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Windows 10 released in 190 countries with free upgrade

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Microsoft today released its new operating system, Windows 10, as a free upgrade, offering a wide range of innovations and restoring the much-missed Start menu.

Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 was made available Wednesday, 29 July , at 6 a.m. local South African time, as a free upgrade or with new PCs and tablets.

Windows 10 includes innovations such as Cortana,2 an Xbox app and Microsoft Edge for what Microsoft calls “a familiar, yet more personal and productive, experience”. Described as the most secure Windows ever, Windows 10 is delivered as a service and kept automatically up-to-date with innovations and security updates. Windows 10 offers one experience that will become available on the broadest range of devices, including PCs, tablets, phones, Raspberry Pi, Xbox One, and HoloLens — with more than 2,000 devices or configurations already in testing. The new Windows Store and Windows Software Development Kit also become available Wednesday, opening the door to new app experiences on Windows 10.

The launch of Windows 10 was marked with fan celebrations in 13 countries., including South Africa and Kenya. Microsoft SA, in partnership with Dell, HP and Intel, is hosting the celebratory event to launch Windows 10 to the South African market at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg. The event was designed to embody a playground of activity – “a space where South Africa’s people congregate to work, network, socialise and be entertained, a true thoroughfare and melting pot of culture and diversity”, according to a Microsoft statement.

Microsoft has also encouraged people to vote for a global non-profit to receive a cash donation by mentioning the non-profit in a post on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and using the hashtags #UpgradeYourWorld and #vote. More information on Upgrade Your World can be found at http://www.windows.com/upgradeyourworld.

“A new era of Windows starts today. From the beginning, Windows 10 has been unique — built with feedback from over 5 million fans, delivered as a service and offered as a free upgrade,” said Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Windows and Devices Group, at Microsoft. “Windows 10 delivers on our more personal computing vision, with a natural, mobile and trusted experience.”

Microsoft provided the following information on Windows 10:

Windows 10 is fast and familiar — with the return of the Start menu and Live Tiles for instant, streaming updates of what matters most. Windows 10 is the most secure Windows Microsoft has ever released, with enhancements to Windows Defender and Smart Screen to help safeguard against viruses, malware and phishing and innovations such as Windows Hello, which offers a fast, secured, password-free way to log in. Keeping up-to-date is also simple, as free updates will help people stay current with the latest features and security updates for the supported lifetime of the device.

Windows 10 is more personal and productive, with voice, pen and gesture inputs for natural interaction with PCs. It’s designed to work with Office and Skype and allows you to switch between apps and stay organised with Snap and Task View. Windows 10 offers many innovative experiences and devices, including the following:

·       Cortana, the personal digital assistant, makes it easy to find the right information at the right time.

·       New Microsoft Edge browser lets people quickly browse, read, and mark up and share the Web.

·       The integrated Xbox app delivers the Xbox experience to Windows 10, bringing together friends, games and accomplishments across Xbox One and Windows 10 devices.

·       Continuum optimises apps and experiences beautifully across touch and desktop modes.

·       Built-in apps including Photos; Maps; Microsoft’s new music app, Groove; and Movies & TV offer entertainment and productivity options. With OneDrive, files can be easily shared and kept up-to-date across all devices.

·       A Microsoft Phone Companion app enables iPhones, Android or Windows phones to work seamlessly with Windows 10 devices.

·       The all new Office Mobile apps for Windows 10 tablets are available today in the Windows Store. Built for work on-the-go, the Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps offer a consistent, touch-first experience for small tablets. For digital note-taking needs, the full-featured OneNote app comes pre-installed with Windows 10. The upcoming release of the Office desktop apps (Office 2016) will offer the richest feature set for professional content creation. Designed for the precision of a keyboard and mouse, these apps will be optimised for large-screen PCs, laptops and 2-in-1 devices such as the Surface Pro.

Windows 10: Best platform for businesses

Feedback from millions of IT pros has shaped Windows 10, the most extensively tested version of Windows ever. Ready for corporate deployments, Windows 10 will help companies protect against modern cyberattacks, deliver experiences their employees will love and enable continuous innovation with a platform that keeps companies up-to-date with the latest technology. Businesses will be able to control the frequency of their updates and select the features and functionality that are right for each group of their employees.

Windows 10 includes built-in, enterprise-grade security, so customers can replace passwords with more secure options, protect corporate data and corporate identities, and run only the software they trust. New management and deployment tools simplify device management, help lower costs, and enable companies to power their business with the enterprise strength of the Microsoft Azure cloud.

