Practo Partners Microsoft to Let Users Make Doctor Appointments in Bing Search Results

Practo and Microsoft have partnered to improve Bing search results when it comes to searching for doctors online. The healthcare platform claims that the “collaboration will enable an easier and effective search for people looking for right medical advice.” Practo’s integration into Bing search brings the ability to book appointments, see reviews, and order lab tests on the search platform.Image result for Practo Partners Microsoft to Let Users Make Doctor Appointments in Bing Search Results

With this integration, Microsoft Bing users will be able to search and access details of doctors in 38 different cities in 10 regional languages including Hindi, Telugu, and Bengali. When you search for a doctor on Bing, you will now be able to book appointments online, consult online with doctors, order medicines and lab tests, store health records and even read health articles written by these doctors, right in the search results itself.

While searching for doctors in your city, you can now view profiles of doctors along with their qualifications, experience, specializations, and availability. The feature also enables people to see feedback from patients as well. Earlier, search results on Bing only showed relevant information like contact details and address of clinic, but with Practo’s database and tools, it brings additional abilities to the search platform.

A similar kind of integration was announced by Bing in February with Zomato as well. It allowed users to see reviews, book a table online, or even order food from the search results. Bing sought to make its restaurant search more refined and rich with Zomato integration, and now Practo has been brought on board to elevate doctors search as well.

Microsoft Reveals Plans to Store Data in DNA

Microsoft is planning to start storing its data on strands of DNA within the next few years, the company’s computer architects have revealed.

Microsoft expects to have an operational storage system using DNA within a data centre by the end of the decade, according to a report in MIT Technology Review.Microsoft Reveals Plans to Store Data in DNA

Currently, one of the best and cheapest ways to store a lot of information in a small space is magnetic tape which is rugged enough to hold information for up to 30 years.

But as the data generation has reached an exploding stage, even magnetic tapes seem to be of little use.

Therefore, Microsoft computer architects are considering a biological material such as DNA to be an odd choice for backing up large amounts of digital information, ScienceAlert reported on Saturday.

Its ability to pack enormous amounts of data in a tiny space has been clear for more than 70 years.

“While strings of nucleic acid have been used to cram information into living cells for billions of years, its role in IT data storage was demonstrated for the first time just five years ago, when a Harvard University geneticist encoded his book – including jpg data for illustrations – in just under 55,000 strands of DNA,” the report said.

With the evolving technologies, scientists have been able to record 215 petabytes (215 million gigabytes) of information on a single gram of DNA.

But scientists face a challenge in recording data in the form of a nucleic acid sequence.

The tech giant demonstrated its DNA data storage technology last year by encoding roughly 200 megabytes of data in the form of 100 literary classics in DNA’s four bases in a single process.

“This process would have cost around $800,000 (roughly Rs. 5.1 crores) using materials on the open market, meaning it would need to be thousands of times cheaper to make it a competitive option,” the report stated.

But the speed of data stored on DNA strands was as slow as 400 bytes per second. It poses as another challenge for the company to get around 100 megabytes per second to be feasible.

According to the ScienceAlert report, new technologies have been seeing the cost of gene sequencing drop in recent years, which hints that Microsoft’s end of the decade target may be realistic.

Harman Kardon ‘Invoke’ Microsoft Cortana-Powered Speaker Officially Unveiled

After an early glimpse through a pre-release page, which was taken down soon after, Harman Kardon’s Cortana-powered Invoke speaker has now been officially launched by the company. While we already got to know that the speaker would be shipping in Fall this year, the company has still not shared the exact release date or the pricing.Harman Kardon 'Invoke' Microsoft Cortana-Powered Speaker Officially Unveiled

As we mentioned in our earlier report, Harman Kardon’s Invoke speaker is powered by Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant, offers 360-degree sound, and has the ability to make and receive calls via Skype, and other things that you might expect from Cortana. The new Harman Kardon speaker is cylindrical in shape and has some resemblance to Amazon’s Echo speaker, thanks to a circular ring at the top.

