Microsoft to add new shared background, customizable views, chat bubbles and more to Teams


Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is outlining a slew of new features coming to Teams for work and school before the end of calendar 2020. The new features, which Microsoft disclosed via a blog post on July 8, are meant to make chats, meetings, and other collaborations less tiring and more productive.  

Some of these features are available already in Microsoft’s Skype service and other, competitive services like Zoom and Slack. But some are new and different, like “Together Mode.”

Together Mode will allow participants to appear in a common, shared background. It’s designed to make participants feel like they’re in the same meeting room or classroom together. Microsoft is using AI segmentation technology to make this happen. Microsoft researcher and VR pioneer Jaron Lanier worked on this feature, Microsoft officials said, and it’s meant to help reduce virtual-meeting fatigue and make meetings feel more real. 

Together Mode with “auditorium view”

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Dutch banking’s transaction monitoring utility gets green light

Dutch banks are working together to build a shared utility to monitor financial transactions, after establishing its technical and legal feasibility. 

First mooted last September, the anti-money laundering initiative, now known as Transaction Monitoring Netherlands (TMNL), is being created by five banks – ABN AMRO, ING, Rabobank, Triodos Bank and de Volksbank.

TMNL will focus on identifying unusual patterns in payments traffic that individual banks cannot spot. Together, the five banks handle 9.8 billion payment transactions each year, or 27 million a day.

A shareholder agreement has been signed off by the banks.

Dutch banking association NVB estimates that €16bn of criminal money is laundered in the Netherlands each year. The money comes from activities such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, child pornography and extortion. Criminals make every effort to conceal the origin of their funds, and frequently abuse multiple banks for this purpose.

NVB said in September that

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Six deep learning applications ready for the enterprise mainstream

Deep learning opens a new level of capabilities within the artificial intelligence realm, but its use has been limited to data scientists. Nowadays, finally, it may be ripe for “democratization,” meaning it is poised to become an accessible set of technologies available to all who need it — with numerous business applications.


Photo: Joe McKendrick

Deep learning, which attempts to mimic the logic of the human brain for analyzing patterns, is starting to see widespread adoption within enterprise AI initiatives. A majority of companies with AI implementations, 53%, plans to incorporate deep learning into their workplaces within the next 24 months, a recent survey of 154 IT and business professionals conducted and published by ITPro Today, InformationWeek and Interop finds.

Deep learning is now driving rapid innovations in AI and influencing massive disruptions across all markets, a new report published by Databricks asserts. “Deep learning models can be trained to

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Automotive-telecoms consortium claims successful completion of intelligent transportation project

Audi, Ericsson, Qualcomm Technologies, Swarco Traffic Systems and the University of Kaiserslautern have announced what they call the successful completion of the world’s first connected vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) trial looking at complementary technologies for connected vehicles and intelligent transportation systems (ITS). 

Initiated in December 2016, the trial used a test bed and field tests based on Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) C-V2X technology. The tests were designed to provide further evidence of the complementary nature of short-range direct and cellular wide-range communication with C-V2X and achieved results demonstrating the reliability and performance of the vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology.

Since the organisations formed the Connected Vehicle-to-Everything of Tomorrow (ConVeX) consortium in December 2016, they have completed and analysed end-to-end implementation and performance testing in realistic driving conditions.

During the project, ConVeX, which is co-funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, tested and demonstrated several use cases for C-V2X, including

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Microsoft has not unblocked the Windows 10 2004 update for Surface devices, after all


Credit: Microsoft

Last week, it looked like Microsoft was poised to make the Windows 10 2004 available to some Surface users who have been blocked from being able to manually install and/or use Windows Update to get the feature update. It turns out that is not the case. Apparently, there are still some other issues, which is resulting in Microsoft continuing to block the 2004 update on certain Surface devices, including Surface Pro 7, and Surface Laptop 3.

On July 8, Microsoft has quietly updated the wording of its note on Windows 10 2004 availability.

Former wording: “This issue was resolved in KB4557957 and the safeguard hold has been removed as of June 29, 2020. It can take up to 48 hours before the update to Windows 10, version 2004 is offered.

New wording (bolding is mine): “This issue was resolved in KB4557957 and the safeguard hold has been removed

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Locked-down Nationwide staff make 2.5 million video calls in June

Nationwide Building Society staff have taken to video-conferencing through Microsoft Teams, making 2.5 million calls in one month during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The company’s usage of Teams video calls was 3,000% higher in June than February, the last full month before lockdown.

This kind of take-up bodes well for Nationwide and other companies that are planning for different ways of working in the post-coronavirus world.

The building society sent 12,000 staff home to work when the lockdown was introduced and the success of technology to support home working over the last few months has given it confidence to increase remote working in the future.

“Colleagues have a single platform that could support collaboration across the society and was accessible across multiple devices, offering them more choice on how they manage their working day around other priorities,” said Nationwide.

Despite staff being at home, including software developers, the building society

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