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Microsoft Edu

Microsoft Adds Education Section to Minecraft Marketplace

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Microsoft has today opened a new category on Minecraft. Xbox chief Phil Spencer confirmed the company has added an “Education” category to the Minecraft Marketplace. This means children have access to more tools to learn from home as they remain in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the tools available are tours of the International Space Station and the ability to learn code on the block-building game.

Many countries around the world are in a state of national quarantines. Travel is restricted in those countries to just essential workers and for essential needs (supermarket and pharmacy). Millions of workers have been forced to stay in, either without work or working from home.

It’s a similar story with education, where kids are stuck at home and relying on virtual education infrastructure. Spencer told Xbox Wire staying at home is important and Minecraft can help kids keep learning.

Full Statement

“We are living in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of people around the world and changed the way we go about our daily lives. Here at Microsoft, we’re constantly asking ourselves what we can do to support people during this challenging time. To me, the most important thing to remember is that we’re all living and learning through this together. I have previously stated that I believe gaming has a unique power to bring people together, to entertain, to inspire and connect us, and I believe that’s even more true under these unique circumstances. Many are looking to gaming to remain connected with their friends while practicing social distancing, and we are seeing an unprecedented demand for gaming from our customers right now. With hundreds of millions of kids at home due to coronavirus-related school closures, more kids are going online to spend time with their friends, explore online worlds and learn through play. Families are trying to navigate the need to help their children with distance learning and balance that with taking time to have fun.

“That’s why we announced today that we are adding a new Education category to the Minecraft Marketplace with free educational content players and parents can download. The educational content we’ve curated lets players explore the International Space Station through a partnership with NASA, learn to code with a robot, visit famous Washington D.C. landmarks, find and build 3D fractals, learn what it’s like to be a marine biologist, and so much more. This is launching for free download today and will be available through June 30… With so many turning to gaming, helping everyone stay safer online is also a top priority for us. This is why we provide family settings that help parents choose the screen time limits, content filters, purchase limits, communication and sharing settings that are right for their families. While kids may be home from school, family settings can help balance gaming with offline schoolwork and other responsibilities… Stay safe and be good to one another.”

Minecraft Education

Last week, Microsoft confirmed Minecraft Education is now free for Microsoft 365 users. This free access will last throughout the COVID-19 outbreak and gives people access to all the tools of the specialized education suite.

Source Winbuzzer

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Microsoft Edu

What is Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways and why should you use it?

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Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways hit general availability at Microsoft Ignite 2019, and brings together a wealth of excellent content, created and curated by Microsoft that you can install within your SharePoint Online to create your organization’s own learning portal.

You can create a customized view for your organization of the relevant content you want to provide to users, brand it accordingly and even add your own content to it. It’s not an LMS (Learning Management System) or an adoption platform – but it is the exact type of portal you will need to create when you roll out Microsoft 365 to ensure the right guidance is available to people within the company you support.

You can create a customized view for your organization of the relevant content you want to provide to users, brand it accordingly and even add your own content to it. It’s not an LMS (Learning Management System) or an adoption platform – but it is the exact type of portal you will need to create when you roll out Microsoft 365 to ensure the right guidance is available to people within the company you support.

You should use it rather than downloading and building out your content from scratch, as you can be confident that it’s been updated by Microsoft for you, prior to installing it in your environment and it’s been designed and setup to make it easy to guide people to the right content to help them get started in Microsoft 365. After all – we don’t want to just “throw it over the fence” and expect people to work out Teams, Yammer or the latest Outlook and Office features on their own, do we? Nor do we want them to go off and read guidance from the internet that might not be aligned to your plan for rolling out Microsoft 365.

It’s all part of the plan

It’s important to state that using the Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways on it’s own isn’t enough. It’s good – but it is based upon the guidance Microsoft already publish for users, which to be honest, is pretty generic as it’s intended for consumption from people working in a HR department at a multi-national organization to the person running their own small business or working on a shop-floor. This isn’t a case of deploy it to your tenant and then tick off the adoption and training box on your checklist.

You need to begin by considering the wider picture before you deploy this. A large organization is likely to have a focused business change team, tasked with rolling out IT changes to various systems – whether that’s Microsoft 365 or changes to line-of-business applications outside of productivity tools. In smaller organizations that’s often left to IT.

Often Microsoft 365 is a bigger change to ways of working than perhaps moving to a new payroll system or invoicing tool. Many Microsoft 365 projects are labelled Digital Transformation or implementing a Digital Workplace. That’s confusing shorthand for allowing people to work seamlessly and securely from any device, wherever they are and at the same time be more productive by using a modern set of tools that allow for easier chat, collaboration and completing their day-to-day tasks more efficiently.