“Invoke brings together Harman Kardon’s audio heritage with Cortana by Microsoft, resulting in a beautifully designed speaker for the home. Crafted from premium materials, Invoke’s striking metallic speaker cabinet delivers power and projects sound at full 360-degrees, revealing every beautiful detail in your music,” the company says on the product page on its website.

The Invoke speaker comes with 3 woofers and 3 tweeters that allow it to deliver 360-degree sound. “Invoke, with Cortana, is a voice-activated speaker that can play your favourite music, manage calendars and activities, set reminders, check traffic, deliver the latest news and much more,” the company said in its release. The Invoke speaker will be made available in Pearl Silver and Graphite colours.

The voice-activated Invoke speaker comes with Smart Home Control feature that allows it to adjust smart home devices including lights, thermostat, and more but the home automation will only be supported by select providers, as per Harman.

Apart from Cortana, the Invoke speaker comes with Harman’s “Sonique” far-field voice recognition technology. “It is a proprietary 360-degree adaptive technology (featuring 7 microphones) that recognizes all details of voice commands even in environments with high ambient noise,” the company said. If you are interested in the Cortana-powered Invoke speaker, you can register for the product from Harman Kardon’s website.

In a statement announcing the Harmon Kardon Invoke speaker, Microsoft said, “We want Cortana to be available wherever you may need assistance being more productive, and the Invoke speaker from Harman Kardon is our next step in getting there. With natural language recognition and deep integration with Microsoft’s suite of knowledge and productivity tools, Cortana is the most productive digital assistant and already used by more than 145 million people on PC and mobile devices. With Invoke, Cortana now becomes available in the home, making her even more valuable.

Windows Mixed Reality Development Kits Now Available for Pre-Orders; Microsoft Unveils Motion Controllers

In March this year, Microsoft announced that the company will start shipping development kits for Windows Mixed Reality (earlier called Windows Holographic) later in the month itself. However, the company seemed to have changed its mind later as it didn’t happen. Now the Redmond-based company has finally started taking pre-orders for the mixed reality development kits from HP and Acer. Microsoft also announced its own motion controllers for Windows 10 VR at its Build conference.Windows Mixed Reality Development Kits Now Available for Pre-Orders; Microsoft Unveils Motion Controllers

Notably, Microsoft has still not announced the release dates for these development kits but interested users can now pre-order the development kits from the company’s website. While the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset Developer Edition has been priced at $299 (roughly Rs. 19,200), the HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset Developer Edition is available for pre-orders at $329 (roughly Rs. 21,200). The option for pre-orders is currently available for users in the US and Canada.

Both HP and Acer’s Windows Mixed Reality headsets come with some common features including two high-resolution liquid crystal displays with a 1440×1440 pixels resolution, front hinged displays, 95-degree horizontal field-of-view, display refresh rate up to 90Hz (native), built-in audio out and microphone support through 3.5mm jack, single cable with HDMI 2.0 (display) and USB 3.0 (data) for connectivity, and inside-out tracking. Additionally, the HP headset comes with double-padded headband and easy adjustment knob, as per Microsoft.

Microsoft has further provided the list of recommended system specifications for developers on its blog. Needless to say, you will need a powerful configuration to support the mixed reality development kit from the company.

Moving to the motion controllers for Windows 10 VR, Microsoft says “a customer who pairs a Windows Mixed Reality headset with motion controllers will have a rich and immersive experience across creativity tools, productivity, games, and entertainment.”

Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality motion controllers don’t require any external sensors and offer “precise and responsive” movement tracking, as per company’s claims. The company says that it plans to market and sell these controllers on retail shelves this holiday. The company has confirmed that these controllers will not work with HoloLens headset, as per a report by CNET.

Microsoft announced that Acer will sell its Windows Mixed Reality headset and motion controller bundle priced at $399 (roughly Rs. 25,700) this holiday season.

