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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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Seedstars seeks tech to reverse land degradation in Africa

A new partnership is offering prizes to young entrepreneurs for coming up with innovations that tackle the loss of arable land in Africa.

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The DOEN Foundation has joined forces with Seedstars, an emerging market startup community, to launch the DOEN Land Restoration Prize, which showcases solutions to environmental, social and financial challenges that focus on land restoration activities in Africa. Stichting DOEN is a Dutch fund that supports green, socially-inclusive and creative initiatives that contribute to a better and cleaner world.

While land degradation and deforestation date back millennia, industrialization and a rising population have dramatically accelerated the process. Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.

Currently, nearly two-thirds of Africa’s land is degraded, which hinders sustainable economic development and resilience to climate change. As a result, Africa has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent: more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) of degraded forest landscapes that can be restored. The potential benefits include improved food and water security, biodiversity protection, climate change resilience, and economic growth. Recognizing this opportunity, the African Union set an ambitious target to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.

Land restoration is an urgent response to the poor management of land. Forest and landscape restoration is the process of reversing the degradation of soils, agricultural areas, forests, and watersheds thereby regaining their ecological functionality. According to the World Resources Institute, for every $1 invested in land restoration it can yield $7-$30 in benefits, and now is the time to prove it.

The winner of the challenge will be awarded 9 months access to the Seedstars Investment Readiness Program, the hybrid program challenging traditional acceleration models by creating a unique mix to improve startup performance and get them ready to secure investment. They will also access a 10K USD grant.

“Our current economic system does not meet the growing need to improve our society ecologically and socially,” says Saskia Werther, Program Manager at the DOEN Foundation. “The problems arising from this can be tackled only if a different economic system is considered. DOEN sees opportunities to contribute to this necessary change. After all, the world is changing rapidly and the outlines of a new economy are becoming increasingly clear. This new economy is circular and regenerative. Landscape restoration is a vital part of this regenerative economy and social entrepreneurs play an important role to establish innovative business models to counter land degradation and deforestation. Through this challenge, DOEN wants to highlight the work of early-stage restoration enterprises and inspire other frontrunners to follow suit.”

Applications are open now and will be accepted until October 15th. Startups can apply here: http://seedsta.rs/doen

To enter the competition, startups should meet the following criteria:

  • Existing startups/young companies with less than 4 years of existence
  • Startups that can adapt their current solution to the land restoration space
  • The startup must have a demonstrable product or service (Minimum Viable Product, MVP)
  • The startup needs to be scalable or have the potential to reach scalability in low resource areas.
  • The startup can show clear environmental impact (either by reducing a negative impact or creating a positive one)
  • The startup can show a clear social impact
  • Technology startups, tech-enabled startups and/or businesses that can show a clear innovation component (e.g. in their business model)

Also, a specific emphasis is laid, but not limited to: Finance the restoration of degraded land for production and/or conservation purposes; big data and technology to reverse land degradation; resource efficiency optimization technologies, ecosystems impacts reduction and lower carbon emissions; water-saving soil technologies; technologies focused on improving livelihoods and communities ; planning, management and education tools for land restoration; agriculture (with a focus on precision conservation) and agroforestry; clean Energy solutions that aid in the combat of land degradation; and responsible ecotourism that aids in the support of land restoration.

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The dark side of apps

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Mobile device security threats are on the rise and it’s not hard to see why. In 2019 the number of worldwide mobile phone users is forecast to reach 4.68 billion of which 2.7 billion are smartphone users. So, if you are looking for a target, it certainly makes sense to go where the numbers are. Think about it, unsecured Wi-Fi connections, network spoofing, phishing attacks, ransomware, spyware and improper session handling – mobile devices make for the perfect easy target. In fact, according to Kaspersky, mobile apps are often the cause of unintentional data leakage.

“Apps pose a real problem for mobile users, who give them sweeping permissions, but don’t always check security,” says Riaan Badenhorst, General Manager for Kaspersky in Africa. “These are typically free apps found in official app stores that perform as advertised, but also send personal – and potentially corporate – data to a remote server, where it is mined by advertisers or even cybercriminals. Data leakage can also happen through hostile enterprise-signed mobile apps. Here, mobile malware uses distribution code native to popular mobile operating systems like iOS and Android to spread valuable data across corporate networks without raising red flags.”

In fact, according to recent reports, 6 Android apps that were downloaded a staggering 90 million times from the Google Play Store were found to have been loaded with the PreAMo malware, while another recent threat saw 50 malware-filled apps on the Google Play Store infect over 30 million Android devices. Surveillance malware was also loaded onto fake versions of Android apps such as Evernote, Google Play and Skype.

Considering that as of 2019, Android users were able to choose between 2.46 million apps, while Apple users have almost 1.96 million app options to select from, and that the average person has 60-90 apps installed on their phone, using around 30 of them each month and launching 9 per day – it’s easy to see how viral apps take several social media channels by storm.

“In this age where users jump onto a bandwagon because it’s fun or trendy, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) can overshadow basic security habits – like being vigilant on granting app permissions,” says Bethwel Opil, Enterprise Sales Manager at Kaspersky in Africa. “In fact, accordingly to a previous Kaspersky study, the majority (63%) of consumers do not read license agreements and 43% just tick all privacy permissions when they are installing new apps on their phone. And this is exactly where the danger lies – as there is certainly ‘no harm’ in joining online challenges or installing new apps.”

However, it is dangerous when users just grant these apps limitless permissions into their contacts, photos, private messages, and more. “Doing so allows the app makers possible, and even legal, access to what should remain confidential data. When this sensitive data is hacked or misused, a viral app can turn a source into a loophole which hackers can exploit to spread malicious viruses or ransomware,” adds Badenhorst. 

As such, online users should always have their thinking caps on and be more careful when it comes to the internet and their app habits including:

  • Only download apps from trusted sources. Read the reviews and ratings of the apps as well
  • Select apps you wish to install on your devices wisely
  • Read the license agreement carefully
  • Pay attention to the list of permissions your apps are requesting. Only give apps permissions they absolutely insist on, and forgo any programme that asks for more than necessary
  • Avoid simply clicking “next” during an app installation
  • For an additional security layer, be sure to have a security solution installed on your device

“While the app market shows no signs of slowing down, it is changing,” says Opil. “Consumers download the apps they love on their devices which in turn gives them access to content that is relevant and useful. The future of apps will be in real-world attribution, influenced by local content and this type of tailored in-app experience will lead consumers to share their data more willing in a trusted, premium app environment in exchange for more personalised experiences. But until then, proceed with caution.”

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