Category Archives: Windows 10

How religious movies are thriving more than ever before under Trump

Is Genesis History Compass Cinema

At one time, the strategy for getting the attention of faith-based movie audiences was pretty straightforward: Build a grassroots marketing campaign focused on certain congregations and churches, bus them to movie theaters, and let word of mouth build.

It was a model that led to numerous religious-themed movies having impressive opening weekends at the box office, most notably Mel Gibson’s epic depiction of the final hours of Jesus Christ, “The Passion of the Christ,” which is still the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time.

With the rise of streaming, there have been obvious tweaks to faith-based marketing, but those who work in this part of the film industry have also seen a change since President Donald Trump started running for and then won the White House.

‘There’s riches in the niches’

“What’s shaking out since Trump is that people don’t trust institutions. They don’t trust the top-down — they want stories that are real and honest,” marketer and producer Erik Lokkesmoe told Business Insider. “It’s a feeling of, ‘Don’t tell me it’s simple and easy.’ The audience we’re serving now knows issues are complex.”

trump supportersLokkesmoe says the days of just going directly to community leaders, librarians, teachers, and pastors to get the word out about a movie are over. He observes that within the Christian audience, there are now subgroups with varying beliefs and tastes. As he puts it, in today’s faith-based market, “There’s riches in the niches.”

How to find the ‘Trump audience’

One obvious niche that everyone is trying to cater to at the moment, of course, is Trump’s base. Though Lokkesmoe says it’s still too early to get an exact read on the president’s most ardent supporters, he has seen what kind of power they can give to a project.

The documentary “Is Genesis History?” explores how the world intersects with the history recorded in the Book of Genesis. It was released as a Fathom Events one-night special in late February and earned $1.8 million on just 704 screens. It was the top-earning theatrical release that day (a Thursday), beating out “The Lego Batman Movie” and “Fifty Shades Darker” (both of which played on more than double the number of screens as “Is Genesis History?” did).

“That is clearly a Trump audience,” Lokkesmoe said. “The feeling of, ‘We’re under siege, our beliefs are being attacked, let’s get together one night and confirm our beliefs.’ That’s very much a Trump mentality.”

But it’s not just the theatrical realm seeing a Trump bump. Those who keep any eye on the burgeoning streaming market for faith-based titles have noticed more passion online.

Michael Scott is the CEO and cofounder of Pure Flix, which is considered the Netflix of the faith-based market (also the top indie faith-based studio in the world and the worldwide leader in producing and distributing faith and family-friendly entertainment). He has observed liveliness from his customers since Trump got into office.

“I feel some of the audience feels beat down a little bit by some of the media and now it’s their chance to be more open and comment about the movies and talk about the movies,” Scott told Business Insider. “That’s the environment now. There’s more openness to talk about faith-based films.”

The Case For Christ Pure FlixPure Flix has more than 5,000 titles available to stream (ranging from features and TV to preaching and teaching content), and the company also produces its own titles (its latest, “The Case for Christ,” stars Erika Christensen, Faye Dunaway, and Robert Forster, and it opens in theaters Friday). Though Scott says business has continued to thrive on the streaming side since his company started in 2015, that’s not necessarily because of current events. As he sees it, you still have to tell a specific kind of story for the faith-based audience.

“One of the key reasons why people come to faith-based films is because of the message,” he said. “You have to drive the message first and then wrap an organic story around the message. If you are leading with just a great story, then they could see a Hollywood release.”

That formula worked well for releases like 2015’s “War Room,” which focused on a troubled family finding strength through prayer and went on to earn over $11 million to win its opening weekend. And this year’s “The Shack,” starring Octavia Spencer as God, took in over $16 million to come in a respectable third place its opening weekend (and it’s earned close to $54 million worldwide).

Scott said that’s why you shouldn’t expect coming faith-based movies to revolve around political issues of the day like the Trump travel ban or other stories coming out of his administration.

“Maybe those would be dealt with in a subplot in a movie,” said Scott, who noted that Pure Flix’s 2014 film “God’s Not Dead” did feature a Muslim family.

Gods Not Dead Pure Flix

Making the faith-based movie bigger

It’s hard to see the “message-first” formula changing. But in the Trump era, a new group is being forged out of the faith-based market: what’s known as the “aspirational” audience.

These are people who want to engage in the content beyond the theatrical or TV experience. That could include buying the book that a movie or show is based on or starting community outreach.

“The aspirational audience is not the Trump voter,” Lokkesmoe said. “They are more artistic, younger, and less political.”

silence paramount finalBut Lokkesmoe said the aspirational audience had grown up in an era when it was inspired to make change. His company, Aspiration Studios, has recently built campaigns focused on this audience for Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” and the coming TV show “Genius.”