Top apps available on Windows 10

The new Windows Store will open Wednesday and begin accepting new apps for Windows 10. The Windows Store offers one-stop shopping for popular free and paid apps, games, movies, TV shows and the latest music, which can work across all Windows 10 devices. The new Windows Store is the only store where people can use Cortana to control apps with their voice5 and get real-time notifications on their app tiles. All Windows Store content is certified by Microsoft to help keep devices safer. In addition to existing Windows 8.1 apps such as Netflix, Flipboard, Mint.com, “Asphalt 8: Airborne” and The Weather Channel, the Windows Store provides a constant stream of new and updated Universal Windows Apps and games, including Twitter, “Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition beta,” Hulu, iHeartRadio, USA TODAY, “Candy Crush Saga” and  others including WeChat and QQ, which will launch soon.

Easy upgrade, devices now available

Upgrading to Windows 10 is easy for customers running a genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PC or tablet. Starting Wednesday, people who reserved their upgrade to Windows 10 will be notified in waves when their upgrade is ready to be installed. For business customers, Windows 10 is available to start deploying within their work environments, and starting August 1, organisations that have volume licensing can upgrade to Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education.

Retail partners are ready to help people upgrade to Windows 10 with our largest tech bench program ever, including more than 100,000 trained retailers and tens of thousands of stores around the world. Free upgrade programs will be available Wednesday, with Windows 10 software becoming broadly available in retail stores around the world between mid-August and September. Devices running Windows 10 will be available in some retail stores on Wednesday, with many, many more devices to become available in the weeks and months ahead.

Microsoft has also worked closely with retailers to introduce programs to help people easily upgrade, including Best Buy, Bic Camera, Croma, Currys/PC World, Darty, Elkjøp, Fnac, Jarrir, Incredible Connection, Media Markt, Staples, Yamada Denki, Yodobashi and many more leading retailers from around the world.

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Prepare your cam to capture the Blood Moon

On 27 July 2018, South Africans can witness a total lunar eclipse, as the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon.

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Also known as a blood or red moon, a total lunar eclipse is the most dramatic of all lunar eclipses and presents an exciting photographic opportunity for any aspiring photographer or would-be astronomers.

“A lunar eclipse is a rare cosmic sight. For centuries these events have inspired wonder, interest and sometimes fear amongst observers. Of course, if you are lucky to be around when one occurs, you would want to capture it all on camera,” says Dana Eitzen, Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive at Canon South Africa.

Canon ambassador and acclaimed landscape photographer David Noton has provided his top tips to keep in mind when photographing this occasion.   In South Africa, the eclipse will be visible from about 19h14 on Friday, 27 July until 01h28 on the Saturday morning. The lunar eclipse will see the light from the sun blocked by the earth as it passes in front of the moon. The moon will turn red because of an effect known as Rayleigh Scattering, where bands of green and violet light become filtered through the atmosphere.

A partial eclipse will begin at 20h24 when the moon will start to turn red. The total eclipse begins at about 21h30 when the moon is completely red. The eclipse reaches its maximum at 22h21 when the moon is closest to the centre of the shadow.

David Noton advises:

  1. Download the right apps to be in-the-know

The sun’s position in the sky at any given time of day varies massively with latitude and season. That is not the case with the moon as its passage through the heavens is governed by its complex elliptical orbit of the earth. That orbit results in monthly, rather than seasonal variations, as the moon moves through its lunar cycle. The result is big differences in the timing of its appearance and its trajectory through the sky. Luckily, we no longer need to rely on weight tables to consult the behaviour of the moon, we can simply download an app on to our phone. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is useful for giving moonrise and moonset times, bearings and phases; while the Photopills app gives comprehensive information on the position of the moon in our sky.  Armed with these two apps, I’m planning to shoot the Blood Moon rising in Dorset, England. I’m aiming to capture the moon within the first fifteen minutes of moonrise so I can catch it low in the sky and juxtapose it against an object on the horizon line for scale – this could be as simple as a tree on a hill.

 

  1. Invest in a lens with optimal zoom  

On the 27th July, one of the key challenges we’ll face is shooting the moon large in the frame so we can see every crater on the asteroid pockmarked surface. It’s a task normally reserved for astronomers with super powerful telescopes, but if you’ve got a long telephoto lens on a full frame DSLR with around 600 mm of focal length, it can be done, depending on the composition. I will be using the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with an EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Ext. 1.4 x lens.

  1. Use a tripod to capture the intimate details

As you frame up your shot, one thing will become immediately apparent; lunar tracking is incredibly challenging as the moon moves through the sky surprisingly quickly. As you’ll be using a long lens for this shoot, it’s important to invest in a sturdy tripod to help capture the best possible image. Although it will be tempting to take the shot by hand, it’s important to remember that your subject is over 384,000km away from you and even with a high shutter speed, the slightest of movements will become exaggerated.

