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Microsoft Sets Up Third Indian Engineering Hub in Noida

The logo of Microsoft Inc is seen atop one of its major global offices. (Photo: Reuters)

The logo of Microsoft Inc is seen atop one of its major global offices. (Photo: Reuters)

The facility will serve as an engineering and innovation hub for Microsoft, and opens its doors ahead of CEO Satya Nadella’s planned visit to India.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: February 17, 2020, 3:02 PM IST

Tech giant Microsoft on Monday said it has set up a new development centre in Noida, its third such facility in India, that will serve as an engineering and innovation hub for the company. The announcement comes ahead of the visit of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella slated for later this month. “The centre will build on Microsoft’s commitment to tap India’s world-class engineering talent to create solutions for global impact,” Microsoft said in a statement.

The India Development Centre (IDC) represents Microsoft’s strategy of globally shared development to build products and services for driving digital innovation, it added. “The IDC-NCR will play a critical role in Microsoft India’s expansion and growth story. The facility will open opportunities for thousands of engineers, with plans to expand to a full-fledged development centre, similar to IDC facilities in Bengaluru and Hyderabad,” the statement said. The company, however, did not disclose the investment being made for setting up the centre.

The IDC-NCR will be home to the company’s engineering teams across various technology groups, including Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Research Group, Cloud and Enterprise Group, and Experience & Devices Group, along with Core Services Engineering and Operations, the statement said. The IDC-NCR will also house Mixer, Microsoft’s live streaming gaming platform team, becoming the first centre to host the gaming team outside the company headquarters in Redmond, United States.

“We have built a strong engineering presence in India over the past two decades and we are excited to be expanding to Noida,” Kurt DelBene, executive vice-president (corporate strategy, core services engineering and operations) and chairman of the IDC advisory board, said. Rajiv Kumar, managing director at Microsoft India Research and Development, said the centre creates opportunities for engineers to do meaningful work that will have impact across the world.

“We are excited to tap into the engineering talent available in this part of the country to create a truly pioneering organisation that will build innovative solutions for global impact,” he added. Microsoft India Development Centre is one of Microsoft’s largest research and development centres outside the Redmond headquarters. Set up in Hyderabad in 1998, IDC drives Microsoft’s strategy of globally shared development to build products and services.

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Xbox Games on iPhones: Microsoft Project xCloud Game Streaming Beta Comes to iOS

Representative image of Microsoft's Project xCloud beta on iOS devices. (Image: Lawrence Hryb)

Representative image of Microsoft’s Project xCloud beta on iOS devices. (Image: Lawrence Hryb)

The Project xCloud beta service was so far only available on Android phones, and is now on iOS as beta.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: February 13, 2020, 2:31 PM IST

Microsoft has adopted a clever, steady strategy with its game streaming platform, Project xCloud. Now, the steady progress has brought xCloud to Apple devices, with the service hitting Apple’s TestFlight platform. Being a beta on iOS, Project xCloud will only have up to 10,000 people testing it out right now, and Microsoft has stated that only one game, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, will be available to play on the service, at least for now. This marks steady progress for Microsoft, which has taken Project xCloud from Android devices to iOS, looking to test it out on different platforms to steadily improve the service.

Microsoft’s director of programming for Xbox Live, who operates under his Xbox gamer tag Major Nelson, has updated in his official blog that Microsoft has already hit the initial target number of users that it required for its TestFlight programme. The preview was announced yesterday, and was made available only to users in USA, UK and Canada. However, Microsoft might look to expand its beta testing programme at a later point, and bring it to more countries, so we suggest that it is worth keeping an eye out for the next Project xCloud update.

While all eyes are on Microsoft for its next gaming console, the Xbox Series X, Project xCloud has been making steady progress ever since being introduced. Microsoft has stuck to basics with the service, attempting to iron out issues such as stability and consistency, in a bid to make the service universally playable. With the game streaming industry still at its very nascent, it remains to be seen how Sony, Microsoft’s big rival in the gaming space, reacts to the new sector. Fellow big tech rival Google has already joined the fray with Stadia, but its game streaming service has met with mixed reactions at best, so far.

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Microsoft Will Not Force Bing Search for Office 365 ProPlus Users, For Now

Days after Microsoft announced that Bing would be its default search engine for the Google Chrome web browser on PCs of subscribers of the Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus software, the company has retracted on its proposed plan. In a statement, Microsoft said, “We’ve heard concerns about the way we were planning to roll this value out. Most importantly, we heard that customers don’t want Office 365 ProPlus to change search defaults without an opt-in, and they need a way to govern these changes on unmanaged devices”.

