Monday July 16, 2018
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Microsoft Teams is Now Available to Use for Free

The free version will give unlimited app integrations with over 140 business apps to choose from -- including Adobe, Evernote, and Trello

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It will also provide integrated, real-time content creation with Office Online apps, including built-in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
It will also provide integrated, real-time content creation with Office Online apps, including built-in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. (Wikimedia commons)
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Taking on professional collaboration tool Slack, Microsoft’s Teams is now available for free in 40 languages worldwide.

Currently, more than 200,000 businesses across 181 markets globally use Teams — a hub for chatting, sharing documents, video and voice calling in Microsoft 365 — to collaborate and get work done.

“Whether you’re a freelancer, a small business owner, or part of a team inside a large organisation, you can start using Teams today,” Ron Markezich, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft, said in a statement on Friday.

Logo of Microsoft outside it's office
Logo of Microsoft outside it’s office, Pixabay

The free version, that can be used in a organisation with up to 300 employees, will provide unlimited chat messages and search, built-in audio and video calling for individuals, groups, and full team meetups, 10GB of team file storage plus additional 2 GB per person for personal storage.

It will also provide integrated, real-time content creation with Office Online apps, including built-in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Also Read: Microsoft Launches Affordable ‘Surface Go’ Tablet

The free version will give unlimited app integrations with over 140 business apps to choose from — including Adobe, Evernote, and Trello.

“This new offering provides a powerful introduction to Microsoft 365. Teams in Microsoft 365 includes everything in the free version plus additional storage, enterprise security, and compliance, and it can be used for your whole organisation, regardless of size,” Markezich said. (IANS)

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Microsoft Calls for Facial Recognition Technology Rules Given ‘Potential for Abuse’

The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself, the Microsoft President added

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The computer-assisted facial recognition can recognise people's faces from a photo or through a camera.
The computer-assisted facial recognition can recognise people's faces from a photo or through a camera. Pixabay

At a time when facial recognition technology is fast becoming a part of our lives, Microsoft has become the first tech giant to initiate a call for regulations to limit the technology that can be used for mass surveillance affecting civil liberties.

In a blog post on Friday, Microsoft President Brad Smith said a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology is the need of the hour.

“We believe US Congress should create a bipartisan expert commission to assess the best way to regulate the use of facial recognition technology in the US,” Smith said.

The purpose of such a commission “should include advice to Congress on what types of new laws and regulations are needed, as well as stronger practices to ensure proper congressional oversight of this technology across the executive branch”, the Microsoft President noted.

Several tech companies, including Microsoft, have utilised face-recognition technology in the past several years to turn time-consuming work to catalog photos into something both instantaneous and useful.

However, Microsoft has already rejected requests to deploy the technology in situations involving “human rights risks”, Smith informed.

Smith earlier called for a new digital Geneva Convention that commits governments to defending and protecting civilians from state-sponsored cyber-attacks.

“We live in a nation of laws, and the government needs to play an important role in regulating facial recognition technology.

“A world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards,” Smith suggested.

In a blog post on Friday, Microsoft President Brad Smith said a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology is the need of the hour.
In a blog post on Friday, Microsoft President Brad Smith said a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology is the need of the hour. Pixabay

The computer-assisted facial recognition can recognise people’s faces from a photo or through a camera.

This technology can catalog your photos, help reunite families or potentially be misused and abused by private companies and public authorities alike.

“Facial recognition technology raises issues that go to the heart of fundamental human rights protections like privacy and freedom of expression,” Smith wrote.

In recent weeks, a group of Amazon employees objected to its contract with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), while reiterating concerns raised by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) about law enforcement’s use of facial recognition technology.

IT company Salesforce’s employees have raised the same issues related to immigration authorities and these agencies’ use of their products.

Also Read: Microsoft Team is Now Available to Use for Free

“Demands increasingly are surfacing for tech companies to limit the way government agencies use facial recognition and other technology,” Smith said.

The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself, the Microsoft President added.

Issues relating to facial recognition go well beyond the borders of the US and “it requires active engagement by governments, academics, tech companies and civil society internationally”.

“As we move forward, we’re committed to establishing a transparent set of principles for facial recognition technology that we will share with the public,” Smith informed. (IANS)