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Business Technology

Internet Speeds in the US and Europe Are Dropping Due to Coronavirus

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So far, Covid-19 has led to the cancelation of events like E3 2020, degradation in Netlfix quality, and malware. Now, the latest statistics from Speedtest.net’s Ookla suggest broadband speeds are also being degraded in some locations.

According to the data, the United States’ mean download speed fell from around 142 Mpbs to 133 from the beginning of March. A similar dip occurred in Canada, from around 128 to 121, but Mexico’s remained relatively steady. All three saw a slight rise in latency.

Europe’s results were a little more mixed, but on the whole, the trend was downward. The Netherlands speeds were around 70 at the start of the month but, curiously, had ridden sharply to 77 by March 22. Other countries bucked the upward, though, France falling from roughly 46 to 40, and Switzerland from 65 to 50. Spain’s and Italy’s speeds also fell, while the UK and Germany remained relatively steady.

Source: Ookla

As you’d expect, Asia shows a slightly different story. In China, speeds dropped sharply in January, at the beginning of the outbreak, before returning to normal in February. In March, they’ve again seen a slight dip. India, meanwhile, has seen a dip from around 40 to 38 in the past week, with a similar drop in Malaysia from 80 to 77. Hubei, the Chinese province hit hardest by the virus, saw more dramatic drops than the country as a whole. Japan has remained largely regular.

Testing Increase

However, it’s worth noting that broadband speed isn’t only determined by usage. The hit to end-users can depend on a lot of factors, including the country’s infrastructure, its quarantine measures, which may restrict repair work, and more. Ookla does not have access to the number of people utilizing the internet at any one time, but it can see how many people are performing speed tests.

From the beginning of February to March, the global percentage change in broadband test volume rose by 45%, and mobile by 50% since the start of March. In India, test volume rose as much as 80% since the beginning of the month, and all European countries have seen significant increases of some sort.

An increase in test volume could also be for several reasons. There are likely more users home to run tests, but it could also be a result of issues with other services. Netflix, for example, recently announced that it was reducing its streaming quality in Europe to cope with increased volume. Seeing the worse quality, it’s likely a user would check their connection. The same can also be said for services like Microsoft Teams, while several games and other services have seen complete outages. Ultimately, the reduction in speeds isn’t that surprising given the circumstances, but it’s still intriguing to see the specific numbers.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Facebook Announces $100 Million Grant Program for Small Business During COVID-19 Outbreak

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Facebook has become the latest tech giant to introduce measures to help people weather storm caused by the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. The social media company revealed today it has set up a $100 million grant fund for small businesses around the world.

In a blog post, Facebook said $100 million has been set aside in ad credits and cash grants. Funding will be split between up to 30,000 small businesses in over 30 countries. The company says the program will help small businesses deal with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Facebook confirmed most the funds will be in real cash grants, the company said it will reveal more specific details soon. For example, it is not yet known which businesses are eligible and how they would apply for help.
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a post Tuesday said COVID-19 is presenting a unique challenge to the economy. She points out small businesses are especially at risk as global governments put their citizens in lockdown.
“We’ve listened to small businesses to understand how we can best help them. We’ve heard loud and clear. Financial support could enable them to keep the lights on and pay people who can’t come to work,” Sandberg said.
Sandberg also said Facebook will make it easier for small businesses to reach its teams for added support and training.

Microsoft’s Response
Microsoft has taken several steps to help workers and customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. The company has confirmed staff who have children can be paid and work from home if schools are suspended.
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced it was making a premium version of Teams available during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Microsoft is offering a free six-month trial to the premium version of Microsoft Teams. Now available globally, the tier will help organizations manage their workforces and remain connected. When signing up for the tier, customers will work with a Microsoft sales team member to help the set-up process.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Microsoft Is Acquiring JavaScript Platform npm for an Undisclosed Amount

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Microsoft’s GitHub is snapping up node packpage manager (npm), with plans for integration between the platforms. In a blog post, GitHub CEO Nat Friedman announced the news, but did not share a purchase price.

