New Surfaces on the way, Anniversary Update closes in, COO Kevin Turner departs and more!
Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the biggest Microsoft-related news stories of the week.
Microsoft has begun the sign off process for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, going as far as to remove the watermark from the most recent Fast Ring builds. Build 14384 is the first release candidate, with the next few builds focusing on polish ahead of a planned August 2nd public launch date.
Our own Zac Bowden reported the news earlier in the week, citing internal sources. We could have the final release version of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update as soon as the end of next week. We've had several new builds this week, including, for the first time, a weekend release, Build 14385.
The quickening pace of Fast Ring launches shows we're nearly at the end of waiting for the first public release of the Redstone update wave, which will see more significant updates over the coming months for Windows PC, Windows 10 Mobile, and Xbox One.
Beyond Windows itself, Microsoft also updated its bot framework, previously announced at Build, with new features to support Slack, Skype calling and Facebook.
- Microsoft begins sign-off process for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update
- New Bot Framework brings new features for Skype, Slack and more
Microsoft UK has been leveraging the HTC Vive and BBC:microbit mini computer to help youngsters with autism into programming.
"Although computing has been on the national curriculum since 2014, there is a fear that UK children are falling behind in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). However, Andrew Webber, who works in Developer Experience for Microsoft UK, said he hoped that event "inspires children affected by autism to continue to learn about computing" and go on to be the software developers of the future."
On the Surface front, we've started hearing rumors about the future of Microsoft's popular line of 2-in-1 devices. Mary Jo Foley reported that we could see new Surfaces launched at an event in the fall. We confirmed with our own sources that it does indeed seem to be the case, with an event planned for October in a similar vein to last year's #Windows10 Devices Event in New York City.
While it's looking unlikely that this event will unveil the highly anticipated Surface Phone, we could see a Surface 4 and perhaps a Microsoft Band 3, utilizing Windows 10 IoT instead of the custom OS it's using at present. Our own Daniel Rubino has reported recently about a Surface All-In-One device, but it's looking unlikely that this event could see that revealed either. Microsoft is also reportedly exploring some form of big screen accessory for Continuum so that W10M users can utilize the feature on the go. We should see significant new Surface launches in 2017 to align with further Redstone additions to Windows 10.
The news was corroborated by some photographs taken within Surface's office that appeared to tease new products for 2016 and 2017.
- Microsoft uses virtual reality to help inspire kids with autism
- Microsoft rumored to launch Surface hardware revisions this fall, new devices in 2017
- Microsoft is working on Surface All-in-One PC destined for your living room
- Microsoft's Surface office teases new product scheduled for 2016 launch, three more in 2017
Forever at the center of innovation, Microsoft has discovered a way to store 200MB of data in a synthetic strand of DNA.
"The impressive part is not just how much data they were able to encode onto synthetic DNA and then decode. It's also the space they were able to store it in. Once encoded, the data occupied a spot in a test tube "much smaller than the tip of a pencil," said Douglas Carmean, the partner architect at Microsoft overseeing the project."
As Microsoft continues its push into data-centric cloud-based services, biotechnical storage solutions could prove a useful area to invest in, given the 'thousands of years'-longevity of DNA-based storage.
On the corporate side of things, Microsoft lost the 11-year veteran, Kevin Turner, earlier this week. The Chief Operating Officer will be leaving Microsoft to join Citadel Securities as CEO. As COO, Kevin Turner oversaw worldwide sales and aspects of Microsoft's marketing strategy. As a result of the departure, the sales, marketing, and services divisions will be integrated to form one unified leadership team.
In an email to employees, Satya Nadella described the impact Kevin Turner has made on Microsoft in recent years:
"Kevin has made a tremendous impact at Microsoft over the past 11 years. He built the sales force into the strategic asset it is today with incredible talent while at the same time more than doubling our revenue and driving customer satisfaction scores to the highest in company history. I have learned a lot from Kevin over these past few years and wish him all the best."
According to conversational transcripts reportedly obtained by Business Insider, some employees are concerned that Turner's departure could indicate layoffs in the departments he was in charge of, comprising of roughly 50,000 employees. The anonymous messages cite former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop's departure, leading to the culling of thousands of former Nokia staff in Microsoft's mobile division.
- Microsoft has found a way to store 200MB of data in synthetic DNA
- Kevin Turner leaves Microsoft after 11 years to become CEO at Citadel Securities
- Star Wars actor John Boyega to be judge for Microsoft's Imagine Cup finals
Expect next week to see the release of more Fast Ring Insider builds as we speed towards the full Windows 10 Anniversary Update launch. Hopefully, we'll start to hear more about Microsoft's plans for new Surface devices moving forward, and who knows, maybe we'll get some interesting leaks on the near-mythical Surface Phone. Until then, thanks for joining us for another week in Microsoft news, and have a great week!