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By: Rami Azzi
In the modern workplace, collaboration is everything – but real, effective teamwork can be hard to get right. How we work, where we work and with whom we work is changing rapidly and technology needs to enable this so that we can forget about the process and focus on the progress.At Microsoft, we’ve kept that top of mind to find ways for our Office 2016 apps to make teamwork easier than ever before. Most businesses are familiar with Office apps like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Project, Vision and Access. However, with the goal to reinvent productivity, we’ve spent time weaving collaboration and idea sharing into the core of these apps.
What does that mean for teamwork in your business?
One of the key elements of the modern workplace is the ability to work remotely, thanks to cloud and mobile technology. With that in mind, our first step was to make the Office apps available across devices and platforms. Whether you’re using your mobile phone, tablet or laptop, and regardless of whether your platform of choice is Windows, Android or iOS, you can continue working wherever you are.
That’s all very well, but working remotely would still be rather limited if you weren’t able to continue working with your colleagues when you’re spread out across the office, the country or the globe. This is where tools like co-authoring, Skype in-app integration, Office 365 Groups, Office 365 Planner and OneDrive for Business come in.
A centralised, consistent virtual working space
Office 365 Planner is the first port of call for effective teamwork across cyberspace. You and your team can create new plans, organise and assign tasks, set due dates and update the status of your project. Once you’ve assigned tasks and you need to keep track of how each part of the project is coming together, Office 365 Groups give you a shared workspace for email, conversations, files and calendar events.
So there’s no excuse for any team member not to know their deliverables and deadlines when everything is kept on one virtual notice board and everyone is working in the same virtual office.
Collaborating in real time
Whether you work in a real or a virtual office, the best part about teamwork is that you have more than one set of eyes to look over important pieces of work. But sending documents back and forth with edits, and having different versions crossing each other in cyberspace, is not the most efficient way of getting the job done. That’s why co-authoring is such a useful tool. It works across Word, PowerPoint and OneNote and lets you see what others are typing in real time. So you can collaborate on one document at the same time and see exactly where each team member is working and what they are writing, keystroke by keystroke.
And if you’re still confused about the changes your colleague is making, Skype in-app integration means you can send instant messages, screen share, talk or video chat right in the document you’re working on.
No limits to a team’s success
These new features born out of the Office 2016 apps remove obstacles that have previously stood in the way of successful teamwork and collaboration. Successful businesses today focus on the flow of communication between dynamic networks to encourage co-creation, and that’s exactly what we hope to drive with Office 2016.
To find out more about Office 2016 and how to get it, visit here
Demand for skills in the cloud is at an all-time high in the Middle East and Africa as it moves rapidly into the mobile-first, cloud-first world. At Microsoft, we are encouraging those in the field of IT to gain skills in cloud and data architecture.
Microsoft’s unique approach to the cloud spans three areas. Hyper-scale infrastructure to assist organisations to reach their customers; hybrid differentiation, which allows organisations to combine cloud and on-premise servers; and enterprise grade to ensure security and compliance, as well as flexibility and choice. Microsoft’s Azure Trust Centre also gives customers peace of mind that they are protected by the world’s leading security measures and certificates.
A career in cloud architecture provides a challenging, problem-solving and stimulating environment to work in that is different every day. To learn more, read about two Microsoft cloud architects’ experiences http://bit.ly/1Ob71Xe
By: Rotimi Olumide
Customers are at the heart of any organisation’s success. That’s why at Microsoft we really focused on what you had to say to develope and release Windows 10. It’s important to us that the products we create give you what you need to have the best experience whether in work or play... so we’re listening.
The first part of the listening process comes in the form of the Windows Insider Program. We call on people like you to help us shape the future of Windows and collaborate with us to improve its features and functionality. The program is aimed at enthusiasts who enjoy beta testing and sharing their feedback on new software and their experience using it. Even though we’ve launched Windows 10, we’re still working with our testers as we continue to update and develop the operating system to make sure it keeps evolving to meet your needs.
One of the needs that we heard loud and clear was your call to be able to use organisation-controlled identities with the Windows Store. For those who don’t know, this means that in Windows 10, as an IT administrator you can access a new web-based Store portal specifically for organisations. Then you can buy apps relevant to your business and assign them to employees who simply need to click on a link to install them. The idea is that your business has a more controlled and customisable experience matching your unique needs and making it easier to acquire, create and deliver apps the way you want.
Whether at an enterprise of private level, our focus with Windows 10 is to put you at the centre. We’ve heard you telling us you want to be in control of your content, privacy and experience, and we’ve worked to ensure that our technology enhances this.
We’re excited to continue on this journey with you. If you haven’t already, don’t forget that you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Let’s continue to forge a new relationship as we take what you say to heart.
By: Editorial Team
Seventeen-year-old Nigerian student, Saviour Okusenogu, is passionate about making a positive difference with technology. He wants to ignite a similar interest in science and engineering in other students from developing countries so they can find innovative solutions to some of the problems they face.
Saviour hopes his project, “Become Inspired in Science and Engineering Technology”, will be the spark these students need. As one of the winners of Microsoft YouthSpark Challenge for Change, he’s already well on his way to making this happen.
During his first year of university, Saviour attended a series of workshops where Aiki partner for Microsoft, Sola Amusan, told students about Challenge for Change and encouraged them to sign up. The contest is aimed at encouraging young people who are already doing amazing things, as well as those with big ambitions, and just need a little help to take action.
“I had noticed that most students were too preoccupied with academic activities, and making no time to develop innovations,” says Saviour. “When I heard about Challenge for Change I knew it was the perfect opportunity to begin my project and get funding for it to inspire other students with technology.”
After competing against thousands of entries from more than 100 countries, Saviour was made one of the 10 grand prize winners. He received $2500 to help turn his dream into a reality, as well as the opportunity to serve as a Microsoft YouthSpark Advocate and take advantage of YouthSpark training and resources. And, while the other winners went on a leadership-development trip to Nicaragua, Saviour elected to go to Kenya instead.
“The trip to Kenya was awesome,” says Saviour. “We spent most of our time learning about the social issues in a community in the country and we also volunteered to build classrooms for the community. It opened my eyes to viewing problems from a different perspective and has given me new ideas for impactful solutions.”
During his trip, Saviour also learned about the five pillars a community needs to grow: education, healthcare, clean water and sanitation, agriculture and food security, and alternative income. He hopes to use technology to make a difference across these pillars. “I’ve learned a new perspective for looking at problems and coming up with solutions. I’m even considering these key pillars as a module in my project,” he says.
Saviour feels that being one of the Challenge for Change winners has given him the tools to transform his ideas and dreams into reality. He hopes to be able to expand his project throughout Nigeria and other African countries to show students like him the possibilities of science and engineering.
He echoes our beliefs at Microsoft that the combination of technology and young people can change the world. “I believe that whatever you do, technology can have a positive impact. It is a secret ingredient that anyone needs to have a better and easier life. If everyone agrees to embrace it and improve it, the world would surely be a better place to live in.”
By Hanan Abdel Meguid, CEO of Kamelizer and member of the 4Afrika Advisory Council
Last month, I had the very exciting opportunity of participating in a live DEMO Africa Twitter party. Together with Harry Hare, Amrote Abdella and Collins Onuegbu (you can see their profiles here), we gathered to share our thoughts on: How to pitch to investors and raise money for your startup.
For those of you who missed it, we’ve captured some of the highlights below. For a full look at the conversation and insights shared, you can search the #PitchDEMO hashtag on Twitter.
Where can my startup look for funding?
“The best source of startup funding, in my opinion, is a paying customer” – Harry Hare
For first level funding, the obvious starting place is friends and family. Next to that, your best first professional investors include: Angel investors, accelerators, microfinance institutions and banks. Remember to always choose what makes the most sense for your business.
Once your business has a bit of a track record and is looking to scale, your next level of funding can come from venture capitalists (VC) and private equities (PE). Which means, as Collins says, you should never approach a VC or PE with just a basic idea or prototype.
How can I approach an investor?
“It’s good to pitch your startup to potential investors. But also understand what they can offer you before you accept their funding” – Amrote Abdella
Research. Research. Research. As Harry mentions, most investors stick to a set sector or industry. Find out who is investing in what businesses and if your business is aligned to their motivation.
It’s also good to talk to everyone and anyone. The more you reach out and talk, the more you understand concerns that you need to address. This helps you to sharpen your pitch and ensure you cover all the needs of your investor, when you do get a meeting with them.
What is the most important thing an investor looks for?
“Great idea. Great execution. Ability to scale” – Collins Onuegbu
It’s important to remember that, in the entrepreneurial world, there are lots of new business ideas popping up every day. However, few entrepreneurs execute these ideas properly. Do this and you investors will notice you. It will also set your apart from fellow entrepreneurs who have similar ideas.
Other things investors look for include: Clear market understanding, forecast of the business, passion and their return. Remember to be clear on how they exit and make their money.
Investors also look at your personality. At early stage, I have found that they evaluate 80% team and 20% idea. As an investor myself, I am always interested in a capable team who can do it with or without my money.