“npm is a critical part of the JavaScript world. The work of the npm team over the last 10 years, and the contributions of hundreds of thousands of open source developers and maintainers, have made npm home to over 1.3 million packages with 75 billion downloads a month,” he said. “Together, they’ve helped JavaScript become the largest developer ecosystem in the world. We at GitHub are honored to be part of the next chapter of npm’s story and to help npm continue to scale to meet the needs of the fast-growing JavaScript community.”

Despite the acquisition, Friedman reassured users that it will not be shuttering npm and that it will always remain free. The focus instead is a three pronged approach: improve the core experience, engage with the community, and improve the registry infrastructure and platform.

“We will work to improve the everyday experience of developers and maintainers, and support the great work already started on the npm v7 CLI, which will remain free and open source,” Friedman said. “Some bigger features that we’re excited about are Workspaces and improvements to the publishing and multi-factor authentication experience. “

This announcement could also shed some light on Microsoft’s activity in recent times. In January, it pointed out an npm package that has been stealing the data of UNIX users. GitHub also previously introduced the ability to publish npm packages. It makes sense that it would look closely at a platform it’s planning to acquire, but users will want to know what GitHub is planning to do to improve safety going forward.

From 2019-2020, npm had 595 security advisories, for a total of 1,285. Previously, malicious packages have been used to steal cryptocurrency, developer credentials, and more.

Freidman admits that security will be a focus in the future. This will come partially from the GitHub integration, which will let you trace a change from a GitHub pull request to the resolution. It will also be looking at measures it recently launched on its own platform, such as the GitHub Security Lab and built-in security advisories.

Essentially, this purchase could lead to significant improvements in the open-source community, and Microsoft has a good track record with Typescript. Still, while GitHub remains a separate entity from its parent company, there will always be those who view it as another step away from decentralization.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Minecraft Earth Gets New Mobs, Minis, and Monetization

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Minecraft Earth R13 is now rolling out to players, bringing some significant additions to the augmented reality title. It ushers in new boosts and mobs while bringing some customization in the form of sheep dying.

Boosts are Microsoft’s way of making money from the game. Each one contains a buff like increased attack damage, crafting speed, or max health, and can be purchased from the in-game store or obtained by scanning a $5 ‘Boost Mini’ figure with NFC.

There are a total of 12 boosts, and each has three levels that can increase its power, duration, of both. Assumedly, these will be available through ‘blind boxes’, essentially a physical version of a loot box, like the other Minecraft Minis. Each boost has three levels, so perhaps duplicates can be used to upgrade them. Here’s the full list of boosts:
“Increase Attack Damage
Increase Crafting Speed
Increase Max Health
Increase Mining Speed
Increase Player Defense
Increase Tappable Radius
Increase XP From Adventures
Increase XP From Collecting Mobs
Increased Health Gained from Eating
Keep Items in Backpack On Death
Keep items in Hotbar On Death
Smelting Speed Boost”
The new mobs are the Glow Squid and Skeleton Wolf, and they may also be coming to a store in physical form at some point in the future, as part of blind boxes. Personally, I’m not thrilled at the monetization model, which adopts gambling-like techniques for products aimed at children, but that appears to be a standard in toys these days.
This build also comes with the usual bug fixes, including a fix for an exploit that let players sign into Minecraft Earth from multiple devices. Those experiencing crashes may also get some relief from this build.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Microsoft Begins Automatic Chromium Edge Rollout

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Microsoft released its new Chromium Edge browser experience on January 15 following nearly a year of preview development. However, since the launch the new Edge has been optional for Windows 10 users. Microsoft promised an automatic rollout would arrive and has now started the release schedule.

Windows 10 users on the Windows Insider Release Preview ring are now receiving Chromium Edge automatically. This means they don’t have to manually download the browser as it is now the replacement for the old HTML5-based Edge.

Microsoft says the rollout is gradual but should come to everyone on the Release Preview ring soon. Once that happens, a push to the end-user Windows 10 experience used by the general public should arrive shortly after.
If you’re unfamiliar with the new Edge experience, it is an updated version of Microsoft’s web browser. It is based on Google’s Chromium web rendering language, which is also the underpinning for Chrome.

