Microsoft has released the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and Windows Mixed Reality headsets and experiences.
Microsoft says the Update offers breakthroughs in creativity, from bringing mixed reality and 3D to the masses, to faster broadcasting for gaming, to turning photos and videos into real memories. It can be experienced on a wide variety of Windows 10 PCs and on a range of Windows Mixed Reality headsets available for the first time this week.
Windows 10 Fall Creators Update
The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is packed with new innovations including new Inking experiences such as inking directly on PDFs, a new Find my Pen feature, Continue on your PC with Cortana* or on your phone’s browser including, Microsoft Edge for seamless Windows experiences across devices, enhanced security and privacy features, and improvements in accessibility, including Eye Control.
Mixed Reality for the Masses
The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update introduces mixed reality to the masses. With mixed reality, Microsoft seeks to fundamentally improve the way people create, communicate and play. Customers can transcend time and space and immerse themselves in any environment, helping ideas break free from the boundaries of paper or screens.
Until now, any practical use of mixed reality required the use of a headset and for immersive virtual reality, people had to mount cameras in the corners of their home. And they couldn’t take their headset with them to a friend’s house or their workplace. That changes with the availability of Windows Mixed Reality headsets. For the most immersive mixed reality experience, our partners, Acer, Dell, HP, and Lenovo are launching the very first Windows Mixed Reality headsets today, at Microsoft Store and Microsoft.com, beginning at $399 for headsets bundled with advanced motion controllers. Samsung’s innovative mixed reality headset, the Samsung HMD Odyssey, will become available on November 6th. Windows Mixed Reality headsets allow customers to take them on the go.
The Fall Creators Update also includes the Mixed Reality Viewer, which brings mixed reality to the PC. By simply using the camera on a PC, customers can see 3D objects mixed into their actual surroundings – people, places, things, or anything they can imagine.
From innovative and affordable new Windows Mixed Reality headset to technology to experience mixed reality on a PC, many components are coming together to introduce the world to mixed reality. Now customers can enjoy travel, sports, live concerts and gaming like never before in their own virtual home with content from over 20,000 apps in the Windows Store.
3D Offers Next Boost to Human Productivity
3D will offer the next major boost to human productivity, enabling a next generation of computing that moves far beyond the 2D world. This is powerful because 3D is truly representative of the world we live in – improving the way people comprehend, retain and learn.
With the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft enables anyone to create in 3D. Over 100 million people use Microsoft Paint every single month and now with Paint 3D they can all become 3D creators – easily manipulating objects, creating and sharing in 3D. With the Fall Creators Update, customers can now bring 3D objects into Office files, including PowerPoint presentations and Word documents, to dramatically improve their storytelling and improve comprehension. Objects can rotate and animate within a presentation. And with the Mixed Reality Viewer, 3D creations can easily be dropped into the physical world. 3D is great for students, professionals or anyone who wants to create.
Gaming becomes even more Interactive
Gaming is the fastest growing form of entertainment because it is incredibly interactive. Gaming has also never been more popular on Windows, with over 200 million monthly active users gaming on Windows 10.
With the explosion of interest in eSports and interactive game streaming, more people watch gameplay than actually play games. Microsoft launched Mixer, the only near real-time, interactive game streaming service, to help everyone broadcast, watch or interact with other gamers.
With the Fall Creators Update, Mixer becomes even better – people can now launch and jump into a game stream faster than before. Game Mode also enables developers to access all the power of the PC and dedicate it to games, delivering a more performant gaming experience on Windows 10.
The next era of gaming is coming with the new improvements in the Fall Creators Update, immersive gaming experiences for Mixed Reality, and the upcoming launch on November 7 of Xbox One X, the world’s most powerful console built for true 4K gaming.
Creating Memories with Photos & Videos
Photos and videos have never been more popular on Windows, with more than 250 million active users of Photos on Windows 10.
In Fall Creators Update the Photos app is totally reimagined, so people can easily convert photos into memories and stories with personalized 3D effects, Ink, transitions, and video – no editing experience required. Customers can take photos and simply and easily edit them into a collage of photos and videos with a soundtrack, theme, ink and cinematic transitions. For example, with 3D, objects can be made dynamic, like a soccer ball bursting into flames as it passes the goalie and soars into the net.
Microsoft believes the need to create has never been more important. The company is excited to work with device partners to deliver incredible modern devices this holiday. The Windows ecosystem fosters incredible innovation, and this holiday, there will be a range of beautifully designed, and feature-rich, modern devices. These include new Windows 2-in-1s, laptops, all-in-ones, gaming PCs that feature Intel’s new 8th Generation Intel Core processors, the latest NVIDIA GPUs enabling Windows Mixed Reality experiences, long battery life, and OLED and 4K screens for the most stunning visuals.
From new PCs from our partners, new Windows Mixed Reality headsets and motion controllers – to the world’s most powerful console in Xbox One X – Windows devices are available to empower the creator in all of us.
Online retail gets real
After decades of experience in selling online, retailers still seek out the secret of reaching the digital consumer, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
It’s been 23 years since the first pizza and the first bunch of flowers was sold online. One would think, after all this time, that retailers would know exactly what works, and exactly how the digital consumer thinks.
Yet, in shopping-mad South Africa, only 4% of adults regularly shop online. One could blame high data costs, low levels of tech-savviness, or lack of trust. However, that doesn’t explain why a population where more than a quarter of people have a debit or credit card and almost 40% of people use the Internet is staying away.
The new Online Retail in South Africa 2019 study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the support of Visa and Platinum Seed, reveals that growth is in fact healthy, but is still coming off a low base. This year, the total sale of retail products online is expected to pass the R14-billion mark, making up 1.4% of total retail.
