Microsoft Announces New Teams, Minecraft, and Surface Laptop

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella opened the company’s Education-focused event today by asking, “How can technology create opportunity for all?”

Believing that technology should help, not hinder, a teacher’s work in the classroom, Microsoft is releasing Windows 10 s this Summer in time for the new school year.

Microsoft said that the students entering school today is the first generation who speaks technology as their first language, and learns primarily by collaborating. An estimated 65% of students in school today, will have jobs that do not yet exist – STEM curriculum will set these students up for success in the future.

This new version of Windows will feature more security and faster load times, it’s streamlined for consistency, and provides superior performance.

Changes are coming to Teams too, designed specifically for education, and includes classroom chats (with emojis and gifs – FINALLY! I’ve been waiting!!! Outlook, where you at?), assignment submissions and more. Teachers will have special moderating and facilitating controls for “teachable moments”.

Windows 10 s will come with a free subscription to Minecraft Education Edition, free Windows 10 S for all schools on current Windows Pro PCs, and free Microsoft Office 365 for Education with Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft believes in Learning by Doing. Minecraft has over 100 million players worldwide. Microsoft gave an example of using Minecraft in the classroom from a teacher in the UK, who asked his students to create a livable habitat on Mars. Using math to manage their resources and figuring out how to grow food, students learned to code and used critical thinking skills to complete the project.

Microsoft also released their new Surface Laptop (with Windows 10 s), touting that this is the laptop that will last a student throughout their entire education. The product looks super sleek and nice, and I’d like one for myself.  I’m not a techy person, but Microsoft said that in designing this product, they wanted it to be more personal, and not design just another piece of equipment, and honestly, I got that sense from this Laptop.

Did anyone else watch the livestream this morning? What do you think of Microsoft announcements? Will Windows 10 S have an impact on the use of iPads and Google?

 

Office 2013 No Longer Available for Installation for Office 365 Subscribers

As of February 28, 2017, Office 365 subscribers can no longer download or install Office 2013 from the Office 365 My Account web portal, Microsoft released on their Support blog last week.

Customer support and troubleshooting came to end, too, for the following products:

  • Office 365 ProPlus (2013)
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium (2013)
  • Office 365 Business (2013)
  • Project for Office 365 (2013)
  • Visio Pro for Office 365 (2013)

Looking for more information on Office 2016 before you upgrade? Check out our guide, and let us know if you find it helpful!

Microsoft Delays February Patch Release

Microsoft announced today that they are postponing their February 2017 security update for Windows and other products, which was slated to release today.

The Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) posted the following to their blog this afternoon:

Our top priority is to provide the best possible experience for customers in maintaining and protecting their systems. This month, we discovered a last minute issue that could impact some customers and was not resolved in time for our planned updates today.

After considering all options, we made the decision to delay this month’s updates. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by this change to the existing plan.

So far, there’s no word on when the updates will release. We will continue to keep you post here on the blog, and on Twitter and Facebook!

Does Academia Know What Technology Employers are Looking For?

It started two years ago. I stopped using my laptop or tablet at home, and only used my phone to Google, shop, scroll through Instagram, or check email as I’d wind down at night. Now, I still use my phone, but I mostly rely on Siri to do my Googling for me.

Now, with Google Assistant, Cortana, and Alexa, the talk-to-tech trend is taking off – it’s easier and faster than finding your phone, unlocking it, opening an App, or tapping any keys.

Now that Amazon allows programmers to connect existing services to Alexa, the cloud-based voice service that powers the Echo, every-day programmers can build entirely new voice-powered experiences, called Skills, with “just a few lines of code,” for free. Voila! Alexa now opens and uses Apps for us!

Alexa is taking over home appliances, too.  Appliance makers LG, Whirlpool, GE, and Samsung introduced products, like a vacuum, that starts by issuing a command to an Echo. LG’s forthcoming Smart InstaView Door-in-Door refrigerator will connect to Alexa, so users can ask her to pull up recipes on a touchscreen, or order food.

It’s still the early days with voice command services, but what does this mean for education? I think it means Computer Science & Programming education is more important than ever. STEM job growth will surpass all other jobs at 18.7% between 2010 and 2020, leading to 1.1 million computing jobs by 2024.

Does the academic community know what technology employers are looking for? Last week’s post discussed the relevancy of the computer lab in today’s schools – Cengage author Mark Frydenberg shared his Sandbox mission – should more schools get onboard?

Leaked Preview Hints at Option to Pause Windows Updates

If you’re using the Home edition of Windows 10, you know that you cannot defer the automatic system updates. However, according to leaked preview builds of Windows 10, Microsoft will soon release a new option to pause updates for up to 35 days.

The Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10 already allow users to defer updates, delaying upgrades for 30 to 180 days, depending on whether it’s a feature update, or a quality update.

Microsoft faced criticism over their handling of Windows 10 in 2016, with some accusing the company of “tricking” Windows 7 & 8 users to upgrade.  Microsoft CMO Chris Capossela owned up to this during the Windows Weekly Podcast, admitting to aggressively pushing users to upgrade to Windows 10.

What do you think of Windows 10 updates? So far, so good? Or are there other unresolved issues you think Microsoft should address?