Scott noted that Pure Flix was looking to launch a separate division to focus on the aspirational market with movies budgeted at $10 million to $30 million that have A-list talent attached (its current films are made for $4 million to $7 million).

Lokkesmoe said that was the biggest takeaway so far from the Trump era: There’s more interest in feeding content to a particular audience than ever before.

“We’re seeing a lot more funders and people thinking beyond how to find an audience that is out there for whatever topic or issue,” he said. “There’s more interest in that than ‘Let’s make one movie that’s going to change the world.'”

SEE ALSO: 54 of the most hilariously bad Amazon movie reviews

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NOW WATCH: ‘Sesame Street’ has been mocking Trump since 1988 — here are some of the best moments

Microsoft Office 2010
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Right before their IPO, Okta's cofounders received a sign from the heavens

Okta founders IPO

On Friday morning, Okta crossed over from the startup world into the big-leagues and became a public company.

Its stock market debut went well, with shares pricing at $17 and opening up 40% at $23.56.

It’s been an exciting journey for Todd McKinnon and Freddy Kerrest, who launched their company in 2009 right after the economy melted down.

Okta offers companies a way to manage all their employees’ passwords to other cloud services. It makes it easy for IT departments to add or remove employee access to accounts like Office 365, Google Apps, Salesforce, and the like.

McKinnon and Kerrest were early employees at Salesforce, but when they left to do their startup they did not get Salesforce CEO’s Marc Benioff’s blessing, or any of his angel cash (even though he’s an avid angel investor and frequently backs his former employees’ startups).

That didn’t hurt Okta in the long run. It became the first cloud company that VC Andreessen Horowitz backed, and that was back when it was just a startup, too, not the powerhouse it is today.

Ben Horowitz wrote Okta a check before his office had furniture, Okta tells us.

But while Andreessen Horowitz chipped in half of Okta’s seed money, $500,000, the other half came from tech angels in the industry and lots of friends and family who wrote “$50,000 and $25,000 checks,” McKinnon told Business Insider.

Okta was one of the first companies really tackling the cloud password problem back then, and people really didn’t understand what it was trying to do.

“When it was just Freddy and me, you had to really believe. No offense to my cofounder and myself but [success], it was a long way out,” McKinnon says.

Among the believers and angel investors was Kerrest’s younger brother, “who was really supportive,” McKinnon says.

Interestingly, none of the wealthy execs at Salesforce — their former coworkers — were willing to pitch in save one: super angel Maynard Webb, a Salesforce board member.

As Okta proved itself over the years, it was able to raise gobs of money, over $230 million with a valuation of $1.1 billion. It also gained big competitors, including Salesforce and Microsoft.

Okta BellWebb and Kerrest’s brother kept their faith, as did all the early seed investors, who still have their stakes today, McKinnon says. Many of them, including Webb, came to New York to celebrate the IPO, too.

And they were rewarded. With the healthy IPO, Okta’s valuation hit over $2 billion.

“Believe me, the company is worth a lot more now than it was back then.” Todd says.

That’s true. In 2010, for instance, right before VCs made their first fund investment of $11 million, they valued Okta at $24 million, according to PitchBook.

And there was one particular moment when McKinnon and Kerrest knew their first day as a public company would be a good one, a great big thank you to these early investors, as well as to the new ones they were bringing on as a public company: they literally received a sign from the heavens.

They had just completed their two-week road show. (“It was a whirlwind. 60 1:1 meetings, five lunches, eight cities in eight days,” McKinnon describes.)

On Thursday, the day before the IPO, they and their bankers were on the 43rd floor of the Goldman Sachs building on Wall Street, sorting through the list of bids from institutional investors. They were debating their opening price, with some arguing to charge more, some lobbying to charge less. Okta had already raised the range from $13-$15 to $15-$17.

It had been rainy and cloudy all day so “you couldn’t see anything” out of the windows, McKinnon describes.

“And finally we settled on $17 because it was the best price for the long-term shareholder base we’re trying to build,” he said.

And at that exact moment, “The clouds lifted and the sun came out. Not lying. It was like ta-da! We took a picture.”

Less than 24 hour later, that omen proved true. 

At $23 a share, McKinnon’s 9% stake is worth over $198 million. Kerrest’s nearly 6% stake is worth $118 million. So it wasn’t a bad day for the founders either. 