This means both Chromium Edge and Chrome are developed over the same foundation. Both browsers can share features, something we have seen happen consistently since Microsoft made the switch.

It is worth noting the automatic Chromium Edge release won’t be coming to Enterprise and Education users.

Edge Availability

For users who want the new Edge experience, there is no need to wait for the automatic rollout to reach your PC. Instead, you can download the browser directly from the official website. Furthermore, while the browser is now generally available, Microsoft continues to run a three-tiered preview and development structure.

This means if you want the latest Edge features before they are generally available, you can use the preview version of the browser.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Microsoft Fixes OneDrive, GSODs and VMs in Latest 19569 Insider Build

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Microsoft is hard at work prepping the next versions of Windows via its community of dedicated Insider testers. The standout addition in Windows 19569 is its new icons, which we covered yesterday, but it also makes several important fixes and improvements.

These additions may not be the most exciting in the world, but they do help stability, especially for those using the builds as their daily driver (which isn’t recommended), or developing.

A particular annoyance of the last build was the amount of CPU resources OneDrive has been using. This occurred after a Windows upgrade error and can have particular slowdowns in a VM, where the machine often has limited resources already. Thankfully, Microsoft has now fixed this bug.
Speaking of VMs, those running into issues with third-party ones on the previous build should be happy. The source of the problem was an update failure after SCSI driver’s malfunctioned. Unfortunately, though that issue has been fixed, Microsoft still has some work to do fixing additional driver incompatibility errors.
Other fixes include a start menu issue that affected its reliability, as well as GSoDs, which were displaying with the ‘Systemthread exception not handled’ error. Though it’s not fixed yet, Microsoft is also investigating issues that are preventing Insiders from updating to newer builds.
If you missed the news about the icon yesterday, many of Microsoft’s apps on 19569 now have the new versions. They adhere to new Fluent design standards, looking slightly out of place on regular Windows 10 but great on Windows 10X. You can grab the build via the usual channels, which are Windows Update and the official ISO.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Outlook for iOS Gets Support for iPad’s Split View Multitasking

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Several months after the release of SplitView for iPad, Microsoft has updated Outlook for iOS with full support. For the unfamiliar, the feature lets users section their screen, much like in Windows. Dragging one app beside the other lets you view both at the same time, aiding productivity, with the option to scale their screen real-estate to meet your needs.

However, full support for Split View actually goes further than that. With Outlook 4.23.0, Microsoft is letting you drag and drop text from other apps for easy calendar additions and more.

“Multi-task like a pro with Outlook, now optimized for Split View on iPad. Open your mail and calendar side by side or drag and drop text into a message with your fingertip,” reads the full changelog.

Split screen app support is becoming increasingly important for Microsoft as it gears up for the release of its Surface Duo and Surface Neo devices, which will be dual screen. Though these are Android and Windows 10X devices, respectively, it looks like it’s willing to share the love with Apple users.

“Feel free to send us any comments or questions through our in-app support in Settings – we’d love to hear from you,” the company emphasizes in regards to its Split View support.

Back in June, Microsoft Edge for iOS also received Split View support. Outlook clearly took a bit longer to implement, so there’s hope we’ll see it in its other apps soon. You can download Outlook for iPad from the App Store here.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Microsoft Store 95% App Revenue Split Has Been Removed

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Microsoft is seemingly backtracking on its commitment to give developers as much as 95% of revenue from sales made through the Microsoft Store. According to reports, the company is updating app developers of the change now.

If this is the case, it would make less than a year that the revenue model has been in place. Interestingly, Microsoft seemed reluctant to roll out the pricing structure despite promising it.

Developer Rob took to Twitter to say Microsoft has informed him the revenue split program is ending. He develops apps such as Easy Writer and says Microsoft has now updated its App Developer Agreement.
It now states the share program has been removed.

