Store in order to convince gamers to use the platform as an alternative to Steam. At X018, Xbox head Phil Spencer acknowledged that he received feedback about the store and said the plan is to make it “tailored to the gamers that we know want to see the best,” according to Engadget.
While he did not specify what changes would be made, Spencer said he is going to take a “bigger leadership role” on the Windows Store.
Spencer: A Lot To Share At E3 2019
Spencer also tweeted that the Xbox team has a lot to share at E3 2019. This is in stark contrast to Sony, Microsoft’s biggest rival in the console space. Sony said it was not going to attend E3 2019, which is the first time the company is not attending since the gaming conference launched in 1995.
“A lot to share with fans at E3 2019. Always a high point of the year to witness the industry’s creativity and the energy of the community,” said Spencer in the tweet.
Disc-Free Xbox One Rumor
According to Thurrott’s sources, Microsoft is reportedly planning to start selling Xbox One configurations without a disc drive next year. This could bring down the cost by about $100 for the consoles.
And if you already purchased discs, there may be a “disc-to-digital” exchange program so you could visit a store and turn in the tangible games for download codes. Plus Microsoft may introduce a “revised” Xbox One S next year that would have lower costs while still having a disc reader.
Cortana Redesign For iOS Rolls Out
Microsoft has rolled out Cortana version 3.0 for iOS. Some of the new features include a new conversational experience for answers, a new place to manage and set up your Cortana devices, the ability to listen to music and podcasts on the go. And you can manage tasks, meetings, emails, reminders and To Do on the go. Plus you can join Skype or Teams by asking Cortana.
You may notice that there is a tab called “Upcoming.” The Upcoming tab helps you stay on track of important details for the day such as weather, traffic, and suggested tasks.
Xbox Black Friday Deals
The Xbox One X console price has been dropped to $399 and 500 Xbox games are being discounted by 65% during the holiday period for Black Friday. Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold members gained access to the discounts earlier along with an additional 10% off on top of the 65% discounts.
Of the 500 games that were discounted, 154 were Xbox 360 titles and add-ons. And many of the Xbox 360 titles are backward compatible. The full list of deals is published on a blog post on MajorNelson.com.
LinkedIn Introduces Pages
Last week, Microsoft’s professional social network company LinkedIn announced Pages — which is a way for brands, small businesses and enterprises to connect with their followers. The professional social network also said that its media business is expected to hit $2 billion in revenue by the end of the fiscal year. There are 30 million Pages on LinkedIn that will benefit from these changes.
Plus LinkedIn also set up two new partnerships that are relevant to Pages. This includes a Hootsuite API integration for admins to receive notifications within the social media platform when there is activity on LinkedIn Pages. And there is an integrate with Crunchbase, which brings in funding insights and key investors on LinkedIn.
“LinkedIn generates more than 2 million posts, videos and articles in the feed per day, and these interactions are only growing. Our new Pages experience is built to foster active communities and conversations on LinkedIn with a company’s employees, customers and followers. Pages are designed to help organizations authentically connect with members, grow their business and build lasting connections,” said LinkedIn Pages product lead Sparsh Agarwal.
Pages can be associated with hashtags and admins can now also post PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and PDFs. LinkedIn added Content Suggestions to surface topics and content trending with their target audience on LinkedIn. Through these insights, admins are able to curate and create content that audiences will engage with.
Career Pages gives users the option to engage current and potential talent with a Life tab and a Jobs tab. This provides a customized look into the company culture, jobs and what it is like to work at your company. And Microsoft is rolling out the ability to respond and re-share posts on LinkedIn where a company’s Page is mentioned such as customer testimonials and product reviews.
New LinkedIn Sales Navigator Features
LinkedIn has announced several new features for Sales Navigator, including advanced alerts, customer lists, details on a lead page, advanced search and a more intuitive account center. With these features, salespeople will have flexibility and access to the data needed to generate insights quickly. Plus LinkedIn is launching a new SNAP partner category called Web Conferencing with Zoom as its first partner.
Alerts are now part of LinkedIn’s main menu bar in desktops and mobile versions of Sales Navigator. And three new alerts are being added to the existing set already in Sales Navigator, which includes a saved account that has just raised funding, a saved lead that has engaged with LinkedIn posts from your company and someone at a saved account viewed your profile.