Here’s the photo:

Okta founders

SEE ALSO: The alarming inside story of a failed Google acquisition, and an employee who was hospitalized

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NOW WATCH: People are outraged by a Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner — here’s how the company responded

Microsoft Office 2010
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This one-of-a-kind rocket is designed to reach space in just 5 minutes

This rocket is about to change space travel. The Haas 2CA rocket is designed by the ARCA Space Corporation. It’s set to be the cheapest rocket of its kind, and could get to space faster and cheaper than similar rockets, today.

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IoT malware starts showing destructive behavior

Hackers have started adding data-wiping routines to malware that’s designed to infect internet-of-things and other embedded devices. Two attacks observed recently displayed this behavior but likely for different purposes.

Researchers from Palo Alto Networks found a new malware program dubbed Amnesia that infects digital video recorders through a year-old vulnerability. Amnesia is a variation of an older IoT botnet client called Tsunami, but what makes it interesting is that it attempts to detect whether it’s running inside a virtualized environment.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

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Unity out at Canonical amid big shakeups

Canonical, the company behind the best-known Linux distribution in the world and one of the biggest players in commercial open source software, has announced several large-scale changes of direction that have created big ripples in the open source world.

The biggest news is that the company will no longer focus development resources on its Unity desktop front-end for Linux — a long-standing project designed to make Ubuntu a viable operating system for a wide array of endpoints, including smartphones and tablets. Instead, Ubuntu will move back to the venerable GNOME desktop environment, which it split from in 2010.

+ALSO ON NETWORK WORLD: Samsung’s profit soars after recovery from Note7 debacle + Microsoft Surface beats Apple iPad in JD Power tests

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

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Managing Windows IoT Core devices with Azure IoT Hub

Device management in Windows IoT Core

In Fall 2016, Microsoft announced Azure IoT Hub device management, providing the features and extensibility model, including an SDK for a wide range of platforms, to build robust device management solutions. With the recent release of the Windows 10 Creators Update, we are excited to announce the availability of the Windows IoT Azure DM Client Library. The open source library allows developers to easily add device management capabilities to their Azure connected Windows IoT Core device. Enterprise device management for Windows has been available for many years. The Windows IoT Azure DM Client Library makes these capabilities, such as device restart, certificate and application management, as well as many others, available via Azure IoT Hub device management.

A quick introduction

IoT devices, in comparison to desktops, laptops and phones, have in many cases a much more restricted connectivity, less local resources and in many cases no UI. Remote device management also requires devices to be provisioned for a DM service, adding another challenge to the device setup.

Azure IoT DM is designed for devices with resource and connectivity restrictions. Those devices will also use Azure IoT for their operation, so they need to be provisioned for Azure IoT. This makes Azure IoT DM a very attractive choice for remote device management for IoT devices.

Device management in Windows 10 is based on the Configuration Service Provider (CSP) model. A CSP is an interface in Windows that allows reading and modification of settings of a specific feature of the device. For example, a Wi-Fi profile can be configured with the Wi-Fi CSP, the Reboot CSP is used to configure reboot settings, and so on.

All the CSPs ultimately map into API calls, registry keys and changes in the file system. The CSPs raise the level of abstraction and offer a consistent interface that works on all editions of Windows – desktop, mobile and IoT. The Windows IoT Azure DM Client Library will use the same, proven infrastructure.

Windows IoT Core + Azure IoT Hub: Better together

Azure IoT Hub provides the features and an extensibility model that enable device and back-end developers to build robust device management solutions. Devices can report their state to the Azure IoT Hub and can receive desired state updates and management commands from the Azure IoT Hub.

Device management in Azure IoT is based on the concepts of the device twin and the direct methods. The device twins are JSON documents that store device state information (metadata, configurations and conditions). IoT Hub persists a device twin for each device that you connect to IoT Hub. The device twin contains the reported properties that reflect the current state of the device, and the desired properties that represent the expected configuration of the device. Direct methods allow the back-end to send a message to a connected device and receive a response.

The device twin and the direct methods can be used to support the business logic of your IoT solution as well as implementing the device management operations.

The Windows IoT Azure DM Client Library connects the CSP-based device management stack in Windows IoT Core with the cloud back-end based on Azure IoT Hub. The client runs on the device and translates the direct method calls and desired properties updates to the CSP calls. The client also queries the device state using the CSP calls and translates that into reported properties for the device twin in the Azure IoT Hub.

Before an IoT device can be managed through the Azure IoT Hub, it must be registered with a unique device identity and an authentication key. The authentication key needs to be securely stored on the device to prevent accidental or malicious duplication of the device identity. In Windows 10 IoT Core the key can be stored in the TPM. How this is done is described in the previous post Building Secure Apps for Windows IoT Core.