This figure represents 25% growth over 2017, and comes after the same rate of growth was seen in 2017. At this rate, it is clear that online retail is going mainstream, driven by aggressive marketing, and new shopping channels like mobile shopping.
But it is equally clear that not all retailers are getting it right. According to the study, the unwillingness of business to reinvest revenue in developing their online presence is one of the main barriers to long-term success. Only one in five companies surveyed invested more than 20% of their online turnover back into their online store. Over half invested less than 10% back.
On the surface, the industry looks healthy, as a surprisingly high 71% of online retailers surveyed say they are profitable. But this brings to mind the early days of Amazon.com, in 1996, when founder Jeff Bezos was asked when it would become profitable.
He declared that it would not be profitable for at least another five years. And if it did, he said, it would be in big trouble. He meant that it was so important for long-term sustainability that Amazon reinvest all its revenues in customer systems, that it could not afford to look for short-term profits.
According to the South African study, the single most critical factor in the success of online retail activities is customer service. A vast majority, 98% of respondents, regarded it as important. This positions customer service as the very heart of online retail. For Amazon, investment back into systems that would streamline customer service became the key to the world’s digital wallets.
In South Africa online still make up a small proportion of overall retail, but for the first time we see the promise of a broader range of businesses in terms of category, size, turnover and employee numbers. This is a sign that our local market is beginning to mature.
Clothing and apparel is the fastest growing sector, but is also the sector with the highest turnover of businesses. It illustrates the dangers of a low barrier to entry: the survival rate of online stores in this sector is probably directly opposite to the ease of setting up an online apparel store.
A fast-growing category that was fairly low on the agenda in the past, alcohol, tobacco and vaping, has benefited from the increased online supply of vapes, juices and accessories. It also suggests that smoking bans, and the change in the legal status of marijuana during the survey, may have boosted demand.
In the coming weeks, we can expect online retail to fall under the spotlight as never before. Black Friday, a shopping tradition imported “wholesale” from the United States, is expected to become the biggest online shopping day of the year in South Africa, as it is in the USA.
Initially, it was just a gimmick in South Africa, attempting to cash in on what was a purely American tradition of insane sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, which occurs on the third Thursday of November every year. It is followed by Cyber Monday, making the entire weekend one of major promotions and great bargains.
It has grown every year in South Africa since its first introduction about six years ago, and last year it broke into the mainstream, with numerous high profile retailers embracing it, and many consumers experiencing it for the first time.
It is now positioned as the prime bargain day of the year for consumers, and many wait in anticipation for it, as they do in the USA. Along with Cyber Monday, it provides an excuse for retailers to go all out in their marketing, and for consumers to storm the display shelves or web pages. South African shoppers, clearly, are easily enticed by bargains.
Word of mouth around Black Friday has also grown massively in the past two years, driven by both media and shoppers who have found ridiculous bargains. As news spreads that the most ridiculous of the bargains are to be had online, even those who were reticent of digital shopping will be tempted to convert.
The Online Retail in SA 2019 report has shown over the years that, as people become more experienced in using the Internet, their propensity to shop online increases. This is part of the World Wide Worx model known as the Digital Participation Curve. The key missing factor in the Curve is that most retailers do not know how to convert that propensity into actual online shopping behaviour. Black Friday will be one of the keys to conversion.
Carry on reading to find out about the online retailers of the year.
Reliable satellite Internet?
MzansiSat, a satellite-Internet business, aims to beam Internet connections to places in South Africa which don’t have access to cabled and mobile network infrastructure, writes BRYAN TURNER.
Stellenbosch-based MzansiSat promises to provide cheap wholesale Internet to Internet Service Providers for as little as R25 per Gigabyte. Providers who offer more expensive Internet services could benefit greatly from partnering with MzansiSat, says the company.
“Using MzansiSat, we hope that we can carry over cost-savings benefits to the consumer,” says Victor Stephanopoli, MzansiSat chief operating officer.
The company, which has been spun off from StellSat, has been looking to increase its investor portfolio while it waits for spectrum approval. The additional investment will allow MzansiSat’s satellite to operate in more regions across Africa.
The MzansiSat satellite is being built by Thales Alenia Space, a French company which is also acting as technical partner to MzansiSat. In addition to building the satellite, Thales Alenia Space will also be assisting MzansiSat in coordinating the launch. The company intends to launch the satellite into the 56°E orbital slot in a geostationary orbit, which enables communication almost anywhere in Africa. The launch is expected to happen in 2022.
The satellite will have 76 transponders, 48 of which will be Ku-band and 28 C-band. Ku-band is all about high-speed performance, while C-band deals with weather-resistance. The design intention is for customers of MzansiSat to choose between very cheap, reliable data and very fast, power-efficient data.
C-band is an older technology, which makes bandwidth cheaper and almost never affected by rain but requires bigger dishes and slower bandwidth compared to Ku-band connections. On the other hand, Ku-band is faster, experiences less microwave interference, and requires less power to run – but is less reliable with bad weather conditions.
MzansiSat’s potential military applications are significant, due to the nature of the military being mobile and possibly in remote areas without connectivity. Connectivity everywhere would be potentially be life-saving.
Consumers in remote areas will benefit, even though satellite is higher in latency than fibre and LTE connections. While this level of latency is high (a fifth of a second in theory), satellite connections are still adequate for browsing the Internet and watching online content.
The Internet of Things (IoT) may see the benefits of satellite Internet before consumers do. The applications of IoT in agriculture are vast, from hydration sensors to soil nutrient testers, and can be realised with an Internet connection which is available in a remote area.
Stephanopoli says that e-learning in remote areas can also benefit from MzansiSat’s presence, as many school resources are becoming readily available online.
“Through our network, the learning experience can be beamed into classrooms across the country to substitute or complement local resources within the South African schooling system.”