October 13, 2022
MICROSOFT IGNITE — New Windows 11 features and devices are getting significant airplay at the annual Microsoft Ignite conference in Seattle this week. Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay on Thursday emphasized key Windows and M365 updates during the event’s second-day keynote.
Panay’s keynote comes one day after he presided over the launch of new Microsoft Surface PCs. The new Surfaces, which start shipping later this month, come on the heel of Microsoft’s first major Windows 11 update. The new PCs include the Surface Laptop 5, the Surface Pro 9 and a new Surface Studio. Microsoft also introduced the new Surface Audio Dock and Presenter (see gallery above for details).
“There’s a lot of energy; people want to use these devices. They want to use the new Windows 11,” Panay (pictured above) said in his keynote. He underscored the productivity benefits of the Windows 11 2022 Update release and new Surface devices when used with Microsoft Teams.
“Together, Surface and Windows create a seamless, integrated experience that empowers teams to connect, produce, and ultimately do their best work,” he said. “And we’re going to continue to integrate our Surfaces with Windows to make your employees more productive [and] more secure. And maybe most importantly, right now, more connected.”
Microsoft released Windows 11 last year and started rolling out its first major feature update late last month. Among the features in the Windows 11 2022 Update are a Focus and Do Not Disturb option to reduce distractions, and enhanced Snap Layouts for improved multitasking with multiple apps. The update also includes enhanced security features such as Smart App Control, which the company designed to block untrusted or unsigned applications, scripts or malicious macros.
Studio Effects with Voice Focus
Steven Bathiche (left) on stage with Panos Panay at Microsoft Ignite 2022.
One key feature Panay emphasized is the new Windows Studio Effects tool, which improves audio and video calling, and media creation. Panay also brought Microsoft technical fellow, Windows and devices, Steven Bathiche, on stage (pictured left, with Panay) to demonstrate the new Voice Focus feature.
Bathiche explained that the Windows Studio Effects tool requires a PC with a neural processing unit (NPU).
“Think of it [the NPU] as a co-processor for artificial intelligence, basically designed to accelerate neural networks, just like GPUs are for graphics and fuse are for AI,” Bathiche explained.
The new Surface Pro 9 with 5G, introduced on Wednesday, will ship later this month. It has an NPU. One of the features of the Windows Effect Studio is Voice Focus, which filters out background sounds. Bathiche demonstrated Voice Focus, filtering out the audience’s screams while speaking.
First Windows 365 Update
Also joining Panay during the session was Scott Manchester, Windows 365 Cloud PC director. Launched last year, Windows 365 Cloud PC is Microsoft’s cloud-based VDI offering. Microsoft on Wednesday released a technical preview of its Windows 365 app, which it designed to provide higher performance for Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft 365 applications. It also adds direct single sign-on and support for Azure Active Directory multifactor authentication (MFA) and Microsoft Authenticator.
“It’s a beautiful app that meets the kind of design elements that an average user can just get behind this and be productive,” Manchester said. “And the cool thing is, there’s no IT admin setup. This app is available as a download now but will be later built directly into Windows 11.”
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