With the device provisioned with Azure IoT Hub credentials (connection information and authentication key), managing Windows 10 Core devices through Azure IoT Hub requires no additional enrollment or configuration.

In this post, we will focus mostly on the client aspects of the device management. Please refer to the general Azure IoT Hub device management documentation for a broader look at what the service provides. Below we explore how the Azure IoT Hub device twin and direct methods can be used to manage Windows IoT Core devices.

How to use the Windows IoT Azure DM Client Library

Devices connecting to Azure IoT Hub can only have one connection to the service. This means that all applications, including the DM library, must share an Azure IoT Hub connection. We will provide two sample implementations that you can use depending on if your device has other applications that will connect to the same IoT Hub, as the same device.

Standalone device management client

If your device only needs Azure IoT Hub for device management and no other application will connect to the same IoT Hub using the same Azure device ID, you can use the IoTDMBackground sample to add DM capabilities to your device.

The IoTDMBackground is a background app that can be deployed on your device. The IoTDMBackground app requires the device to be securely connected to Azure IoT. Once started, the IoTDMBackground will receive direct method calls and device twin updates from the Azure IoT Hub, and perform the device management operations.

Integrated device management client

There are scenarios where the capabilities of the standalone device management client are insufficient:

  1. Some device management, e.g. a device reboot or an application restart, might interrupt the normal operation of the device. In cases where this is not acceptable, the device should be able to declare itself busy and decline or postpone the operation.
  2. If your app is already connected to the Azure IoT Hub (for example, sending telemetry messages, receiving direct method calls and device twin updates), it cannot share its Azure identity with another app on the system, such as the IoTDMBackground.
  3. Some IoT devices expose basic device management capabilities to the user – such as the “check for updates” button or various configuration settings. Implementing this in your app is not an easy task even if you know which API or CSP you need to invoke.

The purpose of the integrated device management client is to address these scenarios. The integrated device management client is a .NET library that links to your IoT app. The library is called the IoTDMClientLib and is part of the IoTDM.sln solution. The library allows your app to declare its busy state, share device identity between itself and your app, and invoke some common device management operations.

To integrate the device management to your app, build the IoTDMClientLib project, which will produce the IoTDMClientLib.dll. You will reference it in your app.

The ToasterApp project in the IoTDM.sln solution is a sample application that uses the integrated client. You can study it and use it as an example, or if you prefer step-by-step instructions, follow the guidance below.

1. If your app is already connected to the Azure IoT Hub, you already have an instance of DeviceClient instantiated somewhere in your app. Normally it would look like this:

DeviceClient deviceClient =
   DeviceClient.CreateFromConnectionString(connectionString, TransportType.Mqtt);

2. Now use the DeviceClient object to instantiate the AzureIoTHubDeviceTwinProxy object for connecting your device management client to Azure IoT Hub:

IDeviceTwin deviceTwinProxy = new AzureIoTHubDeviceTwinProxy(deviceClient);

3. Your app needs to implement the IDeviceManagementRequestHandler interface which allows the device management client to query your app for busy state, app details and so on:

IDeviceManagementRequestHandler appRequestHandler = new MyAppRequestHandler(this);

You can look at ToasterDeviceManagementRequestHandler implementation for an example of how to implement the request handler interface.

Next, add the using Microsoft.Devices.Management statement at the top of your file, and the systemManagement capability to your application’s manifest (see ToasterAppPackage.appxmanifest file).

You are now ready to create the DeviceManagementClient object:

this.deviceManagementClient = await
    DeviceManagementClient.CreateAsync(deviceTwinProxy, appRequestHandler);

You can use this object to perform some common device management operations.

Finally, we will set up the callback that handles the desired properties updates (if your application already uses the device twin, it will already have this call):

await deviceClient.SetDesiredPropertyUpdateCallback(OnDesiredPropertyUpdate, null);

The callback will be invoked for all the desired properties – those specific to device management and those that are not. This is why we need to let the device management client filter out and handle properties that it is responsible for:

public Task OnDesiredPropertyUpdate(TwinCollection desiredProperties, 
        object userContext)
    // Let the device management client process properties 
    // specific to device management

    // App developer can process all the top-level nodes here
    return Task.CompletedTask;

As an app developer, you’re still in control. You can see all the property updates received by the callback but delegate the handling of the device management-specific properties to the device management client, letting your app focus on its business logic.

To deploy and run your app, follow the instructions here.

