Microsoft announces “Cloud for Healthcare” at #MSBuild2020

As Microsofts’ annual dev conference Build opened today (May 19 2020), Microsoft announced the launch of the Microsoft Cloud For Healthcare, — a new Microsoft Industry Cloud solution.

Microsoft said that the solution aims to integrate Microsoft Cloud with an “industry-specific data model” “cross-cloud connectors,” and APIs to better help serve the global healthcare industry.

Global capabilities uniting the healthcare industry

The Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare wi bring together capabilities from across many Microsoft Cloud Services 365. This includes Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and if course Azure. This will be powered by a common data model which will allow the sharing of data across various applications to provide better analytics. Microsoft say that this will allow health providers globally to provide better services for patients, clinicians and doctors by helping make it easier to deploy resources to the needs of all hospital and care units.

For example, Cloud for Healthcare, will focus on what Microsoft has identified as important needs for the field, like engaging patients, facilitating health team collaboration and improving operational efficiency, all with strict security measures.

Sample Health App powered services


Of course, an important component of healthcare is aftercare, where medical professionals need to keep in touch with their patients to follow up on their recovery and any post opp treatment, tools available to do so are generally limited to follow-up phone calls and emails, which are not only tedious but can sometimes not meet security standards or provide the best care.

Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot Service will be available as part of this service, which Microsoft say is behind more than 1,500 instances of COVID-19-based bots that have gone live globally since March 2020. These bots can help alleviate the strain on emergency hotlines for public and provide health providers while addressing common questions that patients might have.

Availability

Microsoft has said that a public preview will be coming in coming days and will be free for 6 months for evaluation, with general availability bringing late this calendar year.

Microsoft has also said that although the healthcare industry will be “first served” with the solution, they also promised that more industry-specific clouds solutions will follow.

Thoughts..

What do you think.. Is industry specific Cloud solutions a good next step for Microsoft?

Surface EarBuds … Wow!

Last week Microsoft opened (after initially announcing back in November 2019) the availability of their new Surface EarBuds.

My Earbuds arrived today and I’m already really impressed (ok I love the Surface brand) – and I hope this blog will gives you a good summary and justifies why I’d recommend you go and grab a pair

Spoiler…. They work with any device, feature gesture controls not buttons, have fantastic battery life and work with any digital assistant…

Price

I managed to pick there up direct from the Microsoft Store for £179 including delivery (Microsoft are currently offering a discount of 10% for teachers, parents, NHS and armed forces)!

Look and Feel

Microsoft’s new Surface Earbuds look quite big on first look (compared to say Apple’s) but I love the them.. They look very pretty “Surface”.

The charging case is sleek and protects them when not in use as well as keeping the charge topped up.

In Ear Feel

So they do look a little big when you first get them out the box and pop them in (I’m used to wearing Platronics 8200 headset so the buds are bigger than what I am used too). After 4 hours though, I had forgotten I was wearing them at all. – They fit really well but Microsoft also supply removable tips in three sizes: small, medium and large. The medium ones were fine for me.

Connectivity

Pairing is simple and can be done like pairing any other Bluetooth device but you can also use the new Surface Audio app which is available across all the 3 app stores.

Pairing is initiated using the pairing button on the bottom of the case and really is oneclick. If you are using the latest Windows10 built the Bluetooth quick pair works seemlessly.

As soon as mine were connected the Surface Audio app popped up and told me there was a firmware update to install which took about 5 mins.

Surface earpods firmware update

Sound Quality

OK, so 4 hours in… Good. Really good.

With some random #spotify lockdown songs playing, sound was good. Immersive, good mix of bass, mids and treble (if fact bass was suprisingly good and clear for EarBuds).

Being on COVID-19 lockdown, I don’t get much background noise at the moment. It’s worth pointing out that Surface earbuds do not have active noise cancellation, but I found that because the Surface Earbuds fit snug into my ear I don’t imagine this will be too much of a problem.

The EarBuds have dual microphones per bud and seem to be really good at only picking up the sound you want them too (me). On a Teams call earlier today, my attendees said said they could hear me clearly.

Controls and gestures:

One of the coolest features of the Surface Earbuds is its extensive app integration (not just Cortana). With a triple tap, you can open Spotify and then you can tap or swipe to increase the volume, skip tracks or summon your preferred digital assistant with a 5 second press. These controls also work with other apps… Netflix, Disney Plus..etc

The smooth, flat surface of the Surface Earbuds has perfect senstivity, so even a light tap works. Once I had practices a few times my success rate of using gestures to perform tasks was almost 100%.