What financial figures should I include in my pitch?
“Finance is the heartbeat of a venture. Measure everything so you can improve it” – Harry Hare
As a startup, you should begin with the basics: Pricing, cost price, sales price of your product, gross profit etc. Harry suggests including: Cost to acquire a customer, average revenue per customer, lifetime value of a typical customer, and monthly recurring revenue.
As you develop, you will start to understand the more complex performance indicators that investors look for. Some of these relate to profitability and how fast the investor can get his money back. Just be aware that at various fund raising levels, investors may be interested in different things.
How can I make my pitch a winning one?
“Know your audience, customise your pitch and leave space for questions – dialogue is key” – Hanan Abdel-Meguid
To stand out from the crowd, turn your pitch into a compelling story, as people relate with stories easily. Be clear on your ask and justify what you want from your investor. As Collins points out, due to time pressure, many startups finish their pitches without doing this, which can be detrimental. Factor in enough time for everything.
Finally, and if you’re feeling brave, Amrote has found that saying “I don’t need money” always captures interest!
Congratulations to all the 30 startups who pitched at this year’s DEMO Africa event – particularly SimbaPay, winner of DEMO Africa 2015. We look forward to seeing even more innovations at DEMO Africa 2016.
Posted by Editorial Team
Technology is clearing the way for better and more effective education solutions. But it can’t replace the ‘essentials’ of good education. This was the focus of Area Director of Education for Microsoft Middle East and Africa, Mark Chaban, when he attended the Innovation Africa summit in Uganda.
With almost 200 million youth living in Africa, Chaban believes we need to strike a balance between upskilling students for the 21st century workplace, while also equipping them with essential soft skills. This is where the role of the teacher is more vital than ever before.
By bringing technology into the classroom and using it to teach more effectively, we will be a step closer to matching skills – both hard and soft – that the labour market is looking for.
Click here to read Mark's blog.
4Afrika’s new regional director, Amrote Abdella, talks candidly about her role and why 4Afrika’s mission is vital.
Q: What do you hope to achieve in your role as Regional Director?
As Regional Director, I will be working to further Microsoft’s investments in Africa, deepen our engagements and scale our work across different markets. In reviewing the 4Afrika Initiative’s initial commitment, our focus is on how we continue to align to Microsoft’s mission statement: To empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more.
4Afrika was launched as, and continues to be, a platform to provide the tools and resources needed for Africans to innovate and use and consume technology; from the farmers to the teachers, the innovators, enterprises and government elites. Already, 4Afrika has empowered over 273 000 small-to-medium enterprises, 76 000 youth, 20 000 government employees, and 9 innovation hubs with access to technology, resources and world-class skills development. All of these people are now early adopters of Microsoft technologies, and users of the cloud.
Q: What inspires you most about working in Africa?
Creativity. I spent several years studying in the U.S, but eventually I knew it was time to return home to harness Africa’s innovative and creative potential. What excites me is that, with 4Afrika, we are helping people create solutions – turning challenges into opportunities that can be monetised. While Microsoft’s presence on the continent has played a large role in informing the company’s research and development of products that meet local needs, key to 4Afrika is the notion that Africans should not just be consumers of content, but creators of it. My goal is to make sure Africans are not just being empowered with technology, but are also building their own solutions relevant to their day-to-day lives.
Q: Cloud computing is seen as central to growth in the region, and is a big focus for Microsoft. What is the relevance of the personal cloud in a region where many people still don’t have internet access?
The 4Afrika Initiative is perfectly aligned to accelerate Cloud adoption for the African continent by encouraging the creation of locally relevant content and solutions. Governments have done incredibly well to build network infrastructure, such as fibre optics and undersea cables to connect the population. We realise that there is a last-mile connectivity gap, which is why under our 'Access’ pillar 4Afrika is partnering with regulatory authorities to expand the roll-out of TV white spaces technology.
For many people, Cloud is ubiquitous. For example, mobile payments solution M-PESA, or the world’s first mobile money accounting solution, MyAccounts, developed by Ugandan business, MMINDZ to address African business challenges. Or AGIN, an application that allows un-banked farmers to build a credit history and receive loans through a feature phones. Innovations like these show how Africa is perfectly positioned to become a global leader in the mobile-first, cloud-first world.
Q: What has been a highlight of your career?
Working with great visionaries at Microsoft and having our work validated from around the world. When Satya Nadella came to visit the Mawingu project our first TV white spaces project in Kenya, to see first-hand how we are getting people connected and exposed to technology, it was a wonderful moment. 4Afrika is about accelerating technology for Africa – to build an ecosystem of tech-savvy, skilled entrepreneurs and workers with the 21st Century skills needed to take the economy forward. At the same time, winning mindshare on the continent.
Q: What is one of your greatest challenges?
It is wonderful to be part of a company like Microsoft that believes in the Africa rising story, but can also turn the challenges into opportunities. 4Afrika has a unique value proposition for colleagues within Microsoft and externals. I call on Microsoft employees and our partners to see 4Afrika as an initiative they can derive value from.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spending time with my eight month old daughter :)
Posted by Amnitas Neto
It’s no surprise that Microsoft believes in the power of young people connecting with technology to bring their bold ideas to life – after all, the company was originally founded by students. That’s why, for the past 13 years, Imagine Cup has been inspiring student developers around the world to create innovative solutions that change the way we live, work and play, while also growing the skills they need to pursue a future in technology. Now that the 2016 season is underway, I strongly encourage you to get involved.
I don’t have to tell you about the enormous talent coming out of the African continent. In the 2015 season of Imagine Cup, three teams of African students made it to the World Finals, where they competed against 30 other global teams.
Team Digital Interactive Games from South Africa was a finalist in the Games category, with its project ‘PYA Maze of Gods’. Their 3D game is built to challenge the user’s problem-solving skills, reaction time and ability to overcome obstacles. Also in the Games category, team T2 from Tunisia’s ‘Back in Time’ game sees parents and their children competing against each other using their mobile devices and PCs. Team LifeWatch from Nigeria was recognised in the World Citizenship category for their AsthmaVisor solution. It is made up of a wearable device and a mobile app and is geared towards a more cost-effective and efficient way of supervising asthmatic patients.
Although these teams didn’t end up winning at the World Finals, the experience they gained was invaluable. From travelling to Seattle, Washington to present their projects, to developing new skills and learning all about collaboration, they’re well equipped to take the next step in their technology careers.
And who knows – maybe the 2016 winner will hail from our continent. You could join the ranks of 2015 Imagine Cup World Champions, Team eFitFashion of Brazil. Their project, ‘Clothes For Me’, which is a marketplace for custom tailored clothes based on a person’s unique body size and shape, won them $50 000, a Microsoft Ventures Bootcamp and a private meeting with Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.
The 2016 season of Imagine Cup has kicked off. It’s never too early for you to start dreaming up your project in the Games, Innovation of World Citizenship category – and show the rest of the world what African students are made of.
Visit www.imaginecup.com for more information.
You might have heard that the Microsoft Lumia 640 has dual SIM capability. So what, you may ask?
In a nutshell, a dual SIM phone is exactly what it sounds like: a mobile phone with slots for two SIM cards. This means your phone holds two numbers and two identities simultaneously and allows you to make and receive calls on either number.
If you’re still not sold on the idea, think about these five scenarios when it comes to choosing your next smartphone. You can also stand a chance to win one of five Microsoft Lumia 640 by entering Microsoft’s competition on the Microsoft Africa Facebook page.
1. Juggle your professional and personal lives
If you’ve ever been on the hunt for a new job, you’ll know how nerve wracking it is waiting for that important call. Now, imagine the horror of your potential new boss hearing your embarrassing voice mail message that only your friends appreciate. If you had two SIM cards, with two separate numbers, you could reserve one just for your work life. That could mean the difference between landing your dream job or not. It also just might allow you to maintain work/life balance when you do get the job – reserve one number for business purposes only and you’ll be able to decide when to take those calls from your boss and when to let them go to your (non-embarrassing) voice mail.
2. Juggle the people in your life too
Finding the perfect partner is just as important as finding the perfect job. If you’re playing the field to find “the one” then your dual SIM phone is your wingman. It’s as simple as giving one number to one date and one to another to avoid any awkward encounters and always know who is calling. Just don’t get any ideas about your wingman becoming your evil sidekick… your dual SIM phone wants no part in any secret affairs.
3. Stay in touch wherever you are in the world
Maybe that dream job is sending you on a trip overseas, or maybe you’re travelling the world with the date that turned into something more. Either way, you want to take your phone with you to keep in touch with new local friends and stay in contact with your loved ones back home. With a dual SIM phone, you no longer have to decide whether to use your existing number and pay expensive roaming fees, or exchange it for a local number and cut yourself off from people back home – there’s room for both. That means you can stay in touch with everyone, wherever you are in the world, without it costing you the earth.
4. Get the best (deal) of both worlds
Have you ever subscribed to one network and then had “buyer’s remorse” when you saw the great deal another network was offering? With a dual SIM phone, there’s nothing to stop you having two SIM cards from two different mobile networks.So you can find the network offering the best call rates and another network offering the best data rates, and save yourself a lot of money by managing your two SIM cards effectively.
