If you’re not at work (or travelling to and from work), then you’re answering emails on your phone. If you’re lucky, you might find time to take a well-earned “break” and mow the lawn or do some DIY around the house.
It’s nice when you find something that makes your life a little easier, and that’s where Microsoft Office can help. Programs such as Outlook, Onerive, Word, PowerPoint and Teams are helping people across the world create, collaborate and communicate.
Here, we give you some tips on how using Office to share work can save you time. You never know, you might get a chance to enjoy that freshly-mowed garden.
Start documents in OneDrive
Copy files from OneDrive to SharePoint to share with your team
Richard Thompson, Chairman of Surrey CCC, said: “London is the world’s biggest sporting city and T20 cricket has been its fastest growing success in recent years. Attracting one of the world’s biggest brands to sponsor the Family Zone at the Kia Oval is yet another sign of the phenomenal interest T20 cricket is generating.
“Over the past four years we have welcomed more than 500,000 fans to T20 matches, and the Family Zone has allowed thousands of children to be introduced to cricket in a safe environment with fun games, visits from players and the chance to be inspired by our great game.
“Partnering with Xbox will help us bring the Family Zone to the next level as we look to continue the runaway success of T20 cricket.”
Designed for families, the Kia Oval Family Zone offers a panoramic view of the field from seats on the second-floor balcony of the OCS Stand, directly behind the bowler’s arm. It was previously sold to hospitality buyers but was relaunched as the Family Zone in 2017 after Surrey CCC received feedback from fans.
The area also features food and drink options, a special branch of the club shop and an exclusive bar for parents. Games, cricket coaching, competitions, giveaways and player autograph signings all take place in the England Suite of the OCS Stand.
The Family Zone is already sold out for Surrey’s first game of the T20 season – a London derby with Middlesex on July 23.
The biggest experience in the What’s in Store? billboard is the chance to game with Sterling and Boyega inside the new flagship Microsoft Store on Oxford Circus on July 11, the day it opens to the public. The two lucky fans will be able to chat and take selfies with the stars after the store opens at 11am.
John Carter, Senior Store Manager at the flagship Microsoft Store in London, said: “We’re excited to open our doors to the community on July 11. Our customers are at the forefront of everything we do, and the flagship Microsoft Store will be a community hub where anyone can come to learn new skills, meet like-minded people and experience the best of Microsoft. From a gamer wanting to improve their skills and meet interesting people, a small business looking to get off the ground, through to a student wanting to learn more about digital skills, the flagship Microsoft Store on Oxford Circus is a place for everyone.”
Other experiences as part of What’s in Store? include:
A chance to meet BAFTA Award winning Xbox Game Studio, Playground Games, the creators of Forza Horizon 4. This world-renowned video game studio will offer an insight into the Forza games series with behind the scenes details and host a live Q&A where fans have the chance to ask their burning questions.
Workshop sessions with Sharmadean Reid MBE, founder of WAH Nails and Beautystack. Entrepreneurs and creative thinkers can secure one of two exclusive sessions in store with the British Jamaican entrepreneur. Reid will offer advice on how to grow a company and transform your business proposal into a game-changing presentation using Microsoft technology.
An editing and creative workshop hosted by Instagram star and author Rich McCor, also known as Paperboyo. The artist uses a Surface device to create unique photos by placing paper cut-outs next to famous buildings, including turning the London Eye into a bicycle and the Arc De Triomphe into a Lego figure.
Access to an exclusive four-day Xbox Showcase event at the flagship Microsoft Store in London, giving fans the opportunity to play some of the biggest Xbox titles from this year’s E3 event in Los Angeles. It will be the first time that people in the UK will be able to get their hands on Project xCloud, Microsoft’s new game-streaming technology, and Gears 5.
Visitors to the What’s in Store? experience will need to interact with the billboard to redeem a box. To register for the in-store experience, visitors should scan the QR code on the card inside using their phone and enter the unique number.
The first physical retail store for Microsoft in the UK will be located on Oxford Circus and covers 21,932 square feet over three floors. Those who work, live, shop in or visit the UK will be able to test and experience the latest technology, products and services from Microsoft and its partners. Interactive zones, surrounded by immersive video walls running throughout the store, will make this the best place to get hands-on with Surface, Windows, Office, Xbox and PC gaming, HoloLens mixed-reality and more.
The Microsoft Store Answer Desk offers a dedicated area for customers to get tech support, trainings, repairs and advice from trusted advisors on Microsoft products and services, while a Community Theatre – a space for technology, coding and STEM learning – will run free, year-round workshops and programmes for customers.