Personally, I love that Microsoft opted for gestures rather than buttons, which I think would have ruined the feel and pleasure in using these buds… No one likes pressing a large plastic gadget into ones ears!

Microsoft 365 Integration

Being Surface, these are supported by Microsoft 365 apps and can be used transcribe text in Word use live translation in PowerPoint as your present. You can also use these to read your emails in in Outlook on iOS and soon Android too.

Battery life

According to Microsoft, Surface Earbuds will last 8 hours on a charge, which is among the longest battery life of any wireless earbuds currently available.

The charging case also holds another 24 hours worth of charge, or three full charges.

Mine have been playing to themselves for 5 hrs so far and have just over 30% battery left.

Summary

1 day in but love them. Some may criticise the larger pod design when compared to apple for example but it works really well and is needed for guesture control which is really nice and unique. These really feel premium and what I what expect from a device carry the Surface brand.

  • Intuitive gesture controls
  • Great feel in your ears
  • Crisp, sharp and loud sound
  • Excellent battery life.
  • Microsoft 365 integration.

Keen to know your experience..

Thanks for reading.

Rob

Microsoft’s Spring 2020 Surface Updates

Yesterday (May 6th 2020), Microsoft have announced their annual “spring updates” to the Microsoft Surface for Business line-up with new and updated devices and accessories to help your employees, teachers and front line worker, work, connect and learn anywhere, including:

  • Surface Book 3
  • Surface Go 2, and
  • Surface Dock 2.

Now more than ever with COVID-19, the way your teams work, connect, collaborate, and learn continues to change. As more people turn to their devices to get things done, it has never been more important to empower them with the best technology to help them succeed and retain their key talent – their staff.

The new Surface devices and accessories are available for pre order today

Surface Go 2 Image

Surface Go 2
Lightweight portability for the task at hand. Surface Go 2 has a bigger, 10.5” touchscreen display in the same compact size, up to 10 hours of battery life, and is
64% faster than Surface Go with the Intel® Core™ m3 Processor. Available with optional LTE/4G Advanced, the Surface Go 2 is a super lightweight 2-in1 with the full power of Windows 10.

Surafce Book 3

Surface Book 3
This is Microsoft’s most powerful Surface laptop which is up to 50% faster than Surface Book 2, pairing speed, graphics, up to 17.5 hours of battery life with the versatility of a high-performance robust laptop, powerful tablet, and portable design studio. For the first time, Surface Book 3 15” offers an option of NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 which has more graphics performance than the top of the line MacBook Pro 16”.

Getting the kind of power and performance needed to do complex modeling and graphics intensive work, with an Intel 10th generation CPU with up to 32GB RAM and 2TB professional-grade SSD.

 

SurfaceDock2

Surface Dock 2

Finally updated, the new Surface Dock 2 instantly transforms Surface into a desktop PC with all the next-gen ports you need, including USB-C®. Simply plug in the familiar Surface Connect cable to charge your device and access external monitors, a keyboard, mouse, and more. Surface Dock 2 was built to maximize efficiency at the office, in a flexible workspace, or at home.

Surface Dock 2 offers Enterprise grade features including frictionless firmware updates, Wake on LAN, network boot and centralised IT control over who can connect to docks and how.

Surface Headphones 2

Surface Headphones 2: The Smarter way to listen

New and in different colours, Surface headphones 2, allow you to listen and talk in comfort and style all day. Music and phone calls sound spectacular with enhanced Omnisonic sound now offering aptX™ codec support. . You can effortlessly rotate the on-ear dials to adjust the volume or noise cancellation and has 4 microphones per ear cup for exceptional voice clarity and also 20 hr battery.  Use touch to control your music, calls, and more. Now you can rotate the ear cups to 180 degrees for greater comfort when wearing around your neck. Now available in Matte Black.

 

Microsoft’s made Azure Single Sign-On and MFA free*.

Microsoft have announced that any customer using a subscription of a their commercial online services (Azure, Dynamics, Office 365 etc.) can connect all their cloud applications to Azure AD for single sign-on (SSO), and protect this access with multi-factor authentication (MFA) as a huge additional security benefit at no extra cost –  other than internal (or partner) resource to configure and test it. Using MFA alone is proven to reduce the attack surface and prevent over 99% of breaches caused by credential theft. 