Microsoft Surface Laptop to Rival Chromebook Leaked in Images Ahead of Tuesday’s Launch

Microsoft’s much talked about Spring launch event is just hours away, and leaks of the alleged Surface Laptop refuse to stop. The Surface Laptop has been leaked in several images, from various angles, revealing all design details, including many of its specification details as well. The Surface Laptop is alleged to be Microsoft’s answer to Google’s Chromebook that have picked up great interest in the market ever since Android apps integration was introduced last year.Microsoft Surface Laptop to Rival Chromebook Leaked in Images Ahead of Tuesday's Launch

Tipster WalkingCat has tweeted a lot of images, and specification details of the Surface Laptop scheduled to launch at the event in New York. The laptop will sport a 13.5-inch PixelSense display with 3:2 aspect ratio and 3.4 million pixels – the resolution is unspecified. It runs on a new platform called Windows 10 S which was (previously tipped to be called Windows 10 Cloud). This OS will be a lighter version of Windows 10, and is said to only run verified apps from the Windows Store. Early leaks also suggest that Windows 10 S will only work with Universal Windows Platform apps from the Windows Store, and not all of them.

The laptop will reportedly weigh just 1.25kg, and be 14.47mm thick at the back, and 9.9mm thick at the front. According to the tipster, the Surface Laptop will come in four colour options – Platinum, Burgundy, Cobalt Blue, and Graphite Gold. The images tip that the laptop will sport a regular USB port, a Surface power connector, and a mini DisplayPort. Interestingly, there’s no USB Type-C port support seen in the photos. Lastly, the laptop is tipped to sport an Alcantra keyboard, the same material that was used on the Surface Pro 4 keyboard. Looking at the design and specifications, the laptop seems rather premium, and it’s possible Microsoft may unveil cheaper versions as well.

Leaked earlier, the minimum specification requirements for the Surface Laptop include a quad-core Celeron (or better) processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB or 64GB of storage. Optional pen or touch support is also included. Microsoft is also looking to include all-day battery life in the mix, to lure students.

Microsoft Windows 10 S Operating System Launched for Education in Bid to Take on Google’s Chrome OS

Microsoft’s Tuesday New York event was centred on education, and the company took centre stage to introduce Windows 10 S as a simpler, more secure operating system meant for students. The Windows 10 S software is tied to the Windows Store, which means students can only run apps downloaded from the Store. All legal Windows 10 Pro machines in schools are eligible to get Windows 10 S for free.

What is Microsoft Windows 10 S?
Windows 10 S is a new Windows experience that is built from the ground up keeping in mind classrooms. As we mentioned, Windows 10 S only runs apps downloaded from the Windows Store, and for Microsoft, this means that everything is verified for both performance and safety. Students won’t be exposed to potentially dangerous apps, while every app is certified by Microsoft to ensure there is no performance drop over time.

An example of this, was the faster first-time login compared to Windows 10 Pro – just about 15 seconds – while subsequent logins will take less than 5 seconds. All Web browsers in the Windows Store will run on Windows 10 S devices, but Microsoft obviously recommends Edge that now has education-focused features like tab ordering and annotations.Microsoft Windows 10 S Operating System Launched for Education in Bid to Take on Google's Chrome OS

Windows 10 S apps
Microsoft also announced that the Office 365 suite of apps including Teams will be coming to Windows Store, complete with an education-focused update that is meant for collaboration.

Windows 10 S brings all the features that were brought by the Creators Update to Edge and Cortana. Students and teachers can also upgrade to Windows 10 Pro – for a $49 (roughly Rs. 3,150) fee – to download an application that isn’t in the Windows Store, but then, they will not be able to come back to Windows 10 S thereafter.

Just like the Chrome OS can be managed through cloud-based device management, Windows 10 S machines will support Intune, Microsoft’s cloud-based device management system. Microsoft Intune for Education is available today for administrators worldwide. Other administrator features include the ability to use a USB key to set up a PC in seconds with the Setup My PC wizard.

Windows 10 S laptop prices and manufacturers
Microsoft has partnered with Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung, and Toshiba to offer Windows 10 S laptops starting at as low as $189 (roughly Rs. 12,100). These will become available in the summer, before the next school term.

Terry Myerson, VP at Microsoft, also confirmed that these partners will also offer premium devices in the future. All of the Windows 10 Educations PCs will come with Minecraft: Education Edition (a free one-year subscription).

Windows 10 S is a hassle-free OS made for the schools and is set to take on Chrome OS. With Chromebooks took the education market by storm, especially after Android apps were introduced last year, and we expect Windows 10 S to give it some good competition in the future. A lot still depends on the new devices that will be launched by the mentioned partners in summer.