The challenge with terminology like that – even with an explanation – is that people often don’t know what’s in it for them. And without spending time researching what people struggle with today, or cast-iron information about challenges the business needs to solve, you’ll struggle at the first hurdle – getting executives on board and explaining to people in the business why this matters.

As well as understanding what problem you need to solve, you’ll also need to understand which of the tools in Microsoft 365 solve business problems and will resonate well – and which are the underpinning technologies that need to be implemented to support this.

For example – if you plan to use Teams to make it easier for people to avoid travelling to offices to meet, or to make it easier for people working from home to stay in touch with colleagues then there may be a lot of background work to achieve this.

This might involve moving Exchange to Office 365 first, planning a governance model for Teams, ensuring people have appropriate devices and headsets, planning to upgrade meeting rooms for those shackled to the office that need to work with their colleagues remotely – and planning a good balance of security tools in Microsoft 365 (like Data Loss Prevention features, Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Azure AD Premium and similar) to implement while you plan the adoption side.

Then you’ll be in a position to construct the right communications to let people know about the new ways of working and how it will improve their working lives (and personal lives), and how it will have a positive impact on the business. As part of this, you’ll most likely have launch days, training and buzz days and provide ongoing communications. During the rollout and afterwards, you’ll most likely monitor the usage using analytics tools and then target help and support based on where it’s needed most to ensure that the newer ways of working stick.

Sitting in the middle – and core – to that communications is providing the right user guides to people to support them if they need a quick-start guide or some more detailed information to quickly assist them with understanding the nuances of Microsoft 365.

This is where Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways comes in. It is time consuming to collect and curate content and publish it to your own portal – time that could be better spent on other activities – and even more time consuming if you plan to create your own content from scratch. Use Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways to support the other activities in your rollout plan.

Preparing pre-requisites

Without further ado – let’s go through the process to roll-out Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways.

The great news is that you don’t need to be a SharePoint expert to deploy this to your Office 365 tenant. But, you do need to complete key pre-requisites before you can do so, by deploying an App Catalog.

The good news is you only need to do this once, and if you’ve published custom applications to SharePoint Online before this might already be complete.

First, navigate to the SharePoint Online Admin Center from the Office 365 admin portal, and choose More Features (1), then choose Apps (2):

On the Apps page that shows, choose App Catalog:

If you are directed to a SharePoint Online site, then we are good to go and you can skip to the next part of the article. If you see the following page, then you need to check if you already have an App Catalog site (if it’s a new Office 365 tenant, you won’t) and if not, then choose Create a new app catalog site and then choose OK:

On the Create App Catalog Site Collection page, you’ll need to choose values for Title, Web Site Address, Time Zone and specify an Administrator. You’ll see these values highlighted below, with some sensible values chosen in the demo tenant I’ve used for this article:

After choosing the values you want, choose OK. After the site begins provisioning, wait approximately two hours for it to complete.

Using the SharePoint Provisioning Service to install Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways

The SharePoint Provisioning Service is a Microsoft site that provides a catalogue of SharePoint solutions that you can select, and install within your SharePoint Online environment. The site handles the technical parts of installing the associated SharePoint applications, provisioning site collections and loading in relevant content.

You can use this to load Microsoft 365 Learning pathways into your tenant, rather than downloading and deploying it from it’s GitHub Site. To do this, you’ll need to visit the SharePoint Provisioning Service site and walk through the provisioning steps, providing credentials along the way.

To being, we’ll visit the Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways page on the site and choose Add to your tenant:

You’ll then be prompted to sign-in to your Office 365 tenant as an administrator. In this next step, the provisioning service will not store the credentials you have signed in with, but it will need consent to perform actions, including reading directory data and need full control over site collections. You’ll need to accept this before moving to the next stage:

Next, you’ll need to provide more information including a notification address for updates whilst it provisions, and importantly, you’ll need to pick a URL for your Learning Pathways site. By default, Microsoft recommend O365CL:

After this, provisioning will begin. You’ll see updates on the provisioning status on the SharePoint Provisioning Service site – and you’ll also receive an email notification when it completes, if you wish to leave the page. It should take around 10 minutes.

Customizing your Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways experience

There’s a couple of great things about Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways. Firstly, it’s a modern SharePoint Site Collection, which means you can easily change the look and feel.