Using SSO reduces the number of sign-in prompts for employees, reduces the number of different user ID and password combinations needed also enables one-click access to the most used line of business applications  – and it should make working remotely even easier and more secure – since user access control can be made central – and under the protection and safeguard of Azure AD.

Microsoft has also added several other Azure AD enhancements which will help simplify identity and access management and improve the experiences for all those working remotely – these include the following:

  • Streamlined identity management
  • Improve application configuration and security for Azure AD SSO
  • Seamless and secure collaboration
  • Safeguard identities with industry-leading security
  • App gallery integration

Microsoft to bring all tasks across Office365 into new “Tasks in Teams”

Tasks in Teams

Tasks in Teams – this will be the new name for the Planner app currently in Teams today, which will consolidate tasks across To Do, Teams Channels, Planner as well as Outlook Tasks. The goal is to bring all your tasks to ‘Tasks in Teams’ no matter where you create them.

Tasks In Teams

The new Teams Tasks app (which will replace the current planner app) will allow users to see their individual tasks as well as team tasks in a single app. This latest update will begin to rollout in May /  June this year.

Why the change?

According to the Microsoft 365 Roadmap, the “Tasks in Teams,” feature describes the coming Tasks app as ‘providing users with a consolidation of tasks across Microsoft To Do, Teams channels, Planner and Outlook Tasks.’

New Teams Tasks View

The Microsoft 365, Teams Public Roadmap ID 57213, describes the reason for the change is that “with the new Tasks experience in Teams, we are delivering several capabilities that will support new levels of team collaboration. Tasks targeting, publishing and reporting in Teams allows corporate and regional leadership to send task lists targeted to the relevant locations, such as specific retail stores, and track their progress through automatic real-time reports. Managers have tools to easily direct activities within their stores, and Firstline Workers have a simple prioritized list available via their personal or company-issued mobile device showing them exactly what to do next.”

Good idea?

What do you think. Is this a good move, confusing or a logical coming together of all your tasks in one place.?

Check out the Microsoft Tasks In Teams YouTube video

There’s now 4.1 Billion Meeting minutes a day in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft said yesterday that they have now passed 75 million daily active paid users in Microsoft Teams. The news came as part of their Q3 2020 results announced yesterday (29 April).

Incredible usage numbers

Microsoft have seen over 200 million meeting participants a day in April, generating more than 4.1 billion meeting minutes. Just last month they hit a previous record of 2.7 billion in just one day… This has nearly doubled in a month…up over 70% since last months huge surge.

What’s more.. Of the 75 million (which of course are all business use today), Microsoft said that over two thirds of these are using the richer collaborate features of Teams, sharing content, doing live authoring, collaborating and interacted with files and other apps within Teams.

The difference between apps like Teams and Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, Webex and other video conferencing only services that Microsoft Teams is not just a video calling platform (while of course it does that extremely well as the stats above show). Teams is Microsoft’s “Hub for Teamwork” and is the central focus for Microsoft 365.

In the earning announcement yesterday, Microsoft said “Teams is about actually getting work done where meetings and video is one part. So that’s, for example, something that utility of it will only increase for our customers as some people come back to work.

Speaking about healthcare specifically, there have seen “more than 34 million Teams meetings in April alone and as education establishment becomes online classrooms, more than 183,000 educational institutions now rely on Teams, and there are now over 20 organisations with more than 100,000 employees are also now using Teams.”

Now Focus on Security, Adoption and Change Management

I have seen many many many of our customers and other organisations rolling out Teams and incredible pace over the past 6 weeks to ensure people can stay connected. With this now the new norm,(for now anyway) the shift is now around focussing on the foundations to ensure Teams and more agile working becomes a new way of working. Security & Complaince and of course User Adoption.

User Adoption and Change Management is key as true collaborative working (not just scheduling video calls) requires time, a change in mind set and skills, practice and reinforcement to change a employees mindset into a truly collaborative workforce (Co editing and authoring for example rather than still sending files around in email).

Ensuring Security and Compliance across Office365 and Microsoft Teams is of course important. With more users accessing corporate data across mobile, their home decides and of course away from home, checking, enabling data and lifecycle management and data within Teams is important. Like Office365, Teams is Secure by design, and uses the following standards:  ISO 27001ISO 27018SSAE16 SOC 1 and SOC 2HIPAA , and  EU Model Clauses (EUMC) . Within the Microsoft compliance framework, Microsoft classifies Office 365 applications and services into four categories described more here.

