Microsoft has started rolling out a new 3×3 video view for Skype video calls.
This updated feature now allows “desktop” users to see see the video feed of up to nine participants on their screens at any time. This needa Skype desktop version 188.8.131.52
This new feature comes just a few weeks after Microsoft rolled out the 3×3 grid view into Microsoft Teams.
This new feature is available now on Skype for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This feature is enabled by simply clicking the Switch View button and selecting either 3×3 Grid view, Grid view or Speaker view from the menu.
The 3×3 grid mode is a welcome feature addition for anyone working/collaborating from home and staying in touch with friends and family while spending more time at home.
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.
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.
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.
What do you think.. Is industry specific Cloud solutions a good next step for Microsoft?
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…
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.
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.
OK, so 4 hours in… Good. Really good.. but a little more bass would have been nice..
With some random #spotify lockdown songs playing, sound was good. Immersive, good mix of bass, mids and treble (if fact bass was better than I expected), though a little bit more bass would have been nice..
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.
That said… I can’t see anything that you can’t do with any other headsets….
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.
Out and about (test drive)
No strange looks at least.. Certainly different from the apple pods but I really like them. Comfy and don’t feel like they will fall out anytime soon. Sound was good and battery lasted all day..
Couple of days 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. (but not unique to Surface devices)
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 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.
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.
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: 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 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