New Microsoft Professional Degree Program

Microsoft has released a new program – Microsoft Professional Degree Program – that can train users and certify them in the Data Science discipline. The courses are free to audit, but if you want to get the MPD certificate for completing the course, it will cost you.

The ability to offer Learning as a Service, to meet a learner where they are in their own journey and provide the targeted experiences they need to reach their specific goals, is critical to closing the skills gap.  The versatility of the Open edX on Azure platform, and the breadth of our learning partner community, allows us to broaden our reach and deliver customized curriculum to drive skills needed in the market, such as the Microsoft Professional Degree (MPD) program.  The initial curriculum in the MPD program will focus on data science for this very reason, as a study by McKinsey & Company estimates that by 2018 the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills, as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.

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Server 2016 Launches This September

Microsoft will officially launch Server 2016 at Ignite in late September. For those running Technical Preview 5, you are running a feature complete preview and the final preview before launch.

Server 2016 for Standard and Data Center editions come with three installation options this time. Server Core, Server with Desktop Experience (the typical Windows Server GUI), and the Nano Server.

    • Server with Desktop Experience: The Server with Desktop Experience installation option (previously known as Server with a GUI) provides an ideal user experience for those who need to run an app that requires local UI or for Remote Desktop Services Host. This option has the full Windows client shell and experience, consistent with Windows 10 Anniversary edition Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB), with the server Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and Server Manager tools available locally on the server.
    • Server Core: The Server Core installation option removes the client UI from the server, providing an installation that runs the majority of the roles and features on a lighter install. Server Core does not include MMC or Server Manager, which can be used remotely, but does include limited local graphical tools such as Task Manager as well as PowerShell for local or remote management.
    • Nano Server: The Nano Server installation option provides an ideal lightweight operating system to run “cloud-native” applications based on containers and micro-services. It can also be used to run an agile and cost-effective datacenter with a dramatically smaller OS footprint. Because it is a headless installation of the server operating system, management is done remotely via Core PowerShell, the web-based Server Management Tools (SMT), or existing remote management tools such as MMC.
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Windows Insider Build 14379

Microsoft has released build 14379 for Windows 10 Insiders for PC and Mobile. As the Anniversary Update is coming in a month (August 2nd), they are now in bug squash mode. A few fixes this time:

Improvements and fixes for PC

  • We fixed an issue where the size of the Credential UI might not be big enough to display the contents on a PC with High DPI.
  • We fixed an issue where Action Center might crash after dismissing a large number of notifications.
  • We fixed an issue where Centennial app launches from Start or Cortana wouldn’t count towards those apps bubbling up in Start’s “Most used” list.
  • We fixed an issue where no note would have keyboard focus after minimizing then reopening the Sticky Notes app.
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Understanding Telemetry in Windows 10

Windows 10 gets a lot of flak for it’s telemetry and information gathering. This Technet article outlines what is gathered and sent to Microsoft and how you can control it within an organization. This can differ from the home editions of Windows 10, though.

All telemetry data is encrypted using SSL and uses certificate pinning during transfer from the device to the Microsoft Data Management Service. With Windows 10, data is uploaded on a schedule that is sensitive to event priority, battery use, and network cost. Real-time events, such as Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, are always sent immediately. Normal events are not uploaded on metered networks, unless you are on a metered server connection. On a free network, normal events can be uploaded every 4 hours if on battery, or every 15 minutes if on A/C power. Diagnostic and crash data are only uploaded on A/C power and free networks.

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Microsoft Security Bulletin for May 2016

Microsoft has released the list of security bulletins for May 2016. If you’re an admin, take a look and patch your systems if you’re affected.

Several resources are available to help administrators deploy security updates.

Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) lets administrators scan local and remote systems for missing security updates and common security misconfigurations.

Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Systems Management Server (SMS), and System Center Configuration Manager help administrators distribute security updates.

The Update Compatibility Evaluator components included with Application Compatibility Toolkit aid in streamlining the testing and validation of Windows updates against installed applications.

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Server 2016 Telemetry Insights

Administrators looking to update to Windows Server 2016 might want to take a look at this blog post and white paper from Microsoft if you have any concerns about what information Microsoft is going to collect from your OS installation. With as much backlash they have gotten with Windows 10, it’s nice to see some transparency here.

Yes, administrators can turn off or limit telemetry to fit your needs. Of course, Microsoft recommends against it. But, they give you the choice, which is great.

We understand that the privacy and security of our customers’ information is very important. We have taken a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to customer privacy and the protection of customer data. For example, data transmission is encrypted and access to the data is based on the principle of least privilege. Only Microsoft personnel with a valid business need are permitted access to the telemetry data.

Customers can customize their privacy settings, providing them with control over how much data they provide. We have provided details on how to set these controls, as well as full details on our telemetry process, in this whitepaper, which was just released today.

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New Surface Pro 4 Signature Type Cover

Microsoft is releasing a new Type Cover for the Surface Pro 4. The ‘Signature Type Cover’, covered in an exotic fabric. $159.99, no fingerprint scanner… Not for the average user, but a lot of people would still love to have a cover like this (I would, just wouldn’t pay for it!).

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Microsoft Updates Skylake Support for Windows 7/8.1

Microsoft had previously stated they would not support Intel’s Skylake processor with new updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 past 2017. However, due to the backlash, Microsoft has extended the support to July 17, 2018.

    1. To help provide greater flexibility for customers who have longer deployment timeframes to Windows 10, the support period for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices on Skylake systems will be extended by one year: from July 17, 2017 to July 17, 2018.
    2. Also, after July 2018, all critical Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 security updates will be addressed for Skylake systems until extended support ends for Windows 7, January 14, 2020 and Windows 8.1 on January 10, 2023.
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Microsoft Edge gets Extensions

With the most recent Windows Insider build, Microsoft Edge now supports extensions. Starting with 3 preview extensions (Translator, Mouse Gestures, and the popular Reddit Enhancement Suite), it will eventually have AdBlock, AdBlock Plus, Amazon, LastPass, Evernote and more.

Extension support was a must-have for a lot of Windows users, and this was the number one complaint with Microsoft Edge. Now that it is remedied, is there anyone that is going to give it another try or have you just given up on Microsoft browsers altogether?

To ensure the highest quality experience for customers, and as we have done with Windows 10 since the beginning, we will introduce extensions first to our Windows Insiders and then roll them out more broadly to all Windows 10 users.  Initially our Insiders will download and then sideload extensions for testing purposes, but ultimately we will make extensions available to all of our customers via the Windows Store to ensure the quality of the end-to-end experience.

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Windows 10 Build 14279 Available

For those in the fast ring of the Insiders builds, there is a new build – 14279 available to try out this weekend. A few things new, and a few fixes.

Here’s what’s fixed for PC

  • We fixed an issue where Microsoft Edge and Cortana were crashing for users with roaming profiles.
  • We fixed an issue where Cortana would continue to show reminders that have been completed.
  • We fixed an issue where items copied/moved to the desktop would not display until the desktop is manually refreshed by right-clicking on the desktop and choosing “Refresh” or pressing F5.
  • We fixed an issue where downloading certain drivers from Windows Update was causing some PCs to bluescreen.
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