What happens after Covid19?

Of course, once this Covid-19 pandemic is over (or some form on normality returns) it will be interesting to see how the use of these platforms continues of whether this huge advance in digital transformation and collaboration will tail off and people revert back to previous ways of working.. Habits die hard after all.

Windows 10 May 2020 Update – My top 5 new features

The next update to Windows 10 (called cleverly “May 2020 Update” will be out next month (May 2020) as is available in the Release Preview #WindowsInsider Ring if you want to try it safely before it officially lands.

As this is the release preview (or release candidate as it used to be known), this should be  the final version of the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, which means, so long as no major bugs are detected or reported, the update should be available early next month for all Windows 10 users.

Unlike Windows XP, 7 and 8, Windows 10 is delivered as a service which means that as well as releasing security updates and patches as required, Microsoft provides major updates to Windows 10 twice a year – once in the spring and again in the autumn. These bi-annual updates are usually big feature updates and this latest version update will be the Windows 10 May 2020 Update.

To make it easy for users and enterprise admins to check the global status of known application compatibility and bug reports, Microsoft has a Windows release health dashboard that offers a status on the rollout and any known issues for the May 2020 Update. This is Microsoft’s way of being more cautious and transparent about updates following the October 2018 Update that caused file deletion issues.

Windows 10 health info

What’s new in the May 2020 Update?

As you’d expect, Microsoft provides detailed information about all the changes and new features in each release/update to Windows 10 which you can see here.  There are loads – some major and some minor and some simple performance and other behind the scenes updates. I’ve provided a summary of my top 5 below. 

1. You can now label your Virtual Desktops

In case you didn’t know, Windows 10 allows you have separate desktop instances to help keep your personal and work life separate or to simply organise your desktop for different projects for example.

To get to and add additional Windows 10’s virtual desktops, you simply head over to the Task View interface (by pressing Windows+Tab on your keyboard). Whereas these were previous just labelled “Desktop 1″, “Desktop 2,” etc.  you can now rename them.

Virtual Desktop Dialogues

To do this, just click the name of each virtual desktop at the top of the Task View interface and then type a name. What is nice is that these names can even use emoji (press Windows+. to get emoji picker).

2. New Disk type and GPU temperature in Task Manager

Task Manager now displays your disk type, whether it’s SSD or HDD, which makes it much easier to see the type of hardware in your device. These details are displayed on the Performance tab which you can get to by opening Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) and then clicking “More Details”.

The Task Manager’s performance tab also now displays your GPU temperature. To get to this, go to your GPU’s status page under the Performance tab. This works with dedicated graphics cards only.

3. Faster (and working) Windows Search

Last years’ Windows 10 May 2019 Update fixed the Start menu search by taking advantage of the old Windows search indexer. Unfortunately, reports from users, admins and #WindowsInsiders of excessive disk and CPU usage and other overall performance issues, meant many simply turned off the search indexer.

Microsoft says this is now fixed, since the search indexer now detects peak usage times so it can better optimise when the indexer runs and can also pause if the device gets busy again while indexer is running. 

4. Re-install from the Cloud

In this build, Microsoft has introduced a new re-install from Cloud option in the recovery section of settings, which can be used when resetting your PC to a new default Windows build.

To do this, go to Settings > Update and Security > Recovery and choose to reset your PC and remove everything, and then you can tell Windows to use “Cloud Download”, instead of reinstalling Windows 10 from the files on your local system or needing to provide a USB with the Windows 10 media on. This is much like the way iOS and Android devices now work.

This method is also expected to come to Enterprise imaging and update tools like System Centre and Intune very soon.

5. Improved Network Status pane

The network status page which can be found at Settings > Network & Internet > Status has been had an overhaul and new lick of paint in this update. This is much easier to navigate and now the main network status at the top of the page.

Windows 10 Network Status Settings
Windows 10 Network Status Settings

This layout doesn’t add anything new but makes provides better and more relevant information without having to click through loads of options – its also easier to access the trouble-shooters. 

I do find it frustrating that tasks like renaming adaptors for example, still opens the legacy Control Panel settings!!  – Microsoft are gradually retiring of these, however.

6. Native Support for Network Cameras

Ok, so I said top 5 – but this one almost made the list so thought I’d talk about it. 

In this release – Windows 10 is adding support for IP-based cameras.  With this, it will now be possible to add network-based cameras by going to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth and other devices > Add Bluetooth or another device.

