Microsoft Monday: Two Major Windows Update Per Year, LinkedIn Hits 500M And New To-Do App Launches – Forbes

Microsoft sign on a building in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Photo credit: DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

Microsoft Monday is a weekly column that focuses on updates in regards to the Redmond giant. This week, Microsoft Monday includes details about IoT Central, a new solution for passwords, the purchase of 10 million DNA strands, the acquisition of Intentional Software, the release of the To-Do app, a battery-saving feature coming to Windows and two major Windows updates coming per year, LinkedIn hitting 500 million users and data being integrated into Dynamics 365 for Sales and much more!

Microsoft To Buy 10 Million DNA Strands For Digital Research Data

Microsoft is purchasing 10 million more strands of DNA to store digital research data. The purchase of the DNA strands are through Twist Bioscience. “The strands of DNA will be long-chain oligonucleotides used by researchers at Microsoft and the University of Washington to encode digital data at higher density,” said Twist Bioscience in a press release. “After working together for over a year, the organizations have improved storage density, thereby reducing the cost of DNA digital data storage by encoding more data per strand and increasing the throughput of DNA production.”

About a year ago, Microsoft purchased its first 10 million strands of synthetic DNA from Twist Bioscience. The benefit of using DNA strands is that it has high density and it requires little energy compared to storage technology. And DNA data storage can last up to 2,000 years without deteriorating. Plus another advantage is that a few grams of DNA can store around an exabyte of digital data.

Microsoft Has A New Solution For Passwords

Microsoft Authenticator

Microsoft

Microsoft Authenticator

Microsoft’s Authenticator app has a new feature that allows users to bypass the use of passwords in favor of phone-based logins. You can set this up by adding your account to the Android or iOS Microsoft Authenticator app and entering your username. You will need to enable phone sign-in through the settings menu and log in on your desktop using your mobile device. Rather than entering your password, you will receive a notification on your phone to unlock your phone by tapping on “Approve.”

The new authentication feature will still require you to enter your username every time, but that is much easier than having to remember both your username and your password. But if you cannot access your mobile device, then you can use your password instead.

“This process is easier than standard two-step verification and significantly more secure than only a password, which can be forgotten, phished, or compromised. Using your phone to sign in with PIN or fingerprint is a seamless way to incorporate two account ‘proofs’ in a way that feels natural and familiar,” said Microsoft in a blog post.

Microsoft Acquires Intentional Software

Microsoft is acquiring Bellevue, Washington-based productivity app company Intentional Software, according to eWeek. Intentional Software was founded by former Microsoft executive Charles Simonyi. Simonyi and his team at Intentional will now work at the Microsoft Office division. Simonyi previously joined Microsoft in 1981 and left in 2002. The terms of the acquisition were undisclosed.

Simonyi is known for being the chief architect of Microsoft Word, Excel and several other applications. Simonyi is also known for traveling to the International Space Station in 2007 and 2009.

“The Intentional platform can represent domain specific information both at the meta-level (as schemas) and at the content level (as data or rules). It has patterns for distributed interactive documents and for views for a universal surface. When combined with the existing Microsoft technologies and the future technologies that are under development there, the synergies will bring many futuristic scenarios to life,” said Simonyi on the Intentional Software website.

Microsoft has been acquiring multiple productivity software companies over the last few years. For example, Microsoft acquired Acompli (mobile email app), Sunrise Atelier (Sunrise app) and Wunderlist (to-do list and task manager app).

“This acquisition will build on the work we’re already doing to deliver the tools necessary to be productive in an information-rich world. Intentional Software’s technology and talent will enhance our existing capabilities and strengthen our ability to add new tools and services to Microsoft’s robust productivity offering. We’re excited about the company’s work on productivity applications, especially given our focus of putting people at the center of experiences and our continued effort to reimagine collaboration,” said Microsoft Office Product Group EVP Rajesh Jha in a blog post.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Spearheads USAFacts Website

There is a lot of government data that is open to the public, but it is rather cumbersome to find some of the statistics. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and a Seattle-based design studio called Artefact worked together to launch USAFacts. Ballmer spent over $10 million on the USAFacts project between direct funding and grants, according to The New York Times. USAFacts offers 30 years of federal, state and local data from over 70 government sources.

This is not the first website that was designed to centralize government statistics. Other websites that were created to centralize government statistics include Data.gov and OpenGov. But the data that is captured on USAFacts is crunched into easy-to-understand data visualizations like interactive charts and infographics.

“We put the data there in an orchestrated way so people can find it and create their own analysis,” said Ballmer via Wired. USAFacts is intended to be unbiased and non-partisan. The sources of the data are cited next to all of the visualizations.

Halo Wars: Definitive Edition Launches On Xbox Store, Windows Store And Steam

Last week, 343 Industries released Halo Wars: Definitive Edition on the Xbox Store, Windows Store and Steam PC. Previously, this version of the game was only available for gamers that owned the Ultimate Edition version of Halo Wars 2. But now it is available as a standalone so more people can access it. Halo Wars: Definitive Edition also supports Xbox Play Anywhere, which allows you to pick up where you left off between a PC and the Xbox One. However, the Xbox Play Anywhere feature won’t work if you buy the game through Steam.

“RTS fans on Steam will be excited to know that Halo Wars: Definitive Edition includes full support for Steam Achievements as well as a server browser, where anyone can create and host a game for others to search and join,” said 343 Industries’ Brian Jarrard in a blog post.

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