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Tech Giant Microsoft Acquires 5G Specialist Company Affirmed Networks

With innovation in software and by making use of broadly available cloud computing platforms like Microsoft Azure, operators can deploy and maintain 5G networks and services more efficiently

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Microsoft
"At Microsoft, we intend to empower the telecommunications industry as it continues its move to 5G and support both network equipment manufacturers and operators in their efforts to find solutions that are faster, easier and cost effective," the company said. Pixabay

Microsoft has acquired 5G specialist company Affirmed Networks to deliver next-generation 5G networks that would create new capabilities, new markets and help advance local economies.

5G will enable a host of new opportunities for businesses and society, including autonomous vehicles, smart cities, virtual reality and a range of other smart industry use cases and services.

“We have signed a definitive agreement to acquire Affirmed Networks. Affirmed Networks’ fully virtualized, cloud-native mobile network solutions enable operators to simplify network operations, reduce costs and rapidly create and launch new revenue-generating services,” Yousef Khalidi – Corporate Vice President, Azure Networking, said in a statement.

The company, however, did not disclose the sum it has spent to acquire Massachusetts-based Affirmed Networks which has customers like AT&T.

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Microsoft has acquired 5G specialist company Affirmed Networks to deliver next-generation 5G networks that would create new capabilities, new markets and help advance local economies. Pixabay

“At Microsoft, we intend to empower the telecommunications industry as it continues its move to 5G and support both network equipment manufacturers and operators in their efforts to find solutions that are faster, easier and cost effective,” the company said.

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With innovation in software and by making use of broadly available cloud computing platforms like Microsoft Azure, operators can deploy and maintain 5G networks and services more efficiently, more cost effectively, more rapidly and more securely. (IANS)

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Special Olympics Partners Microsoft, Xbox to Organise Online Gaming Tournament

The tournament is scheduled to be held on May 30

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Special Olympics has partnered Microsoft and Xbox to organise a gaming tournament on May 30. Pixabay

Special Olympics has partnered Microsoft and Xbox to organise a gaming tournament on May 30 and fans can watch livestreamed Forza Motorsport 7 racing on Mixer, Xbox YouTube or Twitch.

There will be a first-ever Special Olympics award ceremony on gaming platform Minecraft.

“We’re partnering with the Special Olympics to keep athletes connected and maintain the joy of sports, using the power of Xbox,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella tweeted.

Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities, providing year-round training and activities to 5 million participants and Unified Sports partners in 172 countries.

Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, said it is a great partnership with the amazing team at Special Olympics to bring gaming to the 2020 Special Olympics.

“Incredibly proud of all the teams that are making this possible and can’t wait to see the Olympians running some fast laps,” he said.

Back in 2018, Xbox hosted the first video gaming tournament at a Special Olympics event during Special Olympics USA Games held in Seattle, Washington.

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Xbox hosted the first video gaming tournament at a Special Olympics event in 2018. Pixabay

“This year, Microsoft and Special Olympics are teaming up for the 2020 Special Olympics Xbox Virtual Gaming Event featuring Turn 10 Studios’ Forza Motorsport 7,” said the company.

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Eleven US states will be represented in this year’s event with over 35 athletes participating.

Microsoft and Special Olympics have been working together since 2014 with the goal of empowering Special Olympics athletes and programmes through technology.

Throughout the partnership, technologies such as Xbox and Microsoft Teams have been tools to bring adults and children with intellectual disabilities together in the face of a host of obstacles. (IANS)

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McLaren Removes OnePlus as Partner For The 2020 F1 Season: Report

OnePlus removed from McLaren's partners' page

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MClaren has not listed OnePlus as partner for the 2020 F1 season. Wikimedia Commons

OnePlus has released “McLaren Edition” smartphones for couple of years but now, a Reddit user reports that the British carmaker has not listed OnePlus as partner for the 2020 F1 season.

The removal of the Chinese brand from the list of partners has resulted in the speculation that the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition will most likely not get a successor this year, reports XDA Developers.

OnePlus has been doing special editions of its phones for a few years now.

The OnePlus 5T was available in the Star Wars: The Last Jedi Edition, and the OnePlus 6 was available in a Marvel Avengers Edition.

Both of these smartphones were available in limited quantities and in select regions only.

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The removal of the Chinese brand from the list of partners has resulted in the speculation. Wikimedia Commons

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The smartphone maker launched the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition, with a new and distinct CMF (colour-material-finish), 10GB RAM and Warp Charge 30 charging technology, to expand the scope of these special editions.

The most recent McLaren Edition device from the OnePlus was OnePlus 7T Pro.