5. Have a back-up in case of emergency
Not only do different networks have different rates for their services, their coverage also varies from area to area. Anyone who’s ever been stuck on the side of the road with a flat tyre and no signal can vouch for this.Having SIM cards for two different networks is like having a safety net – if one isn’t picking up a signal, there’s a chance the other will.
Two SIMS, two identities, countless usesWhatever your reason for needing two different numbers – for work, for play, to save money or for emergencies – dual SIM functionality is a useful feature and more than just a “so what”.
By editorial team
Developer of the world’s first mobile money accounting solution, Francis Otim from Uganda, uses Microsoft Azure to help African SMEs be more competitive.
Named MyAccounts, the solution is the flagship of Otim’s company, MMindz, and enables merchants to track all their customer and supplier payments made to and from their mobile phone. “Most businesses in Uganda were not using accounting systems. Those that were, often only had one or two users because of the cost,” he says. Traditional accounting programmes also did not allow for tracking of mobile payments which are prevalent in Africa.
MyAccounts is built and hosted in the cloud, meaning it can be accessed anytime, anywhere and has a lower cost of infrastructure, providing an affordable service for customers. MMindz chose to use Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Azure, as its hosting and developer environment. MMindz’s other apps, mobile app APIs, dashboards and all systems are hosted on Azure, with its databases running directly on Azure storage or on a virtual machine. This enables users of MyAccounts to aggregate their transactions to produce financial and stock records, customer invoices and receipts, printable financial statements and tax returns.
“Azure helped us solve the financial inclusion challenges of the number of African merchants using mobile money. We wanted to provide unique value for our clients without spending a lot on infrastructure,” says Francis.
Azure also enabled Francis to tailor his solutions for the African market, for example developing data light apps that run on very little megabytes because of bandwidth constraints in many parts of the continent.
MMindz also wanted to build analytics tools for its customers and for itself. With Microsoft, it could easily create both with Power BI by simply adding it to the Azure platform. Through Microsoft’s MySkills4Afrika program, MMindz was provided personal mentorship to help it integrate this technology, as well as navigate Power BI for its data analysis requirements.
“By using Azure in conjunction with Power BI, businesses can turn their data processing efforts into analytics that provide real-time insights,” says Francis. “Business intelligence tools are critical for the survival of SMEs. Without data analysis, we are unable to identify our break-even point and can’t formalise our business, which has a knock-on effect when it comes to getting capital and growing the business.”
Power BI has enabled MMindz to analyse its top performing salesmen, best-selling outlets, GPS locations and market share by volume. “We can present high-level market intelligence and interactive reports to our clients across multiple platforms, and the dashboards are easy to customise. This is helping us grow our business because we are giving our clients real-time insights so they can make informed business decisions based on data, not sentiment.”
As MMindz continues to grow, Francis plans to explore Azure Stream Analytics for its real-time stream processing in the cloud capabilities. This performs real-time analytics from multiple data streams from multiple devices and applications.
“What is clear from our work on the MySkills4Afrika program is that SMEs across the continent are very hungry for innovative solutions,” says Anand Mariappan, a Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft who volunteered in Uganda to help MMindz integrate Power BI. “MMindz has shown an eagerness to adopt new technologies and methods for doing business, which is so important for any SME’s growth and sustainability. Azure has enabled MMindz to use world-class resources for the good of its own, and its clients’ businesses, in Africa.”
Want to learn more about Azure? Join Microsoft’s free webinar on the 29th September. Learn more here https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/azurecon/
If you want to know how to secure funding for your business and to wow investors, don't miss our Twitter chat with DEMO Africa on Wednesday the 16th Sep 2015, 13:00pm CAT (Central Africa Time). Here's how you can participate:
1. Follow the @DEMOAfrica Twitter handle, which will host the Twitter party
2. Use the hashtag #PitchDEMO to engage with our expert panellists & follow their advice
3. @DEMOAfrica will post 10 questions for our panellists related to the topic of 'How to pitch to investors & secure funding'
5. Questions will be asked at 6 minute intervals. Once the 6 minutes are over, panellists will move to the next question. So you have six minutes to join in with your experiences, or ask a follow-up question
6. Due to volume, not all your questions may be answered
Meet our panel of experts!
Amrote Abdella, Directoros of startup engagements and partnerships, Microsoft Africa Initiatives (Kenya)
Amrote Abdella is the Directoros startup engagements & partnerships for Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative, a multi-year commitment by Microsoft to actively engage in Africa’s economic development to improve its global competitiveness. Before joining Microsoft, Amrote worked with the World Economic Forum in Geneva, as Associate Director for the Africa region where she was responsible for key relationships and strategic initiatives with African government and business leaders. Prior to the World Economic Forum, Amrote was part of the World Bank in Washington D.C. working on Access to Finance focusing on Africa.
Harry Hare, CEO and Executive Producer of DEMO Africa (Kenya)
Harry is an entrepreneur with business interests in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. He is also the founder of African eDevelopment Resource Centre, an IT and Telecoms training company with clients in 29 African countries. Harry is founder and publisher of CIO East Africa an IT Media company with Web, Print, Events and TV properties serving the C-Level IT professionals in East Africa. Other interests include health intelligence software, telecoms equipment distributions, events management and farming.
Hanan Abdel-Meguid, CEO Kamelizer, Angel Investment fund (Egypt)
Ms. Hanan Abdel-Meguid previously served as the Chief Executive Officer of Orascom Telecom Ventures S.A.E. (also known as OT Ventures). Ms. Abdel-Meguid has 25+ years of experience in the IT field. She served as the Chief Executive Officer of LINKdotNET’s software development spin-off firm, LINK Development. She joined LINKdotNET in 1996 and served as its Chief Solution Officer, where she contributed immensely to its success and growth. She was involved in the establishment of various communities and projects. She serves as a Director of Joyent, Inc. She is an active Member in many academic and business alliances and associations in Egypt, and is a Microsoft 4Afrika Advisory Council member.
Collins Onuegbu (Nigeria)
Collins Onuegbu is Executive Vice Chairman of Lagos based ICT Company, Signal Alliance. Having founded this company and after running it successfully for 18 years, he left the CEO post to focus on a new role allowing him to invest in and develop technology startups – initially in Nigeria and later in Africa. His venture capital fund is called Sasware. As a serial entrepreneur, Collins invests in other people’s ideas as a way to fulfil his desire to be part of the ever-changing tech space. Sasware will invest in companies where it can provide not just startup capital but mentoring. Collins is also part of the Lagos Angel network.
By Rotimi Olumide, Business Group Director, Windows Division at Microsoft
The year was 1995 and a whole new world had opened up for Windows 95 users with the introduction of the Start menu. I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers the sequence: Start > Programs > Accessories > Games > Solitaire; the ultimate distraction on a slow afternoon at the office. More seriously though, it made finding and opening programs (for work or play) much simpler and it represented Microsoft’s forward thinking.
In the past 20 years, the Start menu has gone through several facelifts and even had its day as a full screen with the launch of Windows 8. Now, with the recent launch of Windows 10, we have created a Start menu that will feel familiar, and yet embraces the touch experience along with the feedback we have received from you over the years.
But let’s take a few steps back to where it all started…
After the Start menu made its debut with Windows 95, at a time when the Web was still an experiment and you had to drive to a store to buy software. You no longer needed to use Program Manager to find what you were looking for, as the menu was an obvious and quick place for people to start their computing tasks. The feature became synonymous with Windows, and all through the eras of Windows NT 4.x, Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, Windows Me and Windows 2000, we took the stance, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
With the debut of Windows XP, it was time for a Start makeover, and the menu was revamped to include two columns and more customisation options, as well as quick access to documents, pictures and personal files. Again, with Vista and Windows 7, Start remained mostly the same other than a few minor fixes to improve its functionality, as well as the introduction of instant search to find what you wanted even more quickly.
The biggest change came in 2012 with the birth of Windows 8 and our plans to unify tablets and desktops. The Start menu became the Start screen and used live tiles instead of the familiar bars and columns. This gave us room to improve search and customisation, but perhaps this was a little too far off from the Start menu you were all so accustomed to. Since we released Windows 8.1 we have overhauled our approach to development, focusing on your feedback.
Starting with what works
So now with Windows 10 we’ve gone back to a proper Start menu. Our new operating system combines the basic efficiency that you loved about the very first Start menu (you’ll see the similarity to the Windows 7 days), but it also incorporates live tiles in a less offensive way – and you can still go full screen if you choose. In the age of personalisation, you can also expect more customisation than ever before, from changing the background colour of the menu, to choosing which “system” (Control Panel, Documents) items appear, and how many live tiles there are. Our goal was to make working on the desktop much easier with a mouse and keyboard, as well as when you use a touch device.
The environment around Windows has changed a lot since we first introduced Start and we want to make sure we’re still delivering an experience that is dynamic and relevant to your needs. The Start menu is one of the most visible and iconic parts of Windows, so we don’t take any changes to it lightly – and in many ways we’ve come full circle with the launch of Windows 10.
