Microsoft Monday: Minecraft For Apple TV Arrives, Xbox One Download Speed Increases, Cortana For IoT – Forbes

“Microsoft Monday” takes a look back at the past week of news related to Microsoft. This week, “Microsoft Monday” includes details about Minecraft arriving on Apple TV, Dolby Atmos support coming to the Xbox One and Windows 10, the download speed increasing on the Xbox One, a roadmap for Cortana on IoT devices, the OneDrive for iOS update and much more!

Minecraft Arrives On Apple TV For $19.99

Minecraft / Image Credit: Microsoft

Minecraft / Image Credit: Microsoft

Back in October, Mojang announced that Minecraft will be coming to the Apple TV. And today Minecraft has officially arrived for the fourth-generation Apple TV at a price of $19.99.

“We’ve just released Minecraft for the slim black boxes. And, for a limited time, it comes with seven pieces of lovely DLC, giving you the chance to customize the fun to your liking. Minecraft: Apple TV Edition currently includes the Holiday 2015, Town Folk, and City Folk skin packs, along with the Plastic, Natural, Cartoon, and Festive 2016 mash-ups,” said Mojang’s director of creative communications Owen Jones in a blog post.

Minecraft for the Apple TV will also support the Ender Update. Unfortunately, it does not support Minecraft Realms or Xbox Live yet. But Mojang plans to add support for those platforms “in the near future.”

Dolby Atmos Sound Is Coming To Xbox One And Windows 10

Microsoft has announced that the Dolby Atmos surround sound technology will be coming to Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs and tablets. What makes this announcement exciting is that Dolby Atmos is known for making gaming and video content sound extremely sharp and realistic.

“Xbox will be the first game console to feature Dolby Atmos and game developers are excited about using the new capabilities to make their games richer and more engaging. Atmos support for the Blu-ray app on Xbox is already available in Preview and will be released to GA soon – and we’re very excited now to offer Atmos support to games on Xbox One and Windows 10,” said Spencer Hooks, the Director of Gaming at Dolby Laboratories. “You’ll be able to experience Dolby Atmos in your home theater, assuming you have a Dolby Atmos enabled speaker system or soundbar. But you don’t need to have that kind of equipment – it will be possible to enable virtually any pair of headphones with the Dolby Atmos experience.”

Xbox Preview members can now access Dolby Atmos support on the Xbox One and Xbox One S through Blu-ray Bitstream pass-through. If you are an Xbox Preview member, you can set up the feature by making sure you have the latest Blu-ray player update under the “Updates” tab within the “My Games & Apps” section and then enabling “Let my receiver decode audio (beta)” under the “Disc & Blu-ray” settings page.

Xbox One Update Increases Download Speeds Up To 80%

In a recent Xbox One update, Microsoft substantially optimized the download speeds supported by the console. If you are on an Internet connection that is faster than 100Mbps, then you should see an increase of about 80%. On slower connections, game and app downloads should still see a boost of around 40%. The changes in the download speed depend on your ISP and connection configuration. But the download speeds won’t have as much of a boost if you are playing a game since the bandwidth is prioritized for that experience. The Xbox One update also includes optimizations to make downloads “more resilient to intermittent connectivity issues.” And the update contains performance improvements for wireless controllers and background music.

The Xbox One update includes optimizations to make downloads “more resilient to intermittent connectivity issues.” And the update includes performance improvements for wireless controllers and background music.

Microsoft Is Reportedly Expanding Cortana To Internet Of Things Devices

ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley noticed that Cortana will be coming to Windows 10 Internet of Things Core devices with displays, according to a slide presented at the WinHEC 2016 event in Shenzhen. The slide showed Cortana built into a refrigerator, a thermostat and a toaster.

“With upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update, Cortana will be available on Windows 10 IoT Core devices with displays,” says the slide. Windows 10 Creators Update is expected to arrive in March 2017. In the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft is also adding “wake on voice from modern standby” and “far-field voice” with Cortana. This will enable hardware companies to build devices that can wake up Cortana with voice queries and it will be able to listen to people from different rooms.

Foley said that the Cortana on Windows 10 IoT Core will launch in English for the U.S. and U.K. markets first. And there are plans to roll it out in additional languages after that.

OneDrive For iOS Has Been Updated With Office Lens Feature And Instant Previews

OneDrive for iOS / Photo Credit: Microsoft

OneDrive for iOS / Photo Credit: Microsoft

Last week, Microsoft released a OneDrive for iOS update with a few new features. Microsoft OneDrive for iOS now has the ability to preview Word, Excel and PowerPoint files within the app via the new instant previewers. Another new feature is the ability to digitize whiteboards, documents and business cards because the app now has Office Lens integration.

Microsoft Is Adding Click-To-Load Flash As The Default In Edge Browser

Tweet by Kyle Pflug / Screenshot Credit: Amit Chowdhry

Tweet by Kyle Pflug / Screenshot Credit: Amit Chowdhry

Kyle Pflug, the communications manager of the Microsoft Edge browser, tweeted that click-to-load Flash will be added as the default for the Edge browser. Edge users will be able to test this feature in the next Insider flight. This feature will eventually be integrated into the main version of Edge after beta testers and developers work out some of the kinks.

