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Windows 10 updates creativity

The third major Windows update – Windows Creators Update – has is currently being rolled out across the globe, offering a variety of new tools and functions including 3D support, mixed reality and enhanced security.

Microsoft believes that the Windows 10 Creators Update, the third major release for Windows 10, “will unveil a next wave of innovation on the world’s most widely used operating system for users”.

More than 400 million devices are running Windows 10. New features in the Windows 10 Creators Update, released last month, promise more tools for users to express their imagination.  These include 3D, mixed reality, enhanced apps, improved security, and 4K gaming.

“Whether you sculpt in 3D or code, design new worlds or buildings, compose symphonies of music or science, or create ideas or possibilities – we want to empower the creator in each of us,” says Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President, Windows and Devices Group, Microsoft. “We want Windows to be the place you love to create and play, with the tools to help you make your mark on the world.”

Microsoft provided the following information:

3D for everyone

With the Creators Update, millions of Windows 10 users can now print, create and share in 3D, as well as get up close and personal with mixed reality.

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The new Paint 3D app makes it simple to create 3D objects from scratch, easily changing colors, stamping textures, or turning a 2D picture into a 3D work of art.

In addition, the Remix3D.com community has also been busy connecting creators since October 2016, helping them find new ideas and providing instant access to a growing library of 3D objects to customize, edit, and share.

From 3D to mixed reality, the Windows 10 Creators Update will enable immersive experiences that blur the lines between physical and virtual worlds. Brands including HP, Dell, Lenovo, ASUS, and Acer will ship the first VR headsets capable of mixed reality with the Windows 10 Creators Update.  These headsets will contain built-in sensors to enable inside-out, six-degrees of freedom, allowing for easy set up and free movement without the need for external markers or sensors in the wall. These devices will light up with new, immersive Windows Mixed Reality apps and experiences, which developers are creating on the recently available Windows Mixed Reality dev kits.

With these new 3D and VR capabilities, millions of Windows users around the world will be able to seamlessly create and consume 3D content like never before.

A faster, more secure way to browse

Since the launch of Microsoft Edge in Windows 10, users have spent more than 63 billion minutes on the browser.  In the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft Edge gets better at helping them do both with a completely new suite of tab management features, new extensions, as well as both a new bookstore and reading experience.

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According the NSS Labs 2016 Web Browser Security Comparative Reports, Microsoft Edge blocks 9% more phishing sites and 13% more malware than Chrome, helping to protect user identity and information. In addition, since the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft Edge is up to 24% – 43% more efficient than the competition for general purpose browsing, and lasts up to 23% – 69% longer when streaming videos.

The Creators Update will also bring more extensions to Microsoft Edge, letting users easily add new functionality to what their browser can do. We are excited to offer new extensions with this update such as Ebates, Intel TrueKey, Read & Write, Ghostery, RoboForm, among others. It is also the only browser that can play Netflix content in 4K Ultra HD resolution, bringing the crispest, sharpest entertainment for Windows 10 users.

Comprehensive security for everything you do

Windows 10 is the most secure version of Windows ever, and the Creators Update continues to broaden and deepen its security features.

The new Windows Defender Security Center, for example, combines security and health options in one place so that it is easier for people to see and control Windows 10 device security and health options.

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For enterprise customers, the Creators Update will continue to bring new tools and capabilities that help simplify IT – making it easier to better deploy, manage and support Windows 10 devices – and to help stomp security threats.

The best experience in 4K gaming and in-game broadcasting

Gaming is one of the most popular activities on Windows 10 today, comprising over 32.5 billion hours of gameplay on Windows 10 since launch.

The Windows 10 Creators Update makes it super easy for anyone to broadcast their gameplay on Windows 10 and Xbox One via the built-in Beam broadcasting technology. With Beam’s sub-second latency, new experiences are possible such as the ability for viewers to influence the gameplay or interact with the stream while it’s taking place.

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Also built into the Windows 10 Creators Update is Game Mode, a new platform feature that dedicates more graphics and processor resources to your PC games. It works with almost any game, and provides on average more sustainable framerates for gamers.

The Creators Update will also enable user-generated tournaments through Arena on Xbox Live, so gamers can define the rules of competition, invite friends and track tournament progress seamlessly across devices.

The Creators Update will be rolled out in a measured and deliberate manner; users can download and install it via Windows Update as soon as it is available.

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Time is running out for Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Companies are urged to update from the dated database management software as it reaches the end of its support, writes BRYAN TURNER.

The 11-year-old Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database management software is reaching the end of its support on 9 July. The applications that use databases running on this software will be at risk of security and stability issues.

On self-managed databases, upgrading to the latest database version comes with a lot of risks. Many IT departments within companies go by the motto: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.