Want to upgrade your world, but don’t know where to start?
Microsoft is giving Kenyans the chance with #UpgradeYourWorldKE – a global effort to celebrate those who do, those who inspire and those who want to achieve more with technology.
We will be awarding five NGOs with $50,000 each, and it’s up to you to decide who these five NGOs will be. To do your part, simply vote for your favourite Kenyan non-profit or NGO by tweeting their name using the hashtag #UpgradeYourWorldKE #vote, @nonprofit
If you work in the NGO sector, now is the perfect time to use the hashtag to raise your voice and get people to vote for you.
Five NGOs that Microsoft works with already have been pre-selected and their impact is inspiration to make your own mark.
Here are their stories.
African Centre for Women, Information and Communications Technology (ACWICT)
ACWICT is a Kenya-based ICT for Development organisation established to promote women's access to and knowledge of ICT. It reaches 25,000 women and youth in rural and urban informal settlements annually.
“The #UpgradeYourWorldKE initiative validates our work, and we are very excited,” says Ms. Constantine Obuya, Executive Director, ACWICT.
Computers for Schools Kenya (CFSK)
CFSK provides an end-to-end solution for ICT in education, including infrastructure, training, digital content development and e-waste management. The founder, Dr Tom Musili, also founded the WEEE Centre (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), the first e-waste management centre in Kenya. It is here where CFSK has been able to re-furbish old PCs and distribute over 300,000[NL(1] [AN(G2] with fully installed software to primary and secondary schools.
The lifespan of most electronic devices is only about 3 years. And it’s not just that some things aren’t made to last; often throw things away not because they are broken, but because we want a newer model
“User preferences have changed a lot over the years. I’m glad to note that Microsoft has changed with us and even moved ahead to predict how we will use computing devices in future,” says Dr. Tom Musili, founder CFSK.
The Homeboyz Foundation provides a platform where young people can access the skills, tools and resources needed to reach their full potential. The foundation does this by creating partnerships with stakeholders, like Microsoft, who have the resources and platforms the youth need to be innovative. This makes them more employable with skills that are relevant to the current demand in the labour market.
“Upgrade Your World will enable us to further our foundations mandate to empower young people to develop their abilities,” says Myke Rabar, Chairman & CEO, Homeboyz Foundation.
I Choose Life
I Choose Life launched with the vision: “A healthy Africa, empowered people!” Their mission is to create a movement of caring individuals, ones who enhance the quality of life for communities through: Health initiatives, Economic empowerment, Education, Improved Leadership, Governance and Institutional Strengthening. The organisation works through the Triple Helix approach, which brings together four critical actors: Government through the devolved county system, corporate, academia and the Civil Society.
“Through Microsoft’s DigiGirlz event, which inspires young girls to pursue STEM subjects, the girls suddenly had elder sisters in the corporate world to mentor them. It was one of the most successful DigiGirlz events held in Kenya,” says Michael Mutungi Chief Executive Officer of a recent partnership with Microsoft.
INABLE empowers blind and visually-impaired students in Africa by providing assistive computer technology. The learners use normal computers with standard keyboards, which is critical in ensuring that they will be able to cope in a ‘normal’ work environment.
To date, INABLE has enrolled over 1,400 blind and visually-impaired students and teachers and established seven assistive technology computer labs in Kenya.
“To appreciate the significance of INABLE’s mission, it’s important to understand that the blind and visually-impaired are a neglected group in Africa—especially children. Many smart blind students complete their education very successfully with Braille skills, only to join a world that is completely oblivious to Braille,” says Executive Director, Irene Mbari-Kirika.
#UpgradeYourWorldKE now – in big and small ways – and cast your vote
Posted by Lyes Lamri, Citizenship Programs Manager for Algeria
Youth unemployment in the Arab world is an acute problem and, according to the Arab Labour Organisation, stands at 30% - the highest rate of any region worldwide. In Algeria, it’s not much lower at 24%. There is a deep pool of resources across the region, but in order to open this well of potential, we need to develop the necessary skill sets in our youth.
It is with this in mind that we developed YouthWorks – an employability initiative conducted both online and offline. Today, we have a regional platform for the Arab world, in partnership with Silatech, with country specific platforms in Egypt, Qatar, Iraq, Tunisia, Palestine, Morocco and now Algeria.
With the launch of our Algerian employability portal, Djazair (Algeria) Ta3mal in May this year, unemployed young Algerians and aspiring entrepreneurs have the opportunity to turn their ambitions into a reality and begin their working lives. We aim to offer job seekers career guidance, skills training and access to more than 700 online courses to build their professional skills, as well as connect them with potential employers. For entrepreneurs we offer essential information on how to set up and finance a business.
We have implemented the portal in partnership with Emploitic, World Learning and AIESEC, each of which will bring their knowledge and expertise in training, supervision and support, contribute to content development and ensure that Ta3mal meets the unique needs of Algerians.
I am eager to see the impact this portal will have on Algerian youth, especially as there have been some wonderful success stories coming out of the Arab world already. For example, Following a demonstration of the Djazair Ta3mal platform at the Wednesday launch, university student Ons Gharbi said, "We see that Djazair Ta3mal is rich in content, and a different type of platform from other job sites. Youth need such a portal to help and guide them in their job search, as well as if they choose to become entrepreneurs and launch businesses.”
It is often the case that the youth might have had the opportunity to get an education, but they lack the practical skills required to find work and add value in the workplace. Our goal with our employability portals such as Djazair Ta3mal is to help develop professional, leadership and life skills and give our youth a kick-start in their careers.
By Editorial team
"Women need to pursue STEM subjects because our brains can only be limited by ourselves. We can do anything we set our minds to – it’s not about being better than boys, but being better than we were yesterday by reaching for our passion and fully embracing it." Sophie Odupoy, Senior Marketing Manager, East and Southern Africa shares her insights on being a woman in the ICT industry.
What attracted you to the ICT industry?
ICT is becoming an integral part any industry, entity, business, you name it. I had started and spent most of my career in FMCG marketing and I wanted to be part of something that is amazing – look at the speed with which innovations are developed and turned into a business – and these have pushed Kenya further into the forefront of technology in the world. Who wouldn’t want to form art of such a fast-paced industry and with Microsoft, where there is a melding of B2B and B2C, I could get the best of both worlds with a market leader. I have been truly amazed at how far this industry has come and it boggles the mind what is being developed and by young people in college. This industry truly is about ‘if you can dream it, you can make it.’
What do you love most about being a woman in the ICT industry?
What do I love about being a woman in this industry is that the glass ceiling has been broken and there no limit to what I would love to achieve provided I develop myself. I love that in Microsoft especially all opportunities are gender neutral. I love that I can be part of something that changes how things are done and not limited by boundaries and the internet has ensured that information goes around the world in second. And sometimes I get so immersed in what I am doing that my gender does not factor – it’s about what needs to be done and doing it.
What challenges have you experienced as a woman in the ICT industry?
To be honest I can’t say the challenges I have faced are due to my being a woman. The world is more accepting and there are more women in C-Level positions than at any other time in history. You have to take on the challenge as the person you are today and not led your gender lead.
Why is it important to encourage more women to pursue STEM subjects
Women need to pursue STEM subjects because our brains can only be limited by ourselves. We can do anything we set our minds to – it’s not about being better than boys, but being better than we were yesterday by reaching for our passion and fully embracing it. In the not so far past, our parents believed the world revolved around medicine, law and engineering as courses to take in university. Each generation gets ahead of the previous one – don’t’ let the past hinder your future – children need to make their parents understand what they cannot understand – technology and that the future is about things like Cloud,
How can a woman achieve a good work / life balance? (Having time for your work and your hobbies)
As a new mother, I have truly had to learn to find a balance between work and life. What I can say I am learning to do is to set time aside that is purely for work and time purely for myself and family. There are times where there’s overlap but I ensure these times are few and far between. I also remind myself that I do need the time away from work to re-energize to be able to deliver at my peak at work.
What advice do you have for women looking for a career in ICT?
Simply put – REACH FOR IT. Research and prepare yourself by understanding the industry - speak to people in the industry - and where you can make a difference then pitch yourself.
By Terry Myerson
When we first unveiled Windows 10 in September, we outlined our plans for a new era of Windows. We wanted to create a Windows that empowered people and organizations to do great things. Our vision was one platform, one store, and one experience that extends across the broadest range of devices from the smallest screens to the largest screens to no screens at all.
For Microsoft, Windows 10 begins to deliver on our vision for more personal computing. In this world experiences are mobile, moving with you seamlessly and easily across your devices. Interacting with technology is as natural as interacting with people – using voice, pen, gestures and even gaze for the right interaction, in the right way, at the right time. And in our connected and transparent world, we respect your privacy and help protect your information.
From the beginning, Windows 10 has been unique – built with feedback from five million Windows Insiders, delivered as a service with ongoing innovations and security updates, and offered as a free upgrade* to genuine Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 customers.