The menu and pages are modern site components which means you can (as an admin) change the look and feel in a few clicks by choosing to Edit the page (A) then selecting the components you wish to re-arrange. The components you see below are standard components, so if you wish to change the “hero” section (with the pictures) to show three elements instead of five, you can do so without any graphic design experience.

You will most likely wish to change the content that’s provided by default to users, and we’ll do that by selecting Home, then Learning pathways administration (B):

From there, you’ll be able to select the visibility of built-in training material. For example, if you need to hide content about Teams until you launch, or Yammer content, then you can use the visibility button (highlighted below) to toggle the content on or off across different topics:

This will remove the content displayed in sections – but you will need to customize the Microsoft 365 Learning Paths homepage (for example, to remove menu links to the content and the hero gallery).

Summary

In this article we’ve considered where Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways fits in within your wider Microsoft 365 rollout – it’s a useful resource to install into your tenant, but can’t replace other adoption and business change activities, and we’ve looked at how to install it into your SharePoint Online environment and provide basic customizations. As a next step, look at how you can create an adoption hub for your company and link the Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways site.

Source Practical365

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Microsoft Edu

Microsoft Announces March 30 Event: Microsoft 365 Life and Surface Book 3?

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Microsoft has announced a special event that will take place at 1 PM ET on March 30. Considering the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, you are probably not surprised to learn it is a virtual event. In terms of what to expect, don’t bet against Microsoft unwrapping the Surface Book3.

However, all we have is predictions at the moment because Microsoft offered few details about the event. When making the announcement, the company said “Learn about how to be more productive across work, life and family.”

Microsoft 365 will probably be the focus of the liven event and could include launch information regarding the consumer version of the subscription service. Known as Microsoft 365 Life, the new package is expected to launch in spring so a full unveiling later this month makes sense.
In its current business guise, Microsoft 365 bundles several commercial services into a subscription service. Included in the package are Windows 10, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility + Security.
A consumer version would likely include Outlook Mobile, Office 365, Skype, and other services. Windows 10 will not be included as most people buying a consumer package would already have the latest version of the platform on their PC.
Surface Book 3
It was widely predicted Microsoft would be launching a Surface Book 3 during the spring. It is now unclear whether the company wants to unveil a new product through a virtual event. Instead, the company could decide to postpone the launch and wait until it can host an audience.
What is certain is the Surface Book 2 is due a generational upgrade and the third iteration of the laptop should land sometime this year.

Source Winbuzzer

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Microsoft Edu

Microsoft Edge Addons Reach 1,200 Since Chromium Switch

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There were several internal reasons why Microsoft transitioned its Edge browser to Google’s Chromium web rendering ecosystem. However, there were also some clear benefits to users, such as an improved browsing experience. Furthermore, Microsoft Edge can also benefit from Chrome’s extensive catalog of web extensions (Addons).

That is certainly a benefit that has quickly proved itself and developers seem to be taking notice. Indeed, there are now 1,200 extensions in the Edge Addons Store. It is worth noting this does not mean the number of Chrome extensions available (more on that shortly), but rather the number of dedicated Addons.

In other words, this is the number of Addons developers have created to run specifically on Microsoft Edge. Sure, that’s still way lower than the extensions on Chrome and Addons on Mozilla Firefox. Although, it shows developers are more interested in developing for Edge than they previously were.
Another important point to consider is that users can still install just about every extension available from Chrome. That said, when visiting Chrome’s Web Store from Edge, you’ll be greeted with this message:
“Google recommends switching to Chrome to use extensions securely”.
Does it Matter?
Many security researchers think Edge provides the same level of security as Chrome, but naturally Google would prefer people use its browser. As for Microsoft, it would prefer its Edge users not having to see the message. The only way to do that is to get as many of the Chrome extensions available directly in the Edge store.
It’s arguable that none of these matters for the end user, who get the extension they want on the browser they want regardless.

Source Winbuzzer

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Microsoft Edu

Microsoft Announces 100X100X100 Program for B2B Startups in India

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Microsoft has this week announced the launch of the 100X100X100 program in India. Revealed at the Future Decoded summit, the program has been created for Business to Business (B2B) software as a service (SaaS) startups in the country.

In an accompanying blog, Microsoft says the 100X100X100 program is an initiative that unites 100 companies with 100 startups and early growth businesses. All the participants have enterprise-ready services available.