  1. Integrate the moon into your landscape

Whilst images of the moon large in the frame can be beautifully detailed, they are essentially astronomical in their appeal. Personally, I’m far more drawn to using the lunar allure as an element in my landscapes, or using the moonlight as a light source. The latter is difficult, as the amount of light the moon reflects is tiny, whilst the lunar surface is so bright by comparison. Up to now, night photography meant long, long exposures but with cameras such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV now capable of astonishing low light performance, a whole new nocturnal world of opportunities has been opened to photographers.

  1. Master the shutter speed for your subject 

The most evocative and genuine use of the moon in landscape portraits results from situations when the light on the moon balances with the twilight in the surrounding sky. Such images have a subtle appeal, mood and believability.  By definition, any scene incorporating a medium or wide-angle view is going to render the moon as a tiny pin prick of light, but its presence will still be felt. Our eyes naturally gravitate to it, however insignificant it may seem. Of course, the issue of shutter speed is always there; too slow an exposure and all we’ll see is an unsightly lunar streak, even with a wide-angle lens.

 

On a clear night, mastering the shutter speed of your camera is integral to capturing the moon – exposing at 1/250 sec @ f8 ISO 100 (depending on focal length) is what you’ll need to stop the motion from blurring and if you are to get the technique right, with the high quality of cameras such as the Canon EOS 5DS R, you might even be able to see the twelve cameras that were left up there by NASA in the 60’s!

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How Africa can embrace AI

Currently, no African country is among the top 10 countries expected to benefit most from AI and automation. But, the continent has the potential to catch up with the rest of world if we act fast, says ZOAIB HOOSEN, Microsoft Managing Director.

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To play catch up, we must take advantage of our best and most powerful resource – our human capital. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), more than 60 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 25.

These are the people who are poised to create a future where humans and AI can work together for the good of society. In fact, the most recent WEF Global Shapers survey found that almost 80 percent of youth believe technology like AI is creating jobs rather than destroying them.

Staying ahead of the trends to stay employed

AI developments are expected to impact existing jobs, as AI can replicate certain activities at greater speed and scale. In some areas, AI could learn faster than humans, if not yet as deeply.

According to Gartner, while AI will improve the productivity of many jobs and create millions more new positions, it could impact many others. The simpler and less creative the job, the earlier, a bot for example, could replace it.

It’s important to stay ahead of the trends and find opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills while learning how to work more closely and symbiotically with technology.

Another global study by Accenture, found that the adoption of AI will create several new job categories requiring important and yet surprising skills. These include trainers, who are tasked with teaching AI systems how to perform; explainers, who bridge the gap between technologist and business leader; and sustainers, who ensure that AI systems are operating as designed.

It’s clear that successfully integrating human intelligence with AI, so they co-exist in a two-way learning relationship, will become more critical than ever.

Combining STEM with the arts

Young people have a leg up on those already in the working world because they can easily develop the necessary skills for these new roles. It’s therefore essential that our education system constantly evolves to equip youth with the right skills and way of thinking to be successful in jobs that may not even exist yet.

As the division of tasks between man and machine changes, we must re-evaluate the type of knowledge and skills imparted to future generations.

For example, technical skills will be required to design and implement AI systems, but interpersonal skills, creativity and emotional intelligence will also become crucial in giving humans an advantage over machines.

“At one level, AI will require that even more people specialise in digital skills and data science. But skilling-up for an AI-powered world involves more than science, technology, engineering and math. As computers behave more like humans, the social sciences and humanities will become even more important. Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions.” This is according to Microsoft president, Brad Smith, and EVP of AI and research, Harry Shum, who recently authored the book “The Future Computed”, which primarily deals with AI and its role in society.

Interestingly, institutions like Stanford University are already implementing this forward-thinking approach. The university offers a programme called CS+X, which integrates its computer science degree with humanities degrees, resulting in a Bachelor of Arts and Science qualification.

Revisiting laws and regulation

For this type of evolution to happen, the onus is on policy makers to revisit current laws and even bring in new regulations. Policy makers need to identify the groups most at risk of losing their jobs and create strategies to reintegrate them into the economy.

Simultaneously, though AI could be hugely beneficial in areas such as curbing poor access to healthcare and improving diagnoses for example, physicians may avoid using this technology for fear of malpractice. To avoid this, we need regulation that closes the gap between the pace of technological change and that of regulatory response. It will also become essential to develop a code of ethics for this new ecosystem.

Preparing for the future

With the recent convergence of a transformative set of technologies, economies are entering a period in which AI has the potential overcome physical limitations and open up new sources of value and growth.

To avoid missing out on this opportunity, policy makers and business leaders must prepare for, and work toward, a future with AI. We must do so not with the idea that AI is simply another productivity enhancer. Rather, we must see AI as the tool that can transform our thinking about how growth is created.

It comes down to a choice of our people and economies being part of the technological disruption, or being left behind.

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