Example of Adobe Flash content being blocked / Photo Credit: Microsoft

Example of Adobe Flash content being blocked / Photo Credit: Microsoft

The Edge browser should default to HTML5 content if it is available. And the option to click-to-load Flash will appear on a site-by-site basis, according to PCWorld.

“We are deeply aware that Flash is an integral part of many web experiences today. To ease the transition to HTML5, these changes initially will not affect the most popular sites which rely on Flash today. In the coming months, we will actively monitor Flash consumption in Microsoft Edge and will gradually shorten the list of automatic exceptions. At the end of this process, users will remain in control, and will be able to choose Flash for any site they visit,” said Microsoft in a blog post.

To Improve Digital Assistants, Microsoft Launches An AI Data Set Called MS MARCO

Last week, Microsoft released a data set called Microsoft MAchine Reading COmprehension (MS MARCO) containing 100,000 questions and answers that artificial intelligence researchers can utilize for building applications that are able to read and answer queries just like a human. The data collected for MS MARCO is based on anonymized real world data from the Bing search engine and the Cortana digital assistant.

“In order to move towards artificial general intelligence, we need to take a step towards being able to read a document and understand it as well as a person,” said Microsoft’s Rangan Majumder in a blog post. “This is a step in that direction.”

Digital assistants do an excellent job when it comes to handling math problems and basic knowledge queries. However, digital assistants tend to point to search engine results when asked ambiguous questions. To make digital assistants smarter, researchers need stronger sources of “training data.”

Microsoft, TomTom, HERE And Esri Are Building “World Graphs” For Sharing Geographic Data

At the Microsoft Technology Center in Detroit, Microsoft announced that it has partnered with TomTom, HERE and Esri to integrate location-based services into the Microsoft Azure cloud. Having access to the location-based data will make it easier for developers to build sophisticated mobile, enterprise, and Internet of Things apps.

“Through our partnership with Microsoft, we can bring all our map layers to the Microsoft Azure ecosystem and foster innovation that makes people’s lives better,” said Pieter Gillegot-Vergauwen, the VP of product management and maps at TomTom at the event. “We’re working actively to lead the way to a future of smart mobility, smarter cities and autonomous driving.”

Microsoft’s partnership with HERE has been extended so that the Redmond giant can expand upon its use of HERE data and services in cars. HERE powers the location data in Microsoft’s first party services like Windows, Cortana and Bing.

And Esri’s ArcGIS platform runs on Azure and can pull in location-based data such as weather, live sensor data and social media feeds. Last month, Microsoft announced the first preview of ArcGIS Maps for Power BI, which offers rich mapping visualizations.

Spokesperson Frank X. Shaw Says Microsoft Opposes Discrimination And Would Not Work On Building A Muslim American Registry

Earlier this month, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and a number of other technology executives met with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss a number of issues including jobs and trades. During Trump’s campaign, he said that one of his initiatives was to build a database of Syrian refugees so BuzzFeed News reached out to Microsoft and other technology companies for clarification on their positions.

“We’ve been clear about our values. We oppose discrimination and we wouldn’t do any work to build a registry of Muslim Americans,” said Microsoft spokesperson Frank X. Shaw to BuzzFeed News. Shaw released the statement one day after the meeting took place between Trump and the tech executives. And over 40 Microsoft employees signed a pledge that says they refuse to build a database based on the Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs of Muslim Americans.

How Bill Gates Was A Generous Secret Santa On Reddit

Microsoft co-founder and technology advisor Bill Gates participated in the annual Reddit Secret Santa gift exchange again this year. And Reddit user Aerrix shared what she received from the richest person in the United States.

Here’s a list of things that Gates sent Aerrix:

  • A pair of Zelda mittens for her and her dog.
  • A Minecraft-edition Xbox One with a sticky note that says “I love my Xbox and thought you might like one too -Bill”
  • Three wireless Xbox One controllers
  • The Halo 5: Guardians and Rise of the Tomb Raider games for Xbox One
  • An Xbox Live Gold membership card that covers a one year subscription
  • A Zelda blanket
  • A pair of Harry Potter slippers
  • The Kevin Belton’s Big Flavors of New Orleans cookbook
  • A paper version of the Master Sword from Skyward Sword from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
  • DVDs: The Martian, The End Of The Tour, and Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story
  • A Nintendo NES Classic Edition
  • A donation to in her name
  • And an edited photo with her, her husband, her dog and Gates wearing Santa hats:
Photo Credit: Aerrix via Reddit Gifts

Photo Credit: Aerrix via Reddit Gifts

Microsoft Monday includes seven days worth of updates from the Redmond-based software giant. What are your thoughts about the “Microsoft Monday” news from this week? Please leave a comment!


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