Elaborating on the changes introduced to the initial plan, the company said, “Microsoft search in Bing browser will not be automatically deployed with Office 365 ProPlus”, bringing much needed relief for users who are used to using Google as the primary search engine, and do not want to implement Microsoft Search as an organisation-wide default. To do so, enterprise managers can use the Office Deployment Tool to manage the default search platform within Office 365 ProPlus, and choose according to preference.

Even with Microsoft Search enabled, the company states that users can choose to revert back to having Google search on their Chrome browser as default by going through the attached settings. However, Microsoft has also added that the Microsoft Search for Bing rollout has been postponed for now, and the original rollout plan will be decided upon at a later point in time.

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Windows 7 Bug Prevents Users From Shutting Down Their Device

A bug that has hit Windows 7 devices has been preventing users to shut down their computers. As of now, the origin and the cause of the bug are not known. Windows 7 users for the last few days, are getting a popup message at the time of shutting down or rebooting their system that reads, “You do not have permission to shut down this computer”. Multiple people using Windows 7 on their systems raised this issue on Reddit.

Users also took to micro-blogging site Twitter to raise the same concern. A user said, “@BillGates Sir windows 7 shows shutdown issue. it shows ” you don’t have permission to shut down this pc” any solution or patches?? Many users are suffering the same problem”

Other people using Windows 7 have also posted tweets on similar lines:

Recently, Windows 7 users faced an issue pertaining to the wallpaper display. Microsoft made an exception and rolled out an update for its users. Officially, Microsoft had ended support for Windows 7 on January 14 this year. However, as of now, the company has not given an official statement regarding this issue nor is there any news regarding an update to fix this.

 

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Coronavirus is Hitting Tech Companies Hard And Could Soon Hurt Your Wallet Too

Street view of Wuhan, Hubei province, China. (Reuters)

Street view of Wuhan, Hubei province, China. (Reuters)

China accounts for 16% of global production output. Coronavirus has forced companies to shut stores and offices with factories and supply chains disrupted.

  • News18
  • Last Updated: February 10, 2020, 1:21 PM IST

By the time the deadly Coronavirus outbreak was finally declared as a global health emergency at the end of last month, the impact on the various sectors of the Chinese economy was already being felt. Tech remains hit badly, with production stalled, supply chains have come to a grinding halt and companies shutting offices in the country to keep employees safe. As time has passed, the impact of what is happening in China because of the Coronavirus is being felt globally too.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that a US$675 million global response plan is needed to fight Coronavirus, even as the global infections have surged past 30,000. The global death toll has also crossed 800 while Chinese authorities have confirmed 3062 new cases and 97 more deaths, which takes the toll to 908 deaths and 40,171 cases in the country. China’s economy accounts for more than 16% of the global production output, and that includes everything from iPhones to copper.

With that as the backdrop, tech companies have over the past few weeks taken the decision to shut down offices and stores in China. Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Tesla, to name a few, took the decision to not reopen offices post the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays last month, or extended the break with the policy to work-from-home. The same is also true for Chinese companies, including Xiaomi, Huawei, Vivo and Oppo. Most companies have also restricted employees from traveling to China. Starbucks has closed 2000 outlets in China, while KFC has also shuttered thousands of outlets in the country after one of their employees was diagnosed with the Coronavirus. Yum China, which operates Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC outlets in more than 1,300 cities in China, has introduced what it calls “contactless food deliveries” to protect their employees. According to reports, videos on the Chinese social media site, Weibo show delivery drivers having their temperature recorded before wearing Hazmat suits and face masks and disinfecting all food packaging while leaving the restaurant.

Factories are also non-operational in China, which is grinding the supply chain to a halt. Electronics manufacturing is disrupted significantly. At the same time, materials and components that may be required by factories located outside China, are also not being shipped. The ripple effect, unprecedented in terms of something we have never seen before. Product shipments will be hit at least in the next couple of quarters. This will also hurt the next set of product launches, because the prototyping, build stages and advance production is not happening as we speak. Perhaps, TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s forecast should put things in perspective. “Our latest survey indicates that the iPhone supply is being affected by the coronavirus and, therefore, we cut the iPhone shipment forecasts by 10%,” he said. Foxcon and Pegatron, two of the biggest employeers in China, make almost all of the iPhones, but that’s just one thing they do. The Nikkei Asian Review reported that the Chinese authorities have not allowed Foxcon to reopen its Shenzhen plant over Coronavirus prevention concerns. Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant has also not reopened. Apart from being the largest production base for Apple iPhones, the Foxcon factories also churn out electronics and gadgets for the likes of Google, Amazon, Dell, HP and Huawei, to name a few.

