Microsoft Teams will soon push one of the worst Windows 11 features down your throat

Although Cortana may be dead on mobile, Microsoft's digital assistant is alive and well on Windows 11 and will soon be making an appearance in Microsoft Teams.

While Cortana was first introduced in 2001's Halo: Combat Evolved on the original Xbox, the smart artificial intelligence construct eventually came to Windows Phone and Windows 10 PCs in 2014 as a digital assistant. 

Just like with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple's Siri, Microsoft created Cortana to help Windows users set reminders, search the web and more.

Now though, according to a series of new posts on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap, the software giant is bringing Cortana to Microsoft Teams Rooms. With Microsoft Teams Rooms, businesses can configure a meeting room with a number of devices including displays, webcams and microphones so that an organization can use video conferencing software together as a group as opposed to having to use their own laptops.

Cortana is coming to Microsoft Teams Rooms

In the first update to the Microsoft 365 Roadmap, Microsoft explained that “Cortana voice activation will be enabled by default on newly imaged Microsoft Teams Rooms solutions” beginning this month.

This means that Teams users will be able to shout out voice commands to their Teams Rooms devices to start a video call, change settings and more. Fortunately though, IT admins will be able to adjust this setting to disable voice activation. At the same time, Microsoft has updated the Cortana iconography that appears on the front of a room display and in the console UI in a Microsoft Teams Room according to the second update.

Finally in the third update, the company explained that Cortana will support additional languages on Teams devices that are set to different locale languages. Currently American English, Canadian English, Australian English, Indian English and British English are supported.

While voice activation can certainly be useful in shared meeting rooms designed for video conferencing, business users may not be too keen on having a character from a video game speaking up during their all-hands meetings.

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Salesforce snaps up Narrative Science in analytics push

Salesforce has announced that it has acquired the data storytelling company and Tableau partner Narrative Science for an undisclosed sum.

For those unfamiliar, Narrative Science's journey started a decade ago with the simple mission “to help everyone understand and act on data through the power of data storytelling”.

In addition to being some of the best in the industry, the company's natural language capabilities automate the analysis, build and communication of insights from data in a modern, narrative format that's easier for people to understand.

By integrating Narrative Science with Tableau, Salesforce aims to scale this capability across its entire ecosystem and help customers deliver data insights to even more people in the form of easy-to-understand stories.

Narrative data storytelling 

Salesforce's acquisition of Narrative Science comes at a time when data has never been more important with many companies accelerating their digital transformation efforts due to the pandemic.

In an increasingly digital-first world, more data is being created than ever before. According to a recent IDC Study, over 64 zettabytes of data were generated in 2020 and global data creation and replication is set to grow by 23 percent through 2025. While organizations now have more data, analytic capabilities like those offered by Narrative Sciences and Tableau, allow them to find and use insights from their data to drive the success of their business. 

In a new blog post, Tableau president and CEO Mark Nelson points out that one of the easiest ways for organizations to become data driven is to incorporate narrative data storytelling. According to Gartner, data stories “will be the most widespread way of consuming analytics” by 2025 and “75% of stories will be automatically generated using augmented analytics techniques”.

Salesforce will be able to reach millions of more people who are underserved with data and help close the data literacy gap by bringing Narrative Science and its award-winning AI to Tableau.

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Microsoft accused of using Windows to push OneDrive and Teams over rivals

A coalition of software and cloud companies has filed a complaint with the European Commission (EC) against Microsoft's anti-competitive behavior of bundling its OneDrive cloud storage, Teams, and other services with Windows 10 and Windows 11.

The Coalition for a Level Playing Field includes several European Union (EU)-based companies led by open source hosted cloud storage vendor Nextcloud.

“This is quite similar to what Microsoft did when it killed competition in the [web] browser market, stopping nearly all browser innovation for over a decade. Copy an innovators' product, bundle it with your own dominant product and kill their business, then stop innovating,” says Frank Karlitschek, CEO and founder of Nextcloud.

Big Tech 

Arguing that Microsoft’s behavior is bad for the consumers, the coalition has asked the EC to enforce a level playing field for all the players, and ensure that Microsoft doesn’t leverage its dominant market position in the operating system sector to drive out competition in other segments.

Besides Nextcloud, the coalition includes several prominent open source, and non-profit organizations, such as European DIGITAL SME Alliance, the Document Foundation, and the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE).

On their homepage, the coalition suggests that the anti-competitive behaviour of Big Tech is not only killing competition, but in doing so is harming the consumers and business. 

“Microsoft is integrating [Microsoft] 365 deeper and deeper in their service and software portfolio, including Windows. OneDrive is pushed wherever users deal with file storage and Teams is a default part of Windows 11. This makes it nearly impossible to compete with their SaaS [Software-as-a-Service] services,” reasons the coalition.

To further drive home the point, it argues that while Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have grown their market share to 66% in the EU, the share of local providers has contracted from 26% to 16%. 

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