Every public sector health worker in Wales will be given access to Microsoft programs such as Outlook and Teams as part of a country-wide focus on digital transformation.
More than 100,000 NHS employees, including GPs, consultants, nurses, therapists, paramedics and support staff, can now use Microsoft 365 to find new ways of securely sharing information with colleagues and improve how they deliver healthcare to millions of patients.
Outlook, Teams, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint and Yammer will be available to staff on multiple devices, such as phones, tablets and laptops, opening up the possibility of consultations and meetings being held quickly and easily via video conferencing. The move is expected to help NHS staff save money and time by not having to travel to face-to-face meetings, freeing them up to focus on patients who need the most help.
Andrew Griffiths, Director of NHS Wales Informatics Service, said: “This new national agreement is part of our commitment to refresh NHS Wales IT infrastructure and ensure it supports the transformational changes taking place across health and social care. It moves our digital estate away from locally managed services and into cloud-based services, delivering efficiencies and economies of scale.
“Frontline staff who work in our health and care services rely on technology, to help them deliver services in new, innovative ways that put the needs of patients first. I am very pleased that we are able to deliver the most up to date tools to our NHS Wales staff to help them with the fantastic work they do every day.”
The agreement also includes an upgrade to Windows 10 E5, which includes cutting-edge security features, such as Advanced Threat Protection to prevent, detect, investigate and respond to potential risks.
“It’s essential that NHS Wales has secure systems that health staff and patients trust and this agreement will help achieve that,” Griffiths added. “It will increase resilience and mean our services are running on the most up-to-date operating system at all times.”
The Welsh Government paid for all 1,521 “maintained” schools to have access to programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, in a bid to boost the use of technology among pupils and reduce costs for families and headteachers.
As part of the £1.2 million investment, which is expected to benefit around 467,000 young people, all teachers and students will be able to download and install the latest version of Office 365 ProPlus on up to five personal devices. Pupils can then collaborate and continue learning at home using the same programs as they do in the classroom.
Chris Perkins, General Manager for Public Sector at Microsoft UK, said: “I am delighted to see Wales continue its digital transformation by putting powerful technology in the hands of those who really need it. While today’s announcement will directly affect 100,000 NHS staff, the benefits will also be felt by the millions of people that frontline health workers meet and care for.
“I am proud that Microsoft is helping the Welsh government on its journey to being digital-first and leading the way on using technology to benefit everyone.”
People will be able store their most personal information and files in a new area of OneDrive that has extra layers of security, Microsoft announced today.
OneDrive Personal Vault can only be accessed “with a strong authentication method or a second step of identity verification”, such as your fingerprint or face recognition on certain mobile devices, a PIN or a code sent to you via email or text message, the company said. Personal Vault can also be unlocked with the Microsoft Authenticator app.
The owner of the OneDrive can securely use one of these methods to get to their files without having to remember complicated passwords.
Pictures, videos and scanned documents can be uploaded via the OneDrive app straight into Personal Vault, keeping those personal files away from less secure areas of your device.
“OneDrive runs on the trusted Microsoft Cloud, which has many security measures in place to keep your files safe,” said Seth Patton, General Manager of Microsoft 365. “But we understand that some people want more protection for their most important and sensitive files, which is why we are introducing Personal Vault.
“Your locked files in Personal Vault have an extra layer of security, keeping them more secured in the event that someone gains access to your account or your device. Plus, this added security doesn’t mean added inconvenience. All your documents, photos and videos in Personal Vault are easy to access on Onedrive.com, your PC or capable devices.”
Personal Vault (left), which will be available to everyone by the end of the year, will also automatically relock on your PC, device or online after a short period of inactivity. Once locked, any files you were using will also lock and require reauthentication to access. On Windows 10 PCs, OneDrive also syncs your Personal Vault files to a Bitlocker-encrypted area of your local hard drive.
OneDrive currently encrypts files when they are being stored in the cloud or sent to your device, monitors suspicious activity, detects ransomware, notifies users of mass file deletions and recovers data, scans for virus during downloads and lists a version history for all file types.
Microsoft is also increasing the amount of storage in the OneDrive standalone plan from 50 GB to 100 GB for the same price per month. That’s enough space to store over 50,000 pictures (at 2MB per photo). Patton said the new plan “is perfect for automatically backing up your phone’s camera roll and scanning and saving documents, receipts, and more right from your phone”.