The company recently launched its 8 series smartphones, the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro. Both are powerful as well as expensive and the smartphone maker will have to find a new partner to give that a special twist worth paying more for. (IANS)

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Indian Workers Miss Office as Work From Home Becomes the New normal

Lockdown initially thrilled the people to work from home, but now they have started to miss the office environment

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Two months after working from home, Shweta Andrews, a digital editor at a publishing house, says she wants to head back to office because personal interactions with colleagues are important. (Photo Courtesy: Shweta Andrews). VOA

As she settled down to work from home when India announced a lockdown in March due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), Shweta Andrews thought exultantly “this is the way to go.” After all she no longer had to do the grinding commute between office and home in the Indian capital that took up two hours daily.

Two months on, the digital editor of a publishing house is nostalgic about that ride. “I miss my colleagues and believe it or not, I miss travelling in the Metro. I miss the rush. I miss the crowd.”

The unprecedented experiment of work from home that began in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has prompted some Indian companies to explore the possibility of scaling up remote work as they eye long term benefits such as smaller office spaces and lower rentals.

But at a time when a long, stringent lockdown has intensified social isolation, many are finding that an interactive office environment is hard to replace at home.

A New Delhi-based senior professional in a global company, Apoorva Bapna, dismisses the notion that remote work could be the “new normal” and points out that while flexi-hours are welcome, online connections cannot replace the energy generated by professional spaces.

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Apoorva Bapna says office spaces generate energy that cannot completely be replaced by online connections. (Photo Courtesy: Apoorva Bapna). VOA

“There is just that much of bouncing of ideas I can do on a video call or a phone call. Sometimes you just need to sit across the table and have that heated conversation or a debate or just exchange ideas,” says Bapna.

India’s Information Technology sector appears to be blazing the trail for adopting the work-at-home model as the industry gears up to have nearly half the country’s four million I-T workers operate remotely – up from an average of 20 percent before March. The country’s biggest technology company Tata Consultancy Services says that it will have 75 percent of its workforce operating from home by 2025.

Some companies that rely heavily on online work could make the shift much sooner because they found it to be an efficient model in the last two months.

“From a purely productivity standpoint, we have seen a fairly smooth transition in work from home,” says Raghav Gupta, managing director, India and Asia Pacific with Coursera, a U.S. based online learning platform. He gives an example. “If I would go to Bangalore and meet two sets of people in a day, I can do five meetings today by sitting at home.”

As India eases its stringent lockdown and offices begin to reopen with a much leaner staff onsite, the debate has begun heating up.

Some assert that the personal touch provided by an office environment cannot be overlooked, even in the IT sector. “You get ready for the day, it is a mental shift you make,” according to Abhimanyu Mukherji, a service delivery manager in New Delhi with a partner company of software organization, SAP. “Just walking up to someone and talking to my team has a different impact. Now there is a loss of human touch and social interaction which we all are so used to.”

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While it is possible to be productive even doing work from home, Abhimanyu Mukherji says walking up and talking directly to his team has a different impact. (Photo Courtesy: Abhimanyu Mukherji). VOA

While he and his team delivered to their clients’ satisfaction during the lockdown, he points out that working at home from living rooms and dining tables can pose challenges of the kind that some of his team members with young children faced.

“When the kids are at home, they expect a lot of attention from the parents and therefore they are having a lot of difficulty in actually concentrating on the job,” says Mukherji. “The children assume that you must be on leave so you should be giving them all the attention.”

There are also the constraints that living in small apartments or extended families throw up, especially in cities with expensive rentals.  “It is not easy for people who live in Bombay, in smaller homes with six to eight family members crammed up in two bedroom homes,” points out Bapna.

And work from home settings can be even more burdensome for women. “We do everything on the house front and we also manage our office work, which is fairly hectic,” says Bapna who was caught in the lockdown in Jaipur city where she was visiting her parents.

Amid the lockdown there have been no comprehensive surveys to indicate which way Indians would prefer going. But a recent survey by a Bengaluru based research firm, Feedback Insights, found that two-thirds of employees were concerned about personal wellbeing, a lack of connectedness with the team and overall anxiety about the job environment. They also cited frequent distractions at home as a key challenge.

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However benefits such as savings for companies, less traffic on roads, less pollution and less spending on fuel and daycare will inevitably lead to a greater push for the work-at-home model in the post Covid world.

“By choice and also by planning we will say – you go to office two days a week, you may or may not have a dedicated desk, and the other three or four days you consistently work at home,” says Gupta at Coursera.

But shrinking office spaces, thanks to technology and the new emphasis on social distancing, is something many view with trepidation. Andrews draws an analogy with reading a book on Kindle – it does not replicate the original. “The feeling of holding a book in your hand, that touch, that smell, that personal feeling you get – it’s the same as personal contact in an office,” says Andrews. “So yes technology and computers and zoom and Kindle don’t work as well as interacting with a real human being does.” (VOA)