“The local governments do not want to risk the potential virus spreading in such a labor-intensive working environment. No one wants to bear the responsibility of restarting work at this critical moment,” the Nikke Asian Review reported.

Consumer prices in China have already recorded their biggest jump since 2011 as prices rose 5.4% in January as the effects of the Coronavirus disaster became clear, according to numbers by the National Bureau of Statistics, reported by the Financial Times.

Earlier this month, Asus had warned customers that there will be delays in the availability of their popular gaming phone, the ROG Phone II. They also cited the “disruption in supply chain” for the temporary shortage.

Chip maker Qualcomm has already said that the Coronavirus outbreak will cause significant uncertainty regarding supplies needed to produce smartphone processors. This will have a significant impact on the company’s ability to produce these critical components which phone makers will then use in the phones they make.

It is not just global brands who are facing delays and uncertainty. Chinese companies such as Xiaomi, Oppo, Huawei and Lenovo are facing operational delays because of the Coronavirus. “Companies which rely on components from Hubei will be the most impacted, such as Lenovo. For companies like Huawei, whose operations are in Guangdong, the situation is less severe, although no company right now will be able to resume factory operations at 100 percent capacity,” Nicole Peng, mobile analyst at Canalys, told the South China Morning Post. Oppo is relying heavily on production facilities in India and Indonesia to soften the blow.

Xiaomi is already looking at a situation where several of their products are already out of stock. “The planned release of new products has been disrupted and we are making adjustments,” said Lu Weibing, vice-president of Xiaomi in a Weibo post last month. “The smartphone industry will face difficulties this year,” Lu Weibing added.

In the short term globally, there will a gradual reduced availability of a lot of tech products that emerge out of Chinese factories, or rely heavily on components from the region. This will lead to lesser availability of products in the near future, but a lot of that will depend on how long the factories remain shut in China. Eventually, prices of tech products will also see an upward correction, which will directly hit the consumers’ wallets and budget.

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Tech

Here’s How You Can Activate Microsoft Edge's New Crapware Blocker

It will also protect against malware, crypto-mining tools and other types of undesirable software.

Here’s How You Can Activate Microsoft Edge's New Crapware Blocker
Microsoft Edge Chromium

More often than not users of varied browsers see some new, unsought for apps get downloaded in the phones and computers. Microsoft recently introduced a new feature to its Edge browser that will be a welcome change. It will now block “potentially unwanted apps” or “potentially unwanted programs” (PUPs) from getting downloaded.

Currently, the new feature is available in the beta version of Microsoft Edge, and is not enabled by default. According to Beta News, the security feature will also be available in the stable version of Chromium-based Edge by this month. The PUPs include obnoxious features such as adware, browser toolbars, trackers, cryptocurrency miners and other unwanted material. These acquire permission for being downloaded when users click on license agreements. Once enabled, the new feature will block crapware downloads. It will also protect against malware, crypto-mining tools and other types of undesirable software.

Here is how to enable the feature:

-Click ‘settings’ from the Menu

-Select ‘Privacy and services’ option

-Scroll down to find ‘Block potentially unwanted apps’ option in the services list

-If this option is not visible, chances are that users have not upgraded to Microsoft Edge 80 yet. In order to check which version of Microsoft Edge is in your system, go to the menu, click on ‘Help & feedback’ and select ‘About Microsoft Edge’.


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Tech

Latest Windows 10 Update Improves Accuracy of Windows Hello Face Authentication

The new update will also deal with an issue causing a grey box to appear when you search within Control Panel and File Explorer.

Latest Windows 10 Update Improves Accuracy of Windows Hello Face Authentication
Image for Representation

Microsoft has released a new update with version number KB4532695, which applies to Windows 10, version 1903, Windows Server version 1903, Windows 10, version 1909, Windows Server version 1909. According to Microsoft, Windows 10, versions 1903 and 1909 have a common core operating system and an identical set of system files. The new update will improve the accuracy of Windows Hello face authentication and will also help fix several bugs.