At the event, Microsoft also announced Classroom Experiences for Teams, making it a “digital hub” for students and teachers. It is available in private preview today, and will become available worldwide this summer. A batch of education-focused updates will be released for Office 365 this fall as well. Built in ‘View Mixed Reality’ features for Windows 10 will also be released this fall for free, meant to help view 3D objects in the real world.

Microsoft Surface Arc Mouse Launched as a Companion for the Surface Laptop

While Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop and Windows 10 S managed to take the spotlight on Tuesday, the Redmond-based company also launched the new version of its Arc Touch Mouse – called the Microsoft Surface Arc Mouse. While the mouse still comes with the same arc design that provided a distinct look to the earlier versions, the latest iteration doesn’t have distinguishable left and right click buttons as before. The company has priced the accessory at $80 (roughly Rs. 5,100) and interested users can already pre-order the device from company’s website.Microsoft Surface Arc Mouse Launched as a Companion for the Surface Laptop

In order to power up the new Microsoft Surface Arc Mouse, users simply need to snap the mouse into its curved position and can snap it into a flat position to power it down, or better store and carry it. The new mouse comes with two buttons (left and right click) but on a single surface, featuring a capacitive touch ‘full scroll pane’. It uses Bluetooth 4.0 for connectivity – this limits use with certain Apple and Windows 7 machines, the company said. The accessory comes with 2 AAA alkaline batteries (included) and has a battery life of up to 9 months, as per the company’s claims. The Surface Arc Mouse has frequency range of 2.4GHz and will be made available in Burgundy, Light Gray, and Cobalt Blue colours – which complement the newly launched Surface Laptop.

The new mouse from Microsoft measures 131x55x14mm and weighs 82.49 grams. “Slim, light, and ready to travel, Surface Arc Mouse is designed to conform to your hand and snaps flat to fit easily in your bag,” the company says on its website.

On Tuesday, alongside education-focused Windows 10 S, Microsoft also launched its Surface Laptop at its New York Spring event. The new device runs on the Windows 10 S, and will be made available in four colour options including Burgundy, Graphite Gold, Platinum, and Cobalt Blue. The Surface laptop has been made available for pre-orders right away, and will be shipped starting June 15.

Microsoft Edge Browser With Windows Defender Application Guard Previewed

Microsoft is finally testing a feature that will make the Microsoft Edge browser more secure and safe. The Windows Defender Application Guard was first announced last year, but Microsoft is finally testing it in its latest Windows 10 Insider Preview for Enterprises build (16188). The new tool essentially does not let the entire PC get affected, in the event that it gets hit by a malware attack. As you may have derived, the feature for now is only mean for Windows 10 Enterprise Edition users.Microsoft Edge Browser With Windows Defender Application Guard Previewed

Browsers often act as a gateway to send malware to PCs and infect them. Application Guard essentially uses a hardware container to isolate Edge browser from the rest of the PC, and prevent malware from seeping in. To use Application Guard right away, you first need to become an Insider Preview for Enterprise member on the Fast Ring. After that, visit Windows Features in settings, and then go to Turn Windows features on or off, and then mark the checkbox for Windows Defender Application Guard. Click OK and then restart your computer. Now when you open Microsoft Edge and click on the Edge menu, you’ll see the option for a New Application Guard window. Click it, and a new special isolated browser window will appear. Apart from Windows 10 Enterprise Edition, test PCs will also need Microsoft Hyper-V enabled.

Even after it comes to the stable channels, it will only be active on devices running on Windows 10 and above due to the new Virtualization Based Security (VBS) system. This new Application Guard enabled browser will not store any cache and cookies, will be separate from storage, and other apps as well. This essentially prevents all malware from seeping through, and affecting PCs, as all data is lost once the browser is shut.

The Application Guard windows will make Edge run a bit slowly as the browser’s sessions are isolated. The Windows 10 Insider build 16188 also includes integrated Cortana settings, better viewing and navigation, and an improved PDF Reader for Edge.

