Windows 11's new focus timer feature will work with Spotify

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Engadget 06 August, 2021 - 08:42am 54 views

Is Windows 11 released?

Windows 11 is an upcoming major version of the Windows NT operating system developed by Microsoft. Announced on June 24, 2021, with an expected release in late 2021, Windows 11 is the successor to Windows 10, released in 2015. wikipedia.orgAnnouncing Windows 11

May 9, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego directs his team against the New Orleans Pelicans in the second half at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets are expected to be one of the league’s most fun teams to watch entering the 2021-22 season, and a lot of that will be contributed to the electric play of guard LaMelo Ball as he enters his second season in the NBA.

There will also be continued high-flying dunks from Miles Bridges and promising potential from new draft picks James Bouknight and Kai Jones.

However, with the talk of the roster improving and new players coming in, next season might be most important for James Borrego, who is entering his fourth year as Hornets head coach.

Charlotte picked up the fourth and final year option to Borrego’s contract this summer, leaving him with at least one more season to prove why he can be the guy to help lead these Hornets back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

In three years with Charlotte, Borrego has compiled a 95-124 record, including a 33-39 campaign last season that clinched a play-in berth.

While that record doesn’t sound very successful, Borrego exceeded most expectations in his second year with the team as the Hornets began the post-Kemba Walker era.

Borrego oversaw the breakouts of guard Devonte’ Graham, the progression of Miles Bridges and PJ Washington, and the borderline all-star play from Terry Rozier.

He did all of this without having a single reliable center during his time as a head coach.

But the way last year ended doesn’t sit well with many Charlotte fans.

The Hornets lost 15 of their final 21 games and six of their final seven. That’s in addition to an embarrassing 144-117 blowout loss in the Eastern Conference play-in game against the Indiana Pacers.

There have been some calls on social media by fans saying Charlotte should have been more successful since they were the fourth-seed at one point during the 2020-21 season but unfortunately, injuries derailed the year.

Borrego has actually done a pretty good job taking over a roster with tons of cap issues and turning it into a team with one of the league’s brightest futures just two years after losing its all-time leading scorer.

With expectations comes pressure, and if the Hornets don’t make a significant step forward this year, Borrego will likely take the fall.

Ball is the future star of the Hornets’ franchise, and up-and-coming players like Bouknight, Bridges and Washington will also have key roles.

If Charlotte misses the playoffs for the sixth-straight year and fourth time under Borrego’s reign, general manager Mitch Kupchak will likely decide that while Borrego has done a solid job developing these players, someone new will have to take them to the next step.

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Windows 365 costs how much!?

Computerworld 07 August, 2021 - 01:10am

The day has finally come: Microsoft Windows 365 Cloud PC is now generally available and…

"Oh my God, Steven! Have you seen how much it costs!?"

"It's so expensive!"

Actually, it's not. And before you interrupt me again, let me explain what’s going on with Windows 365.

First, as promised, Microsoft this week published Windows 365 pricing. It starts at $20 per user, per month for the lowest-end SKU. With that, you get a single vCPU (Virtual CPU) running on the Azure Cloud, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of OneDrive cloud storage. Prices rise from there, depending on configuration, up to $163 per user, per month. That gets you 8 vCPUs, 32GB of RAM, and 512GB of OneDrive storage.

The low-end pricing on all tiers requires you to be using Windows Hybrid Benefit. This is Microsoft's "bring-your-own-license” model, which lets you apply existing or new licenses toward a product's cost. Without the Hybrid Benefit discount, all of the SKU prices are $4 higher per user, per month.

For that, according to Microsoft, you get:

A recent virtual roundtable sponsored by Adobe featured a deep and nuanced discussion about remote/hybrid work and the impact it will have on organizations.

That means, for example, you can run Windows 365 at your office PC, pick it up again on your home Mac, and if you really wanted to, look over sales forecasts on your Android tablet when you can't sleep at night.

This is the "idiot-proof" version. You don't need an Azure subscription or an Active Directory (AD) domain controller. Everything, and I mean everything, works with Azure AD and Microsoft manages all of it. Just pay your money, provision your hardware using the defaults, and you're up and running.

If you want more control and features, you’ll want Windows 365 Enterprise, which gives IT people more control over what's going on with your Windows instances. It doesn't give you quite as much control as Azure Virtual Desktop, but its pricing is also simpler and, generally speaking, cheaper.

Security professionals must remain vigilant to protect critical infrastructure.

You can, of course, use any of these in harmony with Office 365 or any of Microsoft's other cloud offerings. But, and this is important, Microsoft says you can use it to remotely access any of your Windows 10 apps. Install them virtually and go.