If there’s a supported camera on your local network, Windows 10 will be able to find it, or you can add it to your system in one simple click.

Once done, you will then be able to use the native, built-in Camera application to access the network camera without needing to use a third-party app.

 

“SMS sign in” for Microsoft Teams* now in public preview.

Another #MicrosoftTeams feature is rolling out (ok so it’s in public preview so pretty much rolled out).

This time is a feature aimed more at front line workers like retail for example who may oy have a mobile phone to access their busienss apps.

Introducing SMS based user sign-in

With SMS based user sign-in, users can simply sign-in with their phone number and receive a code via SMS, which will then log them in (the number needs to be registered against them in Azure Active Directory).

How’s it works?

Worth noting that this is just in preview and is still some key features missing (a key one being this doesn’t yet work with MFA… But it will).

As I mentioned in the introduction SMS-based authentication, lets users sign in without needing to provide, or even know, their username and password. After their account is created by an identity administrator, they can enter their phone number at the sign-in prompt, and provide an authentication code that’s sent to them via text message. This authentication method simplifies access to applications and services, especially for front line workers.

Whilst this will work for any Office 365, it’s primary aim is to help front line workers use and login to Team in mobile device as the illustration below shows

Each user enabled for SMS-sign in must have one of the following Azure AD or Microsoft 365 licenses:
– Azure AD Premium P1 or P2 or
– Microsoft 365 F1 or F3

Current limitations

Microsoft have clearly detailed a number of limitations which will apply during the public preview including.

  • SMS-based authentication isn’t currently compatible with Azure Multi-Factor Authentication.
  • With the exception of Teams, SMS-based authentication isn’t currently compatible with native Office applications.
  • SMS-based authentication isn’t recommended for B2B accounts.
  • Federated users won’t authenticate in the home tenant. They only authenticate in the cloud.

To learn more and for instructions in how to active and configure SMS sign in, see the Microsoft supporting information here.

Other Azure AD Passwordless options.

For additional ways to sign in to Azure AD without a password, such as the Microsoft Authenticator App or FIDO2 security keys, you can review the Passwordless authentication options for Azure AD.

“Pop out” chat support starts rolling out in Microsoft Teams

Multi-Window Chat is a new Microsoft Teams feature which enables users to multitask more efficiently by popping out their chat conversations into separate Windows much like was possible in Skype for Business and Lync before.

Microsoft announced this was rolling out this month (April) as part of a wave of updates announced on their 3rd “birthday”.

Why we need it (and we so do)!

Pop out chat (video and others are coming soon too) has been one of the most requested features in Teams since when enaged in multiple chats, is can be a little cumbersome (especially now with us all working from home) to effectively to monitor and manage chats across multiple teams or groups since you can’t currently have these chats in separate Windows.

This new pop-out feature helps you overcome this challenge, allowing you to “pop out” chats your Teams’ chat in a separate window meaning you can keep important conversations and chats going while you are in a meeting or working elsewhere in Teams without loosing context.

How it works.

As with most things in #MicrosoftTeams there’s a couple of ways users can pop-out their conversations:

  1. The simplest – double click on the display picture (avatar) of the person whose chat you want to pop-out
  2. Click “Pop out chat” from the context menu for a chat that is listed in the chat list
  3. Click the ‘pop out’ button in the top-right corner of the chat header.
  4. For those that prefer the command prompt, use the slash command /pop
Pop out chat in Microsoft Teams

Available now..?

Almost.. At the time of writing, I’ve seen tweets that some of my customers and friends are seeing this already as of today (Friday 24th April) mine hasn’t updated yet…

Keep hitting the “check for updates”!

How to Make your Windows10 desktop beautiful with bing!

Microsoft has launched a new Bing Wallpaper app which has been requested numerous times by many Windows fans and #WindowsInsiders like myself. 

Bing Wallpaper app

Once downloaded and launched (use the link above as there not a Windows Store App oddly), the the app makes it possible to set the Bing image of the day background as your desktop wallpaper on Windows 10 and it will automatically change your desktop background wall paper each day to match the Bing one which let’s face it, are quite beuatiful!

One installed, you can also toggle between the images and switch through many of the different Bing homepage wallpapers from throughout the week by simply right-clicking in the taskbar and pressing the left and right arrow keys.

That’s it… Let me know what you think. I’ve always been a big fan on bing wallpapers!