Microsoft’s LinkedIn Acquisition to Close Soon

Microsoft announced today that they have received all necessary clearance for their acquisition of LinkedIn, and that the deal is set to close “in the coming days.”

The European Commission was the last to approve the $26.2 billion buyout, after the US, Canada, Brazil and South Africa.

Microsoft said they had the opportunity to review the acquisition with government officials and regulators in “considerable detail,” thus formalizing several commitments regarding Microsoft’s support for third-party professional social networking services.

Why does Microsoft want LinkedIn? LinkedIn is a key tool for professionals. With 433 million members, it’s safe to say that most adults in the US use LinkedIn for finding jobs, and general networking. That said, it’s important to note that Microsoft has more than 1 billion Office users, but has no social graph, or representation of the interconnection of relationships in an online social network, of its own and until now, has had to rely on LinkedIn or Facebook to provide that connection.

In an internal memo, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explains, “This combination will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete. As these experiences get more intelligent and delightful, the LinkedIn and Office 365 engagement will grow. And in turn, new opportunities will be created for monetization through individual and organization subscriptions and targeted advertising.”  

Read more about Microsoft’s LinkedIn acquisition here.

Microsoft Joins the Linux Foundation

In an attempt to encourage and drive developers to make more use of the Microsoft Ecosystem, Microsoft has joined the Linux Foundation.

The Microsoft Ecosystem is designed to make resources available to a wide variety of technology companies so that they can build solutions around Microsoft technologies. In this case, Microsoft wants to drive more use of Azure, Windows 10, and Office 365.

Linux is an operating system platform that is classified as a free and open-source software. This means that anyone is freely licensed to use and change the software in any way, resulting in an operating system that is widely utilized to power servers, desktops, Android smartphones and other devices.

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By joining the Linux Foundation, Microsoft is allowing developers to use more tools regardless of their preferred platform, making the Microsoft Ecosystem platforms more desirable for building cross-platform applications and solutions. In other words, Microsoft wants developers building apps for its Ecosystem whether they’re working in Linux or in Azure.

This is big news for developers, as Microsoft has built its software empire on close-source proprietary software. The times, they are a-changin’.

What do you think? Is open-source the future of software?

Microsoft Ends Windows 7 & Windows 8 Sales

The lifecycles for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 have come to an end, as Microsoft confirmed last week that they’ve discontinued sales of the operating systems.

“End of sales refers to the date when a particular version of Windows is no longer shipped to retailers or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Examples of OEMs are Dell and Toshiba – PC manufacturers who often preinstall Windows software,” explains Microsoft.

Looking for a brand new PC with Windows 7 or Windows 8? You’ll likely have to look for an OEM who is selling off existing stock.

Although Microsoft will continue to provide ongoing updates support for Windows 7 until January 2020, and for Windows 8 until January 2023, they are likely ending sales in an effort to boost Windows 10 sales, which have been stagnant since their free upgrade offer ended in July.  

For more information, visit the Windows Lifecycle Fact Sheet.

Microsoft Launches Teams to Compete with Slack

Microsoft announced last Wednesday that they are bringing together their Office 365 productivity apps, and their strengths, together in a single app: Teams.

As direct competition to Slack, Microsoft Teams is an integrated collaboration app for Office 365 that offers a chat-based approach to communication, along with Office document collaboration and multi-person video chat through Skype.

With Teams, users can add, work, and collaborate in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Meetings, Notes, Planner, SharePoint, OneNote and other Office 365 apps without ever leaving Teams.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella describes, “No two teams are the same, no two projects are the same. There’s no universal tool for teams, but rather a universal toolkit we call Office 365.”

Currently, Slack offers more apps within its directory, but Teams will soon launch more than 150 partner integrations. Right now though, built-in integrations include Asana, Hootsuite, Intercom, and Zendesk.

Also on Wednesday, Slack bought a full page ad in the New York Times to publish an open letter to Microsoft. Read it here.

To read more about Teams, click here.

Microsoft Office Skills Rated Number Four on Most Required Skills List

A new white paper, Keys to the Future: Align Workforce Readiness Skills to Ensure Student Success, looks at the most widely desired skills in today’s workforce, and the skills and competencies that will be most in-demand by 2024. The research, conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) and sponsored by Microsoft, reveals that the top 20 most required job skills include Microsoft Office, which lands at number 4, and Microsoft PowerPoint, landing at number 16.

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IDC analyzed 76.7 million job postings from 2015 to identify the 20 most commonly required skills for these positions, then examined the skills required for 70 positions that are expected to have above average growth and salary potential between 2016 and 2024 – these are called “high opportunity positions.”

This top 20 list represents skills that are most required across all occupations and are considered “cross-functional skills.” IDC categorized these skills into three overlapping buckets:

  • Communication, integration, and presentation skills
  • Entrepreneurialism and related skills
  • Microsoft, Microsoft Office and other software skills

These cross-functional skills suggest that students require “job readiness” and not “job training” for success, as educators should focus on skills with the broadest applicability.

Cengage creates learning experiences that build confidence and momentum toward the future students want. Learn more about our resources for Microsoft Office here.