The end-to-end solution

Obviously, the entire device management solution requires two parts – the client running on the device and the back-end component running in the cloud. Typically, your back-end component will consist of the Azure IoT Hub, which is the entry point into the cloud for your devices, coupled with other Azure services that support the logic of your application – data storage, data analytics, web services, etc.

Fortunately, you don’t need to build a full solution to try out your client. You can use the existing tools such as the DeviceExplorer to trigger direct method calls and device twin changes for your devices.

For example, to send the immediate reboot command to your IoT device, call direct method on your device:

The device management client running on the IoT device will respond to the direct method and (unless it is in busy state) proceed with rebooting the device.

The Windows IoT Azure DM Client Library supports a variety of device management operations listed in the documentation on the GitHub site. In addition to the reboot management, application management, update, factory reset and more are supported. The list of capabilities will grow as the project evolves.

The Windows IoT Azure DM Client Library includes a sample called the DM Dashboard, which hides the implementation detail of the device management operations. Unlike the Device Explorer, you don’t need to consult the documentation and manually craft JSON to use it.

Here is how you can invoke the reboot operation using the DM Dashboard tool:

The DM Dashboard is a convenient tool for testing the client side of your device management solution, but since it operates on one device at a time, it is not suitable for managing multiple devices in a production environment.

Next steps

The Windows IoT Azure DM Client Library is still in beta phase and will continue to evolve. We’re very interested in your feedback, and we want to learn about your IoT needs. So, head over to our GitHub page, clone the repo and tell us what you think.

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Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 16170 for PC

Hello Windows Insiders!

Today we are excited to be releasing a new build from our Development Branch! Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 16170 for PC has been released to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring. As we mentioned earlier this week, you won’t see many big noticeable changes or new features in new builds just yet. That’s because right now, we’re focused on making some refinements to OneCore and doing some code refactoring and other engineering work that is necessary to make sure OneCore is optimally structured for teams to start checking in code. This also means more bugs and other issues that could be slightly more painful to live with – so check your Windows Insider Program settings!

Windows Insider Program for Business is here!

We have one other exciting announcement about a program we co-created with our IT Professional Windows Insiders.

Back in mid-February at Microsoft Ignite in Australia, Bill Karagounis showcased our commitment to an important segment of the Windows Insider program – IT Professionals. As Bill stated, we’re incredibly honored to have IT Pros participating in the Windows Insider Program and to be evaluating Windows 10 and its features as part of their deployment process.

Since his announcement, we’ve continued to receive an overwhelming response from IT Professionals interested in helping us shape the future of the program with features specifically for business. One of the most frequent requests we received from Insiders was for the option to join the Windows Insider Program using corporate credentials (instead of the existing registration process which requires a personal Microsoft Account):

“I’m currently in the Windows Insider Program and would love to be able to test more business-oriented features internally. It would also be great to be able to recruit a few users to run Insider Builds, as well, using the corporate credentials. If there were mechanisms in place for me to see those users’ feedback and issues, that would be great, as well.” – Current Windows Insider at US-based Company

“I want more users in key areas to be able to test/evaluate/learn/feedback. Microsoft accounts are not allowed. We are using SCCM current release and want to establish steps before ‘release ready’ and ‘business ready’.” – Current Windows Insider at UK-based Company

“Due to the rapid release of Windows we need a different channel to where IT Pros can provide feedback to the Dev teams.” – Current Windows Insider at an Australian-based Company

Based on feedback like this, we’re excited to announce today that Insiders can now register for Windows 10 Insider Preview Builds on their PC using their corporate credentials in Azure Active Directory.

Using corporate credentials will enable you to increase the visibility of your organization’s feedback – especially on features that support productivity and business needs. You’ll also be able to better advocate for the needs of your organization, and have real-time dialogue with Microsoft on features critical to specific business needs. This dialogue, in turn, helps us identify trends in issues organizations are facing when deploying Windows 10 and deliver solutions to you more quickly.
We’ll be rolling out even more tools aimed at better supporting IT Professionals and business users in our Insider community. Stay tuned!

How to access the Windows Insider Program for Business features

Simply visit the Windows Insider Program site and click on the “For Business” tab. To access the new features, you must register using your corporate account in Azure Active Directory (AAD). This account is the same account that you use for Office 365 and other Microsoft services.

Once you’ve registered using your corporate credentials, you’ll find a set of resources that will help you get started with the Windows Insider Program for Business in your organization.

Don’t forget – After you register, enroll your Windows 10 PC to get the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview builds on your Windows 10 PC:

  • Go to Settings Updates & Security Windows Insider Program. (Make sure that you have administrator rights to your machine and that it has latest Windows updates.)
  • Click Get Started, enter your corporate credentials that you used to register, then follow the on-screen directions.