Over the months we’ve demonstrated how Windows 10 delivers new capabilities to PCs, tablets, phones, and Raspberry Pi, with innovations like Microsoft Edge, Cortana, Continuum and Windows Hello, and how entirely new categories of devices like Hololens and Surface Hub, will be enabled with Windows 10.
We are delighted to make Windows 10 available in 190 countries today. The launch of Windows 10 is being celebrated around the world with global fan celebrations and a new yearlong initiative to celebrate people and organizations making a difference around the world. We’d love to hear how you plan to help #UpgradeYourWorld. Starting today, you can vote for a global nonprofit to receive a cash donation by simply tagging their social handle and using #UpgradeYourWorld and #vote on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. More information on Upgrade Your World can be found at http://www.windows.com/upgradeyourworld.
Together with our partners, we’re ready for a new era of Windows - we hope you’ll join us.
Windows 10: The Best Windows Ever
As we begin to roll out Windows 10 to the world, we want to empower our customers to do great things. We will deliver this in four key ways:
1) First and foremost, we made Windows 10 fast and familiar:
With the familiar Start Menu, Task Bar, and Desktop you’re already an expert and Live Tiles provide streaming updates of what matters most to you, instantly.
Windows 10 is designed to be compatible with the hardware, software and peripherals you already own.
Free updates help keep you current on features and security updates.
With OneDrive online storage, you can easily share and keep your files up to date across all your devices, simply.
2) In a world of cyber threats, Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever:
Offering enhanced Windows Defender and Smart Screen to help safeguard against viruses, malware and phishing.
Windows Hello** greets you by name, providing a fast, secured, password-free way to log in.
3) Aligned with our more personal computing vision, Windows 10 is more personal and more productive:
Voice, Pen and Gesture input allow you to more naturally interact with your PC.
Windows 10 is designed to run Office and Skype perfectly to increase your productivity. New Office Mobile apps on Windows 10 - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and One Note - are available today in the Windows Store. Built for on-the-go scenarios, the Office Mobile apps offer a consistent, touch-first experience across tablets. Full featured OneNote comes installed with Windows 10 for your digital note-taking needs. The upcoming release of Office desktop apps (Office 2016) will offer the richest feature set for professional content creation, designed for the precision of a keyboard and mouse.
Cortana*** is your personal digital assistant making it easy to find the right information at the right time.
You can easily switch between apps and stay organized with Snap and Task View.
Continuum optimizes your apps and experience beautifully across touch and desktop modes.
4) Finally, only Windows 10 can offer innovative experiences and new devices:
New Microsoft Edge browser allows you to quickly browse, read, and even mark up and share the web
The integrated Xbox App delivers the Xbox experience to Windows 10, bringing together your friends, games, and accomplishments across Xbox One and Windows 10 devices.
The Companion Phone app lets you set up your iPhone, Android or Windows phone to work seamlessly with your Windows device.
Windows powers the most innovative devices today and tomorrow – from phones to tablets to PCs to HoloLens.
Built-in apps including Photos, Maps, Microsoft’s new music app Groove, and Movies & TV, offer entertainment and productivity options.
Windows 10: Best for Business
Feedback from millions of IT Pros has helped shape our best enterprise version of Windows ever. Ready for corporate deployments, Windows 10 will help your company protect against modern cyber-attacks, deliver experiences your employees will love and enable continuous innovation with a platform that keeps your company up to date with the latest technology. Your business can control the frequency of your updates and select the features and functionality that is right for each group of your employees.
Windows 10 includes built-in enterprise grade security, so employees can replace passwords with more secure options, help protect corporate data and corporate identities, and only run the software you trust. New management and deployment tools simplify device management and help lower costs, and enable you to power your business with the enterprise strength of the Azure cloud.
We encourage small businesses to take advantage of the free upgrade offer to Windows 10 from genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs and tablets. And, we encourage all enterprise customers to begin testing and planning your deployment now. More information for business customers is available here.
Top Apps Available on Windows 10
The new Windows Store opens today and is now accepting new apps for Windows 10. The Windows Store offers one-stop shopping for popular free and paid apps, games, movies, TV shows and the latest music, which work across all Windows 10 devices. The new Windows Store is the only Store where you can use Cortana to control apps with your voice and get real-time notifications on your app tiles. All Windows Store content is certified by Microsoft to help keep your devices safer. In addition to existing Windows 8.1 apps such as Netflix, Flipboard, Mint.com, Asphalt 8: Airborne and The Weather Channel, the Windows Store provides a constant stream of new and updated Universal Windows Apps and games, including Twitter, “Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition beta”, Hulu, iHeartRadio, USA TODAY, Candy Crush Saga, and others including WeChat and QQ in China, which will launch very soon. Check out our new Windows Store today.
Windows 10 provides a platform for great experiences and we’re excited to work with partners around the world on all new app experiences. The Window 10 SDK is available to developers beginning later today, and we look forward to seeing what developers create for Windows 10. More information on the latest on developer tools for Windows 10 is available here.
Upgrading to Windows 10
We are excited to begin delivering Windows 10 to the world today. We’re really pleased with the strong response to Windows 10 since we kicked off upgrade reservations in early June, with millions of reservations. As we shared in early July, we want to make sure all of our customers have a great upgrade experience, so we’ll roll-out Windows 10 in phases to help manage the demand.
Upgrading to Windows 10 is easy if you have a genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PC or tablet. Starting today, a new notification on your taskbar will alert you when your upgrade is ready to be installed. For business customers, Windows 10 is available to start deploying within your work environments and starting August 1, organizations who have volume licensing can upgrade to Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education. Windows 10 IoT is also available today.
Devices from our valued partners Lenovo, HP, Dell and Acer with Windows 10 pre-loaded are available for purchase today from retailers globally. Many more devices will follow in the coming weeks from a broad range of partners including new devices designed specifically for Windows 10 features like Windows Hello. Our OEM partners have over 2,000 distinct devices or configurations already in testing for Windows 10 upgrades, as well as hundreds of new hardware designs. By this holiday, we will be selling the widest range of Windows hardware ever available
We’re grateful to our retail partners, who are ready to help people upgrade to Windows 10, including Best Buy, Bic Camera, Croma, Currys/PC World, Darty, Elkjøp, Fnac, Jarrir, Incredible Connection, Media Markt, Microsoft Stores, Staples, Yamada, Yodobashi and many more leading retailers from around the world. Upgrading to Windows 10 will be easy with the largest tech bench program ever, over 100,000 trained retailers, and tens of thousands of stores around the world.
Thank you to our Windows Insiders for helping us build Windows 10. If you’re a Windows Insider and running build 10240 – you already have the Windows 10 we are making available today. All you need to do is check Windows Update and make sure you have all the final updates. If you didn’t upgrade to the latest build as a Windows Insider, you can upgrade here. The Windows Insider Program will continue, and we will have more details to share soon about the next wave of the program.
Thank you to our partners for helping us deliver amazing Windows 10 experiences and devices to the world. And thank you for considering Windows 10 – whether a long-term Windows fan, or perhaps a new one. We’re just getting started - Windows 10 will continue to get better and better – and we’d love for you to join us.
* Limited offer. Details available at Windows.com.
** Hardware dependent.
*** Cortana available in select markets.
By Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office Client Applications and Services team.
Office 2016 for Mac is now available in 139 countries and 16 languages. Based on feedback from the great Mac Office community, we’ve made major updates to each of the apps and we couldn’t be more pleased to deliver it first to our Office 365 customers.
The new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote provide the best of both worlds for Mac users: the familiar Office experience paired with the best of Mac.
If you already use Office on a PC or iPad, you will find yourself right at home in Office 2016 for Mac. It works the way you expect, with the familiar Ribbon interface and powerful Task panes. Mac users will appreciate the modernized Office experience and the integration of Mac capabilities like Full Screen view and Multi-TouchTM gestures. With full Retina® display support, your Office documents look sharper and more vibrant than ever.
Office for Mac is cloud-connected, so you can quickly get to the documents you’ve recently used on other devices and pick up where you left off. New, built-in document sharing tools make it easy to invite teammates to work on a document together. When sharing documents, you won’t have to worry about losing content or formatting, as Office for Mac offers unparalleled compatibility with Office on PCs, tablets, phones, and online.
Five modern, first-class applications
Word for Mac - Word’s powerful writing and reviewing tools make it easy to create great-looking documents. The new Design tab lets you easily apply designer-quality layouts, colors and fonts throughout your document. You can work on the same document simultaneously with your teammates and use threaded comments to have a conversation right next to the corresponding text.
Excel for Mac -The new Excel for Mac helps you visualize your information by recommending charts best suited for your data with chart previews. Familiar keyboard shortcuts, autocomplete and an improved formula builder save you time when creating spreadsheets or entering data. For deeper analysis, new PivotTable Slicers help you filter large volumes of data and discover patterns.
PowerPoint for Mac - PowerPoint’s improved Presenter View gives you full control when you present: it shows you the current slide, next slide, speaker notes and a timer on your Mac screen, while the audience only sees your presentation on the big screen. The new animation pane helps you design and fine-tune animations, and the latest set of slide transitions add pizzazz to your presentations.
