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By Hamza Jawad
Microsoft and Honeywell collaborate on Azure and Dynamics 365
by Hamza Jawad
In the recent past, a fair few firms have signed agreements with Microsoft which see them leveraging the Redmond giant's Azure services. These include bp and Standard Chartered, among others. Today, this portfolio of collaborations is increasing, with U.S. manufacturer Honeywell entering the fold as well.
The team-up will aim to "reshape the industrial workplace", with Honeywell bringing domain-specific applications for industrial clients to the market. To assist in this process, the firm is leveraging Microsoft's cloud platform, as well as connecting Dynamics 365 Field Service to its analytics software solution - Honeywell Forge. Solutions that Honeywell is already delivering in collaboration with Microsoft include Digitized Maintenance, Energy Optimization, and OT Cybersecurity.
Que Dallara, President and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise, commented on this development in the follwing way:
Through the offered services, customers will be able to access essential operating data with workflow management. Automating maintenance for building owners and operators will be the initial area of focus in this regard.
Moving on, Honeywell will be looking to integrate Forge with even further Azure services. Digital Twins could be utilized to create digital representations of physical environments with lesser operational costs. Meanwhile, edge capabilities could be leveraged to run AI and ML processes directly across plants and warehouses without needing access to internet constantly.
By Jay Bonggolto
Corsair announces a new wireless gaming headset for Xbox One, Series X, and Series S
by Jay Bonggolto
Corsair today announced a new wireless gaming headset that's compatible with Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. The company says the HS75 XB headset will also work with Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S when these consoles roll out on November 10.
The headset uses 50mm neodymium drivers and has a uni-directional microphone that should minimize unnecessary sounds from the environment. Corsair also claims the HS75 XB is the company's first headphones to feature Dolby Atmos spatial sound. It also includes on-ear game audio and chat mix controls.
Connectivity-wise, the headset can pair directly with your console through Xbox Wireless technology, with up to 30 feet of wireless range. That means it won't require a wireless receiver installed on the console to function. However, you will need an Xbox Wireless Adapter to connect the headphones to your Windows PC. The adapter is also sold separately.
The headset's battery can last up to 20 hours on a single charge. It's available starting today via Corsair's online storefront and authorized retailers worldwide for $149.99. The product comes with a two-year warranty as well.
By Abhay V
A new Windows 10 Group Policy now lets IT admins disable feature update blocks
by Abhay Venkatesh
Microsoft releases Windows 10 feature updates in a staggered manner, which means that the rollout targets a small set of users initially, which then expands gradually to more users. However, some devices are blocked from receiving new versions due to ‘safeguard holds’. These are update blocks that are applied to devices that could be affected by known issues – based on the Redmond firm’s telemetry –, that may end up causing blue screens (BSODs) or other performance issues.
However, a recently added Group Policy aimed at IT admins and professional users can now allow them to bypass these update blocks and pull a feature update from Windows Update. The policy, called “Disable Safeguards for Feature Updates” can be found under Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Windows Update for Business in the Group Policy Editor. Admins that use an MDM (Mobile Device Management) tool can use the Update/DisableWUfBSafeguards CSP.
The company explains in a recently updated support document that the ability to disable these safeguard blocks is a temporary measure for IT admins who “stay informed with Update Compliance and the Windows Release Health dashboard” and those that are aware of the risks. The reason the firm calls the policy a “temporary” one is because it is reset after an update and must be manually enabled again.
The policy was added with the October Patch Tuesday updates and works on Windows 10 version 1809 (October 2019 Update) with devices running Windows Update for Business. Though, the policy description itself mentions Windows 10 version 1903 or newer as the OS requirement.
The ability to disable safeguards and force an update could be aimed at helping admins perform validation and testing in a business environment. Admins can also use the Update Compliance monitoring tool to ascertain the risks involved with the known issues and decide if a future update is safe enough for deployment.
Source: Microsoft Support via BleepingComputer
Microsoft Forms is now available for personal users
by João Carrasqueira
Microsoft has announced that Forms, the poll and quiz creator tool, is now available for personal use. Forms originally launched in 2018 for business users, and it's also available for education, but now, anyone can use it. The tool is free, though some additional features can be unlocked with a Microsoft 365 subscription.
Forms lets users create polls, quizzes, or tests with a variety of options for answers. Forms can ask for text input, a multi-choice selection list, dropdown lists, calendar dates, and so on, with options to allow for long answers or mark certain questions as required. Forms also has templates so users don't have to start from the ground up, and themes are available to customize the look of the form for respondents. In addition to some preset themes, it's possible to upload photos to customize the look of a poll.
Polls can be shared with anyone using a link or a QR code. Poll creators can then see the results of the poll within Forms, with real-time results and automatically generated charts for questions that allow it. Results can also be exported to Excel.
Forms is available on the web using this link, but you can also use it through the Office mobile app, a capability that was announced at Ignite last month.
Microsoft employees will continue to work from home until July 2021
by João Carrasqueira
Microsoft is delaying plans to reopen its offices for employees at a wider scale, according to a new internal email obtained by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley. Back in July, the company had pointed to January as the target date for its employees to return to work onsite as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the conditions haven't evolved favorably in the past few months.
According to the email, Microsoft work offices in the United States likely won't reach "Stage 6" - when the pandemic is no longer to deemed to have a significant impact on the country - until July 6, 2021. That means the company can't open its offices to all of its workers before then, though some workers may have the option to return to work onsite before then, at least part time.
Currently, most U.S. states are in Stage 3, meaning working from home is encouraged for most employees, though jobs that require onsite presence are exceptionally allowed to work at the offices. In Stages 4 and 5, employees can opt to work at Microsoft's offices, but with some occupancy restrictions.
A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft updated its policy for working from home, establishing part-time work from home as standard for most of its employees, though some may be able to do so full time. Microsoft has also shifted most of its annual events to a virtual format for at least the first half of 2021.