Windows Insider for Business participants partner with the Windows Development Team to discover and create features, infuse innovation, and plan for what’s around the bend. We’ve architected some great features together, received amazing feedback, and we’re not done!

In addition, the Windows Insider Program connects you to a global community of IT Pros in our new Microsoft Tech Community and helps provide you with the information and experience you need to grow not only your skills but your career as well. You’ll be hearing a LOT more from us in the coming months.

Windows Insider Program for Business Team

Keep the feedback coming!

Other changes, improvements, and fixes for PC

  • We fixed the issue causing your PC to fail to install new builds on reboot with the error 8024a112.
  • We have updated the share icon in File Explorer (in the Share tab) to match our new share iconography.
  • We fixed an issue where Cortana Reminders was displayed as a possible share target when Cortana wasn’t enabled.
  • We fixed an issue where Miracast sessions would disconnect a minute or so after the Connect UI was closed if the connection was a first time pairing.
  • We fixed a high-DPI issue when “System (Enhanced)” scaling is enabled so as to now correctly display certain applications that use display graphics accelerated contents.
  • Turning the night light schedule off in Settings now turns night light off immediately.

Known issues for PC

  • Narrator will not work on this build. If you require Narrator to work, you should move to the Slow ring until we get this bug fixed.
  • Some Insiders have reported seeing this error “Some updates were cancelled. We’ll keep trying in case new updates become available” in Windows Update. See this forum post for more details.
  • Some apps and games may crash due to a misconfiguration of advertising ID that happened in a prior build. Specifically, this issue affects new user accounts that were created on Build 15031. The misconfiguration can continue to persist after upgrading to later builds. The ACL on the registry key incorrectly denies access to the user and you can delete the following registry key to get out of this state: HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionAdvertisingInfo.
  • There is a bug where if you need to restart your PC due to a pending update like with the latest Surface firmware updates, the restart reminder dialog doesn’t pop up. You should check Settings > Update & security > Windows Update to see if a restart is required.
  • Certain hardware configurations may cause the broadcast live review window in the Game bar to flash Green while you are Broadcasting. This does not affect the quality of your broadcast and is only visible to the Broadcaster. Make sure you have the latest graphics drivers.
  • Double-clicking on the Windows Defender icon in the notification area does not open Windows Defender. Right-clicking on the icon and choosing open will open Windows Defender.
  • Surface 3 devices fail to update to new builds if a SD memory card is inserted. The updated drivers for the Surface 3 that fix this issue have not yet been published to Windows Update.
  • Pressing F12 to open the Developer Tools in Microsoft Edge while F12 is open and focused may not return focus to the tab F12 is opened against, and vice-versa.
  • The Action Center may get into a state where dismissing one notification unexpectedly dismisses multiple. If this happens, please try rebooting your device.

Keep hustling team,
Dona <3

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Legacy web apps in the enterprise

Migrating legacy web apps to modern standards can be both costly and time consuming. IT departments are generally cost centers, and it makes sense for enterprises to want to maximize the ROI on their existing LOB apps. Many of these sites may continue to exist without being upgraded for a while yet, and it’s important to us that these apps do not block Windows customers as they adopt newer versions of Windows. This is why Windows 10 includes Internet Explorer 11 alongside Microsoft Edge, to provide a consistent and predictable level of compatibility with existing legacy applications.

In this blog post, we will discuss how Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge can work together to support your legacy web apps, while still defaulting to the higher bar for security and modern experiences enabled by Microsoft Edge. Working with multiple browsers can be difficult, particularly if you have a substantial number of internal sites. To help manage this dual-browser experience, we are introducing a new web tool specifically targeted towards larger organizations: the Enterprise Mode Site List Portal.

The future of Internet Explorer

Naturally, this is a question we get quite frequently. With Microsoft Edge and the modern web representing the future, what will happen to Internet Explorer?

While we encourage everyone on Windows 10 to use Microsoft Edge—our modern web browser designed for faster, safer browsing—we are cognizant of the sizable investment that many of you have in legacy web apps. Our guidance to developers and IT administrators is simple. Upgrading web apps to modern standards is the best long-term solution. With that said, you can still use Internet Explorer 11 for backward compatibility and upgrade web apps on your own schedule.

Internet Explorer 11 supports Document modes and Enterprise Mode, which are essential tools for maintaining this backward compatibility. Internet Explorer, and the aforementioned tools, are considered components of the Windows operating system. They follow the Lifecycle Policy for the product on which they are installed. For Internet Explorer 11, this includes the lifespan of Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.