Outlook for Mac - Managing your email, calendar, contacts and tasks has never been easier. The new Outlook for Mac has push mail support so your inbox is always up-to-date. The improved conversation view automatically organizes your inbox around threaded conversations, so you won’t have to hunt for related messages. And the new message preview shows you the first sentence of an email just below the subject line so you can quickly decide if you want to read it now or come back later.
OneNote for Mac - OneNote is the newest addition to Office for Mac. You can capture your ideas in digital notebooks and access them on any device. Find things quickly with the OneNote search engine that tracks your tags, indexes your typed notes and recognizes text in images and handwritten notes. Bold, italicize, underline, highlight, insert files, pictures and tables – format and organize your notes however you want. You can also share notebooks with friends, family or colleagues so everyone can work together on travel plans, household tasks or work projects.
The customer participation in our Office for Mac preview since its launch in March exceeded our expectations, making it our largest Office for Mac beta ever. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the preview program and helped us improve the product.
Mac preview participants provided us with over 100,000 pieces of feedback. Based on this feedback, we released 7 updates in 4 months with significant improvements in performance and stability. We also added features like improved Mail Merge in Word, Propose New Time in Outlook, and support for External Data Connections in Excel.
And the best news is that Office for Mac will continue to see ongoing improvements over time. We plan to release updates and new features for Office 365 customers at least once per quarter.
Office 365 subscribers can get the newest version of Office for Mac today. All you need is an Office 365 subscription (Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal, or Office 365 ProPlus) which includes the rights and access to use Office applications across Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android devices, along with additional value in OneDrive and Skype. Here are a few different ways you get Office 2016 for Mac:
Already an Office 365 customer? On your Mac, just browse to your account page (www.office.com/myaccount), sign in and follow the installation instructions.
Are you a student? You may get Office 2016 for Mac for free or at a substantial discount. It takes only 30 seconds to find out at www.office.com/student. And read more about “Top 10 back to school features in the new Office for Mac”.
Interested in trying or buying Office for Mac? Go to www.office.com/mac or buy an Office 365 subscription at your local retailer.
Office 2016 for Mac will become available as a one-time purchase option later this September.
We hope you’re as excited as we are about the new Office for Mac. It’s one of many important releases this summer where we are focused on improving the Office experience across all platforms. We released Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Android phones a few weeks ago, and we are just a few weeks away from delivering Office Mobile apps for Windows 10. Please keep sending us your feedback and suggestions, and we will continue to improve your Office experience.
Apple, Mac, Retina, and Multi-Touch are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.
By Yusuf Mehdi
On July 29, we will make Windows 10 available, across 190 countries, as a free upgrade* or with new PCs and tablets. We are excited to bring Windows 10 and its many innovations to the world.
Windows 10 is the best Windows ever and was built to empower people to do great things. It has new innovations like Cortana, Microsoft Edge and the Xbox app. ** It’s fast, more secure and compatible. It’s familiar and easy to use. It’s automatically up to date. And you can upgrade for free beginning on July 29.
From the beginning, Windows 10 has been unique – built with feedback from our fans, delivered as a service and offered as a free upgrade. Our approach to launch is also unique – focused on a more aspirational goal, inspired by Windows 10.
When we make Windows 10 available on July 29, as Terry recently outlined, we’ll focus on delivering a great upgrade experience. And we’ll celebrate the 5 million Windows Insiders and fans who played such an instrumental role in shaping Windows 10. We will host global fan celebrations, join thousands of retailers to help customers upgrade to Windows 10, and welcome the newest generation of Windows fans via a new global advertising campaign and through online content. Better still, we will also celebrate people and organizations who upgrade our world every day. We will help them do more in their communities through a new year-long initiative, called Upgrade Your World.
Global Celebrations and Upgrade Experiences for Windows Fans
We will celebrate the unprecedented role our biggest fans – more than 5 million Windows Insiders – played in the development of Windows 10 at special events in 13 cities around the world, including Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, New Delhi, Dubai, Nairobi, Berlin, Johannesburg, Madrid, London, Sao Paolo, and New York City. These celebrations will offer hands-on opportunities, experiential demos, entertainment and opportunities to meet the Windows team.
We’ve also worked closely with retailers worldwide to introduce programs to help people easily upgrade, including Best Buy, Dixons, Jarrir, Croma, Media Markt, Yodobashi, Incredible Connection, Elkjøp and Wal-Mart. Tech Bench services will provide support for those upgrading to Windows 10, data migration services to help people move files from old PCs to new PCs, and experience stations where people can try out Windows 10.
Microsoft Stores will celebrate the launch of Windows 10 in more than 110 stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. In select Microsoft Stores, fan celebrations will feature Windows 10 pop-up demo experiences, prizes, giveaways and more. Answer Desk services and free in-store workshops will help people learn how to get the most out of Windows 10.
New Global Advertising Campaign Celebrates the Next Generation, Invites a New Era
A new global advertising campaign for Windows 10 will celebrate the newest generation and invites people to join a new era with us. Beginning July 20th in the US and July 29th globally, the first wave of TV and digital ads will highlight how Windows 10 delivers a more human way to do – brought to life with features like Windows Hello*** and Microsoft Edge. We can’t wait to share our first new ad next week.
Upgrade Your World Honors Those Who Inspire and Empower Others
Upgrade Your World is a new year-long initiative to celebrate those who inspire and empower others, led by our vision to help people achieve more through technology and in celebration of the Windows 10 launch.
We are partnering with 10 global and 100 local nonprofits to help them upgrade the world. A total $10 million cash investment will be made in support of their missions and to promote awareness of their causes.
Participating global nonprofits are CARE, Code.org, Keep a Child Alive, Malala Fund, Pencils of Promise, Save the Children, Special Olympics, The Global Poverty Project, and The Nature Conservancy. We want the world to help us choose the 10th one. Starting on July 29th, we invite people to vote for a 10th global nonprofit to participate in the Upgrade Your World initiative. You can learn more at windows.com/upgradeyourworld.
In addition to these global nonprofits, starting in September, we’ll crowdsource nominations for 10 nonprofits in each of the following 10 countries: Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. The 100 local winners will each receive a cash investment to support their work to upgrade the world.
Around the world, tens of thousands of Microsoft employees will participate in the Upgrade Your World initiative by taking a day off to volunteer to upgrade their community, many of them on July 29, in celebration of the Windows 10 launch.
We’d love to hear about the big and small things people are doing to make an impact in their community and beyond – we invite people to share their story using #UpgradeYourWorld.
We can’t wait to celebrate the Windows 10 launch with people around the world - whether at a fan celebration event, at a retail store, or through sharing stories online. Don’t forget to reserve your free upgrade today at Windows.com!
*Limited offer. Details available at Windows.com
**Cortana available in select markets at launch; experience may vary by region and device.
***Windows Hello requires specialized hardware, including fingerprint reader, illuminated infrared sensor or other biometric sensors.
By Derek Appiah, Country Manager for Microsoft in Ghana
One of the main reasons I decided to return to Ghana, after living in the UK for 20 years, was the opportunity to work in emerging markets. I love that you can make a big impact quickly in countries like ours, if you just put your heart and mind to it.
As Country Manager, I am excited about how I can contribute to Microsoft’s goals in Ghana, which include developing employability and entrepreneurial skills amongst the youth. The TizaaWorks Employability Platform is one of the projects already launched to help achieve this. If you’re looking to increase your skills or find a job, head over to the portal. It provides everything from career guidance to online courses and even interview preparation tips.
It’s no secret that 65% of Ghanaian youth are unemployed. However, by focusing on developing employability skills in the country I believe we can unlock the significant potential I see in the country’s young people. One of the things I love most about this country is its young and vibrant population. I’ve always noticed that they punch above their weight intellectually – and I’ve done a lot of travelling around the world so I’m saying this with conviction! So, they are the perfect candidates to take Ghana forward - they just need the right skills.
I believe there is enormous potential for technology to change lives globally, and particularly in emerging markets like Ghana. Microsoft can help by using technology to give youth the skills they need to be successful. The whole country will benefit from a better skilled workforce.
Make no mistake, this is not about charity. It’s about creating a value exchange between citizens, industry and government. Companies like Microsoft need to employ people with the right skills, so it makes sense for us to invest in their education. While technology and ICT skills are still generally low in Ghana, more and more companies are starting to see how they stand to benefit from taking a more active role in the training of young people.
I’m particularly proud of our 4Afrika Initiative, which is playing an active role in Africa’s economic competitiveness. It is focused on enabling Africans to turn their ideas into reality with access to the right devices, services, training and mentorship. In Ghana, this initiative has seen us partner with Spectra Wireless to launch Africa’s first commercial service network using TV white spaces. This is an important step because it allows students to buy affordable, high speed internet bundles and devices, giving them access to the internet, which goes a long way in helping them succeed.
As I lead Microsoft in Ghana, you can be assured that the youth here will always be top on my list of priorities. Young people are our biggest asset and I truly believe in the power of technology to help them make an impact.
