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By Abhay V
Microsoft's second event for June 24 is aimed at Windows developers
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft is slated to hold a “What’s next for Windows” event at 11 AM ET on June 24 to unveil Windows 11, a name that has recently been confirmed thanks to the leaked build that made it to the web. However, it turns out that the Windows 11 event might not be the only one to be taking place next Thursday, as the Redmond firm is holding an event for 3 PM ET, which it announced via Twitter today.
As is the case with these event invites, not much in the way of information is being provided. However, the company is rumored to be working on a brand new Microsoft Store with new policies that expand the types of apps that can be distributed through the store. It is possible that that announcement, along with more information on the specifics for developers, will be provided during the event.
During the firm’s Build conference last month, CEO Satya Nadella said that the company will “create more opportunities for every Windows developer” and that it will “welcome every creator who is looking for the most innovative, new, open platform to build[,] distribute[,] and monetize applications”. It is possible that the developer-focused event dives into new app development and monetization capabilities brought by the revamped Microsoft Store policies. It is anybody’s guess if there are any surprise announcements.
The developer event is scheduled for 3 PM ET on June 24, four hours after the live stream for the Windows 11 event begins. The firm will stream the developer event on YouTube here.
By Jay Bonggolto
Microsoft redesigns Whiteboard to help users collaborate in hybrid environments
by Jay Bonggolto
Along with new Teams Rooms features, Microsoft announced today a redesigned Whiteboard that introduces new capabilities meant to make it easier to work in a hybrid setting. The latest version of Whiteboard focuses on guided collaboration, new content types, fresh UI, and expansion to its Microsoft 365 integration.
Whiteboard has added collaboration cursors that will let you see what your colleagues are doing on the canvas. The tool has also gained a new laser pointer option, first unveiled last month, to help you highlight important ideas. You can also guide others through important ideas with the "follow along" feature and get started on a presentation with new templates.
In addition, the collaborative workspace has introduced collaborative diagrams that you can create by blending shapes, lines, text, and ink. It also added a new capability to insert images and documents into your content and react to ideas with stickers. You can also bring in tables and task lists, for example, with fluid components.
A new fluent toolbar also comes to Whiteboard, overhauling its visual collaboration tools. With the new creation gallery, you'll have access to an intuitive layout that works on various devices like a Surface Hub or a smartphone.
Finally, Microsoft has expanded the availability of Whiteboard across more Microsoft 365 areas including Teams Channels & Chats, Office.com, and SharePoint. The new experience is available starting today.
By Abhay V
Microsoft announces new Teams Rooms features, brings Surface Hub-specific capabilities
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft today held its “The future of hybrid work” event and announced a bunch of features for Teams Rooms that are aimed at improving collaboration and the experience for “hybrid” meetings – meaning those meetings where some users are physically present in a room while other join virtually – on devices dedicated for Teams. This is especially useful with more users heading back to offices and attending calls from conference rooms.
The first of the features being added to Teams Rooms is a new “front row” layout for meetings, something that the company provided a sneak preview of in the past. The layout moves the video feeds of participants to the bottom of the screen, closer to users’ eye level in conference rooms. It also allows for more real estate to display meeting content such as the agenda, the shared screen, and chats right next to each other. Front row will be supported for both single and dual display configurations.
Video layouts across multiple displays are also being improved, with the tool now featuring support for splitting participant feeds across dual displays when possible. The firm says that this increases the screen space when content is not being shared, allowing for users to be seen more clearly on video. The company says that these changes aim to make hybrid meetings more “inclusive”.
Teams Rooms is also gaining a few possibilities from Teams on the desktop such as the Spotlight feature that allows hosts to pin specific feeds to the canvas. Other features being added include live reactions chat bubbles, all of which improve the experience on larger displays.
The Teams Rooms experience for Surface Hub devices is also being improved, with the firm adding features such as new Together Mode scenes, background noise suppression, live reactions, and PowerPoint Live for Teams presentations, and more. The new Microsoft Whiteboard experience is also making it to the firm’s collaborative displays. These features will be rolled out to Insiders first, before heading to the general public.
In addition to the Teams Rooms features, the Redmond firm is listing a bunch of new dedicated Teams devices from its partners. These include the likes of Neat, which is bringing unique capabilities like automatically zooming into meeting participants in a room and auto-framing them using AI and special sensors. Additionally, there are new intelligent speakers from EPOS and Yealink that use Microsoft’s voice recognition technology to transcribe meetings with speaker attribution.
Xbox Design Lab returns with support for the new Xbox controller
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Xbox Design Lab, the controller customization service Microsoft began five years ago, is back in action. It temporarily went offline late last year to update the design and manufacturing processes for supporting the new Xbox Wireless Controller, but the popular service is now back, and with improvements.
As a refresher, the service provides almost complete freedom over customizing a standard Xbox controller, from the color of its base, back, bumpers, and triggers, to the styles of buttons and sticks. An engraving option is also available for adding a personal touch, though it involves an extra charge.
Aside from supporting the latest Xbox controller iteration, the Design Lab has also brought three new color options – Shock Blue, Pulse Red, and Electric Volt – increasing the total to 18. The ABXY button options are updated with a new black-on-color variant, while a new black-on-white color option is here for the View, Menu, and Share buttons.
Microsoft says it is using 30% post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials in the plastics used for most of the color options, and it has plans to increase the company's PCR usage even further. More controller customization options are in the works too, but no details were shared today.
"We have a bold vision for customization through Xbox Design Lab, and this update is just the beginning," Xbox senior director of strategy and business James Hunter says. "Our team is hard at work developing new processes, testing new materials, and innovating so that we can continue to evolve the Xbox Design Lab experience."
Much like regular Xbox Wireless Controllers, these can be used on the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Windows 10 systems, as well as Android and iOS devices. Xbox Design Lab is available for use across the U.S., Canada, and most countries in Western Europe. A customized controller comes in at $69.99, with the optional engraving option adding another $9.99 to the price tag.
The beautiful Nordics now available in Flight Simulator with World Update V
by Sayan Sen
The fifth major content update to Microsoft Flight Simulator has arrived today in the form of World Update V, which adds the picturesque Nordic regions. This means the Scandinavian countries like Norway, Sweden, as well as the regions lying further north like Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, and more, have now been added.
Of course, with places like this that carry such scenic beauty, excellent aerial imagery is a must and that has been updated which is also one of the highlights of this patch. The patch also features updated elevation data.
In terms of specific content addition, the update features:
Of course, the local languages of Sweden, Norway, and Finland have been added.
Check out the new Nordics World Update Trailer that showcases several of these places:
The complete patch notes for Microsoft Flight Simulator World Update V (184.108.40.206) that detail all the additions and improvements can be seen here. The update is now available to download for free for owners of the game on the Microsoft Store and Steam, as well as Xbox Game Pass subscribers.