Microsoft Build 2017: Windows 10 Now Runs on 500 Million Monthly Active Devices

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella during his opening keynote at Day 1 of the Build 2017 developers conference in Seattle on Wednesday revealed that Windows 10 was now running on 500 million monthly active devices. That’s a significant jump from the 400 million active devices figure revealed in September last year – adding 100 million monthly active devices in roughly eight months.Image result for Microsoft Build 2017: Windows 10 Now Runs on 500 Million Monthly Active Devices

While most announcements were developer facing, Microsoft revealed that in addition to Harman Kardon’s Cortana-powered Invoke speaker, the company had entered into partnerships with HP on devices and Intel on reference platforms to bring more Cortana-enabled devices. On the developer side of this announcement, Microsoft said the Cortana Skills Kit was now in public preview (in the US only), allowing developers to “build skills for Cortana by creating a bot and publishing it to the new Cortana channel of the Microsoft Bot Framework.”

The Redmond-based company also revealed that there were now 100 million monthly commercial active users of Office 365, which it claims makes it the largest productivity service available.

As we mentioned, Microsoft had several developer facing announcements to make, including some by Scott Guthrie and Harry Shum. To begin with, Guthrie announced the general availability of Visual Studio for Mac, which was released as a preview alongside the Visual Studio 2017 Release Candidate for Windows back in November last year. The Windows version was released for public download back in March.

Guthrie and Shum also announced new Azure data and cloud services as well as new AI services. These will help developers quickly modernise their apps, apart from helping them build intelligent services into them complete with natural user interaction capabilities.

These developer-facing announcements included Azure Cosmos DB, new MySQL and PostgreSQL-managed services, a preview of Azure IoT Edge, availability of extensions and new APIs for Microsoft Graph, improvements to Azure SQL Database, as well as general availability of Windows Server Containers support in Azure Service Fabric, amongst others. Also announced were new AI-based services, such as an expansion of Microsoft Cognitive Services (adding Bing Custom Search and Custom Vision Service, and more) as well as new features for the Microsoft Bot Framework (such as adaptive cards).

Microsoft also revealed that as a new developer on-ramp to Office 365, the company was now allowing any developer to publish apps for Microsoft Teams. “Developers can also add new capabilities to Teams apps, including third-party notifications in the activity feed, Compose Extensions and Actionable Messages,” the company noted in a release issued alongside. They will be able to publish apps through the Office Store. New feature additions for developers of Microsoft Teams apps include Compose Extensions and Third-Party Notifications in the Activity Feed.

WannaCry Attacks: Microsoft Criticised for Not Offering Free Patches to ‘Unsupported’ Windows XP Users Earlier

American software giant Microsoft held back from distributing a free security update that could have protected computers from the WannaCry global cyber attack, the Financial Times reported Thursday.WannaCry Attacks: Microsoft Criticised for Not Offering Free Patches to 'Unsupported' Windows XP Users Earlier

In mid-march, Microsoft distributed a security update after it detected the security flaw in its XP operating system that enabled the so-called WannaCry ransomware to infiltrate and freeze computers last week.

But the software giant only sent the free security update – or patch – to users of the most recent version of the Windows 10 operating system, the report said.

Users of older software, such as Windows XP, had to pay hefty fees for technical support, it added.

“The high price highlights the quandary the world’s biggest software company faces as it tries to force customers to move to newer and more secure software,” it said.

A Microsoft spokesperson based in the United States told AFP: “Microsoft offers custom support agreements as a stopgap measure” for companies that choose not to upgrade their systems.

“To be clear, Microsoft would prefer that companies upgrade and realise the full benefits of the latest version rather than choose custom support.”

According to the FT, the cost of updating older Windows versions “went from $200 (roughly Rs. 13,000) per device in 2014, when regular support for XP ended, to $400 (roughly Rs. 26,000) the following year,” while some clients were asked to pay heftier fees.

The newspaper argued the high costs led Britain’s National Health Service – one of the first victims of the WannaCry attack – to not proceed with updates.

Microsoft ended up distributing the free patch for the older versions on Friday – the day the ransomware was detected.

Although the announcement was “too late to contain the WannaCry outbreak,” the report said.

Microsoft did not confirm to AFP when it made the patch free.