Microsoft’s Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade starting on July 29 2015, and genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users will be entitled to a free upgrade for a year. Here is why you’ll want to upgrade!
Windows 10 brings back the Start menu that makes it easier for you to find files, pinned applications and your favourites. Windows 10 starts fast, resumes fast and helps enable batteries to last longer. With Live tiles that are also available on the start menu, you can now access your latest emails, and calendar events as well as the latest updates from your social media, sports, and news platforms.
The Start menu can also be expanded to fill the whole screen or you could unpin the Live tiles and resize Metro apps to recreate a more Windows 8-like experience. The choice is yours.
Universal Windows Apps
A unified code that works across desktops, tablets and smartphones makes it easier for iPhone and Android developers to transfer their code into the Windows ecosystem, rapidly filling in the gaps in the Windows Store. Now there are more desktop features packed into smartphones and tablets by giving the interface a thumb-friendly redesign. This will also make it easier for locally developed Africa apps to be integrated onto the platform. As Cameroon born Visual Studio app developer, Ludovic Giyoguem, says” It’s very important for Africans to build their own apps. Africa is moving forward, and a continent cannot move forward if there is no technology.
Use Windows 10 across all your devices in a familiar and consistent experience. Continuum enables devices to transform, enabling elegant transitions of a tablet into a PC, and back, allowing a Windows phone to become like a PC.
Continuum takes the best of the Windows 8 experience that works great for a tablet experience and the best of the Windows 7 experience designed for mouse and keyboard and brings them together in a user friendly way that allows the consumer to choose which works best for them based on their device and usage.
Windows tablets will default to Windows 8-like mode that’s better suited for fingers, and hybrids will intelligently switch between the PC-friendly desktop mode and the Windows 8-like mode depending on whether you have a keyboard attached.
In tablet mode, the Start menu expands to fit the full screen, as do Metro apps. If you’d like to force a switch, the new Action Centre has a dedicated “Tablet Mode” button that you can enable or disable at will.
With so much of our day revolving around interacting, and sharing information online, Microsoft Edge will empower you to do more with the modern web.
Microsoft Edge is designed to get things done online with built-in inking, sharing and reading view. It offers quick results and content based on individual interests and preferences. Fast, streamlined and personal, empowering people to focus on just the content that matters to them and actively engage with the Web.
Microsoft Edge works best on touch devices and is also really easy to use with a mouse & Keyboard.
Get Ready for Windows 10
On July 29, you can get Windows 10 for PCs and tablets by taking advantage of the free upgrade offer, or on a new Windows 10 PC from your favourite retailer. If you purchase a new Windows 8.1 device between now and then, the Windows 10 upgrade will be available to you and many retail stores will upgrade your new device for you.
The Windows 10 upgrade is designed to be compatible with your current Windows device and applications. We are hard at work to make this upgrade process a great experience.
You can reserve your free Windows 10 upgrade now through a simple reservation process. Look for this icon in your system tray at the bottom of your screen, simply click on the icon, and then complete the reservation process.
You can find more details on how this works at Windows.com.
“They say that in life you make decisions that lead you down a path and then another and another, until it is impossible to know how things would have ended if you’d chosen a different path.” Delia Sieff, PR communications for Microsoft MEA started her journey in the ICT industry through a series of coincidences. Read more on her experience as a woman in ICT.
What attracted you to the ICT industry?
Honestly, I didn’t proactively seek a career in ICT. My entrance into the industry was more a series of coincidences. After studying communications, I worked for a number of PR agencies before starting a small agency with a friend. We focussed primarily on PR, image management and graphic design for the performing arts; a far cry from the high tech world I now live in. During that time, my business partner was approached by a personnel firm to do a three month maternity cover at Microsoft. She had recently launched a trade magazine and was focussed on getting that off the ground, so she suggested I go along for the interview, do the three month stint and then we’d focus on growing the agency again on my return . They say that in life you make decisions that lead you down a path and then another and another, until it is impossible to know how things would have ended if you’d chosen a different path. That’s how I view going for that interview at Microsoft – it changed the course of my career and my life. Shortly after joining, the marketing organisation went through a restructure and I was asked to stay on as the consumer marketing manager. I had never worked in ICT before, nor had I worked in a corporate environment or in a broader marketing role. Based on all of those considerations, the opportunity was simply too good to pass up, and the rest, as they say, is history. That was in 2000 and in the fifteen years since, I have worked for Microsoft both in South Africa and the UK, Intel Corporation, Nokia and now Microsoft again in a Middle East and Africa regional role. I suspect that once you’ve worked in tech, everything else seems a little boring.
There’s no doubt that the ICT industry is still heavily male dominated, although that is changing slowly but surely and I feel I can also contribute to that shift. What I love about the ICT sector is that it is full of incredibly smart and competent people, not only tech smart but experts in their specific field. The industry seems to attract the best of the best in terms of talent and that means you get to work with dynamic, passionate people in marketing, sales, logistics, business development, finance, legal – in fact every possible function. When you work in environments like that, I think you challenge yourself to be better, to think differently, to make a greater impact and that means you are always learning and growing. As a woman, I have always felt I had a special ability to bring balance to the environments in which I have worked. The ICT industry attracts a lot of the same personality types – “Drivers” as defined by some research methodology. Perhaps it’s a combination of being both a woman and a different personality type, but I am often the person focussing on some of the softer skills, looking at things with more empathy and from a different perspective. I think the strongest teams, especially leadership teams, are ones with diversity, because you can draw on many different views and experiences. Decisions are made more thoughtfully and usually with better outcomes by diverse teams and this is a key opportunity for women in ICT.
I have been very fortunate in the roles I have held and the companies I have worked for. There has always been a huge respect for diversity, whether gender or otherwise, so I have not experienced too many challenges. There are times where I have found myself literally as the only woman on a leadership team. That can be interesting, simply because men tend to have different interests, and my knowledge of sport and cars is fairly limited for making conversation at team building events. Men also tend to behave differently in groups and sometimes feel uncomfortable when a woman is thrown in to the mix. But once you find common ground and build a network of support, it is far easier to fit in and even make the team dynamic better. I also find that many men in senior positions have wives that do not work, or have significantly less pressurised jobs and carry most of the responsibility for managing the home. Sometimes it is difficult to be the person who says “I can’t do a call at 7am because I need to drop my daughter at school”. There’s not always an appreciation that you are trying to juggle two jobs – the corporate one and the home one, but that is the reality and you tend to need to work a little harder to prove your commitment at senior levels.
Why is it important to encourage more women to pursue STEM subjects?
The reality is that women are still marginalised, potentially even more so in Middle East and Africa. Women don’t always get the same opportunities, starting with access to education, time to focus on their studies and even access to funding for further studies. Because of all these things, women sometimes don’t believe that they can do the same things as their male counterparts, that they can excel in subjects traditionally dominated by men, that they can hold senior roles in any sector. That is only a perception, because women can do absolutely anything they set their minds to. Sometimes women also feel that it is inappropriate to pursue STEM subjects because those are “for boys” so there’s also a stigma attached to not doing what is conventionally accepted. That means women need to have more courage, to stand up against the norms, to be proud to have an interest in STEM and pursue those areas with passion regardless of what others say or think. In the same way that women bring diversity to the workplace and to decision making, women also bring fresh perspectives to the study of STEM subjects. This change in thinking is sometimes the very spark that can result in a major breakthrough in research or development, something that can literally change the world.
This question is relevant to absolutely all working women, regardless of the industry sector in which they find themselves. Being a home maker, being a mother, being a friend and being an employee/manger/leader are all roles that compete with each other for your time and attention. It’s not easy to be all things to all people; and the reality is that you make compromises on your work life balance, on both sides of the equation. I am very fortunate in that most of the companies I have worked for have had incredibly progressive policies around managing your workload and personal life. I feel that I am measured and rewarded on the impact that I make, not on how many hours per day I spend at my desk. Flexible working hours save you time by not sitting in peak hour traffic to be at the office at a specific time, being able to work from home from time to time, allows you to have a day without distractions to get on top of some pending items. Being able to access tools and information from anywhere anytime is an advantage in being able to manage when and where you work. For me, personally, I have set some ground rules to manage all the areas of my life. I drop my daughter at school in the mornings which gives us some quality time to chat in the car and also gets me to the office about an hour and a half earlier than most other folks. That is a very productive time to get on top of things before the day kicks off. I try to leave the office in time to get home to have dinner as a family, do bath time, story time and bed time. I am disciplined about not switching my laptop on again until my daughter goes to sleep. After that, I will connect again for an hour or two to attend to any urgent tasks. It’s difficult when you work across timezones and you have to make allowances for evening calls at times. When I travel on business, I tend to work really long hours. Being alone in hotel rooms provides the perfect opportunity to work for several hours at night without taking time away from your family at home. Because I travel a lot, I then try to increase my quality home time on my return by going to watch a ballet class or swimming lesson in the middle of the day to surprise my daughter. It’s all about setting your priorities, understanding what is important to you and making the time for those things. I say “making” the time intentionally, because no one will ever “give” you that time. Every area of our life can become all-consuming if you allow it. I would have to say that the areas I don’t make sufficient time for are exercise and relaxation. I can hold nobody except myself responsible for that and there’s always room for improvement on work / life balance.
