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Windows 10 Fall Creators lands

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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.

Arts and Entertainment

VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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