First announced at Build 2018, the revenue split program was welcomed by developers. It allows them to get up to 95% of revenue back if a customer discovered their app through the developer’s own promotion.

Interestingly, it doesn’t seem Microsoft has changed the other portion of the agreement. Specifically, for a normal app download (found through Store or Microsoft promotions), the developer can receive up to 85% of the revenue.

If the 95% revenue split for self promotion has been removed, it seems likely the 85% split is now default for all app downloads form the Microsoft Store.

However, it is worth noting Microsoft has made no official announcements regarding this change.

Microsoft Store for Business Closure

Yesterday we reported on Microsoft’s plans to shutter its Microsoft Store for Business and Education. The teams that manage the running of both Store forks have decided neither will continue. They are expected to be removed from the wider Microsoft Store by the end of June (June 30).

Source – Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Microsoft Patent Shows a Surface Pro with Solar Panel Charging

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It sounds like a crazy idea, but Microsoft is seriously considering a solar-powered Surface Pro. A patent filed on October 2, 2018 suggests adding four or more of them to its stand.

“A cover for a mobile device includes solar panels and an integrated keyboard,” reads the abstract. “The solar panels are positioned on a stand of the cover and angle associated with the solar panels can be changed so as to maximize input from a light source. The cover can be used to supply power and keyboard input to a mobile device while in use.”

It wouldn’t be the first company to deliver a solar-powered computer, but it could be the first 2-in-1, and one with the most compact form factor. Just look at the size of the panels on the Sol and you’ll realize that this is meant to extend your wall-charged battery, not replace it entirely.
Microsoft describes two scenarios: a Surface Pro stand with integrated panels and a keyboard cover. The first sounds like the most ideal, simply because the user would be able to position the stand so the solar panels better catch the light. Either way, the patent considers integrating a separate battery that you can use for a bit of juice between charges.
The Surface Pro 7 didn’t feature many changes in design, that being left to the Pro X’s slimmer bezels. The assumption is that the Pro 8 will be a bigger leap, but what are the chances that the solar panels will be a thing?
Well, as always, a patent is no guarantee that a product will make it to market. It just indicates that Microsoft thinks the idea has enough merit to protect. With solar panels especially there could be various hurdles, such as the cost versus the benefit to the customer. Just like the wacky Surface Pen earpiece before it, we’ll have to wait and see.

Source – Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Ericsson Partners with Microsoft to Use the Connected Vehicle Platform

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Communications giant Ericsson has announced a major partnership with Microsoft, that will see the company adopt Azure. Specifically, Microsoft’s cloud services will underpin Ericsson’s Connected Vehicle Cloud platform.

Connected Vehicles Cloud is one of the most popular platforms for in-car connected systems in the world. It is available in more than 130 countries and in over 4 million vehicles. Ericsson says the system will now function on top of Microsoft’s Azure-powered Connected Vehicle Platform.

Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President, Business Development at Microsoft says: “Together with Ericsson, we intend to simplify the development of connected vehicle services to help car makers focus on their customers’ needs and accelerate the delivery of unique, tailor-made driving experiences.”

Microsoft’s Connected Vehicle Platform is a new cloud-based service that was debuted in September.

Billed as an evolving platform, Microsoft discussed how automotive OEMs can leverage MCVP to include the following services in their vehicles:

  • In-vehicle experiences
  • Autonomous driving
  • Advanced navigation
  • Customer engagement and insights
  • Telematics and prediction services
  • Connectivity and over the air updates (OTA)

Across the categories, Microsoft is offering 40 Azure-powered cloud services that have been tailored for vehicles.

Ericsson Partnership

According to Ericsson, Microsoft Azure will allow its Connected Vehicle Cloud to provide carmakers with scale and deployment of in-car systems.

“The Ericsson and Microsoft partnership will deliver a comprehensive connected vehicle platform at scale to the market. Our integrated solutions will help automotive manufacturers accelerate their global connected vehicle solutions and offer a better experience for drivers and passengers,” says Åsa Tamsons, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Area Technologies & New Businesses.

source- Windbuzzer

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