Microsoft made it very clear that it would not be updating SQL Server 2005 after its extended support date and even left it vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown by not releasing patches for the dated version.

Updating SQL Server versions may seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the effort it takes for a migration. In the last major version update, SQL Server 2016 introduced simpler backup functionality, database stretching, and always-encrypted communications with the database, to name just three features.

While backing up the database may be the last thing on the typical database administrator’s mind, it’s become increasingly important to do so. In SQL Server 2008, it’s clunky and causes headaches for many admins. However, in SQL Server 2016, one can easily set up an automated backup to Azure storage and let it run on smart backup intervals. Backing up offsite also reduces the need for disaster recovery for onsite damage.

Database stretching allows admins to push less frequently accessed data to an Azure database, automatically decided by SQL Server 2016. This reduces the admin of manually looking through what must be kept and what must be shipped off or deleted. It also reduces the size of the database, which also increases the performance of the applications that access it. The best part of this functionality is it automatically retrieves the less accessed records from Azure when users request it, without the need for manual intervention.

Always-encrypted communications are becoming more and more relevant to many companies, especially those operating in European regions after the introduction of GDPR. Encryption keys were previously managed by the admin, but now encryption is always handled by the client. Furthermore, the keys to encrypt and decrypt data are stored outside of SQL Server altogether. This means data stored in the database is always encrypted, and no longer for the eyes of a curious database manager. 

The built-in reporting tools have also vastly improved with the addition of new reporting metrics and a modern look. It includes support for Excel reports for keeping documentation and Power BI for automated, drag-and-drop personalised reporting. Best of all, it removes the dreaded Active X controls, which made the reporting in a webpage feel very clumsy and bloated in previous versions.

A lot has changed in the past ten years in the world of SQL Server database management, and it’s not worth running into problems before Microsoft ends support for SQL Server 2005.

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Local apps to feature in Huawei’s App Gallery

Huawei’s mobile app store, the HUAWEI AppGallery, will soon feature a multitude of apps and designs by local developers. The company says this is part of its drive to promote South African digital talent and include more useful apps for Huawei smartphone users. HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes are pre-installed on all the latest Huawei and Honor devices.

“South African consumers are increasingly wanting more apps that are relevant to their unique circumstances, addressing issues they experience regularly – such as load shedding or safety concerns – but also apps that celebrate South Africa’s multitude of cultures and this vibrant country,” says Lu Geng, director of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Region.

Akhram Mohamed, chief technology officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa, says: “Huawei is committed to catering to the needs of South African consumers, but we also know that we do not have all the answers. For this reason, we aim to work closely with South African developers so that we can give our users everything that they need and want from their devices. At the same time, we also hope to create an open ecosystem for local developers by offering a simple and secure environment for them to upload content.”

Huawei Mobile Services was launched in South Africa in June last year. Since then, both the HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes – which features tens of thousands of themes, fonts and wallpapers that personalise user’s handset – have become increasingly popular with the local market. Even though it is a relatively new division of Huawei, there has been a great increase in growth; at the end of 2018 Huawei Mobile Services had 500 million users globally, representing a 117% increase on the previous year.

Explaining what differentiates the HUAWEI AppGallery from other app stores, Mosa Matshediso Hlobelo, business developer for Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa says: “We use the name ‘HUAWEI AppGallery’ because we have a dedicated team that curates all the apps in terms of relevance and ease of use and to ensure that there are no technical issues. Importantly, all apps are also security-checked for malware and privacy leaks before being uploaded on to the HUAWEI AppGallery.”

Huawei recently held a Developers’ Day where Huawei executives met with South African developers to discuss Huawei’s offering. 48 developers registered their apps on the day, and Huawei is currently in discussions with them with the eventual aim of featuring the best apps and designs on HUAWEI AppGallery or HUAWEI Themes. The Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Team at Huawei plans on making Developers’ Day a quarterly event and establishing a local providers’ hub, where developers can regularly meet with Huawei for training on updates to programmes and offerings.

“We have a very hands-on approach with our developers, and hope to expand that community so we can become an additional distribution channel for more developers and expose them to both a local and a global audience,” says Geng. “For example, we regularly feature apps and designs from local developers on our Huawei social media pages, and do competitions and promotions. We want to do everything we can to make our Huawei users aware of these local apps and upload them. This will encourage the growth of the developer community in South Africa by giving developers more opportunities to generate revenue from in-app purchases.”

* Developers who would like their apps featured on the HUAWEI App Gallery, or designs featured on HUAWEI Themes, should visit https://developer.huawei.com or email Huawei Mobile Services on sacloud@huawei.com.

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