The new update will also deal with an issue causing a grey box to appear when you search within the Control Panel and File Explorer. Besides, it will help solve the problem of incorrect indicators for offline and online files. It will prevent File Explorer’s search bar from receiving user input and it will also handle the issue that sometimes caused an error when a user unplugged a USB Type-C hub or flash drive.

Microsoft has recommended installing the latest servicing stack update (SSU) for the operating system before putting in the latest cumulative update (LCU). SSU upgrades the reliability of the update process to mitigate potential issues while installing the LCU. Users can update the new feature through Windows Update. To do so, users have need to go to the Settings option and then navigate to the Update and Security option. Under Update and Security, head to Windows Update. Users will get the link to download and install the update in the Optional Updates section.


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Microsoft Issues 'Final Patch' to Fix a Bug in Windows 7's Last Update

Microsoft had already ended support for the ageing operating system, but had to issue an out of time system patch for the software.

Microsoft Issues 'Final Patch' to Fix a Bug in Windows 7's Last Update
Microsoft had already ended support for the ageing operating system, but had to issue an out of time system patch for the software.

Microsoft had officially ended support for Windows 7 on January 14, but has now also issued a new update for the same. This was apparently done after a bug was reported in its ‘final patch’. As per a report by BBC, the earlier final update had led to wallpaper issues for those who configured their computers with the stretch option for the desktop background. This had apparently led to a plain black screen, which was shown each time when the Windows 7 PCs were restarted.

Cyber security expert Graham Cluley took to micro blogging site Twitter to inform about the fix. In a tweet directed to the concerned users, he said, “That didn’t take long. Microsoft backs down on ‘no more updates for Windows 7’ in order to fix stretched wallpaper bug.”

The company had stated in the past that it would issue any new fixes only to those who have subscriptions to Microsoft’s paid only extended security updates programme. This makes it a limited group as only a select group of enterprise users are part of the Microsoft extended updates programme. However, Windows 7 still remains a popular choice. According to data by StatCounter, one in four Windows users are still running Windows 7.

Keeping in line with patches for bugs introduced during updates, a recent Windows 10 patch, with key number KB4532695, has fixed an issue that came up with the Windows 10 November 2019 update. In the November update, Microsoft had introduced a new quick-search bar to the File Explorer that was basically meant to help users find files on their computer. However, the bug prevented it from working flawlessly. It is only recently that the issue sought the brand’s attention, and has been fixed in the latest patch. For concerned users, the latest Windows 10 patch can be downloaded by going to settings, clicking on Update and Security, selecting Windows Update, and clicking ‘download’.


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Amazon Web Services Asks Judge to Stay Microsoft's Pentagon Project

 

Amazon filed a motion to temporarily block Microsoft from starting work on Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract from Feb 11.

 

 

Amazon Web Services Asks Judge to Stay Microsoft's Pentagon Project
Image for Representation

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the retail giant’s Cloud arm, has asked a US judge to force a stay of work on Microsoft’s $10 billion Cloud contract until the court can rule on Amazon’s protest over the Pentagon awarding JEDI to Microsoft. Amazon had sought ‘preliminary injunction’ from the court to temporarily block Microsoft from starting work on the billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project. In a statement shared with Fast Company, an AWS spokesperson said that it is common practice to stay contract performance while a protest is pending.

“It’s important that the numerous evaluation errors and blatant political interference that impacted the JEDI award decision be reviewed. AWS is absolutely committed to supporting the DoD’s modernisation efforts and to an expeditious legal process that resolves this matter as quickly as possible,’ the spokesperson added.

Amazon filed a motion asking a federal judge to block Microsoft from working on any substantive tasks for the JEDI project while the court considers the matter. The motion makes good on Amazon’s previous pledge to try to pause work on the contract while the legal challenge is underway. Amazon last year filed a suit with the US Court of Federal Claims contesting the decision.

“AWS is absolutely committed to supporting the Department of Defense (DoD’s) modernisation efforts and to an expeditious legal process that resolves this matter as quickly as possible,” the AWS spokesperson said.

Microsoft is set to start its work on JEDI Cloud contract from February 11. The US government in October awarded the much-anticipated $10 billion Cloud contract for Pentagon to Microsoft.

In its complaint against the government decision, Amazon alleged Trump abused his position to put “improper pressure” on decision-makers for personal gains and show his hatred towards Bezos who owns The Washington Post.