Cataloging your internal sites

Show of hands: who knows the exact number of internal sites and web apps your company has today? The answer to this is, of course, dependent on the size of your organization and many other factors. However, if we were in a large room of IT professionals, chances are there wouldn’t be many hands up.

As your organization grows, it’s only natural that the number of web apps should grow proportionally. It’s tough to have a firm grasp of what constitutes your “intranet”, in the non-networking sense of the word. This is an inherent problem that most will face when modernizing their web apps. In order to determine your dependency on legacy technologies, you first need to identify all the sites that must be tested, then learn their optimal configuration. There are a few ways you can go about this. If you attended our session at Microsoft Ignite in Atlanta last September, you should be familiar with these approaches.

Let’s go through them one-by-one:

Screen capture showing the F12 Developer Tools open to the "emulation" tab and configured to emulate "Internet Explorer 11"

F12 developer tools. The first method is by far the most manual approach. With the F12 developer tools in Internet Explorer 11, you can emulate any site with different Document modes and Enterprise Modes. Cycling through these different options will help you determine the appropriate compatibility setting. There’s some user training required to understand the technology behind the process, but fortunately little configuration is needed. One-by-one, you can build a list of sites and the legacy technologies they require. You can learn more about this approach here.

Screen capture showing an Enterprise Site Discovery report with an inventory of visited URLs.

Enterprise Site Discovery. The next approach is much more automated. Enterprise Site Discovery automatically collects inventory data on any set of computers you designate, effectively crowdsourcing the information you would learn from the F12 developer tools. Any time a user browses the web, data—such as the URL, domain, document mode, browser state reason, and number of visits—is captured. This information can be scoped to particular domains and zones for privacy. The more data you collect, the clearer of a picture you will have. Over enough time and with enough devices, the list will begin to build itself with increasing accuracy. You can learn more about this approach here.

Screen capture showing the Windows Upgrade Analytics dashboard

Windows Upgrade Analytics. The final method is based on Enterprise Site Discovery, and is the most scalable solution. Windows Upgrade Analytics is a free service that helps IT departments easily analyze their environment and upgrade to Windows 10 through the Operations Management Suite. As a part of this solution, the same site discovery data is collected, which can be similarly scoped for privacy. Going one step further, the raw inventory data is automatically analyzed and snapshot reports, like the one pictured below, are generated. You can learn more about this approach here.

Now that we have all this site information, what do we do with it?

Dual-browser experience

Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11 work better together on Windows 10. Based on the size of your legacy web app dependency, determined by the data collected above, there are several options from which you can choose to configure your enterprise browsing environment:

  • Use Microsoft Edge as your primary browser
  • Use Microsoft Edge as your primary browser and use Enterprise Mode to open sites in IE11 that use IE proprietary technologies
  • Use Microsoft Edge as your primary browser and open all intranet sites in IE11
  • Use IE11 as your primary browser and use Enterprise Mode to open sites in Microsoft Edge that use modern web technologies
  • Use IE11 as your primary browser

This blog post goes into more detail on when to use which option, and which option is best for you.

Now that we have a catalog of legacy web apps, let’s define an experience where you can use a modern browser but still maintain compatibility with your older apps.

Managing your Enterprise Mode Site List

The Enterprise Mode Site List is an XML document where you can specify a list of sites, their compat mode, and their intended browser. With this schema, you can automatically launch a page in a particular browser. In the case of IE11, that page can be launched in a particular compat mode to always render correctly. You can also restrict IE11 to only the legacy web apps that need it, automatically sending sites not included in the Enterprise Mode Site List to Microsoft Edge, as of the Anniversary Update last year. Once implemented, users can easily view this site list by visiting “about:compat” in either browser.

There are equivalent Enterprise Mode Site List policies for both Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11. The former list is used to determine which sites should open in IE11; the latter list is used to both (1) determine with which compat mode to load a site, and (2) determine which sites should open in Microsoft Edge. We recommend using one list for both browsers, where each policy points to the same XML file location.

The most straightforward way to build and manage your Enterprise Mode Site List is by using any generic text editor. However, we’ve provided a couple tools to make that process even easier.

Enterprise Mode Site List Manager

The first tool is called the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager. There are two versions: one for the old, v.1 XML schema, and one for the new, v.2 XML schema. This tool helps you create error-free XML documents, with simple n+1 versioning and URL verification. If your site list is of a relatively small size, this is the easiest way to manage your Enterprise Mode Site List.

On the other hand, if your site list is relatively large, you may encounter some difficulties with the client tool. It is not very scalable; it is designed for a single user. If you have more than one user managing your site list, there is the potential for overlap, among other complications.