And now you can make unlimited and customized lists in desktop and mobile versions of Sales Navigator. So your custom lists are at your fingertips at your desktop or while on-the-go whether you are planning for meetings at trade shows or for the quarter.
Microsoft is also laying the foundation for org chats with the new “Reports To” field on Lead Pages. So once you learn who someone’s manager is, then you can add that information to their page by searching for a name or browsing recommendations.
There is a redesigned admin experience that makes it easier to do tasks from assigning users to managing groups. And the Account Center was rolled out as a LinkedIn platform. If you are an admin for Sales Navigator and other LinkedIn enterprise products like LinkedIn Learning or Recruiter, you can manage the seats from one place.
On mobile devices, advanced search has been implemented. All of the desktop search features are being added to the Sales Navigator mobile app.
The Zoom integration in the new Web Conferencing SNAP partner category allows you to hover over the name of anyone in the list of people on a Zoom call and see their Sales Navigator information such as profile photos and titles.
Microsoft has announced that it has acquired Austin,Texas-based XOXCO, which is a AI chatbot startup. XOXCO is known for creating a bot for Slack called Howdy and Botkit on GitHub. Howdy helps schedule meetings through Slack and Botkit offers tools for developers to build chatbots. The terms of the deal were undisclosed.
“We have shared goals to foster a community of startups and innovators, share best practices and continue to amplify our focus on conversational AI, as well as to develop tools for empowering people to create experiences that do more with speech and language,” said Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Conversational AI Lili Cheng in a blog post. “The Microsoft Bot Framework, available as a service in Azure and on GitHub, supports over 360,000 developers today. With this acquisition, we are continuing to realize our approach of democratizing AI development, conversation and dialog, and integrating conversational experiences where people communicate.”
Microsoft has made a number of several AI acquisitions over the last six months, including Semantic Machines, Bonsai and Lobe. And the company announced it was acquiring GitHub for $7.5 billion in June.
Brad Anderson (CVP of Microsoft 365) and Julia White (CVP of Microsoft Azure) announced that Microsoft has acquired FSLogix to help extend the company’s virtualization capabilities and provide a richer experience for Microsoft 365 customers. FSLogix is an app-provisioning platform that reduces the resources, time and labor required for supporting virtualization. And FSLogix’s solutions enhance customer experience and productivity while reducing the support requirements for IT departments.
“The way Microsoft 365 enables customers to shift to a modern desktop experience puts it at the heart of workplace transformation,” said Microsoft in a blog post. “A modern desktop with Windows 10 and Office 365 not only offers the most productive and most secure computing experience, it also saves IT time and money, and allows for a focus on driving business results. For many companies, their specific needs require a modern desktop be virtualized.”
Microsoft announced the Windows Virtual Desktop in September 2018, which is a Microsoft 365 service that empowers customers to run desktop experiences on Azure. And it is considered the only cloud-based solution that delivers a multi-user Windows 10 experience optimized for Office 365 ProPlus and includes free Windows 7 Extended Security Updates.
GreatHorn’s Mailbox Protection Outlook Plugin
GreatHorn has announced a new plugin for Microsoft Outlook, which was designed to educate users with tools and insights to protect them from phishing attacks and unwanted emails. This tool is called GreatHorn Mailbox Protection.
Through GreatHorn Mailbox Protection, previously hidden relationship and risk data will be accessible to Outlook users without having to switch to another system, which empowers end users to take action from the front lines and reduce organizations’ susceptibility to advanced email attacks.
The new Outlook plugin also allows users to quickly and visually understand the strength of their relationship with the sender, the date of their last outbound communication with the sender, the likelihood that the sender is sending from his or her domain and the relative risk of any embedded links within the email.
“The security industry continues to treat users as the ‘weakest link’ in their security practices, rather than as intelligent, informed, and vital parts of a true security posture,” said GreatHorn CEO and co-founder Kevin O’Brien in a statement. “Until today, email users have not been provided with meaningful context or the security tools they need to make better risk decisions at the moment that they open and interact with their messages. With GreatHorn Mailbox Protection, however, relationship and risk data will be immediately and easily accessible to the user without needing technical training or having to navigate to another system. GreatHorn Mailbox Protection empowers end users to take action from the front lines, further reducing their organizations’ susceptibility to today’s advanced email attacks.”
You can sign up for the GreatHorn Mailbox Protection beta from greathorn.com/mailbox-protection. It will also be rolled out soon through the Microsoft Office Store and the Google Chrome Web Store.