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Windows 10 Fall Creators lands

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.

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Cisco gives pre-owned tech a Refresh

In a market of constant upgrades, Cisco Refresh aims to keep quality product away from landfills, writes BRYAN TURNER.

When one gets a new smartphone upgrade, the old device may be used as a backup or can be used by someone else. In business environments, equipment upgrades may not be conducive to keeping old equipment around, which may send older, working equipment to landfills.

This is where Cisco’s Refresh initiative comes in. At Cisco Connect in Sun City this week, Ehrika Gladden, VP and general manager of Cisco Refresh, lifted the lid on a little-known aspect of the company’s strategy. 

“Refresh is Cisco’s global pre-owned equipment business unit,” said Gladden. “It is certified to meet the quality and engineering standards of Cisco. It is licensed for software and it’s also inclusive of a services warranty.

“Our responsibility in 80 countries around the world is tied to both the recovery of assets and the ability to leverage those assets at a lower price point. This ensures our sustainability and proper usage of the Earth’s resources while providing access to small and medium businesses. The products are typically in the range of 20-40% cheaper. The products represent the entire portfolio for Cisco in some part, the majority of that product set is 2+ years in terms of generation.”

Cisco’s Circular Economy initiative ensures a sustainable loop through businesses willing to pay a premium for the latest, cutting-edge solutions, while Cisco markets older, working equipment for resale to those who don’t require the latest solutions. This ensures far less new components need to be used in a product range.

“We are leveraging the model of remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and reusing,” said Gladden. “Depending on the product set, there is a certain set of product yield that we expect. They vary from product to product, but we do have a percentage that doesn’t make it through.

“Those are always reused, meaning we will look at those products and decide to use them completely differently, leveraging the components, remanufacturing back into the overall build process. If that can’t be done, we will go into a recycle process where we melt those products down to reuse them.”

Repairing and refurbishing older products isn’t just that. Cisco is creating repair centres that are owned by third-parties to uplift local ownership.

“The repair centres, as a global manufacturer, is Cisco’s entree into local ownership,” said Gladden. “I want to be precise about what I mean by local ownership. It’s critical for us to have a localised presence, but doing that through ownership. When you look at inclusive economies, those that are participative, to be sustainable – not in the product set, but generationally.

“The ability as a global manufacturer through a local ownership model  isto create a repair centre where a product can be returned, screened, tested, and repaired, leveraging the talent that the Networking Academy is creating.”

Cisco is working closely with local governments to understand where it operates and how to leverage the skills in the market.

Gladden said: “We are also super excited about the National Development Plan and African Union statements which with we align: eradication of poverty, job creation, ownership, healthcare, education, it all fits in the model. So we were very excited to have the opportunity to come to Africa first to announce this. Over the next twelve months, we want to establish our first repair centres, and in the next 3 to 5 years, build that vision into a reality.”

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Why Data Privacy has become a Pipe Dream

If you’re active on WhatsApp, Facebook or any other social platform, you’re not as safe as you thought, writes
AARON THORNTON, MD of Dial a Nerd

As you begin to read this, let’s perform a quick experiment! How many active conversations are you engaged in – right now – on WhatsApp? When was the last time you shared a picture or video on Instagram? Is Facebook currently open and active on one of your devices? And how many internet- connected devices are you using at this moment? Chances are, you have multiple devices running multiple applications most of the time. So what’s the problem, you ask? Since when did checking in with a high school buddy in Australia via Facebook become a dangerous act?  

In reply, we say, read on if you can stomach it!  

Nation-State Hacking & You  

It might seem like a laughably long shot to say that you are a key player in the increasingly sinister and sophisticated world of nation-state hacking. Well, you are. Given that individuals, businesses and governments are now constantly connected, round the clock, consumers and businesses have become fair game in cyber espionage. And as we create and share more and more data, both the value and accessibility of that data increases. According to a report by McAfee, IP theft now accounts for more than 25% of the estimated $600 billion cost of cybercrime to the world economy.    

With data having become the ‘new gold’, nation states are naturally pouring investment and key resources into building advanced cyber warfare tools. Indeed, entire divisions of armed forces as well as the upper echelons of corporate leadership are devising ways to harness data to gain economic, political and social power. At the highest level, tools and platforms are being developed with the specific aim of perpetrating cyber espionage and data theft. No surprise then, that the consumer and business environments are rife with increasingly advanced malware, ransomware and many other malicious hacking tools and methods.  

Still not convinced? Yes, we can smell the scepticism from here! So let’s take a moment to see how this has already played out, beneath our noses.  

Remember the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal of early 2018? For many, this was a watershed moment in the emerging war for consumer data – and the ensuing tensions between privacy, power and profit. Need a refresh? Well, in 2018, Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign. In essence, the data was harvested without user consent and used for political purposes.  

Another chilling but less direct example can be found in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. According to Politico, Russia launched a massive social media campaign to ‘sow discord’ leading up to the elections. The website reported that as early as 2014, an infamous Russian “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency – a company linked to Russian president Putin – developed a strategy using fraudulent bank accounts and other fake identity documents to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” 

When referring to the Russian hacks and their impact on election results, one U.S. Representative sagely noted: “They didn’t just steal data; they weaponized it.” 

Ignorance is not bliss 

Okay, so data is being ‘weaponized’, and ordinary people and businesses are being caught in the crosshairs of cyber warfare. A little bit frightening, but the good news is that savvy individuals like you can take steps to protect personal data and actively combat the creeping influence of juggernauts such as Facebook and Google.  

To begin with, awareness is key. As you engage with various platforms and applications at work and at home, take time to understand how your data is being used and what the terms of use are. Is your data being accessed and sold to advertisers? Have you consented to this? In addition to scrutinizing your consent, also pay close attention to how much data you share online – and the nature of the details you are divulging. Always keep in mind that hackers are employing smart social engineering tactics and using the details of your private life (birthdays, holidays, pet’s names, etc) to trick you into opening infected emails and clicking on malware. Whenever you are online, you are a target – and vigilance at all times is critical. Beyond that, it goes without saying that you must commit to following basic security protocols with your devices. So always keep software up to date and keep your data backed up so that you can reboot or wipe a device if needed.   

Now that we’ve left you sufficiently spooked, you can get back to those demanding WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram notifications (same company, by the way)…albeit, we hope, with a slightly altered [cyber] worldview!  

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