In theory, there will be no fuss or muss. In practice, I'm absolutely sure you will run into problems because, well you know, Windows is Windows, and what's Windows without compatibility problems? That said, I expect most popular business programs, such as QuickBooks and Adobe Creative Suite, to run on Windows 365. (If not, Microsoft is going to hear about it loud and clear; they'll get it right.)

One thing, however, you shouldn't do is really intense data processing on a Windows 365 system. The Windows 365 Business Plan comes with a data cap for upstream traffic of 20GB per user per month on the low end and up to 70GB per user per month on the high end. Note: I say "upstream," not down. The only way you're likely to run into trouble here is if you try video editing on cloud-based videos.

Now, let's talk about those costs. First, if you think those prices are high, you haven't done much with cloud computing. By cloud computing standards, they’re cheap. And the really good news is they are flat prices; you don't pay per hour or by how many resources you use. I guarantee you'll find this cheaper than most, if not all, Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offerings.

Some people are mocking Windows 365 on the grounds that they can get a lot more machine for the money than they can by using a Windows 365 virtual machine (VM). Sure, you can buy, say, a PC World favorite HP Envy 14 laptop for $1,150 with an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. A roughly equivalent Windows 365 instance with 2 vCPUs, 8GBs of RAM, and 256GB of cloud storage will cost you $54 a month without the Hybrid Benefit discount.

But let's do a little business math. Typically, you keep a PC for three years, so at first glance, the HP machine wins handily since it only costs you $1,150 (versus the $1,944 a Windows 365 Cloud PC will cost over the same period).

Again, though, this is a business. How much do you pay to support that PC? Can your techs easily and inexpensively help your people working from home? You'll pay nothing for Windows 365 support — it comes baked in. And by its nature, Windows 365 is easy to manage remotely.

Windows 365 also won't cost you any extra time if you need to revert, take a system snapshot, or recover your system. It also comes with Microsoft's security Defender software built-in. What about if you need to repair that little HP machine? How much will the downtime cost you? With Windows 365, who cares if your laptop gets run over by a truck? You just grab another machine, and you're back in business.

The sheer number of devices pulls IT and OT teams together. Read how to plan for security at the edge.

There are other factors, of course. For example, your accountant will tell you computer hardware is subject to 100% amortization, while you can't amortize a cloud service. But the bottom line is that for many businesses, Windows 365 will make good financial sense.

Do the math and then decide. Don't just laugh at the pricing and continue on your way. You may well find that when all's said and done, Windows 365 is exactly what your CFO and your CIO — and your employees — want.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the cutting-edge PC operating system, 300bps was a fast Internet connection, WordStar was the state-of-the-art word processor, and we liked it!

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

New Windows 11 feature is a ‘game-changer’ — here’s why

Tom's Guide 06 August, 2021 - 07:12am

Windows 11’s Focus Sessions will help you get stuff done

Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer Panos Panay teased the new feature coming to Insider builds of Windows 11 on Twitter, noting: "Another first look from the team… #FocusSessions on #Windows11 coming soon. This has been a game-changer for me, especially with @Spotify integration.” 

Focus Sessions is all about productivity and, if the 16-second teaser video is indicative of the finished product, is designed to help users create short bursts of productivity where you focus on one particular task with music to help you get in the zone.

Another first look from the team...#FocusSessions on #Windows11 coming soon. This has been a game-changer for me, especially with @Spotify integration #Productivity #Creativity #WindowsInsiders pic.twitter.com/HfJh4niDiSAugust 5, 2021

The video, embedded in the tweet above, shows a user picking out a task from their to-do list, selecting a Spotify playlist and then kicking off a 30-minute timer. Said timer can be increased or shortened, and there’s also space for a break, with the option to skip it if you’re really pushed for time. The section also includes a widget titled “Daily progress” with rings showing how much you’ve achieved, how many hours you worked yesterday and your current productivity streak. 

Given the ongoing pandemic and the decision of many businesses to keep employees working remotely, focus and productivity are areas where every little helps, and software developers are taking note. 

In fact, this isn’t even the first Microsoft product to introduce a Focus mode: Teams also includes a similar feature where music and timers can be applied to ensure you can work free of distractions. Apple’s upcoming macOS 12 Monterey update also has a Focus mode where notifications are filtered and, crucially, it will follow you between devices using your iCloud account.

Panay didn’t reveal when Focus Sessions would be introduced, but Brandon LeBlanc, another Microsoft employee in the know, confirmed that the feature would be “coming soon to Windows Insiders.”

This is a sneak peek at it - it is new and coming soon to Windows Insiders!August 5, 2021

If it’s going to be seen by Insiders “soon," then it’s a good bet that this will be an established part of Windows 11 when the official release begins to roll out to eligible Windows 10 users later in the year. 

The word “eligible” is an important one, as some users will find themselves locked out of the upgrade due to the makeup of their computer. While Microsoft took down its official Health Check app, third party options are available to see if your PC is Windows 11 ready.  

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