Archive for March 3, 2020

Microsoft To Kneecap Cortana In A Future Windows 10 Update

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 3, 2020 by itnerd

Microsoft put out a blog post on Friday to talk about the changes that are coming to Cortana, the virtual assistant that nobody seems to care about. The first big change is this:

Through this updated Cortana experience, we will roll out new Cortana services delivered through Microsoft 365 backed by the privacy, security and compliance promises of Office 365 services as set out in the Online Services Terms. Protecting your data and privacy is our highest priority, and we give you control over your data.

In short, Microsoft is going to move Cortana to the world of Office 365. But that’s not all, there’s this:

As part of Cortana’s evolution into a personal productivity assistant in Microsoft 365, you’ll see some changes in how Cortana works in the latest version of Windows 10. We’ve tightened access to Cortana so that you must be securely logged in with your work or school account or your Microsoft account before using Cortana, and some consumer skills including music, connected home and third-party skills will no longer be available in the updated Cortana experience in Windows 10. We’re also making some changes to where Cortana helps you. As part of our standard practice, we are ending support for Cortana in older versions of Windows that have reached their end-of-service dates. We recommend that customers update their devices to the latest version of Windows 10 to continue using Cortana. We’ll also be turning off the Cortana services in the Microsoft Launcher on Android by the end of April.

So it seems that Microsoft is killing off anything that is consumer focused that relates to Cortana. To be frank, I am not sure anyone will miss that. Seeing as I am pretty sure nobody uses Cortana. But hey, it’s not all bad news. Assuming that you pay up for Office 365, you can have Cortana retrieve upcoming appointments, set reminders or change settings. The emphasis, according to Microsoft, will be on “productivity.” Though again, I don’t know if anyone would actually use it seeing as pretty much nobody uses it now. But you can’t blame Microsoft for trying to play in the sandbox with Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

Twitter Is “Strongly Encouraging” Employees To Work From Home Due To Covid-19

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 3, 2020 by itnerd

Twitter is “strongly encouraging” its almost 5,000 global employees to work from home due to concerns over the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, the company said Monday.

The social media company made the suggestion as part of a blog update one day after it suspended all non-critical travel for workers, including pulling out of the South by Southwest conference scheduled for later this month in Austin, Texas. Twitter says it’s mandatory for employees in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea to work from home, but that other offices will remain open for those who choose or need to come in. “We are working to make sure internal meetings, all hands, and other important tasks are optimized for remote participation,” the company wrote on its blog. Twitter’s policy on working from home is a step beyond what most companies in the U.S. are doing as the virus spreads.

This is a sensible approach. But it will only work if companies have the tech in place to pull this off. I am talking about things like VPN access, virtual meeting software, and the like. And it will only work if users are trained on how these things work so that IT helpdesks are not flooded with calls from remote users that didn’t get the training that they need. Thus I would suggest that if you are a company that is considering something like this, you might want to start getting your ducks in a row so that there are no surprises once you roll it out.