Meanwhile, Office 365 subscribers receive 1TB of OneDrive storage, and Microsoft is now letting them add more as they need it. Storage can be added in 200GB increments, up to 1TB of additional storage. Users can pay for what they need and increase, decrease or cancel their extra storage plan at any time.
One of the best-known legal businesses in the UK will let Microsoft directly handle its endpoint security, device management, updates and user support, so IT staff can help the company focus on customers and work more flexibly.
Slater and Gordon, the largest provider of consumer legal services in the country, will use Microsoft Managed Desktop, which was launched in September last year. Slater and Gordon is one of the first companies to use it.
Chris Gibbons, Slater and Gordon’s Head of Architecture and Security, said: “This is an incredibly powerful tool and we’re delighted to start putting its innovation and considerable benefits to use.
“Data security has rightly become a top priority for all companies – particularly those in the legal sector. We take it incredibly seriously here at Slater and Gordon. Microsoft Managed Desktop gives us industry-leading security, plus an adaptable and flexible platform which suits our agile working culture.”
Microsoft Managed Desktop is a cloud-based, subscription service that is overseen by engineers from the Microsoft Security Operations Center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This means a business’ computer systems are constantly monitored for cybersecurity threats as well as updated and improved with the latest patches and technology to help staff work more efficiently.
Slater and Gordon has rolled out Microsoft Managed Desktop along with Microsoft 365 on Surface devices, which contain security features such as secure password-less sign-in, allowing users to log in to their device simply by looking at the screen. The Surface Pro and Surface Laptop devices will help staff work securely from anywhere.
If the devices are lost or stolen, the Microsoft Security Operations Center can lock them down and remotely wipe data from them, protecting Slater and Gordon and its customers.
Bill Karagounis, General Manager of Microsoft Managed Desktop, said: “Slater and Gordon has a clear vision about how getting modern will drive their core business, and that’s exactly what we’re looking for among early adopters of Microsoft Managed Desktop. We have transformed desktop maintenance into a commodity function that frees up overburdened IT teams so they can better innovate and help users stay productive.”
Last year Slater and Gordon announced plans to spend £30 million digitising its legal services, which includes moving its London office to a modern and collaborative workspace in Holborn. It also has offices in a number of locations throughout England, Scotland and Wales.
David Whitmore, Slater and Gordon’s Chief Executive, added: “If legal service providers are to meet the demands of consumers in the years to come, we have to continually look for ways of being more flexible and innovative.
“That way of thinking also applies to how we as organisations work. That’s why we are looking to harness new technology, such as Microsoft Managed Desktop, to enable us to work smarter and more efficiently for our customers.
“This new technology allows us to produce services that better suit our customers’ needs and, importantly, also create the best working environment our colleagues want in a modern company.”
More than a million young people in the UK will be taught in more inclusive and accessible classrooms as part of a new initiative from Microsoft.
Around 30,000 teachers across the country will receive training on how to ensure every child they teach is engaged in lessons and understands the topic, by helping them learn in the best way for that individual.
Educators will also be shown how to use free computer tools that improve reading and writing, including live captioning and Translate, as well as the Immersive Reader function that’s embedded in Microsoft Edge, Word, OneNote, Teams, Outlook and Flipgrid. They will pass these skills on, to create a culture of accessible learning and ensure no child is left behind.
Immersive Reader is a free Microsoft tool that reads out text, breaks words into syllables and increases spacing between lines and letters. While it has proven effective at helping students with dyslexia to learn, it can assist anyone who finds it difficult to understand text.
Microsoft announced today that the tool will be made available as an Azure Cognitive Service, allowing third-party apps and partners to add Immersive Reader into their products to help the students and parents who use them.
Chris Rothwell, Director of Education at Microsoft UK, said: “Teachers have an impact on the young people they interact with in schools every day; they know how to run their classrooms to ensure that every student has the opportunity to learn.
“We want to support their vital work by giving them tools that can foster a culture of inclusivity and creativity, ease their workload and help inspire the next generation. Technology can reduce isolation and help young people gain independence. By listening to teachers and working with them, we can ensure children have access to a broad and balanced curriculum, and have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
A report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released this week revealed that although 90% of teachers in England reported having been trained to teach in mixed-ability settings as part of their formal training, just 69% felt prepared to do so. The study found that an average of 41% of teachers in this country worked in classes where at least 10% of pupils had a special educational need – much higher than the average for the other countries taking part at 27%.
Many students with dyslexia, dyspraxia and dysgraphia find that they are struggling to learn in a traditional school environment. Dyslexia International estimates there are 700 million people around the world with dyslexia, including one-in-five students. However, 90% of children with dyslexia can be educated in a regular classroom if they are given the right environment and tools.