What advice do you have for women looking for a career in ICT?
Go for it!! If you have any interest whatsoever in a career in ICT, at least take the time to research the options a little more and understand how or where you might like to get involved. Being in the ICT industry doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to specialise in deep tech. There are so many opportunities to be part of the tech industry while becoming a functional expert. As an example, more and more ICT companies are targeting consumers. We see marketing and sales professionals from other sectors such as FMCG or entertainment moving into ICT because they bring this deep understanding of consumers but are drawn to the fast paced and exciting environment of ICT. The industry is so multi-faceted that you can truly have several different careers here without leaving the industry. The only constant is change and as things change, new opportunities open up. That makes ICT an exciting place to work. And if young girls have an interest in ICT, find a mentor or someone who can help you navigate the possibilities. Nurture that interest and pursue your dream. It is not an industry reserved for men and every women who takes a chance makes a difference for others.
By Rotimi Olumide, Windows Lead for Microsoft West, East and Central Africa and Indian Ocean Islands
The Count Down has begun – on July 29th, Microsoft will launch Windows 10, undoubtedly our most personal, interactive operating system yet. We designed Windows 10 to create a new generation of Windows for the 1.5 billion people using Windows today in 190 countries around the world.
Are you ready for amazing new features and a familiar experience where you’ll feel like an expert from the start? Check out this great Windows 10 Video, and find out more.
Windows 10 is coming to you on the 29th July as a *FREE UPGRADE for qualified Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices
Yes, it’s a FREE UPGRADE to a full version of Windows 10 – you’ll find full details on our Windows Sites – here. Once you upgrade, you have Windows 10 for free on that device.
So here’s how to reserve your upgrade today!
You can reserve your free upgrade in the Get Windows 10 App. The Get Windows 10 App is available on most PCs running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows 8.1 Update. Click on the small Windows icon found at the right end of the taskbar. If you don’t see it, visit our Q&A page for more info.
This app is designed to streamline your upgrade process by making sure your device is compatible, reserving your free upgrade and scheduling a convenient install time. It also has information to help you learn about the features in Windows 10.
Click “Reserve your free upgrade” in the app window.
Enter your email if you want a confirmation of this reservation.
Once you reserve, Windows 10 will download when available, and you can cancel your reservation at any time.*
You’ll get a notification when your upgrade is ready later this year. This lets you schedule the installation for a time that’s convenient. NOTE: If you are on Windows 8.1, you can set your PC to only download updates when using a non-metered connection (for example tethering to a smartphone is a metered connection). The Windows 10 download file will be approximately 3GB in size.
After it’s installed, Windows 10 is yours to love.
We’ve got your back
The Microsoft Answer Desk is here for you; if you have questions or want to learn more, our friendly Answer Techs are here to help. As a starting reference, see the Windows 10 Q&A site, click here.
*Windows Offer Details
Yes, free! This upgrade offer is for a full version of Windows 10, not a trial. 3GB download required; standard data rates apply. To take advantage of this free offer, you must upgrade to Windows 10 within one year of availability. Once you upgrade, you have Windows 10 for free on that device.
Windows 10 Upgrade Offer is valid for qualified Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices, including devices you already own. Some hardware/software requirements apply and feature availability may vary by device and market. The availability of Windows 10 upgrade for Windows Phone 8.1 devices may vary by OEM, mobile operator or carrier. Devices must be connected to the internet and have Windows Update enabled. Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 Update required. Some editions are excluded: Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, and Windows RT/RT 8.1. Active Software Assurance customers in volume licensing have the benefit to upgrade to Windows 10 enterprise offerings outside of this offer. To check for compatibility and other important installation information, visit your device manufacturer’s website and the Windows 10 Specifications page. Additional requirements may apply over time for updates. Security and features are kept automatically up-to-date which is always enabled.
Posted by Jeffrey Avina, Citizenship Director for Middle East and Africa
I was thrilled to hear that three students from Africa made it through to the final round of the Microsoft YouthSpark Challenge for Change competition this year, with 17-year-old Saviour Okusenogu from Nigeria being named as one of the 10 grand-prize winners.
The Challenge for Change is a global contest that helps young people turn causes close to their hearts into tangible ways to do good in the world. It inspires socially-conscious youth to imagine how they would use Microsoft technology and resources to support their cause. The winners each receive $2,500 to kick-start their projects, a Windows Phone and the chance to serve as a Microsoft YouthSpark advocate, along with a leadership-development trip to Nicaragua that promises an unforgettable experience doing hands-on volunteer work.
Saviour says he’s delighted that, “Many people around the world will know about my project and what I’m trying to do in my community.” He runs the BISET Initiative (Become Inspired in Science and Engineering Technology) aimed at organising various science practical sessions with secondary students to raise awareness of science and engineering technology. Through audio-visual and interactive science experiments, students are trained on up-skilling themselves technologically to better their communities. In his entry, Saviour explained that Microsoft’s tools like PowerPoint and Visual Studio will help with presentations and videos, while Microsoft Excel/Access could be used for storing the database, and Microsoft Word/Publisher could be used to design colourful magazines, pamphlets and manuals of science inventions and science projects for the students to study.
Some of the other African finalists were Alia ElKattan from Egypt, Chinenye Ezeakor from Nigeria and Nwodo James from Nigeria. Alia runs the ‘Learning Through Making (For School Students) program to encourage high school students to get involved in DIY. Engineering student, Chinenye believes she has a responsibility to help develop the minds of young girls and is doing so through the ‘Women in STEM-AFRICA’ outreach program at her local university. James’ innovative idea came from his concern with the dying reading culture among Nigerian students, and he aims to encourage reading by making technological gadgets suitable for reading. All three finalists shared the compelling ways they feel that Microsoft technology can assist them in their initiatives.
At Microsoft we are heavily invested in empowering and inspiring young people to spark change in the world – after all, some of the most significant positive changes in history have come from the burning desire of young people doing something to change not only their own lives, but the lives of those around them. It is really encouraging to see this great work and inspiring innovation coming out of Africa and I commend youths like Saviour and the other finalists for their hard work and vision.
Posted by the Editorial Team
Mark East, General Manager Operations – Microsoft WW Education, recently visited Egypt to meet with government and school leaders to discuss the future of education in the country, and how to solve some of the current challenges.
During his visit, Mark was encouraged by several examples of how educators are using technology to improve learning outcomes. One of his key learnings was that focussing on the teachers and empowering them to use technology must be prioritised. Off this base, they can pass on their knowledge to their students.
Mark discovered an enthusiasm among parents, teachers and the public sector to secure technology and improve infrastructure. There is significant potential to capitalise on this enthusiasm and enhance learning through ICT, especially with the commitment by all parties, including the Egyptian government, to invest in young people.
To read more about Mark’s visit to Egypt and his key takeaways, click here.
The world’s population has tripled over the last century, while water use has multiplied by seven. In Africa alone, there are 358 million people who don’t have access to water. However, simply providing access to water is not the end game. To achieve long-term sustainability, the first step is collaboration and creativity in order to spark behavioural change.
This is the vision behind the ONE DROP Foundation, a non-profit organisation (NGO) established by Cirque du Soleil founder, Guy Laliberté, in 2007 to bring safe water access and sanitation to communities in need Microsoft is proud to support the foundation as it launches its ONE DROP of Life application.
The launch of the ONE DROP of Life app this week is a great articulation of this approach to problem solving. Working with Microsoft, the ONE DROP Foundation has created the app to convey important educative messages about water issues worldwide. Tapping into the growing popularity of mobile gaming to secure an audience, the partnership has identified a creative way to spread a serious message. It appears to be effective, too. Even before the official launch the game had been played by over 100,000 people.
Microsoft’s technological support for the ONE DROP of Life app is motivated by the shared belief with the ONE DROP foundation that empowerment is the key to re-thinking new kinds of sustainable solutions to pressing global challenges. We are empowering ONE DROP through our technology so that they, in turn, can empower the communities where they work through the provision of safe water and sanitation.
In Africa, the ONE DROP foundation has been working to empower communities in Burkina Faso, where less than 56% of the population has access to water. Through a series of programs to address access to water, as well as awareness and microfinance, ONE DROP hopes to reach 125 000 participants by 2017.
Microsoft’s support of ONE DROP is part of our wider belief that technology has a fundamental role in helping create a more sustainable future for everyone. The issue of sustainability is becoming increasingly important, regardless of who you are, what you do or where you live. Businesses are now operating in a world where consumers want to know about the environmental impact of the products they buy. At Microsoft we are committed to the creation of a sustainable future and are actively working with partners, customers, governments, and leading environmental organisations to bring the power of information technology and cloud computing to address the world's environmental challenges.
To learn more, visit ONEDROP.org
Microsoft Environment https://www.microsoft.com/environment/