Committed companies have pledged to fund $100,000 over 18 months to buying solutions developed by SaaS startups. Anant Maheshwari, President of Microsoft India, says the program can drive adoption of SaaS ideas in India.
“India has one of the largest B2B SaaS startup ecosystems in the world, and it’s growing exponentially. This initiative will help build scale and create amazing opportunities for startups. Businesses can now fast-track their digital journeys through easy adoption of enterprise-grade solutions. We’re excited to see the outcomes of these partnerships.”
Helping Startups
Microsoft describes the 100X100X100 program as the first of its kind in the Indian market. It is designed to help growth companies to boost their digital rollout by using SaaS solutions. The program is part of Microsoft for Startups, a division that gives B2B startups access to Microsoft Azure.
“The power of Microsoft’s technology platform, allowing them to innovate and build on their own terms. Azure credits, comprehensive training programs and technical support aim to ensure competitiveness.
Mentorship, deep technical expertise and immersive industry experiences focused on business outcomes, delivered at Microsoft and industry startup events.

Access to partners. Working with the entire ecosystem (startups, Venture Capitals, accelerators, incubators) helps startups in connecting with the right players who can accelerate their development
Support for streamlined go-to-market (GTM) activities across the globe.”
By participating in 100X100X100, startups will be able to interact with Microsoft and its partners through speed contracting sessions at Microsoft events. Microsoft India says 50 startups have already signed up to participate in the program.

Source Winbuzzer

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Microsoft Edu

Chromium Edge Could Get Custom Tile Bars For PWAs

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Now that Chromium Edge is out in the wild and widely available, Microsoft is ramping up its efforts with Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). The new browser has full support of PWAs, bringing it in line with Google Chrome. Now, the Edge development team is working on customization in the title bar.

On Chromium Edge, when a user runs a PWA on the web, the browser will detect it and allow the user to “Install” the app in a separate windows. Because is a PWA, the new window will lack the general browser UI.

Microsoft has already revealed new colored title bars for PWAs and has been testing the implementation in the Canary development channel. The idea behind the colored tile bars is to make PWAs more native with the Chromium Edge experience.
Now Microsoft is taking it a step further and seeking to add customized title bars. Published on GitHub this week, the Edge team shows an image of what the customizable bar would look like. The new development will also extend to the Search Bar.

e. The new development will also extend to the Search Bar.

On the GitHub project, the team explains the bars “do not pose considerable privacy concerns other than feature detection,” but work on how to implement custom bars will continue.

Run On Start

Earlier this month, Microsoft introduced the ability for PWAs to Run on Start.

Currently available in testing on Chromium Edge, the feature will be available when PWAs are installed on a PC. In other words, it’s currently an option. Microsoft could make it a default eventually, but we think its good users get the choice.

PWAs that run on start-up will be located in the registry through the Windows Task Manager. This is another point towards Microsoft’s desire for PWAs to behave like regular apps.

Source Vanguard

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Microsoft Edu

Microsoft Makes Always Connected PC Push in Education

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Earlier today, Microsoft made a big push in education by announcing several new updates across much of its educational output. Leading the way are a slew of new education focused Windows machines that will sport Microsoft services like PowerPoint and OneNote integrated. Furthermore, Microsoft is driving its Always Connected PC (Windows 10 on ARM) concept through a partnership with T-Mobile.

Let’s start with that collaboration. Microsoft’s Always Connected PC concept has taken a while to get going. Windows 10 on ARM devices have not bridged the gap between laptop and mobile in the way the company hoped. However, as the new generation of hardware offers improvements, Microsoft is targeting the education market.

Certainly, Google has gained traction in the always connected market in education with its Chromebooks. Its one of the few areas where Chrome OS is besting Windows. Microsoft wants to address the balance and has teamed with T-Mobile to help.
Through the partnership, Microsoft will set up a testing program for schools in rural areas. Select school districts in deprived areas will get the opportunity to test the latest Always Connected PCs. T-Mobile will handle SIM cards and free 4G LTE.

Microsoft is also expanding this concept outside the United States, albeit with Vodafone (and its African subsidiary Vodacom). In other regions, cellular plans with an education focus will be given to customers.

New Education Hardware

Speaking of Always Connected PCs, there’s a couple of new examples in a collection of education-focused hardware Microsoft revealed.

Namely, Positive and JP.IK are releasing a pair of always connected laptops, the Positive Wise N1212S and the JP.IK Turn T101. Microsoft describes them as the most affordable always connected devices on Windows so far. The JP.IK costs $299 and the Positive $575. Both laptops will be available from the summer.

Elsewhere on the Windows 10 education hardware sector, 14 laptops will receive updates in the coming months. Major brand laptops from Dell, HP, Acer, and Lenovo are included. Among the updated models, there will be devices sporting Intel’s latest Gemini Lake CPUs.

Source – Winbuzzer

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