Immersive Reader will read paragraphs aloud, allowing students to follow the words – which will be automatically broken up into syllables – as they are highlighted. Pupils can also make the on-screen text larger, change the font and background colour and narrow the field of view to one, three or five lines to make it easier to focus. The tool can also use pictures to depict what a word means, so reader can easily understand what a piece of text is referring to. It can be used alongside Microsoft’s Translate tool, so any website can be translated into another language before being read aloud.
In October last year, Microsoft become the first company to sign a global pledge to help people with dyslexia. By signing the Made by Dyslexia pledge, the business promised to tackle a lack of resources and training in schools and homes that can hold back children who find it difficult to read, write and do maths.
Robin Beanland has worked at iconic videogame maker Rare for a quarter of a century. During that time he has worked on some of the biggest games ever released, including the company’s latest hit – Sea of Thieves. Robin recently won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Original Video Game Score for his work on the popular open-world adventure title.
Here, he talks about rubbing shoulders with the stars, his career at Rare and fans sending him cover versions of his music.
Name: Robin Beanland
Role: Music Director at Rare
Lives: Near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, in North West Leicestershire
Family: Wife and two sons
Pets: A beagle called Jasper
Hobbies: Cycling (Robin has cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for videogame charity SpecialEffect)
Tell me about your current role
I write music for videogames at Rare Studios, and I’ve been doing that for around 25 years. When I started here in 1994 I developed the sound effects and the music, because there wasn’t a lot of memory in the hardware back then, but now I just focus on the music. I use a musical sound palette to try to define what the tone of a game is.
Do you have a favourite piece of music that you have written?
There’s a piece in in Sea of Thieves called Becalmed. When I wrote it, I remember trying to make the hurdy-gurdy a nice and pleasant instrument to listen to. I wasn’t sure whether the team would like it or not, but they did. Then, when the game was released, a lot of people created their own versions of Becalmed, which is amazing to me. It’s great that people take the time to do a cover version of your tune.
Do a lot of people do cover versions of your songs?
Yeah, they have on most of the games I’ve worked on. They send me links to their cover versions and ask me to listen to their versions. The first game I ever worked on was a game called Killer Instinct, and even today I still get people sending me heavy metal versions of pieces of music I wrote for that. It’s quite humbling, really. I sit in my little writing room in Twycross, the game is released and people really take to it.
A lot of people obviously love your work because you’ve just won an Ivor Novello Award…
It’s unbelievable to win. Just being nominated was amazing. I’ve been working professionally on music for 27 years, and during all that time I’ve read M Magazine (a monthly magazine published by PRS) and I’ve read about who won an Ivor that year. Every year I thought that it would be incredible to win, so to actually have one of my own is absolutely amazing. You don’t know who is going to win until they read the name out on stage, so it was pretty nerve-wracking. The awards ceremony was quite surreal – going to the event, winning, doing interviews, walking back to my seat as Mariah Carey is giving her video acceptance speech, then seeing Richard Ashcroft getting up on stage and accepting his award, and Deep Purple were sat on the table in front of me.
What does winning an Ivor Novello Award mean to you?
It’s such a prestigious award, and it means an awful lot because it’s your peers who vote for the winner. It’s just amazing. It feels good that video games are being considered now. In days gone past you would say to somebody I write music for games they would say “oh, you do that annoying ‘plink, plink fizz’ sounding music. It’s moved on a bit since then and for it to be in the Ivors is just amazing for games in general.
Music and sound are crucial parts of immersing players in games today
I think the instruments I used on Sea of Thieves really helped give the game its own identity. The first time I got the hurdy-gurdy out I was a bit scared of it; I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. Then there’s the waterphone, which I used quite a lot in Sea of Thieves – in the Ferry of the Damned, for example. Sound is one of those things that people don’t notice it when it’s right, but they definitely notice it when it’s wrong. My job is to immerse people in the experience, and if anything breaks them out of that then I haven’t done my job properly.
What were your previous roles?
I started playing trumpet when I was seven, and by the time I was doing O-Levels I was getting into Miles Davis. There was a college near me in Leeds that had a good jazz course, and a guy there encouraged me to learn to play the keyboard, to understand chords. So, I got a keyboard and then joined a rock band called Brazil; we were named after the Terry Gilliam film. We did a Radio One session on Tommy Vance’s rock show. Unfortunately, the band broke up, so I started working in a studio and learning how to use all the equipment – reel to reels, synchronizing machines, samplers. I wrote the music for of a few TV series – a kids drama called Just Us, which was written by Kay Mellor – and a few adverts. Then my brother mentioned there was a company in the Midlands looking for musicians, and that was Rare.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Sometimes I do just stare at a blank canvas. Sometimes the music will land quickly and other times I have to really work at it, so it’s hard but enjoyable.