Enterprise Mode Site List Portal

Today we are proud to announce a new tool specifically targeted for larger organizations: The Enterprise Mode Site List Portal.

Screen capture showing the Enterprise Mode Site List Portal dashboard

The Enterprise Mode Site List Portal is a web tool originally built by our own IT department, now made open-source on GitHub. The web app is designed for IIS with a SQL Server backend, leveraging Active Directory for employee management. In addition to all the functionality of the client tool, the Enterprise Mode Site List Portal helps enterprises:

  1. Manage site lists from any device supporting Windows 7 or greater;
  2. Submit change requests;
  3. Operate offline via an on-premise solution;
  4. Provide role-based governance;
  5. Test configuration settings before releasing to a live environment.

This new tool allows you to manage your Enterprise Mode Site List, hosted by the app, with multiple users. Updates are made by submitting new change requests, which are then approved by a designated group of people. Those updates are first made to a pre-production environment for testing, which can be rolled back if necessary. The final production changes can be deployed immediately, or scheduled for a later date. Users are notified of any updates in the request process via e-mail.

Already being used internally here at Microsoft, the Enterprise Mode Site List Portal has reduced site list management time by 65%. For some enterprises, processing a single change to their site list can take an entire week. What’s more, some enterprises have upwards of tens of thousands of entries in their site list. Using this new web tool can save you valuable time and expedite your modernization process.

As the tool is open-source, the source code is readily available for examination and experimentation. We encourage you to fork the code, submit pull requests, and send us your feedback!

Hopefully this helps illustrate the array of options to help manage legacy web apps in the enterprise. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask. We are always looking for ways to improve your enterprise browsing experience!

– Josh Rennert, Program Manager, Microsoft Edge

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Amazon pulls and other Quidsi apps from the app store

 At the end of March, Amazon announced it was planning to shut down and all the other e-commerce sites operated by Quidsi – the company Amazon acquired for $545 million back in 2010. However, it didn’t offer any details as to when those sites would eventually shutter their doors. But it now appears the first steps towards closure have been taken – all the Quidsi… Read More

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4 common mistakes that could be killing your customer-acquisition strategy

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A business simply cannot survive without having the right strategy in place to build a growing consumer base. Customer acquisition is the lifeline of any business, and it should be high on the priority list for any business looking to scale and have long-term viability.

Of course going after new leads doesn’t come without its pitfalls. Identifying the potential for growth is one thing, but executing the game plan effectively and getting a strong return on investment in exchange can be the real challenge.

The good news is that with every challenge comes an opportunity for growth. And while customer-acquisition strategies may vary depending on business type and needs, there are common mistakes to avoid across the board.

Here are some important ones to keep in mind.

1. Letting short-term results dictate the larger strategy.

A successful customer-acquisition strategy is as much an investment of time as it is money. Your product or service wasn’t created overnight, and the same logic applies to customer acquisition. It’s imperative to give the strategy enough time to fully develop, so don’t reach for the panic button prematurely if the results you’re hoping for don’t materialize within a week or two.

Rather, companies should approach it as a long-term play, as potential customers will likely take their time to do research on how your offerings stack up against the competition. Of course, if results are slow to develop beyond that immediate time frame, that’s when it’s time to revisit the overall strategy and tweak certain metrics accordingly.

2. Not maximizing customer data.

A great jumping-off point when setting out to define your target audience is to look at your existing customers. That will help you better define key parameters when it comes to things like acquisition costs, consumer behavior, interests, and social-media tendencies. The goal is to identify which marketing channels best resonate with your existing audience and target prospective customers accordingly.

3. Relying on a one-dimensional strategy.

While identifying which marketing channel is the most successful among your current audience is important, don’t let that give you tunnel vision. Especially today, when digital media has opened up a world of possibilities and cross-platform channels, the wider the net you cast, the more likely you are to get results. Don’t rely on just social media. Or just SEO. Or just content. Do it all.

4. Undervaluing first impressions.

As is the case with many things in life, first impressions are crucial when it comes to vying for the attention of prospective customers. As the adage goes, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. It’s great that your company offers a new, unique product or service that people are now becoming aware of, but what’s the game plan to keep that potential consumer engaged enough to eventually drive conversions?

Whether it’s via a website or mobile app or another platform, the goal is to make the experience as simple and clear-cut as possible while maintaining a sense of excitement. Showcase what you’re offering and why it ultimately matters using strong visuals and attention-grabbing content.

Learn how CenturyLink can be the key to continued growth for your business.

This post is sponsored by CenturyLink Business.

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