What’s the best part of your job?
I love all of my job. I love coming to Rare every day; I have a stress-free cycle to the office and then I sit in this amazing studio full of instruments. I get the opportunity to learn how to play fantastic instruments, be creative with them and then write and record music.
What inspires you?
The people I work with. When you see the graphics and some of the stuff they’re doing with the software, you realise you need to step up and make a good job of the music. Another thing that inspires me is that I work in such an interactive medium. Depending on what the character is doing and the way he or she is moving around the level, they are triggering different music cues; they’re becoming the arranger of the music. So I have to think of ways to get the player excited about the experience.
What’s your favourite Microsoft product?
OneDrive. It’s great for storing and sharing files; I take a photo with my phone and it’s sent straight to the cloud. I can always get to my stuff and it’s frictionless.
What’s the first piece of technology that you got excited about?
When I was in the band I got a loan and bought a sampler called an Ensoniq Mirage. It cost about £1,200 and it could sample eight seconds of sound. By today’s standards it was terrible quality but it was amazing at the time. It was unbelievable to hear human voices coming out of a keyboard. During one gig, our drummer knocked it off its stand and it smashed on the floor. I hadn’t even finished paying off the loan. Drummers, eh?
Microsoft PowerPoint will now offer live tips on public speaking to help everyone deliver the perfect presentation.
Presenter Coach will offer on-screen guidance about pacing, inclusive language, use of swear words, filler words and culturally insensitive phrases. It will even let presenters know when they are just reading off the slide instead of engaging with the audience.
At the end of each rehearsal session, a detailed report with metrics for additional practice is provided.
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Shawn Villaron, PowerPoint Partner Group Program Manager, said: “From classrooms to boardrooms, our belief is that everyone can improve how they present. Training and feedback help people gain confidence and empower them to achieve their personal and professional goals. Over the past few years, we’ve received feedback from educators, students and customers that people want an easy way to practice their presentations to improve their public speaking abilities.
“Today, we’re announcing the upcoming availability of Presenter Coach in PowerPoint. Presenting in front of a live audience is a vital life skill. Based on academic research and field studies, we’ve integrated presentation best practices into Presenter Coach to help people give more effective presentations.”
It’s one of a raft of new features Microsoft has introduced into PowerPoint, which uses an AI-powered feature called Designer to automatically provide layout suggestions when users add an image to a slide.
Designer will now work with a company’s branded templates, choosing the most suitable layouts for the content, intelligently cropping images and automatically recommending relevant icons and pictures. This ensures that companies can create presentations that meet their corporate branding and visual identity guidelines.
“In today’s fast-paced work environments, people are pressed for time, and AI-powered features like Designer help people create visually engaging and immersive presentations with only a few clicks,” Villaron added. “Now users can get this streamlined experience while working with their organisations’ templates, using branded layouts instead of needing to improvise.”
Starting a presentation from scratch is now even easier, too. Entering a few words onto a slide will trigger Designer into recommending a selection of fully licensed photographs that reflect that text, as well as theme styles and colours (above).
Finally, Designer will recognise when a user types a large number onto a slide and add context. For example, entering “Commercial planes fly at 30,000 feet” onto a slide will bring up images of planes and a word box containing the fact that 30,000 feet is “about the height of Mount Everest.
“Designer makes numerical slides more digestible and helps presenters effectively convey their information,” Villaron said.
The new features were announced as it was revealed that PowerPoint users have now created more than one billion slides using Designer since its launch in 2015.
London Tech Week sees some of the world’s top companies descend on the capital to give talks and showcase the technology they have created.
Microsoft was a headline sponsor for this year’s five-day event, with many UK-based executives from the company giving talks. Cindy Rose, UK Chief Executive; Clare Barclay, Chief Operating Officer; and Michael Wignall, Director of Azure Business, all appeared on stage to discuss the work they are doing to champion the UK tech sector.
Rose highlighted the increase in the number of technology hubs across the UK as investors also look outside London for innovative companies. Artificial intelligence was also a big focus, with Jeremy Wright MP, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport,using his speech to say AI needs people with the right digital skills to ensure the technology has the right ethical foundation to guide its development.
Here’s a round-up of Microsoft’s presence at the annual event, in pictures: